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March 22nd, 2008 - Phil's Rambling Rants

March 22nd, 2008

March 22nd, 2008
10:43 am

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Book review: Starship: Mercenary
Somehow writing book reviews has turned into a chore lately.  And the more I put it off the bigger and more intimidating the pile becomes...

First on the pile is Starship: Mercenary by Mike Resnick.

Continuing the saga of Wilson Cole and his ragtag band of refugees from the corrupt Republic Navy that started in Starship: Mutiny and went on to Starship: Pirate.  It would probably make sense on its own, and the story stands fairly well, but it probably makes more sense if you have the full introduction to the characters from the previous books.

Really, it's pretty much of a piece with the previous volumes; the best indication of whether you would like it is what you thought of the earlier ones.  It's fluffy space opera, but Resnick is too good a writer not to start sneaking in some real insights into humanity.  In this one, we learn some things about the real meaning of loyalty and what it means to be a good leader.  But mostly, we're just breathlessly blowing stuff up.  8 out of 10.

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10:59 am

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Book review: Kitty Takes a Holiday
Next on the pile is Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn.

This is the third in the series that started with Kitty and the Midnight Hour.  It's probably understandable by itself but it would make more sense to know how she got to where she is.

This book is mainly about what it's like to have someone get in trouble on your behalf, and about not being able to make it better when something bad and unfair happens.  It's just modern urban vampire fluff, but we're getting some deeper human insights than we might have expected.  Mainly, guilty pleasure though it may be, I like these stories.  8 out of 10.

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11:28 am

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Book review: Kitty and the Silver Bullet
next I'll do Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn.

This is book 4 in the series.  Again, it probably would mostly make sense on its own, but certainly would be clearer if one read the series in order.

Kitty gets fully drawn into the supernatural politics that she ran away from in the first book.  This story is really more about the vampires than the werewolves, and we get a lot more examination of the vampire society, although we still won't understand everything of course.  We also learn that there's another price for lycanthropy which takes a big emotional toll.  And we get to wrestle with an ethical issue on the side which could undermine Vaughn's whole world if one thinks about it too much, so it's best we don't.  7 out of 10.

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11:48 am

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Book review: Wolf Who Rules
next on the pile is Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer.

This is the sequel to Tinker.  Reading this one first is not recommended; the situation is too complicated.

Ugly Elvish politics, prophetic dreams, dragons, and Tinker comes into her own in a way that really sticks it in the other elf factions' eye.  Some bad guys are redeemed, while others are confirmed as being terrible menaces by nature.  A whole lot of stuff flies around and blows up, in fairly entertaining ways, but the world doesn't work quite as well as it might.  7 out of 10.

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12:18 pm

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Book review: Halting State
the last one in the pile is Halting State by Charles Stross.

This novel takes place in the very near future in years, but a pretty alien place in feel due to the influence of approaching-Singularity tech.  The setup and some of the core of the story is based on the management of the in-game economy of multiplayer games, which is an absolutely fascinating topic to me, but probably just weird to most people.  As speculation about how technology could affect the near future world and as a cautionary tale about what cyberterrorism could really mean, it's both thought-provoking and scary.  As a story, it doesn't work so well.  The fact that the reader doesn't really know what's going on in the intrigue/thriller stuff makes it a little hard to follow, and the action is so furious that it leaves one's head spinning.  Certainly interesting, but I found it too intense to be maximally fun.  8 out of 10.

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