Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

FF: Bouncing Around

June 24, 2022
Mei-Ling Thinks This Book Is Tasty

This week, my reading is bouncing around among fiction and non-fiction, old stuff and new.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

My audio this week is a reader recommendation.

Completed:

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.  Yes.  Worked well, despite my having had spoilers from having read later works in the series.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  The light tone hides a discussion of many serious issues.

The Hand in the Glove by Rex Stout.  Theodolinda “Dol” Bonner is the detective Nero Wolfe calls on when he needs a reliable female detective.  This novel looks at her first major case.  However, Rex Stout’s third person narratives are less lively than his first person, and in this one point of view jumps around.  I can’t help but wonder how this same plot would have worked as a Nero Wolfe.  Still, for a book first published in 1937, the female who runs her own detective business is a pretty radical concept!

In Progress:

DreamForge Anvil, issue 8.  Just starting.

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett.  Audiobook.  Just starting.

The Animal World of the Pharaohs by Patrick F. Houlihan.  This 1996 study is enjoyable, even if it falls a little too often into the “votive figure” or “probably religious significance” school of archeology.  Makes me wonder what the Funko Pop figures will be seen as by future archeologists.  (‘ve enjoyed the comments on the significance of Funko Pop figures.  I can take the idea that they just might be clan totems.)

Also:

Bouncing around between several magazines, and some research reading.

FF: Out of Order

June 17, 2022
Regal Persephone

This week’s reading is rather scattered, but enjoyable nonetheless.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Solstice Wood by Patrician A. McKillip.  Contemporary fantasy, but with a tie to her non-contemporary novel Winter Rose.  I can see a re-read of that coming up when I can lay hands on a copy of Winter Rose.

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Peter Grant undercover…  as Peter Grant, which is an interesting conceit the author makes work. 

In Progress:

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.  Yes.  I’m reading the series out of order.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  The light tone hides a thoughtful concept.

The Animal World of the Pharaohs by Patrick F. Houlihan.  This 1996 study is enjoyable, even if it falls a little too often into the “votive figure” or “probably religious significance” school of archeology.  Makes me wonder what the Funko Pop figures will be seen as by future archeologists.

Also:

Various new magazines arrived.  In reading the latest Archeology, I was amused that the letter column showed that I wasn’t the only one annoyed at rather casually reached conclusions in some of the articles in the previous issue.

FF: Storm Breaks

June 10, 2022
Roary Plays Kaiju

Last week, I mentioned I was doing a lot of brainstorming.  This week, I’ve been turning that into prose.  Also, with the release of A New Clan, known to longtime readers of my WW and FF as SK4, the latest Star Kingdom / Stephanie Harrington novel, I’ve had lots of little jobs to do.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Novella.  Listed as book 7.5 in the series, it’s a standalone set in Germany.

Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi.  The opening few pages are a downer for those of us who remember early 2020 all too well, but don’t worry, Jamie Gray won’t be dumped on the street in the midst of a building pandemic.

In Progress:

Solstice Wood by Patrician A. McKillip.  Contemporary fantasy, but with a tie to her novel not-contemporary novel Winter Rose.  I can see a re-read of that coming up when I can lay hands on a copy of Winter Rose.

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Peter Grant undercover… as Peter Grant.

Also:

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon), which I read as an advanced copy, is now out. Jim and I both very much enjoyed this tale of a young woman who goes after a prince who believes that abusing his wives is completely within his range of rights. Although marketed as a “dark fairytale,” it has a lot of Kingfisher’s weird and wonderful sense of humor as well.

Speaking of storms…  We’re having a very dry spring.  If any of you have surplus rain you can send, our garden would be grateful.

FF: While Brainstorming

June 3, 2022
Roary is Awake and Mildly Indignant

This last week, I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming as I move into the second part of my current work in progress.  This also means I tend to read a lot, because it shuts up my forebrain while my hindbrain works.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Spies, intrigue, and hints of romance in this sideline novel in her popular Barrayar setting/Vorkosigan saga.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie.  Re-read.  Tuppence and Tommy.

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch.  Finally, a resolution to the Faceless Man, but not maybe what most will expect.

In Progress:

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch.  Audiobook.  Novella.  Listed as book 7.5 in the series, it’s a standalone set in Germany.

Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi.  The opening few pages are a downer for those of us who remember early 2020 all too well, but don’t worry, Jamie Gray won’t be dumped on the street in the midst of a building pandemic.

Also:

A variety of magazine articles, including American Craft, passed along to me by a friend.  I also went through about two years of Jim’s old photography magazines, because I enjoy journeys into alien worlds.

FF: Awkward Moment

May 20, 2022
Persphone Pounces the Moon

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Moon Flash by Patricia A. McKillip.  Many people are surprised to find she wrote SF as well as Fantasy.  In memory of her recent demise, I decided to re-read this.  Although it has a sequel, it is its own story.

The Moon and the Face by Patricia A. McKillip.  Sequel to Moon Flash, although its own story.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire.  Audiobook.  Re-listen.  Plot and characterization take second place to description in this tour of the compass points.   Fourth in her Wayward Children series.

In Progress:

The Riddlemaster of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip.  Re-read.  First in the “Riddle of the Stars” fantasy trilogy.  A long-time favorite of mine.

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Spies, intrigue, and hints of romance in this sideline novel in her popular Barrayar setting/Vorkosigan saga.

 Also:

Okay, for those of you who read this far, awkward moment.

I started Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers as an audiobook (with the same reader as the prior two of hers in her “Wayfarers” series).  Unlike the prior two, in which plot is slim but made lively by vivid characters, from whose problems the worldbuilding is worked in, this one—for me—lacked either characters or plot, but seems to be the author’s world-building notes presented via talking head characters.  I’m a long-time SF/F reader, so very few of the world-building details are new enough to me to hold my interest. I am willing to eventually give the book another try, but if anyone has read it and can brief me, either in the comments or via e-mail, I’d be interested in feedback. 

FF: Expectations

May 6, 2022
Roary Is Definitely NOT a Red Shirt

This week, my reading made me think a lot about expectations.  That’s always a good thing.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Red Shirts by John Scalzi.  I’d wanted something light and funny, and this filled the bill very nicely.  However, the three Codas at the end where what made this book a winner for me.

In Progress:

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chamber.  Audiobook. At this point, structure is two intertwined novellas, each of which is interesting in its own right.  Thus far, this one has more of a middle grade/coming of Age vibe than A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

The Sound of Murder by Rex Stout.  Not a Nero Wolfe, but featuring Alphabet Hicks in the role of detective.  What’s fascinating about this one is that at the time of publication, it was centered around relatively cutting-edge technology.  Plastics, for one…

Also:

A bit more short fiction.  And the new Archeology magazine just came in!

FF: Lots of Short

April 29, 2022
Persephone Falls, Too

I’m finishing off my reading for the Nebulas, which means I’m reading a lot of shorter work now.  Even if I like a piece, it must pass the final hurdle of needing to be Science Fiction or Fantasy to get my vote.  If setting details could be filed off, and the same tale told as mainstream, even if it’s good, it won’t get my vote.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger.  So far quite promising, but I’m only a few segments in.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. Audiobook. Ghost story, with some interesting twists on what a ghost is.

In Progress:

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chamber.  Audiobook.

Also:

Time travel via back issues of Vogue.  I keep old issues so I can tear out interesting pictures when time permits.  As I scavenge, I find myself back in 2019, when no one had heard of pandemics.  A bit creepy, to be honest.

Journeys in Print

April 22, 2022
Mei Ling Stalks the White Hart

I’ve been really busy, as I get back into my writing, but I’m still finding time to read.  I seem to have been reading a lot of stories in which journeys, not necessarily quests, are a theme.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.  Audiobook.  Non-military space opera setting.  Good aliens.  Structure is more like interlocking short stories than a novel, but very good. 

The White Hart by Nancy Springer.  Celtic flavor fantasy in which love in its many forms, rather than merely romance is a driving force.  Lovely prose.

In Progress:

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger.  So far quite promising, but I’m only a few segments in.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. Audiobook. Just started.

Also:

“A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers.  Novella.  Richly descriptive, with focus on conflicts within the self, rather than without.  Sort of a non-dystopian “Canticle for Leibowitz” meets some of Clifford Simak’s more pastoral work.  Definitely, SF for more reasons than setting.

FF: The Weight of Expectations

April 8, 2022
Mei-Ling Has Her Suspicions

One thing a lot of my reading this week seemed to be dealing with was the theme of expectations, whether those of a cop who has his mind made up in advance, or those of the “fat kid” or the overlooked “little sister,” it’s been good to think about.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls by Charles De Lint.  ARC.  Quite enjoyed.  I’ll let you know when it’s released!

Thornwood by Leah Cypess.  Sleeping Beauty retold, this time (it seems retelling Sleeping Beauty is becoming an industry) from the point of view of her constantly overlooked sibling, Briony.  Although the plot is creative, what really makes this book “work” is the subtle handling of the theme of how expectations shape our relationships with family, events, even ourselves. 

In Progress:

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.  Multiple intertwined plots.  So far, my favorite is the perfume shop in New Orleans.

Meatloaf: To Hell and Back by the eponymous performer and David Dalton.  Short and anecdotal, like a bowl of peanuts, it’s hard not to read just one more.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.  Audiobook.  Plot light, so far, but lively, quirky characters more than make up for it.  Well-done aliens always a plus for me.  Non-military space opera setting.

Also:

Smithsonian, the latest issue. 

FF: Author’s Copies Arrive!

April 1, 2022
Coco Contemplates the Aurora Borealis Bridge

I wasn’t April Fooling you when I said that the official release date for Aurora Borealis Bridge, print edition, had been set back to April 12th, due to problems at the printer.  (The e-book version should be available as of April 5th.)  However, my author’s copies arrived this week, so it’s possible some brick-and-mortar stores may have their copies sooner.

And, for those of you in New Mexico, remember, I’m presenting tonight at the ASFS meeting.  I invite questions, will be reading from Library of the Sapphire Wind, and I even have a few nifty things to give away. 

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark.  Audiobook.  Enjoyed.  A good plot, a rich setting, characters I was absolutely rooting for all the way.

The Broken Vase by Rex Stout.  A non-Nero Wolfe mystery.  Despite one element I absolutely could not believe, I enjoyed this.

DreamForge Anvil, issue 7.  A variety of looks at the question of what is the meaning of a life.

In Progress:

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls by Charles De Lint.  ARC.  So far, very hard to put down.

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.  Recommended by a friend.  Halfway.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.  Audiobook.  Just started.

Also:

American Archeology Magazine, an earlier issue I somehow missed finishing.