Friday, February 17, 2017

5 and a New Tag

Well, the Evil Orange One is about as bad as I expected. Still avoiding reality.

I have been moderately enjoying the blog of Walter Jon Williams. I have read most of his stuff going back 30 years. So I read a novella and a novel in his Praxis series. This series is space opera, with a highly feudal galactic empire undergoing turmoil after the last member of its original dominant species dies. The novella is "Investments", 2012, 110 pages; the novel is "Impersonations", 2016, 254 pages. Both of them are kind of detective stories, with the protagonist trying to uncover fraud and/or embezzlement. They both move along pretty well, but this series is not my favorite of WJW's work.

Then, as promised, I read "Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction", 209 pages. Holy post-scarcity-utopia, Batman, this eBook was free! This eBook came about after Arizona State University put out a call for stories in the new genre of Climate Fiction. They received 743 submissions from 67 countries. The 12 stories judged best were placed in this volume. The stories are all by authors I don't remember having read before. There is a foreword by Kim Stanley Robinson, and an afterword which is an interview with Paolo Bacigalupi.

The 1st story was selected as the best overall, and it is the most positive of the stories, with ultra-innovative solutions to climate crisis induced problems. The rest of the stories tended to be pretty depressing: the Pacific Northwest on fire; the last holdouts abandon Venice; and several set in Malaysia or Indonesia featuring islands sinking underwater. It is a fairly quick read, I would recommend that you take the hit and read it.

Then I read "Chasing Shadows: Visions of our Coming Transparent World", edited by David Brin and Stephen W. Potts, 337 pages. I like Brin's blog, although can be a little TL;DR sometimes, and he sometimes gives off that goofy libertarian sci-fi vibe.

Most of the stories in the volume are brand new, but there are also some older ones, going back to 1962. I think a worthwhile read, as the panopticon is indeed coming, such that is good to have some guesses as to what it might entail - get to know both Big Brother and Little Brother.

I particularly enjoyed the Karl Schroeder story. He seems to be really pushing ideas about how we can use the omnipresent, geo-aware Internet of Things and blockchain technology to solve many social and economic problems. I am anxiously awaiting more of his writing - he has said he has several things in the pipe to be published.

Finally, read a short story, "Questions for a Soldier", by John Scalzi, 2011, 28 pages. This is the main character of "Old Man's War" doing a PR tour and answering questions. I guess these little add-ons to an ongoing series aren't bad, and help solidify the canon, but, I'm not sure they are worth bothering with. I didn't realize how old this story was. This was the 1st eBook I was able to obtain with Kobo bonus points. Kind of a disappointing program - I'm glad I finally found something they were allowing for redemption that I wanted to read.

Monday, February 06, 2017

4 Channels + 1 + 2

Still escaping.

Been playing with some great musicians lately and having a lot of fun. I bought a new mid-sized amp: a 50 watt solid state Marshall MG50CFX. It has 4 channels: clean, crunch, overdrive 1 & 2. All the settings on each channel are soft so when I change something and like the outcome I hit the Save button, which saves it to that channel.

I got scientific and used the decibel meter app on my on phone to set up the channel volumes. With the master volume - the only "hard" knob on the amp - set to 5, for playing rhythm, the clean and crunch channels with the guitar volume on 8 are at 97 decibels. With the guitar volume on 10, they are 100 db. With the guitar volume on 8, the 2 overdrive channels are at 100 db. So I play rhythm on the clean or crunch channel with the guitar volume on 8. To take a lead, I can turn the guitar volume up to 10, or leave the volume alone and use 1 of the overdrive channels. Overdrive 2 is more fuzzy and trebly than overdrive 1.

The amp has a reverb knob, of which I have a little on the crunch channel. It has 2 effects knobs: 1 has chorus, phaser, flanger, vibe and octaves, the other 4 types of delay. The chorus is very nice, and I have it set on the clean channel. The delay I don't anticipate using much, if at all. There is also a damping button which "switches the power amp damping between classic amp feeling and modern response". It is off for Overdrive 1 and on for Overdrive 2.

I have had it out 2x, including a 3 hour gig yesterday. It has a 2 button foot switch. The left button switches between the clean and crunch channels, the right button switches between overdrive channels. I am still messing up and hitting the right button to kick on overdrive, then hitting it again to turn off overdrive, which instead selects the other overdrive. You have to hit the left button to get out of overdrive. I suspect I'll get used to it. Just have to remember the buttons select channels, unlike effects pedals which are on off.

I read Charlie Stross's latest, "Empire Games", 332 pages. This is "The Merchant Princes, the Next Generation". It's set 17 years after the end of the 6 Merchant Princes books. I liked those books - worldwalkers reminiscent of Zelazny's Amber books, but more science fiction than fantasy. The worldline closest to us has a scary, post-nuclear-attack US that is a complete surveillance society. The other main worldline explores what the US might be like if the American Revolution had happened well after the Industrial Revolution.

The 1st half of the book is mostly setup. The main character is likeable enough. It was a quick read, and I am glad Stross has returned to this series.

Stross has also lately in his blog making some pretty scary conjectures on the outcome of the rise of neo-fascism, as shown in Brexit, the Trump/Breitbart ascension, and other far right politicians gaining ground in Europe. See for instance his latest post.

I really liked the story by Karl Schroeder in the Heiroglyph collection, which I blogged about here. His focus seems to be on the future of governance and economics in our environment of ever-increasing information. I also have liked some of his blog posts and other writing. I thought he had written on addressing the "fake news" problem by using blockchain technology to automatically establish provenance on every item on the internet - hmmm, I can't find it, maybe he just tweeted a link to an article similar to this one.

Anyway, I decided to backfill myself on some of his earlier novels. 1st up was his 1st novel "Ventus", 2001, 485 pages. This reminded me of the movie "Avatar" in that it is about a post-singularity world, as I was convinced that the Avatar world of Pandora was. Note, tho, the novel predates "Avatar" by 8 years.

Ventus is a designed world with nanotechnology infusing everything, creating what should be an intelligent world where most wishes can be easily granted by the environment - but which refuses to cooperate and follow commands.

Schroeder creates the concept thalience - of intelligent matter maybe striving for consciousness, but on its own terms, rather than on human ones. Some interesting ideas there. I was reminded of a recent article claiming that the Google translation software may have essentially invented its own language. This is yet another of the many, many areas where we find that our anthropocentric and parochial attitudes are dead wrong. Real AI, once it starts to grow, will definitely go its own way. I just hope they love us. Or that we are, as Shroeder puts it, "regarded ... as a treasured companion".

The story also reminded me of the Iain M. Banks Culture novels. The backdrop is The Archipelago, a galactic civilization of 10s or 100s of 1000s of habitats, and a solar system with a population of 70 trillion, and godlike AIs and uploaded humans in the mix. Nice! An enjoyable read with interesting concepts.

At some point, I would like to go back and reread the Culture novels in order - all 9 of them. Well, I got that going for me. I still am bummed by Banks' early death at age 59 in 2013.

Then I read Schroeder's most recent novel, "Lockstep", 2014, 352 pages. I figured out early on that this was a YA novel. The protagonist is 17 and part of the plot is his trying to get a girlfriend.

This book reminded me of the movie "Jupiter Ascending", which came out 1 year after this book. In both, the young protagonist finds out suddenly that they are heir to a vast fortune including 10s of 1000s of worlds, and that their relatives are not happy about sharing.

There are some interesting concepts in the book. "Lockstep" is the system whereby worlds hibernate for 30 years in between 1 month periods of wakefulness. It was originally developed to allow life on resource-poor, dark worlds - more resources can be aggregated by non-sleeping automation during the hibernation periods. It enables, realistically, the creation of an interstellar civilization that does not have FTL (faster than light) travel - interesting.

The starting point of the book includes an earth where the trillionaires just want more, more, more, and could care less about everyone else. Sound familiar? Schroeder also explores some ideas on new forms of governance.

I found the emotional responses of some of the characters at the end of the book to be somewhat unrealistic. I don't think Schroeder has fully realized his character development writing skills yet - or maybe he's just dumbing it down a little for the YA audience - but his books sure have great concepts. This was another enjoyable read.

Between books, I have been skimming a book my wife got me for xmas: "The Ants", by Bert Holldobler & E.O. Wilson, 1990, 732 pages. She found me a used copy of this epic hardcopy tome - it weighs 7.2#. Many fun facts about the family Formicidae, and lots of nice pictures.

Next up, I am going to attempt to transition back to some more serious economics reading by a collection of short stories about climate change, and a collection about surveillance and transparency.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A New Heuristic?

I decided to try a new author. I went with "London Falling", by Paul Cornell, 2012, 432 pages. A team of London police detectives get The Sight and begin policing supernatural happenings in London. Then followed this with book 2 in the Shadow Police series, "The Severed Streets", 2014, 416 pages, and book 3, "Who Killed Sherlock Holmes", 2016, 368 pages. The 1st 2 had been on my iPad for a while.

Cornell is noted as having written several Dr. Who episodes for TV, and also having done comic books. He writes well. It is interesting that the books are written as British books - lots of British/London slang and cultural references. The "define" function in the Kobo eBook reader did pretty well with the slang.

The books are mostly well paced, but, in the middle of the 1st book, I was really reminded of comments by author Walter Jon Williams, all of whose stuff I have read, in a recent blog post titled "Padding". Basically it talks about how the many comic book series now on TV, as good as they are, still wind up padding episodes in the middle of the season to stretch the main story arc out. I 1st remember "X Files" as having a long story arc (the aliens) broken up by episodes of unrelated or minimally related investigations. That seems to be the model a lot of these shows follow now. Some of those unrelated episodes I think I agree can definitely be characterized as padding, particularly when they do a cutesie episode, or a Christmas episode, etc.

I think I went through "Jessica Jones" pretty quickly. "Luke Cage" I got bogged down but did finally finish. "Daredevil" I got bogged down in the 2nd season but finished it. "Arrow" I did maybe 3 seasons with many starts and stops. "The Flash" I think I am current at 2 seasons. "Agents of Shield" I got totally bogged down in the 3rd or 4th season, despite their doing The Inhumans, of whom I was a fan back when they were in Fantastic Four comics. "Supergirl" and "Legends of Tomorrow" I still have going for me - I have not started watching.

There are so many of these out. The scripts, acting, and production values are all surprisingly good. It's funny how that is true, when there are so many network shows, say all the "CSI" shows, that strike me as standard, formulaic, lame TV shows, that could have been made 30 years ago.

But as good as this new stuff is, there is just too much of it. All the years I have been a sci fi and a comic book fan, and now it is an embarrassment of riches - so much content, so little time.

So, how to filter? I think my new heuristic is: if a writer writes for TV as well as books, then don't read their books. Their writing reads like TV, and it will probably eventually wind up there.

Normally I watch TV in the (late) evenings when I am too tired to read. So the more "comic-booky" stuff is good then.

Getting back to the Cornell books, the 1st I thought dragged in the middle, but reached a satisfactory conclusion. The 2nd got into some metafictional stuff - Neil Gaimann is a character??? The 3rd is metafictional and multimedia. We're back to Sherlock Holmes again - whom I had just encountered in Dan Simmons' latest. Part of the plot of the 3rd Cornell is that weird Holmes stuff is being caused by the fact that all 3 Holmes TV series are simultaneously filming in London. Ha ha, no denying it, Sherlock Holmes is really way up there in the current zeitgeist.

This one really reads like a TV show episode. The 1st chapter is a teaser, of the team carrying out an operation not particularly related to the main plot of the book, and making Star Wars jokes. At the end of the 3rd one, the local action has been wrapped up, and we've learned a little more about the Real Bad Guy, but they are in no way close to resolution. So I have no idea how many more books this series is going to go for - just to get 1 bad guy.

I notice these are getting shorter: from 432 to 416 to 368 pages. When you really think about the content, I think these should be like 200 pages. Each of the "Amber" novels by Zelazny and comic book type stuff like Moorcock's "Elric" and other series were all about this length. I always thought these felt "comic-booky", which Cornell does not so much. Cornell noticeably spends a fair amount of time featuring the main characters' spouses or significant others - I think standard in modern writing. So is this "superior character development and improved production values" or "padding"? For this kind of content, I think I'll vote for the latter.

Still, I'll read a few more in the series. Hopefully he will wrap it up by then.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

3.5

Still in denial. Last weekend I was visiting with an older (81 YO) neighbor, who I had talked with several times since the election. This time the discussion turned to the media - of course Faux News was on the TV - and politics, and I got up and left. I am still not coping very well.

1st up, "Time Travel", by James Gleick. 336 pages. I read this in hardback. It's a pleasant and fairly quick read, exploring the nature of time and the history of the concept of time travel, which Gleick posits was unknown before H. G. Wells' "The Time Machine". In the end tho, there are no real conclusions, beyond the fact that we have all become experts on time travel, time loops, etc., thanks to movies like "Groundhog Day", "Terminator", "Looper", etc.

Next, Dan Simmons latest, "The Fifth Heart". 617 pages. I happened to notice this in Joseph-Beth when I was buying Christmas presents. I bought it in trade paperback. I found this cover blurb really interesting:

Holmes explains that his powers of deduction have led him to a shocking conclusion that he - Sherlock Holmes - is a fictional character.
Oh boy, metafiction! But Simmons doesn't really do much with the idea. It appeared that, aside from some carryover characters from the Holmes canon, including Professor Moriarty, Irene Adler, and Colonel Moran, most of the characters are real historical figures, primary among them the novelist Henry James who somewhat fills in for Dr. Watson. Others include Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Teddy Roosevelt, Clarence King, Henry & Clover Adams, John & Clara Hays. James and I think Twain both wonder if, given that Holmes is a fictional character, that makes them fictional characters too?!?!? Kind of cute, but it really doesn't go much of anywhere. Meanwhile, the main plot moves along well, but isn't really that compelling - plus I kept waiting for the metafiction aspect to jump in. Still, an enjoyable read.

I really don't trust Simmons anymore since his right-wing-dog-whistle-filled "Flashback", which I reviewed here. Does he relate Teddy Roosevelt's white supremacist views with relish? Why relate them at all? Was he as enamored of the British class system as it seemed to me? Manservants, FTW? It has diminished my enjoyment of his excellent writing to have be all the time wondering if I am smelling right-wing, feudal bullshit.

Next, "The Moth", edited by Catherine Burns, 410 pages. The Moth is an organization that has been promoting storytelling for 15 years via live shows, NPR broadcasts, and podcasts. (My oldest daughter Erica says this is one of her favorite podcasts.) This book is 50 stories representing some of the best of the 1000s they have produced. There is an interesting foreword by the founder, George Dawes Green, telling how he was trying to recapture his memories of listening to true stories on the front porch when he was growing up in Georgia. The description of how they figured out how to make it all work is also interesting.

I read ~1/2 of the book. Some of the stories are more moving and poignant than others; all are interesting. But I was getting the feeling that the stories would be more enjoyable if read in small doses. We used to call that a "bathroom book", like a book of Joe Bob Briggs movie reviews. Read 1 while sitting on the pot. They are mostly 5-10 pages, perfect! So I set this book aside, to read intermittently.

When I was reading "The Fifth Heart", I noticed that I had missed Dan Simmons prior novel: "The Abominable". 688 pages. I checked out the ebook from the public library, and had a pretty good reading experience with the Overdrive reader. It was browser-based, and was some very nice, trouble-free JavaScript code.

The story is set in the 1920s and is primarily about an expedition to Mt. Everest. It somewhat follows the formula of Simmons' "The Terror" - historical foo with some weird supernatural stuff thrown in - but with some significant differences. From a few Wikipedia searches, the main characters appear to be mostly fictional. There are some real historical figures thrown in as well. The book moves along well and has an exciting if perhaps cliched conclusion.

Re the right-wing, feudal bullshit watch, several of the characters are British nobles, and we get descriptions of the fantastic manor homes. But I won't judge Simmons too harshly for that. British-nobility-love seems engrained in American culture overall - for example, "Downton Abbey", and the desire to play serious dress-up. I will continue in my quest to wear casual clothes wherever and whenever I can.

I had thoughts re, these beautiful homes filled with art, lots of which are probably tourist attractions now, could they have ever been created without feudalism, without the 1% to act as resource concentrators? (Religion seems to have been the other major resource concentrator, as in medieval cathedrals.) My initial answer was, no, probably not. But then I thought, what if capital had been distributed equitably throughout history? If artists had a basic income equivalent, they could have created what they wanted, rather than what their wealthy patrons wanted. How much more great art would that have resulted in? But, up until 50 years ago or so, there probably was little enough capital overall that a more equitable distribution would have still left everybody pretty poor.

Despite the current political victories for the old lizards and their thinking, I am still hoping that capitalism has indeed done its job as Keynes thought it would, that there has been enough capital created that we can move to a world of sufficient abundance for all, despite the old lizards.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

3

Novel + novel + novel.

As I mentioned last time, 1st up was "The Chemical Wedding" by John Crowley. The full cover says "The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz A Romance in Eight Days by Johan Valentin Andreae in a new version by John Crowley". Phew! So Andraea wrote this allegorical, alchemical tale, 1st published in 1616 in Germany. It is written as a journal being kept by a monk named Christian Rosencreutz - German for Rosy Cross, also known as Rosicrusians, which has been a popular name for christian ceremonial magic / mystical sects apparently since the 15th century. Crowley retells the tale, updating the language and commenting. A lot of Crowley's comments dwell on how bizarre the story is. I totally agree, it is completely off the walls, but generally in somewhat of a charming way.

The book was only 211 pages, it was an odd, quick read - but fun. I got most of the references to ceremonial magic symbolism as I had studied it some during my "explore all religions" phase when I was maybe 21-23 YO. Most of what I read then was early 20th century Rosicrusianism, Waite, Crowley, Tarot. Interesting, I remember that the red fluid and white fluid mixed to create the elixir of life / philosopher's stone were female and male respectively. In this book red is masculine and white feminine. I guess you shouldn't expect consistency with made-up stuff.

The book was illustrated, and I found the illustrations mostly unappealing. They really didn't do much for me - I guess I was spoiled by Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, and Edmund Dulac. Also, some of them just seemed inappropriate - like the picture of a statue of Venus sleeping which has hair curlers.

Next up, "Babylon's Ashes", by James S. A. Corey, The Expanse #6, 544 pages. Wow, it didn't seem like that long a book. It started out slow but then picked up pace well. The ending, tho, I thought was weak - it somewhat fell into the old sci fi "deus-ex-machina" trap. But it was a relatively happy ending.

I think the novels are now being influenced by the SyFy screenplays. The addition of 2 new crew members to the 4 we knew well from the 1st 5 novels I like, but it somehow seems influenced by TV.

I thought this novel totally broke my "100 pages per narrative thread" rule for novels - but I didn't realize it was 544 pages long. Let's do the math anyway. Here's the chapter count per narrator - there are 53 chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue featuring characters who take no part in the main action of the book.

  • Pa 10
  • Filip 7
  • Holden 11
  • Salis 1
  • Clarissa 1
  • Dawes 2
  • Avasarala 3
  • Prax 3
  • Alex 2
  • Naomi 4
  • Jakulski 1
  • Fred 1
  • Bobbie 2
  • Vandercaust 1
  • Amos 1
  • Marco 2
  • Roberts 1
So the 100 page rule would say each narrator should get 10 chapters. Only Pa and Holden make that. 17 total narrators? Seems to make it harder for the reader. Roberts is introduced as a narrator in chapter 44. Maybe this is more screenplay thinking? I wonder what these numbers are like for Game of Thrones?

Finally, "Broken Monsters", by Lauren Beukes, 2014, 449 pages. From urban sci fi to time-traveling serial killer, Ms. Beukes has wound up now writing full-bore horror. I reviewed this in Kobo, here's that review:

This is a very well written book, very well paced with great characters and great background development. I suspect the internet tech overlay will become dated quickly, but it works now.

But, it is definitely horror, and it made me realize I really don't like horror novels. I was totally creeped out the 2nd 1/2 of the book, and I really don't like being creeped out. Too old maybe. I'm more of a bright shiny future kind of guy.

If you like horror, then Joe Bob definitely sez, check it out.

Her prior novel, "Shining Girls" was somewhat headed in this direction, but did not totally creep me out the way this one did. This novel also has more police procedural overtones to it. It seemed to be exceptionally well researched. I guess I just don't like horror as a genre.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Lots + 1 + 1

I'm still attempting to ignore reality for a while, so, more science fiction!

I had not read any short stories for a while and noticed I had Just Over the Horizon The Complete Short Fiction of Greg Bear (Book 1) so I went for it. Greg Bear was one of my favorite authors in the 1980s, particularly his "Eon/Eternity" books and "The Forge of God/Anvil of Stars", "Blood Music", "City of Angels", and his fantasy series "The Infinity Concerto/The Serpent Mage". Lots of good physics. I have read all of these books multiple times. Hmmm, he is 73 days younger than me.

The short stories were OK, but I think he is much better at longer form writing. The short story version of "Blood Music" was fun to read again. Some of the things that dated some of the stories were interesting. One example, a cafeteria in a medical facility that had a smoking section. Ha ha, of course all medical campuses that I know of now are completely smoke free.

I then noticed I had a short story by John Scalzi, "An Election", 24 pages. The eBook was $0.99. I hadn't read any Scalzi in a while. The story really didn't do much for me. I think it was supposed to be cutesy, not so much to me. In a finger to the eye of the puppies, the protagonist is married to another man. Progressive SF is definitely in favor of LGBTQA inclusion.

Finally, I noticed a novel that seemed to have come to the top of my eBook reader: "Among Others", by Jo Walton, 2011, 304 pages. This book won the Hugo and Nebula for best novel. I guess since the protagonist is 15 YO, it is yet another YA novel that makes excellent reading for all ages. It is a fantasy, but I liked that it wasn't until 3/4 of the way through the book that you knew that for sure. Up until that point, it could have been a mainstream novel about a troubled young woman with schizophrenia including as a symptom extreme pareidolia.

The protagonist is also a voracious reader, mainly of science fiction. There is much discussion of various authors and titles, all pre-1979/1980, when the story is set. This reminded me of some movies about movie-making, where the gist seems to be "We make movies, movies are magic, we're really cool!" In this book, though, this did not come across as nearly so self-congratulatory. It wound up being fun, as the authors were mostly among my favorites from Back In The Day, and I had read most of the titles discussed - but 40 or so years ago!

I have been (exercising in the morning,) reading in the afternoons, and watching movies at night. I powered on through this book last night and finished around 11:00. With about 10 pages to go, my iPad ran out of juice - the charging cable had come unplugged! So a slight delay to reaching the very satisfying conclusion. This was a very enjoyable book.

Next up to read, "The Chemical Wedding" by John Crowley. I really enjoyed much of John Crowley's work, going back to the late 1970s. Very self-referential - I remember a couple of his novels where the characters gradually come to understand that they are characters in a fairy tale. I hadn't seen anything from him for a while, so I backed this kickstarter.

My reward was a hardcover copy of the book, which came last week. But, somehow, my reward also included 5 x 500 page hardcover books (9" total thickness) - The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 17th-21st editions (2004-2008). I had the 4th and 8th editions of this series, so there was a place for it on my bookshelves. I guess the publisher had a bunch of these in a warehouse somewhere and wanted to get the space back, but still, when I saw what had been included, I was definitely like "post-scarcity utopia"!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

2 + 1

I continue to evade reality reading science fiction. 2 novels and 1 novella since last time.

The 1st novel was "Death's End", by Cixin Liu. 608 pages. This is the 3rd novel of the "Rememberance of Earth's Past" trilogy. I recently blogged on the 1st 2 in the series. The novel starts out mostly backfilling events of the 1st 2 novels, but then does carry the narrative forward aggressively. Like the 1st 2 novels, the physics is the best part of the story. Some very creative invocations of aspects of modern thinking in physics. I think the series could continue on to more books, I have not read if that is intended or not.

Next up, the novella, "Everything Belongs to the Future", by Laurie Penny. 128 pages. Near future, very expensive drug regimens allow lifespan to extend to 150 years, with youth and vigor. Our current economy seems to be becoming increasingly an experiment in social darwinism, it only gets worse when life itself is involved. Extended lifespan seemed to be something to hope for, but, as I have mentioned before, when the 1% or the 0.01% claim it exclusively for themselves, they will have at last succeeded it out-feudaling the feudal ages. This is a good (and short) read.

Finally, "Palimpsest", by Catherynne Valente. 2009, 367 pages. I seriously thought about not finishing this book. It is very wordy. Palimpsest is another world, a fairyland where everything must be described in excruciating detail. You get there by having sex with a person who has a portion of the map of Palimpsest on their skin. Then you get a piece of the map on your skin too. So the 1st part of every chapter is working into a sex scenario, of pretty much every combo of male/female, followed by the rest of the chapter concluding in Palimpsest. Once I get an ebook in my iPad, I feel like I need to read it at some point. So this one I wish I hadn't got in my iPad. Ms. Valente writes very well, but, way too many words for the value delivered.