Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yet Another Supernatural Noir Novel

I read, via eBook from the Lexington Free Public Library, "Sandman Slim", by Richard Kadrey, I think based on a recommendation by William Gibson. Very nicely done, christian and ceremonial magic mythology-based, very fast paced, huge body count. There are three more books in the series, I guess I'll go for them as well. Hard to go wrong with cheap (supernatural) detectives. I've also enjoyed Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series of books, which was discontinued after 5, and the first of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher -- I think there's about a dozen of those. Apparently I'm still on vacation, yay!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I did a reread of "Blindsight", by Peter Watts (2006). Hmmm, I thought I'd blogged on this, but I can't find it. I must have read during the period when I had quit blogging. I thought this novel was the best I read that year -- whatever year that was, see what happens when you quit blogging? It is a very unusual first contact novel. The alien race we encounter is incredibly intelligent but completely unconscious. The contention, that such a race would see consciousness as parasite that does nothing but waste energy, which is not an unreasonable argument. Most mentation is accomplished by subconscious processes, the conscious mind then just chimes in and takes credit.

Another nice twist was that the leader of the small, rushed human expedition was a vampire. Vampires had been extinct for 6000 years but "jurassic park"ed back into existence. They have very different mental organization and are ruthless predators -- just who we need to meet aliens.

The reread was good. The main new thing I noticed this time through was that garden variety homo sapiens was being pretty much consigned to the dustbin of history, being replaced by cyborgs, AIs, and, of course, vampires.

I also noticed in an afterword a reference to the novel "Permanence", by Karl Schroeder (2003), and decided to give it a try. A good read, with some interesting use of new science. One of these concepts was that habitable planets could exist around brown dwarf "stars", and that these could be closer together than normal stars. Another was some ideas about consciousness similar to "Blindsight": that technological, conscious races become so because they are poorly adapted to their ecological niche. As eons pass and the race becomes better adapted, it will become increasingly unconscious and instinctive in its behavior. Also some good astro-archeology with artifacts of defunct alien interstellar civilizations.

I wonder if this was published as a Young Adult (YA) novel? The protagonist is a woman in her late teens, and there is a definite subplot of her hooking up with the right guy, i.e., we got us a chick flick here as well as a good hard sci-fi space opera. I know "Hunger Games" was YA. I've got the new Paulo Bacigalupi "Ship Breaker" on my iPad, it was listed as YA, the synopsis says the hero is a teenage boy. So does having a teenager as the protagonist make a novel YA? Seems like there are others ("Jumper" by Steven Gould comes to mind) that have teenage protagonists but weren't called YA. So I guess I'm confused by the YA designation.

Regardless, I've always loved stories with kids or teenagers as the protagonist. They make me think of how much I would have enjoyed reading them when I first started shoveling this stuff in, at age 12 or so.

Free stuff! I was going to buy some of Peter Watts' older stuff, but couldn't get the eBook for the 1st book of a trilogy he had published: "Starfish", "Maelstrom", and "Behemoth". Then found out, these are all available for free at his website. Also all his short stories. Pretty cool!

Karl Schroeder also has his novel "Ventus" available for free at his website. It's interesting how more options for obtaining books keep popping up. Nice!