Thursday, January 18, 2018

To Be Continued ...

I had finished 3 science fiction novels, time to blog them, but then the latest Charlie Stross novel came in, so I went on and read that too. All 4 novels are part of ongoing series.

1st up, the 7th Expanse Novel, "Persepolis Rising", by James. S. A. Corey, 2017, 560 pages. The SyFy channel has done a great job adapting these novels to TV. The authors seem to having fun mining various genres of space opera. It started as Earth vs Mars vs the Asteroid Belt political intrigue and skirmishing being interrupted by a extrasolar bioweapon. Then it transitioned to a story of an ancient network of gates to 100s of habitable worlds, so lots of opportunities there, with 100s of worlds to work with. The latest installment is about a Great Man with a vision to create a galactic empire. It's well done, and this story line will take another novel or 2 to play out. What genre will they go onto next? But, they jumped 20 years into the future for this one, so our main characters are noticeably getting old, such that maybe they aren't going to continue it that much longer.

2nd, the 3rd novel of the Confluence series, "The Druid Gene", by Jennifer Foehner Wells, 2016, 435 pages. These are only available on Kindle. She has retitled the book to "Inheritance" to be more consistent with the others in the series. Oh, Ms. Foehner says on her website: "It needed to join the series so that people would read them in order." This story is set in the same universe as the others, and references the event stream of the other stories briefly toward the end. I had been thinking, I hadn't read any sci-fi lately with lots of weird aliens - yey, weird aliens! The story moves along well, Ms. Wells' writing continues to improve. The 4th novel in this series "Valence" is out now, I have purchased it, I will probably wait a while to check it out.

3rd, the 3rd novel of the Terra Ignota series, "The Will to Battle", by Ada Palmer, 2017, 348 pages. Dr. Palmer continues to blow one's mind. A character who is The God of another universe visiting our God, and events that are totally best described as supernatural miracles, as the future near-utopia continues to unravel. Our totally untrustworthy narrator of the 1st 2 books is joined by The Reader and Thomas Hobbes of "Leviathan" fame to provide additional narrative. Dr. Palmer shows that she has no respect for any convention whatsoever when these narrators start talking to the characters in the story??? She has already broken the 4th wall, which wall is that? One of the most creative (and informational) writers of recent years.

I downloaded "Leviathan" from Apple for free, but I don't think I'll read it, I think I will read the Wikipedia article instead. I also purchased from Apple The Collected Works of Voltaire. I think I will give "Candide" a try, and maybe skim his Philosophical Dictionary.

4th and last, "Dark State", by Charles Stross, 2017, 341 pages, the 2nd novel of the Empire Games series, which is the 2nd series in the Merchant Princes universe. Wow, a 2nd-order series! Plenty of precedent - hah, the 1 that immediately springs to mind are the 2 Amber series that Roger Zelazny did - which these Stross stories reminded me of when I 1st started the series. Hmmm, Charlie moved forward 20 years for this 2nd series, as did The Expanse authors. I wonder why 20 years? Just coincidence, or close to the 22 year (tarot) cycles of life?

So we have a lot of intrigue amongst the parallel earths, but overall the plot doesn't seem to advance that much. Stross obliquely shares his alarm at the panopticon we seem to be moving towards here in the real world. I always enjoy Charlie's writing. We again encounter the ghost of Hobbes, and get a Kafka reference - and a plug for Universal Basic Income.

Another morsel of human food, gulped into the belly of a Hobbesian beast.


like the shed carapace of a cyborg Gregor Samsa.

Hmmm, I use Amazon for page counts of the books - Kobo doesn't always show the page count. So the last 2 both under 350 pages long? Meanwhile, the Wells story was 435 pages? I would have guessed under 300. And the new Expanse was 560? Sure didn't seem that long. Let's check the Kindle file sizes; 1st, 2855 KB; 2nd, 4702 KB; 3rd, 4269 KB; 4th, File Size: 4480 KB. That makes no sense either. How to get an accurate page count?

Not sure what to read next. I'll clear the magazine stack and then decide. After some initial technical difficulties, the iPad apps for Sky & Telescope, Scientific American, and Wired seem to work pretty well now (no jinx!). Still having to read Technology Review online.

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