I’ve long been a fan of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden novels, and their latest, The Gathering Edge, doesn’t disappoint.
It’s a pleasure to watch Theo grow into her role as captain, fully bonded to her AI ship, Bechimo. I’ve no doubt she’ll continue to grow in interesting ways as the edge continues to gather. Certainly she has the makings of a delm. And Hevelin–that noble norbear makes me smile and cheer … and be a bit afraid. And Joyita, it’s so very cool to see that AI develop as an individual so distinct from Bechimo.
One of the many things I enjoy about this novel is that, while tying together threads in many of the more recent books, it focuses almost entirely on Theo and her immediate company. That singular focus supports strong character development and underscores the ways in which Theo’s crew (really, they are more like a family — or clan) come together and interlock, supporting one another.
If none of the above makes sense to you, then this book isn’t the place to start exploring the Liaden Universe. But explore that universe, yes, indeed, you should.
The light-hearted tone and good-hearted characters in Thianna D.’s A Shifter, a Vampire, and a Fae Walk into a Bar make this romantic fantasy novel a delightful read, especially if you’re in a bad mood and just want to get away from it all. The heroine is a human, the hero is a shapeshifter who can take wolf form (“not a werewolf”, he insists), and the secondary characters include vampires, fae, demons, warlocks, and other supernatural beings, which makes an entertaining mix. This is the first book in a series, and much of the plot centers on the main characters coming together and becoming closer, creating their own little family of friends and eventually a home for themselves beyond space and time. Because the characters are so likable, it’s easy to root for them to succeed, and it’s easy to see why they are drawn to one another.
This isn’t a novel full of frustrating drama or deep angst or deadly danger, and the romance isn’t stuffed with endless longing or heated sex scenes. Instead, the book is soothingly humorous, and the sex is mostly off-screen and sweet. This is one of those novels that makes the world a little brighter.
I saw J.J. Abrams’s new Star Trek movie this morning.
It’s hard for me to explain what seeing this movie means to me. When I was a kid, the original TV series was in its first run, and I watched each episode religiously.
“Religiously” is not a metaphor here: I worshipped the show. All throughout each episode, I sat in one spot on the floor in a rigid position, double-jointed knees bent so that my legs were arranged in a V pressed flat on either side of me. Somehow that uncomfortable position made me worthy, made me part of the action.
I clipped the episode descriptions out of the guide in the daily newspaper and taped them into a log book. I arched my left eyebrow and murmured “fascinating” at every opportunity. I bought Leonard Nimoy’s records and played them over and over. I made up Mary Sue fanfic stories to tell myself as I fell asleep at night.
My younger brother called me Spock.
Brian thought of himself as Captain Kirk. Several times before he died of ALS last year, we watched Star Trek Generations together–the movie in which Captain Kirk dies. Brian made me promise to tell the readers of his blog that his last words to them were the same as Kirk’s last words in the movie: “It was fun.”
Anyone who knows anything about ALS knows that Brian wasn’t referring to the disease.
My dearest, deepest wish is that my brother could have seen the new movie. Seen fearless Kirk, fists flying in the face of death, more than forty years after his first incarnation.
Maybe (*spoiler alert*), in some alternative universe like the one in the movie, Brian lives and is watching Kirk and Spock and our beloved crew resurrected on screen.
Maybe when Brian’s young son, Joey, watches the young, fatherless Kirk drive hellbent for that yawning crevasse in the plains of Iowa, he’ll think of his dad. And know what Brian meant.
I just finished reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, a nominee for the 2006 Hugo award, and found myself comparing it to John Steakley’s Armor, published in 1984, which I read a few months ago.
Scalzi’s work is an entertaining read very much in the Heinlein tradition, as noted in the cover blurb by Publisher’s Weekly. The novel’s view of combat is rather blithe; despite relentless battles against aliens on all fronts, an apparently unwinnable war that will span generations, the beheading and maiming and death of various comrades, and the considerable physical damage done to the first-person narrator-soldier, that soldier, Perry, remains psychologically healthy. (The closest he comes to a crisis is feeling like an “inhumane monster” for a few pages, but that feeling is dispensed with easily.) Though he has the option of easier assignments, he asks to return to combat, which he acknowledges himself to be “strangely good” at (311). He is honored for his exploits, and the book ends with the promise of love and a good life tending fields of grain after his eventual retirement.
In contrast, Steakley’s work is far more unsettling. Like Old Man’s War, Armor features endless battles against deadly aliens, and the warrior Felix is likewise strangely good at combat, but Steakley depicts the psychological consequences of war far less blithely, showing how Felix becomes “The Engine” in order to survive. Felix fears, he expects to die, he weeps, he hates, as over and over again he is thrust back into combat by a glitch in the system—and he faces it, encased in a black suit of battle armor. Comrades die, friends die; in battle, he fights on, and after the battle, he reacts. And at the end of the book, well, I can’t spoil the ending, but I’ll take a quote from the final page: “There is no protection from what you want” (426).
I am not a habitual reader of military science fiction, and I’ve never fought in a war, but Felix reminds me of the one Vietnam War veteran I knew well, and Armor affects me more deeply and seems more layered than Old Man’s War.