The Drink Tank - The Hugo for Best Novel 2013

The Drink Tank 347 - The Hugo for Best Novel 2013
Contents
Cover by Bryan Little!
“Hugo not bound by Space and Time”
Page 2 - Table of Contents / Art Credits / This Stuff “Contents” Page 3 On The Shortlist by Steve Diamond (of Elitist Book Reviews) Art from Kurt Erichsen “I’ve read a lot of books...” The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed Page 5 - A Very Loosely Related Article by Christopher J Garcia “...some are hugely important symbols, while others are just over-hyped chairs.” Page 6 - A Review by Juan Sanmiguel “It will be interesting to see were Ahmed will take us next.” Page 7 - A Review by Mihir Wanchoo “The book’s size is definitely on the thinner side and this might be going against the norm...” Page 10 - A Review by Nadine G. “...just putting things in the desert doesn’t make a great book either.” Blackout by Mira Grant Page 11 - A Very Loosely Related Article By Christopher J Garcia “...and over the radio system came a name - Sunil Tripathi. “ Page 12 - A Review by Beth Zuckerman “It’s obvious that Grant is a fan of Whedon’s work;...” Page 14 - A Review by Regina & Michelle “Ugh, I am so sad this trilogy is over.” Page 17 - A Review by Catie Art by Michele Wilson “ Are you confused yet?” Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMasters Bujold Page 19 - A Very Loosely Related Article By Christopher J Garcia “Yeah, I’ve got nothing.” Page 20 - A Review by Sara Dickinson “Insofar as suspense goes...” Page 22 - 2 Reviews By Liz Lichtfield “This was entirely too funny for words.” By Kate “Oh, this was funny...” 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson Page 23 - A Very Loosely Related Article By Christopher J Garcia “In 300 years, I will be 338.” Page 24 - A Review by Anne Charnock “...Robinson has written a humungous book...” Page 25 - A Review by Maria Tomchick “...the author could use a good editor...” Page 26 - A Review of Beth Zuckerman “I recommend this book even though it’s about terrorism...” Redshirts by John Scalzi Page 27 - A Very Loosely Related Article by Christopher J Garcia “Gotta love that!” Page 28 - A Review by Beth Zuckerman “If you’r elooking for literature...” Page 29 - A Review by Juan Sanmiguel “It all beings with Ensign Andrew Dahl...” Page 30 - Biographies

garcia@computerhistory .org

On the Short List

A Piece from Steve Diamond of Elitist Book Reviews
It’s that time of the year again. Hugo time. The ballots are officially open, and those that can vote are, hopefully, trying to make educated decisions on who they think should win. I take it pretty seriously, and I imagine most folks do as well. This is a big freaking deal. I get the email daily; who do I think is going to win for Best Novel? That email is usually followed by two more asking who didn’t get nominated that I think should have been. Both are loaded questions, and usually I have to think long and hard about it. I have this type of conversation with my reviewers all the time. I have this conversation with other authors. Oddly, this year those emails are incredibly easy to answer. I’ll start off by once again congratulating all those individuals who are nominated in all categories. I’m still a bit stunned over my own nomination, and I’m incredibly humbled and grateful. But again, this little article is about the Hugo for Best Novel. Who do I think is going to win this year? Scalzi wins it for REDSHIRTS. He just does. I personally think it was the best novel in the field. While every other novel in the category had its own strengths and weaknesses, REDSHIRTS is the one I enjoyed the most. It’s an opinion shared by my awesome reviewers at Elitist Book Reviews. It was an easy call. Whew. But see, I’m always much more interested in who didn’t get nominated. Every year after the shortlists are announced people go nuts about who wasn’t nominated, and why other people were nominated instead. I’ll admit I’m part of that crowd. When you read as many books as I do in a year, it takes something special to stand out. Now, before I go on, please don’t misinterpret what follows as my saying that those who were nominated shouldn’t have been. I’m not saying that. They are on that list for a reason. They write books that people read. More importantly, they write books that people like. End of story. I love that people question what is “Hugo Worthy”. Why? Because no one is wrong, and I love how much passion is displayed by the readers. All over the internet people are fighting tooth and nail about how their pick is the most worthy. That is dedication. That is fandom. I’ve read a lot of books, and as I turn the final page on each subsequent volume I realize more and more that the important thing is that we are all reading. Do you love the novels that are nominated for the Hugo this year? Great, now go share that enthusiasm with ten friends. Maybe you feel deflated because the novel that completely blew you mind isn’t anywhere close to the shortlist. Guess what? Take that frustration and excitement for your favorite novel of the year and go tell a hundred people about it. I love reading. I love the excitement and controversy the Hugo Awards bring because it’s another opportunity for me to share the books that have me thrilled to talk about them (whether on the Hugo ballot or not). Here are the novels that had me positively giddy this year: THE COLDEST WAR by Ian Tregillis – Holy freaking cow. I’m convinced that the only reason this isn’t on the Hugo ballot is because not enough people read it. Alternate history has

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become a gold mine for incredible stories, and Tregillis tells one of love, lies, spies and gods in THE COLDEST WAR. The follow-up to it, NESSESARY EVIL, is amazing, and will be on my Hugo ballot next year. CALIBAN’S WAR by JAMES S.A. Corey – I’ve grown tired of Science Fiction. Again, my personal opinion, but there seems to be a serious lack in strong, character driven stories in SF. But I love CALIBAN’S WAR. Amazing characters, incredible adventures, real danger, excellent writing…man, this is the kind of novel that has my imagination doing backflips. THE KING’S BLOOD by Daniel Abraham – How can one guy tell a tale so effortlessly? I’m incredibly jealous. Abraham is gifted, and THE KING’S BLOOD is the kind of Fantasy that puts me in the world in a way that only Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin can. THE KING OF THORNS by Mark Lawrence – When it comes to the gritty Fantasy that everyone seems to be doing now, it takes someone special to stand out. Like Joe Abercrombie, Lawrence has an uncanny ability to have his characters always to the thing most appropriate for the situation, no matter how terrible. His character’s make no apologies, and I’d ask for none. I can go on. I can list a dozen more books that people need to read, but that’s what my blog, Elitist Book Reviews, is for. It’s a pretty awesome review blog, if I do say so. Do yourself a favor and go read all the Hugo Nominated works. If you don’t like them, that’s OK. If you love them all, that’s awesome. Once you’ve finished those books, go read some more.Take my recommendations or those of your friends and family. And when you find that book or author that gets you excited, share that with everyone you know.

Art by Kurt Erichsen
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The Throne of the Crescent Moon
A Very Loosely Related Article by Christopher J Garcia
Funny things, thrones. There are many. A great many, and some are hugely important symbols, while others are just over-hyped chairs. There are five Thrones that I always think of when I think of thrones, and no, none of them are a toilet! This chair shows all the marks of having been around a long, long time. It was carved in 1297 by Master Walter, whoever he was. Well, I guess he was a carpenter, all evidence withstanding. Not all of the Throne we know today was there in the 13th Century. There are lions serving as the base that were put in in the 1700s, and you certainly can tell that they’re not The Peacock Throne of the Mughals This is the one I think of when I think of original. Like all good pieces of wood from centuries opulent. It was created for Shah Jahan in the 1600s, and past, it’s had graffiti carved into it and shows its age.You was covered in gold, rubies, diamonds, emeralds. In the can still see some of the original paint and gilding, but middle 1700s, it disappeared; maybe given to the Sultan mostly the old oak is showing through. As it should be. of the Ottoman Empire, perhaps disassembled and scattered to the winds. The Sun Throne of Muhammad Shah Qajar might have used parts of it. The thing is Maharaka Ranjit Singh’s Throne beautiful in every illustrations you can find of it, and it The V&A is my favorite museum in the world. makes me wonder how much more is out there. The It’s got so many incredible holdings including one of the Timur Ruby, not ACTUALLY a Ruby and now a part of most beautiful (and smallest) thrones in the world. It’s the British Crown Jewels, was supposedly incorporated Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s throne. It’s lovely, though sadly in it. That alone would make it a marvel. it’s never been on display when I’ve been there. Today, there’s the Nadiri throne at Topkapi The core of the throne is wood and resin. Oh Palace, which is beautiful and intricate. It’s behind glass, yeah, on top of that it’s sheets of gold! The carving is but you can get a really good look at it. incredible, you can see a lot of close-ups on-line, the lotus pattern motif is great, but the best part is that The Chrysanthemum Throne it’s comparitively tiny! Less than 3 feet tall, I believe. It’s Japan’s monarchy may seem strange to many based off designs of Mughal furniture, and is one of the today. Japan is the height of modernization, years ahead finest examples of 19th century design. of the rest of the world in many areas, so why does it still host an Emperor? It is difficult to say, but the The Iron Throne Takamikura throne is a marvel. It dates only to 1917, OK, I’ve seen this one too. This is the only one but it is a huge set-piece, an impressively built and I’ve sat in! It’s the perfect symbol for an empire. It’s designed throne that gives the impression that every an intimidating piece, and seeing it at WorldCon was Emperor wants to give off.While it is only used today in an awesome thing. The best though I had of the Iron Ascension ceremonies, it’s still the symbol of Japanese Throne was of Young MIss Rosie Gray, Anne and Brian Imperial Power. It’s probably the most beautiful of all Gray’s daughter, and how she wouldn’t sit on it because today’s thrones. it scared her. That’s exactly what a throne should do. Well, one of two things a throne should do. Saint Edward’s Chair The other is to command dedication and The only actual Seat of Monarchy I’ve ever seen. perhaps even love from your subjects. It’s in Westminster Abbey and it’s missing the Stone of Now, in a fictional universe, you can build a Score, which is the symbol of Scotland. The stone was throne that is specifically designed to instill those fears. given back to the Scots, and that’s OK, since they can I can’t think of a throne in the real world that is as still use it during coronations. visually striking as the Iron Throne.

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The Throne of the Crescent Moon
First appeared in Event Horizon (http://oasfis.org/eh_archive.php)

A Review by Juan Sanmiguel

The world of Throne of the Crescent Moon is a complete fictional setting much like Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Unlike Middle Earth, its real world influence is not medieval Europe but the Middle East. This is world of ghuls (demons) and magic. This is also world with a corrupt and inefficient government facing a rebellion promising a new order. Doctor Adoulla Makhslood is a ghul hunter in Dhamsawaat, one of the great cities in Crescent Moon Kingdoms. In his sixties, Adoulla wishes for a quiet life, but a request from a former lover demands he looks into a ghul attack. He is assisted by a dervish (monk) Raseed bas Raseed. During their investigation in the desert, they meet Zamia Badawi. Her tribe was wiped out by a pack of ghuls and has evidence which may lead to source of these attacks. Zamia can assume the shape of lion and was the protector of her tribe. Adoulla and Raseed take Zamia back to Adoulla’s home and are attacked by ghuls. Zamia is severely wounded in the fight. Adoulla and Raseed take her to their friends Litaz, an alchemist and her husband Dawoud, a magus. While Adoulla and his friends are dealing with their problems, the Falcon Prince, a thief and rebel, is fighting to overthrow the corrupt Khalif. Adoulla cannot count on the authorities to help him. He and his friends have to figure out what is going on before it is too late. Adoulla is man good at his trade, but wishes he could retire. He has fought the good fight and seen horrifying things. His occupation has earned him a comfortable living and respect among his peers, but cost him a relationship. He continues his job because there are not many ghul hunters left and the threat has not diminished. It is interesting to see an older lead character in a fantasy story rather than the traditional young person finding their way in the world. Raseed is book smart and is good with a sword.

He is weak on some of the ways of the world. He questions whether the Falcon Prince is a hero or a criminal. Raseed does not know what to make of his feelings for Zamia. By working with Adoulla, he completse his education and becomes an effective ghul hunter. Zamia is the outsider. Even though she was a protector for her people, they were wary of her powers. Now that she has lost everything, she desires revenge but what is there after that? Can her friends help her find a place in the world? Litaz and Dawoud are also experienced in their field. They are from the neighboring country, the Soo Republic. The political mood causes them to consider returning to their homeland. There is a reactionary movement as a result of the rebellious activities in Dhamsawaat. There are people who wish to keep things as they are and they see foreigners like Litaz and Dawoud as a bad influence. The Falcon Prince and his rebellion give the story a modern feel. In the last few years the Middle East has undergone great changes and the rebellion in Dhamsawaat reflects that. No one knows which direction the rebellion will take, or whether the Falcon Prince is better than the Khalif. The point of view switches with the main characters. This allows for some parallel plot development particularly during the action-packed conclusion. It also lets the reader get into the heads of the characters. Ahmed has created an interesting world. It is rooted in the past but has ties to the present day. This is part one of a trilogy, and there are some big developments in this first novel. It will be interesting to see where Ahmed takes us next.

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The Throne of the Crescent Moon

A Review by Mihir Wanchoo
First appeared on http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Saladin Ahmed was born and brought up in Detroit, Michigan. He has a MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and an MA in English from Rutgers University. Previously he has taught University level creative writing courses for over ten years. He has been a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story, the Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction or Fantasy Writer, and the Harper’s Pen Award for best Sword and Sorcery/Heroic Fantasy Short Story. His short fiction has also appeared in magazines and podcasts including Strange Horizons, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex Magazine, StarShipSofa and PodCastle. He currently lives with his wife & twin children in a suburb of Detroit, this is his debut. OFFICIAL BLURB: The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the ironfisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings: Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “The last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered,Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path. Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God’s justice. But even asRaseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he andAdoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia. Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical angelic power, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her tribe’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt the same killer. Until she meets Raseed. When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time--and struggle against their own misgivings--to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin. CLASSIFICATION: The Crescent Moon Kingdom series is a Arabian themed Sword & Sorcery series which combines the swashbuckling adventure aspect of the One Thousand and One Nights with rich prose and efficient characterization to give the reader a new series to be enamored of.

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read (a B/W version can be viewed here). It should be interesting to see how the author populates and displays the lands drawn within. The story of this book focuses upon Dhamsawaat, the great city of Abassenwhich is considered to be the crown jewel amongst all the cities. It is this very city which doctor Adoulla Makhslood calls home; he is one of the last few of a revered clan. The clan of Ghul Hunters which is already lost most of its members to those very nemeses with whom they spar with. The prime thing about a true Ghul hunter is his shining white kaftan that refuses to catch any dirt until the particular Ghul hunter loses February 7, 2012 marks the North American Hardback his standards or absolves himself of the vows. In the and e-book publication ofThrone of the Crescent current day Adoulla is particularly fascinated by his past Moon via DAW. Cover art is provided by Jason Chan. as he contemplates it over a cup of cardamom tea. His reminiscing is disturbed by a uniquely disturbing vision ANALYSIS: wherein he sees his beloved city overrun by Ghuls. I was first introduced to Saladin Ahmed’s writing Things soon take a further downward turn when his when his short story “HOOVES AND THE HOVEL OF assistant/partner the young DervishRaseed bas Raseed ABDEL JAMEELA” from the anthology Clockwork Phoenix 2, was featured on our blog. It was a story which particularly mined the rare Arabic mythological landscape and with Saladin’s background, it was easy to notice why it was so strong a story. That was nearly three years ago. Last year it came to my notice that his Sword and Sorcery novel was debuting early in 2012 and I wanted to see what his imagination had created. The world of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms while drawing upon certain middle Eastern kingdoms of yore is also unique enough to draw the reader in. While the map definitely shows off a nice landscape, not much of it is revealed in the first volume & so it is left as a tantalizing presence of future wonders to be

FORMAT/INFO: Throne of the Crescent Moon is 274 pages long divided over twenty numbered chapters and three numbered but untitled interludes. Narration is in the third person via Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, Raseed bas Raseed, Zamia Banu Laith Badawi as the major POV characters while Lady Litaz Daughter-ofLikamiand Dawoud Son-of-Wajeed are the minor POV characters. There is a map of the crescent Kingdoms present along with an author acknowledgements page. Throne of the Crescent Moon is the first book in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms series.

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brings him a child survivor of a Ghul attack and one whose familial connections make it particularly difficult for Adoulla to avoid not getting involved. On learning the details of the ghul attack and as per their duty, they ride towards the attack spot only to learn that what awaits them, is something unheard of. They also come upon a tribal girl with special powers of her own, Zamia is the girl on the hunt herself to avenge her tribe. Fortunately they return to the city and find it in more of a upheaval due to the actions of Pharaad Az Hammaz, the Falcon Prince who is a Robin Hood like figure fighting against the oppressive rule of the Khalif. Set in the powder keg of the city wherein political fighting masks the danger presented by the unknown Ghul master who is looking to topple the natural order of things. It will be up to Adoulla and his allies to choose a side within the political battle and find out the mystery of the Ghul Hunter as well the source of the power that the hunter covets. This debut was something special to read about as instead of the usual medieval fantasy fare, the author has created a slightly unique scenario which really stands out amidst the debut fantasy field. The prose is praiseworthy as the author brings life to this remarkable world and the reader is easily transported to the dusty haven of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms. The characterization is also above the ordinary as the author does his best to fully showcase the characters and the dilemmas they face.The character cast features a wide array of characters who range from the various fantasy stereotypes of the young valiant warrior, old world-weary wizard, wild tribal girl, Old allies, etc. but the author superbly subverts these by bringing these characters to life via their POV chapters. You feel Adoulla’s resignation to his fate, Raseed’s devotion to his craft,Zamia’s single minded vengeance and the Falcon Prince’s enigmatic omniscient ways. All of this and much more is to be found in this slim volume which while being a series opener, gives a well rounded tale with a complete ending of sorts (of course with the promise of more to follow). The cover art by Jason Chan is also stunning and follows the pattern of that of The Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher by being a part of the actual story within.

The book’s infectious energy & pace also help in making the pages fly faster and hence the reader will want to read it in as few breaks as possible. The author’s passion in presenting this tale is very much felt through out these pages as while this book shares certain milieu characteristics with The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones andRose of The Prophet trilogy by Margaret Weis & T. Hickman. It far outstrips these two and other books in this niche by bringing a certain je ne sais quoi to its subject matter which could be due to the author’s own genealogy or simply because the author wanted to write a different type of medieval fantasy set in a geographical location which is usually caricatured. Whatever be the reason, the end result is that this book is definitely a special debut because of the excellence shown in the departments of prose,characterization & plot matter. Thoughts of the dissenting kind aren’t to be found as I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Maybe I could fault the book for being a bit too compact or not really expanding on the magic & world scenario beyond what is told in the story. However these couple of drawbacks aren’t really that big a deal and I think it shouldn’t be a deterrent for enjoying the book. The book’s size is definitely on the thinner side and this might be going against the norm seen in current fantasy scenario wherein the breadth of the spine is thought to be a plus point. This however doesn’t make it any less excellent as the book in its compact avatar, packs a very strong punch. The magic system as well the world history is given out rather sparsely and perhaps could have been explained a bit more.This however is a dicey matter and one which almost always causes consternation among readers as there’s no perfect ratio to be found. CONCLUSION: Saladin Ahmed debuts his take on Sword & Sorcery tales and it is a particular fascinating one. Throne of the Crescent Moon is definitely going to be in my year end list and will be remembered by many as a smashing, exciting debut. I would encourage all readers to give it a try as Saladin is definitely an author to watch for. Grab the Throne of the Crescent Moon and lose yourself in this alluring tale.

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The Throne of the Crescent Moon
First appeared on http://sffbookreview.wordpress.com/
In my attempt to read all the Nebula nominated novels this year, I have finally picked up this much praised novel by Saladin Ahmed. I had heard great things about how it mixes fantasy with an Arabian setting and falls into the currently trending category of fantasy-that-isnot-medieval-Europe. I agree that it would be nicer to have more diverse settings and characters in any genre, but just putting things in the desert doesn’t make a great book either. In this case, it worked well. The hype, though? As usual, overdone. I went into this with expectations based mostly on the cover image and what I’d heard in reviews. Which was Arabian Nights with zombies, more or less. Sometimes I ask myself why I still bother having expectations at all – most of the time they are not met, and I am happy about that. In Throne of the Crescent Moon, we are introduced to the ageing ghul-hunter Adoulla and his assistant, the dervish Raseed. Adoulla is more than tired of his life of demon-hunting, spell-casting, and generally living in danger. He is also somewhat foulmouthed and very likable. Juxtaposed to the zealot Raseed, the novel created a great dynamic between their points of view and I just loved how the author never lectures us on what to think. He merely presents people of very different beliefs and lets us choose whose side we’re on. Or not pick a side at all. For a while, Adoulla and Raseed, who go out to hunt a group of ghuls that killed a family, remain the two point of view characters. Until they meet the girl Zamia whom I absolutely adored. I loved how she complicated the group dynamics even more, bringin in an entirely different way of life and culture. Seeing certain scenes from each of their perspectives shone an interesting light on them and moved the story along even in the quieter moments. However, later on other characters are introduced and they also get their own view point chapters. It’s probably a matter of taste, but I felt disrupted and even a little betrayed. I loved the focus on that trio of unequal heroes, I did’t want to see into other people’s heads. Characters can also be established without having their own view point chapter, after all. To me, the most interesting parts of this book were not plot or mystery. It was Raseed fighting with himself and with his belief and what he has learned of the world. It was Zamia, who has lost everything, coming to terms with what lays ahead of her.And, of course, their feelings towards each other. Partly because two new viewpoints were introduced mid-story, I didn’t get nearly enough of Zamia. I actually think (what I consider) the three main characters suffered for it. Neither Litaz nor Dawoud are intriguing enough to replace Zamia or Raseed’s storylines. I would have preferred to have only the trio’s points of view, with Dawoud and Litaz and side characters – a state above which they never really rise, anyway. Apart from my minor character issue, I also had a bit of trouble with the pacing. The beginning was fantastic, we are introduced to characters, the world and its magic at a reasonable pace. During the middlepart, there is a slump, a big zone of let’s-tell-this-oneunimportant-scene-reeeeaaally-slowly, for which I saw no reason whatsoever. Then again, at the end, the book was impossible to put down. When action meets action, Saladin Ahmed is at his best. There are many little things wrong with the book. I was disappointed in the magic system and the revelations at the end, but despite all that, I enjoyed myself immensely. This is a fun adventure story with a cool setting where religion is involved in practically everything the characters do or say. It didn’t live up to the massive hype, but it was a book I’d recommend for a quick, light fantasy read that isn’t an alternate medieval Europe. THE GOOD: Great characters who face (mostly inner) conflicts that kept me interested. A cool setting and fantastic action writing. THE BAD: Two unnecessary POV characters, dragging middle-part. THE VERDICT: A fun fantasy novel in an Arabian setting that suffers some first-novel-problems. Recommended. RATING: 7/10 – Quite good

A Review by Nadine G.

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Blackout
A Very Loosely Related Article by Christopher J Garcia
Blogs are the future of journalism. Right? Maybe. Quite possibly. The world of journalism is changing, and Mira’s concept of a tightly-controlled blogosphere with registration and so on was was something I didn’t quite buy into the idea because I saw that the most obvious concept: large corporations will always find a way to turn any movement into a moneymaking process. Then Boston happened, and specifically Watertown, and I realised it was a thinner possibility than I had thought, though that it might also have given first push towards requiring the kind of registration that was featured in Newsflesh. Why? Sunil Tripathi. OK, let’s start with the bombing. Almost immediately after the bombing, there was a flurry of activity.Twitter, Facebook, blogs, on and on. Everywhere you turned, there was talk, nowhere more than Reddit. Reddit is a social media site I know next to nothing about. They generate a lot of content, that’s for sure. Basically, Reddit turned into a sleuthing site. There were Redditors who were doing everything they could to find the guy, examining and re-examining photos and video of the bombings, posting things, asking questions and even naming a few potential suspects… or at least persons of interest. The Law Enforcement Community didn’t take them too seriously, though I understand that they took a few of their ideas to heart,started a few investigations into people named there. It’s not the first time this has happened, there were USENET postings during 9/11, for example, but never to this level, or this organized, it seems. It was kinda like the Old West: a posse had formed and were lookin’ for the man who shot their pa, of a sort. I have to say that they got a fair bit down the rabbit hole, I think I saw a photo of the two bombers here first, though neither were identified as suspects, though I wasn’t following closely. This is exactly the kind of thing that I’m betting could end up leading to the Feds wanting to lock things down, to get some form of control. Reddit’s users were acting as a combination of journalists and detectives, and that’s the kind of thing that major groups would LOVE to lock down, if possible. One thing that I didn’t know was on-line was the Boston Police radio network. It was kinda shocking that they wouldn’t protect it, try and keep the voices out of the ears of the general public, but no, it’s out there. I get why, there’ve been people with scanners for decades, I remember a couple of folks in my neighborhood had one when I was little, we even listened to it some after the 1989 Earthquake. There was a lot of info going out over the internet, and a LOT of us were listening. I was, no doubt, especially during the Cambridge-Watertown portion of the chase and standoff. It was after the photos of the Tsarnaev Brothers were published that they seemed to get agitated and things happened fast and furious. First off, it was messy, as there was all sorts of information flying around, and over the radio system came a name - Sunil Tripathi. Well, it was Sunil Tripathi and another man, but his name was the one that stood out. He’d been missing for about a month, and though there wasn’t much to tie him in with the bombing other then he had gone missing, his name went over the wire and got passed around. I was one of ‘em, I have to confess. It was over the police radio, it had to be right, right? Right? There’s the problem, and what I expect to get folks looking seriously at how to deal with these things. Twitter and Facebook are difficult things, though it’s not impossible to believe that there will be consequences in the larger arena, if not from this specific event, from the ones that are sure to follow. Imagine that it happens again, maybe this time in another country. Is it unexpected that these kinds of things could lead to the kind of regulation that could lead to a Newsflesh sort of world? Well, without the zombies.

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Blackout
A Review by Beth Zuckerman
In my review of the first book in Mira Grant’s exciting Newsflesh series, Feed, I quoted Andy Trembley as saying that it was “a political allegory in the form of a zombie novel.” Andy corrected me, saying it was really “a political thriller in the form of a zombie novel.” I think, now, that all of these concepts are important in our analysis of the Newsflesh series, and that the whole thing is best described as “a political allegory in the form of a zombie thriller.”   Because thrilling it is. This series truly keeps you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails for more. (Even though I’ve reviewed the first two books, Feed and Deadline, before, here I’m going to write a review of the series as a whole, because, without the rest of the series, Blackout would be very incomplete and rather meaningless.) While many find this sort of writing simplistic and formulaic, I admit a personal bias in favor of really thrilling stuff.   But as thrilling as the thrills are, there’s much more to the Newsflesh series; the element of political allegory is even more important. Grant ridicules the hysteria behind the War on Terror, by turning the terrorists into zombies. We’ve definitely got legitimate zombie hysteria here; they’re a real threat. And Grant has an interesting technical explanation for how the zombie virus got started (the road to hell is paved with good intentions...). But the response of the CDC to the zombie threat, arming every doorway with mandatory blood tests that upload the results directly to the CDC (so that any threat can be neutralized almost immediately), is a clear example of obnoxious security overkill. In this fashion, with ironic detachment and deadpan humor worthy of Joss Whedon, Grant brilliantly satirizes the War on Terror.   Grant also speaks to her readers about modern journalism. Her main characters are reporters for a news site called After the End Times. They are divided into three groups: Newsies, Fictionals, and Irwins. Newsies are sincere bloggers, reporting the news and their take on it. Fictionals put more of their own spin into the story, filling it with emotion. Irwins (named, yes, for Steve Irwin) specialize in poking sticks at dangerous things like zombies. (Irwins are often particularly fond of live video feeds.) But like worthy reporters, these characters are determined to pursue the revelation of truth at any cost, even if it kills them. In this way, Grant conveys a sense of grand heroism.   It’s obvious that Grant is a fan of Whedon’s work; she names a major character “Buffy.” While I think she displays a real measure of skill in the ironic

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detachment department, I don’t see that she brings us to quite the same emotional highs and lows as Joss, or even the melodramatic Marti Noxon. For one thing, the romantic relationships in these books just don’t work right or ring true; they fall completely flat. But I think the larger problem is that Grant’s work is almost too ironically detached; while you care about the characters, it’s hard to get worked up about them in the same way that you got worked up about Willow. I think this arises partly from the large number of characters, and the difficulty in distinguishing the different voices.   I could go on at great length about the narrative voices in these books, and how the obvious flaw in it drove me absolutely freaking insane. I can think of several ways in which Grant could have easily eliminated the narrative voice problem. She didn’t, and the very severe problem is there. While things get better in the final novel, the issues that bothered me about the first

two books remain, and I can’t wholeheartedly endorse these books without pointing out this major failing.   All in all, however, if you love satire, if you love ironic detachment, if you love page after page of thrilling excitement, if you loved Buffy, you will love this creative and exciting series. I can’t deny that, in spite of its major flaws, I hung on every word. I could barely wait for each of the subsequent volumes to become available, and I bumped this series to the top of my priority list each time a new book came out. If I put aside all considerations of quality and judged books solely on the criteria of How Much I Enjoyed Reading Them, the Newsflesh series would be at the top of my Hugo list. I think I’ll put the flaws down to Mira’s being a relatively new writer (she won the 2010 Campbell) and look forward to her more mature work (with bated breath!).

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Blackout (Newsflesh #3)
A Review by Regina & Michelle
First appeared at
http://badassbookreviews.com/hot-new-release-review-and-giveaway-blackout/

Regina and Michelle’s Review: 5 Skulls; Grade A+ *excitedly received from Orbit and Netgalley in exchange for a review* Rise up while you can. -Georgia Mason The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk.The year of the Rising. The year was 2039. The world didn’t end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made. Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there’s one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it’s this: Things can always get worse. Blackout is the conclusion to the epic trilogy that began in the Hugo-nominated Feed and the sequel, Deadline Michelle’s Initial Thoughts What I absolutely love about this series is that Mira Grant makes her world seem so believable. Her attention to detail is so extreme, that as a reader, I almost forgot that it wasn’t real. My favorite little attention to detail- the hair being lighter due to the decontamination. Shaun really grew up in this novel. He went from being George’s sidekick to being a force to be reckoned with. I loved the ending. I thought, considering all the possible ways she could have ended the series, she did it so masterfully. Regina’s Initial Thoughts I was in love with this book from the beginning.  I should say upfront, I liked Feed but not as much as

Deadline, which I loved and not as much as Blackout, which is my favorite.  For me, Mira really hit her stride with Blackout.  The alternating points of view were very effective and I loved the blog posts from the various team members.  The way Mira tells her story, both in first person point of view from various characters and in a journal format via quotes and blog excerpts, really worked for me.  It gave the story a multi-layered feel. Blackout was non-stop struggle, fight and chase from the beginning.  The action never stopped but it was my favorite kind of action.  I skim or close my eyes during fight scenes and car chase sequences but the action in Blackout had me hooked.  I did not miss a word. I wondered about people’s motives, I worried that there would be unresolved issues and I worried about my favorite characters. I shouldn’t have worried.  Not everyone can live or survive in a world like this one, but the characters are dealt with fairly and I was satisfied with the outcome. A book about a zombie plague that affected the world’s mammal population and a future dytsopia setting is bound to have its unbelievable moments, but for me this never happened.  Mira Grant writes this book in such a way that it is believable.  A lingering question at the end of every zombie book is –how did the zombie plague happen?  Well, in Newsflesh Mira Grant lays it out for the readers.  We know why it happened. She provides enough detail to readers so that the science is acceptable.  Her world building is not just in boundaries and political alignments, but is is also done with science.  Political plots can be a real yawner.  Ther are some books with political plotlines that I liked (Kushiel’s Dart and Game of Thrones are some examples), but I prefer an action based plot or a character driven plot — Blackout manages to have both and has politics intertwined and somehow is still.  There is political intrigue, backstabbing and power hungry grabbers.  But there are other political elements as well.  One of the political themes that I picked up on, is the idea that citizens should not trust a government or authority that derives its power from fear.  Mira touches on this theme very subtly and effectively but does not hit the

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reader over the head with it.  But what I thought was interesting, but questioning the government on the issue of fear and safety, she is calling into question the premise of the world she has constructed.  Are those multiple blood tests really necessary?  Necessary or not, they play a key role in the books but there is a hint that these blood tests may be used as a method of pacification and mollification  rather than simply a safety measure. While reading the first two books I often wondered — what about the people who live off the grid?  Was that even possible?  Mira takes the readers off the grid in Deadline; we get to see people who have walked away from the fences and the government protection.  While the first two books had more of a dystopia setting feel by showing us the off-the grid folks it was evident that the apocalypse was still going on.  And that is downright scary.  It really isn’t under control but what the government is doing to maintain the problem isn’t working.  There are so many issues addressed in this book — power, greed, love, desparation ….. Ugh, I am so sad this trilogy is over.  I would love to have more stories about these characters. I am hoping Mira Grant considers returning to this world.  She has created something so unique in the zombie genre that deserves to be revisited. So what did you think?

Were you convinced (about George and her “resurrection”)? Michelle:  Absolutely. Without going into the science of the “resurrection”, I think Grant’s explanation is convincing. In fact, I quizzed one of our scientists here at work, and while she laughed at me regarding the entire “zombie” thing, she did say that in the future, this type of cloning is possible (but unlikely). Regina:  I definitely was.  But I struggled with the concept of is it George and I was sad  that George was still dead.  I guess it depends on if you are coming from the point of view of whether we are all neural connections and impulses or if there is something more.  That first George died and she never got to see whether her struggle or her heroism paid off. Michelle: I didn’t struggle which I thought was odd. I fully embraced the new George. I loved how the new George did not embrace the other versions (spoiler territory here). I think my reason is what are we but a bunch of memories and our learned behavior from those memories. Now if we are talking George’s soul, well, that will take another book. Regina:  Ah, the other versions.  How did I forget about those?  You are right, there was no lamenting or sadness in her decision to do what she did at the CDC. Is Shaun crazy? Michelle: Definitely not. I think towards the end we see that his imaginary George conflicted with the real deal (can’t figure out how to explain my answer without being spoilerish) and how Shaun actually started to recognize that reality was where he wanted to be grounded in rather than in his imagination. I think imaginary George was a coping mechanism. With some people, when faced with a shocking trauma (and shooting someone you love is probably the worst type of trauma you can endure), you use drugs, alcohol, or even OCD type of behavior. With Shaun, he created

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the latter third of the book was not plotted out well enough or it was all over the map.  I see where they are coming from, but I respectifully disagree (you know who you are! ) The pacing never bothered me and I Regina:  Haha, a written journal that talked back.  That enjoyed the ride.  I was doing some of those isometric is exactly right.  I think he was kinda gone.  He refused stomach clenches mentioned in the book during many to accept reality and refused to engage in reality .   many scenes because I was so nervous, but to me it Mira wrote this so well.  I loved how other characters was hectic because of what they were going through started wondering what “she” was thinking. and the flow was never jerky or unbelievable. a security blanket for himself, – imaginary George. I thought it was brilliant. It was like a written journal that talked back! Michelle: I thought this was so brilliant. What do we do when we can’t cope? The unsuccessful copers (is that a word) use drugs and alcohol to forget, to not take responsibility. Shaun had imaginary George. Absolutely brilliant. Regina:  Yup — great point.  And George noted that they way she would  have coped is suicide. Becks (without being spoilerish) Michelle: OMG. I loved Becks. She is reality. Sadly, she was reality when Shaun was in make-believe. When Shaun got out of make-believe, he no longer needed her. I think the way the story ended for Becks was oddly beautiful. She was at peace with her decision and was doing what she did best. Michelle:  I found the flow to be perfect. I loved it. I’ve never clung to every word in such a manner as I did in this book, with this series! Regina:  Me too.  I was in engaged in this internal struggle to finish the book as fast as a could but also to make it last. Did the Bear live up to the hype? Regina:  Hell yeah!  That was Badass! Michelle: hahaha! That was.

Gross or not Gross and I don’t mean the zombie parts: (This IS A Spoiler) Regina’s: Mira wrote Shaun and George as a couple so matter of fact and so non explicitly that I accepted their relationship and was satisfied with it.  I can see Regina:  Becks was the “what if” aspect of Shaun’s life.  where some readers may be frustrated that this theme What if he never met George?  What if he was able keeps appearing in popular fiction right now.  It wasn’t to move on after George’s death? Becks could be the gross or titillating in my opinion. answer for Shaun in both scenarios.  Mira wrote her as the almost perfect companion, side kick and balancing Michelle: I never had a problem with Shaun and George. act for Shaun.  Almost.  And you made me think of I did not consider them siblings, at all. They were two something Michelle, Becks was reality where Shaun people used by two other adult people, that grew up was insanity — George did that for Shaun when she in the same household.. In my opinion, it would be like was alive didn’t she?  He was having fun and goofing off, saying a guy and girl cannot get married because they but George was all business.  I guess maybe Becks was played together as children. I don’t know. It just never less business and more fun than George but definitely bothered me. not less real nor less heroic.  It kind of stings to read that he no longer needed her, but really, he didn’t. Regina:  Great comparison.  I also like what Mira said about it in her interview here. Michelle:  Thinking of Becks makes me sad. She was such a great character. She deserved better, more. But So what do you think? yeah, she was used. Combined Rating:   Regina:  Okay, I am sad now. Was it all over the place for you? Regina: I have seen some reviewers write that for them

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Blackout (Newsflesh #3)
A Review by Catie
I was over the top excited to read this final installment, but I admit that I was also nervous.  I loved Deadline, but I found myself balking a bit at what Alaric would call the “Mad Science.”  I have no flipping clue how to review this and remain spoiler free but I am going to try my hardest! And I guess that means that I can’t even really summarize anything that’s happened in the previous two books.  Ummm… there were conspiracies and deaths (oh so many deaths!), high-stakes journalism and heroic bloggers, twists that we never saw coming, and a few zombies thrown in for good measure.  I laughed, I cried, I shook my fist in frustration.  Here’s what I absolutely loved about this installment: I had so many doubts, but Mira Grant made me forget every single one.  I got so swept up in the first two thirds of this book.  For the first two thirds, I couldn’t care less just how out-there the science was, or how random the plot, or how convenient some of the scenarios.  Grant really knows how to keep the pace moving and her characters are each so unique and full of personality.  I loved the entire ensemble. Still… something was missing in this book for me.  I just didn’t feel the emotional gut-wrench that I’d become accustomed to with the previous two books.  The first two books in this series made my cry real tears – not just a few little prickles but full on crying.  And, just to put things in perspective – this book has just as much death as the previous two.  But no tears.  Even in the climactic, endgame scene involving my favorite character – I just didn’t feel it.  I think the forward momentum in this book really stalled out for the last third.  Things started to feel repetitive: run, fight, use witty banter as a coping mechanism, describe a posh hotel in intricate detail, run, fight, use witty banter as a coping mechanism, describe a posh hospital in intricate detail, run, fight, use witty banter as a coping mechanism, describe a posh laboratory in intricate detail... and so on.  And the reasoning behind all of this running felt shaky at best.  The witty banter, which I previously found funny, really started to wear on me by the end.  I just wantedsomeone to show an honest emotion!  Stop joking about it for like a second!  Then, feel free to resume. However, all of these things were more like niggling doubts I had.  The major thing

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that prevented me from really loving this book was something very very spoilerific, so you’ll all have to excuse me if this gets really confusing. Remember at the end of Feed?  When Mira Grant did one of the most courageous, bold things I’ve ever seen in fiction and just blew all of our hearts to smithereens?  I felt like I actually grieved.  But then, in this book… it really felt to me like all of that courage and bravery was just being undone.  It felt like a major cop-out on her part.  And I did love the scenes where she attempted to remind us all of that certain event, and that it had happened, and that it could never be changed.  BUT, for all of this verbal reminding, I never felt like she showed us that it hadn’t been magically undone.   If a hypothetical “development” walks, talks, and goes by the name of a duck, isn’t it essentially a duck?  And I really didn’t want it to be a duck, at least not all of the time.  I wanted it to have issues acting like a duck some of the time.  I wanted it to forget how to quack or waddle or swim.  I wanted its little duckie friends not to recognize it immediately.  Otherwise, it just feels so shallow.  It doesn’t feel real.  It feels like a magic fairy tale solution.  Are you all confused yet? Time to wrap this up then.  In short, I still really liked this series. It’s fun; it’s fast-paced; it’s much better and more inventive than most. I had my issues with it but I think they’re more about personal preference.These books are well worth reading. Perfect Musical Pairing Temple of the Dog - Say Hello to Heaven I have no idea why these books remind me of my favorite 90’s grunge bands, but there it is. Of course, I used a Pearl Jam song for George and a Soundgarden song for Shaun so... the only natural thing to do for this book is Temple of the Dog.  *wink* This song really isn’t for either of them though.  This was written by the remaining members of Mother Love Bone, after their lead singer Andrew Wood died.  This is my song for the wall - for all the brilliant characters I mourned during the course of this series.   3.5/5 Stars

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Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
A Very Loosely Related Article by Christopher J Garcia
Yeah, I got nothing. I knew this one would be tough because I don’t enjoy reading Bujold’s stuff, for the most part, and couldn’t even begin to get into Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. How am I to put together a Very Loosely Related Article on a book I can’t read? Well, maybe that’s the whole thing. Why can’t I get into Bujold? I’m not 100% certain I know. Of all her novels, I’ve tried to read about 7. I’ve finished one. A total of one. I’ve made it 1/2 of the way through another three I think. The rest? I tried, got a bit in and dropped off. It happens. What is it that makes someone unable to connect with a specific writer. For example, I enjoy Connie Willis’ short fiction. I’d say she’s one of my favorites. I don’t much enjoy her novels. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never found her novels that great, though I enjoyed Blackout a bit more than any of the others I’ve tried to read. Scalzi has a similar problem. I like Old Man’s War, enjoyed Agent to the Stars, and even Redshirts, but most of the rest have either left me without an opinion, or actively angry; Zoe’s Tale being the prime example of that. I think for the Vorgosigan Saga, my big problem is that I don’t actually enjoy reading any of the characters. Miles waffles between boring the hell out of me and actively annoying me. Ivan (aka Ivan You Idiot!) is such a slight character that to make a book about him is much like trying to give Rosencrantz and Guildenstern their own play without the genius absurdism. It’s funny in that those are three who are known for their comedy. Scalzi can be very funny, same with Connie, and I’m told Bujold is the same. Maybe that’s it. I love VOnnegut, but have had trouble reading Sheckley over the years. Ron Goulart is another comedic SF writer who I just don’t dig. Maybe it’s comedy that turns me off, though I very much enjoyed Redshirts more than Scalzi’s more serious works. Weird. There are some other authors who I am able to easily read some of their stuff, but the rest not nearly as easily. Folks like Carol Emshwiller, John Ringo, Howard Hendrix, Frank Herbert, and probably most notably David Brin. I can gobble up a fair bit of Brin, and there’s a fair bit that I can’t even begin to read!

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Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
A Review by Sara Dickinson
This is not one of Lois Bujold’s profound, hearttearing efforts--but it’s fun, and funny, and it’s a joy to see Ivan, who is usually overshadowed by his brilliant (and crazy) cousin Miles, shine. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance builds on the glimpses we had, in Memory and in Civil Campaign, of the real Ivan Vorpatril: a man who is just as highly intelligent as his insane Vorkosigan relatives but...less insane. He likes a quiet life. He likes a job that does not require huge shots of adrenalin, or people trying to kill him, or having to produce insane, last minute plans to save everybody. He likes flowcharts, not practical applications of chaos theory. In short, Ivan Vorpatril likes order, organization, and keeping things neat.Where his cousin(s) are masters of chaos and onthe-fly brilliance, he is a master of the orderly. Beware of spoilers below!!! Naturally, that gets shot to hell--in a small way-in this novel. And Ivan proves that he is not without a share of the family ability to produce insane-plans-thatturn-out-brilliant-in-the-long-run: when placed into a situation that, on a smaller scale, greatly resembles some of Miles’s, he panics, and then produces a workable, spur of the moment solution. It’s not a particularly original plan--in fact it comprises the plot of any number of romance novels, ie, marry the heroine in order to save her from some worse fate/help her out of trouble. What turns this on its head a bit, however, is the fact that there is, overall, a notable lack of angst. To be sure, Ivan is faced with a little bit when he realizes that, despite years of avoiding it, he quite likes being married, and to his wife in particular, and he ends up with a bit of worry over whether or not he can convince her to stay put. She has some of the same angst, and like previous Vorkosigan saga heroines who are not Cordelia, she has Relatives, and they are a Pain. (Loveable, but a Pain.) Insofar as suspense goes, there really isn’t much in the book. Because it’s set a good six years before Cryoburn, we all know that Ivan gets out of any serious danger. (I’m racking my brain though--I’ve only read Cryoburn once so far--and I don’t recall there being any hints in there about the events of this book. But as it’s about Miles, and as it’s six years down the road, well...there may not be. It’s not as though the Vorkosigan books were written in order, after all.) And, considering the light, fluffy fare of Alliance here, it’s really a very good thing that it’s not set after Cryoburn, as one would expect any follow-up to THAT one to deal with the bombshell dropped at its end. It’s fairly clear, too, that things will work out for Ivan, despite his romantic frustration as we last saw it in A Civil Campaign. Like his uncle, he had better luck in marrying a galactic--and unlike Miles, he had no trouble convincing her to stay on Barrayar. Some reviews I have seen found Tej to be a bit mild and boring and unworthy of Ivan. I have to disagree, at least on the boring and unworthy-of-Ivan part. Granted, compared to most of the Amazons that Miles tended to hook up with--and even bearing in mind her quiet nature, Ekaterin is still a warrior woman, albeit of the Vor type--Tej is a bit “dull.” She is somewhat amazonian in build, being (so I gathered) about six feet tall (or very close to it) and with a distinctly generous figure (hooray for another Bujold heroine who is NOT skinny!). But one must remember that Ivan is NOT Miles. Ivan likes order, and stability, and organization, remember? I think many of us (and I admit to falling for it myself from time to time) often forget that Ivan is not, in fact, an adrenaline junkie like Miles. To be sure, he popped up in many of Miles’s insane adventures, particularly early in their careers, and he pulled through more than adequately. And no one can fault his brilliant method of dealing with depressed Miles in Memory, when Ivan hauled Duv Galeni (an extremely dubious and half-terrified Galeni) in to shock Miles out of his funk. But Ivan has never, over the course of the books, stopped voicing his dislike of being dragged into Miles’s messes. He still, more than a decade after the events of Brothers in Arms, loathes dark enclosed wet spaces (and it isn’t claustrophobia, dammit! It’s a perfectly reasonable fear!). He still clings happily to his job as a “secretary” (albeit at this point its for the head of Barrayaran Military Ops, arguably one of the single

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most important positions in the empire)and does his damndest to avoid promotion (which brings with it jobs that do not entail organization and flowcharts). It makes sense, therefore, that Ivan would fall in love with a woman who comes from an extremely colorful family of overachievers but who herself would really like to be left alone to pursue quiet, calmer interests. In other words, Ivan’s love affair is NOT a case of “opposites attract” (which I always find a bit unbelievable) but rather a case of “Oh, hey, we share definitely compatible views on life and life-goals.” This is not the frankly unlikely plot of a romance novel, folks, despite it playing with romance novel tropes. It is, really, a pretty calm and realistic story of two people falling in love. Because it’s part of the Vorkosiverse, though, the manner in which Ivan and Tej meet, and various other events in their courtship/marriage, are pretty spectacular, ranging from an ImpSec sting (and hooray! Byerly Vorrutyer being snarky!) to ImpSec screwing up (Byerly again, as well as various other ImpSec “weasels”) and Ivan stepping in to prevent ImpSec from making a complete hash of his quiet life. Again. There are also Jacksonians, bounty hunters (mostly, as Ivan calls them, “bargain ninjas” who suck at their jobs), a pretty exciting treasure hunt and, in what is perhaps a disaster that might just top Miles’s Epic Failed Dinner Party, the hilarious Sinking of the ImpSec HQ building. More excitement than Ivan likes, but nothing approaching Miles Vorkosigan-levels of excitement--fortunately for Ivan’s state of mind. Overall, it’s a farce much like Civil Campaign: no empire-threatening plots, and no real casualties other than people’s pride or expectations. (Simon Illyan’s pride being one of the most notable-the man finally gets bored enough to screw up, and Gregor is forced to quietly suggest to Lady Alys that she take him on a long vacation. Off planet.) What I loved best about this book was the fact that, at long last, we get to meet the “real” Ivan Vorpatril. And no, he is not a superhero commando. He is, more or less, exactly what he’s been trying to tell his relatives he is all along: a highly capable Ops clerk who really loves flowcharts, organization, and QUIET. What he is NOT, however, is a feckless idiot, having outgrown that years ago.Alliance points out, much to my personal delight, that just because he lacks the flashy, explosive brilliance of his cousin Miles (or, indeed, his Uncle Aral) this does not mean he is in any way stupid or incapable. He even actively sabotages a superior’s glowing report of his incredibly adept skills as organizer, expediter, and general efficiency-guru because he likes his current

position and does not want to risk getting reassigned or promoted somewhere less peaceful. And, over and above all of this, Ivan Vorpatril (despite being a jerk as a very young man) is a nice man. He’s thoughtful, and helpful, and courteous to women. His so-successful seduction technique? Making women laugh. And also playing the odds, and going to places where there are likely many women looking for company and therefore increasing his odds of success. When he is forced to focus on one woman solely (his attempt to “rescue” Tej at the start of it all), he actually crashes and burns fairly spectacularly. Also, as he points out to Byerly, his reputation as a “womanizer” has come at the cost of many, many breakups--all of which, he also admits to himself, he has felt fairly keenly, regardless whether or not he was the one doing the breaking up, or being broken up with. Because, after all, Ivan Vorpatril is not actually a rake (this being another trope the book plays with and turns on its head): he’s a Nice Guy. And let’s face it: any woman with sense-especially one who also wants a quiet life--goes after a Nice Guy.

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Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

2 Reviews
Kate

Liz Lichtfield
This was entirely too funny for words. ‘Budget ninjas’ will stick with me for quite some time, as will the plot point of instant breakfast groats.The structure of this book actually follows the Sharing Knife (Beguilement) series in miniature- romance, followed by reconciling with the two families, followed by mad adventure. Ivan’s POV is well done- honest to previous characterization of his feckless youth but quite convincing of his very real adult smarts and talents. His role as aide de camp, sorting out snakes, was particularly funny to me as I myself was filling in as an aide de camp at the time I read the book. Tej is a good partner for Ivan, and if her characterization as the happily normal child in a family of absurd overachievers parallels Ivan’s just a smidge too closely, I chose to go with it. I particularly loved Ivan’s foreshadowed career pathBarrayar needs people who can keep a lid on trouble just as much as it needs its famous manic fireman-in-chief. My only regret is this book renders one of my favorite fanfics ever no longer canonfeasible:http://archiveofourown. org/works/4916 While By did have an excellent starring role in CVA (no complaints!), I always did see him as made for Ivan...

Oh this was funny, and really, really enjoyable. I’ve never been one of those Bujold fans who have longed to hear more about Ivan Vorpatril, to be honest, he irritated me a little as he was obviously lazy and, well, he’s just Ivan “you idiot” Vorpatril.... But here, we get a whole book of him, and to be honest, Bujold has made him a far more rounded character where his motivations become clearer - essentially he’s been all for an easy life because he’s got first hand experience of what happens if you dabble in politics - his father having been gunned down in the street the day he was born. I loved the descriptions of the way Ivan’s mind works. For instance, his job is to prioritise information for his boss in the military, and he describes the messages which arrive every day using the metaphor of snakes in various stages of venomosity, aliveness and deadness, and depending on the state of the snake depends on what is dones with it (e.g the hissing, lively venomous ones go *straight* to the boss). This is a great way to see this sort of work prioritization and I have definitely got application for it in my work life! So, I’m not going to give any spoilers about what happens because that would be a shame (although I will say that Ivan finally meets his match in a woman), but this book is a real laugh and I thoroughly enjoyed it

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A Very Loosely Related Article by Christopher J Garcia

2312

In 300 years, I will be 338. That’s a ripe old age, no? I mean, it won’t be by that point. There’ll be folks in their 350s, maybe even their 380s. Science will save us all, you know, right? I’ll be 338 years old, and there’ll still be folks I can call ‘Old Timer! There have been old-timers, in the past. A few of them may have even approached 300! While they may not have been fully true, it’s almost impossible for them all to be lies. Old Tom Parr only lived for 150+ years. Li Ching-Yuen is one of the most interesting cases of Longevity. He was supposedly over 197 years old, though other sources say he was over 250. He was seven feet tall, had funky curly fingernails. There’s no question he was old and popular, but it’s also possible he was being mixed up with his Grandfather. Then again, there were folks who said their grandfathers knew him and THEY said he had been old when they were kids. You never know. Zuo Ci was 300. He was quite possibly a mythical figure, though there is some evidence. He was a magician, according to tradition. He eventually walked into the mountains, as often happens with bored immortals, no? Nestor of Rome lived for more than 300 years. So was Praotec Cech, aka forefather Czech, one of the legendary founders of Czechoslovakia. Saint Servatius made it to 375, a good long live by any standard. Trailanga Swami was said to be somewhere around 350, though others say as young as 279. He certainly lived a long time, dying in 1887, and was widely known for at least 100 years. This one I tend to think is the truth, though it defies explanation. Now, what will it mean to be 338 years old in 2312? Now that’s an interesting question. Medicine seems to have caught on to Moore’s Law, and not only because of computer modeling and drug development. Well, maybe it’s largely because of it. The fact is, we’ve discovered ways to extend life,

fight disease, reverse some previously irreversible conditions. Cancer treatments, for example, have gone from almost unchanged for 500 years (tumor removal has been around since the Middle Ages) and now, in less than 50 years, we have increased almost every aspect of our knowledge and ability to fight it. Recently, a mouse test was done, with various treatments, it lived more than 3 times its normal lifespan. That was largely because of telemerose treatments, as I hear it. 300+ years don’t sound like it’ll be impossible now, does it? Now, functional immortality is a difficult thing. The fact, there’ll still be accidents, cancers of particular kinds will likely both remain and arise, super-germs and the like may well develop simply from the processes we develop to increase lifespans. Hunger because of overcrowding? Yeah, I can see that. Asteroid? That may well happen. Sun going nova? Well, of course. The big thing is that we’re gonna have to get off this rock, and we’re gonna need people who were of Earth to go far off into the Dark, into possibility. That’s a bold move, and it’s looking more and more like Cryo ain’t gonna be an option for humans (plus, it’s a GIANT energy drain), so extra-longlived persons are gonna be required. Human engineering’s gonna be the most important thing to get us off this rock and into the future. You put ten, twenty people who were alive a hundred years ago on a ship with a few hundred or thousand people of ‘natural’ lifespans, reproducing naturally, and you’ve solved several problems of Society. You’ve found a way to carry-on traditions of Earth, to bring cultures along. It’s a way to do things. Of course, keeping people alive for the Long Run is resource intensive, so there’s that. Resources are gonna be utterly important, and highly protected, in any long-term trip, so you can’t have a lot of ‘em, but a few will be utterly important.

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A Review by Anne Charnock
I have to admit that I haven’t read Kim Stanley Robinson’s fiction before and on the strength of 2312 I’ll read his Mars Trilogy, which established him as a big hitter, with a literary bent, in the realm of hard SF. Truth is, I don’t really gravitate to otherworld science fiction. I suppose because I’m mainly interested in social science fiction I’ve tended towards Earthbased scenarios. I’m now thinking I should reconsider this bias. The main protagonist in 2312 is Mercury-born Swan Er Hong, a well-regarded designer of artificial worlds created in burrowed-out and terraformed asteroids. Of all Earth’s mammals, 92% are endangered and they mostly live in these off-planet asteroids, which conveniently double as interplanetary transport systems and food producers. Swan has shifted her career to landscape art with some performance art thrown in. I really dislike how Robinson gives generic terms for art installations (goldsworthies and abramovics) based on two current artists – Andy Goldsworthy and Marina Abramovic. But putting that aside, Robinson has written a humungous book and it’s set, time-wise, at a point in human history when the balance of power is shifting from Earth to Venus and the big moons. I always like a novel that’s sited at a cusp. And the action kicks in when the city of Terminator on Mercury is destroyed. Swan is distraught at the loss of her home and joins forces with Inspector Jean Genette to investigate the catastrophe, which has shocked Earth and all the colonies. This disaster comes shortly after the death of Swan’s grandmother, Alex, who leaves secret messages for Swan to deliver to Earth and Venus. It seems Alex, aged 191 years at her death, was the linchpin of a conspiracy spanning the Solar System. So what’s happening back home? Well, Earth is almost ice-free; sea levels are 11metres higher. Manhattan is the new Venice. “No, Earth was a mess, a sad place. And yet still the centre of the story. It had to be dealt with, As Alex had always said, or nothing done in space was real.” And here’s Swan back on Earth: “She moved into the sun whenever she could. That was the direct radiation of Sol, slamming into her naked skin. It was amazing to stand in the light of the sun without dying of it.This was the only place in the solar system where that could happen…” Robinson has a terrific imagination and presents a range of worlds where gender is blurred and where individuals can chose to have brain implants – qubes – and all manner of add-ons. Swan is particularly addicted to these add-ons including one allowing her to trill bird-song. But I found her qube, named Pauline, quite irritating (as did Swan, for that matter). I was surprised that Robinson left it quite late (20% into the ebook) to give a specific description of Swan, through the eyes of another character, Kirwan. By this point I already had a picture of Swan in my mind. Robinson alternates chapters with short lists and extracts, a reasonable solution to the problem of giving readers the back story to the novel. I looked forward to these brief interludes and they helped to make the length of the book a bit more digestible. In parts, the novel is rambling, with lengthy and sometimes repetitive dialogue. But 2312 takes you on a fascinating journey all the same.

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A Review by Maria Tomchick
My first impression of this novel is that the author could use a good editor, or needs to take up shortform poetry to sharpen his descriptive skills. Much of the book is repetitive and does little to propel the narrative or bolster the main themes. And yet...I haven’t read a book in decades that reminds me of the best long-form science fiction of the Silver Age (‘60’s and ‘70’s) like this book does. Robinson looks forward to an era when humans have populated and terraformed Mars,Venus, and the moons of Saturn, when space-flight within our solar system is common, and human lifespans have more than doubled. And, of course, the main theme of the novel is not just whether humanity can grow up as it grows outward, but what will humanity become--what will being “human” mean-when people can incorporate genes from animal species and alien bacteria into their bodies, and even implant quantum computers into their brains. In one passage that falls in the center of the book, Robinson riffs on the similarity between a linked group of quantum computers and the human brain. He asks: “if you program a purpose into a computer program, does that constitute its will? Does it have free will, if a programmer programmed its purpose? Is that programming any different from the way we are programmed by our genes and brains? Is a programmed will a servile will? Is human will a servile will? And is not the servile will the home and source of all feelings of defilement, infection, transgression, and rage?...could a quantum computer program itself?” The difference, of course, is that humans “programming” themselves with their own brains is how we might define “free will.” But Robinson nicely illustrates that our free will is limited by physical externalities: our physical bodies, the environment around us, the society in which we live, and the deceptively remote influence of historical forces. And so this big, sprawling work brings us back around to a question that lies at the heart of most American fiction: how self-reliant and self-actualized do you really need to be? In the end, don’t you need other people--a connection to human society--as much or even more than your personal, individual freedom? For that, the book is worth the time it takes to read all of its 560 pages. And Robinson does provide many beautiful descriptive passages like this one of Titan, the terraformed moon of Saturn: “True sunlight and mirrored sunlight crossed to make the landscape shadowless, or faintly double-shadowed--strange to Swan’s eye, unreal-looking, like a stage set in a theater so vast the walls were not visible. Gibbous Saturn flew through the clouds above, its edge-on rings like a white flaw cracking that part of the sky.” I just wish the book were as condensed and strking as this lively passage.}

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A Review by Beth Zuckerman
I’m pleased to report my enjoyment 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest work. I try to make a point of seeing Stan at his annual appearance at SF in SF, and always look forward to the opportunity to talk with him. While I’ve enjoyed his last several books, the Science in the Capital series andGalileo’s Dream, I haven’t loved them as much as I loved the Mars series. Now, I won’t go quite so far as to say that 2312 is quite as much fun as the Mars series, but it’s the closest thing Robinson’s written in a while, and I recommend it.   I recommend this book even though it’s about terrorism, and I went on, in my review of Robert Sawyer’s Trigges, about how utterly sick and tired I am of terrorism as a literary subject. But this is kind of a futurist space terrorism, not the ordinary, run-of-themill presidential assassination attempt or blowing up buildings sort of terrorism of which I am so thoroughly sick. This is a rather clever sort of terrorism that takes most of the lengthy book to explain.   But while terrorism drives a lot of the plot, there’s also much more to this book. Robinson returns to his exploration, from the Science in the Capital series, of the potential effects of global warming. In 2312, the warning signs of climate change were ignored on earth until it was a little too late, and humanity was forced to populate the other planets in the Solar System in a new diaspora. It turns out, however, that living in the sterile environment of space isn’t so good for human health, so space dwellers have to come back to the motherland every seven years just to dig their hands into some dirt and expose themselves to earth’s bacteria. With these sabbaticals, and longevity treatments, humans are able to live healthily well into their second centuries.   In Robinson’s future, humans, long-lived or not, are still humans, and subject to all of the usual foibles. We see Swan and Warham handle their many compromising situations rather imperfectly. Swan seems to thrive on difficult circumstances, to create them for herself on purpose.There’s a lot of frustration here, and I think it reflects Robinson’s own frustration with the politics of climate change.   For those of us who, like myself, love Robinson in particular for his detailed space settings, there’s plenty here to enjoy.The Solar System has been settled from Mercury to the Saturnian moons, and, separately and together, Swan, Warham and the other characters travel all over the system trying, in their own ways, to effectuate change.They have some exciting experiences along the way, facing threats that don’t exist in the safety of earth’s atmosphere.There’s some good action here.   A noticeable percentage of 2312 consists of various interludes, describing how humanity dealt with (or didn’t deal with) the climate crisis on earth, Swan’s past experiences, the science in the book, etc. Some are more informative; others are more poetic. At first, I found the poetic interludes somewhat tiresome, but as the book went on, I came to delight in the manner in which Robinson has put together his words. This is a much more literary work than most science fiction.   I would have appreciated it if Robinson had drawn the plot a little more tightly. I liked Red Marsbetter than Blue or Green Mars, because I thought the murder mystery element tied the whole thing together more completely. 2312 suffers from the same wandering of the plot as do Blue and Green Mars. However, I still loved Blue and Green Mars, and I liked 2312 quite a bit, too. Additionally, while I had sympathy for them, I did not exceptionally like the characters. I’m sure Robinson intended for them to be difficult, and this certainly doesn’t spoil the book, but, at the end, I didn’t care for Swan and Warham the same way I cared for Anne and Sax.   With those caveats, I’ll say that, among the books I’ve read so far, 2312 is definitely among the better works of 2012.

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redshir ts
A Very Loosely Related Article by Christopher J Garcia
Star Trek. Wow. IT has a great impact on my life, starting from the fact that it delayed my birth. Dad was a hard core Trekker, it was one of his greatest charms. He would watch every time he was available to, and he had taken the three days that my Mother was most likely to deliver off from his job at the Ford plant in Fremont.They were in bed, around 10am, and Mom announced that she had gone into labor. Now, typically, this would be a reason to go off to the hospital, but ‘round these parts, there were two daily episodes of Star Trek on KTVU, one of which was at Noon, another at one. My Dad, in his wisdom, said that they’d go after Star Trek. Mom, ever patient, agreed, though with some growing protest, and they stayed in bed until Star Trek was done. I’ve looked to see what episode it was. Dad always said that it was Amok Time, but there’s no record in the local TV Guide. I know, I bought it off of eBay in 1999 and it just said Star Trek. Star Trek was the first science fiction TV I can remember. It was one of the first three TV shows I can remember. I remember American Bandstand, I loved it when I was a kid, I used to dance to it in the living room, often waking up weekend sleeping Mom and Dad. There was The 6 Million Dollar Man, and the Andre the Giant episode. Over either of those, I remember watching Star Trek with my Dad; Noon and 1pm, for all my early years. I watched a lot of Star Trek TOS, and then I caught on with New Generation, and rather enjoyed it. I had the argument with myself for years over which was better, landing on Star Trek TOS as the more iconic, but New Gen as the superior product. Everything after those two, though, is pretty much crap. Deep Space Nine had a few decent episodes, the timeloop episode being one of my favorite of all the series, and Voyager had some very good moments, but ultimately, nothing came close to those two until the movies. OK, I’m going to draw a line in the sand, and you’ll have to decide to either step across it and join me or turn and run, close your PDF reader and leave me stranded here. The JJAbrams movies are better than any of the series. Now, that’s a big statement, I know, but it also speaks volumes to the actual content. The Trek movies of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s (and I guess they did one in 2002 or so) were continuations of the original concept, continuing storylines, but the reboot as a movie series with the original characters was something of a crapshoot. The characters were great, TOS having the most colorful and larger-than-life characters, the kind that translate very well to movies. Yes, I know there are all sorts of problems with reality and science and even a few continuity problems, but those existed in TOS (and Next Gen and DS9 and Voyager and Enterprise and on and on…) and here, they’re spectacular because they make everything more interesting. And for the first time in the movies, the comedy is bigger and better. The Numb Tongue bit that Bones and Kirk do is CLASSIC! It’s the kind of slapstick that works so well on the big screen, but only rarely on the boob tube. And part of that is the casting. Karl Urban as Bones is probably the best bit of casting they’ve ever had in any of the versions. I think he has everything you need to be a real ship’s doctor, as well as the perfect supporting needler that both Kirk and Spock needs. Zachery Quinto is also great as Spock, he plays the role so well, and in the second film, Into Darkness, he gets his moment and makes the most of it. Chris Pine as Kirk? Good, at times very good, but overall, nothign to write home about. The scene in the first film where Kirk is in bed with a green girl (and as I understand it, this was supposed to be a three-way with my friend Diora Baird as the third!) and that scene was where he was best. He’s got a great smarmy Kirk thing going on! Zoe Saldana, who I’ve enjoyed at times since her turn in Center Stage, is OK, and Simon Peg and Deep Roy are both great. Roy is one of the best physical actors working today. He was great all the way back in Dr. WHo & The Talons of Weng Chi-ang. Now, I wasn’t much a fan of the guy they had for the bad guy in the first new Star Trek, Eric Bana. He’s a decent actor, I really liked him in a little movie called Funny People, but ultimately, he was a bit lightweight! Now, Benedict Cumberbatch from Into Darkness was THE BOMB! I mean he’s so great, all sorts of gravitas, and most importantly, you believe he devotion and duty and pain. He plays it all so wonderfully. The effects have a lot to do with it, of course, and that’s the ultimate justification for all reboots: it allows a new generation who has new expectations for technological filmmaking. The best example of that is when they rereleased so many silent films as talkies in the early 1930s. The argument that ‘kids should just learn to watch REAL movies’ doesn’t hold much water when you look at what we (and the generations before me) rejected in favor of remakes. It happens, and it works. That’s why the current wave of Star Trek movies are great; they move the technology ahead and give us a lot of great stories. Gotta love that!

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A Review by Beth Zuckerman
John Scalzi’s latest novel, Redshirts, is another one of those books that is difficult to write much about without spoilage. Surely you can guess, from the title, that the book is about extras on a science fiction television show whose prognosis for longevity is rather poor. It’s certainly a fun book. It’s funny, and I enjoyed reading it. Scalzi gives a lot of his exposition and plot development in the form of dialogue, which just makes things funnier. If you’re looking for a laugh, this isn’t a bad book.   If you’re looking for literature, though, this book shouldn’t be your choice. While the Old Man’s Warseries was mostly humorous, it did have ask some real philosophical questions. Redshirts raises some philosophical issues about the nature of reality, but it does so in a rather Matrix sort of fashion, with some echoes of the Foundation series.This book is really just for fun, not for serious.   I thought the book had a major plot failing. We are continually aware that the TV series isn’t very good, and that the writer comes up with a lot of silly devices for the convenience of the plot. But the book also has a fantastic coincidence (I’m talking about the motorcycle accident, here) that just happens to push the plot along in the right direction. This irritated me. I’m willing to give Scalzi the benefit of the doubt here; it could have been intentional.   I felt a pang when I picked up Redshirts from the library, as I suddenly had the thought that it was the last book I could remember Mark telling me he was reading, before he went into the hospital. He was somewhat embarrassed to admit it. It all made me sad.

redshir ts

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A Review by Juan Sanmiguel

redshir ts

A stereotypical character that is killed shortly after being introduced is called a “redshirt”. In the classic Star Trek those in the Starfleet Engineering and Service Division wore red shirts. Many of the characters killed off in each episode came from this division. Sometimes the term “redshirts” has been used either in the scripts of shows as Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Warehouse 13. Redshirts explores what would the lives of these characters would be like. It all begins when Ensign Andrew Dahl is assigned to the Universal Union starship Intrepid. He starts to notice odd things about the ship. Lowerranking officers seem to have a tendency to die on away missions in some unusual ways. Some crew members seem to have figured out how to avoid the senior officers who appear to be connected to these deaths. After narrowly surviving an away mission, Dahl seeks to find the answers about the unusual nature of the Intrepid. A fellow crew member has a theory which is beyond belief, but Dahl observes that the facts support this incredible theory behind Intrepid’s casualty rates. If Dahl and his friends cannot find a solution, they may also find themselves next to die on an away mission. Dahl is not satisfied with the status quo. He cannot accept living in fear, as many of the more established members of Intrepid crew do. He thinks outside the box and does not accept the theory immediately. The events of the next mission prove it. He is willing to take a chance of a risky solution. Dahl would rather try to solve the problem than avoid it.

Redshirts is the opposite of an “idiot plot”. The “idiot plot” is a plot that can only work if everyone in the story is an idiot. This usually happens as way to create tension or jeopardy in the story. When the characters in Redshirts behave irrationally, it is because of an outside force, the one that has to be dealt with. Once Dahl and the others realize what is going on they rebel against the idiot plot, and gain control of their lives. Scalzi is able to lighten the situation with humor. There are a couple of times that Dahl’s team has to take someone prisoner. In order to keep each prisoner under control, they take their pants away. It is very effective and funny to see the prisoner dealing with being pant-less during an escape. This is really necessary, since the situation is so dire. There are no real villains in the novel. No one has it in for Dahl and his friends. The force which is working against Dahl is never fully explained. The solution is not the destruction of this force, but working within the rules of the situation. At the end of the novel everyone is more empowered than they were at the beginning. Dahl and his friends are back in control of their fate. Their actions are also able to liberate others. This is covered in three codas which focus on characters not directly connected with Dahl. The codas reinforce the need for people to take control of their own lives rather than simply drift by or allow others to determine their destiny.

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Biographies

James Bacon is the co-editor of The Drink Tank, Exhibition Hall, and Journey Planet. He’s awesome! Chris Garcia. Yeah, well... Bryan Little did the cover! I loves it! He’s an awesome artist and has the best mohawk in teh world (well, maybe other than Mette’s...) From BadassBookReviews Regina I am a mom of 4 younger children and I work full time in corporate America. I spent 9.5 years in college and graduate school reading what was assigned to me. My current career requires me to read other people’s writing, pick apart their arguments and find holes in what they are asserting. All. Day. Long. I need to escape from all that! I read any genre, any type of fiction and nonfiction – as long as it is on my e-reader or the audio is loaded up on my MP3 player, then I will read it. I have a teenage daughter who loves young adult themed dystopia and science fiction books; together we have fun picking out books to read and discuss. I also spend quite a bit of time reading middle grade and juvenile aged chapter books to my three youngest children. And then there are the more adult focused books that I read on my own – science fiction, urban fantasy, fantasy, speculative fiction, post-apocalyptic, historical and historical romance, contemporary romance, erotica, literary fiction, romantic suspense, and non-fiction. Here is my Goodreads profile and my Twitter profile. -AND_ Michelle R When I’m not with the family, with the dog, at work, playing outdoors, or watching football, I’m reading. I LOVE to read. In my dream world, I’m getting paid to read and I do it all day, everyday. In the real world, I do it as a hobby but would love if it was my career. I’m the ONLY reader in my family and I’ve found that people CAN become jealous of books. I’ll read almost anything but prefer urban fantasy, paranormal romance, post-apocalyptic, horror, historical romance,

erotica (especially dark erotica), and some historical fiction. However, if it is good, I’ll read it! I have an e-reader that I love and a Mp3 full of audio books, I don’t mind waiting in lines, sitting for hours at doctor’s offices, or being stuck in traffic, it is the perfect opportunity to get just one more chapter in! Catie is an amateur writer who lives with her family in Northern Virginia. Anne Charnock’s journalism has appeared in New Scientist and UK national newspapers. She writes book and exhibition reviews for The Huffington Post Her first novel is “A Calculated Life”. Anne writes regular blogposts at http://www. calculatedlife.com. If you want a link to my novel: http://www. amazon.com/dp/B00A67Z6BA or http://www.amazon. co.uk/dp/B00A67Z6BA Steve Diamond is the editor of Elitist Book Reviews, which is up against us for the Hugo for Best Fanzine! Sara Dickinson was born in 1980 in Denver, Colorado, grew up in the South, and currently resides in her ancestral homeland (otherwise known as the boonies of Wyoming), where there isn’t a great deal to do other than drink and read books. Since she doesn’t drink, she reads a great many books (and wastes more time than she ought playing computer games). She has a degree in graphic design, but currently works in a field that has absolutely nothing to do with what she spent all that time and money in school for, but which pays the bills and which has afforded her the opportunity to spend more time outdoors than she has in the last fifteen years. She currently lives in an official ghost town with her parents and youngest sibling (because real estate is damned expensive in Wyoming and student loans are worse), four cats, three dogs, and assorted poultry.

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Nadine G. - Hello. I am Nadine (or Dina), an Austrian girl reading way too many sci-fi and fantasy books. I enjoy boy movies, thunderstorms, eternally bickering couples and anything made of chocolate. Kate - what sort of bio do you want? A simple one is that I’m an English SFF fan (have been for twenty-mumble years) who has never found a non-genre novel which has given me quite the same thrill as a really good, mind-expanding SFF story. Liz Lichtfield - As for a bio, I’m a book-obsessed Foreign Service Officer who hauled an award-winning romance novel collection to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and back. Sci-fi was my first love. Juan Sanmiguel is a fan from Florida! You can find his work in Event Horizon, Mihir Wanchoo is a physician and also a longtime reader of speculation fiction in all its forms. He is an avid book collector and contends that while e-books are fascinatingly easy to keep, he will not ever want to give up his physical collection. Mihir was born and brought up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. As a child his favorite pastime was to be lost in books, comics and historical stories, since he was born into a culture rich in mythology and history therefore he contends his love with those is a thing of fate. His reading interests range from mystery/thrillers to epic fantasy to historical fiction and lastly to urban fantasy. His favorite mystery writers are Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly and Douglas Preston, amongst fantasy he is fascinated by David Gemmell, J. K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin, lastly he also loves the works of James Clemens/Rollins, Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Tad Williams among others. Mihir is also an avid fan of the Indian Cricket team and Chelsea Football Club, it would be safe to say Blue is his favorite color. He currently lives in Minnesota with his patient and loving wife, and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books. Mihir is a member of the Fantasy Book Critic team and Bastard Books blog. On both blogs he helps out with Reviews, Interviews and managing FBC’s Facebook page as well as the Twitter account. Beth Zuckerman is a reader and a fan! Her reviews on Facebook are some of the best you’ll find!

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Some words from 2015 bids
First - Orlando from Meg Totusek
Everyone in fandom remembers that golden moment,however many years ago,when it hit them.Maybe it was at a convention, maybe it was at a club meeting. Maybe it was just coming home to visit after being away.Wherever it was, whenever it was, it was the same feeling:“This is it.”They had found their people, their place. And it was awesome. We, the Orlando in 2015 bid committee, are big fans of that feeling. We want as many people as possible to get to experience it. That is why we are thrilled to be bidding for a Worldcon at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World, Florida, over Labor Day weekend in 2015.This location will allow us to uphold all of the wonderful Worldcon traditions, as well as start new ones, and pull in as many new attendees as possible. Because none of us have won the lottery recently, we’d like to keep this convention inexpensive. Times have been tough for everybody. Thankfully, it’s pretty cheap to get to Orlando. Because Disney and the various cruise companies want as many people to get to Orlando as possible, they’ve done the heavy lifting for us and kept flight costs down. Even a mere month and a half prior to Labor Day, flights to Orlando are about $350, no matter where in the United States you start from. (Ideally, flights would be purchased a little sooner, and that means more savings for you.) Flights from Europe (London, Paris, and Helsinki) average $910. And of course, once you get to Orlando, you don’t have to deal with finding your bags and dragging them to a cab or a shuttle. Disney will pick you and your bags up (separately, unless you have an intense desire to ride in the underside of a bus…), and you’ll both be delivered to your room with no extra hassle--or expense. You can also take the train or the roads to Orlando. We suggest not attempting those last two options from another continent. Google Maps mentions something about a kayak and we’re not exactly sure where you’d store those. On top of the amazing programming and social opportunities that Worldcon has a history of presenting, you’ll also have the option to check out a bunch of really cool sights in the area. No, we’re not just talking about Disney and Universal...though, wouldn’t the pictures of John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman on a rollercoaster be AWESOME? In the greater Orlando area you can check out the Kennedy Space Center (FOR SCIENCE!), Wonderworks, iFLY Indoor Skydiving, Medieval Times, Cirque du Soleil…the list goes on and on. There are also restaurants for every taste and style: six in the resort, plus room service, plus more in the Orlando area, and Disney is perfectly fine with guests bringing in their own food, so those of you with food sensitivities and special diets can breathe easy. Speaking of members with special requirements, once again, Disney has you covered. Millions of people visit Walt Disney World every year, so Disney knows a thing or two about dealing with member services. We are excited to work with them to meet the specific needs of our members. All Disney transportation services are wheelchair, scooter, and ECV accessible, and we’ve also asked for every single handicap accessible room in the resort in our room block. We want to make sure that your stay is easy for you as possible.  We could go on and on about how great we think our facilities are, artfully arrange our committee resume, and send you gloriously photo-shopped (by Disney) photos of the area...or we could be straight with you. The location is fun for all ages and beautiful. We will be adding new exhibits and attractions that will help us reach more and new fans from around the world. Dealers and artists will be able to sell to Worldcon members as well as other Disney visitors, to make sure that the convention stays affordable for them, too.Transportation will be reasonable. Our committee is passionate and dedicated to Worldcon. Come with us and help us continue Worldcon’s tradition of awesomeness. For more information about the Orlando in 2015 bid, the facilities, the activities, the restaurants, pictures, and much more, please visit our website at Orlandoin2015.org. Answers in next issue!

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And no w ... Helsinki from Crystal Huff
Some people start out in life with the knowledge of what they want to do. They want to become an astronaut, a teacher, a writer, an artist, a juggler in the Norwegian National Circus. Sometimes they want all of those things at once. Me? I wanted to work on science fiction conventions. Okay, that’s not the whole story, but what IS true is that, ever since I STARTED working on science fiction conventions, I have wanted to be involved with Worldcon. Worldcon, going to exciting international places! Worldcon, where I can attend a tea ceremony hosted by a wind-up cosplayer, play Live Action Angry Birds, and watch our youngest generation of fans write each other songs about superheroes and vampires that get along. (James Bacon will totally back me up on how terribly some of the kids hogged the mic at Renovation, when we weren’t digging each other out of the sofa fortress.) In 2011, I attended Smofcon in Amsterdam, and I realized something I should have known all along – there were lots of European fans wanting to be more involved with Worldcon, too. I met some crazy folks with foreignsounding names like Gareth Kavanagh and Spike. Well, okay, and then there were Eemeli Aro and Jukka Halme, the first Finnish fans I’d ever met, who stayed up all night drinking beer with us and talking about Finncon, their crazy huge convention that is budgeted so well as to be free to attendees. All of them, even the year that Finncon had 15,000 members. A Worldcon in Helsinki is something I think they dreamed of, even then, although they didn’t mention it at the time. We talked about corporate sponsorships (Rovio of Angry Birds fame should donate games to our convention!) and how Finncon utilizes cultural grants (and the government knows about it, and approves of the emphasis on science fiction!). I learned how common it is for Finns to be fluent in English (since apparently only .05% of the world’s population speaks Finnish?). I’ve since had a chance to learn a little bit of their language, actually. I’ve gone to Finland twice so far this year, and am planning a third visit in October. I’ve learned how to say “hello” (hei), “good night” (hyvää yötä), and “lightsaber” (valomiekka), thanks to Eemeli’s smart little girl Lumi, who is featured on the first of what I only hope are several YouTube videos teaching Fannish Finnish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emQI9X7JH6I I didn’t sign on to the Helsinki in 2015 bid because I wanted to learn Finnish, although that’s a nice side benefit. I signed onto the Helsinki bid because I want to see Worldcon go new places, explore new possibilities. I hope to see Worldcon gathering more European conrunners – like Karo Leikomaa, Hanna Hakkarainen, Jukka Särkijärvi, Johan Jönsson, and others. As an American, I am prone to verbosity. The Finns can be very understated, particularly in comparison. It was therefore really astonishing to me when, during my spring visit to Helsinki and Aland, my friends presented me with an official adoption certificate. On May 11, 2013, I was officially adopted into Finnish fandom, along with three newly-Finnish siblings. I even have two self-declared fairy godparents, in accordance with Finnish tradition. I have promised to do my utmost to help my recently-acquired family win the Worldcon vote for 2015. As all good intentions are rewarded with hard work, I have recruited them to help run two areas at LoneStarCon3 this summer. It’s my hope that our hard work will be rewarded. I hope you, reading this note, will go to www.helsinkiin2015. org and look at the Worldcon we have been assembling. The Finns organize excellent conventions, and Helsinki is a fantastic setting in which to have a Worldcon. Please vote for Helsinki in 2015!

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My God, It’s Full of Finns! We realize that Helsinki can seem, well, kind of foreign. So we’ve decided to help out by putting it into a familiar context. We took the titles of 19 familiar novels and replaced one word with the name of a Helsinki neighborhood. (How familiar are the novels? Why, so familiar that each one won the Hugo Award! The author and the year of the award are given in parentheses after each title.) If you write the word that got replaced in the blanks to the left of each title and then circle the indicated letter (e.g., the third letter of the five letter word removed from the Connie Willis novel that won the 2011 Hugo), and put umlauts over the first three a’s, you’ll get a four-word phrase that any good Finnish science fiction fan should know.You should be able to find it by searching the web...or ask us what it means! _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ [3] Blackout/All Munkkiniemi (Connie Willis, 2011) [1] Lord of Kaivopuisto (Roger Zelazny, 1968) [1] Pukinmäki Gods (Neil Gaiman, 2002) [4] A Fire Upon the Santahamina (Vernor Vinge, 1993) [2] Harry Potter and the Goblet of Salmenkallio (J. K. Rowling, 2001) [4] The Man in the High Katajanokka (Philip K. Dick, 1963) [4] The Left Hand of Tammisalo (Ursula K. Le Guin, 1970) [3] The Meilahti Age (Neal Stephenson, 1996) [2] Rendezvous with Laajasalo (Arthur C. Clarke, 1974) [3] The Eira Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi, 2010) [1] Suomenlinna Strange & Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke, 2005) [6] Pitäjänmäki’s Edge (Isaac Asimov, 1983) [1] Karhusaari Dance (Lois McMaster Bujold, 1995) [3] Where Late the Sörnäinen Birds Sang (Kate Wilhelm, 1977) [2] The Ulkosaaret Queen (Joan D.Vinge, 1981) [6] Tapaninkylä Station (C. J. Cherryh, 1982) [1] Stranger in a Ultuna Land (Robert A. Heinlein, 1962) [4] A Käpylä for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr., 1961) [1] The Talosaari Policemen’s Union (Michael Chabon, 2008)

ant to see these Finnish neighborhoods in person? Vote for Helsinki in the Worldcon Site Selection this W summer! Visit www.helsinkiin2015.org for more info!

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