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Will Destroy the Galaxy for Cash

Yahtzee once again surprises me at how good a writer he is. I stayed up 2 hours later than I should have last night so I could see how it ended. I liked the characters a lot more than the ones in the last book and once again the action was well written the story was well paced and the twists and turns kept the whole book exciting.

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

This is another book where you need to forget everything you learned from the Hollywood adaptations. If you're expecting the eponymous trio and D'Artagnan to be lovable rogues fighting against the clearly villainous Cardinal Richelieu, you're going to be disappointed. The protagonists are not good people and Richelieu is...well to use a contemporary example, I'd say David Xanatos (Gargoyles) was basically cut from the same cloth.

As with Monte Cristo, I found it an enjoyable read. Of particular fascination for me was Milady de Winter, as Dumas actually did go into detail showcasing how she leveraged her intelligence and ability to read people to manipulate them. As someone who likes to play a Face/Social Adept/Infiltrator/Con Man in RPs, it was as beautiful as it was frustrating to see how she played them like a fiddle.

While I would say that I enjoyed Monte Cristo more than Three Musketeers, this is still a book I enjoyed.

The Fall of Shannara: The Black Elfstone (3/5)

Another Shannara book, another case of "average" rather than "good." Maybe some day.

Actually, in fairness, it is one of the better ones I've read, coming in at/around #4 by my ranking. It's using some of the tropes the series has repeatedly used, but it does offer some variation. Key word being "some" and by "variation," I mean "intrigue." And by "intrigue," I mean "a bit of backstabbing." Yeah, I know. A Song of Ice and Fire has spoiled me on the whole intigue/backstabbing thing, so when the extent of this one is a druid seeking to overthrow the Druid Council while casting in her lot with an invading force from the north...well, it's more than what I'm used to, but nothing much. I will say that the Skaar (which go unnamed in this book) are a potentailly interesting enemy, in that being human, and being driven to the Four Lands by need (it's implied that their point of origin is a shithole), you can't go the route of "evil horde that good guys must defeat." It also does raise an itneresting possibility of seeing stuff outside the Four Lands. I don't know if other books have done this, but the implication, at least in Bearers of the Black Staff, is that because of the Great Wars, all of Earth is a toxic wasteland except the Four Lands, which are kept this way because of magic. If the series is branching off, and expanding its geographical horizons, then that's something.

But then, this is all stuff that's in the context of the series itself. As a book, the writing is pretty basic (Brooks often "tells" rather than "shows," with paragraphs of narrative exposition), as is the plot. So, again, average.

Also the titular Black Elfstone doesn't even feature until, like, the last tenth of the book, nor is it even mentioned before then. Make of that what you will.

Drathnoxis:
Will Destroy the Galaxy for Cash

Huh. Thought he was saving the galaxy for food originally.

Damn capitalism. You can only make money by destroying everything around you.

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm (3/5)

After years of absence, Christopher Paolini returns to the setting of The Inheritance Cycle. And before I go any further, I'm actually going to give my quick thoughts on said cycle. Basically, I think the series gets way too much flak. Now, if you want to look at the first book, Eragon, and point out that its writing is basic, its plot is cliche, and its tropes are out in the forefront, then, yes, I agree with you. However, if you want to apply that criticism to the entire series, I'm less inclined to agree, because while I'm not that big a fan of the series, it does come into its own over time, as its world is more fleshed out and the writing improves. I'm reminded of the Shannara or Wheel of Time series. Both Sword of Shannara and Eye of the World are basically Lord of the Rings compressed to a single volume, but both series got their 'voices' later down the track, for better or worse. We don't hold the debuts of Brooks and Jordan against them, so why do we hold it against Paolini? He was around 15 when he published Eragon, what did you publish at that age? Heck, I didn't even start writing in any real sense until I was 16, and I sure as hell didn't get anything published.

All this aside however, there's an ugly truth to this book - it's the weakest Inheritance book he's written. As its title suggests, its plot is actually three separate stories. What its plot doesn't tell you is that all of these stories bear no resemblance to one another. Which would be fine, if not for the fact that it does have a 'core storyline' of what Eragon's doing after the events of the quadrilogy, which is a plotline I at least never saw a need for. It's like the equivalent of writing about Frodo in Valinor after Lord of the Rings. Yes, you CAN write a story about that, but does anyone want that? When a character sails off into the distance, usually you leave well enough alone. So, what you get is a book where there's three stories that supersede the main story, especially so in the last one. Reading them, you get the sense that Paolini just wrote three separate stories and put them together in the one volume. Reading the afterward, turns out that's exactly what happened. But, okay then. Suppose I ignore how tangental the stories are to the 'present' in the book. How does each short story fare?

Not that well, to be honest. The first one deals with Murtagh who gets into a fight and kills a foe with a fork, giving it to a girl who calls it Mister Stabby. Um, okay. There's actually hints at something larger going on (more on that later), but it isn't resolved in the story, nor the book as a whole. Look, I know a lot of people like Murtagh (I'm guessing mostly girls because he falls into "hunky boy who can be shipped with Nasuada"), but as someone who's indifferent to him (actually, most of the characters in the series), this was "meh."

Second story deals with Angela. It was written by Paolini's sister, and while I'm sure she's nice enough in the real world, this is the weakest of the three stories. I really can't tell you what happens in it because it's disorganized. Which is kind of the point, but still, if you set out to write something that doesn't follow writing convention, don't be surprised when people don't flock to it.

If I had to rank the book solely by these two stories, it would get a 2/5. Luckilly, the last story, the one that sparked the idea in the first place, is easily the best of the three. In fact, I think I'd have been more reciprocal to the whole thing if it was just 'The Worm' by itself. Because on one hand, the events have the least to do with the present of the novel of all three. On the other, it's best as a stand-alone. Because we get an urgal protagonist, and I'll be honest, when I said that the series found its voice after the first book, the urgals are part of the reason why, given how their impression of being not!orcs was lifted, showing them to have their own culture. So, here's a story that not only helps show that culture, but also has a theme pertaining to ecological balance. Yeah, it sucks having a dragon take your livestock every now and again, but without the dragon, you're easy prey for lethbarka, who are even worse. Lethbarka which, if I'm right, are hinted at in Murtagh's story as to eggs being found, which would sync with dragon eggs hatching at the end of the present story. So, yes. 'The Worm' is the best of the three, though is also the most tangental. Its reason is more "oh hey, Eragon's sad, hey urgals, lets tell him a story that has nothing to do with anything!"

At the end of the day, the book is a case of two 'meh' stories being salvaged by a decent one. Again, by the book's afterward, it's stated that The Worm was the main story Paolini wanted to write, and it shows. I don't know how/if/when the series will continue from here. On one hand, it's marked as "Tales of Aleglasia, Vol. 1," but on the other, Paolini's next book is in a sci-fi setting. Truth be told, I don't particuarly care if it continues or not, because one good story doesn't justify the fluff I had to get through to reach it. But, not bad. At the very least, while it's the weakest of the Inheritance novels, it does at least showcase how Paolini's worldbuilding improved over time, if not necessarily his characters.

And hey, he at least wrote two genuienly good books. That's more than Brooks or Jordan have accomplished in my experience. :(

I polished off another of the older books I have on my shelf. This one was When Egypt Ruled the East by George Steindorff and Keith C. Seele [1942], a book that struck me as interesting in the used-book shop.

As a general primer for ancient Egyptian history, it's serves its purpose well enough. It does suffer from some of the problems of its time, notably the theories on race and cultural development that were prevalent at the time, but it doesn't push those ideas forward to a degree to make the book useless. One of the main strengths of the work is how the authors are willing to openly point out where the holes in their information lie. More than a few important personages are introduced with the caveat of: We have almost no surviving documentation on this person and know almost nothing about their reign/service/importance except for these fragments of information.

Would I recommend it, though? Well, not really. I am aware that further research over the years has clarified and expanded on the limited knowledge available to Steindorff and Seele. Also, the general tone of more recent research avoids the racial connotations as well as the ideas that cultures age and grow decrepit like individual human beings. So, the final analysis I have is that while the book is interesting, unless your research/interests lie along the lines of a historiographical examination of race theory and how it affected the perceptions of those who were immersed int it, I would recommend going with a more recent study of Egypt to read. I can appreciate how the work is a step along the path of our understanding, however, even if I can't recommend it outright.

A Christmas Carol

I was a little early on this one but I didn't have anything else ready and needed a book. A classic. Had me tearing up near the end. Exactly like the 1951 movie that I always watch. Word for word in most places, actually. Usually it's pretty fun seeing how the adaption I'm familiar with diverges from the original source, but there were hardly any changes at all. It was surprisingly short.

The Monster - Seth Dickinson

Well, shit. I was super tired in November, which unfortunately coincided with me trying to read "The Raven Tower" by Anne Leckie, which is written in the second person and I found that shockingly disconcerting. Eventually I put it aside and slogged through something easier. -ish.

This is the second book in The Masquerade series, where an upcoming, technologically advanced state called Falcrest seeks to subjugate the world to its way of life. It is principally opposed by the Mbo, a collection of allied states and peoples with their own deep-held philosophy which proves extremely frustrating for Falcrest to break down. Our heroine, if that is an appropriate term, is Baru Cormorant. Baru is a native of a small island state called Taranoke, subsumed by Falcrest, who has been elevated to the rank of Cryptarch, one of the secret quasi-rulers of Falcrest. They are grey eminences, with complex scientific- philosophical- socioeconomic - political plans to dominate the world. But Baru has a secret plan - which is to bring down Falcrest and free her homeland. And she will wreak havoc and lay waste to the world, and herself, to do so.

I appreciate this as many things these days for being quite offbeat. Much of it is about the idea of the Cryptarchs having this sort of "philosophy" or competing philosophies as a sort of way of enforcing its dominance and claiming hegemony. It's a little bit dotty - the sort of thing you could imagine of 19th century secret societies, and not even the general population and parliament of Falcrest is really aware of it. Mbo is sort of collectivist and mutually supportive, if a little disorganised. Aand in the background are some alleged sort of sorceror-lords the Mbo brought down centuries ago, The Cancrioth, who appear to spread themselves by a transmittable cancer (!).

Yeah, it's intriguing and interesting, and pretty good stuff. It's not the easiest read in the world, but I appreciated it.

Read a bunch of Terminator comics.

Terminator: The Burning Earth (3/5)

The Terminator: One Shot (2/5)

The Terminator: Tempest (2/5)

The Terminator: Secondary Objectives (2/5)

As you can tell, it wasn't the best use of my time.

Embers Of War - Gareth Powell

Seemingly, maybe, a standalone novel about a sentient space cruiser, the Trouble Dog and a bunch of humans who had been involved in an interplanetary war in the past which had ended when one side - the Conglomeration - thoroughly nuked an entire planet to destroy its opponent's leadership, wiping out all the native fauna along the way. The ship and its crew, mentally scarred from their wartime experience, have joined an interstellar search and rescue organisation called the House of Reclamation. The Trouble Dog and it's crew are sent out to rescue a war poet from a liner that has been mysteriously attacked, and find themselves embroiled in what may turn out to be the start of a new war.

I suppose this is not the most original thing in the world. The idea of sentient ships and human crews is not dissimilar from the likes of Iain Banks or Neal Asher. However, Powell seems quite a sober, serious and calmly paced author, without Iain Banks' humour or Neal Asher's frenetic hyperviolence, but that's not a bad thing - it's a different sort of feel rather than inferior. It's a perfectly good SF yarn without ever being particularly engaging or thrilling or standing out.

Dracula - Bram Stoker

I liked this one a little better than I did Frankenstein, but it does have its trying moments. One of the more curious things about this is that contrary to a lot of adaptations, Mina is less of a setpiece and in fact is arguably the most competent of the protagonists, both helping them to put the pieces of the puzzle together and coming up with a few ideas herself when the trail runs dry. It's a refreshing change of pace, really.

Re-reading the Mortal Instruments series, hadn't read that since I got it because I remembered how bad it was, but it seems I'd forgotten how bad it isn't. Bit of a mixed bag, but worth another look.

Terra Nullius (2/5)

Before I say anything else, I'm going to establish three things.

1) However I feel about the book, I'm going to start by saying that among anything else, I don't think it's that well written. The writing is basic, with sometimes entire chapters devoted to just plain narrative. The characters are bland, and are either "good" or "evil." There's little nuance to be found here. There's far too many characters for its relatively short length, and there's no real core direction of the story. It's "stuff" that's happening over a period of time.

2) I did go into this book aware of the twist, so I can concede that might have coloured my impression on the book going into it.

3) You can accuse me of "white fragility" if you want, it's your prerogative. Doesn't change my argument.

So, with that aside, let's get down to the actual review. I actually considered giving this book separate Watsonian and Doylist analyses, but I'm going to instead go through the book point by point, such as it is. So, with that said...

Terra Nullius derives its name from the actual phrase and legal concept - the idea of Australia being "no-one's land," as declared by Cook prior to colonization. Patently untrue of course, but it's a mandate that technically legally existed until the 1990s and the introduction of native title. Appropriately enough, what's depicted is an Aboriginal boy fleeing from one of the "Settler" missions. There's no real time period identified, but it's kind of a moot point. Settlers are pushing Aboriginals off their land, even though the land itself is harsh, lacking water and all that. Natives are being forced to flee, or are being sent to settlements, or are being massacred at their camp sites. Meanwhile there's a nun from one of the missions who's being investigated by her superiors for her treatment, and the Troopers are hunting Jacky (the protagonist), and yadda yadda yadda. One of the troopers goes rogue after one of said massacres and joins the natives. This state of affairs lasts for about 100 pages (i.e. one third of the book) and apart from Jacky trying to find home, there isn't that much of a core plot. Lots of little plots, but none of which are really engaging. It's not misery porn - not quite - but the first 100 pages exist for one thing, and one thing only. Life sucks. It sucks for the Settlers, who aren't used to such a dry environment, and it sucks even more for the Indigenous people who get to experience disposession, death, abduction, and all that stuff. When, finally, after 100 pages, the book has its twist moment - the "Settlers" are aliens, and the "Natives" are humanity in general. This isn't some point in the past, this is a dystopian future.

...this is a stupid twist.

I know, I know, you're going to say "but analogy!" but even analogy has to have some level of in-universe rationale behind it. The hows and whys of Earth invasion/colonization isn't given all at once, but I'm going to do so here, and get my gripes out of the way.

First of all, the tech level of the "Settlers" is schizophrenic, and it's telling that the first 100 pages is bereft of technology that will be deployed later on, and even then it's stretching credulity to breaking point. But I'm actually going to go into the setting's in-universe chronology to get to the heart of the matter.

So, the premise is that humanity and the Settlers (or "Toads," as they're otherwise called, as they're described as being like bipedal salamanders) evolved at the same time, but on different sides of the galaxy. How this is actually known by humans in-universe I don't know, but whatever - while we were climbing down from the trees, they were climbing out of the swamps of their homeworld. However, the premise is that on their side of the galaxy, space was much "denser" in terms of how many alien species there were. Ergo, the Toads were forced to develop interplanetary travel to fight off their neighbours, which meant that they developed technologically much faster than we did. The analogy here (and it's an analogy that's explicitly spelt out for us via epigraph) is that this part of space is Europe, and Earth is Australia, the premise being that higher population density leads to higher conflict and technological innovation. Ergo, the Toads rule the galaxy (or at least a significant portion of it) just as Europe ruled much of the world.

As analogies go, this isn't the worst one in the world, though it's spurious to claim that density = conflict. There have been plenty of non-European empires throughout history, and excluding Rome, predated said empires. One of the largest of which was the Mongol Empire, and their density sure as hell wasn't high. There's a lot of debate as to whether warfare is endemic to humanity or not, but that's beside the point. I can buy the analogy, even if it's much more spurious to claim (as the book does verbatim) that Earth's history is basically "Europe warlike, every other civilization in human history peaceful". However, what I'm left to ask is how the heck this even makes sense in-universe. What does a "denser region of space" even mean? If there were aliens at Alpha Centauri, that still wouldn't mean anything to us because we can't reach AC within any reasonable timeframe. The notion that "we never developed interstellar space travel because there was no-one to fight" doesn't makes sense because the reason space travel was developed at all was because of the Cold War. Conflict drives innovation. The novel acknowledges that, but only to a point. The only thing I can think of is that in this "denser region of space" radio signals were picked up, which prompted aliens there to develop space travel faster, but the novel never explains how or why. If it's radio signals, and human and Toad development was parallel up to a point, that means that within 100 years the Toads went from 20th century technology to galactic empire. If it's a case of suffering alien invasion, then I'm left to ask how they survived at all. There's reference to them doing so, but it's not gone into. The novel is concerned with being analogy first. Unfortunately, it's analogy that's to the detriment of its in-universe worldbuilding.

So, whatever. I don't know why one side of the galaxy was arbitrarily denser than the other, but in the year 2041, the Toads showed up and conquered Earth without much effort, since they could shut down most human technology with the touch of a button. Okay, fair enough. Works in-universe, works out of universe. What I want to know is why the Settlers apparently have the equivalent of 19th century technology otherwise. Because they settle on Earth, but stay out of the more arid regions - by analogy, this is the equivalent of settlement/invasion/colonization of Australia, how drier regions were explored/settled much later than the coastal areas. By in-universe rationale, the Toads require a constant supply of moisture, and while they do sweat like humans, we're much better at coping at heat than they are. Okay, fair enough. What's harder to swallow is the fact that despite being an interstellar civilization, they lack 20th century technology, or at least the equivalent of 20th century technology. They rely on mounts, they rely on trackers, they have "flyers," but otherwise appear to function at a pre-modern level. This is essential for the twist, but it feels like cheating. I can concede that not every alien species is going to follow the same path as humanity, and there's real-world examples of civilizations that missed what we might consider 'key steps,' (e.g. the Incas never developed the wheel, but still had an empire), but come on, seriously? The aliens can master FTL travel, but don't have drones, or cars, or heck, anything that was old news a century ago?

This is part of why I think the novel is stymied by going the route of analogy. If it wanted to tell the settlement of Australia from an Indigenous perspective, more power to it, but the whole analogy thing keeps failing because it requires so many leaps of faith that its in-universe rationale breaks down. And if I'm judging it by analogy, sometimes I'm left asking where the analogy is. For instance, the Toads have human baby farms to breed slaves (something that never happened in Oz), or there's the in-universe premise that humans are the only species in the galaxy that creates art (...seriously, what's the analogy here?). Sometimes it works, mind you - for instance, the Toads believe in "God" and have "scriptures," and their order justifies slavery by the logic of "God didn't describe life on other planets, so ergo, the creatures of these planets aren't sapient, ergo, it isn't slavery, because we're using animals, not sapient species, but even then, I'm left to buy that the Toads developed a religion that's almost exactly identical to Christianity, that has almost the exact same holy text, that's used said text to justify slavery in almost exactly the same way. Heck, Kang and Kodos are blushing, even after acknowledging that by some amazing coincidence, English and Rygellian are exactly the same. I get why this exists as a writing tool (to justify the twist), but as an in-universe plot device? It's a stretch.

So, the book goes on. Stuff happens. A good Toad joins our humans, whose function in the story is to show how evil the Toads are, and how he can lament how evil they are, and all that stuff. There's a line where, near verbatim, the rationale goes "we [the Toads] put society before family, while you [humans] put family before society," ergo, Toads have an 'evil' culture, humans have a 'good' culture. Yeah, okay, fine, whatever. I might not have minded so much if the last epigraph of the novel is a statement that everything the Toads have done has a counterpart in human history, that they're inhuman, not nonhuman, but when you spend 300 pages showing us and establishing that the Toads are psychopaths (bar two exceptions), who have a culture that's bereft of any literary merit, who have a culture where art literally does not exist, then...yeah. You don't...you don't DO this in fiction. You don't spend 300 pages showing us how evil your antagonists are and then at the end have the equivalent of "well they're not that bad." And if we go by the analogy, if we consider the in-universe functions as being representative of the real-world, then, yikes. And no, the 'good Toad' isn't moral ambiguity when his role in the novel exists to serve the paradigm of how evil the Toads are. It would be the equivalent of Lord of the Rings adding an orc character to the Fellowship spending the bulk of the novel describing how evil orcs are, and then expecting the reader to conclude that the orcs aren't universally evil because one of them recognises how evil they are.

Again, I'll reiterate that this book didn't need to be analogy. There's a moment before the twist where we see troopers massace a group of "natives," this being a point in time where we believe that the Settlers are Europeans and the natives are Aboriginals. It's bloody, it's heinous, and it 'works,' because this is a factor of colonization that actually happened. When the novel stresses how outmatched the natives are technologically, when we learn later on that a single Toad rifle has the power of a howitzer (they're implied to be plasma weapons), then the analogy still holds up. But it's an exception to the rule.

Some last things. I've seen in other reviews that the book is one without hope, that there aren't that many humans left, and I've got to say, I really don't get that. The book is replete with references to humans holding out in the driest areas of Earth and conducting armed resistance, such as in Mexico, Nevada, Afghanistan (apparently the US military is still in Afghanistan by 2041...yay...), and there's so many humans left that the Toads consider dumping all of humanity in Australia and abandoning the continent. We don't get a sense of how many Toads there are exactly on Earth (we can assume in the billions), but it's left vague as to why the Toads would even bother with the dry areas when there's presumably still room in cooler areas, and with humans still existing in/near said areas. There's also epigraphs that appear to be flash-forwards, that are set well beyond the timeframe of the novel, where humans address the "Settler Parliment" or conduct "Invasion Day" protests. These are obvious analogies to Australia's contemporary situation, and I don't mind them. But what's harder to swallow is that the last lines in the novel imply that the fight will continue, whereas the flash forwards suggest that the 'fight' becomes entirely political in the novel's future. Fair enough, but there's little to bridge the two.

Oh, and Martin Freeman (or someone called Martin Freeman) apparently became an admiral in the British Navy by 2041, whose role in the novel is to take borderline glee in describing how the Toads wiped out the entirety of London's population (it's implied that the entirety of England, and possibly all of the UK, was likewise removed of all humans) with the rationale of "we deserved it." Make of that what you will.

At the end of the day, this novel seems to want to have its cake and eat it. It wants to be analogy and alien invasion story, and it fails to be both. Coupled with characters I couldn't invest in, and what we have is a book that just isn't that engaging. I get what it's trying to do. I just don't think it succeeds that well.

Thaluikhain:
Re-reading the Mortal Instruments series, hadn't read that since I got it because I remembered how bad it was, but it seems I'd forgotten how bad it isn't. Bit of a mixed bag, but worth another look.

Can you elaborate? I have a few of the Mortal Instruments books on my shelf (courtesy of a book sale), but never got round to reading them.

Hawki:

Thaluikhain:
Re-reading the Mortal Instruments series, hadn't read that since I got it because I remembered how bad it was, but it seems I'd forgotten how bad it isn't. Bit of a mixed bag, but worth another look.

Can you elaborate? I have a few of the Mortal Instruments books on my shelf (courtesy of a book sale), but never got round to reading them.

Well, it does the normal Urban Fantasy thing of not thinking through the effects of the magic (Oh, so magic runes and gunpowder don't work together, so you don't have guns? You come up with some fancy thing that does work, you don't use swords. Fighting enemies that guns work fine on (especially if they are allergic to iron, which makes up the steel in steel tipped ammunition)? You use guns, you don't still use swords for no reason).

It's also got the YA angst and kids having to do everything because the adults don't, generally for no adequately explained reason. And really thick characters.

But still, the world-building is nice and the characters mostly work, and the stories are fair enough.

Having finished the Mortal Instruments, in on the the prequel (well, spin off set earlier), Infernal Devices. Cassandra Clare seems to only have a very limited range of characters she can write about, there's more than a few similarities between the main characters in both series.

Still, readable enough, I think this series is better. Though, in terms of reading order, she finished Infernal Devices midway through writing Mortal Instruments, so some alter Mortal Instruments books refer to things that happened in Infernal Devices.

Well, the book I just finished was a bit of a slog. Took quite some time to finish, not only because of the constant distractions of the holiday season, but because the subject matter and writing were work to deal with.

Strangers In The Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860-1925 by John Higham [1955] I saw this older book on the shelf at the used-book store and decided to grab it. It has been said that while history doesn't actually repeat itself, it does tend to rhyme so I thought it would be a fairly thought-provoking thing to delve into. It was definitely interesting, and I do think it provided some decent clarity/perspective to the current trends of nativism running around today, but the work is not without its problems.

Perhaps the most pronounced problem I had was that Higham tried very hard to center his analysis on, and solely on, the aspects of nativism that were defined by European immigration, that his work carries with it a serious case of tunnel vision in my opinion. He only briefly mentions the restrictions against immigration from the Far East, hand-waving away as something almost entirely unrelated to his focus. He also seemed to take great pains to divorce as much as possible his analysis from any relationship with the racism that already existed within American society, except to show the tides of antisemitism (and even then somehow claiming that was a completely different matter).

However, even with that particular issue shadowing the work, I will not deny that Higham does create a fairly in-depth look at the changes in attitudes, the rise and fall of the fears/anxieties that underscore nativism, and the state of the nation that he considers the source of the former two concepts. Indeed, I can recommend taking a look at the work, but just keep in mind when it was written and that the time period appears to have placed some limitations on Higham's creation.

I just breezed through the first two books in the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss....and apparently he's not released the third one and it's been like 7 years since the second one came out. I hope he didn't get hit by a bus or something cause nothing is concluded yet and I'm gonna freak out.

Anyhow, the series itself is excellent, the protagonist is a cool take on a fantasy world genius but also incredibly freaking unlucky so his talents in a way are barely enough to get him out of his predicaments so despite his skills it never really feels like you'd think it would when you have a genius fighting against average obstacles most of the time, since the odds are just so very much against him.

A really nice element of the story is it's attachment to music. I legit managed to tear up from the description of the emotion regarding a song, which is not something I thought was possible.

I dunno if I should recommend it though cause the way things are going we may never get the third book and I'd hate to cause someone else to get stuck in limbo next to me lol.

Re-reading the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andres.

The worldbuilding and the stories are nice...only a big part of it is the romance, and you know that "Still a better story than Twilight" thing that was popular some years round.

Stephanie Meyers can say "Still not nearly as messed up as the 'romance' in the Kate Daniels series".

Is there a law written somewhere that says that any male were-creature in an story with "romance" has to be a hypermasculine control freaky stalker waiting to upgrade to serial killer?

Dark Forge - Miles Cameron

Second book in a fantasy series set in a "not the Byzantine Empire, honest" world. Main character is inexplicably awesome at everything and women keep falling over themselves to shag him. Or maybe it'll be explained in the third book. Here, he pops off on war (incomprehensibly, as he is entrusted with what seems to me to be a far more important task although, conveniently, the two happen to merge). Some dodgy force is trying to remake the world - involving, of course, wrecking the current one - you can tell they're totally evil by the complete lack of regard for life and enslavement of anyone to hurl into the fray as cannon fodder. Ho-hum. I suppose it's interesting enough above the usual to show him finding war depressing, fraught, confusing and ethically challenging. I actually quite enjoyed it all.

Fear The Stars - Christopher Husberg

Fourth in a fantasy series about another task to foil world destruction. Expanded cast of characters from multiple viewpoints. Mage queen of the TOTALLY NOT ELVES, HONEST "tiellans", an assassin whose sort of a composite personality whose body has been in the past occupied by other minds, an ex-priestess of the main church who joined her sister in a breakaway sect and so on. I wonder if I took the earlier books a little too casually, because I noticed this one has some bits of philosophical depth floating around in it. Outside that though, it's pretty trashy fantasy: I feel deeply unconvinced by elements, such as when an absurdly huge, untested war machine gets built by a race without much apparent current-day expertise in engineering and smacks dead on target with a mere two ranging / direction test shots. Stuff happens, because it's convenient! A passable read worth the not long amount of time it took me to finish.

Did some reading:

Prisoners of Geography (4/5)

Best way I can describe this is "Guns, Germs, and Steel for the 21st Century." If you have any interest in boundaries both political and physical and how it's affected the course of history, read this...just don't expect anything on Oceania. :(

The Fifth Risk (2/5)

It's hard to say what this book is actually about - I certainly can't say what the titular fifth risk is. It basically looks at the importance of various US government departments and how Trump has adversely affected them, but even then it's both disjointed and very dense.

The Expanse: Nemesis Games (3/5)

So, I'm not a big fan of the Expanse books, even if I quite like the show. TBH, I think the show actually helped with this as at the least, I had a visual sense of the characters and ships. It's also a nice change of pace that the four main characters are all separated for most of the book which allows it to be a bit more introspective. However, while I cared about Holden and Alex, I didn't care so much about Amos and Naomi, even though the latter's plot is arguably the most important in the book. Also, it doesn't feel like a true continuation of book 4, it's more a jump to the side.

So, better than some of the books that came before it, but still not a big fan of this series. Said it before and I'll say it again, I don't care how detailed your fictional world is if the characters inhabiting it aren't interesting.

Hawki:
It's hard to say what this book is actually about - I certainly can't say what the titular fifth risk is.

Interesting - I don't actually know what the four risks are, except that I've heard the term in connection with business practices, so I'm guessing project management or investment principles. We might be able to infer from this that the fifth risk (to US business or US government capability?) is Trump himself, implicitly therefore poor governance at the top.

* * *

Salvation - Peter F. Hamilton

So, one of the UK's top SF authors pops out with another series. Here, humanity in the not so distant future has just discovered interstellar travel and encountered an ultra-religious alien race who want to top up their fuel (so to speak) on a pilgrimage to the centre of the universe where they think their souls will transcend at the end of time. The advanced alien technology has proved quite a boon for humanity... but are the aliens as benign as they present themselves?

The story is largely told from the view of one Ferriton Kayne, a security officer at the Connexion company which has a monopoly on gate technology that enables material to be transported any distance at a moment. Ferriton is part of a team to investigate a crashed alien ship; through him we hear the five other characters on the mission tell critical moments from their backhistory. These stories are interspersed with the training of some posthumans some decades/centuries in the future, who regard these mission characters as "saints".

Peter F. Hamilton did not get to be one of the top SF authors in the world without being good at his job. He loves his space opera, multi-POV books, and whilst there are in my view better SF authors out there (Hamilton namechecks some in the book in a gentle nod to his peers) with better SF ideas, there's nothing to really complain about. Hamilton has written some massive door-stops in his time. This is smaller in terms of number of pages, although bear in mind the text is very dense, so it's still a substantial investment of time to read through, although I can't imagine many people will struggle.

* * *

The Raven Tower - Anne Leckie

I started this is November. Being both tired (it's the worst time of year for me, work-wise) and put off by the disconcerting nature of it being written in second person, I shelved it temporarily. Now I've finished, I sort of quite enjoyed it. It's a fantasy tale musing on gods and humans, how humans interact with humans and gods with gods, and then gods and humans. I'm not sure it's that clever - it uses some reasonable well-worn notions of how deities function. I suppose I like the idea that gods declare something to be so and reality changes to make it so - but this drains the god's power, and if it is too great a task for that god's power, eventually it drains that god to death.

So the plot goes that the land of Iraden is kept safe by a god called The Raven. But there is trouble in Iraden - the Raven's Lease (a de facto sort of constitutional monarch who gets sacrificed to the god every generation or so) has disappeared rather than been sacrificed god, enemies amass on the borders and conspiracies are afoot. The plot is narrated by a god - "The Strength and Patience of the Hill" to a human, Eolo, who is chief officer to the heir to the throne.

It's all okay. I don't think it worked for me half as much as her award winning SF stuff, but there's a nice concept underlying it and it's well enough executed.

The Return Of The Incredible Exploding Man - Dave Hutchinson

As a quick preamble, if you like SF and you haven't read Hutchinson's four book Europe series of SF espionage, sort that out ASAP. Arguably the series weakens towards the end, but it's superb. Hutchinson's a good writer - witty, interesting, good pacing and characters.

This is quite a short book - Alex Dolan, talented but failing journalist, gets what might be a dream job to cover a Silicon Valley billionaire's pet physics project. But maybe it's got some significant downsides. And then we all also know what happens with massive, overpowered, science projects, don't we?

Dolan himself is a sort of antihero: snarky, hapless, irreverent - and here he, amongst the smartest guys in the room who have more power and drive than he can dream of. We KNOW what's going to happen to Alex Dolan just from the book title and being aware of the SF cliche. The trick is really how it happens and what the result is going to be... and it's good stuff. It really is a book which holds to the saying that it's the journey that counts, not the destination. It's a lot about surveillance, billionaire megalomania, communities, relationships, and very little about the relatively simplistic world of comic book superheroes it's clearly playing on. Probably a standalone novel (there seems to be no suggestion of a sequel), and if so possibly all the better for it.

Finished The Book of the New Sun and it's Follow up book The Urth of the New Sun. Overall quite interesting though the whole thing ends up being a weird read. The general writing style of Severian empahing certain details over others(often mundane details over what could be far more interesting bits), conversations that come across just oddly phrased and mechanical at times, the fact numerous women over the course of the story seem to be strangely "attracted" to Severian despite Severian not being terribly interesting or likable(though it's from his POV so this might be unreliable narrator at work).

The Urth of the New Sun supringly helped clear up a number of plot points from the earlier books even if it raises others. Time Travel ends up being a major plot point and it gets kinda kinda timey-whimey after a while(including two versions of the same character showing up in the same place, Severian leaving with the younger version and there's no evidence that younger version ever goes back to become her older self introduced earlier). There's also the fact that while the books relied heavily on Clarkes Third Law for a lot of things, some of the things that happen can only be described as "Space Magic" or maybe "Acts of God".

Overall, worth a read but it's definitely a bit opaque and difficult. Not Gravity's Rainbow level of difficult but still quite a challenge.

A Christmas Carol (4/5)

Everyone and their mother knows their story, so I won't waste your time with a synopsis. What I will say is that the language is a bit too flowery for my taste - sometimes a lot more descriptive than it has to be. On the other hand, I can concede that because I've seen so many adaptations of this book, I already know what the characters and environs look like. Still, I'm giving it a 4, because at the very least, its message, while simple, is one worth hearing. It's easy to see why this book has endured.

Blood of Empire - Brain McLellan

Third in McLellan's second trilogy. Both are set in the currently fashionable mode of... actually I don't know what it's called. Musketpunk? Gunpowder-era fantasy, anyway. This world is Napoleonic era. It's the culmination of a war to control these stones that can turn people into Gods. It's set in Fatrasta, which is a colonial possession where the colonial Kressians (sort of Europeans) have carved out some land from the Palo (sort of native Americans, if more advanced) near the empire of Dynize (sort of quasi-oriental culture style).

There's something I kind of hate about this style of story (David Weber is another offender). The good guys all have a certain personality or sense of honour. Sure, it turns out some of the supposed opponents are actually good guys, but all the good guys are kind of the same. Brave, witty, honourable, tough, brilliant. If the heroes meet an enemy who's on that spectrum, you know that enemy will switch sides to resist the real bad guys in the end. And no-one can accomplish anything but the main heroes. There's a point (minor spoiler alert) where a second string character tries to assassinate the big bad guy, and you absolutely know it's going to fail, simply because no-one's allowed to accomplish anything major unless they're a POV character.

You know, it's not bad. In fact, it's a reasonable mid-quality standard read by a guy who knows how to write competently, it just presses several of tedious cliche buttons for me and becomes a bit tooth-grindingly annoying.

* * *

The Freeze Frame Revolution - Peter Watts

This is a novella. Watts is at pains to stress it is as far as he is concerned, even though it technically passes the word count from novella into novel by about 1000.

It's very much Big Idea science fiction. The human race in the 2200s sent a large asteroid starship called the Eriophora zipping round the galaxy planting jump gates for the human race to travel through. It's got an AI, backed by a crew of 30,000 humans on rotation, coming out of hibernation when a gate is seeded or are otherwise needed. Problem is, they've not any contact with the rest of the human race since departing the solar system, and aren't even sure if the human race still exists, nor will the AI permit the mission to end without an order from earth. They've been on the mission tens of millions of years, and now some of the human crew want it to end.

But how to run a rebellion against an all-seeing AI when there are fewer than a dozen crew awake at any one time and hundreds of years between each waking?

So, this one is really good fun. Some great ideas, well packed to make the most of it's short length.

Watts, incidentally, is barred entry to the USA. Allegedly a border guard asked to search his car as he crossed from Canada, and when Watts asked "What's the problem?", was physically attacked by the border guard. The question he asked of the border guard apparently was enough to constitute a felony offence (obstruction of a border official), for which he received a suspended sentence.

Asita:
Dracula - Bram Stoker

I liked this one a little better than I did Frankenstein, but it does have its trying moments. One of the more curious things about this is that contrary to a lot of adaptations, Mina is less of a setpiece and in fact is arguably the most competent of the protagonists, both helping them to put the pieces of the puzzle together and coming up with a few ideas herself when the trail runs dry. It's a refreshing change of pace, really.

I read Dracula around 5 years ago, I think, so my memory is a little vague now. I also liked it more than Frankenstein. What was interesting to me was how a couple of traits that became attached to vampires were absent or different in the book. Mainly that they killed him by sticking a knife in his heart, not a stake, and I think he could go out in the sun but there was a weird restriction about transformation, but I don't really remember anymore.

Drathnoxis:

Asita:
Dracula - Bram Stoker

I liked this one a little better than I did Frankenstein, but it does have its trying moments. One of the more curious things about this is that contrary to a lot of adaptations, Mina is less of a setpiece and in fact is arguably the most competent of the protagonists, both helping them to put the pieces of the puzzle together and coming up with a few ideas herself when the trail runs dry. It's a refreshing change of pace, really.

I read Dracula around 5 years ago, I think, so my memory is a little vague now. I also liked it more than Frankenstein. What was interesting to me was how a couple of traits that became attached to vampires were absent or different in the book. Mainly that they killed him by sticking a knife in his heart, not a stake, and I think he could go out in the sun but there was a weird restriction about transformation, but I don't really remember anymore.

More or less right. Lucy was killed with a stake though. Dracula could walk around in sunlight with little effect other than losing much of his supernatural power, and if he was outside the place he was bound he could only transform at Dawn, Noon, and Dusk. There's also the offhanded mention of some very weird restrictions, like how you can trap him in his coffin by putting a rose on top of it while he's inside.

The Glass Breaks - A.J. Smith

"The glass breaks, the sword falls, the sea rises". A.J. Smith has started a new series after his last one, which was a fairly stock fantasy heavily inflected with influence from Lovecraft. Here, he has created a new world (although one not entirely unconnected to his previous) and retained the Cthulhu mythos, to the point of having a city called "Rlyeh" on the map - although never referred to as such in the text - with old cephalopol-head himself in residence and busy dreaming away.

Duncan Greenfire is the most unfortunate of individuals, an adolescent born undersized and puny in an extremely warlike people (sort of Vikings), the Sea Wolves; he has been tested and passed to be called a man only because of his prodigious magical talent. As with all these books, his amazing talent will take him places. Meanwhile, another Sea Wolf, Adeline Brand, is one of the top fighters of her people and has a more conventional head-breaking career. The Sea Wolves are one of four-an-a-half peoples who have sailed from the east to conquer the Pure Lands, and now dominate the native American-like peoples who lived there before them.

Obviously, you've got a Lovecraftian Elder God hanging round the backyard, the reader knows exactly where the threat to civilisation is here. Duncan and Adeline set off on their diverging fates to save the people of the Pure Lands, where Duncan eventually learns that the Sea Wolves are little more than a bunch of idiot thugs, where Adeline learns that even idiot thugs need people with at least some wisdom.

It's good fun stuff - although really just baseline fantasy with a dollop of Lovecraft. A.J. Smith is pleasingly ruthless though: expect that major hero protagonists can be deeply flawed, stupid, fail, and/or die: none of this boundless heroism and honour dripping from every pore. Adds a frisson of the unexpected. On the down side, I'm not totally sure I liked the direction it seemed to be going in the last quarter, which adds a note of trepidation to my general sense of looking forward to the sequel.

Mass Effect: Andromeda: Initiation (3/5)

Started reading this book after starting the game it ties in with, and I finished it while still playing the game it ties in with. A game that I just want to be over (though I'm doing various sidequests before going to Meridian, because I hate myself), but in the meantime, I have to deal with this. So. How is it?

...fine, really. It's tie-in fiction. It's fine. It's average. It's a repeat of the very first Mass Effect novel in a lot of ways, in that they're both prequels, both deal with secondary characters (Anderson/Cora), and both deal with AI and how it relates to the setting. Honestly, I prefer the first novel though - new universe, and Saren's a far more compelling character than anything this book comes up with. Well, at least a more compelling anti-hero (not antagonist mind you). At the very least, the interactions between SAM and Cora are good. But at the end of the day, the book's fine. Not the worst Mass Effect novel (!cough!Deception!Cough!) but decent.

Now maybe someday I'll finish Andromeda proper and not have to bother with the damn thing anymore. :(

Asita:
[quote="Drathnoxis" post="18.1034689.24327809"]like how you can trap him in his coffin by putting a rose on top of it while he's inside.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You are a vampire
A stake goes through you

Skyward: Claim The Stars - Brandon Sanderson

Argh. I normally buy books by browsing the bookshop. (Yes, I still read via legacy dead tree format.) One of the problems with this is it leaves me vulnerable to unmarked Young Adult (YA) fiction clogging up other sections, because bar a few exceptions I really do not like YA fiction. Coming-of-age story where spunky teen rises from troubled past and (apparent) humble origins to save the world could be any number of SF&F books. However, YA sticks out for elements of childishness; cutesiness; chaste quasi-romance; simpler language; simpler emotional detail, character, world-view, etc. much more directed as issues relevant to teens.

And so we have Spendra, pilot-wannabe whose dad was branded a coward. Humans live in a deep cavern in a barren world surrounded by a massive orbital defence system and rubble (which occasionally drops onto the surface). Aliens, the "Krell" occasionally fly through gaps in the rubble to attack this last remnant of humanity. Spendra joins a bunch of other pilot cadets to defend her species, overcoming obstacles.

The set-up of Skyward: CTS is infuriatingly contrived. Why are the humans so ignorant of their history and situation? Why do the aliens - who we can gather have already crushed humanity in a galactic war - not annihilate this last pocket? Answer: because Sanderson wants it so, not because it really makes much sense. Part of this is Sanderson's style to be found across pretty much all his works that the world-setting has a "puzzle" that the protagonists must work out to save the day. In short, I kind of hated this book throughout most of it. It's redeemed only by the fact Sanderson is an effective author who's easy and fun to read, and the denouement was actually quite exciting (if, again, a bit contrived and unlikely). This is obviously a subjective view: it is designed for an audience much, much younger than me, and so they'd probably get a great deal more out of it.

Agema:
Skyward: Claim The Stars - Brandon Sanderson

Argh. I normally buy books by browsing the bookshop. (Yes, I still read via legacy dead tree format.)

Statistically, you're actually in the majority there.

The Old Lie (3/5)

The Old Lie is two thirds a bad novel, one third a good novel. I figure that at the end of the day, that makes it an average novel. Yes, the math might not quite work out, but screw it, I don't do decimal points, and I only do rankings of ten for movies.

The Old Lie is by the same author as Terra Nullius, and deals with similar themes. The novel is meant to be analogy for the experience of Indigenous Australians in WWII, but "meant to be" is the key phrase here. That said, I have a load of gripes about this book - you might remember with Terra Nullius that I complained, among other things, that the worldbuilding has to contort itself to match the analogy. Here, this problem is alleviated by cutting out worldbuilding entirely, and making analogy on the nose to the point where no-one can miss it. You'll see what I mean about that later.

So, what's the setting of this book? Well, at some point (a point which could easily be the present day), Earth is attacked by an interstellar body called the Conglomeration. We fight good, we fight hard, but we're outmatched by superior technology. However, humanity recovers a downed Conglomeration ship and sets out distress signals in desparation. Turns out those signals are heard by the Conglomeration's enemy, the Federation, which arrives and engages the Conglomeration above Earth, forcing the Conglomeration to withdraw. Earth thus becomes a Federation pseudo-member (nto a full member, more like a protectorate), and humans sign up to fight the good fight. The novel begins eight years after the initial attack on Earth, as we learn that even among the stars, war is hell...and when on the ground, practically identical to WWI for some reason.

If you think this is an interesting setup, don't get too excited, because I've just summed up the majority of the worldbuilding right there. We learn almost nothing about the Federation and Conglomeration, let alone the war between them. Species descriptions are kept intentionally vague (most aliens seem to be humanoid, as when they aren't they're specified), but we learn little about them. Almost all the characters in the book are human, and humans keep to themselves. I don't actually mind this, as it refers to the Federation keeping its species segregated while in battle (cue WWI, with forces of the British Empire being divided by their country of origin), but the difference between this and WWI is that we know how WWI started, why it started, and why it ended. In this, we learn...nothing. It's so weird, Terra Nullius had questionable worldbuilding, but at least it had it. I understood how we got from Point A (all sapient life emerges in the Milky Way at the same time because reasons), to Point B (one side of the galaxy is more densely populated than the other because reasons), to Point C (Earth is invaded), to Point D (the novel), with hints of Point E (hints at a future where things are slightly better for humanity). Old Lie has none of this. If anything, we start the story at Point Y, since over the course of the novel, the Conglomeration loses its homeworld and the war ends. We don't even learn it was the Conglomeration homeworld until after the titular assault. I've just spent two thirds of a novel reading a story about two galactic empires fighting each other for reasons that are never explained.

And look, I know what you're going to say. Federation? Conglomeration? Futility of war? Isn't it possible that the lack of detail is intentional? Isn't it possible that the intent of the novel is to serve as analogy , of humans getting the short end of the stick fighting for a government that's going to discard them as soon as the war is over? Is it possible that I'm looking at this novel the wrong way? Well, Little Jimmy, I can concede that every question I just raised could be answered with the word "yes." However, even if that's the case, I still can't deny that for the first two thirds of the novel I just didn't care about what was going on. The thing about WWI is that even if we agree that it was a waste of human life (and that's certainly the most common position taken by media that depicts it), at the very least, everyone with a half decent education understands the background of WWI, as to why it happened, how it happened, and why what was meant to be a quick war degraded into trench warfare (least within Europe). I'm not saying that every piece of WWI media addresses this, but again, it doesn't have to. The Old Lie, however, is fictional. Even if it's trying to convey its themes through parallels and analogy, I need something, ANYTHING to ground me in the setting. I'm not talking about a lack of technical details (IFTL travel doesn't need lengthy explanation as to how it works for example), I'm talking about the lack of a stable background beyond Earth. Even if I believe that the Federation and Conglomeration have been fighting for so long they don't even know why (this is never stated though), Earth's only been in the fight for eight years. This isn't a Forever War scenario. It isn't even an Ender's Game scenario. Short version is, I can buy the idea that the Federation and Conglomeration are named as such, and are sparsely detailed as such, to convey moral equivalence and the futility of war. I just feel it works to the book's disadvantage. Because I spent two thirds of the book waiting for the point where it would give me these details, and never received them. And you can't tell me that increased details would automatically decrease moral ambiguity. To cite another sci-fi series I've gone back to, The Expanse, there's no shortage of details on the history and structure of Earth, Mars, and the OPA. I challenge you however to nominate the "good" faction.

So, alright then. The worldbuilding is non-existent. But as I've often said, I don't care how detailed your worldbuilding is if the characters inhabiting that world aren't interesting. Well, sorry Little Jimmy, but here, the novel fails as well. We have Rommy (a pilot), Jimmy (refugee, who isn't little), and...honestly, I barely remember. Daniels, I think the third character is, some kind of groundpounder fighting in not!WWI battlefields.I mean, there's other characters, but these are the POV ones, and while I at least remember their names, they aren't interesting enough to salvage the setting they're plopped into. Rommy/Romeo is a fighter pilot, and her sections are basically one space battle after another that gets very old, very quickly - I know, I know, cosntant warfare, war is hell, unceasing conflict, yadda yadda yadda, I still couldn't get engaged with it. Jimmy is a little better, in that he's a refugee trying to get back to Earth, but when you're separated by light years, getting back to Earth is more a case of "hop on a spaceship and hope you end up a few light years closer to Earth than you were before." Actually, to be fair, the Jimmy sections do have more punch than a lot of the other book, in that we see a lot of refugees, conveying that not only are refugees a thing in insterstellar war, but that the Federation and port authorities can be just as cold-hearted as humans can when it comes to sealing borders (or planets). I mean, there's a space station called "New Manus" orbiting Saturn for processing. Gee, subtle. But, credit where credit is due, the Jimmy sections do carry an emotional heft a lot of the book lacks. If it had focused on Jimmy, I might have been more interested. However, there's way too many characters, and the book is constantly jumping between them, with chapters only being a few pages.

So that more or less covers the first two thirds of the novel. If it had ended here, I'd have given it a 2/5, because whatever strengths it had were drowned out by a tidal wave of shortcomings. However, once we get to the third part, that's when things get interesting. You see, in a parallel to Maralinga (this isn't subtle, Maralinga is directly mentioned as a similar example), the Federation has detonated a bomb in Australia that they apparently told no-one about. The bomb is basically described as 'viral radiation.' Like, imagine if you were subjected to nuclear fallout. Only in addition to making you sick, anyone else you'd come into contact with would also be made sick. This 'virus' is transferred through all forms of matter, so unless you meet it with vaccuum, all of Earth is screwed. Basically, think a grey goo scenario. Also, Perth (which was destroyed by the Conglomeration) is going to be turned into a giant retirement village for Federation soldiers. If you think this sounds cheesy, believe me, it actually isn't. When faced with Federation buracrats, people who can't verify human identities because of legalese and cities on Earth no longer technically existing, their anger is palpable. Couldn't help but feel angry too, even though it was fanciful scenario. Though, granted, a scenario that has parallels with reality.

So, that's The Old Lie. Two thirds bad, one third good, thus balances out.

Hawki:
Statistically, you're actually in the majority there.

I don't feel like it, because most everyone else I know has switched to ebooks and audiobooks - but I guess therein lies the danger of thinking most people are like the people you know.

Agema:

Hawki:
Statistically, you're actually in the majority there.

I don't feel like it, because most everyone else I know has switched to ebooks and audiobooks - but I guess therein lies the danger of thinking most people are like the people you know.

Most people I know use physical media, granted, but that aside, numbers don't lie, supposedly. In purchasing, I've read that e-books are still being outsold by physical books. In one of the libraries I work at, it's even lower - IIRC, of all the loans we processed in a given period of time, only 10% of them were e-books.

Hawki:

Agema:

Hawki:
Statistically, you're actually in the majority there.

I don't feel like it, because most everyone else I know has switched to ebooks and audiobooks - but I guess therein lies the danger of thinking most people are like the people you know.

Most people I know use physical media, granted, but that aside, numbers don't lie, supposedly. In purchasing, I've read that e-books are still being outsold by physical books. In one of the libraries I work at, it's even lower - IIRC, of all the loans we processed in a given period of time, only 10% of them were e-books.

Damn straight! Here's the problems with ebooks: hope your internet does not get shut off, your device goes bad, or in an areas with shitty internet service. People still buy physical books You should see my local Barnes & Nobles, Books-a-Million, or this one old style book store in downtown Detroit. And audio books I find more useful than ebooks. Ebooks are great for independent authors that can't find a publisher and want go out on their own.

I remember there being a brief "panic" of people thinking ebooks were going to takeover books, because Borders Books went out of business. That was a combination of the media steering up shit and people overreacting to a major business shutting when plenty of other bookstores moved on just find and still exist.

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