March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013
Third time's the charm, more's the fucking pity.
I thought I was someone else. Someone good.
- Current Mood: complicated
- Current Music:Lou Reed - Perfect Day
Ace is a pretty princess with a purple unicorn, and there is a C A T in the neighbor's yard.
So I live in a very tiny town. (It is in Massachusetts, and does not even have a Dunkin Donuts. I rest my case.) scott_lynch and I just walked over to the tiny but TARDIS-like co-op to get some lunch, and while we were paying for a sammich and some spicy tomato wild rice soup, [Redacted,] one of the women who works there, asked me if my housemate [Redacted] happened to be at home.
My housemate [Redacted] happens to be on the town advisory board.
Anyway, [Redacted] at the co-op wanted me to ask my housemate [Redacted] if my housemate [Redacted] was in charge of the candy list (The town subsidizes Halloween candy for people who live on the Common, because we get literally thousands of trick or treaters), because [Redacted] and [Redacted] at the green house across the Common would like to be put on it this year.
I told her I didn't think so, and that I thought it was [Redacted], but my mom now tells me that [Redacted] resigned due to having had enough of shenanigans.
They ([Redacted] and [Redacted] at the green house) are in North Carolina right now, so they asked [Redacted] at the co-op to check. [Redacted] at the co-op asks my housemate [Redacted] call her at the co-op and let her know how best to proceed.
So I sent an email to my housemate [Redacted].
Typical village game of telephone. *g*
- Current Mood: amused
- Current Music:Tool - Prison Sex "O.T.R.M."
Make no mistake: this is a very good novel by any standard, and by the standard of first novels, it's exceptional. It's ambitious, genuinely science-fictional (in the space-opera rather than the mundane-sf mode), well-written, well-characterized, and presents a vision of a group of human cultures that are nevertheless very alien indeed... and not just stereotyped Earth cultures transposed to space. It gives us an colonialist, hierarchal military dictatorship with imperial aims; it gives us the perspective of people attempting to work within and against that dictatorship without ever becoming cartoonish in its depictions of cultures and characters. It addresses the complications of social rank, gender, and ethnic prejudice without becoming simplistically polemical.
It has a series of very cool posthuman Big Ideas, extrapolated and fleshed out with a skill far beyond what I'd expect of the typical first novel. Too many space operas I've read recently take as their starting place the somewhat mined-out turf of Niven-or-Varley Belters or Cherryh's deep-space merchanter and space navy culture, and while some of them take those ideas in fascinating directions, it's refreshing to see a book that does something fresher. This book arises from a more Le Guinian paradigm--a sprawling posthuman but not postcolonial government clinging to its empire through military might and ruthlessness, expanding through and annexing human-settled worlds and butting up against encroaching aliens. In a bit of Banksian ambition, this vast sprawling civiliation is populated by people--and A.I.s--who can be in twenty places at once through technology that allows the replication of selves, and communication between those selves.
(I have a little bit of the same problem with this book that I had with Altered Carbon--to wit, brains and minds aren't actually separable that way--but what the hell, it's an established S.F. trope, let's run with it.)
The first two thirds of the book have a nice, carefully-thought-out plot that is one part revenge story, one part political thriller, and one part planetary romance. It's replete with loyalty, betrayal, paranoia, and at least three breathtaking moments of Oh no you didn't.
Somebody once described what I write as "comedies of ethics." That applies to the current book as well.
Alas, some structural problems derail the final third of the book. A long, glossed-over time break happens, and does not seem to affect a relationship between two primary characters sufficiently. (There is a small effect, but our relationship with someone we have known for a year is different from the one we have with that same someone when we've known them only for a month or two.) And after that break, the story begins to feel somewhat rushed and arbitrary. Rather than acting, the protagonist feels acted upon--sometimes coincidentally. She gets a lot less clever suddenly, too, so that she can fall prey to certain dictates of the plot.
And the plot itself--and the character motivations of various allies and antagonists--abruptly become confusing and opaque, leading to a climax and what should have been a stunning reversal of fortune that sadly lacks the emotional impact and catharsis I craved.
Still, there's a very nice inventive space fight that shows Leckie's potential to develop Cherryh-like space battle chops in a couple more books, and there's a sequel hook to die for.
Ancillary Justice at its best establishes Leckie as an heir to Banks and Cherryh. At its weakest, it's still one of the best first novels I've read in five years.
- Current Mood: cheerful
- Current Music:Bruce Springsteen - Pink Cadillac
Book of Iron is out tomorrow! (Some early orderers seem to have copies already.)
This novella is a prequel to Bone and Jewel Creatures, although it stands alone. It's set in the same world as the Eternal Sky books, and it features roadsters, necromancy, and miserably complicated interpersonal relationships. Like you do.
Also, pre-orders are now open for the shared-world audio anthology METAtropolis 3: Green Space, which features Jay Lake, Ken Scholes, Karl Schroeder, Tobias Buckell, Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, and me! It contains my seasteading caper story "Green and Dying" along with novelettes and novellas linked in time, place, and setting, written by the rest of the gang.
It'll be released on October 15, and it's going to be awesome.
- Current Mood: nerdy
- Current Music:BLAQK AUDIO - Faith Healer
Yesterday was my birthday, and scott_lynch took me to the Como Zoo and Conservatory to celebrate. There was also pastry beforehand and fried cheese curds afterwards, and all in all it was a totally fabulous day. Here are some photos.
It's a Minitor in the center of a labyrinth! (The brand name of Scott's fire department pager. I couldn't resist.)
Yes, many Amber jokes were made while we were walking the thing.
I need to make up an entire mood theme consisting of this photo of a sloth:
We all have days like that, honey.
( (Cut for flist mercy)Collapse )
And that is the day that was, in pictures.
And today, I slept in a little bit and then went for a 13-mile run. Because I meant to run 13 on Saturday, but I fell on a gravel path and skinned hell out of my knee, so I limped home bloody and sad after only 11.
I kind of love that I can handle two runs that long in the same week now.
- Current Mood: chipper
- Current Music:Jethro Tull - For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me
Not only is the game smart, populated by a diverse and interesting cast of characters, and addictive... it gives me something to think about other than how many miles I have left to go. I just wish I could chain together multiple episodes over a two-hour run without having to stop and restart, but that's a minor complaint, and the radio mode helps with that.
Although I don't know what the zombies actually want with me, I'm not sure. Day 246, still no sign of brain regeneration. And yet, deadlines.
I think I need six months off from writing.
I have, however, discovered that Warren Zevon, surprising no-one, is the perfect music for running from zombies. Tom Waits, as well. And the Tina Turner cover of "The Bitch Is Back" cracked me up when it came on. Also surprisingly pleasing in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the English countryside: Everlast's "We're All Gonna Die" and Squeeze's "Annie, Get Your Gun."
- Current Mood: entertained
- Current Music:Dead Kennedys - Pull My Strings
The first volume was wonderful. It ended on a cliffhanger, and someone had taken the second one away somewhere!
And I'm pretty sure Patrick and Steve were avoiding me, so I couldn't ask them what happened.
It was a weird dreams night all around, but that was the best/worst one.
*Which is actually titled "Spider Web"
- Current Mood: grumpy
- Current Music:Joan Osborne - Spider Web