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Books Review

Book Review – Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Foundryside is the latest book from Robert Jackson Bennett, who previously wrote the “Divine Cities” trilogy.  I mostly knew him from the shenanigans he, Sam Sykes, Chuck Wendig and others get up to on Twitter.  Checking out new authors that way hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Sancia is a thief, who operates out of Foundryside, a slum that exists in the gutters and buffer zones between four merchant houses.  Like most heist books, she’s damn good at her job, but powerful forces are at work, and she gets swept along.  Good thing she makes friends with a strange cast of characters along the way!

The merchant houses run the entire city, existing in a state of cold war.  Sancia is one of the independent operators, taking jobs for anyone.  Unfortunately her latest job has her stealing an object of incredible power.  The magic of this world is called ‘scriving’.  It works by convincing objects that the natural laws don’t apply to them, or do apply but in a different way.  Imagine if you could make a cart roll by itself, by scriving runes to tell the wheels that they are on a hill.  A sword can be made to think that, when swung, it’s three times heavier.  But before all that, beings existed that couldn’t just tweak, but rewrite reality as they saw fit.  And their artifacts are being found.

If you like the Gentlemen Bastards series and are looking for another heist book with a strange cast of characters, Foundryside would be a great option.  Check it out!

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Books Review

Book Review – Archivist Wasp

For months, one of my online friends has been recommending Archivist Wasp to pretty much everybody.  It was on my list to check out some day, but when it went on sale a few weeks back she decided to just gift the book to a few of us and be done with it.  I’m very glad she did.

At first glance, the world seems like a typical fantasy realm, where you take a medieval setting and add something weird (ghosts, in this case).  ‘Wasp’ – not her real name – is the Archivist, one of a group of young women marked at birth by a goddess, and taught to catch and study the ghosts that linger all around the landscape.  It’s a brutal life, as the role of Archivist is won through, and held onto, via knife fights to the death versus ‘upstart’ challengers.

Even that life is turned upside down when Wasp meets a special ghost – one that has no problem communicating with her.  He shows her worlds never glimpsed by normal people, and shakes the foundations of everything she was raised to believe.

Archivist Wasp is a quick read that you’ll want to finish in one sitting.  If there’s one flaw, it’s that it relies a bit much on flashbacks to the ghost’s previous life.  But I was dying for that information so it didn’t bother me.  Felt like the flashbacks to the island on Arrow in that way.  Anyway, check the Kindle preview below and buy it, you’ll be glad you did.

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Books Review

Book Review – Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

I keep an eye out on NetGalley for books that may some day interest my kids, and I became curious about Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee when I saw it was one of the most requested books on the site.  What I found was a fast-paced reimagining of the Snow Queen story that the intended audience will love, but doesn’t quite reach the level of all-ages classic.

 Ophelia is the sort of quirky girl that is the star of books like these – she has asthma, she pulls on her braids when nervous, and she has no time for fantasy.  She’s all about science.  That is contrasted with the story of the Boy, whose name was taken for safekeeping when he was picked as the child of prophecy to take down the evil Snow Queen.  Giant owls, magic swords, eternal winters – you know the drill.  He has to find the ‘One Other’ to help him, and if you are like me you already know where this is going.  But for the 9 to 12 year old set, it should work.

As I was reading this, I kept thinking that it felt a lot like one of Gaiman’s adult tales edited down to be palatable to 10 year olds.  I don’t mean that as a negative.  I can see easing your kids into Neil’s more brain-melting works by starting here.

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Life Media

NaNoWriMo? Should I subject myself to this again?

Why am I considering this?  Shall I torment myself yet another year?  Yeah, actually, I think so.  Looking at the 10 Types of writer’s block I linked earlier, I think I might have a way past the ones that typically take me down.  I have ideas, and I think I can strangle my inner critic, who is my own worst enemy.  That, and unwittingly reading another book that uses my “can’t miss” story hook.  Thanks a lot, Timothy Zahn.

I know my blog readers and Twitter followers include numerous authors of varying levels of success amongst them.  How many of you are attempting NaNoWriMo this year?  Let me know.

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News Review Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Jumping the Shark

Solid week, things are easy at the office.  Here are the week’s posts:

Other links worth your time:

Do Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story Markets have gender bias?  From the ever so awesome Geekachicas multi-blog.

I don’t do any tabletop gaming, but these maps look badass.

The first transatlantic communications cable took years to successfully install…and three weeks to get destroyed.  This dude may not have been the sole cause of the cable failure, but maybe you should think through tripling the voltage on something like that.

The M101 ‘Pinwheel’ galaxy is awesome to photograph with any camera.

Stop.  Hammertime.  Obligatory xkcd link.

And finally, I give you the story of a man jumping a shark.  Literally jumping ON it.  The money quote:

“We circled around it a couple times, realized it was a basking shark, got comfortable, came up next to it and thought, ‘You know? I need to feel this fish,'” Jacobs said. “I need to swim with him and be part of this.”

Oh man.  Great way to lead up to Shark Week.