Sam Boone

So, finished Bud Sparhawk's series of 6 Sam Boone short stories. All following roughly the same pattern:

1) meet a couple alien races
2) try to figure out how to settle a dispute between two of 'em
3) have an "ah hah!" moment, usually based on something someone said shortly before hand
4) wrap everything up in about 2 more pages

Enjoyable, often sorta funny (one has a serious groaner pun that builds up through the entire story -- I missed the buildup until it hit me at the punch line). I think I'll try more of Sparhawk's works, something longer, to see if any of those suit me better. But for now, back to Analog.

(no subject)

I've accumulated a minor mountain of Analog and Asimov's magazines in my stack of Things To Read, so I'll be spending the next few weeks catching up on them I think. They tend to have at least a few short stories that I really enjoy and rarely contain anything I just totally dislike.

Analog: Science Fiction and Fact -- June 2008
Brittney's Labyrinth by Richard A. Lovett
Science Fact: Peroxide Snow, Ejected Moons, and Deserts that Create Themselves by Richard A. Lovett
Waterbot by Ben Bova
Demand Ecology by Craig DeLancey
On The Evolution of God by Robert Lundy
Back by Susan Forest
Finalizing History by Richard K. Lyon
The Late Sam Boone by Bud Sparhawk

Of these, the only one I didn't care for was the poem by Robert Lundy. I'm generally not much of a poetry fan, not enough meat to chew on.

None of the stories stood ahead of the pack, but I enjoyed them all. I'd like to read more in the universe that Bud Sparhawk has created, but he needs to figure out how to be less predictable.

Update: I should have known.. there's a series of short stories in the Sam Boone series (available on both amazon and fictionwise). I'll post more after I've read 'em. Thanks to matociquala, who's blog mentioned an audio cd set that included another of Bud Sparhawk's works (among a bunch of other great authors) which pushed me into searching for other works.

The Black Hole War

I was browsing Amazon week ago and came across a book called The Black Hole War among my recommendations. It sounded like a really nifty subject for a sci-fi novel. Nope.. non fiction. It's basically a history of physics: the major players, the major theories, and how they evolved over the last couple hundred years. The focus is on how the theories tie in with the study of Black Holes and how there's been conflicting theories for a long time.

It was very well written. Not too heavy on the details. I could have handled going deeper in a number of places, but I can understand how that would have narrowed the market for the book. Engaging enough for those who don't care about the details.

If you have the slightest interest in physics and want to catch up on what the current theories are and whats changed from what you were taught back in college, I suggest picking up a copy.

NOTE: It was available for a while as a Kindle edition, which is how I read it (sub-note: the pictures were very well done, considering how poorly done pictures are in a lot of electronic publications right now). That version seems to have disappeared. The above link is for the hardback version.

The Dark Knight

Advanced notice.. no spoilers here, safe for all readers.

Based on the recommendation of a few friends, I went to see The Dark Knight tonight. Since it was the 10pm showing, I figured the theatre wouldn't be terribly crowded. So, I left in time to arrive just before the trailers started. Whoops. I got a seat, but it wasn't a good one. That's ok, the movie more than made up for the seats. Good enough that I'll use the excuse of bad seats to go see it again. :)

Good enough doesn't really do it justice though. The Dark Knight is an amazingly good movie. It's hard to say which role was best portrayed.

The Joker was superb. I haven't seen insane quite like it before. Ok, maybe John Doe in Se7en is similar, but it's been a long time since I've last seen it to do a real comparison. The major difference is that John Doe had a specific plan whereas the Joker was just chaos.

Batman, was.. well.. Batman. He played the conflicted hero beautifully.

I'm not going to go through every character, that'd get tedious and boring. Suffice to say, my hats off to them all.

Almost. There's one role I thought was weak, though I might be a bit biased, Rachel Dawes. She wasn't exactly a major player, but still. I'm willing to admit it might be that I liked Katie Holmes in the role more than Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Anyway, I can tell I'm rambling and not at my most coherent due to it being rather late and still being on a bit of high from the movie. If you weren't planning on seeing it, change your mind. If you are and haven't made the time yet, make it.

Oh, and I shouldn't forget: As good as it is, it's NOT an uplifting movie. Additionally, it isn't even remotely a kids movie.

Movies and Books

Other books I've finished recently:

The Time Traders by Andre Alice Norton
Galactic Derelict by Andre Alice Norton
Voodoo Planet by Andre Alice Norton

I tried to read Flash by L. E. Modesitt. It wasn't agreeing with me, so I stopped reading. I'll give it another try after I finish a few other books to see if it fits me any better. If not, I'll give up on it.

Since Flash didn't sit well, I decided to start Borne on the Wings of Steel by Tony Chandler, sequel to something I did like, MotherShip.

On the movie front, I caught Indiana Jones 4 Sunday. Yeah, I needed to escape the heat again. It was fun, though considerably more campy than I'd hoped for. Also, it was overtly a "hand off the reigns to the next generation" movie. If, or rather when, they make #5, I expect it to suck. All that said, I did enjoy it and am glad I took the opportunity to see it on the big screen since I'm pretty sure this was the last weekend it's showing here.


Regretfully, I finished Brust's latest Vlad novel, Jhegaala. When's the next gonna be out?! I don't want to have to wait another couple years, dawgonit!

This latest addition to the saga is both very in tune with the rest while at the same time a fairly major departure from the past novels. This time Vlad spends the entire time in the East and it is a lot more introspective than ever before. As usual, Vlad gets (or is that puts?) himself into some rather deep holes and then deftly, if narrowly, works himself free. One of my favorite aspects to Jhegaala is that does an excellent job in an area that most novels I've been reading suck at.. the ending. Most novels seem to abruptly end leaving the reader somewhat blindsided searching for the unwinding period. Jhegaala takes the time to give the reader a bit of material to savor after the peak of the adventure.

If you've never read any of the series....

First: What rock have you been hiding under? I'd like to vacation there some time.

Second: Go, now, buy, read. The first of the Vlad novels starts with Jhereg.

Third: As soon as you finish the Vlad series, do yourself a favor and read everything else Brust has written. It'll be well worth your time.

American Idol

Saturday, I spent much of the day and most of the night in Tacoma attending the American Idol season 7 concert. I don't go to many concerts, of any sort. This was my first AI concert. If you enjoyed the top 10 of this past season, you'd have enjoyed the concert. If you didn't, then you wouldn't. Seems obvious, but that's another way to say, the concert was much like the season finale but twice as long. It was essentially 3.5 hours of them singing about 3 songs each, in order from #10 to #1, most of which came from their best on-air performances.

I only liked about half of the top 10, and that remained true for the concert as well. It's not that they were bad, just didn't mesh well with my tastes. Along those lines, the other half, those that mesh well, continued to mesh very well. I'm really looking forward to my two favorites, Carly Smithson and David Cook, putting out CDs showcasing their own style rather than singing other peoples songs.

Additionally, I'm looking forward to them focusing on singing the song rather than focusing so much on showing off themselves. Most songs aren't single voice songs, they're a blend of voices. During AI, including the concert, performances ignore that for the most part and transfer all the important lines to the contestants. The result is sub-optimal in nearly every case.

The 4th

I almost talked myself into going back to Minnesota for CONvergence but decided that I shouldn't. Instead, I hope to be industrious and get a lot of house tidying done. Finish a few half-finished projects. Etc.

Last weekend was so hot here (upper 90's) that all I did was escape to places with air conditioning.. specifically restaurants and movie theatres.

I was disappointed in Wall-E -- absolutely gorgeous visually, but essentially a heavy handed single message movie. Disney had more influence than they should have been allowed to have, I guess.

Kung-Fu Panda was a really fun romp. Not the best animation (see also Wall-E), but they had a good story. I didn't feel smacked over the head like I was with Wall-E and just really enjoyed the silliness and fun.

Last up was Wanted. It wasn't what I expected, but I enjoyed it anyway. If movies weren't so expensive, I'd be tempted to see it again to see what I missed the first time around. It was rather fast paced, so I'm sure there's details that flew past too fast. Besides, at the risk of sounding a bit piggish, it's got Angelina Jolie.

So, reading update:

I finished The Secret of the Ninth Planet by Donald Allen Wollheim. A nice trek through the solar system chasing down a mystery. My only issue with it is one I have with MOST stories; the ending was weak. It came to suddenly and felt rushed.

After that I sped through Sea of Chaos by Julia H. West. It had an interesting, but odd, retro-future feel to it. Set in a time where holodecks were a key part of navigation, but with an antiquatedness about it that smacked of eight-track tapes. Had it been another mid-50s story, which I've been reading a lot of recently, that might have made sense. However, this one was written in 1995.

Currently, I'm about two thirds of the way through The Time Traders by Andre Alice Norton. It's been a lot of fun so far. I'm curious how it's going to wrap itself up.

Recently read...

As a seed to hopefully get me to at least write up _something_ periodically, I opted to start with a list of what I've read since April 1:

Exiles of Tomorrow - Marion Bradley
Stars Seen Through Stone - Lucius Shepard
Kiosk - Bruce Sterling
Safeguard - Nancy Kress
Fountain of Age - Nancy Kress
Captive Girl - Jennifer Pelland
Pride - Mary Turzillo
Titanium Mike Saves the Day - David Levine
Memorare - Gene Wolfe
Dragons Wild - Robert Asprin
Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter - Geoff Ryman
Awakening - Judith Berman
Child, Maiden, Woman, Crone - Terry Bramlett
Susie - John Cullen
Dragon's Teeth - Lois Tilton
Final Weapon - Everette Cole
Plague Ship - Andre Norton
Star Born - Andre Norton

I read the sample of Starlight 3 - Patrick Hayden, and have added it to the ever growing list of books to read.

Currently reading: The Secret of the Ninth Planet - Donald Wollheim

Since November 2007, when I got my Kindle, I've been adding entries over at Library Thing as I finish them. It's by no means a complete listing of all the books I own. Maybe one year I'll feel industrious enough to do that. :)

4th Street

This past weekend I attended 4th Street and had one of the best weekends I can remember.  It was incredible.  The energy.  The topics.  The good people.  No way to summarize the experience without leaving out just too many things.  Instead, wander over to the community here on LJ and read what everyone is saying.