Books!

Apr. 7th, 2017 12:11 pm
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Things I've read lately:

Seanan McGuire: Magic for Nothing (Cryptid book 6).
- in which one of the Price-Healey women runs off to join the circus.

Mishell Baker: Phantom Pains (Arcadia Project book 2).
- in which everyone gets manipulated and at least three new truths about the universe are revealed. Also features a manticore who isn't so bad once you get to know him.

John Scalzi: The Collapsing Empire
- Yep, it's non-milSF space opera, with politics and probably romance in the next book.

Matthew Quirk: Cold Barrel Zero
- a thriller in which the bad guys/good guys remain ambiguous until near the end.

Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology
- adapted to modern sensibilities

Joe Lansdale: The Hap & Leonard series, books 1-10 or so
- in many of these books, one or both of our protagonists gain $100K or so and manages to spend or lose it before the next book. Also contains murder, assault, and righteous arson.

Annie Bellet: Dungeon Crawl (Twenty-Sided Sorceress book 8)
- in which the ramifications of past deals are revealed.

Marshall Maresca: The Holver Alley Crew (Maradaine book 5)
- in which there is a heist! in the interestingly-multi-ethnic medieval fantasy city of Maradaine

Patricia Briggs: Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson book 10)
- in which someone explicitly acknowledges that Mercy is one of the 2-3 most powerful people in North America. Also, vampires, werewolves, and witches.

K. B. Spangler: A Girl and Her Fed series (4 Rachel Peng books, 1 Hope Blackwell book)
- in the universe next door where there were significant advances in neural interfaces, the cyborg community has the best parties. Fantasy with science-fictional trappings.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
About 75% of the calls I received last month were tagged as spam by Google's phone service.

They were right in every case, and did not mis-tag any spam calls as legitimate or vice-versa.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
"reanimated zombie Hitler is bad and shouldn't be invited to speak at your conference"

I agree with this statement. Even if you are hosting a conference of historians addressing the occult beliefs of Nazi Germany, don't invite reanimated zombie Hitler, or anyone who could be mistaken for him.

And I will go further and say that there are certain political opinions -- that "race" among humans is an objectively real thing, rather than a social construct; that it's ok to deprive people of rights because of their beliefs, ancestry, gender, sexuality -- which are sufficiently abhorrent that actively advocating for them in any context is sufficient for me to not invite you to anything, ever.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
I started this book because several people with good track records had recommended it. I was expecting it to be competently written but probably not exactly my thing, because it was clearly a Book with an Issue that was going to be at the center of all the protagonist's motivation.

I was wrong. This book is really well-written, and it is a Book with an Issue -- which uses it really well to instill empathy and the Sense of Wonder that is the big reason that I love science fiction and fantasy, and is especially one of the ways that I judge superhero comics.

The book is Dreadnought, by April Daniels. If you enjoyed the recent Ms. Marvel, the television Supergirl, or Steven Gould's Jumper,  you're probably going to love this origin story.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

... means that http://dsrtao.dreamwidth.org is crossposting to LJ, and i properly reset my password over there.

Ping.

Dec. 27th, 2016 11:01 am
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Testing.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
In superhero universes, Science is a skill that allows the user to make predictions about the way the universe functions and then to create or understand technology that exploits that.

Science has two main fields: Physics and Biology. Superpowered characters may be experts in both fields; normal characters are experts in one or the other but have a reasonable bonus to their non-specialty.

Research is a form of wealth created in character background generation and world generation which can be discovered, protected or accessed just like treasure. In most cases, research can be destroyed, too.

Invention is the main reason for Science to exist. First a character successfully theorizes something relevant, then access to a lab lets them invent a device, serum or program. This takes between one scene and a few sessions to finish.

Gratitude.

Nov. 6th, 2016 07:00 pm
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Doves and Figs is a Boston-area preserve maker; I know the owner and her husband pretty well.

Every so often I reach into the fridge and dip the tip of a fork into their cherry-chocolate-chili chutney. It makes me happy.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

Is there a story or novel in which, upon attaining an age of majority, the new adults must either explicitly sign on to a formal social contract or be exiled?

It seems like the sort of thing that should have been done, but I can't think of any examples. (Several rite-of-passage novels come to mind, of course, but that's different.) It seems like obvious Prometheus Award bait...

Not quite what I'm looking for:


  • Starship Troopers (service for citizenship is not mandatory, not age-linked, they won't throw you out)

  • Coventry (participation in society is assumed, exile is an option for felons)

  • Those Who Walk Away From Omelas (almost right, but there's no explicit social contract, just a utopia powered by evil)

  • Divergent (not sure, but appears to be about cliques and conformity rather than governing rules of society)

  • anything where you have to lose or win citizenship rights rather than just agreeing with them





dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
I decided to make a custard rather than the Philadelphia-style that I usually do. Basically, this means heating the dairy, carefully mixing in egg yolks, and then cooling it before spinning it in the ice cream machine.

The downside of this method is that small bits of coagulated (cooked!) egg yolk can appear as, really, little bits of scrambled egg in your ice cream. Somewhere there is room for this (I think it would be great to do a breakfast ice cream, maple flavored with scrambled egg...) but it's not really what people expect.

So I took the cooled mix and whizzed it in the blender for several minutes. This also had the effect of aerating the mix.

The resulting ice cream is far superior in texture to what I have been making. At least, right out of the machine, it is. And the Philly-style is not bad at all; this is very close to a high-quality premium ice cream... only with more cayenne pepper.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 tablespoons Calvados or brandy

to go in the usual ice cream base. I'm thinking that I might use my four-year-old orange-clove liqueur, or maybe the Licor 43, which is orange-and-honey.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)

When last I posted in dreamwidth:

- We had seen The Muppets, which I said was one long advertisement for a new season of The Muppet Show. We've got that new season, or rather we have "The Muppets" show, and it's not as good as it should be. Still better than no Muppets, though.

- We were looking for a new mattress. Eventually we purchased a memory foam mattress via CostCo's online service, and it's still the most comfortable thing I've ever slept on.

- Scott Lynch's second book about Locke Lamora had the release date slip. That just happened to the fourth book, too.

- There is still no /Method for Madness/. Nobody is surprised.

- Melissa Snodgrass wrote a book which I quite enjoyed (The Edge of Reason) and then I couldn't find the sequelae. Last week I came into posession of them, thanks largely to a visit to Pandemonium.


- I said that I should get a battery backup for my CPAP. I did. It has never been used to run the CPAP, which I find satisfying.

- Discovery Air (Canada) had ordered 45 blimps from hybridairvehicles.com. None of them have been delivered yet, and the first Airlander test flight is expected next month.

- I wrote "Damn it, Vinge, it's going to take you how many years to write the next story?" He has not published anything since.
 

Ritual

Oct. 18th, 2015 01:52 pm
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

On observing the first snowflakes falling in winter, I quote: "I'm a reasonable man, MacArthur, so I know this isn't snow."

http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/1975/02/06

That hasn't happened yet this year. Soon, though.

Home again

Oct. 4th, 2015 12:44 pm
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

Back after a 2 night trip to Albany, seeing parents and siblings and nephlings and a cousin I haven't seen in 30 years.

Much less traffic when it isn't a major holiday weekend.

dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Yes.

Well. I mention books  and technology over at the blog, https://randomstring.org/blog

and I read but don't post on twitter.

and I reply to posts here. It seems that I just don't make them.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

If you want to know what the four dissenting Justices said, it boils down to this:

Roberts: The definition of marriage should be made by legislation.

Scalia: The Supreme Court has too much power any time it does not agree with me.

Thomas: Due process doesn't include the right to be married.

Alito: Power in this matter is reserved to the States individually. Also, the Supreme Court has too much power any time it does not agree with me.

dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Stephenson's editor didn't. The result is the worst book with Stephenson's name on it.

The first 2/3 of this weighty tome (I assume -- mine came encoded as a very large number) is a series of technical infodumps on space technology of the early to mid 21st century, with a framing plot that destroys the Earth and more than 99.9999% of all living things in the Solar System over the course of three years. There are a couple of characters in there who recur often enough to keep their names straight. Most characters die or disappear quickly enough that job titles would do just as well. I didn't find any of the characters particularly sympathetic. Perhaps you have seen a slushpile book in which a first-time author has worked out the entire history of their fictional universe, and tries to tell that to you with the names of fifty legendary characters that you should definitely remember? This is like that. If the parts of Anathem and Dune that you really enjoyed were the glossaries and appendices, you might get more out of the first section than I did.

Then Stephenson skips 5000 years. The "Seven Eves" of the title are the seven surviving fertile human females at the end of part 1; their descendants, about 3 billion strong, are the subject of the second and far more interesting part of the book.  It's still not great: it is mostly a semi-utopian travelogue novel, where a viewpoint character visits many named places on the map and talks to people who come from the other named places. (Yes, there's a map with named places on it.)

Had I been the editor, and strong enough to say no to a heavyweight best-seller, I would have cut the entire first section and started off with the second section. SF readers are used to picking up clues about a fictional world, and doing so is actually fun for most people. This... not so much.
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