Also Reading

Atomic Habits – James Clear

I reckon we can all use some help with habits.   And with the new “Infinite Improbability Drive” selecting my next book to read from “The Pile” i may actually get into the habit of reading books like this instead of just buying them.

James’ Page

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Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel — Ruth Hogan

Having totally enjoyed Ruth’s first two books i had fairly high expectations of this, and i wasn’t disappointed.

Once more Ruth dives into sensitive topics and tells a great story with not only compassion but also a wonderful touch of humour in all the right places.

Written from the point of view of Tilly and Tilda.   Tilly, the little girl who finds out her dad just died after he went away to work and Tilda, the grown woman whose mum just died and left Tilda her diaries of what really happened to her dad all those years ago — and a simple note saying “Forgive me”.   Back and forth we go, a chapter at a time, between Tilly back then and Tilda now, and it works amazingly well as, piece by piece, Tilly’s story gets told and Tilda’s truth gets revealed.

And what a wonderful place the Paradise Hotel must have been for a child to live, if only for a while.   A delightful den of loveable, eccentric crackpots: “Everyone there had been cracked in the kiln in one way or another.”

Ruth is a wonderful writer who never fails to conjure up the most wonderful cast of characters to tell the stories about the damaged souls that life creates.   I do hope for many more books from Ruth.

Ruth’s Page

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Code Breakers: Beta — Colin F. Barnes

Basically, it’s more of the same as Prequel and Alpha, which is all quite good and keeps one rivetted and moving along at a very good pace but, and here’s the thing, i just can’t handle diving into Gamma at the moment, it’s all become a bit too much.

Yeah, for now at least, i’ve totally overloaded all of my data banks and overheated my CPU’s with all this hacking, AI’s, post apocalypse chaos, everyone wanting to kill each other and take over the world, etc., etc..

So i’m off for some quiter paced reading for a while and maybe i’ll get back to reading Gamma and finishing the series sometime in the future, maybe not.

Colin’s Page

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Code Breakers: Alpha — Colin F. Barnes

After the super lively prequel i was wondering if this could keep up, and i have to say that it more than matched my hopes.   This is all rather full on stuff, it just doesn’t stop steaming along full tilt.   I can’t remember the last time i read a book so fast, just didn’t want to put it down.

Back are our two wonderful protagonists from the prequel and this time they’re joined by Jerry.   Jerry’s lead a rather sheltered life in a nice big, clean, domed city, that is, until it all goes wrong one day and he has to leave and run off into the wasteland outside.

There’s also lots of other great characters added to the mix with lots of cyberpunky, post-apocalyptic, dystopian shenanigans to go along with them.   Yes, folks, we loves any kind of shenanigans at Kindle Worm HQ and this ones got several different kinds.

Full steam ahead into Beta: don’t go away, i’ll be back soon.

Colin’s Page

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Code Breakers: Prequel — Colin F. Barnes

A quick and lively prequel for the main series, which i have dived eagerly straight into without a pause.

Characters are really well written and perfectly suited for this nuked out, post apocalyptic wasteland that the world has become.   I am so hoping the rest of the series holds up to what’s been suggested here because it looks like it’s going to be a rather good read.

Next up: Code Breakers: Alpha.

Colin’s Page

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Mudlark — Clare Sager

An enjoyable, well written, novelette that sets the stage for the main novels by letting us have a peek into Quin’s childhood.

Best of all, it’s free by signing up for Clare’s mailing list.   So you get to see if you like Clare’s writing before you go and splash out on the main books.


Clare’s Page

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The Breath of War — Aliette de Bodard

Currently available to read at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

This is the last of “The Universe of Xuya” stories currently listed on Aliette’s website, where it’s mentioned as being “… in a completely different corner of space”.   And yes, it most certainly is.

It’s got some sci-fi-ish things going on but at the same time it has beings carved out of rock that are breathed life into by their breath sisters who are then needed to breath life into their breath sister’s new born babies else they’re still born.   So in a lot of ways it feels far more of a fantasy story than a sci-fi one.   It’s certainly a very different thing to the rest of the Xuya stories, but it’s really quite enjoyable and i would give it the award of the most stand alone story in the Xuya universe.   If you are just wanting to grab a quick read without needing any background stuff then this would be it.

And that, as they say, is that: all current Xuya stories read apart from one.

Aliette’s Page

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Rescue Party — Aliette de Bodard

Free to read at Google books.

This story is a bit both ways for me.   The good bit is that i sort of get my wish from Memorials in that this is about beings like perpetuates in some sort of V-Space, but the bad bit is that it gets rather random.

While i’m happy to let my imagination fill in things where needed this story leaves a few too many blanks to fill in.   To begin, it doesn’t explain how someone is actually taken into this Repository, we just have Giao going out of her door and meeting an oily, inky blackness; which she realises is the Repository.   Next thing, Giao is waking up in the Repository as some kind of perpetuate being and meeting her sister, a perpetuate who has been there 3 years.   Then she encounters the Rescue Party who help her to try to get out, which, no one has ever done.

And then the ending: what Giao gets to realise about the Repository and how the story ends just skips over so much.   Like Aliette didn’t have much of an idea of what all this was about and so just waved the happy-ever-after-wand at it and then realising that that wasn’t a very good ending she then waves the i-might-come-back-and-sort-it-out-wand at it as well and then ends the story without any real explanation other than it was all about a messed up mindship doing messed up things — which the escapees leave it to continue doing.

Ho hum.   Onto the last Xuya book in the series: The Breath of War.

Aliette’s Page

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The Tea Master and the Detective — Aliette de Bodard

My second reading of this book, you can read all about my first time by clicking here.

And that first reading was also my first escapade into Aliette’s writing and it left me incredibly curious to so many things that it made me go charging off to read through the whole Xuya series from beginning to end.   And now i’ve finally come full circle and reached the point where this story fits into the series i just had to give it another read and review again and see how it goes now that i have a lot more background and context for it.

Reading over that first review it seems so strange now that when i first read this i had no idea what a mindship was, and now that i’ve got up to speed a fair bit on the ins and outs of Aliette’s universe this story makes a lot more sense.   It does make this story a lot better knowing basically what a shipmind is and how all the other parts generally fit together.   So yeah, much better having read the series.

One also gets a reminder of the authenticators in A Slow Unfurling of Truth, a human and mindship working together as a team, and i’m left thinking, wouldn’t it be great if The Shadow’s Child and Long Chau got back together and did some more investigating together.   Two very damaged individuals who some of us would love to see grow more together in further adventures.

Next up: Rescue Party.

Aliette’s Page

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A Hundred and Seventy Storms — Aliette de Bodard

Available to read over at Uncanny.

I can’t say anything else but that this story was a disappointment.   Either that or i completely missed something, and it’s not that exciting a story to go back over and check.

So what we have is a planet with an orbital that gets too close to its star during perihelion, but it needs to be mined because it has stuff that people want, hence the orbital.

For some reason there’s a mind ship that isn’t allowed to leave the planet during perihelion and so the ship mind has to be moved to a shielded safe room in the orbital to survive as the heart room in the ship isn’t shielded enough.

I have no idea why the mind ship can’t just potter off a few light minutes away, or shield itself on the dark side of the planet.   For some reason, it has to stay and suffer the worse of the solar storm.

There’s also no mention as to why the orbital can’t be moved to the dark side of the planet either.   One would think that a civilisation this advanced, that knows exactly when perihelion will occur, would have the simple, basic, common sense to alter the timing and orbit of the orbital to put it perfectly in the centre of the dark side of the planet at perihelion.   They could also make that place and time the orbital’s aphelion with the planet which would add even more distance from the star, and give more time in shadow.   It really is such a basic thing that unless the writer explains a very good reason why this hasn’t been done it utterly ruins the story.

So yeah, this one sucks.

And now i’m off back to re-read The Tea Master and the Detective, which was my first Xuya book, and the one that set me off on this long literary journey: so it’s nice to work my way back to it and read it again in it’s real context.

Aliette’s Page

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A Slow Unfurling of Truth — Aliette de Bodard

As far as i’m aware this is only currently available in the anthology Carbide Tipped Pens, which, for some reason unbeknownst to me, isn’t available on Kindle: yes folks, it appears that the luddites are at it again attempting their very worse to ruin life for us technologically advanced hominids who read ebooks and love trees.   But, not to be outdone, i suggest that maybe you could get imaginative with your technologically advanced minds and dream up ways of how you may wish to obtain a copy to read.

And that was my first usage of “unbeknownst” on this website.   A lovely old word.   Some words are just too good to let fade away.

Oh yeah, it’s supposed to be a review of the story, i know, i’m getting to it, but you can’t get to the story until you actually have a copy to read so that had to be dealt with first.

So once again we’re back with the Galactics and the Rongs and now instead of downloading/uploading dead people into V-Space they now seem to be able to take dead people and upload/download/re-sleeve them into new bodies.   Think Altered Carbon kind of thing but i’ve no idea how it’s being done in Aliette’s universe as that bit’s not explained.

The problem with re-sleeving people is that after a period of time, especially if you lost touch with them, you may not be able to tell who a person was or wasn’t.   This whole thing would obviously lead to whole new areas of crime with re-sleeved people claiming to be people who they aren’t and claiming things to which they aren’t entitled.   This then leads to a whole new occupation, that of people who ascertain the validity of re-sleeved people.

And so, that’s where we are with A Slow Unfurling of Truth.   A Galactic has turned up claiming to be someone and it’s very important that the Rong know if it’s true or not: enter the authenticators, a human and mindship pair working together to unfurl the truth.

I really enjoyed the re-sleeving and V-Space aspects of the Altered Carbon books, and it’s great to re-encounter this kind of thing being written by other writers, especially writers as good as Aliette is.   So yeah, would love to read a whole lot more of this re-sleeving V-Space stuff from Aliette in the future — she’s certainly created a big enough universe to shove a ton more stories into.

So onwards, onwards we read, and next up will be The Frost on Jade Buds.

Aliette’s Page

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