Robosaurus…

A bit of a gap since my last book post… Maybe it‘s the weather, but I can‘t quite get myself to read for longer stretches at a time right now. So I am not making much progress with the novels I am currently reading. Here is another short story…

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 156
by Neil Clarke (Goodreads Author),  Suzanne Palmer (Goodreads Author), Bella HanSara Saab (Goodreads Author), M.L. Clark (Goodreads Author), Gabriela Santiago

Review for Dave‘s Head by Suzanne Palmer

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is—you guessed it—a short story about a head.

He’s taken his head off again, somehow, and I never can figure how he does it with no thumbs or even fingers, and I know my uncle didn’t help, but there it is on the rug waiting for me, Dave’s head, and he opens his gigantic mouth wide and looks at me with his big, brown fake eyes, and says, “Road trip?”

Dave‘s Head by Suzanne Palmer

The narrator takes an interesting road trip with Dave’s head, that‘s for sure! A slightly different AI story… This was fun, although I couldn‘t quite grasp what the author intended to say with this story — I didn‘t read it in one sitting though, which might have been the reason.

Can be read for free here….

I will read more by the author, this is the second of her stories that I really liked. The other one was The Secret Life of Bots. Recommended!

Baking time….

Ladies and gentlemen, it‘s another flatish sourdough bread. The crust looks good though and it smells great. It tastes good, too. Come to think of it, sourdough bread bought at a German bakery doesn‘t look all that differently. So I guess I am happy enough with the result.

I roughly followed a recipe by #theclevercarrot.

Yes, I didn‘t only use wheat flour. Therefor, I guess I should not expect the same results regarding the rise. 

This time it was with mystery flour from the local farmer‘s market. Two villages over is a family-owned (I think) mill — when I was at the market yesterday, wanting to buy strong wheat flour, the daughter recommended their „gristmill mix“. It contains wheat, rye and a bran-mix —> the mystery part. More wheat than rye and the bran is clearly visible.

I mixed the water and flour first and let it rest 30ish minutes (autolyze), before adding the starter and salt. Compared to the original recipe, I doubled the starter (100g) and added 60g of sesame seeds as well at this stage. Next time I need to add more sesame seeds, because I barely noticed them just now, when eating my first two slices.

After the four sets of stretch-and-folds I let the dough rest for about 4 more hours. So roughly about 7 hours of bulk rise? The dough looked puffy-ish, I saw some bubbles and it had risen. I plonked it onto my worktop (gently), shaped it, let it bench rest and tried to shape it again — didn‘t manage to flip it. Alas, I still haven‘t bought a bench scraper. It did have a decent consistency though and was definitely better than last time.

I chilled the dough over night in my proofing basket for maybe 10 hours. Unfortunately it did the pancake-thing again, after I moved it into my cast-iron pot. It did rise a little, while I pre-heated the oven, so I was pretty optimistic. Maybe I just have to live with a limited rise with this type of flour?

In the recipe the shaping is done after chilling the dough over night. Something to consider for next time. Maybe that way I can avoid the pancake thing… So far I have had a hard time with shaping my dough, as I have had high hydration doughs so far and the dough is too sticky.

Anyway, bottomline, slowly getting there…

@theclevercarrot #theclevercarrot

Bad science

Black Science #1
by Rick Remender,  Matteo Scalera (Illustrator), Dean White (Illustrator) 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Forbidden science. Think of Lost In Space with a twist. A group of scientists are thrown off course and seem to be jumping dimensions or alternate realities, trying to get home. Sabotage might play a part.

Wild guess though, as for half of this issue all you get to see is a guy running from aliens and lamenting how it was all his fault and everybody else didn‘t deserve this. Yeah, yeah, got it. Pop-psychology, running, screaming, one-dimensional and bland characters. The rest doesn‘t offer a lot of insights or meaningful developments of any kind. I was left with a big „Whatever!“ 

The artwork had its moments. I didn‘t like the look of the faces, they looked very old-school. And that human with the negative attitude had really weird ears.

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Oh, another reviewer raised a very good question: Why would a fish woman have boobs?

Not continuing.

The inner life of animals…

Das Seelenleben der Tiere: Liebe, Trauer, Mitgefühl – erstaunliche Einblicke in eine verborgene Welt

(The Mysteries of Nature Series #2)

by Peter Wohlleben,  Peter Kaempfe (Narrator)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Do animals have emotions? Do fish feel pain? How intelligent are pigs? Can animals lie? And more. Nothing deeply scientific, more of an entertaining pop science primer, interspersed with humourous anecdotes. Each emotion gets an entry with several examples of different animals and how they could feel and what researchers have to say about it. The books culminates in the question if animals can think and solve abstract problems. And if animals have a soul. And if they do, can there be a life after death for them? Seriously?

It was mildly interesting in parts, but pretty shallow, a bit monotonous and with a very repetitive structure. Ultimately I was underwhelmed, I expected more.

Fantastic space creatures and where to find them…

Sea of Stars #1
by Jason Aaron,  Dennis HopelessStephen Green (Cover Art) 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dad is a space trucker, hauling goods from A to B. Mum is gone, there is no handy babysitter, so the kid comes along for the ride. And is bored, whiny and bratty. Ok, yes, he lost his mom.

The artwork is ok. Colourful. And then disaster strikes and the artwork becomes more interesting and the brat less bratty. 

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Dad and son get separated in the ensuing fight…

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A dad, a son, a whole lotta space between them… you get the idea of where this is going. Might be worth having a look at the next issue, not sure yet. It has a middle-grade feel to it.

Say it in ten lines or less, again…

Dwarf Stars 2020
by Robin Mayhall (editor) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

So, my second, third, fourth and maybe fifth read through of this SF poetry anthology of very short poems…

I narrowed the selection of favourite poems down further and further. To make the decision easier, I looked for poems that created interesting imagery in my mind, wanting me to spin the story forward…

My favourite three: 

1. [seeing stars] • Christina Sng 
2. [stargazing on Olympus Mons] • Greer Woodward 
3. [hoping for the best …] • Johannes S. H. Bjerg 

seeing stars with

my final breaths

hull breach

https://twitter.com/christinasng/status/1174436279213101056

These slightly longer ones are my runner-ups:

1. [Notes for the Next Letter Home] • Herb Kauderer 
2. [Balancing Act] • Deborah L. Davitt with D. A. Xiaolin Spires & Gretchen Tessmer 
3. [Standing Up] • John C. Mannone 

To be honest, if I read the whole anthology again in a few weeks, I would probably end up with a completely different set of poems!

Official website: https://www.sfpoetry.com/dwarfstars.html

#HarryPotterAtHome

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
by J.K. Rowling,  Jim Kay (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Harry Potter at Home and the Illustrated Version

Radcliffe and a bunch or other actors read Harry Potter at home and we get to share the experience:
https://www.wizardingworld.com/news/i…

Individual chapter videos:
https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters

Radcliffe started with Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived and did a great job.

Chapter Two: The Vanishing Glass was read by Noma Dumezweni. She was fantastic and so much fun to watch, whilst reading it…

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Chapter Three: The Letters from No One, read by Eddie Redmayne, very good job! The Dursleys are so abominable! My cheeks were hurting from laughing so much… 

Other good ones… Stephen Fry does a great Hagrid! Whoopi Goldberg brought a bit of an American twang to the proceedings… David Tennant was very good. And David Beckham as Lee Jordan, doing the commentary for Harry‘s first Quidditch match, was a brilliant bit of casting. Hugh Bonneville, also a good one… And Tom Felton is a bit of a book torturer, apparently…

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Chapter Sixteen… Kenneth Brannagh, very good job!

It was a nice touch for the last chapter to have it read by three different families—one from London, one from NY and the third from Belfast. 

Rowling reading the last few pages was the icing on the cake. Difficult with the current controversy about her. Generally though I really liked this read-along via video, keeping pace with the illustrated version.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

 J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Getting there is the easy part…

2389
by Iain Rob Wright (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars.” 

– Frank Sinatra, Fly Me To The Moon

Not really the space romp you might expect. Think horror in a remote location. Disengage your disbelief.

But let‘s go back to the space thing for a moment… why would spacefarers from a joined US and UK organisation be called cosmonauts instead of astronauts? 

And there really is no flux capacitor. No, there really isn‘t, unless you are Michael J. Fox. 

“Are we supposed to believe that the most expensive structure ever built is in jeopardy, but all they’re sending is a half-dozen space jockeys?

Yep! And although they are space jockeys, they know nothing about physics, because…

“The thickness of that glass must be immense to stop it caving in. I don’t even want to think about what would happen if it cracked.”

Ehem, air pressure inside, vacuum outside… In what scenario would the glass cave in exactly? And… a glassdome? *eyeroll*

“Trent, can you bring up a map of this place? We need to find the quickest way to the delivery bay.”

I don‘t know, but if I was the boss space jockey, I maybe would have gone to the command center first?

Anyway, this was roughly the first 10% of this literary gem. But you know what? 

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So, just roll with it… 

Plenty of plotholes and the writing doesn‘t get better. But if you want some brain candy and aren‘t picky, this will do.

What is the reason behind the book‘s title? Never found out. I doubt very much that it‘s the year this is set in. Distance to the moon minus all the zeros, that‘s my best guess…

And, oh… SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER… putting the top half of that dead (?) space zombie in the hold is a really, really bad idea. Unless the author plans a sequel, obviously… Makes the whole idea of blowing up the station completely pointless! 

So, yeah, it was entertaining…

Vengeance at any price

Lullaby for a Lost World
by Aliette de Bodard (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charlotte died to shore up her master’s house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever more deeply for vengeance.

Grim Short story! Beautifully written and unexpected. I liked it a lot.

Can be read for free here: https://www.tor.com/2016/06/08/lullab…

Further reading, interview with the author about this and that: https://www.tor.com/2020/07/09/aliett…

Sailing on…

Ascender #7
by Jeff Lemire

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Flashback time… nicely done! 

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This is at least some of the backstory I was hoping for. Pretty much all about Telsa though.

And Hello there, romance! No, not those two…

Debating to wait with the next one, until issues #8, 9 and 10 come down in price…