Past and Future

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

I will update this anthology as I go along…

– OANNES, FROM THE FLOOD by Adrian Tchaikovsky — archaeology with the help of avatars and a touch of Tomb Raider, after climate change and floods have ravaged our world. ★★★★★

– THE 1ST INTERSPECIES SOLIDARITY FAIR AND PARADEby Bogi Takács — after the aggressive aliens destroyed much of Earth, the scavenging aliens followed and then the good guys, survivors of those first nasty destroyers. They want to help and need a place to stay, but need people to learn to communicate with them first. Though job, when all humans are busy surviving and rebuilding. How about a pride fair? ★★★★★

Bogi Takács (e/em/eir/emself or they pronouns) is a Hungarian Jewish author, critic, and scholar who’s an immigrant to the US.

bogireadstheworld.com 

July 2022 Reverse Readathon

I just signed up for this. Will you take part? If I am calculating that correctly, I would start at 2 A.M. on Saturday and read until 2 A.M. on Sunday of that weekend…

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Beachy scene with a small pile of books, sunglasses, and the words Reverse Readathon
8PM July 22 – 8PM July 23rd

It’s that time friends! Ready to come read with us? It’s time to sign up for the Reverse Readathon! We’ll be reading from Friday, July 22nd, 8 PM Eastern Standard Time until Saturday, July 23rd, 8 PM EST, as the intent of the Reverse Readathon is to give our friends on the other side of the world a chance to start early!

Keep in mind, you do not HAVE to read the entire 24 hours. If you can only join us for 30 minutes or even less, we want you to do it! And enjoy it! Read with friends around the world. Everyone is welcome. Sign up now and follow us on all the social media places (we are on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Facebook, Litsy, and kindasortawedontknowwhatwearedoing TikTok [now…

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Is the simulation of a sentient being the same thing as a sentient being? 

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

BEYOND THE TATTERED VEIL OF STARS by Mercurio D. Rivera

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A scientist has created a simulation of Earth where mammals did not end up as the dominant species. She uses the sentient amphibians of that Earth to solve planetary problems. The amphibians are not happy with the suffering their gods impose on them. Do they have rights or are their lives irrelevant? And other fascinating questions. Loved it. 

Mercurio D. Rivera’s short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and won readers’ awards for Asimov’s and Interzone magazines. […]

You can find him online at mercuriorivera.com.

Behind the Three Pines

Hinter den drei Kiefern: Ein Fall für Gamache
by Louise Penny

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

My first Gamache, but the 13th of the series, so I am most likely missing some context.

Gamache, the chief of police of the province of Quebec, is in the witness stand of a murder trial. The chief prosecutor is pretty hostile towards his main witness. Through the questioning we are told the story of the murder that happened in the village of Three Pines. So much for the beginning. There is more to it, with a pretty modern problem.

Slow. A lot of talking and reminiscing. Set-up for the community that lives in Three Pines and its guests. More talking. Little doing. The murder only happens a third into the book. And the accused sitting on that bench during the trial is never named, which in my opinion is a pretty lame gimmick to create suspense. Of which there was little to none. The last 30% are a bit more speedy, but the wrap-up is quite repetitive.

Some of the characters stay one-dimensional, I struggled to keep them apart until the end. The woman with the duck was just a silly caricature.

Many of my reading buddies love Gamache, but this was way too cozy for me. And the plot was a little silly. It is very unlikely that I will pick up another one of the series or by this author, unless I come by it very cheaply. Maybe #14…

2.5 pine cones, rounded up to 3 for the tears-inducing ending.

PS: 
– Initially bought for my mum, who did not finish it. I should have listened to her reasons.
– I don‘t read many straight mysteries anymore and never in German, so this was a bit of an an uphill struggle.
– Reading a novel in German again wasn‘t as much work as I had feared. 
– This is the first book of the series published in Germany and consequently released books do not seem to follow the original sequence either—I didn‘t check too deeply though. Very odd, why didn‘t the German publishers start with the first book?
– The first book of the series, Still Life, was made into a movie and I would watch it.
– The English original is called Glass Houses: A Novel, which is more meaningful for the book than the German title „Behind the Three Pines“.

Literary Awards: Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel and Nominee for Best Novel in a Series (Bill Crider Award) (2018)Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel (2017)Lefty Award Nominee for Best Mystery Novel (2018)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Mystery & Thriller (2017)

Think of something cold….

Antarctica: Life on the Frozen Continent
by Conor Kilgallon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

East Antarctica, West Antarctica, Islands, Wildlife—each part of this book shows a different part on Antarctica, prefaced by a short text describing the specifics of that geographic region or chapter.

There are photographs of icebergs, sea ice, mountain ranges, ice shelves, quite a few penguins, seals and various signs of human exploration and habitation. Climate change makes a brief appearance as well, obviously. If the Ross ice shelf melts (the largest ice shelf in Antarctica), sea levels worldwide would rise by 15 meters. Scary thought. Generally this book focuses on the (still) beautiful aspects of our southernmost continent though.


My favourites were the photos showing wildlife, but there were a lot of stunning photos of icebergs, too.


A nice tabletop book for lovers of Antarctica and stark sceneries of ice, sea and sky.


I received an advanced copy of this book from Amber Books Ltd. through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. I read a pdf for review purposes, only physical books will be sold.

Not Sophie‘s World

The Solitaire Mystery
by Jostein Gaarder

I added this to my shelf in 2016, because about 30 years ago I read Sofies Welt and thought it was an excellent book, conveying the core ideas of philosophy in an easily understandable way to younger and older readers alike. I hoped that this would be something similar. After 52 pages and 7 chapters I put it aside. 

Father and child on a trip, a fairytale narrative in a very simple style. Not badly written, if you don’t mind the simple tone. A story within a story. I had issues with the father and disliked him a lot, but that‘s on me. Not my kind of book.

Middling to Good

Middlegame (Alchemical Journeys, #1) by Seanan McGuire

Reed is an alchemist. He created twins with special powers, with the aim to attain dominion over the world, as one-dimensional villains are wont to do. The book starts off in the late 19th century, but moves into the 1990s and 2000s right away, telling the story of the two siblings, Roger and Dodger. 

The concept and central idea is good, but this was not my kind of book. I get it, but it all felt like a never-ending set-up, peppered by convenient escapes and do-overs. 

Roger and Dodger felt like interesting characters at first, but they never really got past their defining features. And in Roger‘s case not even that was well explored until almost the end. Their dynamic and on-and-off again relationship irritated me and they never really matured as characters, despite being 30ish by the end of the story. Of the other characters only Erin ever evolved past her blueprint.

This book was definitely too long, with too little happening plot or characterwise. By the midway point I lost interest. The road to the climax was too aimless. I basically skimmed the third quarter of the book, just reading first sentences of paragraphs. Frankly, I don‘t think I missed much. The last quarter of the book was ok, I just wish it had happened a lot faster.

I made it to the end and liked the general idea, 2.75 stars rounded up. I won‘t be getting anything else in this world.

I did like her zombie horror Feed, written under her other name, Mira Grant. And her underwater horror with evil mermaids was fun: Rolling in the Deep and Into the Drowning Deep. I own the first five books of her Wayward Children series, written as Seanan McGuire—I do hope that I will like them better than this one here.

Getting ready for war

March to War (The Walking Dead, #20)
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Illustrations), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another one in the endless comic series of The Walking Dead. Getting ready for that ultimate confrontation with Negan. 

At the Hilltop. Maggie is dealing with something not to be mentioned to avoid spoilers… Rick is rallying the troupes against Negan, with varied results. People are tired and want to live in peace. Jesus helps. Aaand… that‘s not going so well. Almost.

In the meantime the classic supply run is happening… ?

There is more of the Kingdom as well. Oh oh, measuring the length of… whatever. Michonne wins…

This one probably reached new heights of profanity. So many shit and fuck and variations thereof on one page, page after page. Must be a new record.

Rick has to really become the leader they all need….

Because Negan is going to war…

“This volume collects THE WALKING DEAD #109-114, the prelude to ALL OUT WAR—the epic battle that will change the world of THE WALKING DEAD for years to come.“

From the blurb

Titanic meets The Shining

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes (Author), Lauren Ezzo (Narrator)

Space — a repair crew, about to travel back home after a last finished job, picks up a distress signal. They follow the signal and discover a luxury liner that was lost in space many years ago. Think Titanic in space. In international waters or space the deal is Finders / Keepers, so after some brief deliberation the crew decides to salvage the ship. 

Haunted house territory, suspicious noises, ghostly sightings in a ship in space. So not my thing, really, psychological horror… The suspense did not kill me. And I did not really feel creepy horror vibes either. Mostly I was rolling my eyes, not in fright, but acknowledgement.

The traumatic past of the main characters is revealed in flashbacks. I figured that was just window-dressing, but it actually served a purpose towards the end, when it was revealed why and how the disaster came to pass. The reveal was a disappointment for me, I had hoped for something more ingenious. 

The audiobook narrator with her breathy and sometimes frantic voice grated on my nerves a bit. And the MC was much too whiny. I also could have done without the romance thing.

Bottomline this was not a winner for me. It‘s a decent book, but for me it lacked suspense, it lacked horror, the reveal was meh, I didn‘t like the MC… so this is a 3-star read at most.

I can see this as a pretty good, light horror / action movie.