Inside out

Eversion
by Alastair Reynolds

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the 1800s, a sailing ship crashes off the coast of Norway. In the 1900s, a Zepellin explores an icy canyon in Antarctica. In the far future, a spaceship sets out for an alien artifact. Each excursion goes horribly wrong. And on every journey, Dr. Silas Coade is the physician, but only Silas seems to realize that these events keep repeating themselves. And it’s up to him to figure out why and how. And how to stop it all from happening again.

From the book blurb

I read the book blurb, took a good look at the cover (blue version) and googled Eversion, which led me to watch animations of what sphere eversion could look like. Other than I tried to stay away from spoilers (this is me, going over my review again, shortening and „de-spoilering“ it…).

The story is quite odd, actually. It feels a bit like those idle games for smart phones, where you have to destroy your current evolution of the game in order to progress to the next level. Silas keeps figuring things out slowly and a little further with each progressive step of the plot. It‘s a neat way to create suspense. 

I am surprised that this book hasn‘t been shelved as horror. I found it quite claustrophobic and not a little creepy. It has been tagged as Space Opera though, which I don‘t think applies. Gothic steampunk time-travel space-exploration mystery?

I would have liked to connect more deeply with Silas on his journey of (self-)discovery. His ethical dilemma was well-done, but could have been… just more? Funny, I never thought I would turn into a reader wanting more character development.

Very good audio narration.

What I have read so far by Reynolds, I liked. I am going about it quite haphazardly though. Perhaps I should have a closer look at his back catalogue and make an attempt at a more coordinated reading experience. 

Read so far by Reynolds, both 5-star reads:
The Prefect (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1)
Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon’s Children, #1)

On my shelf, to be read:
Permafrost
Revenger (Revenger, #1) 

August Wrap-Up

August 2022: …stop it for a moment… August already, goodness me, wasn‘t it just January?

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1) ★★★★★ paper, I unexpectedly really liked this. Took me 4 weeks to read it, but the characters and the world really came to life! Enjoying the sequel so far. Seamless continuation.
– Soul Taken (Mercy Thompson #13) ★★★★¾ ebook, entertaining brain candy with werewolves, vampires and fae. Maybe getting a little tired now, Ms Briggs?
– Inheritor (Foreigner #3) ★★★★☆ Audio, my second try and this time I had fun. Yay!
Precursor (Foreigner #4) ★★★★½ audio, Atevi in space! Even better!
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (Singing Hills #2) ★★★★☆ ebook, our cleric Chih has to narrate themself out of a prickly situation with three tigers.
– The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Engineer‘s Thumb / The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor ★★★☆☆

Ongoing short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: 
– TEXTBOOKS IN THE ATTIC by S.B. Divya — climate change has flooded towns, antibiotics are rare for those less privileged. A mother searches for a way to save her son. ★★★★★ More on tor.com: https://www.tor.com/author/s-b-divya/
– SEEDING THE MOUNTAIN by M. L. Clark — I am definitely not a fan of sentences running pages long, stuffed full of superfluous adverbs and adjectives. Hard pass. ★☆☆☆☆
– KNOCK, KNOCK SAID THE SHIP by Rati Mehrotra — Deenu works on a trading ship with a slightly disturbed AI. When the ship is attacked, she has to decide where her loyalties lie. ★★★★★
– STILL YOU LINGER, LIKE SOOT IN THE AIR by Matthew Kressel — Gil is a priest of Muu, a alien intelligence, who has „abilities that seem to defy known physical laws of nature.” In other words, Muu is a god. Gil lost his pupil and lover and struggles to come to terms with his loss and his entrapment by Muu. ★★★★☆ Can be read for free here: https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fi…

Comics:
– All Out War Part 2 ★★★★☆ The Walking Dead 21, eComic, StoryGraph #1 October
– The Walking Dead: All Out War AP Edition ★★★★☆ Done in raw pencils, without the ink. I like it a lot, it shows the artist‘s skill much better.
– Redlands Vol. 1, eComic, DNF after the first 2 issues (54 pages). Witches take over a town of misogynistic racists. Didn‘t like it.

Currently reading:
– The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2), ebook. Going slowly, as I keep reading shorter stuff in between. This will take me most of September for sure.

Ongoing:
The Tale of the Body Thief (Vampire Chronicles #4), paper, on hold, not enjoying it.
– How the Earth Works, audio, it‘s so-so. Sometimes very good, then again a bit slow and drawn out. It‘s lectures though, not a coherent book, which might be the problem.
– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry: #3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the rest. Long book is long.

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– For All Mankind, S3, Eps. 4-10, completed ★★★★★ Mars!
– The Sea Beast, animation ★★★★★ Excellent swashbuckling adventure with sea monsters. So much fun!
– Prey (Predator) ★★★★☆ 
– The Sandman, S1, Eps 1-5 ★★★☆☆ I massively disliked episode 5, not sure I‘ll continue. Not really my cup of tea.
– Morbius ★★★☆☆ No big surprises, pretty predictable. Made me discover Leto’s band 30 Seconds to Mars though, which I love.
– Westworld, S1 ★★★★☆ Slow start, but developed nicely. Might continue, if I can get S2 at a reduced price.
– She-Hulk, Attorney at Law, S1, Eps 1+2, ongoing. Fun so far.

Unlikeable witches in a nasty town

Redlands Vol. 1
by Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R. Del Rey (Illustrator)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Chapter 1 introduces us to a town in Florida and a failed lynching. The tree burns, the hangman‘s nooses swing empty in the blaze… Witches survive, kill a bunch of people and take over the town.

Chapter 2 introduces them some more, there is violence, nudity, pointless swearing and obnoxious male characters. It didn‘t do anything for me, I disliked all of the characters. The art was meh. Not continuing.

All out war, finally done…

The Walking Dead: All Out War AP Edition
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Creator)

This special Artist Proof edition collects the monumental ALL OUT WAR story arc all in one volume as seen through artist CHARLIE ADLARD’s raw pencils. Read the story in a whole new way, never before collected together in one single volume. Collects THE WALKING DEAD #115-126.

Part 1 — Rick versus Negan with a little help from everyone else. Things do not go well.

Part 2 — The quiet before the storm. Our bunch of heroes draw back and consolidate in the Hilltop and prepare… They don‘t have to wait long for Negan to show up. Kaboom, boss fight!

In my review of the first part of All Out War I wrote that maybe the artwork was getting sloppier. Flipping through the pages of this artist‘s version, purely done as pencil sketches, I have to say that the sketches are very good and I might actually like this better than the inked version.

I wonder what comes next? Well, I have a vague idea from peeking at some episodes of the later TWD seasons. We‘ll see.

July 2022 Wrap-up

My July 2022:

Severance by Ling Ma ★★★½☆ audio, a millennial‘s coming of age, literary fiction with a touch of zombies.

Black Tide ★★★★¼ audiobook, horror. End of the world, alien invasion meets creature feature. I had fun, couldn‘t put it down. Looking forward to everybody else‘s comments.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune ★★★☆☆ ebook, novella, magical China, the life of an empress in very broad strokes, didn‘t do much for me.

– The Iron Duke ★★★★★ paper, StoryGraph #1 August, officially marketed as PNR, but much more steampunk-pirates-zombie-swashbuckling fun.

– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry:

#1) A Study in Scarlet, Watson meets Holmes. And Mormons. ★★★½☆ 

#2) The Sign of Four, Watson meets Mary. And we take a trip to the Andaman Islands. ★★★★☆

#3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes & Watson meet The Woman / The Adventure of the Re-Headed League / A Case of Identity / The Boscombe Valley Mystery / The Five Orange Pips / The Man with the Twisted Lip / The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle / The Adventure of the Speckled Band ★★★★☆


Short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: (ongoing)

– YELLOW AND THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY by Maureen F. McHugh ★★★★★ how do we perceive reality? For free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/07/22/yellow…

– EXILE’S END by Carolyn Ives Gilman ★★★★☆ The painful process of repatriation of stolen art. For free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/08/12/exiles…

– INVISIBLE PEOPLE by Nancy Kress — parents find out that their adopted daughter has been genetically altered as an embryo. Besides the ethical questions this throws up, it‘s a well-written thriller. Great character development for a short story, I was with them every step of the way. ★★★★★

– RED_BATI by Dilman Dila — a conscious pet robot fighting for its life and meaning on a mining ship. Read this before in Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora and found it a bit blander this time around. ★★★☆☆


Comics:

– Copra: Round One, DNF at 42 pages, eComic, StoryGraph #1 July, rip-off/homage of Suicide Squad, messy art, no plot.

– We Stand On Guard ★★★★★ eComic, StoryGraph #1 September, Canada is invaded by the US in a war for water.

– Saga #60 ★★★★★ eComic, the end of this arc. I cried.

– They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young, DNF at 47 pages, eComic, StoryGraph #2 September, teens with psychic powers, took too long to get going, didn‘t like the artwork.


Currently reading:

Ship of Magic, paper, I am about halfway and like it. Doorstopper of almost 900 pages, very dense, so this will take a few more weeks.

– How the Earth Works, audio, Great courses lectures.

– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry: #3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, all the other stories…


Specfic Movies & TV watched:

– Dune, new movie ★★★★★ re-watch. Part II end of 2023, why???

– Obi-Wan Kenobi, S1, Ep 6, season completed ★★★★☆ hard to come to a satisfying ending, when you know that they all live to fight another day.

– Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★★★☆ Entertaining, a little silly, a little absurd. I think I like my entertainment to be a little less wacky. Pretty forgettable, actually.

– A Discovery of Witches, S1 completed ★★★½☆ Meh. Read the blurb of books 2 + 3, most likely a pass.

– Resident Evil, S1 completed, Netflix series ★★★★☆

(- Night Sky, S1, Eps 3… not sure if I am all that interested in continuing….

– For All Mankind, S3, Eps. 1-3 ★★★★★ OMG, I wish this was real. So cool.


And last, but not least — I finally finished my Lego tree house…

Some statistics:

Just noticed—the format page only seems to be counting the finished books. Oh well…

Tentacle wars

Black Tide
by K.C. JonesJohn Pirhalla (Narrator), Sophie Amoss (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Beth is a mess, a self-proclaimed „car wreck“. She is a professional house-sitter, sampling other people‘s lives. This time around she also dog-sits Jake, a golden lab, and makes friends with her neighbour Mike. Well, she starts by stalking him with her camera and then…Hello to an alcohol-induced one-night stand! And then the world ends and they end up stuck in a car on a beach, surrounded by something scary…

My recent track record with horror is not great. Psychological horror is lost on me, I usually get bored. And slasher stuff turns me off. Creature features are the most fun. This isn‘t exactly that, but a little. Plus there is plenty of action right from the start. Creepy, scary, sci-fi horror fun. Alien invasion with a twist.

I quite liked the reason for this particular end of the world and wish that it had been explored more.

Unfortunately I did not like Beth. Whiny, sorry for herself and a general failure at life. Bent on making the stupidest choices possible. Mike is self-destructive in another way. Together they make a couple that is potentially quite inept at survival under apocalyptic circumstances. 

Don‘t expect deep character development.

The audiobook is told by two narrators, one female and one male, alternating between telling the story from the POVs of Beth or Mike. They do a good job although there is one voice towards the end that doesn‘t really work well for me.

Bottomline, I liked the claustrophobic plot, but disliked Beth quite a bit. Good action, fast plot. Let‘s say 4 of 5 ominous bowling balls for now, I might raise that once I‘ve pondered it a bit longer.

June 2022 Wrap-up

OMG, half of the year is over already!

I didn‘t a read huge amount, as I am on holiday and we are out all day with our e-bikes, exploring the island… My reading also had pretty mixed results. Maybe I was a little harsh in my ratings of Dead Silence and Middlegame, but neither really worked well for me.

The most fun were the short stories from the Best SF of the Year anthology and the two issues of Walking Dead. And I made a small dent in my TBR pile.

I feel a little sorry that I didn‘t love Gamache, as so many of my reading buddies really like those books!

– The Egg ★★★☆☆ Story snippet, online, meaning of life…
– Dead Silence ★★★☆☆ audio, Titanic meets The Shining
– Middlegame ★★¾☆☆ ebook, good idea, not going anywhere fast; much too long and meandering
– The Solitaire Mystery DNF, paper, StoryGraph #2 February, not my kind of book anymore.
– Antarctica: Life on the Frozen Continent ★★★★¼, Netgalley, table-top book, nature and wildlife photography.
– Hinter den drei Kiefern: Ein Fall für Gamache (Glasshouses) ★★½☆☆ Gamache #13, TBR pile, murder mystery, pretty slow, not a lot of suspense.

BR short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: (ongoing)
– BEYOND THE TATTERED VEIL OF STARS by Mercurio D. Rivera — is the simulation of a sentient being the same thing as a sentient being? ★★★★★ – for free here: https://www.asimovs.com/assets/1/6/Be…
– THE 1ST INTERSPECIES SOLIDARITY FAIR AND PARADE by Bogi Takács — a ravaged Earth, aliens and communication. ★★★★★
– OANNES, FROM THE FLOOD by Adrian Tchaikovsky — archaeology with the help of avatars and a touch of Tomb Raider. ★★★★★

Comics:
– March to War ★★★★★ StoryGraph #2, eComic, Walking Dead #19
– All Out War Part 1 ★★★★☆ eComic, Walking Dead #20, TBR pile.

Currently reading:
– The Iron Duke, paper, StoryGraph #1 August, 60 pages in this PNR is unexpectedly good. 
– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, audio, narrated by Stephen Fry.
– Copra: Round One, eComic, StoryGraph #1 July

Backlog:
– A Closed and Common Orbit, ebook, owned

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– Obi-Wan Kenobi, S1, Eps 3-5 of 6 ★★★★☆ Will watch the last episode in July.
– The Boys, rest of S1 ★★★☆☆ I initially DNFd this halfway through the first season. Might watch S2 eventually. 
– Night Sky, S1, Eps 1+2 of 8 ★★★½☆ Ongoing.
– Moon Knight, S1, ★★★½☆ Not bad, but a lot silly.
– LOVE DEATH + R⬤BOTS ❤️❌🤖, S3, ★★★★★ very good!

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