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review 2018-08-09 18:45
ROGUE PROTOCOL by Martha Wells
Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells


ROGUE PROTOCOL, the third entry in the Murderbot series was a lot of fun!


This volume was a bit slow going at the beginning but once Murderbot got situated and the action started it became very difficult to put down. It is still trying to solve the mystery that started in the first volume and as more information is gleaned from various sources, Muderbot's position becomes more and more precarious.


What's fun about these books is that Murderbot isn't your average Security Unit (SecUnit) bot. It hacked its governor module a long while back and now, it has real feelings. It tries to ignore and/or deny them, but they're there. These emotions are not what it's used to and it has a hard time disguising them, and I think that's where the most interesting part of this story lives. It's not in the mystery it's trying to solve, it's in the mystery of Murderbot's feelings and how it deals with them. Oh, and it's also in the humor and sarcasm that it's now developing.


This was a fun addition to the series, even though it started a bit slow, and I'm very much looking forward to what happens next!


*Thank you to NetGalley and to Tor for the e-ARC of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-08-09 11:02
Pro- or Anti-Wittgensteinian SF: “Rogue Protocol” by Martha Wells
Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells

“I signaled Miki I would be withdrawing for one minute. I needed to have an emotion in private.”

In “Rogue Protocol” by Martha Wells

Is the SecUnit Pro- or Anti-Wittgenstein?

Wittgenstein is often cited by believers in the possibility of more or less "sentient" AI. He is cited because he seems to re-cast our understanding of what we mean when we talk about our own sentience, and by making ourselves seem more machine-like we can make machines seem more human-like. But I think this is a misapplication of Wittgenstein's thought. Wittgenstein objected to the "picture picture", i.e. to the way that we represent ourselves as having representations inside our heads, the way that we picture ourselves as viewers of an endless cinematic reel of internal pictures of the external world. According to Wittgenstein we don't need these internal representations, as our "view" of the world is located in the world, which is actively present to our sense when we interact with it. Nor do we need representations inside our heads of the "rules" which govern these interactions.



If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-08-08 21:20
"Rogue Protocol - Murderbot Diaries #3" by Martha Wells
Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells

I had this on pre-order and then scarfed it down on the day it arrived.


As always, it was fun. I loved Murderbot's interaction with Miki, the "pet" robot that sees humans as its friends. Murderbot moves from disbelief, through disdain, on to mild jealousy followed finally by muted grief when they part.


Miki is everything that Murderbot is not: naive. optimistic, emotionally attached to humans and open to making new friends. In the same way that ART in book two showed us that Murderbot is too human to be a real AI, Miki shows us that Murderbot is too much an AI ever entirely to trust humans.


In this third part of what is now clearly one great novel being sold to us in (expensive) instalments, Murderbot continues to pursue proof of the wrong-doings of the GreyCris corporation but this is really the frame for his journeying and not the focus of the novel. The focus is on how each of Murderbot's journeys takes him on a path from I-hacked-my-governor-module-so-I-could-watch-more-space-operas to I-have-things-and-maybe-even-people-and-bots-who-matter-to-me.


In this instalment, Murderbot is aware of becoming more humanlike in his behaviour (although humans should never be allowed to do Security: they're unable to keep pace with fast-changing situations, their egos get in the way and they're allowed to give up). Murderbot is dismayed to discover there are now things s/he cares about:

"I hate caring about stuff. But apparently, once you start, you can't just stop."

The novella has a leisurely start but once the action begins the pace is fast and the tension is relentless.


I finished the novella with a sense of satisfaction that could only have been improved if I'd been able to continue on to part four instead of having to wait for the publishers to feed it to me later.


My only gripe about Murderbot is the pricing strategy: split a novel in four and charge the price of a full novel for each part. This is not the way to treat the fans. I moved from reading Murderbot as an ebook to listening to the audiobook, purely because the audiobook cost one credit (which translates to £3.66 or $4.71 as opposed to $9.10 for the Kindle version.


Actually, the audiobook was very well done. The voices for Murderbot and Mikki were perfect. I'm glad my miserliness financial prudence brought me to such a skilled narrator.


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review 2018-07-28 03:33
ARC Review: Denim by K.C. Wells
Denim - K.C. Wells

Harry is thirty-five and thinks he's no longer desirable. A bit pudgy around the middle, he has no illusion that anyone might still be interested in him. He likes his job alright, and convinces himself he's content with his life after moving back to his hometown to look after his mother before she passed away. Still living in her house, still unable to pack away her things, Harry is letting life and love pass him by.

Tony, a construction worker of similar age, sees the somewhat staid Harry and immediately perks up. Or, well, one of his appendages does. But Harry is oblivious, and Tony has to pull out all the stops to convince the other man that he's truly interested.

The author weaves a fabulous tale of two ordinary men living ordinary lives and falling extraordinarily in love. 

As the story unfolds, we learn more about the two men - Harry who has let himself go after his mother's death, who likely has low-grade depression, who has basically given up on finding anyone to love him, and who cannot believe that the hunky construction worker is actually whistling at him, and Tony, a hard worker, a good bloke, a kind man, who didn't get that memo and who thinks that Harry is the most delicious bear he's ever come across. 

Obviously, someone with low self-esteem such as Harry would be reluctant to start a relationship with a hunky bloke, and their relationship starts off very slowly. And while Tony pulls out all the stops to woo the other man into bed and into his life, Harry looks at himself and decides that eating is overrated and that he should lose a bunch of weight so he's worthy of Tony. Obviously, that doesn't go over too well, and there's a bit of drama but they actually talk about things, like mature men should, and it's not a huge stumbling block. 

KC Wells has crafted two realistic characters, and I loved how their romance unfolded. I loved how steadfast Tony was in his beliefs, how freely and courageously he put himself out there to win Harry's heart, and how Harry starts to blossom under Tony's capable hands.

There are sexy times, of course, but all of them repeatedly drove home the point that these men are falling in love, and each bedroom scene was high on their emotional connection. And with each passing day, Tony pulls Harry a bit more out of his shell, away from his safety net, into the light. 

Sweet and romantic, with little conflict and honest communication, this was a gorgeous story. I enjoyed every minute reading it, and I think you will too.

Oh, the denim from the title - Tony loves to wear jeans. To work, to dinner, to having a pint, to going dancing, Tony wears denim. And by the book's end, Harry loves to peel Tony out of his denims. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-07-23 15:47
Ida: A Sword among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching - Paula J. Giddings

Not only should we thank Toni Morrison for her beautiful novels and wonderful essays, but also for pushing Giddings to write this important biography of Ida B. Wells.  And Giddings deserves thanks and love times ten for this work.


                I didn’t realize how unusual some of my schooling was until I started to teach.  For instance, because I had a teacher who was a descendent of Sally Hemmings and who told the class the story of Sally Hemmings, I always took that relationship with Jefferson as a given fact.  It wasn’t until I was teaching that I realized some students in this day when Dr. Gordon-Reed has proven the fact, that people still are not told of the history.


                But even with that background, I did not hear about Ida B Wells until after college when I was reading a book that referenced her.  I looked her up.  Today, we are lucky because her work is very accessible with the rise of e-books and texts.  Giddings’ book does this famous woman a service but will also leave you wondering why it took so long.  (Not that this is Giddings fault and she does examine some of these questions).


                Ida B. Wells was a woman who most likely was not easy to get along with but who needs more statues because we should remember her and shout her name from the roof tops.  It is because of Wells’ work as a journalist that we have the first major studies about lynching, a part of American history that we have yet to fully acknowledge and come to terms with as a nation.  Perhaps her work on this dark issue has lead to her unjust and incorrect second tier status; a nation wants to forget such things.  It shouldn’t though. 



                Born to former slaves who died when she was in her teens, Wells worked first as a teacher and then as a journalist and activist.  In fact, Giddings includes in the photo section, a post that showcases Wells, Dubois, Washington, and Douglass as the famous speakers on race post-Civil War.  During the course of her career, Wells addressed the politics and racism of rape, of education, and of protesting in addition to lynching.  She was instrumental in the founding and running of several black groups


                She was a hell of a woman, and not a tradition meek and mild sort either.


                Giddings’ biography perhaps focuses more on Wells’ personal life, her interior life being difficult to know or evaluate.  It is still a riveting book.  Giddings’ prose is lively and clear.  While there is a sense of Wells keeping herself back, Giddings does an excellent job of not only detailing the historical times but also examining the possible reasons for Wells’ drive.  She also does not make out Wells to be saint than sinner.


                A must read.

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