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review 2019-02-13 23:13
The Legacy / R.A. Salvatore
The Legacy - R.A. Salvatore

Having found a measure of peace among the dwarves in the reclaimed Mithral Hall, Drizzt begins to know contentment for perhaps the first time in his tumultuous life. But for a dark elf renegade from a city ruled by priestesses of a demon goddess, no peace can long last. It is Lolth herself, the dreaded Queen of the Demonweb Pits, who musters her followers to pour up from the black depths of the Underdark to reclaim for their goddess the one soul that had managed to elude her. The soul of Drizzt Do’Urden. 

 

In which Drizzt learns that family is forever. They may be evil psychotic bitches, but you’re still tethered to them unless you’re willing to do something drastic about it. Readers who have had a change in religion from their families and find it coming back to bite them will also feel right at home in this adventure!

The Spider goddess, Lloth, does her best to re-capture Drizzt and get what she considers her due. Possibly because friendship is an unknown quality in Drow Elf society, she under-estimates the number and quality of Drizzt’s friends and allies.

Obviously, the author is setting the stage for Drizzt to return to his society of origin and settle everyone’s hash with his amazing blade work. The biggest question for the next book is who will be accompanying him, especially after the losses in this book. I guess it says something about character development when one of the major characters can be wiped out completely and everyone else just keeps on keeping on. 

Book Number 307 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-02-08 21:35
Doomsday Book / Connie Willis
Doomsday Book - Connie Willis

For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin--barely of age herself--finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.

 

One of my pet peeves about time travel stories is the ease with which the people blend in and communicate smoothly with people from the past. Having studied just enough linguistics to be dangerous, I’m pretty sure that language changes quickly enough to scuttle that part of the plot line! Witness all the people who struggle with Shakespearean language today, and you realize that traveling to the past is not going to be a cake walk. Kivrin struggles enough upon her arrival in the Middle Ages to be credible.

I thought the flu epidemic in the future environment was a stroke of genius on Willis’ part. Disease is disrupting life on both ends of the time travel, creating uncertainty everywhere. And I suspect that Willis has spent time in a university environment (as I have) and is fully aware of department heads like Gilchrist who think that they know everything and regard cautious people as foolish. It’s not usually the life of a student which is on the line, but we are familiar with the guy who won’t listen to reason and doesn’t have to because he’s “in charge.”

This also made me consider how we view historical texts—how we try to reinterpret them according to our own contemporary standards. Kivrin’s studying of Middle English, for example, and how she finds it incomprehensible when confronted with those who spoke it naturally. Gilchrist’s easy assumption that people of the Middle Ages exaggerated the number of deaths due to plague. It’s so easy to sit in our comfortable 21st century chairs and criticize their observations!

I also remember being tied to a landline phone as Mr. Dunworthy is in flu-epidemic-stricken Oxford! At the time that this book was written (1992), mobile phones were still pretty clunky. If there were to be a revised version, some of it would have to change to make the same problems for smart phone users. People do leave mobile phones behind or turn them off or get outside of networks, so the same problems could be created. But it did seem strange to have a book set in our near future that didn’t incorporate mobile phones at all.

All in all, I found this a very satisfying tale and I’ll look forward to reading the next installment in the Oxford Time Travel series.

Book number 306 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2019-02-04 17:51
Reading progress update: I've read 389 out of 578 pages.
Doomsday Book - Connie Willis

Only a few more days left before this is due at the library.  I've already renewed it the maximum number of times.  You'd think I wasn't enjoying it, but I am.  I think Kivrin's experiences are far more realistic than what is presented in most time travel fiction.

 

Pushing on!

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review 2019-01-31 17:08
Lady Slings the Booze / Spider Robinson
Lady Slings the Booze - Spider Robinson

Despite his employer's doubts that he is an authentic detective, Quigley is called in to investigate Lady Sally's establishment, a reputable place that caters to adults of all species and tastes. Lady Sally was the wife of the proprietor of Callahan's Place, the bar where human and other beings from all space and time come to cajole, drink, and occasionally save the world. The clientele and staff at Lady Sally's may have the same mission at hand, but now Quigley plays a significant part as the fate of the world hangs in the balance....

 

I have a difficult relationship with Spider Robinson’s writing. Unfortunate for me, since he wrote a number of the volumes on my self-assigned science fiction & fantasy reading list. Robinson is a great admirer of Robert A. Heinlein and it certainly shines through in his Callahan’s stories. Although I admire Heinlein’s achievements & acknowledge that he was a great influence in the science fiction genre, I don’t love all of his work either.

The story itself could have interested me, if Robinson had been willing to stick to the mystery aspect of it and treat it seriously. However, he simply cannot resist long, winding sidetracks, inserted specifically to make ridiculous puns. All of which I consider unfair pun-ishment to my reading sensibilities.

He also refuses to be serious about the mystery aspect of the story, serving up silly non-clues and preposterous reasoning. I could have forgiven a lot if he had given the plot more slightly more serious consideration.

It’s been difficult to find Robinson’s books—my public library weeded them out of their collection a couple of years ago. As a result, I’ve searched for and found several more volumes of the Callahan’s collection as second hand books. I’m debating whether to read them or whether to just take them to my favourite used bookstore for credit. I’ll probably persevere, but I’m certainly questioning my own judgement on that!

Book number 305 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2019-01-31 15:29
Reading progress update: I've read 152 out of 566 pages.
Steel Beach - John Varley

I've enjoyed the other books by Varley that I've read, so I'm struggling desperately to refrain from judging this one too soon.

 

But, having just finished Lady Slings the Booze by Spider Robinson, I'm a bit weary of the assumptions of straight white men about sexual matters.  I knew Robinson was a big fan/friend of Robert Heinlein, but I didn't realize that Varley was also Heinleinian.  Sigh!

 

The story isn't bad, but I keep bumping into assumptions that annoy me and I'm getting grumpy about it.

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