The Encounter Log

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Endeavour Award update: The nominees have been named, and the only one from the candidates I've read is Children of Chaos. The others are Forest Mage by Robin Hobb, Fortress of Ice by C. J. Cherryh, Horizon by Mary Rosenblum, and Spirits That Walk in Shadow by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. All I can say is that for Unraveling Time and Great Sky Woman to both not be nominated, those others had better be some damn good books.

The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy: A largely true history book featuring the more tabloid-worthy bits of several great figures in history. The sort of book that will get kids interested in history, but not in any way that gets them good grades.

Read or Die manga collections 1-4: For the first time ever, I have to say: Forget the book. Watch the TV version. This is pure shonen manga, by which I mean the plot is barely discernible and you can hardly get through a chapter without at least two explosions and a dose of lesbian innuendo.

Read or Dream manga collections 1-4: Much better than the previous. In fact, really good in some places. The TV version is still better.

Ruddigore as performed by Mock's Crest Productions: An altogether solid production. The program had a terrific quick description of the story for the G&S neophyte: "Jane Austen meets Edward Gorey".

The entire Harry Potter series: You can't go through the whole series now without noticing all sorts of things in the early books which seemed insignificant or nonsensical and turned out to be nothing such. If you like nothing else about Rowling's writing, you've got to respect her ability to plan. As for Deathly Hallows itself, the death of my favorite character did not detract from the experience as I had feared, and I'm profoundly grateful to finally see him get his due. I think, overall, that I like it.

All the Hugo-nominated short stories: I wasn't able to get to the novellas and novellettes this year due to re-reading the Harry Potter series. (Don't look at me like that, I had a newsgroup FAQ and a Web site to update.) "Kin" was my top pick.

The Birthday of the World and Other Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin: All good, but I was a little disappointed by the O stories, which were the main thing I was looking forward to. They hardly begin to explore Austenian convolutions possible in a society with marriage rules like that. Oh well, perhaps she took care of that in "A Fisherman of the Inland Sea". I'll have to go check.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann: The perfect complement to Guns, Germs and Steel, arguing the case that geography is not destiny, and filling in how you develop agriculture when most of your domesticatable plants are trees. And, of course, great for filling in specific knowledge of pre-Columbian historical figures and what they were up to.

The Morphodite by M. A. Foster: I spotted this at a library book sale and jumped at the chance to get an obscure reference in a filksong explained to me. It's got an interesting take on psychohistory.

The Unicorn Trade by Poul and Karen Anderson: I think this is a far better book than it actually felt like. I just need to take a break from medieval-Europe-based fantasy entirely.

The Daichis Anime series about a family of superheroes where the marriage is on the rocks, the son is hyperactive, and the daughter feels put-upon... does this sound familiar? Well, it predates The Incredibles by three years, and the story's way better, as long as you can put up with the standard Japanese comedy treatment, which is to turn everything up to 11.

Noein episodes 1-9: A mix of slice-of-life teenage drama and a heavy sf plotline where the future selves of those teens have come to the present to kidnap one of their old friends. Interesting and with terrific visuals, but the explanations start rather slowly.

Mother of Lies by Dave Duncan: Cross off one good book that I won't be allowed to review for next year's Endeavour Award, but I couldn't wait to find out how the story that started in Children of Chaos ends. I think that this is a very unique and special fantasy story, but I can't explain why without going into all sorts of major spoilers.

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