The Encounter Log

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Noein finale: Yes, Sci-Fi Channel did get around to showing it. It went on my Hugo nominating ballot.

Stellvia episodes 17-26: Yes, the space cadets save the day! But not without a bunch of angst, scheming, and a couple of jaw-dropping surprises provided by the mysterious aliens.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond: Yes, it covers success stories too, and also modern-day disasters in the making. The description of Rwanda in particular is about ten times ghastlier than any one I've read before.

A Romance of the Equator by Brian Aldiss: Collected short fantasy stories; mostly good with one or two incomprehensible bits.

Malafrena by Ursula K. Le Guin: Revolution comes to Orsinia! If you are in any doubt as to whether the hero will win, die trying, or inexplicably give it all up to become a farmer, you haven't read much Le Guin.

The Cockatrice Boys by Joan Aiken: For people who say there's no good military-themed fantasy out there.

The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll: My initial reaction was that it was so-so, but it had the misfortune to get read right before...

Days of Atonement by Walter Jon Williams: Which, like the previous, also features a small-town police chief, whose comfortable life is also interrupted by a strange occurrence, and who also finds himself trying to work out what God really wants him to do, and even has a similar ending-though here you can spot it being set up, whereas in The Wooden Sea, it just pops out of nowhere. One of many reasons this book is several times better.

The entire Company series by Kage Baker: Having heard lots of good things about the final book, I started from the other end of the series so I could really appreciate, and good thing, too. It's absolutely terrific until it crosses the present day, and then the heroine goes all moe and the plot gets bogged down in endless sea voyages from exotic port of call to exotic port of call. The eschaton turns out to be everything it has been telegraphed to be and less. And it never did explain what the ichthyosaur was doing out of the Mesozoic...

Farthing by Jo Walton: Very much like Fatherland, except with evil gay people instead of Nazis.

Ptath by A. E. van Vogt: 200 million years in the future, two goddesses are at war over the destiny of humanity and the awakening of the great god Ptath. Naturally, the only person who can fix this situation is: a guy plucked out of the 20th century.

Eureka Seven: An anime series with that rarest of features, a truly multiracial cast. Also great if you've ever wanted to see what Blood Music or Solaris would have been with giant robots added. At 52 episodes, it'll seem a little slow if you're used to shorter series which have new revelations in practically every episode, but you can pick it up about halfway if you want and not feel like you missed too much.

It's Endeavour Award reading time again...

Dreamquest by Brent Hartinger: A YA novel which gave me new appreciation for the sophistication of the Harry Potter series. Even though it's apparently intended for teenagers, it felt like kindergarten stuff in comparison to Potter.

Dangerous Space by Kelley Eskeridge: A perfectly good collection of stories, despite the introduction's spoilery attempt to convince you that you'll hate them. In fact, save the introduction for last, or never if you have the willpower.

Dragon and Judge by Timothy Zahn: An okay YA adventure story.

The Book of Joby by Mark J. Ferrari: God and the Devil wager on whether the Devil can destroy the faith of a boy named Joby. Not by plunging him into sin-- no, the plan is more insidious and hearbreaking than that. Far and away the best of the bunch yet.

The Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson: Supposedly this uses an outline which Frank Herbert drew up before his death. I can't help thinking it would have been a much better book with him writing it, but I'm greatful to have had the chance to learn how the story was supposed to turn out.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff: Normally I don't like it when there's no chance at figuring out what's really going on until the author comes to the final reveal, but this book grew on me somehow.

The Elves of Cintra by Terry Brooks: Pretty typical middle book of a trilogy. Plot coupons are collected; people move from point A to point B; a henchman or two is killed off, but the boss monster stays in the shadows.

Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Infinity by Bruce Taylor: If there's one thing more irritating than an author who constantly berates you with his philosophy, it's an author who is equally smug but won't tell you a single thing about it.

The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn: Railroads and murder mysteries in space! Very enjoyable.

Poltergeist by Kat Richardson: A procedural with a detective who has acquired paranormal sensitivity through being briefly dead. An interesting take on the workings of the spiritual world, and the first modern book I've read in a long time where vampires get to be icky again.

When All Seems Lost by William C. Dietz: All really is lost-- plot, characterization, any attempt at consistent worldbuilding.

Prime Time by David Memmott: A vanity press book, submitted for a real award? Actually, although it's a real struggle for a while, it's pretty good once you've finally gotten oriented. With some professional editorial input, I think it could have been absolutely spectacular.

Beyond the North Star by R. L. Church: Then again, some vanity press books turn out to be exactly what you expect. Here are the most terrifying words I have ever read in a preface: "My wife hated sci-fi with a passion; as for myself, not having the skills of writing, and not having read any sci-fi completely through made this a challenge of its own."

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead: And back we go to vampires as gorgeous oversexed party animals.

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor: Which actually draws mostly on Arabic mythology; a refreshing change and a darned good book in many other ways.

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