The Encounter Log

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The Tower of Druaga season 1 at YouTube and Crunchyroll: As predicted, this is not the series that will rule the sevagram, but a midlist effort if you're interested in fantasy, or computer games, or both.

To Marry Medusa and Killdozer! by Theodore Sturgeon: Not two of his better works, but I can see how the latter clearly had "major motion picture" written all over it.

The Draco Tavern by Larry Niven: Great stuff at first, and you wonder how Niven ever became the would-be security expert joking about spreading urban legends among Latinos to keep them away from hospitals. But the last few stories are written by someone who has changed his mind and decided that there is one definite Way Things Ought To Be.

Soul Rider: Spirits of Flux & Anchor by Jack Chalker: Another of those things I've wanted to read for ages, but I was never able to find a copy of book 1 until now. It turns out Stephen King wasn't the only one who wanted to experiment with Wild-West-themed fantasy, though this book rapidly grows past that theme in all sorts of directions.

Ghosthunt: A Novel of the Diadem by Jo Clayton: Trying to pick up the thread again on this series, I seem to have skipped a couple books, and this one feels a bit like filler.

Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos DVD: Revisiting another story that I'd forgotten a lot of, including many of the best bits.

Doctor Who: The Keeper of Traken DVD: With commentary from Anthony Ainley, believe it or not. The first thing the guy who terrified me when I was a small child absolutely has to tell the audience is what "Peter Davison" can be anagrammed to. This story I remembered quite well, though the ending seems really rushed when I watch it now. Speaking of the ending, and Anthony Ainley, brace yourself for a little surprise after the final credits.

Doctor Who: Logopolis DVD: Well, what Whovian could forget this one? And the idea of fixing the universe always seemed neat to me. Unfortunately, they brought Janet Fielding back for the commentary track.

Doctor Who: Castrovalva DVD: Good: story. Bad: Janet Fielding again.

Meanwhile, the Endeavour Award had a record number of books submitted this year...

Russian Amerika by Stoney Compton: An alternate history in which the South won, but it doesn't feel the need to go into excruciating detail about how (huzzah), and does take into account differences in technology and world power that would be caused by a fractured US (double huzzah). Loses its way at the end, though.

The Clone Alliance by Steven L. Kent: Military sf from the point of view of the enlisted grunts, for once, although there is no actual clone alliance involved.

Not Flesh Nor Feathers by Cherie Priest: Well-written horror featuring a Southern city and an epic flood. The author's note swears it was conceived before Hurricane Katrina, but it is certainly well-informed by it.

Moon in the Mirror by P. R. Frost: I've worked out what's bugging me about this series. It's the fantasy version of the cozy. It's okay really, it will do you no harm if taken in moderation, though in the case of this particular book, I feel compelled to apologize on behalf of all middle-class white fantasy fans for the poorly chosen analogy that happens about two-thirds of the way through.

Deliverer by C. J. Cherryh: Well, it's a beautifully realized world, and the characters are three-dimensional, and it's a lot better than Pretender, but you can see how this series has made it to nine books already, and could probably last for nine more.

Kris Longknife: Audacious by Mike Shepherd: Military sf of a particularly generic variety; the thing that really marks it out from the crowd is that the copyeditor apparently gave up at page 100. My live-in military sf expert tells me that's par for the course for this series.

Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon: Immense and immensely readable space opera featuring a construct even bigger than Ringworld. You won't be surprised by any of the important plot revalations, but never mind, enjoy the ride.

Too Many Princes by Deby Fredericks: Swords, sorcery, castles, kings, plodding journeys, ancient relics, secret knowledge, aieee. Avoid.

DemonKeeper by Royce Buckingham: Pretty good YA fantasy.

Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin: Another fine work at the level you expect from Le Guin, but I'm sorry, it's still not as good as The Book of Joby.

Star Wars: Allegiance by Timothy Zahn: The author fulfills the terms of his contract, with not a drop of effort more. Read The Third Lynx instead.

Forged by Fire by Janine Cross: Not your typical medieval fantasy with dragons. A very well-realized world with interesting thoughts on dragon biology.

Stewards of the Flame by Sylvia Engdahl: A book-length lecture on how the evil conspiracy of modern medicine has atrophied our natural psychic superpowers. Kind of like Scientology without the huge membership fees.

Absalom's Dream by Louise Marley: A very literary collection, and I mean that in both good and bad ways.

The Silver Ship and the Sea by Brenda Cooper: Super-special kids, ignorant and fearful normals. You can fill in the rest.

Time to Smell the Roses by Michael Hoeye: On the basis of this one book, I recommend the entire series for fantasy fans who are just a little too young for Harry Potter.

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