The Encounter Log

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Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear: Oh, I wish I had read this before the Hugo nomination deadline. Part taut ghost story, part voyage of discovery, and under 350 pages. Excellent.

Prison Earth - Not Guilty as Charged by Clifford M. Schoville: Earth is a prison for alien war criminals who naturally are sprung and have to save the galaxy. Not so bad where I expected it to be dreadful, but not so good where I got my hopes up.

Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks: More infill of the Shannara prehistory.

Pinion by Jay Lake: The second half of Escapement, more or less tying everything up. Note for male authors: you can have strong female characters without turning every single one of them into a man-hater. Honest.

Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts: Dark forces have awoken, and only the members of the author's favorite fandom are ready to fight them off! And another tip for male writers: making the characters lesbians does not make sexual harrassment suddenly okay.

Pock's World by Dave Duncan: Takes the far-future setup where there seems to have been only about one innovation per century, and says, "What's wrong with this picture?"

The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip: A great story if you don't mind the sort of book where you have to think about it for a bit afterwards to fully understand what was going on.

Doctor Who: E-Space Trilogy on DVD: I'm sorry, I remain one of the four or five DW fans who actually likes Adric. And in the half of fandom that thinks the plot of Warriors' Gate makes sense. Some days, it would be my pick for the best DW story of all time.

Doctor Who: Black Guardian Trilogy on DVD: And Mawdryn Undead is still one of my all-time favorites, too. Terminus is a tad less dark and scary than it was when I was a kid, but still pretty dark, and Enlightenment has just gotten weirder.

Level E streaming at Crunchyroll: Adaptation of a group of stories centering around a recurring antagonist who is an alien prince with a penchant for practical jokes. A really mixed bag both in tone and quality, but the best parts are worth it.

Space Rangers for PC: Thanks to Good Old Games (, we've all got a chance to try out some old hits from back in the day on modern computers. This one has hints of many and varied gaming delights, but the actual experience is incredibly frustrating.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village for Nintendo DS: Most of the point of the game is solving puzzles. This being the first in the series, you will run across a lot of old standards. As for the plot... all I can say is that's one young lady who is going to have some serious issues.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box for Nintendo DS: Having gotten most of the old standards out of the way, the puzzle quality takes a definite step forward. Lots of idiot plotting, though, and a lot of stretches where you can't save for half an hour because of the way cutscenes and puzzles have been stacked up together.

Puzzle Quest 2 for Nintendo DS: Everyone seems to have their own unique reason why this is a disappointment. Mine is that you can't tell how far through the complete story you are, and once you're suddenly done, there's no reason to pick it up again. The original Puzzle Quest was worth replaying all the way through just to see the alternate evil ending, but there's nothing else to do with this one.

To Engineer is Human by Henry Petroski: A book about engineers, engineering, and the problems engineers face. Very accessible to the general reader.

Design Paradigms by Henry Petroski: Intended for engineering students, a look at engineering screwups through history, ranging from bridge collapses to the story of a Roman subcontractor who wound up bankrupting himself with what seemed like a clever innovation to transport a pedestal. Even the conoisseur of disaster stories will find some new material in here.

Tiger & Bunny episodes 1-20 at Viz Anime: If superheroes existed today, they would of course have sponsors and appear in a reality show. Massive spoilers would be needed to explain exactly why this is going on my Hugo ballot next year; let's just say it's the best anime I've seen so far all year, and this year, that's really saying something.

Steins;Gate episodes 1-18 at Crunchyroll: A wannabe mad scientist and his geeky friends suddenly discover they have inadvertently built a way to change the past. Plagued with irritating secondary characters at first, but when the plot really gets going, it's seriously good.

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