Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading

  • Darkness, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr; TOR/Tom Doherty Associates. August, 2003. This is the second book of the Corean Chronicles, and although I haven't read the first book, this one was good.

  • The Queen's Necklace, by Teresa Edgerton; EOS/HarperCollins Publishers, July 2001.

  • Mairelon the Magician, by Patricia C. Wrede, copyright 1991; TOR/Tom Doherty Associates, July 1992.

Recent Reading

  • The Buried Pyramid, by Jane Lindskold; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, May 2004. I dragged through the first half (which is probably my fault) but found the latter half much easier going. Interesting nested heroquests and use of ancient Egyptian gods.

  • To Weave a Web of Magic, Berkley Publishing Group, July 2004.

    • The Gorgon in the Cupboard, copyright 2004 by Patricia A. McKillip.

    • The Tale of the Two Swords, by Lynn Kurland; copyright 2004 by Lynn Curland.

    • Fallen Angel, copyright 2004 by Sharon Shinn.

    • An Elegy for Melusine, by Claire Delacroix; copyright 2004 by Claire Delacroix, Inc.

Recent Reading

  • Dragon Bones, by Patricia Briggs; Ace Books/Berkeley Publishing Group, March 2002.

  • Dragon Blood, by Patricia Briggs; Ace Books/Berkeley Publishing Group, January 2003.

  • Scandal takes a Holiday, by Lindsey Davis; Mysterious Press/Warner Books, September 2004.

  • Cold Streets, by P.N. Elrod; copyright 2003; Ace Books/Berkeley Publishing Group, January 2004.

  • King's Captain, by Dewey Lambdin; Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, December 2000.

  • Sea of Grey, by Dewey Lambdin; Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, September 2002.

  • Havoc's Sword, by Dewey Lambdin; Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, December 2003.

  • The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. Le Guin, copyright 1970, 1971; illustrated by Gail Garraty; Bantam Books, 14th edition, January 1981. I finished the Sci Fi channels Legends of Earthsea mini series; it was very, very bad. Thankfully the original books remain classics.

  • Magi'i of Cyador, by L.E. MOdesitt, Jr; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, April 2000.

  • Space Viking, by H. Beam Piper; copyright 1963 by Ace Books; Garland Publishing, 1975.

  • Crown Duel, by Sherwood Smith; Firebird/Penguin Putnam Inc, 2002. Originally published as Crown Duel and Court Duel by Harcourt, Brace, & Co in 1997 and 1998. A very good fantasy of manners; the two books really are better as one.

Recent Reading

  • Under the Green Star, by Lin Carter; DAW, 1972; No. 30. In the 1970s Lin Carter wrote some “planetary romances”, including the Green Star series, in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books and others. I prefer Carter's Wizard of Zao (where, it seems to me, Carter achieved a sense of light humorous fantasy that has rarely been equaled), but the Green Star series is a fair tribute to the genre of planetary romances, though it lacks the breadth and depth of its near contemporary, Kenneth Bulmer's extensive Kregen novels about Dray Prescot. In any case, I'll have to find the fourth and fifth books in the Green Star series sometime.

  • When the Green Star Calls, by Lin Carter; DAW, 1973; UE1732.

  • By the Light of the Green Star, by Lin Carter; DAW, 1974; No. 110.

  • The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. Le Guin, copyright 1970, 1971; originally published by Atheneum, 1971; Bantam Books, September 1975; 14th printing, January 1981. This was the first of Le Guin's Earthsea books that I read, when I was a youngster, and I found it utterly fascinating then and now.

Recent Reading

  • Raven Swordsmistress of Chaos, by Richard Kirk, copyright 1978; Ace Fantasy/The Berkley Publishing Group, 1987. A fair example of the later generation Sword & Sorcery fiction.

  • A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin, text copyright 1968; illustrated by Ruth Robbins, illustrations copyright 1968; originally published by Parnassus Press, 1968; Bantam Books, Inc, August 1975, 10th printing sometime post November 1977. I'm in the process of watching the SciFi Channel's disappointing attempt to bring Earthsea to TV; Ursula K. Le Guin explains the movies flaws much better than I could, of course, but it inspired me to re-read the Earthsea books again. As I reread the first book I was struck by how lyrical the writing is and how the book is layered with meaning, without being preachy.

Hard SF; Recent Reading; Recent Listening

Saturday, 4 December 2004

Hard SF

Over on Eric Tolle said:

Hard SF is indeed a constantly shifting goalpost- over the years it's gott[e]n considerably more rigid and limiting.

Over the last decade the meaning has shifted from "Well thought out plausible extrapolation" to "No physical laws as we know them violated". It currently seems to be slowly shifting to the level of “No technology that we currently don't have”, which means that probably if the trend continues, in about fifteen years “hard SF” will be defined as “Books like the Kinsey Malone mystery stories”.

I think it would be a pity if the first definition stopped being used entirely, since that would eliminate a lot of thoughtful, interesting stories. And while the second definition is useful, I don't think the third is: we already have the Kinsey Malone mystery stories, after all. Science Fiction must continue to concern itself with the possibilities of the future.

Recent Reading

  • The Darkness that Comes Before, by R. Scott Bakker, copyright 2003; Overlook Press/Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc, 2004. This is described ss The Prince of Nothing, Book One, so I'm looking forward to seeing more books in this series. A very good non-psuedo-medieval fantasy, with an interesting cast of characters and some intriguing background. In some ways it reminds me of Glen Cook's Tower of Fear, although it may have a somewhat larger scope.

Recent Listening

  • Sharpe's Escape, by Bernard Cornwell; narrated by Patrick Tull; Recorded Books, LLC, 2004. Portugal, 1810; Sharpe becomes separated from his regiment as the British retreat to the Lines of Tores Vedras. Well read by Patrick Tull.

Recent Reading

  • The Wilding, by C.S. Friedman; DAW Books Collectors No 1296; DAW Books, 2004.

  • Cravings; Jove, July 2004.

    • “Blood upon My Lips”, by Laurell K. Hamilton.

      I'll admit that I originally only picked this up at the library because it starts with Larry Kirkland's wedding. It turns out, however, to actually be a rather important day in Anita Blake's life for other reasons.

    • “Dead Girls Don't Dance”, by MaryJanice Davidson.

      I guess I'm going to have to look and see if there are more Andrea Mercer and Danial Harris stories.

    • “Orginally Human”, by Eileen Wilks.

      Molly and Michael Grace are an interesting pair.

    • “Burning Moon”, by Ruth Glick writing as Rebecca York.

      All in all, a very good book.

Recent Reading

  • H.M.S. Cockerel, by Dewey Lambdin; copyright 1995; Fawcett Crest/Ballantine Books, March 1997. Another good entry in the saga of Alan Lewrie.

  • The White Order, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, Inc, May 1998. As you might expect from the title, this volume of Modesitt's Reculse series is from the viewpoint of a white magician, instead of the black or grey magicians who have been the viewpoint characters previously. (In the Recluce books the words “white”, “black”, and “grey” don't refer to the morals of the magician, but to whether they use chaos, order, or a balance of the two forces.)