Book Review: The Sun Eater Series

I stumbled across this wonderful space opera by stumbling across the author on social media, going on to prove that Twitter is not only poisonous. It really is a great series, hitting all the crazy space opera notes you might want.

What does the Sun Eater series offer? Well. What are our space opera staples? Strange politics and cultures? Check. Sufficiently advanced technology? Check. Long lost and mysterious history beyond our ken? Check. Aliens, battles, references to this, that, and the other? Check, check, check. All of it with a unique spin making it well worth a read.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Sun Eater Series”

Meetings Every 12 Hours

Not presently, but I recently got a new job and it looks like the best course of action is another go at force-morning-person-ness. This will probably work out for the best in many respects. This is all tied to meetings (ones where people are nominally polite to all participants, which has been a culture shock) which put me in mind of one of the twists the Army threw into my life in its attempt to make me a morning person.

See, in every ADA (Air Defense Artillery) battery I was in, officers went to PT with their troops at 0630. That was enough morning for me, thanks, but on several occasions, the battery commanders got it into their heads to have a meeting at 0530…then another one at the end of the day, with the same people, about the same general things, anywhere from 1600 to- for one truly miserable summer- 1930. For anyone who don’t know how to convert from military time, subtract 12 from anytime after 1200, there’s your civilian time.

You may think a lot can change on a weekday night between 1730 (merciful days, those) and 0530. It’s twelve whole hours! In an Army unit! That’s like half a day! A lot can change in half a day!

That’s half a day that occurs at night when you aren’t deployed and the morning is early for everyone. When these dual meetings were their most miserable, our largest concern was making sure people got to their appointments. Not much happens on weekday nights when you aren’t deployed. The evening meeting was exactly the same as the next morning’s meeting.

N.B.: Deployed, things do change in those hours for an ADA unit. Mostly things break. Sometimes it is even actually something important.

I am convinced that many Army commanders would greatly prefer it if their soldiers worked like modern Roombas. You program them to function during certain hours, they do the thing you want, then they head back to their charging docks and go inert until they are supposed to do something again. Alas, the Army is composed of people. People are chaotic and willful. Anything could happen.

This fact eats at the mind of many a commander to the point it induces a slowly grinding paranoia, hence a morning meeting that contains exactly the same information as the meeting the evening before. Something could happen overnight and…I guess the commander might get a phone call about it and maybe call subordinates with directions about what to do about said something and that would just be…not an hour-long meeting at the crack of dawn.

Largely, nothing happens overnight. Soldiers go home, amuse themselves in innocuous ways, and go to bed. Nothing organizationally exciting happens.

But it might, I suppose. Might makes tyrants out of men.

Action Scenes Don’t Have to be Scary

To write, at any rate. Atmosphere is up to you.

I have a theory based on…not much, to be honest…that a lot of writers stick to, say, college or coffee shop stories or such because writing action scenes scares them. (This is an epidemic in some corners of fandom.) This limits you as a writer and there is no reason for it. You can learn how to write at least tolerable action sequences.

Continue reading “Action Scenes Don’t Have to be Scary”

Book Review: The Shikari Series

When it comes to ‘ye olden times in space’, things have grown repetitive for frequent readers of science fiction. How many times can one read ‘Horatio Hornblower in SPAAACE’? Most of the subgenre seems to fall into that category.

I never had much stomach for that and I’m one of the few sci-fi readers who has never touched an Honor Harrington novel. I got my fill with the old Mech Warrior books many years ago. It would take something really different to take me back to the subgenre.

The Shikari series by Alma Boykin are very different. Take a bit of space opera, a bit of colonial England, a bit of Jane Austen, and you have these delightful novels.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Shikari Series”

Book Review: The Clone Wars: No Prisoners

In the spirit of the moment- admittedly an iffy spirit these days- I figured I’d tell you about another awesome Star Wars book, this time one based off the cartoon based off the prequels based off the legendary movie trilogy, Karen Traviss’ The Clone Wars: No Prisoners.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Clone Wars: No Prisoners”

In Memoriam: Gene Wolfe

Everything Gene Wolfe wrote was weird.

I mean this in the best possible way. His worlds were expansive and strange. He had a gift for understanding how the man in the street felt and thoughts about the weirdness in his world. His passing means that something great has gone from sci-fi, though we will have his books always.

Continue reading “In Memoriam: Gene Wolfe”

Book Review: The Marcus Corvinus Series

I’m actually not one for historical novels much, though I love history and I especially love Roman history. However, Roman historical novels tend to…over-modernize. For a period of which we have extensive but hardly compete records, many authors decide to be too anachronistic in any number of ways. Sometimes it’s as bad as having the main character be an anti-slavery crusader, which is so historically absurd that you might as well include airplanes, sometimes it’s so subtle as just the wrong words or tone (garnered from some badly, badly taught history classes). Then there’s the “he-he sex” genre that takes on many different skins.

The Marcus Corvinus series by David Wishart has none of these problems. They are not only my favorite Roman historical novels, but they are my favorite mysteries and frequent comfort reads. I can’t recommend these books enough.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Marcus Corvinus Series”