Talkswynn's thread for 2019: volume 2

This is a continuation of the topic swynn's thread for 2019.

This topic was continued by swynn's thread for 2019: volume 3.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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swynn's thread for 2019: volume 2

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Edited: Jun 27, 2019, 1:02pm

I'm Steve, 50, a technical services librarian at a medium-sized public university in Missouri. This is my 10th year with the 75ers. Expect a mixture of the following, in decreasing density:

Science fiction and fantasy
Crime & mystery novels
Popular history (American, mostly)
Popular science
Library science/history of the book

Also, I tend to read impulsively so there will also be not necessarily categorizable things that happen capture my attention. Absent other impulses, priority usually goes to things that must be returned to the library. This is a stack generated more by whim & hope than by plan, which I call "The Tower of Due." Here's what it looks like now:

Edited: Jul 19, 2019, 4:28pm

(A) The DAWs

For several years now, I've been reading through the catalog of DAW, DAW is the first American imprint exclusively devoted to science fiction & fantasy publishing. It launched in 1972 under the editorship of Donald A. Wollheim (hence the name), and continues today, publishing new books at a rate faster than I'm catching up. Last year I read 30 of them, and hope to read at least 31 this year.

DAWs so far: 23
Next up: Time Slave by John Norman

Perry Rhodan

Perry Rhodan is a weekly science fiction serial that has been published continuously since 1961. I read 75 of these last year, and set up a separate thread for it. I'm still enjoying them, but have slowed the pace to give myself space to read some other German-language science fiction. So my plan is to keep posting on last year's PR thread, which is here:

Perry Rhodans so far: 2
Next Up: Der Mann mit den zwei Gesichtern (= The man with two faces) by Clark Darlton

(B) Bestsellers

For the last few years, Liz (lyzard) and I have been reading through American bestsellers at a rate of one per month. I'm running behind, but will catch up someday.

Bestsellers so far: 4
Next Up: The King's General (1945) by Daphne DuMaurier

More Not Straight Not White Not Dudes

My reading list skews white and male. Go figure. Last year I tracked proportion of LGBTQ, non-white, and female authors in an effort to be more conscious of this. Even so, my scores weren't great: 6% LGBTQ, 8% authors of color, and 33% women. I'd like to do better. I'm aiming for: 10% LGBTQ authors, 15% authors of color, 50% women. Recommendations welcome.

(C) Not Straight: 6/75 (8%)
(D) Not White: 9/84 (11%)
(E) Not Dudes: 33/84 (39%)

Other Good Intentions

(F) Read more off my shelves.
So far: 18

(G) Read more stuff recommended by friends and relatives.
So far: 8

Continue more series than I start. And finish one every now and then, sheesh.

  • (H) Series started: 23

  • The Band series by Nicholas Eames
    Berserker series by Fred Saberhagen
    Birthgrave series by Tanith lee
    Carve the Mark series by Veronica Roth
    Children of Time series by Adrian Tchaikovsky
    Colony series by Michaelbrent Collings
    Danielle Cain series by Margaret Killjoy
    Girl from the Well series by Rin Chupeco
    Greenglass House series by Kate Milford
    Hidden Cities series by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
    I Bring the Fire series by C. Gockel
    Illuminae series by Annie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
    Interstellar Patrol series by Christopher Anvil
    Jumbies series by Tracey Baptiste
    Kalte Krieg series by Dirk Van Den Boom
    Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal
    Maggie O'Dell series by Alex Kava
    Murderbot series by Martha Wells
    Persons Non Grata series by Cassandra Khaw
    Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein
    Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine
    Templar knights series by Joseph Nassise
    Year's Best Fantasy Series

  • (I) Series continued: 19

  • Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
    Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    Dray Prescot series by Kenneth Bulmer
    Dumarest of Terra series by E.C. Tubb
    Henry Rios series by Michael Nava
    Hooded Swan series by Brian Stableford
    Jumbies series by Tracey Baptiste
    Kalte Krieg trilogy by Dirk Van Den Boom
    Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby
    Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis
    Noon Universe series by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
    Rim Worlds/John Grimes series by A. Bertram Chandler
    Seeker series by Arwen Elys Dayton
    Setni series by Pierre Barbet
    St. Mary's series by Jodi Taylor
    Stella Hardesty series by Sophie Littlefield
    Titus Crow series by Brian Lumley
    World's End series by Lin Carter
    Year's Best Horror Stories

  • (J) Series finished (or up-to-date): 6

  • Hooded Swan series by Brian Stableford
    Jumbies series by Tracey Baptiste
    Seeker series by Arwen Elys Dayton
    Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
    Kalte Krieg trilogy by Dirk Van Den Boom
    Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby

Edited: Jul 19, 2019, 4:55pm

For recordkeeping purposes, I'm noting the challenges filled by each read in parenthetical codes at the end. The letters correspond to the challenges in the post above.

1) Naked Statistics / Charles Wheelan
2) Bring Back Yesterday by A. Bertram Chandler (I)
3) Berserker's Planet by Fred Saberhagen (AFH)
4) The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (DE)
5) A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor (EI)
6) Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu (D)
7) Gender and the Jubilee (E)
8) 1975 Annual World's Best SF (AF)
9) Catching Fire (EGI)
10) Banned in Boston by Neil Miller (C)
11) Swan Song by Brian Stableford (AFIJ)
12) What I Believe by Bertrand Russell
13) The Enchantress of World's End by Lin Carter (AFI)
14) Escape Attempt by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky (I)
15) Greenglass House by Kate Milford (EH)
16) Das Lied von Bernadette by Franz Werfel (B)
17) The Transition of Titus Crow by Brian Lumley (AFI)
18) A Bad Day for Mercy by Sophie Littlefield (EI)
19) Disruptor by Arwen Elys Dayton (EIJ)
20) Twilight of the Elves by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos (GIJ)
21) Damsel by Elana K. Arnold (E)
22) The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy (CEGH)
23) Illuminae by Annie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (EH)
24) The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco (DEGH)
25) Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (EH)
26) The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein (EGH)
27) A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava (EGH)
28) Merlin's Mirror by Andre Norton (AEF)
29) Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race / Renni Edo-Lodge (DE)
30) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (EH)
31) Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
32) All Systems Red by Martha Wells (EH)
33) Strange fruit by Lillian Smith (BCE)
34) The Book of Poul Anderson (AF)
35) iD by Madeline Ashby (EIJ)
36) The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee (AEFH)
37) The Heretic by Joseph Nassise (H)
38) Flight or Fright edited by Bev Vincent and Stephen King
39) Background to Danger by Eric Ambler
40) The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series III (AFI)
41) QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling
42) The Robe by Lloyd Douglas (B)
43) Becoming by Michelle Obama (DE)
44) America's Bank by Roger Lowenstein
45) Games Psyborgs Play by Pierre Barbet (AF)
46) The Enchanted Planet by Pierre Barbet (AF)
47) Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (GH)
48) Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (H)
49) Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (H)
50) The Whenabouts of Burr by Michael Kurland (AF)
51) The Twilight of Briareus by Richard Cowper (AF)
52) The Jumbies / Tracey Baptiste (DEH)
53) Carve the Mark / Veronica Roth (EH)
54) Bladesman of Antares / Kenneth Bulmer (AFI)
55) A Twist at the End / Steven Saylor (CG)
56) Wolves / C. Gockel (EH)
57) I Am Watching You / Terea Driscoll (E)
58) Circus Parade / Jim Tully
59) Nightshade / Stanley R. Moore (F)
60) Genesis / Michaelbrent Collings (H)
61) Venus in Copper / Lindsey Davis (EI)
62) Undertaker's Moon / Ronald Kelly
63) Artemis / Andy Weir
64) Beyond the Galactic Rim / A. Bertram Chandler (I)
65) Heritage of Hastur / Marion Zimmer Bradley (AEFI)
66) Canopus / Dirk Van Den Boom (H)
67) Far Rainbow & The Second Invasion from Mars / Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (I)
68) The Star-Crowned Kings / Robert Chilson (AF)
69) How Town / Michael Nava (CI)
70) Total Eclipse / John Brunner (AF)
71) Epitaph for a Spy / Eric Ambler
72) Hammers on Bone / Cassandra Khaw (CDEH)
73) Eye of the Zodiac / E.C. Tubb (AFI)
74) Forever Amber / Kathleen Winsor (BE)
75) The Second Book of Fritz Leiber (AF)
76) Why We Don't Suck / Denis Leary (G)
77) Aume reist / Dirk Van Den Boom (I)
78) The Book of Andre Norton (AEF)
79) The Art of Logic in an Illogical World / Eugenia Cheng (DE)
80) The Year's Best Fantasy Stories (AF)
81) The Demon Breed / James H. Schmitz (G)
82) Rise of the Jumbies / Tracey Baptiste (DEI)
83) Star / C.I. Defontenay (AF)
84) Warlord's World / Christopher Anvil (AFH)
85) The Cuckoo's Calling / Robert Galbraith
86) The Rule of One / Ashley & Leslie Saunders

Edited: Apr 16, 2019, 12:07am


So, life.

Good news is, the hip continues to improve. The week, though, was a bit hectic. Mrs. swynn was called this week with the news that her severely handicapped nephew has a deteriorating health situation with a grim prognosis. News has gone back and forth and plans have changed multiple times, but she's now where she needs to be, with family in Oklahoma. Which has disrupted life here -- as it should. I also developed a weird injury over the weekend, in which my wrist bruised and swelled for no apparent reason, and couldn't be jostled without pain. And running jostles everything.

The least important consequence of all this is that my running volume dipped to almost nothing. This week will probably be better, but we'll see what comes.

Mileage last week: 4 miles.
Mileage this year: 253 miles
Longest run: 2 miles
Target mileage this week: 15 miles
Monday weigh-in: 248 lbs.

Soundtrack: Unsere Waffen (= "Our Weapons") (Unantastbar)
BPM: 115

Für alle Aussenseiter,
Die Grenzenüberschreiter
Das sind unsere Waffen:
Hinfallen, Aufstehen, Weitermachen.

Für die gefallene Engel
Wenn Eure Flügel brennen
Wir können alles schaffen:
Hinfallen, Aufstehen, Weitermachen.

For all the outsiders,
The boundary-crossers
These are our weapons:
Fall down, stand up, keep going.

For the fallen angels
When your wings are burning
We can do everything:
Fall down, stand up, keep going.

Edited: Apr 16, 2019, 12:27am

43) Becoming / Michelle Obama
Date: 2018

Everyone else is reading it, and I don't expect I'll tell you anything you don't already know. The Obamas are charming, and Michelle's story of their relationship is also charming. My only complaint is that the tone seemed very politic, as if she's learned her lessons about careful and inoffensive messaging. But sometimes you can see some righteous anger peeking through. I wish she'd just cut loose. Because by now the kid gloves should be gone.

Apr 16, 2019, 2:18am

Happy new thread Steve

Apr 16, 2019, 7:25am

Happy new thread.

Sorry to hear about your wrist. Hopefully, the swelling will go down soon.

Apr 16, 2019, 9:35am

Happy new thread!

Edited: Apr 16, 2019, 4:38pm

>6 fairywings:
>7 figsfromthistle:

Thanks Adrienne and Anita!

The wrist is already better. For the reeally curious: I'm 90% sure that it was a gout attack. I'd never had one in my wrist before, but I've been told that, in principle, gout can attack any joint. My attacks tend to happen when I let myself get dehydrated, and they respond very well to rehydration. (As gout goes, this makes me extremely lucky.) Anyway, once I guessed gout I drank lots of water, and the pain was much diminished overnight. It's still swollen, but lets me run.

Apr 16, 2019, 9:48am

>8 drneutron: Thanks Jim!

Edited: Apr 16, 2019, 5:58pm

I walked to work this morning (for reasons mentioned above, the car is with Mrs Swynn in Oklahoma). On my left a boy about 13 or 14 years old zips past on a bicycle, then skids to a stop a few yards ahead. He lets me catch up a little and asks what book I'm reading.

Now most days it would be a book about time-traveling zombie dinosaurs or something similar but today I have to say: "America's Bank. It's a, uh, history of the founding of the Federal Reserve Bank."

And I swear the kid sounds sincere when he says: "Oooh. That sounds interesting."

Kid's going places.

(As it happens, it *is* interesting. But even knowing that, my response in the boy's place would have been something like, "Yeah, good luck with that.")

Apr 16, 2019, 10:45am

>11 swynn: I love this.

I picked up "The Robe" a couple years ago but have not read it. It was pretty much for sentimental reasons as I remembered really liking the movie when I was a child. I expect to find it interesting.

Apr 16, 2019, 4:40pm

>12 RBeffa: Whenever you decide to try it, I look forward to your thoughts on The Robe.

Apr 16, 2019, 5:17pm

Happy new thread, Steve!

I ended up watching Unantastbar on YouTube, adding to my knowledge of bands singing in German :-)
Sorry about your wrist. Gout pain is nasty, my husband also has occasionally pain from gout in his joints.

Apr 16, 2019, 5:47pm

Happy new thread, Steve! As always, looking forward to more shared challenges. :)

Ooh, sorry about your wrist, that sounds nasty and inconvenient.

Apr 16, 2019, 9:02pm

Happy new thread, Steve.

>11 swynn: There is still hope for us all when the next generations take an interest in books. :D

Apr 17, 2019, 9:30am

>14 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita! And I'm happy to introduce you to Unantastbar. And sorry to hear that Frank gets it to -- it's the sort of thing one wishes on no one.

>15 lyzard: Thanks Liz! And yes, it is. I'm fortunate that for me it responds so quickly to a simple remedy.

>16 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul! And in financial history too ...

Apr 17, 2019, 10:52am

>11 swynn: Wow...I'd've fallen off my bike asleep at that title when I was 13.

Last thread...a "series production commitment" means actual broadcastable stuff will be produced, if not aired. No contract on Earth can force a broadcaster to air something they don't want to; but they've spent the spondulix to produce the stuff, so why wouldn't they air it? That's pretty much a producer/creator's dream, that. And Mike Judge has earned it over the last 20 years.

Apr 17, 2019, 12:17pm

Happy new thread, Steve.

>11 swynn: I love that story!

Good luck with your various injuries. Maybe you need an non-active meet up.

Apr 17, 2019, 1:42pm

Happy new thread, Steve!

Edited: Apr 17, 2019, 2:26pm

>18 richardderus: Thanks for the translation of that term, Richard. That does sound like a firmer commitment than I'd expected. Now it's just the familiar nervousness about what will the production do to the book ...

>19 BLBera: Thanks Beth!

>20 MickyFine: Thanks Micky!

Edited: Apr 19, 2019, 3:41pm

44) America's Bank / Roger Lowenstein
Date: 2015

This one is out of order, but it's temporarily given me a very tenuous grasp of monetary policy and I'm posting my thoughts before they slip right back out of my head.

This is the history of the Federal Reserve, a story surprisingly interesting to 13-year-olds and also to me though I confess it's a bit dense. It's very hard for me to imagine monetary policy being a voting issue but it was a Big Deal in 19th- and early-20th-century political campaigns. Gold standard, silver standard, fiat currency ... there was a time when people talked about these ideas the way we talk about immigration policy and with the same range of emotions. And it turns out there are good reasons for that, and the reason you and I can get by without thinking much about monetary policy is largely thanks to the Fed.

(For international visitors: the "Fed" is the U.S. Federal Reserve System and is what we have instead of a central bank. The Fed's website actually claims that it *is* "the central bank of the United States," which would have horrified 80% of the characters in this book. And given the others goodfeels.)

Roger Lowenstein lays out the story of the Fed's origin: the failures of 19th century banking, the options for reform, and the political free-for-all that culminated in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Prior to this act, the country's money supply was very volatile, with annual bottlenecks in the fall during harvest time: exactly the time when money was needed to get crops to market. Our disconnected banking system was inadequate even for these annual fluctuations, and for irregular fluctuations it was worse than useless. In economic crises, 19th century banks actually made things worse by sucking up all available money exactly when the market needed it most.

The system's faults drew criticism for decades, but no coordinated reform efforts gained traction until a major bank panic in 1907. And even then it was a challenge to get competing interests to agree on what ought to be done. Bankers, financiers, populists, politicians and social reformers all weighed in and wagged fingers. Some of the usual early-20th-C personalities are involved: J.P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, Nelson Aldrich, and Woodrow Wilson appear in the story, along with some less familiar ones like Paul Warburg, an immigrant German-American banker and unlikely tireless reformer. Throw politicians into the mix and you have a fascinating story about the sausage-making that we call Congress. It's much more interesting than you'd expect; and Lowenstein does an excellent job distinguishing each proposal and its backers, even when the main difference seems to be the name of the politician reaching for credit. And I found it very well documented too, based on the fact that every time I checked the endnotes wondering, "What's his source on that?" Lowenstein provided it.

It's sometimes slow going, especially if you're not into monetary policy, but entertaining and insightful about the origin of an institution which I understand only in vaguest terms. Of course if you *are* into monetary policy there's plenty here to keep you entertained. Also, what is wrong with you?

Apr 19, 2019, 2:47pm

The Jekyll Island Monster that still and always devours the soul of the country has a fascinating origin story indeed, but it's incomplete without mentioning the dead-souled demons who designed it duping Wilson into authorizing the robber barons to control our nation's money.

Apr 19, 2019, 5:18pm

>23 richardderus: One book of course makes me no expert, and I'm inclined anyway to be deeply suspicious of the sort of persons who are inclined to serve on its Board so I won't defend the Fed.

I will say that Lowenstein makes a pretty good historical case that the Fed was better than the chaos we had before, and that *some* sort of centralization was increasingly needed in an economy of the size to which the U.S. has grown. He also tells an interesting story about why the Fed took the shape that it did.

What's a good source for the rest of the story?

Apr 20, 2019, 10:12am

The Creature from Jekyll Island. HIGHLY partisan and opinionated! But the man's correct: The authors of the legislation Wilson signed created this scam to earn oinking great profits...and it worked, still works, and will go on working. Wilson even said he regretted this signature. We can't now undo the major problem it presents because nationalizing the damned thing would mean Congressional control and there's bugger-all difference between the central bankers and the solons of our legislature. They all work for the greater good of the great and good.

Go take a look at the Civil War doins of Salmon P. Chase to see why the robber barons went hysterical and created the morass that was late-Gilded-Age capitalism.

Edited: Apr 20, 2019, 11:26am

>25 richardderus: Lowenstein does reference that work. He claims that Griffin takes a kernel of truth -- there was a secret meeting on Jekyl Island, and participants did conspire to draft a law -- and builds a mountain of conspiracy theory. He points out that Griffin has been a John Bircher, a cancer crank, and a 9/11 truther -- which doesn't necessarily make Griffin wrong but does make his reliability suspect. With respect to the Jekyl Island meeting, Lowenstein says Griffin sees the participants as mustachio-twirling villains, but that the historical record suggests more nuanced motives -- self-interested, yes obviously, but their interest was in stabilizing the money supply in order to protect business interests. Also to preempt the more radical reforms that repeats of the 1907 bank panic might bring.

Apr 20, 2019, 12:20pm

I think you'd do well to read the book in conjunction with your newly acquired knowledge; I don't imagine for an instant that a partisan whose ideas are Out There speaks the truth, but I suspect he gets closer to the actual motivations of the Jekyll Island meeting's participants than does an academic required to use his indoor voice.

The truth is, as it always is, between the extremes.

Apr 20, 2019, 1:20pm

>27 richardderus: Fair points and thanks for the more nuanced view of Griffin. I'll put the Jekyll Island book in the Someday Swamp.

Edited: Apr 21, 2019, 10:02am


45) (DAW #83) Games Psyborgs Play / Pierre Barbet
Date: 1973 (Original French publication: 1971)

46) DAW #156: The Enchanted Planet / Pierre Barbet
Date: 1975 (Original French publication: 1973)

These are volumes 2 and 3 of a 9-volume series, originally published in French. As far as I can tell they're also the only volumes ever translated into English.

The series' hero is Setni, agent of a galactic federation led by the disembodied brains of great scientists. In volume 2, Games Psyborgs Play (= À quoi songent les Psyborgs?), the brains send Setni to investigate weirdness on a newly discovered planet. Setni finds a planet full of robots reenacting stories from chivalric poetry. I read this about four years ago, and seem to have liked it pretty well but was very fuzzy on details. so I reread it for ....

... Volume 3, The Enchanted Planet (= La planète enchantée), in which the psyborg-masters from volume 2 contact Setni for a similar assignment: investigate a mysterious planet where life imitates chivalric poetry, in this case Spenser's Faerie Queene. The psyborg-masters are interested because they believe this planet may hold the key to an epidemic that wiped out life on their own planet long ago. So Setni plays "Purple-Cross-Knight" for about half the book until he finds a device that transports him across the galaxy and into the past, where the psyborg-masters' ancestors faced an overwhelming invasion by the crablike Rorx. Setni joins the hopeless fight against the Rorx and gains insight not only about the psyborg planet's fate, but also a foreshadowing of his own galactic federation's.

Neither of the stories make much sense, but they're short and earnest and incident-packed, enough that one wishes volume 1 were available to explain the set-up, also later volumes for the Rorx / Federation conflict.

Covers are by George Barr (GPP) and Michael Whelan (TEP)

Edited: Apr 21, 2019, 1:09pm

>29 swynn: I suspect the translations are to blame for some of the good Doctor's failure to launch into English. Apparently he was unhappy with the results of being translated...and that's DEATH. Pia Pera, who wrote a sequel to Lolita that Barney Rosset published, hated the translation and trashed it mercilessly. Unsurprisingly, the book failed. Go know from this, right?

ETA it was called Lo's Diary, and Claudia Menza and I tried to flog it for paperback rights in the 90s. Pera put paid to that with her loudmouthery.

Apr 21, 2019, 9:25pm

>30 richardderus: Interesting. Was it just for the Setni series that he disliked the translation? Because DAW published several more translations of Barbet's works in other series.

Apr 21, 2019, 9:31pm

>31 swynn: Apparently he was an equal-opportunity whiner. I don't know when he started, though, and no whiner I know of (pace Pera) will fail to cash the check.

Apr 22, 2019, 12:59am

47) Mind the Gap / Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Date: 2008

Jazz and her mother have been under the protection -- and watch -- of a group of mysterious men Jazz only knows as "the Uncles." But when Jazz comes home to find that the Uncles have murdered her mother, she goes into hiding in the London underground, where she finds a new family, a world of magic, and secrets kept by her father and his relationship to the Uncles. It's a pretty good urban fantasy, and I'll look for the next.

Thanks Jim for recommending this one!

Apr 22, 2019, 1:21am

48) Children of Time / Adrian Tchaikovsky
Date: 2015

A distant planet has been terraformed in preparation for an experiment. The idea is to populate the planet with primates and an intelligence-enhancing virus in order to establish a colony of intelligent apes. The project is sabotaged, killing all the apes, but the virus persists in the atmosphere and finds unintended hosts in insects and arthropods. So instead of the super-apes there develops a culture of giant intelligent spiders.

That bears repeating: Giant. Intelligent. Space Spiders.

Meanwhile back on Earth things have gone to Hell, and the remaining humans have launched hibernation ships in hopes that at least one will find a habitable planet. One of these ships arrives at the spiders' planet, provoking questions about which species has the greater claim .... Did I mention the giant intelligent space spiders?

Looking forward to the sequel next month.

Apr 22, 2019, 1:38am

You had me at the first mention of giant intelligent spiders!

Apr 22, 2019, 2:12am

49) Kings of the Wyld / Nicholas Eames
Date: 2017

In a Dungeons-and-Dragons-ish fantasy world, adventuring parties are like rock bands, and Saga was one of the greats. But that was a long time ago. Saga has broken up, its members settled down and gotten old and out of shape. Meanwhile, something apocalyptic is brewing up north, where an unbeatable horde of monsters has surrounded the town of Castia. And Golden Gabe's daughter Rose is in Castia. So Gabe decides to get the band back together. It runs a bit long, and there are too many penis jokes. But the idea is fun, and Eames runs with it well.

Apr 22, 2019, 2:13am

>35 lyzard: Check it out, Liz, it's a good one!

Apr 22, 2019, 6:53am

Noted, thanks!

Apr 22, 2019, 12:08pm

>34 swynn: I stalled at 18% because I was in the throes of illness in March. I think I need to restart the whole read...which I surely will, since I like his work!

Apr 22, 2019, 8:20pm

>39 richardderus: Children of Time was my first from Tchaikovsky but it's an impressive introduction. What are your favorites among his other works?

Edited: Apr 23, 2019, 4:44pm


Hooray for a running week that looks something more like normal! Mrs. Swynn is still in Oklahoma, dealing with a family situation that seems to get more complicated every time I talk to her. She's taking at least another week, after which things will hopefully find some sort of balance. Meanwhile, Buddy and I have run 5 nights out of 7 -- which is probably wiser than the 7/7 I'd been doing before my hip trouble. The pain is all but gone, but the conditioning is almost back to where it was at the beginning of January. That's discouraging, but: Hinfallen, Aufstehen, Weitermachen.

Mileage last week: 11 miles.
Mileage this year: 264 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 13 miles
Monday weigh-in: 248 lbs.

Soundtrack: Vincent by Sarah Connor
BPM: 110

Sorry about two German soundtracks in two weeks, but this earworm has barely left my head since it came up in my Spotify "New Release Radar" last week. It's cheesy, and a bit more "Schlager" than my usual playlist-fodder, but it has catchy runnable tune, and echoes things I've heard from someone dear to me who is dealing with the aftermath of coming out. We all should have such mothers as Vincent's.

Vincent gets no thrill when he thinks about girls,
He has often tried, and made a real effort.
All his friends play GTA
Vincent would rather disappear and dance to Beyoncé

He thinks only of him, and of the day
He first saw him
So cool he stood there, and Vincent knew clearly
That that was really love

I can't think any more
I think I have a fever
I think I don't want it
What should I do now?
I think I'm going to die
What if my heart breaks?

No, my child, it won't do that
And believe me, Schatz, you won't die either
It's just love, and medicine won't help
The first time it really hurts
But that passes, you'll see
It's just love, and medicine won't help

Apr 22, 2019, 9:07pm

>40 swynn: Empire in Black and Gold starts a loooonnnngggg series called Shadows of the Apt; I've read two and will read the others but I'm not spraining things to get to them. That's mostly because fantasy worlds aren't my native jam. I like Tchaikovsky's infodumpless worldbuilding, and that makes all the difference to me.

Edited: Apr 22, 2019, 9:53pm

50) DAW #157: The Whenabouts of Burr / Michael Kurland
Date: 1975

The United States Constitution -- the original document, the one in the National Archives, sealed in an argon-filled glass case under tight security -- has been stolen and replaced with a near-perfect copy. The chief difference is that Alexander Hamilton's signature is missing and Aaron Burr's appears in its place. Panic ensues. The President does not trust the FBI so he secretly appoints Nate Swift, director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, to investigate. Because "nobody suspects the Bureau of Weights and Measures." Swift teams up with insurance adjuster Amerigo Vespucci Romero. Through a series of adventures they discover a portal to a network of parallel worlds in which the famous Hamilton/Burr duel had different outcomes.

After Swift & Romero discover the parallel worlds, the plot goes a little off the rails as the narrative takes time to explore the expanded universe. But it's a short fun ride, and Kurland's dialog is a hoot:

 "What is it?" Nate asked.
 "Communications device," Ves said. "The President dug up a few of them. Stick it behind your lapel, or somewhere within half a meter of your mouth. Now, take this small spot bandage and press it firmly to the skin behind your ear." ...
 "FBI?" Swift asked.
 "Don't be silly."
 "Department of Fish and Game," Ves said. "Use them to track partridge or talk to trout, or some such."
 "We don't have anything like this over at the Bureau of Weights and Measures Observational Branch," Nate said sadly. "But the the B.W.M.O.B. doesn't speak to many trout."

Michael Kurland is a new author to me, and this is his only book for DAW. But Wikipedia says that he's written a series of mysteries featuring Professor Moriarity as detective. I like the writing well enough in this that I'm inclined to seek out this series -- does anyone recognize it to recommend or warn me away?

Cover is by Kelly Freas.

Edited: Apr 22, 2019, 9:53pm

>42 richardderus: Noted: Empire in Black and Gold. I won't promise a lack of infodumps in Children of Time, but will say I never felt the exposition was too much.

Edited: Apr 23, 2019, 11:47pm

51) DAW #158: The Twilight of Briareus / Richard Cowper
Tagline: In the nova's mutational glow ...
Date: 1975

The nearby star Briareus Delta goes supernova, after which humans become infertile -- even those who have no apparent exposure to the star's radiation. Just as puzzling, a small minority of people -- the "Zetas" seem to have developed psychic abilities and behavior they can't explain. Calvin Johnson, for instance, is a schoolteacher who since the supernova, has vivid visions of a winter wasteland -- and an irresistible connection to one of his students, Margaret. During a cataclysmic storm, Calvin and Margaret have sex despite a mutual lack of desire -- it's as if something took over their bodies to mate on their behalf. Angus McHarty, a zoology professor and friend of Calvin's, speculates that a takeover is exactly what is happening. Some invading force, says McHarty, arrived on Earth with the supernova's light. Humans have gone barren because our brains have subconsciously shut down our reproductive systems as a defense mechanism. But if that is so, what hope can humans have?

It's a deliberately paced novel, light on plot and heavy on Ideas like group consciousness and the soul and spiritual awakening. Given its ponderous agenda, its frequent lack of direction, and occasional ickiness of incident, it's surprisingly readable thanks to solid prose and an appealing oddness.

Cover is by Kelly Freas.

Apr 24, 2019, 5:40pm

>45 swynn: And another $2.99 I won't be spending for a Kindlebook! My issues around consent...well...nope.

Apr 25, 2019, 9:08am

>46 richardderus: Good choice. My own feelings were mixed and I wouldn't push it on anybody.

Apr 25, 2019, 10:12pm

52) The Jumbies / Tracey Baptiste
Date: 2015

This is a middle-grades novel based on Caribbean folklore. An 11-year-old girl follows an agouti deep into the forest, and catches the attention of something very old and angry about all the humans crawling around on its island. Fun, and just the right kind of spooky for its audience.

Also: I love that cover. It's by Vivienne To.

Apr 26, 2019, 6:19am

>48 swynn: That is a great cover, yes. I will keep an eye out for that one.

Apr 26, 2019, 10:28am

>48 swynn: And I don't blame It at all for being testy. Yep, terrific cover art, I'd pick it up in a store.

Apr 29, 2019, 9:19am

>49 sirfurboy: If you find it, I hope you like it Stephen!

>50 richardderus: Oh yes, one sympathizes.

Apr 29, 2019, 9:21am

And speaking of Vivienne To ...

I think she's met Liz.

Apr 29, 2019, 5:28pm


Edited: Apr 30, 2019, 1:15pm


Hooray for another pain-free week, though still with pretty small volume. On Saturday I intended to run the Earth Day 5K, but it was canceled due to snow. It's probably an exaggeration to say "Earth Day race canceled due to climate change," but I can't resist saying that ... you know, maybe ...

Mileage last week: 11 miles.
Mileage this year: 275 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 13 miles
Monday weigh-in: 251 lbs.

Soundtrack: Radio by Rammstein
BPM: 132

This makes three German songs in three weeks, but this week I'm not apologizing. "Radio" is the second single dropped from Rammstein's forthcoming album, and it's another good one. The video is less epic than the one for "Deutschland," but it is brilliant too in its loopy mock-Weimar way. (Also, fair warning: it's PG-13.) I'm eager to hear the whole album, because these guys are in top form.

The lyrics express the voice of misfits who can't participate in the world around them, but who find a distant kindred voice on the radio. It's easy to imagine that these lyrics derive from literal personal experience, since Rammstein's members were born and raised in East Germany where Western cultural influences like rock music were suppressed.

Radio, mein Radio
Ich lass' mich in den Äther saugen
Meine Ohren werden Augen
Radio, mein Radio
So höre ich, was ich nicht seh'
Stille heimlich fernes Weh

Radio, my radio
I let myself be sucked into the ether
My ears become eyes
Radio, my radio
So I hear what I do not see
Secretly silence distant pain

(My middling German isn't sure how to translate "fernes Weh", which literally means a pain or ache that *is* distant, but the phrase resembles the word "Fernweh", a pain/ache *for* distance, i.e., "Wanderlust," which makes more sense in this context.)

Edited: Apr 30, 2019, 1:14pm

>53 lyzard: I must say, those adorable illustrations almost make me want a sloth of my very own.

Apr 30, 2019, 8:49pm

As usual, I'm late with my advice since you thankfully left your hip pain behind, but I saw this story in Outside magazine and thought of you. Perhaps you've already read it?

Why You Have Hip Pain — And How to Treat It

Apr 30, 2019, 8:54pm

Hey swynn. I hope all is well with you.

>Have you gotten around to Why We Don't Suck? The audio is really pretty good.

May 1, 2019, 9:35am

>56 rosalita: Thanks for this, Julia! I'd guessed that my trouble is related to flexibility. Stiff hips are pretty common among runners, and part of my regimen has been working in more and regular stretches, some of which resemble the exercises from this article. I'd forgot I had a foam roller, though (it was a gadget-of-the-month for me a few years back) and I think I'll pull it out and see if it helps.

>57 brodiew2: Hi Brodie! I haven't gotten to Why We Don't Suck yet, but it is in the Tower of Due and I'll probably get to it this month.

May 1, 2019, 1:41pm

I'm glad you found the article useful, Steve! And good that you were already doing some of what they recommend.

May 1, 2019, 1:47pm

>54 swynn: Thanks for sharing the Rammstein link, Steve. Looking forward to their album with you!

May 4, 2019, 8:52pm

>59 rosalita: I'm hoping what I'm doing continues to improve things. I do still feel some weakness, especially toward the end of a workout, but nothing that's benching me right now.

>60 FAMeulstee: You're welcome, Anita!

May 4, 2019, 9:10pm

53) Carve the Mark / Veronica Roth
Date: 2017

I never got into the Divergent series, mostly because the premise sounded silly to me and some of the criticisms I read seemed to reinforce that prejudice. So this is book one in Roth's post-Divergent space-opera duology, and I thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately, this one didn't work for me either. Roth's world makes no sense to me: it's an inconsistent jumble of superpowers and prophecies and weird astrophysics and adolescent angst and Romeo and Juliet. I won't summarize it, because I've tried and my summaries make even less sense than the book.

It has gotten some love, though not as much as Divergent did, so I assume there is something magical about the book that I just don't get. Fortunately there are others I do get, so I don't think I'll bother finishing this series.

May 5, 2019, 8:24am

I loved the first book in the Divergent series but I found the next two unappealing. She lost me completely with the third book, I'm uninterested in giving her another chance. Seems I'm right not to do so.

I've read some pretty good YA Dystopian novels over the years and most of them don't have all the love that Divergent got, but I think they are much better.

Have you read The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken? I thought that was a great series.

May 5, 2019, 10:44am

>62 swynn: I suspect your real problem is that you're old. I have a more advanced case of this than you do, so my diagnosis is stated with confidence.

We've read this book before. In fact, we've read *every* book before. In order to impress seasoned readers, authors need to work within the bounds of storytelling logic while bringing their fresh view of the story they're telling...what vision they bring is the real treat for the widely read. If an author wants to change or flout the conventions of their particular genre, first they have to demonstrate that they know them. Marlon James, eg, has an excellent grasp of plotting mixed with the fantastical supernatural (see John Crow's Devil for my best example, as it was his debut). Now he draws on another new-to-most-readers culture to tell a very familiar story, and he fractures it with unusual angles and off-kilter language. Out comes Black Leopard, Red Wolf, a powerful and compelling read for even the older reader.

I've never seen a book by Veronica Roth that wasn't a disorganized jumble of "a bit from here, oh that's fun I'll use that, my goodness a trope I haven't used!" She never established her bona fides. Her books are entertaining for those less jaded by exposure...but, if I am alive twenty years from now, I will see the readers who ADORED her stuff when they were younger will be a bit shamefaced about their stubborn sentimental attachment to it.

Edited: May 6, 2019, 8:09pm

>63 fairywings: I haven't read the Bracken series but have added it to the Someday Swamp. I have enjoyed some YA dystopias (reminds me I still need to read Hunger Games 3), and am delighted that science fiction is so readily available in YA lit. Some thirty-five or forty years ago I'd have gobbled these series right and left. But most of them now aren't for me, probably for reasons Richard describes.

May 6, 2019, 12:43pm

>64 richardderus: There is some truth in your diagnosis, Richard. (And keep watching this space for admissions of embarrassing sentimental attachment.)

The Marlon James is already in my radar, especially after Jim's positive review. Hope to get to it in the next few months.

May 6, 2019, 7:23pm

>66 swynn: We all have them...I cherish a seriously soft spot for the *terrible* Professor Diggins' Dragons, f/ex. A really execrable bit of writing. To forty-year-old me, rereading it while thinking of books to give his soon-to-arrive first grandchild. It did NOT make the list. But to eight-year-old me, it was magical and marvelous and exactly the right read at exactly the right time.

May 8, 2019, 9:32am

>64 richardderus: I totally agree with this analysis. I liked the first Divergent book, despite the recycled tropes. After that, it got old fast and agree it was a bit of a mess. I think your understanding of why this is so is spot on.

May 8, 2019, 10:15am

>68 sirfurboy: Thank you for the kind words, Sir!

May 8, 2019, 1:31pm

>67 richardderus: One of my sentimental attachments that I currently find embarrassing is the Dray Prescot series by Kenneth Bulmer. I first encountered the series when I was 19 or 20 and keeping a local used bookstore in business by giving them all my spare change. Rereading the series for the DAW project has been a nostalgic experience, and I've been happy to note that it frequently delivers the gee-whiz I remember. But then sometimes ....

54) DAW #159: Bladesman of Antares / Kenneth Bulmer
Date: 1975

This is the ninth in the series (of fifty-something, the last few of which were only ever published in German translations). In this one Prescot is playing spy: the country Hamal controls technology for the flying boats called "vollers." Vollers are notoriously prone to malfunction, except for those used in Hamal itself, and Prescot believes that vollers for the foreign market are deliberately of low quality because Hamal plans to make war on its neighbors. Prescot's plan is to infiltrate Hamal and steal the voller technology.

There's plenty of action and it's mostly good fun, spoiled completely because it starts off with a squirmy bit of homophobia. Early in the book a series of plot points leads Prescot to become friends with the leader of a rural village. The friend has a pretty good life with only one regret: his son and heir is embarrassingly "effeminate." A few plot points more and the friend is dying in Prescot's arms and begging Prescot to take his son's name so that the family's reputation for manliness may live a little longer. Prescot had been planning to travel undercover anyway and so he agrees. From that point the story can't shake the feel of of a nasty joke at the kid's expense and leaves me disinclined to defend my affection for the series, which nevertheless persists. I have no recollection of this plot thread from my first encounter with it some thirty years ago.

I do still like Jack Gaughan's cover. The bird-creatures' eyes creep me out in a way entirely different to the text's creepiness.

May 8, 2019, 1:44pm

>70 swynn: #54 You didn't give it a thought because it spoke to you not at all. It was a plot device. You're not gay, if you knew anyone who was you didn't know it what?

Which is why the "woke"ness of cishet comic-book boys's new movies makes 'em so damned mad! DON'T BOTHER ME WITH THIS I DON'T CARE but your closeted niece does, your cousin who got beat up for kicks does, on and on and on. So even though I ain't watchin' a Marvel movie for love or money (Young Gentleman Caller was miffed when I laughed long and hard at his eager invitation to see I can sit for 3 hours! even if I *wanted* to!) I support them making Brie Larson into whatever Spandex Wonder they made her into and say they need to do more.

Despite the fact I think these abominations are simply excuses to promote the Ubermensch myth and should be taxed at 500% of the actual spent budget, proceeds to go to QUILTBAG causes and immigrant/migrant support groups.

Edited: May 9, 2019, 4:42pm

>71 richardderus: And still, the defense "I didn't know" rings hollow because there was no shortage of opportunities to know. I'm going to settle with, "This may not have bothered me then but it makes me uncomfortable now." As one must.

Regarding superhero movies. You will not be surprised that I have been watching most of them, including Avengers: Endgame, which may get a longer comment at some other time.

I agree that the libertarian/lone wolf subtext is troubling. But I love the fact that my adolescence's fantasies are now making money hand over fist. Superhero stories have always been about empowerment, and I'm delighted that it's finally paid off to move that message beyond empowerment for geeky straight white guys.

Not that geeky straight white guys don't need the message. We do.

We also need the message that geeky straight white guys are not the only powerful ones.

We also need the message that empowered people are more powerful together, and I think the Avengers movies communicate that pretty well.

But we also need the message that we are even more powerful when "we" includes more than "me and my buds", and the Marvel movies stink at that. (I do appreciate "Captain America: Civil War" for trying to think about it.) But then the superhero trope is a poor vehicle for this message.

May 9, 2019, 4:39pm

>72 swynn: But then the superhero trope is a poor vehicle for this message.

I am in complete agreement with this statement of fact.

Edited: May 13, 2019, 11:48pm

So I've fallen behind again -- erm, not that I was caught up, mind. I spent a good chunk of last week at a library conference in Phoenix, which was fruitful but not exactly beneficial for reading or for posting. I did finish one ebook (a Kindle special), and made some progress on another, and completely ignored Forever Amber (Sorry, Liz) (Well, no, not sorry really.)

And reader, I found this magical place:

Yes, you're reading that right: Book Bar. They know me. They really know me.

May 14, 2019, 12:28am

**Running Post**

No running post last week because of Phoenix, but fortunately the hotel did have a fitness center so my mileage did not slip any further ... though with a book bar in the neighborhood you would be correct in assuming that my workouts did not balance the carbs consumed. Fortunately, I have had a few days since returning to correct indulgence.

Mileage week before last: 11 miles.
Mileage last week: 12 miles.
Mileage this year: 298 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 13 miles
Monday weigh-in: 250 lbs.

Soundtrack: Don't Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll by Long John Baldry
BPM: 140

May 14, 2019, 12:47am

>74 swynn: Soon as the tanker delivers my Enables-Dracula-to-Sunbathe strength sunscreen goo, I'm ready for Phoenix.

May 15, 2019, 12:42am

>76 richardderus: It wasn't too bad just yet -- in the sense that it didn't break 100 degrees the few days I was there -- but yeah, sunshine was ample.

Edited: May 15, 2019, 8:38am

55) A Twist at the End / Steven Saylor
Date: 2000

In 1885 the writer O. Henry was Will Porter, working various unskilled jobs in Austin, Texas, hanging out with his reporter friend Dave Shoemaker. Shoemaker gets him an up-close glimpse of the day's controversies: a drive in the Texas legislature to secure more employment for women, a shocking series of murders of servant girls, and scandal in the police investigation which repeatedly and bumblingly assumes that the nearest Black guy must have done it. (All based on actual historical events, as Saylor discusses in an afterword. The push for jobs for women came to nothing, the murders remain unsolved.) Porter also falls in love with the unhappy wife of another man, a naive infatuation which brings his personal life dangerously close to the headlines.

Framing the 1885 story is a narrative about the grown O. Henry, a successful and prolific author of short stories, being blackmailed by someone who knew O. Henry when he was still Will Porter and knows secrets he's willing to pay to hide. Henry receives a mysterious message claiming that the murderer has been identified and asking him to return to Austin. It's a journey that O. Henry has little appetite for, but he finds the promise of resolution a temptation too great to be missed.

This is a good one: the historical setting and characters are both completely convincing and spookily resonant with more recent history. In one sense it's a murder mystery, but there's so much else going on with its many secondary characters and subplots that you won't mind that you've identified the real villain halfway through. It's not about the puzzle, it's about coming to terms with one's past and with our collective one, and it's terrific.

Richard pointed me to this one, for which: thanks Richard!

May 15, 2019, 3:15am

>74 swynn:


Not a problem.

May 15, 2019, 9:26pm

I haven't hosted a series or an author for a while. I'd like to do so this summer, during a month when the most interested folk have the time to do at least the targeted book, which is only 200 pp. long. I'd like to expose as many people as possible to the works of James H. Schmitz, a science fiction author who wrote from the late '40s through the 1970s. He is best known for The Witches of Karres, but imho has written much better works. Here is my bookshelf.

Many of his works, especially his shorter ones, were very hard to find for quite a while, but in 2000 and 2001, Baen published almost all of his oeuvre in a collection of 6 books, seen to the right of the shelf above. The book I would like to feature is Demon Breed, also found in the Baen collection The Hub: Dangerous Territory. Schmitz is known for his kick-ass female protagonists long before they became the current ubiquitous status quo in his stories about Telzey Amberdon, Trigger Argee, and the hero of Demon Breed, Nile Etland.

See my thread for more info if interested!

May 15, 2019, 10:19pm

>78 swynn: Oh goody good good! I'm always chuffed when someone likes one of my suggested reads. I liked that book a lot, so it's extra-happy dancey for me.

Doing the Schmitzathon? I am. Roni's magic-fluting lured the old rat out. Again.

May 15, 2019, 10:20pm

May 16, 2019, 1:07am

>79 lyzard: I am making (slow) progress on it again, Liz. Promise!

>80 ronincats: I'm in, Roni!

>81 richardderus: It was very good, Richard, and piques my interest in his Roman series.

May 16, 2019, 1:42am

56) Wolves / C. Gockel
Date: 2012

Loki's sons get in trouble with Odin for antiauthoritarian wrongthink. Loki tries to save them, but finds himself knocked into Midgard. He arrives just in time to save veterinary student Amy Lewis from a serial killer. With Amy and her grandmother as sidekicks, Loki looks for a way to rescue his sons.

As independent paranormal series go, it's pretty good: it moves fast, has a light touch, and doesn't lose itself in romance though I expect that'll come in future installments. Until then, I'd read more.

Edited: May 17, 2019, 11:13am

57) I Am Watching You / Teresa Driscoll
Date: 2017

Ella Longfield is on a train to London when she sees a couple of young men chatting up a couple of young women. She overhears the men mention that they've just been released from jail. She tut-tuts but figures it's none of her business until the next morning when she sees on the television news that one of the women has been reported missing. A year later, the girl is still missing and Ella has started to receive creepy anonymous messages that say "I am watching you."

I picked this up through the Kindle First program. It's okay. There are lapses in plausibility, and the author uses a gimmick I find grating: multiple points of view, all narrated in third person except for one POV in first person. I feel a short rant coming on: I don't mind multiple points of view, and I mostly don't mind first-person narration, except that too often first-person is just a lazy way to force readers to identify with the viewpoint character. But even lazier is this mix-n-match "all-3rd-except-one-1st" technique, a gimmicky way to get the benefits of reader identification without the narrative restrictions of first-person. If you're going to use first person then for goodness sake make it interesting: give me an unreliable narrator, or give me a charming voice or at least an interesting one. And accept the fact that you don't get to tell me about things the viewpoint character doesn't experience. Anyway: this technique obviously doesn't bother all readers -- Linwood Barclay for instance seems to be doing just fine -- but it bothers me. Okay, Linwood Barclay often gets a pass for telling especially good stories. But Driscoll is no Barclay, and this case is especially grating since Driscoll's first-person character is an unpleasant busybody with whom I do not wish to identify.

May 17, 2019, 11:08am

>85 swynn: Interesting write up. I agree with your comments about viewpoint. I am pretty sure I would find that irritating too.

May 17, 2019, 11:14am

>86 sirfurboy: Thanks Stephen!

Edited: May 22, 2019, 11:59am

58) Circus Parade / Jim Tully
Date: 1927

This is a collection of vignettes based on the author's own experiences as a circus laborer. It came up as a Banned in Boston read, and reasons seem ample since offenses against Brahmin moral codes are several and various. Some are disturbing still today: a scene of child abuse, for instance, and casual cruelty to animals. The unpleasantness, though, is the point. The stories are about the circus world's seedy underbell, and are full of mutual mistrust and dishonesty, casual sexual codes, and routine and sudden violence. Most impressive is the direct and terse prose, which feels well ahead of its time.

Edited: May 22, 2019, 11:59am

59) Nightshade / Stanley R. Moore
Date: 1989

Supernatural thriller about killer flies in rural Pennsylvania. It has moments but mostly it's a mess, going in various directions about Aztec mysticism, police corruption, drug-running biker gangs, and nuclear pollution. There are a few chapters about a bus full of city kids that has no clear relation to the rest of plot, but gives the author an opportunity to exercise his talent for urban dialect. His jive is not strong.

Edited: May 22, 2019, 11:59am

60) The Colony: Genesis / Michaelbrent Collings
Date: 2013

When the zombie apocalypse hits Boise, Ken Strickland has to make his way across town to his wife and child. The premise may not be very original, but the execution is never boring. Fair warning, it ends with a cliffhanger.

May 18, 2019, 11:39am

>88 swynn: That sounds fascinating, and it even has a Kindle edition! Curse you, he railed while weakly shaking a fist at perpetrator Steve the book-warbling librarian.

>89 swynn: Umm. Like no, man.

>90 swynn: When the zombie apocalypse hits Boise I shall purse my lips, (further) wrinkle my brow, and utter a heartfelt "dear, dear," then return to surfing the internet.

May 20, 2019, 6:35pm

>88 swynn:

Yes---some specific incidents, but mostly overall tone, this one.

There's been a push recently not just to resurrect Tully's reputation, but to show his influence on Hemingway's style.

Coincidentally I was watching the start of Airport last night and there's a moment when George Kennedy explains that the mechanics from the different airlines all help each other out without worrying about who works for who:

"If there's a problem, we just yell, 'Hey, Rube!'" :D

May 20, 2019, 11:53pm

>91 richardderus: It's an effective book. I've ordered another of Tully's books via interlibrary loan. Who knows whether I'll get to it once it gets to me ....

Re: Boise. Having never been there, I shall refrain from joking. Not that the temptation isn't strong, mind, it's just that I live in rural Missouri so such jokes tend to backfire.

>92 lyzard: I can see how Tully's prose leads to Hemingway. I was unaware of him, and unaware of his critical rediscovery.

Re: Airport. Ha!

May 21, 2019, 12:32am

>93 swynn: My stepmonster was Boised for enough of her youth to infect me with a, hmm, how to put it, deep and abiding loathing for the place. The Church of the Nazarene was her shortcut to atheism, and Nampa (not far west of Boise) is its Rome.

Edited: May 21, 2019, 9:30am

**Running Post**

I mostly feel like I'm on the mend, but stepped wrong while walking the dog Thursday evening and have been dealing with a stiff ankle since. Dang, but these joints don't bend the way they useta.

Mileage last week: 12 miles.
Mileage this year: 310 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 13 miles
Monday weigh-in: 250 lbs.

Soundtrack: Victims of a Clown by Ministry
BPM: 95

I'd intended to share another Rammstein tune because the album is out now and ... damn it's good. Most of it is runnable: besides "Deutschland" and "Radio," which I've shared already, "Zeig Dich", "Tattoo", and "Halloman" will be in regular rotation on my running playlists. The most striking track, though it's not running-list stuff, is the psycho-ballad "Puppe", about a boy who mutilates a doll while his sister turns tricks in the next room. It's bizarre and perverse and any band but Rammstein couldn't pull it off. But it fits on Rammstein like purple on Prince, and Till Lindemann's vocals not only sell it but give me chills. Alas, none of these other tracks are available yet on YouTube -- not complete anyway -- so how can I share? Meantime, here's some Ministry.

Edited: May 22, 2019, 11:55am

>94 richardderus: Ah, the Nazarenes. The Nazarene Church and the church of my youth (the Wesleyan) are so closely related that I understand the Nazarenes and Wesleyans once discussed merging -- but disagreed about church administration. Their theologies are practically identical, which is the theology is the one I'm still running from. I didn't know about the Idaho roots of the Nazarenes but I'm surprised roughly not at all.

May 22, 2019, 12:10pm

>96 swynn: IKR? The white nationalist homeland is the Source (their term) for a truly terrible theology. My pearls, my pearls.

May 22, 2019, 12:26pm

61) Venus in Copper / Lindsey Davis
Date: 1991

Third in Davis's historical mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, a sort of private detective in first-century Rome. In this one he is hired by a group of former slaves who have invested in real estate and become filthy rich. One of their group has recently become engaged, and the others are concerned about his fiancee's history of wealthy dead husbands. The murder for the mystery doesn't occur until halfway through which usually would bother me, but here the setting and characters are sufficiently interesting and Falco's jaded voice is sufficiently engaging that I really didn't mind.

The series is developing nicely. I recall reading the first and thinking it was a cute embedding of a hardboiled-mystery aesthetic in Roman dress and wondering how long the series could carry its premise. I'm pleased to find the series becoming its own thing -- I was barely aware of Falco as a Bogart character this time around.

May 22, 2019, 12:31pm

>97 richardderus: Wait wait .... I'm wondering whether there are different varieties of Nazarenes. The one I'm familiar with isn't explicitly racist.

May 22, 2019, 12:39pm

>99 swynn: Its public face never says anything about the subject but go find a Nazarene who *isn't* racist. I never did.

May 22, 2019, 3:36pm

>95 swynn: The Rammstein CD is on our shopping list for next week :-)
At the moment I am listening a lot to "Mutter"...

May 23, 2019, 1:02am

>100 richardderus: I won't take that bet, though I might have done thirty years ago. At that time my impression was impression was that the Nazarenes were, on average, a bit less rigid about doctrine than the Wesleyans. In recent years the latter has gotten so entangled in right-wing politics that when I attend services back home I hear Fox News quoted more often than the Bible. Not sure what the Nazarene experience is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were similar.

May 23, 2019, 1:03am

>101 FAMeulstee: Hope you like the new album half as much as I do, Anita! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

May 27, 2019, 11:45pm

62) Undertaker's Moon / Ronald Kelly
Date: 1991 (originally published as: Moon of the Werewolf)

It's an okay horror novel about Irish werewolves in Tennessee. The story isn't bad, but the prose is cliched and the dialog wooden.

May 28, 2019, 12:25am

**Running Post**

It's been another low-mileage week for me, but I have an excuse: I've spent the last five days on a trip to Colorado Springs, where I saw my nephew graduate from high school. He's a terrific young man, and I'm looking forward to watching his journey. Days have been filled catching up with family -- which has been terrific, and the runs will pick up again this week.

Mileage last week: 9 miles.
Mileage this year: 319 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 13 miles
Monday weigh-in: (Don't want to know. I'll weigh in again next week.

Soundtrack: No Place Like Home by Beth Hart
BPM: 85

For a slow and nostalgic week I'll pick a slow and nostalgic song -- which turns out to be also surprisingly good for a running playlist, since its tempo is about half of the magic 180 beats per minute. It also functions well as distraction because I am in love with Beth Hart's voice.

May 28, 2019, 12:44am

63) Artemis / Andy Weir
Date: 2017

This is a caper story set on a lunar colony, by the author of The Martian. Count me among its fans. I've seen reviews that respond negatively to the heroine, who does indeed often come off as childish and caustic. Me, I don't care. This is crime fiction: the characters aren't supposed to be "likable," they're just supposed to be interesting, and Jazz Bashara meets that criterion for me. But really it's not even about Jazz, who is just a wheel for spinning a nerd-friendly story about how a lunar colony might function .... and how to hack it. Super fun.

May 28, 2019, 5:08pm

>106 swynn: You might be the first person on LT who has actually made me want to read this one! This is crime fiction: the characters aren't supposed to be "likable," they're just supposed to be interesting sounds like my general philosophy. I don't want to generalize without having read this one yet, but it occurred to me that "childish and caustic" could be a fair description of the narrator of The Martian, and everyone loved him. I'd like to think it isn't just that readers have different standards for the acceptability of behavior for female characters vis a vis male ...

May 28, 2019, 5:58pm

>107 rosalita:

Yes, I'm sure you'd LIKE to think that...

May 28, 2019, 7:25pm

>108 lyzard: I mean we'd all like to think that, no?

Edited: May 29, 2019, 9:46am

>107 rosalita: I hadn't thought about the male-vs-female perspective, and there's probably something of that in it. More generously, I suspect that some readers just didn't connect with the genre: Mark Watney's situation was not of his own making, while Jazz Bashara's grows from a series of self-destructive choices. It's easy to read the survival-story sarcasm as gallows humor and the crime-fiction sort as insolence. Still, fair point: if Jazz were Jeffrey would he be a lovable rogue?

Edited: May 29, 2019, 12:47am

64) Beyond the Galactic Rim / A. Bertram Chandler
Date: 1963

Fourth (depending on how you count) in Chandler's space-opera series set in and with reference to the Rim Worlds. This one is a short collection of four stories, two of which have brief appearances by a "Commodore John Grimes," who will later take the lead in a subseries. These stories are weak: the first three have interesting premises but dull resolutions and the last literally ends with a joke (and not a good one). Not awful, but not memorable either.

Forbidden Planet
The Sally Ann was supposed to fulfill Captain Clavering's dreams: he bought her from the proceeds of a lottery win, and set out for the Rimworlds to start a new life as a free agent. Instead, Clavering found himself stranded on the planet Lorn with no contract. Finally he gets an offer no other ship can (or will) take -- the only problem being that the destination planet has a reputation for synonymy with Hell.

Wet Paint
The first expedition to Kinsolving spent two years on the planet. It found no sentient life, but discovered some cave paintings indicating that such life once existed. Years after the Kinsolving expedition, the Epsilon Eridani landed for repairs. Some crew went exploring to find the cave paintings. They found them -- and discovered the paint wet. Now a second expedition seeks the reason why.

The Man Who Could Not Stop
A criminal escapes to the Rim Worlds, in whose lawless reputation he hopes to hide. But he soon finds out that the Rim Worlds have their own sort of justice, which he can't seem to avoid.

The Key
Charles Merrill is a burned out space man, trying to spend as much of his retirement as possible drunk. But then a crazy rich man convinces Merrill to command his ship on an ambitious quest to find the mystery of the universe.

May 29, 2019, 9:36pm

>111 swynn: I remember like the Rim World series, though I remember exactly none of these stories. I'm sure I read The Rim of Space and at least one story, something like "Gift Horse" or "Horse's Mouth", but beyond that I've lost that file in my cabinet.

Edited: May 29, 2019, 11:10pm

I remember them too, very vaguely. I still have but it's been banished to the attic, which is not necessarily a good sign.

May 29, 2019, 11:15pm

>113 ronincats: I'm pretty sure you'd be disgruntled by Chandler's "now, now, li'l lady" attitude. It even stood out to *me* in sexist times.

Edited: May 30, 2019, 2:46pm

>112 richardderus: I've had mixed feelings about the Rim World/John Grimes books so far. As you mention, Chandler has attitudes it's hard to ignore. I've seen the series praised for having women characters in positions of responsibility, which, yeah, okay, but it might have been better if those women characters weren't always introduced by hip width or chest radius or degree of mannishness. On the other hand, Chandler does know how to tell a lean and exciting story.

I'd probably have said, "I get the idea and that's enough" by now, but the John Grimes series was picked up by DAW so I feel obliged to fill in the earlier volumes.

May 30, 2019, 2:46pm

>113 ronincats: For reasons Richard notes, I wouldn't rush to retrieve it from the attic.

May 30, 2019, 4:47pm

>116 swynn: ^^^What he said.

Edited: May 31, 2019, 9:04am

>103 swynn: Got the Rammstein CD and it is GOOD :-)
"Puppe" and "Halloman" are both creepy, also intriguing and sad. I also like "Deutschland" "Zeig Dich"and "Tattoo", with their funny touches. There is a new video now: Ausländer

ETA: I had to laugh out loud when I first heard "Ich bin kein Mann für eine Nacht, Ich bleibe höchstens ein, zwei Stunden" such a funny twist in Ausländer :-D
(English translation "I am not a man for one night, I stay at most one, two hours")

Edited: May 31, 2019, 3:04pm

>118 FAMeulstee: Agreed it's a solid CD. "Puppe" still gives me chills after numerous listens.

Thanks for the link to the Ausländer video. The song is my least favorite on the album -- it feels more "pop" than the others -- but the video is so Rammstein: well-produced, unapologetically juvenile, and politically provocative. I love this band.

Jun 1, 2019, 8:02am

>119 swynn: Ausländer isn't my favorite either, but it has some nice twists in the text, and turning the word "Ausländer" upside down, by making themselves the foreigner is also priceless.

Jun 1, 2019, 8:48pm

65) DAW #160: Heritage of Hastur / Marion Zimmer Bradley
Date: 1975

Ninth in Bradley's series set on the planet Darkover. This one is told from the viewpoints of the young men Regis Hastur and Lew Alton, both of them heirs to Darkovan domains and both of them conflicted about their heritage. Lew has fought to be accepted as heir to the Alton house because he is half-Terran. Regis is heir to the powerful Hastur domain but because he lacks psychic talent he has no interest in claiming his heritage: he'd rather go to the stars. He strikes a deal with his grandfather to train as a military cadet; if after two years he still wants to leave Darkover he can go with the old man's blessing. As a cadet Regis strikes up a friendship with Danilo Syrtis. But Danilo also catches the amorous attention of arms instructor Ardais Dayton. Ardais does not take rejection well, and forces Danilo to leave the cadets dishonorably.

Meanwhile, conflict has been brewing between Terrans and the traditional houses of Darkover. Terran merchants have been trading in interdicted weapons with the rogue domain Aldaran. Lew is sent to Aldaran to investigate. In Aldaran he meets a group of insurgents plotting to redevelop Darkovan psychic science to the point where it can compete with Terran technology. The group acquires the powerful Sharra matrix and seeks people with the talent and experience to operate it. Through developments of plot, Danilo and Regis join Lew and the insurgents in Aldaran. But it soon becomes apparent that the matrix is too powerful for their circle to operate safely. Not that that will stop them ...

This is easily the best of the Darkover novels so far. It's carefully crafted, asks questions about the exercise of power, and suggests that precocious adolescents with enthusiasm are not always a perfect solution. It would be easier to admire without the Ardais Dayton subplot and his physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of cadets. It's especially uncomfortable when later in the novel it's suggested that everything would have been okay if only the officer had limited his attentions to consenting cadets. In light of what we've learned about Bradley's private life it's creepy, and hard to read as a purely fictional device.

Cover is by Jack Gaughan

Jun 1, 2019, 8:52pm

>121 swynn: Agreed that the lyrics are better than the melody, and that the video is clever.

Edited: Jun 3, 2019, 11:39pm

66) Canopus - Der Kalte Krieg 1 / Dirk van den Boom
Date: 2018

First book in a space-opera trilogy in which an expanding Terran Empire faces its first existential threat. The Empire is under attack by "Cold Walkers": hostile, nearly-indestructible, and usually invisible aliens who have appeared as if from nowhere.

The narrative follows six viewpoint characters: Vocis, a sergeant who lost her entire unit in combat with the Cold Walkers; Hamid, a ten-year veteran who knows the odds of surviving twenty and opts not to reenlist; Thasri Caldin, an archaeologist with a background in intelligence who is given access to the dig of a lifetime at the cost of taking back her old job; "Kip", an inmate on a slave ship whose real identity has been erased but who can't shake the feeling that he is an innocent victim; Holoban Kerr, a smuggler ambushed by Cold Walkers and stranded in a leaky ship on a planet with a methane atmosphere; and Ildaya, a rebel from the Empire's latest reluctant acquisition.

Six viewpoint characters is a lot. It's sometimes overwhelming keeping all the stories straight, and they don't start overlapping until we're more than halfway through. But the payoff is impressive: van den Boom isn't just developing characters, he is building a universe. By the time he brings the six together he has established a broad stage touching on politics, history, science, and justice. And what a way to bring them together: as the crew of a sentient super-ship that promises first to save the universe and then to destroy it. The ending is a bit cliffhangy but fortunately book 2 is available. Of course I'm reading it, how could I not?

Cover art is by Dirk Berger

Jun 4, 2019, 7:54pm

Sounds like a good one!

Jun 4, 2019, 8:09pm

>123 swynn: Oh, so no real stakes or anything. Amazed the author got a whole novel out of that.

Jun 5, 2019, 11:30pm

>124 drneutron:: It is, Jim -- and the second is moving along nicely.

>125 richardderus:: Yeah, it's a bit packed.

Edited: Jun 6, 2019, 12:31am

**Running Post**

Road runs were complicated last week by heavy rains, but still got in at least 2 miles more days than not.

Mileage last week: 12 miles.
Mileage this year: 331 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 13 miles
Monday weigh-in: 252

Soundtrack: Was ist hier los? by Eisbrecher
BPM: 123

We've raved a bit about Rammstein, so here's some love for another "Neue Deutsche Härte" band. Eisbrecher ("Icebreaker") was formed in 2003 by Alexx Wesselsky and Noel Pix, both former members of Megaherz -- about which, more later, almost certainly. Eisbrecher has released 7 studio albums so far, all of them strong ones. (Well, for my taste anyway.) They lack Rammstein's brand of playfulness and bizarre extremes, but they play good hard music loud.

Was ist hier los? / Was ist passiert? / Der Magen denkt / Das Herz pariert
Was ist hier los? / Ist das normal? / Erst kommt das Fressen / Und dann kommt die Moral

"What is wrong here? / What has happened? / The stomach thinks / The heart parries
What is wrong here? / Is that normal? / First comes the feeding / And then comes ethics"

( translates the phrase, "Erst kommt das Fressen, dann die Moral" as: "A hungry man has no conscience.")

Jun 7, 2019, 6:36am

>127 swynn: I love Eisbrecher, and Was ist hier los? is a great choice - one of their best. I also agree with your comments about the new Rammstein album. Puppe is a stand out despite the disturbing theme. It is indeed creepy.

Do you like Megaherz too? They have some great songs, and I like last year's Horrorclown - a song that features the words of Donald Trump: "We need to build a wall." No need to guess who the horror clown is.

>123 swynn: That book sounds interesting. 409 pages in German though, which would take me a long while. I have grabbed the preview version for Kindle. I will either read it slowly in German, or pick up the English translation when it is available.

Edited: Jun 7, 2019, 9:40am

>128 sirfurboy: I do like Megaherz. In fact, for this week's Soundtrack I wavered between "Was ist hier los?" and Megaherz's "Jagdzeit," which has been on my running playlists for years. How could it not with the refrain, "Lauf baby lauf"? (= "Run baby run")

I agree "Horrorclown" is a great song. And not just because it appeals to my political preferences. But for that reason too.

Hope you like Canopus if you decide to give it a shot. I'm enjoying book 2.

Edited: Jun 10, 2019, 1:17pm

67) Far Rainbow / The Second Invasion from Mars / Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
Date: 1979 (original Russian publications 1963 and 1967)

The Strugatsky brothers grow on me with every volume, and this twofer is a gem.

The first short novel, "Far Rainbow" is set in their "Noon Universe" series. It takes place on a colony world where physicists are experimenting with on instantaneous matter transmission. One of their experiments triggers a global death-wave. The colonists are able to take some stalling actions, but like a lifeboat problem on an ocean liner they can lift some but not all colonists to safety in orbit. It's obviously less optimistic than much of their other work, but it's exciting an melancholy and poignant. Good stuff.

"The Second Invasion from Mars" is (I'm pretty sure) not a Noon Universe story, but it is a hoot. It tells the story of an alien invasion from the perspective of a rural pensioner whose information comes piecemeal and only sometimes from informed sources. The invaders may or may not be Martians but they are certainly aliens: they introduce a new agricultural staple that never grew on Earth, and they rearrange the economy to be based on stomach juice, a currency that few humans had previously considered for its financial value. Some humans fight back reflexively; others pounce to find profits in the new regime. Still others hold judgment until they see what happens to their pension. As a satire of social change it is sharp as it is funny. From an information-science perspective the story presents an intriguing conundrum: How do you evaluate questionable information when facts are more bizarre than rumors?

The next work in the Strugatsky oeuvre is Hard to Be a God, which I raved about last year. My next Strugatsky will probably be The Final Circle of Paradise, which is DAW #218.

Edited: Jun 11, 2019, 5:58pm

**Running Post**

Race Report: "Make a Sound for a Cure to Be Found" 5K for Batten Disease (Waterloo, IA)
Time: 30:40

Saturday I visited my parents in northeast Iowa. On the way I stopped in Waterloo and ran this 5K, which is one of the lowest-key races I've ever run. No numbers, no official times, and I wasn't even asked to sign a waiver. The event is really more fundraiser than race, and runners were heavily outnumbered by walkers and well-wishers. Which is fine: the cause is to support research for Batten Disease, a set of progressive neurological disorders caused by genetic abnormalities that interfere with the body's ability to eliminate wastes. Collectively they are a harsh damn disease. More information here. Money not spent on numbers and timing chips goes to research and that's all good.

As I understand it, a student in the Waterloo school system is the inspiration for the event. The student deals with numerous challenges but delights in loud noises-- so the "Make a sound" theme encourages noise. Participants run with cowbells, blow whistles, or otherwise make some noise. The course is mostly out-and-back on sidewalk, which is not especially scenic but adds traffic noise to the theme.

My time came in over 30 minutes. I'm okay with that, considering several weeks of recovery and weight creep.

Mileage last week: 13 miles.
Mileage this year: 344 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 15 miles
Monday weigh-in: 253

Soundtrack: Iko Iko by Dr. John
BPM: 165

I love running to the rolling sound of a Delta blues piano. The genre hasn't been well represented in my weekly picks, though Marcia Ball is a terrific exception. But this week's pick has to acknowledge the passing of Dr. John, a master pianist who mixed up the Delta blues repertoire with funk and psychedelia. For my part I respect his more progressive work but don't always grok it. The above selection is an obvious and more traditional choice but it's popular for good reason, and the live performance in the YouTube video is the kind of ensemble jam that the blues is all about. Respect.

Edited: Jun 13, 2019, 5:18pm

68) DAW #161: The Star-Crowned Kings / Robert Chilson
Date: 1975

Robert Chilson's debut novel was the Dying-Earth pastiche As the Curtain Falls, which I remember liking well for its setting and elegiac mood. My comments appear to be more neutral than I remember, but still: "Not half bad," I said.

Unfortunately there's less to like here in Chilson's sophomore novel, a misfire of a story about Race Worden, a peasant kid on a colony planet who discovers he has telekinetic powers. Telekinesis is a big deal because the galaxy is ruled by people with telekenesis: the "Starlings," who use their powers to drive spaceships. When Race realizes he can do this too, he tries to infiltrate the Starlings to learn whether they would accept an outsider. But before he can find out he accidentally kills a Starling and has to go on the run, leaving his family behind.

We never do find out whether the Starlings would have accepted Race, because the rest of the book becomes an aimless meander paired with talky exposition of Race's abilities. The setting is insufficiently developed, as are any characters other than Race, who is himself just plain dull.

Cover is by Kelly Freas, who never let an absence of naked women in a story interfere with his artistic vision.

Jun 11, 2019, 6:23pm

>130 swynn: The Strugatskys were aces when they were in top form; there are some lesser ideas sprinkled through their ouevre. Happy that these were good'uns.

>132 swynn: Nope. Nyet, nein, nix, okhi.

Jun 12, 2019, 9:27am

>133 richardderus: I haven't run into a dud yet. From other online reviews I see that The Second Invasion from Mars didn't connect with all readers, which I get because the story is a bit ambiguous and what is unambiguous doesn't always make sense. But it hit me as a satire on subjects I think about a lot, and I was very well pleased.

As for The Star-Crowned Kings: yeah, good choice.

Jun 12, 2019, 12:25pm

>132 swynn: Cover is by Kelly Freas, who never let an absence of naked women in a story interfere with his artistic vision. Snort!

Jun 16, 2019, 10:04am

Happy Father's Day, Steve!

Jun 18, 2019, 1:52am

>135 MickyFine: He was a marvel.

Jun 18, 2019, 2:16am

>136 richardderus: Thanks Richard, and same to you!

Jun 18, 2019, 2:23am

Here are some personal reflections on Father's Day. They're probably maudlin, but that's the mood I'm in. (Also, swynn Jr. and I are staying up all night in preparation for an EEG tomorrow -- so I'm probably sleep typing. I hope it looks coherent tomorrow.)

This Father's Day was probably the last with my father.

My Dad has been a good Dad. We agree on almost nothing, but I've never felt anything less than unconditional support from him. I suspect he worries (correctly) about my eternal soul, but he figures (also correctly) that it's something for me and God to work out and that his best contribution is to love and accept. He's been terrific, and I've been very lucky.

Last fall Dad was diagnosed with cancer, type unknown. Chemotherapy was offered, but for a number of reasons he's not an ideal candidate. A combination of uncertainty and medical history means that the type of chemo offered was based on what he would most likely tolerate rather than on what would most likely work. Not that it mattered: Dad had seen friends go through chemo and that wasn't how he wanted to spend his last days. He has better days and worse ones, but his general health has declined to the point that he can't even leave the house to go to church. It's hard to see him like that. But still it's good to see him.

Edited: Jun 18, 2019, 2:38pm

**Running Post**

Mileage last week: 15 miles.
Mileage this year: 359 miles
Longest run: 4 miles
Target mileage this week: 16 miles
Monday weigh-in: 250

Soundtrack: Mein grösstes Glück / Unantastbar
BPM: 170

A sentimental father's song for a sentimental Father's Day. From Unantastbar ("Untouchable"), a Tyrolean punk band who specialize in sentimental lyrics.

Flieg soweit dich deine Flügel tragen.
Reite deine Welle, nimm dir alles was du brauchst.
Ich bleibe bei dir, bin dein Anker und dein Hafen.
Ich bin bei dir, wann auch immer du mich brauchst.

Fly as far as your wings will carry you.
Ride your wave, take everything you need.
I will stay with you, am your anchor and your harbor.
I will be with you whenever you need me.

Jun 18, 2019, 12:22pm

>139 swynn: I'm sorry to hear about your Dad, Steve. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

Jun 18, 2019, 12:26pm

>139 swynn: It's hard to face The End, more so for others than for one's ownself. Your honor for your dad speaks very well of the man he raised.

Jun 18, 2019, 2:54pm

>141 MickyFine:
>142 richardderus:

Thanks Micky & Richard. It hits me at odd times and in completely unexpected ways, and the supportive thoughts are very much appreciated.

Edited: Jun 19, 2019, 6:04am

I'm sorry about your Dad, too, Steve. What a great parent, to give you the support even though it may be at odds with his beliefs. Rare, that, I think. I'm floating in the same boat as you (parents who are believers, while I'm not), and I suspect they'd give me the same level of support if I brought the subject up (which I just choose not to do).

Jun 20, 2019, 2:16pm

Sorry to read about your father, Steve, it is hard to see parents decline.
Similair here, but after I stopped going to church the subject stayed unmentionable. Some slight hints my parents faith had evolved from the very strickt version of their youth.

>140 swynn: And thanks for sharing a next Unantastbar song :-)

Jun 23, 2019, 8:45pm

>144 scaifea: Thanks Amber! We mostly practice avoidance too, but we know where each other stands and respect it. And despite our differences I think we have nudged each other in positive directions.

>145 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita! Agreed that it's hard. And you're welcome for the Unantastbar song!

Jun 23, 2019, 11:25pm

69) How Town / Michael Nava
Date: 1990

Third in Nava's series featuring gay Hispanic L.A. lawyer Henry Rios. In this one Henry's sister calls him back to his rural hometown Los Robles, where the brother of Henry's high school crush is on trial for murder. Paul Windsor is not a sympathetic client. He's a pedophile who would probably be in jail if his victim hadn't decided not to testify -- paid off, rumors say, by Paul's wealthy family. In their first interview, Paul tries to convince Henry that really they have a lot in common, what with having desires society doesn't understand and all. Henry has no patience for this argument but he has even less patience for a system that would send Paul to prison for a crime he didn't commit as a second chance at justice for the one he did.

The mystery holds more interest here than in the last entry, but again the mystery is just a formality. What sucks you in is Henry's character, as he revisits a painful past and faces his current insecurities over dating a much younger man. The setting is completely convincing, from the high school pettiness to small-town politics to the high-handedness of a legal system that feels beholden only to itself. I'm quite liking this series and looking forward to the next.

Jun 23, 2019, 11:31pm

>147 swynn: I am always amazed at the breadth of your reading.

Jun 24, 2019, 1:10am

>149 swynn: It's chronic curiosity. Or an undiagnosed attention disorder. Or very possibly both.

Jun 25, 2019, 11:13pm

70) DAW #162: Total Eclipse / John Brunner
Date: 1975

On Sigma Draconis, 19 light-years from Earth, an archaeological team investigates the ruins of an alien civilization. The civilization has left advanced artifacts: ships, flying machines, a giant telescope carved from a crater on the planet's moon. But the team discovers only a single example of any artifict, with no evidence of models, intermediary inventions or even written records. How did the civilization develop its technology? And what caused its demise? Meanwhile back home, Earth faces a political crisis and grows increasingly suspicious of the project. The latest supply ship brings both good personnel and bad: an anthropologist whose intuitionist approach promises to solve the mystery of the Draconians ; but also a paranoid general determined to prove that the dig is fake.

Brunner seems to be making an ironic point about diagnosing the demise of an alien civilization while failing to prevent the demise of our own. But that theme, like characters and conflict, are of secondary interest. Really, it's a Big Dumb Object story. I found the puzzle intriguing, and the scientists' approaches entertaining. The team slowly builds a picture of insectoid aliens who communicate through electromagnetic waves, and there's an especially engaging bit where they build a device that simulates the experience of navigating the world as one of the aliens: on six legs, with electromagnetic data for input. The challenge of building the simulater is almost as interesting as the simulation itself. Very cool ideas, though readers who prefer character development will want to look elsewhere.

The cover is by Chris Foss. Unusually for Foss, it actually seems to depict a setting from the book.

Jun 25, 2019, 11:27pm

**Running Post**

Mileage last week: 16 miles.
Mileage this year: 375 miles
Longest run: 4 miles
Target mileage this week: 17 miles
Monday weigh-in: (no weigh-in this week)

Mileage is building slowly, but I'm finally ahead of where I began the year.

Soundtrack: Delta Thrash Ways by Molly Gene One Whoahman Band

Edited: Jun 26, 2019, 12:31am

This is interesting. You know that "marshmallow test," which found that kids who could wait for a second marshmallow had better life outcomes than kids who couldn't wait? It was supposed to show a link between "delayed gratification" and success? Turns out that study might be ... mmm ... open to other interpretations.

Edited: Jun 26, 2019, 1:13pm

71) Epitaph for a Spy / Eric Ambler
Date: 1938

Josef Vadassy, a language teacher, amateur photographer, and man without a country, is vacationing in the South of France between terms and in the predawn of World War II (which, in 1938, was "now"). Vadassy drops off a roll of film at the chemist's, mostly containing shots of lizards. But when he goes to pick up the prints he is apprehended by the police. The authorities don't mind his lizard pictures so much but they are very concerned about other shots on the roll, which capture military fortifications along the coast. The police suspect him of being a spy -- quite possibly the stupidest spy in history. Of course the apparent stupidity is because Vadassy is *not* in fact a spy, and a check of serial numbers indicates that the camera is not Vadassy's camera. At some point Vadassy and the spy must have mistakenly switched equipment. Vadassy reviews his steps and realizes that the exchange must have happened at his hotel, and the real spy must be one of the other guests. The police order him back the hotel, where he must determine which of the other guests has a camera of the same make and model.

This is the third of Ambler's spy novels, and one gets the sense that he is still experimenting with approaches to the genre. His first, The Dark Frontier, was a forgettable parody of spy adventures; his second, Background to Danger, was a more earnest imitation (and better book) complete with car chases and death traps, played with a straight face but without the superhuman heroes and villains. Epitaph for a Spy takes yet another approach, hanging spy-story tropes on the structure of a cozy mystery, then delivering a twist that undermines conventions of both genres. I liked it. The edition I had (Knopf 1952, which doesn't match the cover image above), includes an afterword by Ambler in which he sketches the origins of the spy novel.

Jun 26, 2019, 5:24pm

>152 swynn: That was an interesting article indeed. I have heard more lately about (famous) psychological tests in the past that were not done in a sientific/neutral way...

Jun 26, 2019, 7:03pm

>153 swynn: A darn good read, then, one I suspect the library system has. Ambler's popularity might not be white-hot, but it seems to be steady.

Jun 27, 2019, 1:26pm

>154 FAMeulstee: I know, right? I only recently learned about some of the flaws in the famous Stanford prison experiment which to my mind make its validity completely suspect.

There's currently a heated and wide-ranging discussion being called the replication crisis, a situation in which many -- by some estimates, most -- experiments cannot be replicated, especially in the social sciences. This is a problem with no single obvious cause but a handful of likely ones (some institutional) and with no easy fix.

(FWIW, The paper itself is worth a read, and it's a bit kinder to the original Marshmallow Experiment than was the Atlantic article.)

>155 richardderus: It's a smart and mostly realistic mystery/thriller. I'm working my way slowly through Ambler's work and am enjoying myself so far. I sometimes get the sense that he's trying to make a political point, but I'm not sure what it is -- either because I'm too removed from Ambler's political moment or because he's not really trying to say anything after all. Anyway, the stories are good tales whether the subtext is grasped or not.

Edited: Jun 27, 2019, 11:02pm

72) Hammers on Bone / Cassandra Khaw

P.I. John Persons is hired by a 13-year old kid to kill the kid's stepfather. The boy thinks his stepdad is a monster. Persons believes it's possible-- after all, he's a monster himself. It's a noir thriller set in Lovecraft land, and it's just delicious with creepiness and gore and a hard-boiled heart. Also it's short. Next is on its way via ILL.

Terrific cover art by Jeffrey Alan Love.

Jun 27, 2019, 11:24pm

73) DAW #163: Eye of the Zodiac / E.C. Tubb
Date: 1975

Thirteenth in Tubb's space opera series featuring Earl Dumarest. Dumarest was born on Earth but left as a child, and has since traveled among the stars to a region so distant that "Earth" is considered a myth when it's considered at all. The series follows Dumarest's efforts to return home. Complicating his project are the Cyclan, a sort of hybrid human/computational hive-mind who want to capture Dumarest to extract from his brain a secret that was planted there early in the series.

In this one Dumarest meets a boy who claims to be from "Nerth," whose inhabitants consider themselves to be of very old heritage, and have information about zodiac constellations. Could "Nerth" stand for "New Earth"? And could stellar configurations help Dumarest triangulate Earth's location? It's a better lead than many he has followed.

It's fast-paced pulpy fun, right up to the end when Dumarest's traveling companion is revealed to be a traitor: she is a scientist who resents the ways that being a woman has hindered her ambitions. She betrays Dumarest to the Cyclan for the promise that they will transfer her consciousness into a male body. Such a shame, Dumarest says when her duplicity is revealed: "If she wasn't so foolish she could have been pretty." Which says it all, really.

Cover is by George Barr.

Jun 28, 2019, 12:12pm

>158 swynn: Reads spoiler and then bangs head against desk.

Jun 28, 2019, 2:27pm

>158 swynn: (spoiler) Oh FFS. There's no remediating that level of cluelessness. How condescending.

Edited: Jun 28, 2019, 6:34pm

Damn! Where's that eyeroll emoji when you need it?? least I don't have to add you to that long list of men who "don't understand what you're getting so upset about"... :D

Jun 28, 2019, 9:08pm

>158 swynn: Even when I read this Dumarest many years ago the odd sexist or other comments were noticeable. However, for what it was and when it was, I still think the Dumarest series was far above and better than the norm. So you will never hear me damn them. (Not that you did of course.) I've read the first 19 Dumarest novels over the years and #20 is slated to be one of my DAW reads for this year.

Jun 29, 2019, 10:40am

Yeesh, that’s really how it ended? 🤨

Went straight for the “are you kidding me?” emoji.

Jun 29, 2019, 12:11pm

>158 swynn: Dumarest is pissed off. He was played.

Edited: Jun 29, 2019, 6:17pm

>159 MickyFine:
>160 richardderus:
>161 lyzard:
>163 drneutron:

Yeah, it's especially maddening because the story has been going pretty well up to that point. Then ...

>162 RBeffa:
>164 RBeffa: I agree that overall it's a good series, and that the sexism is arguably of its time. Agreed too that Dumarest has been provoked in this situation. Still, it's a response that reflects more badly on Dumarest than on the villain.

I find myself reacting to the series much like I do to the original Star Trek: overall with affection and admiration for the things that still hold up; with winces for things that don't; and an occasional wish that They hadn't made an episode. I'm still looking forward to the next.

Jun 29, 2019, 6:58pm

>165 swynn:

Yes, that's good comparison: you have to let the teeth-clenching bits go for what was achieved elsewhere.

Edited: Jul 6, 2019, 6:48pm

74) Forever Amber / Kathleen Winsor
Date: 1944

Amber St. Clair is the orphaned daughter of a noble family, born during the English Civil War and raised by a Parliamentarian family. Despite a proper upbringing she turns into a vain and frivolous teenager. When Charles II returns to England, Amber becomes infatuated with the dashing Royalist soldier Bruce Carlton and follows him to London. There they cohabit for a few weeks until Carlton leaves to make his fortune as a privateer. And so Amber begins a meander through all strata of 17th-Century London, from debtor's prison to the theater to landed gentry, with layovers in several bedrooms including that of King Charles himself.

This is the bestselling novel of 1945. It was a scandal then, for reasons aplenty: adultery, unwed pregnancy, divorce, abortion, prostitution, and women in states of undress. Even now seems to retain a scandalous reputation, yet I don't recall ever hearing about it before reading Neil Miller's Banned in Boston, who describes it almost as if it were soft porn. At six hundred something pages I was not looking forward to it.

So I'm happy to report that it's not awful. In fact it's disappointingly tame, with naughtiness more usually implied than described. Most physical affection, and all sex, happens off-screen. (This, together with Liz's report that her copy ran to just under 1000 pages, makes me wonder whether I'd got an expurgated edition, but the only evidence I have is that it's less racy than its reputation.) Rather than softcore porn it's a not-bad historical novel, with a readable prose style and a sense for setting that is sometimes quite good. The section that takes Amber through the Great Plague is especially engaging.

"Not awful" does not mean especially original. The main character for instance is a copy of the frivolous and vain heroine (also named for a color) of another bestselling historical novel. Even the Plague section owes a deep debt to Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year. (In fairness, it's hard to imagine an account of the Great Plague that wouldn't.) But Winsor has weaved her borrowed bits into a decent fabric. The book's worst sin is its ponderous length. According to Wikipedia, Winsor's original manuscript was five times longer -- so thank goodness for ruthless editors.

Jul 6, 2019, 6:51pm

>167 swynn:

I'm not sure I was meant to be engaged by the straight historical stuff and groaning when the narrative returned to the main characters, tho'... :D

It was weird reading this "scandal-novel" almost back-to-back with something by Walter Scott and finding this altogether a superior work of historical fiction. But yeah, there's just too damn much of it.

Jul 6, 2019, 7:02pm

>167 swynn: I waded through it as a sweaty-palmed adolescent waiting for the Good Bits. *pff* Green Darkness, which I read the same year, was *a*lot* racier...even had a postcoital scene between two men! *fantods*

The thing that made this so controversial, per my Mama (whose ancient hardcover I read, IIRC it was 650-ish pages), was whispers unpunished abortion! Horripilation!!

Check this space in 15 years to see how we've done on that score.

Jul 6, 2019, 9:55pm

>168 lyzard: I agree the Amber/Carlton soap opera gets a bit much. There's such a difference between the Amber chapters and most of the chapters about Charles and his court that I wondered whether they were composed as separate works. My crackpot theory is that Winsor had originally written an historical drama about Charles, then wrote the Amber chapters after the success of Gone With the WInd

>169 richardderus:. Ha! Yeah, for somebody hoping for naughty bits, Forever AMber is bound to disappoint. I know nothing about Green Darkness but I see it's tagged "time travel" and "romance". Sort of a 1970's Outlander?

Jul 6, 2019, 10:42pm

>170 swynn:

You might be right about that: you can absolutely imagine her reading GWTW and thinking, "So this is what you have to do to be popular??"

Jul 6, 2019, 11:01pm

>170 swynn: It is a lot like a 1970s Outlander though I've never described it to myself that way! But yea verily, so it is.

Edited: Jul 7, 2019, 2:55pm

75) DAW #164: The Second Book of Fritz Leiber
Date: 1975

This is a collection of fiction and nonfiction by (and selected by) Fritz Leiber. Most of it is just okay, some if it I'd already forgotten by the time I got around to writing this. "Belsen Express" is the standout. Cover is by Jack Gaughan.

The Lion and the Lamb
The crew of an interstellar confederation goes looking for a ship of discontents who had escaped the confederation years ago. They discover the rebels' descendants living in a luddite colony on a distant planet.

The Mighty Tides
Popular-science essay about tides, which -- like so many natural phenomena -- are more interesting than I'd imagined.

Trapped in the Sea of Stars
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser get trapped in the winds of the Great Equatorial Ocean. They speculate about the shape of their world, and are visited by lovely spirits who offer conflicting instructions for escape.

Fafhrd and Me
Personal essay about the development of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Belsen Express
A xenophobe receives in the mail an unsolicited package of books about the Holocaust. As he ponders the historical event, his daily commute begins to resemble a death train. This one won the 1976 World Fantasy Award for best short story.

Ingmar Bergman: Fantasy Novelist
An essay discussing fantastical elements of Bergman's films.

Scream Wolf
A did-she-fall-or-was-she-pushed mystery story.

Those Wild Alien Words: II
Random observations about English loan-words.

The Mechanical Bride
Rita Bruhl works for a company that builds androids. Her love life is a mess-- recently dumped by the love of her life, she also has to deflect the attentions of her employer. Then her ex orders a female companion droid and she spots an opportunity to mess with everybody's head.

Through Hyperspace With Brown Jenkin
Essay discussing H.P. Lovecraft's contributions to science fiction.

A Defense of Werewolves
An odd rhapsody about classic movie monsters. I'm not sure what to make of this.

Jul 6, 2019, 11:28pm

>171 lyzard: Apparently it worked.

>172 richardderus: I'm intrigued, but probably not enough.

Jul 6, 2019, 11:53pm

>174 swynn: It's really not necessary...groundbreaking in 1973, sexist and racist in 2019.

Edited: Jul 7, 2019, 12:11am

76) Why We Don't Suck / Denis Leary
Date: 2017

Here's the narrative: politics and politicians are horrible, but public servants and nice people should give us hope that Americans are not all awful. Also, Denis Leary knows lots of famous people. Around this thread, Leary tells a lot of jokes and says "fuck" a lot. In fairness, when I'm talking about Donald Trump I say "fuck" a lot too.

This one was recommended by Brodie as a way to test my sense of humor after Tiffany Haddish (The Last Black Unicorn) left me wondering whether it was broken. Going back to Brodie's recommendation I see that he recommended I "listen" to it, which probably would have been a better way to enjoy this because the voice in my head doesn't have the same polished delivery that Leary probably would have given it. Maybe because of that, the political bits mostly fell flat for me.

Leary claims to be an equal-opportunity critic, making jokes about both Trump and Clinton. But the Trump jokes are observations about his incompetence, his childishness, and his orangeness; while the jokes about Clinton target her shrill voice and pantsuits. So one candidate was a whackjob man-child; the other wore pants. These observations are not balanced, comically or otherwise, and fail to convince me that one was as bad a candidate as the other. And Leary's reassurance that we're okay because Michael J. Fox is a really nice guy ... well, I don't find it very reassuring. I actually preferred the more personal anecdotes Leary turned to when he ran out of political steam. His encounter with Rod Stewart's penis is probably the last thing I will forget from this book. But even that story would probably have worked better on audio as Brodie recommended.

Jul 7, 2019, 12:10am

>175 richardderus: Almost certainly giving it a pass then. Unless it turns out to be 1973's bestseller, I suppose ...

Edited: Jul 7, 2019, 2:22am

77) Aume reist / Dirk Van Den Boom
Date: 2019

Second in Van Den Boom's "Cold War" space opera, in which an interstellar empire is invaded by "cold walkers": nearly-indestructible aliens who swarm planets and crank the temperature down to something near absolute zero.

The first volume assembled a ragtag band to become the crew of the Aume, an ancient living ship recently awakened from a millennia-long sleep. This second volume expands the backstory, builds political intrigue, and fills in details about who the cold walkers are and what they're doing. It's a fast-paced story with cosmic scope and an evil plan worthy of a loopy Van Vogt novel. Or Perry Rhodan. Super fun.

Jul 7, 2019, 4:50am

>173 swynn: Congratulations on reaching 75, Steve!

Jul 7, 2019, 10:26am

Congrats on reaching 75, Steve!

Jul 7, 2019, 11:16am

Well done, Steve!

Edited: Jul 7, 2019, 3:41pm

78) DAW #165: The Book of Andre Norton
Date: 1975 (Originally published 1974 as The Many Worlds of Andre Norton)

Here is a mostly-good collection of stories and one essay, together with a critical appreciation I could've done without. Norton's work is a mixed bag for me: she has a stilted prose style that on the one hand enhances the stories I've enjoyed, but on the other makes the duds unbearable. Fortunately, most stories in this collection have something to recommend them. Especially effective for me were "The Toads of Grimmerdale" and "All Cats Are Gray" which have an excellent creepy settings. Cover is by Jack Gaughan.

Introduction (by Donald Wollheim)
Wollheim wonders why Norton is rarely mentioned among "leading science fiction writers" despite prolific output and commercial success. He argues that it is (1) because she doesn't write for the magazines, (2) she does little self-promotion and doesn't attend conventions, and (3) much of her work has been promoted and distributed as for "young adults."

The Toads of Grimmerdale
Witch World story about a girl carrying her rapist's child and cast out of her village. She journeys to Grimmerdale, where she finds a dark temple inhabited by powers who promise to help her find revenge.

London Bridge
In a world devastated by pollution, the last humans live inside sealed cities controlled by gangs. Then a sort of pied piper, the "Rhyming Man" appears -- and when he does, children disappear.

On Writing Fantasy
Personal essay, in which Norton discusses some sources for her fiction. She recommends reading history, historical fiction, and fantasy fiction, and includes a list of about 60 recommended titles.

Mars colonists investigate mysterious sculptures, built by artists unknown, which cannot be moved without destroying them.

All Cats Are Gray
Looters investigate a derelict space ship, reputed to be full of treasure ... and haunted.

The Long Night of Waiting
One hundred years ago, two children disappeared without a trace. Their parents placed a marker on the spot of their disappearance. Now in the present day, three children walking home from school meet the two disappeared kids, bewildered and frightened.

The Gifts of Astl
When barbarians come to sack the temple of Asti, the last priestess escapes into tunnels below the temple where she discovers ancient secrets and a way to escape.

Long Live Lord Kor!
When time travel was discovered it was mostly outlawed, except for planets where life had been destroyed. The postnuclear wasteland Vallek is one such planet. Creed Trapnell travels into Vallek's history in order to avert the nuclear war before it began.

Andre Norton: Loss of Faith (by Rick Brooks)
Rick Brooks discusses Norton's theme of conflict between technology and nature. He observes that Norton's outlook on the conflict has grown more pessimistic over her career.

Jul 7, 2019, 5:18pm

>173 swynn: How rude of me not to so much as notice! I apologize, and

Edited: Jul 7, 2019, 5:25pm

79) The Art of Logic in an Illogical World / Eugenia Cheng
Date: 2018

This is a popular discussion of mathematical logic ("first-order predicate logic" for the math nerds) with examples drawn from questions of public policy. The idea is to promote clearer thinking and more enlightening discussions. Logic can be a persuasive tool but it is not likely to settle many arguments: different people will begin with different fundamental beliefs and thus reach different positions, just as mathematical arguments that begin with different axioms reach different conclusions. Even if logic wins few arguments, though, Cheng says it can be useful in prioritizing definitions, clarifing arguments, promoting consistency, and identifying root causes of disagreements. She also acknowledges emotion's role in political disagreements, and argues that emotion and logic can work together to build sound and persuasive positions.

I'm skeptical. To me, the "fundamental beliefs" that Cheng offers as examples for "axioms" are so poorly defined (it's important to be kind; It's important to help other people) that it's not clear to me how mathematical logic can be rigorously applied. But I agree we should examine our own and our opponents' positions rather than seek pithy "mic drop" retorts and fer crissake Facebook memes. If anyone finds mathematical logic a useful analogy for doing that, then: Respect.

Jul 7, 2019, 5:29pm

>184 richardderus: Thanks Richard! And, apology ignored. You missed it 'cause you were reading my words. I'm gonna get mad about that?

Jul 7, 2019, 6:13pm

>185 swynn: mathematical logic ("first-order predicate logic" for the math nerds)

>186 swynn: That's right thoughty of yinz.

Edited: Jul 7, 2019, 7:58pm

>187 richardderus: I'm a math nerd. I couldn't resist.

In practical terms, it means that Cheng avoids talking about fuzzy logic. She does allude to it and to higher-order logics, which deal with arguments about sets of sets of objects (or of sets). But Cheng doesn't elaborate.

Jul 7, 2019, 9:18pm

80) DAW #166: The Year's Best Fantasy Stories / Lin Carter, ed.
Date: 1975

Inaugural volume of DAW's annual collection of the year's best fantasy. The most striking thing about this entry is how stuck in the past the genre seems to be -- or at least the editor. It's heavy with posthumously-published works by past masters and imitations of past masters. It's not a bad collection but neither is it especially fresh, as one would hope a "year's best" might be. It's also a bit presumptuous of the editor to include one of his own works. I mean, Stephen King might get away with that, but Lin Carter?

Cover art is by George Barr.

The Jewel of Arwen by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Lord of the Rings fan fiction, filling in the backstory of a jewel that Arwen gives to Frodo in Return of the King.

The Sword of Dyrnwyn by Lloyd Alexander
A king treats a shepherd unjustly. Poetic justic is dealt.

The Temple of Abomination by Robert E. Howard
Cormac Mac Art fights monsters in a pagan temple in Britain.

The Double Tower by Clark Ashton Smith
A sorceror bends space and time to converse with the intelligent fungus of a distant planet.

Trapped in the Shadowland by Fritz Leiber
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser cross a desert and nearly become a prize for Death.

Black Hawk of Valkarth by Lin Carter
Origin story for Carter's character Thongor of Lost Lemuria.

Jewel quest by Hannes Bok
The Emperor Po Ko and his mistress travel to the Valley of the Fourteen Thousand Ill-Fed Vultures to steal a jewel from an evil magician.

The Emperor's Fan by L. Sprague De Camp
An emperor is given a magical fan. Waving the fan at an object causes the object to disappear into a parallel universe. But bringing the objects back can be complicated.

The City of Madness by Charles R. Saunders
The barbarian Imaro rescues his girlfriend from the temple of a death-cult. I believe this is DAW's first piece by a black author; DAW would later publish three novels featuring Imaro, beginning with 1981's Imaro (DAW #459)

Falcon's Mate by Pat Mackintosh
Thula, swordswoman of the Order of the Moon, is hired to escort a young girl to the holdings of her future husband. But somebody doesn't want her to get there. Neither does the girl especially.

The Seventeen Virgins by Jack Vance
Dying Earth story about the trickster Cugel, who runs a couple of cons and then is hired to guard seventeen virgins as they caravan to a pageant in distant Lumarth.

Jul 8, 2019, 12:06am

>188 swynn: uh huh

>189 swynn: Every. Single. One. of those makes me long for phenobarbital and vodka, shaken not stirred.

Jul 8, 2019, 12:50am

>190 richardderus: They certainly lack variety. Any one of them is okay, and a few are pretty good, but after so many imitation Middle-Earths and imitation Conans I could use a drink myself.

Edited: Jul 8, 2019, 3:45am

>191 swynn:

I was just thinking, that's a pretty depressingly narrow interpretation of "fantasy".

Edited: Jul 8, 2019, 12:01pm

>192 lyzard: Definitely. And I'm no expert on the state of the short-fiction market at the time, so I was inclined to give Carter the benefit of the doubt: maybe all of his other options were more of the same? But no. It happens that 1975 was also the year of the inaugural World Fantasy Award. The nominees for best short story paint a very different picture of the fantasy market:

Pages from a Young Girl's Journal by Robert Aickman
A Father's Tale by Sterling Lanier
Sticks by Karl Edward Wagner
The Events at Poroth Farm by T.E.D. Klein

I'm not familiar with the Lanier or Wagner stories -- which Google says are, respectively, Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraft pastiches. But the Aickman is a terrific surreal story about a girl and vampire; and the Klein is about these cats ....

I suppose Carter may have viewed these stories and their siblings as "horror" rather than "fantasy," and in fact the Klein story appeared in DAW's annual horror collection earlier that year. But still, the genre was much wider than the faux-medieval stories so heavily represented here. Manly Wade Wellman's Worse Things Waiting won the WFA for best collection. I'm not familiar with that collection specifically, but a Silver John story sure would have interrupted the monotony, just sayin'.

Jul 8, 2019, 11:52am

Congrats on blowing past 75!

Jul 8, 2019, 12:03pm

>194 drneutron: Thanks Jim! On track for a twofer this year.

Edited: Jul 8, 2019, 10:50pm

**Running Post**

Weekend before last was spent with family. Dad seems to be doing better than a couple of weeks ago, but caring for him is a huge stressor for Mom. So we kids are trying to figure out how to make sure they both have the support they need. Thoughts relating to that have been monopolizing my brain waves for the last week or so. Running volume has stayed pretty close to expectations, but reading and posting took a hit. I missed last week's post, so here's one for two weeks.

Mileage week before last: 14 miles
Mileage last week: 17 miles.
Mileage this year: 406 miles
Longest run: 5 miles
Target mileage this week: 18 miles
Monday weigh-in: (no weigh-in again)

Soundtrack: President X by 3TEETH
BPM: 100

New 3TEETH album: good reason to go for a run.

Jul 9, 2019, 1:24pm

Hey, Steve! Beth and I are plotting an LT meet-up in Iowa City on July 27, and we'd love to have you join us if you're able.

Jul 9, 2019, 1:58pm

>197 rosalita: I have nothing else scheduled for that weekend, so count me in!

Jul 9, 2019, 2:52pm

Excellent! I think we're shooting for 10 a.m. at Prairie Lights, as usual.

Jul 9, 2019, 6:29pm

Awesome Librarianing achievement: Unlocked.

Jul 10, 2019, 6:12am

>197 rosalita: >198 swynn: >199 rosalita:

*quietly sobs in the corner*

Jul 10, 2019, 6:36am

>You will be missed, Amber!

Jul 11, 2019, 9:46pm

>200 richardderus: It's true: librarians rock out loud.

>201 scaifea: You most definitely will be missed, Amber!

Jul 12, 2019, 7:12am

Aw, thanks! I'll certainly be missing and thinking of you all.

Jul 12, 2019, 10:36am

It will be great to see you, Steve. Amber, you should come. :)

Edited: Jul 13, 2019, 12:46am

81) The Demon Breed by James H. Schmitz
Date: 1968

Nile Etlund is a scientist stationed on the water-planet Nandy-Cline, when her colleague Ticos Cay goes missing. In fact, Cay has been kidnapped by Parahuans, reptiloid aliens who are plotting a takeover of Nandy-Cline. So when Nile goes looking for Cay she falls into a Parahuan trap. For the rest of the book she dodges Parahuans, rescues the scientist in distress, and subverts the Parahuan invasion before it starts properly. And she has this otterish sidekick whom you're going to love.

This was the title for a group read last month -- and honest, I began it last month but you know, one thing and another, and I only really sat down with it this week. It's quite good: plot-driven, yes, but really well done. THere's more discussion over on the group read thread.

I debated whether I should count this, because it's only one title in an even larger volume, which I'm not going to read in its entirety right now. But what the heck, I've counted shorter works so I'm counting this one too.

Edited: Jul 13, 2019, 1:02am

82 Rise of the Jumbies / Tracey Baptiste
Date: 2017

Sequel to The Jumbies, which I read earlier this year because the author was a guest at our Children's Literature Festival. It's a series aimed a middle grades, set on an unidentified Caribbean island, drawing on Trinidadian folktales about "jumbie" spirits. In this second volume children are disappearing from the island and jumbies are presumed to be responsible. Corinne and her friends go for help to the water-spirit Mama D'Leau, travel with mermaids to Ghana, and confront some unfinished business from book one. I'm still enjoying this seriess, and will read the next when it comes out this fall.

The gorgeous cover is by Vivienne To, who also did the irresistible cover for The Jumbies

Edited: Jul 13, 2019, 9:00pm

83) DAW #167: Star / C.I. Defontenay
Date: 1975 (Original French publication 1854)

A Himalayan expedition is interrupted by a meteor, which triggers a rockslide. In the rubble is discovered a metal chest which contains documents describing the history and geography of a distant planetary system, including samples of literature. The documents tell of a culture developing on the planet Star: its tall, graceful and sophisticated light-skinned race the Starians; and its subservient, hairy and base darker race the repleus.

As far as I can tell, this is the first English publication of Star, the only "science fiction" work of the 19th-century French physician Charlemagne Ischir Defontenay. According to an introduction by Pierre Versins it attracted little attention at the time, except that it was attacked by the popular astronomer Camille Flammarion for its fanciful astrophysics -- a criticism which is both not wrong and not the point. The jacket copy calls it an "almost forgotten classic", which begs the definition of "classic" but whatever. It's fair to say an almost-forgotten *work* from science fiction's early years. Just what sort of work is hard to say: it is not really a novel in the sense of having characters and plot: it's constructed instead of historical and pseudo-scientific exposition, together with excerpts from Starian poetry, drama, and travel literature. It prioritizes exposition over narrative, and so reminds me more of 16th and 17th-century Utopian works than it does the science-adventure stories that Jules Verne was pioneering. It resembles the kind of thing Olaf Stapledon would do some 75 years later, so it's interesting as a precursor to that.

It has its strengths: Defontenay's environments are imaginatively detailed and the idea of a discovered body of nonterrestrial literature is appealing; but his preoccupation with racial hierarchy is .... mmmm ... let's just say it's likely to turn off modern readers. It's an interesting work, but I can't imagine it becoming a "classic," nor can I recommend it except as a historical curiosity.

Cover is by George Barr.

Jul 13, 2019, 9:51pm

>208 swynn: How DARE you compare any work of fiction to Stapledon's inept, ungainly, antidote-to-pleasure typings?!

Abase yourself before Charlemagne Ischir Defontenay's shrine in the Hall of the Ancestors!

...and now I wanna read this weird little curiosity...

Jul 13, 2019, 9:59pm

>208 swynn:

and so reminds me more of 16th and 17th-century Utopian works

I was thinking exactly that just as you said it. :D

Edited: Jul 14, 2019, 6:36pm

>209 richardderus: If you find it I suspect you may find the comparison to Stapledon apt. Pleasure is I think not the aim, but unfamiliar as I am with the contemprary French scene I am not sure just what the aim is. He's oddly interested in land use.

>210 lyzard: Great minds, Liz!

Jul 14, 2019, 5:39pm

>211 swynn: It's on Kindle! I am *gob*smacked* at that. I won't invest $5.99 on what bids fair to be a ghastly read, but maybe in a more flush economic time....

Jul 14, 2019, 6:39pm

>212 richardderus: I agree that $5.99 is more than the pleasure it's likely to bring.

Jul 18, 2019, 12:55am

84) DAW #168: Warlord's World / Christopher Anvil
Date: 1975

Interstellar Patrol agent Vaughan Roberts is taking some vacation on a casino world when he notices an attractive woman who he somehow *knows* is in need of rescue. She does need rescuing (of course) and she turns out to be princess of Freehold and sister to Freehold's rightful heir. In rescuing the princess, Roberts discovers a dastardly plot to take over Freehold. The IP determines that the best way to intervene is an "inside job": Roberts will trade bodies with the Prince and fight the baddies as the heir.

It's dated but pulpy fun. It's also a missed opportunity-- the villain is motivated by ambitions that can't be satisfied within the planet's feudal social structure. He sort of has a point, so to make him obvioiusly bad Anvil makes him an unscrupulous schemer and a creepy predator for the Princess's innocence. This lets Anvil deliver a tidy happy ending while dodging larger questions about just what sorts of societies are propped up by the Interstellar Patrol. But to the extent one can ignore such niggling questions it's fun stuff.

Cover is by Kelly Freas.

Jul 18, 2019, 1:44am

**Running Post**

Battles with a creeping crud cut mileage last week, but things are going pretty well this week, so hoping for better numbers soon.

Mileage last week: 9 miles.
Mileage this year: 415 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 18 miles
Monday weigh-in: (no weigh-in again)

Soundtrack: Down in the Flood by the Derek Trucks Band / Tedeschi Trucks Band
BPM: 114

I love this cover of a Dylan song. It was one of the first songs in my playlist when I started running almost 10 years ago, and it's still there.

Jul 20, 2019, 2:57pm

So The Rule of One has given me a brand-new grammatical pet peeve:


Seizing the opportunity for pedantry, I'll point out that the second person pronoun "y'all" is a contraction of the expression "you all", so the apostrophe goes between the first and second letters: "y'all."

I conjecture that the editor here has chosen "ya'll" as a parallel to contractions with "will" like "I'll", "they'll", etc. But that just makes me read "ya'll" as "ya will" which in context is just silly:

"Sorry about that sour welcome, thought ya'll mighta been spies."

"I've been waitin' for ya'll."

"Ya'll must be somethin' special."


Seriously, who doesn't know this? Must be Yankees I expect.

Jul 20, 2019, 3:00pm

>216 swynn: Sadly, that bit of grammatical nous is all too uncommon. I see "ya'll" quite a lot, and each time it affronts me afresh.

Jul 20, 2019, 3:09pm

>217 richardderus: !!?! That's the first time I've noticed it. Must. Read. More ....

Jul 20, 2019, 6:07pm

>216 swynn: I'm surprised you just noticed this. I first started seeing it at least a dozen years ago. I do not see it often, unlike the uncountable times I see people who were born to loose. I don't think I've seen ya'll printed in a book yet however, at least not that I noticed.

Jul 21, 2019, 8:24am

>219 RBeffa: If I have seen it before, I must have assumed it was a typographical error. That was my inclination the first time I saw it here. It wasn't until the third ya'll that I realized it was an editorial decision.

The *wrong* editorial decision, just in case that horse isn't dead yet.

Jul 22, 2019, 11:27am

85) The Cuckoo's Calling / Robert Galbraith
Date: 2013

As I'm *way* behind the popularity curve on this series, you probably don't need me to tell you whether you want to read it or not. I found it okay but very rambly.

Edited: Jul 22, 2019, 12:34pm

86) The Rule of One / Ashley and Leslie Saunders
Date: 2018

YA dystopia about a near-future America where families are allowed only one child. Our heroes are a pair of twins who have spent their lives pretending to be a single person. When their secret is discovered they go on the run.

It's pretty much what you expect from YA dystopia: angsty first-person prose where teenagers outsmart adults who really should know better. The only thing missing is a love triangle, and I'll be surprised if the sequel doesn't deliver one of those.

The world is not well explored: this near-future world is supposed to be oppressive in several ways, including climate change, a surveillance society, and autocratic government, but the story reduces everything to the injustice of family planning. It also offers no alternatives. Like it or not, a birth control policy could be less cruel than what will naturally come with overpopulation and climate change. Okay, so the fictional one-child policy here is cartoonishly evil but what you got better? The story can't be bothered to wonder. As YA thriller it's okay and I might read the next but won't rush to it.

Jul 22, 2019, 8:55pm

>221 swynn: I *think* they get better in terms of rambly-ness, but I might just have Stockholm Syndrome. I do enjoy the series, though. It's not a "gotta get the new one right now" series for me, but I try to stay reasonably up to date.

Jul 23, 2019, 10:03am

>223 rosalita: That's encouraging, I didn't dislike it, just wanted it to pick up the pace. I'll give volume 2 a try sometime.

Edited: Jul 24, 2019, 1:38am

**Running Post**

Back to the scheduled running volume and feeling good this week. Finally got into the gym yesterday for a weigh-in, which was not exactly great but not as bad as I'd worried.

Mileage last week: 18 miles.
Mileage this year: 433 miles
Longest run: 5 miles
Target mileage this week: 19 miles
Monday weigh-in: 254 pounds

Soundtrack: Plastic Hamburgers by Fantastic Negrito
BPM: 82

Jul 25, 2019, 7:17pm

Hi, Steve! I hope we're still a go for our meetup on Saturday? Prairie Lights Books at 10 a.m.!

Jul 25, 2019, 9:42pm

I'll be there.

Jul 26, 2019, 7:48am

Me too. See you tomorrow,!

Jul 26, 2019, 12:40pm

Don't forget the meet-up photos!!

Aug 1, 2019, 10:53pm

So last weekend, Julia (rosalita) and Beth (BLBera) and I met in Iowa City. We chatted over coffee, wandered the Prairie Lights bookstore -- books were bought -- then refueled at Micky's Irish Pub next door. Here is the picture, as Roni requested. That's swynn Jr., myself, Julia, and Beth. Mrs. Swynn is behind the camera.

Here's Mrs. Swynn:

And finally, here's the loot:

I love getting together with other 75ers, and these meetups are always a highlight of my year. Anyone else who'd like to join in ... you know, the Iowa City Book Festival is October 1-6. Just sayin.

Aug 1, 2019, 11:01pm

Mileage last week: 19 miles.
Mileage this year: 452 miles
Longest run: 6 miles
Target mileage this week: 20 miles
Monday weigh-in: 254 pounds

Soundtrack: Hvy Mtl Drmr by Des Rocs
BPM: 81

Edited: Aug 1, 2019, 11:56pm

I seem to have a reading slump every summer, and that is certainly the case again this year. So I'll blame part of my recently low activity on the season. But John ****ing Norman has to take some credit.

87) DAW #169: Time Slave by John Norman
Date: 1975
Tagline: They crossed 50,000 years to regain humanity's youth

You may recognize "John Norman" as the author of the Gor novels, that John Carter pastiche with dom/sub kink. This is a standalone time-travel novel with dom/sub kink. You have been warned.

Mathematician Brenda Hamilton goes to the Rhodesian bush, expecting to participate in a research project. But when she arrives Hamilton is given few responsibilities and is not allowed to leave the compound. It turns out that the project is a time machine and that Hamilton is to be its cargo: the researchers mean to send her back into humanity's past where they hope she will be accepted into a Cro-Magnon tribe. But first the researchers must tame her modern feminist spirit with a program of imprisonment, humiliation, and punishment. When she is ready they send her back into prehistory, where she is soon taken prisoner by one of the top warriors of a hunting tribe. There follows more imprisonment, humiliation, and punishment, but far from dehumanizing her the treatment makes Hamilton feel for the first time like a fulfilled woman.

It's a lot like a Gor novel, really, but with a plot that lets Norman develop some -- well, let's call them notions -- about human evolution. His point seems to be that hunter-gatherer societies are a more natural social structure than agricultural societies because -- in Normanland anyway -- in hunting tribes men are dominant, women are submissive, and nobody is burdened by pesky things like property, inheritance laws, priests, and domination by women and weak men. But with the development of agriculture all of those things began to plague our existence. Now, agriculture is important because without it we would never have developed the technology to go into space. But as humans expand among the stars, we can return to our hunting roots and become authentic (dominant) men and authentic (submissive) women once again -- if only thousands of years of evolution haven't completely killed the hunter spirit.

I think that's the idea anyway. The exposition is actually pretty long-winded and outrageous and full of run-on sentences punctuated by semicolons and parentheses. So I've probably missed some nuance. If it sounds awful then I've succeeded at least in part because it really *is* awful. And what it lacks in quality it makes up in length. Well, 380 closely-typeset pages, so it's not exactly Fifty Shades of Forever Amber but it's almost twice as long as the average DAW book so far.

In fairness, John Norman's kink is not my kink so it's likely there is something terribly clever that I'm missing. To the extent that it's meant to be taken seriously -- an extent I'm unsure of -- it feels like an unpleasant overwrought revenge fantasy written by someone who never got over his first crush. Good news is, it's over. Bad news is, there's another Gor novel coming up too soon in the DAW project, a book I'll probably reach around the end of the year.

Cover is by Gino D'Achille.

Aug 2, 2019, 12:04am


Fifty Shades of Forever Amber

So which level of hell is it that traps you on a bell curve with John Norman at one extremity and ponderously overlong best-sellers at the other?

Aug 2, 2019, 9:15am

>233 lyzard: I'm not sure what level it is, but I'm ready for the next. Scrolling back up through recent reads, it strikes me that the last couple of months have had a preponderance of underwhelming reads. I wouldn't mind having my socks knocked off soon. Fortunately, my current Kindle read makes me laugh -- and by design, not in frustration or bafflement.

Aug 2, 2019, 1:31pm

>230 swynn: Yes!

>232 swynn: NO!!!

Better reads ahead, Steve.

Aug 2, 2019, 2:00pm

Thanks, Richard! I do have a couple good ones coming soon, if only the lazy summer days will let me finish them.
This topic was continued by swynn's thread for 2019: volume 3.