#14 – The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi

#14 – The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi

I love me some John Scalzi.  Seriously.  His space epics are the best.  Seriously.

I was totally chuffed to see a message from Amazon saying my pre-order had shipped… and when it got here… first editioooooooon!.  Yum!  But.  I had (had to… cuz the book I was reading was such a chore.  Not.) to finish the book I was currently immersed in, and then I had to take a break for a day to let that story settle… kinda like waiting for that turkey and stuffing to settle before you head on in for pie and coffee…  But once I dug in…. I sat and finished before the day was over, and I didn’t even have to stay up late.

So, imagine a universe where faster-than-light travel is possible because of the discovery of a “thing” called the Flow… an extradimensional field that touch ours at certain points in space-time…. imagine humanity spread amongst the stars, on many planets that can only be reached through this Flow.  Now imagine that Flow, collapsing and disappearing, leaving pockets of humanity stranded… that beginning is where this book is set.  I will be having a hard time waiting for the next installment.  I should have probably read more slowly.  😛

Life has been a little bit like getting knocked down, dragged through the mud, propped up and fed into a taffy pulling machine, dunked into a barrel of sour beer and then left draped over the railing of the deck to dry.  A bit of a foot injury, which made it difficult to impossible to get around, had to call in to work and keep off the foot, keep it elevated, keep it iced, and then… something else pops in my ankle and a very odd divot has appeared in my  shin.. and well… it goes on from there.  Along with that I have been low on energy and in a bit of a funk.  My only escape has been the books.  I am so looking forward to telling you about the series I have been gobbling, but you will just have to wait.  For now.  Go, explore John Scalzi and his space epics.  Next time I will have a whole new series for you to get lost in.

For me… I’m headed to the porch, book in hand, to see what happens next with Hadrian and Royce.  Oop.  Little hint for you.

Oh… and here is Bearbear… keeping me sane even if I can’t go walkies like he wants… Just to leave you with a smile.

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#6 – The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North

#6 –  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North

Alright.  To be honest, I didn’t love this book at first.  To be honest, I started it and then put it down for something else.

When I picked it up again and started reading it must have been the right time and the right place in my life as I easily overcame what I had thought I didn’t like the first time and quickly got into the meat of the story.

An interesting and engaging story about a man (and some of the others) who live their lives, die and then are reborn back into their previous life.  At around age 3 or so they begin to remember who they are and the life they lived before.  Sometimes it goes well.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Once the person is found by an organization of similar folks, their successive rebirths become easier.  But not necessarily their lives.  I was intrigued and very much liked the main character.  So much so that I got angry at him when he was a numpty.

But more than a good story this book got me to thinking.  About my own life.  About dying.  About what lies in store after… and could it be that I might die and be reborn back into my life once again.  An interesting twist to the age-old conundrum… If you could go back to 16, your 20’s or any other age, what would you do different?

Now, normally I skim through the book club questions that are becoming more and more prominent in the backs of books today.  Often they give me a chuckle, but more often they annoy the crap out of me.  Why on earth would you want to tear this story apart and over think all that as just happened?  This time, the very first question really got in the feels and I have been pondering it all day.  “Do you envy Harry in any way?  If you were destined to live your life over and over again, would you see it as a blessing or a curse?”  What I have come to decide, I think… for now… is that it would totally depend on how each life went.  Harry’s life was never quite the same.  Each time he would try different things and the people from previous lives never quite lived the same lives either, whether that be a linear life or a oroboran one.  I find that I would go to my death desperately afraid I would not have my beloved Beardface in the next one.  And what of my children?  Would I be able to go forward with different people?  Would I be able to watch Beardface go off and do the things he didn’t do because of our relationship and how we grew together?  I have a feeling that if I were to become aware of my past life as a child I would become a very quiet and withdrawn thing, afraid of never having the love the joy that I have had so far in this one.

And then… the devil on the other shoulder gives me a poke and points out all the adventures I didn’t have in this life that I could have in another if I lived it different….

Claire North you get a definite 5.  I will be looking for your other book “Touch” when next I go to the bookstore.  Very well written, very engaging and intriguing story.  Thank you for entertaining me and making me think.

#5 – A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke

#5 – A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke

Snagged this beauty at a library sale of strictly science fiction and fantasy.  I think they were a dollar a book…  Beardface and I left there with almost the entire sale.  It was full of older sci-fi, a lot of it we had not yet read or did not have in our collection.  You can look forward to more of these gems as the year goes on!

Now I’ve read quite a bit of Mr. Clarke, but most of it was his more main stream works.  This one is nowhere near mainstream, and probably for good reasons.  It was enjoyable and fun, full of interesting science conundrums but nowhere near as insightful or prophetic as some of his bigger works, although he does make some interesting observations.

I love me the old sci-fi, but as I get older I realize just how sexist they are.  Yes I know it was a different era.  Yes I know it was a boys club back then.  But that does not make them any less difficult for those of us ladies who love the genre today.  I cannot read hardly any of Jules Verne.  Some of his things are so anti female you feel like you are breaking laws just by cracking the cover.  But anyway.  I digress.

Normally I am a fully submerged reader.  I don’t over think things, I just like to get into the story and run.  This book was the first that made me want to take notes.  I don’t like taking notes, but I did whilst reading this one and it actually added to my enjoyment of the thing.  Very weird for me.  Very.  I actually took a Coursera class a couple of years ago, thinking it would be fun.  It was a class about the history of science fiction and fantasy.  And it was fun.  But I didn’t make it through the entire class because I became exhausted with how hard the reading was.  It was soul sucking to me to have to take notes at the level required in order to answer the essay questions.  It was fun and interesting to get your classmate’s considerations on your essays though, I must admit.  But.  Again I get off subject.

The first instance I realized I wanted to remember something I’d read was when Mr. Clarke talked about tv censorship being set aside in the 80’s and the programming it led to.  Then I was giggly and a little over come by some of the “high-tech” devices of the world, teletype, paper print outs (on the moon where people live).  I decided one had to put oneself into a special mindset in order to read the very old science fiction or one could very easily lose the fun of the story by wallowing in the science the author got wrong.

I really did like this story though.  In it, a cruise ship that took tourists around a sea of dust on the moon gets sucked into a pocket and sinks.  The majority of the story is about the group of people in the ship and those that work to rescue them.  Suspense is held very well with more than once you are sure that the outcome will not be good.  While they were stuck, to keep moral up and to distract from imminent death, the passengers take to sharing the small amount of reading material they have by taking turns reading aloud.  One of the books they read is Shane, a western novel by Jack Schaefer, originally published in 1949, 12 years before A Fall of Moondust was published.  In the front of the book is a forward written for that republishing of somewhere in the 2000’s where spaceflight has been going on since the 1970’s.  It delighted and fascinated me.  It talked about space and cowboys and why the western went out of style until the frontiers of space opened up.  The author of the forward talks about new space being like the old west… and of course… all I can think about is Firefly… and space cowboys.  🙂

Anyway.  If you can set aside the idea that specific things did not happen on the specific dates that are now in our past, give this lovely book a try.  There are fun characters and an interesting solution to an unusual problem.  Arthur C. Clarke is a Grand Master for a reason!

… and just for visual reference.  Beardface and me aboard the Liberty Clipper enroute to the Bahamas… You wanna have fun?  Book a cruise on a tall ship.  Just saying.  Oh, and wear a patch.  Seriously.  Wear a patch.

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