Friday, July 31, 2009

Makers 12 - Cory Doctorow

"Her phone rang. Kettlewell.

“Hi, Kettlewell,” she said.

“Where have you been?” he said. He sounded really edgy. It was the middle of the night in California.

“I’m in St Petersburg,” she said. “In Russia. I only found out about ten seconds ago. What happened?”

“Oh Christ. Who knows? Cascading failure. Fell short of last quarter’s estimates, which started a slide. Then a couple lawsuits filed. Then some unfavorable press. The share price kept falling, and things got worse. Your basic clusterfuck.”"

4 out of 5

Carpe Manana - Richard A. Lovett

Statis trials.

3.5 out of 5

The Valor Of Cappen Varra - Poul Anderson

Just go get rid of the trolls, you wimp.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Makers 11 - Cory Doctorow

"Gradually, the robots made an appearance. Most of them humped along like inchworms, carrying chunks of new playground apparatus in coils of their long bodies. Some deployed manipulator arms, though they didn’t have much by way of hands at their ends. “We just use rare-earth magnets,” Fiona said. “Less fiddly than trying to get artificial vision that can accurately grasp the bars.”"

4 out of 5

The Nostalgist - Daniel H. Wilson

Not a real boy, grandpa.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's He Doing In There? - Fritz Leiber

Soggy snoozing.

3 out of 5

The Revenants - Judith Tarr

Kid, think we'll stick with civilisation and dinos in cages.

3.5 out of 5

The Integrity Of the Chain - Lavie Tidhar

Other tuk-tuk, with spaceship.

3 out of 5

Warm - Robert Sheckley

Gestalt body view.

3.5 out of 5

Escape Hatch - B. W. Clough

Only bits of Paddy left, Faerie.

3 out of 5

Sky Pirates 9 - John Shirley

"What is this Crescentium anyway?" asked Jann, leaning back and closing his eyes. He didn't really care--he thought he should make himself say something, from time to time, so the others would not feel they must provoke him into speaking. Conversation could be maddening, in prison, he was to learn, but at times it also kept them sane.

"Why," said Moss, "it's the stuff of interstellar drives--it's how you drive a starcraft without mind quanta. The metal is found in the stone in crescent shape pieces shaped like an early moon."

Jann remembered, then: Subjected to certain frequencies of light, crescentium released quantum-jump energy--the first Crescentium was discovered on one of the moons of Saturn.

"But it's expensive," Moss went on. "Much cheaper to use the quantum mindstuff of slaves...""

3.5 out of 5

Sky Pirates 8 - John Shirley

"This was confirmed as the froggish face split in a grin and the man went on, "I'm a 'Dirt Lord' from Xantipix," said the Stumper. The residents of heavy planets were called Stumpers in the interstellar vernacular. Like Jann and the Alpha Centauran, the Stumper wore featureless prison coveralls the color of luminous bile; over each prisoner's right pectoral was a scan-code indicating his number and crime.

"A Dirt Lord?" Jann was trying to be polite. "Is that, er, a kind of, ah..."

"He's toying with your head, there, because you said you were a DemiLord, don't you know," said the Centauran. "

3.5 out of 5

The Time Bender 1-9 - Keith Laumer

"Something clanked against his leg. He looked down. He was wearing a coat of claret velvet, breeches of brown doeskin, gleaming, soft leather boots that came up to his thigh, a pair of jeweled pistols and an elaborate rapier with a worn hilt. Wonderingly, he gripped it, drew it halfway from the sheath; the sleek steel glittered in the light from the windows across the way.

Not quite what he'd ordered; he looked as though he were on his way to a fancy-dress ball. He still had a lot to learn about this business of self-hypnosis.

There was a startled yell from the dark street to O'Leary's right, then a string of curses. A man darted into view, clad in dingy white tights with a flap seat, no shoes. He shied as he saw O'Leary, turned and dashed off in the opposite direction. O'Leary gaped. A man! Rather an eccentric specimen, but still . . .

Other footsteps were approaching now. It was a boy, in wooden shoes and leather apron, a wool cap on his head. He wore tattered knee pants, and carried a basket from which the neck of a plucked goose dangled, and he was whistling Alexander's Ragtime Band.

Without a glance at O'Leary, the lad hurried by; the sound of the shoes and the whistling receded. O'Leary grinned. It seemed to be a sort of medieval scene he had cooked up, except for the anachronistic popular tune; somehow it was comforting to know that his subconscious wasn't above making a slip now and then.

From behind the tavern windows, he heard voices raised in song, a clash of crockery; he sniffed, caught the odors of wood smoke, candle wax, ale, roast fowl. He was hungry, he realized with a pang. Taffy and sardines weren't enough.

There was a new noise now: a snorting, huffing sound, accompanied by a grumbling, like a boulder rolling slowly over a pebbled beach. A bell dinged. A dark shape trundled into view, lanterns slung from its prow casting long shadows that fled along the street. A tall stack belched smoke; steam puffed from a massive piston at the side of the cumbersome vehicle. It moved past, its iron-bound wooden wheels thudding on the uneven stones. Lafayette caught a glimpse of a red-faced man in a tricorn hat, perched high up above the riveted boiler. The steam car rumbled on its way, a red lantern bobbing at its tail gate. O'Leary shook his head; he hadn't gotten that out of a history book. Grinning, he hitched up his belt.

The door of the Ax and Dragon swung open, spilling light on the cobbles. A fat man tottered out, waved an arm, staggered off up the narrow street, warbling tunelessly. Before the door shut, Lafayette caught a glimpse of a warm interior, a glowing fire, low beams, the gleam of polished copper and brass, heard the clamor of voices, the thump of beer mugs banged on plank tables."

3 out of 5

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Makers 10 - Cory Doctorow

"The workshop was another dead mall, this one a horseshoe of storefronts separated by flimsy gyprock. The Westinghousers had cut through the walls with drywall knives to join all the stores together. The air was permeated with the familiar Saran-Wrap-in-a-microwave tang of 3D printers. The parking lot was given over to some larger apparatus and a fantastical children’s jungle-gym in the shape of a baroque, spired pirate fortress, with elegantly curved turrets, corkscrew sky-bridges, and flying buttresses crusted over with ornate, grotesque gargoyles. Children swarmed over it like ants, screeching with pleasure."

3 out of 5

Bone Shop 04 - Tim Pratt

""Fuck." She was pretty sure there hadn't been ten-foot-tall robots with iron faces wielding double-headed axes in Victorian England, but now one was advancing toward her from out of the fog, slicing through streetlamps with his axe as it came.

The axe alone was as big as her, and sharp enough to shear through the metal lampposts cleanly. The arms and legs were piston-driven black metal, face a barred metal grate with a single glowing red eye. It was kind of ridiculous looking, really. Also big.

Her knife, on the other hand, suddenly seemed entirely too small. Which meant running away was the proper course of action, though it rankled her.

"Marla, this way!" Jenny Click shouted from somewhere behind her, and Marla spun and ran for the voice. The fact that Jenny was hovering about three feet above the ground, surrounded by a nimbus of flickering orange-yellow flame that lit the fog around her into a fuzzily luminous aura, didn't make Marla pause. Apparently she had a threshold for being taken aback by the impossible, and she'd crossed it in the past few moments. "Duck down that alley," Jenny said, pointing one flame-dripping hand. "I'll take care of this thing." "

4.5 out of 5

Bone Shop 05 - Tim Pratt

"Artie shook his head. "Like I said, messed up, but it gave me an idea. I used to fuck any girl who'd have me, and I jerked off about four or five times a day – sorry, probably more than you want to know, but anyway – and I got to thinking about some of the old occult writers, who thought jizz was like a potent emission of life energy, and I thought, why am I wasting that energy on a wad of tissue paper? So... I figured out how to become a magical penis thief of the Congo, right here in Felport. I worked out a spell to make my dick disappear." He spread his hands. "Now I can't jerk off if I want to, I can't fuck, nothing, but I still want to, and all that sexual energy just builds up in me... and I can tap that pent-up power to do magic. I bought a bunch of strip clubs and a porno theater, stuff like that, just to rev up the frustration even more. I'm a perpetual living battery of magical power. Funny thing is, sometimes I do host orgies, because it drives me crazy seeing people screw on my furniture, and generates even more power." "

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Hated - Frederik Pohl

Space hero psychic rehab.

3.5 out of 5

Sky Pirates 7 - John Shirley

"The battle was a few hundred yards away in a field of grain--about two dozen Kastillians had been surprised at their landed flyers by a force of Free Ranchers in buckskin and rough woolen tunics, near the edge of a creeper-field. Even as Jann came upon the scene, the Ranchers charged, some riding tallies and others on foot, firing crossbows and brandishing the long slim double-edged scimitars typical of Paradine Plainsmen. And there--in the midst of the men charging--was Vonn!"

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sky Pirates 6 - John Shirley

"Jann swung the crossbow and fired from just a yard away at the man in the nearest flyer. The man screamed and clutched at his chest. Then Jann was running, vaulting into the flyer, even as a flash of green burnt past his arm, charring his sleeve. He dropped the crossbow and turned to aim the energy tube left-handed from his own flyer at the oncoming craft—hoping that he had the unfamiliar weapon pointed at the enemy and not at himself. He pressed the stud and a bolt of livid green sizzled from the tube with a reek of ozone. The pilot of the other flyer screamed, clutched at his face which vanished into black char. The craft wobbled off course, flashing past on Jann’s right.

And Jann thought, How quickly it becomes easy to kill...
He looked desperately at the controls of his own flyer—there was a foot pedal, a joystick...It seemed simple..."

3.5 out of 5

Sky Pirates 5 - John Shirley

"“In no sense are you my equal, yokel,” the officer said loudly, showing off for the others. “You are not even the equal of the boy who cleans the crew toilets.” There was a roar of approving laughter from his men. “Now drop that primitive weapon, and get down off that foul smelling beast—washed and gutted, it will make a fine meal for our Autocrats! Then you can go crawling back to your manor—and when I say crawl, I mean crawl!” His crew laughed at that."

4 out of 5

Fool's War 6 - Sarah Zettel

"The Farther Kingdom networked opened around Dobbs. Pathways branched out in a hundred thousand dizzying directions. This wasn't a single network. It was a network of networks. In her brief touches, she could feel knots in some paths that were so snarled it would have taken the entire Guild a week to straighten them out. "

3.5 out of 5

Fool's War 7 - Sarah Zettel

""Long enough," said Cohen, gently. "There wasn't much left of you when we got here."

"There was enough," cut in Havelock gruffly. "As long as you didn't fall back into your body."

Dobbs shivered. If her patterns were too broken and too scattered, she wouldn't be able to reintegrate with her own synapses. She could be left blind, or incapacitated, or simply insane. "

4 out of 5

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sky Pirates 4 - John Shirley

"But again Jann deferred to Vonn and reined his tallie to a trot. They approached the starcraft slowly and indirectly.

Jann felt an almost perverse relief on seeing that the ship was still there. He could make out the mercuric gleam of its triple hemispheres between the tall green poplars; the breeze brought him a few murmurs from the ship’s crew, or perhaps passengers, and the oily smell of landing fuel.

Vonn signaled to dismount and they tied the beasts to a wiry shrub near a patch of green grass."

3.5 out of 5

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Sky Pirates 3 - John Shirley

"He drew the scimitar from its sheath across his back, the drawing motion becoming a downward stroke as he rushed the A’taranda, severing the slashing, taloned forearm so that the A’taranda spurted inky fluid from its neck and the stump of its forearm. The predator shrieked with its vibrating tail and recoiled another step, searching for an angle of attack. Its piercing tube darted out—but Vonn had anticipated this and twisted himself to the right, so that the tube only burned the skin of his left hip, ripping his hunter’s leggings; in the same moment he angled his blade up and drove it deep into the upper thorax of the beast, piercing its primary heart."

3.5 out of 5

Makers 09 - Cory Doctorow

"“I saw my kids,” he said, and grinned. “They’re amazing, you know that? Good kids, unbelievably smart. Real little operators. The older one, Anushka, is running a baby-sitting service—not baby-sitting herself, you see, but recruiting other kids to do the sitting for her while she skims a management fee and runs the quality control.”

“She’s your daughter all right,” she said. “So tell me everything about the Westinghouse projects.”"

3.5 out of 5

Makers 08 - Cory Doctorow

"“I was just in Greensboro, Miss,” the PhD candidate said. He was in his mid-twenties, young and slick, his only nod to academe a small goatee. “I used to spend summers there with my grandpa.” He talked fast, flecks of spittle in the corners of his mouth, eyes wide, fork stabbing blindly at the bits of crab-cake on his plate. “There wasn’t anything left there, just a couple gas-stations and a 7-Eleven, shit, they’d even closed the Wal-Mart. But now, but now, it’s alive again, it’s buzzing and hopping. Every empty storefront is full of people playing and tinkering, just a little bit of money in their pockets from a bank or a company or a fund. They’re doing the dumbest things, mind you: tooled-leather laptop cases, switchblade knives with thumb drives in the handles, singing and dancing lawn-Santas that yodel like hillbillies.”"

3.5 out of 5

Deluge 28 - Brian Keene

“What are we fighting today?” Novak asked. “Not those fucking shark men again, I hope?”

“No.” Gail shook her head. “This is something new. They’re like sliver piranha, but with wings.”

4.5 out of 5

Forever - Robert Sheckley

Project immortality Undertakering.

3.5 out of 5

Old Rambling House - Frank Herbert

Strange trade.

3 out of 5

Sky Pirates 2 - John Shirley

"Jann sought for Vonn a Vleet in the likeliest place for hunting A’taranda, the northern reach of the Viney Woods, near the village of Harvesters’ bungalows. He wondered if he should go to the Golldens first, and the A’Slenns, and to Grall e Drimi Manor, and warn them about the starcraft. But his friends from those manors were away to college in Lapis—Jann had shrugged college off, deciding that instruction from Vonn was all he needed. The other manormen might well regard him as a troublesome alarmist. Leave the Kastillians alone and they'll leave us alone, they'd probably say. But Vonn had taught him to mistrust Kastillians--especially Kastillians who landed without permission. And these had killed one of his behemoths."

3 out of 5

Slow Sculpture - Theodore Sturgeon

Charged cancer cure.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sky Pirates 1 - John Shirley

"Liana was just emerging from a cloud three hundred yards off—and he raised a hand to wave, grinning at her.

But had she not seen him? It seemed to him that she had pretended not to.

He decided she was playing a game—he was supposed to pursue. He laughed and shouted his command, and Aleshna set off in pursuit.

Liana seemed to have turned back, toward home. Jann followed, urging Aleshna to greater speed. The more powerful behemoth quickly overtook Liana, and he drew alongside, the stubby wingtips of their mounts just a yard apart. Liana wore a lady’s flying suit of buckskin, beaded in blue and red, tight-fitting and cut to expose her waist and cleavage. There was something particularly provocative about the thigh-length boots. He noticed that she carried a leather messenger bag on a strap over one shoulder. They were used for urgent contracts and letters of negotiation, when transmission was insecure.

“Hey-yo, Liana!” he shouted. “Slow down! Is there a ‘gagement I should know about?” Skyherders sometimes played a game in which behemoth riders captured trained birds in nets: each game was divided into four ‘gagements. "

3.5 out of 5

Ack-Ack Macaque - Gareth L. Powell

Everybody loves the monkey until it goes a bit Skynet.

4 out of 5

The Fiddler Of Bayou Teche - Delia Sherman

Dance marathon bet.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Makers 07 - Cory Doctorow

"“They need the tools that will let them build anything else, for free, and use it or sell it.” He gestured at the rapid prototyping machines they had, the 3D printer and scanner setups. “I mean something like that, but I want it to be capable of printing out the parts necessary to assemble another one. Machines that can reproduce themselves.”

Francis shifted in his seat. “What are they supposed to do with those?”

“Everything,” Perry said, his eye glinting. “Make your kitchen fixtures. Make your shoes and hat. Make your kids’ toys—if it’s in the stores, it should be a downloadable too. Make toolchests and tools. Make it and build it and sell it. Make other printers and sell them. Make machines that make the goop we feed into the printers. Teach a man to fish, Francis, teach a man to fucking fish. No top-down ‘solutions’ driven by ‘market research’”—his finger-quotes oozed sarcasm—“the thing that we need to do is make these people the authors of their own destiny.”"

3.5 out of 5

The Velvet Glove - Harry Harrison

Robot drug bust hire.

3 out of 5

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Hour Of Battle - Robert Sheckley

Think we'll blast 'em out of space?

2.5 out of 5

Beside Still Waters - Robert Sheckley

Robot good, girls, not so much.

3 out of 5

Cost Of Living - Robert Sheckley

Appliance hard sell.

3.5 out of 5

Floating Worlds - Cecilia Holland

"He sat down in the chair beside Paula's, and she shut the file. Bunker said, "In the past thirty-six months there have been twenty-one reported shooting incidents between ships of the Styth Empire and ships from either the Council Fleet or the Martian Army. All these shootings have been below the asteroid Vesta. Eight have been below Mars. The Council wants us—" his voice rose to a singsong, "to negotiate a truce and any other permanent or semi-permanent arrangements necessary to maintain the peace." He was slumped down in the chair, his head against the back. "The Council never asks us to do anything possible."

"Shooting incidents," Paula said. She had heard nothing about any shootings. "Is it serious?"

They both laughed, humorless, and she heard how stupid she had sounded. Jefferson put a candy into her mouth. "More serious is that we can't seem to reach the Styths."

"They keep to themselves," Paula said. Most of the mutant race lived in Uranus, billions of miles away.

"Not any more," Bunker said. "Do you have any idea why they might be coming here now?""

3.5 out of 5

Makers 06 - Cory Doctorow

"Perry looked up. “You’ve asked me to come up with something new and incredible every three to six months. Well, this is new and incredible. We’ve built a living lab on our doorstep for exploring an enormous market opportunity to provide low-cost, sustainable technology for use by a substantial segment of the population who have no fixed address. There are millions of American squatters and billions of squatters worldwide. They have money to spend and no one else is trying to get it from them.”

Kettlewell thrust his chin forward. “How many millions? How much money do they have to spend? How do you know that any of this will make us a single cent? Where’s the market research? Was there any? Or did you just invite a hundred hobos to pitch their tent out front of my factory on the strength of your half-assed guesses?”

Lester held up a hand. “We don’t have any market research, Kettlewell, because we don’t have a business-manager on the team anymore. Perry’s been taking that over as well as his regular work, and he’s been working himself sick for you. We’re flying by the seat of our pants here because you haven’t sent us a pilot.”"

4 out of 5

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing - James Enge

On Blood Of Ambrose, Morlock Ambrosius, H. G. Wells and more. Otherwise known as episode 79.

4.5 out of 5

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Man From Time - Frank Belknap Long

We go back, you clod.

2.5 out of 5

Piece de Resistance - Judith Tarr

"It was a rare diversion between battles and tournaments, invasions of Saracens and invasions of pilgrims: a struggle for the mastery of the royal kitchen."

3 out of 5

Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters - Tim Pratt

Satire, but not completely over the top. Captain America loved his sidekick in that way, so to speak. However, this version is a reality-alterer, not a super soldier, and is trapped in an amnesiac no short term memory since 1945, when his partner died.

An evil super villain (her name is Kelli, very scary) is plotting to do bad things, and has broken into the superhuman holding facility as a feint, and stolen Josef Mengele back.

The only person that can stop her is the amnesiac Captain Fantasy - to try and produce a functioning brain, they use a shapeshifter to play the role of his old partner.

A very scary place to be for this young man, who happens to be a straight Asian, with no super soldier martial or athletic prowess.

This is surprisingly good.

4 out of 5

The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles - Kij Johnson

Pussy footer, beast who cannot drive.

2.5 out of 5

Space Week Pointing At the Moon - Vylar Kaftan

Hypertopology wormhome scope. Juicy.

3 out of 5

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Souls Along the Meridian - Jacci Olson

Tram driver kill ritual weird girl watch.

3.5 out of 5

Wind-Up Boogeyman - Elizabeth Bear

There's a serial killer UNSUB gamma in East Buttfuck Missouri.

3.5 out of 5

Joseph Mallozi weblog Q&A - James Enge

Fans of the former interrogate the latter.

4.5 out of 5

Agony Column Night Shade and ebooks - Jeremy Lassen

Also, bits on Jay Lake and Locus.

5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Makers 05 - Cory Doctorow

" Perry thought that they’d sell a million Home Awares in six months. Lester thought he was nuts, that number was too high.

“Please,” he said, “I invented these things but there aren’t a million roommate households in all of America. We’ll sell half a million tops, total.

Lester always complained when she quoted him directly in her blog posts, but she thought he secretly enjoyed it.

Today the boys shipped their millionth unit. It took six weeks.

They’d uncorked a bottle of champagne when unit one million shipped. They hadn’t actually shipped it, per se. The manufacturing was spread out across forty different teams all across the country, even a couple of Canadian teams. The RFID printer company had re-hired half the workers they’d laid off the year before, and had them all working overtime to meet demand.

What’s exciting about this isn’t just the money that these guys have made off of it, or the money that Kodacell will return to its shareholders, it’s the ecosystem that these things have enabled. There’re at least ten competing commercial systems for organizing, tagging, sharing, and describing Home Aware objects. Parents love them for their kids. School teachers love them. Seniors’ homes.

The seniors’ homes had been Francis’s idea. They’d brought him in to oversee some of the production engineering, along with some of the young braves who ran around the squatter camps. Francis knew which ones were biddable and he kept them to heel. In the evenings, he’d join the guys and Suzanne up on the roof of the workshop on folding chairs, with beers, watching the sweaty sunset.

They’re not the sole supplier. That’s what an ecosystem is all about, creating value for a lot of players. All this competition is great new for you and me, because it’s already driven the price of Home Aware goods down by forty percent. That means that Lester and Perry are going to have to invent something new, soon, before the margin disappears altogether—and that’s also good news for you and me.

“Are you coming?” Lester had dated a girl for a while, someone he met on Craigslist, but she’d dumped him and Perry had confided that she’d left him because he didn’t live up to the press he’d gotten in Suzanne’s column. When he got dumped, he became even touchier about Suzanne, caught at a distance from her that was defined by equal parts of desire and resentment.

“Up in a minute,” she said, trying to keep her smile light and noncommittal. Lester was very nice, but there were times when she caught him staring at her like a kicked puppy and it made her uncomfortable. Naturally, this increased his discomfort as well.

On the roof they already had a cooler of beers going and beside it a huge plastic tub of brightly colored machine-parts.

“Jet engine,” Perry said. The months had put a couple pounds on him and new wrinkles, and given him some grey at the temples, and laugh lines inside his laugh lines. Perry was always laughing at everything around them (”They fucking pay me to do this,” he’d told her once, before literally collapsing to the floor, rolling with uncontrollable hysteria). He laughed again.

“Good old Kettlebelly,” she said. “Must have broken his heart.”

Francis held up a curved piece of cowling. “This thing wasn’t going to last anyway. See the distortion here and here? This thing was designed in a virtual wind-tunnel and machine-lathed. We tried that a couple times, but the wind-tunnel sims were never detailed enough and the forms that flew well in the machine always died a premature death in the sky. Another two years and he’d have had to have it rebuilt anyway, and the Koreans who built this charge shitloads for parts.”"

4 out of 5

Mind Meld Guide to International SFF 4 - Karen Burnham

The fourth part, and this one is quite in-depth.

5 out of 5

The Potter's Daughter - Martha Wells

Fairy girl's hands like clay.

2 out of 5

Bibliophile Stalker Interview - Lou Anders

On various bits of Pyr-ness.

4.5 out of 5

Druss' Call To Arms at Dross Delnoch - James Barclay

From the David Gemmell Awards Ceremony.

5 out of 5

Space operas and far futures - Stuart Jeffries

Newspaper article, Making up the cybermonkeys, and a quick round-up of British variety.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I've been called the high priest of gothic miserablism - Alastair Reynolds

Apparently this reporter now also a convert. A good interview.

4.5 out of 5

ProBenny Interview - Lauren Beukes

She talks about her influences and of course her fine debut novel. Apparently a 2000 AD fan growing up! :) Take a look.

4.5 out of 5

Bone Shop 03 - Tim Pratt

Knives work. Dunno about this magic stuff.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, July 13, 2009

Makers 04 - Cory Doctorow

"There was another Kodacell group in San Francisco, a design outfit with a bunch of stringers who could design the gnomes for them and they did great work. The gnomes were slightly lewd-looking, and they were the product of a generative algorithm that varied each one. Some of the designs that fell out of the algorithm were jaw-droppingly weird—Perry kept a three-eyed, six-armed version on his desk. They tooled up to make them by the hundred, then the thousand,then the tens of thousand. The fact that each one was different kept their margins up, but as the Gnomes gained popularity their sales were steadily eroded by knock-offs, mostly from Eastern Europe."

4 out of 5

Getaway - Emma Bull

One busted, Chaz, one ex-high school girl, one bad guy.

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Revolution Business 1 - Charles Stross

""The duke tasked me with setting up a systematic exploration program," Huw explained. "So I started by taking the second known knotwork design and seeing where it'd take you if you used it in world two, in the USA, which the Hidden Family had no access to. The initial tests in Massachusetts and New York failed, so I guessed there might be a really large obstacle in the way. There's some kind of exclusion effect . . . but anyway, we found a new world."

Miriam narrowly resisted the urge to grab him and start yelling questions. "Go on."

"World four is cold, as in, about ten degrees celsius below datum for the other worlds we've found. That's ice age cold. We didn't have time to do much exploring, but what we found—there were people there, once, but we didn't see any signs of current habitation. High tech, very high tech—perfect dentistry, gantries made out of titanium, and other stuff. We're still trying to figure out the other stuff, but it's a whole different ball game. The building we found looked like it had been struck from above by some kind of directed energy weapon—""

4 out of 5

Til Death 1 - Michael A. Stackpole

" “Why do you got to be like that?” He patted his left breast, right over a gravy stain on his checked jacket. “This is serious, this time.”

With Lou, it was always serious. Small guy, except around the middle, swarthy, breath that could kill a moose. Had a face that would have looked better after third degree burns. Acne scars on his cheeks and neck, so he never looked clean shaven. Beard tough enough to fray all his shirt collars. Shopped at Goodwill, dressed in the dark—if anything matched it was his socks, and that was just luck.

I glanced at my watch again. “Spill it.”

“I need you to find my wife.”"

3.5 out of 5

Fool's War 5 - Sarah Zettel

"Havelock drew back. "What we do know is that we have a new, sentient AI to deal with. Master Dobbs, you are our closest member. I've raised the Guild Masters. We're going to open a line to you and send you in. Cohen will go with you to block records. You will both leave immediately."

His words sent a shudder all the way through Dobbs. Open lines were used only in absolute emergencies. The constant exchange of packets and the perpetually open transmitter paths took signal delay down to a minimum, and it allowed a field member to keep in contact with Guild Hall. But open lines were highly visible. Cohen would have to position himself in The Gate's transmitter processors. From there, he would constantly monitor the internal logs and external activities to make sure no one outside the network saw anything suspicious. While he was hiding her, she'd be combing through the Pasadena. "

3.5 out of 5

Fool's War 4 - Sarah Zettel

"She could not risk an interface between the ship's system and her foster without the cover of the simulation. The sudden increase in activity would be too noticeable and she had been directly ordered to keep it in its case. Now, however, the relatively small increase in power consumption and line usage under the myriad commands of a constantly updated program would be barely detectable.

She opened her eyes.

Her right hand was lying limp and lifeless across her thigh. She picked it up and slid it back onto the end of her wrist, twisting it around until she could wiggle all her fingers.

In her ear, a voice whispered "I'm here, Jemina."

"Hello, Foster." The foster was not independent yet. If and when it became complex enough to catch a soul, it would be encouraged to choose a name. For now, though, it was just "Foster." "

4 out of 5

Fool's War 3 - Sarah Zettel

"Now might be the best time to get some research going, she thought, and then rejected the idea. The refueling would take awhile, but not as long as her researches, and if she was caught out of her straps for some reason, Schyler would give her a good going over. It was one of the strange double-standards for a Fool. Technically, Fools could get away with anything, but they had to be extremely careful not to be caught getting away with anything serious. If they did, their reputation for foolishness would change to one for stupidity, or, worse, untrustworthiness. Neither was something any Fool could afford. "

4 out of 5

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fool's War 2 - Sarah Zettel

"The ship had been slow to learn her writing and short-hand because there was no AI running the internal systems. Al Shei was obviously almost as paranoid about humanity’s progeny as Lipinski was. Yerusha shook her head. With attitudes like that surrounding her, it was going to be a long run, that much was sure.

The Pasadena slid out from under the module rings and the gleaming panels that the view screens showed came to a halt. Out of the window, she saw the silver-white curve of the station and just a glimpse of the ghostly globe of Oberon.

“Three to release, Pasadena,” said the Port voice. “”

The trolley opened its clamps and Yerusha watched Port Oberon and the stark, white moon fall away from the Pasadena."

4 out of 5

Fish Night - Joe R. Lansdale

Ghost shark time.

3.5 out of 5

Friday, July 10, 2009

On the Rocks - J. A. Konrath

Sofa rope strangle trick.

3.5 out of 5

Makers 03 - Cory Doctorow

"“When it’s done, it will make toast.”

“Make toast?”

“Yeah, separate a single slice off a loaf, load it into a top-loading slice-toaster, depress the lever, time the toast-cycle, retrieve the toast and butter it. I got the idea from old-time backup-tape loaders. This plus a toaster will function as a loosely coupled single system.”

“OK, that’s really cool, but I have to ask the boring question, Perry. Why? Why build a toast-robot?”"

4 out of 5

War On Venus - Edgar Rice Burroughs

The men of the flagship were all at their stations. The great fleet moved steadily forward in perfect formation. It was battle formation all right and I knew that a battle must be impending, but I could see no enemy; and as no one was paying any attention to me, I went up to the bridge to get a better view of what was going on and to see if I could locate an enemy. There were officers and signalmen there, sending and receiving messages. There were four t-ray guns mounted on the bridge, each with its complement of three gunners; so that the bridge, while large, was pretty well crowded, and certainly no place for a sightseer, and I was surprised that they permitted me to remain; but I later learned that it was on Danlot's orders that I was given free run of the ship, on the theory that if I were a spy, I would eventually convict myself by some overt act. "Have you ever been in a battle between lantar fleets?" one of the officers asked me. "No," I replied; "I never saw a lantar until today." "If I were you, then, I'd go below," he said. "This is the most dangerous place on the ship. In all probability more than half of us will be killed before the battle is over." As he ceased speaking I heard a whistling sound that rose to a long drawn out shriek and ended in a terrific detonation, as a bomb exploded a couple of hundred yars ahead of the flagship. Instantly the big guns of the battleship spoke in unison. The battle was on.

3.5 out of 5

The Living Dead - Edgar Rice Burroughs

"There are neither males nor females among them; but more or less periodically, usually after enjoying an orgy of eating and drinking, they divide into two parts, like the amoeba and other of the Rhizopada. Each of these parts grows another half during a period of several months, and the process continues. Eventually, the older halves wear out and die; sometimes immediately after the division and sometimes while still attached, in which case the dead half merely falls away, and the remaining half is carted off to make itself whole."

3 out of 5

Goddess Of Fire - Edgar Rice Burroughs

"Is Loto-El-Ho-Ganja your vadjong?" I asked. Vadjong means queen. "No," he said, "she is not a woman; she is more than a woman. She was not born of woman, nor did she ever hang from any plant." "Does she look like a woman?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, "but her beauty is so transcendent that mortal women appear as beasts by comparison."

2.5 out of 5

Slaves Of the Fishmen - Edgar Rice Burroughs

"I've whipped slaves to death before," boasted the fellow, "and I can whip this one to death;" then he rushed at me with upraised whip. I whipped out my pistol, the r-ray pistol that destroys flesh and bone; and let him have it. There was no smoke, nothing visible; just a sharp, staccato buzz; then there was a great hole in the center of the fellow's face; and he sprawled forward, dead.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Mind Meld Guide to International SFF 3 - Karen Burnham

Yet more people from more places give their opinions on what is going on.

Greece, Portugal, for example.

4.5 out of 5

Infinity Plus An Interview with - Steven Savile

"Alethea Kontis: Which came first, Houdini or Hoke?

Steven Savile: Ahh, the eternal question. The Great Magician or the Fantastic Construct ... it's not exactly a chicken and the egg scenario. Or maybe it is when I come to think about it."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

SFF World Interview - Steven Savile

Lengthy, talks about the Tsunami Relief anthology and more. One funny part - 'I am sceptical anyone reads that online stuff, clicks, hits, etc.' (People obviously buy books and chuck them in the back of the cupboard, too. :) )

"SFFWORLD: I’ll keep an eye on those romantic fiction shelves then, Steve! How was it writing and editing stories about the good Doctor? He seems to be on a bit of a roll at the moment…

Steven Savile: I can't even begin to describe the kick I got out of it – or the pressure I felt doing it. Forget ANYTHING else – Dr Who has 40 plus years of history and expectation, and you so do not want to be one of the guys who destroys the legacy of what you grew up with. Like most writers, I am a fan. In particular I am a fan of Dr Who – Saturdays hiding behind the settee from Zygons, Sontarans, Sea Devils, Cybermen and Daleks... it's funny, I was in a book with Stephen King recently (On Writing Horror) and my mum didn't bat an eyelid while I was jumping up and down, but when I called to say I had landed the job writing my first Dr Who story (Falling From Xi'an, which appeared in The Centenarian, edited by Ian Farrington) she got all excited and blurted: “I guess this means you are a real writer now.” Gotta love mums for bringing you crashing back down to earth every now and then."

5 out of 5

Unbound - Steven Savile

An interview :

" I mean looking at the roster of work I've done only in the last 2 years it means
choosing between Primeval, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Stargate SG-1, Warhammer, and a couple of my own creations, the thriller I just finished writing, Silver, and this weird sort of steampunk fantastic victoriana with a splash of horror that revolves around this group of rather curious gentlemen in 1880s London, The Greyfrair's Gentleman's Club. I had an absolute blast writing the very first Black Library
novel, Inheritance, for instance. The editor said 'okay we want these boys to be like Hammer House of Horror vampires' and my grin just spread slowly as my offered the writer's mantra: 'I can do that."

4.5 out of 5

Makers 02 - Cory Doctorow

"“That’s from the great Elmo Crash,” Perry said, taking back the box and expertly extracting the Elmo like he was shelling a nut. “The last and greatest generation of Elmoid technology, cast into an uncaring world that bought millions of Li’l Tagger washable graffiti kits instead after Rosie gave them two thumbs up on her Christmas shopping guide.

“Poor Elmo was an orphan, and every junkyard in the world has mountains of mint-in-package BWEs, getting rained on, waiting to start their long, half-million-year decomposition.

“But check this out.” He flicked a multitool off his belt and extracted a short, sharp scalpel-blade. He slit the grinning, disco-suited Elmo open from chin to groin and shucked its furry exterior and the foam tissue that overlaid its skeleton. He slide the blade under the plastic cover on its ass and revealed a little printed circuit board.

“That’s an entire Atom processor on a chip, there,” he said. “Each limb and the head have their own subcontrollers. There’s a high-powered digital-to-analog rig for letting him sing and dance to new songs, and an analog-to-digital converter array for converting spoken and danced commands to motions. Basically, you dance and sing for Elmo and he’ll dance and sing back for you.”"

3.5 out of 5

Foiled - Alethea Kontis

Worse bloody mess.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Subterranean Online 10 - Gardner Dozois

A lengthy issue with Gardner Dozois guest editing. Should happen more often. A couple of book reviews of nothing of any interest. All the stories are above average, though, with this fine lineup. McAuley and Vaughn are the pick of this lot.

Pretty close to a 4.75.

Subterranean Online 10 : Conquistador de la Noche - Carrie Vaughn
Subterranean Online 10 : Crimes and Glory - Paul J. McAuley
Subterranean Online 10 : Hide and Horns - Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Online 10 : Under the Honey - Liz Williams
Subterranean Online 10 : A Tulip for Lucretius - Ken MacLeod
Subterranean Online 10 : The Ascendant - Ted Kosmatka
Subterranean Online 10 : Sylgarmo's Proclamation - Lucius Shepard

Cugel's cousin is no fan of his, it appears. Now, to avoid the end of the world.

3.5 out of 5

Non-criminal levelling up pair.

4 out of 5

Synth Fringe revolution.

3.5 out of 5

Unbound brood queen recruiter, bee.

3.5 out of 5

Multi china girl no dick ruboff sharpshooter rescue.

3.5 out of 5

Q-phone Elder space investigation.

4 out of 5

Don Ricardo de la Staker.

4 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

Crimes and Glory 4 - Paul J. McAuley

"Veracidin is derived from Elder Culture nanotechnology. A suspension of machines as small as viruses that enter the bloodstream and cross the blood/brain barrier, targeting specific areas in the cortex, suppressing specific higher cognitive functions. In short, it is a sophisticated truth drug. Its use is illegal on Earth and First Foot, but we were in the field, in the equivalent of a battle situation. We did what we had to do, and we didn’t know–how could we?–that Everett Hughes would suffer a violent reaction when the swarm of tiny machines hit his brain."

3.5 out of 5

Crimes and Glory - Paul J. McAuley

Q-phone Elder space investigation.

4 out of 5

Clarkesworld 34 - Sean Wallace

An interesting issue. Another fine Xenowealth story by Buckell - an island with criminals and weird aliens and worhome.s

An article about editors of long fiction

Clarkesworld 34 : Placa del Fuego - Tobias S. Buckell
Clarkesworld 34 : On the Lot and In the Air - Lisa Hannett

Alien wormhole choices kid, maybe some Pepper added.

4 out of 5

Crow shot shill.

3 out of 5

3.5 out of 5

On the Lot and In the Air - Lisa Hannett

Crow shot shill.

3 out of 5

Placa Del Fuego - Tobias S. Buckell

Alien wormhole choices kid, maybe some Pepper added.

4 out of 5

The Syndic 1 - C. M. Kornbluth

"Disabuse yourself of the notion. Nobody except you believes in it. The Inexorable Laws of Economics are as dead as Dagon and Ishtar, and for the same reason. No more worshipers. You bankers can't shove anybody around any more. You're just a convenience, like the non-playing banker in a card game.

"What's real now is the Syndic. What's real about the Syndic is its own morale and the public's faith in it. Is that clear?"

3.5 out of 5

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 20 - Scott H. Andrews

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 20 : The Land of Empty Shells - Caroline M. Yoachim
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 20 : The Bone House - James Lecky

Turtles, all the way down.

3 out of 5

Many Terrible Words.

2 out of 5

1 out of 5

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 19 - Scott H. Andrews

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 19 : The Mansion of Bones - Richard Parks
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 19 : Havoc - A.C. Smart and Quinn Braver

Fake monks, devils, the odd ghost.

3.5 out of 5

“It’s ruined,” Havoc admitted. “Should I buy her another?

2.5 out of 5

2.5 out of 5

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 18 - Scott H. Andrews

Sort of applies to the next issue, too, before getting to Richard Parks - classic examples of tedious no good second world fantasy, wolves, knights, swords, clean, duchesses, making you want you to yell, no, no,no, no more of this insular crudology faux Northern Hemisphere junk.

Seems to have slipped a bit recently. Not sure if the editor is getting tired, or not getting the stuff, but there are some howling errors in some of these recent issues :- 'pouring over manuscripts' - 'flounding like a fish, limbs...'

So if Richard Parks and other writers of this calibre have some unsold stories, looks like BCS could use them, as I think I am being generous with some of these.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 18 : Wolf's Clothing - Renee Stern
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 18 : Thistles and Barley - Kamila Zeman Miller

Sheepy not goodness.

2.5 out of 5

Too long sans Seraf.

3 out of 5

1 out of 5

The Land Of Empty Shells - Caroline M. Yoachim

Turtles, all the way down.

3 out of 5

The Bone House - James Lecky

Many Terrible Words.

2 out of 5

The Mansion Of Bones - Richard Parks

Fake monks, devils, the odd ghost.

3.5 out of 5

Havoc - A. C. Smart and Quinn Braver

“It’s ruined,” Havoc admitted. “Should I buy her another?

2.5 out of 5

Thistles and Barley - Kamila Zeman Miller

Too long sans Seraf.

3 out of 5

Wolf's Clothing - Renee Stern

Sheepy not goodness for us.

2.5 out of 5

The Scent Of Their Arrival - Mercurio D. Rivera

Fissure reality opening Reviled appearance nuke defense failure, vamp defense failure. They beat us up, had us for lunch (no money required). Then they nicked our spaceship to look for supper.

3.5 out of 5

Makers 01 - Cory Doctorow

"“What we don’t have is a product. There aren’t enough buyers for batteries or film—or any of the other stuff we make—to occupy or support all that infrastructure. These companies slept through the dot-boom and the dot-bust, trundling along as though none of it mattered. There are parts of these businesses that haven’t changed since the fifties.

“We’re not the only ones. Technology has challenged and killed businesses from every sector. Hell, IBM doesn’t make computers anymore! The very idea of a travel agent is inconceivably weird today! And the record labels, oy, the poor, crazy, suicidal, stupid record labels. Don’t get me started.

“Capitalism is eating itself. The market works, and when it works, it commodifies or obsoletes everything. That’s not to say that there’s no money out there to be had, but the money won’t come from a single, monolithic product line. The days of companies with names like ‘General Electric’ and ‘General Mills’ and ‘General Motors’ are over. The money on the table is like krill: a billion little entrepreneurial opportunities that can be discovered and exploited by smart, creative people."

4 out of 5

Bone Shop 02 - Tim Pratt

"No touching the girls without their permission," said Artie Mann strolling out of -- where, exactly? The middle of the street? But she hadn't seen him there. He wore the same untucked Hawaiian shirt, and had perhaps the same fat cigar in his mouth. "That rule applies inside and outside the club."

"Get lost," the best man said, still staring at Marla. "This doesn't have shit to do with you."

"Okay," Artie said, and sucked on his cigar, making the end glow redly. Then he flicked the ashes toward the best man --

-- and the ash somehow swelled into a fist-sized fireball that struck him in the chest, knocking him down. His friends jumped back, and the best man screamed, beating at his shirt, which was singed and smoking. The men all looked at Artie, who took another long pull on his cigar, and exhaled a cloud of smoke.... and kept exhaling, smoke thick as fog, great rolling gouts of it, and when the smoke touched them, the men dropped to their knees, gagging.

Artie walked over to Marla, put his hand on her shoulder, and said, "I'll walk you home, kid."

4 out of 5

Return To Cockaigne - Paul Di Filippo

Tetrad universe trip.

3.5 out of 5

Themepunks 10 The New Work meets the Old Economy - Cory Doctorow

"New Work isn't going anywhere, Andrea. We'll be here when you get back. And this story is one that needs your touch. They're micro-entrepreneurs solving post-industrial problems. It's the same story you've been covering here, but with a different angle. Take that money and buy yourself a business-class ticket to St Petersburg and spend a couple weeks on the job. You'll clean up. They could use the publicity, too -- someone to go and drill down on which clinics are legit and which ones are clip-joints. You're perfect for the gig."

"I don't know," she said. She closed her eyes. Taking big chances had gotten her this far and it would take her farther, she knew. The world was your oyster if you could stomach a little risk. "

4 out of 5

Themepunks 9 Robot jungle gyms and the New Work - Cory Doctorow

"But the St Petersburg clinic had ripped, mixed and burned these different procedures to make a single, holistic treatment that had dropped Lester from 400 to 175 pounds in ten weeks.

"Is that safe?" she said.

"Everyone asks that," he said, laughing. "Yeah, it's safe if they're monitoring you and standing by with lots of diagnostic equipment. But if you're willing to take slower losses, you can go on a way less intensive regime that won't require supervision. This stuff is the next big grey-market pharma gold. They're violating all kinds of pharma patents, of course, but that's what Cuba and Canada are for, right? Inside of a year, every fat person in America is going to have a bottle of pills in his pocket, and inside of two years, there won't be any fat people."

4 out of 5

Themepunks 8 Teach a man to replicate - Cory Doctorow

"The doctor pried them apart to tell them that the EEG and fMRI were both negative for any brain-damage, and that they'd managed to salvage the eye, probably. Kodacell was springing for all the care he needed, cash money, no dorking around with the fucking HMO, so the doctors had put him through every machine on the premises in a series of farcically expensive tests.

"I hope they sue the cops for the costs," the doctor said. She was Pakistani or Bangladeshi, with a faint accent, and very pretty even with the dark circles under her eyes. "I read your columns," she said, shaking Andrea's hand. "I admire the work you do," she said, shaking Lester's hand. "I was born in Delhi. We were squatters who were given a deed to our home and then evicted because we couldn't pay the taxes. We had to build again, in the rains, outside of the city, and then again when we were evicted again."

4 out of 5

Themepunks 7 Remixing the shantytown - Cory Doctorow

"Somehow, it burned down. The fire department won't investigate, because this was an illegal homestead, so they don't much care about how the fire started. It took most of the homes, and most of their meager possessions. The water got the rest. The fire department wouldn't fight the fire at first, because someone at city hall said that the land's owner wouldn't let them on the property. As it turns out, the owner of that sad strip of land between an orange grove and the side of a four-lane highway is unknown -- a decades-old dispute over title has left it in legal limbo that let the squatters settle there. It's suspicious all right -- various entities had tried to evict the squatters before, but the legal hassles left them in happy limbo. What the law couldn't accomplish, the fire did.

The story has a happy ending. The boys have moved the squatters into their factory, and now they have "live-work" condos that look like something Dr. Seuss designed [photo gallery]. Like the Central Park shantytown of the last century, these look like they were "constructed by crazy poets and distributed by a whirlwind that had been drinking," as a press account of the day had it. "

4 out of 5

Themepunks 6 The blogger as starmaker - Cory Doctorow

"On the roof they already had a cooler of beers going and beside it a huge plastic tub of brightly colored machine-parts.

"Jet engine," Perry said. The months had put a couple pounds on him and new wrinkles, and given him some grey at the temples, and laugh lines inside his laugh lines. Perry was always laughing at everything around them ("They fucking pay me to do this," he'd told her once, before literally collapsing to the floor, rolling with uncontrollable hysteria). He laughed again.

"Good old Kettlebelly," she said. "Must have broken his heart."

Francis held up a curved piece of cowling. "This thing wasn't going to last anyway. See the distortion here and here? This thing was designed in a virtual wind-tunnel and machine-lathed. We tried that a couple times, but the wind-tunnel sims were never detailed enough and the forms that flew well in the machine always died a premature death in the sky. Another two years and he'd have had to have it rebuilt anyway, and the Koreans who built this charge shitloads for parts."

3.5 out of 5

Monday, July 06, 2009

Themepunks 5 Making the panopticon user-friendly - Cory Doctorow

"Which brings me to my idea: why not tag everything in a group household, and use the tags to figure out who left the dishes in the sink, who took the hammer out and didn't put it back, who put the empty milk-carton back in the fridge, and who's got the TV remote? It won't solve resource contention, but it will limit the social factors that contribute to it." He looked around at them. "We can make it fun, you know, make cool RFID sticker designs, mod the little gnome dolls to act as terminals for getting reports."

4 out of 5

Themepunks 4 The last frontier Roommate ware - Cory Doctorow

"Sure," Tjan said. "Those two can build anything. That's the point: any moderately skilled practitioner can build anything these days, for practically nothing. Back in the old days, the blacksmith just made every bit of ironmongery everyone needed, one piece at a time, at his forge. That's where we're at now. Every industry that required a factory yesterday only needs a garage today. It's a real return to fundamentals. What no one ever could do was join up all the smithies and all the smiths and make them into a single logical network with a single set of objectives. That's new and it's what I plan on making hay out of. This will be much bigger than dot-com. It will be much harder, too -- bigger crests, deeper troughs. This is something to chronicle all right: it will make dot-com look like a warmup for the main show.

"We're going to create a new class of artisans who can change careers every 10 months, inventing new jobs that hadn't been imagined a year before."

3.5 out of 5

Themepunks 3 How the dot-com legacy led to useless toast robots - Cory Doctorow

"That made her actually laugh out loud. She fished in her pocket for her earbuds and dropped them on the table where they clattered like M&Ms. "I think I've got about 40,000 songs on those. Haven't run out of space yet, either."

He rolled the buds around in his palm like a pair of dice. "You won't -- I stopped keeping track of mine after I added my hundred-thousandth audiobook. I've got a bunch of the Library of Congress in mine as high-rez scans, too. A copy of the Internet Archive, every post ever made on Usenet... Basically, these things are infinitely capacious, given the size of the media we work with today." He rolled the buds out on the workbench and laughed. "And that's just the point! Tomorrow, we'll have some new extra fat kind of media and some new task to perform with it and some new storage medium that will make these things look like an old iPod. Before that happens, you want this to wear out and scuff up or get lost--"

4 out of 5

Themepunks 2 Boogie Woogie Elmo and the junkyard future - Cory Doctorow

"All done. Now, have a look -- this is a Linux computer with some of the most advanced robotics ever engineered. No sweatshop stuff, either, see this? The solder is too precise to be done by hand -- that's because it's from India. If it was from Malaysia, you'd see all kinds of wobble in the solder: that means that tiny, clever hands were used to create it, which means that somewhere in the device's karmic history, there's a sweatshop full of crippled children inhaling solder fumes until they keel over and are dumped in a ditch. This is the good stuff.

"So we have this karmically clean robot with infinitely malleable computation and a bunch of robotic capabilities. I've turned these things into wall-climbing monkeys; I've modded them for a woman from the University of Miami at the Jackson Memorial who used their capability to ape human motions in physiotherapy programs with nerve-damage cases. But the best thing I've done with them so far is the Distributed Boogie Woogie Elmo Motor Vehicle Operation Cluster. Come on," he said, and took off deeper into the barn's depths."

4 out of 5

Themepunks 1 - Cory Doctorow

"Why the hell have you done this, Landon?" Kettlewell asked himself into his tie-mic. Ties and suits for the new Kodacell execs in the room, like surfers playing dress-up. "Why buy two dinosaurs and stick 'em together? Will they mate and give birth to a new generation of less-endangered dinosaurs?"

4 out of 5

Small World - William F. Nolan

Just kill all the doubles figures types, that'll fix 'em.

3.5 out of 5

Daughters Of Prime - Lawrence C. Connolly

Alien multiple serial study with beast blasting.

3 out of 5

The Last Days Of Shandakor 2 - Leigh Brackett

Ancient illusions and hokey philosophies are no match for a barbarian horde at the gate, kid.

4.5 out of 5

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Salvage In Space - Jack Williamson

Invisible space monsters, boy.

2.5 out of 5

All You Zombies - Robert A. Heinlein

Self-seduction time.

4 out of 5

On the Edge 1 - Ilona Andrews

"Rose put her foot on his chest, grasped the bolt, and pulled it open with a sharp tug. She still remembered him as he was, a tall, dapper man, uncanny with his rapier, his voice flavored with light Scottish brogue. Even as old as he was, he would still win against Dad one out of three times in a swordfight. Now he was this… this thing. She sighed. It hurt to look at him, but there was nothing to be done about it. As long as Georgie lived, so did Grandpa Cletus.

The boys brought the hose. She turned it on, set the sprayer on jet, and leveled the stream at Grandpa until all the blood and dog meat was gone. She never quite figured out how “going down to the pub” equaled chasing stray dogs and eating their brains, but when Grandpa got out of his ward circle, no mutt was safe. By the time she was done washing him, the hole in his forehead had closed. When Georgie raised things from the dead, he didn’t just give them life. He made them almost indestructible."

3.5 out of 5

Black and White 1 - Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge

"“I just did. Play nice with the fanatic, Jetster. The vids will be recording. Just let Wurtham be all insane and bug-eyed and ranting about humans first. You be the demure superheroine who modestly saved New Chicago no less than two times this calendar year alone. Oh,” Meteorite added, “PR says no cowl for the show. Too intimidating. You’re to appear with your hood back, hair gleaming. Ponytail or braid; your choice. Light makeup–nothing sluttish. And no perfume, so be sure to catch a shower before you go.”

Jet hated election years."

3 out of 5

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance - John Kessel

Monk play nicking folded soldier escape.

3.5 out of 5

The Island - Peter Watts

Gate Mission live Dyson sphere violence Chimp conflict.

4 out of 5

Mind Meld Guide to International SFF 2 - Karen Burnham

"There is a huge lot going on in the international SF/F scene, more than any one person can keep up with (which is also true for English-language SF/F), with the added complication of language barriers. "

With stuff from people all over the globe, again.

4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Utriusque Cosmi - Robert Charles Wilson

Dark matter universe jumping Invisible Enemy Rapture, go fast, kid.

3.5 out of 5

Are You There - Jack Skillingstead

Imprint chat.

3.5 out of 5

Decisions - Michael A. Burstein

Donut solar system species lock option.

4 out of 5

Bone Shop 01 - Tim Pratt

"Okay, so that leaves fire. My dad always said 'find what you love and do it for life,' but he sold fucking insurance, so who was he fooling? Maybe I could get a job as an arsonist. You know, burn places down for insurance money? I could join the... mob or whatever. I mean, I set fires anyway. Might as well get paid for it."

3.5 out of 5