BotM Picks – October 2016

Here are the groups picks for October 2016 – Traitors Blade by Sebastien de Castell and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. We also have a Halloween special for October – The Fireman by Joe Hill. Continue reading “BotM Picks – October 2016”

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Review of The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu ( by our member Niles)

205188721967: Ye Wenjie witnesses Red Guards beat her father to death during China’s Cultural Revolution. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.

Four decades later, Beijing police ask nanotech engineer Wang Miao to infiltrate a secretive cabal of scientists after a spate of inexplicable suicides. Wang’s investigation will lead him to a mysterious online game and immerse him in a virtual world ruled by the intractable and unpredicatable interaction of its three suns.

This is the Three-Body Problem and it is the key to everything: the key to the scientists’ deaths, the key to a conspiracy that spans light-years and the key to the extinction-level threat humanity now faces.

 

 

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The Three Body Problem is a hard science fiction novel by Chinese author Cixin Liu or Liu Cixin, I have seen it written both ways and I am not familiar with the Chinese protocol for names. It was the winner of the 2015 Hugo Award and was nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award, so it had to be good – right? Well, maybe at one time, but as of late it seems as if the awards – all awards – have become politicized and not necessarily the best entry is chosen. But that is a discussion for another time. At the very least, I thought The Three Body Problem deserved at least a chance to prove itself. While I do not think the novel was worthy of an award, I did find it had some merit and well worth the read.
 
The story takes place in China, and the beginning deals with the cultural revolution of the 1960’s. I must admit that I know very little of China’s history, or what life is like in China at all, and I found the history lesson fascinating. I could not see the relevance of these seemingly disjointed segments, but by the time the novel ended everything fell into place. In fact, the main plot line did not become evident until shortly after the halfway point of the novel. But after the slow start, things picked up fairly nicely and became more interesting to me.
 
The characters, with the exception of the astrophysicist Ye Wenjie and the police detective Shi Qiang, were flat and one-dimensional. The dialog seemed clipped and at times forced, but I am giving the author the benefit of the doubt due to translation restraints. I can sympathize with Ye Wenjie but cannot justify her betrayal. I feel her logic was flawed by equating a stronger civilization with a superior one. I did like the character of Shi Qiang. He was abrasive and somewhat uncouth, but he was very smart among all the scientists and felt real to me.
All things considered, I give this read 4 stars. As someone with a math and science background, I enjoyed the reading the hard science. I can see where it may not appeal to all readers, but I think there are enough other items that will appeal to lovers of the genre. The premise was believable and it was interesting to speculate how humanity would react to another civilization and how the people separated into different camps. I always thought humans would line up to protect their world, but I can see how some people may have become disillusioned with our society. I do not feel this work is worthy of receiving an award, but it still has something to offer sci-fi fans.
                                                                Niles P. Jacobsen

Author Spotlight – Patricia Briggs

Written by Member Hybrid Ceature

 

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Author Name – Patricia Briggs
Who Are They – She was born in 1965 in Butte, Montana. She writes fantasy and urban fantasy. She published her first book in 1993.
Bibliography –
Sianim Series
Masques (1993)
Steal the Dragon (1995)
When Demons Walk (1998)
Wolfsbane (2010)
Shifter’s Wolf (Aralorn Novels) (2012) (Compilation of Masques and Wolfsbane)
Hurog Duology
Dragon Bones (2002)
Dragon Blood (2003)
Raven Duology
Raven’s Shadow (2004)
Raven’s Strike (2005)
Mercy Thompson Series
Moon Called (2006)
Blood Bound (2007)
Iron Kissed (2008)
Bone Crossed (2009)
Silver Borne (2010)
River Marked (2011).
Frost Burned (2013)
Night Broken (March 11, 2014)
Fire Touched (March 8, 2016)
Silence Fallen (March 2017)
Alpha& Omega Series
Cry Wolf (2008)
Hunting Ground (2009)
Fair Game (March 2012)
Dead Heat (March 3, 2015)
Stand Alone Novels
Hob’s Bargain (2001)
 
How I came across her –
I found her via a Goodreads top urban fantasy series list. The first book I tried was Moon Called.
What is your favorite work by her and why –
The Mercy Thompson series is definitely my favorite, even though I’ve liked everything else that I’ve read by her as well. Mercy Thompson is just such a great heroine. She’s tough as nails but not some pumped up, ultimate kick ass goddess like a lot of UF series portray their heroines. She’s more down to earth and real despite being able to shape shift into a coyote. The world building and werewolf pack interactions and laws all blend nicely together. Mercy breaking all those rules and laws is even better. I like rebellion.
Mixing fairy lore and mythology in a beautiful blend.
What is your favorite character –
I’ve already gushed about Mercy but the cast of characters surrounding her are all interesting and entertaining in their own ways. From vampires to werewolves to fae to mythological gods. The characters are never boring.
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Something else interesting about the author –
Some people are like Slinkies. They aren’t really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.” – Iron Kissed
I think that says it all.

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Book Review – Strange Magic by James A. Hunter (This didn’t go down well )

Book Review from Hybrid Creature

 

23944302 Strange Magic (Yancy Lazarus #1) by James A. Hunter 

Yancy Lazarus is having a bad day: there’s a bullet lodged in his butt cheek, his face looks like the site of a demolition derby, and he’s been saran-wrapped to a banquet table. He never should have answered the phone. Stupid bleeding heart—helping others in his circles is a good way to get dead.

Just ask the gang members ripped to pieces by some kind of demonic nightmare in LA. As a favor to a friend, Yancy agrees to take a little looksee into the massacre and boom, he’s stuck in a turf war between two rival gangs, which both think he’s pinch-hitting for the other side. Oh, and there’s also a secretive ass-hat with some mean ol’ magical chops and a small army of hyena-faced, body- snatching baddies. It might be time to seriously reconsider some of his life choices.

Yancy is a bluesman, a rambler, a gambler, but not much more. Sure, he can do a little magic—maybe even more than just a little magic—but he knows enough to keep his head down and stay clear of freaky-deaky hoodoo like this business in LA. Somehow though, he’s been set up to take a real bad fall—the kind of very permanent fall that leaves a guy with a toe tag. Unless, of course, he can find out who is responsible for the gangland murders, make peace in the midst of the gang feud, and take out said magical ass-hat before he hexes Yancy into an early retirement. Easy right? Stupid. Bleeding. Heart.

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DNF @ 21%

This reads like a noir novel with 70’s lingo and shoddy world building. Those are the good points of this book, what I read of it anyway.

The main character is a ramblin’, gamblin’, mage in an el Camino with a magic system that is just there. That’s right, the magic is just conveniently interwoven with no real descriptions of just what the fuck it accomplishes. It just filters naturally through mages and gives them numerous benefits and no one knows why that is. It may be the lamest description of magic that I’ve ever read.

Fun4freak:

But of course, because he can access magic, he’s the ultimate bad ass. He can wield said magic like it’s no one’s business. He is all powerful and whines a fucking lot. Nothing about him is even remotely interesting. Which leads to the problem with the plot line…

Why do I give two flying fucks that someone is out to get this asshole? Kill him already and give me a new character with some actual substance.

Side note: feels like a Dresden files rip off.