Despite the clichés the book is well-written, entertaining enough to keep me reading to the end. It is the novel equivalent of Torchwood: you know it's crap, but you keep watching because it's easy and there's always the chance of it having a couple of good bits in it. I don't think I'll bother looking for the rest of the series, but at least it didn't annoy the crap out of me like Mercedes Lackey's "Outstretched Shadow".
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name
This weekend's old-skool meat product: Latvian Liverwurst. Made from saturated fat and the broken hearts of lonely puppies. I spread it on toast with lots of melted butter. Brown bread toast, so that's healthy. It tastes a lot like a smooth, peppery paté. Lots of flavour, as is to be expected from something that is almost 50% fat. It's fat that makes things taste nice.
I can thank my mum for introducing me to all these marvellous animal by-products. She used to eat cold black pudding, and loved a bit of tongue. Erm. Cow's tongue. To eat. I haven't gone quite that far down the road yet, but it won't be long before I'm tucking in to a plate of tripe and urging the kids to suck the marrow from the bones of a koala, because that's the best bit.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Me: It's Foxtel.
Ellen: Yep, foxtail and playstation. When can we have them?
Me: I don't know, they cost a lot of money. Why do you want them?
Ellen: So I can find out if I like them. What is foxtail?
Me: It's more telly channels.
Ellen: For kids?
Me: Some of them, yes.
Ellen: Like in the hotels?
Me: Yes, that's right.
Ellen: How much is playstation?
Me: About $300.
Ellen: Hmm. We need to be rich. Are we rich?
Ellen: Can we have foxtail and playstation when we're rich?
Me: I promise you can have foxtel and a playstation if we ever get rich.
Ellen: How do you get to be rich?
Me: If I knew that, we'd be rich.
Ellen: What if you went to the circus and did the bestest trick ever and you had a hat and people put lots of money in it? That would work.
Me: I'll get right to work on that.
I can remember saying much the same things about our family getting a Soda Stream when we were rich, when I was little. It just seemed straightforward to me that if you kept going to work to earn money, surely at some point you'd be rich?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Here's hoping it translates into sales for them. The idea is that people will come for the free stuff, and get enticed into buying other things - or at the very least, Maureen McHugh or John Kessel will get added to the reader's mental list of "Authors I Like" and the next time they're in a bookshop wanting to launder some money they'll pick up one of their other books.
So, support Small Beer - they publish some great stuff. If you're not tempted by the free things (why not? you got a problem with "free"?), buy Howard Waldrop's short story collection, Howard Who?. It is fudging awesome.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
What? You need more detail? The Aztecs and hook-handed adventuring not enough? It is good fun, with sympathetic characters (even the turncoat Aztec spy is likeable), with plenty of exciting twists and turns. Just read it.
Like all the Tor freebooks it sets up a whole series of sequels (damn their clever marketing ploy! They've snared me good!), and I'll be keeping an eye out for the next one: "Ragamuffin".
Good job, Mr. Buckell. Carry on.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
It is part Wodehousian (shut up - like you would know how to spell that) country estate comedy of manners, part Agatha Christie murder mystery, with a dollop of the old "what if Hitler won?" sauce. Obvious comparisons are to Phillip K. Dick's "Man in the High Castle", and Roth's "The Plot Against America". There's even a nod in the book to Roth's work with references to President Lindbergh. Walton's book, like those two, manages to be convincing in its depiction of a world gone slightly wrong; a "horseshoe nail" story, as it is put in the book, referring to the children's song where a kingdom was lost due to a chain of small events.
The plot is convoluted, like all murder mysteries should be. The characters are well drawn, believable, and earned my sympathy. They are given no easy ways out of a situation, and the conclusion is jam-packed with compromise and moral greyness. The British government's slide into 1984-style fascism is handled smoothly, setting up further novels in this milieu. Orwell's classic is name-checked amusingly in the book by one of the characters who thinks a bit of science fiction will cheer up her persecuted husband.
I just wrote the word "milieu", and what's worse I couldn't think of an alternative. What a ponce.
Like all of the Tor ebooks so far, this book has a sequel "Ha'penny" (= two farthings). This free book has done it's job well, and I'll be keeping an eye out for more work by Walton.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Maybe it's the characters' constant worrying about manners and etiquette, or the occasional lapse in the dialogue where a British character uses an American phrase ("I must go see him now", instead of the more British "I must go and see him now", or "go to see him"). I'm nitpicking really, it was a good read but I've yet to read a tale of a long sea voyage that wasn't at least as dull as 7 months at sea. This was no exception to that rule, but worth sticking through to a cracking ending and a great set-up for the next book. If you liked the first Temeraire book, you'll enjoy this one.