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Evolution isn't working fast enough. More dumbasses need to be shot.

Month

July 2015

The Bat

My review of Avery Hopwood & Mary Roberts Rinehart’s The Bat.

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A supervillain stalks the countryside, and it will take a spinster to bring him to heel

For months, the city has lived in fear of the Bat. A master criminal hindered by neither scruple nor fear, he has stolen over one million dollars and left at least six men dead. The police are helpless, the newspapers know nothing—even the key figures of the city’s underworld have no clue as to the identity of the Bat. He is a living embodiment of death itself, and he is coming to the countryside.

There, he will encounter the only person who can stop him: adventurous sixty-five-year-old spinster Cornelia Van Gorder. Last in a long line of New York society royalty, Cornelia has found old age to be a bore, and is hungry for a bit of adventure. She’s going to find it—in a lonely old country house where every shadow could be the Bat.

Continue reading “The Bat”

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The Horse You Came In On

My review of Martha Grimes novel The Horse You Came In On

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The murder is in America, but the call goes out to Scotland Yard superintendent Richard Jury. Accompanied by his aristocratic friend Melrose Plant and by Sergeant Wiggins, Jury arrives in Baltimore, Maryland, home of zealous Orioles fans, mouth-watering crabs, and Edgar Allan Poe. In his efforts to solve the case, Jury rubs elbows with a delicious and suspicious cast of characters, embarking on a trail that leads to a unique tavern called “The Horse You Came In On” . . .

Continue reading “The Horse You Came In On”

Young Ravens and Hidden Blades

My review of Colin Taber’s Young Ravens and Hidden Blades: A Short Tale From Norse America

Two Norse boys, a raft, and some unbroken rules to test.

Join Ulfarr and Brandr in the new Norse settlements west of Greenland, as they do what adventurous boys do best; push boundaries.

Welcome to the early years of Norse America!

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Young Ravens and Hidden Blades is a standalone short story that reads as a boys adventure tale.

If you have already discovered Colin Taber’s alternate history setting, The United States of Vinland (USV), this short takes place in Markland (what we know as Labrador, around 1000 years ago), and is placed in that timeline midway between USV#1: The Landing and USV#2: Loki’s Rage.

Familiarity with the broader USV series and characters is not required.

This short story is approximately 30 pages long and is a standalone ebook. For paperback readers of USV, this tale will be included in the front of USV#2: Loki’s Rage as bonus material.

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Continue reading “Young Ravens and Hidden Blades”

The Martian

My review of Andy Weir’s The Martian

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?


Continue reading “The Martian”

Don’t Act Like A Douche

Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it’s moral. There is an easy way to keep from “completely destroying my life“, and it’s to behave in a manner that fits with the community. Sometimes the community expectations need to change (such as the civil rights movement), but sometimes it’s the individual responsible for the behavior that needs to change his ways. Kirk Ludwig falls into the latter category.

On July 13 Kirk Ludwig was sighted by a citizen taking photos at the pool downtown in Fargo. Now, this isn’t illegal, but it is suspicious when he’s trying to do it surreptitiously. A professional photographer would understand that acting suspiciously, especially around areas where kids are, is not something that you do if you want to keep shooting in the area. A true professional would gone to the park district offices and notified them of what he intended to do.

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This isn’t the first time he’s been spotted doing something similar in the park. I’m not sure when this photo was originally taken or posted, it may be the post spoken about in this July 14 article. Continue reading “Don’t Act Like A Douche”

Tremble the Devil

My review of Tremble the Devil

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For the first time, an entire book on the history, origins, and future of terrorism is available for free online in an easy-to-navigate format. Before buying the book you can read as much of it as you’d like online at: www.TrembleTheDevil.com

Tremble the Devil was written by a Harvard-educated counterterrorism analyst, it’s an accessible, fast-paced distillation of everything you need to know about the world’s most dangerous phenomenon.

From the start terrorism has been framed as the work of the Devil himself, but this is a dangerous misconception: terrorism is nothing more than the continuation of ancient wars by modern means.

We see it everyday in the news: uncurling in the clouds above shattered Lebanese refugee camps, stretching out across deafened North African streets, and clawing hungrily at the social fabric of America. As our societies and the technologies they depend on have evolved, so too have the methods of the terrorist.

Understanding today’s terrorism requires three levels of comprehension: how the history and religion of the Middle East shaped and in many ways predicated the first modern acts of terrorism, the still-evolving relationship between terrorism and asymmetric warfare, and how globalization’s technological and cultural implications will determine the shape and character of the miasma of terror that now threatens to darken the face of the entire civilized world.

“Tremble the Devil” uses engaging allusions to everyone and everything from Jesus Christ to Beer Pong and from Malcolm X to Friday the Thirteenth, hooks taken from the words of artists ranging from the Rolling Stones and Jay-Z to William Blake and Tupac Shakur at the start of each chapter, and the social insights of “The Tipping Point” along with the compelling colloquial style of “Freakonomics.” All of this is woven together to form an intriguing and salient book that reads like a novel.


Continue reading “Tremble the Devil”

Barnes & Noble, Dead Nooks, and Brave New Branding

I honestly think the Nook and it’s eLibrary will be cut or sold off within about a year. Hopefully someone will buy up the customer list and library.

When B&N first came to town I was quite excited. When I went looking for an eReader I chose the Nook because it had the hardware and DRM schema that worked best for me and my family. But, I don’t think B&N understands its customer base (readers) because they do a lot of things to discourage readers. Of course, they’re not the only ones. It seems most of the publishers don’t understand readers either.

I detailed back in march ( https://westfargomusings.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/goodbye-bn-youve-driven-me-into-the-arms-of-another/ ) why I wasn’t going to be one of their customers anymore. For them to get me to come back? It would take a culture change within that company of such earth-shaking magnitude that Arizona would have ocean front property. It takes a long time to build up a good reputation and a solid customer base, but it can be thrown away in the blink of an eye by treating your customers like ****. That they rolled out a new website that they have been working on for two years and it doesn’t work for their customers nor their 3rd-party marketplace vendors says volumes about how well they are doing.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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The big news in publishing this week is Barnes & Noble’s plan to ax the Nook. After losing over a billion dollars trying to make the Nook a contender, it seems B&N’s new CEO is ready to just cut bait. According to Michael Kozlowski over at Good E Reader:

The NOOK segment (including digital content, devices and accessories) had revenues of $52 million for the 4th quarter and $264 million for the full year, decreasing 39.8% for the quarter and 47.8% for the year. Device and accessories sales were $13 million for the quarter and $86 million for the full year, declining 48.2% and 66.7%, respectively, due to lower unit selling volume. Digital content sales were $40 million for the quarter and $177 million for the full year, declining 36.5% and 27.8%, respectively, due primarily to lower device unit sales.

All I have to say is…OUCH.

I’d like to…

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2015 Hugo Awards

There are quite a few 2015 Hugo Finalists that I’m not likely to get to. I typically don’t read much eligible material within the year. Most of my reading is older stuff. I read more eligible material this past year than I have since high school. This would be my ballot as of now.

Best Novel – empty because I’ve not read any of the finalists. Had it been listed I would have voted for Brad Torgersen’s The Chaplain’s War.

  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
  • The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)

 

Best Novella – Pale Realms of Shade was the best in my opinion. I didn’t get around to Big Boys Don’t Cry or Flow.

  • Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • “Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, 11-2014)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

 

Best Novelette – empty, I haven’t read any of these. Continue reading “2015 Hugo Awards”

The Nominated Short Fiction Works of John C. Wright

My review of John C. Wright’s Hugo nominated short fiction

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The 2015 Hugo nominated short fiction of John C. Wright.


4 Stars

Overall I liked these stories quite a bit. I think they are quite worthy of Hugo nominations. The lyrical prose of some of these might be off-putting to some people, but I like the style. Also, being challenged with new words, or rather old words that aren’t used much these days, isn’t a bad thing. Charlotte MacLeod was probably the best at working those words into a story, but John C. Wright is quite good as well.

Continue reading “The Nominated Short Fiction Works of John C. Wright”

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