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Kelson Reads

Joined 2 years, 4 months ago

Techie, software developer, hobbyist photographer, sci-fi/fantasy and comics fan in the Los Angeles area. He/him.

Mostly reading science fiction these days, mixing in some fantasy and some non-fiction (mostly tech and science), occasionally other stuff. As far as books go, anyway. (I read more random articles than I probably should.)

Reviews are cross-posted on my website and I have a blog dedicated to Les Misérables.

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Mira Grant: In the Shadow of Spindrift House (2019, Subterranean) 4 stars

Nature abhors a straight line. The natural world is a place of curves and softened …

Imagine the Scooby-Doo gang encountering a Lovecraftian horror in Hill House.

4 stars

They manage about as well as you might expect -- which is to say, not very well at all.

It's an interesting mashup of tropes. The teenage detectives are used to traveling around, busting "supernatural" frauds, though they have more serious issues. (The stoner who loves dogs also has severe anxiety, for instance, which is why he avoids people and self-medicates.) And they're just aging out of the demographic when one of them convinces the rest to take on one more case before the band breaks up.

Naturally it's a creepy old haunted house on a cliff above a small, dying coastal New England town that's slowly being eaten away by the sea. And the families disputing ownership of the house both have old claims, and they all seem just a bit off somehow...

You know from the start that they're not all coming back from that last case before …

Samit Basu: Jinn-Bot of Shantiport (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom, Tordotcom) 4 stars

From international bestseller Samit Basu, The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport is an exuberant new sci-fi adventure …

Much more than a Cyberpunk Aladdin!

5 stars

To call The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport a cyberpunk version of Aladdin would be a disservice. It takes that as a starting point and gleefully launches into a tale of political upheaval, prize-fighting robots, kaiju and mechs, unwanted legacies, family secrets, betrayal, loyalty, a Not-Prince, oppression, opulence, AI rights, pervasive surveillance, masking who you are, and of course sufficiently advanced technology that can grant wishes (only three for the trial period, but unlimited wishes can be unlocked for...well, you get the idea), all set in a crumbling spaceport slowly sinking into the mud on a backwater planet where everyone's sure the world is ending soon, but no one's sure how or why, and it hardly matters because no one can afford to leave anyway.

It's a glorious mishmash of all this and more, wrapped around the human Lina and her monkey-bot brother Bador, filtered through a storytelling bot who has just …

Henry Beam Piper, H. Beam Piper: Little Fuzzy (EBook, Standard Ebooks) 4 stars

Little Fuzzy is the name of a 1962 science fiction novel by H. Beam Piper, …

According to John Scalzi, he's written the introduction to a new edition of the original:

There's a new edition of H. Beam Piper's "Little Fuzzy" out today, which features an introduction by none other than me! If you would like to check it out (and learn more about the educational program that is reissuing it), here's the link for that:

Maureen Johnson, Jay Cooper: Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village (Hardcover, 2021, Ten Speed Press) 4 stars

Delightful parody of every English countryside murder mystery trope

5 stars

Presented as a guidebook to a village that has them all. Written wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, illustrated like something out of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies. A short, quick read. Funny if you're slightly familiar with the genre, more so if you've seen every trope in the book. (Cross-posted at my website)

Chuck Wendig: Invasive (Hardcover, 2016) 4 stars

On the isolated Kolohe Atoll in the middle of the Pacific ocean, a charismatic billionaire …

Nightmare fuel, but a compelling read.

4 stars

This isn't the kind of book I'd usually read: I'm not big on thrillers or horror, and it's sort of (but not really) a sequel to another book I haven't read, but it stands on its own, and the characters are intriguing.

I always appreciate characters who suffer from chronic general anxiety but manage to function anyway, and Dr. Hannah Stander does both in spades.

The private Hawaiian island research facility where much of the book takes place is a perfect intersection of James Bond villain, Elon Musk, and Larry Ellison (who actually has bought most of Lānaʻi).

And I know just enough about ant biology and society that the swarms of killer ants are frighteningly plausible. The chapters where they inevitably get loose are...intense.

(Cross-posted from my website.)

H. Beam Piper: Fuzzy sapiens (1964, Ace Books) 4 stars

Interesting sequel exploring how the colony and human/fuzzy relations change

4 stars

When I first heard of Little Fuzzy, long before I read the first book, I had no idea there were any sequels. I think I may have also gotten them mixed up with the Hokas (with perhaps good reason). After reading Piper's original and Scalzi's reboot, I got curious about how Piper continued the original story.

There's a loose plot following a kidnapping investigation, but it's mostly there as a framework to explore the human/fuzzy relationship and how the colony is changing. With the question of sapience established, it gets into the politics of shifting from a company town to an eventual democracy, the ethics of human colonization and native relations with the Fuzzies, and biology, considering where the Fuzzies fit in the planet's food web and why they're so fond of a particular prey animal and a particular brand of human-made emergency rations.

Many of the …

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