February 2011

The Ghost Brigades

The Ghost Brigades opens with a rock. I didn’t find this the most promising of starts. If just finishing Old Man’s War hadn’t left me with the desire to explore more of John Scalzi’s universe, I would have been tempted to stop after the first page. Luckily, the importance of rocks pans out quickly so I didn’t feel too cranky having to sit through description. Contrast it with the opening

Old Man’s War

AJM encouraged me to read some science fiction that was written a bit more recently. After all, just because I started reading science fiction in the 1970s and stopped reading science fiction in the 1970s, doesn’t mean I should restrict myself to reading science fiction from the 1970s. He suggested Old Man’s War for two reasons; it is an alternative riff on the themes of brain transplant and identity that

I Will Fear No Evil

Spoilers Ahead The premise is much more intriguing than its execution. The brain of a dying rich old man is transplanted into the body of a young woman who has been murdered. The whole book could delve into the meaning of identity and gender but all it does is talk about sex. I don’t think it ever actually describes anyone having sex (current romance fiction is more explicit). But everyone

Life Among the Savages

Shirley Jackson is the original Mommy-blogger. Or would be today. In her day she sold her stories to women’s magazines. Life Among the Savages (four children and small town locals) is grimly comic. Her wry observations are delivered in a deadpan tone. You can sense that it wouldn’t take much to push her into setting the same scenes of domestic madness a bit more horrifically as she did in “The

The Mote in God’s Eye

I pulled The Mote in God’s Eye off AJM’s stack of books to be discarded. I’d read another Niven-Pournelle novel, Oath of Fealty in the mid 1980s and enjoyed it. AJM didn’t like their style and abandoned The Mote in God’s Eye early into it. One of the things Niven-Pournelle do well in both books employ an ensemble cast to tell the story from multiple viewpoints. They even include a

The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing

These days it seems that anything written by a woman gets lumped into the “chick lit” bin. However, I think The Girls’ Guide… truly qualifies for that label and it reminds me that I’m really not a girly girl. I’ve never seen a single episode of Sex in the City either. I like the main character, Jane. She is self-deprecating and has a wacky sense of humor. I found the

Shanghai Diary

I finished reading Shanghai Diary within 24 hours of buying it. The memoir of an eleven year old girl who, in 1939, retrieves her father from the Gestapo and escapes Germany with her parents is a compelling read. In any Hollywood movie, the escape would have signalled the happy ending. However, most of the world had already closed its borders to Jewish refugees, and Ursula’s family flees to the only


“Settle down.” I’m frequently told. The more I seek calm in my life the more dissatisfied and restless I become. I dream of being elsewhere. Everything is mildly interesting but nothing is passionately interesting. In the last five years especially, I’ve found it difficult to muster internal motivation for new projects. I’m clearly in a maintenance phase. House, garden, blogs, relationships, studying Japanese–my involvement with all of them is a