• 10/01/2021
    Times without Number by John Brunner

    Don Miguel of the Spanish Imperial Society of Time believes that someone is illicitly breaking time and attempting to cause the Spanish empire to fall or worse, to never exist.

  • 10/01/2021
    Prime Directive by Davis Bunn

    Lt. Amanda Bostick is sent to a strange planet inhabited by telepaths after 16 scientists were murdered and their deaths covered up. She suspects things are worse than that.

  • 09/28/2021
    Kris Longknife: Mutineer by Mike Shepherd

    Ensign Kris Longknife is the daughter of the prime minister and the grand daughter of George Washington Lincoln Patton. She joined the navy to get away from her domineering poliitical parents. In the pattern of Drake's Lightnings, Weber's Harrington, or Campbell's Geary, Kris is strong, noble, moral and intelligent. Shit happens. She overcomes it. Why is the book titled "Mutineer" when she's so noble and moral? Guess.

  • 09/25/2021
    Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

    Dr. Avrana Kern and her team have deployed a new evolution directing programmable virus to a recently terraformed planet. The goal is to uplift monkeys into monkey-butlers for the incoming colonists. Terrorist actions prevent the project from commencing as planned and the virus is rampent on a planet with minimal mammals. The virus therefore begins to uplift spiders.

    So good.

  • 09/17/2021
    Before Mars by Emma Newman

    Anna wakes up after her trip to Mars and discovers a note in her handwriting saying "Trust Noone". Why does the science populizer hate her? Why does she have such an attraction to the base doctor? Why is her wedding ring missing?

  • 08/20/2021

    Started watching Snowpiercer on HBO.  The world has frozen, everyone is dying, the rich have a magic train of safety, and a few regular people have taken refuge in a baggage car and struggle as 99th class citizens.

    But I want to talk about the food.  The first class one-per-centers have sushi and strawberries.  The third class workers have lovely grilled cheese and tomato soup.  In the movie, the baggage people are fed protein bars which I think turn out to be pressed cockroaches or crickets or something.  In the comic, I think the hero discovers the food source is a genetically engineered ever-growing cow leg (I hope that was cow).  In the TV show, the final product looks like pressed dried kelp.

    I think the authors of the various media are intending me to be intensely revolted by each product and I'm just not. The story is a class-warfare story, so it's totally unfair that some people have to eat cockroaches and other eat strawberries, but it's the apocalypse, start eating hardship foods. Also, lab-meat is now a thing.

  • 09/11/2021
    The Physicians of Vilnoc (Penric & Desdemona) by Lois McMaster Bujold

    Book 7+ in this list, not counting the 4+ in other series. Penric has to help track down a new plague. Great.

  • 09/09/2021
    The Lost Fleet: Relentless by Jack Campbell

    Book 5. Geary and his rag-tag fleet are just a few hops away from home, but they're being hunted both by a secret Syndic fleet and the aliens who want to keep their secrets.

  • 09/07/2021
    Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

    Nettie is a black Indian living in a version of southern texas populated with monsters. She's thrown into a quest to resc ue children from the Cannibal Owl.

  • 08/18/2021
    Alien Morning by Rick Wilber

    Peter is a content influencer who is an early adopter of a total sensory and feeling recording system. He posts sense-videos of his life and interviews and sports. Aliens come. He's picked as the on-site reporter by one of the aliens.

  • 08/16/2021
    The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney

    Portugal, 1700s or 1800s. The country is split in half with two princes ruling. The american colonies are separating, it think. The island of the me`rrmaids repelled an invasion. Mermaids come in selkie skin-removing varieties and serrarrarria gilled, scaled, and finned varieties. Some necromancer is building a strange art exibit in the bay.

  • 07/31/2021
    Killing Orders by Sara Paretsky

    VIWarshawski is asked to investigate some forged bonds found in a church's safe.

  • 08/01/2021
    The Lost Fleet: Valiant by Jack Campbell

    John Geary continues to lead his tired fleet through enemy space, desperately carrying more secrets that will change the course of the war.

  • 08/02/2021
    The Forever Watch by David Ramirez

    Mana is a mid-level administrator in City Planning. Leon is a police officer on the hunt for an overlooked serial killer. The Noah is a generation ship near the start of its 1000 year voyage.

  • 08/03/2021
    Planetfall by Emma Newman

    Renata is not a believer, but she follows her friend Suh, who hears a message from God, inviting them to a new planet. Something bad happens and Ren is pressured into keeping it a secret for twenty years.

  • 08/04/2021
    Trial by Fire by P. T. Deutermann

    Inspired by a true story, the ww2 aircraft carrier is bombed by a kamikaze pilot and nearly destroyed. This is the story of the surviving crew trying to restore their shop.

  • 08/05/2021
    A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

    The ambassador from the small independent mining community of Lsel to the vast space empire of Teixcalaanli has died in mysterious circumstances. Manit Dzmare is dispatched to replace him along with a ridiculously out of date copy of his memories. Who can she trust, what can she offer, why has she been sabotaged repeatedly, and how can she save both her home and the vast perfection of empire?

  • 08/06/2021
    Becoming Alien by Rebecca Ore

    Tom lives in rural Virginia with his drug-dealing older brother. Tom encounters a crashed space ship with two dead and one wounded alien. As a result of his failed attempt to rescue the survivor, Tom is accepted as a cadet at the Academy of the Federation. Hundreds of alien species work together as a diplomatic and contact corps, struggling with their innate biases and learning from each other.

  • 08/07/2021
    Dinosaur Thunder by James F. David

    Possibly the third in a series. Time shenanigans have patchworked modern cities into the late cretaceous and vice-versa. Our heroic and attractive protagonists slip into the past and must escape before or else.

  • 08/08/2021
    Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Pattison

    Years after the bombs destroyed the old world, the survivors live in New Carthage on the shore of one of the Great Lakes. The old cannot give up their grief and the young lack a future. Hadrian finds himself investigating the murder of his engineer friend Jonah. Less science fiction than mystery procedural.

  • 08/09/2021
    Seal Team 666 by Weston Ochse

    It's what the box says. Not a deep book, but quick summer read.

  • 07/14/2021
    "Beforeigners"

    My daughter and I really enjoyed "Beforeigners" and my wife thought it was Norwegian and subtitled.

    Lars is a police detective partnered with a Viking warrior princess tasked with solving some murders in Oslo's cross-time refugee population. Time portals keep opening up in Oslo's bay and spitting involuntary timeigrants into the present day. They originate in the stone age, in 1020s Viking era, and in the 1800s.

    Alfhildr has to deal with time-racism as she learns modern day culture and police rules. Lars is dealing with his divorce and his wife's new super-cool husband Gunters from the 1880s. Rated HBO for sex and humorous gore.

  • 07/07/2021
    "Raised by Wolves"

    "Raised by Wolves" is strange and I don't know what is going on. Spoilers for the first episode. "Mother" and "Father" are two androids tasked with raising a series of embryos on a new planet after Earth is destroyed. They're bad at their jobs and nearly all the children die. Apparently this mission was sent by the Neo-Atheist Alliance, so "Mother" is adamant that her children-charges eschew all superstition, but she might also have magic powers. The opposing force is the Mithraic Religious Faction, which was a real religion that died out 1800 years ago, so I'm not sure if the worship of the Sun and bathing in bulls blood is meant as an inscrutable critique of modern-day Christianity or as a value-free stand-in for religion in general.

    Anyway, the religious wars erupt on the new planet and "Mother" turns out to either have magical powers, be an advanced combat-bot only pretending to be a nurse-bot, or is wildly hallucinating because of her bereavement after losing all of her children. Anyway, the Atheist Alliance had only enough resources to send two robots in an interstellar station wagon, but the Mithraic Faction built a full space cruise ship. But that means I'm really confused as to why the Atheists were losing the war if they also had supernatural murder-bots, or why are the Mithraists surprised by this and have only pew-pew pellet guns instead of tactical nukes or rocket launchers. Anyway "Mother" murders all the adults and kidnaps some of the children so she can try child-rearing again.

    And none of this matters because the first 5 minutes of the second episode reveals that the Mithraists weren't actually Mithraists, but were only pretending so as to get on the interstellar ark.

    I am also thrown by the idea of a robot with supernatural powers. I don't know why I'm surprised by this except all of my fiction exposure is separately about either the gods fiddling with humans or about techno-robots doing their own thing. I suppose if the gods can work through donkeys or swords or stars or trees, then I must conclude a god could work through or communicate with a robot, but I've never seen that before. Huh. If robots have intelligence, then they have souls; and if gods can work through humans they can work through robots. I'm just surprised I've never seen this worked out before. And this is probably a tangent, because it's just as likely that "Raised By Wolves" is about post-bereavement hallucinations.

  • 07/14/2021
    Children of Chaos by Dave Duncan

    On a world shaped like a dodecahedron, 4 children of the ruler of a city are kidnapped as hostages by the hordeleaders of the next face over. Very interesting gods and battles.

  • 07/07/2021
    The Unfinished Land by Greg Bear

    Kidnapped by elves. Didn't finish it.

  • 07/01/2021
    The Rig by Roger Levy

    A pair of gansters in a distant solar system face off. Facebook controls all. Two strange fundamentalist religions. Mind-bending isolation aboard off-shore drilling rigs. The plot hadn't started by the 2/3 point. Didn't finish it.

  • 06/25/2021
    Immunity Index by Sue Burke

    Not-Corona virus is rampaging and not-donald-trump is lying as everyone dies. Very on the nose. Claims to be written before 2020. Pretty good once it gets to the sister-clones doing what they can to make the world a better place.

  • 06/20/2021
    The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston

    Julius Caeser is dead and Agustus and Mark Anthony fight for domanance of the empire. Each faction is searching for the holy relics that will give them ultimate power. Apparently I read this already and forgot until half-way through.

  • 07/01/2021 Books to read. Seth Dickinson - THe Traitor Baru Cormorant Indra Das - The Devourers James F. David - Dinosaur Thunder Mirah Bolender J. Kathie Cheney Anne Bishop Carol Berg R. S. Belcher Lila Bowen THe Ice people
  • 07/01/2021

    I'm running a virtual 5K with my company. Every few days I'm going to run the 3 mile loop near my home. My goal is to progressively improve my time over May and June.

    05/01/2021 52 minutes.

    05/04/2021 45 minutes.

    05/06/2021 51 minutes.

    05/08/2021 45 minutes.

    05/12/2021 44 minutes.

    05/14/2021 44 minutes.

    05/17/2021 54 minutes.

    05/19/2021 49 minutes.

    I'm not getting any better and I'm feeling beat up. I'm going to switch to an official Couch 2 5K workout plan. I found this one with podcast music and run/rest spacings. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/

    05/21/2021 C 2 5K - workout 1.

    05/24/2021 C 2 5K - workout 1. Chest less tired, shins more sore.

    05/26/2021 C 2 5K - workout 1. Chest less tired, less gasping, shins more sore.

  • 04/19/2021

    Continuing to play Minecraft: Blightfall.

    Botania: I've got an amaranth creating all the mystical flowers I could ever need. Endoflames are eating coal and hydrogeneas are sipping water to power my base.

    Blight: I've got one Dawn Machine on an airship and have cleared out one more island and 3-4 patches. It consumes essentia like crazy and I drop some parts and forget some important essentias. I want to finish the Island Lab and then clear out the south-western peninsula up to the Beta base location.

    Thaumcraft: I want a warp wand.

    Alchemy: My distillery isn't working well enough with 5 alembics. I need to upgrade to vis filters.

  • 06/15/2021
    The Lost Fleet: Courageous by Jack Campbell

    John "Black Jack" Leary continues to push his rag-tag fleet toward home..

  • 06/07/2021
    Driving The Deep (Finder #2) by Suzanne Palmer

    Fergus Ferguson's friends, the ship-builders of Pluto have been attacked and kidnapped. He must sneak under the frozen ocean of Enceladeus to find them.

  • 06/01/2021
    Blindsight by Peter Watts

    A vampire, a lobotomectomy, and a multiple-personality are sent to communicate with a planet sized alien probe.

  • 06/01/2021
    Majestrum by Matthew Hughes

    A futuristic victorian novel about the great detective and magician.

  • 05/25/2021
    In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss

    Short stories on the boundary between east and west, old and modern, fantastic and real.

  • 05/20/2021
    Agent of Hel: Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

    Girl is the offspring of a demon, thus poised to be the representative of Queen Hel (of Asgard) on Earth, liasing with a minnesota police department.

  • 05/14/2021
    Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman

    Changlings, multiple worlds, hostile overlords seeking children with special powers.

  • 05/13/2021
    Red Country and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

    These are fantasy westerns. Red country is about settlers and wagon trains and gold rushes, but in a late middle ages fantasy world.

  • 05/13/2021
    Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson

    This was strange. The story is a first-contact / space battles kind of book, but the narrator wants to work on a Hitchhiker's type book. The fusion didn't quite work, much like the first season of "The Orville".

  • 04/21/2021
    Operation: Grendel by Daniel Schwabauer

    Raymin Dahl is a propaganda journalist for the military. He is assigned to Special forces captain Ansell Stirling in documenting a peace treaty between the colonial union and the cyborgs of the Grand Alliance.

  • 04/19/2021
    The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper

    The Grays keep the ship running. The Reds keep them in line. The Blues manage things. The Greens rule. Ruby is ready to start a revolution.

  • 04/19/2021
    The Guild of Xenolinguists by Sheila Finch

    The guild specializes in translating between alien races.

  • 04/19/2021

    BlightfallGoals.txt

    Goals:

    More Ethereal Blooms

    Totem of Dawn

    Better Picks

    Extra Alembic

  • 04/16/2021
    "Underwater (2020)"

    Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, and T. J. Miller are deep water researchers/drill operators at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The movie is a horror thriller, so while we are told the giant facility has a staff of 250 people, the shit quickly hits the fan and the cast list is only 9 people long.

    If there's a horror equivalent of a comforting cup of cocoa, it's this movie. The characters are thin and the plot is predictable but everyone from actors to sound guy to director do a fine job with the material. My wife screamed several times and the sound effects set my dog to shivering under my legs.

    When my wife tells a character to "stop touching that", they should listen. When my wife says "Put on your helmets", do so.

    The rule is "Show, don't tell" and the horror equivalent is "Don't show, imply out of the corner of an eye" and this movie does that beautifully.

  • 04/15/2021
    "Debris"

    Watched the first few episodes of "Debris" on Hulu. I wish I liked it. I don't.

    It reminds me a lot of "Fringe". Weird alien crap is falling to Earth and causing bizarre alien havok wherever it lands. SoldierMan and ScientistWoman race to Secure, Contain, and Protect the items before a little kid turns his whole town inside out with the alien faucet knob he found.

    The science is nonsense. I'm not sure the writers can spell the quantum electromagnonsense they're spewing. That can be okay in a better show, but the nonsense varies from episode to episode so there's nothing to hang onto. What's this week's problem? "Fibblewitzies!" How do you fix that? "Phobarnagles!"

    Unneeded personal conflict. Soldierman was injected with a double-dose of Duty and has no other personality. He's worried that ScientistWoman is too emotional and won't cut it out here on the real streets, rookie! Don't cry about these people dying, we're only paid if we get this MacGuffin back to the important destination. In another episode, something bad is happening and ScientistWoman uses triangulation to narrow the problem down to this one neighborhood. Soldierman is angry with her because "There must be hundreds of houses there, we have no time!" Give her a break, she's given you a lead and there's 20 minutes left in the episode.

    If you haven't seen "Fringe", go watch that instead. The first few seasons are good, then it gets eaten by its own conspiracy. If you want to watch "Debris", liquor up.

  • 03/29/2021
    "The Courier (2019)"

    I made my wife watch "The Courier (2019)". It was really bad. This kind of movie is why God created hard liquor.

    Gary Oldman is on the poster. Oldman is an incredible scene chewing actor who was told to wear an eye-patch because he's evil and forced to sit on a couch.

    Dermont Mulroney is credited on the poster. Mulroney was Sexiest Man of the Year back in 2005 or something, but here he talks on a phone while sitting in an office.

    Olga Kurylenko was in a Bond movie.

    Kurylenko is a super courier who discovers the package she transported is a bomb. Because she's not a total a-hole and because she's mildly sorry about the whole bomb-thing, she tries to protect WhineyMan, a federal witness who's supposed to testify against Gary Oldman.

    The production company had no budget and so all the characters are trapped in a parking garage. Random flashes behind the credits told us that someone is a secret (Russian? Zimbabwean?) super soldier who went missing. I think it's Kurylenko because she has a really cool motorcycle.

    The bad guys are ShoutyMan, a sub-contractor trying to murder the witnesses against Gary Oldman. He's backed up by FatMan, NotJasonStatham, FatNealMcDonough, TriggerHappy1, TriggerHappy2, and BigGameHunter. Honestly, these guys all blend together, so there could be between 4 and 8 of them, I had no idea.

    For most of the movie I had no idea what Kurylenko and WhineyMan's goal was. Escape? But Gary Oldman is the most powerful and most evil evil man. Where are they escaping to? Who is going to believe their story?

    ShoutyMan's goal is to kill Kurylenko and WhineyMan before the police arrive and before Gary Oldman gets annoyed and murders him too. Luckily the police give him a solid 1 hour time deadline and Dermont Mulroney calls a few times to announce "The police will arrive in 19 more minutes."

    Kurylenko is a slim 5'9" and is fighting men who are above 6 feet. She kills the first guy by kicking him to death because she has some really powerful front snaps. Having accomplished this, she switches to punching. She's got 6 inches less reach than the men she's punching and they're all wearing body armor. She misses most of her swings.

    It's bloody. Kurylenko does a cool death by a thousand cuts thing and stabs a guy in an ear. Since she's bored of this, she goes back to punching people. She gets the crap beat out of her.

    BigGameHunter has not been injured at all. Kurylenko has been shot, stabbed, and hit by a car. He's the tallest of all the thugs. She challenges him to a slap fight.

    Deus Ex Machina.

    Monologuing villains when one protagonist is missing.

    Protagonists with ESP realize that a double-crossing villain is double crossing in another room.

    The shortest path from point A to point B involves stripping down to a bra.

    Who is Kurylenko and why do I care? The movie forgot to establish a likeable character before she got into trouble. Halfway through she gets a tragic backstory about a dead brother in the army, but nothing about Kurylenko implies she has PTSD or unresolved issues. I told my wife that she needed to have a little daughter she was doing these jobs to raise money for and trying to get home to and the villains could kidnap the daughter to threaten her and force Kurylenko to return WhineyMan. I went on about this for so long my wife asked "Why are you so enthused about the daughter being tortured?" Because it would be better than this.

    (And there's another movie "The Courier (2020)" with Benedict Cumberbatch, so this movie might be a discount sound-alike.)

  • 03/29/2021
    "The Informer (2019)"

    Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, and Clive Owen. It was fine.  Kinnaman is a drug dealer who goes back into prison as part of an FBI bust.  I liked Kinnaman in Altered Carbon, but he's doing most of the work here.

  • 03/29/2021
    The Traveller (An Event Group Thriller #11) by David L. Golemon

    Department 5656 is a secret agency tasked by the president with something. Probably protecting the U.S.ofA. from the weird. Aliens, time travel, time-travelling nazi aliens. Didn't enjoy this so much. Strange typos in the text. Stilted dialog. Everyone's the world's best at whatever. Time-travelling nazi alien velociraptors.

  • 03/22/2021
    The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

    Chinese story about bandits and nuns trying to fence religious artifacts.

  • 03/21/2021
    Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost

    A tongue in cheek story about the British Space Empire. Classic British sexism, racism, classism as applied to aliens and androids.

  • 03/20/2021
    The Heirs of Babylon by Glen Cook

    A very vietnam inspired book - the two powers have been fighting performative battles every 10 years for the last two centuries to maintain their economies.

  • 03/19/2021
    In The Black by Patrick S. Tomlinson

    The Ansari is patrolling the outer systems of Human Space. Throk and the Xen(?) are patrolling the outer limits of Xen space, poking at the Human defenses. CEO of a planet, Not-Tony-Stark is wondering who's messing with his stock prices. Really good.

  • 03/18/2021
    The Lost Fleet: Fearless (TLF #2) by Jack Campbell

    Resuccitated "Fearless Black Jack Geary" rescues a prison camp, deals with a mutiny of half his ships, and attacks a central space shipyard while on his epic quest to return the fleet to Alliance space. More questions of why the war started and why it continues are raised.

  • 03/08/2021
    So you want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane

    Nita and Kit discover a book instructing them in wizardy.

  • 03/08/2021
    Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden

    space retelling of The Little Mermaid.

  • 02/28/2021

    Save Yourselves!

    And last night on "Where do you find these movies, Honey?", I made my wife watch "Save Yourselves!" I'd call this a New York Liberal Millenial Hipster Comedy (?) about a couple who decide to unplug and take a retreat weekend without their phones and miss the social media updates that the world has ended. There's a lot of notes of a couple trying to unwind from the modern life and reconnect their relationship and their goals and being oblivious to the scenes of apocalypse in the background. And then it ends. I don't know how strongly I recommend it, but if you're interested in a Hipster Juxtaposition Comedy about the world ending... this is certainly a movie.

  • 02/28/2021

    Avenue 5

    an HBO comedy with Hugh Grant as captain of a space cruise liner doing a 8 week jaunt out around Saturn. In the first 10 minutes, the ship is knocked off trajectory, the ETA to Earth is now 3 years, the lead Engineering Officer is dead, and Hugh Grant is not an experienced space captain, but an actor hired to inspire Passenger Confidence and Professional Impressions. It's a dry comedy. Things keep getting worse and the mostly incompetent crew keep failing at their jobs. TV-MA for adult language - not especially strong language but continuous.

  • 03/05/2021
    Shadows Linger(Black Company #2) by Glen Cook

    The company has been sent to the edge of the earth to preven the ancient power The Dominator from returning to life and the world.

  • 02/28/2021

    Tenet

    I watched "Tenet" a second time this weekend. It's a good movie you should see once, but it doesn't hold up to repeated viewings.

    No spoilers. Christopher Nolan had a neat sci-fi idea that he brilliantly realized into film, but the gimmick, the plot, the story, and the audience experience are all working at cross-purposes to each other. Also, Elizabeth Dibicki is in the same plot as she was in for "The Night Manager" which had Hugh Laurie as the abusive husband, Tom Hiddleston as the dashing rescuer, was a longer miniseries unencumbered by sci-fi side plots, and was better.

    "Tenet" is a James Bond-esque spy thriller with a cool sci-fi element. But Nolan wants to do a magic trick in front of the audience so we all say "Oh! Ahhhh!" at the end. So he can't fully explain the gimmick because he wants to perform it as a magic trick, leaving me slightly confused as to the plot. The plot explains why everything seems to be on rails with stuff just happening for no reason, but the story and the characters are still left just happening for no reason.

    If Tenet had made a sci-fi movie without the late reveal, then he could have explored his gimmick a lot further and the audience would say "ooh, that's cool" instead of "whaaa? oh."

    The first time watching, I followed Washington's character in discovering what was happening. The second time I sat through a lot of dialog waiting for the next action set piece.

    Why is the audience confused? Because everyone is wearing masks for so much of the movie. Why are they wearing masks? So Nolan can say "Tahdah!" at the end of the movie.

    Oh, I meant to talk more about Dibicki. Act 1: Washington promises to rescue Elizabeth Dibicki from the abusive husband. Act 2: He fails and lies to her about it, putting her in more danger, and then tells her that as a super spy, he'll sacrifice her again to accomplish his mission. Act 3: She inexplicably decides to trust him again and participate in his insane and poorly explained plan.

    (In fairness, I suppose there was a step between 2 and 3 - having gotten her nearly killed, he takes her to an adequate medical facility, thus earning her gratitude for doing what every not-evil person needs to do.)

  • 02/26/2021

    I finally wrote the Relative Distance Mapping Tool for Subnautica. Pictures inside the link. Subnautica Map and the Mapping Tool

  • 03/01/2021
    A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)

    Mona is a baker and a wizard, but just a wizard of baking. She can force bread to rise or bake correctly. She can bring her sourdough starter to some life. But when the city is attacked, she's the only wizard available to defend her city.

  • 02/28/2021
    The Black Company by Glen Cook

    Croaker is the doctor and annalist of The Black Company, an old and prestigious group of mercenaries. This is a ground-eye's view of a battle between high powers for ownership of the continent.

  • 02/25/2021
    Axis (Spin #2) by Robert Charles Wilson

    Book 1 - the planet gets wrapped in a slowfield so billions of years pass for the universe but only 100 pass for the Earth. Because time is in our favor, humanity colonizes Mars. At the end the slow field shuts down and earth is connected via portals to the rest of the universe. Whee.

    Book 2 - a kid is genetically engineered to hear voices in his head of the Hypothetical Entities that created the slowfields. Some people follow him around.

    Book one has some Baxter problems with agency. Cool stuff is happening but not because of the protagonist.

  • 02/23/2021

    Van Helsing

    This weekend I started watching "Van(essa) Helsing", about survivors from the vampire plague. Rated R/MA for "Gore, violence, language, nudity, and SMOKING".

    Axel is a marine tasked with protecting a woman who might be humanity's salvation.

    Vanessa is one of the first casualties of the vampire plague, but strangely her body refuses to die.

    My wife and I are a little impatient because Vanessa's powerset is obvious to the audience but the characters are still working through it, which makes them look foolish. Characters conflicting motivations make sense. Each person wants something different and the survival situation escalates the tension and violence. The vampire hierarchy isn't clear yet - who dies/becomes a zombie/becomes a vampire leader seems arbitrary at the moment.

    It's gory. My wife asked "Why do you keep wanting to watch zombie movies?" and I replied "These are vampires!" "Same thing."

  • 02/23/2021

    Cursed

    Last week I tried watching "Cursed" on Neflix and eventually got bored. "Before King Arthur wielded Excalibur, there was Nimue!" sounds like a good premise.

    Nimue is the last high priestess of the Fey/Druids. The Inquisition is murdering all the magic fey-folk they can find.

    I got 5-6 episodes in and was tired of it.

    The problem at this point is all of Nimue's character flaws and plot contrivances push her away from personal agency. She's a very powerful mage, but is not in control of her powers to the point that her tolerant hippie druid community hates her more than the Inquisition does. The Inquistion will just kill her. The druids have been bullying her her whole life.

    She's a badass with a sword but quest 1 is to take the magic sword and give it to someone else.

    It's not really her sword. Her mother "borrowed" it and now it needs to be returned.

    She meets Arthur right off, so in a story about "before King Arthur", Arthur is still around being a pest.

    The Fey-folk world-building is uneven. There's the "how do you walk without constant neck pain" horned people. There's the "can't cover that up with a hat" snake-skinned people. And finally there's the "attractive tattoo but only when I'm using magic" for Nimue's tribe.

  • 02/15/2021
    Through The Looking Glass by John Ringo
  • 02/20/2021
    The Black God's Drums by P. Djeli Clark

    Alt-History story about the deovtees of two vodou goddesses in free independent 1899 Lousiana.

  • 02/20/2021
    The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

    Ghost story on a space station.

  • 03/08/2021
    Paladin's Grace by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)

  • 02/20/2021
    Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)

  • 02/20/2021
    Swordheart by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)

  • 02/11/2021
    Dauntless by Campbell?

  • 02/11/2021
    Shiver by Allie Reynolds

    Mella is a semi-pro trick snowboarder. She and several other competitors are spending the winter at a resort, training for upcoming competitions. Ten years later, the group is summoned back to the resort for a reunion. At then end of that fateful winter, one of them is dead, one of them is crippled, and the group breaks up. Who has summoned them and what are their plans?

  • 02/10/2021
    All These Worlds (Bob #3) by Dennis E. Taylor
  • 02/10/2021
    For We Are Many (Bob #2) by Dennis E. Taylor

    Bob, a revived simluated version of Robert Johansson, who died 200 years ago, continues running his Von Neuman swarm. Bob-1 has first contact to manage. Riker(Bob-2) and Howard (Bob-2-3-1) and are trying to rescue the population of Earth. Bill(Bob-5) is running R&D on a lot of cool toys. The antagonistic brazilian simulants need to be finished off and there are so many more stars to explore.

  • 02/09/2021
    Unchosen by Katharyn Blair

    Charlette is not the chosen one. The prophecy clearly says that her younger sister will save the world. But when vampires show up to kidnap and kill the chosen one, Charlette lies to defend her family and is drawn deeper into her lie of being the Chosen One herself.

  • 02/03/2021
    Avalanche / The Kidnapping of Roseta Uvaldo by Zane Grey

    Two Short Novels In One! Two brothers, once close, now estranged are trapped in a high valley during winter. A Texas Marshall goes to rescue his unproclaimed love from kidnapping.

  • 02/03/2021
    The Misplaced Legion (Videssos #1) by Harry Turtledove

    A Roman legion and one Gaul gets teleported into an alternate world with byzintine politics.

  • 02/01/2021
    We are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor

    Robert Johansson wakes up after being hit by a car to find he's been frozen, revived, and uploaded into a computer. His new owners have installed him as the controlling intelligence in a Von Neumon probe. So good.

  • 01/22/2021
    The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Tr. Ken Liu)

    Finished "The Three Body Problem". I'm pretty sure I've read it before. The prose was strange. I think Chinese must be a terse or declaritive language, because this book is much less flowery than any native english book I've read. The poetry in Chinese must be much more implicit or allusionary.

    Plot 1 was the Communist revolution which I don't know a lot about, so the suspense was lost on me. Plot 2 was the cop and the scientist investigating some conspiracy but the investigation plot peters out in favor of other plots. Plot 3 was the video game which reminded me of the worst aspects of Neal Stephenson and Stephen Baxter. The author has imagined some really cool worldbuilding gimmick and is determined to explain it to me. Then at around the 3/4 mark, plots 1,2, and 3 fully resolve and plot 4, the alien invasion, starts up almost out of nowhere.

    Also, in the middle there's a bait and switch. Plot 2 & 3 start up with the question: "If you found out that your world wasn't real or that there was no more to discover, would your life have any meaning?" That was interesting. Then the story meanders and comes back to answer a different question : "Do you think humanity is redeemable or we should all just end it now?" which I find much less compelling.

  • 01/19/2021
    Delta-V by Daniel Suarez

    Asteroid miners.

    Not Jeff Bezos wants to leap into space and recruits a bunch of interesting people for his space plans.

  • 01/16/2021
    Clade by James Bradley

    A series of vignettes about a family dealing with the collapse of the environment and governments in the wake of global warming.

  • 01/11/2021
    What the hell did I just read (John Dies At The End 3) by David Wong

    supernatural stoner comedy.

  • 01/11/2021
    Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

    Earth is wrapped in slow time.

  • 12/31/2020
    Dead lies dreaming by Charles Stross

    A convoluted magical heist.

  • 12/31/2020
    The red terrors : a Doc Savage adventure by Robeson/Dent

    People are being kidnapped at sea.

  • 12/31/2020
    Dragon and Phoenix by ???

    Couldn't finish

  • 12/31/2020
    Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

    Couldn't finish

  • 12/31/2020
    Space Unicorn Blues by T. J. Berry

    Couldn't finish

  • 12/31/2020
    Operation Earthworm by Joe Archibald

    Couldn't finish

  • 12/31/2020
    Doc Savage; His apocalyptic Life by Philip Jose Farmer

    Couldn't finish

  • 12/31/2020
    Interlibrary Loan by ???

    Ern is a re-cloned library resource, a clone of a famous author lent out to library patrons.

  • 12/31/2020

    In The Dark

  • 12/31/2020

    Future Man

  • 12/31/2020

    Tenet

  • 12/31/2020

    Second Chance

  • 12/31/2020

    Alice in Borderland

  • 11/30/2020
    Self Improvement November

    SMTWRFS
    NOV
    1
    LispHack
    * In order to make progress on my cutscene, I need to switch from a keypress locked turn-based-game to something with an active run loop and pausable action.
    * However, read-char is blocking. read-char-no-hang is not blocking, but doesn't register arrow keys. peek-char and listen don't register arrow keys.
    * Crap. Abandoning Common Lisp library's read* system in favor of a true win32 message loop.
    * Wrote a cool macro to generate WM_* message codes.
    * Started writing a converter between windows C function defnintions and FFI:DEF-CALL-OUT registrations.
    2
    LispHack
    * Win32 app is running, but only in black and white - well, the app is color but the double-buffer is dithered b/w.
    * working on improving the converter to operate on the clipboard. Pasting is fine, but copying uses an edge of FFI I haven't used yet - foreign array accessing.
    3
    LispHack
    * Finally discovered the black-and-white double-buffer issue: The correct order is CreateCompatibleDC(Screen/Window) CreateCompatibleBitmap(Screen/Window) SelectObject(CompatDC, CompatBmp). I think I've gotten this wrong before when setting up new Win32 apps.
    * Spent the morning fighting with LoadImage. Final issue is that win32 will only load 24 bit bitmaps.
    *Got a simple sprite-sheet displaying on screen. Pretty soon I'll have to roll this test app back into my game.
    4
    LispHack
    * Text and pretty framing through sprite sheets.
    5
    LispHack
    * More bugs. win32 app can maximize, minimize, forcibly move and resize, but cannot be resized by user. :-(
    * Starting to roll win32 code back into nethack. Crashes in level generating code - sometimes.
    6
    LispHack
    * Convinced myself the bugs I'm seeing are not my fault. Crashes seem to happen based on calls to (format t "") or deep loops - things which might trigger the Lisp garbage collector. Crashes still happen with majority of windows painting code disabled. Crashes move when various code is locked off. Crashes are not 100% consistent between two calls to a function.
    7
    LispHack
    * Cleaned up my enum generator macro and asked Stack Overflow for help. Got some good information about macro construction and Lisp.
    * Cleaned up my crash test case and asked Stack Overflow for help. Bruno Haible, yes, The Bruno Haible answered my question. He had several suggestions but asked me to submit a bug. :-)
    8
    LispHack
    * Converted my code from CLISP to SBCL. No crashes. SBCL is very picky and has lots of warning/error messages. The alien FFI system is clunky, but it's working, so I'm happy.
    9
    LispHack
    * Failed to get CLISP building out of CygWin. I tried to install the dependencies, but the build system isn't finding them. I give up on that front.
    10
    LispHack
    * Created a couple of macros to keep the best of SBCL:Alien and CLISP:FFI and to not re-write all my win32 inteface character by character.
    * Started folding win32_sbcl back into the lisphack game.
    * SBCL is much pickier about defparameter vs. setf and the order that functions appear in a file. ugh. Cleaning up my code to the more rigorous requirements.
    11
    LispHack
    * Building the game UI again using SBCL and bitmap font sprites. So far so good. UI is rendering but now I need to put controls back into the game - the whole reason for switching so soon to Win32 Gui.
    12
    LispHack
    * Upgraded my windows message WM_ enum builder to support the virtual key VK_ enum too.
    13
    LispHack
    * Input! Rendering!
    * No colors
    * Working through levels upgrading them.
    14
    15 16 17 18
    LispHack
    * Worked on LispHack daily.
    * Foreground and background colors are working. Refactored map tiles to use better render colors. Levels work. Basic splash effect kinda works.
    19
    LispHack
    * Added in functions for saving BMP files.
    20
    LispHack
    * Finished slide-show feature and added it here.
    21
    LispHack
    * debug_spew macro
    * Fixed shutdown and resize crash
    22
    LispHack
    * Trying to make progress with smarter level generation via a node-and-edges genration technique.
    23
    LispHack
    * limited zooming on tiles.
    24
    LispHack
    * Nodes are now added to the level in a contiguous fashion: starting region, then region 1, then 2, then 3.
    25
    LispHack
    * Refactored some level code.
    * Moved All-Creatures under levels.
    * Identify locations to place doors.
    26 27 29
    LispHack
    * prototyped out new generation system and slowly converting it to real code.
    25
    Woodworking
    * Almost finished with secret project.
    * Made an extra pusherstick for my table saw.
    * Built a step for the front step.
    30

  • 12/03/2020
    Dark Stars by John Birmingham

    Lucinda is a low class lieutenant on a RAN space battle ship, tasked with patrolling the border between the earth/core worlds and the racist space nazi Sturm. Battle ensues when the Sturm launch a computer virus into the always-on bio-computers that everyone has in their heads, turning anyone who checks their email into murder-zombies. Reminded me of the Culture books by Iain M. Banks and the Eschaton books by Charles Stross.

  • 11/20/2020
    I made a slide-show of my LispHack game I've been working on.
    Slide Show
  • 12/01/2020
    Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)

    Oliver only knows 3 spells and one of them is to suppress his allergy to his familar armadillo. He's not the best pick to travel to the distant mountains and bring back the rain, but he's all the town has.

  • 11/30/2020
    The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

    I immediately picked up book 2. Every night demons crawl up out of the ground and kill anyone and anything they can reach. It is only the incomplete art of warding that holds the demons at bay. Much ancient knowledge has been lost. Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer are three young people who want more - more adventure, more safety, and more control of their lives than their world provides. So good.

  • 11/29/2020
    Scar Night by Alan Campbell

    An angel, an assassin, and a demon in the city suspended by chains over the mouth of the Deep. Thousands of years ago, a minor god and its angels staged a coup against heaven and lost. They were cast down to earth and founded a church in their service.

  • 11/28/2020
    The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)

    A young woman discovers a hidden hallway in her uncle's museum/junk shop which leads to another world. So creepy. So much fun.

  • 11/17/2020
    The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich

    The sun never sets on the great empire of Eire. As the 19th century closes and the 20th century dawns, Eire must navigate rebellious colonies and a restless Europe. This novel (?) is a collection of linked novellas about the burgeoning science of temporal mathematics and its implications for the crown.

  • 11/10/2020
    The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White

    The Incrementalists are an ancient society of potentially immortal minds. They can offload their thoughts into a collective consciousness and when one body dies their colleagues can upload their memories into a new body. The personality of the host or of the ancient may either become dominant, thus the near immortality will cost at least one life.

    Phil has a continuous personality stretching back 2000 years. His on-again off-again lover Celeste has died under mysterious circumstances and he's taken charge of implanting her memories into the chosen vessel Ren. The book bounces back and forth between Phil and Ren's POV, which was more trouble narratively than it was worth.

  • 11/01/2020
    Indomitable by Terry Brooks

    I have perhaps read one Terry Books book, so I grabbed the thinnest book I could find on the shelf. It's a novella.

    As near as I can tell, a few years ago Jair and Bran saved the world, but they didn't do a very good job so the world didn't stay saved. Now Jair is a teenager and powerful and probably dead forces want him to fix his shoddy world-saving. The book is written like I know and love these characters, but I don't.

  • 10/31/2020
    Self Improvement October

    SMTWRFS
    SEP12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20
    Wrote a chapter and a half of my Hell short story.
    21
    Wrote a basic QuadTree for KWfH. If anything, it made things worse.
    22
    Figured out the Java profiler. I think my render and process threads are blocking on each other through the mBubbles critical sections. I need to clean up my informal timing functions to account for the blocks.

    Walked and jogged twice around the school loop.

    23
    Added basic sorting to the blog so the dates are in order regardless of the entry order. Added post filtering based on type.

    Walked and jogged twice around the school loop

    Added a critical section to KHfJ. I think it really sped up processing, but I'm not sure how render was blocked on update and update was blocked on render.

    24
    Build out my run timer. It beeps each time I need to run or rest.
    25
    Turned the RunTimer into an APK and installed it on my phone. Layout is screwy.

    Frustrated with Android programming, so went back to the python programs. Thought my toys were broken, but they're just waiting for input. Added a "PRESS ANY KEY" message. Added fading to the tank treadmarks.

    26
    TankGame
    * entities now automatically add themselves to the simulation.
    * fixed scale-down on particle death
    * added an on_death callback to the simulation
    * weapons now have levels and fire faster or more as the levels increase
    * targets leave smoking corpses
    * fixed issues with convoy lifespans
    * fixed selection issues on main menu
    * NUMPAD1 - pauses the game.
    * mountains background
    * quickslap now spawns rewards for killing targets
    * added clutter to quickslap
    * Added shadows to everything and destroyed my framerate. color_surface is very slow.
    27
    TankGame
    * Add docstring to all my lower level or utility modules.
    * Add a test to tester for docstring comment coverage.
    * option to display performance tracking information
    * added sorted render_depths and a test suite.
    * added shadows as an attached child object. Smarter about calculating shadow image and which objects it's attached to.
    28
    TankGame
    * Created a design for DinoWardens
    * Added hitpoint tracking to targets (Previously I'd only been tracking death on collision
    * Upgraded rocket to do splash damage.
    * I enjoy using Python - things that should be easy are easy. I am not enjoying using pyGame. The primitives are too simple for me. I worry that the game is wasting time modifying and reblitting rather than just alpha'ing correctly to start.
    29
    TankGame
    * Lots of refactoring
    * Separated "tank" from "player".
    * created DinoWardens gamemode
    * More commenting
    30
    TankGame
    * Drew flatbed truck and dinosaur wardens paddock sprites.
    * Flatbeds now drive out to pick up dinosaurs.
    OCT 1
    TankGame
    * Dinosaurs now wander around.
    * Carnivores attack trucks and semis
    2
    TankGame
    * Fixed bug with turning past PI
    * dinosaur footprints
    * carnivore corpses
    3
    Wrote a chapter of HellWars.
    * Travis finishes the voyage across the river Styx and gives his report to the outpost commander
    * Infodump and world building.
    4
    TankGame
    * Pause/options menu
    * Quadtree collision pruning
    5
    TankGame
    * More trees
    * Levels
    6
    LispHack
    * Fixed 2/3 bugs with line of sight
    * Laid out the screen again.
    7
    LispHack
    * Added chests and pick-up-able items.
    * Added exploration %.
    * Hit an erratic stall
    * added performance trackers.
    * :bt lets me print a stack trace.
    * The variable * is the return from the previous call - at least in the REPL. That makes (* * *) valid Lisp!
    * I keep being confused by (if a b c) - I usually see those with extra parenthesis, but that's not required.
    * Lisp Nerds keep talking about how Macros let them write a new language on top of Lisp. I don't see that yet. Any language they can create is still Lisp. Macros are powerful, but they're still in Lisp.
    8
    LispHack
    * Added stairs.
    * Fixed chests and item bugs.
    * started work on alternate cave generator.
    * Researched Racket. The tools look better, but Common Lisp is common and Racket is a new ecosystem.
    9
    LispHack
    * Finished cave generator.
    * Added a ruins fields genrator
    * Added a floating city generator.
    10
    LispHack
    *I. Spent. 4. Hours. Researching. FFI. And. Lisp. To. Win32. Hooks.
    * The documentation is very technical and not great for a beginner.
    * There are a ton of different Lisps and several that call them selves some variant of "Gnu" "Common" and "Lisp".
    * There are several methods of hooking Lisp up to existing C functions. FFI, CFFI, UFFI, FLI, possibly quick-lisp.
    * I eventually got a better sample set working and the biggest headache was me missing parenthesis on (let(())), mistaking console input handles for console output handles, or sending a pointer to a small structure instead of a packed value of the structure.

    Woodworking
    * Started work on a laptop laprest for my wife.
    11
    LispHack
    * Slowly converted LispHack to use the colored Windows functions. Hit a few more blockages but worked through them.

    Woodworking
    * Finished joining the table surface.
    12
    LispHack
    * Now I've got the screen, stats, messages, and monsters rendering using colors.
    * Next I need to convert the map terrain to color.

    Woodworking
    * Added end strips to the table surface.
    13
    LispHack
    * Finished coloring the fields and the dungeon.
    * Started my project to filter the hallways so I don't get strange double halls.
    14
    LispHack
    * Colored the forest level.
    * Did some timing and individual seeks are very expensive. I should convert to screenbuffered output. Had trouble writing the interface for WriteConsoleOutput - (make-coord :x 10 :x 10) is wrong.

    Woodworking
    * Stripped a 1x12 into 1" strips.
    * Set up sander.
    * Made some extra plugs for my handy-mate table.
    15
    LispHack
    * Converted map to screenbuffer.

    Woodworking
    * I remembered that I own a planer.
    * planed and sanded the table and tried to even out the strips.
    * figured out how to drill aligned axles and dry assembeled one side.
    16
    LispHack
    * Added a wide line drawer and a wiggly line drawer.
    18
    LispHack
    * Started building a castle level. Lots of nested and intersecting parts..

    Woodworking
    * Started sanding mechanical parts.

    Puttering
    * Hung two towel hooks by the tub.
    * Hung a make-up mirror by the sink.
    * Cleaned out a broken corner of drywall from a flood a couple of years ago.
    18
    LispHack
    * More work on castle.

    Woodworking
    * More sanding.
    * Glued first rail onto table.

    Puttering
    * Hung the little strip of drywall.
    19
    LispHack
    * Researched an ellipse line drawing algorithm.

    Woodworking
    * Glued the second rail on the table and widened all the axle holes.
    20
    LispHack
    * Implemented first half of ellipse algorithm.
    21
    LispHack
    * Completed ellipse line drawing algorithm.

    Woodworking
    * Started glueing the axle braces onto the table.
    * Cut the blockers from a harder wood.
    * Glued the blockers on.
    22
    LispHack
    * Back to building castle - the ellipser doesn't obey the same outline as the rect. :-(
    23
    LispHack
    * Still fighting with ellipses. :-(
    24
    25
    Woodworking
    * Laptop laprest is done.
    26 27 28 29 30
    LispHack
    * Stopped recording notes, but made constant progress.
    * Gave up on ellipses. My rectangle, ellipse, and ellipse-fill all had different bounding boxes.
    * Finished the castle level as squares.
    * Started a scripting engine and a intro cutscene thing.
    * Wrote out a plot.
    * Floating conversation boxes.
    * Scripting system requires slightly smarter macros.
    31
    NOV
  • 10/30/2020

    Finished my wife's laptop laprest.

  • 10/30/2020

    In progress versions of LispHack.

  • 10/30/2020
    NOTES

    (https://vurmux.itch.io/urizen-onebit-tilesets)

    Mathias Pigeon, the Sprite A Fantasy Novel by Anonymous In a tent there lived a magical, breezy sprite named Mathias Pigeon. Not a crumpled short, weathered tent, filled with dice and a fluffy smell, nor yet a solid, spotty, pretty tent with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a sprite-tent, and that means shelter. One day, after a troubling visit from the goblin Sonya Bogtrotter, Mathias leaves his tent and sets out in search of three scheming coins. A quest undertaken in the company of men, aliens and fat trolls. In the search for the goblin-guarded coins, Mathias Pigeon surprises even himself with his kindness and skill as a shopkeeper. During his travels, Mathias rescues a teapot, an heirloom belonging to Sonya. But when Sonya refuses to try skipping, their friendship is over. However, Sonya is wounded at the Battle of Hastings and the two reconcile just before Mathias engages in some serious skipping. Mathias accepts one of the three scheming coins and returns home to his tent a very wealthy sprite.

    * (macro-expand asdf) ,@ - splices list into body variadic function:

    https://youtu.be/ygKXeLKhiTI?t=6436 Lisp Macros

  • 10/31/2020
    The Last DragonLord by Joanne Bertin

    This one I really enjoyed. So, there are Dragons. Ancient, possibly wise, impossible to argue with, because they're dragons. For unknown reasons, there are were-dragons; humans who can turn into dragons. It's rare and always unexpected. Linden is 600 years old and is the youngest dragonlord, the last discovered were-dragon. Either because they're wise or because you can't argue with a dragon, the dragonlords have been called in to mediate a succession dispute. The prince is super young and both his uncles claim they're the obvious choice to serve as regent for the next 10 years. The prince's queen mother, father, and possibly an older sibling have all recently died in totally not suspicious circumstances.

    Linden is somewhat bummed because he's never found his dragon soul-mate which all the other dragons have. No one knows why there have been no new dragons in so long.

  • 10/28/2020
    Bone Silence by Alastair Reynolds

    Book 3 of "Revenger" trilogy. The pirate sisters are pursued by the Revenue. Space battles. An abrupt right turn at page 500 into what should have been book 4.

  • 10/24/2020
    Twelve Days by Steven Barnes

    A terrorist group has given a list of evil but heavily protected men and one-by-one those men are falling over dead. An Indian religious movement runs a preschool that really seems to be helping autistic Hannibal. A group of mercenaries is getting together for one last score.

    This was really good. I should read more Barnes.

  • 10/19/2020
    Knife Children by Lois McMaster Bujold

    This is a novella in the wolrd of The Sharing Knife. All through the world Malices, or Blight-boggles, form at random. These immortal creatures grow by ripping the Ground or magic or life-energy out of all living things around them. If they can capture bigger animals they invest that energy into making muddy versions of their prey to serve as slaves. As they consume each animal, they grow better at creating new minions. The only ones who can kill a Malice or keep them from devouring the entire world are the Lakewalkers. This tribe of nomads have magical talents themselves, being able to sense the Malices at a distance, to guard their own Ground/life-energy from attack, and to wield the bone blades infused with their own deaths as weapons.

    In the original series Senior Patroller Dag had to set a couple of idiot kids straight. Now in this tale, Barr, one of the idiot kids, has discovered that he is a now father and must learn to act like it.

  • 10/17/2020
    Darker Than Amber by John D. MacDonald

    I keep getting author John D. MacDonald and author John D. Fitzgerald mixed up. One is a children's author I enjoyed and one is a best-selling adventure novelist. I keep seeing mentions of MacDonald and being slighly confused because I wasn't sure that Fitzgerald had written non-children literature.

    The book opens: "We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge." Excellent start. The next five pages detour explain why Travis McGee is fishing under that bridge - the answer being a week long binge of sex and therapy to help a woman decide whether to divorce her husband. The story catches back up with itself and Vangie is a high-rent prostitute who works in a con identifying rich lonely men, dumping them overboard into the ocean and running away with their money. Vangie tried to get out and got dropped off a bridge.

    This was a really well written story, but with baggage. An engaging tale by racist grandpa.

    Page 51: Vangie tries to get naked into McGee's bed and is thouroughly described. McGee turns her down because once a woman's slept with too many men, she turns into an acidic whore with a heart of stone stinking of death. His wise friend confirms this opinion and reasures him that though McGee later boasts to have a different woman every 3 months or so, he is not a womanizer or an objectifier. (p60)

    Page 92: I only half understand this quote: "the educated Negro woman" .. "carry the dead weight of all their deprived people, and though they know intellectually that the field hand mentality is a product of environment" (the Stuggle) "They say Now, knowing that only fifteen percent of Negro America is responible enough to handle the realities of Now, and that in the hard core of the South, perhaps only seventy percent of the whites are willing to accept the obligations of Now. But they are on the move with nowhere to go but up, with the minority percentage of the ignorant South running into the majority percentage of ignorant Negro America, in blood, heartbreak, shame, and confusion". McGee tells himself that he's intolerant of everyone and is vouched for by a black lawyer friend - he totally has a black friend.

    McGee has a distinct Madonna vs. Whore thing going on. The whores try to buy him with sex and the negro maid is a pure noble widow.

    Page 157. While he eventually turns the prostitute down, she says "Anyways, I got proof you're not lavender, dearie."

  • 10/14/2020

    We've been watching No Offense. This is a British TV police procedural.

    Vivenne Deering runs a police station in Manchester. The accents are thicker so some of the details are hard to pick up. Either her police chief boss works at the fancy new police headquarters, or her police commissioner boss works at the fancy new city hall. Either way, in Season One, her station is an older run down office across the street from the shiny new facility. The station doesn't seem to have any conference rooms, so a running joke is all the people piling into the women's lavatory to get some private conversations.

    The entire office has a mis-fit toys feel. Detective Sargeant Joy is shy and hesitant, but has a incredible photographic memory and really shines when she pretends to be shy and hesitant. Detective Dinah is impulsive, but she really cares and is a good investigator. Pathologist Miller has too much fun at his job and has a few mental illnesses. As DCI Deering said once "Miller, I don't care what anyone else says. Sometimes you're nearly worth the trouble you cause." The patrol officers are all immature and obsessed with each other's sex lives. The entire office seems to have missed the memo on "work appropriate conversations." DI Spike seems the most reliable of the batch, but he's not a primary character and is a little unimaginitive.

    Each season has a primary investigation that the team is alternatively bungling or making no headway on, while each episode has an unrelated investigation that takes most of the energy. The last episode we watched had the patrol officers managing a heart attack during a workers strike at an abortion clinic, while the detectives were trying to nail down the bombing/murdering/prostituting local crime kingpin.

  • 10/14/2020

    Continuing to learn Lisp

    This is the mental equivalent of trying to build a ship in a bottle in another bottle. I want to learn Lisp, and I'm making slow progress at that. There's a if/switch construct called COND which does a series of tests before deciding which code to execute. It's very useful, but it returns the test that succeeded, not the value generated by the branch of code. I want to make a new macro CONDV which returns values instead of tests. Haven't gotten there yet, but I'm optimistic.

    But to learn Lisp, I'm trying to use the poorly exampled FFI system to call out of Lisp and into Windows code, and Windows code is extremely pedantic for security reasons. I have gotten strings and numbers transfering back and forth to Windows, and even a single complex structure, but now I want to redraw the whole screen at once, I need to send a whole list of complex structures at once and that has a different syntax. Time to learn.

    The registration code looks like this: (lpBuffer (ffi:C-POINTER CHAR_INFO) :IN) or maybe this: (lpBuffer (ffi:C-PTR (ffi:C-ARRAY CHAR_INFO ??len???)) :IN) I'm not sure which.

    Again, I think I'm going overkill, but my call looks like this: (FFI:ALLOCATE-DEEP 'jWin32:CHAR_INFO buffer :count 100 )

    When I get this wrong, the program switches between saying "Cannot convert array t 100 to foreign value array t 7" and "cannot convert array t 100 to foreign value array t 3". I don't know what those mean. Occasionally, when I'm very careful, I get a different error message: "NIL cannot be converted to type FFI:SHORT" I'm sending an array of shorts and 4 auxiliary parameters composed of shorts.

    After a hissy fit, sleep, and separating every parameter construction from the callsite, this doesn't work: (jWin32:SetConsoleCursorPosition std_output_handle (win32:make-COORD :|x| 10 :|x| 10)) That exact call worked perfectly half a page up the screen.

    It's supposed to be :|x| and :|y|. When I get close to figuring out the FFI and having the super complicated system working, I have a typo in the simple language that prevents me from realizing my success.

    I think this is the third time now.

    And then windows fails because I'm sending an upside down and then zero sized rectangle to work in. :-)

  • 10/13/2020
    City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

    Several thousand years ago several divinities appeard in the Continent. They warped reality to their will such that in various places on the Continent, the world was created by different dieties in different fashions, and all of these conflicting accounts were true.

    Five hundred years ago, the divinities unified into a single pantheon and became expansionistic, brutally dominating the island of Saypuri.

    One hundred years ago, the island of Saypuri revolted, executed every Divinity and priest they could find, and turned the Continent into their protectorate. It is now illegal for a Continental to preach, to teach about their beliefs, or to imply that the Divinities were ever real.

    A Saypuri historian has gone missing in the central city and a spy/ambassador/investigator is trying to discover what happened to him.

  • 10/12/2020

    Started work on my wife's laptop laprest.

    My wife is using a piece of plywood as a laprest for her laptop. My laptop is much heavier, so when she uses it on the couch the laptop presses on her legs. I've decided to take the design of a folding TV tray and re-engineer the legs to fold out instead of crossing inward underneath.

    I grabbed some 1x12 and 1x1 and mocked up a folding hinge with clamps. Size seems good and the final product will look nice, but the tolerances on the legs is very tight.

    Here's a view of the hinge under the laptop. The leg will fold inward flat and outward to support the table. I have a little shim to keep the leg from folding out too far. My brother had good suggestions for making an angled blocker.

    I took 4 pieces of 3/8" x 4" and 1 piece of 3/8" x 2" and started joining the edges to make the table surface. I'm using toothpicks and a custom jig to line up the joins.

    Major joins are done. I've decided to join a final edge along the rough long ends of the table. Now I need to start ripping some leg and supports.

    Sanded the surface and ripped the leg strips. Figured out how to drill the axles. Dry fit of the mechanics.

  • 10/11/2020

    I spent last night figuring out FFI so I could call Windows Win32 code so I could color my text. Here's the report of why I got no sleep last night. test.lisp

  • 10/9/2020

    Continuing to work on LispHack

    This level is called "The Fields". Our intrepid hero, the white @ symbol is in the center. Two dastardly (K)obolds are attacking them. The Xs below are a ruined building, and the +s below that are the Great Westward Road. You can see the trees and you can see the gold that our hero is seeking.

    This is the classic dungeon level. The Xs and Is are pillars in the room. The funny P/paragraph symbol below and to the right is a treasure chest. As you can see on the far right, our hero has colleced a strange assortment of items.

    And this is the Crystal Caves level. More treasures. More kobolds.

  • 10/7/2020
    The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson

    This is another supernatural romance, and Kelley Armstrong was the title blurb, so I wasn't really looking forward to it.

    It wasn't bad, but I wasn't in the mood. Witchy sex is stranger than werewolf sex. I think this was intended to be book 1 of a series, so at page 200, the story was still introducing characters. The only conflict came at page 250, and then it was over.

  • 10/6/2020

    Some artists I bumped into while looking for Rodney Matthews.

    David Revoy

    Darek Zabrocki Mouse Guard, et.al.

    Rodney Matthews

    Michael Whelan

  • 10/6/2020

    I got bored of working on Python TankWars, so I've switched to Lisp.

    Maybe five years ago I fiddled around with Lisp and was building a NetHack kind of game. I got more comfortable at reading it, but I haven't had the epiphany that Lisp is supposed to bring.

    I still struggle with the monotanous parenthesis. I'm told better editors can help manage that, but I'm just using Notepad++.

    Yesterday I copied the project off of the backup disk and tried to run it. It immediately crashed. I tried to run the interactive command line and that exploded into a flurry of unexpected meta characters. ^K^K^K^D^P^P^P. I managed to type "(load "nethack.lisp") and it crashed telling me "Find :w is not a sequence, key pairs expected" or something. Great. Do I try to repair this project, or do I start from scratch.

    I'm repeatedly doing searches for FIND or for :W, but I can't find any in this file. Five years ago I was using TextPad, so the project files are incompatible. My third or fourth search for help let me spew a stack trace for the crashed Lisp, so I was able to trace the missing file that Notepad++ was missing.

    So I'm staring at a previous version of this code here, wondering what's happened. I haven't touched this code in 5 years, and I remember it working last I checked. I copied the entire Lisp folder, including the runtime and the compiler, so I think I'm running the same versions that I was before. This error almost feels like the compiler was updated sometime while it was on the backup disk, but that's not possible. So I'm half convinced that the Find function in Lisp has been changed (a language that's been stable for between 40 and 70 years...) and I decide that the error means I've gotten (find target list) backwards from (find list target). I fix a couple of function calls, and now the error is complaining about REMOVE.

    I work out what this function is doing - it's a line of sight exploration function. And because this is Lisp, it's recursive. The idea is that if a ray is searching upward, it should never double back on itself in a subsequent call. I poke at it until the find/remove arguments all seem consistent. Turns out, this was the code I was working on when I forgot about working on this.

    It runs!

    It's a console program that's all text-based and the map is chewing up the title and the action log is chewing up the map and the level borders are every which way. Long story short, five years ago, I was clever and hacked a CMD link to give me 80x50 for my renderer. I'm only running the standard 80x25 now, so the game doesn't fit into the screen. I start fixing bits.

    I've gotten the map off the title and I've gotten the messages off of the map. The messages are screwing with themselves, though and the Lisp format line padding isn't working the way I expect. I can either format a line:

    * The kobold hits the hero.         *
    ... or I can get the messages to position at the bottom of the screen. Not both. More to do.

  • 10/6/2020
    Time Machines (Repaired While You Wait) by K D Bedford

    Spider is a time machine repair man. His life is turned upside down when he finds a dead body hidden inside a time machine hidden inside a time machine.

    I liked the first half a lot, then got confused by the reality disrupting effects of multiple time machines wrecking havok on multiple timelines.

  • 10/5/2020
    This is my reading stack right now.

    Authors with last names beginning B, I'm discovered via my "read a book from every shelf" project. Struggled with the first chapter of "Witches" and am really enjoying "Time Machines".

    Picked up "Darker Than Amber" because I'm always confused by two authors named Macdonald and I've never read this one. Picked up "Programmed Inequality" because it looked interesting. I don't like the writing as much as "Code Girls" which is on a similar subject.

    Working through Clive Cussler when I don't have anything else.

    Reynolds is a great horror author. Ascender looked interesting.

    Now I need to get through at least 7 of these before moving on...

  • 10/3/2020
    Captain's Fury by Jim Butcher

    This is book 4 of 6, I think. The First Lord is busy putting down a rebellion in the southern swamps. Tavi should be defending the west from the Canim invaders, but he's been accused of treason and imprisoned. Tavi can see the massive death toll coming, but can he find a way to avoid it.

  • 10/1/2020

    I made pickled beets a couple of weeks ago and then I reused the brine to make pickled eggs.

    I don't know what I think. The brine I used is very sweet and the beets made it more so. The whites have completely turned but the yolks haven't been impregnated at all.

  • 9/25/2020

    The Cuneiform Tablets of 2015
    Older computers and older software is being lost. In some cases we have parts of it but cannot get it to run because the details have been lost. The authors suggest a simple virtual machine which can help future archeologists recover software artifacts from our time.

    Guy Steele : Growing a Language at OOPSLA 1998
    Guy Steele, the inventor(?) of Scheme and an advisor (?) for Java gives a talk where he uses only very simple words and words he has carefully defined in this talk. His talk itself is an illustration of his views on language design, that sometimes we need new words (libraries) and sometimes we need new rules (operator overloading and meta programming).

  • 9/27/2020
    The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

    This is the third book in the Interdependency series. The Interdependency Empire spans dozens of solar systems, connected by a hyperspace called "The Flow". A shoal, a particular place in each solar system may be connected to another place in another solar system. Travel within the Flow takes days or months to cross interstellar space. Some systems, like the capital Hub, have many shoals connecting them to many other worlds. Others, like End, may have only one. Three more things to understand. One, the civilization of the Interdependency was formed in the rubble of a terrible series of wars, and thus was engineered to spread the resources and the dependencies across the many worlds. One world may be the only one to produce rice. Another may be the only one to produce cars. In order to survive, humanity MUST cooperate, by design. Two, the Interdepency exists solely in space habitats and underground cities on inhospitable worlds. The planet of End is the only one they've found that can support life, and that world is far from the rest of the civilization. Finally, the Flow that connects the many worlds and allows humanity to survive is breaking apart and collapsing.

    In this book, several planets have been permanently isolated. The emporox Grayland II is dodging assassination attempts. The full collapse of the empire is imminent.

  • 9/24/2020
    Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear

    I haven't read a lot by Elizabeth Bear, but this novella seems like a shorter piece set in a well worn world. I assume her other writings reuses some of this world's features.

    Bijou is a wizard of sorts whose power is taking bits of bone and jewel and wire and reforming automotan creatures to live with her. She and her once apprentice are growing suspicious of the local necromancer. Her once apprentice now friend brings her a child whose arm is rotting on its bones, to save and to raise.

  • 9/22/2020
    Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher

    Thorvald Spear wakes up from being dead. After 100 years, his savestate had been found and his body rebuilt for him. He immediately sets out to kill the nigh-omnimpotent AI which had gone rogue and killed his fellow soldiers in one of the last battles of the recent war. Reminded me a lot of Peter Hamilton and Iain M Banks.

  • 9/21/2020
    Valiant Dust by Richard Baker

    I had read this one before. Singh is a prince from the planet of space-kashmir. He's enlisted in the space-navy of his imperialist colonizers to help bring his space-planet into the technological space-future. His space-ship gets deployed to space-arabia where the space-french patron state is worried about the expansionist policies of the space-germans. It's a pretty good space-navy book and not as silly as I'm making it sound.

  • 9/17/2020

    I overheard my son in his online math class. The problem seemd to be of the form "Goofus got y=x-2 as his result. What did he do wrong?" The new math has a comprehension/correction step where the students are given a series of wrong homework answers and they have to correct this hypothetical student's work. It's not just about getting the right answer but about catching and correcting wrong answers.

    It occured to me that I learned a lot about programming in a similar way. I'm a fast typist, but I'm not a very accurate typist, so I make a lot of spelling mistakes. In my teens, I was a mostly self-taught programmer and didn't have a lot of programming resources. I'd type up a file in a bare-bones text editor and then I'd have to run a separate program to build the text file into a program. Compiler errors are opaque, and linker errors are even more inscrutable. It doesn't matter what these tools are, to make a program they both have to run, they both have to succed and they both tend toward very cryptic errors.

    I have gotten very good at reading and intuiting compiler error messages, even with noise like C++'s template metaprogramming thrown in. Today I work with a lot of skilled professionals I respect, but they'll call me over to read an error message and straighten out their code. It's not because I'm a better programmer or because I've read a better book. It's because I'm a worse typist and have already made these mistakes.

  • 9/17/2020
    Summertime(?) by Peter S. Beagle

    Abe and Joanna are an older couple living on one of the islands in Puget Sound off Seattle. One night they befriend a young woman who makes the world around her light up. Who is she and what is she running from?

  • 9/17/2020
    Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

    The writing was really good and the plot was engaging enough. I started it worried that it would devolve into werewolf sex and it devolved into wereworlf sex. Elena is trying to remain faithful to her steady reliable boyfriend while having passionate wolf sex with her sexy denmate. She worried about her moral character while murdering everyone who discovers that she is a werewolf. The blurb describes her as a strong sexy female character, but the writing is not strong on consent as she tells various characters "no" while getting forcibly kissed and groped.

  • 9/12/2020
    The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

    I have read the previous "The Bear and the Nightingale". In this book Vasalia continues to try to assert her independence, save the nearby villagers who are attacked by bandits, and keep from being burned as a witch.

  • 6/14/2020

    I play a lot of modded Minecraft, and recently I've been playing StoneFactory 2 - 1.16. I'm about 3 weeks in right now. Stonefactory starts with the player in a small cave in a solid universe of stone. They have to smash the rocks around them to form pebbles and form space to work. It's a buildcraft/kitchen sink mod, so sooner or later the player encounters various machines for automating their life, and they discover magical abilities.

    This mod has the Smeltery, which is nice for melting various ores. It has the pulverizer, which is a standard feature of this kind of mod and doubles your resource accumulation. It has the tinker's table for crafting customizable and re-usable weapons and tools. It doesn't have Tinker Armor.

    I'm starting to breed Fluid Cows. I got a few cows in loot chests and then discovered I can create a lavacow out of lava and leather. No idea how that flesh-golem is able to breed.

    I'm breeding magic chickens. A post online said to raise smart chickens until they max their stats, then color the chickens as needed. I've got a couple of 9-7-9 chickens nesting on eggs right now.

    I started Thaumcraft. This is a huge magical mod with little missions and a light storyline. It requires scribbling theories on paper ala choose-your-own-adventure, and wandering around the world taking pictures of interesting things for inspiration. It probably has a tech tree as large as all of vanilla minecraft. I'm getting a bit worn out by it because I don't see how it benefits me. I'm learning alchemy, but converting one item into another is mostly a losing proposition.

    I spent days digging a spiral staircase up to the top of the solid stone block that makes up the world. Climbing too high teleports one into the bottom of the mining dimension. I'm generally obsessive, so I like digging my orient staircase at 0,0 and running tunnels out along the 100 grid. I built my initial staircase off at -17,23 because it was out of the way of my primary base. Now I'm irritated that my staircase is offset. I found some magical climbing gloves, so I put a Terraria style hellevator to fall down 160 meters into a pool of water and lined things up so I can climb back out as well.

    Up in the mining dimension I started a mob farm that doesn't work terribly well, a sheep pasture I didn't want (I was looking for cows and chickens), and three squid pools that don't work. Found tons of minerals though.

    Normally when I play minecraft, I start with normal deaths until I lose my pile of diamonds or all my tools into a pool of lava. Then I get frustrated and run /gamerule keepInventory true. Last year while playing Minecraft SevTech: Ages, I discovered the gravestone mod. I like this as a balance between keeping all my stuff and punishing me for dying. When a player dies, a gravestone is created with all their items. Then they have to struggle back out to their death location and rescue their items.

  • 6/17/2020

    Stalled on Thaumcraft. The next steps require Greatwood and Silverwood. These are either very rare or don't spawn inside the solid universe of stone. However, sieving 8 zombie flesh yields an 5% chance that a sapling will spawn. I use my mob farm to sieve 60 flesh and get only exotic flowers. I add two extra mob farm rooms and hang out and wait.

    I also notice that zombie flesh can be gained from zombie flowers which require zombie nuggets which don't seem to ever drop. Apparently there's a soulium dagger that causes these rare drops. It takes my entire stock of soul sand to make soul stone to make soulium dust to make soulium ingots. This alternate process will be even slower than the mob farm, but it keeps me busy and nearby the farm so it can run.

    I keep climbing up and down to my base 160 meters below the mining dimension. I realize that I could just rebuild my base in the mining dimension or in the top 20 meters of the stone world. It would shorten my commute, but it seems like a lot of work to move all my stuff.

  • 6/19/2020

    I got my magic saplings for Thaumcraft and stalled out on steel. That's how these complex Minecraft mods go. I have organized my colored chickens and am converting their sewage into fertilizer. I started carving out a hall of impressive trees, but several of the saplings refuse to grow. I think I need to double thier available growing space.

  • 6/20/2020

    The Steam Summer Demo Festival has started. First, Creeper World 4. I've played several of the previous games in this series. Creeper World is kinda like a tower defense game, except the map is fairly open and there's this water-like alien goo pouring over the map. You need to erect power systems and gun towers to hold the goo at bay and eventually cap the emitters. This latest game is in 3D and is a lot of fun. The controls seem a bit sloppy and the interface is definitely in progress.

  • 07/08/2020

    I've been playing a bunch of Subnautica, which I got on the Steam Summer Sale. You play as a survivor from a space ship that crashed in the ocean of an alien planet. It's an exploration/survival game with light base building. It reminds me of metroidvania. At each step the resources you need are at the limit of for your depth endurance, shadowed in the waters below you. Sharks and eels circle below you as you rush to grab a few resources and then return to the surface. The first time I encountered the squid-thing that guards the Aurora, it really freaked me out. This creature grabs your mini-sub and begins to tear it apart. Ominous noises can be heard, but underwater it's hard to tell where they're coming from.

    I got my jetpack and my mini-sub fairly early and then couldn't find the parts for the Prawn depth exosuit and the Cyclops mobile sub base. I've just gotten them both and am upgrading my Cyclops for ~1000m excursions. I think I have my end-game objectives, but I've not made any progress toward them.

  • 07/08/2020

    I've been working my way through Bron/Broen/The Bridge. This TV show is a joint production from Denmark and Sweden. I'm enjoying it, but my family thinks it's foreign.

    Saga is a Swedish police officer in Malmo. Martin is a Danish police officer in Copenhagen, right across the bridge that joins the two countries. When a body is discovered mutilated right on the international border, the two must work together. When Martin is introduced to the Swedish police department, one of Saga's co-workers asks in an aside "Should someone tell him that Saga is... a bit odd?" I remember the response as "I think he'll work that out." Saga is probably on the autism spectrum, albeit movie autism. She's monomanical about police work, bad at relationships, denies emotions, and is blunt and abrupt to the point of rudeness. Martin is a womanizer and somewhat disheveled, willing to bend rules to achieve goals. His character reminds me of Columbo, but perhaps without Peter Falk's inherent coolness.

    After working through their personal friction, they form a good team, complimenting each other's strengths. It has a US/Mexican remake. I made it 5 minutes before deciding that the plot was perfectly lifted from the original but the actors aren't nearly as good.

  • 8/01/2020
    Left Hand of God (audiobook) by Paul Hoffman

    Cale is raised by the brutal monks of the Sanctuary of the Redeemers. When Cale and his friends discover a dark plot, they grab the chance to escape.

  • 8/01/2020
    Dark Run by Mike Brooks

    Reminded me of Firefly. The crew of a smuggling job are hired to sneak a package past customs and are betrayed. Everyone has a dark past they don't like talking about. Colorful characters.

  • 8/01/2020
    Down Station by Simon Morden

    When London is bombed, an unlikely group of subway workers discover a door that takes them to the magical land of Down. They struggle to understand this new world and to survive.

  • 8/21/2020
    Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis

    So far so good. A woman and her alien friend travel around the SW United States.

  • 08/26/2020

    I finished the available seasons of The Bridge and somehow moved onto Department Q, a Danish police procedural about a cold-cases office. So far so good.

    Carl was an asshole before he got shot in the head and his partners [nearly] died. His boss doesn't think he's ready for the field and can't find anyone willing to work with him, so assigns him to basement room K21 with the instructions to categorize all past cases into "hopeless" or "a waste of time." Carl gets obsessed with a single case and starts digging up old complaints and new billable hours. Assad is assigned as his assistant in some part because the racially pure police department doesn't know what else to do with a Syrian immigrant.

    The Bridge's gimmick was that the story starts with a variety of unrelated stories and characters and slowly ties those stories together while adding new threads as the investigation widens. Department Q has the gimmick that as the detectives discover each new fact about the case, the perspective jumps back in time to reveal what actually happened. Like most police procedurals with an omniscient but wacky consultant, but somehow presented more cleanly.

  • 08/26/2020

    I spend a fair amount of time worrying about cognitive traps.

    Mousetraps and bear traps work the same way. A thing you can't see jumps out and hurts you and keeps you from getting away. Wasp traps work differently. On a camping trip, you make a wasp trap by taking an old soda bottle and slicing off the conical top and inverting it back into the rest of the bottle. You can also use any bottle as long as you have a funnel dropping in. Then you add any bait you like - whatever the wasps are crawling over right now will do - and wait. The wasps will fly straight down the funnel to get the bait, but when they're ready to leave, they'll attempt to fly sideways out of the bottle or up along the sides of the bottle and get stuck on the funnel that keeps them in.

    I see this same sort of blind spot in thinking in my dog. My dog loves or hates squirrels and really wants to chase and catch them. She'll see one run behind a tree and will tear after them. If she hears the squirrel above her, she'll jump up and look at it up in the tree, but if she loses the squirrel for an instant, she doesn't consider the tree when searching. Her default behavior is to run around the tree and then look right and left and away to see where it went. On a normal morning it doesn't occur to her to look up at the squirrel right above her.

    Now obviously I can laugh at her because I'm smarter and am standing a bit further away where I can get perspective on the squirrel's true behavior. But I'm left wondering - what kind of wasp traps do humans find themselves in? Reality TV shows, probably. What problems are easy to solve if we just remembered to look up?

  • 8/27/2020
    Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera 3) by Jim Butcher

    The Codex Alera is a fantasy series that I like to describe as "Roman Legions with Magic". There are elemental furies everywhere in the land and all the humans of the empire can draw on their powers to one level or another. All of them except for Tavi.

    Each elemental weilder can call forth an avatar form of their element as well as benefiting from various side powers. Earthcrafters can cause structures to flow from the earth and have great strength so long as they touch the ground. Aircrafters can create winds to enable them to fly and also compress the air into far-seeing lenses. Watercrafters can heal others, sense the emotions of others, and use any water they're familiar with as a H2Olographic communciation display. Firecrafters can do the expected and inflame the negative emotions of others. Metal and Wood are the non-standard pentahexamembers of the usual tetrad. Metalcrafters have unusual endurance and speed. Woodcrafters can move easily through even dense foliage and get several elf/ranger bonuses to archery.

    The empire's technology is based on the complete ubiquity of furycrafting powers. Household lamps can only be ignited or extinguished by ordering the encased fury. The imperial roads are filled with an earthcrafting that lets the road fling the user forward at incredible speeds.

    And so Tavi, with no powers whatsoever, is seen as lamentably disabled.

    In this third novel, a southern slaver lord is rebelling at the same time as hordes of Canim wolf-warriors begin assaulting the western coast.

  • 8/27/2020
    Excession? by Iain M. Banks

    I like the Culture series of books, but I cannot tell them apart from title or cover. I think I have read 7 or 8 of the 10 books, but I don't know which ones. I keep picking up another one in the hopes that it's one of the elusive ones I've missed. It's not.

    This book opens with a conversation between a family of space ships. No that's not a typo. I think the planet sized constructor ship is called "Grey Area" and its various offspring are "Morally Dubious" and "Open to Interpretation".

    This is the Out Of Context Problem book. A powerful thing that was previously unknown that by its existence upends the balance of power. The Culture and their offshoots and neighbors are on the brink of war after an artifact of unimaginable power appears on their border.

  • 8/27/2020

    The family and I played some vanilla 1.16 Minecraft this weekend. We pick it up every six months or a year and obsess until I finish whatever megastructure I had planned or until my wife starts to get motion sick. Note to self, don't drive erratically with my wife in the back of the boat.

    I don't know what version vanilla Minecraft was at the last time we played, but the Nether has gotten a big update, there are coral reefs and sunken treasure ships. We've encountered bamboo forests and polar bears on ice flows.

    The sunken ships come with secret treasure maps, but there seem to be a limited number of treasure sites so we've plotted the 3-4 within 1000m of our homes. Now the RNG is giving us duplicates. One of us will make an exhausting trek over sea and mountain only to discover an already looted hole where the map directed.

  • 8/27/2020

    I've been accused of having read every book in the library or in the Science Fiction section. When I deny this, I grant that I may have read a book on every shelf of the Science Fiction section. Let's check.


    I have read something by Lynn Abbey but not this. I've checked Magicians Impossible out to be fair.


    I have read Douglas Adams. I own all these books.


    I have read Asimov, but not these franchised books by Allen. I have read Mark Alpert's book The Orion Plan. I've read The Meg by Steve Alten. I read City Of something by Charlie Jane Anders. Ooh. Gillian Anderson co-wrote a few books. Maybe I'll try one.


    I have read Kevin J Anderson and Poul Anderson.


    I have read Poul Anderson and the first 5 Destroyermen books by Taylor Anderson.


    Wow. Piers Anthony has written a lot of books. I've read a few Xanth books, all the space sequence, and all of the immortals books.


    I'm not sure if Piers Anthony should count for my having read this second shelf too. Maybe I'll read something by Arden. I read the bear book.

  • 8/27/2020
    Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham

    A young man from the mundane world discovers that he has a magical family history. He goes to the school of witchcraft and wizardry and shows an aptitude for all things wizzical. An evil wizard has already killed his parents and is pursuing him.

    The writing was pretty good but the premise and story were lacking something.

  • 8/27/2020
    Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks

    I have read this one before, so I only got a hundred pages in before dropping it.

    A rich family pissed off a religious order by stealing an artifact. The order kills the parents and eventually gets a legal assassination contract against the daughter. The daughter something somethign gets the old gang back together and goes searching for the last Lazy Gun - an artifact of great power.

  • 8/27/2020
    Visions of Fire by Gillian Anderson & partner

    A psychiatrist is attempting to treat patients with a sudden and strikingly similar condition. Otherwise healthy young people suddenly suffer from apparent PTSD, screaming in a foreign language and describing visions of fire.

    This was competently written but not amazing. The second book is set up for ancient viking antartica ghost wizards. A fun beach read.

  • 8/27/2020
    vN by Madeline Ashby

    vN means Von Neuman machine. A robot that can reproduce on its own. A end-times church decides that since in the apocalypse, all the Christians will be raptured and all the evil people will be eaten by demon horse locusts, humanity will need robots to help them, thus creating a race of synthetic intelligent self-replicating androids.

  • 8/27/2020

    Continuing to read a book from every shelf in (the sci-fi section of) the library.


    ??? Not sure if I've read anything by Kelley Armstrong.


    Not sure about Asaro - I think so? Not sure about Sarah Ash. I just finished vN by Madeline Ashby. It was in the missing spot.


    I have read Asimov, but not these franchised books by Allen. I have read Mark Alpert's book The Orion Plan. I've read The Meg by Steve Alten. I read City Of something by Charlie Jane Anders. Ooh. Gillian Anderson co-wrote a few books. Maybe I'll try one.


    I have read Asimov and Asprin.


    I have read Fortune's Queen by Bach.


    ??? I have to have read somethign by Baker, Baker, Baker, or Bakker... I'll have to check.


    I have read Banks, but as I said, I have no idea which books. I have read Bannister.

  • 10/01/2020

    Continuing to read a book from every shelf in (the sci-fi section of) the library.


    I have read "The Bone Ships."


    I have read "Firedance" and I just picked up "Twelve Days". I like Stephen Baxter, but he always has an omniscient sidekick character to explain how clever the world building is.


    Picked up a book by Beagle.


    I really like th eLegacy/Eternity/Eon series by Bear.



    I picked up Time Machines repaired while you wait.


    I have read benford.

  • 10/21/2020

    Continuing to read a book from every shelf in (the sci-fi section of) the library.


    I have read Bester but nothing else. I should pick up one of these books.


    I picked up Birmingham. Bishop looks like another supernatural romance and I'm not in the mood.


    I think I read "Red Right Hand". I've read Bledsoe.


    I've read "Breach of Containment."


    I read Jupiter something by Bova.


    "Fata Morgana" is really good.


    I've read Ray Bradburry.

  • 04/02/2021

    Continuing to read a book from every shelf in (the sci-fi section of) the library.


    I have read The Vorrh, and Beth Cato.


    I have read the Parasol Conspiracy by Gail Carrigan.


    I have read some Jack Chalker, Becky Chambers, and one Owl book.


    I have read "Nouner" and cat books by C.J. Cherryh.


    I read one book by Zen Cho. The thin, unreadable one.


    I have read Arthur C. Clarke.


    I have read Cassandra Rose and Susanna Clarke.


    I have read Genivive Cogman and Myke Cole.


    I have read Glen Cook, Stephen Coonts, and maybe Brenda Cooper - yes, I'm reading Ruby's Song.


    I have read "The Expanse". I have read 1633 by Eric Flint and other books by John Ringo.


    I have read most of Michael Crichton and one of Justin Cronin.


    I have read Julie E. Czerneda.


    I read "The Ill Made Mute" and something by James E. David.


    ???


    I have read L. Sprague De Camp.


    I have read Delaney and de Lint.


    I have read de Lint and Medusa and something by Dick.



    I have read Dickson. I'm not sure about Dietz.


    ????


    I have read one of Thomas Covenant. I have read The Spaceship Next Door.


    I have read Sara Douglass.



    I have read David Drake and Diane Duane.


    I have read Dave Duncan.


    I think I've read Dunne and Durst.


    I have read Eddings.


    I must have read something by Egan, right?


    Axiom's End. Harlan Ellison.


    ????


    ????


    ????


    I have read Philip Jose Farmer.


    ????


    I have read Thursday Next and Jack Spratt. I have listened to and read Nightvale. Oooh. "Guild of Xenolinguists! Ordered."


    I have wread Flint.



    I have read Flynn. I hav read Agatha Heterodyne.


    I have read Foster, of course. I need to read Forcheter. I think I have read Margarat Fortune.


    I read a rift book. I have read Freer.



    I read Space Captain Smith.