July 21st, 2017
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
Reread.

Second of the Spatterjay (sub-)series in Asher's Polity universe. Takes place about ten years after the end of the previous book. We do, again, follow several different viewpoint characters, on all sorts of moral sides of any situation that may happen in the book. Some are returning characters, some are new.

I'd definitely recommend starting with the first book in the series, but all in all an eminently readable book.
July 16th, 2017
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
posted by [personal profile] vatine at 09:28am on 16/07/2017 under
Previously unread.

This is the, what, ninth? eighth? book in Stross's The Laundry Files and the wheels on the hand-basket are truly on their way out, along a radial trajectory.

This book sees the return of many faces from previous books, as we slowly see things unwind around Bob. I am trying real hard to not let anything slip here, you see, as I feel that approaching the book spoiler-free is the most, ah, enjoyable? way of reading it. Surprising at least.

Anyway, Laundry Files, if you've read some of them before, you know what to expect. If you haven't, might I humbly suggest that this is perhaps not the best starting point (although it may well work as an intro novel). We do a fair bit of POV shifting in this book, even if it's primarily a "Bob" book (we also follow Mo, Mhari and Cassie, as well as the occasional follow-the-baddies).

All in all, a gripping read. I shall blame technology (and not being completely done with the previous book in time for the release) for taking this abysmally long to finish off something that was released a whole 4 days ago.
July 15th, 2017
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
posted by [personal profile] vatine at 01:55pm on 15/07/2017 under
Reread.

This is the first book in the Sptterjay series, set in Asher's Polity world.

Time-wie, the Spatterjay books fall well after the rest of the series (bar, possibly, Transformation), but as the first two books takes place entirely (or almost entirely) on the planet of Spatterjay (see how the planet meshes with the name of the series...), it's not massively important exactly how it lines up timewise.

We follow a couple of different viewpoint characters. Ehrlin is a Hooper (that is, someone who's been infected by the leech virus, present in most (if not all) lifeforms on Spatterjay), who's been away from Spatterjay for a while, having adventures. Janer is employed by a sentient hornet hive, that he (some decades ago) spent two years indentured to, for killing one of its bodies at a football match. Sable Keech is a reif (basically a cyber-enhanced walking corpse), and ECS monitor. Sniper, a war drone. And Windcatcher, which I shall say nothing about. And a few more, who get walk-on POV roles.

Fundamentally, this is a story about loss and revenge. And how these things change, as time passes. I guess there's some talk about life and what immortality may mean for the human condition.

Again, this is a Polity book so it's kinda grimdark, in places.
July 11th, 2017
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
posted by [personal profile] vatine at 07:59pm on 11/07/2017 under
Reread.

First book in Jansen's Ambassador series. I must've confused this with another "interstellar ambassador" book, since my distinct memory was "ugh, do not like". This, as it turns out, is wrong.

Where was I? Ah, yes, Cory Wilson, our intrepid viewpoint character, is just about to start his job as ambassador for Earth to the gamra assembly, part of the interstellar crowd that run The Exchange (basically, what enables interstellar travel). And as part of the upcoming travel, he's talking to the president of the UN (well, it's called something else, and it seems to be an actual ruling body, and, you know...) when the unthinkable happens. And the unthinkable is taht there's a direct attack on said president, while our POV character is in the office.

And from there, things start unravelling at a frightening pace.

All in all, eminently readable. Now I'm vaguely interested in chasing down my previous post about this one.
July 10th, 2017
gridlore: Doug with Kirsten, both in nice clothes for a wedding. (Me - with Kirsten)
Well, we're 26 years late for that, but should we ever renew our vows, I'd love to hear this.

location: Santa Clara, Ca
Music:: Jerry Garcia Band - They Love Each Other
Mood:: 'loved' loved
July 9th, 2017
gridlore: Doug with Kirsten, both in nice clothes for a wedding. (Me - with Kirsten)
Fair warning, this will contain so minor spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming. No major plot points, but some notes about characters and setting.

So, Spider-Man has finally come home to the Marvel Cinematic Universe where he belongs. Thank Odin! Because this is the movie that makes everyone's favorite wall-crawler the awkward kid he was for so so long in the comics. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a brilliant kid living with his hot Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) in Queens, NY. He attends a magnet school for science and technology, and, oh, is secretly the Spectacular Spider-Man.

The movie opens with Peter recording a video blog of his trip to Germany to take part in the airport battle scene from Captain America: Civil War. Despite being told repeatedly that he can't show anyone the footage, he keeps shooting. Because he's a kid. And that's what he is through most of the movie. He's what every 15-year-old boy is: eager to prove that he's an adult, and able to take on the world while not being ready. Having picked up a mentor/father figure in Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr., who has played this character enough times to have bought Rhode Island on the residuals alone) Parker keeps waiting for the Avengers to call him for his next assignment. His only confidant is his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) a fellow geek outsider who thinks Spider-Man nearly getting vaporized is just the coolest thing ever.

What really makes the film work is you believe that these are all high school kids attending a science immersion school. Long-time nemesis Flash Thompson has gone from alpha male jock to arrogant academic jerk, for example. Which works. The writing is painfully accurate on just how awkward this age can be. Seeing Peter stumble with the girl he likes, trying to focus in class, it all works! Which makes the more fantastic elements work as well. Everyone is well directed and written, even a minor hood that Spider-Man tries to interrogate, but ends up getting helpful advice from.

But no superhero film can work without a great villain, and Spider-Man does not let us down. In the comics, The Vulture was a ridiculous figure, a senior-citizen with a flying suit. Here, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is a wronged everyman who takes his revenge on the system by selling weapons based on alien technology to criminals. He is a deep character with a clear motivation and his own set of moral codes. He also has the badass flying suit. In Keaton's hands, the Vulture nearly steals the movie. You believe in him, and oddly, sympathize with him.

The producers managed to stick in enough Easter eggs to supply the White House egg roll. From the classic comic book theme to the Spider-Signal, old fans of the character will have plenty of moments that make them grin. Captain America makes several appearances narrating videos shown to the students, which tie into one of the two post-credits scenes.

The action set pieces, big and small, work, although some are a little too busy. We saw it in 2-D, which I suspect has something to do with that problem. But there were a few moments where the screen was just a mess of flying objects. Spider-Man's advanced, Stark designed, Spider-suit is a character in its own right.

Problems? There were a few. Some of the jokes fell flat, Aunt May was critically underused, and Flash Thompson was never given the moment of humanity needed to make him more than an aggressor, though that they may be saving for the next movie.

As I said above, there are two post credit scenes. The first, coming in the middle of the credits, gives us a view of Adrian Toomes that raises a lot of questions. The second does nothing to tease the next Marvel movie or tie-in Spider-Man to the larger Cinematic Universe, but at our showing it drew one of the biggest laughs of the show.

One of my metrics for how much I enjoyed a movie is how well do I remember the trailers. Since trailers are designed to catch your interest and lodge the film in your head, how well you can recall those trailers shows how deeply you were involved in the feature presentation. In this case, I couldn't tell you what trailers we saw. Spider-Man: Homecoming was just that fun. I give it 4.5 Penguins out of a possible five. Go see it.

The only bad thing about the day was as we were leaving my right ankle decided to remind me that I have hypokalemic periodic paralysis. That was no fun, even though it loosened up pretty quickly.
Mood:: 'relaxed' relaxed
location: Santa Clara, Ca

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