Sunday, August 19, 2018

Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch, by Richard Hine (author), Aaron Abano (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, ISBN 9781469242811, December 2012 (original publication October 2010)

Russell Wiley spends his work life selling ad space in the Daily Business Chronicle, which is a print-only daily business newspaper with declining circulation. There are clear disadvantages to this, but it's not made easier by his boss, Henry, who is determined to make no useful changes, the hotshot new consultant who is trying to turn this short-term gig into a permanent job, the poor hiring choice Russell made a few month ago who is dead weight for his department but whom his boss thinks is Da Bomb...

Oh, and his marriage is falling apart, too.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth, by Adam Frank

W.W. Norton & Company, June 2018

What practical use is research into possible extraterrestrial live and civilizations?

We need a new frame to think about our own planet and our relationship. It's just false to all the evidence that we don't affect the habitability of Earth. It's unhelpful, providing no useful path forward, to think of ourselves as a completely malign, destructive force.

We need a new story to tell ourselves, that correctly places us as an active force on Earth, currently doing a lot of damage out of our ignorance until now, but able to change direction and, through use of our growing knowledge, able to make different, more useful decisions.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Sky Below: A True Story of Summits, Space, & Speed, by Scott Parazynski (author, narrator), Suzy Flory (author)

Brilliance Audio, August 2017

This is an excellent first-person account of a doctor, astronaut, and inventor who had a really impressive career in the space program.

Oh, yeah, and he climbs mountains a lot.

I wish I could care more about that. I really do. It's not a fair criticism of the book to say that he talks too much about that. Objectively, I don't think he does. It's not his fault that for me, climbing the world's major peaks for the heck of it pushes a lot of buttons--particularly after he marries and has two kids.

And he knows his wife isn't thrilled about it.

And he's taking out home equity loans on their house to pay for it.

Honestly, for a lot of readers, I suspect the mountain climbing stuff is a bonus. He's knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and writes about it as well as he does about his NASA career. It isn't even irrelevant to his NASA career. At one point, it gets him an Earth-bound assignment that is directly relevant to future exploration of Mars. So my advice is, ignore my grumpiness on this point. You'll probably like those bits.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lady Josephina's Secrect, by Agnes Forest

Sundance House Publishing, August 2018

Lady Josephina Crawford is well-born, lovely, and intelligent. The last isn't necessarily an advantage at Almack's in the hunt for a husband, but it doesn't need to be a disadvantage, either.

However, she's also a talented, and very popular, author of novels. Not that anyone knows! Her books are published under the name of her brother, Francis, future heir to the father's title of Viscount Whitemore. Francis is very happy to take all the credit, and Josephina has agreed to this because it would certainly be the death of her respectability to be known as an authoress.

Gerard Sheridan, Marquess of Richmond, heir to his father, Duke of Bedfordshire, is in a position he never expected. He was the younger son, planning a career in the church, until his brother died a year ago. Newly out of mourning, he is also newly in need of a wife. Planning to be a clergyman, he had never expected to need a wife.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries #3), by Martha Wells (author), Kevin R. Free (narrator)

Recorded Books, August 2018

Murderbot is still in pursuit of evidence against GrayCris, because awkward questions are being asked about where Dr. Mensah's SecUnit is. Murderbot really needs those questions to go away, permanently.

So it's off to the site of a failed terraforming project GrayCris was involved in, where very strange things happened and may still be happening. Quietly antisocial Murderbot would prefer just to stay in its storage unit all the way there, watching its downloaded media, get the job done promptly on arrival, and leave.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Once Upon a Haunted Moor (Tyack & Frayne #1), by Harper Fox (author), Tim Gilbert (narrator)

Audible Studios, December 2017 (original publication October 2013)

Gideon Frayne is a hardworking local police constable in the village on the Bodmin moor that he grew up in, the village of Dark. Now, he's working on his very first missing child case--a little girl whose family he's known all his life.

And he's doubting his competence as a police officer.

It isn't a boost to his confidence when his boss sends in a psychic, Lee Tyack. Gideon regards psychics as frauds, doesn't want anyone giving Lola's mother false hope when it looks more and more like Lola must be dead, but Lee is hard to hate.

Friday, August 10, 2018

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula Le Guin (author), Barbara Caruso (narrator)

Recorded Books, January 2018 (original publication December 2017)

This is a collection of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin, who was one of our great American writers, and great science fiction and fantasy writers. Her many awards include being named  a Grand Master in 2003, by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

The essays were written as blog posts for the Book View Cafe blog, and range over a wide variety of subjects, including fan letters from children, the differences among fact, myth, and lies especially when talking to children, eating an egg, her cat Pard, both when she first adopted him, and as he matured and become a real and important personality in her home.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Probable Claws (Mrs. Murphy #26), by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

Bantam, May 2018

Let's start by saying that Mrs. Murphy (tiger cat), Tucker (corgi), and even new recruit Pirate (Irish wolfhound puppy) are amazingly patient with Pewter (fat gray cat). Just saying!

Harry Haristeen is working with architect Gary Gardner on improvements to her barn and workspace, and all seems as peaceful as it ever is around Harry. Then the illusion of peace is shattered as Harry, Gary, and Deputy Cynthia Cooper are standing outside Gary's office. A motorcyclist, completely obscured in bike leathers and an opaque helmet drives up, shoots Gary fatally, and drives away.

Cooper's sincere plea to Harry that she stay out of the investigation really just means Harry has to be more careful. And, really, the deputies would probably never have paid really close attention to Gary's stolen and recovered paper copies of the building codes for every jurisdiction he's worked in going back to his days at Rankin Construction...right?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Children of Blood & Bone (Legacy of Orȉsha #1), by Tomi Adeyemi (author), Bahni Turpin (narrator)

MacMillan Audio, ISBN 9781250300119, March 2018

I loved this book. Now, if I can just say something more useful...

Tomi Adeyemi is Nigherian-American. This is a book grounded in Nigerian tradition, storytelling, and imagery, and reflecting, in mythic form, many of the tensions affecting contemporary American society. Because I listened ti the audiobook, I'm relying on Wikipedia for spellings.

The kingdom of Orȉsha once had a thriving culture of magic-wielding maji clans, living among the non-magical kosidàn. Then King Saran blamed the maji, all of them, for the death of his first family. He destroyed magic, by means that we don't fully understand at least in this first volume of the trilogy, and killed all the adult maji. Their underage children of likely magical talent, called diviners, are left alive, on the theory that they can now never become maji, but they and their kosidàn family members face punitive taxation and harsh punishment for even small offenses.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3), by Becky Chambers

Harper Voyager, July 2018

Chambers' Wayfarers stories are set in the Galactic Commons, a galactic federation of intelligent species, most of them significantly older than the newcomer humans. Each has looked at a different part of life in the Galactic Commons. This one is set in the Exodus Fleet, the fleet carrying the descendants of the last humans to leave Earth, fleeing its environmental collapse.

They're a distinctly different culture from the humans who settled Mars and the outer planets prior to that final collapse. Originally, they were looking for an Earthlike planet to start over on, and they wanted their descendants to be prepared for planetary life. In addition to their quite functional food- and oxygen-producing farms, they have decorative oxygen gardens, theaters that show nature videos of Earth, murals on the walls that, functionally, don't need to be anything but bare metal.

They also guard against the development of the competition and divisions that helped destroy Earth. Everyone has windows onto space in their living quarters. Everyone is guaranteed "if we have food they will eat, if we have air they will breathe, if we have fuel they will fly." Their economic system is barter.

And membership in the Galactic Commons has brought changes, changes that can disrupt this system.