Saturday, December 3, 2022

Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London #3). by Ben Aaronovitch (author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781452680095, September 2012

When Peter Grant's young cousin, Abigail Kamara, drags him and his colleague and fellow magical apprentice, Leslie May, to a railroad track running under a school playground, they do find the ghost. But the ghost is no threat, and doesn't seem to be pointing to anything of concern now. So when the first case that lands on his desk on Monday is a man stabbed to death on the track at Baker Street Station, he puts the ghost aside, and sets about finding out why the British Transport Police officer, Sgt. Kumar, thinks there's something odd about the case in a way that makes it the Folly's business.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Gaming Hell Christmas: Volume Two, by Amanda McCabe (author), Kathy L Wheeler (author)

Chisel Imprint, December 2022

It's 1797, and in Georgian England, while women have no more legal rights than they will have in the coming Regency era, they do have somewhat more social freedom. The Girls of Wight, a small circle of friends who attended Miss Greensley's School of Comportment for Young Ladies of Quality, now 29 and all still unmarried, are exercising some of that freedom--still quite limited by modern standards.

One of them is Princess Augusta, a daughter of George III. Another is Alexandra, illegitimate but acknowledged and valued daughter of the Duke of Winsome. There are the twin daughters of an earl, Thomasina and Philomena. Victoria Lanford is an orphan who became the ward of her uncle when her parents died, and was sent to school and Miss Greensley's when she and her cousins, Delphine and Melanie, hated her. She now supports herself writing novels by "A Lady L." 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Miracle at Coney Island: How a Sideshow Doctor Saved Thousands of Babies and Transformed American Medicine, by Claire Prentice (author), Coleen Marlo (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, ISBN 9781536689303, August 2017

For forty years, 1903 to 1943, Martin Couney, the "incubator doctor," both cared for and exhibited premature babies in an incubator facility at Coney Island. He also ran similar facilities at amusement parks and world's fairs around the US and in Mexico, London, Paris, and Brazil.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the medical profession considered it not worthwhile to try to save premature babies. It was assumed that even if they lived, they would always be weak, and not productive. Couney disagreed. He believed, based on an exhibit he may have attended in Berlin, and they one he ran in London, that most of these babies could be saved, with good incubators and good care.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

From Every Storm, by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author)

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781948465212, November 2022

This a collection of three stories from the Liaden Universe, all focused on coming through a human storm to a happier place in life.

"Standing Orders" reaches back to this universe's past, the time when the AI Wars have just recently ended, and the ban on complex logics (which created so much trouble for the intelligent ship, Bechimo, during what I think it's fair to call the main time period of the series) has been enacted. The decommissioning of the Admirals, and of other complex logics, including those designed to look like humans, and to think and act as much like humans as possible. Meggie Rootfir and her team have escaped from their former allies, and fled to a system where they can set up a hospital for other fleeing and wounded/damaged AIs and any human team members who accompany them. It's rewarding, successful work, until a hijacked Admiral arrives carrying an AI instance of an officer assigned to decommission all the AIs--and he's got a hostage he thinks will let him control Meggie.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Tales from the Folly: A Rivers of London Short Story Collection (Rivers of London #1.5, 1.6, 2.5, 3.5, 4.6, 5.1). by Ben Aaronovitch

JABberwocky Literary Agency, July 2020

This is a collection of short stories, including some "moments," short pieces that Aaronovitch doesn't want to call stories, set in the Rivers of London world.Not all of these stories feature the major characters in the novels. Several feature side characters, and characters whose stories were intended to be one-offs, but perhaps won't be.

Well, in at least two cases, clearly won't be.Tobias Winter and Vanessa Sommer, two young German police officers, met in The October Man, In Tales From the Folly, Tobias has a Moment in which he first learned disturbing news about the UK's magical establishment. Vanessa has a short story in which, with her new knowledge, she returns home at Christmas time, intending to check out some of the peculiar features of her childhood community.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A post to set up verification on Mastodon

 For real, that's all it is, and let's hope it works


Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity, by Devon Price

Penguin Random House Audio, ISBN 9780593507353, April 2022

This is an insightful book about about being autistic, masking (bluntly, pretending to be neurotypical as well as one can), the important reasons to stop masking, and the risks and benefits of starting to unmask.

Dr. Devon Price is a social psychologist, a professor at Loyola University, and his work is published in peer-reviewed journals in the field. He's also autistic and transgender, and can fairly be said to have a deep personal understanding of the issues of difference, alienation, isolation, and denial of self that he discusses here, along with a professional, scholarly understanding of them that's surprisingly rare in psychological and psychiatric professionals. Autism has mostly been defined as a medical problem to be solved, by getting autistics to behave like neurotypicals, rather than helping autistics to understand and use our differences, and prompting the neurotypical world to make room for our differences and our strengths.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Doctor Ice Pick, by Claire Prentice (author), Chanté McCormick (narrator)

Amazon Original Stories, May 2022

Dr. Walter Freeman was a neurologist, and  the man who invented the transorbital lobotomy, performed with surgical picks and a medical hammer.  The picks looked like ice picks.

It's not the equipment used, of course, that makes the procedure horrific.

This is a short audiobook, about two hours, but it packs a punch. Freeman began actively, even aggressively, promoting and performing lobotomies in the 1950s in the overcrowded, underfunded mental hospitals of West Virginia. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Isle of the Dead / Eye of Cat, by Roger Zelazny

IBooks, May 2014 (Eye of Cat, original publication 1982) (Isle of the Dead, original publication 1969)

The protagonist of the first short novel in this omnibus--which is in fact Eye of Cat--is William Blackhorse Singer, a Navaho born in the 20th century, and still alive, and fit and healthy, almost two centuries later. This is at least in part due to Singer making use of his tracking skills to hunt and capture alien animals to stock interstellar zoos, as soon as that became a possibility, and thus spending a good deal of time in relativistic travel, 

But Singer is now retired, and is very, very reluctant when Earth's government comes calling to recruit him to protect an alien diplomat on her way to Earth, being pursued by a deadly killer from her own world. He recruits in turn one of the last of the alien "animals" he captured; he has realized that this one was actually a person he badly wronged. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson

Grove Press, ISBN 9780802120205, June 2012

Alif is a young man, a "gray hat" hacker, selling his skills to provide cybersecurity to anyone who needs that protection from the government. He lives in an unnamed city-state in the Middle East, referred to throughout simply as the City. He's nonideological; he'll sell his services to Islamists, communists, anyone.

Alif is not his real name, but it's what he goes by, online, and among his friends. He hates his given name because it's so common. He lives in a very modest neighborhood, in one half a duplex, with his mother. In the other half is another family that has lived there as long as they have, and among the members of that family is Dina, a young woman his age, his friend, who has defied her family by going veiled. He's in love, though, with Intisar, a young woman of much better family.

Everything seems to be going well, until Intisar tells him that her father has betrothed her to an important man in the City's government. She doesn't want to see or hear from him again. And everything starts to go wrong, in unexpected ways.