Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Larry at Number 10, by E.C. Radcliffe (author), Dave Hill (illustrator)

Matador, January 2021

Larry is the famous Chief Mouser at No. 10 Downing Street, the official residence, of the UK's Prime Minister. This is a children's picture book about Larry's adventures.

Larry has been through a few Prime Ministers, but the newest official chief resident has committed an outrage; he has brought in a dog! Is this dog, Dilyn, good at mousing? Not unless it's a squeaky toy mouse! Does he do dutiful paw-trol with Larry? He does not! Is he even capable of sitting on a windowsill, keeping lookout? Of course not! On top of everything, instead of chasing mice, he chases sausage strings!

That's along with getting walks, tickles, and compliments on how adorable the silly dog is, while Larry is busy meeting Im-purrtant People.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 1 (Liaden Universe #stories), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miler (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator)

Audible Audio, June 2022 (original publication June2013)

This is a collection of seventeen shorter Liaden Universe stories, and it reflects all the different aspects of that universe. We have several Moonhawk and Lute stories. These feel very much like fantasy, but this is the world Priscilla, future lifemate of Shan yos'Galan. Val Con yos'Phelium, as a young Scout, meets his first Clutch Turtle. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Star Surgeon, by Alan E. Nourse (author), Scott D. Farquhar (narrator)

LibriVox, June 2007 (original publication 1959)

Dal Timgar wants to be a surgeon. He's dreamed of it most of his life, and he has the intelligence and the discipline to do it.

Unfortunately, he's a Garvian, an alien, humanoid, but not human. No non-human has ever studied medicine on Hospital Earth; Dal is the first. And he's mostly not welcome.

When Earth developed a faster than light space drive, they also discovered a thriving Galactic Federation, composed of myriad different races. Each of them contributes some particular talent or achievement. Dal's race, the Garvians, are merchants, and especially good at managing people.

Earth's specialty is medicine. Since having a valued specialty is the price of full admission to the Galactic Federation, Earth, now "Hospital Earth," is determined to protect the reputation of its doctors and medical technology. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Light from Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki

Tor Books, ISBN 9781250789075, September 2021

Lan Tran is the captain of a spaceship, and has, with her family, fled a galactic war to the backwater planet called Earth. They have purchased the Starrgate Donut shop from the retiring Thamavuongs, promising they would continue to make donuts, and not tear down the giant white donut. In fact, Lan Tran has plans for that giant donut.

Shizuka Satomi is a violin player, a renowned violin teacher, and a woman who has a pact with a demon. Due to an error in judgment when she was young, she owes Hell seven souls in return for not being consigned to Hell herself. She has delivered six, and has just one more year to deliver the seventh. In the course of her search, she by chance goes to the Starrgate Donut Shop, and met Lan Tran.

Katrina is a young trans woman, who has fled San Francisco for LA, to escape the father who objects, quite violently, to her violin playing and her trans identity. Unfortunately, the friend she thought would give her a safe landing in LA proves to be less of a friend than she thought. She winds up homeless again--but she has met Shizuka Satomi in a nearby park, and Miss Satomi had, after hearing her play her violin, urged her to call.

Friday, June 24, 2022

My Evil Mother: A Short Story, by Margaret Atwood

Amazon Original Stories, April 2022

It was never easy being a teenage girl in 1950s suburbia,, even without your mother being a witch. Well, maybe a witch. Maybe she's just very weird. Maybe she's just trying to protect her daughter from the dangers of the world.

Possibly the three aren't mutually exclusive.

Regardless, her mother doesn't quite fit in, despite pearls and floral aprons. There are the quiet but not completely secret conversations with neighborhood women in distress, suspicious plants in the garden, and the stern warning to avoid a boyfriend lest she die in the car crash that's going to kill him.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (author), Wil Wheaton (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2022

When covid hits New York City, and the rest of the country, Jamie Gray is stuck in a dead-end job, as a driver for food delivery apps. Barely scrapping by, Jamie is bearing most of the cost of an apartment shared with three roommates. The struggle to keep things together is about to fall apart, when an old classmate, now most regular customer, suggests that Jamie apply for a job at KJS, his own employer. He knows there's an opening, and Jamie can do the job.

I'm going to stop right here and say that Jamie's gender is never identified. This can slip right by the
 reader or listener at first, because the story is told in first person, but Jamie's gender is never identified.

Jamie goes through a grueling screening process, which certainly makes it clear the job is in a remote location, in the tropics, requiring an improbably large number of vaccinations, and cut off from any contact with civilization.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Adult Assembly Required, by Abbi Waxman

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780593198766, May 2022

Laura Costello has left New York City and moved to Los Angeles, and is barely settled in to her new apartment when the building burns while she's out shopping.

And then it starts raining.

She takes refuge in a bookstore, and makes her first new friends. Nina the bookseller more or less adopts her, Polly decides she's the right person to fill the newly-empty room at the very eccentric rooming house she lives in. The cat that experiences her very wet clothing forgives her.

When they reach the rooming house, Maggie the owner accepts her, she gratefully accepts the room, and she meets some of her new roommates, including Impossibly Handsome Bob, who happens to have the room next to hers, and shares the bathroom with her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Crosstime (Crosstime/Blake Walker #1 & 2) by Andre Norton (author), Graham Rowat (narrator)

Tantor Audio, ISBN 9781666101126, March 2021 (original publication audio omnibus edition March 2008) (The Crossroads of Time original publication 1956) (Quest Crosstime original publication 1965)

Blake Walker was found as an orphaned or abandoned child, and raised as the child of the police officer who found him. He has no memories before that day, but while wholly human, he doesn't look quite like any familiar ethnic group. He also has a strange ability; he has a very reliable sense for when something seriously bad is about to happen.

Years later, in Crossroads of Time, he's in New York City, about to enroll in art school, when his sense of impending danger leads to him thwarting an attempted murder. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard, ISBN 9781250793270 February 2021

Thanh is a princess sent off at twelve as a hostage to another, allied nation Ephteria. Her experiences over the next ten years include falling in love with Princess Eldris, who will someday be Queen of Ephteria, and surviving a fire that destroys a palace there, and kills a lot of people. 

In the course of escaping that fire, she meets Giang, a servant girl from her own country of Binh Hai, who helped her get out of the burning palace, and whom she could never locate afterward.

Now she's back in Binh Hai, the least favored daughter of the Empress, and nominally responsible for managing negotiations with Ephteria. Ephteria has been growing stronger, a threat at least as much as an ally and trading partner, and negotiations will be tricky. Along with the more usual members of the delegation, Princess Eldris has come, and she has her own plans.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe (Great Discoveries), by George Johnson (author), Stephen Bowlby (narrator)

Blackstone Publishing, May 2022 

In the early years of the 20th century, a "computer" was a person, an actual flesh and blood human being, who was good at math. These computers were often women, because women were so much cheaper to hire. You could perfectly legally and openly offer much lower wages to women than to men, for the same work.

One of these women was Henrietta Swan Leavitt, employed by the Harvard Observatory to calculate the positions and luminosities of stars in astronomical photographs.

There were two competing theories about the size of the universe at the time. One held that the Milky Way, our galaxy, was the entire universe, and the nebulae seen outside it were just wispy gas clouds. The other held that those nebulae were, in fact, other "island universes"--other galaxies like our own. It was Henrietta Leavitt who did the calculations that made it possible to answer the question.