Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Lady of the Open Road and Other Stories from the Long List Anthology, Volume 2, by David Steffen (editor)

Skyboat Media, January 2017

This is, as it says, stories from the Long List Anthology, stories that placed high but didn't quite make the Hugo Finalists ballot for 2016. The six works included here are as diverse as David Levine's "Damage," a military sf story of artificial intelligence, and Ursula Vernon's "Pocosin," fantasy influenced by Native American mythology. What they all have in common is that they are all excellent, and all would have done the Hugo Finalists ballot proud had they made the cut.

I don't really have a great deal more to say, except do yourself a favor, and listen to this audiobook, or read the individual stories elsewhere.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Slow Horses (Slough House #1), by Mick Herron

Blackstone Audio, January 2017 (original publication January 2010)

River Cartwright was a rising young star in the British secret service, until suddenly he wasn't. Now he sits at Slough House, one of the "slow horses," transcribing cell phone conversations and hoping for a real assignment.

And then a young man is kidnapped by a shadowy group who claim they'll cut off his head on live tv. This particular young man seems like no one at all, the son of Pakistani immigrants who run a soft goods store. The catch is that he's the nephew of a very senior member of the Pakistani intelligence services.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Replay, by Ken Grimwood (author), William Dufris (narrator)

Tantor Audio, December 2008 (original publication 1986)

Jeff Winston, 43 years old, dies suddenly of a heart attack, in October 1988.

Then he wakes up, in 1963, eighteen years old and a freshman in college.

With all his memories of his previous life intact.

He's got it all to do over again, except that this time he can do it right. He can amass all the wealth, fame, and success he missed out on the first time around.

But his death happens again, on the same date, and he has a third chance. And a fourth. What's going on? Why is this happening? And is Jeff all alone, or are there others like him?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Tao of Pooh (The Way, With the Enchanted Neighborhood), by Benjamin Hoff (author), Simon Vance (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2012 (original publication 1982)

Benjamin Hoff uses Winnie the Pooh and his friends to explain the principles of the Tao.

There really is a fair bit of gentle wisdom to be extracted from the stories of Winnie, Eeyore, and the others, and Hoff does a decent job of it. Sadly, it's no more than decent. There's an insistent, one-note, "if you don't agree then clearly you just don't understand, and are wrong" tone that rears its head repeatedly. It does grate on me from time to time.

Yet at the same time, he also does, often, throughout this short book, quite nicely and charmingly capture the ways in which simple, uncomplicated Pooh can find the right answer while his "smarter" friends are getting lost in complications of their own making.

Overall, I enjoyed it, but perhaps just reading or listening to Milne's own stories might be even more rewarding.

I bought this audiobook.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Bloodstone Vial (Belrose Abbey Mystery #2), by Anita Higman (author), Hillary McMullen (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Winged Publications, July 2017

Anne and her mother, Dauphine, have gone quite suddenly from barely getting by to the new owners of Belrose Abbey and its late owner's fortune. The catch is, they have to live at Belrose Abbey...

One might think that with Ivan Helsberg safely dead, all would be well at Belrose Abbey now, but it seems there are still secrets to be uncovered. It's not just that the staff are still for the most part the staff that served Ivan; there's mounting evidence that there's someone, or something, living on the estate that they don't know about.

When Anne and Ivan's stepson Wyatt see a strange-looking person wandering the estate, and Dauphine finds blueprints that claim to be the plans for an insane asylum to be built on the estate, they start to get really alarmed.

It's all nicely atmospheric, with characters who are seemingly simple turning out to be interestingly complex.

Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: A Novel of Retropolis, by Bradley W. Schenck (author, illustrator)

Tor Books, ISBN 9780765383297, June 2017

Retropolis is a city of the future as imagined in the first part of the 20th century. Robots walk the streets and work in many jobs that require physical abilities and machine precision that humans don't have. They're intelligent, and while they start out as indentured workers, they earn their full freedom over time, and have formed a pretty powerful union.

Meanwhile, humans do other work. Everyone relies on InfoSlates, which are a lot like our phones, except perhaps standardized more at the size of an iPad. That's my impression of them, anyway. Another difference between InfoSlates and either iPads or phones is that they rely on human switchboard operators.

Nola Gardner is a switchboard operator, and she and her sister operators (remember, think 1930s rather than present day) abruptly find themselves out of jobs after a surprise efficiency review. What they can't seem to find out is who replaced them.