Thursday, August 31, 2023

D.I.Y., by John Wiswell

Tor Books, ISBN 009781250870209, August 2022

The opening of this story does not bring us to a happy world. Climate change has had a major impact, most strongly felt in the heat and the shortage of potable water.

The tech that's involved here, though, includes magic. The companies expected to address the problem are the great magic academies, among them Ozymandias Academy, where once upon a time, a young man named Noah hoped to become a student. When he's finally accepted, though, it's without any financial aid, and his mother, struggling just to support the two of them, has no money. Noah, being a bright young man, puts the blame where it belongs, and in some ways, that sets up later events.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Rabbit Test, by Samantha Mills

Uncanny Magazine, Issue #49, 2022

In this rather dark short story, we follow the troubles of Grace, whom we meet as an 18-year-old girl who has gotten pregnant, in a late 21st century society where technology has been weaponized to make it almost impossible for pregnancy to evade detection. She's not paranoid and careful enough to be able to terminate it before it's detected, and this basically eliminates most of her life choices.

In between parts of the story of Grace and her daughter, Olivia, we get bits about the history of pregnancy tests, including the iconic "rabbit test," as well as earlier tests, dating back to ancient times, many (but not all) of which were surprisingly effective. As society changed to put women more completely in the power of men, many of them became illegal, and termination, when available, also became illegal.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Snow Angels at Golden Sands Bay, by Georgina Troy

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781804260951, August 2023

Portia and her boyfriend Charlie are living in London, where Portia has a thriving events management career. Charlie is managing a restaurant, instead of the hotel he managed on Jersey, where they met.

The two are happy together, but Charlie is not happy away from his beloved Jersey.

When Charlie inherits his great-aunt's magnificent, but now in need of significant repair, chateau on Jersey, Portia encourages him to renovate it and open his own hotel. He's got the skills and experience to do a lot of the work himself, and Portia sells her London flat, which they have been living in, to pay for the work. It will put them, she feels, on equal footing in a new home which is theirs, rather than hers.

What can go wrong in renovating a magnificent but decayed old house, with the deadline of being ready to open for guests by spring? A lot! 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

How to Resist Amazon and Why: The Fight for Local Economies, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores, and a People-Powered Future! Danny Caine (author, narrator)

Pear Press, ISBN 9781732380394, April 2021

Danny Caine runs an independent, employee-owned bookstore, Raven Book Store, in Lawrence, Kansas. He's also an active small business advocate, and makes an excellent case that Amazon is destructive of small businesses, local economies, and fair business regulation and practices.

Some of the stories in here are funny and delightful; others are horrifying.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Compulsory (Murderbot Diaries #0.5), by Martha Wells

Subterranean Press, July 2023

This is a short story, about an early and critical incident in the life of Murderbot, well before it meets those humans who will, unexpectedly, become its friends. Even The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon is still a relatively recent discovery.

Murderbot is under contract as security in a mine, and its duty is to protect, not the workers, but the equipment. Well, unless death or injury to an employee will negatively affect production. 

Murderbot is on duty, but watching a Sanctuary Moon episode rather than truly paying attention to what's going on nearby, when a fairly foolish argument breaks out between two humans, and results in a stupid accident which sends one of them falling down the mineshaft. When she catches herself on a piece of the equipment, fall halted temporarily, Murderbot has to decide what to do.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Sherlock Holmes & the Silver Cord, by M.K. Wiseman

M.K. Wiseman, August 2023

As with other Sherlock Holmes tales by M. K. Wiseman, Holmes is his own chronicler. Not, this time, due to Watson's absence, but because this tale is about what's going on inside Holmes's head, as he recovers from the mental and emotional impact of the death of Moriarty, his own three-year absence, and his surprise return to London, 221B Baker Street, and Watson's life.

In the Reichenbach Falls adventure, Holmes always intended to kill Moriarty in their final confrontation, but he had expected to die himself. He saw no way of returning alive.

Holmes berated himself with guilt and self-contempt, for leaving Watson to believe him dead for three years, for perhaps being not much better than Moriarty for his willingness to kill, for blithely accepting Watson's willingness to return to 221B Baker Street and their partnership together after that three-year absence, and for devoting himself to the relatively minor undertaking of mopping of the mostly petty criminals that were what was left of Moriarty's crime empire.