Maggie is a high-school teenager who loves animals (especially her dog Mongo), and doesn't like her new step-father Val. But Maggie is far from normal. For one thing, the reason she dislikes Val is not just because he's from Oldworld or dresses terribly, but because he has too many shadows that seem to move on their own, and have too many legs or hands or other appendages, and that almost no one else can apparently see. For another thing, Maggie lives in Newworld, where magic is illegal and magic-using genes were removed two generations ago, and where there is a danger of "cohesion breaks," gaps in reality that are common enough they have their own slang term, "cobeys" - which the government handles with military teams and scientific equipment; but which just might be more of a problem than the government is letting on.Read more...
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Friday, January 03, 2014
Pullmann throws you into a fascinating new world and just lets you learn the details as the story goes along-- like the animal daemons that accompany each human, as life-long companions. Or the panserbjorne, the intelligent, armored polar bears who are mentioned a few times before we learn who and what they are. The story is a great adventure ride, and there are many fascinating characters - although the main character, Lyra, is pretty selfish and doesn't have qualms about lying. Lyra's uncle comes to visit the Oxford College where she has grown up (half-educated and mostly wild) and she gets to overhear (because she snuck in where she shouldn't be) about some of his research from the Arctic, involving "Dust." Soon, some of the children from the town go missing, and eventually Lyra decides she wants to help track them down, and go find her Uncle. Before she leaves Oxford, the Dean of the college gives her an "alethiometer" - a strange device with numerous symbols, which he says will tell the truth if she can learn to read it, and which is clearly the "golden compass" of the title (at least in the American version).
Lark on Friday, January 03, 2014
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Doctorow has created a fascinating society, where death has been "cured" (just make sure you have regular backups so you can be restored to a clone if anything happens!), the economy is based on the esteem of others (their money-equivalent is called "whuffie"), and things are run be adhocracies. Unfortunately, the characters and plot don't quite hold up to the promise of that amazing setup. Julius is a guy with multiple degrees, who's written symphonies, and died a few times - and usually goes back to Disney World to reboot himself; now he's living at Disney and working on a crowd-control thesis with potential application to the wider world, which is getting a bit crowded due to people not dying. While he's there, a conflict develops with how to renovate or redo the park, and Julius takes things a little bit personally and obsessively.
Lark on Sunday, December 08, 2013
Sunday, August 11, 2013
In a near future with wearable technology and pervasive technology, someone is developing mind-control tech and successfully field-tested without causing a stir, and almost by accident, Indo-European intelligence stumbles upon it, and figures out what it is. Because the labs are on U.S. soil, and might by backed by U.S. allies, they decide to investigate in a round-about fashion - a deniable third party, known only as "Rabbit" (aka "Mysterious Stranger" or "Mr Smart-Aleck"). This character may be a very smart hacker kid, may be a group or a coalition, or possibly even a playful Artificial Intelligence. Rabbit works to develop a network of affiliation to enter the biolabs and get the information. One person in that network is Robert Gu, a former Nobel poet laureate who is just coming out of the haze of Alzheimers - the latest technology is being put to use to cure his other deficiencies and illnesses - and Gu has to learn to adapt to a new technological world.Read more...
Lark on Sunday, August 11, 2013
Friday, July 26, 2013
A delightful fairy tale retelling that takes the familiar story of the twelve dancing princesses and fleshes it out-- adding completely plausible reasons for just about every aspect of the story: why the princesses dance every night, whey they can't tell anyone, and even why there are twelve of them. It even adds to the mundane aspects of what life must be like if you had to go dance every night-- what if you get sick (as the oldest, Rose, does) but still had to go dance every night? And with twelve sisters, the youngest are quite young - one dancing since she could walk, and hates balls because she has had to dance every night.Read more...
Lark on Friday, July 26, 2013
Sunday, May 05, 2013
In the kingdom of Er'Rets, being a stray, with unknown parentage, means that you are lower than a peasant or a slave. Strays are forced to wear orange, branded, and given a last name from an animal. Such is the fate of Achan Cham-- he serves Poril, the cook in the house of Lord Nathak until Sir Gavin the Great Whitewolf takes an interest in him and begins to train him as a squire. At the same time, another is in hiding as a stray under the name of Vrell Sparrow-- a young girl of nobility, hiding as a boy in the lowest of places (a plan devised by her mother) in order to avoid being forced to marry Prince Gidon. Both of them are also discovering they have the gift of "blood-voicing," a kind of mind-to-mind communication that can take place even over long distances. Vrell knows at least a little bit about it from her mother, but not how to control it; Achan thinks it's a myth, but he doesn't know he's been given a tonic every day to suppress the ability. The story really starts to pick up when their paths cross. Achan has now been forced to serve as squire to the selfish and vindictive Prince Gidon, and they travel to Mahanaim where the Council will ratify Gidon as king. Vrell has been summoned by Macoun Hadar, an old, conniving master of blood-voicing who sensed her presence and ability in the coastal town where she was hiding with a friend of her mother's and summoned her to be his apprentice. Eventually the Achan and Vrell meet and become acquainted when Achan is held in prison for (supposedly) endangering the Prince's life while fighting off an attack from the Darkness, and Vrell tends to his wounds with the medicines and salves she has learned to make while apprenticing to an apothecary. It seems everyone has an agenda: Gidon wants to kill Achan and claim the throne; Macoun Hadar wants Achan for an apprentice because his blood-voicing gift is so strong; and Vrell must continue to hide her true identity for fear of discovery or being forced to marry.Read more...
Lark on Sunday, May 05, 2013
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Lily Sanderson is a high school pining for the school jock, Brody-- but unlike most normal high school girls, Lily is half-mermaid. Her father only told her a few years ago that her mother was huma, and gave her the option to live with her aunt Rachel and attend high school to get some experience with the human world and the other half of her heritage. Lily has been plotting with her best friend Shannen how to ask Brody out to the spring dance, but she can't quite get up the nerve. Then, for some reason, her neighbor Quince Fletcher-- whom she hates because he is always teasing her and giving her a hard time-- decides to help her out. Naturally, things don't go quite as planned; when Quince goes to check on Lily he ends up kissing her (because, of course, he likes her). But what he doesn't know is that she's a mermaid, and merfolk have a magical mate-bond which is triggered by a kiss. Lily has to take Quince to her home, Thalassinia (where of course she is a princess) and present him to her father the king in order to ask for a ritual separation that will dissolve the bond between them. But that doesn't go quite the way she planned it, either.Read more...
Lark on Saturday, May 04, 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
This book picks up shortly after Trading in Danger (which I read and enjoyed last year). Newly minted space captain Kylara Vatta survived a civil war and even a mutiny by dangerous people temporarily housed on her ship, and acquitted herself well enough that the mercenary company in the area offered her a job, but she decided to stay with the family business of trading, for now. Shortly after the book opens, there are multiple, coordinated, devastating attacks on Vatta ships and on their main offices and palatial home on the planet Slotter Key. Ky and her ship manage to escape unscathed, but because the ansible communications are down she doesn't know exactly what's happened, she decides to proceed with taking her cargo to Lastway as planned. Soon, she's embroiled in a much bigger war to try to save what's left of her family, find out who was responsible and why, and see if she can somehow start rebuilding the family empire.Read more...
Lark on Wednesday, April 10, 2013