melita66: (ship)
So I've been on pause for about a week--haven't started another novel yet. Instead I was very slowly reading the latest volume of Girl Genius, #11, Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless Bell by Phil and Kaja Foglio. This is a long-running comic, now online only, with graphic novels released every year or so. Now this is my kind of steampunk!* Set in a balkanized (mid- to eastern) Europe, the main character is Agatha Heterodyne, heir to the Heterodyne family. When her father and uncle disappeared, she was hidden away for safety. Now coming into her own, she's reached her family's castle and has been trying to survive and take control. The castle had been badly damaged, so she has to repair enough for the AI to take over. Meanwhile she's also fighting off a pretender, her evil mother (who's taken up residence in her brain), two quarreling princes and multiple other allies and enemies. Oh and she and the two princes are all sparks--that is, mad creative and engineering geniuses. Lots of fun! Lots and lots!

So there are tons of characters and twisty plots. Start at the beginning, Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank (or read online, or buy the pdf).




* I've only gotten a little ways into Scott Westerfield's steampunk series because I would much rather read Girl Genius.
melita66: (icebert)
I'm sorry that I have not been able to post at least once a week. Under external pressures, my reading went way down. I then traveled to Reno, Nevada to attend Renovation, this years' SF worldcon. To enable bringing lots of books to get signed, I drove--a total of 16.5 hours round-trip. Here's a list of the authors that I ended up getting signatures (to ME!) from:

Steven Gould
M.J. Locke (Laura Mixon)
Sharon Lee
Steve Miller
Martha Wells
Carrie Vaughn
John Scalzi
Jo Walton
Sharon Shinn
N.K. Jemisin
Lois McMaster Bujold

I'd taken some other books too, but scheduling and simply hauling books from the not-next-door hotel to the convention center got to be too much. I didn't buy anything in the dealer's room, but did support the 2013 San Antonio bid, which won. I also bought a supporting membership in the 2014 bid (to be voted upon next year) for London. I decided to go to Renovation relatively late so the next-door hotel was booked and I ended up in the Peppermill. It had rather overwrought ornamentation and tons of faux-Greco-Roman paintings on every wall.

Some friends drove in from the Bay area and took me to a buffet at the Silver Legacy downtown on Saturday. That was very nice and calming as I'd had a rather fraught day. I decided to bug out the following day (one day early). As it was, I missed a fire that closed part of my route on Monday.

I listened to audiobooks while driving. I don't otherwise and always listen to ones where I've already read the books. On the way up I listened to most of Laurie R. King's The God of the Hive in preparation for the release of Pirate King next month. On the way back, I listed to about half of Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold. Upon return, I finished Memory and am now about two-thirds through Civil Campaign. These are such fun and sometimes heart-stopping books. Memory is one of my favorite LMB books.

I did manage to finish Moira J. Moore's Heroes at Odds, the sixth book in the Lee and Taro series. This series is set on a colony world. The people know they came from elsewhere and that the early settlers had much more technology than they have currently. A bit like McCaffrey's Pern, hidden dangers made the colony backslide. In this case, the world has a great number of disasters--earthquakes, tsunamis, great storms, and so on. Somehow, it was discovered that certain people could channel or mitigate the disasters (sources) and that other people could protect the minds and bodies of the sources while they're channeling (shields). Lee is a shield who is bonded to Taro, a source. In this book, they are still stationed at his ancestral home which is now being run by a cousin. Taro's mother is causing problems, a neighbor is causing the cousin problems, there are manmade disasters (fires), and then Lee's mother and brothers arrive. It turns out that Lee's parents had signed a contract with another family for Lee to marry their son when both came of age. Technically, the contract should be void because Lee then became a shield, but the other family has fallen on hard times and wants the connection to Lee's family.

Meanwhile Lee is still investigating 'casting'--spells that take weird ingredients, chants, etc. although she's trying to investigate their use rationally.

I'm not sure that I like the addition of casting to the series. I thought there was enough going on with shield/source issues and political crises of the earlier books. Hopefully, Moore does have a goal in mind. Definitely not a good book to start with and most of the books have built upon the earlier ones. Definitely start with Resenting the Hero.

I also managed to read book 10 of Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius, Agatha H and the Guardian Muse. Good, funny steampunk although I felt that there was not much forward movement in this book. The Foglios won the Hugo award for best graphic novel again this year and immediately announced that they would not accept a nomination next year. Good for them!
melita66: (ghibli house)
 I'm almost done with the first novel of the Girl Genius series by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Agatha H. and the Airship City. I think I agree with Brenda W. Clough who stated on rec.arts.sf.written that it works much better if you're already familiar with the series as a web comic. I did find it quite enjoyable and laughed out loud a few times as I'm remembering/imagining what the artwork would look like.

I just finished one of the most anticipated books in the SF/F community right now, Among Others by Jo Walton. It's a story of growing up and surviving and reading and how (genre) literature can be the most important thing in your life and affect you in all sorts of ways. It's excellent. I consider Walton to be a very thoughtful and advertent writer. I've followed her career for a long time as she was on rec.arts.sf.written (a usenet newsgroup) for years. Her first novel was published after a Tor editor (iirc, Patrick Nielsen Hayden) asked if she'd written any novels after reading her posts on the newsgroups.

I was able to finally read Sandra McDonald's The Stars Down Under. It's the second book in a trilogy that begins with The Outback Stars. I've already read the 3rd book, The Stars Blue Yonder. The series starts off as military/colony SF, but then brings in Australian aboriginal gods, time and space travel (via gates), and alternative time lines.

I also dropped another book, The Mirror Prince by Violette Malan. It's a stand-alone, set here but with faerie/elves in exile. It's fine, but couldn't hold my attention. I just like her series about Dhulyn and Parno much better. It's a fantasy world. Dhulyn and Parno are Mercenaries who get themselves involved in scrapes and bigger doings. Dhulyn is the senior partner, and is harder and in some ways more talented (as a fighter) than her partner, Parno. That makes a nice change.

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November 2016

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