July 2021 Reading Discussion.

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Danny McG

"Hast any Bisto?"
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Ok, a new author (to me) Neil Sharpson

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Life in the Caspian Republic has taught Agent Nikolai South two rules. Trust No One. And work just hard enough not to make enemies.
Here, in the last sanctuary for the dying embers of the human race in a world run by artificial intelligence, if you stray from the path - your life is forfeit. But when a Party propagandist is killed - and is discovered as a "machine" - he's given a new mission: chaperone the widow, Lily, who has arrived to claim her husband's remains.
But when South sees that she, the first "machine" ever allowed into the country, bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife, he's thrown into a maelstrom of betrayal, murder, and conspiracy that may bring down the Republic for good.
 

DeltaV

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Trading in Danger 2003 Elizabeth Moon

First volume of the Vatta's War series.

I normally don't read long series and thus don't bother picking up the first volume. However wiser heads than mine here at SF Chrons have recommended Trading in Danger so I read it on a recent trip. And I'm glad I did as I quite enjoyed it. Oh, there are a few flaws here and there and, yes, some more work could have been put into the characters (a couple of them were quite unbelievable ... Captain Furman comes to mind. And could her former love interest Hal really be that dense? Sheesh. Ky dodged a bullet there with that dud.).

But on the whole a good read.

I read one negative review that called Trading in Danger "logistics SF". Hmmm. I quite like "logistics SF". Getting into the gritty economic details of a futuristic economy. And besides, I love playing the old Avalon Hill game Merchants of Venus. So, yeah, no complaints from me about the basic premise of this book!

After reading several of Moon's early stories in Analog in my reviews of 1978 and 1988, I found that she always added some interesting details that highlight either her characters or the plot. Trading in Danger is no exception.

I am curious to see how Ky develops as a character. She has learned that she can kill at need ... and enjoy it ... an emotion that can lead people down some very dark paths. Especially when linked to the anger that she feels towards others and towards herself.

The second book Marque and Reprisal has just arrived in the post. We shall see what happens.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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During my time away from the computer I read the third book by the Scottish bookseller I mentioned before. This one was Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops (2020) by Shaun Bythell. It's a tiny little book, readable in an hour or so, that lists annoying bookstore customers as if they were species of organisms. A brief epilogue also lists a few types of people who are actually welcome. You'll be glad to hear that science fiction fans are one of the latter group, because they will actually buy things and not argue about prices.

I also read The Southern Wildlife Watcher: Notes of a Naturalist (2020) by Rob Simbeck, which consists of thirty-six essays about organisms that live in the southeastern United States. (In the USA, the "South" generally means the Southeast, the other Southern part of the continental United States usually thought of as the "West.") Twelve species each from air, sea, and land, everything from insects to mammals. Interesting reading, with some lovely photographs.

I am about to start The Monkey's Wedding and Other Stories (2011) by Joan Aiken, a collection of tales, some previously unpublished, some formerly appearing under a pseudonym, some from the 1950's and 1960's. It seems that many, perhaps most, perhaps all, can be called fantasy.
 
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