The Encounter Log

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Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo episodes 5-26, on Crunchyroll: Still gorgeous, but purists should be warned that it does depart from the book in the last few episodes, particularly when it finally explains the nature of the help the Count received in the Chateau d'If.

Kris Longknife: Undaunted by Mike Shepherd: In this episode, our heroine picks up a super-secret alien ambassorial mission that could change the course of history, but never mind, there's an important vote coming up in Space Congress and everyone needs to schlep over to Colorado Planet for some crucial electoral machinations. Also some things blow up.

The Marmalade Shore by Richard Tammer: Sounds like a YA book but it isn't; it's not even a book for all ages. This is a book that requires mature adults to fully appreciate. And yeah, it's a vanity press book, but it's the best vanity press book ever. Totally blown away, and I won't be surprised if it winds up on the Endeavour shortlist.

Time Twist by Lizzy Shannon: In the far future, humanity and its allies, the feline Leontors, are locked in interstellar war with the evil reptiloid Komodoans, who lust after our women, particularly the white ones, and who can only be stopped, for reasons that are never fully explained, by someone from our very own time! Did you think books like this had gone out of style? Here is one from this very millennium!

Avalon Code for the DS: It's precisely as the reviews I read advertised it-- an RPG where the most important thing you do is go around smacking things with a book and then sort of reprogramming them; where you recharge your magic points by juggling monsters until they fly off into space and explode; and which also contains within it most of a dating sim. However, it's also true that the unique magic system doesn't scale very well, and by the end of the game there is a lot of tedious page-flipping.

Shadow by Dave Duncan: In a human colony many generations removed from its founding, living near the terminator of a world which is tidally locked to its star, having fallen to a quasi-medieval level dependent on the taming of gigantic eagle-like creatures, a young man is selected to be the prince's bodyguard against his will and tries to survive the job. In other words, one of Mr. Duncan's more pedestrian works. Still good, of course.

Omega Sol by Scott MacKay: It's like if Tom Clancy had written a book from an outline by Stanislaw Lem. On the one hand, you have the steely-eyed, square-jawed scientist who has to save the world, but on the other, the story rests on a solid and rather pessimistic scientific approach to the aliens. I still haven't decided whether I like the result or not.

Schlock Mercenary: Longshoreman of the Apocalypse by Howard Tayler: The bouncing back and forth between broad comedy and earnest seriousness gives it an uncoordinated feel; then again, it wasn't written to be read all in one sitting anyway.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest: In which we discover that the zombie apocalypse has gone past cliché to just plain tedium. If you want to read about the unquiet dead, and it's got to be Cherie Priest, Not Flesh Nor Feathers was way, way better.

The City and the City by China Miéville: As sf, a tad disappointing as the fantastic elements serve only as a McGuffin. As a political novel, one of the most brilliant works I have ever read, managing to make its point without a single lecture from the author.

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente: I can't in any objective way say this is a bad book, but I personally didn't enjoy it. It's got a kind of style I like in short stories but can't stand at novel length. It's like the difference between having one single glorious serving of some delectable concoction, and trying to eat everything in the bakery and dying in hyperglycemic agony.

To Engineer is Human by Henry Petroski: Really a book about what engineers do, but the juicy bits are of course the in-depth examination of major structural failures like the Hilton walkways or the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (and a couple of less-well-known similar bridge collapses in the 19th century). Still a classic.

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