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[Book Review] This Alien Shore

This Alien Shore / C. S. Friedman

So this made it onto the Virtual Speculation reading list based on curiosity and recommendations of this novel as a key piece of SF literature.  I expected a Space Opera with some of the normal dissection/discussions of society that one often finds in rich speculative fiction.  What I did not expect was to find a book that respectfully not only included non-neurotypical characters, but actively embraced neurodiversity.  Overall an excellent piece of speculative fiction.

Discussion Fodder:
In this story, what is alien?  What makes it alien?How do the different societies embrace or reject neurodiversity?  What do you think of the handling of neurodiversity by the author?  What is done right/wrong?How do the Hausman societies contrast with that of Earth, be it Earth of today or the Earth of the novel?What points does the story make about hacking and security?  How do they hold up as the book has aged?  How does malware differ (or not differ) in this advan…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (iii) Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur

Remember that list of names we just read... now we get to read about them!  This week we'll gander at the Northern Line, next week the Southern Line.

The narrative here splits between a speaking tone, as if someone is relating this history to us (including use semi-personal references) and more prosaic recitation of history.

It starts out rather similar to the decline of most Kingdoms.  Several generations (if they're lucky) of strong union and continuance, then the inevitable decay as quarrelsome siblings split kingdom.  Though, eight generations spans a few hundred years easily in modern lifetimes, let alone the extended lives of the Western men, so they definitely had a good run.

From there we get into the back matter of our saga, from the corruption of the Barrowdowns to the wandering state of the Dunedain.  We're also gifted with some of the future beyond The Return of the King, as we learn that the Shire becomes off limits to the Big People and that good relations co…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (ii) The Realms in Exile

I'm going to be honest, I can't tell you a whole bunch about this appendix.  We have two family trees, the Northern Line/ Heirs of Isildur and the Southern Line/Heirs of Anarion.  The take us through to the "present" with minor elaboration.  I'm utter shit at names, and even worse at dates, so I can't be sure of recognizing more than a few names that we've encountered within the saga so far, be it as characters or as names in lore.  It does make note of the disruption of the royal line and the emergence of Stewards, but this is a listing not a narrative.

This will probably become more useful as a reference as we go forward into the other appendices (and other Middle Earth history books).  But otherwise, we'll just call this a light week!

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (i) Númenor

The next ~2 months of posts will vary greatly in content and length, corresponding with the variety of the actual sections.  I'm going to strongly recommend that folks check out my partner-in-crime on this project for much better analysis of the various nuances of the appendicies, starting with this week's.  What we're dealing by and large here is the back matter, the supporting documentation for the saga.  To be honest, whenever I survey the body of his Middle Earth writing or delve within, I rather suspect Tolkien of monomania.

We've actually read much of Appendix A:I.i. already, through the lays and verses shared throughout.  Here we also read the seeds of the saga we have just completed, the coming of the Eldar and Edain to Middle Earth.  Or as we more commonly know them, the Elves and the peoples of Men.  The marriage of Arwen and Aragorn is more than a romantic conclusion to a story arc, but a cyclical one as well.  It does stand out to me that Arwen's great-…

[Book Review] Geekerella

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Geekerella / Ashley Poston

A modern-day geeky fairy tale, mashing up the classic tale of Cinderella with the world of Science Fiction fandom.  On one side we have Elle, a life-long fan of Starfield, the Star Trek-esq TV show she grew up watching with her father.  On the other side is Darien, teen heart-throb slated to play the leading role of Federation Prince Carmindor in the pending series reboot, closet nerd and written off as little more than brainless eye candy by the fandom.  In between the two lie conniving step-family, a job on the Magic Pumpkin food truck, the internet, and the deep seated passion of fandom.


This book is absolutely adorable.  I sat down and read it in a day.  A must-read for fans of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl or Jen Wilde's Queens of Geek.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Quirk Books; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

[Book Review] Down Among the Sticks and Bones

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Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) / Seanan McGuire

Previously Reviewed
Every Heart a Doorway

In Every Heart a Doorway we meet Jack and Jill, two sisters bound together yet alienated.  Both exiled from their realm and their different masters, both seeking to return home.  But for all of their core participation in the events of that novella, it was not their story nor even a story of any specific realm.  Down Among the Sticks and Bones lets us peek at what shaped the Jack and Jill we meet in Every Heart a Doorway, and lays bare the motivations for their actions within.

The story starts with a couple having children for the wrong reasons.  Falling in love with the idea of having children, of parenting, but being unable to discern the difference between a dream and reality.
"It can be easy, in the end, to forget that children are people, and that people will do what people will do, the consequences be damned." It's a story about love, hate, and the thin l…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 9

While the journey is not done yet, we have other books we plan to explore and the Appendices yet to read, I want to take a moment to note that we're at the last chapter of this part of the journey.  After this we'll be moving on to Bilbo's Last Song and then tackling the Silmarillion.

This final chapter is more than just an ending to The Return of the King and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  It stands as the conclusion of a saga, tying up threads started outside Lord of the Ring with the finishing of Bilbo's book, the ending of the feud with Lobelia, and other events.  The Shire, like England, prevails, though I feel a good bit of it's recovery is due to Samwise (and Galadriel's gift).

While Merry, Pippin, and Sam all fit back well into society, they had their tethers.  Frodo was always something of an outsider, and now with the changes brought on by the Ring and the trauma he bore, he is left somewhat afloat.  We don't actually know what wounds Merry and P…