Quick Review of Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


You need a certain languid frame of mind to appreciate Craig Johnson’s first Longmire novel. The language is exquisite and Johnson captures the atmosphere and personality of small-town Wyoming. This was clearly a labor of love for the author. On the other had, to read this book you can’t have anywhere to be. The pacing is glacial. Halfway through the book Longmire doesn’t have any solid suspects and doesn’t seem to mind much. Johnson spends so much time building in background to every character and situation that not much manages to happen. Sure, it’s wonderfully colored and the relationships between the characters show a depth that the current Netflix incarnation of the series can’t hope to reach. I just wish it moved along a little more quickly.



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Quick Review of Alastair Reynolds’ The Prefect

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


When Alastair Reynolds is on, his work is amazing. He is an undisputed master of hard science fiction. Unfortunately he was not on for this one. The Prefect–the name of the book was changed from Aurora Rising–is mind-numbingly tedious. Changing the name didn’t help. From the beginning of this story, he introduces unappealing characters that I find it hard to care about. Tom Dreyfus is a pseudo-cop involved in rooting out voter fraud, bad AIs, augmented humans, and other future-y stuff. Bad things happen, who cares.

In his Revelation Space future history universe, Reynolds has created a sweeping epic spanning millions of years. The problem is that each of the stories is a snippet and there’s no coherent arc unifying the vastness. He’s published stories covering events happening in the next few hundred years, then some several million years in the future, back a few millenia, and so forth. He addresses some interesting and even amazing concepts in a nebulous setting with bland, lifeless characters. I want to like it all, but it just doesn’t come together for me.



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Quick Review of Orson Scott Card’s A War of Gifts

War of Gifts takes us back to the Battle School during the time that Ender Wiggin was with Rat Army. Ender isn’t the protagonist–WoG doesn’t really have a consistent protagonist. The point of view switches from Zeck, an outsider Christian fundamentalist, to Dink Meeker, to Ender. Ender is a gratuitous afterthought and he serves no purpose that Dink couldn’t have fulfilled. The story revolves around a minor crisis on the station caused by Dink giving another boy a Christmas present. If the author had let Dink resolve the issue it would have fleshed out his character. Instead, Ender is given the task. Ender ex machina.

Check out this book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/552987.A_War_of_Gifts

It’s a Curse or Something

“I don’t pretend to know what causes the werewolf thing. Gallard’s people say it’s a pathogen that enters the victim’s bloodstream and mutates protein structures. The Book of Lycaon says an old Greek king was cursed by Zeus to turn into a wolf. The fundamentalists say it’s demon possession. Maybe it’s all three, or none of them. All I know, Omar, is that when that God-forsaken full moon rises, I become something unholy and murderous.”

Werewolf Genetics

Gallard shook his head. “Becoming a werewolf is not genetic. Your children would not be acquire the pathogen unless they were bitten. But if you bite someone and then they bite someone, the affliction passes, but only to the fifth generation. After the fifth iteration the pathogen is no longer transmissible. A genetic counter shuts itself off and the curse is broken.”

Thoughts on Tactics: How History Affects Fiction and Makes It Believable

Not long ago, this author discovered the above picture, which discusses some fans’ thoughts on how the Fellowship of the Ring might have simply flown to Mordor to dispose of the One Ring rather than “take the long way around.” As the commenter explains, this would have been a bad idea narratively because the entire […]

Thoughts on Tactics: How History Affects Fiction and Makes It Believable