Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE SPIRIT RING – terrific fantasy

You’re in for a treat if you’ve somehow overlooked Lois McMaster Bujold‘s first fantasy novel, written after she’d achieved success with the “Vorkosiverse” novels. I had. Recently I came across a mention of it and snapped it up.

I’m glad I did. The Spirit Ring is set in an alternate Renaissance Italy where magic is real. It has believable likable (and hatable) characters, richly realized setting, and action as straight as an arrow shot.

I suspect I overlooked it because it’s fantasy and I disliked that genre when it first came out. Don’t make my mistake.

Click image to read an excerpt and to buy the book.

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THE EONS-LOST ORPHAN sequel

I’ve had a lot of queries about sequels to The Eons-Lost Orphan. Good news: I’m a quarter of the way into the first one. Bad news: I don’t expect to finish before Thanksgiving. Christmas week is a more likely launch date.

What will Jane do in the sequel? Spend more time in space. Some on or near the World Space Station, on or near the Moon. There she will meet her first lover. And there and back on Earth begin to tangle with one or more of the three Chinese splinter empires.

Sequels can be tough. I have to maintain the appeal of the first, and I don’t really know what that is. I broke a number of rules of writing I always thought universal. Some of the negative reviews took me to task for that.

For instance, Jane is a sort of Supergirl-lite, nearly a “Mary Sue” – a term for someone perfect in every way. There is little conflict, no great super-villain or super-bad problem. Jane and her kind were designed by an advanced race over a thousand years to be perfect warriors and charismatic leaders. Anything or anyone who threatens the people under her protection is doomed. Fights with her are quick and lethal, so there are no long-drawn-out fist-fights so beloved of action movie makers.

Luckily for the people of Earth she’s also a loving person who likes being around people and working with them, building them up rather than using them. (Like her super-soldier nature, she was designed that way too.)

So what’s in the quarter-novel so far? Jane is assigned to the space-threat program by the Space Force (the short name for the real-world Air Force Space Command). This is just an excuse. Basically they have a proven genius on their payroll and they want to give the golden goose a chance to lay more golden eggs.

She is stationed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (where I spent 11 years). The first task she sets for herself is doing research on telemagnetic floater tech. This will allow aircraft to take off from almost any flat surface rather than huge and expensive (and vulnerable) runways. This is vital to ground support aircraft that do emergency evacuations, reconnaissance, and ground attacks. Below is the first of four test beds which she and her staff build.

To see the others (and find out a little bit more about the sequel) follow this link: FLOATER TECH at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Click image to see a larger version

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MURDERBOT 4, last of the series, now available

The last of the four novellas which make up Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries is now available. Each is a complete story, but together they make up one complete novel. It brings to a satisfying resolution the longer story arc.

In case you don’t know her, Martha is a prolific writer with several series as well as single books to her credit. I’ve long been a fan of her, ever since I was introduced to her Ile-Rien series, one of my favorite series of all time. Find out more about her extensive works on the Martha Wells web page.

Click on the images to preview or buy the books.

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SHUFFLE DANCE – a growing phenom

The Shuffle Dance was inspired partly by Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. It began in Melbourne, Australia, in the ’90s and grew in Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and especially China. At the same time it was spreading to Europe and more slowly the US.

Here are a couple of videos that show it off. The first is of a Chinese grandfather and his very young daughters. I wish I could dance as well as they do!

The second video features Slovakian dancer Nicolette Paxi Paxianova performing to a mix which includes Alan Walker‘s hugely breakout hit “Faded.”

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ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL preview & director discussion

20th Century Fox has just released the latest preview of “Alita: Battle Angel.” Along with it is an interview with producer James Cameron, director Robert Rodriguez, and actress Rosa Salazar.

You might think the youngest of the trio would have little to say. You’d be wrong. The actress shows herself well able to keep up with the two heavy hitters of the movie world. (Which is appropriate, as she portrays a supreme warrior well able to hit very heavily in the fictional world!)

I found the discussions fascinating. They made me even more interested in seeing the movie when it comes out the Friday before Christmas: December 21st.

(You might want to tap the YouTube icon in the bottom of the screen to see the interview on YouTube and thus in a window filling your computer screen. Or you can do what I did.

I downloaded the video and made a DVD so I could see it on my TV via my Blu-ray player. Products used to do that: the Firefox extension Easy Youtube Video Downloader. And Freemake Video Converter.)

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WOMEN with SWORDS – hypnotic

The title says it all!

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THE EONS-LOST ORPHAN – my latest book

Jane Doe remembered nothing about her past when she awoke naked in a park. She was unhurt and seemed 14 years old, a small pretty blond.

In the hospital and later in an orphanage her intelligence was found to be so high it could not be measured. She liked people and made friends easily. She was also incredibly agile and tough.

She was adopted by a professor and his retired school-principal wife. She liked them and was happy. But sometimes she’d look up at the night-time sky and think she must have come from there. And she decided she must return there.

This story is about how she did it.

Chapter 1 – Entry

Click HERE to get it on Amazon.

Click HERE for background information: the aerospace planes
in the story and spaceships and other such, plus other material.

Click image to see a larger version.

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TEACHABLE ASSHOLES and the MeToo movement

I was brought up to be an asshole. A lot of men are. The main issue of the #MeToo movement for each of us men is: Are we teachable assholes? Or unteachable?

The unteachables are and forever will be rapists or wannabe rapists, abusers, harassers, sexual bullies.

Many if not most men are taught that being an asshole is the proper way for us to live and relate to other men and to the “weaker sex.” Here are some of the messages that bombard us as we grow up. Few of them are noxious alone. Together they are a poison cocktail.

Big boys don’t cry. (Only weaklings, like gur-uhls, show their emotions.) This makes sense in a warrior or predator culture, where the slightest weakness will be pounced on and exploited.

Women are the weaker sex. They like strong men. They like take-charge men. They like leaders, not followers. Your job is to turn a girl’s No to a Maybe, a Maybe to a Yes. Then fuck ’em and forget ’em.

You’ve probably heard these and similar messages, maybe even (click HERE to continue.)

 

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LAER’S POLITICS – complex, not red or blue

In these highly political times I’ve decided to openly declare my politics. They are complex, because the universe is complex. They are NOT binary: black or white (or red or blue). Or liberal or conservative.

I am liberal AND conservative. AND moderate, a rare bird in these divisive times, where you must be one or the other.

On most SOCIAL issues I’m liberal. On ECONOMIC issues I’m moderate. And on most DEFENSE issues (personal and national) I’m conservative. My personal flag is red AND white AND blue.

At the base is defense. At the personal level, I interpret the 2nd amendment right to bear arms as applying to personal defense, not as applying to militias as the founders viewed it. I also believe that for every right come responsibilities, the chief among them to act wisely. (To see more click PERSONAL defense.)

At the national level, I support a leaner and more effective defense. I believe we need to focus less on hugely expensive weapons, and more on ground troops and cyberwar. (To see more click NATIONAL defense.)

After our physical survival is assured we must consider our fiscal survival. Economies are cybernetic systems. History has shown that massive top-down control of economies (socialism) is largely a failure. Bottom-up controls (capitalism) is much more effective. But only if some top-down controls ensure certain endemic ills of capitalism are prevented. Small businesses, for instance, like all infants, must be protected from big-business predators. (To see more click ECONOMICAL issues.)

Physical and fiscal survival supports our spiritual and social health. Racism is an evil we must aggressively fight – BUT with firmness not fanaticism. The same goes for religious intolerance and sexism. I am a feminist, because feminism is at its base about fairness. Not just to the women in our lives, but also to men. We have also been victimized by paternalism though obviously less so than women. (To see more click SOCIAL issues.)

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PROOF – marvelous movie about a female math genius

It’s rare that I highlight an old movie on this site. I usually focus on what’s soon to come out, or did so recently, and which you might not have discovered. But I recently rediscovered a fabulous older movie: Proof, a movie based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning play of the same name.

We SF/Fantasy fans like to read and write books about superheroes and geniuses, like the recent terrific Gifted and like Good Will Hunting. Proof is about a mathematical genius, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, the daughter of another genius. In it we discover that she has done original ground-breaking research of her own, and must fight to convince others that it is her work rather than the unpublished work of her recently passed-away father.

Besides a drama of a high order, I especially liked that it realistically shows what it’s like to be a genius, heir to all the weaknesses as well as the strengths that all of us share.

Proof is available streamed or on DVD from Amazon.

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