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Saturday, February 19, 2011


Enjoying CONDFW in Dallas. Got a couple of books autographed by Taylor Anderson, and saw a great interview with Guest of Honor Tim Powers

Apollocon room party tonight

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recently read: "World's Greatest Sleuth!: A Holmes on the Range Mystery" by Steve Hockensmith

"World's Greatest Sleuth!: A Holmes on the Range Mystery" by Steve Hockensmith

World's Greatest Sleuth!: A Holmes on the Range Mystery

The fifth mystery featuring Gustav ("Old Red") and Otto ("Big Red") Amlingmeyer.  Here, Hockensmith takes his cowboy detectives to the 1893 Columbina Exposition in Chicago to take part in a mystery contest to determine the world's greatest detective, to find out what famous crime solver will take the mantle from Sherlock Holmes (Holmes is a real person in these books, though he's recently met his end at Reichenbach falls)

The contest appears to be mainly one of solving puzzles, in order to find a hidden golden egg.  The puzzles are written by Armstrong Curtis, a Holmes follower who is eager to show that the other detectives are frauds.  Judging the contest is William Pinkerton, who doesn't compete since he thinks the contest is below him.

The first round is won by French detective Eugen Valmont, and with the second one, Armstrong Curtis is found dead (in a large mound of cheddar cheese).  The Amlingmeyer boys quickly decide Curtis was murdered, though they get no support from their fellow detectives.

The Chicago World's Fair is a great setting, as it allows the Amlingmeyers to gawk a bit at the wonders (juciy fruit gum!).  There's competition between publishers, and the other detectives provide a nice counterbalance to our cowboys (there's a great scene with the Frenchman Valmont facing off the various suspects).  As with the previous books, there's also a hint of romance, as one of the detectives taking part is the lovely, tough Diana, who both the Amlingmeyers are sweet on.  And who is the mystery man who congradulates Otto on his detective skills near the end of the book?

Hockensmith has done a good job with the series, since each plot is different, with this one being almost a screwball comedy (a nice change of pace after the serial killer plot of "The Crack in the Lens").  It'll be nice to see if he can keep up the quality.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cool definition of "technothriller"

A Chalie Stross comment on his blog...

"A technothriller is what you get when hard SF collapses into the moment of the present. "

Cover art

Clever cover for the new Jasper Fforde "Thursday Next" novel.

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing: A Novel

I'll probably end up reading this (though I really want the sequel to Shades of Grey, but I understand he's rotating universes) though I may wait and see if the Kindle price goes down (probably after the MMPK edition comes out?). 

Recently viewed: "Quantum of Solace"

"Quantum of Solace"

Is this the worst Bond movie ever?  I know that's saying a lot, but still...

Daniel Craig still makes a fine Bond, and Judi Dench has certainly handled the role of "M" well, but for a movie that depends on have to be able to see the action!  The film and editing style is such that every single action scene is confusing. 

The plot is no worse than many a Bond film, though it still isn't that clear what the Quantum organization really wants.  It's really a revenge film masquerading as a Bond film.  I have a bit of a problem with that (one of my complaints with "Casino Royale" is that the filmmakers didn't have the courage to end the movie as Fleming did the book) but can understand it.  I just want to be able to understand the fight and chase scenes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recently read: "Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology" by Warren Ellis and John Cassady

Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology" by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday

Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology

The fourth and final volume graphic novel collection of Ellis' story about Elijah Snow (a "century" baby who is long lived and powerful) and his teammates, Jakita Wagner (powerful, but bored) and The Drummer (who can communicate with machines).  After three volumes of their adventures (the unknown paranormal secrets and histories of the 20th century) we get Elijah pulling back from his team, taking his "war" against Randall Dowling (mastermind of "the four") secret.  Will our heroes find a way to actually confront Dowling?  Has Elijah gone rogue?

I'm sure I don't get but a fraction of the pulp and comic references Ellis makes, and in fact I found this fourth volume to be confusing, probably because it's been so long since I read volume 3.  Cassady's art is very nice, and I probably should do a reread of the entire series.

Recently read: "Deep State" by Walter Jon Williams

"Deep State" by Walter Jon Williams

Deep State

In Williams "This Is Not A Game", we saw game deisgner Dagmar get caught up in revoluttions, murders and financial manipulation that blended into her ARG, as she used the players to help find anwers.  In this sequel, she is pitched the idea for a game that becomes real life, where her team is using the tools they have developed to help create a revolution in a Turky that has been taken over by hard line generals.  They, using CIA money and an RAF base, are astroturfing the revolution.

Dagamr must deal with flashbacks to the terror she experienced in the past, along with an apparent leak in her group.  Events appear to spiral out of hand when the Turks then shut off the internet.  Williams does a great job handling the human element, giving us a realitic Dagmar dealing with real personal problems, along with a motely group of programmars/designers.  He also pretty much hit the jackpoint timing wise, as the situtation in Egypt heated up as the book was published.