Monday, August 31, 2009

Paradox & Greenblatt, Attorneys at Law, by Kevin J. Anderson

This story is a nice little time travel tale. As said earlier, Anderson is a good wordsmith and his stories are entertaining. If you're looking for challenges, though, this wouldn't be one.

This story is part of a large group of podcasts from Escape Pod, linked from Free SF Online. I'm a literacy snob, but since I read these late at night it's relaxing to listen for awhile.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Job Qualifications, by Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a polished writer, who mostly seems to work in others' universes. Job Qualifications is a decent little story about how a candidate for high office might go about acquiring the necessary worldly experience to do the job--via clones. If you want a more full treatment of this theme by a deeper writer, try David Brin's Kiln People

A Buyer's Guide to Maps of Antarctica, By Catherynne M. Valente

This one is a World Fantasy Award nominee, and I must say I've never seen cartographic fantasy before. Though it seems fertile ground, when you think about what early cartographers put on their maps--dragons, mermaids, etc. It's cool in a sort of "you had to be there" way, but I can't quite recommend it unless you have a background.

Favorite Stories: Nothing to Declare

Every once in awhile a story hits you just right. This one is not particularly speculative, though it was linked off of Free SF Online. Just how much does attribution of our stories matter? If we make a real difference to someone else, why do we apologize to ourselves? This story of ordinary life hit very close to home, in a "wish I'd done that" way. Read it and see for yourself.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Affair of the Brains, by Harry F. Bates and Desmond Hall

Project Gutenberg has been putting up some of the early Astounding Stories material. This story is one such, very typical. Not a lot to recommend it unless you are into this period.

But reading such stories is a real insight into the WWI-II interregnum. The villains are canny Eurasians, Chinese or Japanese. Germans were not the villains yet, it was thought they had been subdued. The overt racism and sexism of the period are educational as well.

Favorite Stories: The Underhandler
Christopher Anvil wrote quite a lot of stories that are so bad they're hard to read. But I decided to wade through at some point, and found a gem. The Underhandler captures the frustrations of working with a consultant, and trying to figure out what the heck subordinates are trying to communicate in their reports, with a fine wry touch. Go read it for a great time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Makers, by Cory Doctorow

I'm following Makers, Cory Doctorow's new serialized novel, on Tor's website. Doctorow has become very good at writing SF by chronicling the cutting edge of the present. 24 of 81 parts have been posted so far, and it's taken many good twists. The future just gets weirder as it gets closer to the present.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Valor of Cappen Varra, by Poul Anderson

This short story was recently posted on Project Gutenberg, linked by my favorite website, Free SF Online. Cappen Varra is a little atypical for Anderson's protagonists--most are larger than life, Varra is small and clever. It's a fine tale of confidence, and I can highly recommend it

Poul Anderson has long been one of my favorites, I have read nearly all he has written. Nicholas Van Rijn of the Polesotechnic League is my favorite character of his. Anderson's writing shows classic mid-century SF values--libertarian yet big-hearted, a paen to the capable. Grownups know better, but hey.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Far Side of the Stars, by David Drake

Just finished The Far Side of the Stars, one of David Drake's formula SF adventure stories. It is the third in the Royal Cinnabar Navy series. A fairly ordinary work, entertaining enough to stay awake but not a must read unless you're a big fan. The main character is a somewhat stereotypic librarian, though she's pretty much a hacker as well.

David Drake

Drake posts a lot of his work for free, mostly available on Baen's Webscription site. My somewhat quirky choice for his best work is a foray into fantasy - Old Nathan. There are a few other goodies I'll mention another time.


This is pretty much a personal effort, capturing thoughts and opinions of what I've read. It will mostly cover material that is available without charge online. Cheap entertainment rules.

I will include frequent lauds and shoutouts to Free SF Online. It is the single best source for quality free speculative fiction online. I've been reading it with near obsession for about four years now, over 800 items and counting.