TNH's Particles
* Quiz: Is it legal?
* "Savage Beauty" photos, 2011.
* "Owl doing laundry" tile.
* Epic failure of irony.
* Duck Bomb.
* If You Were A Platypus, My Dear - A Play In As Many Acts As Is Required.
* If You Were A Platypus, Con't.
* Rebecca, Rowena, Puppies, Fanfic.
* The Bot of Mormon.
* Bill Clinton's hand in Donald Trump's campaign.
PNH's Sidelights
* Lost rivers of London.
* A new logo for Tor Books
* What the living fuck is wrong with us.
* Six Degrees of Francis Bacon
* Always remember, it's legal to kill somebody in New York City, so long as you do it with a motor vehicle
* How Climate Change Deniers Sound to Normal People (video, with sound)
* Franklin Reconsidered: one of the greatest, and weirdest, Americans ever.
* Stop calling them "plantations." We know what they were.
* Pieta
* "Eleanor Rigby": the horror version.
Abi's Parhelia
* Hunting Bigfoot, finding something quite different
* LEGO: Father Leopold Celebrates Mass
* so what do you do, if you're a saint with some free time on your hands?
* The Long Ride, Day Four
* The Long Ride, Day Three
* The Long Ride, Day Two
* The Long Ride, Day One
* The Long Ride, Day Zero
* Why The Elonis Decision is a Victory in the Fight Against Online Harassment
Jim's Diffraction
* Angelus ad virginem 14th century Irish carol
* Christmas on the Theremin
* Kinect eye patch for Xbox One will protect what's left of your privacy
* Real-Time Wind Map
* IS-907: Active Shooter: What You Can Do
* Smithsonian museum artifacts can now be 3D printed at home
* PunditFact
* A Display You Can Reach Through And Touch
* The Craigslist killers: the full story
* Proposed Museum of Science Fiction
Avram's Phosphenes
You Know Nothing, Charlie Brown
“It’s actually the Puppies who are the Marxists.”
Wes Anderson’s The Shining
Thor gets a cellphone
Definitely-Not-Filthy Sailing Terminology
Paul Ford on The Dress
The End of Libertarians (via)
I won’t fear Muslims
Higgledy piggledy / Benedict Cumberbatch…
Six hit country songs separated at birth
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“We are prophets of a future not our own.” (Oscar Romero)

“Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” (Jo Walton)

“You really think that safety can be plucked from the arms of an evil deed?” (Darla, “Inside Out”)

“Forgiveness requires giving up on the possibility of a better past.” (unknown)

“The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.” (Arthur D. Hlavaty)

“Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.” (Friedrich Engels)

“You don't owe the internet your time. The internet does not know this, and will never learn.” (Quinn Norton)

“Great writing is the world's cheapest special effect.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” (Gertrude Stein)

“Very few people are stupid. It’s just that the world really is that difficult and you can’t continually be careful.” (Quinn Norton)

“Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.” (Michael Palin)

“Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“The fact that ‘there are only a handful of bad cops’ cuts no ice with me. If ‘only a handful of McDonald’s are spitting in your food,’ you’re not going to McDonald’s.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Young men and women, educated very carefully to be apolitical, to be technicians who thought they disliked politics, making them putty in the hands of their rulers, like always.” (Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars)

“The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday)

“When liberty is mentioned, we must observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests.” (Hegel)

“History is the trade secret of science fiction.” (Ken MacLeod)

“But isn’t all of human history simultaneously a disaster novel and a celebrity gossip column?” (Anonymous LJ commenter)

“I see now that keen interest can illuminate anything, and that anything, moreover, has something worth illuminating in it, and that without that interest gates carved by Benvenuto Cellini from two diamonds would merely look chilly.” (Lord Dunsany)

“I grieve for the spirit of Work, killed by her evil child, Workflow.” (Paul Ford)

“The opposite of ‘serious’ isn't ‘funny.’ The opposite of both ‘serious’ and ‘funny’ is ‘squalid.’” (R. A. Lafferty)

“Ki is, of course, mystical bullshit. That’s why it works so well, both as a teaching idiom and a tool of practice in martial arts. It’s as nonexistent as charm, leadership, or acting. Humans are all about bullshit.” (Andrew Plotkin)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” (Charles Kingsley)

“Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying.” (The Joker)

“Hope has two daughters, anger and courage. They are both lovely.” (attributed to St. Augustine)

“Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“This movie has way too much plot getting in the way of the story.” (Joe Bob Briggs)

“If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Always side with the truth. It’s much bigger than you are.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” (Tony Kushner)

“I don’t want politicians who are ‘above politics,’ any more then I want a plumber who’s ‘above toilets.’” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.” (Otto von Bismarck)

“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Anne Lamott)

“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical science-fiction cowboy detective novel.” (Alan Moore)

“See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” (John XXIII)

“You will never love art well, until you love what she mirrors better.” (John Ruskin)

“They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.” (Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” (Jay Gould)

“I’m a leftist. I don't argue with anyone unless they agree with me.” (Steven Brust)

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” (Mark Twain)

“Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.” (Stephen Jay Gould)

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Gustav Mahler)

“But this kind of deference, this attentive listening to every remark of his, required the words he uttered to be worthy of the attention they excited—a wearing state of affairs for a man accustomed to ordinary human conversation, with its perpetual interruption, contradiction, and plain disregard. Here everything he said was right; and presently his spirits began to sink under the burden.” (Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander)

“Hatred is a banquet until you recognize you are the main course.” (Herbert Benson)

“For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.” (Neal Stephenson)

“‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” (James Morrow)

“And after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

“The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.” (Lloyd George)

“The United States behaves like a salesman with a fantastic product who tries to force people to buy it at gunpoint.” (Emma of Late Night Thoughts)

“I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending—if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.” (Charles Stross)

“The real test of any claim about freedom, I’ve decided, is how far you’re willing to go in letting people be wrong about it.” (Bruce Baugh)

“As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has.” (Terry Eagleton)

“Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.” (Max Weber)

“No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair.” (John Scalzi)

“I don’t understand death, but I got hot dish down pretty good.” (Marissa Lingen)

“Skepticism is the worst form of gullibility.” (John “adamsj” Adams)

“We have a backstage view of ourselves and a third-row view of everybody else.” (Garrison Keillor)

“The Reign of Sin is more universal, the influence of unconscious error is less, than historians tell us.” (Lord Acton)

“All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them.” (H. L. Mencken)

“Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day, man.” (Janis Joplin)

“Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.” (W. B. Yeats)

“It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval [...] If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: ‘Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.’” (Dorothy L. Sayers)

“Grown ups are what’s left when skool is finished.” (Nigel Molesworth)

“If you don't like the ‘blame game,’ it’s usually because you’re to blame.” (Jon Stewart)

“Slang is for a war of signals.” (Unknown semiotician/palindromist)

“Science fiction is an argument with the world. When it becomes (solely) an argument within science fiction, it breathes recycled air.” (Ken MacLeod)

“All worthy work is open to interpretation the author didn’t intend. Art isn’t your pet—it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back.” (Joss Whedon)

“I really don’t know what you do about the ‘taxes is theft’ crowd, except possibly enter a gambling pool regarding just how long after their no-tax utopia comes true that their generally white, generally entitled, generally soft and pudgy asses are turned into thin strips of Objectivist Jerky by the sort of pitiless sociopath who is actually prepped and ready to live in the world that logically follows these people’s fondest desires.” (John Scalzi)

“So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is ‘at war’ with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth, and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.” (Connor Kilpatrick)

“True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.” (Abdal-Hakim Murad)

“There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.” (Joss Whedon)

“There's always romance at the top of a system.” (Will Shetterly)

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.” (John “Second US President” Adams)

“There is a document that records God’s endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion, known as the Bible.” (Terry Eagleton)

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop, And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” (Mario Savio)

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“To live is to war against the trolls.” (Henrik Ibsen)

“There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.” (G. K. Chesterton)

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

“It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” (Bill Hicks)

“I don’t think we have a language, will ever have a language, that can describe transcendence in any useful way and I am aware that that transcendence may be nothing more than the illusory aspiration of a decaying piece of meat on a random rock. The thing is to be humble enough to be content with that while acting to other people as generously as if better things were true, and making art as if it might survive and do good in the world. Because what else are we going to do with the few short years of our life?” (Roz Kaveney)

“I hate living in a satirical dystopia.” (Arthur Hlavaty)

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)

“Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.” (Iain Banks)

“If it doesn’t connect with people around you who aren’t like you, it isn’t politics.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

October 09, 2015
Ancillary SPOILERS
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:35 AM * 0 comments

The soft clink of container against flask and the quiet slosh of liquid woke me quickly and completely. No ancillary, and no crewmember trying to perform an ancillary’s role, would make so much noise brewing and pouring tea.

Ship, why is there a stranger in my cabin? I asked silently, keeping my eyes closed and my breathing even. No doubt the stranger had noted my involuntary physiological changes on waking, but perhaps she would think it was simply a sleep phase transition. If she wasn’t an ancillary, if she had never stood like a piece of furniture, all but invisible, while citizens and ancillaries breathed and slept and woke around her, she might not know the thousand subtle differences between consciousness and unconsciousness.

The stranger convinced me that no harm was intended, replied Ship. I believe the tea is supposed to be the signal for you to wake up.

I opened my eyes. The stranger was at the foot of my bed, watching me with her head tilted to one side. She wore a simple outfit of black and gold, with a single large ornament on the left side of her chest and three small matching pins on her collar. In her ungloved hand she held a strange glass container of tea. The container was too tall to be considered a bowl. If it had not had a handle and been clearly intended for drinking from, I would have called it a vase. The fragrance of the tea inside was unfamiliar too, like Heart of the Valley with citrus peel added.

“Greetings, Fleet Captain,” she said as I sat up. “My previous captain was also fond of tea in the morning, and I’ve taken the liberty of making you some the way that he liked it.”

I took the vaselike vessel from her and sipped it. It was delicious. “And what did your previous captain call it?”

“Tea. Earl Grey.” She closed her lips, as though there was another word in that sequence, one she did not intend to say.

This is a spoiler thread for Ancillary Mercy.

September 24, 2015
Spot the Saint
Posted by Teresa at 09:50 PM * 64 comments

This splendid piece of late-medieval woodcarving by Tilman Riemenschneider shows the Fourteen Holy Helpers, also known as the Viersehn Heilegen or the Auxiliary Saints. As we’ve remarked here before, they’re more or less the Avengers of the Late Middle Ages. The game is to figure out who’s who.

To see a much larger version of the sculpture group, go here. (It’s part of this blogpost.)

Riemenschneider Holy Helpers.jpg

Playing Spot the Saint with a Holy Helpers group is always a challenge. You’ve got your normal kind of problems: bishop saints tend to all look alike, people living far inland were confused by that object Saint Erasmus travels with, and one Saint Cyriacus is always being mistaken for another.

With the Fourteen Holy Helpers, there’s also the question of who was in the team lineup for that issue. A fairly standard lineup would be Acacius/Agathius, Barbara, Blaise, Catherine of Alexandria, Christopher, Cyriacus, Denis/Dionysius, Erasmus/Elmo, Eustace, George, Giles/Egidius/Aegidius, Margaret of Antioch, Pantaleon/Panteleimon, and Vitus.

However, saints in the normal lineup could be swapped for others. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints lists the potential replacements as SS. Anthony Abbot (Anthony the Anchorite), Leonard of Noblac, Nicholas of Myra, Sebastian, and Roch or Rocco. To these, Wikipedia adds SS. Apollonia, Dorothea of Caesarea, Oswald the King, Pope Sixtus II, and Wolfgang of Regensburg.

On top of that, Riemenschneider’s sculpture group only has thirteen saints in it. So: who’s who, and how can you tell? Any idea who’s missing, or where in the group they’re missing from? What else do we know about the missing figure?

Have fun, split hairs, drag in interesting data you’ve run across. The usual.

Please refrain from posting the complete answer in clear as the first comment in the thread. In fact, please refrain from posting any answers in clear until the fluorosphere’s chewed on things for a while. You can get the same murmurs of astonishment out of the rest of us by posting answers in ROT-13. The point at which this ceases to be necessary I leave to your own good judgement.

September 22, 2015
Open thread 208
Posted by Patrick at 12:21 PM * 510 comments

Arthur Chu interviewed medievalist and journalist David Perry on TechCrunch:

Perry: [W]hen I hear people talk about Nordic fantasy as white supremacist, I like talking about the diverse ways the Vikings interacted with people around the world. They often intermarried local populations, they very quickly adopted local religions when it was useful. The Viking experience in Russia is really not the story they want to tell. You can try to make it that way, but the story in Russia is really state-building, collaboration with Slavic peoples, connections to the Eastern Mediterranean, both the Islamic and the Greek Orthodox world — and quite a diverse Islamic world at that. The story to me is that the greatest Nordic civilization is this wonderful Kievan polyglot, polyethnic society.

That’s not the story that the racists want to tell and they’re not gonna listen, but people asking “Is this true? Is their way the only way to do it?”, you can really work with that.

You can also tell the story of medieval democracy in Iceland, for instance, with a very non-authoritarian, collaborative element — where violence still played a very prominent role. I try to complicate this vision of Vikings as all about dominance and conquest.

Chu: It seems that we’re drawn to idealized versions of medieval times one way or another — some forms of fantasy that depict those times as a romantic ideal, a “simpler time” filled with pageantry and honor, and then Game of Thrones subversions that focus on rape and mutilation and horrible suffering, but rarely anything in between.

Perry: These are all things that tell us a lot more about ourselves than about the Middle Ages. Not that rape and torture didn’t happen in the Middle Ages, it certainly did, and not that it wasn’t responded to in ways that are different than ways we would respond to it today.

But, you know, we pick and choose, the creators pick and choose, they want to show something that will be disturbing or controversial or will be a political tool and they try to say history supports us in this. And then they throw in dragons and zombies and then they say that’s unrealistic but that’s okay, that’s just storytelling.

That comes back to what I try to say — it’s okay to draw from history, but history does not wholeheartedly support any one of these fictional depictions. These come from creators making choices. And the choices they make have consequences.

September 21, 2015
Dysfunctional Families: Looking Back, Walking On
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:00 AM * 106 comments

I joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1989†. The parish where I was baptized was known at the time for two things: the starkness and modernity of its architecture and the dramatic dysfunction* of its community leadership. It was home to me in many ways, and I am grateful to this day for the gifts I received there. I realize now that I like the clear openness of my current church partly because it reminds me of that first home. But I also was and remain damaged by some of the things that happened there. It’s a place that’s much easier for me to contemplate after moving away, when I no longer have to choose whether or not to go back.

This is familiar‡ territory for many people here.

So a few days ago, I stumbled on a Twitter/Tumblr discussion of a particularly “ugly” chapel. It was the usual easy internet snark, with cutesy nicknames, uncharitable assumptions without evidence, concern trolling and hand-wringing, contempt and judgment. And the picture at the top of the Tumblr post was my baptismal church.

I was irritated. I answered some of the posts, got some apologies, maybe made a few people think a little. But under that simple irritation was a much more complex net of emotions, one I’m still tangled up in.

On the one hand, all of the criticism was superficial stuff: the easy and unkind things that people write when they forget the humanity of the rest of the web. But even that was hard to answer as I remembered the deeper flaws, the ones the critics didn’t know about. It was all too tempting to move from defense to defensiveness, to proclaim or pretend that all had been well in that cool and airy chapel. To tell myself those outsiders hadn’t proven themselves wise or nuanced enough to deal with the whole story. To cover up. To lie.

And in this case, some of those temptations are true. Some of those impulses were right. Outsiders are rarely able to understand the context, the complexity, of dysfunction; casual internet outsiders doubly so. The events I remember are long ago, and the culture and people have changed several times since then. Walking away and staying away was the right decision. I don’t need to try to undo it now.

There are members of our community here who have taken that path, the simple one of cut ties, silence, unanswered calls, unopened letters. And they witness that simple does not mean easy. It’s a hard path, because so few of these situations are free of good things or the hope of good things to come. It takes courage and firmness to stay away, to remain uninvolved.

Meanwhile, there are others who have gone the other way, who have left the Gordian knot uncut and figured out how to drive the cart despite it, who maintain relationships with the family that hurt them. That takes another kind of courage, a different form of firmness.

Today is the 21st of September, Dysfunctional Families Day, the seventh we’ve observed here on Making Light. I admire and honor you, the people in this community, for the work that you have done to help yourselves and each other along your chosen, necessary paths. I value beyond measure the truths that you have told here. And I love you, the way one loves the family one looks upon with an unshadowed heart.

† for reasons that are off-topic here
* NB: everyone involved was an adult. No crimes were committed. This isn’t the dysfunction you’re thinking of.
‡ pun very much intended

This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.

  1. If you want to participate but don’t want your posts linked to your contributions to the rest of Making Light, feel free to choose a pseudonym. But please keep it consistent within these threads, because people do care. You can create a separate (view all by) history for your pseudonym by changing your email address. And if you blow it and cross identities, give me a shout and I’ll come along and tidy it up.
  2. On a related note, please respect the people’s choice to use a pseudonym, unless they make it clear that they are willing to let the identities bleed over in people’s minds.
  3. If you’re not from a dysfunctional background, be aware that your realities and base expectations are not the default in this conversation. In particular, please don’t do the “they’re the only family you have” thing. Black is white, up is down, and your addressee’s mother may very well be their nemesis.
  4. Be even more careful, charitable, and gentle than you would elsewhere on Making Light. Try to avoid “helpiness”/”hlepiness” (those comments which look helpful, but don’t take account of the addressee’s situation and agency). Apologize readily and sincerely if you tread on toes, even unintentionally. This kind of conversation only works because people have their defenses down.
  5. Never underestimate the value of a good witness. If you want to be supportive but don’t have anything specific to say, people do value knowing that they are heard.

Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):

September 17, 2015
Helping Larry Smith, Bookseller
Posted by Patrick at 04:43 PM * 20 comments

Larry Smith has sold SF and fantasy books at more conventions than some of us have had hot meals. At nearly every con I attend, Larry and his wife and bookselling partner Sally Kobee have the largest all-new book installation in the dealer’s room, offering just about every single title released in the previous few months, including plenty of material from publishers not part of the Big Five. They’re part of the infrastructure of our community. I once (only partly jokingly) defined traditional SF fandom as that set of people who (1) subscribe to Locus, (2) read somebody else’s copy of Locus, or (3) will tell you at some length just how thoroughly they don’t care about Locus. You could as easily define us as “that set of people who buy a new hardcover from Larry Smith at least once a year.”

As widely reported, on 8 Sep 2015, Larry was driving his van full of books home from DragonCon, when he was involved in a freeway accident that rolled the van. His passenger was unscathed, but Larry is reportedly pretty banged up. He was released from the hospital yesterday but it’ll be a while before he’s completely healed, and meanwhile insurance is covering only part of what it will cost to replace the all-important van, to say nothing of the many damaged and destroyed books. There’s a GoFundMe for Larry and Sally that aims to raise $10,000; it’s about halfway there. We’re going to donate to it and we hope some of you do too. Truly great booksellers are never in plentiful supply.

September 15, 2015
On sale today: Greg Van Eekhout’s Dragon Coast, concluding sequel to California Bones and Pacific Fire
Posted by Patrick at 08:11 AM * 4 comments

dragon coast.jpg On sale today in hardcover and e-book. Excerpt here. Author website here. Bookstore appearances (with tacos!) here.

(Making Light posts about the previous books: California Bones and Pacific Fire.)

My flap copy:

Daniel’s adopted son Sam is lost. Made from the magical essence of the tyrannical Hierarch of Southern California whom Daniel overthrew and killed, Sam has been consumed by the great Pacific firedrake secretly assembled by Daniel’s half-brother Paul.

Unknown to Daniel, however, Sam is still alive and aware, magically trapped inside the dragon as it rampages around Los Angeles, periodically torching a neighborhood or two.

Daniel has a plan to rescue Sam. It will involve the rarest of substances, axis mundi, made from the bones of the great dragon at the center of the Earth. To obtain it, Daniel must go to the kingdom of Northern California and boldly pose as his half-brother, returned to claim his place in the competition to be appointed Lord High Osteomancer of the North.

Only when the Northern Hierarch, in her throne room at Golden Gate Park, raises her scepter to confirm Daniel in his position will he have an opportunity to steal the axis mundi—under the gaze of the Hierarch herself.

And that’s just the first obstacle.

Some notice:

“It’s got subterranean halls with pillars of bones, a magic sword, magical duels and some of the coolest bone magic ever, but that’s all interwoven with the taste of an LA burrito, the concrete waterways of Los Angeles, and the neon glow of the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. Van Eekhout has written a 21st century alchemy.”
—Maureen F. McHugh on California Bones

“Half crime caper, half heroic quest, Greg van Eekhout’s Pacific Fire pulls the reader into an inventive, compelling, fully-textured urban fantasy world, mixing SoCal culture with magic so ingenious and convincing you can practically smell it, and feel it crunch between your teeth. A real treasure, not to be missed.”
—Kurt Busiek on Pacific Fire

“Captivating…The author’s fantastic ear for dialog is often well employed in snark, especially between Daniel and his friend and fellow thief Moth. While the series could end here, it would be a shame to create such an intriguing world and not visit again.”
Library Journal on Dragon Coast

September 05, 2015
Forces of nature
Posted by Patrick at 05:50 AM * 22 comments

This morning’s Guardian has an editorial about the sudden turnaround in British public opinion regarding the need to help Syrian refugees, a shift clearly caused by the heartrending photographs of young Aylan Kurdi’s drowned body washed up on a Turkish beach.

The turnaround in the British tabloid press has been astonishing. The Murdoch Sun, which just months ago published a column describing the refugees as “cockroaches” by a woman boasting that her heart could not be touched by drowning children, now puts “For Aylan” on its front page and demands that the government provide places for 3,000 orphans. That is very little compared with the need, but it is still 3,000 times more than the paper would have considered Britain had room for three days ago.

Almost everyone now sees that there is a moral imperative to help the Syrian refugees, even if this means letting them into the UK. It may be that this is just a spasm of sentimentality and that in a fortnight the same papers will be back to denouncing the “migrant” hordes in Calais, and demanding that dogs, or the British army, be deployed to protect holidaymakers from refugees as they were three weeks ago.

It’s a good piece about two important issues—the moral imperative to help refugees everywhere (an imperative that applies as much to editors in Brooklyn, New York as it does to the British public), and also the fact that we humans are far from rational in what affects our daily inclinations. We’re unmoved by hundreds of pages of dry facts, but show us a photograph of a small child in tennis shoes washed up dead on a beach and suddenly we’re ready to act.

Likewise, I’m as small-minded and focused on the local as anybody else. Normally the displacement of millions of innocent Syrians tends to weigh on me as merely one of a seemingly endless series of humanitarian crises for which there is never enough attention or care. But put one particular namecheck into a Guardian editorial and you have my undivided attention:

[I]t is also an astonishingly vivid demonstration of the inadequacy of statistics to move our moral sentiments compared with the power of pictures, and still more of pictures that bring to life stories, to affect us in ways that reasoning never could. As the critic Teresa Nielsen Hayden observed, “Story is a force of nature.” One single death and a refugee family have moved a nation to whom 200,000 deaths and 11 million refugees had remained for years merely a statistic, and not a very interesting one at that.
That was…unexpected.

(SF&F-related sidebar: Neil Gaiman has been working for some time to change the way we think about Syrian refugees from “problemic foreigners” into “people like us who we’ve got to help”. And much credit to him for it.)

September 04, 2015
I see you like science fiction…
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:59 AM * 322 comments

(… and fantasy).

So here’s a thread for what you’re reading, watching, and listening to these days, and what you think of it.

It’s tragic that I feel that I need to, but let me lay down a few rules and guidelines for what I’d like this thread to be.

I want it to be an open discussion of our own personal reactions to things. This means leaving room for other people to have other views, even ones that disagree with yours quite strongly. I want this to be a space where people from other communities of fandom could, if they wished to, recommend and discuss works that might not be to the usual taste of this community. To that end, I’ll be moderating pretty closely, either propria persona or as Idumea.

I also want this to be a space where we can note and link to Hugo-eligible works (do link if you can!). Please mark them based on category ([NOVEL], [NOVELLA], etc) if you know where they would fit, and if they’re eligible for next year’s Hugos, add [2015]. Here are a Google Docs spreadsheet and a Wiki which can help determine these things. If you’re too swamped to check, note that you haven’t and maybe someone else can.

Please ROT-13 spoilers. If we get enough of a discussion going on a work that the thread looks like someone took a blender to the alphabet, I’ll happily hive off spoiler threads.

Note that there will be no summing-up, no conclusion, no derived recommendation list from this conversation. Please don’t try to create one in-thread, either, right?

September 02, 2015
The Dreadful Phrases Strike Back
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:52 AM * 150 comments

The previous iteration of this thread was getting too long, so here’s a new space to keep adding them.

August 31, 2015
Posted by Teresa at 08:46 PM * 29 comments

@BruceHolsinger, well-regarded historian and author of a couple of excellent mysteries starring John Gower, enlivened the day by inventing the hashtag #BeowulfTrump and posting examples of how it’s done:

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
Today’s Twitter mash-up is Donald Trump meets Beowulf. Let the festivities begin. #BeowulfTrump

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
The Spear-Danes? I LOVE the Spear-Danes. These are great, great people. #BeowulfTrump

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
I like Hrothgar. He’s a hard-working guy. But it’s STUPID that Heorot doesn’t have a wall to keep out the monsters. STUPID #BeowulfTrump

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
The Spear-Danes, these people LOVE me. LOVE me over there. “Bring us the Great Geat” is what they’re always saying. LOVE me. #BeowulfTrump

Since then he’s kept tweeting, and he’s just gotten funnier.

Seven hours after Holsinger started the hashtag, fellow medievalist @JonathanHsy tweeted:

Loving #BeowulfTrump today. Now if someone can turn one of The Donald’s epic rants into allit verse I’ll be VERY impressed #medievaltwitter
I’m just saying.
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:47 PM * 54 comments

So as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I’ve been on a four-day bike ride around the IJsselmeer, the great body of fresh water in the northwest of the Netherlands. I’ve blogged about it on (Day Zero, Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four) and put a bunch of photos on Flickr.

While I was gone, Martin was busy being sneaky. See, we have a new fence in the backyard, the previous one having blown over and been replaced by an epic bodge job. We also replaced the out-of-control evergreen hedge along the side of the yard with more fencing. It’s lovely, light, and clean, but now we have a corner that will never get any sun at all.

In passing one day, I suggested that a statue might go well in that corner. It was an idle thought.

So while I was gone, Martin swore the kids to secrecy, drove all the way across the country (not, admittedly, very far), loaded much heaviness into our dinky little car, and set something up for me to find.


August 24, 2015
We enjoy in eminence
Posted by Avram Grumer at 10:48 PM * 137 comments

Steven Universe

It’s been a while since I’ve fallen for a TV show this hard. Steven Universe, now in its second season on the Cartoon Network, is wonderful. What’s it about? Steven, a tubby kid with a pink gemstone where his belly-button should be, lives in a weird alien temple with three alien women, the Crystal Gems. They teleport around the globe, fighting monsters. Simple premise, right? What’s so great about it?

While it’s ostensibly a kid’s cartoon, the characters are mostly adults, and they have complicated grown-up histories and motivations, all presented so that kids can understand, but with their complexities visible to the adult viewer. Though there are other kids for Steven to interact with; his probably-going-to-be-a-girlfriend-eventually, Connie, is thoroughly realized, an awesome and totally believable little nerd-girl.

The back-story is rich and subtle— so subtle that I didn’t realize until I browsed some fan pages that the show’s setting is actually an alternate history. The writing is sophisticated— one recent episode had a fake-out plot spur leading to a reveal that (I noticed with a second viewing) had been foreshadowed at several points. A lot of the episodes are like that, with elements that reveal depths of characterization on second viewing, or minor details in the background that hint at things as yet unrevealed.

And the artwork! Clean, distinctive character designs, lush background colors. I almost got distracted from the action in a recent episode just looking at the trees in the background. The characters often visit exotic-looking abandoned alien facilities (temples, combat arenas, laboratories, etc) and the art crew does a great job with the designs. It’s worth scouring the backgrounds for implicit worldbuilding!

The music is really great. One of the main characters is voiced by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Estelle, and the characters often burst into song. Here’s an example, an extended version of the show’s theme song, shown at San Diego ComicCon this year. (Update: Here’s the full version; it has a little extra conversation at the beginning.)

The show presents us with characters from a variety of races, ethnicities, and body-types. Even the alien characters who make up the main cast don’t all look like white people. A number of the characters (including Steven himself) are broader-then-average, and it’s never presented as a problem, or as something to mock. If anything, largeness is associated with both power and beauty. (Though there are also skinny characters, and they, likewise, are treated with respect.)

The Gems are (so far) all female. (Exactly what that means for a species that probably doesn’t reproduce sexually, we don’t yet know.) Not only that, but the show explores gender roles in a serious and intentional way, while still keeping things comprehensible for kids. There’s even a multi-episode story arc revolving around sexual consent (handled at metaphoric arm’s length).

I’ve had this sitting on my hard drive for over a month, waiting for me to figure out how to get more quotes from Paradise Lost into it (“Celestial rosy red, Love’s proper hue”; “And these the gems of Heaven”; “And in the lowest deep a lower deep”), but eventually I gave up and went with this.

August 23, 2015
Hugo discussion thread
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:00 AM * 940 comments

So I slept through the awards, having stayed up too late reading (!). But per the Hugo PDF and supplementary data from Locus, this is what we have (in ranked order):

Best Novel (1,827 nominating ballots): The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Tor)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Noah Ward
Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Roc) [S][R]
The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor) [S][R]

Best Novella (1,083 nominating ballots): Noa Waard
“Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog 11/14) [S][R]
Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House) [S][R]
One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House) [S][R]
“The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis)[R]
“Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons)[R]

Best Novelette (1,031 nominating ballots): “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed 4/14)
Noah Ward
“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog 7-8/14) [S][R]
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show 5/14) [S][R]
“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog 6/14) [S][R]
“Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog 9/14) [S][R]

Best Short Story (1,174 nominating ballots): Noa Waard
“Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge 7/14) [S][R]
“A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters) [S]
“Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse)[R]
“The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons)[R]
“On a Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2 11/14) [S][R]

Best Dramatic Presentation - Long (1,285 nominating ballots): Guardians of the Galaxy [S][R]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Interstellar [S][R]
The Lego Movie [S][R]

Best Dramatic Presentation - Short (938 nominating ballots): Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”
Doctor Who: “Listen”
Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”[R]
The Flash: “Pilot” [S][R]
Grimm: “Once We Were Gods” [S][R]

Best Related Work (1,150 nominating ballots): Noah Ward
“The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse) [S][R]
“Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts ( [S][R]
Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright (Castalia House) [S][R]
Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press) [S][R]
Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press) [S][R]

Best Graphic Story (785 nominating ballots): Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson; art by Adrian Alphona & Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics)
Saga, Volume 3, Brian K. Vaughan; art by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Rat Queens, Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, Kurtis J. Weibe; art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick, Matt Fraction; art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
Noa Waard
The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate, Carter Reid (self-published) [S][R]

Best Professional Editor, Long Form (712 nominating ballots): Noah Ward
Toni Weisskopf [S][R]
Sheila Gilbert [S][R]
Anne Sowards [S][R]
Jim Minz [S][R]
Vox Day[R]

Best Professional Editor, Short Form (870 nominating ballots): Noa Waard
Mike Resnick [S][R]
Jennifer Brozek [S][R]
Bryan Thomas Schmidt [S][R]
Vox Day[R]
Edmund R. Schubert [S][R]

Best Professional Artist (753 nominating ballots): Julie Dillon
Noah Ward
Kirk DouPonce [S]
Alan Pollack [S]
Nick Greenwood [S]
Carter Reid [S]

Best Semiprozine (660 nominating ballots): Lightspeed
Strange Horizons
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Noa Waard
Abyss & Apex [S]
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine [S]

Best Fanzine (576 nominating ballots): Journey Planet
Noah Ward
Black Gate [R]
Tangent Online [S][R]
Elitist Book Reviews [S][R]
The Revenge of Hump Day [S][R]

Best Fancast (668 nominating ballots): Galactic Suburbia Podcast
Tea and Jeopardy

Noa Waard
The Sci Phi Show [S][R]
Adventures in SciFi Publishing [S][R]
Dungeon Crawlers Radio [S][R]

Best Fan Writer (777 nominating ballots): Laura J. Mixon
Noah Ward
Jeffro Johnson [S][R]
Dave Freer [S][R]
Amanda S. Green [S][R]
Cedar Sanderson [S][R]

Best Fan Artist (296 nominating ballots): Elizabeth Leggett
Spring Schoenhuth
Ninni Aalto
Steve Stiles
Brad Foster

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (851 nominating ballots): Wesley Chu (2nd year eligibility)
Noa Waard
Kary English (2nd year eligibility) [S][R]
Eric. S. Raymond [S][R]
Jason Cordova [S][R]
Rolf Nelson[R]

[S]: Appeared on the Sad Puppies slate (donotlink link to original source)
[R]: Appeared on the Rabid Puppies slate (donotlink link to original source)

Congratulations to the winners, and commiserations to the losers. Yes, even the Puppies, because I am willing to believe that anyone who puts their hands on pen or keyboard in the service of our art partakes, to one extent or another, in the thing we’re trying to honor. Whatever else they’ve done, whatever dissatisfactions and entitlements they’ve let eat them out from the core, are laid on top of that basic impulse. And that is what the Hugos honor.

August 16, 2015
My Privileged Elite Background, Revealed
Posted by Patrick at 06:39 PM * 326 comments

Sarah Hoyt:

MOST of the editors [in the SF field] came from families where ALL generations had gone to college as far as they remembered (kind of like my husband’s family. It amuses me that paternal grandad would have bowed and scraped and been speechless before my inlaws.) More than that, they’d gone to prestigious colleges. For 99% of them, if they had an ancestor who worked with his/her hands, it was buried in the mists of time.
Hm, where shall I start?

delbert at the dropforge.jpeg
Grandfather Delbert Hayden (1901-1962) at his Princeton class reunion, delivering an informal seminar in Renaissance humanities at the drop forge at Fisher Body in Detroit. Like you do.

Seriously. Seriously? I didn’t go to college. In fact, I didn’t graduate from high school, and I don’t have a GED. This is one of the more widely known facts about me, tbh. If you’re making generalizations like that about a set of people that has me in it…well, you just hate to see that kind of thing at this level of play.

Both of my parents went to college — Michigan State University. Both of them were the first people in the known history of their families to do so. I don’t make this assertion lightly. Thanks largely to the heroic efforts of relatives, I know the names, dates, and something of the lives of all 32 of my great-great-great grandparents, and I know the same for all but eight of my 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents. This gets us back to approximately the American Revolution. Not a college degree among them.

haydens and newtons.jpeg
The 1906 meeting of the Modern Language Association, Daviess County, Kentucky. On the left, great-grandfather Prof. Clarence E. Hayden (1872-1908) prepares to speak to his twin sons about Dryden’s The Hind and the Panther. On the right, Prof. greatX3-uncle James Urban Hayden (1856-1933) contemplates figurative imagery in Galen’s On the affections of the mind.

Let’s talk about how people like me don’t have an ancestor who “worked with his/her hands.” Leaving aside my own resume of youthful labor (day laborer, typesetter, printer’s flunky, scraper of paint off of aging Great Lakes freighters—that one was less than perfectly fun), there’s the fact that my father’s father was a factory worker in Detroit. His father was a farmer, as were all the Haydens before him back to the seventeenth century.

My mother’s father was a CPA and a shopkeeper. He came to Michigan from Kentucky with a backwoods accent so severe that he was literally incomprehensible to people there. His forebears were Appalachia through-and-through: hardscrabble, hard times.

Great-great grandparents John Freeman (1850-1928) and Tacy Allen (1857-1924), shown on their grand tour of the fashionable resorts of late 19th-century Europe. “Taormina is so overrated, don’t you think, dear?”

As you can see, Sarah Hoyt is exactly right. My ancestors were generation upon generation of privileged scions of the Ivy League. Beth Meacham’s rural Ohio forebears were all Oxbridgeans; in fact, you couldn’t even show your face in 19th-century Newark, Ohio if you hadn’t published at least one article in a peer-reviewed journal of classical studies. Claire Eddy’s family in Hell’s Kitchen, of course, was composed entirely of high-society patrons of the arts; the entire career of George Balanchine would have been unthinkable without the support of Claire’s tavern-keeping, linoleum-installing relatives. And of course Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s dirt-farmer Mormon forebears contrived the artificial distinction between “literary” and “genre” fiction out of whole cloth, because monkey cucumber parliamentary archaeology. And other things that make just as much sense.

We look forward to explaining other issues of similar subcultural salience.

August 15, 2015
The empty place is for Bigfoot
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:53 PM * 56 comments

Cath, of her kindness, has been doing the yeoman work of organizing two Gatherings of Light at Sasquan. This is the master information post, which can be linked to and referred to. It is versioned, and will be updated if details change.

This is revision 3, as at Thursday 20 August


(Twitter hashtag #MLthursdaydinner)

Thursday, August 20, 7:30 pm Pacific Time

Location: Saranac, 21 West Main Avenue, two and a half blocks from the convention center. Map link here

Meet at 7 pm Thursday evening inside the ground floor pointy end of the exhibit hall. Outside you can see the little green park on West Spokane Falls Blvd, and the crosswalk over highway 2. A few steps away from the escalator there are some benches next to Elevator 14. Cath will be there from 6:45 onward.

For identification purposes, she describes herself as “middle-aged, pale skin, red hair, glasses, and will be holding a red Chinese paper lantern.”

If you run late, come find us at Saranac. The reservation is under the name of Cath Rowan.

IMPORTANT: If you’d like to join the dinner expedition, please post an explicit “I am coming to Thursday dinner” comment on this thread by midnight Sunday Aug 16 Mountain time the evening of Wednesday 19 August, or until all 20 seats are filled. Cath will comment with updated attendance lists.

- o0o -


(Twitter hashtag #MLfridaymeetup; schedule link here)

Friday, August 21, 2-3:45 pm

Location: CC 201C

Drop by when you can, BYO beverages, snacks, handwork, etc

Note that this room has chairs but no tables. If lots of people show up at once, some may have to stand.

If the gathering is still going strong at 3:45, we can move down to hall C.

- o0o -


Contact details for Cath: cathrowan at the Canadian extension of Yahoo (nationality is important in this context); if you need a cell phone number, contact her that way. She is also @cath_rowan on Twitter (in case the convention center bandwidth overloads).

She promises to do her best to monitor all three (e-mail, phone, and Twitter) closely during the couple of hours before each event.

Cath was also suggesting using #MakingLightatSasquan to find other fluorospherians at panels, company for a meal, etc.

August 11, 2015
On sale today: John Scalzi’s The End of All Things
Posted by Patrick at 11:10 AM * 9 comments

endofallthings.jpg On sale today in hardcover and ebook in North America, and on August 13 in trade paperback and ebook in the UK.

Excerpts here. Author post about it here. Video interview with the author here. Author tour schedule here.

From the author’s post about it, linked above:

“This book is a direct followup to The Human Division and continues the scenarios, events and characters found there. It also wraps up the larger story arc begun in The Human Division (i.e., you will find out who is behind all the cliff-hangery stuff and why), so those of you worried that there will be some things left unresolved and to be dealt with in a third book: Relax. It all gets settled. […]

“I will be stingy on the details except to say that two [of the novel’s sections] are from the point of view of major characters in The Human Division, one from a previously minor character, and one introduces a brand new character who I think is very interesting indeed. […] And yes, the actual end of all things is a very real concern in this novel.”

Some reviews:

“Polished and powerful…The inevitable and parallel downward spirals of the two corrupt space empires, the human Colonial Union and the alien Conclave, are finally coming to a head. All four protagonists work for one of the two entities, and Scalzi shifts among their perspectives to thread a fine needle, recognizing that good people can be entrenched in terrible systems and sometimes can’t (or won’t) change them.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“It’s classic crowd-pleasing Scalzi, offering thrilling adventure scenes (space battles, daring military actions, parachute jumps through a planet’s atmosphere), high-stakes politics, snarky commentary, and food for thought. Delightful, compulsively readable, and even somewhat nutritious brain candy.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[F]ascinating, uncharted territory for military science fiction. The world is a considerably complicated place, and this is a book that recognizes it, and attempts to capture a tiny piece of that complexity. The format of the book, with its four parts and sub-chapters, aids the narrative in this regard, reminding me of the films Syriana or Traffic by telling huge story in tiny brushstrokes….[T]he series has been left in a good place, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”