1636: The Devil’s Opera involves the use of music as propaganda. (This is actually more interesting than the first line would indicate.) With Emperor Gustavus Adolphus non compos mentis and with Chancellor Oxenstierna attempting to take over the government, it suddenly becomes very important to make sure Magdeburg, the capitol city of the USE remains prominent in the minds of the populace. It’s decided that the best way to do this is with an opera showing support for the emperor. Various people are assembled to make this happen, including Marla Linder and her company of downtime musical partners. (Marla also decides to sing a song from Les Miserables which has some dangerous political sentiments guaranteed to ruffle the feathers of the nobility.) Continue reading
Phoenix Rising has the same bright, slightly goofy feel of an extremely *shonen anime. I may or may not mean that in a good way. The world building is mostly “dashes of Tolkien, squibs of that really awesome roleplaying game the writer was in.” This is a book of bits and pieces that don’t always come together but manages to be fairly entertaining once you embrace the goofy shonen ridiculousness. Continue reading
In Wicked Bronze Ambition, Garret’s matrimonial plans are derailed by his in-laws. They need his help to uncover the “Operators” of a secret tournament that pits the children of the sorcerer families of TunFaire against each other in mortal combat. The prize is the accumulated power of the kids who were killed during the game, but no one wants to play. (Unfortunately, there is no way to opt out of the game once the Operators decide you’re going to be a contestant.) Garret’s job is to keep the game from being initiated, but it might already be too late.
While I liked the book, I had a few problems with the general set up and plot, spoilery reasons to be specific. (That is to say, you are probably going to want to skip the next paragraph or so.) Continue reading
In Bastion, Mags does not get much time to recover from the events of Redoubt before he has to head out again. His experience with his captors has left him with a number of confused memories, new combat skills and only the slightest inkling of whom his captors were. (They are apparently some kind of secret clan of ninjas, from a desert country very far away.) Continue reading
The events of The Kremlin Games actually stretches between 1631 (the arrival of Grantville in Germany) and 1636. Our main protagonist is Bernie Zeppi, a former auto mechanic who is not quite sure what to do with himself in the strange new world that is the 17th Century. He gets hired as a technology consultant by a Russian noble who has been sent by the czar to investigate Grantville. Russia of the 17th Century is about two centuries behind the rest of Europe, and Bernie is kind of the bargain basement version of a consultant but is the best Russian rubles can buy. Continue reading
It would be interesting to know what Butler meant by Survivor being her “Star Trek novel.” (Mostly because there are many Star Trek writers whose non-Star Trek work is really good.) Does it mean simplistic themes or worldbuilding? I can see traces of both in the story, in the way that Alanna has an almost suspicious ability to adapt to other communities and the way the Kohn are able to hide due to the natural camouflage of their fur. (This is followed by Alanna realizing that she is more comfortable with the Tehkohn than she had been among the Missionaries.) There’s also the white/black morality of the Missionaries versus Alanna’s more pragmatic feral upbringing. (And how it compares with the way the Tehkohn assimilate her into their community.) This juxtaposition of similar situations does have the feeling of a Star Trek type morality tale–too simple, too neat, and maybe too obvious.
This speculation is not meant to be a judgment on whether Butler was right to disown the book. This is just an example of one of the questions I’d like to ask her, if I could. Continue reading
In Without a Summer, Jane and Vincent return to Jane’s family home for a visit. The visit turns sour due to an unseasonably cold spring that might translate into a financial setback for Jane’s family. In addition, Jane’s sister Melody is suffering from a combination of a lack of marital prospects and melancholia. Jane and Vincent decide to take Melody with them to London for the social season after accepting a commission from Lord Stratton. (It turns out they are Irish, which gives Jane some serious misgivings.) Continue reading