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Phil in SF

Joined 11 months, 3 weeks ago


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The Lucky Strike (EBook, 2009, PM Press) 3 stars

Combining dazzling speculation with a profoundly humanist vision, Kim Stanley Robinson is known as not …

Politically thoughtful, but I couldn't engage with the story

3 stars

This book has three parts: the story "The Lucky Strike", an essay by Kim Stanley Robinson expounding on the themes of the story, and an interview of the author by Terry Bisson.

The Lucky Strike imagines that the crew of the Enola Gay are not the ones to fly Little Boy to Japan. Instead, the bombardier on The Lucky Strike is very torn about killing 100,000 people and imagines himself saying no, leaping out of the airplane, and worse. I think we should examine our motivations for bombing Hiroshima, but I don't know enough to have a moral opinion whether it was correct in the time. Nevertheless I'm deeply uncomfortable with the choice we did make. Maybe that's why all the second-guessing bombardier Frank January does in the story doesn't resonate; it repeats things I've thought about myself. I can't say "don't read this" because my inability to connect with …

One Shot (EBook, 2005, Delacorte Press) 3 stars

Ex-military investigator Jack Reacher is called in by James Barr, the man accused of a …

A little far fetched for a premise

3 stars

Content warning Minor spoilers in the review

Some Desperate Glory (EBook, 2023, Tordotcom) 4 stars

All her life Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of …

Most excellent book

4 stars

This has a whole bunch of elements that i loved, but mostly a great plot and clear character arc. At the start of the book, Kyr is an about-to-graduate cadet on a asteroid bound space station that houses the last few thousands of humanity after an alien civilization has destroyed Earth.

Things are not as they seem, which Kyr finds out by getting assigned to Nursery to bear children for humanity, despite her top scores, and her brother refusing assignment and deserting.

A word of warning that there's some intense cult-like abuse in the pages.

I read this on the recommendation of in her Washington Post column on SF. You should read her columns too.

reviewed Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

Birnam Wood (2023, Farrar, Straus & Giroux) 4 stars

Birnam Wood is on the move . . .

A landslide has closed the Korowai …


2 stars

Content warning Spoiling everything

The Enemy (EBook, 2004, Dell) 3 stars

Jack Reacher. Hero. Loner. Soldier. Soldier's son. An elite military cop, he was one of …

A Reacher prequel

3 stars

Content warning Mild spoiler

Still Life (EBook, 2019, Minotaur Books) 4 stars

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are …

A cozy police procedural

4 stars

Still Life combines elements of a cozy (small intimate community, violence occurring off stage) with a police procedural (the detective is a genial detective from out of town). The community secrets are a bit too abstractly complicated for me to really love the mystery, but it's good enough to be interesting.

Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager (EBook, 2020, Pragmatic Programmers, LLC, The) 3 stars

Software startups make global headlines every day. As technology companies succeed and grow, so do …

Not recommended

3 stars

Best when it covers the basic nuts & bolts of conducting 1-1s, reviews, etc.

Gets very hand-wavy when it covers office politics or networking.

This was a book that was recommended on Rands Leadership Slack, and I don't know why.

Funny You Should Ask (EBook, 2022, Dell) 4 stars

Then. Twenty-something writer Chani Horowitz is stuck. While her former MFA classmates are nabbing high-profile …

Can a regular person and a celebrity fall in love?

4 stars

A romance that does a good job exploring what it means to be a celebrity (the love interest) and what it's like to have one's life dependent on celebrity (the main character). Chani Horowitz is a writer who specializes in celebrity puff pieces. Gabe Parker is the celebrity she's had a crush on since she was young. Chani is assigned to interview Gabe. At that point in her life she's a decent writer but not really a good interviewer, and the interview itself goes sideways. However, she manages to pull out a decent article based on a weekend spent with Gabe. Because Gabe is, of course, smitten with Chani.

The book jumps between that interview, the piece Chani wrote, and a second interview 10 years later, after Chani's career has taken off and Gabe's has taken a downturn. The parts 10 years later are much more interesting to read. By …

The Terraformers (EBook, 2023, Tom Doherty Associates) 3 stars

From science fiction visionary Annalee Newitz comes The Terraformers, a sweeping, uplifting, and illuminating exploration …

Mixed feelings

4 stars

Content warning Mild spoilers

Running Blind (EBook, 2007, Jove) 3 stars

Jack Reacher is back, dragged into what looks like a series of grisly serial murders …

Another decent Reacher

3 stars

The story points out the absurdity of many crime fiction coincidences, but also relies on major coincidences. Almost as if the author is telling the reader, "yes, I know this is absurd, but we all enjoy this convention."