A great coming-of-age story! There's not nearly enough hopeful forward-looking human-meets-aliens science fiction out there, so I was glad to see this on the store shelves (as it were).
Some parts seem a little sketchy, and it seems implausible that terrorists would use publicly available videogames as instruction manuals - far more likely that they'd serve as indoctrination - but on the whole, I look forward to seeing more in this universe.
The Legend of the Morning Star
on May 24, 2011
A fairy tale with a twist. I look forward to reading the universe in which the stories are told.
I'll have to look for more of the author's work, I enjoyed the depiction of the AI and her 'wrangler' but I felt the story was a little frustratingly brief so we didn't get to explore much of the universe! As a story, it works well, setting up a dilemma that seems simple at the outset, then grows more complex.
Less straight fantasy and more Regency, but you won't find vapid nobles exchanging empty witticisms here; the Lord Alchemist and the Herb-Witch of the title are both intelligent characters who value their independence and separate responsibilities and will not lightly abandon their loyalties.
Beyond that, this story brings out its alchemy with vivid descriptions of taste and smell and consequences. It feels like an alternate world Renaissance science, not like an airy magic that perfectly serves the convenience of its purveyors, but a science that is still fringed with 'Here there be dragons'.
The writing is crisp, and... hang on, I'll leave you with my favorite line of the book:
"Analyzing the geometries of herb-witchery ingredients was like washing a cat. It looked simple, but sprouted extra legs when you weren't looking, and /wiggled/."
This is a darker, more sensual book than the first book, Herb-Witch, so be forewarned! That said, it delivers excellently on all the promises of the first book. It isn't much of a spoiler to observe that the marriage between Iathor and Kessa does come into being, and it is not going to be your typical fairy-tale happily-ever-after marriage... In fact, Iathor's confusions are just beginning.
There is prejudice against the 'barbarians', of which Kessa is a half-breed; there is hatred from a source Iathor would not have expected but Kessa knows too well; there is Kessa's own upbringing casting pebbles beneath her steps as they explore the murky waters of what it means to be married to one another, Lord Alchemist and herb-witch just one foot out of the gutters. These combine to keep the tension high, and me reading pages late into the night.
Elizabeth McCoy's world-building shines again as she explores more consequences of a world where alchemy is the mainstay technology and its practitioners are groping through its dark mysteries. We see more about how immunity to mind-affecting potions can be a dual-edged sword, and how loyalty-creating potions can shape their civilization. Alchemy is never treated as a deus ex machina; it is a source of problems and tools that, used wisely, can help solve these problems... But wisdom must come from its users, so we are naturally introduced to malevolent users as well as benevolent.
While this book forms a complete duology with the previous book, I do hope that there will be more Lord Alchemist and Kessa stories coming soon!
An adventure to remind one of Cherryh's Pride of Chanur books!
The narrator of the story is the titular 'Wahn', or leader, of Kintara Station, the port of call for the world that the cat-centaurs, call home. Kintarans are given to clannish rivalry; without one person wielding responsibility, they'll soon descend into chaos and bitter arguments over landing rights and station defense, especially given their racial tendencies to prefer "unique" solutions and shun "baby-sameness", or copying of others. Without a Wahn, they're sure to wind up fighting each other constantly!
Of course it's never that simple, so enter Wahn Bentclaw, intent on seizing power. And his ally is Kaa-Sida, the deadliest pirate hunter around with a ship keen and powerful. Against such odds, how will our hero prevail?
I love stories like this, set in the star-spanning future, a whirlwind of station politics and captains vying for control. Can intellect beat brawn and greed? Find out in this story!
A marvelous page-turner of a story, set in a far-flung spacefaring future of which I'd definitely like to see more.
Sarafina, an AI in indenture until she can pay off her creation-debt, is purchased by the owner of a luxury liner. Almost immediately her troubles start, from adjusting to a system ten times the size of her original, to managing the myriad problems a full load of humans can cause on a liner, each one demanding her personal attention... And as if that weren't enough, there are Strange Things going on, both from the passengers and the crew.
Fortunately she has a little help... If she can sort out who's trustworthy from who's not. But ultimately this very intelligent, yet very mannered AI whose bearing will remind you of a stern librarian, must rely on her cleverness to survive, yet alone solve these riddles!
Often funny, this novel is a 'comedy of manners' set aboard a star liner, focused largely on the interactions of people, not 'teching the tech', but there are plenty of serious moments as well, and the story winds up to a tense denouement where it seems as if Sarafina is doomed no matter which way she turns. Thrilling!
A great peek into the lifecycle of aliens. E. McCoy's writing is as entertaining and lively as always, as she outlines how Mmsar biology affects their society, with parallels and tangents to our own. (this is a race of which the phrase 'rugrats' might be quite appropriate for their young, with all its negative connotations of feral behavior)
I look forward to reading more of E. McCoy's stories involving Mmsars, now that we have a fresh perspective on them.