Category Archives: Book review

The Mama Mmiri by Walter Dinjos

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: January, 2016 in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (You can read it for free at that link, or listen to it here)

Genre: fantasy

Setting: Near a river is what is probably Nigeria (based on Dinjos’ history)

Summary: The oyibo (white men) are constructing a bridge across the Ofia River. To keep mama mmiri, the river goddess, placated, they sacrifice a twin to the river every month, with the help of the narrator’s Baba Tunde. Udo, our narrator’s twin, has been sacrificed and the narrator knows he’s next. He heads to the river in the hopes of seeing the ghost of Udo, but only sees mama mmiri. He promises her Baba Tunde’s body, but he is still sacrificed.

Final thoughts: Living next to the Ofia River would get expensive, considering the sacrifices that had to be offered every month to appease her spirit. And why did she like twins so much? Our narrator is devastated when his twin dies, and is happy to join back up with him in the river.

Title comes from: The name of the river goddess

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The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I decided to read this book to the kids. I remember enjoying it significantly when it first came out. This is the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Published: 1996

Genre: middle grade fantasy

Length: 399 pages

Setting: it felt like England and northern countries, including Svalbard, 1800s, but it wasn’t really Continue reading

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Artemis by Andy Weir

As soon as I found out Andy Weir had a new book out, I requested it from the library. It wasn’t even in the holdings yet, but I wanted to be high on the hold list. Mr. Curiosity and I were all in after loving The Martian.

Published: 2017

Genre: science fiction

Length: 305 pages

Setting: the lunar colony of Artemis, near future Continue reading

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A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul

This was one of the Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. I was reading my way through this list.

Published: 1979

Genre: fiction

Length: 278 pages

Setting: Mid-20th century Africa, somewhere north of Uganda Continue reading

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In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary by Frank Wu

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: November 2016 in Analog (you can read it for free at the link provided)

Genre: apocalyptic science fiction

Length: 14 pages

Setting: a remote island miles off the coast of Hawaii, present day into the future

Summary: Our narrator, Karl 3478, is an AI submersible that is designed to observe and collect marine life. He also is in love with Adeline, the professor that runs his research program, and parses her emails to him to the utmost, looking for her love in return. He also researches her every whim, including octopuses near his island. After several years of research, he loses contact with Adeline and only realizes there was a global catastrophe after heading back to Hawaii. He decides to change his programming slightly and help the octopuses thrive in the sea, now that humanity is gone.

Final thoughts: I was impressed with this story in several ways. First off, I was impressed with the amount of biological knowledge included in the story. I have a background in marine biology, and all the species and descriptions woven into the story checked out in my head. Also, the story kept morphing into something else. It started out as an AI/human love story (and Karl’s reading innuendo into Adeline’s emails was highly amusing). Then, it became an apocalyptic story as Karl couldn’t contact anyone and found various radioactive sites in the ocean. Then, at the very end, we see a choice to uplift the octopus species he’d been observing, and taking a more active role in the ocean. Each of these changes were organic and logical, and added depth to the story.

Title comes from: Since Karl was an AI (based on the personality of one of Adeline’s grad students), it was a rationale he used for himself in making decisions.

 

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Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

I can’t remember where I saw this book, but I thought it would work well for a Fun Math day. I didn’t realize it was a picture book until I picked it up.

Artist: Lane Smith

Published: 1995

Genre: mathematical picture book

Length: 32 pages

Setting: a typical American house and elementary school, present day Continue reading

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Blood Lines by Tanya Huff

Reading Edge of Eternity for weeks cut into my book review buffer, so I’m back to an old book review today. This is the third book in the Blood series.

Published: 1993

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 268 pages

Setting: Toronto, Ontario, soon after the events of Blood Trail Continue reading

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