Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Musing from across the Pond - The Book Stack

So, I'm still stuck in the UK. And I really *really* should be sleeping right now, but after staring at the ceiling for an hour gave up on that for the moment.

So, I'm gonna drop a couple three hundred word or so reviews from my proverbial Book Stack and then see if I can sleep.

First up, Monster Hunter Alpha. I'm a fan of the MHI series in general and a huge fan of Larry Correia and his now various books and recent success. Cool guy, great books, and maybe one of these days I'll cross paths and get him to sign a book for me.

Anyway, I bought Monster Hunter Alpha by e-ARC. Damn Baen and their book crack. Once I get back to the States and get my bookshelves finally sorted out it and a few other Baen books will get proper dead tree copies. This book is a departure for the MHI series because its told from Earl Harbinger's perspective.

Let me put it this way - if you've read the other two MHI books, Earl is the king of badasses.

And he racks it up a couple notches with this book. The vast majority of the book takes place in Northern Michigan, and while I've never been there, I know a thing or two about hard winters and Larry pulled off getting the feel right pretty well. Throw in a local cop, some new MCB agents who you will love to hate, and eventually pity, and a Bad from an earlier book, and its a romping good time.

Along the way we learn a little more about Werewolves, Earl, the Shackleford family tree and some hints of things to come.

Its a hell of a good book. It comes out next week. Go buy it. Read it. Enjoy.

Switching gears slightly I'm going to move to a trio of books by Micheal Z Williamson.

I came across Mr Williamson from a combination of Larry touting him once or twice (or five or six times), a couple good words from Marco over at the Munchkin Wrangler, and his own work at the Survival Blog (I see I need to seriously update my bloglist). The three books I'm going to talk briefly about are Freehold, The Weapon, and Rogue.

Freehold is a book about a political refugee. Ok, everyone sit down and imagine with me. Its a good long way into the Future, the UN, instead of dying a needful death is the Galactic super government with the governments of most planets beholden to it in one shape or another. There are some fringe planets. One of these, is known was Freehold (it has another name, which I like better, but its late, I'm tired and I don't have my e-reader handy and google is more then one mouse click away :D). Freehold... is as I think I described it to a friend, the perfect Libertarian/libertarian/Capitalist paradise.

It probably can't ever exist. I'm fairly sure I wouldn't fit in there. I'm also fairly sure I want to try, if it did, anyway.

Anyway - a political refugee - running from a wrongful conviction at the hands of the UN runs to Freehold. And we experience her struggles to understand this quite alien culture and world, and then experience a War brought on by the UN because it covets the money and power Freehold has, and well... it polled well.

There's far more too it then that, but if there's a Capitalist bone in your body, you will hate the UN en-mass by the end - its an early book, and feels like one - but that said I really enjoyed it. It ends well, and it hints at other things. Its a world I want to learn more about. Which is how all early books should be.

The Weapon starts before Freehold takes place, and ends after. The main character is Captain Chinran, a memeber of the Freehold Special Operations troops. He's sent to Earth to pave the way for an attack of such magnitude that Earth will head to the negotiating table in a possible(and expected) War.

Mr Williamson did a fine job of pre-facing this in Freehold, and now we get to see this masterwork in progress. Its a frightening tale, and *very* believable in a future sort of sense looking at the way society is heading.

I can't say I ever felt sorry for the Earthies, though I did for all the characters sent to perpetuate these acts. They were asked to do monsterous things.

And they did them, to save their planet.

Something like that would really mess with a person - and I think the Author did a really good job of portraying that.

But, he wasn't done yet. Rogue goes back to the Freehold universe, some 10-15 years after the War. Our man Chinran had survived after all, and so did some others.

One in particular has gone off the reservation, and the Military complex of Freehold seeks out Chinran to hunt down the weapon of a man he created and put a stop to it.

I'm at odds with this book in some ways. I like it, I like delving into the Chinran character and I like exploring the Freehold world all the more - but while I feel the first two thirds or so of the book are as solid as the other two offerings, the final third moves to jump cuts quite a bit, and forces an ending that... doesn't quite feel right.

Both the Weapon and Rogue are predominantly written in the First person, and so we mostly see things only from Chinran's perspective, so some of the offkilterness can be attributed to that - but it does feel near the end like Mr Williamson ran out of steam and needed to *finish* possibly on a deadline of some sort just to get the book out the door.

All said though, I heartily recommend all three books.

They'll make you sit back and think - if nothing else - and they're a fun ride while they do it.

Anyway time for me to crawl back to bed and try to get some sleep before another mindnumbing day tomorrow.

-Jon

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Musings from across the Pond

So its been a while.

Last week I crossed the North Atlantic in a United 747 for the first time, bound for the UK on a last minute trip for work, thats going to last me a month. I get to go home in August.

Honestly, I could go home next week and be happy. I'm here helping with QA for a new release of the software I support. Lets just say that the UK branch of my parent company doesn't exactly do a stellar job of testing, thier test systems are not configured like a store would be. They aren't installed liked a store would be, and they're a mess of manual software changes.

I spent most of my time last week trying to figure out a simple problem, that flummoxed me for most of 2 days because I had to dig through old and current configs to figure out why the damned thing didn't work, never mind why it didn't work as intended.

I'm supposed to be testing the software, not fixing it so its in a state to be testable.

Needless to say, I am not impressed. There are a lot of other little things about this trip that bug me, but thats the biggest, by far.

I work in London, I commute from a town a decent distance outside of London because except for about the day before I left, everyone thought I was going to work out of RTS's Lentchworth facility.

Guess not.

Not all is lost. I'm getting to trundle around the UK which isn't something I thought I'd get to do - possibly ever. Its and interesting country, with nice people, a lot of history some really cool scenery...

And I would never want to live here. I'm an uncultured, uncouth American. I drive a gas guzzling 4 wheel drive pick-up, I like Air Conditioning, and my 50 inch TV. Water thats hot. Being able to walk somewhere without being seen by at least 15 CCTV cameras. Money that fits in my wallet. Good Coffee. Space.

Being able to carry a gun.

Real BACON.

Roads wide enough to drive on.

And most importantly my own bed.

But, I won't be getting that for a while. Anyway, I should be getting to bed. Its late and I want to try to take in the Imperial War Museum tomorrow.