Friday, December 29, 2017

Snark in Space: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

If you're caught up in Star Wars fever but need a break from overpriced snacks and rude moviegoers, why not read some space opera?  John Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire isn't Star Wars per se, but you should check it out if you like snarky humor .... in space!

The patented Scalzi Snark is turned up to 11 on this one, but behind it is an interesting story that's a melange of Asimov's Foundation, Herbert's Dune, and Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga ... with of course several heaping teaspoons of that aforementioned Scalzi Snark to spice things up.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Non-Spoilery Advice for Watching The Last Jedi

Normally I think people are way too obsessed with avoiding spoilers. I can usually enjoy watching how something unfolds even if I know some of the key plot points (if all you care about is plot points, why not just read a plot summary on Wikipedia?).

But The Last Jedi is about thwarting expectations. As Luke Skywalker says, “This is not going to go the way you think.” I can report that knowing little about how it was going to go really did enhance my enjoyment of seeing it the first time, which was a set up to loving it even more the second time.

So, while my non-spoilery reviews of The Force Awakens and Rogue One were mainly a courtesy to the throngs of spoiler-hating fans, this non-spoilery review is out of my genuine feeling that The Last Jedi is best watched unspoiled. With that in mind, think of this as my non-spoilery advice for watching The Last Jedi.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tectonic Fantasy, Part Three: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin is the third in the trilogy following The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate.  As both of this novel's predecessors won the Hugo for Best Novel, there were a lot of expectations for this one.  How does it hold up?

RIP Elsie (2001-2017)

Elsie being cute

Last weekend my wife and I said goodbye to our friend, our family member, our cat Elsie.

If you don’t understand why someone would feel intense grief at the loss of a pet or you’re thinking, “It’s just a cat” or whatever, then this post is not for you.  It’s a vast internet.  You don’t have to be here.

But for many humans the loss of a pet is traumatic.

Elsie was with us for over 15 years.  My wife Beth adopted Elsie a few months before we started dating, which I’ve always joked meant that she had Elsie longer than she had me.  As is often the case, the cat picked out her human rather than the other way around.  Beth originally went to the Humane Society to adopt another cat, but Elsie got her attention by rubbing up against the cage.  The decision was made.  Elsie was one year old and had just weaned a litter; Beth was looking to make some changes in her life, too, which included getting her first cat mostly at the behest of her roommate at the time.  Elsie and Beth became best friends.

I met Elsie a few months later, when she insisted on sitting on my lap even though I was allergic (something I’ve since gotten over … more-or-less).  I’ve loved her ever since.  I’ve always liked cats.  My grandma and other family members had cats when I was growing up, but we never had cats at my house.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Recent Online Philosophy Happenings

In the last week I've made two contributions to the world of online philosophy, which you can read about below.  In the science fictional world, I'm working on reading some novels published in 2017 so I can compile a Best of 2017 list (I've finished Ada Palmer's Seven Surrenders, I'm working on N. K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky, and up next is Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140).  Stay tuned.