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Sharing Knife quartet, Lois McMaster Bujold
meh )

Long Earth series, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
nice except ISSUES )
(discussion with [tumblr.com profile] sixth-light )

Nexus, Ramez Naam
enjoyable )

The Goblin Emperor
, Katherine Addison
okay )

Confederation/Valor series, Tanya Huff
nice aliens and nice BOOMs )

Heris Serrano
, Elizabeth Moon

lacking in exposition and/or BOOM )

Spin State, Chris Moriarty
gripping )

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First: apologies for the long absence. My plotbunnies have all turned to dustbunnies and apparently I have real stuff to do.

I watched Christopher Nolan's Interstellar on the 7th. All in all, it was a nice romp with flashy special effects. The plot was decent, and the premise (humankind has turned into farmers while the Earth's ecosystem collapses) is scarily realistic.
The movie has aging and time as major themes, which is so blindingly logical for a film about interstellar travel that I can't believe major poductions haven't been made with those themes before.

The film's largest failing was the fact that its twist, while foreshadowed, wasn't really compatible with Occam's Razor. The ship tease between Cooper and Dr Burns was also cringe-worthy, in my opinion. However, the SFX were enticing, and they actually hired a scientist to help with them, so they're realistic, too. The portrayal of Dr Mann was excellent.

Conclusion: Go watch it
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It's decent hard-ish SF space opera (yes, I know). The plot was good, but he didn't wrap it up well.

Revelation Space: Reynolds introduces two (two!!) awesome female viewpoint characters (Ilia Volyova, Ana Khouri) plus one annoying male one (Dan Sylveste, annoying entitled bore #1). Of the plot-important other characters, most are male. Works perfectly well on its own, closes introduced plot lines decently. Apparently considered 'ponderous' by SF critics.

Redemption Ark: Another awesome female viewpoint character!! (Skade) Back-to-back badassery and sisterhood with Ana and Ilia!! Then come two annoying viewpoint dudes (Nevil Clavain, annoying self-righteous bore, and Scorpio, annoying murderous pig - literally) and a meh-to-annoying female viewpoint character (Antoinette Bax, why didn't you ever speak to other women or, um, acquire a personality beyond "plucky-ish hero personality(TM)"?)

Absolution Gap: Two viewpoint guys (Quaiche and Grelier). I kind of liked Grelier. Rashmika Els is introduced; her POV is okay until the plot hits her. Then the archetypical whiny entitled dude, Vasko Malinin comes onstage. Ugh.

The spoilery stuff )
Well, I guess Mr. Reynolds did something right, seeing as I'm so motivated to fix everything :P
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Chris Beckett - Dark Eden
A spaceship crashes on an unknown world. Several generations later, the descandants have filled up their valley. A dude decides something must be done.
Vaguely interesting society, could have gone without the main character wanting to establish male supremacy etc in his breakaway tribe. Also, the characterization of the spaceship's only woman made me go gaah. And the characterization of the main character's mother. Also, the main character is meant to be likeable, despite being something of an asshole.
Bechdel pass.

Chris Beckett - The Holy Machine
The whole world has become a patchwork of religious totalitarian states, apart from Illyria. Our (male) main character decides to run away from the totalitarianizing Illyria, with a high-quality sex bot.
Came across as saying that all high-tech/atheist societies are morally bankrupt. The main character's mother comes across as a shy ten-year-old girl. (Beckett had a decent idea and went too far with it.) Also, the main character is meant to be likeable, despite being something of an asshole. He still gets the girl.
Bechdel pass.

David Brin - Sundiver
There are aliens in the Sun. Our (male) main character is called to help with the investigation.
Unlike Brin's The Postman, I was able to slog through. Suffers from Smurfette Syndrome. The main character is made of Boring. Brin's style of writing bores me. The only woman is competent, but for whatever reason, doesn't do anything in the climax, even though her doing something would make more sense than the actual climax. Also, she's tossed off as a reward to the main character, even though they have zero chemistry.
Bechdel fail.

Gary Gibson - Angel Stations
A wavefront of radiation is traveling towards Earth. First, however, it will hit and sterilize Kasper, which has sentient aliens. The story of people wanting to save the Kaspians.
Suffers from Smurfette Syndrome. All the important aliens are male, even if female ones exist. Bonus points for lesbians, even if it's only in flashbacks. Not only readable, but interesting.
Bechdel pass.

Generally, when a SF author needs to come up with a culture that differs from the current mainstream, zie creates male supremacy, often religiously mandated. (See: Masada from David Weber's Honorverse, The World Whose Name Eludes Me from Gary Gibson's Shoal Sequence) Not only is this annoying to those of us who would like to have even the smallest feminist sympathies, it is repetitive, overdone and boring.
So, when I started reading Dark Eden, I was happy: a matriarchal society! Finally! Then, Beckett starts writing in a way that implies that all the society's woes are the result of its insularity, which is caused by its matriarchality. And by the end it's patriarchal, militarized, etc. Agh.
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All you need to know of the plot: A lost human colony, Darien, is rediscovered. However, it has a warpwell, created eons ago to for a war against the Dreamless. Mainline humanity's allies, the Sendrukans, have Ominous Plans regarding Darien. Also, there is a side-plot involving a guy from another lost human colony trying to get to Darien.

The Review )

Recommendation: Don't read the trilogy when I can read it for you! (Buy some Asimov, it'll infuriate you less.)


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