Science Fiction

The Heritage of Hastur          Marion Zimmer Bradley                  Mar 2008
Sharra's Exile                         Marion Zimmer Bradley                  Mar 2008
To Save a World                    Marion Zimmer Bradley                  Dec 2008
The Firebrand                         Marion Zimmer Bradley                  Dec 2008
The Alton Gift                        Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J Ross    Mar 2008
The Fall of Neskaya               Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J Ross    Dec 2008
The Curse of Chalion             Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Paladin of Souls                     Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
The Hallowed Hunt               Lois McMaster Bujold                     Aug 2009
Cordelia's Honor                    Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Beguilement                           Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Legacy                                   Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Passage                                  Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Horizon                                  Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Empire                                    Orson Scott Card                             Nov 2007
Reap the Wild Wind               Juile E. Czerneda                             June 2007
A Thousand Words for Stranger        Juile E. Czerneda                  June 2009
Ties of Power                          Juile E. Czerneda                             June 2009
To Trade the Stars                   Juile E. Czerneda                             June 2009
Antagonist                              Gordon R Dickson & David W Wixon      May 2008
House of Chains                     Steven Erikson                                 Dec 2006
The Colony and the Cavemen    Dewey M. Erlwein                      Sept 2007
Boundary                                Eric Flint & Ryk E. Spoor
Sliding Scales                         Alan Dean Foster                             Mar 200
Variable Star                           Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson    Dec 2006
Mystic Empire                        Tracy & Laura Hickman                  July 2006
Sun in Glory                           Mercedes Lackey ed.
The Wizard of London           Mercedes Lackey                              July 2006
Reserved for the Cat               Mercedes Lackey                              Jan 2008
Foundation                             Mercedes Lackey                              Oct 2008
The Phoenix Transformed      Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory       Feb 2010
Learning the World                 Ken MacLeod                                  July 2006
Wicked                                   Gregory Maguire
Son of a Witch                        Gregory Maguire
A Lion Among Men               Gregory Maguire                              Dec 2008
Acorna's Quest                       Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball   Aug 2006
Acorna's People                      Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  Sept 2006
Acorna's World                      Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  
Acorna's Search                      Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  
Acorna's Rebels                      Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  Sept 2006
Acorna's Triumph                   Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  
Catalyst                                  Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough       Feb 2010
Dragon's Kin                          Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey     Mar 2008
Od Magic                                Patricia A. McKillip                         July 2006
The Devil's Eye                      Jack McDevitt                                   Dec 2008
Victory Conditions                  Elizabeth Moon                                Apr 2008
Building Harlequin’s Moon    Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper
Fleet of Worlds                       Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner   Dec 2008
Juggler of Worlds                   Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner   Dec 2008
Three Hands for Scorpio        Andre Norton
Temeraire                                Naomi Novik                                    Dec 2006
Empire of Ivory                       Naomi Novik                                    Dec 2007
Victory of Eagles                    Naomi Novik                                     Oct 2008
Eldest                                      Christopher Paolini                            Sept 2006
The_Infinite_Instant               Danielle L. Parker                               Feb 2010
Into the Looking Glass            John Ringo                                      July 2008
Vorpal Blade                           John Ringo & Travis S. Taylor        June 2008
Manxome Foe                         John Ringo & Travis S. Taylor        July 2008
Claws That Catch                   John Ringo & Travis S. Taylor        Mar 2009
The Last Colony                     John Scalzi                                       June 2007
Star Wars:  Jedi Trial               Davis Sherman & Dan Cragg
Coyote Frontier                       Allen Steele
More Than Human                 Theodore Sturgeon
Some of your Blood               Theodore Sturgeon
Slan                                         A E van Vogt
Heinlein: Off the Main Sequence      Ed. Andrew Wheeler               July 2006
A Hole in Texas                      Herman Wouk



The Heritage of Hastur           Marion Zimmer Bradley          Mar 2008

Regis Hastur is 15.  As he is returning to Thendara after 3 years he again meets Lew Alton, 5 years his senior.  They had been friends before he was sent to school.  The book alternates between Regis and Lew.  Regis joins the City Guard and meets Danilo Syrtis.  Lew is sent to Castle Aldaran and meets Marjorie Scott.  He also meets Beltran Alderan, Thyra, and Kadarin.  Kadarin describes the derivation and founding of Darkover.  Kadarin obtains the Sword of Sharra.

Danilo is captured by Beltran's men and taken to Castle Aldaran.  Regis asks his sister for help, names one of her children to be his heir, takes provisions and leaves for Aldaran.  Lew forms a small circle at Aldaran and begins training them and they begin experimenting with the Sharra matrix.  Lew meets Danilo at Aldaran and befriends him.  Regis has been traveling over the Heller's and he finally makes it to Aldaran, meeting the old lord and is reunited with Danilo.

The old Lord Aldaran dies and Beltran takes his place.  After Lord Aldaran's funeral they all meet.  Lew, Danilo, and Marjorie refuse to help with the Sharra matrix and they are all captured by Beltran and Kadarin.  They take Lew's personal matrix and beat him.  Several days later Marjorie gets the matrix back, drugs the guards, they find Danilo and Regis and all four escape.  Regis has a threshold attack on the road and Danilo helps him overcome it.  In the process they both learn more of their powers.  Marjorie and Lew are trapped in a Sharra caused snowstorm and are recaptured by Beltran.  

Danilo and Regis finally run into Kennard Alton on the road searching for them.  Kennard is Lew's Father.  Lew is drugged and is somehow forced to assist in using Sharra, the city of Caer Donn is burned.  Lew and Marjorie try to kill themselves but they can't, they can not let Sharra be free so they make plans to destroy it.  They join the circle once more but Lew and Marjorie with Kennard's help break free and teleport themselves to the Arilinn tower with the Sword of Sharra.  In the process Lew's arm where he held the sword is ruined and Marjorie dies.  The book ends with Danilo being sworn in as the heir to Ardais and Kennard Alton taking his son, Lew to Earth for treatment of his ruined arm.

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Sharra's Exile                 Marion Zimmer Bradley                           Mar 2008

Lew and Kennard Alton are on Earth trying to heal Lew's arm which was damaged by Sharra's fires.  It is proving to be a failure.  Again this book switches between Lew Alton and Regis Hastur.  We switch to Regis 3 years after Sharra and the destruction of Caer Domm.  Regis and Dani have finished the Guard training and are learning their responsibilities to the Domains.  Regis meets, many for the first time, the people who will play a large part of this novel.

Lew: In the fifth year of his exile he meets Dio Ridenow.  They fall in love, are married, and have a horribly disfigured son who dies.  Kennard Alton dies.  Dio land Lew separate and both separately travel back to Darkover.  Lew gets to Thendara just in time to join the list of claimants to his father's position.  There are other issues, who marries whom, do the Hasturs retain the regency, etc.

Lew meets Regis and while walking to the Alton building in the city the home is attacked by Kadarin, he steals the sword Sharra, and Lew's brother Marius is killed.  Later in Council, to avoid a fight, Regis produces an image of the original Sharra - within the wards, and Council is closed for the year.  Lew discovers that he has a daughter by Thyra and is given custody of her.

Lew goes to the Midsummer Festival Ball and meets Dio.  Kadarin and Thyra are there with the Sharra sword.  Sharra claims Linnell and Derik's lives.  Lew rides to Hali and with help claims the Sword of Aldones.  He is attacked by Katardin and Thyra, they are arrested and brought back to the Terran base, Regis claims the Sword of Aldones and cures Lew of a serious knife wound.  The swords fight it out, Kadarin and Thyra vanish, and the swords are destroyed.  Regis is declared King and Lew accepts the post as Senator for Darkover in the Terran Senate.  

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To Save a World                          Marion Zimmer Bradley                  Dec 2008
            Contains 2 novels and one short story: The World Wreckers, The Planet Savers, The Waterfall

The Planet Savers:  Jay (Jason) Allison, a Terran was riding with his father when their airplane crashed.  He was saved and raised by the Trailmen.  They bring him back to humans when he was older and since then he has been raised in Thendara and trained as a doctor.  It seems that the 48-year fever is beginning again and he is recruited to act as an emissary to the Trailmen in hopes of convincing some of them to come back to Trade City to act as sample donors in hopes of combating the fever.  

He agrees, they climb the difficult trail to the Trailmen's homeland, convince a number to come back with them, and find a cure.  

The World Wreckers:  A group has found a method of making money.  It involves damaging a recently discovered planet so that the inhabitants call for assistance of merchants who make huge amounts of money exploiting the resources of the planet.  They have taken a new project - this time it is the planet Darkover.  The paid saboteurs are on the job, many seemingly unrelated problems are occurring when a Chieri comes to the Hastur's and offers his/her services.  After numerous trials and tribulations some of the mysteries of the Chieri are solved and there is a new child born of mixed Chieri and Human parents.  The Comyn Council decides to work more closely with the Empire.

The Waterfall:  A young woman is attacked by a guard in her favorite area, a beautiful garden overlooking a steep canyon with a river flowing over a cliff to form a waterfall.  He, with her pushing, rapes her.  Then when she hears other guards approaching she runs to them and tells them what happened and tells them to throw her attacker over the ledge into the waterfall.  As they do it she feels tremendous sexual pleasure.  She now knows what her power is and how to feed it in the future.

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The Firebrand                         Marion Zimmer Bradley                  Dec 2008
The story of Kassandra, Princess of Troy, daughter of Priam and Hecuba, sister of Paris, priestess of Apollo, and niece of Penthesilea, the Queen of the Amazons.  This is not the story as told by Homer.  

Kassandra and Paris are born as twins.  The conservative view is that they both should be exposed.  If not both then the boy at least as he is more likely to bring evil upon the kingdom.  As a compromise, Paris was fostered to the keeper of the King's herds while Kassandra was brought up as a Princess.  Kassandra was aware of her twin through her mental gifts.  As a young girl she accompanied her mother, Hecuba, to the temple of Apollo and spoke with the God.  She promised that she would become His Priestess when she was older.  At perhaps sixteen she was fostered to her aunt Penthesilea for a year.  There she lived the life of an Amazon and traveled to Colchis where her other aunt was queen.  Colchis was a country on the eastern border of the Black Sea, just north of the eastern part of modern day Turkey.  There she was initiated into the mysteries of the Serpent Mother and snake handling.  On the way back she brings back her cousin, Andromache, who marries Hector, her eldest brother.

On returning to Troy she discovers that her brother, Paris, has stolen Helen, the wife of King Menelaus and that the visions of many ships in Troy's harbor and Troy on fire are starting to come true.  The book covers the entire Trojan war and is fairly close to the story by Homer.  It is just told from mostly the Trojan point of view.  In Bradley's version the Greek soldiers do not hide in the "Trojan Horse" but the horse was built by the Greeks and the walls of Troy were destroyed by an earthquake opening a way for the Greeks to conquer the city.

Kassandra is taken captive by the Greeks and Agamemnon claims her.  They set sail for his home but winds blow them to Egypt and they spend the winter there.  This takes quite a while as she has Agamemnon's child in Egypt.  They then sail to Agamemnon's home in Nauplia (which may be the modern city of Nafplion).  There Agamemnon is led up to the palace and Kassandra and her child are taken in a cart.  There they are met by Queen Klytemnestra.  Then Agamemnon was led into the temple to perform a sacrifice and Klytemnestra questions Kassandra about her feelings toward Agamemnon.  Just as she answers the king bursts through the temple doors but is cut down by the sacrificial ax.  Seeing that Kassandra did not support Agamemnon, Klytemnestrea offers her a place in the Temple.  Kassandra refuses, asking leave to travel to her aunt's palace in Colchis.  Permission was granted and Kassandra and a companion traveled to Colchis.  

When they arrived her companion (whom she figured out very quickly was a man) cast off his disguise and requested permission to travel west and found a city and he asked Kassandra to travel with him, this time as his wife.  She agrees.

In a postscript Bradley tells how Kassandra was treated in ancient literature.  She is either killed by Klytemnestra, she is insane, or she leads the women of Troy in a mass suicide.  Then she quotes from Tablet #803 in the Archaeological Museum in Athens:

Zeus of Dodona, give heed to this gift
I send you from me and my family--
Agathon son of Ekhephylos,
The Zakynthian family,
consuls of the Molossians and their allies,
descended for 30 generations
from KIassandra of Troy

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The Alton Gift         Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J Ross    Mar 2008

It is four years since Regis Hastur's death.  Regis's sister has just died and her grandson Domenick has brought her body to be buried in Hali.  Following the funeral, Domenic and Alanna realize they love each other.  

Council sessions are beginning and the older Ridenow is seated as an observer, bringing with him his youngest daughter, Sibelle.  His purpose: marriage to Domenic.  At the ball, Domenic is with Alanna and she is struck with threshold sickness.  He pulls her through and is in turn helped by his mother.  Then there is a disturbance at the gate.  A rock strikes his father and his mother almost over reacts.  Alanna appears to have had something done to her in Arlinn.  The people who caused the disturbance are interviewed to determine their grievances.  Lew Alton decides to go to the monastery at Nevarsin.  

We meet Jeram (Jeremia Reed) as he has his first attack of threshold sickness.  He is taken to Nevarsin.  Lew Alton is called on to assist him, Jeram and Lew become friends.  Jeram and Lew travel to Nevarsin for the winter.  There, they with Domenic and his newfound love Illona, discover the first case of Trailmens Fever.  Domenic falls deeply in love with Illona.  

Jeram travels to Thendara.  The first hints of serious trouble surface in Thendara and Jeram is captured by Francisco Ridenow.  Lew has a second heart mild attack.  Ridenow brings Jeram to the Council, Francisco challenges Mikhail.  Francisco dies and Mikhail is poisoned.  Domenic temporarily takes his fathers place presiding over council.

Trailmens Fever begins its second phase.  Jeram agrees to help find a cure and Alanna helps in the camp.  Jeram and Marguerita discover how to create a vaccine and they create a large amount but Marguerita is completely drained and falls unconscious.  Domenick helps both his parents and they both survive.  

Just as the Trailmens Fever outbreak is ending Alanna is stricken.  She has been upset over the obvious love between Domenick and Illona and is determine to refuse treatment until Domenick makes it clear that he will observe his earlier pledge to marry her.  She realizes that she has been childish and refuses his offer in Council.  Marguerita is found guilty of abusing her Alton laran.  Jeram brings his common-law wife to Thendara and he begins work to combine Darkover and Terran science. (and they all live happily everafter)

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The Fall of Neskaya               Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J Ross    Dec 2008
 
During the time of the Hundred Kingdoms but before the compact.  Coryn, the son of a minor king, and Liane, the daughter of another rival minor king are brought together as students at Tramontana.  At first they detest each other because of family rivalries but the learn to become good friends.  Then word comes that Damian, the king of a somewhat larger area has taken over both of their family castles.

Somewhat later, Coryn is being sent to Neskaya to continue his studies as under Keeper.  On the trail a storm comes up and he takes refuge in a wayfarers cabin.  While there a young woman arrives.  She is almost dead of exposure but he cares for her until they can travel again.  She is Taniquel Hastur-Acosta, the niece of King Rafael Hastur and the young wife of Padrik Acosta, the local king.  She is escaping from King Damian who has just conquered her husbands kingdom and murdered him.  When she recovers enough to travel they he goes on to Neskaya and she to Thendara.  

After much time and convincing King Rafael agrees to defend her right to her, and her newborn son's, right to rule the Acosta lands.  Coryn goes along with the war party as a Laranzu.  The army defeats the army of Damian and the lands of Coryn, Liane, and Taniquel are returned to their proper owners.   However the Towers of Neskaya and Tramontana are destroyed, many laranzu are killed, and Coryn is rescued by Taniquel.  

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The Curse of Chalion        Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Paladin of Souls                     Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
The Hallowed Hunt            Lois McMaster Bujold                     Aug 2009

Three books of the Chalion series.  In the first, Cazaril (Caz) is returning from the wars.  He was sold into slavery but was rescued.  He comes home hoping for a menial job in the kitchens but instead is hired as secretary-tutor to the princess.  When it becomes obvious that she is going to be forced to marry one of the villains so that he will become king after her brother is killed, Caz kills him using Death Magic.  However Caz does not die but a demon settles in his belly.  

The princess decides that she must marry the son of a neighboring king, Caz helps set this up, the marriage takes place.  The other villain decides to kill her new husband and take her as his wife.  He attacks, he runs Caz through with his sword, the demon is Caz's belly escapes, the Gods kill the villain, and Caz miraculously recovers.  Caz is appointed Lord Chancellor, he marries the princess's Lady in Waiting, and everyone begins to live happily ever after.  

In the second, Paladin of Souls, the mother of the princess, now queen mother, is feeling penned up.  She needs to get out and travel.  She escapes her keepers and leaves with a small party.  She is captured by raiders from a neighboring kingdom and is in turn rescued by the master of a border outpost.  However it seems that the raiders are only the first group of a major invasion.  She is trapped in the border outpost and learns that the rulers of the neighboring kingdom have discovered a way to control demons.  She learns from the Gods that she can break the control over the demons and send them back to their normal home.  She does so and in the process kills the evil leaders of the neighboring kingdom and frees the rest.  She discovers that her task for the next few years is to travel all over the neighboring kingdoms releasing the demons that have been captured.  She finds true love again.

The third, The Hallowed Hunt, is set in the same universe as the other two but it is completely unrelated to them.  An evil prince is attempting to rape and use magically a young woman, Ijada, but she kills him and unknowingly changes the spell.  Lord Ingrey is sent to bring both Ijada and the princely remains back to the castle, one to be executed and the other to be buried.  Ingrey brings them both back but he tries to kill her several times and they fall in love.  It would seem that powerful magic is at work here.  

It would seem that both Ingrey and Ijada are both related spiritually and by direct descent to participants in a fateful battle several hundred years earlier.  The Gods want them to travel to the site of the battle and correct the imbalances left over from the battle.  They do so and it seems likely that they will profoundly change the kingdom.

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Cordelia's Honor
                    Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
            Two books, Shards of Honor and Barrayar

In Shards of Honor, Cordelia Naismith is commanding a small survey ship when it is attacked by a Barrayaran military patrol.  She, a very seriously wounded comrade, and the commander of the Barrayaran patrol are abandoned to try to find a military supply dump.  She and Vorkosigan are attracted to each other but she is able to escape from his ship.  Later she is leading a minor military mission when she is captured again.  The Captain of the Barrayaran vessel begins to torture her but is killed.  The second in command is Vorkosigan.  This time they do fall in love but she is traded back to her people when the war ends.  She is treated very poorly at home and escapes to Barrayar where she and Vorkosigan are married.  He is then appointed Regent to the young Emperor to be.  

In Barrayar, the old Emperor dies, Vorkosigan takes over a Regent with full powers but then there is an attempt on their lives.  Cordelia and Vorkosigan are almost killed, their son, who is still unborn, is damaged by poisonous gas, and is placed in a replicator.  Then there is an attempted coup, the young Emperor to be escapes and is hid in the mountains by Cordelia, and his mother is captured.  The opposition to the coup is formed around Vorkosigan.  When Cordelia rejoins him she with several helpers makes an attempt to recover the child Emperor's mother and recover the replicator.  In the successful attempt the leader is killed at the order of Cordelia, the young Emperor's mother is killed, and the coup fails.  The replicator is undamaged and shortly afterwards the young Miles is removed from it.  He requires many medical procedures but he survives very well.    

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Beguilement                   Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Legacy                                Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Passage                               Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
Horizon                              Lois McMaster Bujold                     June 2009
            The Sharing Knife Series

In Beguilement, Fawn Bluefield is tired of her family ignoring here, and pregnant via a foolish act; sets out to find work.  She runs across a group of Lakewalkers but hides.  Shortly thereafter they attack a group of bandits and worse but two escapees grab Fawn.  Dag, a senior Lakewalker, rescues her but then he leaves her in a safe place to hunt the malice.  Two mudmen come back and capture her.  Dag is ready to attack the malice when they carry Fawn into the cave.  Dag tosses his knives to Fawn and she kills the malice.  They escape but her unborn daughter miscarries.  It seems that the special knife that Lakewalkers use to kill malices have to be primed by a human death, Fawn has killed the malice and her unborn daughter has primed the second knife that Dag carries.  This has never happened before and Dag feels that Fawn must come with him to confer with someone more knowledgeable.  

After the malice is killed they stay in an abandoned farmhouse for several days while Fawn recovers partially.  As soon as they can they travel to the nearest town where they both rest and recover.  By this time they are seriously in love.  They then set off north towards the Lake, stopping for a time at Fawn's parents farm.  There they are married using ceremonial features of both his and her cultures.  We last see them on the road headed north after the wedding.

In Legacy, the two arrive back at Hickory Lake where the reunion with Dag's mother and brother doesn't go well but they are accepted by many others.  After they had been back for a short amount of time word comes that a malice has been found.  Dag is asked to be the Captain for the hunt.  They find the malice and in the struggle to kill it, a portion of the malice partially takes over Dag's mind but Dag recovers.  They find that a trap the malice left is even more dangerous than they first believed.  Dag finds a way to destroy the trap but before he can he too is trapped.

News of the death of the malice reaches Hickory Lake but Fawn knows that something has happened to Dag.  A small party including the Healer starts off, Fawn is forbidden but she goes also.  The trap catches the healer but Fawn saves them all.  They all return safely but Dag is still very ill.  Before he completely recovers his mother and brother call a council meeting to get their marriage annulled.  The question is not settled but Dag announces that he and Fawn will be leaving tomorrow morning.  We last see them on their horses headed south.

In Passage, Fawn and Dag arrive at Fawn's parents farm.  They stay for a few weeks to help with harvest before they leave taking Fawn's brother Whit with them.  After a few days travel they join a freight wagon and Dag repairs a broken bone of one of the workers.  When they arrive at the river port Fawn gets them working passage on a flatboat down the river.  Every good deed receives its just reward and the young man that Dag helped wants to go with them and he is also offered passage on the boat.  Then representatives of the local Lakewalkers come complaining that Dag has cured a farmer.  Shortly after a young woman arrives with an inflamed appendix accompanied by her husband and a lot of angry drunks.  Dag cures her and mollifies the crowd.  Just before the river water comes up a young Lakewalker joins them on the flatboat.

Several days after they depart another young Lakewalker joins them in a canoe.  After a few difficulties they begin to come together as a crew.  They rescue the crew of a sunken flatboat and shortly thereafter another canoe paddles out to offer then guides past a tricky spot.  It turns out to be the bait for a pirate group.  They capture the two "guides", wait most of a day stopping other boats coming down the river looking for additional people to help with the pirates, and then clear out the pirates in a surprise attack.  After waiting a few days for recovery they travel down the rest of the river to the Ocean.

In Horizon, the boat crew splits up to make their separate ways back north.  Dag apprentices to a local master ground maker and stays with him for a month or so before Dag saves the life of a young farmer boy.  The local Lakewalker Captain banishes Dag so he and Fawn get ready to leave heading north but then the master ground maker arrives and says that Dag needs more training and he is going with them to insure that Dag is trained properly.  The join a small group heading north which keeps growing and growing.  When they get close to their destination the run into a malice.  They kill it with only minor injuries to their caravan.  Then they run into another one that must have originated in a bat cave because it and its mudmen were all giant bats.  This one is much more dangerous.  Dag, Fawn, and many more are injured and several are killed but then Fawn's brother Whit is able to kill the malice using Dag's Sharing Knife.  After several days of rest and recovery they continue on to their destination where each family goes its separate way.  We pick up the story almost a year later, Fawn has her baby girl, Dag and his teacher have set up a clinic and many Lakewalker medicine men and women have been coming to inquire how they perform some of their treatments and several of the Lakewalker groups are starting to be much more receptive to Dag's ideas.

Empire                                 Orson Scott Card                             Nov 2007

I struggled as to where to put this.  I finally classified it as Science Fiction because Card is known as a SF author.  The book contains a few "science fiction" gadgets but it is intended (or at least it seems that way to me) as a cautionary tale explaining why Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others of the far right religious political spectrum are correct and why anyone who might possibly believe in civil rights, individual freedom, religious liberty, and any other traditional American values should be stopped by means of physical violence before they do the same to all of us God Fearing Right Americans.  Has he been taking writing and political lessons from Michael Crichton (State of Fear)?  

A brilliant military hero discovers a plot to take over the United States.  He and his assistant single handedly foil the part of the plot to destroy the Government of the US but the President and Vice President are killed.  Why?  Then strange war machines (straight out of War of the Worlds by way of Star Wars) start taking over major cities and political movements start taking over several states including Washington State.  Our brilliant military hero gets killed but his valiant assistant continues on.  Using brilliant logic he traces the evil to a (volcanic?) crater in Washington State.  He must dislike Governor Chris Gregoire more than the governor of Oregon.  It is financed by an evil left wing industrialist (Soros?) who kills himself while escaping.  Card's geography is not too bad except for  his misplacement of Crater Lake and a guard watching trucks coming down the Lewiston, Idaho hill (no way!).  It gets a little vague in the approaches to "Crater Lake" in the Washington Cascades but that is reasonable.  

If you believe that America's problems are caused by a vast left-wing conspiracy this book is wonderful.  If that doesn't meet your political beliefs - you will probably wish that Card had gone back to Ender and wrote a good science fiction novel.  As politics it is just plain stupid.  It won't take many books or articles like this to convince me to write Card off my reading list.  It's too bad, he can be a good and inventive author.

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Reap the Wild Wind               Juile E. Czerneda                             June 2007
            Book 1 of the Stratification Series

Coming of age on Cersi, a young girl, Aryl, is close to becoming an adult when daydreams of a potential lover cause her to fail to save her brother.  That is just the beginning of a disaster that will destroy her clan, her potential lover is lost to her, she helps save a number of "outcasts" from her clan and from the fly-leaf explanatory text will propel her into the future where she will discover the powers that will change her world.  

Being of "hard" SF bent I have a couple of minor quibbles.  Her "trees" seem to be more like grasses, growing from the ground instead of the tip.  I realize that cane does this but I question the ability of a "cane" to hold a tree city.  Maybe yes, but I would like to see more of the biological details.  Like I said, minor quibble.  She is a great author, I will have to go back and read more of her earlier works.

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A Thousand Words for Stranger        Juile E. Czerneda                             June 2009
Ties of Power                                                    Juile E. Czerneda                             June 2009
To Trade the Stars                                         Juile E. Czerneda                             June 2009
            The books of the Trade Pact Series, it follows the Stratification Series

In A Thousand Words for Stranger we meet Sira, a direct descendant  of Aryl of the Stratification Series.  She finds herself abandoned and with no memory of who she is but a compulsion to find a Captain Morgan.  We follow her and Morgan as she explores her memory.

In Ties of Power Sira and Morgan explore their life together but then Sira is (?kidnapped?) by a race called the Drapsk.  They are seeking a Witch of power to help their race find something that they have lost.  At the same time many within the Clan are seeking her as she is believed to be the salvation of the Clan.  All the action begins when Morgan is away on a trading trip.  The rest of the book is concerned with the journey taken by Sira as she attempts to escape from the Drapsk, and when this fails to determine just what they want with her, Morgan's attempts to find her, and the Clan, headed by her father, attempt to capture her and turn her into their salvation over perhaps her dead or at least un-sentient body.  

In To Trade the Stars Sira and Morgan think that their problems are mostly over - Wrong!  It seems that the Drapsk have additional plans for Sira which she cannot escape without serious help and there are renegade Clan and Humans who have their own plans for her.  Again Sira and Morgan prevail.

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Antagonist               Gordon R Dickson & David W Wixon      May 2008

The final (I hope) book of the Childe Cycle.  Gordon R Dickson was a prolific science fiction author with many great books.  The Childe Cycle of at least 12 books is a classic of the future of humanity type of novels.  His final novel was unfinished at the time of his death in 2001 and his assistant finished it.  Either his previous novels weren't as good as I remember them or he had lost his touch - or perhaps his assistant shouldn't have bothered.  

The book is primarily about two brothers - super heroes - but unfortunately there is a lot of kryptonite laying around.  There is way too much amateur philosophizing and not enough action.  Our main hero, Bleys, is on a long slide into the Dark Side.  Unfortunately it has been a long time since the previous book, which I didn't read, and there is no linkage to give any clues as to what is going on.  I was hoping to bring back the old novels, this book didn't.  It was a serious disappointment.

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House of Chains      Steven Erikson                                   Dec 2006

I made a bad mistake when I got this book, Science Fiction Book Club, I didn't return my order card so they sent me the club selection.  I decided not to send it back, I should have.  Perhaps some people like this type of book, I don't.  Perhaps if you had read the first three books in the series you might understand it, I haven't and I did not.  Lots of big nasty warriors, thought is considered weak, killing is considered good.  It wasn't until around page 700 (out of 850 or so) that we finally found a woman who was useful for something other than raping.  I often wonder about fiction universes that don't seem to have families - where do the warriors come from?  Also those who don't have farmers - where does their food come from?  Not that they have to go into all of the details, but they should at least drop a few hints.  Again, if you like this OK, if you don't, and I didn't, don't bother.

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The Colony and the Cavemen
   Dewey M. Erlwein                        Sept 2007

The local librarian said that this was a bad book, she was right.  It is 200,000 years ago on Venus.  A few scientists are warning of global warming but they are generally ignored.  A private industrialist decides to send a small group of astronauts to Earth to trade with the Neanderthals.  They make the first interplanetary voyage but shortly after landing their return vehicle becomes damaged.  They realize they will be staying, they settle in, befriend the Neanderthals, have a few adventures, and discover that they are mutually fertile.  

The dialog is juvenile, the sex is childish, emotion is non-existent, and the science is so poor it is not even humorous.  The cover and illustrations look they were drawn by a twelve-year old boy.  I am repeating myself, the book is bad.

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Boundary       Eric Flint & Ryk E. Spoor

When I first saw this book I almost didn't get it because of the cover.  A T rex, several velociraptors, and a couple of unidentifiable horned herbivores and something that might look like a crashed spaceship in the middle.  Get real guys, I'm not really into sub-teen science fiction.  It started out as straight forward copy of Jurassic Park.  Then it started diverging.  Then it got better and better.  I stopped complaining about them stealing an idea from Michael Crichton and started thanking him for giving Flint and Spoor an idea that they could run with and make a real science fiction story from.  I see this book as 2 movies, the first starting with the discovery of Bemmie, through the delightful scene at the Paleontological Meeting, the explosion and fire of the test rocket, the approach to Phobos, Bemmie 2, the revised mission, the crew selection, and the takeoff towards Mars.  The second would start with the approach to Mars, exploration of Phobos, the mission to Mars, the discovery of the Mars base, and the realization of what it all means.  Subsequent movies could go on from there if the producers can get Flint and Spoor to write them.  

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Sliding Scales                         Alan Dean Foster                             Mar 2008

A Pip and Flinx juvenile.  Flinx (Philip Lynx) has been under a lot of stress, his ship, Teacher, suggests that he take a vacation in some totally out of the way place.  Flinx agrees and so off they go to Jast, a very out of the way planet not a part of the Commonwealth or the AAnn empire.  The dominant race is called the Vssey.   Unfortunately the available records did not contain information on the large number of AAnn who were on the planet attempting to force it into the AAnn empire.

When he arrives he is greeted by the Vssey and an AAnn is procured to show him around.  This nasty, bad tempered, paranoid although perfectly normal AAnn finds an excuse to kill Flinx and is mostly successful.  However he is rescued by a somewhat renegade colony of AAnn artists however he looses his memory.  

Back in the main city of Jast there is an insurrection in progress.  Given the lack of physical prowess, the Vssey are slow and deliberative, but one individual has a new idea.  

In the artists colony Flinx is recovering and is accepted as a valued member, other than the fact that he is non-reptilian.  Word gets back to the AAnn who tried to kill him that a human has been found.  In an effort to find Flinx, and assure that he has another "accident", everything goes wrong and the AAnn discovers too late that he is the carrier of a bomb (in his medical gurney) that is being placed deep within an AAnn installation.  

Flinx retains his ship and they begin the journey back to Commonwealth space.

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Trouble Magnet                      Alan Dean Foster                             June 2009

A Pip and Flinx juvenile.  There is some nastyness out there that has plans on eradicating the entire human race along with any one else who may be available.  Flinx has finally found his true love but she is injured.  While friends help her mend, Pip and Flinx are out looking for a sentient Tar-Aiym weapons system.  It's enough to drive a lesser man to depression, and Flinx is getting pretty depressed about the whole thing.  The thought crosses his mind, "Are humans worth saving?"  To help answer this question he stops by Visaria - generally a planet well worth avoiding - to see if he can find someone who can convince him to answer the question in the affirmative.  After numerous questionable and dangerous relationships he finally finds a young couple.  Of course they are in desperate straights and Pip and Flinx get drawn in.  After a rather miraculous rescue all is well and his search resumes.  An OK book but very juvenile.

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Variable Star        Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson    Dec 2006

When was the last time that you read a brand new book by your favorite author - who died in 1988.  The book was originally partially written in 1955 but then put aside for more pressing tasks.  Then it was discovered in 2003 and Spider Robinson was offered the job of pulling the notes together and finishing the book.  Two years later it was completed.

A young man from the asteroid belt is in love and wants to get married, his intended agrees and they fly up to meet her family.  It all goes well until he discovers that her family is the richest on Earth and her grandfather has his life all programmed out for him.  The young man panics, flees the scene and emigrates to an earth colony.  We have an appropriate number of adventures, and he is finally reunited with his love but by then she is married to a physics whiz who has invented a new faster than light drive for a spaceship but the little sister is available and interested.  Not everyone lives happier ever-after but some give it a good try.

A classic Heinlein juvenile updated with some current events.  Heinlein buffs will read it sooner or later.

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Mystic Empire       Tracy & Laura Hickman          July 2006

Book Three of the Bronze Canticles Trilogy.  If you really want to read this book, get Mystic Warrior and Mystic Quest, the first two books and read them before this one.  There are three separate cultures, Human, Faery, and Goblin.  Each contains numerous species.  Each lives on a parallel world with a small but increasing leakage between them.  The first two books develop the history of each of the parallel worlds with very little interaction between them.  For the first two books, I "got" the individual cultures but the relationships between the worlds was very vague and confusing.  For this last book, the interactions between the cultures become the important considerations but you need to know the history of the individual cultures to make much sense of the story.  It is really one long novel broken somewhat arbitrarily into 3 parts by publishing considerations.  I found the lengthy gaps between the individual books exacerbated the already confusing plot lines.  You have to be really into fantasy to really appreciate this trilogy.  I am not that much of a fantasy fan, I probably should have passed.

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Sun in Glory  Mercedes Lackey ed.

If you are a fan of Valdemar you will get this book, if you are not into sword and sorcery – don’t bother.  A series of short stories written by both amateurs and professional writers, all approved by Lackey.  It includes one story by Mercedes.  Most of the stories are obviously not the work of Mercedes but they are quite entertaining.

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The Wizard of London           Mercedes Lackey            July 2006

Book Four of her Elemental Masters Series.  The series is based on the practitioners of magic who live in what is presumably Victorian England.  In this book Isabelle and Fredrick Harton, who run the Harton School for Boys and Girls in London, have just received a new student from darkest Africa.  The school is fairly small and specializes in children of British expatriates who must live where they believe it would be dangerous to raise their children.  They also, quietly, offer assistance to children who have magical powers that are different from those of the Elemental Masters.  After several misadventures they discover that the young girl, who has a guardian parrot, is a true medium: she can communicate with the dead.  On a school outing they come in contact with several of the more important Elemental Masters, including The Wizard of London, whom Isabelle had been in love with many years before.  With the help of their young students, several employees, and the God Pan,  the Hartons save The Wizard of London from an evil Master in league with an evil Ice Lord.

This new series of hers is very different from her Valdemar series.  Equally enjoyable but very different.

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Reserved for the Cat               Mercedes Lackey                              Jan 2008

A continuation of her Elemental Masters Series. A young woman is a dancer in the Paris Opera.  She is quite good but not a star.  Then the star of the performance is injured and she is asked to dance the staring role.  She does very well and gets a very good review in Le Figaro.  Unfortunately this is not good, the star does not like anyone showing her up and she is fired the next afternoon.  Despondently she heads home to her small flat.  She has only 3 days left before the rent is due and she has no money and now no job.  

In tears she contemplates her bleak future.  Then she hears a voice?  Ninette, please do not cry!  But there is nobody there but a scrawny tomcat who always seems to be around.  So now she is hearing things.  But no, You are not hearing things.  You are hearing me.  It turns out that the cat, whose name is Thomas, is speaking directly to her mind.  To do a quick fast forward, it turns out that Thomas is her "guardian" and she must travel with him to London.  By a fair amount of hook and crook she is "rescued" by several young gentlemen and they set up a review starring her.  To do this she impersonates a recently deceased Russian dancer.  However the shape of the Russian dancer has been taken over by a malevolent spirit who does not like the competition.  Several adventures entail and the book has a very nice ending.

A good writer, a nice uncomplicated story, sufficient bad guys and good guys and a really nice little book.  Even if you don't particularly like fantasy this is a really nice book.

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Foundation                             Mercedes Lackey                              Oct 2008

Volume 1 of the Collegium Chronicles.  Our to be hero, Mags is a young boy working in the mines.  The mine owner treats his serfs very badly but Mags is one of the best workers so he is treated better than some others.  Then one day a man riding a white horse, with another white horse, comes to the mine and asks for Mags.  After sufficient arguing and threats Mags goes with the man.  After several days to gain strength Mags and his new Companion (that's the white horse) set off for far away Haven to join the newly established Collegium as a Herald in training.  

Some books never grab you, some take a while, Lackey's books grab you by the time you are half finished with the first page.  

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The Phoenix Transformed                             Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory                               Oct 2008

Volume 3 of the Enduring Flame. I partially take back what I said about the previous book. Tiercel and Harrier are sort of stranded in the desert with some tribesman. It would seem that the main idea is to kill off as many tribesman as possible but there are still more. For the first two-thirds of the long book their main job is to complain about their circumstances. Only at the very end do they do anything and they seem to be amazed that anything happens. Correct, I am not fond of this book.

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Learning the World                Ken MacLeod                                   July 2006

When the book begins the year is 14,364 A.D. the date is 5/12 at 17:24.  The starship is named But the Sky, My Lady! The Sky! and it has been en-route for 4,000 years.  The ship is about 500 light years from earth and it is nearing a star system.  It would be a generation ship but human lifetimes have been extended so that they are almost unlimited.  In their exploration and colonization of stars there has never been a sentient species discovered.  This is about to change, the inhabitants of the second planet from this star have just spotted a new comet with a very strange orbit.  The book chronicles the life aboard the ship and on the planet from shortly before they become aware of each other through the through their mutual discoveries of each other over a 12 year time span.  At the end of this some of the humans continue on their way, some remain, primarily in the asteroid belt, and both humans and the inhabitants of the planet consider the other lights in the sky that are not stars, they seem to be products of intelligence.  A very strange book.  My first thought was "Huh?" but then it grew on me and became quite fascinating.  I will look for more books by MacLeod.

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Wicked    Gregory Maguire

The book chronicles the life and times of Elphaba of the House of Thropp, who would become known as the Wicked Witch of the West,  her sister Nessarose who would become the Eminence of the East, more commonly called the Wicked Witch of the East, and Glinda who was for a time Elphaba's roommate at Shiz University just outside of the Emerald City.  Glinda would later go on to rule Oz for a time but that happens later.

Elphaba was born in the outer reaches of Munchkinland to a fairly ineffectual minister and the daughter of the leader of the Munchkins.  It was a strange birth, she was green, had very sharp teeth, and was seemingly allergic or at least suffered great distress from coming in contact with water.  Other than these minor differences she had a relatively normal childhood.  She later had a brother and a sister although there was some concern about paternity.  She went to the major university, she was an adequate student, quite interested in biological studies, moderately proficient in magic even though it was not appropriate in religious circles.  She later became a somewhat ineffective political agitator and was forced to leave the Emerald City when her lover was killed by the police.  She then made her way to the Cloister of Saint Glinda where she stayed for some years and gave birth to her son.  She then traveled to the castle of her lover and lived there, trying to learn more magic, until Dorothy came.  The rest you probably know.

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Son of a Witch    Gregory Maguire

The sequel to Wicked.  My outlook on the world of Oz has been forever changed by these two books.  L. Frank Baum evidently had a much more interesting setting than we ever knew.  It's too bad that he never new about the "real" story of Oz.

Liir, the son of the Witch, is found mostly dead.  The book covers Liir's life from the death of the Witch, to his "accident" and recovery until he regains consciousness.  The story switches back and forth from before accident to after accident.  Then the two plot lines converge and we continue on until the birth of his daughter.  If you thought that The Wizard of Oz was a children's story, you were right.  These books look at Oz from the viewpoint of the politics surrounding this period in the life of Oz.  These books are for advanced children.  I enjoyed them very much.

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A Lion Among Men               Gregory Maguire                              Dec 2008

Volume Three in the series (Wicked Years).  The story of the (sometimes) Cowardly Lion.  His name is Brrr.  The book describes his early life (he was an experimental Animal in Shiz but Elphaba rescues him.  He travels all over Oz, we all know of his meeting with Dorothy, but we discover that the Wizard didn't really give him much courage, he just gave him a job as a spy.  He ends up at the Cloister of Saint Glinda (where Liir was born) and everything pretty much comes together while he is there.  Unfortunately as it ends two new story lines are created.  The further adventures of Brrr and the continuing search for Liir (and/or his daughter) by his (half?) sister.  I hope he writes the next book soon because I don't want to wait that long.  Wicked came out in 1995 and Son of a Witch came out in 2005.  Thats a long time between books.

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Acorna's Quest                       Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball   Aug 2006

A juvenile by a very good author and a collaborator.  Mix the unicorn legend in with science fiction and see what happens.  Acorna, the unicorn girl, has been found as an infant in a rescue pod by three asteroid miners.  She obviously comes from a high-tech civilization but it is unknown to humans.  They meet with a number of humans who wish to use and abuse her.  This book starts with Acorna as a very fast maturing "teenager" who still has the miners as her guardians and has also acquired two rich and powerful protectors.  Several members of Acorna's species have come to warn humanity of a large army of vicious invaders on the way to human occupied space. They set out to rescue her only to find that she is attempting to rescue a group of humans in trouble.  Acorna doesn't seem to need all that much rescuing but she does wish to meet her relatives.  The bad guys discover that humans can be rather nasty when defending their territory.  Not a tremendously exciting book but you can never tell when McCaffrey will come up with an interesting idea.

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Acorna's People                      Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough   Sept 2006

Acorna has found her relatives and travels with her aunt to the current home planet of her people.  There she finds a stilted, tradition based culture that she doesn't fit in with very well.  Her aunt is sent on a mission to learn why the signals from some bases have ceased.

Another story line starts with Becker, a space junk collector, runs afoul of some of Acorna's enemies.  Being enemies of the same people, Becker and Acorna are destined to become friends.  Sure enough they join forces and with Hafiz (Acorna's foster parent) they rescue Acorna's aunt and others of her race who have been captured by the  evil parties.  They all travel back to narhii-Vhiliinyar for a joyful homecoming.  There it is pointed out to Acorna that the home world is the residence of the more traditional, tradition loving branch of her people, the more progressive are commonly found on other worlds and in space.  Acorna belongs with this second group.

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Acorna's World                       Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  
Acorna's Search                      Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  

Acorna's Rebels         Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough  Sept 2006

Acorna is helping rebuild Vhiliinyar, the native planet of the Linyaari.  She is mourning her lifemate Aari who has disappeared while on a quest to find information about the origins of the Linyaari.  As a sort of vacation she and her friends decide to see if they can find Aari and solve the mystery of the Temple Cats, who mysteriously disappeared just before Vhiliinyar was destroyed.  After numerous adventures they partially solve the Temple Cat mystery, save the Temple Cats and the humans on their planet.  They still don't find Aari but they are finding more about why he vanished.  Still a juvenile series.

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Acorna's Triumph                    Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

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Catalyst                    Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough                Mar 2010

A new series, "A Tale of the Barque Cats". It is not said in so many terms but it looks like an alien species came to visit ancient Egypt. They had space ships in the shape of pyramids and they took cats and perhaps some humans back with them and/or left their guests somewhere. The cats got smart and the humans are not important in this story.

In this story a sub-species of the domestic house cat has arisen and it is very useful in spotting problems in space ships. Two subplots, in the first a pregnant female cat is "catnapped" and one of her kittens is later recovered by the owner. But then the owner and kitten are captured by one of the "Egyptian" cats in space. The second subplot involves an evil politician who convinces the government to quarantine all animals being shipped. This doesn't work out well and the two subplots merge. Everything gets sorted out, many of the cats escape and go back to the "Egyptian" planet and our kitten and owner are making plans to go there.

Definitely a juvenile, both in planned audience and plot.

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Dragon's Kin                    Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey     Mar 2008
The book starts with a brief history of Pern to this point.
      8 Turns    From landfall to beginning of first pass (Turn - Pern for year)
    50 Turns    Length of first pass  (Pass - period of time during which Thread falls)
 200  Turns    Length of first interval
    50 Turns    Length of second pass
  200 Turns    Length of second interval
This book begins 16 Turns before the beginning of the third pass.

Kindan is the youngest son of a miner, a miner who is in charge of a watch-wher.  His father is killed in a mine accident and the wher dies in helping get several miners out.  As his father was a widower, his remaining siblings are fostered out and Kindan is apprenticed to the local Harper, Master Zist.  He and Kindan do fairly well for several months.


The Kindan is sent to "impress" a watch-wher and bring the egg back to the mine where it will be used in the mine.  He is successful and is responsible for its welfare.  He is befriended by a blind girl, Nuella, the daughter of the Chief Miner.  She helps him with the wher, especially with going into the mine as her blindness is much less of a problem in the dark.

Nuella shows a remarkable ability to get along with and work with the watch-wher.  She is asked to travel (by dragon back) to various holds to train wher-masters in a new technique that she discovered.  Just as she returns there is a cave-in at the mine.  She and Kindan's watch-wher rescue the trapped miners.  The watch-wher and Nuella bond and Kindan is accepted as a Harper.  Both Nuella and Kindan are pleased by this arrangement.

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Od Magic                     Patricia A. McKillip                         July 2006

Od is an ancient magician who started a school of Magic several hundred years ago.  Od wanders a lot and in her journeys she comes across a young untrained magician named Brenden Vetch.  He is very good with plants.  Od has been thinking about her school for some time and realizes that Brenden would be a perfect test for what may be going wrong at the school.  She sends him there as a gardener and at the same time he arrives, Od arrives disguised as a young but talented pupil.  With the unwitting help of a number of people including a young princess and others associated with the school and the palace the problems are discovered and the school and the kingdom are set back on a proper path.  The book is a little slow in getting where it is going but it is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

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The Devil's Eye                      Jack McDevitt                                   Dec 2008
            An Alex Benedict Novel

Alex Benedict, interstellar antiquities dealer, and his assistant, pilot, and overall girl Friday, Chase Kolpath are on vacation when they receive a cryptic message from a celebrated horror writer who has asked for help in some way and has transferred a very large sum of money to Alex.  They travel to the place the writer had been vacationing to try to determine what is going on.  There they travel around the planet, get captured by the bad guys, escape, fly a taxi into orbit, save the planet, prevent an interstellar war between humans and the other known space going species in this part of the Galaxy, and get hailed as heroes by both species.  And in the process Alex finds, keeps, and then sells a previously unknown volume of Churchill's history.  All in all a very profitable journey even if it did take several months more than planned.  A very nice book.

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Victory Conditions                  Elizabeth Moon                                Apr 2008

The final episode(?) of the Vatta's War series.  Kylara and Rafe are pretty much on their own.  Ky in command of her small but effective space force, Rafe as the President of the communications company following the injuries to his father.  They are both obviously too young to be in such command positions - it's just that no one else is qualified.  

Of course they prevail after suitable trials and tribulations.  A necessary and satisfying conclusion to the series but not as good as the other books.  Too much of a geo-political-economic analysis and not as much of a story about real people interacting.  The earlier books were more satisfying as the focus was much more on the main characters doing the things that made the difference.  In this book they set up the conditions and others did most of the exciting stuff.  And where this was not true, Rafe capturing the spy, you wonder, why was he doing this himself?  Shouldn't the most valuable player send someone else in instead of risking his life?  

I really enjoyed the series, this just happened to be the weakest book.

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Building Harlequin's Moon   Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper

The John Glenn, the first interstellar spaceship, as left Earth intending on traveling to a planet suitable for terraforming.  Enroute they encountered difficulties and were forced to stop at a star with very poor prospects.  They were forced to modify an existing moon to create the facilities needed to manufacture the needed quantities of antimatter so that they can resume their journey.  This is the story of Rachel, one of the first generation born on the newly terraformed moon.  She, and all those born with her and thereafter, were destined to become the workers who would build the infrastructure on the moon and then build the antimatter generator to supply fuel for the starship.  One might call them slave laborers.  This is the story of the conflict between the Earth Born and the Moon Born.  It recounts the origins of the conflict, the attempts at resolving the conflict, the emergencies and the political unification of the two groups.  It is a Larry Niven book – its good.

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Fleet of Worlds                      Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner   Dec 2008
Juggler of Worlds                 Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner   Dec 2008

These are two different aspects of the same story.  Each major section of both books is defined by the date of occurrence.  As examples the dates of the sections in Fleet of Worlds are 2197, 2650, 2650, 2650, and 2652.  The dates of the sections in Juggler of Worlds are 2637, 2641, 2645, 2645, 2648, 2650, 2651, 2652-53, 2654-55, 2656-57, 2658, 2659, and 2660.  In Fleet of Worlds we follow an expedition from Earth, which first sights the Fleet of Worlds - the home of the Puppeteers, is captured, and the crew and the frozen fetuses are enslaved by the Puppeteers.  Almost 500 years later three descendants rebel, discover the original Earth ship, and threatened the Puppeteers until they were allowed to take one  (NP4 or New Terra) of the six worlds and leave the Fleet so that they might follow their own destiny.

Juggler of Worlds bounces around much more.  It expands on a number of much earlier short segments by Larry Niven and puts them together in a common narrative.  Some of the major characters that appear are Sigmund Ausfaller (ARM agent), Julian Forward (Jinx Physicist), Gregory Pelton (wealthy industrialist), Beowulf Schaeffer (pilot), Carlos Wu (Earth Physicist), Nessus and Nike (both Puppeteers).  We follow the events surrounding the discovery of the Galactic Core Explosion, the withdrawal of General Products from Earth, more of the politics on Hearth (Puppeteers), Earth and several of the other worlds in Known Space, and the journey of Ausfaller and several people from NP4 to the Outsiders and the deal with the Outsiders, Puppeteers, and humans.  

I have never seen other books so intertwined as these two.  I am glad that I got both at the same time from the library.  I was very happy to see Niven creating more books in the Known Space universe.  This has been one of the best series in all of science fiction and it is continuing.  

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Three Hands for Scorpio   Andre Norton

There is trouble in the land.  The Lord and Lady are summoned to a meeting to discuss the matter.  The triplet daughters are left behind in the well defended castle.  They are kidnapped by evil magic while the rest o the castle sleeps in an unnatural slumber.  The captors, fearing pursuit and eventful capture lower the three girls into the strange underworld called the Dismals to die.  After a suitable number of adventures and with the assistance of a strange young man whom they don’t completely trust, they escape the Dismals.  They are united with their parents and with the additional help of some unexpected friends they solve the mystery of the Dismals and destroy the evil that has been stalking their land.  The book is suitable for rather dull, unimaginative subteen girls.  Nortons books have not been extremely intellectual bur have usually been entertaining.  I was disappointed.

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Temeraire                                Naomi Novik                                    Dec 2006

My previous book was House of Chairs, this is equally long and equally improbable but much more fun to read.  Ever since the Pern series dragons have been the BIG thing in fantasy-science fiction.  This is a historical novel set during the Napoleonic Wars.  A young British naval Captain captures a French ship that contains a large dragon egg.  Several days later the egg hatches and the Captain "impresses" the newly hatched dragon.  Since this is an "alternative history" dragons are relatively common and are used in European countries as an Air Force.  This is a package of three reasonable length novels packaged in one long book.  We follow Captain Laurence through his first few days with Temeraire, his training to be an aviator and acquiring a flight crew, a surprise trip to China to solve some diplomatic problems caused by the fact that Temeraire was originally given to Napoleon Bonaparte as a gift from the Chinese Emperor, and his flight back to Europe where he was forced into joining the Prussian Air Force.

The problems that I had with the book were that she seemed to run out of ideas during the Prussian campaign against Napoleon - it just seemed to drag and and the problems with the size and the physics of dragons.  Contrary to the opinions of many science fiction and fantasy authors size actually does matter.  Novik is proposing dragons that weigh up to 50 tons and carry as many as 300 combat troops.  The ability of such a creature to fly, breath, consume a reasonable amount of food, etc. seriously strains my credulity.  I enjoyed the story but a suspension of belief was necessary.

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Empire of Ivory                                Naomi Novik                                    Dec 2007
            Book 4 of the Temeraire Series

Straight continuation of the above series.  When we left book 3 Temeraire and a group of dragons had just left Europe for England and when book 4 starts they are still flying to England.  They make it to England to discover that the dragons have been struck with a serious illness (flu?).  They fight valiantly for a while but they gain intelligence that there might be a cure in Africa.  A small group of dragons sails (by ship) to the south of Africa, they find a cure but discover another culture of dragons in the middle of Africa who are hostile because of British slave trading.  They escape with sufficient cure (wouldn't want to give away plot elements) and the technology to create more.  After they return, the English dragons are recovering nicely, but they discover that the English high command has instituted a program of biological warfare against French dragons.  They take steps to rectify the situation.  Not a good move politically.

Again the plot moves very slowly, there are only a few major plot ideas with no significant subplots.  It just seems to plod and even the exciting parts are way too drawn out.  I will read the next book but I hope it gets better.  The publicist blurb in the back of the book says that she has optioned rights to Peter Jackson - Lord of the Rings movies - a movie would go much better.

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Victory of Eagles                    Naomi Novik                                     Oct 2008
            Book 5 of the Temeraire Series

Again, straight continuation of the above.  I am getting disappointed with the series.  Way too much chatter and not enough action.  From now on if there are more books in the series I will get them from the library before I spend money.  A disappointment.  

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Eldest                      Christopher Paolini                           Sept 2006

Second book of the Inheritance Series

Eragon and his dragon partner, Saphira, have survived and played a major part in saving the dwarf stronghold from the forces of the evil King Galbtorix.  He and a small group travel to the land of the elves where he is to complete his first training as a Dragon Rider.  Meanwhile his cousin, Roran, is being sought by minions of the King back in their home in Carvahall.  After the King's soldiers attack but are driven back Roran assumes leadership of the townspeople and leads them on a trek to Surda where they arrive just as the battle starts between the King's armies and the humans and dwarfs.  Roran and Eragon meet on the battlefield where the forces of the King are partially defeated.  When the book ends the King's army is retreating and the army of the Varden (humans, dwarfs, elves, and Dragon Rider) is trying to pull itself together after the fight.

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The Infinite Instant               Danielle L. Parker                 Feb 2010

Oh, Oh, I know the author! We have a novel set in the indefinite future. We have space travel to other star systems but this is very unimportant to the book. California just sank into the Pacific in "The Big One" and our heroine has a very powerful PSI power as well as a PhD in cyber sciences. She is working as a hi-priced private eye in a very mob dominated environment. Someone thinks that he needs her services but for some not too clear reason feels that he has to force her to work for him. This doesn't make a lot of sense but it does make for conflict. I was a little irritated when the book ends just when it appears that the heroine is about to take the trip of her life - or perhaps her last trip - but on the other hand that is how authors get you to buy the next book in the series. And I will read the next book.

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Into the Looking Glass            John Ringo & Travis S. Taylor        July 2008

The University of Central Florida appears to have been bombed, with a 60 kiloton blast, however it doesn't seem to be either a fusion or a fission bomb.  What gives?  When investigated there seems to be something in the crater, and then strange "insects?" start appearing in the crater.  They find a survivor, Mimi and her "pet" Tuffy.  The "insects" turn out to be rather nasty and begin killing people and they start showing up in lots of spots.  

The "something" in the crater turns out to be a two way portal to elsewhere - and elsewhere may be open space, a far off planet or even elsewhere on earth.  However there are Bad Guys in some of these locations, Good Guys in some other and its all very confusing.  With the help of some of the Good Guys our heros find a way of closing off the portals to the Bad Guys.  Definitely Space Opera stuff but fun reading.

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Vorpal Blade                John Ringo                      June 2008

Bill Weaver, PhD and SEAL Chief Adams are back again.  The submarine Nebraska has been converted into a sea and space ship with warp drive.  The bad guys are out there so we need to search them out.  With the addition of the newly created Space Marines out they go.  The fly leaf compares this to Heinlein, maybe not, but still a good book.  I will read the rest of the series.

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Manxome Foe                         John Ringo & Travis S. Taylor        July 2008

Next book in the series.  The Nebraska (renamed the Vorpal Blade) is back from her first mission and has been refurbished.  However one of the portal planets seems to have been attacked.  The Vorpal Blade is sent out on its second mission to find out what has happened.  They get to the planet, rescue a survivor, and discover evidence of a battle in space.  They rescue 3 survivors and then come across a large but disabled warship.  After some tense moments they decide that they are all "Good Guys" at just about the time that the "Bad Guys" come looking for them.  

A major battle occurs, the Vorpal Blade is very seriously damaged but with the help of their new friends the humans are successful.  Their new friends repair the Vorpal Blade and they return to Earth.  Their friends decide to use one of the planets discovered in the previous trip.  However - it appears that the Bad Guys will be arriving at Earth in about 18 to 20 years.  A wonderful new opportunity for the next book.  We also learn that the author(s) are frankophobes.

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Claws That Catch                   John Ringo & Travis S. Taylor        Mar 2009

The next installment of the series.  The Vorpal Blade was damaged much more than I realized from the previous book.  It has been almost completely rebuilt, redesigned, made much larger and more convenient and is being completely refurbished as the Vorpal Blade II.  Our main hero of this book, Two Gun, has been sent to Officers Candidate School, is a new Second Lieutenant, is struggling to learn his new duties, gets married as the book starts.  Almost the first half of the book is devoted to problems of officers and crew who have not served on the Vorpal Blade before this trip.  

The ship leaves earth and immediately has many problems with poor command decisions and about as soon as most of these are solved they discover a very strange system of planets around a star.  They find a very strange artifact in orbit around the star that seems to resemble a huge Christmas Tree.  In exploring it they discover a way of controlling the sun which at first seems to be directed at creating a light show using four large planets also in orbit around the star.  Then they discover that the Bad Guys have found the star and have even gotten forces inside the Christmas Tree.  In fighting these forces they discover that the infestation of mouse- or rat-like creatures that they have been struggling with in the Vorpal Blade II are actually very effective biological weapons against the Bad Guys.  Shortly after the Bad Guys are cleaned out of the Christmas Tree the main force of Bad Guys arrive in the star system.  During the early part of the fighting they discover that the "light show" controllers can be used as an extremely effective weapons system.  Between the Marines weapons, the rodent weapons, the "light show" weapon, and the fortuitous arrival of allies discovered in Manxome Foe they completely destroy the Bad Guy force.  

Again, a pretty right-wing leaning book but enjoyable.  It takes additional writing skills to come up with left leaning heroes.  Most of our concept of Hero, going back to Homer, comes out of a Strict Father tradition.  This series may have a book or two left in it but it feels like it is running out of steam.  

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The Last Colony                     John Scalzi                                        June 2007

The third in a trilogy of Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades.  It is the continuing story of John Perry and his now wife Jane Sagan and daughter Zoë.  John and Jane have been mustered out of the Special Forces and are living on a colony, he as a village ombudsman and she as the village constable.  Then an old commander comes by to offer (insist) that they take leadership positions in a new colony.  They reluctantly agree.  After the normal difficulties of getting the supplies and colonists together they leave and arrive at their new colony world - except that it's the wrong world!

Interstellar, inter-race, inter-ethnic, and inter-being conflicts hit them from all sides and they find themselves in an inter-stellar war that is pitting more than 400 different races of intelligent beings against another large number with humans as a major partner.  If you look a little behind the story you can find interesting parallels with the political situation in America in the early 21st century.  John is torn between siding with the government of the human side of the conflict and with the "other" side which he thinks is in the right.  The book doesn't come to complete closure but John, with the help of some unexpected allies, comes up with a novel solution which allows him to retire with honor, stick a finger in the eye of the government, and offer a possible solution whereby possibly 500 races of intelligent beings can get along without fighting.  

The author promises us that the trilogy (which started out to be a single book) ends here and that he is moving on to "explore other places and people."  We will see.  I certainly enjoyed all three books - the first two before I started my Reports.

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Star Wars:  Jedi Trial   (Clone Wars)   Davis Sherman & Dan Cragg

The Star Wars series started at a fairly low level and has declined ever since.  This book carries on the tradition.  Young Anakin Skywalker is sent out on an assignment.  His light saber performs admirably and the day is saved.  Anakin is awarded the rank of Jedi Knight.  I was lucky, it was a library book, I didn’t have to pay for it, I was able to return it.

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Coyote Frontier      Allen Steel

The third book in the Coyote trilogy.  Steel briefly refers to the precursor events, the religious takeover of America, the takeover of the first starship, the Alabama, the landing on Coyote, the attempted takeover of the planet by other starships from earth, and finally the consolidation of the settlements and businesses.  The current book really begins with the sighting of the exhaust plume of an arriving starship.

The starship was from the European Alliance and they want to start trade negotiations.  They also bring with them the equipment to build a starbridge, a wormhole tunneling device for travel between star systems.  After considerable debate the settlers of Coyote send the President travels back to Earth to discuss trade alliances.  In the over 200 years since the settlers had left Earth, the climate has tanked because of pollution caused global warming.  The ice caps have melted, sea levels are up flooding many populated areas, the Gulf Stream has reversed, Europe is cold, North America is very hot and dry, and the population of Earth is down to about 3 billion; in short a real mess.  Arrangements are reached but political difficulties force the visitors from Coyote to leave ahead of schedule.

Trade and immigration go well for a while but problems arise.  Environmental degradation sharply increases and some political attitudes from Earth begin to cause problems.  A mini-revolution takes place just as a second starship from the European Alliance shows up and attempts to take over the starbridge.  Through clever political maneuvering and good luck both threats are nullified.  After most of the after effects from the attempted invasion and revolution have worn off one final crisis occurs.  A vessel comes through the starbridge, but not from Earth.  It identifies itself as a shuttle from the first high speed starship to leave Earth which had been reported missing many years before.  When the shuttle lands it contains 3 survivors from the starship plus an ambassador from a non-human race.

Maybe Steele will expand his trilogy by adding an extra book or two?  He has just getting really well started with a new world and new opportunities for a brand new universe and he is done.  I hope not.

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More Than Human     Theodore Sturgeon   Science Fiction Classic

The story of a family, sort of.  Not your traditional family with a Mommy, Daddy, and the little children, but a family nevertheless.  It started with the Idiot, almost a feral human.  He met Alicia and their interaction had a profound effect on her, not him.  A poor farm family took him in. Janie, who is 5 meets twin girls who are 3.  When Janie runs away the twins go with her.  Janie and the twins find Alicia’s abandoned home and stay there until the food runs out.  The Idiot leave the farmer and builds himself a room in a cave, he runs into the three girls and takes them in.  The Idiot goes back to the farm.  The wife has died, the farmer is not coping, and the baby needs care.  The Idiot “fixes” the farmer and takes the baby with him.  After a time the Idiot remembers that the farmers pickup was stuck, Janie asks the baby and Baby tells the Idiot how to make a machine to get the pickup out of mud.  The Idiot brings home Gerry, an 8 year old escapee from an orphanage.  After the Idiot dies they all go to Alicia’s town home.  There is a long session with a psychiatrist.  After several years Janie goes in to rescue Hip Barrows from jail.  He is seriously mentally ill and in poor physical condition.  She nurses him back to health.  It turns out that Hip is/was a seriously brilliant engineer.  He found the anti-grav pickup and Gerry drove him mad.  Hip confronts Gerry and gives Gerry an ethical basis for action.  Gerry is reborn as an ethical being.

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Some of your Blood    Theodore Sturgeon   Science Fiction Classic

A very strange book.  The correspondence between a colonel and a sergeant.  It so happens that they are old friends and the sergeant, through the normal Army goof-up procedures is a clinical psychologist who didn’t get is officers rank.  It is about a soldier, probably in the Korean War, who presumably struck a major and was sent back to the states for psychiatric help.  The soldier grew up in an abusive home in Appalachia and was effected in rather strange ways.  A fascinating if somewhat gruesome book.

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Slan   A E van Vogt   Science Fiction Classic

Jommy Cross and his mother were walking down the street when she realized that they were being followed.  “Run, hide, they are coming!”, he ran as she led them away.  Jommy is 9, a Slan (the next step up in the evolution of humanity) and he is being hunted.  He is captured/rescued by an old woman who wants him for her own purposes.  He grows up in the underworld while his talents mature.  He recovers his fathers secret weapon, has many adventures, an grows up to attack the evil government that has attempted to kill his people.  A good example of the early Super Science science fiction.

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Heinlein: Off the Main Sequence      Ed. Andrew Wheeler         July 2006

A collection of Robert Heinlein's short stories that are not a part of his Future History series.  They were published between 1940 and 1959 in many different magazines.  Since these were stories that were not a part of his Future History and he often used pseudonyms.  This was sort of like going back in time.  My mother got me into reading and Heinlein was what I read, not only Heinlein but his novels were the high points.  I had read some of these in earlier collections but many were a first for me.  It was like a time machine back to when I was 10 to 12.  

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A Hole in Texas  Herman Wouk  (book on tape)

A mainstream book written by a mainstream author.  The plot of the book is a cross between a science fiction plot and a mainstream plot.  A good, modern science fiction author would not have wasted so much time explaining the details of the science.  As a science fiction reader I found the assumption of scientific illiteracy rather irritating.  I also found that the emotional level of the two major characters too childish.  They are both PhD's with children and they are acting like a pair of 9th graders on their first date.  The ending is a sort of “Physics Uber Alles” which I find totally unreasonable and only possible if you exhibit the “Physics Hubris” mentioned in the Nathan Spielberg & Byron D. Anderson book under Science.  Well worth reading (or listening to) but if particle physics isn’t your life you will probably get a little irritated.

Ps.  It seems that Fermi Lab is really close to the Higgs, the SSC and the dual linears of Stanford didn’t seem to be necessary.

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