Here are the nominees:
THE MEMORY OF SKY (Robert Reed) Paperback, 624 pages.
Diamond is an odd little boy, a seemingly fragile child—who proves to be anything but. An epic story begins when he steps into the world his parents have so carefully kept him from, a world where gigantic trees each house thousands of humans and another human species, the papio, rule its far edges. Does Diamond hold the promise to remake one species and, perhaps, change all of the Creation?
THE INTERESTINGS (Meg Wolitzer) Paperback, 400 pages.
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
THE WEIRDNESS (Jeremy P. Bushnell) Paperback, 288 pages.
Along the way, Billy learns about courage, friendship, and love, while considering some important questions: Why do people have pets? Who would store seafood in a warehouse in Chelsea? And where do those bananas in bodegas come from, anyway?
THE RICH AND THE DEAD (Liv Spector) Paperback, 320 pages.
Welcome to Star Island, where Miami’s wealthiest residents lead private lives behind the tall gates of their sprawling mansions. It’s a blissful escape from the hot and dirty city—or it was, until New Year’s Day 2015, when twelve of the most powerful people in the world were found murdered in the basement of a Star Island mansion.
The massacre shocked the nation and destroyed the life of investigator Lila Day. Her hunt for the Star Island killer consumed her. But the case went unsolved, resulting in her dismissal from the Miami PD.
Now, three years later, life hands Lila an unexpected second chance: reclusive billionaire Teddy Hawkins approaches Lila and asks her to solve the case. But how do you investigate a crime when all the leads have long ago gone cold? The answer, Teddy tells her, is to solve the case before it happens. He’s going to send Lila back in time.
With nothing left to lose, an incredulous Lila travels back to 2014, determined to find the Star Island killer once and for all. But as she goes undercover among the members of Miami’s high society, she finds herself caring for—and falling for—people who are destined to die that fateful night. Now she must either say good-bye or risk altering the future forever.
BLACK MOON (Kenneth Calhoun) Paperback, 290 pages.
Insomnia has claimed everyone Biggs knows. Even his beloved wife, Carolyn, has succumbed to the telltale red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech and cloudy mind before disappearing into the quickly collapsing world. Yet Biggs can still sleep, and dream, so he sets out to find her.
He ventures out into a world ransacked by mass confusion and desperation, where he meets others struggling against the tide of sleeplessness. Chase and his buddy Jordan are devising a scheme to live off their drug-store lootings; Lila is a high school student wandering the streets in an owl mask, no longer safe with her insomniac parents; Felicia abandons the sanctuary of a sleep research center to try to protect her family and perhaps reunite with Chase, an ex-boyfriend. All around, sleep has become an infinitely precious commodity. Money can’t buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it. However, Biggs persists in his quest for Carolyn, finding a resolve and inner strength that he never knew he had.
Cast your vote! The poll closes next Saturday.
This morning, on the drive back home from the farmers market, the conversation turned to eyes. According to Akemi, one of the instructors at her English language school: “Has eyes like Husky!”. Clearly, them’s some lovely eyes. But, apparently, they don’t hold a candle to those of my writing partner. ”Munyu Munyu’s eyes [her nickname for Paul] have more power.” Yeah, he gets that a lot. Akemi likes his eyes. He wins the male category. When it comes to the female category, Robert Cooper’s wife, Hillary, is the big winner: “She has beautiful eyes. Like flowers inside!” Like flowers!
In addition to her unique turns of phrase, Akemi has produced some equally inspired creations in the kitchen. Check out these Stargate cookies:
Cacio e pepe…
And this homemade eggnog for yours truly:
And roasted chicken meatballs (hiding melted cheese centers)…
Akemi flexes her culinary muscles…
Continuing our Book of the Month Club discussion of Terms of Enlistment…
Kathode writes: “And did anyone else get annoyed that we never learn Halley’s first name? WTF? She calls him Andrew, and he refers to her exclusively by her last name, even in his thoughts? That’s kinda fucked up, no?”
Answer: Wait, I thought Halley WAS her first name. No? Then that is mighty strange. We made this a gag in the SG-1 episode 200 when Jack calls Sam “Carter” on their wedding day!
Katholde writes: “I only brought it up because Grayson himself felt the weight of what he’d done when he saw the floors above the grenade impact site pancake one on top of the other. He told us he felt bad that he’d been responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people. If he’d really felt entirely blameless in his actions, he’d have had no problem telling Halley about it via email.”
Answer: Well that’s what I found so strange. He expresses that initial regret, clearly doesn’t want to discuss it in the email, but we delve no deeper into his conflicted feelings. Sure, he feels justified for his actions, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t still feel conflicted or somewhat guilty.
Line Noise writes: “Re: Andrew being at the right place at the right time. I think that’s a limitation of first person narrative. Because you only have the point of view of one person in the story the author needs to contrive situations that gets that person to where the next part of the story goes. If the story was third person and following several characters then I think it would have been structured differently (Andrew staying on Earth and Halley encountering the aliens, for example).”
Answer: The need for something to happen is not an acceptable excuse for coincidental or contrived development. There are other, albeit trickier, ways to get there. They just require more thought and effort.
Line Noise writes: “Re: soul searching and self- torture. One of my least favourite book series that I read was The Seafort Saga by David Feintuch. The hero starts off as a Midshipman in the space Navy and through a series of events over many books makes lots of hard decisions that kills a lot of people in order to save many, many more. He is so consumed with guilt that I ended up hating him because of his self-pity.”
Answer: I’d argue there’s a fairly wide-ranging middle ground between feeling guiltless and consumed by self-pity
Bad news for my writing partner. Apparently, an intimate knowledge of the Home and Garden network line-up and/or those various storage locker reality shows ISN’T going to offer much traction in our upcoming L.A. meetings. According to my agent, one of the first things an executive will ask us will be: “So, what do you watch?”. Me? Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, True Detective, The Walking Dead, Les Revenants, Sherlock, Downton Abbey. My writing partner? Those shows where people redecorate your house. Also, almost all of the tattoo parlour-related offerings. Hmmm. The answer is supposed to offer insight into our personal t.v. tastes and philosophies, in addition to giving those in attendance the opportunity to bond over shared interests. It can also, presumably, as was the case when I was talking to my agent this morning, have just the opposite effect. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I thought Broadchurch was a fine series – but “great”? He didn’t use his powers of deductive reasoning to solve anything! The murderer simply gave himself up! How is that dramatically satisfying?!
Okay, granted, I do tend to get worked up over such trifles as story and logic – which makes for great party debates but perhaps, in the long run, far less successful meetings with the network executives whose favorite show you happen to be eviscerating. Even more awkward if it happens to be a show on his/her network. I’ll never forget the time I met the then President of MGM Television who was visiting the Stargate offices for the day. After chatting with me for a few minutes, he checked his watch and informed me he had to catch a cab back to the hotel so he could watch the premiere of the rebooted musical series Fame. I laughed out loud. Heh. Good one. Fame. It turned out he was serious. Shiiiiiooooot. So I did the only thing any level-headed person in my position would have done. I said it was nice meeting him and reminded him who I was, dropping my writing partner’s name instead.
It looks like we have our work cut out for us in the lead-up to our L.A. tour-de-force. He has brush up on some non-reality t.v. while I have to practice self-restraint. There are going to be a tough few weeks ahead for both of us.
Of course all this prep could be for naught if one of our standing projects gets the green light. A decision on A.K.A. will be made sometime this month. Dark Matter is still a possibility as are two other projects we’re in contention on. But in the event none of these pan out, then we have to start thinking about L.A., either staffing on a network show in April, or going down to pitch May/June with an eye to landing on a cable series. Ideally, I want to run my own show, but I’m not willing to sacrifice another year to make it happen. So, in addition to practicing self-restraint and making travel plans, I’ve got to come up with some new material. We’ve got three original pilots completed – Dark Matter, Damnation, and A.K.A. – and I’m about to put the finishing touches on the Southern Gothic script I co-write with the delightfully acerbic Tara Yelland. I’ve started work on an over-the-top SF actioneer and just started thinking about a DARK drama to round things off. I figure that if things don’t pan out, I’ll just go ahead and program my own network with my stack of scripts.
So, out of curiosity, what is the one show out there that everyone you know LOVES that you absolutely HATE? And why?
The other day, a friend of mine floated the idea of a group trip to Las Vegas. With the proposed dates over two months away, I thought I’d try to book my flight and/or hotel on points. After all, I’ve amassed an impressive amount on my Aeroplan program, a loyalty program that “THEORETICALLY” allows people to exchange their hard-earned reward points for things like airplane tickets, hotel stays, or a Broil King professional barbecue tool set featuring a durable design tough enough for even the most demanding griller! Yes, I’m sitting on a healthy balance, not so much because of my spending habits, but due to the fact that it’s been almost two years since I’ve actually been able to redeem points for any sort of travel rewards. Drawing on my experience, and the experience of friends, I believe your chances of successfully booking a flight on Aeroplan is roughly equivalent to your odds of catching a home run ball at a major league baseball game.
Having said that, I’m sure you’re wondering how I fared this time. After all, how does the saying go? Thirty-sixth time’s the charm?
The first thing I did was look into a flight to Vegas in mid to late May. The good people at Aeroplan offered me exactly ONE, a United Airlines flight that leaves Vancouver at before-the-crack-of-dawn 6:30 a.m. and touches down in Vegas at 8:49 p.m. Yes, that’s right. A 14+ hour flight with what I can only assume is a stopover in New Delhi. If, on the other hand, I want the basic comforts of a direct 2 hour and 40 minute route, it’ll cost me.
I then looked into hotels, hopefully something on or close to the strip. Again, no dice. I was offered a grand total of three choices. Two were approximately an hour drive from the strip and the third, while closer, is apparently located by some railway tracks. On the bright side, complimentary earplugs come with the room. And I wish I was kidding, but no.
In hindsight, I figured, maybe two months is a little tight. If you’re going to redeem your points for travel rewards, maybe you should look to book well in advance of your trip. How well in advance? Six months? Eight months? How about TEN MONTHS? Surely Aeroplan would be able to accommodate my late January of 2015 Tokyo trip?
Alas, no. After checking the “My Dates Are Flexible” box, how many non-stop flights to Tokyo was I offerED some TEN MONTHS in advance of my trip?
Exactly zero. None. Zilch.
Our of curiosity, I tried to book as far in advance as Aeroplan would allow, almost a full year before my planned travel date. So, how many non-stops flights to Tokyo was Aerogold offering some TWELVE MONTHS in advance of my trip?
Exactly zero. None. Zilch.
I remember a time when I used to actually be able to redeem my Aeroplan points for travel rewards. Granted, it was two years ago but still, there was a time. So what’s happened between then and now? Are there that many more people snatching up the available seats – up to a year in advance? Have, as I suspect, the actual number of seats allotted to Aeroplan been decreased? I’ve tried to contact Aerogold for answers but haven’t had much luck getting through despite multiple attempts.
Apparently, the odds of your actually talking to someone to their call center? Only slightly better than your odds of successfully booking a flight on their rewards program.
Jelly’s tests results are in and it’s good news: a grade 2 low-malignancy tumor with clean margins. Apparently, that means the chances of a recurrence are low and that the operation was successful in removing all of the malignant tissue. She’s still pretty spry for 15. Pictured above, Jelly is thrilled to hear it.
Bubba, meanwhile, was in for a check-up the other day. He’s been unusually lethargic of late and has all but given up on stair-climbing (about the only regular exercise keeping him fit!). The results of his blood panel were excellent except for the traces of crystal in his urine which are presumably the cause of his discomfort. So, what gives? Well, it could be one of three things:
1. His new raw food diet. Bubba was on another raw food, but we switched over to this one because it’s prepared by our local butcher and includes healthy ingredients like kale and parsley. The new diet is the obvious culprit but, from the online research I’ve done, protein isn’t usually among the list of suspect causes.
2. Tap water! Apparently, a change in local water quality was to blame for a number of similar cases. A higher concentration of minerals in the water will contribute to the formation of crystal deposits in the urine. Maybe I should switch the dogs to bottled water? Milk? Whisky?
3. Potassium-rich banana. Every morning when I make my post-workout shake, Bubba gets a piece of banana. In recent weeks, a pretty big piece of banana. Could the banana be the cause?
4. Lately, Akemi has been on an apple chip tear. And, inevitably, whenever she sits down for a snack, opportunistic Bubba is always parking himself beside her, eager to snack as well. It’s hard to say no to that face.
5. Maybe something I’ve missed?
No physical ailments for Lulu, but she has seemed down of late, off lazing about by her lonesome instead of being her usual perky, playful self. What gives? Could I have depressed french bulldog on my hands? Any suggestions on how I could cheer her up? Longer walks? A spa day? A Vegas getaway?
A terrific counter to that (suddenly suspect) study on the dangers of eating protein: Animal protein as bad as smoking?! Among the highlights: ”The study claims to have adjusted for protein in general vs. animal protein to conclude that animal protein is the harmful factor and not protein per se. Call me suspicious, but I always check for conflicts of interest and the lead researcher, Dr Longo, has declared interests in (actually, he’s the founder of) L-Nutra – a company that makes ProLon™ – an entirely plant based meal replacement product.”
As for those two other studies I linked to in yesterday’s post, apparently sitting around all day and being angry IS still bad for you. But I’d like to take a closer look at those studies as well.
Awww. A setback for the spoiled
teen young adult trying to sue her parents with the help of her friend’s father-lawyer: Good News for Parents: See What a Judge Told a ‘Spoiled’ Teen …
Continuing our Book of the Month Club discussion of Terms of Enlistment:
Kathode writes: “We’re in the head of Andrew Grayson as he relays his first-person narrative, but I don’t feel I really know him.”
Answer: Exactly. We learn very little about our protagonist, this despite the diary-style narrative that offers the perfect opportunity to get inside Andrew’s head.
Kathode writes: “…his thoughts at times totally contradict each other: when he’s living in the PRC with his mom, he appears to love her enough to take the trouble to make sure she will have something special (a bit of real food) after he’s gone, but then when he’s aboard the shuttle taking off from Boston and off to boot camp, he doesn’t bother to look out the window at his home falling away forever. Rather, he tells us, “If the Sino-Russian Alliance nuked the place right this moment, and I saw the fireball light up the night sky behind the shuttle, I wouldn’t feel a thing.” Uh, what? Your mom’s down there, dude!”
Answer: Great point.
cathode writes: “But then we never see that conversation! How would she react to what he did? Would he finally break down in the retelling of it, with the weight of his conscience? Here was an opportunity to make me care about Grayson and to understand their relationship, but Kloos seems to have completely forgotten that thread by the time Grayson meets up with Halley in person.”
Answer: Another great point and an example of an opportunity missed. This could have been a real revelation and the way she responded could have said so much about her character whether she blindly supported him, worked hard to convince herself, or had reservations about what occurred . Like the entire ethical dilemma Andrew faces on Earth, it’s completely glossed over and we are left to our own assumptions.
Kathode writes: “There are odd narrative contradictions too, which took me out of the story and made me think this book needed a better editor: (1) Grayson tells us that the stairways in the PRC are the most dangerous places, being where all the hood rats hang out to mug people violently. But later, at boot camp, the platoon is taken for its first real run, and Grayson tells us he’s confident in his fitness, since he’s been “running the staircases back at our residence cluster for the last three months in preparation for military training.” How is that possible, if the only time we’ve seen him navigate a PRC staircase, he opened the door a crack, listened for hood rats, and then went down the stairs as quickly as humanly possible? “Running the staircases” implies an entire workout, and certainly not a quiet enough one to be able to hear highly motivated hood rats approaching with mischief on their minds.”
Answer: Missed this one, but it’s yet another great point.
kathode writes: “The aliens presumably “fumigated” the colony on Willoughby, killing all the colonists without destroying any of the buildings. So why, then, do they mount a ground assault on the terraforming compound, pulling down giant, reinforced concrete structures with their bare hands? They could have just fumigated the terraforming compound without ever getting near the place. Or just left it alone, considering that their own terraforming apparatus was already transforming the planet to their specifications, quickly erasing the effects of the human terraforming efforts. And as MikeP said, weapons (which they obviously have, as they brought down a starship) would have been much more efficient.”
Answer: I’m reserving judgement on this one simply because we never do get to find out what the deal is with these aliens. Maybe they’re the equivalent of attack dogs, dumb brutes that the advanced aliens sicced on the colony. Of course, if that was the case, it doesn’t explain why the advanced aliens terraformed/gassed the atmosphere. Presumably they did so to wipe out any native life forms while keeping existing structures intact. But if that was the case, why loosen these destructive creatures on the planet? Can anybody who has read the second book tell us if there was a good explanation for this?
Kathode writes: “Finally, the ending leaves much to be desired. The story just stops. Clearly, this is all a set-up for the next novel in the series, but each book in a series should be a stand-alone work.”
Answer: Ah, couldn’t agree more. I’ve always held that a book, even if it is part of an ongoing series, should be self-contained. I can leave the door open for a continuing storyline but, at same time, should offer a satisfying conclusion to a given chapter.
The Hump writes: “I have started reading Lines of Departure, which is the follow up book. The war with the aliens is being looked at in more depth. Book one is feeling more like part one of a set.”
Answer: Agreed. Did you feel that the second book answered most of these nagging alien-related questions in satisfactory fashion?
astrumporta writes: “I like a bit of style in fiction. It doesn’t all have to be Neil Gaiman or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but a bit of lyricism and beautiful language goes a long way for me. I know this was written in first person by a narrator without much ‘beauty’ in his life experience, so maybe the simple language was on purpose. I just found the style very spare.”
Answer: I suppose it comes down to a matter of taste. I love Gaiman’s style which I find perfectly suited to the types of stories he tells. In this case, you’re right – the sparse style is in keeping with our character’s outlook. If found it made for a quick, uncomplicated read.
fsmn36 writes: “Not to mention – while typical – the “shoot first” response to the aliens was still bothersome. I know, I shouldn’t be concerned with aliens that (apparently) use chemical warfare and terraform a planet with people on it, and we find out about the release of mine-like things in the space around the planet…but it still seemed hasty?”
Answer: While I couldn’t fault them for shooting first and asking questions later, I also wondered why no attempt was made to communicate with an obviously superior foe.
fsmn36 writes: “That said, if there are sequels, there may still be answers to the PRCs (how did the rioters get military grade weapons, for one), plus more room for the aliens and such.”
Answer: Could anyone who has read ahead answer that for us? Do we eventually get to learn more about the PRC’s in the second book?
dasndanger writes: “ Joe, in reading the comments above I came to the conclusion that the whole first person thing just doesn’t work for you (and many others).”
Answer: That’s not true. I’ve enjoyed a lot of first person narratives, precisely because it’s more personal and allows the reader to gain a more intimate sense of who are protagonist is and what motivates him.
dasndanger writes: “ I’ve always enjoyed first person storytelling because the narrator doesn’t know all the whys and wherefores. He’s only telling what he knows, or what he cares to know.”
Answer: I don’t need to know all of the information an omniscient author can only provide. I’d just like a little more insight into the characters, especially our protagonist.
dasndanger writes: “Also, keep in mind that an author doesn’t want to explore ALL plot devices in his first book – save something for later.”
Answer: To be sure but, in this case, I felt the author was unsuccessful. Rather than intriguing me, whetting my appetite, and leaving me wanting more, I was left confused and unsatisfied.
Sylvia writes: “After reading the Terms of Enlistment, there were 3 other books related to this, so I bought and read them as well.”
Answer: Are you referring to the other two books in the series? How do they compare to the first instalment?
Duptiang writes: “Like 2cats memtioned I normally do not analysis novels I have read. This perhaps being a first, or second time. I did enjoy it.”
Answer: Great! Well pick up Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. That’s up for discussion next month!
The results are in. And they’re shocking! Apparently, the meat and cheese diet is bad for you: Meat, cheese diet study
Also, this just in! Sitting around all day is bad for your too: ‘Brain Fog’: Sitting for hours negatively impacting health…
Also, angrier people are more likely to die of heart attacks: Angry people ‘risking heart attacks’
Ah, the hell with it: 25 Of The Most Obvious Headlines Ever
Here’s one that seems to engendered some heated responses. Poor, abandoned girl or spoiled, entitled young adult? Judge rules against New Jersey teen suing parents for support
Fake Chef Fools Midwest Morning Shows, Makes Reporters Eat Gross Food. Apparently, he’s THIS GUY K-Strass, the incompetent yo-yo master who goes around midwest morning shows, pretending to be a yoyo master. Here he is talking about, among other things, the Hobos for Yoyo’s Program:
“Lisa Malak, who anchors the “Sunday Morning” show on WFRV in Green Bay, thought it would be fun to book somebody who said he was a yo-yo champion. When Strasser showed up April 11, he said he forgot the string for his yo-yo. With no tricks, Malak and Strasser spent their live TV segment talking.” (http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/93209399.html)
Our Book of the Month Club discussion on Marko Kloos’s Terms of Enlistment continues. If you haven’t weighed in with your thoughts yet – what are you waiting for?
Chris writes: “It seemed too clean to me, one minute he is under arrest almost brought up on charges the next he is given a navy assignment that most people would kill for.”
Answer: Yes, it really felt like a huge missed opportunity missed. There was so much that could have been explored re: the moral and ethical implications of domestic warfare but, instead, the dilemma our protagonist faces is quickly and conveniently swept under the rug and the story moves on to the next dramatic chapter. It almost felt like the author was trying to cover too much ground in too limited a page count.
Tim Hendrix writes: “I didn’t get my hands on the book until last night and I just finished reading it 20 minutes ago.”
Answer: Well, that says a lot about Kloos’s ability to really engage a reader. There’s no denying the fact that, despite my issues with the characters and some of the narrative choices, it was a fun read.
arctic goddess writes: “However, Grayson’s regular coincidental good luck stretched credulity. If my life was anything like his, I would likely have won the lottery by now.”
Answer: Ah, you’ve hit on one of biggest pet peeves in fiction = coincidence and convenience.
skua writes: “The first third of the book, suffers from characters without relief during training camp about everything. This seems to me, more a professional deformation , since Kloos as a former instructor NCO from the Heer ( Bundeswehr ) can not avoid showing us, his military vision, here denoted in the treatment of recruits. which sergeants can not see them but as moldable material that will not be true soldiers until they pass the ordeal and are transmuted in efficient inventory assets.”
Answer: I understand that, but it would have been nice to get to know some of the other characters (to say nothing of Andrew’s feelings) during these training sessions so that we could have been more emotionally invested in them later.
thornyrose1 writes: “If the vast majority of people are trapped in these cities, how can the government sustain both a military and a colonization effort, especially with competing political entities? If these slums are the exception, how many people are we talking about living on the planet?”
Answer: All great questions. The battle sequences were detailed and compelling. I wish as much effort had gone into the world-buillding.
DP writes: “ Kloos went to little effort to get me to care about the things Grayson cared about, but what little he did, I had to distrust because if a guy can walk away from his mom and never look back, he can do that with any other element of the story that seems important.”
Answer: Agree in the general sense but I believe his enlisting put him in a better position to provide for his mother. The alternative would have been to live with her in poverty.
DP writes: “ I fell off the turnip truck once upon a time just like him and I was looking forward to comparing scars with him, but that didn’t happen.”
Answer: Hmmm. I see potential here for a great future Book of the Month Club selection. Or anecdote.
DP writes: “The action was incredibly well-written. It was flawless in terms of physics. It’s not easy to write this kind of action without some kind of plot-hole and the temptation is to summarize to avoid one, but he described play-by-plays for extended sequences without flaw.”
Answer: There’s no denying he’s a terrific writer and I have no doubt that the subsequent books in the series will be even better as he continues to hone his skills.
Sparrow_hawk writes: “But I liked the Gulliver aliens.”
Answer: So did I but, like the previous Earth-bound story, I wish we could have known a little more about what was going on. I realize it’s the first book in a series but, even so, I wanted a little more light shed on these aliens.
JeffW writes: “Since I come from a family with a lot of military service, I found Kloos’ treatment of military themes to be excellent and I personally appreciated it. His depth and understanding of military life shows in his writing.”
Answer: They say “write about what you know” and it’s obvious Kloos knows about the military. As I said in my critique, he reminds me of David Weber in that respect.
cat4444 writes: “I was also somewhat taken aback at the way Andrew manipulated his having killed non-combatant civilians by way of serious overkill into getting himself transferred to another branch of the military – specifically the one his lover was assigned – and then further manipulated things to get himself assigned to her ship. There wasn’t really any downside or negative consequences to his actions up to that point, since everything worked out in his favour.”
Answer: Yes, this was one of my biggest bumps. Not only was he able to easily escape responsibility for his actions, but he didn’t seem at all troubled by the deaths of the civilians. Sure, I buy him excusing his behavior but for him to display no sympathy for the deaths felt borderline psychotic.
cat4444 writes: “However, I felt the ending was a bit of a let down, since so much was left unresolved. I suppose, though, that the ending was deliberate and done to entice readers to pick up the next “chapter” of the story.”
Answer: I’m sure that’s what it was but, like you, I would have liked some resolution or end-point despite the fact that it’s an ongoing series.
Airelle writes: “ Joe, how do you find out about these books?”
Answer: SFSignal.com lists all of the genre releases for the month. I go through the list, choose the half-dozen that interest me, then post them on this blog as nominees for our Book of the Month Club and let you all decide.
Line Noise writes: “I’m intrigued by the alien race we encounter towards the end of the book. I don’t think they are intentionally aggressive towards humans. I think we are like ants to them, beyond their notice except as a minor annoyance. I will be reading the following book(s) in order to find out more about them. So much sci-fi revolves around alien races that are either very similar to humans (mentally, if not physically) or so alien as to be incomprehensible but ultimately humans come out on top. I’d like to see a story about what happens when humans discover that they are so weak and insignificant that they are not even noticed by other races.”
Answer: I’m intrigued as well and curious as to how things will develop. On the one hand, they seem quite advanced but, on the other hand, as someone else already pointed out, their actions seem crude, savage almost.
Mike P. writes: “Why does no one try and communicate with them?”
Answer: I guess the question would be “How?” – especially after it appears they wiped out a colony.
The Hump: “I would have liked it to spend more time on Earth. I thought the over population and social tensions more interesting than the alien invasion.”
Answer: I thought they were both interested but ultimately underdeveloped. I would have preferred the first book to focus on his time on Earth and really flesh out that story, then save the alien encounter for the second book and give it it’s due as well.
dasndanger writes: “ I have to painfully admit that – being the shallow person that I am – the title ‘Old Man’s War’ does absolutely nothing to compel me to read the book. Now…maybe it if it was called ‘Young, Hawt Guy’s War’, or ‘Pale, Long-locked Dude’s War’, or even ‘Scottish Lads in Kilts’ War’, then maybe I’d give it a go.”
Answer: Okay, how about Old Man Joins the Military and Gets Brand New Young Hot Body War?
dasndanger writes: “While I may have enjoyed a bit more character devel, this book reminded me of first-person Naval accounts I’ve read from the 18th and 19th centuries. More facts than emotion – almost diary-like – put down to paper by someone who guards his feelings well. That was my impression of Grayson – someone who took life as it came, never over-analyzing it, and never getting too emotionally caught up in anything. I kinda liked it, actually.”
Answer: Interesting take. I know people like this and respect them but, when I’m reading a book, I like to know a little more.
Shana writes: “One of the things I enjoyed was the fact that he was given an earth bound deployment in the beginning. I actually wouldn’t have minded if he’d been earth bound for the whole book.”
Answer: In total agreement with you. If nothing else, having him head off into space at book’s end would have felt like a more satisfying conclusion to a chapter.
N writes: “I was a little confused. I found the sequence in Detroit surprisingly engaging (surprising as I’m not always so into action sequences) and it was mentioned a few times that the weapons that the residents had were far superior to what was expected. I thought maybe he was going to uncover some kind of secregovernment plot designed to keep the masses in their place and I was glad to have some focus for the story since it had taken a while to get there (although, again it wasn’t a difficult read) but then the main character got transferred and suddenly the story was about something else altogether. I kept waiting for the plot to come together and blow my mind somehow but it didn’t. It just ended. WTF?”
Answer: Now that you mention it, it did feel like we were being set up for something more. Possibly something that pays off in the next book?
2cats writes: “I also placed a pre-purchase order on his (yet to be released at the time) sequel, Lines of Departure. While I didn’t read this one quite as quickly, I did thoroughly enjoy it too — go read it!”
Answer: Based on your recommendation, I’ll put it on my To-Read list.