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This Is Real: The Dictator’s Handbook

2017/03/12 Leave a comment

The Dictator’s Handbook was a frightening and fascinating read.  I came across it from a YouTube video that nicely summarizes many of its premises and consequences.

Appropriately, the book comes with the subtitle: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics.

It’s a highly plausible analysis of political and other power structures, and what leads them to be more democratic — or more oppressive.  It also discusses why it’s difficult to have a dictator who is both benevolent and effective.  It’s written by a pair of political science professors, and filled with historical examples.

It was written a couple of years before the most recent US presidential election, but it has some… implications, nevertheless.

No dictators were harmed in the making of this book.

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Science Fiction Round 69: I Don’t Know What This Is, But It Made A Squelching Sound

2017/02/24 1 comment

Biology is not my thing.  I mean, I studied physics because it was basically the not-biology major, so I could avoid all the living, growing, squishy, gooey things.

I recently read Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, and the biopunk aspects were fascinating all by themselves.  For… multiple definitions of fascinating.  A content warning for various flavors of bio-horror is in order.

I will now discuss the book, and also apply cold, hard physics to the scary, squishy stuff.  Wish me luck.

This cover seems accurate, although I really imagined the spaceships as looking... different. Like cylopean slugs crossed with space motorcycles. If you happen to see it, the alternate title and jacket of "Lesbians in Space" is also accurate.

This cover seems accurate, although I really imagined the spaceships as looking… different. Like cylopean slugs crossed with space motorcycles.
If you happen to see it, the alternate title and jacket of “Lesbians in Space” is also accurate.

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Fantasy Round 52: The Crooked Way

2017/02/12 Leave a comment

This is the sequel to Blood of Ambrose, and much like the first book, it’s a wild ride.  It explores many different applications of the setting’s magic, as well as questions about death and mortality.

I have a few (mostly spoiler-free) thoughts about the tale.

I'm not sure when this part happens in the story. The main dragon-slaying part that I recall involved an elderly dragon who wasn't doing a lot of flying.

I’m not sure when this part happens in the story. The main dragon-slaying part that I recall involved an elderly dragon who wasn’t doing a lot of flying.

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Science Fiction Round 68: The False Federation

2017/01/29 Leave a comment

I read a Star Trek novel recently.

These are my equivalent of the fluffy romance novel: they’re not too heavy or too hard-hitting, and I can whip through one pretty quickly.

Many are quite mediocre, and The Shocks of Adversity was no exception to this rule.  However, it did provide some good food for thought.

I’ll provide spoilers here, but the book is largely spoiled by the blurb… and the plot is not terribly surprising.

The Enterprise does show up, but I'll admit, that's not what I imagined the Goeg Domain ship to look like. I expected something a little more aerodynamic, since it can actually land on the planet.

The Enterprise does show up in the book, but I’ll admit, that’s not what I imagined the Goeg Domain ship to look like. I expected something a little more aerodynamic, since it can actually land on the planet.

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Fantasy Round 51: Blood of Ambrose

2017/01/22 1 comment

Merlin is not the hero.

Blood of Ambrose is the first in a series written by James Enge.  It’s an amusing sword and sorcery tale, which hints at Arthurian legend without being beholden to it.  It concerns the defense of Uther’s kingdom from a usurper trying to steal it away from his descendant, in an alternate fantasy-world.  Merlin’s children are at the forefront.

It’s a fun romp, and worth reading if you don’t want to think too hard about the real world for a little while.

And now, I will think a little too hard about this book.  The biggest spoiler is a bit at the end that doesn’t have a big impact on the main plot.

The crows are relatively minor characters, but they do play an important role. The guy with the sword is Morlock Ambrosius, son of Merlin Ambrosius, called the Crooken Man, and generally a fascinating character.

The crows are relatively minor characters, but they do play an important role. The guy with the sword is Morlock Ambrosius, son of Merlin Ambrosius, called the Crooken Man, and generally a fascinating character.

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