December 28th, 2012

buzz

December Books 11) The Year's Best Science Fiction, 25th Annual Edition, ed. Gardner Dozois

Big collection of sf short stories published in 2007, of which I had read very few - the five Hugo nominees (of which I remembered only three, Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate", Stephen Baxter's "Last Contact" and Elizabeth Bear's "Tideline"). Several stories new to me that particularly grabbed me: "An Ocean Is a Snowflake, Four Billion Miles Away" by John Barnes; "Sea Change", by Una McCormack; "Against the Current", by Robert Silverberg; "Of Love and Other Monsters", by Vandana Singh; "The Mists of Time", by Tom Purdom; and "The Prophet of Flores", by Ted Kosmatka. No turkeys; as usual a good collection.

manga-me

Where I've been this year

List the places where you spent a night away from home this year, marking places where you spent two or more non-consecutive nightswith an asterisk.

*Strasbourg, France
*Tbilisi, Georgia
*Geneva, Switzerland
Skopje, Macedonia
*Barcelona, Catalonia
Heathrow, England
*Loughbrickland, Northern Ireland
Paris, France
The Hague, the Netherlands
Broadstairs, England
Portslade, England
Kidderminster, England
Letchworth, England
Dublin, Ireland
New York, NY
Cherry Hill, NJ

At 16, that's more than last year but less than some others. There were a lot of return visits - five to Tbilisi, three to Strasbourg, three to Geneva. Also one overnight flight and two night ferries. Nine countries plus Belgium, plus another three (Austria, Turkey, Ukraine) changing planes and several times changing trains in Luxembourg, which makes fourteen countries this year.

rebus

December Books 12) Bleeding Hearts, by Ian Rankin

Most of this is excellent, a tale of a specialist assassin who happens also to have a milder form of hæmophilia, trying to find out who organised his latest hit, and of a private detective hired to find and kill him for a previous assignment. The detail of pursuit around the UK and USA, getting entangled in a nasty cult with links to spooky circles in Washington, is very good. But unfortunately I was completely unconvinced by the twist-in-the-tail resolutions of both main plot strands, which spoiled what was otherwise a very enjoyable read. (Not a Rebus book, despite my choice of icon.)

tardis

December Books 13) Devil in the Smoke, by Justin Richards

Justin Richards seems to be on form these days; this is another tie-in e-book, intended as a prequel to The Snowmen (though as far as I could tell it was not available outside UKania until after the broadcast), a tale of Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax battling a smoke monster with the assistance of a small boy as viewpoint character. It is a pastiche of Victorian children's stories with a nod to Leon Garfield (though his Devil-in-the-Fog was set a hundred years earlier), spooky and enjoyable. When we first met Vastra and Jenny, fandom cried out en masse for spinoff stories about them, and I think this and James Goss's piece for last year's Brilliant Book shows that fandom was right.