Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty is a closed-room murder mystery in space with clones!

I got hooked on this! As the characters discover their situation, and all the weird things that are going on, I knew that Mur was going to stitch them all together so it made sense by the end–and WHO DID IT?!!?!!

I appreciate that Mur Lafferty is getting better and better with each book. This one is quite good–but it is not perfect. There were maybe three or four times I thought something was hokey or silly–and all but one of those times it was crucial to how the the plot works out, so stick with it. (I think that one of the characters was so good at a skill of hers that it was almost a superpower.)


Maidenhead Locator System

Amateur Radio operators compete and often keep track of how far away the people are that they make contact with. In the late 50s, folks created a grid system for Europe so people could quickly transmit approximate location. In 1980, amateurs began to adopt a new system, the Maidenhead Locator System, which describes a world-wide grid system.

I found a fun Google Maps dealie that shows you the Maidenhead Locator System overlaid a more traditional map.


“Library Extension”

I read quite a bit. One of the tools I use is “Library Extension“, a Chrome plugin that adds a little box to Amazon and Goodreads, showing the availability of the book, ebook, or audiobook at your local library.

Many libraries offer ebooks now, which can usually transfer right to a Kindle. It’s really slick!

Thinking hard, or hardly thinking?

Trust and Hysteresis

I was talking to a friend of mine today, and we got around to talking about trust. I realized that trust can be a good example of hysteresis.

When you trust someone, they can do things that you might not agree with, but you’re still OK with them. Once they do enough of them, however, you no longer trust them. Now, their actions are viewed in a different light, and things they do that would have been OK before are no longer OK.

It even works the other way around. Neat!


“Too Like The Lightning” by Ada Palmer

Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer is ambitious, complicated, excellent, and only half a story.

If I had to compare to any other work, I’d say it’s closest to “The Book of the New Sun” by Gene Wolfe.

The narrator plays with us. He addresses the reader, as Dear Reader, and the delivery and reveal of information to us as readers is extremely deliberate–even though it’s a relatively chronological story set over only a few days. At one point, he mentions that it’s silly that the word “visor” isn’t spelled with a z, because visors are futuristic. Chapters later, he spells it vizor.

The sequel comes out any day now, and I’m really excited to read it.


“Every Hidden Thing” by Kenneth Oppel

I really like Kenneth Oppel’s work–I had previously read the Airborn novels and loved those, so when I saw he had a new book out, I picked it up.

I went in completely cold–I knew nothing about it. I actually thought it was going to be science fiction-y! It is not–but it is an absolute delight,

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel is a sweet book about two teenagers working with their fathers to find dinosaur fossils during the “Bone Wars” of the 1800s. It’s been described as “part Romeo and Juliet, part Indiana Jones”. I’m not sure I’d describe it as that. Kenneth Oppel has always done a good job with youth romances, and he did a great job here, again.


“Hot Boy”

I’m at a work retreat, and the folks invented a “new drink” they’re calling the Hot Boy. I’m documenting it for posterity.

  • 3 oz Gin
  • Squeezed eighth of a lemon
  • Squeezed eighth of a lime
  • 2 tbsp pablano/serrano simple syrup
  • Slice of Jalapeno
  • Slice of Serrano
  • Splash of San Pellegrino Limonata

Advanced: lemon twist rub, followed by serrano rub.

Thanks Zach and Nolan!


“Islands in the Net” by Bruce Sterling

“Islands in the Net” is a 1988 novel by Bruce Sterling. I really like Bruce Sterling’s stuff, in general, but there are a few novels of his I don’t really care for. “Islands in the Net” is one of my favorites of his.

I have a six-week old, and read this in the last few weeks, so this review will be a little scattered, but this book has stayed with me enough I want to write even more about it.

Some parts of it are really, really dated, which is to be expected from an SF book from nearly 30 years ago. He mentions faxes, and while there is a worldwide computer network that people use to share information with each other, it’s mostly pre-recorded things–like video recordings or text files, and he nearly completely missed realtime interactions. On the other hand, some parts fly right by without notice. Drones, maybe even quadcopters, that are basically toys, with guns attached as a terrorist tool? Good portions seem like they were written during the 2016 presidential campaign, or at least, certainly after 9/11–but nope, the Berlin Wall was still up when this book was published.

What’s my favorite part? Technovoodoo, or the rewilding with the iron camels, or Rizome, or “The Lawrence Doctrine and Post Industrial Insurgency” by Jonathan Gresham, or ‘Net-burned’, or this song?

Listen, people of the Kel Tamashek,
We are the Inadin, the blacksmiths.
We have always wandered among the tribes and clans,
We have always carried your messages.
Our fathers’ lives were better than ours,
Our grandfathers’ better still..

Once our people traveled everywhere,
Kano, Zanfara, Agadez.
Now we live in the cities and are turned into numbers and letters,
Now we live in the camps and eat magic food from tubes.

Our fathers had sweet milk and dates,
We have only nettles and thorns.
Why do we sufffer like this?
Is it the end of the world?
No, because we are not evil men,
No, because now we have tisma.
We are blacksmiths who have secret magic,
We are silversmiths who see the past and future.
In the past this was a rich and green land,
Now it is rock and. dust.

But where there is rock, there can be grass,
Where there is grass, the rain comes.
The roots of grass will hold the rain,
The leaves of grass will tame the sandstorm.
But we were the enemies of grass,
That is why we suffer.
What our cows did not eat, the sheep ate.
What the sheep refused, the goats consumed.
What the goats left behind, the camels devoured.
Now we must be the friends of grass,
We must apologize to it and treat it kindly.
Its enemies are our enemies.
We must kill the cow and the sheep,
We must butcher the goat and behead the camel.
For a thousand years we loved our herds,
For a thousand years we must praise the grass.
We will eat the tisma food to live,
We will buy Iron Camels from GoMotion
Unlimited in Santa Clara California.

(After finishing this, I *definitely* need to re-read The Caryatids!)

Thinking hard, or hardly thinking?

Happy Esperanto Day!

December 15th is Esperanto Day! Esperanto is a created language, started in the 1880s by L. L. Zamenhof. December 15th was his birthday, and it’s suitably close to the winter holidays that it’s become the largest Esperanto holiday.

I’ve been studying Esperanto every day for a bit more than 500 days, and I’m still having a lot of fun with it.

I wrote more about Esperanto Day last year.


Cardboard Charging Box

One of the key insights I think I’ve had is the importance of being able to work a medium that you keep around.

Cardboard Charger Box

If the majority of the things around you are made of metal and plastic, either know how to work finished metal or plastic, or keep other materials around.

Case in point: Cardboard!

I had an Anker 5 port USB charger on my desk to charge some of my geegaw. It was always in a big nest of cables, even when I bought short cables for it. After a year of being irritated at the messiness, I grabbed a cardboard box that I bought to hold filled breadboards, took out my multitool, and cut some holes. There’s plenty of space inside, it doesn’t get too hot, and the cleanliness pleases me everyday.

Opened Cardboard Charger Box

Power plug end

I’m really glad I finally took the ten minutes to do this!