January 2019


A stand-alone science fiction book.

Publication year: 1895
Format: print
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1979
Finnish publisher: Kirjayhtymä
Page count for the Finnish translation: 120
Translator: Matti Kannosto

The Time Machine has two first-person narrators, both nameless but both male and at least relatively well-off. The story begins with the first narrator who comes to the house of the time traveler and meets other people there. The time traveler talks about traveling through time and the others think the whole idea is ridiculous. The people leave.

Later, the first narrator returns to the time traveler’s home and again meets other people and later the disheveled time traveler who tells the others about his journey to distant futures.

The traveler is so sure that the future will be good for humans that he doesn’t take any equipment with him. He just has a box of matches in his pocket but that’s all.

The time traveler tells about the year 802701 in the future where he first meets small, beautiful but not very smart humans. They live in deteriorating buildings and eat mostly fruit. They don’t work; instead their time is spent frolicking in meadows and rivers. But they fear the dark. Soon, the time traveler meets another race of small, ape-like people who live underground in darkness. He makes observations but also draws conclusions based on his own biases and expectations, as a wealthy man in Victorian England. Later, he briefly travels further in time to witness the end of Earth.

While the story has some exciting passages, it’s not really an adventure story. The traveler draws very intricate conclusions from small evidence. Also, he sees only a small part of the world and yet supposes that everywhere is the same.

The story doesn’t really have character development; in fact the future seems to confirm the traveler’s expectations and ideas, that strife and hardship are good for humans and if they’re done away with, the human race will degenerate.

This a perfect example of idea based story. It’s the first time travel story so Wells is focused on showing off his idea rather than on the story and characters. However, these days most, if not all, readers are already familiar with the concept so they expect more. The influence of the idea is, of course, great. It’s now an accepted part of not just science fiction books, but TV-shows, movies, comics, plays.

The story is available for free at Project Gutenberg as are all of H. G. Wells’ books.

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Best New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018.

I ended up reading 27 new authors last year from 80 books read. Happily, I also found some authors I’m going to continue to read:

1, Martha Wells: All Systems Red
The first Murderbot novella was fun and enjoyable. I’ve already listened to the next book, Artificial Condition, and enjoyed it just as much.

2, Juliet Marillier: Dreamer’s Pool
The lush fantasy world and rich characters in Marillier’s trilogy drew me in and I’ve already finished the series.

3, James S. A. Corey: Leviathan Wakes
The wonderful science fiction TV show Expanse is based on this series. I enjoyed the book as much as the TV show and I’ve already read the second book.

4, J.Y. Yang: The Black Tides of Heaven
The fantasy world in the Tensorate series isn’t based on Western models. I find it fascinating and I’ve already read the second novella.

5, Max Gladstone: Three Parts Dead
Yet another fascinating fantasy world. I’m going to read the next book in the series soon.

6, Curtis Craddock: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
This is a Three Musketeers style of story set in a steampunk world and I enjoyed it through, so I fully intend to continue with the series.

7, Robert Van Gulick, translator: Celebrated cases of Judge Dee
This book wasn’t one of my favorites last year, but I’m not very familiar with China during the Tang dynasty. While I didn’t fall in love with his writing style, I’m very interested in finding out more about this period. Luckily, quite a few of van Gulick’s historical mystery series have been translated into Finnish and they’re not very long so I intend to read at least a few of them.

8, J. Tullos Hennig: Greenwode
This is a reimagining of Robin Hood in a fantasy world and Robin is gay. I’m a sucker for Robin Hood stories and interested in finding out how Henning intends to do the actual robbing from the rich and giving to the poor part. Greenwode was a prequel to that with a very young Robin and we didn’t even get to see the Merry Men yet. Marian is Robin’s sister.

9, Madeline Miller: The Song of Achilles
Unlike the other books on this list, this is a stand-alone. It’s a historical story with a small smattering of fantasy. The story is told from the POV of Patroclus, Akhilleus’ best friend and lover. Miller has a new book out, Circe.

I’m joining one more challenge: the Helsinki Library’s reading challenge.

It’s non-stress and free-style challenge. It has 50 subjects but the participants are free to include as many subjects per book as they want to. I’m going to use that option and use both Pick&Mix and Mount TBR for this challenge, too. I’m also using novellas and short story collections.

The subjects:

1. The book cover has a human face on it
(read: James Lovegrove: Firefly: Big Damn Hero)
2. Someone is looking for a missing person or an item in the book 
(read: James Lovegrove: Firefly: Big Damn Hero)
3. A book from a genre you don’t usually read
4. The only book written by the author
(read: F.J. Blair: the Delivery of Flesh)
5. The book has been a nominee for a book prize in your homeland
6. A romance novel
7. A book about a place you have visited
8. A book whose reading belongs to general knowledge in your opinion
(read: H. G. Wells: The Time Machine)
9. A book recommended by someone under 18 years old
10. A book written by a person of colour
11. A book about women’s role  in society
12. A book connected to Great Britain
13. A book for children or youth from your homeland
14. The author’s last name starts with the same letter as yours
15. A taboo is dealt within the book /A book about a taboo
16. A story that shifts between reality and unreality
17. There are twins in the book
18. A book written by a European writer
19. You don’t like the title of the book
20. The book deals with a culture that you are not familiar with
21. A book written by a celebrity
22. A book about climate change
23. The book title has a name of a country in it
24. Book chosen from a bookshelf with your eyes closed
25. A book from an author you have never read before
(read: F. J. Blair: the Delivery of Flesh)
26. A book that you see someone you don’t know reading
27. The book is some way based on Nordic mythology
28. There is a moon on the book cover
29. Someone is dreaming in the book
30. The book cover has a city landscape on it
31. Someone travels by metro in the book
32. The book title has a profession in it
33. You have seen a movie based on the book
34. The book has writings by several writers in it
35. There is an entrepreneur or company in the book
36. Someone is alone in the book
37. A book published by a small publisher
38. A banned book
39. A book about the relationship between humans and animals
40. A book about mental health problems
41. A book about a time period you would like to live in
42. You like the name of the author
43. A book that follows the growth of a child to adulthood
44. A book about Berlin
45. The book title has a negative in it
46. The book has a trans or non-binary character in it
47. The book has less than 100 pages
48. The book has a hearing-impaired or visually impaired character in it
49. A book published in 2019
50. A book recommended by library personnel

I could use recommendations, especially for 6 (romance novel – no toxic troupes, please), 17 (twins), 19 (book whose title you don’t like – I can’t think off-hand of any, except for “Men who hate women” (the Finnish name of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Larsson and I have no interest in reading it)), 23 (title has a name of a country), 31 (Someone travels by metro), and 48 (has a hearing-impaired or visually impaired character in it).

The second novella in the Murderbot Diaries SF series.

Publication year: 2018
Format: Audio
Running time: 3 hours 21 minutes
Narrator: Kevin R. Free

I enjoyed the first Murderbot story, All Systems Red, and I enjoyed the voice of the Murderbot just as much in this novella. We also get to see a bit more of the world.

The Murderbot is a security unit, an android with both mechanical parts and cloned biological parts. It’s designed for security on various sites and ships. What it hasn’t been designed for is interactions with humans and that makes it nervous. Because of an incident in the past where it (supposedly) killed lots of humans, it christened itself Murderbot. However, it has only a partial memory of that event so it has decided to go back to that planet and research what actually happened.

The Murderbot has left it’s human owner and former ally. It’s technically a rogue SecUnit but it’s trying to pass for an cybernetically augmented human. However, that’s not easy. When it finds a transport space ship which is going to the right planet, it hitches a ride. However, the transport doesn’t have a human crew, so the Artificial Intelligence of the transport is lonely and wants to interact with the Murderbot. Who just wants to be left alone and view its shows.

I enjoyed the first novella a lot and this was a great continuation. We get some more world-building because the ‘Bot is now outside and eventually forced to work with humans. It tries to minimize that as much as it can but don’t really succeed. It also forms a bond with the transport despite the fact that it calls it ART (Asshole Research Transport). The ‘Bot denies having feelings and yet it clearly has them: it cares for the humans when they’re under its care, it’s scared and anxious. I love that the bot doesn’t have gender. Bots that have sexual parts are called sexbots, or Comfort units. Murderbot doesn’t want to help humans because it’s in love with or attracted to any of them: it’s has been programmed to do so. Just like most humans.

A stand-alone tie-in book to the SF TV-show Firefly.

Publication year: 2018
Format: print
Publisher: Titan Books
Page count: 334

I’m a fan of the TV-show Firefly and when I heard about the new book, I was both anxious to get it and anxious to see if it could live up to the show. Well, it does! The book is aimed at existing fans because there are lots of references to various episodes. However, we also get some background info about the Tams and other stuff. I still recommend watching the show first and since we only got half a season, it’s quickly done. It’s set before the movie, in fact about middle into the season.

Serenity is on Persephone, getting some repairs and a shady contract from Badger, the local crime boss. They need to get highly-volatile cargo to another planet before it overheats and explodes. However, Mal isn’t happy with just one contract. A business man contacted him about a possible job and Mal wants to at least check it out. The meeting is in a bar at a shady side of the city. Mal goes to meet the business man while Zoë and Jayne wait at the bar.

It’s Alliance Day during with all of Persephone celebrates the day they joined the Alliance. Also, they seem to think that all Browncoats, who fought to stay independent from the galactic overlord, are traitors and should be killed. Of course, things don’t go well. Mal is kidnapped while Zoë and Jayne are in a bar fight. And the crew still has the highly volatile cargo to deliver.

For a Firefly show/book, this is pretty predictable, especially the ending. However, otherwise this is, of course, return to the world and characters I love, so I can’t help but to like it a lot. However, Mal’s flashback didn’t really work for me.

Almost the whole crew get a POV (except for River) chapter or two but the most POV time are given to Mal, Zoë, and Book. I love Zoë and Wash, and they’re great in the story. Also, since Mal is missing Zoë is the acting captain which was great, too.

I’m really looking forward to the next ones.

I’m going to join the 12th Annual Graphic Novel & Mangareading challenge for this year, too, with the same goal of Bronze Age, 24 reviews. The challenge has moved to a Facebook page.

Write a sign-up post on your blog, goodreads, facebook, etc and link to it here.

What counts: graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books or combinations of text and bubbles all in the same book. In print or digital. Anything else you feel is suitable.

My personal criteria are if it has either frames OR speech bubbles it counts. I also feel many picture books and zines fall under this criteria as well. I’m not going to be the comic police but if you are unsure, just ask.

You must write a review and link to it for it to count towards the challenge. Reviews may be posted on your blog or goodreads or similar places. Several reviews may be gathered and posted in one link on your blog, but each book must be reviewed individually and linked here to count. Do not post your actual review here on the group.

Here is how the Challenge plays out:
runs from Jan.1 – Dec. 31, 2019

Levels
Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that’s only 1 book a month)
Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year (Can you handle 2 books a month.)
Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year (Are you up to a book a week!)
Golden Age: read and review 104 books during the year (Are you addicted? 2 books a week!)
Diamond Age: read and review 208 books during the year (This one’s for you John LOL. 4 books a week!)

I’m thinking of sorting through my Wonder Woman single issues and reading them. I’ve also read a few manga collections but haven’t reviewed them. Of course, they’re published here in Finland and I’ve no idea if they’re available in English.

For a few more days, Marvel Unlimited yearly subscripion has a discount so I’m thinking of getting it again.

The first novella in the Bulletproof Witch series which is a Fantasy Western.

Publication year: 2019
Format: ebook
Publisher: Lily & Rose Publishing LLC
Page count: 124
Artist: Jin A. Lee

The novella has six black and white interior drawings which reflect the mood very well.

Temperance Whiteoak is the granddaughter of a famous pistol warlock James ”Brimstone” Whiteoak. However, after her family was killed, she doesn’t advertise her connections. She’s a bounty hunter, hunting daemons. Now, she’s on the trail of Belial, a powerful daemon. She wants both information from him and the bounty. But when she hunts him down, she must fight him and gets very little info for her trouble. When she brings the daemon (in a magical tube) to the closest town, her troubles only start: the sheriff doesn’t have enough money to pay her. However, a Federation marshal is just bringing in a prisoner and needs a partner to transport the prisoner to the nearest big city, a week away. Temperance doesn’t want to go there but she has not choice. However, the sheriff didn’t tell her about the real difficulties: the prisoner is a warlock and his gang of criminals will try to rescue him and that Temperance must follow the rules for Federation marshals, which means no killing.

Temperance has nothing but scorn for the marshals and their rules. Luckily, her telepathic horse Astor is there to help her, along with the hexbullets she inherited from her family. Temperance and Astor are trying to get revenge on the people, or daemons, who killed Temperance’s family and Astor isn’t happy about the dangerous detour.

She knows how to make hexbullets which, combined with the right word or words, produce different magic effects. However, they’re not cheap to make and take a lot of time, too. To her disgust, the marshal doesn’t know much about hexbullets or magic. Most people seem to use ordinary bullets. Also, while pistol warlocks are legal, other forms of magic seem to be illegal.

The story is set in a fantasy world of Korvana. There’s a reference that the local inhabitant are descended from island or another continent called Galinor. Still, at least some of the current people seem think of those who came recently from Galinor as foreigners. People know about daemons which seem to be able to take over a human body. The Church pays a bounty on them.

Temperance is a very determined young woman who has only recently turned 17. However, she’s quite mature for her age because she’s had to face danger since she was quite young. She’s also been alone for several years, except for Astor. She has secrets and so avoids people who want to question her.

This was a quick and fun read. I haven’t read many weird western books but I liked this one quite a lot. I’m going to read the next novella in the series.

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