Currently Reading: The Will to Battle (Terra Ignota 3) by Ada Palmer

How behind am I in the books I intended to read some time ago? Not as far behind as the rest of you because I know you are all even worse and have to live in constant fear that the towers of unread books will collapse on top of you resulting in a headline in your local newspaper about the eccentric person who was eventually murdered by their own book collection.

So where were we? Palmer’s future society of hives (quasi-states that exist independent of physical territory) has learned of the conspiracy of elite leaders centred on Madame and also of the Humanist Hive’s OS operation – the selective assassination of people to keep society as a whole stable. The bountiful but uneasy peace between the many factions of the world is unravelling much as our narrator, Mycroft Canner, originally intended when he was a teenager and committed a series of brutal murders to shock society into conflict.

The possibly less murderous Mycroft’s previous accounts (Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders) charted the events leading up to the revelations. That account is now (in universe) public knowledge. In The Will to Battle Mycroft has been charged with maintaining a secret account of the run up to the apparently inevitable war between the Hives.

Central to the shift to a war footing is Achilles, as in the legendary Greek hero of the Iliad. Or maybe not. Achilles is both a former small plastic toy soldier (known as the Major) owned by the possibly magical child Bridger and also a transformed version of Bridger. The actual nature of Bridger/Major/Achilles is as yet unknown.

I will be continuing the Notes Ignota series, mainly because I enjoy reading the books this way, underlining words and adding question marks and chasing down references.

Currently Listening/Reading To: Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky + Hugo Novelettes

I wasn’t supposed to start something new until I’d finished all my Hugo reading and I have the most recent Expanse book sitting right there on my Kindle like an avatar of temptation. But, I needed an audio book because I was doing garden stuff and my finger just pressed the ‘buy’ button.

Anyway, so far the book starts in a similar way to Children of Time. Human terraformers, far from an Earth that is descending into political chaos, some inadvisable experiments in cognitive uplift on animals (and what an interesting choice of animal it is…) and some quirky characters. The spiders from the previous book are set to re-appear in the next section.

Meanwhile, in non-auditory mediums I am reading novelettes. Making use of JJ’s “Where to Find the Hugo Finalists…” post, the links to them are

Just on what I’ve read so far, this is a strong field and a tricky one to rank. There are some really interesting stories here in very diverse styles. Brooke Bolander’s radioactive elephants would be what I would bet on but there’s lots to be said about Tina Connolly’s story and Naomi Kritzer’s is quite strong also.

Currently Reading…Hugo Finalists

So my Kindle and I went to some high up places and did some solid reading. This is what has been read so far:

  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
  • Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire ( publishing) – Novella
  • “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018) – Novelette
  • Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager

Left to go in the story categories are:

  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan) – Novel, (currently reading)
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor ( publishing)
    The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark ( publishing) – Novella
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson ( publishing) – Novella
  • The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency) – Novella
  • “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018) – Novelette
  • “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (, 19 September 2018) – Novelette
  • “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018) – Novelette

I’ll start posting reviews of novel finalists this week. In the meantime, here is a photo of my Kindle part way up the walk to Paro Taktsang aka The Tiger’s Nest Monastery. I had a chest cold, so I had planned only to do part of the initial walk up. In the end I did most of the big hike up but decided discretion was the better part of valour at this and hung out at this spot reading Revenant Gun. I always regretted not taking a picture of the Fifth Season by Machu Picchu (easily THE best pairing of book & location I’ve ever done) but this is a close second.

Currently Reading: The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files) by Charles Stross

The narrator is Mhari Murphy this time, the corporate vampire recruited into the Laundry several books ago. Things, as they say, have already spiralled out of control before the book starts with many of the kinds of things the Laundry had tried to prevent in earlier books now well under way — notably a charismatic Lovecraftian demonic being safely ensconced as Prime Minister.

Also, still listenining to Jo Walton’s Thessaly series in audiobook format. I’ve nearly finished Neccesity and I’ll write some thoughts about all of them later.

Currently Listening: The Just City by Jo Walton

Whatttt????? I’m consuming TWO books at the same time???? What madness is this!

I had a substantial load of gardening to do and I’m a bad gardener and my mind wanders and I end up doing something else. So as a reward/incentive/life-hack I thought ‘audio book’. Lots of people like audio books but aside from some family road trips, I’ve never really tried them.

I used the Apple Store on my phone rather than Amazon and bought the first book I could find that was on my intended-to-read list but not actually lurking unread on my Kindle.

Jo Walton’s The Just City was an obvious choice. The immortal (and time traveling) Athena hears the prayers of numerous mortals scattered across time who, having read Plato’s Republic, earnestly wish to live there. Pulling these people through time she helps a mismatched group of philosophers and idealists establish a practical version of Plato’s vision on the as yet un-exploded island of Thera (modern Santorini).

Obviously this is all going to go horribly wrong.