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The Lampworks Lamplighter SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
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Science can be elegant
After watching a Japanese program where a Haiku master and a scientist discussed some verses about the nature of the world, both from the literary perspective and the cosmological, I went looking for examples in English to share. I found The Sciku Project, which pairs these short verses (or the slightly longer Tanka forms) with short articles on the related science. It’s a fun place to browse. Here are a few of my favorites:
how strange particles appear
as they disappear
— John Hawkhead
2nd law of thermodynamics
one way trip
— Robert Erlandson
Or the topical
correlates with a belief
in the greater good
— Michael Leach
Like the equations for Special Relativity, these are simple on the surface but as you ponder them, implications and possibilities unfold into new realities.
A short story for the holidays in the world of Knots. Escher and Emeline have brought a tree into the house to decorate, and Trefoil the cat must investigate, of course. There’s something not quite right about this tree – they’ve brought trouble into the house along with it. It’s up to Trefoil to guard the house against the mayhem that ensues. If he doesn’t get put outside first.
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What We‘re Reading
Visit our archive of reviews and recommendations on the Books We Like page of our website. You‘ll find over one hundred recommendations in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Non Fiction.
Orson Scott Card
From the author of Ender’s Game, a ghost story in modern-day Greensboro, NC. Don Lark is trying to get his life back together after the death of his wife and daughter and a mountain of ruinous legal bills. He buys houses, renovates them, and resells them at a profit, and the parallels with his life journey are not lost on him. His latest project is a (formerly) grand southern mansion with a long history. It also comes with modern-day baggage: a cheerful real-estate agent with a duplicitous partner, very sweet but odd neighbors who warn him about the house, and a squatter living in the attic. But then it seems that the house wants to object to his renovation plans…
I wouldn’t place this among Card’s top-tier works. For instance, there’s what seems a major plot thread in the beginning that just vanishes halfway through. It’s still an engrossing and properly spooky tale to read on a dark winter evening. Try to find a comfortable old house that creaks in the wind to read it in.
Buy on amazon
A Desolation Called Peace
In book two of the Teixcalaan saga, the Empire confronts the deadly and non-communicative aliens on the far side of Lsel station space. Ambassador Dzmare of Lsel and Three Seagrass of Teixcalaan are summoned to attempt the impossible task of negotiating with an enemy that doesn’t talk. Since this is the Empire, politics is everywhere: in the ministries, in the fleet, and in the Palace. And Dzmare has lost the trust of both Lsel and the Empire by trying to do the right thing instead of what either side wanted.
The depiction of the Empire is as lush and detailed as the previous book, as it takes into corners we haven’t see before. The aliens area also a fresh and unusual take on how truly different a species can be. If the book has a theme, it’s how difficult it can be to communicate — between species, between cultures, between ideologies, and even between friends.
Buy on amazon
London, 1969. Pam Davis wakes up in a hospital with a sense that nothing’s familiar, not even her own body. It’s like she was beamed in from somewhere else. She also finds that remnants of the previous resident of the body are still there, and she’s angry.
Pam finds she’s married to a rock musician who is playing small gigs and dreaming of making it big. With a sensible, project-management attitude and a large dose of kindness-never-hurts, she takes over the band management to make those dreams reality. Her first hurdle is the band, because that’s not at all who she was before ending up in the hospital. Along the way she runs into sexist industry managers who won’t give her anything more than a leer, corrupt club owners, and a vindictive show organizer who will do anything to make them fail. The mystery of Pam unravels slowly through the book as she finds there are others like her, each with a different clue.
The writing reflects the raw, chaotic London music scene and the cultural turmoil of that era, even though it’s not quite our 1969 either. The caricatures of British bands and their denizens are good fun, and their antics are appropriately madcap. Overall, a very enjoyable read.
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You may also enjoy…
Cami Murdock Jensen
Agnes Anne Cavanaugh desperately seeks to bring peace to her friend’s beloved Fourth Earth. But with magic dwindling from the planet, she scrambles to convince rival contingents to put down their weapons. And when her powerful boyfriend’s magic mysteriously fades, he slips into a depression. While he keeps saying nothing’s wrong, she’s supposed to not worry about him and still stop certain planetary doom?
To make matters worse, Sharir the Endless, master to the previously defeated dragon of manipulation, is enraged by her prior success. The time for subtlety is past and he joins the fray himself, devastating the lives of billions.
Destiny can take many paths, but only one leads to peace. A single mistake and Agnes will fail to stop Sharir from enslaving the universe, losing all that is dear to her.
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The Neighbor You Don't Know
After countless years of preparation Mission Terra Firme One is finally ready to commence and give Earth the answers it has long waited for, about the planet Neighbor.
The TSS Cartographer is about to arrive and its First Officer Baldwin “call me Win” Tavares believes that he might just be able to touch his hand to that rocky ground and that’d be enough for him to learn everything there is to know about their old Neighbors, the things they’d done and what they’d left behind.
But not everyone is as kind-hearted or has such noble intentions, and Neighbor holds more mysteries than anyone could have imagined. Exploring it might open the gates for a flood that threatens to drown everything, and Win must make decisions that hold his life, and that of all around him, at stake.
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