The New Normal. Plus Book Reviews, Promotions and more.
The Lampworks Lamplighter SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
It appears that your email client isn’t displaying the newsletter correctly. Please view the web version for the best experience.
The New Normal
About a week ago, I packed up everything from my office at Cornell University and brought it home. No, I didn’t retire or quit or anything like that. After fifteen months of pandemic, working at home has became the new normal. Leadership decided that our department along with several others will pioneer a new hybrid workplace. Most of the IT staff will work at home and our building will be remodeled as meeting rooms, teamwork spaces, and Zoom rooms. It will be more like a conference center than a traditional office building.
How do I feel about that? I’ve actually enjoyed working at home. I’ve been more productive and have had fewer interruptions. My team has made more of an effort to actively communicate to make up for the lack of proximity, which has been a bonus. Plus, I don’t have to drive a half-hour each way. There’s an automatic extra hour of time in the day for anything I want. Not to mention that there’s always a cat on my desk, watching me type and waiting for an opportunity to steal my pencil (again).
In a survey, at least three-quarters of my colleagues were happy working at least four days per week at home. A few wanted two or three days in the office, saying they wanted more face-to-face contact, but they were in the minority. Maybe introverts outnumber the extroverts in IT.
I’ve always been as interested in the trends that science fiction missed as the ones that were predicted. For instance, stories in the seventies and eighties wrote about bigger, faster, and more elaborate fax machines. Most writers completely missed the shift to email for communication. Likewise, most stories about pandemics focused on the medical aspects, the labor shortages, or the quarantines. I don’t recall any stories that predicted the shifts to remote work, video conferencing, and distributed workplaces that are occurring today. It will be interesting to see if it continues now that the norms have been broken or if most businesses go back to their previous expectations.
I know my cats approve of the new normal.
Monsieur Resche is an art thief. He has crossed a bridge into a quaint town, a town that disappeared from Switzerland four centuries ago. Magic is possible there; in fact, all the magic that our world once had has ended up there. A precisely tied knot, an exactly folded paper, or a cunningly drawn figure can unlock wonders and horrors.
Resche has a mind that lets him excel at this new craft, but that brings him to the notice of powerful mages who play a great game of geomancy with tiles the size of countries. And when he looks for the bridge back to Geneva, it is nowhere to be found.
The Fractalist priest offers aid that may not be what it appears, the Jeweler has intricate schemes, the newspaper editor has taken an interest, the Astromancer had good advice before she was murdered, and Resche’s cat just makes wisecracks.
Knots is a compelling story filled with unexpected characters, plot twists, literal location twists, mystery, and redemption.
Have Kindle Unlimited? Read Knots for free on Amazon!
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.
The Wise Man’s Fear
In the sequel to The Name of the Wind, Kote the Innkeeper continues to tell the saga of Kvothe the Bloodless to The Chronicler. Kvothe leaves the University to seek the patronage of an imperious and dangerous nobleman, is sent to lead a band of mercenaries on a mission, spends an interlude in Faerie, and attempts to earn a sword, and friendship, from the taciturn and hardened Adem. Just keep in mind that Kote is an unreliable narrator.
Like his first book, the writing is lyrical and flowing. Rothfuss has an ability to choose exactly the right word, the most fitting image, and the best turn of phrase to keep the narrative fresh and interesting. This book is even longer than Name of the Wind, and I didn’t want it to end.
You should know that although this is labeled in the bookstores as volume two of two, there is more of the tale to be told. The story ends by wrapping up an arc, but not all of Kvothe’s story. There are questions still to be answered, and the enigmatic prologue and epilogue to each volume are yet to be explained. I hope that Rothfuss is forthcoming with more of the tale, and soon.
The Dispatcher: Murder by Other Means
What if murder were no longer possible? That’s the one impossible premise that John Scalzi makes to launch this noir-ish tale. Through copious amounts of handwavium, anyone who is murdered returns to life unharmed. You can still die of natural causes or suicide, just not from murder. Of course this is an invitation for people to get endlessly inventive with this new fact of life – and death.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher, licensed to legally kill people who are at risk of natural or unintentional death so they can come back for a second chance. If this sounds like it’s just inviting grey areas, you’re exactly right.
Take the red pill and accept the impossible premise as a given, because it makes for an entertaining tale when people around Tony start dying in “interesting” ways.
Can a biologist who studies the spawning habits of salmon in the Pacific Northwest help solve the mystery of the great lifeless void in the galaxy? If you’re Dr. Mackenzie Connor, the answer is, “Hell no, leave me alone with my fish.” Even when the request comes from the first representative of the alien Ohryn race to visit Earth. Unfortunately for her research, Mac isn’t given a choice.
Her research station is destroyed and her colleague Emily is kidnapped, dragging Mac into the conflict between the Ohryn and the Ro, creatures not entirely of this dimension. As Mac uncovers lairs of the mystery, it turns out that a biologist is exactly what they needed. It all comes down to the biological needs of each species. Salmon must swim upstream, and … something … is impelled to devour whatever it finds.
You may also enjoy…
Paul J Bennett
Athgar and Natalia have everything they have ever dreamed of—family, friends, and a place to call home. When Athgar’s long-lost sister unexpectedly walks into the village, he feels as if life is complete, but not everyone trusts her.
Ebenstadt, abandoned by the Temple Knights after their defeat, now suffers under the control of a ruthless despot who uses thugs to enforce his will. To complicate matters even more, the neighbouring Kingdom of Novarsk is looking on with greedy eyes, eager to expand its borders.
Buy via StoryOrigin
Brothers of Chaos Part One
Merick N.H. Ulrik
Vandryn of house Glenclare faces insurmountable odds fighting against the corrupt Melborians. He will rely on an unexpected friendship with an elf named Zan Cadeyn Umbaden and his alluring sister Zylla. Together they will face the will of the Blood Queen, empress Ash Axana and a treacherous plot of a beautiful young blood mage named Liliath.
Buy via StoryOrigin
For Fog Adorns He
A dragon egg, a killing fog, and a mysterious symbol… Will he find answers, or die trying?
Free via StoryOrigin
Everyone handles their soap operas differently. The Lausch family does it with blood and magic. A fantasy story that will hit you like a thunderbolt.
Free via StoryOrigin
If you no longer want to receive emails from us you can unsubscribe.
Please feel free to forward to others who might enjoy it.
If you would like to be added to the list signup here .
Disclosure: We are affiliates of Bookshop.org and Amazon and will
earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.