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What I'm Reading Watching Playing: July

What I'm Reading

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

This is the first book in the Expanse Series, on which the T.V. show is based. I really liked the show, and John had read all the books and said that they were good, so I picked this one up from Half-Price Books and gave it a try! Overall it was good....BUT....I think the show was better. I KNOW! But hear me out. The show apparently combined the first two books, adding in the geopolitical point of view from Earth through the Senator's scenes, and those really added depth to the series that the book alone was lacking.

The book itself was a good quick read, not too technical for sci-fi, and most of the dialogue and scenes were word-for word the same in the book and the show. Unfortunately, since I just watched the show so recently, that also made it a bit boring of a read. I didn't get any new info out of the book that wasn't already in the show. The few changes that the show did make were positive and minor--the goo is brown and nasty in the book, and a more cinematic luminescent blue in the show. Much less nauseating! I'm not sure if I'm going to continue reading the series, since there are so many other books I really want to read right now. I may come back to it sometime, but I think for now just going to eagerly await the next season!

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Advertised as a Space Opera, this book is about a young diplomat from a small space station sent to replace her probably murdered predecessor with the voice of his young self implanted in her head on the home planet of a powerful Byzantium-style Empire threatening to annex her home. Sounds awesome, right? Well, it wasn't.

This book was terrible. The synopsis was so compelling and I wanted to like it, but it ended up being such a slog to get through. The most interesting thing about the main character (The voice in her head) is undone in the first few chapters and she is so incredibly dumb and insecure that she spends most of every single chapter afterwards panicking about the situation she is in. It seems like she spends most of the book thinking about poetry and answering mail. I was constantly saying (out loud to Gunnar who was usually half-asleep) "WHY??? THIS MAKES NO SENSE!" about the character's actions and the plausibility of the entire thing. I read plenty of sci-fi and fantasy and have no problem suspending my disbelief, but some of the situations didn't seem to follow the internal logic of the book itself. (For a slightly spoiler example, the previous diplomat was very manipulative and politically savvy, but then had no contingency plan for if he were to die without completing his goals. That makes no sense!) The ending was disappointing too and it left me saying, "So what??" No thanks.

Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie

Many of the reviews for the above book mentioned that Anne Leckie's series was similar but much better...and I have to agree. This one reminded me a little bit of  Anne McCaffrey's "The Ship Who Sang" in premise, but then it RAN with it in a really cool direction. It's a Hugo and Nebula award winning book as well, which is impressive and enticing to me.

The main character was formerly an AI who controlled not only a huge ship, but hundreds of bodies, but is now only one singular body, and is now trying to figure out what happened, why, and making plans for revenge. The story is a little bit hard to follow at first, but the things that make it hard to follow are some of the most interesting things about it.  It was captivating and thought provoking, and the gender issues didn't feel forced or shoehorned in, but a natural part of that society and that character's way of life. I plan on reading the next two books in the series now! 

What I'm Watching

The Orville

Gunnar and I just finished watching season 2 of The Orville. When we first started watching, I was expecting a horribly goofy parody of Star Trek, given that the creator and main character, Seth McFarlan, is also the creator of Family Guy, which I tolerate but do not particularly enjoy. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by how thoughtful and entertaining this show is. It's not so much a parody of Star Trek's Original Series as it's more of a remake with modern humor and issues. I particularly like the nonhuman crew members and the more uncomfortable topics that are addressed. I sometimes even get a Mass Effect Vibe when they are dealing with aliens which is always a positive for me! I hope they get renewed for another season!

What I'm Playing

Pokemon Go

I got a new phone! I'd had my old one for almost five years and it stopped being able to play Pokemon Go a long time ago. When it also stopped being able to run my banking app, I finally said goodbye and got a new one. So I'm playing again!

John, of course, is max level and has all the shinies and is power-gaming to his heart's content...which is useful to me since his encyclopedic knowledge of Pokemon is just a text away. I'm not particularly good at it, but it's something fun to add to my daily walks and runs, and the kids get a kick out of the team rocket fights.

I've been a pokemon fan since Red and Blue were first released in the 90's...I have fond memories of saving my allowance for a whole summer to buy a Gameboy Color, and playing Pokemon Cards at the local Hastings and Toys-R-Us, and reading the comics and watching the show. Those things are still more or less geared at kids (especially Sun/Moon...gosh I couldn't even finish it it was so kid-oriented) but Pokemon Go is definitely more for the older crowd. Mostly there are teens and adults congregating for Community Day and at the Poke-stops and events, with kids like my own tagging along. It's fun!