book log: John Scalzi — Agent to the Stars

Finished this on the bus home tonight. Loved it — nicely constructed, very funny, and just enough bite to make it more than slapstick. First Contact story in which the aliens are gelatinous cubes who want to make friends, but are well aware that as rather smelly gelatinous cubes they’re going to *scare* people — so they hire a Hollywood agent to solve their image problem before publicly revealing themselves.

It’s available as a free download at Scalzi’s website. Go check it out.

First thoughts on the Cybook Gen3

I bought a second-hand Cybook Gen3 ebook reader from my writing partner last month, and I’ve been using it long enough now to have some initial thoughts about it. This isn’t a proper review, as I haven’t been exploring all its features. What I *have* been doing with it is simply reading some of the books she’d loaded on it, mostly on the bus to and from work.

And the obvious question is — do I regret spending one hundred pounds on this thing? After all, I could buy quite a few paperbacks for that money. To which the answer is “no”, and for a specific reason I’ll get to at the end of this post. And it’s not one of the obvious reasons, like saving shelf space or being able to carry a hundred books with me at all times, although I can see the advantages there.

Would I buy one at full market price? (Currently 269 pounds if shipped to the UK.) Probably not, but mostly because the wee beastie is physically fragile, and I fully expect that I’ll manage to break it within a year or two given my current usage of it. I can see why other people would pay that for it, and why I might in other circumstances.

read more about the pros and cons

book log

Finished Accelerando on the bus on the way home tonight, and the first Dalgliesh novel at lunchtime yesterday. Started John Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars after finishing Accelerando, because it was a *long* bus ride home, courtesy of gridlock that added at least twenty minutes to the usual time. Which I could have done without, because I’ve either picked up the lurgy that’s going around at work, or I’m in the early phases of a migraine, and felt sufficiently dizzy at work this afternoon that I had to go outside and get some fresh air. Either way, I’m sure I’ll feel much better if I take some codeine and go to bed. More detailed comments on the books will have to wait.

First thoughts on the Torchwood radio play

I listened to the podcast on the bus home last night — not the ideal environment, especially when the woman sitting behind me started shouting into her phone in that “I’M ON THE TRAIN!” way so beloved of mobile phone users in a slightly noisy environment. So I really need to listen to it again. But in the meantime, I’m of the opinion that I’m glad I didn’t pay for it, but I enjoyed it.

Continue reading

Torchwood “Lost Souls” radio play podcast

You can find a download link for the podcast of the new Torchwood radio play “Lost Souls” on the BBC Radio 4 website.

SPOILER WARNING: there is a huge spoiler for the end of the second series of the tv show on the linked page, which you don’t want to read if you don’t already know what happens in the last episode.


I read the Torchwood tie-in novel “Torchwood”: Trace Memory on Sunday morning. Enjoyed it. Full review to follow, though probably not until after a) RSI’s a bit better, b) I’ve read it again.

Still working through Accelerando on the Cybook. One interesting thing — I tend to get sick if I try to read on the bus, but I’m much more tolerant of the bus motion when I’m reading the Cybook. I’ve only once had to stop reading it. That alone will make it worth the money I paid for it, as long as it doesn’t prove to be incompatible with the RSI.

Tuesday Thingers

Today’s question from BostonBibliophile: Awards. Do you follow any particular book awards? Do you ever choose books based on awards? What award-winning books do you have? (Off the top of your head only- no need to look this up- it would take all day!) What’s your favorite award-winning book?

I tend to follow the Hugo Awards, voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention each year. This is partly because a) I’m moderately active in sf fandom, and thus the awards show up on my radar without my even looking for them, b) one of my friends shows up in the nominations on a regular basis. :-)

I used to follow the Nebula Awards ( voted on by the US professional sf writers’ association), but that was back in the days before the internet, when they were both timely and the anthology was a good way of getting your hands on the best short sf of the year if you were living somewhere where the magazines were unheard of.

I own a number of award-winning books (and am rather pleased that one of mine was short-listed for something, though in a moderately obscure award). Off the top of my head, the one I’d plump for would be Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, which won the Carnegie Medal. It’s a children’s book, but it’s a children’s book that can be enjoyed by all ages, and that does not spoonfeed its readers. It’s a fantastic piece of work, and one I recommend checking out if you’ve not read it.

August book log

I still hurt, and I’m probably going to do some price comparison for Dragon tomorrow, but I can at least type enough to do the monthly book log now.

The August book log is very bitty. Not because I haven’t been reading, because I was reading nearly every day for the last couple of weeks. But I was reading nearly every day because I have a new toy in the form of a Cybook ebook reader, and I’ve been hopping around on different books to get a feel for how it works with different formats. The only thing I’ve read all the way through on it so far is its own instruction manual. :-)

I’ve since settled down on re-reading Charlie Stross’s Accelerando, but I’ve not finished that yet. Prior to that I was trying short stories from one of the Sherlock Holmes collections and from Cory Doctorow’s Overclocked.

At some point I read the latest Laundry piece from Charlie Stross, Down on the Farm. This is available as a free download on the shiny new Tor Books website, which I have otherwise singularly failed to look at on account of Evil Day Job draining me of energy.

Also assorted short pieces online in various venues, including the first part of Antonia Tiger’s short serial (which I enjoyed and must go and read the rest when I’m feeling awake enough to do so, or work out how to put it onto the Cybook so I can read it on the bus when my RSI goes away again).

One dead tree item, a yaoi manga, Masara Minase — Lies and Kisses is reviewed here:

And I’ve been working my way through Sherlock Holmes in dead tree format as my bit of reading just before going to sleep.

Very bitty indeed, but probably rather more reading than I’ve done in a while. Pity something (possibly the Cybook) set off my RSI earlier this week and the electronic stuff is off the menu for now.