Humble Book Bundle

kindlehumble
The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft sold separately

Science Fiction by Real Scientists

Well, my kindle is now looking like my bookcase; full of interesting books on my ‘to read’ list. I recently bought a package of sixteen science and science fiction books for $15. Well, $20.78 when converted from US dollars. Since cheap books seems to be one thing everyone loves, I decided to turn into a spam bot for a few minutes and share some information about this deal.

My partner is the one that showed me this deal, which is found on Humble Bundle. He usually finds bundles of games there, but until now I’ve never known they do books as well. The purpose of Humble Bundle is to support charities by offering games and books at a pay what you want rate. In this case, you get to name your price for up to $294 worth of digital books from Springer Publishing. Proceeds go to Unicef, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, or a charity of your choice. Theoretically, you could pay as little as $1 (though that would only unlock six of the books on offer) or up to… well I don’t think there is an upper limit, but the highest contribution so far as been $100. It’s a great way to support charity, and so far, this bundle has raised over $80,000.

As for the books themselves, I’ll admit I hadn’t actually heard of any of the ones in this package before, though some of the names are familiar. I remembered Nick Kanas – the author of three of the novels in the bundle – from his articles about the psychological and physiological effects of space travel in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Brad Aiken’s short story collection Small Doses of the Future: A Collection of Medical Science Fiction Stories includes a couple that have previously been published in Analog. Including Locked In, a story I remember quite fondly. H.G Stratmann is also an Analog regular who has a book in the bundle, called Using Medicine in Science Fiction: the SF Writer’s Guide to Human Anatomy. As an aspiring writer a fan of Stratmann’s fiction, and someone who is interested in Biology, I’m really looking forward to that one. I’ve never heard of Stephen Webb before, but his book, If the Universe is Teeming with Aliens… Where is Everybody? Will probably be one of the first ones I read, because the possibility of alien life is one of the most fascinating unanswered questions facing us today.

You can view the entire collection here.

One more thing before I leave you. There are only five days left for this deal. Not having read any of the books here, I can’t with confidence say ‘if you have an e-reader go buy these books; they are awesome and you won’t be disappointed.’ But they can be as cheap as you want, and it’s for charity. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in checking out, head over to Humble Bundle as fast as you can.

 

~ Lauren   

Travels, Telepathy, and Tadpoles

Travels, Telepathy, and Tadpoles

 

This isn’t going to be like my normal blog posts. I have a number of things I want to talk about, but nothing I really want to spend an entire blog post about. So, strap in for a dose of reviews, advertisement, ramblings, and tadpoles.

First of all, I should mention that after I made that big post about everything Harry Potter related, new stories came out. The Pottermore Presents series; trio of ebooks that contain short stories and tidbits from Pottermore that shed more light on the wizarding world. They are currently on sale at Pottermore (but not Amazon), though I have yet to get around to reading them. Pottermore has always been a source of interesting information, so it’ll be fun to read these books. However, I’m not super excited about them like I am with everything else Potter-related. Though it’s great that this world is still getting so much attention. I’ll let you know what I think of these stories when I finally get around to reading them. If you want to beat me to the punch, you can buy the Pottermore Presents trilogy here.

Those of you who have been paying attention would have noticed that a book I’ve really been looking forward to came out last month. I have finished The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. It’s book two in the Broken Earth Trilogy, and book one, The Fifth Season, won this year’s Hugo. I’m not going to write up a full review, because I’d be repeating a lot of what I said from my review of Fifth Season. This series features a rich world, compelling characters, and an interesting magic system. I’d give Obelisk Gate a score of 9/10. It is a great continuation of the story, though not as strong as Fifth Season. Possibly that is just standard Middle Book Syndrome. Now I just gotta wait for the final book to be written.

My partner and I had a Stranger Things binge the other week. It’s Netflix’s new big show, and I’d say it is well worth the hype. It’s a horror/Sci-Fi show (though it leans more towards the horror) that is set in the 80s. It has a good Stephen King vibe to it and pays homage to a lot of 80s genre films. There’s a monster, a conspiracy, telepaths, all the good stuff. I have to praise the acting in the show too; really got the feels at times, especially in episodes 3 and 4. The child actors were also great, and it was nice to see a mature show that featured kids as main characters. Plus D&D rules. A second season was recently announced, so that’s another thing I am really looking forward to, and would recommend without hesitation to anyone reading this.

I have also just finished reading The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson. I suppose technically it’s fanfiction, since this story takes place in Lovecraft’s Dreamlands and features some of his characters. Though, Lovecraft’s work is in the public domain. There also seems to be a trend for retelling fairytales and folk stories, but I don’t know if they’d count as fanfiction. It’s one of those interesting cases that shows how blurred the line can be between fanfiction and well, regular fiction.

Whatever we want to call this novella, it was amazing. The setting had all the creepy, exotic richness of Lovecraft’s vision, but was told from a perspective he would never have considered. Johnson wrote this story as a way to revisit something she loved in childhood (The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath) and fix some of the things that made it problematic for her. In my previous post about Lovecraft I mentioned that the man’s persistent racism was a problem, but the lack of female characters is another downside to his work. I love that Johnson has brought me into the Dreamlands, with their zoogs and ghasts and zugs, and now included women into the mix. It is the Lovecraft experience without the baggage. And guess what else is new and improved? Kij Johnson can write dialog.

Now I also have something for fans of old pulp magazines out there. Well, I don’t, but Jamie Todd Rubin has. Back in 2012, he bought a whole bunch of Astounding magazines, ranging from 1939 to 1950. In other words, the Golden Age of science fiction. Rubin began a column called ‘Vacations in the Golden Age’ where he reviewed the magazines and discussed what was happening in the world when they were written. Due to time restraints the project was dropped, but now it’s back and in a new home. Even if you aren’t interested in Astounding/Analog, if you like history, science fiction, or the history of science fiction, you might be interested in these reviews. Check them out here.

And finally, I would like to share that I have a pet. Sort of. Spurred on by a spate of backyard activities, we ended up draining the old septic tank out the back. It hadn’t been used in years and had filled up with rainwater. As the pump got to work, I noticed that the tank was full of tadpoles. It didn’t seem like a good long term home for them (even after we gave up emptying the tank) so I decided to have a go at raising them. I only managed to catch one, and now I’m going to try and raise him to froghood and release him into a nearby stream. Try being the operative word; it seems tadpoles are quite fragile creatures. As for the ones still in the tank, well there is some exposed roots and rocks for them down there, and a hole in the top. Maybe if I can get a long branch down there they’ll be able to get out. I’ll figure something out.

That’s all for now. I gotta go check on Taddywaggles.

~Lauren