Monthly Archives: January 2011

CBRIII Maneuver #5 – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Target: N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Profile: Fantasy, Mature, Divine Fiction

Summary: By Fofo, When her mother dies unexpectedly; Yeine is forced into the life of her maternal family, the Arameri, rulers of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  Caught up in strange politics, murderous succession and schemes of revenge, Yeine befriends the god-slaves imprisoned by her family and joins them in an attempt to reshape their entire world.

Vital Stats:
Pages: 425
Difficulty: 6 out of 10
Rating 3/5

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CBRIII Maneuver #4 – State of Fear

Target: Michael Crichton’s State of Fear

Profile: Speculative Fiction, Techno-Thriller, Hard Science

Summary: From the back cover, “In Paris, a young physicist performs an oceanographic experiment – then dies mysteriously after a romantic tryst with a beautiful stranger.  In the jungles of Malaysia, powerful hypersonic cavitation technology – capable of toppling mountains with sound – is purchased by a private interest for an unspecified purpose.  In Vancouver, a businessman leases a small research submarine for use in the waters off New Guinea.  In Tokyo, in Los Angles, in Antarctica, in the Solomon Islands… an intelligence agent races to put all the pieces together to prevent a global catastrophe.” 

Vital Stats:
Pages: 715 & a 20 page appendix
Difficulty: 4 out of 10
Rating 3/5 Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #3 – The Windup Girl

Target: Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl

Profile: Speculative Fiction, Environmental Crisis, Genetic Engineering

Summary: From the back cover, “Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand.  Undercover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories.  There, he encounters Emiko…  Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature.  One of the New People, Emiko is not human; she is an engineered being, crèche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok.  Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.” 

Vital Stats:
Pages: 359
Difficultly: 5 out of 10
Rating: 5/5 Read the rest of this entry

Battle Plans – January

I may have, entirely by accident, picked most of my winter reading list from the just published 15 best Speculative Fiction Books of 2010 list.

Here’s the docket:

  • Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (already done.  Review pending)
  • Michael Crichton’s State of Fear (200 pages in.  Yay air travel!)
  • Ito Satoshi’s/Project Itoh’s Harmony
  • N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

And Iain M. Banks’ Surface Detail is on the list, but I’m waiting for a paperback edition.  After I wrap up this SpecFic orgy, I think I’ll go find some classic literature.  Or some popular non-fiction.  Any recommendations?

CBRIII Maneuver #2 – Yarn

Target: Jon Armstrong’s Yarn

Profile: Speculative Fiction,  Near Future, “Fashionpunk”

Summary: From the back cover, “Tane Cedar is the master tailor, the supreme outfitter of the wealthy the beautiful, and the powerful.  When an ex-lover, on the run form the authorities, asks him to create a garment from the dangerous and illegal Xi yarn – a psychedelic opiate – to ease her final hours, Tane’s world is torn apart.  Armed with just his yarn pulls, scissors, Mini-Air-Juki handheld sewing machine, and his wits, Tane journeys through the shadowy underworld where he must untangle the deadly mysteries and machinations of decades of deceit.

Vital Stats:
Pages: 309
Difficulty: Varies wildly
Rating: 4/5 Stars

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CBRIII Maneuver #1 – Use of Weapons

Target: Iain M. Banks’ Use of Weapons

Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Expanded Continuity

Summary: Taken from the back cover, “The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances’ foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks, or military action.  The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him toward his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.  The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people.  It had once saved the woman’s life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner.  It believed the man to be a burnt out case.  But not even its machine intelligence could see the horrors in his past.”

Vital Stats:
Pages: 478
Difficulty: 6 out of 10
Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Commence the Attack

I’m off to a late start, but this is the official beginning of the Book Assault.  What’s going on?  Well…

This is one of the blogs for’s annual Cannonball Read, a challenge to read a book every week for a year and write a review of each one of those books for perusal by the members of Pajiba.  All the real information is here.

But this is my (Fofo) hub for this delightful pastime.  While the blog is going up late, I have already started reading and wrapped up Iain M. Banks’ Use of Weapons on Sunday so a review on that is forthcoming.  Wish me luck!