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Bitter Defeat and Joyous Anticipation

Happy holidays fellow cannonballers and dear wanderers.

Unfortunately, this time of year brings about the conclusion of the Cannonball Read and with it, the end of the first Campaign.  I proved to be less than stalwart under fire and failed to complete the reviews of the last 20 books I’ve read in time for the conclusion of the war.  I’ve read the allotted number, but haven’t posted on a good 2/5ths of them.  It’s disappointing to be sure, but no reason to give up or stop the fight now.

So I hereby pledge to do better in this upcoming 4th Cannonball Read.  Which begins…. NOW!

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CBRIII Maneuver #30 – P.S. Your Cat Is Dead

Target: James Kirkwood Jr.’s P.S. Your Cat Is Dead

Profile: Fiction, Absurdism, Black Comedy

Summary: From goodreads.com “It’s New Year’s Eve in New York City. Your best friend died in September, you’ve been robbed twice, your girlfriend is leaving you, you’ve lost your job…and the only one left to talk to is the gay burglar you’ve got tied up in the kitchen… P.S. your cat is dead.” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #29 – The Eyre Affair

Target: Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair

Profile: Speculative Fiction, Series, Detective Novel

Summary: Edited from goodreads.com “Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality, (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #28 – Look to Windward

Target: Iain M. Banks’ Look to Windward

Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Expanded Continunity.

Summary: Edited from goodreads.com “The Twin Novae battle had been one of the last of the Idiran war, one of the most horrific. Desperate to avert defeat, the Idirans had induced not one but two suns to explode, snuffing out worlds & biospheres teeming with sentient life. They were attacks of incredible proportion–gigadeathcrimes. But the war ended & life went on.

Now, 800 years later, light from the first explosion is about to reach the Masaq’ Orbital, home to the Culture’s most adventurous & decadent souls. There it will fall upon Masaq’s 50 billion inhabitants, gathered to commemorate the deaths of the innocent & to reflect, if only for a moment, on what some call the Culture’s own complicity in the terrible event. Also journeying to Masaq’ is Major Quilan, an emissary from the war-ravaged world of Chel. In the aftermath of the conflict that split his world apart, most believe he has come to Masaq’ to bring home Chel’s most brilliant star & self-exiled dissident, the honored Composer Ziller.

But the Major’s true assignment will have far greater consequences than the death of a mere political dissident, as part of a conspiracy more ambitious than even he can know–a mission his superiors have buried so deeply in his mind that even he can’t remember it.” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #27 – Embassytown

Target: China Miéville’s Embassytown

Profile: Sci-fi, Speculative Fiction, Linguistics

Summary: From goodreads.com “In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #26 – The God Engines

Target: John Scalzi’s The God Engines

Profile: Sci-fi, Religion, Metafiction

Summary: From goodreads.com, “Captain Ean Tephe is a man of faith, whose allegiance to his lord and to his ship is uncontested. The Bishopry Militant knows this—and so, when it needs a ship and crew to undertake a secret, sacred mission to a hidden land, Tephe is the captain to whom the task is given.

Tephe knows from that the start that his mission will be a test of his skill as a leader of men and as a devout follower of his god. It s what he doesn t know that matters: to what ends his faith and his ship will ultimately be put—and that the tests he will face will come not only from his god and the Bishopry Militant, but from another, more malevolent source entirely…” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #25 – Sailing to Sarantium

Target: Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium

Profile: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Summary: From the back of the book, “Sarantium is the golden city: holy to the faithful, exalted by the poets, jewel of the world, and heart of an empire.

Caius Crispus, known as Crispin, is a master mosaicist, creating beautiful art with colored stones and glass.  Still grieving the loss of his family, he lives only for his craft-until and imperial summons draws him east to the fabled city.  Bearing with him a queen’s secret mission and seductive promise, and a talisman from an alchemist, Crispin crosses a land of pagan ritual and mortal danger, confronting legends and dark magic. (truncated)” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #24 – Cybermancy

Target: Kelly McCullough’s Cybermancy

Profile: Speculative Fiction, Greek Mythology, Modern Fantasy.

Summary: From the back of the book, “Not just any computer geek and hack into Hades.  But Ravirn (please don’t call him Raven), a direct descendant of one of the three Fates, is no ordinary hacker.  Magic has gone digital in the twenty-first century, and Ravirn is a sorcerer with a laptop – otherwise known as his shape-changing best friend.

These days, Ravirn’s crashing at his girlfriend’s place while she works on her doctorate in computer science.  Only one problem: all of her research is in her webgoblin’s memory, which is now in Hades along with its soul.  To save Cerice’s webgoblin (and her Ph.D.), Ravirn must brave Hell itself. (Truncated)” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #23 – Excession

Target: Iain M. Banks’ Excession

Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Expanded Continuity.

Summary: From the back of the book, “Diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen has been selected by the Culture to undertake a delicate and dangerous mission.  The Department of Special Circumstances–the Culture’s espionage and dirty tricks section – has sent him off to investigate a 2,500-year-old mystery: the sudden disappearance of a star fifty times older than the universe itself.  But in seeking the secret of the lost sun, Byr risks losing himself.  There is only one way to break the silence of millennia: steel the soul of the long-dead starship captain who first encountered the star, and convince her to be reborn.  And in accepting this mission, Byr will be swept into a vast conspiracy that could lead the universe into an age of peace… or to the brink of annihilation.” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #22 – The Science of Superstition

Target: Bruce M. Hood’s The Science of Superstition

Profile: Non-fiction, Popular Psychology

Summary: From the back of the book, “In The Science of Superstition, cognitive psychologist Bruce Hood examines the way in which humans understand the supernatural, revealing what makes us believe in the unbelievable.”

Read the rest of this entry