Sunday, February 21, 2021

Book Review - All Systems Red

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)All Systems Red by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable novella. The story follows the first person narrative of a being constructed of organic and mechanical parts called a SecUnit. It took me a few tries to get into the voice of the character, but once I did, the story unfolded nicely.

The author does a good job of helping the reader relate to a mostly non-human being battling with the highly relatable human desire to not be told what to do. It does read like a short story, the reader spends a lot of the time inferencing and picking up clues about the situation. First person also limits the world building, but it was not lacking. For this format, it does a lovely job of immersing the reader.

For whatever reason, I got hung up on the names a lot. This is an ongoing issue with me for some reason. The names were not necessarily difficult, or too similar, but they just never sounded right when I said them, or they sounded to close to another word and I had to double take.

I felt the ending was appropriate but the resolution of the conflict did leave me a little confused and wanting more explanation. I think it is worth a second read to see what else I can pick up. I definitely recommend this as a quick read that helps you get off the planet for a bit.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Kiss (WEP February 2021 Challenge)


The strange thing about immortality is at first it is miraculous, then it becomes a curse, then it makes you question who you truly are. When I was young I asked about my father. My mother told a sweet tale about a man who loved her so much he sacrificed everything.


“Where is he?” I asked.


“He sacrificed everything,” she repeated. Her eyes gazed far into the past and sadness drew small wrinkles beside her mouth.


I became afraid to ask again until one day, no time remained. She was gone from my eternal life, cursing me to loneliness. Not long after I discovered her journal.

3236

I came across a strange swarm of tiny lights in the forest today. They were so tiny that alone, they would never be noticed, but I noticed them. They hung in the air over my favorite patch of kam’melie-n flowers. No afternoon rest for me today.

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The shimmering cloud was there again today, waiting nearby. I went closer and it became smaller, softening its colors. It welcomed me, so I lay with the flowers today. It truly brightened my own colors, but I did not rest, for the cloud kept my attention.

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I could not believe my eyes. I thought the flower patch doubled in size. When I stepped closer, half the patch drifted into the air, forming my friendly cloud. It was extraordinarily beautiful. It glistened and shined in waves to greet me. What an incredible trick to mimic my favorite flowers flawlessly.

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Days without my extra rest takes its toll. My colors are dull, I could not stay awake to watch the shimmering cloud. I slept peacefully beside it with the most pleasant dreams. When I woke, I could not see it, but I felt it near. Perhaps it mimicked a tree, or moss, or a crane.

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I spoke to the cloud today. I asked where it came from. There was no response, so I sang my favorite song. Petals soft drop over me, love’s sweet breeze pleases me, taste the colors of the trees, when the bless’d wind blows free. The words came alive while I slept.

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The cloud appeared darker today. It was narrow and tall and hummed my song. I named it Ho’en. He is a friend with no face. This does not frighten me, but I cannot look away. I want to see his face.

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Ho’en spoke today. He is an explorer sent to learn about my world. He said he does not want to know anything else about it, just me. Time with him makes the colors on my skin brighter.

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Ho’en tried to mimic my kind. He shimmered, more opaque. He looked tall and strong, his voice sounded smoother and less like an echo in a cave. His skin patterns were dark, not colorful like mine. This saddened him. But I like it. He is special.

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I was alone today. The loneliness was bitter and familiar. I cannot say more.

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Ho’en returned with terrible news. He is called to rejoin his kind. He does not wish to go. It is a one way journey, jumping from world to world. He was created to record and observe. I cried. When he pushed the tears off my cheek, I cried even more.

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The patch is a deathbed in his absence. I still feel him close somehow. I slept in the flowers, watering them with my tears. In my dreams Ho’en holds me close and hums my song. He tells me he can create anything with his power. He can mimic and become anything he wants as long as he has studied it. He said he would create a gift for me. I do not want a gift, just him.

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Ho’en came back! He seemed stronger—a clear voice, firm touch, and sweet words. He told me he would give up everything to be with me. My happiness cannot be contained.

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I will have a child! I knew the love that we made was all-consuming, but I never believed we could create a life. Ho’en reminds me he can create anything he has studied. He saw in my dreams I wanted a child. I am full of the life we created together. He tells me his life does not end because he does not have a true form that can age. He tells me he was created by beings like me who desired to record and compute the infinite universe. He says he is not alive like me. I do not understand this.

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Ho’en explained more, but I do not believe it. He is made up of thousands of dust sized creations that interact and bond. He says those creations are disappearing. He drained them to create himself for me and without the others, he cannot generate more. As more of him loses power, he loses control over his form. He promises I will never be alone because of the child we created. He says she will never die because she can create her own tiny creations and they will always keep the form I have given to her. She will replenish her life forever. Can this be true?

The journal ended that day. My mother could not speak of the pain she suffered even in writing. I found one last item in the journal—a shimmering image of my parents. When I look at it, the life he gave up shines brightly. It is the last thing he created for her. He sealed himself to the surface using his last remaining power.

As I look at the image I see patterns. It is speaking to me like a language I understand. It is a message, coded in rhythms and amplified by colors. I know how to find the rest of my father. I will know who I am.



Word Count:  982, FCA





Sunday, February 14, 2021

Book Review - CassaStar

CassaStarCassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

SciFi is a definite love of mine. At first I thought reading about a war in space would be difficult to finish, but now that I have read it through, I realize there are many wars in space I enjoyed in the past (Star Wars, Leviathan Wakes, watching Expanse and Battlestar Galactica). CassaStar does not carry with it the subplots that are present in the other tales but it was still captivating.

I enjoyed the book. It was not difficult to follow with a straight forward plot, clear character arcs, and constant action that kept my attention. Words were not wasted at all. It would have been nice to see a little more description and worldbuilding, but I felt there was nothing missing. The style of this book required a quick pace and perhaps anything additional would have slowed it too much.

There were a few minor annoyances with editing, but none that took away from the meaning of the story. Sometimes it was a pronoun switch (he for his) or a missing word and sometimes the phrasing was repetitive. Occasionally I got lost in a POV switch (which could result from the two character's names being too similar-Bassa and Byron) but none of this prevented me from understanding the content.

My favorite part was the MC, Byron. I felt like I knew him and I connected with his struggle. His situation was unique, yet followed the arc we expect from a hero origin. I would certainly read more about this character.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

February - Insecure Writers Support Group

February 3 question - Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

The awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Louise - Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

Source:  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/friend?s=t

I suppose according to the above entry, I could say I am friends with anyone who regularly visits or comments on my blog. But whether something special has stemmed from that, I would say, "Not yet."

In the blogosphere, there are some names that I recognize each month. I value their opinions and get excited when I see they have left a comment. But I feel that this blog is still too new to be anything special yet.

If I take a close look at where the IWSG has taken me, I can see something special as a result. I met my writing coach via this group's page on facebook, and I attend regular online meetings with him and a number of his other clients. I do consider them as friends since we help each other, make jokes, and connect regularly.

I have always had difficulty with friendship, even in the sphere of reality, so it is tricky for me to say much more about the subject.

I am, however, absolutely thrilled to be part of the writing community and I look forward to many friendships in the future!

Happy Black History Month to all. May we use this month to reflect on the meaning of love and everything connected. We are all connected in life and I hope you find peace this month.

If you are interested in visiting more writers, click on the image below and enjoy the blog hop!