Too Many Parallels

Self finished Shards of Earth after four days of staying-home-all-day and not-changing-out-of-pajamas, four days of asking herself HOLY COW is-this-the-best-space-opera-she-has-EVER-reador-what and howis-jug-eared-Idris-Telemmier-the-hottest-space-hero-of-all-time?


Plague, self’s current read, is giving her plenty of reason to reflect on January 6 Committee Hearings drama.

How was it fair? Caine was a liar, a manipulator, a murderer. And Caine was probably lying in satin sheets with Diana eating actual food and watching a DVD. Clean sheets, candy bars, and a wonderful, willing girl.

Caine who had never done a single good or decent thing was living in luxury.

Sam, who had tried and tried and done everything he could, was sitting in his house with a raging headache, smelling vomit with a pair of ibuprofen burning a hole in his stomach lining.

Plague, A Gone Novel, by Michael Grant, p. 39

Lens-Artists Challenge # 205: The Eyes Have It

Thank you, Travels and Trifles, for the prompt.

Self’s post is Prague-themed: In May 2019, she and niece Irene went to Prague, our last trip together before the pandemic. It was self’s first time in that beautiful city.

  • Picture # 1 is Franz Kafka. Self visited his humble abode, just outside Prague Castle. This simple photograph somehow captures the intensity of the artist. It’s all in the eyes.
  • Picture # 2 is the poster for a Young Designers Fair, the last before the pandemic. Loved the translucent red scarf across the model’s eyes.


In the seventy-eighth year of the war, an Architect came to Berlenhof.

Idris had put out on the Pythoness.

— Shards of Earth, p. 363

The above is a flashback. Tchaikovsky made us wait 363 pages to finally learn the full story of what happened on Berlenhof, where Solace and Idris first met.

Another thing self appreciates about Tchaikovsky is his sense of scale. When a ship is targeted, it doesn’t just explode: The Locust Ark, sister ship of the Pythoness, “was shredded across fifty kilometres of space.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Havaer, the Government Man

Self is so glad that she has Shards of Earth to keep her mind off the unspeakable tragedy that is Renegade SCOTUS. Anyhoo, it’s doing double-time duty this weekend, and self has just been barreling along.

She’s now in a Havaer section, and it is pretty much generic hard-boiled detective stuff. Though Havaer is far from her favorite character, the dialogue has a certain Raymond Chandler vibe. Havaer has been interviewing a witness, a lawyer named Thrennikos who’s been contacted by Idris sidekick Kit (a beautiful lawyer; self hates Kit for having had such wonderful adventures with Idris while poor Solace, Idris’s close friend, was stuck on an all-woman ship and put into cryogenic sleep for, off and on, 40 years).

Thrennikos: Officer, these are my new clients, representing the Broken Harvest Society. They share your interest in my earlier visitors. And in anyone asking questions about them.

Havaer: And the currency your new clients are paying you is . . . ?

Thrennikos: Not skinning me and wearing me like a cloak, yes.

Threnniko’s New Client: Government man, my name is Heremon, herald of The Unspeakable Aklu, the Razor and the Hook.


What follows is a torture scene. Dammit, Adrian Tchaikovsky, why do you have to make even the torture scenes so full of balletic blood splatter and beautifully articulated flayed organs?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Sathiel lifted his beaker. “Caffenado,” he breathed, as though the the drink was rare and precious. “Serendipitous child of humans trying to adapt coffee to the soil of an alien world. Now one of the most widely partaken of beverages known. A major import into the Colonies, as doubtless you’re aware. And war-caste and breeder-caste Castigar can’t get enough of it — which is an unlooked-for benefit. Goes to show what can arise, when humanity travels to the stars and welcomes the alien with open hands.”

Shards of Earth, p. 142

Shards of Earth has a bit of an Expanse vibe. Let’s be clear: The main character, Idris, is nothing like James Holden: For one thing, he’s skinny, has jug ears, etc But he does possess a diffidence and vulnerability which makes self feel very protective towards him (just like she felt towards Holden). Go figure!

And Solace! What an interesting backstory she has! Solace is part of an Amazonian group of genetically-engineered women whose sole purpose is to fight (Men are genetically engineered to do something else. Of course women get the hardest jobs, even in the future!) Idris and Solace hooked up 40 years earlier, before she got put into a very, very long cryogenic sleep. She’s awakened to complete a mission, which is — to get Idris! She figures Idris to be about 70 years old (given the amount of time she’s been “on ice”), but when they do meet up, he looks the same age as he was when they last saw each other. Apparently, he’s immortal. Or, he’s passed so often through unspace that it keeps erasing the years. Also, he never sleeps. Never. And he’s the pilot of a nothing freighter called the Vulture God and has acquired a beautiful female side-kick who is a lawyer. Idris has all kinds of people hunting for him, which is why the lawyer is indispensable (Who knew lawyers would still exist, a thousand years into the future!). Solace isn’t jealous, because she’s also attracted to the lawyer. She can go either way.

Shards of Earth also has a Star Wars vibe. The Vulture God crew includes a colorful cast of aliens. The aliens resemble insects (multiple arms, no neck, shell carapace etc). But they have no difficulty interacting with humans. Excellent! So long as they’re not the lead characters like in Children of Time, which was about super-intelligent spiders. She just can’t get into rooting for insects. Something in self’s genetic programming allows her to empathize only with main characters who are human (unless she’s reading Becky Chambers — only Chambers can get self to identify with aliens, like she did in The Galaxy, and the Ground Within)

Self learned that Book 2 of The Final Architecture, Eyes of the Void, is already out. Taking a look at some of the reviews, she reads that the Vulture God crew is still the main focus, and that Solace is still with them. Will definitely read.

Stay tuned.

Now We’re Talking

Self adores the novels of Fonda Lee because the wu xia is simply beyond compare.

Now, Adrian Tchaikovsky demonstrates he too can write a mean action scene.

This one takes place in a bar on a godforsaken planet.

The engineered Amazonian warrior Solace, just awakened from 40 years of cryogenic sleep, squares off against a rude Symbiont (like a human but not) who demands to be taken to her ship! Without delay!

She aimed a fist at the symbiont out of sheer reflex, and he’d gone for her in the same moment. She twisted aside as her blow glanced off a cheekbone hard as steel. A moment later, someone in red robes was thrown into the pair of them. Symbiont hit the bar with his elbow, cracking the counter and yelping in surprisingly high-pitched pain. Solace herself went with the momentum and put the bar between them. She ended up half-covered by robes, shouldering aside the dazed cultist-turned-missile. When she put her head above the parapet, the whole room had erupted into fighting and the Symbiont was gone.

Shards of Earth, p. 112

More fight scenes! More!

Stay tuned.

Six Word Saturday: Lam Tung Pang, Asian Art Museum

Yesterday, self dropped by the Asian Art Museum on Larkin in downtown San Francisco. Traffic was surprisingly light. Good thing, because self was so distracted by listening to npr on her car radio that she might have gotten into an accident, the news was so bad.

It was her first visit to the Asian Art Museum since before the pandemic, well over two years ago.

The museum currently has not one, not two, but three blockbuster exhibits: Carlos Villa, Worlds in Collision; two experimental artists: one from Kolkata, the other from Hong Kong. And Marin artist Zheng Chongbin’s I Look for the Sky, a site-specific installation hanging from the lobby ceiling.

Hong Kong artist Lam Tung Pang’s piece, A day of two Suns (2019) was a video installation. The screen looked like a Chinese painting, but with witty modern objects decorating the edges. Amazing.

Posting for Travel with Intent’s Six Word Saturday.

The Architects

The Architects: Evil Entities that possess neither a soul nor a mind. They have only one behavior: remaking any planet in their orbit into unlivable space. Unlivable space = unspace. See what self did there?

Colonials: Humans, what’s left of them

Around fifty-five years back, in the heart of the war, the freighter Samark exited unspace to find every wartime pilot’s worst nightmare: an Architect bearing down on them. They were bound for Forthridge Port, packed to the gills with refugees. Faced with their imminent demise, the crew started packing people into shuttles and escape pods, of which there was an entirely inadequate supply.

Shards of Earth, p. 58

Self is really loving this book. It’s been a while since she’s stumbled across a good space opera. And Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of the best.

Stay tuned.

All Hands on Deck!

Self finished reading The Lantern Men in the wee hours. As she only has four more books to read in the Dr. Ruth Galloway series (She’s not reading them in order; it doesn’t matter, as they are all the same book), she’s decided to alternate her Ruth Galloway with other readings. She’s just started Shards of Earth, by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time almost broke her. Two humans, one of the last of their kind, are put into crypto-sleep and jettisoned into space. Oh, and before they go to sleep, they hook up. After, they’re “woken” by their mother ship, but never at the same time. Talk about AAAAARGH! And btw, earth is ruled by a super-intelligent race of spiders spiders SPIDERS!!!!!

Shards of Earth begins with what you could call a situation. We’re in medias battle. Point of view: Myrmidon Solace, on the space warship Heaven’s Sword, where every soldier is female and has the same face. Enemy: an entity referred to only as The Architect (God, if you will, but in Destroyer Mode).

Great Plot Twist, p. 5:

“Myrmidon Solace!”

“Mother!” She saluted, waiting for her duties.

“Get this to the bridge!”

She blinked. This was a man. A Colonial human man. He was skinny and jug-eared and looked as though he’d already snapped under the trauma of the fight. His eyes were wide and his lips moved soundlessly.


“Take him to the bridge. Now, Myrmidon! This is it, sister. This is the weapon. And if it’s a weapon, we need to use it.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Note to Self

Still reading The Lantern Men. The Dr. Ruth Galloway books are such a guilty pleasure.

Self is on p. 277.

She was in the city for most of the day, couldn’t wait to get home to resume reading!

Note to self: Never, ever stay at a writers retreat with a name like Grey Walls.

Another note to self: Never get friendly with the girlfriend of a serial killer. Never return her calls, never introduce your eleven-year-old to her gardener.

Just when her frustrations with the main character reach near boiling point, Elly Griffiths slips in a joke: Ruth is seeing a doctor because she’s been getting panic attacks. “The loo in the patient area had a sign on it saying PATIENT TOILET. Well, the WC must be the only thing around here that isn’t feeling frustrated.”


Stay tuned.

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