Here It Is: The Thing (Or Things) That Came Out of Roscoe

RIP Roscoe. Very sad. His best friend locked him in a room and nailed plywood boards over the doors and windows. All Roscoe could do was watch as his friend worked, his face looking ghostly and sad.

Don’t every tell anyone that teenagers can’t make the hard decisions.

Now we’re in a forest, p. 253. That monster, Drake, who is really two teenagers in one (Brittney’s the other one — she keeps trying to kill Drake because she’s good, see? And Drake is bad. Only, they’re the same body. So Brittney hasn’t got it all figured out yet.) hears something approaching. Something big.

It was silver and bronze, dully reflective. It had an insect’s head with prominent, gnashing mouthparts that made Drake think of a Benihana chef flashing knives ceremonially. Its wickedly curved mandibles of black horn or bone protruded from the side of its mouth. It smelled like curry and ammonia.

Plague, A Gone Novel, p. 253

Is that a giant cockroach? Self haaaates cockroaches!

She even hates spiders. Which is why Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time left her feeling a little, how shall we say, detached.

Not content with scaring the bejesus out of his readers with the above description, Michael Grant has to describe how they move:

They ran in a rush on six legs, stopping, starting, then skittering forward again at alarming speed. Their tarnished silver wings folded back against bronze carapaces, like beetles or cockroaches.

Stay tuned.

Penny in PLAGUE, a GONE novel

These characters — a whole slew of them — are as vivid and realized as can be. They talk like teenagers, they drink like teenagers, they swear like teenagers.

p. 220:

“You okay?” Caine asked Diana.

“She’s perfect,” Penny said. “Perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect skin. Plus she has legs that work, which is really cool.”

“I’m out of here,” Caine said.

“No,” Diana said. “Help me lift her back out.”

“Yeah, Caine, don’t you want to see me naked? I’m still kind of hot. If you don’t mind my legs. Just don’t look at them. Because they’ll kind of make you sick.”

Both of Penny’s ankles are broken. And because all the adults have disappeared, and that includes doctors and nurses, “there was no way to fix her legs . . . and nothing to treat the pain but Tylenol and Motrin.” All that’s holding Penny’s ankles together are “two pairs of socks.”

How did both of Penny’s ankles get broken? Caine broke them. But Penny still has to live with Caine and his girlfriend, Diana. She doesn’t wash or go to the bathroom, which is why Diana finally decides to take matters into her own hands, and drags Penny to the tub (at least there is running water).

Diana maneuvered to bear most of Penny’s weight and lower her bottom first into the hot water. Her twisted pipe-cleaner legs dragged, then followed their owner into the tub. Penny screamed. “Sorry,” Diana said.

“Oh God, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts!”

Did self mention that these books are listed as YA? But there is nothing YA about these characters. She can’t believe she never heard about these novels until she saw a stack of them on Charles’s desk on the lower floor of the London Review Bookshop, a month ago (There are nine books in the series). To her great surprise, the author turned out to be American. And the characters were American teenagers in self’s own home state of California. To think she had to go all the way to London — to the London Review Bookshop — to find out about them.

Pretty good reading, this one. And the horror — the horror — is stellar.

Stay tuned.

Plague, A Gone Novel: Sentence of the Day

  • Edilio (one of the less self-absorbed characters): “You know, Albert, you want so bad to be the big man, the Donald Trump of Perdido Beach, why don’t you go deal with Drake?”

So Donald Trump is not beneath the notice of the ultra-cool American teens of Perdido Beach, California — ?! Who would have thought? (After reading the sentence, self looked up the book’s publication date: 2011)

The Gone Novels, by Michael Grant

There are nine in all. Self heard about them only a few weeks ago, when she was in London. She went to the London Review Bookshop and on the lower floor, where Charles sits, was a stack of colorful paperbacks. She picked up one, and it had a blurb by Stephen King. As soon as she got home, she checked out two of the series, the only two that were available from her local library.

She started with Plague, Gone # 4: It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. GONE . . .

The kids are all alone (Self thinks: well, at least they’re in a California beach town, not in some arena). It has a sort of Lord of the Flies vibe (i.e. dystopian), but with drinking and sex (Yes, sex between American teens is a given, or at least it was until the current era).

One teen develops a parasitic infection. It appears there’s a hive of biting insects that lives in his shoulder: EEEEUWWWW) Others develop a coughing sickness.

Three girls, all named Jennifer (LOL) have banded together in a house. One of the Jennifers dies. Here’s a conversation between the two remaining Jennifers:

“Jen . . . I’m going to . . . hospital.”

No answer.

“Are you alive?”

Jennifer L. coughed, she wasn’t dead, and she coughed normally, not the crazy spasms that had killed Jennifer H. But she didn’t answer.

So Jennifer Boyles set off, on her own. She slid on her butt down the stairs, blankets gathered around her. Shivering, teeth chattering.

She managed to stand long enough to reach the front door and open it. But she sat down again very unexpectedly on the porch. Hard on her butt. She sat there shaking until the chills passed.

She tripped walking down the porch stairs. The fall bruised her left knee badly. This destroyed the last of her will to stand up. But not the last of her will to live.

Jennifer began to crawl. Hands and knees. Down the sidewalk. Impeded by her blankets. Delayed by coughing fits. Pausing whenever the chills rattled her so hard she could only moan and hack and roll onto her side.

“Keep going,” she muttered. “Gotta keep going.”

It took her two hours to crawl as far as Brace Road.

Plague, pp. 42- 43

This is good stuff!

Stay tuned.

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

Sentence of the Day (Also: Spoiler Alert!)

You’re barreling along on p. 380 of an Adrian Tchaikovsky novel and you’re feeling it, really feeling it, swept along by the dense prose and the unspace and the intense flashbacks to what happened on Berenhof, when . . .

OLLI: “Son of a bitch, I knew it!”

And Solace sends the message.

NOOOO! Airlock her now, Olli!

Self can’t even.

Stay tuned.


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.

Mesmon the Tothiat

Self has a favorite character. She won’t reveal who it is just yet, but now self is vested. She’ll only read Book 2 of The Final Architecture if her favorite survives Book 1.

Fight Scene, Deep Space, p, 208:

  • She got a hand on his helmet and wrenched at it, yanking his head to one side. He stuck a boot to the wall behind her and used that purchase where her neck met her shoulder. Stupid infantile move, except she felt it, and her armour’s stress warnings redoubled. She felt the first worm of worry creep in through the cracks. She could see he’d hit her so hard he’d broken his own wrist, the hand bent at a crippled angle. Even as she registered his injury, the joint snapped back into place, the damage repairing itself before her eyes. Through the rents in his mangled gloves she saw skin seal and bones realign even as he came in to hit her again.

So Mesmon can never be killed? No matter how many holes you put in him, he’ll be back? Uh-oh.

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.

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