May
18
2019
0

Book of the Week: Theater of Spies.

Theater of Spies is SM Stirling’s second book in his alt-history Black Chamber series (change point: Howard Taft has a heart attack just in time for Teddy Roosevelt to win the 1912 election instead of vicious racist and would-be totalitarian Woodrow Wilson*). It’s a nice, taut spy thriller, full of in-jokes and historical references and the nagging feeling that the USA in that universe is heading down a somewhat darker road than they realize. It’s fun to watch, mind you, mostly because it’s not my world so by definition it’s an adventure. Check out the series.

Moe Lane

*I’m kind of making it a point to refer to the jackwagon that way from now on.

May
07
2019
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In the Mail: Theater of Spies.

Theater of Spies is SM Stirling’s latest book set in a world where Teddy Roosevelt ended up winning the 1912 election and is now fighting an even more awful World War I against an exceedingly more awful Germany. Very much a technothriller, only all the cutting-edge tech is from the Twenties and Thirties. It’s an entertaining series, not least because Stirling is having fun tweaking everybody’s noses by having the USA be run by Teddy Roosevelt’s version of the Progressives instead of Woodrow Wilson’s.

Been waiting a while to read this.

Jan
05
2019
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Book of the Week: Theater of Spies.

SM Stirling’s Theater of Spies is coming out in May: it’s the second book in a what is rapidly becoming dieselpunk alternate history series with Teddy Roosevelt running a rather larger USA in World War I.  I’m reading it chapter by chapter now on Stirling’s site, and I find the little hints of “they should watch out for these social trends, two decades or so from now” to be quite of interest.  It’s not really surprising to see, if you know anything about early 20th Century American history; but if you don’t, well, the world was a lot different then, and not just in the ways that you might think.




Nov
13
2018
3

In the Mail: The Sky-Blue Wolves.

The Sky-Blue Wolves is SM Stirling’s last book in the Change series. …Wow. I’ve been reading these books for twenty years, if you include the Nantucket trilogy as part of the series.  Can’t quite believe that this is going to be the last one, but I guess he’s gotten everything out of it that he was going to get.




Jul
07
2018
--

Book of the Week: The Black Chamber.

It is difficult to write anything about the background to SM Stirling’s The Black Chamber without casually breaking my own rules about not discussing certain topics.  Suffice it to say that, as an introductory book to an action series, it is quite good; plenty of fights and derring-do and super-tech (for 1916) gadgetry and whatnot.  It is also made reasonably clear that this alternate history (Teddy Roosevelt wins in 1912 after Howard Taft has a heart attack) is not quite the Progressive (note capitalization) Earthly Utopia that the heroine thinks that it is; quite a few rather ominous things and societal trends are lightly alluded to, in a way that allows the reader to raise an eyebrow at the implications. I look forward to some interest as to how the next few books in the series turn out, because there are some indications that it’s going to be set in an altogether pleasant world.




Jun
23
2018
2

Book of the Week: The Black Chamber.

SM Stirling’s The Black Chamber is coming out in a couple of weeks: it’s an alternate history where President Taft suffered a fatal heart attack at just the right moment in 1912 to ensure that Woodrow Wilson would lose ignominiously to Teddy Roosevelt in the Presidential election.  From what I’ve read so far on Stirling’s site, the results from that are going to make a lot of people’s teeth grind. But there are fights on zeppelins and spying against perfidious Imperial Germans and high tech (by 1916 AD standards) and whatnot, so it’s all going to be good, hopefully. I’m looking forward to reading it.




Oct
09
2017
3

In the Mail: The Sea Peoples.

SM Stirling’s The Sea Peoples is a day early, because Amazon works when the Post Office doesn’t. I can’t help but think that the Post Office should worry about that more. Or that I think that Amazon’s more reliable about things, too.

Anyway…




Sep
06
2016
1

In the Mail: S.M. Stirling’s Prince of Outcasts.

Prince of Outcasts is part of S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse low-fantasy series; it’s partially about the South Seas, partially about the looming trans-Pacific war that’s about to erupt there (in a world where gunpowder and steam engines are being flat-out magically suppressed via a worldwide Change, no less) – and more than a little about the no-fooling Cthulhu Mythos (Carcosa edition), only nobody knows that because apparently the Lovecraft enthusiasts largely did not survive the Change. I’ve been looking forward to reading it, particularly because of the Mythos link; it’s going to be interesting when the people in that series really understand just how problematical their life has just become.

Now I just have to wait for another year for the next one to come out. Yay…




Sep
01
2015
12

In the Mail: The Desert and the Blade.

The Change series is lots of fun, if you like post-apocalyptic fiction where technology above a certain level abruptly no longer works and the return of magic really doesn’t make up for it at all.  Which, yeah, led to billions of people dying.  But the survivors are having plenty of adventures! …Which, as S.M. Stirling himself noted elsewhere, means ‘somebody else in deep trouble, far away.’

Ahem. The Desert and the Blade: A Novel of the Change (Change Series) is a fun read so far; I’m enjoying it.  But you definitely should start with Dies the Fire, which is the first book in this series. Or maybe Island in the Sea of Time, which is kind of in the same universe but is a good deal more chipper. Assuming you haven’t read any of these before




May
25
2015
3

Book of the Week: “Conquistador.”

Conquistador by S.M. Stirling is an… interesting book. The premise is classic Golden Age science fiction: a H. Beam Piper*-esque hero creates a stable dimensional portal to an alternate California that Europeans have never colonized, or even visited.  And so, in classic Golden Age style, the aforementioned Great Man of history goes and carves out a nice little kingdom for himself and his fellow freebooters… and that’s where the book gets a little enjoyably awkward, because S.M. Stirling quite enjoys reminding us that our grandparents and great-grandparents were from a completely different people.  The book is not precisely a dystopia, but the society it describes is perhaps not somewhere you’d want to live.  Read about? Sure.  Live? …Not so much.  But it is indeed a page-turner.  Especially if you like your adventure fiction to come with appendices, and who among us does not?

And so, adieu to Digital Divide.

Moe Lane

*This was so totally a homage to H. Beam Piper.  Stirling made it pretty explicit, in fact.




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