Tuesday, May 11, 2021

read: Murder by Other Means (4 stars)

Murder by Other Means (The Dispatcher, #2)Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How can a story involving so much murder be so enjoyable and borderline humorous? You make sure that very few of the victims actually die. That's the improbable conceit of the story and the author makes it work. The audio book of the first Dispatcher novella is sitting in my Audible queue (the pandemic really messed up my listening habits). But this was thoroughly understandable and entertaining without that introduction.

As with most stories from John Scalzi, the value is in the writing. The snappy dialog and colorful characters whisk you along for a pleasant ride full of twists and turns and a totally believable outcome (ignoring the previously mentioned improbable conceit). Highly recommended for a few hours of entertainment.

Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Subterranean Press for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

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Friday, May 7, 2021

read: Project Hail Mary (3 stars)

Project Hail MaryProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Just to be clear. I loved The Martian. I got wind of a little while before it got really popular (thank you, Writing Excuses podcast!), got my book club to read and discuss it and devoured it in no time. I also liked Artemis (not as much as The Martian; but apparently more than many other readers).

When I heard about Project Hail Mary and Peter Weir's return to gritty, science-based storytelling and interstellar setting, I knew I had to read it. It had to be my kind of book. Then, I started reading and felt very let down. A first-person account of waking up out of a coma, confused and in a closed room didn't pull me in. I almost gave up before the main character finally started having flashes of memory about who he was and what he was supposed to do. His recollections of Earth and the other characters brought some actual life, albeit stick-figured, cliché-ridden life, to the stage. I stuck with it.

When Rocky showed up, I was as charmed as anyone. And I've got to hand it to Mr. Weir, he came up with some intriguing science-based mysteries to unravel during the second half of the book. The entire story gave me flashbacks to stories from the middle of the previous century, and not always in a good way. There were a few nice modern touches and genuine effort was made to avoid too much handwavium. But I still feel like there was plenty of that.

I give the first half of the book 2.5 stars and the latter 3.5 stars for an average of 3 stars and some hope that the next book from the author is more well rounded and modern.

Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Ballantine Books for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

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