Tag Archives: #Politics

Huff, Tanya; Valor’s Choice (Confedation of Valor I)(2000)

“If space is big and mostly uninhabited, it should be safe to assume that any life-forms who really didn’t get along would avoid spending time in each other’s company.

Unfortunately, the fact that said life-forms could avoid each other doesn’t necessarily mean that they would.

When the Others attacked systems on the borders of Confederation territory, Parliament sent out a team of negotiators to point out that expansion in any other direction would be more practical as it would not result in conflict. The negotiators were returned in a number of very small pieces…”

The Confederation and the Others each consist of several sentient life forms wanting a piece of the other side’s action. Unlike the Others, the Confederation had been at peace for long enough to evolve an inability to kill species they defined as sentient, leaving the Elder races desperate for someone to protect them. As Humans had, already, ventured out into their own solar system, they were uplifted on the condition that they, in effect, become the military arm of the Confederation. Once the Krai and di’Taykan were included into the Conferation, that military was expanded.

Valor’s Choice takes us to a world where another warlike species has been discovered. The Silsviss are tough enough that the military want them to join the Confederation and not the Others. Enter  the Human Torin Kerr, staff sergeant for the Sh’Quo Company. General Morris, who has never been in a ground battle, orders Kerr to recall the battleworn Sh’quo Company, supposedly to serve as honor guard for the diplomats. On top of that she is given a brand new  second lieutenant, the di’Taykan di’Ka Jarret to train. Their relationship is part of the humour of the story, but not for the reasons one might suspect. Jarret is not a bumbling fool. Instead the humour lies in their preexisting relationship.

Neither Kerr nor Jarret are fools. Both of them know that General Morris is planning on something unpleasant for them. Nothing they can do other than be as prepared as they can. On to diplomat-sitting duty they travel. Fortunately, Huff does not fall into some of the tempting traps that are available to authors. Male and female characters are not stereotyped. Nor are the other marines portrayed as stupid fighting machines. Granted, the extras do not have in-depth personalities, but Huff has tried to bring them somewhat to life. Huff manages to blend the three fighting species into a unit all the while maintaining species-typical behaviour. Valor’s Choice is told in third person from Kerr’s point of view and  she is the person who is most three-dimensional. I found myself liking her. Another character I really liked was the envoy from the Silvsniss, Cri Sawyes.

There is definitely entertainment value in Valor’s Choice. In the sense that it draws me in and keeps me reading, it could be called escapist. Yet, escapism isn’t all there is to this story. Power and politics are major themes of Valor’s Choice. General Morris is a political general, i.e. he wants advancement at whatever price others have to pay. I strongly dislike people who intend to use other people’s lives to get there. Even when fighting is inevitable, war-hawks tend to up the tally of dead.

Valor’s Choice is also about specieism. Colourism or culturism are inevitable. Humans are programmed to use pre-existing information upon meeting people who look or behave different from themselves and their contemporaries. Humans, Krai and di’Taykan are all war-like. Disparaging remarks are made about the Silvsniss by the marines, but they aren’t said in the same spirit they use on each other. The three military species have worked out their differences (with the help of translators) and joke about those species-specific behaviours (like eating your grandmother). In many ways they find  Silvsniss easier to understand than the Elder races the marines babysit. Nor are the Elder races able to comprehend how bloodthirsty the three military species.

Valor’s Choice is a military sci-fi space opera with fighting on the ground. Except for the last bit. Fighting does not begin until after page 100. For me it was easy to get into and was interesting even when action was slow.

Svingen & Pedersen; Converted (The Meantime stories II)(2018)

Illustrated by Håkon Lystad

Converted is the second short-story of The Meantime Series. “Draghan and the shaman had been on the inside of the innermost circles of power since the previous regime” until “King Avlar met his premature death after a clumsy and unfortunate accident where he sat down on his sword”. Both Draghan and the shaman had an instantaneous conversion from the old god to the god of Avlar’s son. We follow the two of them in Converted.

While there are language and grammar issues, Svingen & Pedersen have solved many of the problems I saw in Flushed. I particularly like their take on the worth of people. Some places in the world are still like this.

The authors gave me an ARC copy to review.


My review of Flushed

Lyon, J.J.: Truth is Relative (A Truth Inducer Mystery) (2014)

Artist: Caitlin Willey
Artist: Caitlin Willey

The Monday before Thanksgiving, my car disappeared. Or it might have been late Sunday night. The day was half over before I even looked outside. Instead I focused on an ugly painting until I realized I was hungry. I was out of bread and low on groceries in general. I cleaned my brushes, grabbed my keys, opened the front door, and stared at gray asphalt where my Mazda used to be. A few dead cottonwood leaves swirled there before the wind swept them off.

I didn’t bother calling the police. My car hadn’t been stolen, it had been repossessed.

Anthony has had a rough time during the year after his gift/curse emerged. All it takes is thirty seconds within a ten-foot circumference of him and people cannot help telling him their secrets. Just going to the store is a challenge. And the things he hears. “My wife left me this morning.”, “And then their dad comes home and he needs dinner and he wants sex.”, “I knew it was you and I don’t want to talk to you, but it looked bad.” and “So how did a totally hot man get a gift like that?“. Some of the secrets are much worse than this, and they are part of the trouble Anthony is in and is going to land himself in.

I liked the way J.J. Lyon looked at Anthony’s talent. One of my talents is having no filter on what I hear. Concentrating on my conversation while others are going on around me is extraordinarily difficult. I usually end up commenting on other conversations, or my companions tell me to stop listening in. Sadly, there isn’t an off-button on my talent. That can make talking to me annoying. I just upped my difficulty to the nth degree and probably arrived at Tony’s challenges. So, I truly get why he has made himself a hermit, does not want to visit his family and avoids any close contact with other people if he is able to. However, doing so has gotten him as close to bankrupt as a person could get.

He needs to come up with some way of getting hold of money and using his gift for other things than hitting on girls. His older brother Bart comes up with what he considers a really smart scheme. Why doesn’t Anthony become a PI? Yes, a PI. At first Tony is reluctant. But once he realizes what is really going on, his’s involvement becomes truer.

Recommended.


Reviews:


Truth is Relative is available at Amazon

Rust, Angelika: A Rat for a Rat (Istonnia II) (2014)

A Rat for a Rat - Angelika Rust

Everyone self-harms in one way or another. Calling ourselves names or making ourselves less is one way we love to harm our self-confidence. Others self-harm through physical means. In the there and then, self-harming usually relieves some kind of pressure or stress. Long-term, though, we damage ourselves. Taken to extremes we might even lose body parts or become permanently damaged in other ways. Autistic people know about self-harming that may come a part of a stim.

The Baredians see women as doormats. To them, women are to be used without regard for their feelings, growth or well-being. In A Rat for a Rat we meet Miniri, a seriously troubled girl. She is addicted to self-harm, even if that self-harm means putting herself in the way of being trampled on and sexually abused by the Baredi. Imagine what a person like that could get up to in striving to fill the void inside of her.

Healers are revered people in Istonnia. They may go where no other person may and expect no harm to come to them. Like all work groups, some healers are more popular than others. Inna Malduri is definitely lowest on the totem pole and only the worst students get sent to her. Which is why Anniscia is shocked when she is sent to be Malduri’s  apprentice. You see, Anniscia happens to be at the top of her class and feels she is much to good to serve the poorer part of town. She is about to be exposed to a side of life of life she is unused to.

The Regent, being used to living out in the desert with his group of followers, is having trouble adjusting to politics and people who have different goals. He forgets that in politics revealing the identity of people you love is dangerous to yourself and the one you care for, at least if that person is to be a secret. The world is not supposed to know that Nivvo is his son, but the Regent is not able to avoid reaching out to him.

Nivvo tries to protect his father and brother by being absent. He knows the way the city works and what a wonderful weapon Vicco Cambrosi gains in knowing how much the Regent cares about his long-lost son. Both father and son suffer from a need to over-protect, a trait that exasperates the people around them.

Reka is the one who is most annoyed by this father and son interaction. If she could beat some sense into their heads, she would. Instead she treats both like the brats they are. Nivvo is used to her way of showing anger. The Regent, however, is used to getting his own way, and is at a loss about what to do when Reka treats him the way she does.

A Rat for a Rat was an action-filled and fun story that also dealt with consequences that may arise from our actions.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


A Rat for a Rat available at Amazon US