Sci-fi roundup

Lots of book reviews to catch up on, so I’m going to do capsule reviews until I’m caught up.

Balance of Trade, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

I really like the Liaden universe books, but hadn’t gotten around to reading the new books in the universe. When I saw this one in the library, I picked it up and read it last weekend. It was decent. I didn’t think the characters sparkled as much as in the other Liaden books, and some of the plot twists were far-fetched. But it was solidly entertaining, which is about all I can ask from a library book.

A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is an author that I’d like to read more of. I read his book Coyote Blue, and was tolerably amused by it, and would like to read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal just for the sheer blasphemy. This one describes what happens when a normal schmo (described as a Beta Male, the subservient to the prototypical Alpha Male) gets imbued with the powers of Death. It’s a little bit odd. But quite funny.

The Jazz, by Melissa Scott

Melissa Scott is another author whose work I like, even though it’s not part of my regular rotation of comfort reading. I’ve read a lot of her stuff, and particularly like Burning Bright for its projection of gaming in the future, and Trouble and her Friends which is cyperpunk-y with a dash of women’s studies. So when I saw a Scott book at the library, I picked it up. This one is a near future projection where “the jazz” is a major component of the net. “The jazz” is basically a combination of gossip-mongering, tabloid journalism, and rumors with just enough truth to make people believe it. It’s another book describing a future where image is more important than reality. Anyway, a teenage kid puts out a new piece of jazz, but is discovered to have stolen a program to help him make it. Pursuit ensues. The kid picks up unlikely allies along the way, while the record studio chases them with a ruthlessness that reminds one of the RIAA. The book itself is kind of by the numbers, but I liked the idea of the jazz; it reminds me of Bug Jack Barron in a way.

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