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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: 7th Sigma 
23rd-Aug-2012 11:41 am
Summer
7th Sigma by Steven Gould. Science fiction / Western, paperback, 384 pages. Stand-alone (I think).

Kimble is a smart kid who knows he'd rather be on the streets of the Territory than under the heavy hand of his drunken father. Then he meets Ruth, who is leaving a divorce behind to open a new dojo deep in the Territory. They get along better than they should, and so the story rolls. Kim is a smart boy who is already mostly grown up at thirteen, but looks much smaller and younger even than that. With an adult reckoning, incredible aikido skills, and a strong need for justice, Kim is an easy recruit for undercover work for the Territory Rangers.

The challenge in the Territory is the Bugs. No one knows where they came from - a lab experiment gone bad, an Army experiment ditto, outer space, wrath of God - but the end result is that nothing metal or electronic can survive in the Territory. The Bugs will eat it. They swarm on exposed pipes, house frames, cars, pacemakers, metal teeth fillings... So either you survive without metal or you leave for Outside.

The Bugs have busted the Territory back to the... plastic age. Everything is glass, plastic, composite, or back to the good old days of wood, stone, clay, and fiber. Horses are the main mode of transportation once again, and theater is live again too.

The book is built in parts, mostly because there isn't one single plot that Gould wants to explore. He wants to tell us about Kim and Ruth, and the people of the Territory, and the exploits that Kim has while working for the Rangers. But there isn't one overarching plot line, adventure, or issue that is driving the book. Gould doesn't even pretend. So I could pick up the book, read to a good stopping point, and pick it up again later. What is even better, Gould doesn't try to explain the Bugs. They are there, they work, they have rules like any science fiction universe, but they are not the point of the story. They are a challenge to overcome in the Territory just like bandits or cactus or bad water.

Once I realized that this was really a western disguised as a science fiction, I totally changed my perspective on it. It was a compilation of short Ranger stories pretending to be longer short stories pretending to be sci/fi. So, when I started looking at it like a Western, where the issues of riding the territory and just getting there were half the challenge, it became a good book. If I had stubbornly stuck to this being some kind of Contact book, I would have been vastly disappointed.

I picked it up because Kim's street fight in front of Ruth was featured in Opening Acts.

I recommend it to people who enjoy westerns, old-fashioned Rangers stories, and like both with a sprinkling of science fiction on top.


New-to-me Books for 2012

January
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan, YA fantasy. 282 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey, Fantasy. 404 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 2/5 stars on Goodreads (2 = "it was OK"), 3/5 stars on Amazon (3 = "it was OK"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt, Urban fantasy. 336 pages; paperback; first in the series. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); going to keep it around and loan it to friends
Hexed edited by uncredited, listed under the first author, Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy, 326 pages. Paperback; anthology of four novellas. 3/5 stars on Goodreads, 4/5 stars on Amazon; going to loan it to friends who like Kate Daniels, then likely give it away.
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. YA Fantasy, 335 pages. Hardback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Stormwalker, by Allyson James. Urban Fantasy, 330 pages. Paperback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. YA Fantasy, 423 pages. Hardback, stand-alone. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Shadow Ops: Control Point, by Myke Cole. Urban Fantasy... sort of... 382 pages. Paperback, first in the series. [4/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.

February
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy. 672 pages. Paperback; first in the series.[4/5 on Goodreads] Borrowed.
Westward Weird edited by Martin Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Hell-if-I-know, 302 pages. Paperback, anthology. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, 360 pages. Paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.

March
Fair Game, by Patricia Briggs, Urban fantasy. 293 pages; hardback; third in the series. Keeping it.
The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity, edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, Urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Tempting Danger, by Eileen Wilks. Paranormal romance, 301 pages. Paperback, first in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Too Much Information, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Comic book, 127 pages. Paperback. 9th in the series. Keeping it.
Touch of Power, by Maria V. Snyder. Fantasy romance. 390 pages, paperback. First in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Out Whom Shall We Gross?, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Sonata for Piano and Armpit, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. Second in the series. Keeping it.
Sphinx's Princess, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 365 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.
Sphinx's Queen, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 347 pages, paperback. Second in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.

April
Bone Shop, by T. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. Online. Prequel to the Marla Mason series.
Kitemaster and Other Stories, by Jim C. Hines. Fantasy. e-book anthology. 3/5 on GoodReads, 4/5 on Amazon.
How is that Underling Thing Working out for You?, by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
Teamwork Means You Can't Pick the Side That's Right by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
The Sentinel Mage, by Emily Gee. Fantasy. 509 pages, paperback. First in the trilogy. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.

May
Dragon Ship, by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. e-ARC. Science Fiction. Fourth in the series; 14th in the Universe.
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers, YA fantasy. 549 pages; hardback; stand-alone. Giveawaybox. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.(eta: gone)
Eon, by Allison Goodman. YA Fantasy. 531 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan.
Silence, by Michele Sagara. YA Fantasy. 289 pages, hardback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth. YA Dystopia, paperback, 487 pages of story, 72 pages of afterwards. First in the duology.
Princeps, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Fantasy. 496 pages; hardback; fifth/second in the series. Keeping it.
Black Blade Blues, by L. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. 398 pages; paperback; first in the series. It was a loan.

June
Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey, fantasy. 311 pages; hardback; seventh/eighth in the series. Keeping it for now.
Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn, urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology related to the series. Keeping it for now.
Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander, urban fantasy. 331 pages; paperback; first in the series. Giveawaybox.
Hex Appeal edited by P. N. Elrod, urban fantasy. 356 pages; paperback; anthology. Keeping it for now.

July
Spellcast by Barbara Ashford, fiction (urban fantasy). 433 pages; paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.
Monster in My Closet by R. L. Naquin. Urban Fantasy. E-ARC. First in the series.
Spellcrossed by Barbara AShford, urban fantasy. 448 pages; paperback; second in the series. Keeping it.
Cyanide & Happiness; Ice Cream & Sadness by Kris, Rob, Matt, and Dave. Comic books. 160 and 176 pages; paperback. Loaners.
Raven's Shadow by Patricia Briggs, fantasy. 334 pages; paperback; first in the duology. Loan.

August
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews, urban fantasy. 433 pages; paperback; sixth in the series. Keeping it.
Greywalker by Kat Richardson, urban fantasy. 352 pages; paperback; first in the series. giveawaybox.
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill, urban fantasy. 341 pages, paperback; first in the series. giveawaybox.
Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill, urban fantasy. 357 pages, paperback; second in the series. giveawaybox.
Charming Blue by Kristine Grayson, urban fantasy/romance, E-arc, stand alone (I think). delete.
7th Sigma by Steven Gould, science fiction / western. 384 pages; paperback; stand-alone (I think). Keeping it for now.


Books abandoned in 2012:
Vamparazzi, by Laura Resnick. Accidentally picked up book 3; couldn't invest in the characters.

In case you want back references, here is the Books for 2011 round-up post
Comments 
23rd-Aug-2012 07:07 pm (UTC)
I'm reading the second Greywalker book, because the library had it. It's not nearly as heavy handed, although she still has some plot issues. But it's always nice to read about a woman who isn't completely enamored of children.
25th-Aug-2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
I thought one of the strengths of the first book was that the main character was dating as a separate activity from building out the plot. Sure, the guys were participating in the plot, but the romance wasn't its own character. Finding out that she doesn't LUV children isn't a surprise, and is nice too.
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