Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Cat's Whirld by Rodolfo Martínez

Cat's Whirld is the new translation of La sonrisa del gato, a 1995 Spanish cyberpunk novel written by Rodolfo Martínez and translated into English by Steve Redwood. It’s an ambitious, fast-paced story about self-aware AIs, warring empires, and the ragtag band of hackers and cyberthieves caught between them, and it’s definitely worth a read for fans of cyberpunk and space opera.


The book is set in a spinning space station called the Whirld, a kind of wild west positioned between two highly regulated empires, Confederacy and Mandate. It’s a hotbed for the kinds of technological advances that both empires require (yet are too cautious and rule-bound to develop themselves). As such, the labs of the Whirld are filled with projects that are as dangerous as they are visionary, and the station’s busy corridors and seedy lounges are filled with operatives trying to buy, sell, or steal them.

Cat’s Whirld tells a big story on a refreshingly small scale. Even though the grand designs of rogue AIs and powerful empires are responsible for many of the inciting events of the book, the action follows a close-knit group of data thieves who call the space station home. This tight focus adds a layer of warmth and humanity to the circuits and corridors that dominate cyberpunk, though it does feel as if more concepts and conflicts are introduced than thoroughly explored.

But these characters are the true focus of the story, and it’s their relationships—rather than their ideologies—that drive them.

The frame story is an interrogation, which nicely teases the intrigues and developments of the central plot. Good frame stories are an art, and I found myself surprised by the full revelation of circumstances at the end. The interrogation narrative also nicely focused the events of the central plot, even if it leads to a bit of overly expository dialogue.

Cat’s Whirld clips along at a nice, quick pace, and it’s over almost before you know it. The chases through the hazardous space station, the games of cat and mouse between the thieves and the authorities, and the high-stakes gambling between resourceful humans and hyperintelligent AIs keep the story speeding forward. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It was the best of times...

Who am I kidding, it was still a really good time.

For those of you who don't know, this year's Worldcon (or World Science Fiction Convention if you like to sip your tea with your pinky up) was beset with its share of catastrophes and controversies. It was almost overshadowed by the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy debacle, and it was literally overshadowed by smoke from the Washington wildfires. Many visiting authors and creators found themselves unable to get on programming, and those that did found aspects of said programming woefully problematic.

But many of us attended nevertheless, and we got the very thing that draws us to conventions in the first place: the company of fellow fans and creators.

As someone who's only been attending conventions for three years now, I can easily say that this was one of the most fun for me. In my experience, each con is better than the last because I have the pleasure of visiting with more and more old friends and making even more new ones. I don't go for the programming or even the travel--I go for the community, and this year was a great example of community coming together.

It's also a call to action for me to be more proactive about supporting the work that makes the SFF genre great. This year was a testament to the fact that every vote and and every voice matters, and if we want the conversations around our genre to be constructive, we all need to pitch in.

Most importantly, it's a reminder that the community is filled with thoughtful and delightful people, many of whom I got to see this weekend. So, to Tex Thompson, Eric Fischl, Jennie Goloboy, Annalee Flower Horne, Sunil Patel, Megan O'Keefe, Joey Hewitt, Lee Harris, Mike Underwood, Beth Cato, Andrea Stewart, Jeremiah Honer, Randy Henderson, Folly Blaine, Wesley Chu (and Paula!), Fran Wilde, Scott Andrews, Dan Wells, Cat Rambo, Jason Hough, Patrick Tomlinson, James Sutter, Kate Elliot, Jay Swanson, Luke Mathews, Melissa Olson, Tim Ward, Tina Gower, Matt Rotundo, Courtney Schafer, Kate Dollarhyde, Ramez Naam (and Molly!), Darusha Wehm, Rachael Acks, Arley Sorg (and Danny!), Marina Lostetter, RM Ambrose, Dominick D'Aunno, Tim Sussman, Amy Sisson, Paul Abell, Martha Wells, Lawrence Schoen (and Val!), Alyc Helms, Adam Rakunas, Andrew Barton, Josh Vogt, Cassie Clarke, D.L. Young, S.B. Divya, Austin DeMarco, Terra LeMay, Effie Seiberg, Coral Moore, Amanda Forrest, and so many others that I'm forgetting right now--cheers to you all!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Worldcon!

I'm noticing a Kimmy Schmidt-esque tendency to title all of my blog posts with exclamation points, but hey, I'm excited! Let's go with it.

I'm especially excited to be at Sasquan this weekend, where I'm making new friends and reconnecting with old friends. Controversies aside, it's still a great place to visit with a lot of wonderful people.

If you want to catch up, here's where you can find me this weekend:

Thursday
 - Kaffeeklatsch, 5-6 pm
 - r/Fantasy's Drinks with Authors, 7-11 pm @ Black Label Brewing

Friday
 - pop-up r/Fantasy AMA, 11:30-12:00 pm, here
 - signing, 2-5 pm, @ the Angry Robot booth

Saturday
 - reading with Annalee Flower Horne, 1:30-2:00 pm, @ Room 301

Sunday
 - autographing, 11-12 pm, @ convention signing table

Thursday, August 6, 2015

THE BURIED LIFE is today's Kindle Daily Deal!

If you've been waiting for the right time to pick up THE BURIED LIFE, wait no longer. It's available for $1.99 on Kindle today!


And if you've already finished THE BURIED LIFE, there's this other book, oh what's it called...