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Soh Kam Yung Locked account

Joined 8 months ago

Exploring one universe at a time. Interested in #Nature, #Photography, #NaturePhotography, #Science, #ScienceFiction, #Physics, #Engineering.

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Undine Love (EBook, 2020, Tom Doherty Associates) 3 stars is thrilled to reprint “Undine Love” by Kathleen Jennings, which first appeared in Andromeda …

Bread and breakfast and fairies.

3 stars

A fantasy story set in a countryside bed-and-breakfast run by a woman who relishes the solitary lifestyle and keeps the place safe and sound by playing the bagpipes and walking the territory to keep the fairy creatures away.

Initially, this sounded like creatures from an overactive imagination but things take a turn for the fantastic when a returning visitor, whose wife apparently vanished at a nearby lake, suddenly finds happiness and the creatures that live in the lake may not be so imaginary after all. When the woman realises the significance of this particular visit, she has very little time to try to save the man from the creations of his own imaginations.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (Paperback, 2019, Tor) No rating

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark's short fiction, …

Two Agents against a haunted tram car. What could go wrong?

4 stars

Another fascinating story set in the same setting (but after the events) of the author's story, "A Dead Djinn in Cairo", this one has two agents of the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities looking into the possible haunting of an aerial tram car. But what starts off as a possible 'simple' possession by a djinn evolves into something much darker, as further investigations start to reveal the true nature of the spirit occupying the tram car.

Woven into the tale is a background of female emancipation with a vote to be taken to give women the vote, which would give the agents more food for thought in the involvement of women in their work in the future. Quite a number of interesting secondary women characters are in the story, providing some humour and alternative viewpoints.

In the end, the agents solve the case, but not without some …

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Norse Mythology is a 2017 book by Neil Gaiman. The book is a retelling of …

Entertaining, sometimes gruesome, sometimes funny and sometimes sad

4 stars

collection of stories about the gods of Asgard and the elves, dwarves and giants around them, book-ended by the Norse creation myth and the world-ending battle of Ragnarok. It’s a storytelling approach, not a scholarly description. And it’s not the shiny, techno-magical Asgard of Marvel’s Thor, or the ethereal Olympus we’ve come to think of with Greek myths. For all the magic and impossible feats that get tossed around, it’s still a gritty, harsh world with wars, murders, lust, deception and betrayal.

The stories are mostly separate, but a pattern emerges: not just when stories refer back to earlier events, but the slow transformation of Loki from the kind of trickster who steals Sif’s hair, tricks rival smiths into creating fantastic gifts, and generally outwits his opponents (while finding ways to embarrass the other gods if he can) to the kind of trickster who thinks it would be hilarious to …

Rosetta (2020, Springer International Publishing AG) No rating

In 2014, Rosetta became the first mission to orbit a comet and to deploy a …

A fantastic book on the Rosetta space probe.

4 stars

A fantastic book on the Rosetta space probe and its mission to explore comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P) from its conception, the launch, the actual mission itself and the discoveries of the comet that the mission has revealed, so far.

The book starts with a history of what we know about comets from ancient times to now, based on observations from Earth. It then covers some early space mission to explore various comets like Comet Halley. The concept and planning of the Rosetta mission is then covered, followed by the initial attempt to launch it to explore comet 46P/Wirtanen that was aborted, after the failure of a rocket that would have been used to launch Rosetta.

After an examination of the various options, 67P was chosen as the new target for Rosetta and the mission was on its way. But it didn't get there directly: Rosetta had to flyby the Earth and …

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A Master of Djinn (Hardcover, 2021, Tor) 5 stars

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe …

An Arabian steampunk fantasy mystery

4 stars

This was quite an enjoyable book and a fascinating world to explore. It has been a long time since I read any steampunk and this falls very much in that category. The Egyptian setting was excellent and makes me want to read even more in this universe. There are allusions to other adventures between Fatma and Siti so there is more out there to explore.

For a full review, check out my blog:

Artemis: A Novel (2018) 3 stars

More of an SF thriller than a Hard-SF story like "The Martian"

3 stars

An interesting story set on a lunar colony, Artemis. The main character, Jazz Bashara, is introduced as a smuggler involved in getting minor prohibited items (like cigars) into the city for her clients. We soon learn that she has apparently made some bad life decisions early in her life that has led her to become estranged from her father and people who thought she would make something of her life due to her high intelligence.

She also has a past debt to pay off, and one day she is given the opportunity to pay if off when one of her clients proposes an audacious sabotage attempt by her in order to corner a market on Artemis. But the attempt goes wrong, and Jazz now finds herself not only a fugitive from the law, but also a target of a mob that is very angry at the sabotage. Running for her …

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Chaos on CatNet (Hardcover, 2021, Tor Teen) No rating

It takes an AI to catch an AI in Chaos on CatNet, the follow-up to …

This turned out to be a pretty great read - I went in with no idea what it was about. It's full of queer teenage girls fighting a weird religious cult and rogue AIs. Was such a compelling read that I even stayed up well past my bedtime reading it.

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The Kaiju Preservation Society (EBook, 2022, Tom Doherty Associates) No rating

Jamie’s dream was to hit the big time at a New York tech start-up. Jamie’s …

Escaping the pandemic by learning to survive on a world with gigantic monsters

5 stars

A fun, breezy story about unexpectedly landing a job at a secret scientific base on a parallel world studying giant Godzilla-like animals. Which is about as dangerous as it sounds. Plus, of course, not all humans are interested in the kaijus' welfare, and the KPS has to step up the "Preservation" part of its name.

There's some interesting world-building in terms of what kind of environment and ecosystem would actually support 100-meter-tall animals, what kind of biology would be able to handle the size, the energy, shooting beams of radiation, etc. And what might evolve to protect itself in a world with kaiju. And of course: what role nuclear explosions have in the whole thing, because these are kaiju after all!

It's also weird because it takes place in 2020. Like, real 2020, complete with Covid-19 lockdowns and everything. The main character starts out working for a GrubHub competitor at …

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn: A Tor.Com Original (2015, Tor Books) 4 stars

"The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn" by Usman T. Malik is a fantasy novella …

A story that takes it time to build up to and introduce its fantasy elements.

4 stars

An interesting fantasy story that takes its time setting the scene before it starts to introduce its fantasy elements. The main story is told from the point of view of the grandson, whose grandfather came from Pakistan. Via the story, we learn of the grandfather's past and his relationship with a former Princess who ran a small tea stall at a eucalyptus tree, rumoured to be inhabited by a Jinn from the ancient past.

But tragedy would strike (literally) after a boy gets hurt after a fall from the tree. Amid calls to remove the tree as a menace to the community, it get destroyed by lightning, including the stall and the Princess moves away, while the grandfather gradually migrates to the US after adventures in various other places, gradually losing his memory of events apparently due to senility.

All this sounds like a perfectly normal non-Fantasy story until the …