All posts by Dan

Review: All Systems Red: Murderbot Diaries #1 by Martha Wells

The least human character in All Systems Red is also the most human. A half-robotic creature (or maybe more than half) privately calls itself Murderbot, and it’s got a good reason to. All the humans around it consider it just another security android, which is fine by Murderbot; it’d rather watch bad TV than have to interact with humans.

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Review: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

My whole family had a ton of fun reading Ready Player One, and its sequel Ready Player Two gives more of the same (this is a good thing). There’s a hugely important, intricate puzzle to be solved that requires massive amounts of 80s pop culture knowledge, and our hero and his friends must crack it before the bad guys ruin everything.

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Review: Halting State by Charles Stross

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: thirty orcs and a dragon rob a bank…

No? That’s the premise of Charles Stross’s hard-science Halting State, where virtual characters rob a virtual bank for millions of not-virtual dollars, and no one has any idea how to solve the crime. It’s fast-paced, seriously smart, and filled with more Scottish that you usually get in science fiction.

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26 Best Grimdark Books

Art by Kai Lim

Grimdark is a fantasy subgenre that is particularly dystopian, amoral, or violent. Its protagonists tend toward the conflicted antihero, and its worlds are often brutal and nihilistic. The writing also tends to be much grittier and realistic. A whimsical quest to get the magic doohickey this is not.

The slightly overwrought term is inspired by the tagline of the tabletop strategy game Warhammer 40,000: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war.”

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Review: Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson

There’s a sub-sub-sub genre of books out there I’ll call “Baffling Worlds.” The main character is in a world so bizarre and with such strange rules that it’s not clear whether they’re on an alien planet, in a magical landscape, or in a surreal dream. The focus of the book is not on character development or having adventures, but in the reader slowly learning about how this strange world works. Hearts of Oak is one of these books.
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