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science fiction, new weird, old weird, very weird - and everything else

not always save for work. never nice.

Currently reading

Samuel R. Delany
Progress: 201/801 pages

What's Your Birth-Egg?


I just found this one Twitter. Yay for being born in November :D


Btw, how can I insert Tweets into my post? I tried the usual ways, but nothing works, and i can't find anything in the FAQ.



Source: http://twitter.com/ArenaFlowers/status/1030080233976655872?s=19

Dhalgren - Reading progress update: I've read 54 out of 801 pages.

Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

I have to re-learn the art of reading dead tree books; tapping the words on page will not produce a translation, though not for lack of trying.

Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch

Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch

Auch der dritte Teil der Rivers of London-Serie ist gewohnt amüsant. Fokussierter als die ersten beiden Bände, weniger überfrachtet mit allerlei magischen Figuren, was der Handlung gut getan hat. Die Ermittlungsarbeiten zum Mordfall haben sich für meinen Geschmack etwas zu lang hingezogen, wirkliche Spannung wollte da nicht aufkommen; aber ich mag die kleinen Abschweifungen und Fakten zur Geschichte und Architektur Londons.


Schade finde ich, dass die englischen EBook-Ausgaben so lieblos gesetzt sind. Häufig fehlen Interpunktionzeichen, mitten im Satz, wo ein Komma stehen sollte, steht plötzlich ein Punkt... Es sind Kleinigkeiten, aber ein bisschen Sorgfalt sollte man doch schon walten lassen, wenn man ein Produkt verkauft.

Whispers Under Ground - Reading progress update: I've read 51%.

Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch

It wasn’t me,’ he said.

‘What wasn’t you?’ I asked.

‘Nothing,’ he said.



Punishment - Scott J. Holliday

Punishment (Detective Barnes Series Book 1) - Scott J. Holliday

Thoroughly avarage.


Punishment is a run-of-the-mill thriller starring a run-of-the-mill detective trying to catch a run-of-the-mill serial killer. Of course the serial killer leaves clues behind, of course he wants to be caught, and of course the case is soon becoming personal for our detective.


The best thing about this book, apart from the really beautiful cover, was the sci-fi element: cops use machines to extract memories from victims of crime, including murder victims, in a hope to catch a glimpse of the perpetrators. The same memories are later used as punishment for perps - hence the title. The idea is not exactly new, but it's well executed. Cops like our main character Barnes have to live through the memories of murder victims again and again, and it does a number on them. And the author actually makes good use of the setting of Detroit.


It was entertaining enough, but I don't think I will read the sequel. Except that one has a nice cover, too. Well, maybe next summer, when I'm craving the cheap thrills again.


Machine City cover



Source: http://amazon.de

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

I'm a bit lazy during this heat wave, so I'll give you the official synopsis:


A violent drunk with a broken heart, Mackie looks for love in all the wrong places. When two hit men catch him with his pants down, he barely makes it out alive. Worse still, his ex-gangster uncle, Rab, has vanished, leaving him an empty house and a dead dog.


Reluctant PI Sam Ireland is hired by hotshot lawyers to track Rab but is getting nothing except blank stares and slammed doors. As she scours the dive bars, the dregs of Glasgow start to take notice.


DI Andy Lambert is a cop in the middle of an endless shift. A body washes up, and the city seems to shiver in fear; looks like it’s up to Lambert to clean up after the lowlifes again.


As a rampaging Mackie hunts his uncle, the scum of the city come out to play. And they play dirty. It seems that everyone has either a dark secret or a death wish. In Mackie’s case, it might just be both.


Ways to Die in Glasgow hits fast, hits hart, and delivers its punch with pitch black humour. It's just my kind of pulp.


I discovered Jay Stringer through his Eoin Miller Mysteries, some of the very few stories with a Roma lead character (although not #ownvoice). Those were set in England's Black Country, Stringer's old home. He's since moved to Glasgow, and the city became the new setting for his stories as well. Just like the Black Country, Glasgow builds a lively background for our hapless protagonists. During the course of 24 hours, they have to face murder attempts, betrayal, secrets, and ever shifting alliances. You can never be too sure who's on your side and who's gonna shoot you in the back as soon you look the other way.


Stringer chose a different narrative style for each of his three POV characters: 1st person past tense for Sam, close 3rd person past tense for Lambert, and the ever irritating 1st person present tense for Mackie. It's a bit gimmicky and not strictly necessary, as all three characters already have a distinct voice, but it doesn't get too annoying. Mackie's chapter are the most entertaining by far – he's not exactly sharp, but a force of nature. And he's got his priorities straight:


Now I'm fucked off.

Shoot me? Aye, I'm and annoying shite – I get that.

Shoot Jenny T to get to me? Well, she chose to be with me, I guess; she took her chances.

Grab my Uncle Rab? Well, Rab's pissed of a lot of people.

But shoot a dog?

I'm going to fuck them up big.


Mackie sets to his task with all the detective skills he's learned from watching hours of Columbo. Of course, that doesn't go well.


This is also one of the rare cases where the dreadful 1st person present tense not only works out, but is actually the best choice.


Ways to Die in Glasgow is not the most realistic story, but a fun romp, a bit like the early Guy Ritchie films. Also very brutal. Don't get too attached to the characters, they might not be around for long.


Ways to Die in Glasgow - Reading progress update: I've read 59%.

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

The taxi driver was called Murdo. He was waiting out in the car with the dinner lady. Her name was Senga. You have to love Glasgow: Once everyone figured out we had enough people named Agnes, they just reversed the letters and started again.

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

"Well, like I said, they tried to kill Mackie. He killed them instead. Two people, with guns, and he was naked and unarmed, and he won."

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Reading progress update: I've read 19%.

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

Eek, that was unexpected.

Spaceman of Bohemia - Jaroslav Kalfař

— feeling alien
Spaceman of Bohemia - Jaroslav Kalfar
How unlikely! Yet here we are.
Jakub Procházka is an expert for space dust. When a cloud of mysterious dust settles around Venus and paints the night sky an eerie purple, Jakub becomes the first Czech in space; not only a scientist on an important mission to solve the riddles of the universe, but also a vital symbol for his country of 10 millions, a sign of progress and superiority. But his solo mission also takes Jakub away from his beloved wife Lenka. The distance puts a strain onto their relationship; drifting lonely into the vastness of space, Jakub realizes that maybe he has sacrificed too much. His loneliness is interrupted by the most unlikely of interlocutors: a big, friendly, impossible polite spider alien with a craving for terran hazelnut spread.
„I wish I had the capacity to assist you with your emotional distress, skinny human. I cannot offer you the solace of Nutella, for I have consumed it.“
The spider alien could well be a figment of Jakub's imagination, but real or not, his new friend kindles some memories. Jakub is very literally a child of the revolution, witness to the Velvet Revolution and the end of communism as a 10-year-old. Unfortunately, his father served on the wrong side of history, and Jakub and his grandparents have to pay for his sins. Jakub also remembers the first days of his relationship with Lenka, their young love, their more and more desperate attempts to receive a child, until finally they part ways, with Jakub flying into space.
Kalfař tells Jakub's story alternating between events in space and in the past, spiced with great pathos and philosophical musings about life, the universe, and all the rest. The absurd humour invites comparison to Karel Capek, but also to Kurt Vonnegut, mixing the grotesque with the tragic. Kalfař manages to evoke vivid pictures of rural Czechoslovakia, and is equally visceral when describing the torture committed by Jakub's father.
About halfway through, the story takes a sharp turn and suddenly becomes something else – and when you've finally settled in and found your footing with the change in tone, there's another turn and you find out that the book is in fact something else entirely than you expected in the beginning. It's a bold move to defy reader expectations so completely and results in some people getting lost. I have to admit that I too got lost for a moment and didn't enjoy the second half quite as much as the first. My slight irritation was made up for by the ending, though. And I do think the second half is necessary: too easily, this book could have been just another story using a female character as a catalyst for a straight, white boy's suffering. The second half addresses this point at least somewhat and gives us the perspective of the women who got left behind. And although Jabkub's story can seem quite sad, the book itself is ultimately uplifting: using historic evidence that the Power of the People can actually change the course of history; that, while the means of democracy and justice are flawed and humanity is a self-aware „mess of contradictions“, our desire for companionship and freedom can bring us together and work for good. That's a rather soothing message for these times, and a welcome change to the omnipresent cynicism of grimdark.
Maybe the story is a bit too constructed, the author's hand too visible from time to time. Nonetheless, Spaceman of Bohemia is an excellent debut and will find its place among my favourites of 2018. I'm looking forward to whatever else Kalfař is capable of.
„Alas, we are what we are, and we need the stories, we need the public transportation, the anxiety meds, the television shows by the dozens, the music in bars and restaurants saving us from the terror of silence, the everlasting promise of brown liquor, the bathrooms in national parks, and the political catchphrases we can all shout an stick to our bumpers. We need revolutions. We need anger.“
(It's the second book about sad, lonely boys in space this year that I've really liked; apparently that's now my jam. It's one of several books dealing with sons having to attone for the sins of their fathers – who would have thought this would become the common theme of my reading in 2018. How unlikely. Yet here we are ;) )


Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Spaceman of Bohemia - Jaroslav Kalfar

This is one of the most interesting books I've read this year. Always changing, always defying expectations. I'm yet undicided about a rating, but it's certainly a me.orable debut. 

"We know that the world operates on a whim, a system of coincidences. There are two basic coping mechanisms. One consists of dreading the chaos, fighting it and abusing oneself after losing, building a structured life of work/marriage/gym/reunions
recovery/heart attack, in which every decision is a reaction against the fear of the worst (make children to avoid being forgotten, fuck someone at the reunion in case the opportunity never comes again, and the Holy Grail of paradoxes: marry to combat loneliness, then plunge into that constant marital desire to be alone). This is the life that cannot be won, but it does offer the comforts of battle—the human heart is content when distracted by war.

The second mechanism is an across-the-board acceptance of the absurd all around us. Everything that exists, from consciousness to the digestive workings of the human body to sound waves and bladeless fans, is magnificently unlikely. It seems so much likelier that things would not exist at all and yet the world shows up to class every morning as the cosmos takes attendance. Why combat the unlikeliness? This is the way to survive in this world, to wake up in the morning and receive a cancer diagnosis, discover that a man has murdered forty children, discover that the milk has gone sour, and exclaim, 'How unlikely! Yet here we are,' and have a laugh, and swim in the chaos, swim without fear, swim without expectation but always with an appreciation of every whim, the beauty of screwball twists and jerks that pump blood through our emaciated veins."
Spaceman of Bohemia - Jaroslav Kalfar

Spaceman of Bohemia, Jaroslav Kalfar

"You know that the world is always trying to take us. This country, that country. We can't fight the whole world, the ten million of us, so we pick the people we think should be punished, and we make them suffer the best we can. In one book, your father is a hero. In another book, he is a monster. The men who don't have books written about them have it easier."
Spaceman of Bohemia - Jaroslav Kalfar

Spaceman of Bohemia, Jaroslav Kalfar


Muse - Something Human


I'm still a bit unsure if I like the new direction Muse are going. I loved Thought Contagion, but this seems a bit too 80ies, even for me.

That said, I didn't know how much I needed Dom as policeman in my life.


(For the uninitiated: Dominic Howard, the slender blond guy, is their drummer.)

Corpora Delicti - Manna Francis

Corpora Delicti  - Manna Francis


Corpora Delicti is the 9th and so far most recent part in Manna Francis' The Administration series (aka TA). I guess most of my followers here are unfamiliar with it, therefore I'll use the first part's blurb as a short introduction:


There are no bad guys or good guys. There are only better guys and worse guys. One of the worse guys is Val Toreth. In a world in which torture is a legitimate part of the investigative process, he works for the Investigation and Interrogation Division, where his colleagues can be more dangerous than the criminals he investigates. One of the better guys is Keir Warrick. His small corporation, SimTech, is developing a "sim" system that places users in a fully immersive virtual reality. A minnow in a murky and dangerous pond, he is only beginning to discover how many compromises may be required for success. Their home is the dark future dystopia of New London. A totalitarian bureaucracy controls the European Administration, sharing political power with the corporations. The government uses violence and the many divisions of the feared Department of Internal Security to maintain control and crush resistance. The corporations fight among themselves, using lethal force under the euphemism of "corporate sabotage," uniting only to resist attempts by the Administration to extend its influence over them. Toreth and Warrick are more natural enemies than allies. But mutual attraction and the fight for survival can create unlikely bonds.


My love for this series knows no bounds, and it makes me a bit sad that, outside a group of hardcore fans, it's relatively unknown. It's often called m/m romance or slash, but those labels give a rather false impression. I'd describe The Administration as political thrillers set in a dark dystopia, an all-too-plausible world with all-too-plausible characters; an intricate mix of police procedural, soap opera-like family gatherings, foodporn, and porn-porn, with a heavy dose of the best and most realistic pansexual BDSM I've read up to this date. Unfortunately, this mix is somewhat of a niche product; the BDSM could scare off fans of police procedural, and people looking for juicy m/m action could be disappointed by the sometimes really dry procedural parts. And who wants to read corporate dystopias in this day and age anyway, when the real thing is waiting just outside the door?


So, yeah, somewhat of a niche product. But a very, very good one.

Corpora Delicti wasn't the most exciting adventure for our boys Toreth and Warrick. After a time of political unrest and personal challenges, they find themselves sharing a flat and dealing with the aftermath of a revolt that almost destroyed the Administration and their relationship. While Toreth has do deal with a case of, at first glance, quite boring white collar crime, Warrick wants to find answers to a personal question tormenting him. Although Toreth's case turns out to be a lot more murderous and complex than it seemed, and Warrick's stupid moves could endanger his life, the professional threats in this volume are rather low-level – especially compared to the emotional intensity of #6, First Against the Wall, and #7, Family Values.


Meanwhile, their relationship not only stagnates, but seems to make steps backwards. This has never been a conventional romance, it has never been a healthy relationship, but here even I felt like screaming: „Warrick, please get the fuck out!“ It's mostly Toreth – unfaithful, but deadly jealous - being a careless jerk, and Warrick putting up with it because his pet-torturer is the only one who can give him what he needs, the sense of losing control. Warrick gets off on fear (Francis is uncommonly explicit about this fact here), and Toreth provides the edge of real danger. And of course he is good at their game; he knows what to do because he tortures people for a living, a fact Warrick conveniently ignores most of the time. He's tiptoeing around Toreth, trying not to provoke him, constantly finding excuses for his bad behaviour – and if that doesn't ring all warning bells, then I don't know what's fucking wrong with you, but at some moments in this book the relationship skipped into the actual abusive. The repeat performance with Sara, Toreth's admin, is just the bitter icing on the cake. But just when I've begun to hate him - and such is the brilliance of Manna Francis - I'm back alone with Toreth and realize once again that he lacks the emotional maturity for any kind of meaningful relationship, is too disconnected from his own feelings to understand what others could possibly be experiencing. He's violent, he's dangerous, and Francis is careful not to glorify or romantisize his behaviour – and yet he's all too easy to like (if you're me, that is).

Analysing the relationship and analysing Toreth is half the fun when reading these books. Is he a sociopath or is he not? I don't think he is, although he displays signs of antisocial behaviour patterns. I've recently learned about alexithymia, and it seems to fit Toreth quite well. Maybe with the exception of „scarcity of fantasies“, because he's not lacking imagination when it comes to developing kinky scenarios for Warrick.


Stories and relationships in TA often make me feel uncomfortable. As far as I am concerned, that's one of the greatest qualities of the series, together with Manna Francis' crisp and clear prose, the realistic dialogue, and her outstanding character development. While Corpora Delicti was less intense than some of its predecessors, on this account it didn't disappoint. Most of all, it feels like an inbetween-book, setting up higher stakes for the next sequel; first through the meddling of one powerful and oh-so-very annoying Administration division, and secondly through not only rising tension between our boys, but with introducing possible competition for Toreth in form of a new co-worker for Warrick, who happens to be just his type and a lot saner and safer and less frustrating than torture-boy. I hope one day we will see how that plays out.


Given the subject matter, this series comes with all kind of content warnings, most importantly for torture and sexual violence/rape. It's rarely very explicit, but I find the implications to be even worse. Well, this is no pleasant world, these aren't pleasant characters, and while the books are very, very good, they are not exactly light-hearted.


Corpora Delicti  - Manna Francis

Westbam feat. Richard Butler - You Need the Drugs


Some impromptu soundtrack. The song has nothing to do with the book, but I keep hearing it everywhere right now. No matter where I am or whenever I turn on the radio, this song is on. Wonder what the universe is trying to tell me.


Full review for Corpora Delicti to come. I love this series to pieces, but the books often leave me in a bad mood, and this part more so than usual.