Andrea K. Höst — The Touchstone trilogy (re-read)
Feb 20-ish, 2016
These books still rule, and I needed some comfort-food re-reads.
Bonus Level: Cardboard Computer — Kentucky Route Zero: Acts 1, 2 (replays), and 3, plus "Limits and Demonstrations," "The Entertainment," and "Here and There Along the Echo"
Mar 25, 2016
I think I've talked about Acts 1 and 2 here before. Act 3 is even better.
An interesting thing about KRZ: not only is it episodic, but it has a bunch of free, optional side-episodes that you can download as separate apps. These tend to be experimental and weird, but will drop crumbs of the main story from time to time. I highly recommend playing "The Entertainment" before starting Act 3: it's basically a metafictional overture for the whole act, in the form of a student play put on the ’70s by Carrington (the guy you can meet in act 1 who's seeking a venue for his new project). It's kind of a confrontational anti-game, with a hilariously shocking ending that turns out to be extremely relevant the instant the curtain rises on Act 3.
Anyway: this game isn't quite about what I thought it was about, and I'm excited for the next act.
Nicole Kornher-Stace — Archivist Wasp
April 5, 2016
A strange and intense post-apocalyptic ghost story.
I started out skeptical of this, but it won me over. It's kind of genre salad in a way that, now that I think of it, reminds me slightly of Smoketown. (Running in a very different direction with it.)
The metaphysics didn't quite make sense; it never really followed through on the tease that we'd find out what happened to the world; I remain very curious about why there are ghosts now when there didn't seem to be ghosts before. But ultimately it satisfied in the ways it needed to satisfy, and I kind of savor the lingering mysteries.
Andy Weir — The Martian
This was a really relaxing read, and it went down in a flash. A+ airplane or beach book; I quite enjoyed it.
"Relaxing????," you say. Well, it's technically a story about repeatedly almost dying in a frozen airless hellscape, sure, but in practice it reads like a series of really fun forum posts about how badly the HVAC system managed to fuck itself up (and our hero's legendarily janky patch job). About 4/5 of the book is the protagonist's log entries, which he only writes once he's tamed enough chaos to sit at a computer for an hour. So they're paradoxically calming!
The log entries are written in what I suspect is Weir's natural forum-post voice. He's not a very versatile writer (the 3rd-person alternate POV sections are all pretty weak), but he's very good at conversational technical explainers, so most of the book is A Real Fun Read If You Like That Sort of Thing (And I Do).
Bitter life-or-death struggle, presented as a series of really knotty engineering problems with clever "solutions" (including multiple off-label abuses of a plutonium-containing device). Good times.