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Book Review: The Shadow of Saganami by David Weber

Diane Morrison

The Shadow of Saganami (Honorverse: Saganami Island, #1)The Shadow of Saganami by David Weber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read for the I Just Have to Read More of That Author Reading Challenge, the Military Spec-Fic Reading Challenge, the Giants of Genre: A Long Book Challenge, the Read the Sequel Reading Challenge, and the Space Opera Reading Challenge at Worlds Without End.

Length of book: 897 pages (pocket-book paperback,) not including appendices.

Ah, the enigma of David Weber. This man is never going to win a Hugo or a Nebula, a Locus or a PKD Award. His writing is too all over the place, and he’s not really doing anything that no one else has done before. It’s space opera. I don’t think anyone’s won an award for actual space opera in decades.

But everyone who reads science fiction has read him at least once. It’s damn good space opera, for one…

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La Sphère de Rubicon

Les voyages de Deryn Naythas

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L’orbe écarlate de Flamboyance, plus généralément désignée aujourd’hui sous le nom de Sphère de Rubicon, possède une étonnante épaisseur, nécessitant plusieurs jours avant d’atteindre les Confins du système atypique. Plusieurs passages permanents existent, baptisés en hommage aux premiers héros et héroïnes olanriens et permettent à une faune importante de transiter de l’Espace sauvage vers le Phlogiston.

La face intérieure de cette Sphère dégage une chaleur intense et se voit nimbée d’amas de gaz volatiles s’embrasant régulièrement pour illuminer les cieux des mondes de Rubicon. Un très grand nombre d’étoiles restent immobiles dans le Vide, comme autant de minuscules soleils rougeoyant, et servent de repères pour les navigateurs. Leur nombre contraint cependant les nefs spatiomantiques à immédiatement adopter de plus prudentes distances dès leur entrée dans le système, les collisions avec ces astres n’étant pas rares.

Magdalène est le nom du soleil rouge de cette Sphère, il orbite à l’extérieur du…

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Book Review: Changer of Worlds by David Weber and Eric Flint

Changer of Worlds (Worlds of Honor, #3)Changer of Worlds by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, to be fair I started this book a fair bit of time ago, read about two and a half of the four novellas in it, and then my partner decided to read it and hid it on me. I found it again a month ago or so but wanted to finish reading the book I was on before I went back to this one.

These are some very well-written stories, and because they lack the usual Weber info-dumps, they’re among the best written Honor Harrington stories I have yet to read. And I have to warn you, unlike many short stories that center around an ongoing novel series, you kind of have to read these or some things will make no sense to you in the later books.

Fortunately this will almost universally be a pleasure. The first story, “Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington,” is a direct homage to “Mr. Midshipman Hornblower,” which is wonderful since the Horatio Hornblower books are part of what inspired Weber to write this series in the first place, and why it’s such wonderful space opera. Here we get to see Honor Harrington, great captain and general, as a mere midshipwoman on her “snotty” cruise. Lots of action, typical Navy politics . . . wonderful stuff for any Honor Harrington fan.

The second story, “Changer of Worlds,” provides some wonderful insight into the ways of the other major intelligent species of the Honorverse; the treecats, who are not just cute telepathic kitties. No indeed.

The third story, “From the Highlands,” introduces us to some other major characters in the Honorverse and what they’re up to; including Victor Cachat, Peep intelligence agent, Anton Zilwicki, the world’s most unlikely Manticoran Navy intelligence officer; Cathy Montaigne, renegade Liberal eventually to be a force to be reckoned with in Manticoran politics; and the Ballroom, a secret terrorist organization of escaped slaves dedicated to wiping out slavery by whatever means necessary. Oh yes, and Zilwicki’s daughter Helen, a force to be reckoned with on her own. This story, written by Eric Flint, is full of his subtle humour, sharp wit, and clever plot and counterplot elements. It reads just like a spy thriller with some comedy thrown in. Great stuff!

The only story I thought we could have done without was the last one, “Nightfall.” This was basically what happened when Secretary of War McQueen took on the Secretary of State Saint-Just just before the end of “Ashes of Victory.” I suspect it was originally included but Weber’s editor, in a rare act of prudence, cut it and told him it wasn’t necessary. I agree; it wasn’t necessary. Since we already read how it started, and we already knew how it ended, and it was just a lot of pain and bloodshed in between, and we didn’t learn anything about any of the characters or the events, I don’t see the point of it.

So; three out of four great stories ain’t bad. Well worth reading, anyway.

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Does the new SRD and Dungeon Masters Guild make Spelljammer open content?

Systems Reference Document (SRD)Wizards of the Coast made two major announcements that both opened up 5th Edition yesterday.

Firstly there was the return of the SRD, in 5th Edition form.

Secondly there was something new. Something that is going to allow people to not just publish OGL content, but to publish content that uses the Dungeons & Dragons branding and even the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

 

Dungeon Masters Guild Now OpenAfter seeing both stories and writing about Dungeon Masters Guild opening up Forgotten Realms over at the Forgotten Realms forum at The Piazza, I’ve been talking to a number of fans.

And it seems like there is a bit of confusion between the two stories.

If you just want an answer to the question, then, no. Wizards of the Coast did not just make Spelljammer into open content. But if you want to find out what the Systems Reference Document (SRD) announcement and the Dungeon Masters Guild announcement mean for Forgotten Realms – right now – and what they potentially might mean for open Spelljammer publishing at some point in the near future, read on.

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Bai’huan, les sanctuaires des cimes brumeuses

Les voyages de Deryn Naythas

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Sphère de cristal : Sphère du Singe d’acier

Type de monde : Sphérique rocheux

Taille : D (diamètre équatorial de 5 123km)

Rotation : 54 heures

Révolution : 832 jours

Lunes : Bai’lan

Population : 589 234 Lao, 156 327 Niriki

Trame magique : Tellur renforcée, magie profane dominante

La petite planète centrale du système de Bai Long est un monde dominé par le règne minéral, qui prend ici la forme de hautes chaînes montagneuses aux sommets enneigés. Les contreforts dominent quelques plaines rocailleuses battues par des vents froids, mais la surface de Bai’huan est plus connue sous le nom de dédale du dragon-montagne, tant les passes et défilés forment en effet un labyrinthe naturel à l’échelle planétaire.

Seuls les sommets équatoriaux sont peuplés par les Lao, qui trouvent là des températures moins rudes qu’aux deux pôles, domaines des Niriki. Le monde est surtout renommé pour la rareté de ses séismes et autres…

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L’Empire du Shantoom-Shialaak

Les voyages de Deryn Naythas

Le long du Shanaam-Shorith, il se murmure que les redoutables Gobelins Shanko ont découverts trois Sphères de cristal dont ils conservent jalousement la localisation. Leurs nombreuses patrouilles aux abords du courant éthérique capricieux sembleraient indiquer qu’ils ne souhaitent aucuns visiteurs au sein de leur nouveau domaine, et ceux qui reviendraient de ces lieux mystérieux seraient des espions, au service d’un Empereur gobelin régnant sans partage.

En réalité, les explorateurs qui partirent en quête du Sixième orbe, en 60 221ci, découvrirent bien plusieurs Sphères de cristal et y fondèrent des colonies. Mais leurs trouvailles les amenèrent à pousser encore plus loin leur périple, pour finalement trouver quelque chose de bien plus précieux qu’un empire à fonder. Car c’est sous les exhortations de Nigshawd’Aknirth, désormais une figure légendaire du peuple Shanko, qu’une petite flottille poursuivit son chemin le long du Shanaam-Shorith, et découvrit un passage vers les Sphères de l’Anneau primordial…

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WHAT “Laws of Physics”?!

So I went on YouTube to link to a couple of things for the blog, and inevitably I found this sort of diatribe in the comments:

“Spelljammer sucks!”

Well, there’s no accounting for some people’s tastes.  Fair enough.  I’m not fond of peas or watermelons either.

But this is the one that always gets me, and it was nestled in the middle of a cheerful comment about how much fun this person’d had at a SJ campaign:

“It was absurd with absolutely no grounding is real physics.”

Why do people always feel the need to include this qualifier?  Is it because of Spelljammer’s superficial resemblance to space opera?

Dude, has it occurred to you that you are playing Dungeons & Dragons?!

Let me see . . . here are some standard facts of D&D as I’ve known it:

  • People throw great balls of fire out of their hands without friction, heat transfer or a power source of any kind.
  • Dragons can fly.  So can winged horses, pigs, lions, and even elephants.
  • Giant bugs do not collapse under their own weight and are capable of locomotion.
  • You can teleport without requiring the equivalent energy of a sun.
  • Weird wizardly experiments producing odd crossbreeds continually prove that the rules of genetics are irrelevant.
  • The odds can be manipulated significantly by the use of magic words.
  • Radiation doesn’t break down your cellular structure; it does weird magic sh*t to you.
  • It is possible to accelerate instantly to impossible speeds without any damage to the body.
  • You can time travel.
  • Powerful warriors are capable of a) falling from orbit without breaking their spines b) getting hit by freight trains and walking away from it c) fighting several individuals at once without getting hit at all d) killing entire swarms of little humanoids without being overwhelmed.
  • Also, old warriors never seem to suffer from arthritis.
  • Prayers heal wounds, broken bones, pulverized limbs and deadly diseases.  Instantaneously.
  • People can be brought back from the dead.

Please tell me exactly when the “laws of real physics” became relevant . . . ?

 

Literary “rules” I wish science fiction and fantasy books would break more often.

SelfAwarePatterns

Image credit: Jonas de Ro via Wikipedia Image credit: Jonas de Ro via Wikipedia

Read any book on writing, or take a creative writing course, and there are certain pieces of advice that you are almost certain to encounter.  In many cases, the advice is good, but some have a tendency to take these tools of the craft and turn them into rigid rules.  And just about any rigid rule is guaranteed to cause problems.  Here are some I wish, as a science fiction and fantasy reader, that authors could be a little more flexible on.

Show, don’t tell.

In film and TV, “show, don’t tell” literally means to show the viewer things rather than tell them in narration or by dialog.  In literary fiction, it usually means to give details and let the reader reach their own conclusions.  Robert J Sawyer gives the typical advice on this concept.

First, what’s the difference between the two? Well, “telling” is…

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Koloruu, la Cinq fois reforgée

Les voyages de Deryn Naythas

Sphère de cristal : Sphère de Toloruu

Type de monde : Sphérique rocheux

Echappée : 5 tours

Taille : F (diamètre équatorial de 51 783km)

Rotation : 58 heures

Révolution : Aucune

Lunes : Ko’raan, Ko’epteen, Ko’nivaneel

Population : 4 583 691 Koloruu

Septième monde du système Toloruu en partant des Confins, Koloruu est comme ses voisines une géante tellurique regorgeant de richesses minérales. Prise entre deux des trois soleils carmin de cette Sphère de cristal, sa surface est calcinée et son atmosphère reste respirable uniquement grâce au bouclier offert par ses lunes. De profondes fissures marquent Koloruu, et les plus anciennes donnent directement sur le magma en fusion au cœur de la planète. Nul ne se souvient des cataclysmes qui menacèrent par cinq fois de briser le monde, mais tous les peuples s’accordent pour désigner la Triade comme protectrice de Koloruu. La majorité des légendes entourant ces époques mystérieuses mentionnent des reliques…

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