Dead Man's Hand

This is a strange book. Rather than the previous format of two short story collections and a mosaic novel, this subseries has two collections and now two mosiac novels (Ace in the Hole being the other). What’s strange is that it continues the same plotlines of the first two books and mostly takes place at the same time as Ace in the Hole. Rather than focusing primarily on Puppetman and the political plotline in Atlanta, Dead Man's Hand is set mostly in New York and deals with the death of Chrysalis, the investigation of Ti Malice.

As a stand alone or complete alternative to Ace in the Hole, I think it would have been a lot stronger. Once the stories merge and start replaying events we’ve already seen in Atlanta (albeit with a different point of view), it feels a lot more repetitive.

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Liberation

This was a pretty crazy book so far as progressing the story. The Aurora, Celestia, and their crews and allies have a long slog ahead of themselves to free the Earth from the Jung, but they all have one huge advantage: nine books worth of experience in using the jump drive in combat!

There are battles galore, some people die, we get a few new allies and piles and piles of ‘five minutes to impact, three to jump’. Everything you’ve come to know and except from a Frontiers Saga book. :D

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NaNoWriMo 2019 - The Twilight Between the Stars

I’m still doing it! Just not posting as much about it.

This time around, I’m writing sci-fi/cosmic horror, roughly based on a half remembered book I last read more then 15 years ago. Good times, no? Once this is all said and done, I’m going to have to go back and take a look to see how far I diverged.

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Resistance

After Celestia CV-02, I was worried that the Aurora and her crew would take the backseat for the rest of the series. Luckily, from Resistance, this appears to not be the case. We still do get a wider selection of points of view–on the Aurora, the Celestia, on the Jung controlled world Tanna, and even back on Earth–but the Aurora is once again the core of the story.

Things are really moving along now, with various space battles and intrigue. I do appreciate the focus on the Aurora, but the mechanics of living on a barely functional Celestia, where you can’t even get between the two sections of the ship are fascinating. I’m curious to see if the Celestia can be finished, especially without the resources and allies the Aurora had a thousand light years away.

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Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole completes the second internal trilogy of the Wild Cards, finishing up many of the plotlines of Aces Abroad and Down and Dirty and bringing the Puppetman plotline to the end. The main plot centers around a presidential convention, which is already a bizarre enough system on its own. Bring super powers and assassins–and super powered assassins into the mix–and things go very very sideways.

This book really does show what makes the Wild Cards books shine, with just enough real world (and real world characters) to make it feel like a solid ‘what if’ while at the same time, bringing in the Wild Card and how it changed the world at every level. It’s good to meet a wide variety of previous characters on both sides and, as the stories go on, to see some of those same characters fall.

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Celestia CV-02

As one could probably guess from the title, Celestia CV-02 is the first book (after 7!) of the series that doesn’t focus on the Aurora and her crew.

On one hand, it’s a nice change of pace and gives a much broader view of the universe the Aurora (and now Celestia) and their crews inhabit. On the other, we’ve spent a lot of time with the Aurora now! I want to know what’s next! (We do get some Aurora time though.)

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The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture is quite a book.

It hits all the harder reading it for the first time now, knowing that Randy Pausch died a year after this lecture/book came out, but even that was a decade ago. His children are in high school/college now. His wife Jai eventually remarried. Some things change and move on. Some don’t.

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The Pillars of the Earth

The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.

The Pillars of the Earth is not what I expected. As the blurb said, it’s a book full of intrigue, action, and romance , but it’s also a giant of a book, set in the twelfth century, following the life and times of several families in a Middle Age English town through everything from daily life to the decades long building of a cathedral to a civil war.

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Down and Dirty

Down and Dirty is a bit of an odd duck, with some stories taking place at the same time as the world tour of Aces Abroad while others take place after. There are mafia plotlines, political plotlines with the Puppetman, and a bit of an internal struggle for both Tachyon and the Turtle. As with any of the short story collections, there’s a wide variety of stories, for better and for worse.

Individual stories:

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The Expanse

After half a dozen books, the Aurora is finally back at full strength and on the way home. Their adventures in the Pentaurus Cluster were pretty cool, but it’s about time to move on. All things considered, it was a crazy journey, with a black hole and a centuries old lost colony ship. A thousand light years in a book.

One thing that has been a little crazy this entire series but really comes to a head is that Nathan was charged with bringing the Aurora home. I don’t begrudge many of the decisions he made to make new allies and gain new technology, but the number of times he delays and/or risks the irreplaceable Aurora and her crew is maddening.

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