Trilogy Recommendation: The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

Since I reviewed this trilogy over on the blog of the Association for Mormon Letters a few months back, I’ll just copy what I said over there to here:

When I interviewed Larry Correia a couple of months ago, I had read some of his Monster Hunter International books, but I had not read any of the Grimnoir Chronicles series.  I didn’t know much about the series, but based on the cover of the first book, Hard Magic, I guessed it was a 1930s hard-boiled detective novel, plus magic, and that didn’t really pique my interest.  But since I’ve recently been listening to audiobooks at a rate of more than one per week, and the first two books in the series had won Audie awards, I decided to give the first one a try.

I’m glad I did.  I listened to the entire trilogy in short order, and I loved the Grimnoir Chronicles even more than the MHI series.  It’s part fantasy, part science fiction, part alternate history, part superhero — and completely awesome.

The books take place in the 1930s, but in a timeline in which people (referred to as Actives) started gaining magical powers in the 1800s.  They follow the adventures of Jake Sullivan, an unjustly imprisoned war-hero/private-eye with the power to manipulate gravity; Faye Vierra, a whip-smart teenage refugee from the Dust Bowl with the power to teleport; and various other characters with magical powers who make up the Grimnoir Society, which is dedicated to protecting Actives from regular humans and vice versa.

I thought all the major characters were distinctive and memorable (in part due to Bronson Pinchot’s excellent narration — there’s a reason the audiobooks have won awards), and I enjoyed spotting the names of some people I know in more minor roles. The explanation for why magic exists in this world is fascinating, with major plot implications for the course of the trilogy. The books are filled with humor and action, but also have some interesting things to say about free will, among other philosophical issues.

I really recommend these in audiobook form from Audible, as all three were nominated for Audie Awards, and the first two won.  They’re also available from Amazon.

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Book Recommendation: A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge

Although A Deepness in the Sky was published in 1999, I didn’t get around to reading it until recently. Vernor Vinge deservedly won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for it.  The novel includes one of my favorite portrayals of an alien society, and also portrays a fascinating interstellar human culture.  (It is a prequel to the novel A Fire Upon the Deep, but it doesn’t really matter which order you read the two.)

You can buy it at Amazon or download the audio from Audible.

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Book Recommendation: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

I have previously recommended Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, which are like Jane Austen with magic.  Ironskin, by Tina Connolly, is Jane Eyre with magic.  I enjoyed reading it perhaps even a little more than I enjoyed reading Jane Eyre.

You can buy it from Amazon or get the audio version from Audible.

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Book Recommendation: One Second After

I’ve known about EMP weapons for at least a couple of decades.  But reading the novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen really brought home to me how vulnerable our society is to such weapons (or even just a major solar storm).  Frankly, after reading this book, I favor increasing government spending to harden our infrastructure against such events.

You can buy it at Amazon or get the audiobook at Audible.

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Issue 42 of InterGalactic Medicine Show

I was the head editor for the November 2014 issue of Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. Head on over and check out the stories I selected.

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“A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas” now available

My story “A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas” is now available in A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories, edited by Kevin J. Anderson and Keith J. Olexa. Publishers Weekly gave the anthology a starred review, saying “This often amusing and frequently compelling collection features Christmas-themed short stories from some of fantasy and science fiction’s brightest stars.”  They even mentioned my story: “Eric James Stone’s ‘A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas,’ in which computers communicating with a child learn their own Christmas moral, is particularly touching.”

The anthology is available at Amazon (print|Kindle ebook), Barnes & Noble (print|Nook ebook), and Smashwords (various ebook formats).

In order to whet your appetite, here’s the beginning of the story:

Read More »

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Book Recommendation: The Martian

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is the best standalone novel I’ve listened to so far this year.  Here’s the one-sentence summary: A MacGyver-like  astronaut stranded alone on Mars has to figure out how to survive until rescue can come.

I first heard of the novel from Daniel Burton’s stellar review at Attack of the Books, and was so intrigued I bought it immediately.  The story is so gripping, I stayed up way past my bedtime listening.  If you want to read a more thorough review, read Daniel’s.  (The one thing I’ll add to his review is that I’m not sure if the novel is eligible for a Hugo next because the audio publication and a self-published version appeared before 2014.  But if it is eligible, I’ll probably be nominating it.)

The book is available in print and ebook from Amazon, and in audio from Audible (click the banner below).

Audiobooks at audible.com!

 

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I have signed a novel contract

It’s been a long process, but today I signed a contract with Baen Books to publish my debut novel, Unforgettable.  I’m very excited to have my novel come out from the same publishing house that publishes some of my favorite authors, including David Weber, Lois McMaster Bujold, Larry Correia, Elizabeth Moon, and Brad R. Torgersen.  I don’t yet know when it will be available — I’m guessing sometime next year.

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Why Republicans/Conservatives Should Compromise on Same-Sex Marriage ASAP

Note: I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason, with or without explanation.


Having written about my personal and religious thinking about same-sex marriage, I now want to address the politics of the issue.

Yesterday, a panel of the 10th Circuit ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  That ruling is on hold while Utah will appeal to either the full 10th Circuit or to the Supreme Court.  Ultimately, this case will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.  And at this point, it’s possible it could go either way.

While for the reasons explained in my previous post I have come to support same-sex marriage, I do not believe it is a constitutional right under the U.S. Constitution.  There is absolutely no way that anybody involved in passing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the 14th Amendment thought that what they were doing created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  If you want to find a right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution, pass an amendment.  Otherwise, you are twisting the document to fit your own preferences, and thus setting a terrible precedent in the long run.

But, you may say, as society and language evolve, the meaning of the words of the Constitution can change.  OK, fine.  Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution says, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”  Over the past 200 years, the phrase “domestic violence” has evolved to mean violence between family members. If you believe that the meaning of the Constitution can change over time (without amending it) as society and language change, this means there is a perfectly legitimate argument there is a constitutional right for states to demand that the federal government protect them against spousal abuse and child abuse.  Oh, and seeing that the word “Republican” has evolved in our society to mean a certain political party, then arguably the Constitution empowers the federal government to oust the Democrats in any state they control and replace them with Republicans.

Obviously, those interpretations are ridiculous, but if you accept the premise that the meaning of the Constitution and its amendments were not fixed at the time they were passed, you don’t have any leg to stand on to argue against the legitimacy of a court interpreting the Constitution in such a fashion.

So that’s why, while I believe that state governments should allow same-sex marriage, I do not believe the Constitution requires it.

But enough about fundamental principles of constitutional interpretation. Let’s talk politics.

My fellow Republicans and conservatives, if you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that judges in state after state keep ruling that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.  I do not think such rulings are sound, but they’re obviously a taste of things to come.  Even if the current Supreme Court overturns those rulings in the next couple of years, there will eventually be a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

It’s going to happen.  The only thing Republicans/conservatives can do is try to minimize the fallout by trying to protect people’s conscience rights to not be forced to support same-sex marriages.  That is why Republicans in every state where same-sex marriage is not currently legal should support compromise legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage while making it clear that individuals have conscience rights to not act in support of such marriages.  And Republicans in Congress should pass a law requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere, while protecting the conscience rights of individuals.

The exact definition of what those conscience rights are can be negotiated.  Personally, I would say that no one should be required to attend same-sex marriage events (e.g, wedding photographers), or to have their assets used for such events (e.g., reception hall owners), or to use their creative/artistic skills (e.g., cake decorators) or professional judgment (e.g., marriage counselors) in support of same-sex marriages. It does not mean that restaurants can put up “No gays allowed” signs. It might be better (and, in the long run, likelier to be upheld by the courts) if the conscience right is not limited to objections to same-sex marriage, but rather broadened to include any strongly held belief of conscience.  For example, an anti-circumcision photographer should not be forced to attend a bris, a Holocaust survivor should not be forced to rent his reception hall for a neo-Nazi celebration of Hitler’s birthday, etc.

Basically, the reason Republicans and conservatives need to pass such legislation now is that we only have political leverage to get the other side to compromise as long as there’s a chance the Supreme Court won’t force all states to recognize same-sex marriage.  In fact, it may already be too late, because many of the supporters of same-sex marriage seem to feel victory is within their grasp and are therefore unwilling to compromise.  We would have had a better chance of protecting conscience rights had we passed such a compromise a decade ago.  Of course, if the Supreme Court rules against a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, supporters of the right may become more willing to compromise.  But offering a compromise that legalizes same-sex marriage in return for protecting conscience rights is our only hope of protecting such rights in the long term, and we need to pass such legislation as soon as possible.

 

 

 

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Series Recommendation: The Glamourist Histories

I just finished listening to Valour and Vanity, the fourth book in the Glamourist Histories series by Mary Robinette Kowal.  I’ve enjoyed all the books very much.

The first, Shades of Milk and Honey, can simply be described as what Jane Austen would have written if she wrote fantasy.  Basically, it takes place in a world very much like our own 1800s, but there’s a type of magic called glamour that allows the creation of illusions.  The plot of the first novel is very Austenish, dealing with prospects of marriage, or lack thereof, for the main character, Jane Ellsworth.

Rather than repeat the same sort of Austenish plot in the second novel, Glamour in Glass, Mary instead serves up a plot in which Jane and her husband (Sorry if that’s a spoiler!) get involved in espionage  in Europe during the events leading up to Napoleon’s defeat.

The third novel, Without a Summer, returns to England to offer a political/legal thriller plot in which Jane and her husband’s families get caught up in the machinations of some very powerful figures.

So I was not surprised that Valour and Vanity uses yet another type of plot, in which Jane and her husband travel to Venice and… well, I won’t spoil it. But it reminded me of a movie set (partially) in Venice.

So I recommend the entire series as being worth your time, either in print/ebook or in audio (click on the banner below). The audiobooks are read by Mary herself, who is an accomplished narrator for other authors’ work as well as her own.

Audiobooks at audible.com!

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