I haven’t done a book review in a while, so this week I’m taking a look at February’s Sword & Laser Book Club pick. Also, on top of the earlier review, I do get into some spoilers regarding the plot’s reveals in the second half of the video, if you want something more in-depth.

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There are some YA novels that I have read that feel like I’m reading an anime. This is, in part, because some of the light novels that have been adapted to anime were aimed for YA audiences. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is an YA novel that definitely fits that concept, though one with some very different and unique narrative hooks because of the point of view character and setting that make it really worth your while (and makes me wish it would get turned into an animated series).

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I like cookbooks. They are the fusion of my love for cooking and food, and my background in technical writing. I also love fantasy fiction & roleplaying games, with The Elder Scrolls series in particular. So, when I first played Skyrim and found there was cooking in the game, one of my first thoughts was “Man, an Elder Scrolls cookbook would be neat!” So, when one finally came out, I knew that I needed to check it out. Much as with the second Von Bek novel, I should have been looking at the Monkey’s Paw.

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Matter is my first step into the world of The Culture. I’ve heard bits and pieces about it through a variety of other sources, from the absurd ship names, to the concept of Outside Context Problems, to the absurdly high tech level – but I’ve never actually read a novel in the universe. While Matter is not the first book in the series, it is a pretty good jumping on point to the series.

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Histories of the computer industry tend to have a focus on the West Coast in general and California and Silicon Valley in particular. It’s where Apple and Microsoft came from, along with Atari. Occasionally, histories will head to Texas (because Texas Instruments) or New Mexico (because Microsoft was based there in a while, and that’s where MITS operated). However, the Midwest tends to get brushed over. So, when a book about the PLATO system, which came out of the University of Illinois, came up on my radar, touting about how much of modern cyber-culture came about on the system, I decided to check it out.

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Book cover of False Value

When I finished reading Lies Sleeping, the seventh book in the Rivers of London series, I kind of wondered where the series would go from there. I had thought The October Man might point out the direction of the story’s progression, but I wasn’t exactly sure. Well, I was part right – in that the direction of the story’s progression was going to get into more international practitioners, just not those in Germany.

False Value involves Peter Grant getting involved in the tech sector. Earlier books had set up an idea where technology and magic couldn’t get along – this book sets up a situation where the two can coexist, though parasitically if not symbiotically. Spoilers will be below the cut.

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Dragons of Winter Night, as a novel, runs into the problem of adapting what was we think of it into just a trilogy of books – a bunch of material has to be skipped over. We start off after the retrieval of the Hammer of Karass and the re-unification of Dwarven society (which would later be covered in Dragons of the Dwarven Depths), with that kind of setting the tone somewhat for how the show comes out.

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Excerpt from the art of The Electric State.

The Electric State is very much a different book from Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood. Those books had a retrospective narrative – the point of view for those books was from the viewpoint of someone looking back on events with a sense of nostalgia. The Electric State, on the other hand, has a more conventional narrative, while still having significant themes of memory, but definitely without the warmth of nostalgia.

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The last book in the Peter Grant series of Urban Fantasy police procedurals wrapped up the end of the “Faceless Man” Arc, with the recurring antagonist of that series being taken down, while one of the members of Peter’s supporting cast who had turned to the Dark Side was now on the lam. In the wake of this, author Ben Aaronovitch has decided to, basically, explore a different chunk of this world with the novella The October Man, which moves the plot from the UK to Germany.

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