Our three-year-old has chickenpox, so he's in quarantine until he ceases to be contagious. He's dealing with it pretty well really - some scratching, not too serious - but of course cabin fever is beginning to set in a bit, and it threw our weekend plans completely out of kilter: I'd planned to take them up to Dad's for a day or so and then take them to a child's birthday party, neither of which got to happen. So instead I did a bit of crafting with them that didn't require too much creativity from me ("Duct Tape Dragsters"; quite cute, though the interest seemed to pall almost as soon as we'd built them, but hopefully they'll pick them up again a bit later), and have otherwise mostly been decompressing and trying to at least establish some kind of base camp on the housework mountain. This evening ghoti
and I played Monastery, which I think worked much better the second time although the rules are still not the clearest piece of writing in the world and I had to resort to BoardGameGeek to disambiguate, which was OK until I failed to correctly explain what I'd learned to ghoti
and ended up inadvertently gaining an advantage as a result. Hopefully next time we'll know what we're doing.
So, recent reading. My reading rate is way slower than a lot of other people I know these days, but I've managed to finish a few things recently.
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- The Martian, Andy Weir. Picked up from XKCD, who clearly knows exactly what I like and summarises it better than I can. "Hard science fiction" doesn't seem to quite cover it, since for me that suggests something more physicsy along the lines of Greg Egan; maybe hard engineering fiction? Any book whose plot uses rocket fuel for some purpose other than going bang and accelerating things is just fine by me.
- Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay. Not finished, but doesn't matter because it's comfort re-reading. Fantasy in a land where an invading sorcerer has made it impossible for anyone not from the eponymous province to hear or remember its name as retribution for the death of his son. It's one of the most luminously poetic works of speculative fiction I know and I love it.
- The Annihilation Score, Charles Stross, sixth novel in the Laundry Files sequence. I'd probably happily read Charlie's shopping list and I've had this on pre-order for a while, then devoured it in a couple of days (very quick for me at the moment). The series premise is that sufficiently complex computation breaks down barriers between universes, allowing practitioners to perform magic but also summoning eldritch and very unfriendly entities in the process: basically, Lovecraft was right, but Turing put it on a scientific footing and then the British government spun off a secret department to try to keep people safe from it. The earlier novels let Stross pastiche classic British spy fiction as well as riffing on the horror genre, but the basic premise is pretty flexible and later books have been heading in the direction of urban fantasy. This one's an occult superhero novel. The protagonist is married to the protag of the previous books, and Charlie has been dropping hints that this will expose ways in which the previous protag is an unreliable narrator, but I didn't notice very much of that; perhaps it will become clearer on re-reading.
- The Bloggess. This is probably one of those cases where everyone else ran across the giant metal chicken story years ago and I just missed it, but anyway, A+++ would collapse in fits of giggles again.
- The Book of Taltos, Steven Brust, books 4 and 5 of a series. Borrowed from liv, as with the previous anthology The Book of Jhereg which included books 1-3. The first three were more or less otherworldly detective yarns and thoroughly enjoyable; but I'm not far enough through these two to say much about them yet. Maybe later.