User Profile

Eric Wagoner 📚

eric@books.kestrelsnest.social

Joined 1 year, 2 months ago

Eclectic and (sometimes aspirationally) avid reader. Currently on a sci-fi kick. Tolkien is my first literary love.

I'm a software developer and whimsical costume maker in Athens, GA. he/him

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2024 Reading Goal

8% complete! Eric Wagoner 📚 has read 1 of 12 books.

Dan Moren: All Souls Lost (2023, Jabberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.) 5 stars

Say hello to Mike Lucifer, Spiritual Consultant. He’s back in town to take care of …

A Fun Intersection of Detective Noir, Urban Fantasy, and Big Tech

5 stars

My previous exposure to urban fantasy has been mostly limited to Christopher Moore's "Death Merchant Chronicles" series, and this new offering from Dan Moren reminds me greatly of Moore's books. Luckily for Dan, the Death Merchant Chronicles are some of my favorite books ever.

The humor is more subdued than Moore's books, more like Dirk Gently than Hitchhiker's Guide on the Douglas Adams humor scale. The setting was compelling, feeling like the world we live in with additional layers just out of reach of most of us. The protagonist seems like someone I'd like to know and hang out with (carefully). The surrounding cast of characters was three dimensional, and the antagonists had believable motivations.

I saw the twist coming about two hundred pages before it hit and ... I did not care. It was still delightful, maybe even moreso because I'm immersed in the big tech world the plot …

Travis Baldree: Legends & Lattes (Paperback, 2022, Tor Books) 5 stars

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes …

Low Stakes Sword & Sorcery? Yes, Please

5 stars

The tagline is "A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes" and then sneakily spends the entire novel showing that when you focus on individuals (including yourself) the little things really do matter.

This was just a fun read. I loved all the main characters, the bits of backstory, the interactions, the bending of coffeehouse stereotypes, and the bits of mystery here and there that never get resolved.

I instantly pre-ordered the next book, and hope this setting spawns many more books. I think this would many an excellent multi-author world, each telling low stakes stories, and would love to see that happen.

Edward Ashton: Antimatter Blues (2023, St. Martin's Press) 4 stars

Edward Ashton's Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable …

Well-done sequel for Mickey7

4 stars

This sequel could easily have gone sideways -- the first book came close to overstaying its welcome and more of the same would not have been welcome.

So, where the first one focused on Mickey finding his place in the world, the second was more about the world with Mickey in it. Mickey is still the main character, but we see more of the world and personalities around him. We learn a great deal more about the greater human society that created expendables, we learn more about the history of galactic colonization, and we learn bits about times humanity found other sentient life. None of this is dry world-building, as it's fed to us in bits as it relates directly to the events at hand.

I enjoyed reading this as much as I did the first, and it was in many ways more satisfying. There is still plenty of story …

Paul Cornell: Rosebud (Paperback, 2022, Tordotcom) 4 stars

A multilayered, locked-room science fiction novella from Paul Cornell in which five digital beings unravel …

A Short, Weird, Slow Read I'll Definitely Read Again

4 stars

"The crew of the Rosebud are, currently, and by force of law, a balloon, a goth with a swagger stick, some sort of science aristocrat possibly, a ball of hands, and a swarm of insects."

This sentence got me to add this novella to my to-read pile. Nothing in the story is less weird than that, so buckle up!

There's a lot packed into this little story. Tiny spaceships, time travel, parallel universes, corporate overreach, and a fierce defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- even if the person pursuing their happiness happens to be trans.

It was a slow read for me, partly because it took my brain a while to process all the weirdness, and partly because I wanted to savor it. I've not read anything quite like it before, and I'm going to hold onto it and read it again. Maybe even soon.

If …

Paul Cornell: Rosebud (Paperback, 2022, Tordotcom) 4 stars

A multilayered, locked-room science fiction novella from Paul Cornell in which five digital beings unravel …

"The crew of the Rosebud are, currently, and by force of law, a balloon, a goth with a swagger stick, some sort of science aristocrat possibly, a ball of hands, and a swarm of insects."

This sentence hooked me the moment I heard it. Can't wait to see what this madness is all about!

David Lee Summers: Owl Dance (Paperback, 2021, Hadrosaur Press) 4 stars

Owl Dance is a Weird Western steampunk novel. The year is 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales …

A Fun Pulpy Romp

4 stars

I had a hard time rating this one. It's at its heart a pulp western, and I don't have much experience in that genre. The writing style was simple (lots of short declarative sentences) and in the third person, and that contrasts greatly with the more complex first person sci-fi I've read a lot of lately. It's probably not something I would have picked up, except for two things...

One, it's got a lot of steampunky alt-history elements to it. It's set in the late 1800s in the US Southwest (mostly), and it's nice to see steampunk stories that aren't set in Victorian England. Apart from an alien intelligence with mind control, it's a plausible alt-history. The alien influence affects why this history diverges from ours, but it does it through affecting people's motivations, not through introducing future tech. I liked that idea.

Second, it's largely set in a very …

Edward Ashton: Mickey7 (Hardcover, 2022, St. Martin's Press) 4 stars

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable …

Good Enough I Preordered the Sequel

4 stars

I figured going in I'd either love or hate this. The notion of being a disposable person with cloned versions of yourself waiting in tanks is familiar enough to me (such as the "troubleshooters", the player characters in the RPG Paranoia) that I've seen the possibilities for how surprisingly dull it can get.

Mickey7 did not fall into those traps. Through cleverly timed breaks for exposition and world building, mixed with just the right amount of gallows humor, I was never caught wishing the story would just move on already or felt the need to take breaks to escape the darkness.

In an interesting science fiction setting of humans trying to establish a beachhead colony on an inhospitable world, Mickey7 shows us how we can process trauma, how our past selves shape but do not define who we presently are. I see a movie is being made from it, and …

David Lee Summers: Owl Dance (Paperback, 2021, Hadrosaur Press) 4 stars

Owl Dance is a Weird Western steampunk novel. The year is 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales …

I'm 20% in and enjoying it so far. There are a lot of geographic details and bits of wordplay that maybe would only be appreciated by someone who also spent time in central New Mexico, but I certainly am. The appearance early on of a sentient nanobot swarm from another galaxy was rather unexpected.

David Lee Summers: Owl Dance (Paperback, 2021, Hadrosaur Press) 4 stars

Owl Dance is a Weird Western steampunk novel. The year is 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales …

Just picked up Owl Dance by David Lee Summers, a steampunk novel set in Socorro, New Mexico (where I went to school) in 1876. A handful of pages in and there’s a fistfight at the Cap, the same saloon where I spent many quality hours. I think I’ll enjoy this one.

Turns out the author and I both studied astrophysics in the same program at the same time, he as a grad student and me as an undergrad. I'm struggling to remember him, but we were undoubtably at the same place at the same time often.

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Elder Race (EBook, 2021, Tom Doherty Associates) 5 stars

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way. …

Started with an interesting premise, ended deeply satisfying

5 stars

She is a fourth daughter of royalty with no hope of advancement in station, determined to invoke the promise of aid given to her ancestor generations ago by a powerful wizard when her mother refuses to engage a demon threatening the kingdom.

He is a long-lived exo-socialogist, sent to observe these people but not interfere. He broke that directive once before, many years ago, and now another of them has shown up at his outpost door...

I've never seen a story play with Clarke's Third Law ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.") like this before. Each chapter alternates POV between the two main characters, so it is half science fiction and half fantasy. Sometimes the same events are told both ways. The story is interesting on its own, but told this way it also becomes a lesson on empathy and understanding.

It surprisingly also became a story about …

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Elder Race (EBook, 2021, Tom Doherty Associates) 5 stars

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way. …

“I say, “scientist,” “scholar,” but when I speak to them, in their language, these are both cognates for “wizard.” I imagine myself standing there speaking to Lyn and saying, “I’m not a wizard; I’m a wizard, or at best a wizard.” It’s not funny. I have lived a long, long life and it has meant nothing, and now I’m on a fucking quest with a couple of women who don’t understand things like germs or fusion power or anthropological theories of value.”

Elder Race by  (38%)

❤️❤️❤️

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Elder Race (EBook, 2021, Tom Doherty Associates) 5 stars

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way. …

And so she wanted to know why I looked sad, and I explained it was basically a long-term mental state and that it was all under control, but that didn’t seem to be what she heard. And of course they don’t have a precise word for “clinical depression” or anything like that.

Elder Race by  (23%)

This book has such an interesting yet simple premise. I’m fascinated by its construction.