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Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend Adventures

This past Saturday, the Husband and I joined a small group of eleven for an organized hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. These facilitated hikes really are awesome – they allow you to through hike longer segments. You can hike at your own speed as long as you don’t fall behind the "Sweep”, which is the last person in the group who should come off the trail to ensure that everyone does have a shuttle back to their cars. The segment being hiked was Cascade State Park to Caribou Trail, 11.0 miles.
Description of said hike: This section follows along ridgelines with many views of Lake Superior and the inland ridges of the Sawtooth range. The variety of habitats is as broad as anywhere on the SHT, with everything from mature maple forests to dense groves of cedar, from a massive beaver pond to wide-open hillsides. It begins with a moderately steep ascent but drops gently to a valley and crosses a beaver dam. It crosses two scenic creeks and enters into the west end of Cascade State Park.

What the blurb didn’t say was this is a challenging hike. We hiked it “backwards" (east to west) so we started out by going up, up up, down, up, up…oh wait! We go up again! Before finally hitting the ridge mid-day then eventually coming back down to the Caribou Trail at Caribou Lake.

We were on the trail about 10:30am, lunch at the group camp at Spruce Creek at 1:30p (which is almost exactly halfway) and ended about 4:00pm. I think. I don’t hike with a watch.

Downside, I didn’t bring my camera. Long hikes juggling two dogs, upwards of four quarts of water, backpacks, and poles are not conducive to hauling a camera with. I don’t even have a picture showing the awesome change in elevation.

And if I had thoughts of feeling smug about completing an 11 mile hike, I had to forgo them: a small group of people from Illinois were up doing a 33 mile hike in ONE DAY as a fundraiser for cancer. They started at 4am that morning and were finishing about 5p. Kudos to the group! These upper segments of the SHT are not easy, much less to hike 33 miles in one day.

And then there were the runners who were running 105 miles in four days as part of an ultramarathon…

I’ll stick with hiking, thank you very much.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Third Claw of God by Adam-Troy Castro

Third Claw of GodThird Claw of God by Adam-Troy Castro

Andrea Cort became a "war criminal" at the age of eight when an unexplained darkness invaded her soul.

Now, decades later, the Devil is calling her.

Employed by the Diplomatic Corps but secretly aiding the AI masters of the universe, Counselor Andrea Cort despises the powerful Bettelhines—unrepentant death merchants who have prospered from the annihilation of civilizations. Now curiosity compels her to answer a cryptic summons to their home world, where the only law is Bettelhine law. But a murder attempt greets her arrival at Xana's orbital entry port—and far graver peril awaits aboard the elevator transport meant to carry Andrea to the planet's surface.

Trapped miles above Xana—surrounded by suspicious Bettelhines, their slavishly loyal retainers . . . and a corpse liquefied by a 15,000-year-old weapon—Andrea must unmask an assassin or die an equally hideous death. But the true reason for her summons—and sordid secrets weaving through her own dark past—threaten to destroy Andrea Cort more completely than the Claw of God.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Classic "Murder on the Orient Express" as done in space with a few nicely done plot twists. The dialog really pulled this one along - not much for description but when the characters are moving between three rooms there is only so much to describe.

Where I felt this lacked was in the characters and this could have been because there was so much dialog that introspection was kept to a minimum. Andrea kept having these huge personal insights, but from my point of view they were more like "yeah, duh...". The "Inner Family" was portrayed as being monsters to the universe, but I never really felt that came across, and perhaps that was because our sympathies were directed toward the siblings. There is one revelation toward the end that I won't discuss here, that did contribute to the "monster" syndrome, but it was almost too late in the book to effectively work.

So, if you liked Emissaries from the Dead, and don't mind a murder-mystery in space with a lot of talky-talky, then you will probably enjoy The Third Claw of God.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Renovation, Worldcon 2011, Reno, NV

As I type this my friend and I (Disorganized, As Usual) are wrapping up another World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, NV.  It's been an outstanding convention even if it was split between two hotels a mile apart.  The main convention was held at the Atlantis and the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, and the secondary hotel was the Peppermill, where they held the Masquerade Show and judged competition.  Now, they did have a shuttle running between the casinos, but often it was easier to just walk the mile.  Initially I was regretful that we didn't get into the Atlantis, but as the weekend draws to a close, I think the Peppermill was the right choice - better restaurants, better pool and not quite so many convention folks.

We arrived on Wednesday afternoon, after flying into Sacramento and driving across the Donner Pass.  Beautiful drive!  We took advantage of the pool and restaurants on site and just unwound. 

Thursday was convention day!  Here's a smattering of panels I went to.  I loved how the panels were only about 50 minutes long, unlike other conventions where they stretched out into an hour and a half.  Too long for this antsy-pants! But 50 minutes was just perfect.  
  • The 1960's, 50 Years On
  • Fair Tales and Storytelling
  • Far Future SF, Then and Now
  • The Arab Spring
  • Cover Art in the age of e-books
  • A Brief History of the Hugos
Lake Tahoe
Friday morning we drove up to Lake Tahoe and the Trukee River, which starts so very high and makes its way down and through Reno.  Then it was back to the convention for a few hours for more panels:
  • Scientific Romances of the Victorian Era (which ended up being a talk on Steampunk)
  • Many Sides of Hard SF
  • The New Space Opera

  • The Image of Art in SF
  • A Hawaiian Dalek! What a hoot!
  • The Return of the Killer B's (Bear, Benford and Brin)
  • Craft of Writing Short SF and F
  • The Best in Recent SF and F
  • Readings: Nancy Kress, David Brin
  • Publishing in the Age of e-Books
Saturday evening marked the highlight of the Worldcon, the Hugo Awards.  The "Toast Masters" were an absolute hoot! Jay Lake and ... drat, forgot his name.  Robert Silverburg, giving out one of the awards, has an incredibly dry sense of humor and had the whole audience just roaring.  I won't repeat the award winners since I posted about them on Sunday (previous post).

Whoops! I almost forgot to post Sunday's panels and I don't have my list with me. But they were something like:

  • Review of Recommended SF&F (most of which I had read)
  • Slide show of the Sierra Nevada mountains as presented by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • A preview of Worldcon - Chicon 2012
Sunday afternoon was then spent lounging by the pool back at the Peppermill, enjoying the beautiful weather.  A much needed aaahhhh....

Monday we left bright and early to make our way back across the Donner pass to Sacramento, then a moderate flight to Minneapolis and for me, a shuttle ride back to Duluth.   Needless to say, I'm feelin' a bit jet lagged this morning...

Aerial view of Lake Tahoe and the Trukee River

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hugo Awards, 2011

LIVE! From Worldcon 2011 in Reno, NV!  The Hugo Awards!

Well, the voting is done. The Awards were announced and handed out last night in a three hour ceremony and we are left with...annoyance.  Not happy about the results this year at all.  Amend that, not happy with the Novel category. 

Winner is in Bold, rest are in no particular order. If you want to know more detains, check out the Renovation website or the Hugo Awards website.

Short Story Category:
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (, November 17, 2010)
“The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)
“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010)

Novelette Category:
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)

“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)

“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)

Novella Category:
"The Lifecycle of Software Objects" by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)

“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010)

Novel Category: 
These results are listed in order of the voting.  This is a WTF.  Seriously.  WTF. Not a happy camper - Mira Grant and Ian McDonald deserved better.  Now, I did not read Blackout/All Clear.  I refused to read a 2000 page alternate history about people running around nilly-willy in England in WWII.  I did not vote for it.  This posting by Andrew Wheeler summed up my thoughts on the book(s) much more succinctly than I could. And, I feel I must add that yes, I have read ALL the Hugo winners to date, starting with 1951.  AND, since 2000, I have also read nearly all the nominees.  I think there are just a couple I've passed on due to time or lack of interest in the topic.  

Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
Feed by Mira Grant
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by M K Jemisin

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stalked by Brian Freeman

Freeman hit his stride (LOL! No pun intended!) in book 2: Stripped, and somehow managed to trip in book 3: Stalked

From - Lieutenant Jonathan Stride knows his partner Maggie Bei is in trouble when she reports a deadly crime on a bitter winter night. She’s obviously hiding a terrible secret. And her silence only feeds suspicion. But Maggie isn’t the only one keeping secrets. A seductive young woman has disappeared, leaving behind a stash of lurid fantasies and a cryptic message. I know who it is. Now it’s up to Stride and his lover, homicide cop turned private investigator Serena Dial, to uncover a sordid web of violence and voyeurism that someone is willing to kill to keep hidden. Meanwhile, a predator with a vicious past is hunting them both—with a terrifying plan for revenge on the frozen lakes of Duluth...

My issues.  These are items that pulled me out of the book - a phrase, a comment, whatever.  I don't like to be pulled out of the plot, it makes me cranky and less likely to want to continue.

Dude. Don't be throwing crap in my lake.  Not cool.  Not when Stride threw his cigarettes in the Canal in book one it was not cool, and it's not cool now with a glass wine bottle. 

It could be debateable if the Duluth Courthouse and Federal buildings are tan or grey I've checked.  Several times.  Seem grey to me.  I'm pretty certain the author called them tan in the book.  Could be wrong.  Hard to go back and check on an audiobook.  Nitpicking, I know, but I live here...

Really, a bugged house again?  Did that in book two.

I'm just guessing here, that a battery operated transmitter, placed outside a house in 0* weather, is not going to give you two miles of frequency in those temps. You will be lucky if it operates for a couple-three hours before it freezes up and stops working.  Just guessing...because my handheld field grade GPS system doesn't last in temps like that. 

If Stride and Maggie didn't want to be seen meeting together in Duluth, why not meet in Cloquet? Or Two Harbors? Central High School is not exactly a private meeting place....

The female protagonist - Serena - is at one point handcuffed and running for her life. She runs through the deep snow, down and embankment, through some brush and into a railyard.  Where she is caught - we are lead to believe - unconscious.  Later we find out that the antagonist somehow carried her back across the snowy railyard, through the brush, down and up the embankment, across another snowy expanse, to the waiting car.  Carrying a unconscious person that far is...difficult, at best, during non-snow conditions.  Through the snow?  Implausible. 

Why the fascination with rape?  This applies to other authors too, that it seems to be "cool" to place a strong female protagonist in a position of utter helplessness and vulnerability.  It is demeaning to women.  You don't see male protagonists being raped, so why do it to women?  

Ah. A blizzard in Northern MN on a lake.  You are not going to be doing donuts in your vehicleles.  You will not be sliding around like a zamboni.  Depending upon how much snow was already on the ground (and I think this was set in February-ish?), the lake is probably not going to be ice-skating rink clean.  You will not be driving willy-nilly across it.  There will be a plowed road to the ice village.  Maybe two depending on how many lake access's there are.  But to just bounce off and go driving across?  Not. Gonna. Happen. 

And I have my doubts about how fast a burning ice shack will melt into the ice.... I have my doubts about the whole burning ice shack scene.

Lastly, I totally get the giggles when a character in the book mutters, yells, shouts, "You Bastard!".  It's a South Park thing...

I'm sure my fellow travelers on a drive back from Menominee, WI, were wondering why I was pounding my fists on my steering wheel.  It could have been because of the lake in the blizzard scene.  It could have been because of the burning ice shack scene.  It could have been because of - again - endings upon endings upon endings.  Yes, I was shouting at the story.  You can do that when it's an audiobook.

Needless to say, I had a few issues with this book.  Too much introspection and exposition by the characters, the 'chase and rescue' scene just went on forever (see note about beating fists against steering wheel), and way too many items yanked me out of the plot.  I don't feel I can really expound on more without giving too many clues away, and I would prefer you to form your own opinion - if you decide to read it.  

Recommendation - ahh, a maybe.  If you've read the first two and still like Stride and Serena.   

Monday, August 15, 2011

Recipe Review 8/8/11

It was a weekend of Adventures!  On Saturday, Team Shakti (myself, S, J, and the Husband) rode the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Ride, an organized bike ride (not a race) from Chisholm, MN, to Grand Rapids, MN.  We did this last year and had such a good time we went back.  This ride is a bit more...complicated, than other organized rides in that we have to get our bikes to the Start point the night before.  Last year the guys rode up the night before and I ran shuttle.  This year due to questionable weather we all drove up the night before to drop off the bike.

Glen Godfrey Pit - Ironworld/Chisholm
Picture taken from

The day of we made our way to Grand Rapids bright and early, leaving our place at 6a. The shuttle bus left right at 8 and we were on the trail by 10.  It was a cool start, slightly overcast but quickly clearing to become an absolutely gorgeous day. 

It is a very interesting trail, making it's way through a landscape shaped by man.  We wind around old mine pits now filled with aqua colored water and rimmed with aspen, huff and puff our way over old piles of discarded rock, wiggle through towns that were once thriving from the mining industry, and pass rusting abandoned mining equipment.  S and J rode the 50 miles in 3:15, the Husband and I finished in 3:30. 

And on Sunday, we rested....

The recipes from last week are:

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches  (Ckng Light August 2011)
I thought this was a great summer sandwich that uses items readily found in the garden.  For example, I used a yellow squash in stead of zucchini.  I think herbs could be swapped out too - a sprinkling of fresh oregano or thyme.  Don't feel like buying fresh mozzarella?  Substitute provolone or some goat cheese.  I also served these open faced. 


photo from
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 6 slices
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil,
divided 1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 (2-ounce) ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
8 large fresh basil leaves
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Place zucchini in a shallow dish. Add 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; toss to coat. Arrange zucchini in grill pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear. Cut each zucchini piece in half crosswise. Return zucchini to shallow dish. Drizzle with vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

2. Brush bottom halves of rolls with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Top evenly with zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.

3. Brush cut side of roll tops with remaining liquid from shallow dish, and place on sandwiches. Heat the sandwiches in pan until warm.

Jackie Newgent, Cooking Light

Rice Noodle Salad  (Ckng Lght, August 2011)
I'm still on a bit of a pad thai kick, and this recipe was rather similar.  My alterations are noted below, a few omissions and a couple substitutions.  This turned out pretty good.  I did over cook the noodles a bit (drat!), but I liked the flavors.  It made good leftovers for lunches.

8 ounces uncooked wide rice sticks (banh pho)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil, divided
photo from
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth 6 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
8 ounces tempeh, tofu, [drained and pressed for 30 minutes] cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
6 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups fresh bean sprouts  (skipped - sprouts turned into compost)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber  summer squash
5 thinly sliced green onions
1 1/2 cups matchstick-cut carrots
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
12 lime wedges


1. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

2. Combine broth and the next 4 ingredients (through Sriracha), stirring with a whisk.

3a.  Cook tofu until lightly browned, set aside.  Cook eggs until done, set aside.
3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add tempeh, and stir-fry 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic and shallots; stir-fry 1 minute or until shallots begin to soften. Add eggs; stir-fry for 30 seconds or until soft-scrambled, stirring constantly. Add soy sauce mixture, and bring to a boil. Add noodles and bean sprouts; toss gently to coat. Cook 1 minute or until sauce is thickened.  {Add in tofu and egg.}

4. Remove from heat, and top with cucumber and the next 5 ingredients (through fresh cilantro). Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon dry-roasted peanuts and the juice from 2 lime wedges.

Sally Swift, Cooking Light

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hugo Nominees 2011 - Short Story

And the last of my 2011 Hugo Nominee’s, the Short Story category. 

The Hugo Awards has something like 20 categories, ranging from the Novels, Novelas, Novelettes, Short Stories, to Graphic books, Fanzines, Dramatic presentations long and short forms, Editors long and short form, Professional Artists, Fan Writer, Fan Artist, Campbell Nominees, and a couple of others that I don't recall.  I don't read or watch them all; I don't have cable TV and I generally don't watch TV,  I don't care about the Fan related stuff, and I usually catch the movies well after they've gone to Netflix.  Usually about 5 years after they've been released.  Personally, I think so many categories are a bit much.  But, not my call, so I just keep my votes to what I feel are the relevant works. 

Short explanations yes, but these are short stories after all.  Anything more would just ruin them.  Interestingly, I also felt these were better than the Novelettes.  If you have the motive and opportunity, I recommend all of them.

“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010)
What I call a sweet read. Nicely executed for such a short story; to pull the reader in so quickly and seamlessly in the story. Well done.

“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)
Dementia in man and AI; who’s would be worse? Or perhaps better put, don’t rely on just one backup? Makes one think about the ramifications of recording everything digitally. 

“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (, November 17, 2010)
Ah. Creepy in a rather disconcerting way. I always knew there was something wrong with My Pretty Pony…
“The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)
Humans from a very alien point of view.

Stay tuned - I hope to post the 2011 Hugo Award winners by Monday!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hugo Nominees 2011 - Novelette

Here are the 2011 Hugo Nominees in the Novellete category. Again, this is my general ranking, based solely on my opinion.

“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)
Oh, well done! Well done! This was first for me: Mormon’s in space, not Jesuit’s. Very interesting look at religion in space with aliens.

“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
A homage to Mars speculation, literature and exploration. Nicely done.

“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
When lives are at stake, know your math. A bit unsettling.

“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
Steampunk. A rich man has a furry ‘human’ whom he has decided needs to be in colder places as her faculties are "stupid” upon the earth because of the air. He hires a man and his balloon, who quickly realizes the furry human is not what she seems and neither is the rich man. Really didn’t grab my fancy, but then, I don't care for steampunk.

“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)
Love settings in a future Mexico. Don't like stories that shift from POV to POV every page.  Would have been a better story in a longer format in my opinon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Recipe Review from 8/1/11

Whoo.  A mellow week what with the Husband away in Calif military training and the weather on the warmish side that all culminated in a rather adventurous Friday.  As a favor for the Husband, because he bought the tickets four months in advance then couldn't go, the Father and I went to a MN Twins game on Friday to obtain this:

The bobble head (pic from the web).

The infamous play

Yes.  A fancy little double bobblehead commemorating the 1991 World Series against the MN Twins and the Chicago White Sox. 

The Father and I left the Northland at 1pm, arrived at Target Field at 3:45pm, stood in line (we picked the right corner to park ourselves!) till gates opened at 5p and scored a bobblehead for the Husband. 

However, that was only part of the adventure...we still needed to pick up said Husband! His flight was due in about 8p to the Cities and he was to make his way to Target Field via the Cities newish light rail system.  We all connected about 9p and started the drive home.

Everything went just smoothly until a motorcycle was involved in a hit and run, in a construction zone north of Hinkley, at 11p at night.   We called it in and offered what help we could - there was an off-duty cop already starting first aid (it happened in front of him) and my thanks to those others who also stopped (a first responder and a emergency room nurse I believe).   Three ambulances, two fire trucks, and about four squad cars.  Traffic in both directions got stopped so they could re-create the incident after the fellow was secured and taken away.  It was about 45 minutes from our arrival to being allowed to go.  What a sobering mess.

So. not a lot of new recipes were made last week.   Suppers were black bean quesadillas and lunches were the dish below.

Cumin-Spiced Chickpeas and Carrots on Couscous  (Ckng Lght Aug 2011)
This came together very quickly and I highly recommend using pre-julienned carrots.  Just makes things a bit easier and you can use any leftover carrots on a salad or in another dish.  I also used israeli couscous because I prefer the slightly larger grains.  Worked great for lunches - can be eaten cold or warmed up.  Made with the Israeli couscous I think it made closer to 6 servings than 4.

1/2 cup organic vegetable broth
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
picture from
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup julienne-cut carrots
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
6 3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups warm cooked couscous (about 2 cups dry)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves Lemon wedges (optional)
1. Combine the first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk.

2. Dry chickpeas thoroughly in a single layer on paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat, and swirl to coat. Add chickpeas to pan, and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chickpeas from pan with a slotted spoon; wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add bell pepper, carrots, and jalapeño to pan, and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until vegetables are slightly tender. Add cumin seeds and the next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add reserved broth mixture and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Serve over couscous, and top with cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Sally Swift, Cooking Light

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hugo Nominees 2011 - Novella

I usually don’t review the Hugo Nominee’s for Novella, Novelette or Short Stories, but this year I decided what the heck, why not?  Reading these took time away from reading other things, they are scifi so entirely applicable to this blog, and I'm voting on the Hugo's this year. 

In order of my preference, which is really, nothing more than my opinion and means diddlysquat in the greater realm of things, but nonetheless a ranking of sorts:

“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)
Big Unknown Object in Space is explored by three Russian Cosmonauts, but the ramifications are almost incomprehensible and the three Cosmonauts come back raving mad…or did they? Great twist at the end made up for the Big Unknown Object in Space theme.

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)
A story about women’s magic as it crosses the ages. I thought this was well executed and I liked how the main character was not what you would expect. While I’m not wild about the feminist aspect of this story, I still felt it was innovative and fresh.

“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
A nod to the steampunk genre without fully going there. Four lives who intersected briefly after a summer of working at the Smithsonian are reunited around an attempt to re-film the maiden flight of the Bellerophon. A bit about opportunities lost.

“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010)
A petulant twelve year old ruler of Venus tries to initiate marriage to a scientist to take full financial control of the planet in order to attempt to terraform it, despite knowing that it wouldn’t work. I think. Story was told from the scientist’s assistant’s point of view, which, in my opinion, made the story rather shallow.

"The Lifecycle of Software Objects" by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
A software firm creates animated ‘creatures’ that people can adopt, love, teach, grow and cherish in the interactive realm of DataEarth. An exploration of what happens to AI as it is kept cognizant to the outside world and the software problems of maintaining those AI’s. This one just didn’t grab me – I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters nor the software.

The Nominee's for the Novel Category are:
  • Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Feed by Mira Grant
  • All Clear by Connie Willis
  • The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
  • A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by M K Jemisin

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recipe Review from 7/25/2011

A warm, fun filled, relaxing weekend to be sure!  I finally got back on the bike for the first time since before my trip to Madison in mid-July.  There was a trip up to a friends cabin and there was much needed downtime. 

Garden is really starting to come along.  First of the peas are ready, raspberries are starting to ripen, the kale and Swiss Chard could use a thin, and some of the beans are blooming.  I've already picked two small summer squash for a recipe later this coming week.  And it's been raining just enough that I haven't had to water.  Love it!

Lemony Orzo Salad (Ckng Lght July 2000)
This was a snap to pull together and most likely you'll have the majority of the ingredients on hand!  While waiting for the water to come to a boil and cooking the orzo, you can dice the zucchini, herbs, onion (yellow pepper in my case), and tomato.  Herbs get whisked together with some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.  Once the orzo is drained and cooled slightly, everything gets tossed together and dinner! Is ready!  This made 4 servings for me.  Would be great as a potluck dish too.
1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 1/3 cups diced zucchini
1/3 cup diced red onion  yellow pepper
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
photo from
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives


Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well. Combine orzo, zucchini, and onion in a large bowl; toss well. Combine parsley and next 6 ingredients (parsley through pepper); stir well with a whisk. Stir into orzo mixture; add tomato, cheese, and olives, tossing gently to coat.

Waldorf Slaw (Ckng Light Sept 2006)
I was invited to a friends cabin for canoing and bbq and we were all to bring a dish to pass.  Since the weather has been warm and humid, something cool and refreshing would fit the bill.  I also wanted something easy to assemble (and this was!) would travel well (this would), and appeal to the group which I figured it would.


2 cups chopped Braeburn apple (about 1 large apple)

photo from
 1 cup chopped peeled Bartlett pear (about 1 pear)  chopped celery
1/2 cup raisins  craisins
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 (16-ounce) package cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw (8 oz was plenty)
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine mayonnaise, buttermilk, rind, juice, salt, and pepper, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle mayonnaise mixture over cabbage mixture, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Barbara Lauterbach, Cooking Light


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