Mistress of the Empire

This is the third book in this series (preceded by Daughter of the Empire and Servant of the Empire). I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the other two, and put off reading it for ages. I think the problem is that the book feels padded, and keeps going for too long. I liked the conspiracy subplot, but it would have been nice for the resolution to be a bit more believable. Overall, the weakest book in the series.

[isbn: 0553561189]

Asimov’s Aurora

This is the third and final book in the iBook Asimov Robots spinoff series. The first two were Asimov’s Mirage and Asimov’s Chimera. Like the second one, this is better than the first and has a nice flow to the plot line. The story also is easier to believe than those used in previous spinoffs such as the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. Weirdly, this is the first of the books in those spinoff series to really use sex as a plot element. The other books haven’t been celibate, but they also haven’t been as in your face as this one. That was probably the weakest part of the book, because those parts felt clumsy and extraneous.

Aurora Book Cover Aurora
Mark W. Tiedemann

In the sequel to Mirage and Chimera, Derec Avery, Ariel Burgess, and their allies struggle to unmask the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks, assassinations, and attempts on their own lives, following an interstellar trail of intrigue, crime, and murder to a confrontation on the planet Aurora. Original.

Asimov’s Chimera

This is the second book in the iBooks spinoff series based on Asimov’s robot mysteries and the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. Overall it fits into the Foundation Series acceptably. This book is a mystery much like Mark’s first Mirage.

I think overall this book is better written than Mirage, and is certainly better plotted than the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. The book is believable and entertaining, without having to suspend too much disbelief. I enjoyed it, although the book isn’t important to the development of Foundation Series overall.

Chimera Book Cover Chimera
Mark W. Tiedemann

Coren Lanra, head of security for DyNan Manual Industries, investigates the murder of the daughter of DyNan's president Rega Looms during an ill-fated smuggling operation, and uncovers links to the past.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

This isn’t Heinlein’s best work. The faux Russian grammar of the narrator is pretty annoying, and the story shallow. Its an ok read as entertainment, but I think it could do with more plot and fewer long rants about the dangers of big government. I’d like to know more about the cyborgs which seem to pilot everything important as well.

[isbn: 0425016013]

Bio of a Space Tyrant: Politician

This is the third book in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series (following Refugee and Mercenary). I picked this series up on a whim when it was cheap in a bookstore sale, and liked the first two books, although the first was quite grim and the second a little odd. This book isn’t as strong as the other two, and it took longer to read than usual because of that… I guess the plot just seemed even harder to believe than the others in the series.

[isbn: 0380896850]

Servant of the Empire

This is the sequel to Daughter of the Empire. The book is long at nearly 700 pages, and contains two basic plots, although both are related and use the same characters. They could easily have been separate books — one of the things I like about this book is that it tells more of the story than it absolutely has to, whilst still being continuously engaging. The events of this book run parallel to Pug’s time on Kelwan from Magician (Apprentice and Master) and its also nice to see an alternate perspective on those events. The main thrust of this book is that while tradition is important, not being wasteful of the resources you’re handed is important too.

This book is excellent.

[isbn: 0553292455]

Daughter of the Empire

This is a really good book. It was a delight to find something so good that it kept me up well past my bed time several nights running. I really enjoyed this one — its set on Kelwan, the planet that invades Midkemia in the Riftwar series, and is written from the perspective of the invaders.

[isbn: 055327211x]

Dublin trip

I occasionally wonder to myself why I don’t blog more these days, and I
think the answer is that I’m not convinced that other people would be
interested in what happens to me from day to day. For example, when
writing the books, all that is really involved is a massive amount of
time in front of a computer. The finished product is cool, but the
process of producing it is actually quite boring.

(Although I feel that I will one day write up my universal theory of
project management… The short summary is something like: “project
management is about removing obstacles to delivery of the project — not
deadlines, hassling, gantt charts, or general futzing”. Or something
like that.)

The Dublin trip is similar. I had a good time, although am very tired. I
flew Virgin Atlantic premium economy from San Francisco to Heathrow, and
then BMI to Dublin. Virgin is great, BMI suck even more than I could
have imagined. For example — they advertise that they have the best
on time record of any LHR flying airline, but they were late every
time on my trip. Oh, and one of the planes had a power generation engine
which didn’t work, so we had to deplane in the dark. Oh, and no food. So
much suck.

(Oh, and who knew that the EU had instituted US style 3 ounce / 100
millilitre zip lock bag policies? I didn’t.)

BMI also seem to have a policy of hiring midgets as flight attendants.
They were all young women of about five foot tall. I guess that’s
convenient in a short aircraft, but where does one find a large stock of
midgets to hire from?

The hotel in Dublin was fantastic. It’s called the Berkeley Court, and
there is no point in saying much more about it because it’s being torn
down to build office buildings and apartments. How crap. I can’t imagine
owning one of the lovely Victorian terraces across the street either
during or after the construction of yet another identical looking office

Dublin seems to be all about economic growth at the moment. There are
plenty of identical looking office buildings around — some of them even
built on top of sites of historical artifacts like Viking settlements.
Apparently they didn’t even stop to dig up the old things before
concreting over them.

I liked Dublin though.

It was also odd to see Sinn Fein posters all over the place. I find the
transition from the political wing of the IRA to being a main stream
political party to be quite strange. (That sentence used to be more
harsh, but I edited it down).

Another odd thing was to discover the stereotypes are true (to a certain
extent). There are plenty of drunk folk on the streets on weekends from
about lunch onwards.

I got lots of tourist stuff done in Dublin, but didn’t see much of the
countryside. Perhaps next time. I did see the National Museum (bog
people!), the Chester Beattie National Library (ancient religious
texts!), Dublin Castle (Sinead O’Conner in concert preparations!),
Malahide Castle, the south wall, and other stuff I don’t remember at the

So there you go. I figure no one finds these posts interesting, so I
will continue to write them solely when it amuses me.

I am sometimes amazed by the childlike political discourse in the US

It amazes me that the best political argument Ann Coulter can come up with is that John Edwards is a faggot. While it is true that Ann specialises in a particularly vile form of hate politics, I guess she’s sufficiently lame that she can’t even think of good insults any more.

It’s a bit like the Anna Nicole Smith burial thing… Isn’t the best way to fix these problems just to turn off the media coverage of these morons?

Two things

One, wikipedia rocks. Especially for technical topics I previously found hard to research like image encoding formats like YUV. Kudos to those who write pages there.

Secondly, is it just me or is the history of television formats fascinating. For example:

The adoption of SECAM in Eastern Europe has been attributed to Cold War political machinations: Western TV was popular in the East, authorities were well aware of this, and adopted SECAM rather than the PAL encoding used in West Germany. This did not hinder mutual reception in black&white, because the underlying TV standard B/G remained the same in both parts of Germany. However, East Germans responded by buying PAL decoders for their SECAM sets. Eventually, the government in East Berlin stopped paying attention to so-called “Republikflucht via Fernsehen”, or “defection via television”. Later East German produced TV sets even included a dual standard PAL/SECAM decoder. In any case the majority of TV sets in East Germany were monochrome (black & white) until well into the 1980s.