What I’ve been reading lately – Flatlander

August 9, 2011

I’ve been trying to read more, ever since getting back from Kansas. Unfortunately, other things to do keep trying to crowd out reading time.

One book that I’ve managed to make headway is a collection of short stories from Larry Niven: “Flatlander” – not to be confused with the single short story of the same title and author, which is one from the Beowulf Shaeffer sequence.

But the short stories in this collection are set several hundred years earlier, at least – and center around a cop with a past as an asteroid belt miner – Gil Hamilton the Arm. That last bit is a play on words – Gil is part of the ARM, or Amalgamation of Regional Militia – an organization which serves as the worldwide police force on Earth in the future of Larry Niven’s books. But Gil also has a phantom psychic arm, partly because he lost his arm in a mining accident. (He later got a transplanted replacement arm too.) His psychic arm isn’t strong enough to lift anything heavy, but it can do things that a physical arm can’t, like reach through walls – or TV screens.

The stories all have some kind of mystery element, set against a future where the mining Belters have achieved independence from Earth and lunar settlers are caught between the two groups. There are a few references to Lucas Garner, Gil’s aging but sharp boss, and this is presumably the same character who appears in the first half of Niven’s novel ‘Protector’, thus linking the Gil stories into the known space universe, long before humanity met Kzinti or puppeteers or any extant alien species.

I’ve actually read one of these stories years ago. “Arm” was one of the Larry Niven stories that I was able to download from fictionwise.com, and I enjoyed reading it on my palmpilot, though I didn’t really follow the references to the psychic hand, as the backstory wasn’t given in detail.

Ever since I was in Kansas, ‘Flatlander’ has been my go-to for reading when I happened to have my iPhone around, as it’s cued up in the iPhone’s kindle app. I’m still in the middle of a novella-length mystery taking place on the moon’s surface, with an old flame of Gil’s taking the fall for a laser shooting that he knows she couldn’t have committed.

I’d recommend it to any lover of science fiction mysteries.

Award acceptance speech.

September 13, 2010

First off, once again I’d like to thank Brittany for giving me these two awards!

The Versatile Blogger Award: Link back to the person who gave you the award (already did), share seven things about yourself, pass the award to up to fifteen bloggers who you think deserve it, and contact the people you’ve picked.

One Lovely Blog Award: Accept the award, post it on your blog with a link to the person who gave it to you with a link to them, pass it to up to fifteen other bloggers who are new to you, contact the people you’ve picked.

However, I have to say that I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about passing them along at first… not that I don’t want other bloggers to feel valued and appreciated, but that the whole deal seemed a bit like a benign version of chain letters or something, and I’ve never been a big fan of spreading chain letters.

Having spent a little while mulling over the question, I’ve decided that it’s not really the same thing. For one thing, these awards seem to be pretty honest as to what they’re about, while chain letters always tend to have the ridiculous claims about what has happened to various people around the world when they got the chain, which presumably can’t have been true when the chain started, and couldn’t have been added in later unless someone took liberties with copying the letter exactly as they received it. But never mind that.

Also, these awards don’t seem to be as bully-ish about chain letters about passing them on. And this is the sort of thing that Blogosphere networking is made of, isn’t it? So – I accept the awards, and I will be passing them along, but not just yet. For one thing, I’m not sure who to award yet, so I’ll take my time and hand them out one by one. 😉

And, for my seven things to share as a condition of Versatile Blogger:

  1. I love listening to country music.
  2. I have many stuffed animal friends.
  3. I collect PDAs and other electronic devices.
  4. I’ve lost over 100 pounds in the past three and a half years.
  5. I recently got a beginner driver’s licence for the second time.
  6. I go to the Toronto Buffy/Angel fan meetups when I can.
  7. I love Larry Niven’s Known Space/Ringworld books.

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