Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ancillary Mercy is Sooooooo Good

I first read "Ancillary Justice" last fall after hearing some good buzz online (I was late to the party). I liked it, but wasn't blown away. I read the sequel, "Ancillary Sword", this summer and really liked it. In anticipation of the trilogy's conclusion, I reread Justice and it greatly improved upon reread. So, the trilogy is complete: did Ann Leckie stick a "Return of the Jedi" (or better) landing or did she stumble to a "Matrix Revolutions" (or worse)? I can happily say that she, at worst, went "Jedi"*. It was the best kind of satisfying ending -- plots are wrapped, characters change, and I'm excited to read more in the same universe (though it will be hard to let Breq go).

I like my sci-fi to both entertain and enlighten/inspire me -- books like "Anathem", "Snow Crash" (I LOVE Neal Stephenson), "Ender's Game", "Spin" -- big ideas, engaging characters and a plot that has some surprises. And a few laughs wouldn't hurt (or a bunch, like "Starship Grifters"). The previous two Imperial Radch books did almost all that, but were pretty short on humor. Mercy rectified this.**

Each of the Ancillary books has a different flavor -- Justice was Breq's single-minded pursuit of revenge, Sword saw her struggling with being in command and contact with her decades that approaches that she had as an AI, and Mercy has her trying to find a viable future (first she has to even accept that there can be a future for her beyond revenge). Of course, this isn't just chatting over tea (though there is plenty of that, and lots of chatting over fish sauce). She is faced with all the threats, implied or overt, from previous books: Mianaai, rebellious citizens, the Presger, other AIs and her own crew (and their feelings for her).

What stood out the most from the previous two was the humor; I laughed out loud several times, and each of the major characters shows a distinct sense of humor (though at least one, the Presger translator, may not be intentional humor).

So, it's funny, filled with big ideas and complex characters, and it's got some great action. What more do you want from your space opera/sci-fi?

If you haven't read Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Mercy already, you should do so, then prepare yourself for an even better treat. Leckie stepped up her game for the final volume.

* First, it's sad that RoTJ is the best SFF trilogy we have. Return of the King had potential, but the 13,000 different "endings" killed it.
** The rest of this post is copied shamelessly from my own reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.***
*** See that? With one footnote, I go from autoplagiarism to efficient use of social media. Booyakasha!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Another Day, Another Scam

Just as I'm about to get into the bath (I'm sick, cut me some slack), the phone rings. Worried it might be family (expat problems FTW!), I rush to pick it up. This follows...

Hello, this is Windows Technical Support, from New Jersey. We're calling because your computer has been sending out a lot of emails.

Ok, I thought I detected a hint of Jersey in your accent (This is a mocking, bald-faced lie. He couldn't sound more Indian if he was extolling the virtues of cricket while claiming India has never started a war).

Yes, I'm not from New Jersey. (Apparently he has learned to detect SOME sarcasm. Which isn't hard, as I'm already laying it on so thick that I'm using a goddamn Sarcasm Trowel)

What's the problem? Will you be able to help me? And how much will it cost? (Using the Trowel for this line)

It won't cost anything, unless there's a problem we need to fix. Then there's a small, one-time fee.

That's great to hear, what do we do?

At this point, he mentions that the fee is "only" 100-150 Euros, then leads me through opening up the Event Viewer on Windows. Which is difficult for me to BS, since I'm not using Windows. Which he would know, if he were even vaguely real. But he's a scammer, so he doesn't.

What program that I registered for gave you my information? I just want to be sure you're for real. (I back off the Trowel so that he thinks I'm just a sucker. It works.)

I'm from Azure, not Windows. (This is a relief? I've heard of the color, not the company.)

OK, I was worried, because Windows is actually a Microsoft product and not a company. But I never registered for Azure. (I'm getting bored, so I give another hint. It's untaken.)

We do support for Windows, so that's how you registered. Now, tell me what you see in the events window. (Whatever, jackhole.)

I see a list of events. But, let me ask you, how would it look if I was using a Mac? (I'm now ready to end this, so I drop a much bigger hint)

(Long Pause) You are the biggest motherfucker I have ever met. (He hangs up. Score! He finally took the hint! And I earned quite the compliment.)