January 31, 2016

Review Corner

A scientist by training, Michael C. Glaviano holds a PhD in mathematical physics from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He carved out a career as a software engineer and has worked for startups, established companies, and research labs. Michael surfed the leading edge of the high tech wave until a sea change carried him into uncharted waters.

Crows' Gambit is his third novel. His previous novels, Edge Station and The Locust Queen's Feast, are available via most of the usual channels. He is currently working on A Fragment of Nothing, the long-awaited sequel to Locust Queen.

Review Corner again asks for your trust. Michael is a personal friend of mine from college and I have long admired his smarts and guitar chops. I reviewed Edge Station [Review Corner] last year and gave it high marks. Crows' Gambit is even better.

I may be sympathetic to friends, but I can be equally hard on fiction. I had just finished a popular Sci-Fi book which was made into a major motion picture and all. It was a Christmas gift so I'll spare it a bad review. But, while it was a good story, I was anxious for it to end so I could tuck into some entertaining 200 year old economics book or something.

Instead I hopped into Crows' Gambit and reconnected with what fiction could be. Crows' has exceptional pacing, endearing characters, and truly beautiful prose. As a personal bonus to me, one of the characters of this book is protagonist Phil Andrade's playlist. Phil is a jazz fan and he carefully and consciously selects the music for each of his scenes.

He should check his email and see if Jerry Talvert had come up with anything. Instead, he paced around the small living room. He wanted to hear some music, but what? He flipped open his laptop and glanced over the playlists. There it was: Kenny Burrell's album, Soul Call. He called up the title track, a blues featuring Burrell's guitar work over congas, bass, and a sparse piano. Phil closed his eyes and leaned back. The muscles in his neck and shoulders relaxed. He took a deep breath and felt a knot in his stomach let go. Phil imagined things getting better.

Spoiler alert, Phil, things get a little worse before they get better, but the music stays good and eventually contributes to the plotline.

Like his others, there is an endearing ensemble cast that lacks from a lot of fiction. Plus a few fun items interspersed:

He paged through ebooks he'd purchased and finally settled on a science fiction novel, a book called Edge Station by someone he'd never heard of.

Good story, good fun. Five review corner stars and a personal recommendation.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at January 31, 2016 10:56 AM

I'll give it a whirl... my Kindle's been feeling lonely. Tried KindleUnlimited yet, JK?

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 31, 2016 7:06 PM

so, was the book Martian or Interstellar?

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 31, 2016 9:16 PM

Thanks, nb. I have not tried it because my tastes are so odd err, I mean eclectic, that I suspected it might not be for me. Don't know if that is fair or not. But this is available on Kindle Unlimited (or a bruising $2.99 if not).

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. He has a strong libertarian following and I hope not to offend anybody more than usual.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2016 12:34 PM

I am kinda an SF geek and I was a fan of Ender's Game actually both book and movie. Some of Cards other stuff is a little like swimming through molasses. BUT, JK not sure if you know this but Ender's Game was originally a short story. Guessing you would have preferred the short story version to the full length novel.

Posted by: dagny at February 1, 2016 12:56 PM

Thanks, I suspect you are right. And I might try the movie.

Of course, I was trying to say to Card "It's not you, it's me. I think we should start seeing other genres." But the parallel of my enjoying my friend's Indie book 100 times more than the blockbuster seemed germane.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2016 1:08 PM

@dagny: "kinda?"

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2016 1:10 PM

Your being "kinda" an SF geek reminds me of Penn Jillette's being told Reason magazine "leans libertarian."

"Leans?" said Penn, "it done fell over!"

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2016 1:46 PM | What do you think? [7]