Friday, February 23, 2024

Review Day: Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

There are no major spoilers in this review.

Children of Ruin is the second book in the Children of Time series by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Although it's a sequel in the sense that you need to have knowledge of what came before, it plays out more like an anthology story, laterally covering similar themes as the first book.

The story begins on one ship out of many tasked with terraforming a new planet for mankind's salvation. Unlike the first book, the crew arrives to discover the planet already teeming with life forms that seemed to evolve without Earthlike biology. When signals from Earth stop transmitting, the five-man crew allows their mission to evolve more towards exploration and science. Uncounted years later, descendants of the protagonists from the first book arrive in this galaxy in search of other terraformed worlds.

The tone of this book is mostly clinical and detached, as if the author is crafting a scientific report about a really cool terrarium. I felt like I was kept at arm's length (even more so than I did in the first book) so I never grew attached to the characters. However, this tone is expertly subverted at several points, where the plot dips its toes into light horror themes. I loved the creepiness of a potentially dangerous planetside menace (and its catchphrase). I had positive flashbacks to the pulpy thriller aspects of Michael Crichton's books.

Overall, I loved all of the concepts that were explored in this book, from organisms that behave like machine learning algorithms to massive space worms bred for planetary mining. I didn't think it was totally successful as a cohesive story though, and my interest started to wane around the 3/4 mark during several consecutive chapters of backstory. As plot threads started to converge, I felt a little lost and adrift, like I had focused on the wrong elements early in the story rather than the elements that would become foundational to the conclusion.

I like that Children of Ruin tried something different even if it didn't resonate with me personally. In spite of its flaws, I'm still willing to give the final book (Children of Memory) a try, just as soon as I get through P.L. Stuart's newest release in his Drowned Kingdom series.

Final Grade: B-

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Pet Peeve of the Moment

My first-world pet peeve at the moment is the modern trend towards car colors that barely count as colors.

These colors are like the La Croix of the color palette -- some paint engineer was thinking of the word, "blue", punched in the hex code #000088 in Photoshop, and then layered in all fifty shades of grey to produce that magical commercial hue, "Subtle Notes of Light Pale Turquoise Seen Through a Piece of Paper™". Then it gets slapped on a car and falsely advertised as something edgy and adventuresome, like a 44-year-old at a Dave Matthews concert who's also wearing a Jimmy Buffet ball cap.

The cars drive down the road like color-devouring black holes, simultaneously absorbing light and your sense of excitement. Gone are the vibrant, metallic shades of primary colors of yesteryear, replaced by boring, matte-finish blandness that looks like you tried to print a photo on an inkjet printer but the cyan cartridge was the only one not clogged.

It's like being a kid and asking your parents if you can get McDonald's on the way home and they say, "No, we have food at home," but then you get home and dinner is a hot dog boiled in a pot of water with no buns. (This is a true story).

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Monday, February 19, 2024

Maia's Art Day

This is the cutest owl that anyone has ever drawn, anywhere.


Artifacts from sea turtle week.


There are 7 kinds of sea turtles. Sea turtles can stay underwater for seven hours.


Lily the Silly Cat by Maia Uri


Once upon a time there was a silly cat named Lily.
"You are silly"
Your cat friend
"Lily tricked me"


Lily tricked the other cats. So the other cats tricked her.
I'm unusually invested in how this (still unfinished) story will turn out.


My favorite snack is Goldfish because they are salty.

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Friday, February 16, 2024

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

They Cloned Tyrone (R):
This blaxploitation thriller is a fun ride although the overall theme doesn't convey as well. The three primary characters (John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, and Teyonah Parris) turn in great performances although Kiefer Sutherland's supporting role feels a bit miscast. Best watched without knowing too much in advance. On Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Cobra Kai, Season Five:
The penultimate season of Cobra Kai is very strong, constantly pushing forward towards an explosive conclusion. I'm glad that an early plotline involving a road trip through Mexico wrapped up quickly, and I'm also glad that the list of villians streamlined as the season went on. On Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Dave, Season Three:
The last season of Dave sometimes feels like a spin-off of Atlanta. We petered out on this season halfway through after Rebecca got tired of watching Dave feel sorry for himself, but I ultimately finished it on the treadmill. It recovers nicely, uses a ton of guest stars to great effect, and provides a nice ending for all of the characters. On Hulu.

Final Grade: B

Intraspectral by Lenka:
My review of Attune can be used word-for-word with Lenka's newest CD.

Final Grade: C+

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

House Day

Celebrating 20 years as a Sterling resident!

People who have lived in this house since I bought it:

  • Me (2004 - 2024)
  • Anna A. (2004 - 2005)
  • Eric B. (2004 - 2005)
  • Ben A. (2005)
  • Kathy S. (2005)
  • Rebecca U. (2009 - 2024)
  • Abby W. (2013 - 2014)
  • Maia U. (2017 - 2024)
  • Ian U. (2021 - 2024)

Animals who have stayed in this house since I bought it:

  • Booty
  • Kitty
  • Amber
  • Sydney
  • Leia
  • Oliver
  • Titan
  • Lake
  • Abby

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