Monday, August 31, 2020

Internet Trouble

 The lightning storm messed up our internet.

I'll be down for a few days.

What's This?

 Ooo, look! I've got billing with Melissa Scott and Jo Graham!

The second work: In the Deep by Kelly Jennings, a sequel to Fault Lines. We get to share more interplanetary derring-do with rebellious Velocity and her devoted extended family; and we finally get an in-depth view of the tantalizing, free-spirited Pirians who live their lives entirely on starships, counterbalancing the power-hungry tactics of the Combines. The two works are part of a nascent series we decided to call Escape Velocity. Projected launch: September 2021. Fault Lines (9781936460830): Jennings, Kelly: Books
Sequel Coming Soon!


 Woke up to a immense thunderstorm this morning -- thunder so loud it freaked out the little dog.

Supposed to be cooler on the other side, though. Also now that I am awake at dawn, I suppose I can get to work on my edits.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Life as an Anthropology Major

 My kid had to buy this for his Dental Science class. It has "realistic" teeth and gums, and also you can pull the teeth out and then replace them. The kid is sure it's haunted.


Dental Science is a class which was designed for bio anthropology majors, but tons of predental students take it too. So the kid is surrounded by (extremely conservative) future dentists. Right now the kid has purple hair and fingernails painted black.


I want him to name it Chomps d'Elysee.

Sabbatical Schedule

 Here is my daily schedule now that I'm on sabbatical:

8:00 Rise up. Drink some water. Curse my fate.

8:15 Take dog for walk -- right now we're only going about a mile, but when it cools off I plan to make it two.

9:00 Make coffee.

9:15 -10:00 Check the news, do crossword puzzle, curse my fate.

10:00 -2:00 Write. Right now I'm working on the edits for In the Deep.

2:00 Eat something. Right now I've got a big jug of tabouli, but last week I was eating my way through a batch of chicken curry.

2:00-7:00 Read and do laundry, or whatever other household chore needs doing. Today it's laundry. Once Dr. Skull is home, go to library/store if necessary.

7:00 Eat something. Maybe watch a movie/episode of a TV show.

8:00-midnight Read more, also do whatever other chore needs doing.

Midnight: Sleep, if possible. If not, read some more.

Interspersed among all this, I take the dog out, cater to the cats, answer emails, check Twitter, and brood.

Except for the insomnia, it's paradise.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Whining about the Weather


It's actually a little cooler here -- highs of 95 degrees rather than of 99 or 100 -- but it feels much hotter. IDK why. Not the humidity. That's stayed steady.

Maybe it's weather fatigue.

Life in the Pandemic

 My university has been in session for a week; the kid's university starts on Monday. All of his classes are what we're calling "remote delivery," which basically means online. So his chances of catching Covid-19 are lessened.

Dr. Skull also goes back to work on Monday. This, I am less sanguine about. Our public schools are all meeting f2f. We've had over 200 teachers* resign in our school district rather than risk catching the virus, so there's lots of work for substitute teachers. And he plans to wear his mask. And we desperately need the money.


I'm resting my hopes on him having caught Covid-19 when I had it, back in May (if I did have it, which was never confirmed), and thus being immune now.


You have to open the schools, even if it's going to put lives at risk, because how else can parents go to work, and you can't pay people to stay home, because if you did that, people wouldn't take shit jobs just to stay alive, and of course they don't have enough money saved to stay home on their own, because they've been paid shit wages all their lives.

So people are going to get sick, and then of course you can't pay for their medical care, because how else would health care executives be able to afford six vacations a year and three houses? Not to mention that private plane! So people are going to be saddled with immense medical debt, which means they'll have to take the shitty jobs at the shitty pay being offered. What a system!

When will America reopen? 10 cartoons on the latest phase of the ...

*Obviously resigning is not an option for most teachers. No unemployment if you quit, so you can't quit unless you have someone who can support you. For teachers with wealthy partners, or those old enough to start drawing retirement, it's an option. Not for most people.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

What I'm Reading Now The Lord of Stariel eBook: Lancaster, AJ: Kindle Store

A.J. Lancaster, The Lord of Stariel

This is a fantasy/romance, recommended by Jenny Scientist, and a delight. There's an entirely unnecessary prologue, which put me off at first; skip past that if you like, because after that the book takes off like a rocket. 

Hetta Valstar, an accomplished illusionist (i.e. wizard), gets called home on the death of her father, the previous Lord Stariel, for the Choosing -- the land has to choose a new Lord Stariel / Lord Valstar. On the night of the Choosing, it seems as if the Star Stone has chosen Hetta to be the new Lord -- surprising everyone, since her cousin Jack was the odds-on favorite. But after Hetta has stepped into her role (and is doing a fine job), she learns that the Star Stone that proclaimed her the Lord is a counterfeit -- that her choosing was an illusion.

This is part romance, as I said, and part mystery. There's also a handsome fae with a secret, not to mention a moody brother with another secret, and not one but two wonderfully cranky old women.

Also! This is a trilogy -- or at least there's three books so far.

Lina Rather, Sisters of the Vast Black

Another novella marketed and priced as if it were a novel. I'm not opposed to novellas being published, God knows. It's marketing and pricing them as though they were full-length novels that irks me.

Still, this was very good: a community of nuns, traveling in a living spaceship, going from colony to colony bringing communion, baptisms, and marriage rites. Complicating this life, their ship has decided it wants to breed, and the Vatican, back on Earth, maybe be under the influence of a tyrant.

Each of the sisters is a fully realized character, the world-building is well done, and the writing is lovely.

Katharine Schellman, The Body in the Garden

During the first few pages, I thought this was going to be another Sherlock Holmes fanfic. (Not that I have anything against Sherlock Holmes fanfics, as long time readers know. See also Laurie King, Sherry Thomas, and Katharine Addison.) There are some similarities. But while this is Holmes-esque, it's not really very close to the source material.

Instead, we have a mystery-solving woman, Lily Addler, whose husband had been dead for three years. She moves to London in an attempt to kick-start her life, and ends up in the middle of a scandalous murder, which she uses her wit and intelligence to solve.

This is very highly influenced by the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer, so that was fun. Nice writing and very well done characters. This is the start of a series, apparently. I look forward to the next.

Patrick Ness, Burn

 This is another YA novel from Patrick Ness which really doesn't feel like a YA novel. It's the story of a young girl, Sarah, on a farm in Washington State in 1957, in a world that has dragons. Her father, who is struggling to hold onto the family farm following the death of her mother, hires a dragon to clear the fields. The dragon, as it turns out, knows more than he says.

Not only dragons but alternate dimensions. Plus an emotionally-abused teenage assassin. Also lots of cool stuff about 1957.

This one's a lot of fun, and it looks like it's set up as a sequel.

Gretchen McCulloch, Because Internet

A book about what has been happening with language as it's used on the internet. McCulloch is a linguist and a denizen of the net, who writes an engaging, readable style. I learned a lot from this, and not just about why kids today don't use periods when they tweet and text. The section on emojis and how they're related to gestures and emblems is especially interesting.

Also, just in case tl;dr this book, McCulloch notes that not only is internet-speak not hurting the ability of kids today to write in standard English, all this time sending messages and putting posts on the net is actually making our kids into better writers. Which should not be a shock -- if you do something for hours a day, yeah, you're going to get better at it.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman, A Stir of Bones.

This is a YA novel, very lucid and a little bizarre. Excellent portrayal of someone who disassociates due to trauma, though. 

It's a ghost story, of sorts. A young girl, Susan, whose father is emotionally and physically abusing her and her mother meets a group of kids who are investigating a local haunted house. Turns out the ghost in the house is real, and not only can Susan speak to the ghost, she can speak to the house (House, she calls it).

This reminds me a little of Shirley Jackson, except with Jackson Susan would be a bit evil, and here she definitely is not.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Happy Sabbatical!

 This is the first day of classes at my university, so today is the first actual day of my sabbatical. Happy sabbatical to me!

Though honestly I feel as though I've been on sabbatical since March, when we switched to online teaching due to the virus. And I'll admit I'm glad my sabbatical is for this semester. I hate, hate, hate teaching online. It's nearly impossible (at least for me) to engage the students, and the students themselves have a hard time learning anything effective that way. I mean, I know we're doing our best. But teaching happens face to face. At least for me.

So I am hoping that this pandemic will be over, or at least over enough, to resume f2f teaching in January.

Which may be a pipe dream, if what I'm seeing around the science-side of the internet plays out.


Here's what I've done with my sabbatical so far:

(1) Finished the sequel to Fault Lines, In the Deep, submitted it, had it accepted.

(2) Have begun editing of the MS (I'm pleased to report that this one won't need the extensive rewriting that the first one did. Yay me.)

(3) Written and submitted four short stories. Two rejected. Waiting to hear about the other two.

(4) Written and submitted two book reviews.

(5) Read, and am reading, one billion books. Right now I'm reading Because Internet, about linguistics on the internet. 

(6) Caught, and recovered from, what maybe have been Covid-19. I haven't yet gotten the antibody test, so

(7) Slept late nearly every day.

(8) Cooked a great deal. This is because of the pandemic, though, and probably not because I'm not teaching.

Very productive so far! What I plan to do next:

(1) Finish the first round of edits on In the Deep, and resubmit.

(2) Revise the two rejected short stories, and resubmit.

(3) Begin the third book in the Velocity series (now called Escape Velocity).

(4) Anticipate and greatly enjoy fall, if it ever arrives.

That should occupy the next few months nicely.

A dispatch from my sabbatical … | Department of Economics Blog

Sunday, August 16, 2020

New Recipe up at Cooking with delagar

This is a chicken curry recipe which I adapted from several I found online and one I found in Peg Bracken's I Hate To Cook Book. 

Cheap, spicy, and tasty: Chicken Curry.

cooked pasta on black cooking pan

Friday, August 14, 2020

Good News!

 I have signed the contract for the sequel to Fault Lines.

It's called In the Deep, and concerns most of the same characters, plus Pirians. Candlemark & Gleam, my excellent publisher, is publishing it.

More details as they emerge!

Kelly Jennings (@delagar) | Twitter

Eye Eye Eye


About four weeks ago, I had some weird flashes in my eyes, which made me think my retina might be detaching. (My mother's retina detached when she was some years younger than I am now.)

Eye doctors take you seriously when you phone in with those symptoms, so I saw a guy not an hour later. The good news -- my retina is fine.

The bad news: I had a follow-up today, which meant my pupils are dilated yet a second time. 

Eyes are still fine, but I can't read OR write. What am I supposed to do?

ETA: In case you're curious about why I saw the weird flashes, the eye doctor explained to me kindly that it was because I am getting "older."

A polite way to put it. He was about 12 himself.

Retinal detachment - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Thunder in the Ozarks

 We had a massive storm just before dawn this morning -- thunder so loud and constant it shook the house, torrential rain, and then -- at around six a.m. -- the power went out. It stayed out until about five minutes ago: about five hours without power.

As always, we were made aware of how dependent we are on electricity. The fridge runs on it, the lights, the internet, all the clocks, our music, the air conditioning -- the coffee maker!

Luckily, due to the storm, it wasn't as apocalyptically hot as it has been. So we didn't suffer as much as we might have due to no AC. The coffee was another matter, however.

Glad to have power restored. And once again very glad not to live in 1820.

Thursday, August 13, 2020


In the wake of Harris being chosen by Biden as his VP, I am having to take a break from social media. The frothing bigotry and willful ignorance are just too much.

Have some links while I read novels and take walks instead.

As Jenny F. Scientist noted, the deaths from Covid-19 are, indeed, being miscounted

The official count has over 1000 people dying per day -- almost 1500 died yesterday.

The Far-Right more bizarre every day

More birtherism. Color me surprised.

Bringing facts is useless, but

Rightwing boot-licker

The state of the economy

Some good news

This is cool

So is this

Cartoonist Joel Pett  Joel Pett's Editorial Cartoons 2020-08-13 Kamala Harris

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

What I'm Reading Now

Hardcover Ninth House Book

Leigh Bardugo, Ninth House

This is part fantasy, part murder mystery, part one of those novels about being a poor kid at a rich kids' school (in this case, Yale). There's also a bit of social commentary, basically along the lines of the-rich-eat-the-poor.

It's the story of a young girl, Alex Stern, who is given a scholarship to Yale. She's not really qualified -- she didn't graduate from high school, and in fact spent her later teen years, from 15 to 20, doing drugs and living on the street. This was due to her special "gift," the fact that she can see the dead, and she believes (and we believe, for most of the book) that this is why she was given the scholarship -- that her special talent outweighs her lack of preparation for an Ivy League school.

This is a world where magic and using magic as a tool in social engineering is common. So it makes sense that Alex would have been brought to Yale because of her skillset -- like a football player getting a scholarship even if he can't do calculus. However, when a girl turns up dead at on a triangle of land crackling with magic, Alex gets involved with investigating her death, and runs into deep trouble.

The magic is probably the best part of this. I don't really like fantasy, but this is sort of like realistic fantasy? If magic did exist, in other words, this is probably how it would work.

It's marketed as a YA novel, but it's pretty dark. I've read Bardugo's other books, and this is a step forward for her. She's always been good at characters, but here the plot is really well done, and the writing is excellent. 

John Kelly, The Great Mortality

Yet another in one of the many books I'm reading about pandemics. Here, John Kelly takes a look at the 14th century plague, the Black Death, which killed one third to one half of Europe and Asia starting around 1330 and finishing (or the first wave finished) around 1350.

He looks also at the origins of the plague, the aftereffects of the pandemic, and the contemporary reactions to it, including a wave of pogroms and arrests/tortures of Jews, who 14th century conspiracy-theorists believed had caused the plague by "poisoning the wells." This last is far too reminiscent of the fucking loons we're seeing during this pandemic, though at least no one (yet) is being arrested, tortured, and burned alive thanks to their idiocy.

Kelly also looks at other pandemics, including the Plague of Justinian (the first known outbreak of Y. pestis), and ways in which mobility/trade create pandemic conditions. He makes the case that the Black Death is a result of Europeans seeking easier and safer trade routes into India and China, routes that took them through a region rife with a specific sort of marmot, the tarabagan. This marmot species is a carrier of Y. pestis, which is to say the plague. Merchants picked up infected fleas, which spread to rats at the taverns and inns along their route, and you can guess the rest.

This is readable and filled with data. If you're as obsessed with pandemics as I am right now, you'll like this one.

Lauren Beukes, Afterland

Another pandemic book. This one is a variation on the old what-if-all-the-men- died stories. See also Herland, Y the Last Man, Who Runs the World? and The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. Also that Joanna Russ story, "When It Changed," and her novel The Female Man.

Beukes's version is readable, and has some nice bits. I like how we see the mother of a mixed-race black child from South Africa being appalled at how minorities are treated in the US. (They steal children from their parents here! This is where the police shoot black men!) 

The subplot with the sister seems like a misstep, though, which pulls our attention away from the plague and the plight of the mother trying to save her son. Also, that subplot just isn't interesting. I think Beukes was trying to make the point that women can be violent and corrupt, same as men, but does anyone really doubt that? 

In the end, I'm not sure this take adds anything to the micro-genre. Read The Book of the Unnamed Midwife instead. It does what (I think) Beukes is trying to do, and much better.

Carrie Vaughn, The Ghosts of Sherwood

This one is marketed like a book, but in print it's less than a hundred pages long. So really a long short story or a short novella. 

I liked Carrie Vaughn's Bannerless, so I picked this one up when I saw the library had bought a copy. It's okay. Basically the story of an adventure Robin Hood and Maid Marian's kids have in Sherwood forest. The characters are well-done, and I like the point being made, about what happens after a successful insurrection.

The narrative feels very short, though. This probably should have been twice as long. An actual novel would have given Vaughn enough time to develop the story and the subplots.

Cecelia Holland, Until the Sun Falls

This is a re-read for me. Holland writes mostly historical fiction, though she also wrote a science fiction novel, The Floating World, which was how I discovered her.

Until the Sun Falls is about the Mongol invasion of Russia and the beginning of the invasion of Europe (which ends abruptly, because Ogedei Khan dies just in time). Lots of details about 13th century here, and lots of details about Mongol fighting and riding techniques. Good characters: Holland is excellent at writing characters who are a part of their own time, while making them human as well.

Maybe a few too many lengthy battle scenes? But I enjoyed all of this. The main characters are three fictional Mongol men -- Psin; his son Tshant; and Tshant's son Djela. We also meet most of Ogedei Khan's children and nephews and one of his daughters (who is married to Tshant and is Djela's mother).

Good writing and a lot of fun. Lots of slaughter, though -- the Mongols killed something like ten percent of the world's population during their conquests of the world. Psin and Mongke Khan talk this over at one point, wondering whether their belief that God has ordered the Mongols to conquer and rule the world justifies the amount of killing they have done.

The scenes with Djela are also good -- he's maybe six or seven when the novel starts, and we watch as he is shaped into a Mongol warrior, killing with zest and glee and absolutely no remorse.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Vote the GOP Out in November

Your reminder that Trump couldn't have done any of this without the GOP and 1/3 of the country enabling him.

Vote every single member of the GOP out of office in November 2020. 


Wednesday, August 05, 2020


This idea is stolen from Dame Eleanor, via Bardiac.

Six decades ago I was living in a trailer park in Renton, Washington. I slept in the back bedroom of a tiny, tiny pink trailer with both of my brothers. I had the bottom bed in a bunk bed; my older brother (older by just over a year) had the top; and my little brother (nearly two years younger) slept in a crib. You could climb from the top bunk to the crib to the top of the dresser, and we did. Mornings, my older brother and I would get up before my mother and three-year-old him would make breakfast for two year old me -- ketchup and white bread sandwiches. They were delicious. Almost everyone in the trailer park worked at Boeing, like my father did. It was the beginning of the Space Race, and my father was working on material for the rockets and fuel tanks. There was a forest behind our trailer, with a creek, where we would pick blackberries; and there was a playground in the trailer park, where the hordes of children (this was just before the pill became easily available, and everyone had hordes of children) would gather to play. I got lost on my way to the playground once (hey, I was only three), but I got found again.

Five decades ago I was living in a suburb of New Orleans, so new the trees were all saplings. There was an undeveloped area (what we called "the woods," though it was really swamp willows, swamp cane, and swamp) behind our house, which had once been a racetrack where horses raced. I remember watching it burn down from the window of my bedroom right after we moved into the new house. All my friends and I ran wild through these woods, year round. In the spring, snakes waking up from hibernating would fall down from the trees, scaring the crap out of us. Almost everyone in this neighborhood also worked for Boeing, building the fuel tanks for the Apollo rockets. When Armstrong set foot on the moon for the first time, my father woke us all up and carried me down to watch it on our tiny B&W television. 

Four decades ago, I was living in the dorms at the University of New Orleans, majoring in Anthropology and riding the city buses down to the huge public library, to check out stacks of novels. Eventually I would realized that actually I should be an English major; but I did like studying anthropology. I also had a bike, which I rode all over the city, an appallingly dangerous act, but I loved it. I ran about in cut-off jeans and tank tops all summer long, which caused a young man in my Greek class to scold me for being a stumbling block. Though I was not yet a feminist, I told him to fuck off, and he never spoke to me again. (I was much better at Greek than he was.)

Three decades ago, I was living in a tiny shack of a duplex in Fayetteville, Arkansas, one year into my doctorate. I loved that shack. A creek ran behind it, and it was heated by gas fires set into the walls. I rode my bike all over this town, too, though after I skidded out on a hill and cracked my skull on the blacktop, I rode with more caution. (Always wear a helmet!) I was teaching two sections of English and one section of Latin, and studying Latin and Greek, and I was in paradise. This was before the internet, so I had to do all my research with actual books and journals, in the actual library. It was a wonderful library. I had met Dr. Skull a few years before, though he was living in LA at this point. Later he would come back and start working on his history PhD. This was just a year after I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and though I was so deeply in debt that I would never recover, nevertheless I loved my life. 

Two decades ago, we were living in Charlotte, NC. The kid was two. I had a tenure-track job at a terrible university, a job I would leave less than a year later. (It had not been terrible when I was hired, but during my first semester a new administration took over and they were just astoundingly awful. Forty-five students in Freshman comp classes awful.) We were living in a rented house near the city center, with a wonderful landlord, but even though he hardly charged us any rent at all, we could not afford to live in Charlotte on what the terrible university was paying us. Dr. Skull was working for his brother, which he hated, and which I hated, since it meant a lot of travel. We did love Charlotte, which had a wonderful public library system and wonderful public parks, not to mention Harris Teeter. But except for the joy of having a toddler, my memories of this time are grim. One good memory: the kid and I were out in the yard, him splashing in a wading pool and me reading, when suddenly a owl plunged down out of nowhere to capture a squirrel, about four feet from me. I gave it a startled look and it stared back at me, like, Oh, were you going to eat this one? Then it flew away. We had Spike at this time, and he was always getting out and running away. Once he was gone for two days, and we thought we had lost him. But he came staggering home, finally.

One decade ago, we had been living here in Fort Smith for almost eight years. The kid was twelve. That was the year we got our first kitten. (Joined two years later by our second kitten.) We had two dogs, Spike and Big Dog. My first novel had been accepted, and I was working with a wonderful editor to get it ready to publish. I was starting to sell short stories. I was working at a university that I loved, with a paycheck that was just enough, and Dr. Skull was finishing his PhD, as well as working in the Writing Center. I had started this blog! Also, Obama was president. Jesus, remember when Obama was president? The last big snowfall we had in Fort Smith hit that year.

Our First Kitten

Now: I'm a full professor, and just scored a sabbatical. (Yay!) The kid is a year away from his degree, in anthropology. He's the best kid on the planet. My third novel was just accepted. I'm still selling short stories (very slowly). Spike and Big Dog have both died, but we have Heywood and the two cats still. We haven't had a raise to speak of in nearly six years, and we've taken on a ton of medical debt, so we don't have quite enough money. I'm worried about the pandemic, Trump is destroying the country and the economy, and my parents are having health issues, also Dr. Skull is not happy in his current job. But we're living in a wonderful house half a mile from the university. I've found a park to roam in, and am thinking of starting to ride my bike again. Things could be worse. I hope they get better.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

What I'm Reading Now

T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

This is a very sweet (almost twee) story about an alternative universe, where magical creatures are common, and in which they are placed in "orphanages" at birth. Linus Baker works for DICOMY (Department in Charge of Magical Youth) inspecting these orphanages and evaluating the welfare of the children placed in them.

DICOMY is a near-evil bureaucracy, and Baker is living a rigid and miserable life in an attempt to fit into the society they have created. When he goes out to inspect the orphanage on Marsyas Island, he finds the life than has been denied to him, and also Arthur Parnassas, with whom he soon falls helplessly in love.

It's adorable and filled with adorable scenes. Everyone lives happily ever after, and there's a great cat. Not a great book, but a lot of fun. 

(You might remember Klune from a werewolf book I reviewed some time ago. This one is a lot sweeter than that one.)

Sarah Gailey, Upright Women Wanted

This is a very slim novella -- very nearly a short story -- set in a world that I found more interesting than the story itself. In a future earth (I think?), civilization has collapsed, and a draconian theocracy is ruling life. Librarians travel from settlement to settlement, nominally bringing "approved" literature to everyone, but in fact acting as a resistance, while also helping the condemned escape.

The "plot," which is slim and episodic, concerns a young woman on the run from her hometown rulers, who condemned her (female) lover to death. She runs away to join the librarians, thinking they are "upright" and that she can hide her wicked ways among them. When she finds they are not just LBT and queer, she is taken aback, but soon fits in and helps some fugitives escape.

This is readable and has really nice world-building. The story is a little scant. More like the introduction to a story than the story itself.

Emma Donoghue, The Pull of the Stars

Donoghue wrote the semi-famous novel The Room, and also Akin, which I reviewed some time ago. Both of those are compelling reads, with nice writing, and some lovely descriptive bits. This one, set in Dublin during the flu epidemic of 1918, is equally compelling.

The main character, Julia, a nurse who works as a midwife, has been relegated to a temporary ward for pregnant women who have contracted the flu. The flu causes miscarriages and other complications in pregnancy, and Julia and her volunteer(ed) young aide, Bridie, deal with many of them.

The novel takes place over the course of a few days, and Julia and Bridie grow close over these days. Bridie is a product of the cruel orphanage system created to deal with the children of unwed mothers in Ireland at the time, and Julia -- orphaned herself at a young age -- is dealing with the trauma inflected on her brother by WWI. This might seem like too much angst for such a slim book, but Donoghue makes it work, mainly because Julia's voice is so compelling. Also, the minor characters -- specifically the women on the ward -- are also well done. 

In the end, though, this feels a bit underdeveloped. As with Gailey's book, the world ends up seeming more interesting than the story she tells with it.

NB: Don't read this if trauma related to pregnancy and violence toward children are triggers to you. 

Lawrence Wright, The End of October 

Another book about a pandemic. I can't get enough of them! A flu virus with a mortality rate of 45% arises in the Mideast and sweeps through the world, causing world civilizations to crash -- and meanwhile, the leaders of those civilizations attack one another with both conventional and cyber-weapons, making the crash much, much worse.

This was written before Covid-19 had kicked off completely, but it seems to have been inspired by that virus. A thinly disguised Trump is the president, and the mess that Trump has made of the country and our government inform the novel as a whole, as does the current political situation in Russia.

The writing here is pretty terrible -- think Tom Clancy. Wright knows a lot about politics and about pandemics and about epidemiology and about submarines and about climate change, and he shows us ALL his research. Once you accept that this is his design, it's not a bad book.

Only for people deeply fascinated with pandemics, though.