I wish I could have made it to a store, as I recommended yesterday, but that did not happen. I have newborn twins! That pretty much excuses me from everything.
Here's what I bought:
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Amazon - only $2.99 for kindle)
What's the best way to create artificial intelligence? In 1950, Alan Turing wrote, "Many people think that a very abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best. It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child. Things would be pointed out and named, etc. Again I do not know what the right answer is, but I think both approaches should be tried."
The first approach has been tried many times in both science fiction and reality. In this new novella, at over 30,000 words, his longest work to date, Ted Chiang offers a detailed imagining of how the second approach might work within the contemporary landscape of startup companies, massively-multiplayer online gaming, and open-source software. It's a story of two people and the artificial intelligences they helped create, following them for more than a decade as they deal with the upgrades and obsolescence that are inevitable in the world of software. At the same time, it's an examination of the difference between processing power and intelligence, and of what it means to have a real relationship with an artificial entity.
Armor by John Steakley (Amazon)
Felix is an Earth soldier, encased in special body armor designed to withstand Earth's most implacable enemy-a bioengineered, insectoid alien horde. But Felix is also equipped with internal mechanisms that enable him, and his fellow soldiers, to survive battle situations that would destroy a man's mind.
This is a remarkable novel of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat-and how the strength of the human spirit can be the greatest armor of all.
Swords and Dark Magic edited by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan (Amazon)
Seventeen original tales of sword and sorcery penned by masters old and new
Elric . . . the Black Company . . . Majipoor. For years, these have been some of the names that have captured the hearts of generations of readers and embodied the sword and sorcery genre. And now some of the most beloved and bestselling fantasy writers working today deliver stunning all-new sword and sorcery stories in an anthology of small stakes but high action, grim humor mixed with gritty violence, fierce monsters and fabulous treasures, and, of course, swordplay. Don't miss the adventure of the decade!
Army of the Fantastic edited by John Marco and John Helfers (Amazon)
13 original tales of fantastical battles for anyone who needs a dose of un-reality.
How might the course of World War II have changed if civilized dragons ran bombing missions for the Germans? Here are 13 tales of war in alternate worlds where magical creatures are real and often prove victorious. Human troops fight alongside gryphons, unicorns, and a sea serpent, who can give submarine warfare a whole new slant.
These are just a few of the stories gathered together in this all-original volume that opens the way to magical places in our own world where the armies of the fantastic are on the march, waging wars both vast and personal.
U.B.I.K. by Phillip K. Dick (Amazon)
Glen Runciter is dead. Or is everybody else? Someone died in an explosion orchestrated by Runciter's business competitors. And, indeed, it's the kingly Runciter whose funeral is scheduled in Des Moines. But in the meantime, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering -- and sometimes scatological -- messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping in ways that suggest that their own time is running out. Or already has.
Leviathan Wept and Other Stories by Daniel Abraham (Amazon)
What if you had a holocaust and nobody came?
Imagine a father who has sent his child's soul voyaging and seen it go astray. Or a backyard tale from the 1001 American Nights. Macbeth re-imagined as a screwball comedy. Three extraordinary economic tasks performed by a small expert in currency exchange that risk first career and then life and then soul.
From the disturbing beauty of 'Flat Diane' (Nebula-nominee, International Horror Guild award-winner) to the idiosyncratic vision of 'The Cambist and Lord Iron' (Hugo- and World Fantasy-nominee), Daniel Abraham has been writing some of the most enjoyable and widely admired short fiction in the genre for over a decade.
Ranging from high fantasy to hard science fiction, screwball comedy to gut-punching tragedy, Daniel Abraham's stories never fail to be intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful, and humane. Leviathan Wept and Other Stories is the first collection of his short works, including selections from both the well-known and the rare.
The Cambist and Lord Iron (2007)
Flat Diane (2004)
The Best Monkey (2009)
The Support Technician Tango (2007)
A Hunter in Arin-Quin (2010)
Leviathan Wept (2004)
As Sweet (2001)
The Curandero and the Swede (2010)
The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan (Amazon) - I needed to complete my collection of the original, self-published versions. (review here)
THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats to the murder of the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.