14. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville 15-29. The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (15 novels; various novellas)
Perdido Street Station was pretty entertaining. Mieville's excellent at creating stories deeply soaked in a sense of place without ever making the exposition and description so thick that the story itself drags to a halt. The plot was excellent, the variety of alien people fascinating, and the villains amazingly creepy.
The Vorkosigan Saga, however, is collectively one of the best works of science fiction I've ever read. It's not always highbrow, but it's ridiculously readable, and I think I've found a new inspiration for modeling my own writing on. Punchy plots, entertaining characters that I strongly give a damn about, and plenty of witty banter to go around. Plus, Bujold pulls off the impressive feat of a reasonably realistic depiction of a society evolving, bit by bit, over the course of thirty years. And of course the characters develop over that time as well, and the events in their lives continue to have repercussions that extend past the last page of any given novel. Cryoburn, the most recent entry in the series and one of the nominees for this year's Hugo for Best Novel, was actually one of my least favorite novels of the series - but that merely renders it "rather good" rather than "really great".
In other Hugo nominee news, I gave The Dervish House by Ian McDonald a try, and didn't really get pulled into it, so now I'm on to Feed by Mira Grant. Enjoying that one so far!
It's been a crazy month for us. June included a weekend trip down to Portland to visit a friend and continue marathoning Star Trek: TNG; The Game the following weekend, which was a road-rally puzzle hunt that took us from Tacoma to Maple Valley to Redmond to Seattle over the course of around 30 hours and 20-some puzzles; and the first part of a week spent in Ottawa and environs visiting Sora's best friend Pam and Pam's boyfriend Nick. Thankfully, we've got about a month off before we head down to Worldcon...
This deserves a bit more elaboration, but I can't really do it justice right now. Suffice it to say - several awesome puzzles and only a couple annoying ones; a cast/staff that included some entertaining characters acting out a relatively twisty plot; and nearly 36 hours straight spent awake in a van with five other people, and amazingly still all liking each other at the end. Also, it was themed around the job fair and recruitment process for the World Henchmen Organization, as inspired by Dr. Horrible, which meant lots of villainy to go around! Bwahahahaha.
We're at the start of a nearly year-long wedding season - congratulations, Dawn and Jeremy! Their wedding was simple and beautiful, with as gorgeous a Seattle summer day as an outdoor wedding can possibly hope for.
After over a decade since my last time DMing, I'm running a D&D 3.5 game for a few friends; we finished the first module recently. (Yes, I'm still using modules. I said I was out of practice.) The module had a couple poorly written encounters, but the players stepped up with some creative solutions - I think the highlight would have to be the halfling scout jumping onto a troglodyte's back and tying him down with several successful Use Rope checks. Well done, players!