Rogue Protocol

Don’t expect anything less than brilliant writing and story development in Rogue Protocol the third in the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.  This story pulls you in and takes you for a wild ride.

The following is the description of the story from the book cover:

“Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?

Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial AI is back on a mission.  The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away.  For good.”

Book cover of Rogue Protocol

The third book in the Murderbot Diaries series, Rogue Protocol, is as excellently written as the first two.  Martha Wells, the author of the series, has a gift for story telling, describing unique environments and character building.

There are so many good things about this book.  Martha Wells creates fantastic new places.  New space ships and navigation bots ferry Murderbot from place to place.  The description of the almost empty space station and the abandoned terra-forming facility at the planet of Milu are excellent.    The creepy atmosphere of the abandoned terra-forming facility is a perfect setting for the events that happen there.

Another interesting aspect to this story is the introduction of Miki, the human-form bot, who is a friend and assistant to the human scientists trying to reclaim the abandoned terra-forming station.  Murderbot is surprised by the ways the humans treat Miki.  These interactions between the scientists, Miki and Murderbot add to Murderbot’s complicated feelings about humans.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rogue Protocol and highly recommend it.  It is an amazing addition to the Murderbot series.

4th Anniversary of Cats Out of the Box

Four years of “Cats Out of the Box.”  Four years of creative discovery through writing.  Four years of documentary film reviews.  Four years of book reviews.  A year and a half of haiku poems.  Four years of stories about hiking, traveling experiences, observations, explorations, conversations with my friends and family.  Four years of sharing what creativity and creative living means to me.

Angus for blog

Angus, who helped inspire the title for my blog, Cats Out of the Box

I would like to share some of my favorite blogs from the past four years and why I like them.  If you click on the name of the posts that I have listed, it is a link to that post, and you can read them for yourself:

  •  One Reason – I chose this one because it was one of the first blog posts that I had written.  I feel it is pertinent to creative living because we can get caught up with reasons for not doing our creative work.  We only really need one reason to be true to ourselves.
  • Making Decisions Based on Love or Fear – This blog post receives the most views every year during my four years of blogging.  It was the first time I used one of my friend Eric Hanson’s poems.
  •  Tesla Illuminates Creativity – Those who have been following my blog since the beginning or have taken my creativity classes know that I am an admirer of the creative inventiveness of Nikola Tesla.  This post provided an opportunity for me to share some of the many ways that Tesla’s life and work inspire.
  • Forbidden Art and Censorship – One of the many moments of synchronicity that I have had in my life was having just finished reading the book The Tsar of Love and Techno and then watching the documentary “The Desert of Forbidden Art.”  I highly recommend the book and the documentary.
  • Dark Night of the Soul – 2017 was a really challenging year for me.  This is One of the blogs that shared with my readers that I was having challenges and how I was choosing to face those challenges.
  • Transitions – Another blog from 2017 that I think is a bit more positive.  I liked that I could use a photo from my 2014 trip to Japan as the featured image.
  • A Round of Eureka’s on the House! – I really loved doing the research for this post.  Also, I feel like it is such a happy and hopeful post.  As humans, we can never have too many good ideas.
  • Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park – This post was fun because I got to write it right after my dad and I had gone hiking at the park.  It is an easy hike and the weather was perfect.  A magical time that I was able to share through my blog.
  • March Haiku #6 – My favorite post, so far for this year, is this haiku.  It says so much in three (3) simple lines.

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”  -Brene Brown

Finally the most important part, the thank you section:

  • As my friends and family know, I ponder things.  I had been pondering writing a blog for years.  My friend Joe said just write a blog already.  Stop thinking and start doing.  And I did.  Thank you, Joe.
  •  My friend, Eric Hanson, is an amazing poet and I have used his poems in my blogs off and on over the years.  Thank you for letting me share your beautiful creative work with others.  Eric has also let me bounce ideas for blog posts off of him.  Some are definitely a lot better than others.  Thank you for listening, making suggestions and not letting me embarrass myself in the written word.
  • To my family there are not enough words to express my gratitude for your assistance, patience, feedback and support.  I know that having me in your lives can be a challenge.  You help me to be the best artist and creative person I can be.  I am truly grateful for you.
  • To my friends, so often the conversations we have are the creative sparks for a blog post.  You go hiking with me in all kinds of weather.  Thank you for your emotional and creative support.  You help me be a better writer, artist, creativity coach and teacher.  I am grateful for all of you.
  • To my readers and blog friends who follow my blog as part of the WordPress community, I am grateful for your support.  I am continually inspired by all of you and the creative work that you are doing.  No matter where you are located on this planet or what your blog is about….. your creativity, bravery in sharing feelings and ideas, and support make me proud to be a part of the WordPress blogging community.
  • Thank you to those that like my posts.  I appreciate you taking the time to support my creative work.  You motivate me to keep writing.
  • Thank you to those that post comments and provide feedback.  I enjoy hearing your thoughts about my work.  I am so proud when something I have written inspires others.  Your words mean the world to me.

I am grateful for the past four amazing years of blogging.  I am grateful to share this experience with all of you.  Thank you!

Artificial Condition

I just finished reading the book Artificial Condition by Martha Wells.  It is the second book in the Murderbot Diaries.  The following is the description of the book from the book cover:

“‘As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.’

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed.  A past that caused it to christen itself Murderbot.  But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a research transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the A stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…..”

-Book cover of Artificial Condition

Artificial Condition picks up at almost the exact spot that All Systems Red, the first book in the Murderbot Diaries series, ended.  Instantly you are pulled into the quick wit and brilliant running commentary of Murderbot.

One can’t help but relate to Murderbot even though he is a machine.  For example: how many times has a news program come on and you quit watching or listening, turned it off or changed the channel because you just can’t listen to one more word.  It appears that Murderbot has similar “feelings.”  In the first paragraph of the book Murderbot explains why security units don’t care about the news.

“Secunits don’t care about the news. ….. [It] was boring and I didn’t care what humans were doing to each other as long as I didn’t have to a) stop it or b) clean it up.” -Murderbot

More interested in avoiding people and watching his pirated media collection, Murderbot hitches a ride on a research transport vessel that eventually ends up becoming his friend.  The addition of ART added a new level of sarcasm and comedic bite to Murderbot’s running commentary.  An excellent character addition to the story.

There were more than a couple times that I laughed out loud while reading this book.  Again, like the first book, the story grips you from the very beginning and doesn’t let you go until the very end.  Suspenseful but not horrifying.

Martha Wells is an excellent author.  She crafts conversations and descriptions of places with the same exquisite attention to detail.  A lot of thought and creativity went into this book as well as the entire series.

I cannot recommend Artificial Condition enough.  It is an excellent continuation of the story and what I have read of the series.  I can’t wait to read the next book Rogue Protocol.

The Burning Dark

Has this ever happened to you? You read a review of book.  It sounds really interesting, so you find said book.  The description on the book cover or jacket is clever and draws you in.  The first chapter is enjoyable and you think, this is going to be a really good book.  Only it turns out to be an okay book.  That is what happened with the book, The Burning Dark.  There was every indication of greatness, it just didn’t quite get there.

Here is the description from the back of the book:

“Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the fleet into battle against a machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds.  After saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleet space, overseeing the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station.

Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic.  Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that echoes across a thousand light-years of space.  But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past — or a warning of an undying menace?  – Book Cover of The Burning Dark

As you can tell from the description on book jacket, it has the makings of a really interesting story.  I will confess, that this book although not my favorite was not awful either.  There were a couple things that I really didn’t like about this book.

One thing was the harsh break on page 19 of the book.  The story jumps from a battle to a group of people drinking together telling stories.  The actual drinking get together doesn’t really happen until much later in the book, chapter twenty-eight, to be exact.  It was confusing and introduced characters in such a way that I didn’t put together who some of these characters were until much later.

Authors will often skip from character story to character story to move along the plot.  It was used in this novel.  However, instead of moving the plot along, it was choppy and sometimes confusing.

But as I said before there was some really good things about this novel.  The back stories of the characters, even the villain were very interesting and well written.  Even if their inclusions were at odd times and places.

The authors descriptions of space and the anomaly that the space station was orbiting were very well written and researched.  Also the descriptions for setting up scenes and places on the space station, and Zia Hollywood’s ship were well done.  I could really visualize these places.  Adam Christopher has a gift for describing a place.

My final thoughts about this novel is that it is an okay novel.  If you have read it and have different thoughts or opinions, please comment.  I would invite discussion about the novel The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher.