Books, Review

Reviews: Sleeping Duty and Minivandians

tales of minivandianYesterday morning I started to feel unwell, and laid down, thinking that I could take some time and cut the con crud off at the knees. I was mistaken. By the time my husband got home from work I was a mess, and had refused to allow myself to actually sleep because I needed to be awake and (mostly) aware for the children. Today I woke to no fever, but very weak and sensitive. The upshot was that I read a lot yesterday. When I’m in pain, being able to retreat into a book and not think about the sick really helps, if I can’t sleep.

I finished Margery Allingham’s Tiger in the Smoke, which I hadn’t re-read in years, long enough that I had forgotten the resolution of the mystery. I went on to read Coroner’s Pidgin and The China Governess, all of them Campion stories. They are all excellent, highly recommended if you enjoy a British mystery, but sadly, they are reprints done with very poor proof-checking. I found many typos in every book, including the title of Coroner’s Pidgin being misspelled at the top of every page as “Coronoer” which made me cringe. I suppose to the people releasing them, it’s not about quality, but making a quick buck off a dead woman’s pen.

sleeping dutyAt some point in the day I decided I needed to review books and therefore must read some. I picked up Tales of the Minivandians by Tom Rogneby and was tickled with the sweet and funny vignettes. Told by a Bard, they are done in the style of medieval or Renaissance-reenactment stories. But the Bard uses high technology like holograms in his tellings, letting us have a glimpse of a very strange far-future world in which present day is history, but as if only the SCA and such survived some cataclysm to repopulate the world. The Minivandian, of course, is a suburban guy with a wife and kids, but it’s been a little altered in retelling over the passage of years…

I’d recommend these for when you only have a few minutes, or as a palate-cleanser in between other books. Eating Reading them all at once could be a bit cloying but one at a time they are fun and a little mental puzzle to deduce the setting of a world from few clues.

Laura Montgomery’s Sleeping Duty was one that I had picked up because I was intrigued by the premise. A lost colony lands on an Earth-like planet, and decides to keep their sleeping scientists, engineers, and soldiers as sort of a living library. Only once every fifty years is a sleeper awakened to pass on their knowledge. When a threat builds up against the colony, the sleeper awakened is a soldier, who is not content to submit to life as a virtual slave, cut off from his wife and friends.

While I was able to subsume my sick self into this story, there were any number of loose threads left dangling that make me hope to see at least one sequel. We are never shown the true face and motivation of the external enemy, for instance,. only the internal enemy of the king who refuses to relinquish his hold over the sleepers. I have seen Montgomery’s work begin to smooth out and become more effortless, but this was still stilted in places, with wooden characters that felt as though they were being posed to suit the author rather than moving on their own paths with true motivations. I can still recommend it, it is a pleasant story, but it is not yet a fully-realized world. I hope that with the next book, I will see even more growth from this author.

Today I began to reread an old favorite, Dorothy Sayer’s Gaudy Night, and finished it in the early afternoon with a big sigh. I had known that my relationship with the First Reader had many parallels to Peter and Harriet, but there are passages… well. I think I will pick up Busman’s Honeymoon and sit reading while the kids play in the yard unless it decides to rain. The Little Man has his Raspberry Pi up and running – he did it almost by himself – and is enjoying an episode of Pokémon on it. The Jr, Mad Scientist is reading. Still… she discovered that the library here has comic books and is in another world, herself. They do take after their mother. And the First Reader is having a much-needed day off.

4 thoughts on “Reviews: Sleeping Duty and Minivandians

    1. I have slept, now, since the First Reader is home. It’s not that the kids aren’t old enough to mind themselves, it’s that they aren’t used to this house yet and needed me. Or at least that was what I was thinking yesterday although I will be the first to admit there was a definite fever-fog going on.

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