TIWIR- SAUCER: Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts

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In this installment of This Is What I Read I present SAUCER: Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts.

I’ve always known Coonts as a military writer and have read several of his books.  This was something I picked up on a random visit to Barnes & Noble.

The Saucer series brings science fiction to the forefront and Savage Planet represents the third book, bringing a conclusion to the series and the primary characters; Rip Cantrell, Charley (Charlotte) Pine and Egg Cantrell.  Coonts uses a near-human alien, Adam Solo, marooned on Earth for over 1,000 years, to bring the primary characters to their respective destinies.

With so many reviews out there for this novel I’ll take a different tack and analyze some of it’s structure.  There is sufficient information on our characters in this novel where it can be a standalone read, which was fortunate since B&N didn’t have the first two titles of the series lol.

Coonts begins with Adam Solo and gradually uses his history on Earth to take our heroes around in one, of two, recovered saucers to secure areas to avoid two selfishly ambitious pharmacy moguls and the US government itself, as Solo waits for a starship with his fellow aliens.

There was much more introspection written into Solo and I found myself far more interested in him than the main characters.  I could see how he was important to the lives of the mains as well as the plot, visitors from outer space meet the President, but somewhat lamented the fact that he was secondary in the storyline.  Solo was the adverb, the pronoun, the conjunction that propelled the story along. (In a blog post Coonts does hint at possible stories with Solo as the main character)

On a related note, and this is something I see in many novels, we don’t get too deep into any of the characters.  Perhaps that happened in the first two novels but again, I’ve seen this in many novels.  Maybe it’s done to fit the book into a word or page count …

An example I can provide off the top of my head is the book Starship Troopers.  It’s just way too short.  You  really start to get into it about 3/4 of the way in …. then it just ends.

Still, Saucer is a good story I give it a rating of 4/5.

If you wonder what I consider deep character development, my personal standard for getting to know a character is Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, but that is a novel where the character we get to see inside of is the main character.

Apple Macbook 12 Retina 2016 review

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I’m typing on a MacBook 12 Retina 2016 … and I like it. 😀

With an iPad Mini I wrote about 40,000 words thumb typing on the split keyboard and I was actually ok with that.  But I was always looking for the right physical keyboard to add to the Mini.  I tried two but in the end it was iOS that ended the Mini’s run as a content creation tool.

So I went with a cheap Dell 3531.

I knew what I really wanted though:  an iPad-ish sized machine with a physical keyboard and glorious battery life, but not iOS.  For a long time I had my eye on the Dell XPS 13.

The perfect combination finally appeared in the Macbook 12.  This past Christmas 2016 I put an order in for a refurbished 2016 m3/256 in the correct color, space gray.  I ended up with a new one and a free Apple multi-port dongle for the same price, but that’s another story (caused by UPS).

The thing that made the difference here is MacOS (vs iOS).  There were now no limitations due to software.  The limitations due to having only one USB-C port are mitigated with the dongle.

SIZE:
The approximate size of this laptop is slightly smaller than an iPad Pro.  It is thicker but it will still fit in sleeves designed for a regular iPad.  It will stick out since it is about 0.75 inches wider than an iPad is tall.

 

BATTERY LIFE:

Outstanding.

I have gotten, no kidding, more than 12 hours of casual use, such as typing on this blog.  That was 1/3 brightness.  50% brightness brings it into the the realm of 9-10 hours.  Certainly still fantastic.  Running out of power is not a worry of any sort.  With my Dell 3531 I was always distractingly conscious of the battery life lol.

ERGONOMICS:
When closed it feels awesome, like holding a favorite paper notebook.  Opening the lid can be done one-thumbed, barely raising the base of the laptop, yet keeping whatever angle you set the lid.

And now the keyboard.  Yes, this keyboard.  I like it.  I’ve seen youtube videos and articles online talking about the keyboard.  But for me it’s fine.  Keys are spaced out quite nicely, easy to type on and the feel, or travel, of the keys is again, just fine.

And, they’re backlit.  That may seem ho-hum to you but my Dell was not backlit lol.  I t was something I always wished I had.  I knew what I was buying when it came to the Dell so that’s ok.

TRACKPAD:
Yep, I love the trackpad.  The Windows/Dell combo tried to mimic many of the gestures in it’s own trackpad but smoothness, the robustness of the software, yes, software, simply was not there.  It would take several swipes for the trackpad to recognize what you were trying to do.

With the MacBook trackpad it almost seems to read your mind.  It is awesome.

CONCLUSION:
All told I am very pleased with my MacBook 12 m3/256gb space gray.  It’s a keeper 😀

TIWIR – I’m adding another series to the blog

I’m calling this blog series TIWIR; an acronym for ‘This Is What I Read’.  😀

The idea for this came from various comments on the podcast episode How Bestselling Author Austin Kleon Writes: Part One from The Writer Files (iTunes podcast link).

Austin talks about taking an alternative route to putting drafts online, to instead write about books you’ve been reading, blog about helpful writing tools, talk about the structure of a certain book, decipher the process … to leave drafts to your test readers, your spouse, your writing group, your really close friends.

The goal of this series will be to convey what I’ve learned in reading a book versus writing the typical book review; “Loved it because” “Hated it because” … and so on.

One consequence of this will be spoilers galore!  Thou hast been given notice lol.

 

Thanks to author Betsy Dornbusch – EMISSARY

A big thanks to Betsy Dornbusch, @betsydornbusch, author of The Seven Eyes series, for sending over an autographed copy of EMISSARY: THE SECOND BOOK OF THE SEVEN EYES!

Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when cursed black magic took his wife and his honor away, he fought past his own despair and grief, and carved out a new life in Akrasia. His bloody, unlikely path, chronicled in Exile: The First Book of the Seven Eyes, led him to a new love, and a throne.

Draken has seen too much blood . . . the blood of friends and of enemies alike. Peace is what he wants. Now he must leave his wife and newborn child in an attempt to forge an uneasy peace between the Monoean King and the kingdom of Akrasia. The long bloody shadow of Akrasia’s violent past hangs over his efforts like a shroud. But there are other forces at work. Peace is not something everybody wants . . . not even in the seemingly straightforward kingdom of Draken’s birth.

Factions both known and unknown to Draken vie to undermine his efforts and throw the kingdom into civil war. Forces from his days in the Black Guard prove to be the most enigmatic, and a bloody tide threatens to engulf Draken’s every step.

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