Apparently I needn’t have gotten so many things on hold from the library, because the Book Bombing is making the material more easily available! I did get ahold (heh heh) of things earlier though, so it was worth it.
“Championship B’tok” is on the novelette slate, and the title is a reference to an alien version of “chess” – which, like all alien versions of chess, is way more advanced than chess. I would snark at authors for always doing that, but I think it’s actually a fairly good trope because not all audiences are familiar with Thirty Xanatos Pileup spy-thriller tropes, but “everybody knows” that Chess is Hard.
The story is apparently set in a universe previously established by other works, but there was enough information woven throughout the novelette that I never felt like there was some key piece of information the author assumed everyone already knew. There’s a definite element of “wheels within wheels” – there are at least three different groups with competing interests in play – and the end is definitely a setup for more.
However, I wanted to say that in this case, even though there was a major plotline left “dangling” – I didn’t feel cheated. I think this is a good example of managing genre expectations – in a serial spy thriller, you’re primed to accept that not all mysteries will be resolved at the end of an episode. Enough threads were resolved, and information given, that the end of “Championship B’tok” felt like a natural stopping point: and the little note indicating that there had been previous works in this universe is a good hint that there’s probably going to be more, as well. I’d love to see them all collected in an anthology at some point!
General feeling: 5 out of 5, with “6” being reserved for truly awesome stuff that John C. Wright writes. It’s well written, engaging, and full of actual science fiction.
I really want “The Triple Sun” to be published Golden Age fanfiction. *checks* Unfortunately it appears to be something else. 😦 Ah well, might as well tackle that next while the laundry oppresses me, eh? Pretty soon I’m going to have to… fold my husband’s socks!!!! oh the humanity. the horror of cotton. LOL