Science Friction: where the known meets the unknown by Michael Shermer
A series of essays, nominally linked by the subtitular subject. Shermer’s a good writer, and I enjoy his work, but it’s not for everyone.
Balance of Trade: a Liaden Universe Novel by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Young Jethri Gobelyn, of the tradeship Gobelyn’s Market, is the youngest son of his family and is not much loved by his mother. Consequently, he is always trying to prove himself, and gets caught up in a scam involving a speculative cargo backed by the card of a Liaden Master Trader. He doesn’t realize it is a scam until he actually talks to the trader and is shown her real card, which in no way resembles the scam card. This, however, alerts the Trader that the scam is being run in her name, which is a grievous offense to a Liaden. She now owes Jethri a debt, which she proposes to balance by taking him on as her apprentice. As Gobelyn’s Market is about to set down for a year’s upgrade, Jethri is in need of another berth, and this is a much better fit for him than the one which his mother (and Captain) had found for him.
Jethri finds that the Liaden ship is very different from Gobelyn’s Market. Norn Ven’Deelin is not like Shan yos’Galan, one of the heroes of Conflict of Honors, and her ship is not like his multi-racial haven, but she intends to do well by Jethri, so her crew rallies around him and treats him fairly. But that does not mean he is sheltered from the problems of a terran in liaden society, however well he may learn the language and master the necessary manners. And some of the problems caused by that splash back to the rest of the Gobelyn’s Market crew. And their problems, in the form of his dead father’s obsession with “Old Tech”, mysterious items from fallen civilizations, may cause danger to follow Jethri . . .
Lee and Miller are becoming a “comfort read” for me, like Tanya Huff and Lois McMaster Bujold. This gets highly recommended.