This week I got two cheap bargain books off Amazon. One’s for me and one is for my husband. As of when I’m writing this, there are still a few copies available as bargain books.

The Soul Mirror by Carol BergThe Soul Mirror by Carol Berg

This is the second book in Carol Berg’s latest trilogy, Collegia Magica. The first book is The Spirit Lens, and the third book entitled The Daemon Prism just came out last month.

In spite of having bought it right when it came out, I haven’t yet read the first book in this series. However, Carol Berg is one of my favorite authors and I have such confidence that I’ll like this series that I got the second book anyway when I saw it was about $6 (especially since I was concerned that the trade paperback may not be available by the time I was ready for it and that I might end up with – horror of  horrors – MISMATCHED BOOKS IN A SERIES).

If you haven’t read anything by Carol Berg, I highly recommend her books and think she is an author who deserves to be talked about a lot more than she is. Her Rai-kirah series starting with Transformation is one of my favorite books ever. I also really enjoyed Song of the Beast and loved her Lighthouse duology. Unfortunately, I read most of those before I started a blog and don’t have reviews, but I did review the Lighthouse duology (Flesh and Spirit – #1 | Breath and Bone – #2).

Since I haven’t read book 1, I’m not sure just how spoiler-filled the plot description below for this one is to those who haven’t read the first book. I just skimmed it myself since I’m sure I will have forgotten any important details by the time I read the first book.

By order of His Royal Majesty Philippe de Savin-Journia y Sabria, Anne de Vernase is hereby summoned to attend His Majesty’s Court at Merona…

Anne de Vernase rejoices that she has no talent for magic. Her father’s pursuit of depraved sorcery has left her family in ruins, and he remains at large, convicted of treason and murder by Anne’s own testimony. Now, the tutors at Collegia Seravain inform her that her gifted younger sister has died in a magical accident. It seems but life’s final mockery that cool, distant Portier de Savin-Duplais, the librarian turned royal prosecutor, arrives with the news that the king intends to barter her hand in marriage.

Anne recognizes that the summoning carries implications far beyond a bleak personal future – and they are all about magic. Merona, the royal city, is beset by plagues of rats and birds, and mysterious sinkholes that swallow light and collapse buildings. Whispers of hauntings and illicit necromancy swirl about the queen’s volatile sorcerer. And a murder in the queen’s inner circle convinces Anne that her sister’s death was no accident. With no one to trust but a friend she cannot see, Anne takes up her sister’s magical puzzle, plunging into the midst of a centuries-old rivalry and coming face-to-face with the most dangerous sorcerer in Sabria. His name is Dante.

True Names by Vernor VingeTrue Names and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier by Vernor Vinge/edited by James Frenkel

This includes a reprint of Vernor Vinge’s story “True Names,” first published in 1981.  The story is about 100 pages long and the rest of the book contains essays about the Internet.

My husband is a huge fan of Vernor Vinge’s (and has reviewed many of his books here) so when I saw this existed and was available around $6 I asked him if he wanted it. Of course, he said yes and that gave me a good excuse he couldn’t complain too much about reason to get Soul Mirror.

Once in a great while a science fiction story is so visionary, yet so close to impending scientific developments that it becomes not only an accurate predictor, but itself the locus for new discoveries and development. True Names by Vernor Vinge, first published in 1981, is such a work.

Here is a feast of articles by computer scientists and journalists on the cutting edge of the field, writing about innovations and developments of the Internet, including, among others:

Danny Hillis: Founder of thinking machines and the first Disney Fellow.

Timothy C. May: former chief scientist at Intel–a major insider in the field of computers and technology.

Marvin Minsky: Cofounder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer: Codevelopers of habitat, the first real computer interactive environment.

Mark Pesce: Cocreator of VRML and the author of the Playful World: How Technology Transforms Our Imagination.

Richard M. Stallman: Research affiliate with MIT; the founder of the Free Software Movement.