Cally’s War by John Ringo and Julie Cochrane

There’s a reason why I’m going through Baen’s pile of published books. He is the only publisher I know who gets ebooks, I mean really gets them. (Virtually?) all of his catalogue is available in ebook form – with no Digital Restrictions Management! – for a reasonable price, and quite a few are available for free in the Baen Free Library. You can read these books on the browser, or download them to your PDA, whatever works for you. Naturally, you can always buy a dead-tree version, instead. I figure, this publisher is worth the money I pour at him, and hence I pour it in quantity. This is my explanation for having expended six euros for the following ebook.

Cally’s War by John Ringo and Julie Cochrane is a sequel to a four-book trilogy by the first author. The trilogy is heavy-duty military science fiction, telling an excellent version of the “aliens invade Earth” story. Cally’s War is set forty years later, and features a minor supporting character from the trilogy as the main character. By the start of the book, Cally is an assassin working for a secret society which wages a secret war against the galactic domination of the Darhel species.

The plot of the book revolves around the threat of the secret society being exposed to the opposition, and Cally’s mission in this book is basic counterintelligence: find out the mole and destroy it. However, it would be wrong to think that this book tells an espionage story, or that the counterintelligence plot is integral to the book: the plot is weak, mainly serving as a thin connector between episodes involving Cally’s personal life, or the lack of it, and her sex life (from whose lack she does not suffer).

This book, however, seems to suffer from the lack of an editor. There are good ideas, and the storytelling is okay, but to make a really good book, the authors should have regarded this version as the first draft to be thrown away – and rewritten the book completely. There is really no unity in the story, and several good themes worthy of exploration are just skimmed.

It is obvious that Ringo did not contribute much prose to this book: the bad politics rants are conspicuosly absent. I think I would have enjoyed the book more had Ringo actually written more of the book, even if it meant suffering through new pro-Bush rhetorics.

I suppose this book could work standalone, that is, it does not depend on the reader having read the previous books. On the other hand, there is very little that speaks for reading this book at all, except that it continues the story started in the four-book trilogy. I appreciated the story as a continuation of Cally’s arc, and some of the sex scenes were fun to read, but otherwise it left me wanting.

I rate this book 4/10.

The Finnish Criminal Court System

(Reposted from old blog)

Inspired by Matthew Palmer’s writings (1, 2) on his experiences about the Australian judicial system, I decided to write a series of essays on the Finnish legal system, mostly to contrast it with the universally familiar United State system (even if that universal familiarity is a little skewed by generally having been obtained from dramatizations and not actual court practice). I will concentrate on criminal cases.

I will write based on my personal experience as a part of the judicial system, and I will be supplementing the experience with my personal research into law. I am not legally trained, but I have read a fair bit of law and related literature.

I am a lay judge in the Jyväskylä District court. I will explain the significance of that later, but I hope it suffices to say, here, that I have sat on the bench, as part of four-judge panels, since March this year, in ten sessions each a day long, and each containing at least two, usually four or five criminal cases.

Some highlights:

  • There are no plea bargains. With some minor exceptions, every criminal case is tried in a full court session.
  • There is no jury. Criminal cases are tried as a rule by a panel of four judges, of which one is legally trained and three are lay judges, each having an equal vote.

See the comments for pointers to later essays and writings in this series.
Continue reading “The Finnish Criminal Court System”