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_The Incrementalists_, by Steven Brust and Skyler White
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
A secret society makes the world better... a little bit. Modern-day Sf (or F, depending where you draw your boundaries). It was OK.

Good: This avoids many of the problems of the first generation of Illuminati power fantasies. The group's abilities are (mostly) reasonably plausible, and limited in scope. More significantly, they spend a lot of time arguing over what "better" actually *means*, and how to accomplish it, acknowledging that they don't always get it right.

Bad: Two protagonists that fall in love so quickly and completely that I was reminded of late Heinlein. I am by no means opposed to romance, but when the love story is actually less plausible to me than the overtly fantastic elements, I have a problem with that.

Good: Powerful wordsmithing and imagery throughout. Not just repeated motifs, but repeated with significant variations, to good effect.

Good for herooftheage: The story is set in Vegas during the WSOP, and poker suffuses the book in many ways.
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