Book Blog
Fondly Fahrenheit (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 16 February 2019 21:00

kay, I’ve got an audio book and a paper one both half-done for this weekend. My niece hasn’t come through on her promise to submit a review. I’ve got nothing.

A little poking around the net found a reference to one of the thirty greatest scifi shorts, a piece called Fondly Fahrenheit. Kinky. So I found it HERE (sorry about the format, but it will print okay and it isn’t that many pages). And I read it.

And I loved it.

First off, this piece was pretty raw for 1954 (when it was first published). I can see why people we’re shocked. People die in horrible ways. Children are left dead in muddy fields. Bodie are burned in ovens. All in about eleven pages. So it’s tight and it’s graphic. For the squeamish, be warned.

Further, it is delivered in a strange way. I hit page two and suddenly was confused by a grammatical error I discovered. But this problem continued to manifest itself, really confusing me. What the hell was going on? Why these occasional referential typos. But as the story ground onwards and the blood flowed, it became clear what I was dealing with. Painfully clear. Beautifully clear. Keep an open mind on this and just see where the story takes you. You’ll be amazed (and a little disturbed) by the ending of it.

I am quite fond of Fondly Fahrenheit. It’s a ten-minute classic you are sure to enjoy!


The Swarm (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 10 February 2019 00:00

’ve got a friend in a hospital sixty miles off whom I visit three times a week. This is an extra 300 miles a week in the car, or five hours going putt-putt-putt. There was a serious concern that, following a long day at work, I might fall asleep at 80mph on the lonely swamp-crossing highway, go into the brush, get eaten by alligators and never be seen again.

Listened to music CDs and actually drifted off the road one night. This wasn’t working. Next trip out, I stopped at the local library and fingered through their audio books collection. And that’s how I ended up listening to The Swarm, a prequel to the wildly popular Enders Game.

Ender’s Game involves humanity fighting against the Formics (a race of creatures seemingly controlled by a hive mind). In this history, the first time the Formics showed up they gassed half of China (and this was a scout ship). And now they are coming again, a fleet of them. This book picks up characters hinted at in Enders and carries them through the dire times where Earth is attempting to unify its defense, to figure a way to penetrate the Formic hull armor, and to keep from being extinguished (or, more correctly, terraformed (formicformed?)) And good luck to them.

The story centers around four plotlines, that of a young Chinese boy who grew up in war, a Kuiper Belt miner and his crew out in the black, a military officer who boarded and destroyed the Formic scout ship, and an industrialist trying to come up with a solution about that impregnable armor the enemy uses. Through these characters, we see various aspects of our desperate system at war.

I’ll say this, the story rolled along pretty briskly, the voice acting was top-notch and the miles rolled by. I really enjoyed seeing where Ender’s Battle School came from. My only disappointment came from the fact that I thought I had another disk to listen to (there was the back side of the last sleeve) and suddenly it was the end. And not a full end, not with the Formics massing and insurmountable problems (internal and otherwise) facing our race. Only the next day was I able to check – yes, part one of the trilogy, so that’s literally not all she (or a pair of he’s) wrote. More to come.

But it was a very interesting story of vast space and human frailties. And if my friend can’t get his ass out of the damn hospital, well, in a short while, I’ll have another set of disks to listen to.


Powers of the Earth (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 03 February 2019 10:53

ith apologies to my best friend (a Liberaltarian) who gave me this book, I simply couldn’t finish it.

I finish almost every book I start. I make a specific effort to do so. But this one, I could not. Let me go over the idea of the novel first, and then I close with my personal pain point about it.

So, Powers of the Earth is a tale of a lunar colony founded by those fleeing the slow system’s failure of Earth. Everything is quite touchy-feelie back at home, with the military forced to accept handicap soldiers, with CEOs put on trial and everything going to shit. Apparently (I believe through plots forwarded in some earlier book), anti-gravity engines (a secret technology not available to the greedy nations left behind) have been installed on blue-water ships (which, shades of Space Battleship Yamato, can actually fly from Earth to the Moon).

This ease of transport has permitted Aristillus, a lunar colony, to form. Bold Liberaltarians all, these freedom-loving people go about their lives (with no explanation of who is picking up the tab for the free air, for environment integrity, for new construction, not to mention how public order and judicial matters are resolved (but I’m ahead of myself)). Now, it’s a big gray-rocked Eden.

But the Earth can’t let this go. They see these bold Lunar sons as tax evaders and scofflaws. With that, an ill-advised and semi-cognitive media-personality president (okay, seriously, that much is realistic, sadly) launches something like a war but not like a war. They burn down all the moon’s communication satellites. They seize some of the floating ships (so they can reverse-engineer the drives). And then they start talking invasion, serious invasion.

And during this time, Mike Martin, imbittered self-made-man and rifle-enthusiast, is trying to do what he doesn’t want to do, to become his enemy (i.e. a government), to organize a defense of his native regolith, even though (when I stopped) everyone else wants to negotiate. And meanwhile, a short distance off, a wandering fellow with his four uplifted dogs has made a frightening discovery concerning a rogue AI and some hidden instillations.

Sounds good? Well, then go out and get it.

My problems are two-fold. First, I’ll believe in flying ships as well as all sorts of crazy crap SF forwards. But I have a really hard time with taking something as self-contained and critically regulated as a Liberaltarian lunar colony on faith. Really, how’s this suppose to work. I remember H.G. Wells explaining his utopias. But here we have hundreds of thousands of people living on the moon. What do these folks do when monopolies form? Or criminal gangs? Or warlords? Really, I simply can’t imagine this actually happening.

Worse for me was the entire concept of straw-bossing. Everyone in this book’s “Santa’s naughty list” is short-sighted, phony, evil, and stupid. Every enemy they face, from the president on down, has no redeeming values and seemingly no life goal outside screwing over Liberaltarians. Sorry, but to a non- Liberaltarian, this persecution complex gets old really fast. I found myself not reading, avoiding this book with guilt, rather than throw more hours into it. Sorry, but I think a combination of being an old socialist and an even older reader killed me on this one. Give me a city that actually works and villains who are actually believable and I’ll read it. I’ve even enjoyed Atlas Shrugged.

So, sorry, I can’t say I really enjoyed this one.


Last Updated on Sunday, 03 February 2019 11:00
Gyo (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 26 January 2019 20:56

oo boy.

Okay, so Gyo means “fish” in Japanese, and not “a dreamlike nightmare that gets worse and worse until you are screaming to awake”. Which was my first guess.

Gyo is a manga (a Japanese graphic novel) produced by a macabre-spewing author/artist named Junji Ito. My wife gave it to me for Christmas, a little thing she thought I’d like.

So let me put it this way – I found it disturbing. Sickening. Crazy. Bleak. Strange. And just goddamn weird.

It was also pretty good (from a horror viewpoint).

I’m not going to spoil too much. At the start, a young Japanese couple is out on Okinawa on a fishing trip. While in the water around a war wreck, the guy sees something in the water, something small and fast and strange. Before he investigates, sharks drive him back to the boat. But when back in their little cottage, his girlfriend (who is hyper-sensitive to smell) starts to freak out – she swears she smells something dead. The mystery deepens with bumps in the night and all that, until finally we see the crazy thing that’s in their house with them – a dead fish walking around on crab-like legs, clicking about and stinking up the place. Crazy.

What’s worse, eventually we find out it’s not just one fish – it’s all the creatures of the sea. And some of those things, the big things with tentacles and teeth, well, that starts to get downright eerie. But things get stranger and stranger until you find yourself growing numb – it’s just horrible to comprehend what you are seeing.

So, what do you want – a ghost that goes “boo”?

I’ll have to admit, you had to suspend just about all your belief to make this work – hell, you just had to accept the unbelievable. And once the story shifted to a certain place (namely, a very strange circus and a weird airship) it was almost too crazy to even stick with. But yes, overall it was a lot of fun since horror stories are not something I usually play in.

I’m not sure if I’d recommend this (even though I loaned my copy to my innocent niece). Gyo is as strange as it gets, and if you want to see what darkness your mind can travel to, this story might be something you’ll want to look into.

Or maybe not.



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