On the nightstand

Book Blog

July 14, 2019

A Dream of Armageddon (Review)

he long trek through Don Quixote continues, the end in sight. Given that I had a train show, an airport run and a software load (all before sunup Sunday), I didn’t get it done (expecting it cleared by dinner tonight). So that being the case, I grabbed one of my H.G. Wells collections from the shelf, opened to a random story and read it. A Dream of Armageddon opens in our living dream, that of a man on a train pausing at Rugby, of a haunted man entering, of the conversation quickly turning towards dreams (for the narrator is carrying […]
July 7, 2019

The Gossage—Vardebedian Papers (Review)

oody Allen is poison now. Nobody will touch him. But before all that sordid family stuff, before the films, he was a writer. Even then, a lot of his short stories were silly and strange. But one, which i first read as a kid, involved two gentlemen playing chess by mail (snail mail). What could go wrong? We see this in the form of their correspondence, with the first letter (at mid-game) pointing to an irregularity in play. Evidently a move from several turns ago was lost in the mail (blamed in distractions by “Amalgamated Anti Matter”, which just fell […]
June 30, 2019

Wish for a Gun (Review)

in’t know what a gun is until you see six empty chambers and the smoky tongue coming from the barrel. Ain’t know what God is until you yell out into the sky and no one says shit to you. Ain’t know what the earth is until you put someone in it. This is early in the short story Wish for a Gun, a short tale by Sam Sykes that made it into Jurassic’s The End. And while I’m annoyed that my submission just missed the cut (as they all did), I’ll give this story credit for being good. If I’m going […]
June 23, 2019

The Decision Book (Review)

kay, so I’m facing a very tough decision. Do I retire or not? At first I was. Then I didn’t. Then they offered a buyout. Then they jacked us with it, only giving it to directors, forever-employees and dingdongs. So now I need to know: do I stay or do I go? Given that she has to live with my endless prevarications, my wife did the only thing she could – she bought me a copy of The Decision Book. This book dosn’t tell you an answer – it’s not a Magic 8-ball. It simply provides you with one page […]
June 16, 2019

Fuzzy Nation (Guest Review)

ell, gang, I’m here to encourage you in a light summertime underdog tale that combines a smart-aleck disbarred lawyer-space prospector protagonist with the repartee of John McClane, a pyrotechnic-trained dog, sci-fi aspects in the eponymous fuzzy ewok-like creatures, and court scenes worthy of a meld of “A Few Good Men” and “Matlock”. This goulash of a book works, it’s fun, but it ain’t great literature– get over it. The book in question is Fuzzy Nation, a ‘reboot’ by John Scalzi of H. Beam Piper’s 1962 classic Little Fuzzy. I am unfamiliar with the original work. The story, according to a […]
June 9, 2019

Don Quixote (Book 1) (Review)

was actually stunned, a few weeks ago, when I mentioned to someone I was reading Don Quixote and the person had no idea of the reference. Really? Good heavens but I didn’t think a 500 old book, one of the building blocks in what is now the modern novel, would be so forgotten. Well, for those who don’t know, Don Quixote is a tale of an old gentleman, a threadbare noble, living in a small hacienda in the Spanish countryside. To pass his idle time, he reads books of chivalry, of knights, the tales of adventure and nobility (wildly popular […]
June 2, 2019

The Stolen Village (Review)

seem to be on a non-fiction kick these days. This one was a loaner from my brother, the story of the village of Baltimore, Ireland, and what happened when two ship-loads of Barbary pirates landed on night and marched most of them off into slavery. I was aware that something like this had taken place – it’s fictionalized in the Sabitini yarn The Sea Hawk. In this historic recount, we have the events of the night when the raid took place, the events of the long cruise home (can you imagine forty days in the hold of a slaver?). And […]
May 26, 2019

The Aquariums of Pyongyang (Review)

e tend to see North Korea in terms to its threat to us, such as its steampunk nuclear rockets and its last-generation military. And we see various solutions, from MAGA to Hollywood (i.e. The Interview). But we don’t see it from the point of view of its people. Kang Chol-hwan was a Korean kid living in Japan with a leftist grandmother who bought North Korean propaganda and thought taking her family to North Korea would be the right thing to do. And it was. For about ten minutes. From this personal history of her grandson, we see a family shaken […]
May 19, 2019

Hello Universe (Review)

kay, I’m going to sound like a hipster, but since this is a kids’ read I’ll tell you the magical way I came upon this book. My wife and I were having a leisurely ride on our tandem in a tree-covered neighborhood and found a little book box curbside. You know, where are the places where you can add or take books, just a place to swap. Most of them were kid books and this was no exception. Sight unseen, I pulled it. The universe must have been directing my hand. So this story runs between three main characters (and […]
May 12, 2019

Pines (Guest Review)

ecret Service agent Ethan Burke is on a mission. No, not, protecting the president – Secret Service agents do more than that. He’s looking for agents who went missing in a small town called Wayward Pines.  The story begins shortly after Ethan arrived in Wayward Pines.  He wakes up with a splitting headache after a car crash.  He’s missing his wallet, keys, badge, gun and even much of his memory.  As he limps into town, he meets the locals who seem friendly, but strangely not very helpful. While investigating the missing agents, he also wonders what is going on in […]