On the nightstand

Book Blog

September 22, 2019

Goshawk Squadron (Review)

nother review from way back, this from one of my favorite fictional World War One flying novels, Goshawk Squadron. This book is from Derek Robinson, who would go on to English infamy for a later book, Piece of Cake. And this is pretty much a proving ground for what he’d do in Piece, that being create a squadron of misfits and unassuming youth and then fling them into war. The book starts with Major Woolley sitting in a deck chair, watching his squadron float towards the frosted landing field. Uncouth, foul, always angry, as his adjutant announces each pilot’s name […]
September 15, 2019

Pennsylvania Railroad Facilities – Volume 10 (Review)

nlike our model railroad club sectional layout, which was designed and evolved along the stretch between Jacksonville, Florida to Folkston, Georgia, our sprawling permanent layout was little-planned (with an overall concept design or two and a clay mockup). Originally it was transcontinental (which is pretty damn foolish, looking back from twenty years later). About a decade ago, we decided to shorten this to a realistic concept and modeled Bound Brook, New Jersey to Cincinnati, Ohio (still rather big, but better). In the middle (closest to the entry) we have Pittsburgh. Because that’s what it was, not because we’d actually lain […]
September 8, 2019

The Custodian (Review)

nother short story (sorry about this) while I lubber through Infinite Jest. Again, a short story about the end of the world, this time from the sun going nova. So, in The Custodian, we learn through backstory that humanity has learned that the sun would be going nova in a century and that two beliefs were formed – Custodians, who thought we should preserve what we could and try to get those who wished to leave left. And the Affirmers, who believe that everyone goes, nobody stays, and that to make this happen, everything (and I mean everything) must be […]
September 1, 2019

Stars, Won’t You Hide Me (Review)

nother short story (from the Catastrophies collection), this time from 1966 by Ben Bova (back from when most of your weren’t even sperms nor eggs, and I (kiddies) was a potential-loaded kid of eight). It’s a great short piece that really catches the scifi theme of distance and time. We start with Holman, a fellow wired up to a damaged star ship, racing away from the debacle of a battle where Humanity just lost to the Others. All we know about the Others is that they skirmished with humans once, put us back into the stone age, capped us with […]
August 25, 2019

No Other Gods (Review)

till crushing my way through a major book. And given what’s going on in my life (details in Thursday’s Dog Ear) I’ve got a lot of short story collections floating around. So this one comes from Catastrophes, a collection of short end-of-the-world scifies edited by Asimov, Greenberg and Waugh. It looks at disasters that end life, from the galactic to the localized. I’ve just puttered through two stories and picked this one to pass along. So it turns out Yvonne and Quinton, doctors of science and seemingly out in a spaceship, in and out of hyperspace, come back to find […]
August 18, 2019

Roasting Robert Raymond (Review)

‘ll admit that I’m still chiselling through Infinite Jest (with literally no end in sight) and I needed something to review. But then I remembered this effort by a local writer-in-training (the dark-contessa-like Marilyn Yokley), who roasted me with this in my retyrement (nyuk) party the other day. It’s a good example of how to lovingly roast someone – not cutting and sharp but rather just bringing aspects of a personality (in this case, mine) to bear. And to Marilyn, as Cardinal Richelieu put it; “One must be careful what one writes… and who one gives it to.”     Roasting […]
August 11, 2019

Genius without Education (Review)

‘m currently plowing through Infinite Jest (a massive book, and I don’t think the exchange will be reciprocal). Anyway, kiddies, that means it’s time for another one of my short stories from The End, a massive collection of the best the late Jurassic Publishing could offer. I was a little surprised at this one. Genius without Education comes from the string of western stories Jurassic commissioned (I should know – I submitted one). In this short story, we have a mysterious woman (named Genuine Truth) comes to the town of Pandemonium. That she comes with a Chinese servants (siblings, a […]
August 4, 2019

The Cassandra Project (Review)

should have known what I was getting into when a woman at the astronomy club meeting offered this book she’d read to anyone else, with kind of a shrug and a “I’m not saying it’s good or anything.” Shoulda known faint praise when I heard it. So, The Cassandra Project is a fiction where a tabloid points out (in a NASA briefing) that Apollo IX (the vehicle sent to orbit round the moon two trips before the “actual” moon landing) made a radio transmission right before going around the far side of the moon, sounding a lot like the astronauts […]
July 28, 2019

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Review)

kay, so this is a weird one – two guys about as tripped out on drugs as it is possible to be in ’71, hired out by a magazine to report on the craziness of the Mint 400 (a desert race outside of Vegas), going from seedy bar to wrecked hotel room in this dizzying series of episodic adventures from the very early seventies. As you can imagine, I was having troubles getting my head around it (clear as it is from drugs) and to see the humor of some of the situations. Sure, Hunter Thompson is a raw guy […]
July 21, 2019

Don Quixote (Book 2) (Review)

don’t know how this all came to be. Miguel de Cervantes had his first smash hit (the original Don Quixote). Then, fifteen or so years afterwards, he came out with his second one. But this was two years after someone poached in his preserve and wrote their own sequel. Given that he bitches and mocks this trespasser all the way through his effort, I’ve got to figure that this sequel was a direct response to the incursion. But I found it interesting to see how much Cervantes’ powers of a writer had grown in that time. Book 1 was just […]