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Book Blog

January 26, 2020

Persepolis Rising (Review)

t’s been thirty years since Captain James Holden sent the last fleet of the Free Navy into a strange unknown using instabilities of the ring gate. Everyone’s getting old. So old, in fact, that Holden and his companion Naomi are cashing out their share of the Rocinante and retiring. Everyone else is sticking to it (with Bobby Draper as the new Captain) except poor Clarissa Mao who is dying from her leaking implants. So they make their plans. And you know about plans. It is then that through the gates sail two ships of the long missing Martian effort to […]
January 19, 2020

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (Review)

his book is the words and work of an Indian Writer, Sherman Alexie, and the collection that won him the National Book Award. It’s an odd collection of short stories (Biographical? Fiction? Hard to tell) about life on the rez, the hopelessness, the alcoholism, the despair. Really, I got about ¾ of the way through and had to take a break. Too many Indians escaping the rez yet falling back in. Too many lives turning dark. Look, I’m a liberal softie and I always get depressed when a bunch of tough settlers shoot the shit out of a war party […]
January 13, 2020

North to the Rails (Review)

o I was in the middle of a book of collected short stories, thoughtful pieces about reservation life by an American Indian. After a while, the hopelessness and despair of it all got to me. I needed a break. So, what, I read a cowboy book? A bit incorrect. But it’s Louis L’Amour, and nobody does chaps and six-guns like Lou. It’s escapism at its best, just wide-open spaces and all that. In North to the Rails, Tom Chantry comes west to save his soon-to-be-father-in-law by getting a herd of desperately-needed beef to the Union Pacific railhead. Of course, he’s […]
January 5, 2020

Babylon’s Ashes (Review)

he Expanse. A series about near-space, the space of something like 200 years in the future (the date never seems to come up). This sixth book of the sprawling series picks up the action – Earth just got slagged by three “military grade” asteroid strikes, leaving the planet dust-shrouded and home of billions of new corpses. Mars has its own problems – a large chunk of its fleet just took off on its own. Some of it popped through one of the new stargates, helling out for the unknown. The rest of it was tossed to the Free Navy, the […]
December 29, 2019

Skybreaker (Review)

he sequel to the much-enjoyed Airborn, a great steampunkish book set in an imaginary world where airships rule and the rest of the world is a dim image of our own. In this effort, Matt Cruse (our hero from the original) teams up with rich-girl Kate, this time to find the ghost ship Hyperion, an airship lost forty years ago, not in the ocean or some jungle but way up in the sky. Way up. Around 20,000 feet up, higher than most lighter-than-air craft can operate. This time Matt has teamed up with an exotic gypsy girl and a bold […]
December 22, 2019

Bowl of Heaven (Review)

ne of the best things I did at my old, late job was to find a corner table in the break room and pile a bunch of books on it, a sharing library. Oh, not many got taken (as of two months ago, I could count them on one finger). But some readers also contributed, allowing me to get a couple of free books. The only cheaper way to get this is to throw a brick through a bookshop window. And bricks (like bookshops, alas) are getting harder and harder to find. So Bowl of Heaven sees Larry Niven (from […]
December 15, 2019

The San Diego and Arizona Railway (Review)

ou might have seen, HERE and HERE and HERE, all about my trip to La Mesa Club in San Diego to run operations circa 1951 on a huge HO scale railroad. While there, I often find myself with an hour or so of downtime before the next train. Often I’ll wander the other layouts of the museum (at night, it’s both quiet and spooky) and look around. Two of them (one HO, one N) have this crazy-high elbow trestle over a Mars-like gorge, with the tracks receding along ledges and pop-tunnels. Quite an amazing scene. It was only on my […]
December 8, 2019

Paradox Alley (Review)

nd so finally we get to the third (and final) book of the Starrigger trilogy, the Han Solo-ish book about big (really big) rigs, interplanetary gates, and the mystery at the end of the universe, where the road ends. Well, from the cover of the book, you’d think it was going to end violently – the truck going off a cliff (with cars skidding around it) while the driver launches clear with his ejection seat. All very exciting, but it doesn’t happen. Not even close. What does happen is a great deal of not much. Sure, we get to the […]
December 1, 2019

Airborn (Review)

o I cracked this one open on a flight to San Diego (see my train blog for details) and found out, as the plane rolled to takeoff speed, that I’d accidently found myself reading Young Adult stuff. And then, fifty miles out and a chapter in, that I was really liking it. Airborn takes place in an alternate Earth, one where hydrium (lighter and better than both helium and hydrogen) exists. And so airships rule the skies. Certain things are the same, but many of the places (especially in America) are different. And in this odd steampunky world (after all, […]
November 24, 2019

The Man in the High Castle (Review)

o this isn’t the sixties you know, not your Summer of Love, no. In this version of reality, the Nazis and the Japanese (and sorta the Italians) won the Second World War. In this world, the western states are owned by Japan, the eastern by the Germans, with the central states as a sort of powerless buffer zone. The Russian steppes are a sort of Slavic reservation and Africa has been churned into lifeless ruin by the Reich. The story follows a number of characters – a Japanese business leader in San Francisco, and antiquities dealer, a guy trying to […]