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Book Blog

January 17, 2021

Nebula Awards Showcase 2019 (Review)

ell, I always rip through my Christmas gifts. My wife bought this one for me – safe bet, since like a box of chocolates, there is always something good to find in an anthology. And happily, among all these offerings of scifi and fantasy, there were a number of good reads (and interestingly, there wasn’t a spaceship or a wizard to be found – modern writing, I suppose). So, their great stories include: Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience ™:  A failing Indian man working in a VR park about American Indians presents a fake image of the Indian Experience, […]
January 10, 2021

Old Man’s War (Review)

t’s a pretty simple premise – when you get to a certain age and become a drag on the economy and only have maybe a decade to live, you can elect to join Colonial Defense Force. They will give you a new body, train you to be a soldier, and expect a two-year (but, as it turns out, ten-year) hitch out of you. You just won’t be coming back to Earth. You’ll go where they tell you, fight who they tell you, and die when they tell you. Simple. Well, the new body part is true; manufactured bodies with all […]
January 3, 2021

The Book Thief (Review)

ou can’t have a more hardcore story opener than this – little Liesel is on a train going to meet her “new” mother and father (since it’s 1939 in Nazi Germany, and her real mom is either unfit or too poor to take care of her and her brother). But a bad day goes further south when her brother suddenly dies on the train to her foster home. Once her brother is buried and before the train moves on, a book falls from one of the grave digger’s pockets and, even though she can’t read, Liesel steals it off the […]
December 27, 2020

Beacon 23 (Review)

ometimes the parallel between the actual world and the projected world is so direct in a science fiction book, it’s obvious. And sometimes I don’t care. In Beacon 23, we have a war-torn vet tending a hyperspace beacon that marks and asteroid field. The guts of the station are in the spherical hub. But the broadcasting unit needs to be a distance from it, so it’s on top of a projection for safety. Kinda like… a lighthouse, right? Just like The Vagrant from last week, you’ve got a single-point POV from this sorry keeper as he tends his beacon, talking […]
December 20, 2020

The Vagrant (Review)

kay, so the hero is a kickass silent man, with a cloak and a magic sword with an angry blinking eye in its hilt. And under that cloak, he’s toting a baby. And to feed the baby, he’s hauling a goat, an angry bitch that kicks and bites with attitude, the perfect sidekick for laughs. The only thing it hasn’t got is Eddie Murphy doing its voice. But that’s the trick Peter Newman set up – a party in which nobody speaks. Oh, eventually they pick up someone who can actually talk but until then, it’s all nuanced gestures and […]
December 13, 2020

Diamond Sam (Review)

ince I’m still deep in another book, I met this week’s deadline by peeking into the next story in my Sam Gunn Omnibus, a collection by the recently-late Ben Bova. This time, it was Diamond Sam. So the collection continues with Jade, a young girl attempting to make a historical drama out of the late, great Sam Gunn, spaceman and adventurer. In this, she interviews Grigory Protov, an aging cosmonaut living out his last days in a Russian old-spaceman-home on the moon. And Grigory has nothing good to say about Sam, calling him a spy and a thief. Turns out […]
December 6, 2020

First Contact (Review)

f you don’t like Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, you might as well stop here. Because First Contact, by Evan Mandery, is very much in this class of storytelling. Me, I loved it. Written in 2010, it’s got a clueless president (so dense and self-centered, it’s nearly prophetic). It’s got his aide, Ralph, the hapless young man who he sends to get his sub sandwich lunches. It’s got Ralph’s new girlfriend, who is second-guessing her decision of going to law school. And it’s got the ambassador from Rigel, who is a bit of a practical joker, and his own aide […]
November 29, 2020

Angles of Attack (Review)

ne thing I don’t do in the bookstore: I don’t pick up books that say (under the title) things like Book Two of the Franchise Series. And with Angles of Attack, I got punked. So main character Andrew Grayson, a combat coordinator a century in the future, finds himself in the middle of a battle with his prior enemies, the Russians, on his side. Weirder yet, they seem to be fighting the Lankies, huge armored creatures that wipe out colonies and terraform them to their linking (at the cost of all human occupants). Mars has already fallen. Earth might be […]
November 22, 2020

Light-fingered Gentry (Review)

his this was a pot-boiler from 1907, a real eye opener that starts with an uncomfortable couple meeting in a park and discussing how they should get a divorce (which really would have stunned a reader back then (and not in these times when the President of the United States has had three of them)). The story shifts to a retirement party for outgoing insurance company president Shotwell organized by one Fosdick, who is counting up how much everything cost (paid for by the shareholders and policyholders, of course), and how he reflects on the magnificence as “glory-just as, when […]
November 15, 2020

The Long Fall (Review)

’m currently plowing through a large 1907 drama, at lease a week out on that one. As a side-issue, I’ve been reading The Sam Gunn Omnibus, a huge collection of Ben Bova stories about his spaceman hero, Sam Gunn. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of these (or I may have in some long-forgotten collection perhaps). Either way, the stories are great – short and sweet and funny. So Sam Gunn is an astronaut. Unlike your usual hero, Sam is short, not that handsome, and loud. He’s just a bit of a nutball poised in the position to be […]