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Book Blog

July 26, 2020

Pennsylvania Railroad Facilities – Volume 9 (Review)

his is another picture-heavy volume of Pennsy Railroad memories, collections of snapshots presented in order of location, east to west, Antis, PA to Derry, PA, along the PRR Allegheny Division. A train club friend loaned me this one (as he had Volume 10, which I reviewed HERE). It’s a compilation of images from the early days of railroading to the near-present, showing changes to the railroad, the equipment, and the towns and cities through which this proud railroad ran. For me, the book came at a timely moment – I’m building a microlayout west of this division, out in the […]
July 19, 2020

Coal Railroading (Review)

ven though I model the Southern Pacific in the Central California Valley, I’ve been thinking of making a smaller “fun” layout, one I can fire up casually and run without trouble. You can see more about that decision (and the plans) HERE. But in a nutshell, I’m moving my action to Western Pennsylvania (in the made-up town of Tuscarora). I’m going to be running a very short line with coal getting hauled to a powerplant, with local switching and even a tower operator (big plans for a small space). So we’ll see how this comes out. While picking up preliminary […]
July 12, 2020

MS Found in a Bottle (Review)

o I’m wading through an old Afghan thriller and nowhere near done, and my review deadline is coming up. With that in mind, I pulled out a hardback from a collection my wife bought me years back, short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Flipped through it and picked MS Found in a Bottle at random. The story starts out slow enough, a man of the world but not of it, sailing on a tramp freighter in the 1800’s sometime through the South China Sea. A massive storm (with plenty of foreshadowing) comes down on them at night with the crew […]
July 5, 2020

The Darkling Plain (Review)

nother from the Mortal Engines series, a thicker book that finds Tom Natsworthy and his daughter Wren (and, indirectly and via different paths, estranged wife Hester) returning to the place it all began, the ruined London, laying in its debris field after its attempt to fire its Medusa weapon backfired (literally) so massively in book one of the series. We have the orphaned Lost Boy Fishcake hauling along the remnants of Anna Fang, once freedom fighter for the Anti-tractionists and now a murderous puppet (in the form of a six-foot tall automation that lawn-mowers people with its finger-scythes). And we […]
June 28, 2020

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (Review)

his strange little book came to be in my Astronomy Club – they had a “for a good home” cart of books and I scooped this one up. Oddly, it comes from quaint old 1989, so yes, a lot changes in thirty years. I’ll take my cheap shots early – the book is certainly dated. Mr. Ashpole (the author) is operating in the post-disco era. Several times he notes that no extra-solar planets have been detected (now there are hundreds). The Hubble is still a dream. All the technologies he discusses are outdated. Not his fault. That’s looking back from […]
June 21, 2020

Treasure Island (Review)

y opening shot from the fo’c’sle: this is a great book! I’ve read it years back and loved it. Watched the pretty-close 1990’s version and loved that too. And now, after watching the show Black Sails (which serves as a prequel , but I’ve my own issues with it), I pulled this one out of the public library and had another go on it. Did I already tell you to get it and read it? So the story opens with young Jim Hawkins (who works in his parent’s inn) taking on a new boarder, an old salt of the sea […]
June 14, 2020

Escape from Heaven (Review)

uj Pepperman is a talk radio host working the LA market. He’s dealing with his usual wide range of crazy callers when, suddenly, God’s on the line. This comes as a shock to Duj, of course. He blows off the call but later he’s abducted by two beautiful angels, goes for a nice drive, and ends the evening duct taped in his car, abandoned by the angels, and sailing off a pier. And he dies. And reawakens in Heaven. Turns out God wants a word. It turns out Lucifer wants to turn the end of the world into a populist […]
June 7, 2020

The End of the Empire (Review)

ith the CORVID-19 virus raging, I’ve been moving though my old stacks, pulling books out that look interesting for a read four decades after purchase. And while the last one I noted was The Somme on old Earth, this one looks at the end of the “Holy Human Empire” in future-space. Colonel Saloman Karff is in deep shit. The rebels are pushing into the capital and he’s an officer in what is technically the Gestapo (i.e. the internal intelligence service). But he’s got a heart under that grim exterior – we open with him burning the files of all his […]
June 4, 2020

Old Fiction (DOG EAR)

he library has reopened for book delivery. Coming off a Black Sails binge, I decided to reread Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. What did I notice as I finished that first chapter? I noticed how lame some of the other books I’ve recently read are. I just finished a Libertarian fiction that was, frankly, pretty damn dumb (if you now have literal heaven on earth, if the dead can return and you can visit, then why are we talking about the second amendment (with the author putting words in Jefferson’s mouth))? And then there was that yellowing space opera I […]
May 31, 2020

The Somme (Review)

ent Military History this week, all the way back to World War One and the deadlocking, dead-making trench warfare that took place. Now, the Somme took place in summer of 1916, up northern-France-ish. It was a joint attempt by the British and French forces in the Somme valley to break through the three lines of heavy German defenses, to distract them from their own efforts currently underway in Verdun. Now, I held the opinion (before reading this) that an offensive as conducted by generals was largely them pointing at a map and saying “take this spot”, and the PBI (poor […]