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Book Blog

July 22, 2018

Green Eggs and Ham (Review)

oke up this morning wondering what I could review. I’m still working through Reamde, all 1042 pages of it (you can use this book to chock the wheel of your car if you need to change a flat). And then this Seuss classic popped into my mind and I figured, “Why not?” So, Green Eggs and Ham is a story about choice and acceptance of new experiences, in this case the titular foods, both shown as nauseating and possibly dangerous to ingest. The protagonist, an unnamed sort of man/canine hybrid, seems to view himself as his own worldview center; he […]
July 15, 2018

The Carnivore (Review)

he one good thing about sites like Project Gutenberg – when for reasons too strange and distracting, if you find yourself tugging your Brompton folding bike by bus to a train station without the least expectation, without a book or a laptop, you can always hop into the site five minutes before go time and print off something really quick. And that’s how I ended up with The Carnivore, a very short tale out of Galaxy Science Fiction from 1953. In it, Earth is wiped out (pretty much as it usually is, not by meteors or sun-explosions but tin-plated ass-clowns […]
July 8, 2018

The Hollywood History of the World (Review)

eorge MacDonald Fraser of Flashman fame produced this fine little historian’s guide to movies in 1988 and happily revised in 1996 (which means Braveheart made it into the book (and, as a Scot, he slams it)). Has it really been that long since that awful movie? Regardless, this is a review of books, not movies. And this book, The Hollywood History of the World, is every bit as grand and wide-screen as the art it reviews (the pages measure 9”x9”). But Fraser sticks to his historical roots, moving chronologically (per history, not Hollywood) forward, from ancient times to the present. […]
July 1, 2018

A Man called Ove (Review)

think I’ve already got one of my “Books of the year” for 2018, even through my current read, Reamde, is pretty good too. This one was so wonderful that I was tearing up (and dabbing at my eyes with paper napkins) while reading in the beanhouse with my wife. So Ove is about a “man called”, a quiet fellow from an odd family (with a loving yet distant father, to whom Ove picks up a number of idiosyncrasies (being silent, being observant, being judgmental, and being a cranky old coot)). Ove has just been marginalized (i.e. downsized (i.e. fired)) from […]
July 1, 2018

Specters Anonymous (Review)

ometimes authors and readers just don’t couple up. Not sure why. But it happened here for me. My sister gave me Specters Anonymous for a birthday present during a complicated period of my life (with carpel tunnel surgery and a damn sling and all that). But I got the book and read it and it didn’t click for me. So Ralph starts the book dead. He’s a ghost. And ghosts, like humans, have weaknesses. For them, sunlight and bright illumination is like alcohol to them. Some of them can sip and be satisfied. Others need help. So in the basement […]
June 24, 2018

A Compendium of Model Railroad Operations (Review)

kay, for people who’ve never listened to my hobby-babble, model train operations means running your model train layout (your own or a club’s) like a real railroad. I’ve been doing this for years and have been blogging about it endlessly HERE. So this, like anything else; stamp collecting, slot cars, whatever, is total geekdom stuff. But, oh yeah, it’s cool. This book goes into how railroads work. What positions should you simulate. What do trains do. How do they make money. And how do they avoid crashing into one another. It’s actually a fascinating subject (trust me on this, or […]
June 17, 2018

Terminal (Review)

he big conversation these days is the settlement of Mars and how everyone would go (well, now, if you ask them). And this story centers on how they will go. In this case, it’s in Jalopies – single person pods that will feed you, entertain you, and keep you somewhat sane on that long voyage across space to Terminal, the new city being built on Mars. For once you’ll arrive you’ll be a citizen, your Jalopy will be scrapped for the city, and you’ll join the others in this hardscrabble existence. But that’s the thing. Jalopies are cheap – you […]
June 3, 2018

Extraction Request (Review)

’m currently digging through a book on the ins and outs of Model Railroad Operations Design (and I’m sure you’ll all be hanging on for that review). But with nothing in the hopper for this week, I went back and read a shorts story from the anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year (Vol 2, which I think means 2016). While the first story I know I’d read somewhere, I knew I hadn’t read the second, Extraction Request, because I don’t recall that feeling of sick dread. Yeah, it was damn creepy. So let’s go with the time-honored opener: […]
May 27, 2018

The Black Cloud (Review)

his one really took me by surprise. It came out in 1957, so far back that it was a year before I was born. And generally, truthfully, scifi from that time involves rocketships with fins landing on planets that all look like our moon, and bug-eyed monsters slobbering over the womenfolk. Yeah, but Black Cloud was different. And so much better. The idea is heavily weighted with the science at this time – astronomers (through very detailed descriptions of their work and processes) detect a black cloud moving kinda towards us, no, right towards us. There is a lot of […]
May 20, 2018

Neverwhere (Review)

eil Gaiman is a skilled writer. I’ve read a couple of his books (Stardust and Good Omens among them). But I gotta say, Neverwhere was a very enjoyable read. He did this for a BBC series years back, a nice little tale about a nice little London man who, while out with his wrong-for-him snooty girlfriend, has a ragged street girl pop out of a briefly flickering door in an otherwise blank wall, right at his feet. And he decides to “get involved”. He picks her up (against his girlfriend’s shrill and uncaring advice) and takes her home. Soon enough, […]