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Book Blog

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, […]
May 13, 2018

Martin Citywit (Review)

his one comes (like a couple of my other reviews) from the fantastic final anthology produced by Jurassic London, the little press that I nearly got published through a few times (and had a nice relationship with). So, yes, you’ll have to go online for this limited release or look about or maybe borrow my hardcover. If you are careful). So this one’s scifi – but don’t stop here; it’s delightful! It is told sorta as a narration in Dicken’s fashion, the tale of self-aware computers who run the most sensible blocks of data (self-contained, so as to limit the […]
May 6, 2018

Luftwaffe Fighter Aces (Review)

kay, so I went into supercharger and climbed out of my usual cloud of fantasy/scifi to read a history book, one about the German Air Force (and, specifically, those who flew for it) in World War Two. First take-away – I am amazed at how high the German aces scores are. And this isn’t bombastic German inflation – these scores are largely confirmed by military historians over the years. I’m used to Richtofen’s highwater mark of 80, but here we have Hartmann with 352 (the top dog), Barkhorn with 301, Rall with 275, through 15 pages of listings (most of […]
April 29, 2018

A Boy and his Tank (Review)

o New Kashubia is a real shithole – it’s pretty much been stripped down to nothing but a ball of melted metal when its sun went supernova a long time ago. And now its home to Bosnian refugees (Earth is now a gated community and all other races and people have been shipped off). These folks now live in slow-starvation squalor in deep tunnels, while even deeper in the bowels of their planet automated factories produce top-line battle tanks. Essentially they are fighting/teaching machines, fully loaded with AI and VR, very destructive and able to house their human tanker for […]
April 15, 2018

The Lost City of the Templars (Review)

nother bookshop pluck – a strange novel that caught my eye with the grandiose title and a picture of a distant lost Amazon city with a crusader sword stuck in the ground. But now that I think about it, it really wasn’t a templar lost city, but a strange revelation about my favorite ancient race (anyone care to guess?) So I apparently walked in midway through the showing of this adventure yarn. Two-fisted ex-Ranger John Holiday apparently has been a thorn of the side of just about everyone – the American political system, a massive security corporation, the Vatican, and […]
April 8, 2018

Mark Twain for Cat Lovers (Review)

o here is the book that provoked me into traveling around the world with Mark Twain (i.e. Following the Equator) – a little collection of Twain’s essays and observations about a topic dear to me. Bikes? No, cats. Turns out the crusty ex-riverboat pilot was a lover of our feline friends, always having a couple about. He even kept a billiard table and allowed his kittens free-range across it, with a cat lurking in a hole and swatting at massing balls considered part of the game’s hazards. There are wonderful stories here, from his classics about a boy climbing out […]
April 1, 2018

Following the Equator (Review)

othing teaches us more about a person’s true self and soul than travel. I’ve had friendships end on long trips. Perhaps because we see how our acquaintances react to stress, or that we see them out of the context of their typical background, who knows? All that matters is that we’ll see them in a new light. Following the Equator was a travelogue by Mark Twain of his trip around the world in the late eighteen hundreds. The unwritten background is that he was in financial straits through bad investments, forced to go on a world-wide speaking tour (which he […]
March 25, 2018

The Great Time Machine Hoax (Review)

The Great Time Machine Hoax represents one of the reasons I love going to used book stores. It also represents the danger of going to used book stores. It was an early work of famed SF author Keith Laumer (1963). It came from a shorter work and was expanded into a longer novel (I think I know where the expansion was – pretty much a strange Kung-fu training section in the entire second half of the book). But I’m ahead of myself. So Chester W. Chester IV inherits a rundown mansion, the sole heir and sole responsible party for millions […]
March 18, 2018

Tricky Business (Review)

live in Central Florida, which means we’re always watching, in justified nervousness, the craziness of the Southern Coast (Miami and such places). Back in the eighties when I worked in a lumber yard down there, it was nothing to hear machine gun fire cutting the night (and not too far off).A house down the street from my apartment was dynamited by the mob. Miami Vice looked pretty tame to some of the things I saw. And now, that place isn’t just lurking criminal evilness – the entire city seems crazy. Carl Hiaasen was one of the first to take these […]