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Book Blog

February 1, 2015

Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas (Review)

short one this time, a little tale I found on Project Gutenberg’s western section (though it was originally published in a sci-fi mag back in the early sixties). It’s a funny little piece of a district in Texas which is trying to drive it’s census numbers up, and calls upon a lazy local named Manuel to wander the simmering lavaflows (Sodom, don’t you know) and count as many people as he can. “Even the little ones?” he asks with shaky English. The supervisor tells him that, yes, children are to be included. But we, the reader, get an impression that […]
January 25, 2015

The Ashtabula Diaster (Review)

eing a railroad guy, you’d have think I’d have heard of this one. But no, I was casting about on Project Gutenberg and fell over it (HERE). And so now I know a little more about the world. That is, a little more of its bad and terrible history. It was December 29, 1876 and a pair of locomotives were lugging eleven passenger cars of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway towards Ashtabula, Ohio. One hundred and fifty nine passengers were aboard. As they crossed the bridge just short of the station, it gave way, throwing everything (save that […]
January 18, 2015

The House in the Borderland (Review)

pulled this from Project Gutenberg, read it, didn’t like it. And now I’m finding that H.P. Lovecraft deemed it his greatest influence. I don’t get it. See, I have a problem with fantastic (meaning amazing, unique, and stupendous) things. Having one is fantastic. More than one? You gotta have a good reason for it. I don’t like the idea that Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman) not only gets bit by a radioactive spider and has his body uniquely change, he also (as a high schooler) figures out how to manufacture web slingers so he can swing all about town. See? That’s […]
January 15, 2015

The Name of the Wind (Review)

‘ve mentioned Brooke, the cute little redhead who cuts my thinning hair and talks books, books, books with me. Noticed she had an old copy of The Stand amid her combs and sheers and started talking books and now we’re thick as thieves. If only my hair grew quicker. Anyway, I always honor suggestions – if someone tells me I should read something, I generally will. So Brooke mentioned Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. I’d never heard about it. Apparently everyone else in the world has (including a parking lot attendant and a rounds doctor when I had a […]
January 11, 2015

The U.P. Trail (Review)

‘ll always remember a class I took in junior high, one for reading. The idea was that you’d read a book and talk to the teacher about it. One time, I read a western. I’ll always remember the teacher frowning and saying, “I thought you read at a higher level than that.” Westerns are good fun. As mentioned elsewhere in my blogs, westerns define our American values. I’ve always loved them. So, The U.P. Trail deals with an engineer (civil, not train) who is working to drive the Union Pacific rails west on the transcontinental. Along the way, he and […]
January 4, 2015

The Martian (Review)

here are at least two other Lonely Astronauts out there. One was a short YouTube series about a guy left on the moon by the last Apollo mission, a bitter fellow who vents with streams of bleeped cussing (it’s actually pretty funny). The other is some sort of children’s book. Be that so, Andy Weir’s take on a man being left behind, this time on Mars, is a stunning, exciting, funny, sad, and vivid account of what happens when Astronaut Mark Watney, thought to be dead during a panicked mission abort in the face of a terrifying Martian sand storm, […]
December 28, 2014

Singularity Sky (Review)

ingularity Sky is another element of Charles Stross’s future universe, where computers underwent singularity (i.e. they turned the corner on human intelligence and streaked away), and in doing so, these now-godlike AIs teleported 90% of the human race to other planets, mostly in racial/regional blocks. So this one was a step backwards for me – having met Martin and Rachael in Iron Sunrise (and missing them in Accelerando), here we see them in their “courtship”, traveling to and enjoying the rustic pleasures of the New Republic. So it’s meaning within meaning here. The New Republic was originally force-settled by some […]
December 25, 2014

Phantom (Review)

hen I first cracked this brick-thick novel open, I wasn’t sure what I was reading. Was this some sort of parody? I was reminded of The Further Adventures of Captain Gregory Dangerfield, a novel about an English hero perfect beyond perfection. Rich, cunning, trained, handsome, and adventurous, that book was a lampoons of men’s adventure books. And when I first started reading Phantom, I thought it was the same sort of thing. My evidence? Lord Alex Hawke (yes, an English lord, complete with an estate and bazillions of dollars to play with), who is respected in society yet also an […]
December 20, 2014

To have and have not (Review)

his one’s been on the Hemingway stack for years, part of a wifey Christmas gift from long ago. Been meaning to read it. And then, tired of modern plot devices (and having seen the namesake movie with Bogart over at an outdoor showing), I decided I had to read it. Well, the movie was good. And the book was nothing like it. Yeah, better. Much better. To Have and Have Not is a collection of four short stories following the declining fortunes of Harry Morgan, an honest, pragmatic, and (at times) ruthless man who owns a boat and plies the […]
December 14, 2014

Accelerando (Review)

f I had to review this comment in a single line, I’d tell you this – it’s Snow Crash for a new century. Accelerando follows three generations of a family, from 2010 (or so) through the hundreds of years to follow. We start with Manfred Macx, a “venture altruist” (meaning he has great ideas, but because he thinks the economics of scarcity is a dying concept, he’s giving them away to make others rich and hasten the in the brave new world). He’s married to a business-blade dominatrix, a rocky on-again, off-again, divorce-and-hatred sort of thing (she rapes him and […]