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Book Blog

July 7, 2017

The Outback Stars (Review)

nother one from the used book shop, this time a military-grade page turner about… shipboard life on a starship. I thought this was a book of an ongoing series (turns out it’s the first one, I think) – Lieutenant Jodenny Scott survived a horrific terrorist attack on her last ship, one that left her burned and burdened with survivors’ guilt. And just as it takes her a while to return to active service (don’t worry – we don’t get dragged through her convalescence – she didn’t like it any more than we would have), it takes us a while to […]
July 2, 2017

The Man in the Iron Mask (Review)

nd so ends, the series that started with Three Musketeers, proceeded through Twenty Years After, then into The Vicomte of Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, and Louise de la Vallière. By my estimates, it took 4000 pages to arrive at this point. And after three years and something like 100 books and short stories later, I’m ready to conclude this saga with The Man in the Iron Mask. I’ve written how the eternal bonds formed in the first book, of three (then four) common soldiers were unified by friendship and duty. I’ve also noted (in later books) how the four have […]
June 25, 2017

Amanda Todd: The Friend of Cats (Review)

isclaimer: My poor little cat is in the vet’s care this weekend, attempting to recover from a kidney disorder. I’m aching in love for my cat (in particular) and all cats (in general). With a confusing week behind me and a massive book still underway (The Man in the Iron Mask), I found myself with nothing to review. This morning when I woke up, I considered my options and reached over to Jurassic’s The End (a wonderful collection of short stories produced by a closing publishing house). Flipped open this vast leather volume to the next story beneath the bookmark […]
June 17, 2017

Interpreter of Maladies (Review)

his isn’t my usual type of book. There are no trains, no musketeers and no spaceships. This is about ordinary people, Indian people, going through gradual encounters of change. My wife read it and I had a look – after all, it couldn’t suck too badly. Ms. Lahiri won a Pulitzer for this effort. You also might remember that I reviewed the first story I read a few weeks ago, A Temporary Matter. I really enjoyed it, and looked forward to more of the same. And in that, my hopes were realized. Again, not dramatic action here, no 24 pace. […]
June 10, 2017

A Borrowed Man (Review)

like noir. I like detective stories set in gritty cities where a shoe-leather, trenchcoat guy who knows people and knows the city plays against power (mob or city hall) and figures out the guilty party (even if that party is his client). Yeah, it’s a great genre. A Borrowed Man, by Gene Wolfe, attempts to use a scifi setting to update this mythical misty figure. This time it’s in the far future in a depopulated, exhausted (but seemingly verdant) Earth. The Borrowed Man in question is author E.A. Smithe, who seemingly penned many scifi classics including Mission to Mars. Now […]
May 28, 2017

A Temporary Matter (Review)

hoba and Shukumar are a young Indian couple living somewhere in the west on their quiet street with their quiet lives, she an editor, he still a student. And in the mail comes an announcement that following the last snowstorm the power company wants to firm up their repairs so for the next five nights service will be cut from eight to nine PM. Sounds innocent enough. The couple continues on their lives, with reflections provided by Shukumar as he considers, without enthusiasm, the state of their marriage. It turns out that some time before Shoba had been pregnant with […]
May 21, 2017

Biketopia (Review)

ver since I became some sort of public bike advocate (hey, I just like to gush about riding them to and from work) everyone forwards me articles and stories about bikes. Well, Biketopia was a small collection of short stories combining alarming futures, feminism and bikes a friend sent me. I looked forward to seeing what they could do with the topic. Not much, I’m afraid. Maybe it was just me, but the stories all looked like tales put together by people who saw the call-for-submissions stuck to the bulletin board of the local coffee house. Yes, they talked about […]
May 14, 2017

Cloud Atlas (Review)

loud Altas – it’s not one book, it’s six! Actually, it is only one book, a set of six stories told from differing human epochs. All the characters share a distinctive birthmark, a blemish in the shape of a comet on their shoulder. And all their stories link together very distantly, but, like instruments in an orchestra, all of them taken together produce a message to the reader. And the message can be bittersweet, yes, but uplifting too. So, we have… ADAM EWING – A San Francisco attorney who, in 1849, is on his return journey to his home from […]
April 30, 2017

Arabella of Mars (Review)

kay, so the Napoleonic Wars are still taking place. There’s that. And there is colonialism. Again, a constant of the British Empire. But then there is the fact that space isn’t, well, space. It’s full of air. And with sailing ships that can lift on massive hot air balloons to low earth orbit, where they can set their sails and move about on interplanetary jet-streams and then, when they get to a planet, deploy heated chutes to come in for landing, yeah, so it’s rather a different 1813 than you could imagine. So young Arabella is a daughter of a […]
April 23, 2017

London Under (Review)

nyone who’s played a game within the last 40 years probably knows about D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). In its most basic form, players take the role of magic users and warriors and travel into the dungeon of a castle long swept away, to fight all the monsters who horde treasure therein. Economically, it makes no sense. Biologically, it makes no sense. Rationally, it’s a joke. But it’s still fun. But while a dungeon chock full of monsters who understand economic principles (and, seemingly, doorknobs) seems unlikely, equally unlikely are the places that exist beneath London. The remnants of old streets […]