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Book Blog

April 16, 2017

We are Pirates (Review)

e are Pirates is a weird little book, and comes to us from Daniel Handler, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. And if you think this is another YA book, perfect for that “gateway” panacea drug you parents are always searching for your children to become readers… no. Not this one. Grownups only, here. Trust me. So Gwen Needle is the young, frustratedly confused daughter of Phil Needle, mid-life-crisis guy who is currently involved in television productions (and if there is any place where reality is shaped to meet popular demands, it is here). Gwen has just enacted her […]
April 9, 2017

Bicycle Diaries (Review)

o if I tell you Bicycle Diaries was written by David Byrne, you’re going to snap your fingers and say “Byrne, Byrne! Where have I heard that name before?” Talking Heads. Okay, now remember? He was involved in that group. So since the eighties, Byrne has been interested in traveling the world (as part of his work, and also part of his spirit). And over much of these travels, he brings a folding bike with him so he can explore and expand through these new cultures. The book isn’t a clear diary – it doesn’t follow his life day-by-day. Rather, […]
April 2, 2017

Space Boy (Review)

‘ve gone into comics in the past here. So now I’m putting you onto something really good, something that will make you happy and sad and yank those old heart strings around, a webcomic titled Space Boy, online and free for viewing. So, Space Boy isn’t really centered around a boy so much as it is a young girl named Amy in the 3300’s-and-something. She lived in a deep space mining colony, her dad was scapegoated for an industrial accident, and her family has been “fired” (i.e. removed from service and sent back to Earth). Now, Amy has lived on […]
March 26, 2017

Out of their Minds (Review)

rom out of the yellowing book box, another draw (this one happily not flaking into scraps). As usual for me (hey, I have my interests) another science fiction tale from Clifford D. Simak from 1970, a strange little story titled Out of their Minds. So this one is strange – hero-guy Horton Smith is troubled. He’s (I assume) burned out from his life as a globe-trotting journalist. Now he’s in his car heading back to Pilot Knob, the tiny town way up in the hills (somewhere somewhat close to DC, but then again, in the 70’s, the wilderness was a […]
March 19, 2017

The Sirens of Titan (Review)

o let’s not start by talking about this book as a story or a metaphor or anything. Let’s talk about it as a book. Been carrying this little paperback with me for 40 years or so. It was on my shelf in Drapers Meadows West in Blacksburg, it lingered in my huge shelves in my vault I lived in at York. And in the time between all these places, it sat in a book box waiting to be reread. I can’t even say why I’d have bought it. I did read some Vonnegut at University for classes and found him […]
March 12, 2017

The Wanderer (Review)

ooks are time machines and we read them in our context at our peril (or rather, our down-our-nose smarminess). The Wanderer copped a Hugo Award back in 1964, which was seven years after On The Beach (a story about a gentle yet depressing apocalypse) came out. Yet gone are the gentle civilians living out their last days in quiet contemplation of the doom that was settling over them. In The Wanderer, we’re back to people meeting their end with violence antagonism. Mobs. Guns. Killing. Drunkenness. All the things we Americans do well*. So the story opens with a half-dozen openers […]
March 5, 2017

First Love (Review)

…….nd Other Fascinating Stories of Spanish Life (full title) Okay, I’ll admit I was behind the eight ball here. Was reading The Wanderer (a Hugo Award winner from the 60s) and got pulled into Go for Beginners. Sometimes you need a fast filler to make a deadline. Hello, Project Gutenberg. Howdy “Short Stories” section. This one is a translation from an old book; the stories take place in the mid-1850s but perhaps it’s been Rafatinied from the mid-1900s – no information. (late breaking news – just searched around and yes, 1927. So it was written roughly the same time Captain […]
February 26, 2017

Go for Beginners (Review)

ow. 1972, I hadn’t even gotten into D&D yet. But while I was playing Speed Circuit and Jutland, there were people playing Go. And this book was published. If you’ve read any of my other blogs on this, Go is the Oriental game of strategy, simplistic in its rules but mind-breakingly complex in its execution. There are people out there who actually spend their lifetime mastering this game, and making a livelihood at playing professionally. Me? I’m still a beginner. I beat two people in the Go tourney at work and then suffered a set of losses that knocked me out. […]
February 19, 2017

Gelato Parlour (Review)

oddamn! That’s all I can say about this one. Goddamn! The full name of this short story is The Arousing Adventures of Gelato Parlour. Yeah, I didn’t have the space for the full title. But Goddamn! Okay, this comes out of The End, that Jurassic Publication collection that I reviewed before. But this one was so good, it warranted its own review. It’s written in flashy cheesy Vaudevillian style, very similar to The Further Adventures of Captain Gregory Dangerfield. But where Dangerfield is clearly, solidly planted in 1920, Parlour is set in a whimsical floating style of yesteryear, un-pinpointable yet […]
February 5, 2017

The Orion Nebula (Review)

e an Orion go back a couple of years. It was one of the first objects I’d pursued with my new scope – after the moon and planets. And there was so much to see – the brilliant belt, the smoky glow of Betelgeuse. But it was when I tracked down Orion’s star-splashed dirk that I got my biggest surprise. At the midpoint, I stopped. There was a clear thumbprint on my view of one cluster. Must have fumbled it while getting the eyepiece out. Annoying. But when I started to track clear I got my real surprise – the […]