On the nightstand

Book Blog

October 9, 2016

The Story of the Treasure Seekers (Audio Review)

nother audio book to while away the excel auditing hours, this time from a story written by Edith Nesbit. She wrote The Railway Children, a story of children with pluck which I enjoyed (but alas, which I read long before I’d gotten into the review-blog business). And this one is also of pluckish children but written before, well back in 1899. So we’ve a largely offscreen father whose children (Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel, and H.O. (Horace Octavius)) (who seem a little overkeen on adventure books) attempt to win back the family fortunes of the Bastables (which, I need to […]
October 2, 2016

Floor Games (Review)

can only imagine what being H.G. Well’s kid must have been like. Sure, his dad was a bit out there, with Free Love and his divorce and such. Who knows what that would have been like, at the tale end of the oh-so-proper Victorian Age. But then again, it must have been fun, too. I mean, wow, your dad was writing about Martians striding about in fighting machines, blasting crowds of people. He wasn’t, say, a chemist. He was an early pioneer of writing. Imagine the bedtime stories. Or the play sessions. This one came out in 1911 (and predated […]
September 29, 2016

Ready Player One (Review)

eady Player One is, in a nutshell, a geeky love-affair with the eighties, the era’s games, its movies and media. And just like some of my girlfreinds from that time, I think I remember them more fondly than they actually deserved (no, not you. If you read this and are mad about it, this isn’t about you ) Like the console games of that time – which were simple and fun – this pretty much discribes this book. So, the setup – Wade is a poor kid (in the future, pretty much everybody is poor) living in stacked trailers in […]
September 18, 2016

Little Wars (Audio Review)

grew up with war games. From our early Avalon Hill games, from playing Jutland with my dad in a living room with all furniture removed, from summer games with my friends: Africa Corps, Midway, Panzerblitz. I owned probably a hundred games and played them all. But I fondly remember my father, before going on a nine-month cruise to Vietnam, purchasing two Napoleonic armies made of lead figures, one English (for me) and one French (for him). And during this time, we painted them up. When all is said and done, we probable spent more prep time than play time on […]
September 11, 2016

Go Fundamentals (Review)

o here’s that picture again… Anyway, yes, I like Go. I like it better than Chess. It’s a fun game of placement and encirclement and a little time with a simulator (and getting literally dissected on a small-board game at work) showed me I needed to learn more about it. Go Fundamentals is a pretty good effort on this. The author goes over the history of the game (mentioning Hikaru No Go, so points for that). He also explains the critical elements of the game, how to surround stones and claim territory. All very good to know, since it might […]
September 4, 2016

SevenEves (Review)

ur world ends, not with our planet, but with our moon. Something never specified rifles through the moon one night, splitting it into seven massive fragments (and countless smaller ones). And there hangs that object we’ve taken for granted, the friendly orb which has shown down on our parents and grandparents, all the way through the ages, not longer a sphere but a cloud of debris. Sad, yes. Sadder still when scientists realize that these fragments are grinding, smashing, and pulping ever smaller. In two years time the gravel field will encompass the Earth. Then will come the White Sky. […]
August 28, 2016

The Cartels Jungle (Review)

eh. Nothing much here. Spaceman comes home from years at being at perpetual war on the frontier (two conglomerates are fighting it out), only to discover that the evil workers and their unions have become the third stool leg of  tyranny. Fine. But he doesn’t care since he’s going to marry his girl who happens to be the psychiatrist who just invented a mind-control device that can be used (in good hands) to cure insanity (which seems to run rampant on the hopeless homeworld). Of course, there is no way, with evil and power and mercenary corporate cops all over […]
August 21, 2016

Guns, Germs, and Steel (Review)

aught out this week – still slugging through Seven Eves, and didn’t get a short story done that I was also attempting a stopgap with. So, to fulfill my effort to review every week (something I’ve managed for years) I’m hauling something off the shelf and doing it out of memory. So, Guns, Germs, and Steel looks at the broad idea of racial technological acceleration. Why do some races have everything (and are rich, floating in iPads and Burger Kings and nuclear bombers) and others are nothing more than muddy townships of rusting castoff technology? Is it the people of […]
August 12, 2016

The Blockade Runners (review)

eeded something to tide this column over while I chew through the massive Seven Eves. Of course, I turned to my old friend, Project Gutenberg, for assistance. Was looking, actually, for Journey to the Center of the Earth (which I’d just seen (the old one, not the crappy, stupid new one. Please!). Anyway, it wasn’t up except in audio format. But I did find this book, The Blockade Runners, which you gotta admit looks like a promising short story. So without further ado, let’s start the review. And my opening hook to this review, late yet relevant? So, you think […]
August 7, 2016

Cæsar’s Column (Review)

sually change-the-world socialist stories of the sort I read from the late 1800’s, such as In the Days of the Comet or The Sleeper awakes, the break between rich and poor, privileged and oppressed is generally specific, antiseptic, and clear-cut. The poor are good, the rich bad. Usually there is a happy sort of ending (or a expected continuance of the system, as with The Time Machine). In the end, things get solved pretty neatly. There is also an expectation that our fore-authors wrote nice and clear fiction, without too much grime and grit. Hate to tell ya, but Ceasar’s […]