On the nightstand

Book Blog

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 […]
January 29, 2017

A Lodging for the Night (Review)

his was an interesting tale, a little lunchtime shortie I found on my old favorite site, Project Gutenberg, from an old favorite author, Robert Louis Stevenson. The drama opens on a snowy Paris night in 1456, with drifts mounting and patrols snow-crunching and all the world asleep, save for one hovel with its wisp of smoke, its glow-through-the-shutters occupancy, its mutter of low deeds. For yes, inside is a collection of dark men, a handful of pickpockets, highwaymen and gallows-bait. The descriptive eye of the author travels through each, giving us a detailed description of every blackheart without identifying who […]
January 22, 2017

The Mirror (Review)

ften people give you books to read that meant something to them but are mush to you. But The Mirror, loaned to me by a work friend, knocked me back in my seat. It delivers. And I can see why this lady tracked this one down (copyright 1978) and bought it. So Shay is a modern (i.e. 1978) girl coming up at the end of the free-love era, at the edge of matrimony to a man she’s cool to, a casual consideration towards a lifetime commitment. And while trying on her granny’s wedding dress and looking into that creepy family […]
January 15, 2017

Algorithms to Live By (Review)

h, yes, my misspent youth. There was some game on the Atari that my best friend and I used to play, a car driving game where you drove as fast as you could, avoiding all the slower traffic, the road obstacles, all that. And what made this “cool” (that is a very time-relevant statement, given the computer games of today) was that places between cities in the game looked different. And the interesting thing here – you tried to hit all the cities across the country in the shortest possible time. So my friend and I would play and play, […]
January 8, 2017

The End (Review)

urassic Publishing House is gone. I’ve talked about them at length HERE, of my relationship with them and all the fine novels I’ve read that they produced. And with their downfall comes The End, a collection of their best short stories. It’s a wonderful collection (what I’ve read so far, and I will be reviewing the stories as I proceed through them like chocolates in a box, one or two now and again, just making them last). I’ll mention that the book itself is physically a superb effort, leather bound (or simulated such – I’m too uneducated to know the […]
January 1, 2017

Raiders of the Universes (Review)

h, the good old days. Everyone remembers cars being better, little towns being better, and life being better (actually, the cars were lead-sleds that would kill you at 35mph, the towns were superstitious collectives that people left as soon as they could, and life, overall, was shorter and (with exception to recent political events) stupider). But there you go. In that light, we go back to the “golden age of science fiction” (via a 1932 edition of Astounding Tales) for Raiders of the Universes, a little short story. Taking place in the wondrous future of 3400 or so, the astronomer […]