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Book Blog

December 23, 2012

The Marquis of Carabas (Review)

Let’s get the disclaimer out front – I love Rafael Sabatini. I’ve always enjoyed everything he’s written. And now let’s talk about the Marquis of Carabas, which is in itself a will-o-wisp literary term for a fictional Count – it’s appeared in Puss and Boots and in a handful of other places. It means “Marquis of Nowhere”. Most fitting for this young London fencing master, son of a Frenchwoman recently passed away who learns that he is actually a Count, that he owns extensive holdings in France, that he’s a rich nobleman. The trouble with this is that the guillotine […]
December 16, 2012

Game of Thrones (Review)

A good thing in George RR Martin’s thick Game of Thrones (the first of a series) is the character list in the back. So many characters! It’s like Bleak House. It would have been improved if it had a checkbox behind each one, so you could check them off as they died. Characters die a lot on the various struggles for power. Bravo. A friend loaned me the first book (“Yeah, thanks,” I murmured as I hefted it). It was pretty standard stuff, guys on horses, guys with swords, a threat from the north, the uneasy lord, every bit of […]
December 9, 2012

The Fantastic World War II (Review)

The cover of this old paperback is a true eye-catcher: A Nazi officer and a Japanese solder whirl as a Corsair fighter flashes over them, guns blazing, against a backdrop of the crumpled Statue of Liberty. This collection was released by Baen back in 1990, and quite the collection it was. Like all collections, it had its not-so-goods, and its goods. Some of my favorites: Vengeance in her bones: An old tramp freighter hates U-boats so bad, it repeatedly wrenches the wheel out of the captain’s grasp to ram subs, or sit over them until the destroyers get to the […]
December 2, 2012

The Ten Thousand (Review)

I caught the reference to this novel right off the bat – the Ten Thousand is a reference to the like number of Greek mercenaries who signed up under Cyrus the Younger (a Persian linage queue-jumper)around 400BC. They began their trek in Ionia (western Turkey) and marched and fought all the way to Central Babylonia where their employer (and all their generals) were killed. Left without supplies in the middle of a hostile empire, totally cut off, they hoisted their thirty pound hoplon shields and turned due north, driving towards the distant Black Sea. Which is why, when I saw […]
November 25, 2012

Frank Reade (Review)

There was a time in America (the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s) when gear-ratchet, chrome-lever technology seemed to be the way of the future, when airships were around-the-corner, when the unknown areas of the globe were being fully explored, and an American could go anywhere and do anything. These feeling of manifest destiny (in it’s most absolute form) was captured by the Frank Reade dime novels that came out at that time, where the plucky (and seemingly endlessly funded) Reade family ran its own factory, producing single-run vehicles (armored cars, tanks, airships and subs) with which they could explore […]
October 28, 2012

Starwolf (Review)

These days, scifi is a pretty black and white affair, vast   black   space and dusty white lifeless planets. Nothing got that across for me than Ark, showing what happens when you are lucky in launching a desperate colonization effort. And there was Flying to Valhalla. Same deal. But Starwolf is old school scifi. Written as a three-book saga in the early 60’s and reprinted as a collection in the 80’s, it’s a bold splash of color. Space is stuffed with golden nebulas and Christmas-light stars. Who cares that dead worlds somehow have an atmosphere? Who cares that the party lands […]
October 21, 2012

299 Days : The Preparation (Review)

So, to its credit, 299 days made me think. At its core, it’s a book about independent preppers who get ready for our country’s coming collapse with guns, food, guns, a bolt-hole, guns, like-minded friends, and guns. So, am I going to get a dozen guns, a prepped hiding place and enough food for a year? No. But I am looking at my total lack of preparation and reconsidering that. I think my wife and I will organize bolt-bags (gym bags with a few pairs of clothes, critical medicines and copies of important paperwork). We made it through the aftermath […]
October 14, 2012

The Regulators (Review)

I fled into the world of The Regulators (by Richard Bachman / Stephen King) after a friend’s suggested book proved so dry and badly written that I had to balm myself with enjoyable, cutting fiction. And really, through people hate to admit it, King is a solid writer. It might feel clever to say he isn’t, but his prose is hard and sharp and imaginative, and his stories horrifically fun. And this one was no exception. The book explores the ironic zone between the peaceful world most of us live in (suburbia) and the brutal popular culture that flies through […]
October 7, 2012

RailSea (Review)

You cheated! Cheated! I hate you! I refuse to accept! I won’t win any way but my way! You’ve ruined my reputation, do you hear? You I hate! You and your hair that’s always combed, your suit that’s always white, your car that’s always clean! I refuse to accept! I challenge you to another race! -Professor Fate (The Great Race) I hate China Mieville. I hate that he’s one of those guys who can actually look cool in leather, with a shaved head and silly earrings. I hate that he lives (and works) in London. I hate that he’s a […]
September 30, 2012

Ark (Review)

Flood was a book I’d read a couple of years back, before I was blogging (flogging?) books. It was an interesting idea, that underground oceans were down emptying upwards, that the world was slowly flooding, deeper and deeper until savage fights were breaking out around the last few mountain tops, and that as those went under the final survivors (floating on their garbage-roped rafts of trash) watched a bright flash as an off-stage space ark fired off its warp drives near Jupiter, throwing a set of human candidates towards a distant star system. Ark is the companion book to Flood, […]