On the nightstand

Book Blog

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 […]
December 25, 2016

Salammbo (Review)

arthage – I’ve written about its founding (Fire and Bronze) and some of its people (Early Retyrement). In one my my first unpublished novels (Oath to Carthage) I wrote about Hannibal and his war on Rome (and some dystopian time-grabbing future society). So yes, I’ve tried to write Punic for some time. The thing is, I’m not sure I’ve gotten it right. See, in a way the Punic wars determined the culture that would become our world. You had the Romans (who won) who embraced the pragmatic, materialistic world that we recognize. They are who we spawned from, with our […]
December 18, 2016

The Johnstown Flood (Review)

n 1889, the city of Johnstown was happy and prosperous (isn’t this always the way of things?). Located in a steep valley at the convergence of Stoney Creek and the Little Conemaugh River, it enjoyed the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the business of several steel mills. The people were happy, oblivious to the slightest hint of foreshadowing on my part. But up the sharp valley of the Little Conemaugh River, fifteen miles up, topping a side valley, the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club enjoyed their scenic valley and beautiful lake. Composed of Pittsburgh’s elite, the rich and […]
December 11, 2016

Mr. Mercedes (Review)

tephan King. You might love him or hate him but some image from his tales will stick with you, be it from words on paper or images on filmstock. A friend of mine always remembers the big wheel rolling through that vast hotel. For me, Roland the Gunslinger reloading a revolver one-handed. Yeah, we all got an ounce of nightmare fuel from him. Mr. Mercedes isn’t really scary. It’s a little disturbing, especially the bad guy and his relationship with his mother (which is skin-crawling perverse) (I could imagine King’s editors slowing their review pace down at some of those […]
December 4, 2016

Eternity Road (Review)

‘m not sure if you’ll relate to this, dear reader. You see, I am a cyclist. This means that I see another world you’ve never seen. All those overpasses you’ve parked under for a traffic light, or gone over? I’ve sat there on my bike and looked at them, removed from the scale of a car, seeing this massive structures for what they are outside of the cage of conventional putt-putt transport. When you sit under an overpass on the saddle of a bike and look at the forest of concrete supports, each as thick as a young redwood, bolstering […]
November 27, 2016

The 13th Star (Review)

Not much I can say for this review, sorry. I got about 25% of the way in and it just didn’t spark for me. Pretty much most of the self-published novels I’ve read off Kindle have this feature – the writers don’t seem to know their craft. They don’t know rule one – show, don’t tell. And this book was all telling. A planet blows up. Populations are moved from planet to planet. A hero is a saint of a guy. But there aren’t details, tales and anecdotes to support this – just a running account of events. Sorry, I […]
November 20, 2016

Across the River and into the Trees (Review)

‘ve read a number of Hemingway stories and pretty much enjoyed them all. This one was a little tougher. While, yes, Hemingway could carry a tale of a man fighting an unseen fish along on the open sea, there were some long evenings in this one at a dinner table, a lot of small talk. Yes, a true test for an experienced reader. I can even now imaging Hemingway calling me a bastard for criticizing him. Still, the story is a slow one, a tale of a May-December romance between two people who might have been better off not lingering […]
November 13, 2016

Beginning Go (Review)

ang, GO is a confusing game!” This from my sister, who is learning this game at my recommendation. And yes, it is a confusing game. Basically, if play your stones, black or white, in turn with the opposing player. If you manage to surround a stone (or group of stones) with yours, you take them. Territory, too. But in this, it’s deceptively complex. There are students of this game who start as children and train, train, train to be pros. Me, I’m just a fifty-seven year old guy who has come about this game late in life and is delving […]
November 6, 2016

Red Hill (Review)

othing makes the miles go by faster on a road trip than audio books. I only wish I could listen to more of them but my commute is only twenty minutes and most of the times I’m biking anyway. But we had to go to Atlanta for a model railroad function and stopped by the library the night before for a couple of audios. And that’s where we picked up Red Hill. I’d shown the description to the wife – a brief read of the back cover made me believe that some vague disaster had happened to civilization and a […]
October 30, 2016

American Flagg (Review)

OGANG: 7:32 For those who have never read American Flagg, you simply have missed one of the more interesting comics ever produced (listen to me speak like an authority – I gave up on comics when Cerebus started to drag). But still, American Flagg. It was the first comic I’d ever read that captured the idea of media overflow (and this, in the 80s before the internet). Every panel was awash with infographics, trade marks, click throughs and raunchy videos attempting to get you to “stick your card into the slot (bum ba bum) and you’re going to see something […]