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Book Blog

September 23, 2012

THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA (all reviews)

What follows is my full list of reviews, with links. You might not find every book published by man here, but damn, there’s a lot of them. A Accelerando (Review) A Clash of Kings (Review) Across the River and into the Trees (Review) Affair in Araby (Review) After London; or, Wild England (Review) The Aftermath (Review) After the Golden Age (Review) Aircraft of World War 1 (Review) Algorithms to Live By (Review) Alive Day (Review) All You Need Is Kill (Review) Amanda Todd: The Friend of Cats (Review) And all the Earth is a Grave (Review) American Flagg (Review) Another […]
September 23, 2012

The Wreck of the Titan (Review)

The Wreck of the Titan (or Futility, alternatively) was published in 1898 by Morgan Robertson. It came to my notice in another book (Flying to Valhalla) where its eerie prediction of the Titanic disaster was noted. Once again, a too-huge-for-its-own-good steamship. Once again, trying to set a speed record in foggy conditions. Once again, an unsinkable ship. And once again, that big lethal chunk of ice. Even given the weird gramophone, black-and-white writing of way-back-then, it’s an interesting read. Our main man (once Naval Lieutenant Rowland but now Common Seaman Drunkard Rowland) is a deck-swapping, hair-of-the-dog failure ever since he […]
September 16, 2012

Flying to Valhalla (Review)

Pellegrino, Powell and Asimov’s Three Laws of Alien Behavior: Law No 1: Their survival will be more important than our survival. If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won’t choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don’t survive by being self-sacrificing. Law No 2: Wimps don’t become top dogs. No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary. Law No 3: They will assume that the first two laws apply to us. […]
September 9, 2012

Lincoln the Unknown (Review)

Honest Abe has been doing that serendipity thing with me. First, my admin told me I absolutely must dress up this year (at work) as Abe Lincoln, Vampire Slayer. Having seen me in my stovepipe tophat (as a barker) she said I’d be a natural. I’ll have to shave the mustache and dye the beard, but okay. Agreed. Then, to “research” the role, JB and I went to see the vampire movie. Amusing, yes? Scholarly? I felt like the preacher in the porno theater. And now, in my Carnegie class, I won a copy of Lincoln the Unknown (by Dale […]
September 1, 2012

The Long Earth (Review)

An unlikely teamup (Stephen Baxter of Flood and Ark and Terry Pratchett of Diskworld) put their heads together for The Long Earth, a roaming scifi novel set 15 minutes into the future, when the world(s) open up. The book starts with a schematic, a simple diagram, some wires and resistors and such, all centered around a common potato. This drawing has appeared all over the internet (so the story tells us) detailing a device which can be built out of Radio Shack parts (have you been to a Radio Shack lately? Fat chance of that!), and when you push the […]
August 26, 2012

The Sea Witch (Review)

The Sea Witch is a collection of three aviation short stories by Stephen Coonts, rich author guy, written between 1999 and 2003. They aren’t bad, not if you like planes, but with one exception, I’m not sure what the point of the stories are. Anyway, the three shorts are… The Sea Witch: The titular story centers on a PBY flying boat that has been tasked with a night bombing run over Rabal in WW2. Coonts demonstrates a full working knowledge of the craft itself (which is interesting). And it’s one of those “desperate crew fearfully flies the edge” deals. However, […]
August 18, 2012

Embedded (Review)

I hate Embedded. I hate Dan Abnett. This is writer’s hate, you see. It happens when a writer reads a book that’s really, really good. I just sit here hating the book, the author, all while I’m really, really marveling at it. Think I’m alone? Hemingway felt that way… Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion. Ernest Hemingway: I hate it. Gil: You haven’t even read it yet. Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of […]
August 9, 2012

The Odyssey (Review)

Odysseus’ household is in trouble, worse than an upside down mortgage. See, this King of Ithaca has been away in the Trojan war for nine years, then missing for another decade. Convinced that he is dead, a hundred suitors for his wife Penelope’s hand have flooded his hall, working through the larder like cockroaches, threatening his son Telemacus. They are insistent to wed Penelope (not for her beauty, which appears to have held up well into her mid-thirties (if not later), but for Odysseus’ riches). She’s already started one gambit, claiming that she needs to finish sewing a funeral pall […]
August 7, 2012

The Riddle of the Sands (Review)

I‘d always wanted to read this book, the 1903 grandfather of the espionage genre. Found it at Slightly Foxed on Gloucester Road. So excited. Saved it for the perfect time, cracked it open, read it slow to savor it. It was undercooked. Look, I’ve read all sorts of books out of history, books hundreds of years old. I absolutely love everything H.G. Wells ever wrote. And the book starts off well, with lonely Carruthers kicking about London during the summer vacation month. He gets a strange invitation to help pilot a small yacht around the Baltic from a one-time friend, […]
August 5, 2012

Perdido Street Station (Review)

So you’re sitting around one night, poised in that indecisiveness readers occasionally flounder into. What next? Science Fiction? Steam Punk? Magic? Fantasy? Why not all of them, wrapped together in a plot which chafes so delightfully? China Miéville is a London author – it shows. His city of New Crobuzon is a sprawling, dangerous, vibrant, cruel place, a fun-house mirror image of London. Steam-technologies work. Magic (in a limited yet practical form) works. The city is a melting pot of story types and urban fears. Presumably New Crobuzon has a positive side, a side of decent people, quiet suburbs, theaters […]