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Book Blog

February 16, 2013

Aircraft of World War 1 (Review)

This is not so much a review of a book as much as a review of a sliver of my life. When I was a kid, I had a full-freaking-infatuation with World War One aircraft. I drew them. I hung the models from my ceilings. I bought all the toys. I read the comic book Enemy Ace. I played Dogfight and, later, Richthofen’s War to death. I saw the play Billy Bishop goes to War. And I read every pulp novel I could find about the fliers, the planes, and their war. Sometime in the middle of all that, my […]
February 10, 2013

Mirror to the Sky (Review)

This book put me to sleep. I liked it, but it just knocked me out. I don’t know why – the writing was good. The story was good. The idea was new. But I’d read it and my eyes would flutter and then I’d be in zonkland. So aliens come, ostensibly to be our buddies, but mostly to search out a threat they’ve perceived. To show us their good intentions, they display cultural art, paintings they’ve done, ones so important that every fleet that goes out carries exact duplicates of them. But their art is disturbing. When one looks at […]
February 3, 2013

Thy Kingdom Come (Review)

Thy Kingdom Come is a collection of short stories, no, two collections of short stories, all taking place fifteen minutes into the future. Or, more correctly, a horrible new century that I’m just as happy I don’t live in. One set involves young Martin Sorenson, a boy growing up in the heartland of the USA. His father has just been asked to join the “Reconstruction” party, a grass-roots right-wing organization that is just getting its start. And in that formulative first story, Dublin’s just had a nuke detonate in it. The second set, named “Armageddon” and interspersed between the “Plainview” […]
January 27, 2013

No Country for Old Men (Review)

The movie for this book stuck with me – it has one of those critical moments (like Purple Rose of Cairo) where the screen-writer tells you “you think you know where this is going? Guess again.” I suppose it comes from our expectations of story-telling, that heroes always win and villainy is defeated. Occasionally its nice to see an author perform a public service of rocking us back on our heels. I was happy to see (as I read the book) that this wasn’t just a director decision – the author ran with it. I won’t do a spoiler on […]
January 20, 2013

The Further Adventures of Captain Gregory Dangerfield (Review)

How much did I love this book? When it came out in the late 70’s, I read it then stole it from the local library. Never done that before (or since). In college, I vulched people who borrowed it from me (it made the rounds of our gaming group). Then I loaned it to a friend a year or so back and that was it for my book. Gone. Fortunately I discovered that Amazon had a used copy for sale and I picked it up (see how karma works – I eventually paid for the book I stole). So now […]
January 13, 2013

River of Doubt (Review)

There is a common theme in disaster yarns. Usually you have a hint of what’s coming by the very book subject (or its back-blurb). But as you read, the windup is a litany of ill-advised, poorly-considered and stupid choices made that lead to the fiasco. And the Roosevelt journey into the Amazon rain forest (a subject I knew nothing about) fits right into this theme. After losing a bid for a third term of the White House (at the head of the doomed Progressive Party), our man Teddy decided he needed a final hurrah, something to do that would fit […]
January 6, 2013

The Aftermath (Review)

Got a special interest in this book – see, I’m working on a computer game, Solar Trader, and so I’m very hyped on solar system mechanics. With all this door-to-door hyperspace nonsense out there, it’s easy to overlook just how much space there is between the sun and Pluto (yes, it’s still a milepost by my standards). The Aftermath is rather like The Real Story, a tale where a simple event in the begriming snowballs into system-wide repercussions and a growing cast of characters. Here, the Zacharius family (mom, dad, and two bickering kids) are just hoving in on a belt habitat when […]
December 30, 2012

Frankenstein (review)

I thought I knew this one. Jacob’s ladders with crackling electricity. Lighting flashing around dark turrets. Hunch-backed assistants. Stumbling, rambling, helpless monsters. And, of course, “IT’S ALLIIVVVEEE!” Frankenstein. My niece got me to read this, as detailed HERE. Never read it but if a kid demands you read a classic, you really need to follow up. Okay, first misconception – that the monster is named “Frankenstein”. Actually, that I knew but most people don’t (technically, he might adapt the Victor Frankenstein’s surname, but I rather doubt it. Demon. Monster. Those are more appropriate). So the book starts with letters from […]
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 […]