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Book Blog

April 24, 2016

The Jungle Book (Review)

o this isn’t your Disneyland version of The Jungle Book. It starts a couple of degrees off. In the film, young Mowgli is orphaned in what looks like a high-speed canoe crash. Bagheera the panther takes pity on the young creature and dumps him with a wolf pack. And that’s what makes him a wild boy. In the book, Shere Khan (who doesn’t show up until the final reel in the flick) is a lame tiger who is not urbanely deadly, but rather a limping posturing loser. When he attacks Mowgli’s woodcutter parents, he accidently leaps into the fire. The […]
April 17, 2016

The Big Over Easy (Review)

wasn’t sure what to make of this at first (an omelette?). Loaned to me after a book chat between adjacent modeling projects at the train club, I looked into this English satiricalists with a slight unease. Humor works differently. I can only point back to War of the Worlds: Plus Blood and Guts and Zombies to illustrate where it doesn’t for certain people. The Big Over Easy follows Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crime Division (see, what are you thinking, right now?). He’s a not-so-successful copper, having just seen his long case against the three pigs for the […]
April 10, 2016

Beachhead (Review)

t’s unfair to contrast Jack Williamson’s Beachhead against the phenomenal The Martian. Yes, they both involve the abandonment of one or more people against a two-year mission window, a desperate effort of survival. And Mark Watney is more of a likable wisecracker than the driven Texan billionaires’ son, Sam Houston Kellingan (who spends much of the book feeling bad about not getting one of the women sharing his mission, abandoning another woman in Texas (with child, it would seem) and ignoring another mission chum, a sweet puppydog. And then there are father issues, mother issues, brother issues. No wonder he […]
April 3, 2016

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Review)

e’d watched the first few episodes of the miniseries lifted from this book and petered out – just didn’t hold us. And then a person I know at work borrowed a copy of this book and tried to get through it, only to die on the white burning pages about halfway through. And when I’d agreed to read it, and when it was handed to me (with both hands, all 782 pages of it (why do people loan me such massive books?)), I knew I had my work cut out for me. But, actually, not bad. Jonathan Strange & Mr. […]
March 27, 2016

Tanks (Review)

o, what do you do when you have an hour for lunch, no computer and no book? Well, there is always a work laptop and Project Gutenberg. This time I found a nifty short story, Tanks, written in first issue of Astounding Tales (Vol 1, Number 1, January 1930, a new decade, new magazine, a new future – so optimistic). Anyway, I always enjoy stories like this, ones where author attempts future combat based on what they know (from World War One) and what they can guess (from the current day). And while Tanks was a bit off, it was […]
March 20, 2016

Gods of War (Review)

‘ve mentioned in a Dog Ear column how I found, then lost, then refound this book. Really, it is a thing of charm I discovered in my recent trip to India, a scifi novel written by the very popular Ashok Banker, an Indian author of impressive credentials. Unfortunately, it’s the first book of a series – which he never completed. And dammit, I really was grooving in it until the end. Maybe, like King’s Dark Tower series, it will find a conclusion. Anyway. Gods of War is a stunning tale. A strange artifact enters Earth’s orbit. Before we can even […]
March 13, 2016

Grunts (Review)

always enjoy a story that takes me to the other side of an issue, where I can see things from a different point of view. In Grunts, Mary Gentle does just that, placing us with a squad of orcs in a fantasy world lifted from Tolkien. Ashnak (the captain) and their brood are hapless underlings. And here’s that POV-switch I’d mentioned; did you ever wonder what it’s like one the other side when the battle breaks for the heroes, when the orc lines collapse, when evil streams in raw panic from the field? So here these guys are up in […]
March 6, 2016

CultureSmart!India (Review)

ust barely in time for our India trip, the CultureSmart! series book on India. Where I am going. Right now. Sitting in JFK writing this review. Finished the book on the first leg. The book isn’t a “go see this, check this out” guild book. No, it’s actually a small guide to the people and customs of India. It gives a brief history, a layout of the place, its geography and weather, before explaining what makes Indians tick. Very interesting insights on these diverse people. It explains their traditional culture and how it’s manifested given their urban, emigration and technology […]
February 12, 2016

The Neptune Strategy (Review)

ing windows. That’s what sold me. There is a thing in historical fiction where an author nails details that ring so true, you simply find yourself in that time. And John Gobbell did this in the historical thriller The Neptune Strategy by simply mentioning how some of his characters, driving in the California heat in 1944, crank open the wing windows of their car to get some airflow. Man, remember those things? This wasn’t all. Even though this is a navel thriller, he hit enough other points to impress me. He knew Southern Pacific serviced the coast, that engineers whistle […]
February 7, 2016

Out of the Silent Planet (Review)

o JR Tolkien and CS Lewis are in a bar, grousing about the sorry state of literature. Sounds like a joke, right? It actually happened. So the two literary giants were discussing fiction’s flop and they both decide to write science fiction books. They ended up agreeing that they would each produce a work to reverse this decline (or at least cash in on it): Tolkien would write a time travel story, Lewis a space travel one. Tolkien never got beyond a rough draft and some tinkerings, but Lewis took his across the finish line. So in this book, a […]