On the nightstand

Book Blog

June 21, 2015

War World (Review)

illiam Dietz is an established scifi author with something like forty books to his credit, but everyone starts someplace. His origin was War World, an interesting first effort that launched his career. It’s been sitting one of my book boxes for ages, since the mid-eighties. Anyway, out it came for another read. It’s a fun book, I’ll give it that. In the eighties, we were still gaga over dashing Han Solo (back in the days when he shot first). Now, after thirty years of grim realism (usually with sprawling worlds of mile-high slums and spaceships that take decades to get […]
June 13, 2015

Stardust (Review)

’ve been reading a lot of angry books recently – all fulla leftists and carpet bombing B-52s and Nazis and neo-punks racing across deserts. Thus, it was nice to sit back and crack the cover of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. He co-wrote a novel with another author I loved, Terry Pratchett (Good Omens), which I most thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve read a couple of his other books, Anansi Boys and American Gods, so I figured I’d be getting a good read after such grim tomes. He didn’t disappoint. With a dose of whimsy, we are introduced to the town of Wall which […]
June 7, 2015

Manufacturing Consent (Review)

he guy who got me to read The People’s History of the United States also sent me a YouTube video of Good Will Hunting, a scene where that book is referenced. Matt Damon is saying how amazing it was, an eye-opener (agreed) where upon Robin Williams counters with Manufacturing Consent. Okay, so since I read one, this lead me to read the other. If you are on any medications for depression, I can’t recommend this effort. That’s not to say it isn’t good. Actually, it’s great – in the way it made me look at the world (and the United […]
May 31, 2015

Clash of Eagles (Review)

triking cover that originally caught my attention back in the 80s – an ME109 shooting down a something or other with the Empire State Building in the background. Yes, the Nazis are invading New York! Well, when I read it, I really didn’t get it. See, after that action-packed cover, the Germans are actually on the ground, having swept down from Iceland and up from Bermuda, taking the Northeast while the US was distracted with the fall of Hawaii and the Japanese fleet off the west coast. It isn’t about the short blitz that took the city – it’s about […]
May 24, 2015

The Glass Hammer (Review)

fter my first not-so-good 80s novel (Venus of Dreams), I started this one, The Glass Hammer with a little trepidation. After all, I remember (echoing so faintly) that I’d not really cared for this the first time around. But evidently the experiences and growth of thirty years can make a difference. Really enjoyed this one. So it’s Cyberpunk from that heyday (dystopian worlds with running-on-the-edge punks manipulating a world equal parts real and meta), a tale about a guy who is really good at the nightly game of running computer chips across the great desert from Phoenix to L.A. while […]
May 17, 2015

Venus of Dreams (Review)

efore heading out on vacation, I broke open one of my old boxes of yellowing paperbacks, to take a handful with me for my relaxing time off. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reviewing a number of older titles from the eighties. You’ve been warned. I wish someone had warned me about Venus of Dreams – why didn’t I write myself a note inside the cover, letting myself know what I was in for? It would be one of those time travel deals, where a past me could have let my current me know what I was getting myself into. […]
May 10, 2015

The Second-Class Passenger (Review)

first leaned of this, oddly enough, through an old radio serial (Escape). See, while I audit at work, I sometimes listen to old radio programs. I loved the idea of this story and when I heard it came from a book, I had to check. And yes, Project Gutenberg had it for free. Written in 1913? Hmmm. But it turns out I was pleasantly surprised – Perceval Gibbon is more of a modern author. In fact, I’d say he was one of the kings of the gotcha ending. The free eBook I found was a collection of fifteen of his […]
May 3, 2015

Embassytown (Review)

ou gotta really want it. That’s all I can say about this book. I love China Mieville – he always provides amazingly new ideas to his works. But this one you’re going to have to work at. I’m not sure if I even get all the points he was making (which sucks since I’m reviewing it, right?). His books are out there, but he invites you (with language and setting and beautiful writing) to join him. Okay, so, Embassytown is a strange place, a little town of ambassadors living on an alien world way out on the edge of known […]
April 19, 2015

Looking Backwards (Review)

ully titled Looking Backwards: 2000-1887, this utopian science fiction novel was a landslide blockbuster hit (only third behind Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben Hur). Published in 1888, it broke all sorts of records for sales. Hundreds of clubs formed to discuss the novel and its ideals, and its proposal for a better world. In a word. SOCIALISM! Yes, poor Julian West, suffering insomnia, has himself put to sleep by quackish means in a crypt-like basement, only to find out (through later evidence) that his house burned down, his servant died, and nobody was there to wake him. Locked in suspended […]
April 19, 2015

Tubitz and Mergenstein (Review)

heap shot here; I’m reviewing a book that I wrote, and that wasn’t ever published. So yes, this one will be tough to find. I think I have the only copy in existence. But maybe I can change all that. I’m preparing to rewrite this thing, to aim it at the adult/YA steampunk market. It’s a jolly little romp that has always warmed my heart. I think, reworked, it could have a chance of publication (of course, when is that ever not true? Why would I write them anyway?) Anyway, Tubitz and Mergenstein involve the pairing of a mismatched couple, […]