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Book Blog

February 8, 2015

Two short scifis (Review)

his week, I scratched through Project Gutenberg and came up with two short scifi stories, both out of pulp magazines. I didn’t want to spend that much time on them but they deserved some sort of mention (and me? I deserve some sort of weekly blog entry out of them). A Spaceship Named McGuire – this was a shortie written in 1960, just about when Harry Harrison was coming up with the Stainless Steel Rat. It was when humanism was making a push back into the industry, when bold wisecracking heroes were popular. In this story, a clever space detective […]
February 5, 2015

Good Omens (Review)

The first admission is that I’ve bought just about every Pratchett book out there – loved the Diskworld series. And Gaiman, I’ve also read one or two of his and generally liked them. So when a work acquaintance mentioned Good Omens, I had to have a look. I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed it; the opener is perfect with the Angel of God (Aziraphale) and of the Devil (Crowley) distantly looking down at the ejection of Adam and Eve from Eden, both with strong misgivings (Crowley is miffed that the apple thing was very unfair, even though he, […]
February 1, 2015

Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas (Review)

short one this time, a little tale I found on Project Gutenberg’s western section (though it was originally published in a sci-fi mag back in the early sixties). It’s a funny little piece of a district in Texas which is trying to drive it’s census numbers up, and calls upon a lazy local named Manuel to wander the simmering lavaflows (Sodom, don’t you know) and count as many people as he can. “Even the little ones?” he asks with shaky English. The supervisor tells him that, yes, children are to be included. But we, the reader, get an impression that […]
January 25, 2015

The Ashtabula Diaster (Review)

eing a railroad guy, you’d have think I’d have heard of this one. But no, I was casting about on Project Gutenberg and fell over it (HERE). And so now I know a little more about the world. That is, a little more of its bad and terrible history. It was December 29, 1876 and a pair of locomotives were lugging eleven passenger cars of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway towards Ashtabula, Ohio. One hundred and fifty nine passengers were aboard. As they crossed the bridge just short of the station, it gave way, throwing everything (save that […]
January 18, 2015

The House in the Borderland (Review)

pulled this from Project Gutenberg, read it, didn’t like it. And now I’m finding that H.P. Lovecraft deemed it his greatest influence. I don’t get it. See, I have a problem with fantastic (meaning amazing, unique, and stupendous) things. Having one is fantastic. More than one? You gotta have a good reason for it. I don’t like the idea that Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman) not only gets bit by a radioactive spider and has his body uniquely change, he also (as a high schooler) figures out how to manufacture web slingers so he can swing all about town. See? That’s […]
January 15, 2015

The Name of the Wind (Review)

‘ve mentioned Brooke, the cute little redhead who cuts my thinning hair and talks books, books, books with me. Noticed she had an old copy of The Stand amid her combs and sheers and started talking books and now we’re thick as thieves. If only my hair grew quicker. Anyway, I always honor suggestions – if someone tells me I should read something, I generally will. So Brooke mentioned Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. I’d never heard about it. Apparently everyone else in the world has (including a parking lot attendant and a rounds doctor when I had a […]
January 11, 2015

The U.P. Trail (Review)

‘ll always remember a class I took in junior high, one for reading. The idea was that you’d read a book and talk to the teacher about it. One time, I read a western. I’ll always remember the teacher frowning and saying, “I thought you read at a higher level than that.” Westerns are good fun. As mentioned elsewhere in my blogs, westerns define our American values. I’ve always loved them. So, The U.P. Trail deals with an engineer (civil, not train) who is working to drive the Union Pacific rails west on the transcontinental. Along the way, he and […]
January 4, 2015

The Martian (Review)

here are at least two other Lonely Astronauts out there. One was a short YouTube series about a guy left on the moon by the last Apollo mission, a bitter fellow who vents with streams of bleeped cussing (it’s actually pretty funny). The other is some sort of children’s book. Be that so, Andy Weir’s take on a man being left behind, this time on Mars, is a stunning, exciting, funny, sad, and vivid account of what happens when Astronaut Mark Watney, thought to be dead during a panicked mission abort in the face of a terrifying Martian sand storm, […]
December 28, 2014

Singularity Sky (Review)

ingularity Sky is another element of Charles Stross’s future universe, where computers underwent singularity (i.e. they turned the corner on human intelligence and streaked away), and in doing so, these now-godlike AIs teleported 90% of the human race to other planets, mostly in racial/regional blocks. So this one was a step backwards for me – having met Martin and Rachael in Iron Sunrise (and missing them in Accelerando), here we see them in their “courtship”, traveling to and enjoying the rustic pleasures of the New Republic. So it’s meaning within meaning here. The New Republic was originally force-settled by some […]
December 25, 2014

Phantom (Review)

hen I first cracked this brick-thick novel open, I wasn’t sure what I was reading. Was this some sort of parody? I was reminded of The Further Adventures of Captain Gregory Dangerfield, a novel about an English hero perfect beyond perfection. Rich, cunning, trained, handsome, and adventurous, that book was a lampoons of men’s adventure books. And when I first started reading Phantom, I thought it was the same sort of thing. My evidence? Lord Alex Hawke (yes, an English lord, complete with an estate and bazillions of dollars to play with), who is respected in society yet also an […]