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Book Blog

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 […]
January 31, 2016

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Review)

he little hair cutter I go to told me about this one. She’s a fan of both The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fears, and got me to read them both. So when I heard there was a short story about Auri, a weird little tale that makes no sense to anyone who hasn’t read the story, of course I had to read it. The deal is, this is how everyone knows this little book. It’s not like any story you’ve read before. It lacks a climax, characters (outside of the main one) and even dialog. The […]
January 23, 2016

Three Moments of an Explosion (Review)

‘ve raved about China Mieville in the past. On my reviews, I’ve noted my enjoyment of Embassytown and The City & The City. The guy writes some weird and beautiful shit. But I guess I’m getting older or he’s getting more extreme or whatever. Three Moments of an Explosion is his latest effort, a collection of workshop writings and experimental stuff. And while some of it is wonderfully beautiful and frightening and though provoking, others just left me on the station platform scratching my head. I simply didn’t get their points. Some of the notables – Polynia – for no […]
January 17, 2016

Damnificados (Review)

amnificados is one of those weird little books that edge over from the real world into serendipitous fantasy. The real story behind this involves an abandoned office/apartmen  Caracas, Venezuela, one which was taken over by the city’s abandoned people, the trash pickers, the beggers, the squatters, the panhandlers, the crimples, the outcasts, and likely the review writers. Lead by Necho, a little cripple, the hordes are stymied by their first impediment to occupation, namely a pack of wolves denning in the entry. Once these large feral creatures are removed, the tower can fulfil its primary function, providing a place for […]
January 10, 2016

Hunter’s Run (Review)

ave I ever steered you wrong? The Martian? The Name of the Wind? All those novels I read first and either warned you off or pushed you into the bookstore after? Yeah, who’s your friend? Who has your back? It’s almost as if I’m you. So, Hunter’s Run. Goddam. Get it! So a guy is on the run for a back alley dumbass murder, a guy we really don’t care about. Ramon Espejo is nothing more than a back-alley chump on a dirty little back-alley Hispanic colony planet. Knowing that a dozen people watched him gut a gringo, he decides […]
January 3, 2016

Earth Winter (Review)

‘ve remember reading Richard Moran’s earlier book (to which this is the sequel) when it came out two decades ago. Empire of Ice told the story of a massive sub-Atlantic volcano that heaves up in the middle of the ocean, diverting the gulf stream flow away from England and throwing Europe into a terrible ice age. In Earth Winter, we are in the same world only a year later. Now soot from the eruption blankets the northern hemisphere, the ice is advancing, crops are dying (along with millions of people). So, no, not an uplifting beginning. And yes, if you […]
December 27, 2015

19 East, Copy Three (Review)

got my introduction to this thing called TT&TO on a trip to Chicago to run at some model train operations event. Was sitting in the hotel lobby chatting with some guy. He asked me what I was modeling. Southern Pacific, the 1950s, Central California. I was figuring I’d use warrants. “Do you know about TT&TO?” I didn’t. When he came back to the hotel that evening for the later op session, he brought back a sixty page document explaining what TT&TO (Time Table and Train Order) was. Since I was on the board to attend to his TT&TO session the […]
December 20, 2015

The Immortal (Review)

nother from an outstanding collection of space warfare stories, Space Fighters, accumulated by Joe Haldeman way back in 1988. This time, it’s Gordon Dickson’s The Immortal. So a grissled space pilot gets a wakeup call. He needs to head to HQ (on Earth). Here, he’s told that he’s going to fly a top secret mission with a “specialist” civillian (who is also trained as a gunner). Turns out we’re in an endless war with a bunch of baddies, out towards Polaris. They can’t get around us, we can’t get around us, so it’s endless grinding war between us. We’ve got […]