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Book Blog

March 23, 2014

Two-for (two Reviews)

Went on a little hunt over at Project Gutenberg, where you can get all the free out-of-copyright ebooks you could hope for. Found two scifi shorties (published in pulps) from the mid-fifties. Since neither of them was long enough for a full review, I decided to knock them both out today. And see if you can spot the irony in these two stories… The Odyssey of Sam Meecham Sam Meecham is a hen-pecked nine-to-five drone. His life at work is checking the two output wires on rocket engines to make sure their generated thrusts are within tolerances. At home, he […]
March 16, 2014

My Brother’s Keeper (Review)

You can never go home. Or so Teke Manion finds out when he does. Having scraped his hometown of White Sands, Florida off his shoe and joined a huge multinational in Paris, our hero is sent back five years later to access wildfire damage to over-leveraged houses (whose owners are setting them on fire ahead of the fireline in hopes of walking away from the ashes). And Teke has cut all ties including those with his “brothers”, the members of “Three Dog Knights”, his two buddies with whom he used to prank through his early years to drive the local […]
March 9, 2014

Scaramouche (Review)

He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. This is one of the best openers ever in a novel, penned by Rafael Sabatini in one of his greatest works, Scaramouche. Some background – it old plays, it was common for known character types to be cast in fixed positions. This way, an audience would know that character on sight, and know his personality and characteristics (modern movies and books do this pretty much today, with their lack of creativity). The character “Scaramouche” is the trickster, the fellow who stirs the pot, creates […]
March 2, 2014

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Review)

I read this years ago, probably because I’d just seen it’s companion movie, Blade Runner. And recalling the sort of person I was in college (half-baked, like most humans under twenty-seven), I remember being slightly disappointed in it. Silly me. Let’s toss the movie and focus on this wonderful book by Philip K. Dick. Do Androids Dream… is centered on a tomb of a world, our world following a nuclear exchange that left the planet dust covered (and slightly radiative, too) and dead. Pretty much all the animals are gone (and those that are left are hoarded and worshiped (in […]
February 23, 2014

A fight with a cannon (review)

This short story dropped on me like a bombshell. I’m waiting for a mailed book to make it here, so to pass the time and flip some pages, I pulled up my old favorite site, Project Gutenberg (if you read and you STILL haven’t visited this place, what do I have to do, give you a boot in the ass?) and pulled down International Short Stories: French. While I’m unable to tell just when they were written, I’m thinking that they mostly come from the 1880s or so – there are trains and country scenes and horse drawn carriages, the […]
February 16, 2014

One of Clive’s Heroes (Review)

Another one off the freebee book site Project Gutenberg, another book-for-boys (that’s “YA” for you people in 2014) by Herbert Stang, whose The Adventures of Dick Trevalion I reviewed HERE. In this one, a bold yard of a plucky lad wins his fortune (and England an empire) by bashing the fuzzy-wuzzies in India in the 1750s. Yes, our boy this time is young Desmond Burke, a farmer lad, son of a famous English trader and now brother to a brutish older brother (a soddish farmer), who hero-worships Robert Clive, the local hometown boy who’s done well on the frontier. Things […]
February 9, 2014

Krakatoa (Review)

I knew this story originally from my childhood, having seen the movie Krakatoa, East of Java (which confused me in this book, and I later verified, it’s actually located WEST of Java).Which shows what sort of movie this was. Either direction, the namesake volcano is amazing enough, as Simon Winchester points out in his book on the subject. You see, Krakatoa was the volcano which loomed over a dense shipping strait, quite close to Dutch Batavia, and which erupted in 1883, Erupted? No, more like exploded. Even that’s not good enough. Rather, it Nuked. And even that’s not quite suitable. […]
February 2, 2014

2BR02B (review)

Everything was perfectly swell. There were no prisons, no slums, no insane asylums, no cripples, no poverty, no wars. All diseases were conquered. So was old age. Death, barring accidents, was an adventure for volunteers… So begins this old little short story by the master satiricalist Kurt Vonnegut, a salty little piece that examines a utopia from a single scene, inside a delivery room of Chicago’s lying-in hospital where an expectant father slumps in his chair and a wry artist paints a wall mural. See, this world has moved beyond the horrors of ours. Now, population is tightly held in […]
January 25, 2014

Steampunk (review)

I was surprised that so many people who saw me with Steampunk, a collection of short stories by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, have no idea what it’s about. The genre is that buried beneath the broader field of scifi, I suppose. For those in that number, originally there was ‘Cyberpunk’ (scifi stories set in a gritty neoworld where half the tale takes place online). For movie goers, think The Matrix. Then came the retromovement, to take this gritty new-age world and shift it back a century or more, back to Dickens’ Victorian London, with cog gadgets and steam powered things […]
January 19, 2014

Eidolon: The Thousand Year Ghost (Review)

Okay, I’m a sucker for free books and off-the-main-rack books. Like strange movies (“Robert Movies”, as a friend calls them), you’ll get some really unique stuff, not always good but at least different. Eidolon: The Thousand Year Ghost is a young adult novel (such novels have become more numerous as adults grow less likely to read and more like Morlocks). Usually that doesn’t pose too much a problem – everyone (but me) loved Harry Potter. And China Mielville (damn him for his abilities!) can turn out a good kiddy novel when it suits. Anyway, we start this story with a […]