On the nightstand

Book Blog

September 14, 2014

With the Night Mail (review)

ood Steampunk is hard to find. The thing is, when authors write Steampunk today, it still carries an aftertaste of digital computers, moon walks and plastics. It just isn’t good Steampunk. But take a top-shelf author (in this case, Rudyard Kipling) and let him imagine (in his age of doughy dirigibles and puttering heavier-than-air wobblers) the world of 2000AD and see what happens. I mean, wow. So our unnamed narrator is hopping a ride on the Night Mail (Postal Packet 162) from London to Quebec. It’s a very automated process, with the bags loaded into the removable gondola (at least […]
September 7, 2014

The Thirteenth Tale (Review)

Review by Jenessa Gayheart, author of “The Story of Eidolon” Webmasters note – Jenessa, as mentioned above, is the author of the three-book set, “The Story of Eidolon” (links below and reviewed across my site). We’ve been having pleasant conversations in emailland and I popped her the question of doing a reivew (and maybe more) for me. So here it is – something I know nothing about (how is that different, you ask?” he Thirteenth Tale was recommended to me by my mother.  She said, “Jenny, you’ll like this, it’s a mystery about an author.  Like you.”  Whether she simply […]
August 31, 2014

Concrete Island (Review)

see a lot of concrete islands in my bike rides, specifically places in urban environments lost to people. If you spend your entire life tucked into your house, your office or your car, you’re going to miss a lot. The thing is, nobody missed Robert Maitland when his jag hit that freeway concrete barrier and punched through. Not his distant wife or his at-arms-length mistress, nor the work staff he’d trained not to bother him. So when Robert ends up down an embankment in the weeds, with his leg smashed and no way out of the little island formed by […]
August 24, 2014

Journey to the Past (Review)

nd now we reach the end of The Story of Eidolon, third of the trilogy. This book sees our young hero Hickory finally assuming the duties of an adult, actually joining scouting missions for the community of Portla (now that its good citizens have pulled their heads out of the mire that buried their pasts and have started looking forward again). Finally, we get a chance to leave the community and see what is beyond. I like these sorts of stories, that of a changed world with the evidences of what it had been. Like those shepherds who grazed their […]
August 17, 2014

The Wheels of Chance (Review)

t was a time we can scarcely imagine, the late 1890s. Whereas steam trains ran on their own timetables to predetermined destinations, and horses with carts just ate and shit day after day regardless of whether you used them or not, and automobiles were an experimental dream, there were… bicycles! Now ordinary people, shop clerks and unhappy daughters, could easily take to the roads and travel where and when they wanted, an absolute freedom so rare in the class-conscious, socially-locked Victorian era. And just as the bicycles themselves were undergoing evolutionary changes, trikes and penny farthings and the like, so […]
August 10, 2014

A Dance of Dragons (Review)

f you think dragons are big, you haven’t seen anything yet. This monster is 959 pages, and it’s the fifth of the Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones series. So If you haven’t started this, you’ve got some reading ahead. And yes, overall, I’d say the journey has been worth it. So for those who arn’t involved, The Game of Thrones is a massive story about hundreds of people in a fantasy world seemingly cursed to be stuck in its medieval period for, like, forever. Think of that – no scientific advances, no gunpowder or cars or […]
August 3, 2014

Trees of Change (Review)

rees of Change is the second of a three book YA series authored by Janessa Gayheart, the first of which (The Thousand Year Ghost) I gave a reserved review. The author contacted me and asked me consider the series as a whole. So, as a writer, another rung of that long ladder has been reached: I got a free review copy. Anyway, even though you could just follow the link above to remember the deal, young Hickory lives in a world a thousand years in the future, altered by some titanic change that swept everything away. Portland is buried under […]
July 27, 2014

What happened to Orlando (Review)

ne of the good things about having a local independent book market (called, surprisingly Bookmarket (get the pun?)) is that you will see all sorts of offerings that you won’t see at your local Barnes and Noble (and that you’d never find on your non-local Amazon)). Case in point: What Happened to Orlando. This is a collection of short stories by local young (teen) authors describing the end of Orlando. What a gas this is – not since Alas Babylon have I grooved in the destructions of local landmarks. As HG Wells said of War of the Worlds, in research, […]
July 20, 2014

Another Brick in the Moon (Review)

n this story, Adam Roberts does what I enjoy (when it’s done well) – he takes an older established story and polishes, reworks and updates it until it shines. And in this case, he focuses on The Brick Moon, reviewed HERE. So here, our narrator Charles Bann, so very alive in our own gritty modern-day world, is hardly cut from heroic cloth. Mentioned in passing (and by his own account) as something less than a ladies man, a blind date who dumps him tosses him a bone in the form of a contact who knows something about “The Transcript”. And […]
July 13, 2014

The Brick Moon (Review)

o you gotta understand that The Brick Moon is scifi from way, way, waaaaaaaay back. We’re talking initial publication in 1869. Think about that. Telegraphs and steam engines and horses and six-guns. The transcon had just been completed (the Union Pacific crashing in bankruptcy) and the scars were still tender from the Civil War. The Brick Moon starts with a lesson in navigation, how you can tell latitude easily by the elevation of the polar star, but longitude (east-west position) requires clocks and guesswork. But say you could build a tower on the Greenwich Mean Line, one a hundred miles […]