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Book Blog

March 18, 2012

History of the Persian Empire (Review)

History of the Persian Empire, by A.T. Olsmtead, came out in 1948. It’s quite a monster – 524 pages – and must have been the epic of that time. Anything you wanted to know (at least in 1948) is in this book. My point in picking this up was to reacquaint myself with the Persians before having to speak about them at book functions. After all, its been twelve years since I did my heavy-lifting research for Early ReTyrement and, no, I don’t remember everything I’d read or known or discovered, not that long ago. It’s interesting though – he […]
March 11, 2012

The Helmsman (Review)

Every now and then, while wading through a stiff read (in this case, Olmstead’s 524 page History of the Persian Empire), I have to take a break. In this case, I fell into something I got out of a used bookstore, Bill Baldwn’s The Helmsman from 1985. So the universe apparently is a very class-conscious place, with the nobles on the top, and Carescrian ore-miners (such as our hero, Wilf Brim) on the bottom. Evidently recent legislation has opened up the academy to guttertrash such as Wilf and he’s made it through with a sub-Luitenancy, ready to report to his […]
March 4, 2012

Piece of Cake (Review)

So why do I like Piece of Cake, outside of the fact that it’s a World War Two flying story? Well, as a writer, I love the book because it does two things I respect any book in doing. These are… 1) It takes a perception of our world (here, the nobility of “the few”) and skews it. 2) Characters get killed. It turns out that Hornet Squadron is made up of infallible, bungling, selfish, vain, and stupid humans. The squadron CO taxis into a slit trench the first day of the war and breaks his neck while trying to […]
February 19, 2012

Flashman (Review)

It was back in sixty-nine. I was a youngling then, eleven years old, not even shaving. We were stationed in Cubi Point, the Philippines, beastly hot, nothing to do (especially if one hadn’t hit puberty yet). And in the base library, I found this book, d’ya see? Flashman. Odd, but it had a strapping big bloke with a sword on the cover – not swinging it, rot the luck, but just standing all satisfied before a seated Indian girl. I was at the age where not much made sense – I’d read Ensign Flandery the year before and while I […]
February 12, 2012

Watership Down (Review)

The sad thing is, this epic tale of a group of rabbits driven into epic flight towards the high, dry hill (“Watership Down”) could probably not make it in today’s market. It’s too naturalistic, too paced in its telling, for modern audiences (trust me, how many times have I seen people pick up Early ReTyrement, flick-thumb its 357 pages and frown (“I gotta read all this?)). So a journey that lasts a lot longer, filled with descriptions of lazy English nature, would have a far harder sell these days. Animal Farm was once rejected because “Americans don’t like animal stories”. […]
January 23, 2012

Winchester Law (Review)

I’m in the middle of Arabian Nights right now, a long slow slog (though there are gems of wisdom scattered throughout). While trying to get Early ReTyrement seated at a local bookstore, I ended up picking up a couple of used novels, including this old 1988 western by Doyle Trent. I’m not going to review Winchester Law as much as I’m going to review the lost passion of Western writing. I read through the yarn and found long periods where nothing happened. Bill Williams staked out his land. He bought wire. He strung it up. He worried about where the […]
January 15, 2012

Pandemonium (Review)

What would you do if the earth broke apart under your feet, the sky turned black and the mountains fell upon the multitudes around you? Well, if you were a writer, you’d write about it! I mentioned the exibit of John Martin’s paintings HERE, all the biblical end-of-the-world, fire-and-brimstone you could cram into your eyeballs. While there, I picked up Pandemonium / Stories of the Apocalypse, a little set of end-of-the-word short stories marketed to go along with Martin’s display. Now, I’ve read EOTW stories before. Last year while in a down mood, I got two anthologies, one on the […]
November 27, 2011

The World House (review)

I picked up Restoration because it looked like interesting scifi, and had a cool cover with an English steam engine on it. It was only when I got home that I realized I got played in the airport bookstore way, that this was the second part to The World House. I only figured this out once I started reading and had no idea who all these characters were, and what they were talking about. It’s sure not clear on the cover. Anyway, read something else and started The World House once it came. Read the set back to back. It’s […]
August 28, 2011

Snow Crash (review)

If you are going to nit-pick Snow Crash for anything, you can bag it for being 20 years old. Okay, so there are light pens, some of the computer stuff is dodgy, Hong Kong was still independent and there are a lot of people whose pops fought in WW2. So in that, yeah, it feels old. But even on the third reading, the story swept me up again. I can distinctly remember picking up a copy in a downtown bookstore and going to Pizza Unos for lunch (the brick-n-mortar store, the pizza chain, even the cutzy shopping district are as […]
July 18, 2011

The Potter legacy

The end of the world came and I didn’t notice it, what with the bike rides, the model train constructions, dinner with friends, work and wife. The last Harry Potter movie hit the screens. Facebook had rung like a gong when Casey Anthony got off. Now it was ringing against from all the Potter fans bellowing about what a wondrous thing this series was, how it taught their kids to read, about morals, ethics, the importance of good vs. evil, of fellowship, of commitment. Yadda yad. That the adult fans point to their children as the justification for their canonization […]