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Book Blog

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 […]
January 12, 2014

The Shelter (Review)

The Shelter is another one of those marketing uploads onto Amazon (hey, I’m thinking about it too), a short story that leads to a greater story. This one is for free. You’ll pay for the rest. It has some good things going for it. We open in an apartment in a failing urban setting where everything is falling apart. Little Sunni is garbed in her ballerina slippers, practicing her lessons while doper-mom Shannon wonders where the latest man in her life has run off to. With food riots cracking open the city, it’s a bad day to get evicted, but […]
January 5, 2014

A feast for Crows (Review)

So this is now, what? 2400 pages in? You know that most people don’t read 2400 pages of novels – total! – over their entire lives. And this is the fourth book of this massive series, The Game of Thrones. So far, Westeros is playing out like a game of Risk. It looks like House Lannister has finally won, but then someone gets three matching cards and suddenly forty armies pop onto the board. Now its the ironmen of the Greyjoys. And then the desertmen of Martell are back in (well, they haven’t moved yet, but they are like a […]
December 29, 2013

Lords of the Stratosphere (Review)

So it’s another shorty this week, a novella from the 30’s by Arthur J. Banks in the golden (and wildly off scientifically) age of Scifi. Game of Thrones takes up so much of my time. But it’s not a bad little shorty, a tale of high (50,000 feet, which feels like we’re talking outer space in this age of Ford Trimotors) adventure. As usual, there are two toothy, swarthy, intellectual yet two-fisted heroes, these with the unlikely names of Lucian Jeter and Tema Eyer. And Tema and  Lucian (I kept thinking of that movie) are going to go for a […]
December 22, 2013

Free 5 (Review)

I‘m laboring through one of the Book of Throne tomes, those massive cinderblock-sized efforts that require weeks to get through. And this is a problem for someone who hosts a weekly book blog. As I’ve been thinking of just this thing (for marketing myself), I went onto Amazon and looked for free fiction, something short and sharp and clever that I could read in a setting or two, and was reviewable and enjoyable. Happily I found this in Free 5, a collection you can locate on Amazon without too much trouble. Paul Dail went after flash fiction here, very very […]
December 15, 2013

After the Golden Age (Review)

There is first-tier storytelling, which is where you tell a story that everyone knows, like about Superman or Spiderman. Then there is second-tier storytelling. In this case, it’s taking a first-tier story and expanding it in some new way. Like in The Incredibles, where we see domesticated superheroes dealing with modern life. After the Golden Age is then about 2.3, which is close to The Incredibles  but perhaps just a touch more realistic. The story is told by Celia West, a mid-twenties accountant who is somewhat estranged from her parents, who just happen to form the core members of Commerce […]