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Book Blog

July 1, 2018

Specters Anonymous (Review)

ometimes authors and readers just don’t couple up. Not sure why. But it happened here for me. My sister gave me Specters Anonymous for a birthday present during a complicated period of my life (with carpel tunnel surgery and a damn sling and all that). But I got the book and read it and it didn’t click for me. So Ralph starts the book dead. He’s a ghost. And ghosts, like humans, have weaknesses. For them, sunlight and bright illumination is like alcohol to them. Some of them can sip and be satisfied. Others need help. So in the basement […]
June 24, 2018

A Compendium of Model Railroad Operations (Review)

kay, for people who’ve never listened to my hobby-babble, model train operations means running your model train layout (your own or a club’s) like a real railroad. I’ve been doing this for years and have been blogging about it endlessly HERE. So this, like anything else; stamp collecting, slot cars, whatever, is total geekdom stuff. But, oh yeah, it’s cool. This book goes into how railroads work. What positions should you simulate. What do trains do. How do they make money. And how do they avoid crashing into one another. It’s actually a fascinating subject (trust me on this, or […]
June 17, 2018

Terminal (Review)

he big conversation these days is the settlement of Mars and how everyone would go (well, now, if you ask them). And this story centers on how they will go. In this case, it’s in Jalopies – single person pods that will feed you, entertain you, and keep you somewhat sane on that long voyage across space to Terminal, the new city being built on Mars. For once you’ll arrive you’ll be a citizen, your Jalopy will be scrapped for the city, and you’ll join the others in this hardscrabble existence. But that’s the thing. Jalopies are cheap – you […]
June 3, 2018

Extraction Request (Review)

’m currently digging through a book on the ins and outs of Model Railroad Operations Design (and I’m sure you’ll all be hanging on for that review). But with nothing in the hopper for this week, I went back and read a shorts story from the anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year (Vol 2, which I think means 2016). While the first story I know I’d read somewhere, I knew I hadn’t read the second, Extraction Request, because I don’t recall that feeling of sick dread. Yeah, it was damn creepy. So let’s go with the time-honored opener: […]
May 27, 2018

The Black Cloud (Review)

his one really took me by surprise. It came out in 1957, so far back that it was a year before I was born. And generally, truthfully, scifi from that time involves rocketships with fins landing on planets that all look like our moon, and bug-eyed monsters slobbering over the womenfolk. Yeah, but Black Cloud was different. And so much better. The idea is heavily weighted with the science at this time – astronomers (through very detailed descriptions of their work and processes) detect a black cloud moving kinda towards us, no, right towards us. There is a lot of […]
May 20, 2018

Neverwhere (Review)

eil Gaiman is a skilled writer. I’ve read a couple of his books (Stardust and Good Omens among them). But I gotta say, Neverwhere was a very enjoyable read. He did this for a BBC series years back, a nice little tale about a nice little London man who, while out with his wrong-for-him snooty girlfriend, has a ragged street girl pop out of a briefly flickering door in an otherwise blank wall, right at his feet. And he decides to “get involved”. He picks her up (against his girlfriend’s shrill and uncaring advice) and takes her home. Soon enough, […]
May 13, 2018

Martin Citywit (Review)

his one comes (like a couple of my other reviews) from the fantastic final anthology produced by Jurassic London, the little press that I nearly got published through a few times (and had a nice relationship with). So, yes, you’ll have to go online for this limited release or look about or maybe borrow my hardcover. If you are careful). So this one’s scifi – but don’t stop here; it’s delightful! It is told sorta as a narration in Dicken’s fashion, the tale of self-aware computers who run the most sensible blocks of data (self-contained, so as to limit the […]
May 6, 2018

Luftwaffe Fighter Aces (Review)

kay, so I went into supercharger and climbed out of my usual cloud of fantasy/scifi to read a history book, one about the German Air Force (and, specifically, those who flew for it) in World War Two. First take-away – I am amazed at how high the German aces scores are. And this isn’t bombastic German inflation – these scores are largely confirmed by military historians over the years. I’m used to Richtofen’s highwater mark of 80, but here we have Hartmann with 352 (the top dog), Barkhorn with 301, Rall with 275, through 15 pages of listings (most of […]
April 29, 2018

A Boy and his Tank (Review)

o New Kashubia is a real shithole – it’s pretty much been stripped down to nothing but a ball of melted metal when its sun went supernova a long time ago. And now its home to Bosnian refugees (Earth is now a gated community and all other races and people have been shipped off). These folks now live in slow-starvation squalor in deep tunnels, while even deeper in the bowels of their planet automated factories produce top-line battle tanks. Essentially they are fighting/teaching machines, fully loaded with AI and VR, very destructive and able to house their human tanker for […]
April 22, 2018

We Have Always Lived on Mars (Review)

o this was one a coworker handed me, a short piece of fiction of a failing Mars colony from Tor Books. Imagine a Mars colony totally cut off. Earth no longer communicates. Dust covers their sky – they’ve not seen the moons or stars or anything. The colony has no resources to expand. All they can do is carefully monitor life support, sending out old folks to die while replacing them with occasional births. Everything is dusty and worn and bleak. So Nina, one of the young women of Mars, turns out to be special. With her suit ripped in […]