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Book Blog

October 27, 2013

The Misplaced Battleship (Review)

Years back, I got to sit and listen to Harry Harrison speak. He was on of my favorite authors while in my teens and twenties, and while I really liked listening to him, he seemed to be slipping into irrelevance. Even his speech was a little choppy, and while I was happy to see him, I was faintly disappointed. Now I know why. Since I’ve gotten involved with all the wonderful books available in Project Gutenberg, I’ve been downloading old copyright-free books to read. Spotted this one, The Misplaced Battleship, a while back and snapped it up. What a title! […]
October 20, 2013

The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF (Review)

The mark of a really good science fiction collect isn’t that I read it and enjoy it. It’s that my wife reads a number of its stories. Without a gun to her head. Not that I have a gun. Still. Mike Ashley (with whom I’ve had a long review relationship over his Verne and Invasion novels) (I chuckled to myself when I saw it was my old friend again) assembles a goodly number of time travel yarns, dozens of short stories. And what pleasantly surprised me in this collection was the fact that they were all (with the exception of […]
October 13, 2013

The Diary of a Young Girl (Review)

For those who don’t know the story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl trapped in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, it’s a grim testimate to what people will do to cling to life. When Anne’s sister is summoned for deportation to a labor camp, her father envoked plans he’d been slowly assembling. He and others in his workplace had reconfigured the top floor (and attic) of his office building to a refuge, its entry masked by a fake bookshelf. Into this urban lifeboat go Anne, her sister, her parents, as well as a aquantaince of her fathers (and his […]
October 6, 2013

Trapped (Review)

My sister – doctor, professional speaker, businesswoman – reads bodice-rippers. She says it’s her guilty pleasure, these lurid tales of bare-chested men and women running (in nightdresses) from towers. She was so into one once that she read right through the boarding of her flight, looking up at chapter’s end to find her gate empty and plane gone. Myself, I always feel an obligation to read books that challenge my beliefs and views. I’ve read Mao’s Little Red Book. I’ve read a book on Intelligent Design. I’ve read the Gita. I’ve even gone against every progressive viewpoint I carry when […]
September 29, 2013

Flying Dutch (Review)

I always enjoy when a writer dissects a legend or myth, laying out the pieces like a watch and then reassembling them into something new. In Flying Dutch by Tom Holt, this is done to the legend of the Flying Dutchman. Poor Cornelius Vanderdecker. While on a slow merchant haul some hundreds of years ago, he and his crew got into the possessions of an Alchemist they were transporting and guzzled his bottles. The good news – they became immortal. The bad news – they stink to high heaven. I mean, a real stink, one that sees the fire brigade […]
September 22, 2013

Existence (Review)

I really didn’t think about how far distances were in space until my friend Jesse and I started working on Solar Trader, a game to be released off our Gridsims.com site eventually. See, Solar Trader deals with flying around this solar system. It’s done with squares, and the distance between Earth and the sun is nine of them. That’s cool, until you work out that Pluto (yeah, still a planet – I’m a purist) is something like 530 squares out (and I’ve flown it – it’s a long haul). The Ort Cloud (where the comets hang out) is something like […]
September 15, 2013

Zombie Apocalypse! (Review)

Zombies. I love ’em. Got into them with Shawn of the Dead and worked backwards through Dawn of the Dead (and other flicks) to understand them more. The appeal, I’ve read, to zombies is the human feeling of being threatened and swamped by mediocrity and obstructions. That these staggering, stumbling things that all get in your way can actually be overcome by a blow to the head. Placed against a no-rules world of an apocalypse, it makes for fun watching. Or reading. Zombie Apocalypse! is a collective effort by a group of writers assembled by Stephen Jones, with the rising […]
September 8, 2013

The Fencing Master (Review)

My book. A book about me. Don Jaime Astarloa is a Fencing Master in 1866 Lisbon. He is growing older, his moves slower. Worse, his clientele is dwindling, not wishing to invest the time into an art that is no longer serving a purpose (pistols are becoming more common). Everything Don Jaime believes in: honor, nobility, the monarchy, the way things were and should be, all that is slipping from him. But Don Jaime (like myself) has decided to maintain himself in his own graces, fixed in his belief of right, of the narrow path and why he should maintain […]
September 1, 2013

Get out of our Skies (Review)

This short story was Astounding, literally. It came from Astounding Stories in 1957. And I’ll say why I had so much fun with it in just a moment. First, the story. Advertising Exec Tom Blacker just pulled a boner – his attempt to literally light up the Manhattan skies with a giant image of an actress/client produces the buzz he’d hoped for (and the fallout he’d not anticipated, when the civil authorities pressure his boss to can him). Now without work, he allows a pretty skirt to lead him to Homelovers, Incorporated. Now, Homelovers is a real-estate conglomerate with a […]
August 25, 2013

Sketches Old and New (Review)

Mark Twain’s Sketches Old and New, first published in 1882, is an anthology of his earlier works, sweepings and scrapings of his various observations and lampoonings from thirty years as an editor and writer. In that, it’s very interesting how similar it is to the collections other artists might offer today. Among them are observations of specific professions (watchmakers, barbers, doctors, chambermaids and newsroom hangers-on), races (Irish, Chinese, and those who bait them) as well as stand-alone bits. That Twain was anti-government is apparent in his many mockeries of its massive size and complexity (even for its day, particularly in […]