On the nightstand

Book Blog

October 21, 2012

299 Days : The Preparation (Review)

So, to its credit, 299 days made me think. At its core, it’s a book about independent preppers who get ready for our country’s coming collapse with guns, food, guns, a bolt-hole, guns, like-minded friends, and guns. So, am I going to get a dozen guns, a prepped hiding place and enough food for a year? No. But I am looking at my total lack of preparation and reconsidering that. I think my wife and I will organize bolt-bags (gym bags with a few pairs of clothes, critical medicines and copies of important paperwork). We made it through the aftermath […]
October 14, 2012

The Regulators (Review)

I fled into the world of The Regulators (by Richard Bachman / Stephen King) after a friend’s suggested book proved so dry and badly written that I had to balm myself with enjoyable, cutting fiction. And really, through people hate to admit it, King is a solid writer. It might feel clever to say he isn’t, but his prose is hard and sharp and imaginative, and his stories horrifically fun. And this one was no exception. The book explores the ironic zone between the peaceful world most of us live in (suburbia) and the brutal popular culture that flies through […]
October 7, 2012

RailSea (Review)

You cheated! Cheated! I hate you! I refuse to accept! I won’t win any way but my way! You’ve ruined my reputation, do you hear? You I hate! You and your hair that’s always combed, your suit that’s always white, your car that’s always clean! I refuse to accept! I challenge you to another race! -Professor Fate (The Great Race) I hate China Mieville. I hate that he’s one of those guys who can actually look cool in leather, with a shaved head and silly earrings. I hate that he lives (and works) in London. I hate that he’s a […]
September 30, 2012

Ark (Review)

Flood was a book I’d read a couple of years back, before I was blogging (flogging?) books. It was an interesting idea, that underground oceans were down emptying upwards, that the world was slowly flooding, deeper and deeper until savage fights were breaking out around the last few mountain tops, and that as those went under the final survivors (floating on their garbage-roped rafts of trash) watched a bright flash as an off-stage space ark fired off its warp drives near Jupiter, throwing a set of human candidates towards a distant star system. Ark is the companion book to Flood, […]
September 23, 2012


What follows is my full list of reviews, with links. You might not find every book published by man here, but damn, there’s a lot of them. A Accelerando (Review) A Clash of Kings (Review) Across the River and into the Trees (Review) Affair in Araby (Review) After London; or, Wild England (Review) The Aftermath (Review) After the Golden Age (Review) Airborn (Review) Aircraft of World War 1 (Review) The Alchemist (Review) Algorithms to Live By (Review) Alien Chronicles: The Golden One (Review) Alien Chronicles: The Crimson Claw (Review) Alive Day (Review) All You Need Is Kill (Review) Altered Carbon […]
September 23, 2012

The Wreck of the Titan (Review)

The Wreck of the Titan (or Futility, alternatively) was published in 1898 by Morgan Robertson. It came to my notice in another book (Flying to Valhalla) where its eerie prediction of the Titanic disaster was noted. Once again, a too-huge-for-its-own-good steamship. Once again, trying to set a speed record in foggy conditions. Once again, an unsinkable ship. And once again, that big lethal chunk of ice. Even given the weird gramophone, black-and-white writing of way-back-then, it’s an interesting read. Our main man (once Naval Lieutenant Rowland but now Common Seaman Drunkard Rowland) is a deck-swapping, hair-of-the-dog failure ever since he […]
September 16, 2012

Flying to Valhalla (Review)

Pellegrino, Powell and Asimov’s Three Laws of Alien Behavior: Law No 1: Their survival will be more important than our survival. If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won’t choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don’t survive by being self-sacrificing. Law No 2: Wimps don’t become top dogs. No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary. Law No 3: They will assume that the first two laws apply to us. […]
September 9, 2012

Lincoln the Unknown (Review)

Honest Abe has been doing that serendipity thing with me. First, my admin told me I absolutely must dress up this year (at work) as Abe Lincoln, Vampire Slayer. Having seen me in my stovepipe tophat (as a barker) she said I’d be a natural. I’ll have to shave the mustache and dye the beard, but okay. Agreed. Then, to “research” the role, JB and I went to see the vampire movie. Amusing, yes? Scholarly? I felt like the preacher in the porno theater. And now, in my Carnegie class, I won a copy of Lincoln the Unknown (by Dale […]
September 1, 2012

The Long Earth (Review)

An unlikely teamup (Stephen Baxter of Flood and Ark and Terry Pratchett of Diskworld) put their heads together for The Long Earth, a roaming scifi novel set 15 minutes into the future, when the world(s) open up. The book starts with a schematic, a simple diagram, some wires and resistors and such, all centered around a common potato. This drawing has appeared all over the internet (so the story tells us) detailing a device which can be built out of Radio Shack parts (have you been to a Radio Shack lately? Fat chance of that!), and when you push the […]
August 26, 2012

The Sea Witch (Review)

The Sea Witch is a collection of three aviation short stories by Stephen Coonts, rich author guy, written between 1999 and 2003. They aren’t bad, not if you like planes, but with one exception, I’m not sure what the point of the stories are. Anyway, the three shorts are… The Sea Witch: The titular story centers on a PBY flying boat that has been tasked with a night bombing run over Rabal in WW2. Coonts demonstrates a full working knowledge of the craft itself (which is interesting). And it’s one of those “desperate crew fearfully flies the edge” deals. However, […]