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Book Blog

June 17, 2012

Casca, the Outlaw (Review)

Let me just say that this review has all sorts of tangles to it. I’ve reviewed the Casca series in total recently (HERE). I really liked them, not for their literary sake, but just for the blunt idea of the thing (an eternal mercenary that fights in every battle across history). I’d read up to #22 where I’d finally stopped, but mentioned they were up to #37. So at Oasis 25 (a scifi convention I attended as a dealer), my booth was right next to Michael Goodwin’s, who’s written two of these himself. It was one of those bookish-small-world moments, […]
June 10, 2012

The World Set Free (Review)

According the Wells, all it will take for world socialism and sunlit-fields-upon-high utopia are radioactive volcanoes. The World Set Free was written in 1913 (under the looming war). In its format, it’s very similar to In the Days of the Comet, another Wells’ book. We have a “Dickens” view of the world, bleak and unfair and evil (I agree with him on this). The middle act is the disaster, the events so amazing that it would take Hollywood in all its CGI to do them justice. And after that, the level world reexamines itself, sorts itself out, corrects itself (and […]
June 3, 2012

Footprints of Thunder (Review)

It was the cover that caught me in the used bookstore, of a dinosaur foot standing next to a sand castle – says a lot when you think about it. But it irked me that the footprints on the beach beyond were singular – what was this dino doing? Hopping? Footprints of Thunder had a couple of things that twitted me – not seriously, mind – I rather liked the book. For instance, it starts with a team of scientific hobbyist investigating strange occurrences – fish and flowers and corn which fall from the clear blue sky. However, it appears […]
May 26, 2012

…Something I Could Quit (Review)

The wordy name for this book is I wish there was something that I could quit. What drew me to it (on the CD shop bookshelf) was the old drawing of a railroadman leaning out of a tower, pocket watch in hand, watching a set of 1950’s diesels blur past. The 50’s are great fodder nowadays; full of irony. So the story is about four young folks, Laura (a gloomy rock-throwing-at-military-trains nutcase), Aaron (the nutty-yet-earnest fellow living in his dead tour van in her driveway), Susan (the bartender seeking a strong man and…) Jemuel (her boyfriend, baby-weak yet organized to […]
May 20, 2012

Pandemonium: Smoke (Review)

I’ll remind you that while I was in London a few months ago, we visited the Tate Modern with its display of John Martin Paintings. I also picked up a hard back from the gift shop, Pandemonium, a series of short stories based on the paintings reviewed. I loved the paintings and really loved the book (limited edition – I snagged number 7 out of 100). I reviewed it HERE. With great expectations, I ordered Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke, a book purportedly focused on London, mostly Dickens’ London, but London all the same. Got it and read it in […]
May 13, 2012

Quicksilver (Review)

Quicksilver – what can I possibly say about this thing? Well, it’s massive (916 pages). And it’s historical (spanning various settings between 1655 to 1689). And it’s confusing. Reading this book was like a car chase through history, with Neal Stephenson leading us through dark historic alleys, down temporal streets the wrong way, back-tracking, and often stopping to discharge characters and pick up a few more. In the end, I’m confused, exhausted, and frustrated. Yeah, it was that good! The thing is, even though I didn’t catch everything the book had to offer, even though I didn’t understand several of […]
May 6, 2012

The Wrecker (Review)

Cussler is a lot like Pizza – very tasty, very fun, very casual, but not much in the way of substance. Now that I’ve gotten my high-brow snarkiness out of the way, lets get down to brass tacks – The Wrecker is a thriller set in 1907 or so by a writer from Cussler’s stable, an effort to export the high-level, fast-paced political-action thriller back into a world we think of as kinder and gentler (don’t be fooled – a decade later, men hung up on barbed wire would be machined-gunned). Interestingly, many of the causal reviewers were impressed with […]
April 22, 2012

Casca (Review)

In my science fiction stories (both the published Early ReTyrement and several others I spooled out over the years), the hero did the direct jump, either backwards or forwards. Blink and he’s there. In the Casca series, the hero does it the long way, by living each year. See, Casca Rufio Longinus is the hapless Roman soldier put on execution duty. He’s on the detail putting Christ up on the cross. And in that, he takes pity on the guy and jams his spear into him if only to shorten his suffering. Christ, for all his blessings, misinterprets this action […]
April 15, 2012

Why the Allies won (Review)

Like my historical friends, I had this view of World War Two, the string of battles that constituted the path towards Allied victory (unlike those non-historical boobs in the mainstream, who don’t know when it was fought and between who). But after reading Richard Overy’s Why the Allies Won, the entire thing takes on a whole new meaning. Inevitable turns into improbably in a number of aspects. When you look at the map and forces in 1941, it looked like it was time to mix cyanide into your scotch. The Germans had swept aside everyone, and controlled the continent from […]
April 8, 2012

In the days of the comet (Review)

Ever had one of those things you’ve done in your life where you think back about it and shudder? Like a moment where you were so petty, so selfish, so cruel that you keep it locked down and try not to remember it. What if the world had thoughts like that, where it would look back and all its bloodshed and religious strife and economic crimes and colonization and collectively wince at itself? It seems amazing, when you think about it, that some people sleep in innocence in mansions while homeless children live in cars. That’s pretty much the course […]