On the nightstand

Book Blog

October 31, 2021

The Electric State (Review)

veryone feels that culture and society is falling apart around them. And never has that been more so than this book by Simon Stallenhag, showcasing his dystopian art in loose storyform, The Electric State. Set in a world where VR addiction and a massive drone war fragmented America in the ’90s, the book follows a young women who is traveling from somewhere in the dust-clouded Imperial Valley up to a small sea-side town just north of San Fransisco (labeled as a “Memorial City”). In her inventory, she has an old clunker car, a sawed-off shotgun, a kayak (tied to the […]
October 24, 2021

Battle for the Stars (Review)

here is something to be said about old Space Opera novels from the golden era of sci-fi. The plots aren’t dogged down in technical details (you simply point a ship in the direction you want to go and go) and one man can pretty much change the course of the narrative. Realism doesn’t get in the way too much. And that’s pretty much Battle for the Stars, a 1961 novel by one of the classical masters, Edmond Hamilton. I found myself really enjoying this book. So the human empire has largely fragmented. In the center is Earth, royal yet impotent. […]
October 17, 2021

Klara and the Sun (Guest Review)

lara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro is a charming yet nihilistic fable of man’s isolated future. In this not too distant or improbable alternate future, parents arrange mandatory play dates for their children’s social advance, and buy friendship for their children through artificial intelligence robots. Klara, our story’s protagonist, is one such AF. We follow her from her storefront beginnings through her burgeoning understanding of her new charges human interactions through to her planned obsolescence. In a world of robots who possess more humanity than the humans they serve, Kazuo Ishiguro takes us on a beautifully crafted heroes journey […]
October 10, 2021

The Nelson Touch: Ark Royal II (Review)

he Ark Royal  series appears to have widespread appeal – at least from what I can tell. Author Christopher Nuttall churned out a bunch of them (seventeen as of 2021). And I can see why they are popular – because they are good. Once again, the titular ship of the series, introduced HERE, is called to duty again. As the only armored ship in the Earth fleets (the rest were only lightly armored death cans), it once more must rise like a phoenix and set sail in finest Star Blazers fashion. This time the idea is a deep penetration raid on […]
October 3, 2021

The Collapsing Empire (Review)

oor Cardenia, She’s just a nobody living on Hub, the imperial world that controls a network of forty-eight planets connected by the flow, a physics anomaly that allows space ships to travel (slowly) between worlds. Everything is fine and she likes her life. But then the heir to the throne dies in a car racing accident and the current Emperox succumbs to old age. And suddenly, unprepared and maybe a bit unwilling, she it suddenly thrust into the role of the new Emperox. It is a lot to take in for her (as the ruler of an empire for which […]
September 26, 2021

Ark Royal (Review)

lucked out on this one – was in a used bookstore in Norfolk and came across a block of Ark Royal books, five of the first six, missing the initial copy. Looked like a good series – and self-published too, it seemed – so I bought them. Well, my sister bought them for me, a nice gesture. But I read them. The first book of the Ark Royal series takes place, I dunno, 200 years in the future? Man has reached the stars via tramlines but nations (and navies) still exist. And Ark Royal, an outdated English carrier seventy years […]
September 19, 2021

Legacy of War (Review)

‘ve been a fan of the African functionalist Wilbur Smith for decades. He writes wonderful books about the continent, both in the modern day and the ancient past. And one of his loose series is about the Courtney family that finds itself settling in Africa after World War One and building their dynasty, accumulating rotters and villains along the way. Legacy of War is no different (a little more about that in my conclusion). This book opens just after World War Two. Saffron Courtney has been Mata Haring all about Europe during the war, doing those crazy resistance things and […]
September 12, 2021

Out Stealing Horses (Review)

his was another of the CD’s we listened to on our summer vacation drive (a CD can make the miles go by but I fear they will go the way of VHS soon enough). The wife picked this one out. So we listened. The story told starts at what should be the end – Trond Sander is an older man, ready to live out the remains of his life in contemporary times out in the Norwegian boonies. But then he encounters a man who grew up with him when he was a child, back when the Nazis invaded during World […]
September 5, 2021

Hell’s Gate (Review)

ill Schutt, an author and Zoologist, has created a very Indiana Jonesy hero with his Captain R. J. MacCready, a special operative in World War Two who is sent in when special forces have failed. If you like your action mysterious, hot and kinda on the weird side, you’ll love his writing. His Hell’s Gate was one I picked up on disk to listen on a long vacation drive. I enjoyed it but my wife drifted off to look at passing scenery. That’s kinda how it always plays with Crichton-esh books. Anyway, this one has an interesting concept. Two German […]
August 29, 2021

I, Robot (Review)

here are three Laws of Robotics that all robots must follow: First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. This makes sense – you don’t want robots to kill, yet you don’t want robots to damage themselves (unless to prevent their […]