April 21, 2019

Cibola Burn (Review)

his one’s the fourth book of the series that would turn into TV’s Expanse, a sprawling space saga that deals with humans, their curiosity (or greed or lust for power, something like that), leftover weaponizable alien goo from a long-dead race, a star gate, a virgin planet, and the crew of the Rocinante. In a nutshell – refugees from the war over Ganymede cooked through the jumpgate opened at the end of book three. They claim (i.e. they land on) a planet in one of the newly-opened system. Turns out its also a planet a corporate has claimed, and their […]
April 28, 2019

Affair in Araby (Review)

’ll admit that I was in the middle of a religious book that was as tedious as a sermon on a rainy afternoon. Had a bus, train and cycle ride home and I wanted to read something fun. So up goes good ol’ Project Gutenberg, where I found this wonderful tale of truth and virtue and pluck and right, written way back in the twenties, a little thing that plays counter to the actual dreariness of history. So three gentlemen of adventure, Ramsden, Grim and Jeremy (the burly Australian) (oh, and Narayan Singh, their loyal Sikh) bounce back from the […]
May 5, 2019

The Case for Christ (Review)

kay, so here’s the thing. Faith is faith. If you believe in some version of the Christian Christ, in Allah, or even a blue elephant-headed god, that’s yours. Nobody tells you to do it and your personal conviction will determine the strength of your faith. You can’t will it to be. You can convince yourself to make it stronger. It just is. So the “story” behind this novel is that real world Lee Strobel is having a stirring of faith. When his wife announces that she’s turning to Christ, this supposed neutral author gains a new hobby, that being traveling […]
May 12, 2019

Pines (Guest Review)

ecret Service agent Ethan Burke is on a mission. No, not, protecting the president – Secret Service agents do more than that. He’s looking for agents who went missing in a small town called Wayward Pines.  The story begins shortly after Ethan arrived in Wayward Pines.  He wakes up with a splitting headache after a car crash.  He’s missing his wallet, keys, badge, gun and even much of his memory.  As he limps into town, he meets the locals who seem friendly, but strangely not very helpful. While investigating the missing agents, he also wonders what is going on in […]
May 19, 2019

Hello Universe (Review)

kay, I’m going to sound like a hipster, but since this is a kids’ read I’ll tell you the magical way I came upon this book. My wife and I were having a leisurely ride on our tandem in a tree-covered neighborhood and found a little book box curbside. You know, where are the places where you can add or take books, just a place to swap. Most of them were kid books and this was no exception. Sight unseen, I pulled it. The universe must have been directing my hand. So this story runs between three main characters (and […]
May 26, 2019

The Aquariums of Pyongyang (Review)

e tend to see North Korea in terms to its threat to us, such as its steampunk nuclear rockets and its last-generation military. And we see various solutions, from MAGA to Hollywood (i.e. The Interview). But we don’t see it from the point of view of its people. Kang Chol-hwan was a Korean kid living in Japan with a leftist grandmother who bought North Korean propaganda and thought taking her family to North Korea would be the right thing to do. And it was. For about ten minutes. From this personal history of her grandson, we see a family shaken […]
June 2, 2019

The Stolen Village (Review)

seem to be on a non-fiction kick these days. This one was a loaner from my brother, the story of the village of Baltimore, Ireland, and what happened when two ship-loads of Barbary pirates landed on night and marched most of them off into slavery. I was aware that something like this had taken place – it’s fictionalized in the Sabitini yarn The Sea Hawk. In this historic recount, we have the events of the night when the raid took place, the events of the long cruise home (can you imagine forty days in the hold of a slaver?). And […]
June 16, 2019

Fuzzy Nation (Guest Review)

ell, gang, I’m here to encourage you in a light summertime underdog tale that combines a smart-aleck disbarred lawyer-space prospector protagonist with the repartee of John McClane, a pyrotechnic-trained dog, sci-fi aspects in the eponymous fuzzy ewok-like creatures, and court scenes worthy of a meld of “A Few Good Men” and “Matlock”. This goulash of a book works, it’s fun, but it ain’t great literature– get over it. The book in question is Fuzzy Nation, a ‘reboot’ by John Scalzi of H. Beam Piper’s 1962 classic Little Fuzzy. I am unfamiliar with the original work. The story, according to a […]
June 23, 2019

The Decision Book (Review)

kay, so I’m facing a very tough decision. Do I retire or not? At first I was. Then I didn’t. Then they offered a buyout. Then they jacked us with it, only giving it to directors, forever-employees and dingdongs. So now I need to know: do I stay or do I go? Given that she has to live with my endless prevarications, my wife did the only thing she could – she bought me a copy of The Decision Book. This book dosn’t tell you an answer – it’s not a Magic 8-ball. It simply provides you with one page […]
June 30, 2019

Wish for a Gun (Review)

in’t know what a gun is until you see six empty chambers and the smoky tongue coming from the barrel. Ain’t know what God is until you yell out into the sky and no one says shit to you. Ain’t know what the earth is until you put someone in it. This is early in the short story Wish for a Gun, a short tale by Sam Sykes that made it into Jurassic’s The End. And while I’m annoyed that my submission just missed the cut (as they all did), I’ll give this story credit for being good. If I’m going […]