Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iain Banks’ first Culture Novel Satisfies

Having read and enjoyed book eight of the Culture Novels, Matter, I have returned to book one and am smug with self satisfaction for having started reading the books of Iain Banks.  The man delivers the groceries, and they are indeed exotic goods.  Consider Phlebas ((1987, 2008) we are so fortunate to have the series re-released and in the US) is just a wisp of what is to come, but the story is fully engrossing, amusing and thoroughly thought provoking.  The protagonist is not a Culture man, and, is in fact at war with them, and in league with the Idirans. The Iridans are an insectile alien race, growth economy driven, and at heart a bunch of jihadist religious zealots out to subjugate, and maybe do a little business with, everybody and everything they encounter.  You might want to walk quickly by any mirrors and not look too closely at yourself or your culture while reading this author, he does not wear colored glasses. Banks is brilliant at painting the human condition, writ large, on a false background.  Science Fiction, at its very best.
Music to stir your gray matter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Just Read The Meanest, The Nastiest, The Grittiest, The Most Irreverent, Page Blitzing, Exciting, Mind Boggling, Did I Say Irreverent, Book I’ve Read In Decades!

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey is something totally unexpected.  Think of Jim Butcher writing under the influence of some really bad drugs with someone behind him poking him with a hot branding iron.  James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, is mad as Hell and he should know, he just spent the last eleven years of his life in Lucifer’s domain.  The world has changed in his absence, chaos is running rampant in L.A..  The woman he left behind and loved with all of his heart and all his of soul has been murdered.  The six fellow magicians responsible for sending him to Hell and the two of them responsible for the murder of Alice are on his hit list and nothing, absolutely nothing can stop him; Not Homeland Security, Not a U.S. Marshall, Not even one of God’s own angels can stop Sandman Slim from doing what must be done.  Whew!  Richard Kadrey is literate, this is a very literate slough through Hell on Earth with a good dose of literary and cinematic hilarity. This guy knows the turf he writes about.  I suspect he know something of hell on earth as well. Kadrey seem quit cheery in his online video spits, and quite entertaining.  I like the guy.  He has been "their", he's back and he's writing stories. His photo art is for adults only, as is Sandman Slim.  I look forward to Kill the Dead, book 2 of the Sandman Slim Series.

Music I've mentioned before but a must mention with this author.
Sympathy for the Devil (track one) Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Real Science Fiction With Bang, Great Straight Fiction And Some New Opera

Running on reviews, comments and male intuition (yes a bit of an oxymoron) I ordered the complete Culture Novel Series by Iain M. Banks. I jut read the first to arrive, book eight, Matter, and I'm smiling like the cat that ate the mouse after a delightful little play time.  I am now reading book one, Consider Phlebas, and am running in "complete immersion mode" with Culture.  Reading this series will have you remembering your first encounter with books like Dune by Frank Herbert and Foundation by Isaac Asimov.  This is science fiction, the real deal, and it makes you happy to be reading.

I had my turn with John Sandford's latest Virgil Flowers novel, Bad Blood, the other day.  Grittiest, meanest, nastiest bunch of bad people he's had to tackle yet.  Don't start this one without a chunk of time set aside, you will not be wanting to set the book aside.  This may not be Sci-Fi but it is very eerie.  If you are not familiar with John Sandford, it is your loss.  He has never let me down (only author I say this about).  You might complain about him not writing fast enough but he is a craftsman and does not release flawed stories.  No wonder he (real name, John Roswell Camp)  won a Pulitzer as a journalist in 1986.

Mark L. Van Name had the beginnings of his Jon & Lobo Series re-released as a collection and what a pleasant surprise it was to read.  I enjoy stories of men with machines that think for themselves (both man and machine).  Jon, a vet and ex mercenary; Lobo, a space ship weapons combo, with attitude. Very enjoyable characters and casting Jon as the moral upstanding stall worth guy and Lobo as O so ready to do what he does best, kill.

Watched a movie on the computer while
the girls were in the other room this weekend.
Harry Brown starring Michael Caine,
directing debut by Daniel Barber.
Whew!  Have not seen such a realistic look inside
a bad neighborhood's drug culture in recent memory.
This is not a movie for the feint at heart.
Michael Caine is a genius
and knows his craft so very, very well.


Music to go with the mayhem.
Vicious and Walk on the Wild Side
"Doo do doo do doo do do doo"
Tracks 1 and 5 of Transformer by Lou Reed

Regards,
Richard

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kathy Reichs Swings Into YA Series With A Grand Slam Home Run

Virals by Kathy Reichs author of the Temperance Brennan forensic anthropologists series (starting with Déjà Dead) with the offspring of the Bones Television Series, has moved into the Young Adult genera with a screaming, bases loaded,  home run.  Her young fem protagonist Tory Brennan, named after her famous aunt Temperance, loses her mother and is suddenly sent to live with the father she has never met. Her father “Kit” is a marine-biologist working for a University in Charleston, SC on a nearby, but difficult to reach, island. Reichs introduces and develops her geeky, brainy characters well and the pages begin to blur with readers chomping to know more. All stops are pull out when this cadre of bright boys and girl get infected with a mutant strain of canine parvovirus and find themselves capable of things they should not be capable of Where some adult authors move to YA in a pretty contrived way, Kathy Reichs is a perfect fit with a story that will genuinely capture the audience.  The science is not contrived; the author has a PhD, and is one of eighty-two forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology(Wiki). She is the real deal and the story shines (I find all of her work more entertaining than the more famous fem forensic mystery author (Ouch! Didn't I say I'd only be rambling about books I like earlier?)).  This, sure to be a series, starts with a bang. While many of us older gents have tripped the light fantastic to the YA collection to read John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice Series this one should also send you ladies in search of a good story.


Music? Something old, mysterious, curious and very wonderful.
Something a forensic anthropologists might dig up.
The Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan and The Band

Monday, November 22, 2010

Brent Weeks Is As Shiny As Ever With His New Series and Greg Egan Offers Up Some Hope

I worry about and for new authors.  When they leave the starting gate writing like a winner I don't want to be disappointed with something less than their beginnings.  Brent's newest book stands tall. If you enjoyed the Night Angel Trilogy you won't want to miss The Black Prism, book 1 of The Lightbringer Series. The characters are as complicated and conflicted as ever and the story is sticky with eye glue. I wish the publisher would re-release the Night Angel Trilogy in hard back, you are wearing our paperback series down fast. They will be replaced as needed, being truly good books, so keep reading.

I've just finished Zendegi by Greg Egan.  What an intriguing piece of work. The story takes place in the near future Iran and centers around whole body immersion gaming.  A father dying of cancer is worried about how his son will be raised after his death.  The father, an Australian reporter, married a very modern Iranian woman who was in the midst of the revolution that brought Iran out of the completely controlling grasps of the clerics.  He loves his son dearly and wants his son to have some western values.  This is not a blistering read but the folks inhabiting the book are interesting and keep you engaged.  The view of a possible future Iran is so plausible it could be more than wishful thinking. If you are an action hero fan this may not be the book for you, If you seek good prose, an intriguing story, and the interior of a dying man's head, pick it up.

Music on my mind.
The Union by Elton John and Leon Russell
Produced by T. Bone Burnett with some
very interesting musicians sitting in.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Personal Security People And A Whole Lot More: Also, David Weber Falls Off Flat World!

Do Unto Others… by Michael Z. Williamson caught me a little off guard. I have not given much thought to personal body guards and the work they do. Picking up Do Unto Others… was a page turning surprise.  I considered giving it up but kept with it to landing on the mining planet Govannon.  Here the author has created a great potential view of the future of mining in space and the extremes of environment likely to be encountered. The story is very much in the vein of Robert A. Heinlein’s body of work and the characters are, to put it lightly, diverse. The center protagonist is the young college graduate heiress to the hands down wealthiest family in the known universe. The machinations of intra-family skulduggery frame the security details work to keep young Caron alive and the family business moving forward. Williamson has co-authored with John Ringo and knows Space Opera and how to deliver. The tech detailing of the living and mining environs and the detail of the explosives and how they are used is very interesting,down right fun. Military SF fans will like where this books takes them too.

I am just finishing David Weber’s Out of the dark and am blown away.  Once again something harkening back to the master R. A. Heinlein with a story of Alien invasion and what humans do when half the population of Earth is destroyed before even presenting themselves and suggesting we submit to their superiority and do their bidding. The story moves around the globe to different groups trying to survive and deal with the invaders.  Weber delivers a delightful analysis of the human psyche and how we might react. The psyche of the invaders and the hegemony from which they come from are so plausible as to make me tremble with tremors of fear and joy of who I am (we are). I am a big fan of David Weber and his Honor Harrington stories and the Safehold Series, two of my favorites.
Ye Gads! Yikes! What is going on here?
I just hit the last chapter of Out of the Dark,
had to get up and go to work.
My mind is REELING!
I think I'll take an early break and finish this Sudden Weird.
Whew! Shocking, just shocking.
Given David Weber is writing it, I'll look forward to the next in this, if it's going to be a series, series.  It will be okay, he'll do it differently and do it better. I think I can, I think I can....
No spoilers here, read it and weep, read it and howl,
read it and jump for joy, read it and do as you wish.

Steve Earle is ringing in my ears.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thank You, Thank You Readers!

I am so amazed and so pleased.
Thursday October 14th this blog with just my library home page
touting it, hit 1,000 visits.   Wow! I started on December 11, 2009.
A special thanks to those of you visiting from all over the world.
Of course, most of my visitors are folks from the
Campbell County Library community,
but I also have visitors all over the world.
There have been more than ten hits from
Indonesia, Portugal, Ukraine,South Korea,
Spain, Japan, Russia, Canada and Italy.
We live in interesting times and we are very connected.
I'd love to hear from some of you,
how you got here, and why you return.
Just click on the email link if you don't want to post publicly.
Thanks to All of You!
Knowing you are out there and reading this ramble is encouraging.
Regards,
Richard

Saturday, October 9, 2010

William Gibson Walks In The Tallest Cotton I Grow

I have loved William Gibson from the get go (Necromancer, 1984).  I didn't even blink with his move from cyberpunk to the present day dystopia stories. For those of you who also read him, his newest, Zero History, is his third installment centered around marketing and all that it entails and more.  The first book in the Bigend Trilogy, Pattern Recognition, I have mentioned before and will undoubtedly mention again (easily on my top reads ever list). Whew! What a read. Book two, Spook Country, will delight as well. Gibson's view of our current, recent past and our soon to be world, is enough to strike me dumb, numb and confounded. His vocabulary constantly pleases and challenges me. His knowledge of the fashion  industry and fashionista are a delight to learn. All the while spinning and spinning and spinning an outrageous and compelling story of viral marketing and what the industry and clientele will do to be players in their world. Gibson's personal fashion choice, in a word, durable. My kind of guy. The protagonists are always telling the story from a point of view you want to be watching from. The reader gets to feel quite clever while reading William Gibson.

I just finished the latest two installments of David Drake's RNC (Leary/Mundy) Series. Books 7, Into the Stormy Red Sky and book 8, What Distant Deeps. Book 8 may be my absolute favorite of the series and I'm thinking it's about time the two got them selves figured out. One can hardly imagine what kind of progeny they could conceive and unleash on the universe. Space Opera could become more than it already is. Frightening!

 William C. Dietz' second book in his Empire Duology arrived at the library.
Bones of Empire is just what I expected of it.
Fast furious space opera with a predictable outcome.
But, what fun!
I left the real world behind for a short while and was happy to do so.

I sorry to not be listening to music available at the library,
but I just can't leave Ryan Adam's early work with
his alt-country band Whiskytown alone.
The lyrics from the title cut of the CD Faithless Street
haunts me on a regular basis.
"If angels are messengers from God,
please send one down to me.
If angels are messengers from God,
I wrote a letter he should read.
Been living on faithless street all by myself..."

If you haven't noticed I am over fond of
Ryan Adams music, lyrics and phrasing.
Come to think of it, his phrasing is
right up there with Elvis Costello.
Remember this stuff is just my opinion.
If phrasing interests you, Elvis Costello is the World Champion.
Proof of the Costello pudding is to listen to
his singing on Painted From Memory,
with Burt Bacharach stroking the ivories.
All the songs are the "light" pop tunes Bacharach penned.
What come out of Elvis's mouth are deep,
brooding, emotional, content laden songs.
I had no idea Burt's music was that meaningful.
Sometimes it's all in the phrasing.
Just remember, this is an opinion,
your thoughts on the matter are much more meaningful.
Just an aside, but, Imperial Bedroom by Costello is
my favorite. The whole CD feels like listening to the
confessions of a bad boy all but unaware
of the coming change.

Regards,
Richard

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BANNED BOOK WEEK / READ ONE TODAY

What a perfect time to read a Banned Book.
Phillip Pullman's, His Dark Materials series is my best recommendation.
1. The Golden Compass  2. The Subtle Knife  3. The Amber Spyglass

Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same

What the heck.  It's Banned Book Week.
Another YA favorite of mine.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Alexie, Sherman

Enjoy

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jaine Fenn Gets Me Again

Consorts of Heaven, the second novel by Jaine Fenn is just too good not to mention right away. I loved Principles of Angels as you may have noted in the previous blog. Her second book stands tall, the woman is a very talented story teller at the beginning of what I hope is a long career. Though her first two books don't seem on the face of things to be much related, there are hints. The same aliens, the Sidhe, are afoot and the previous character Nual is mentioned. The author says they are part of her Hidden Empire series but the stories stand alone comfortably. I look forward to the big bang when the dots really start to connect. Consorts... takes place on a planet living on the edge of what feels like pre-iron age and the folks for the most part have no idea they are under the thumb of some not so benevolent aliens. The story begins with a "sky-touched" (kinda, autistic savant, sorta) boy, Damaru, finding a naked stranger in the swamp lands. Damaru and his widower mother, Kerin, take the man home to care for him. Kerin is an appropriately strong willed and strong minded woman with purpose to her life, I loved her. The man has no memory, but a quick clue to who or what he might be is in his finding his primitive surroundings pretty disgusting. Oh What Fun! The world Fenn has created, its social and religious system, are nothing short of brilliant. I look forward to the next book Guardians of Paradise, maybe the big connect will arrive in it's pages. The Sidhe's ability to get inside the minds of humans makes for a very difficult critter to face off with. But surprises abound and heroes emerge from the most unlikely places.

Go with music that fits the titles for this one.
Bob Dylan's, Dylan track 12, Knockin' On Heaven's Door
There have been so many pop covers of this song of late
it's good to get back to the genius who penned the song.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Steampunk Noir Nightmare, Quick Enjoyable Space Opera, A Rousing God Riddled Fantasy and A Twisted Sci-Fi Laden With Broken People On The Mend Throug Action

Jeff Vandermeer's Finch is one bent bit of imagining. Thought it reminded me of China Miéville's, Perdido Street Station, which blew me away, it had it's own originality and intrigue.  Just think of aliens living beneath you and the world running riot with fungal rot that is slowly diminishing your life and all that you and your physical world are. Spooky! The protagonist is not the easiest fellow to like but his complexity drags you along until you don't want to let go and you need to know more about him. He's just a poor plodding detective trying to do his job.

At Empire's Edge by William C. Dietz, book one of a new duology, was almost put aside after the first few pages. I picked it up a little later and the hooks were set. I burned the words off the pages and sighed with contentment as I closed the book. Space Opera, Candy, Yum!

Surprise, surprise, some new thinking in Fantasy Land.  N. K. Jemisin caught me off guard with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It is a poor lass from the hinterlands come to the city as a poor prospect to vie with two psychopaths for the throne. But it is so much more. The Gods are enslaved to the whims of the city folk, but twist any and all commands to some twisted demented "Mr. Literal" response.  What fun!

I have saved the most interesting for last.  Some of the professional reviewers are so wrong about this author's first novel.  Principles of Angels by Janie Fenn is terrific.  The broken, the depraved and the deprived reign supreme in the delicious tale. The city is a brilliant closed system construct. The players are brutal beyond pale. Faint at heart be forewarned. Yet, those of you, who like me, walked through Stieg Larsson's first and brilliant tale of broken abused humans, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, without doubting the potential cruelty of the human being may enjoy this read. I could do nothing less than admire and respect the young male protagonist telling (living) this tale.

It was so shocking, I can't remember which of the three books above did me in, It was not Dietz' Space Opera, but I was just reading along minding my own business and things slipped in to a full blown stream of consciousness event. I don't think it was a psychotic break, I may have suddenly started channeling William S. Burrows (Naked Lunch), I'm just not sure. The point beyond the event is, I guess, (I don't even know why I'm making this point, but hey, this is Science Fiction, strange things happen.) there are linguistic programmers out there that don't even know they are linguistic programmers and they want your brain, they want your heart, they want your soul. It may be a talk show host, it may be a pretend news man. It may be an author. It might be me. Check the facts, just check the facts. Go find independent and opposing forces, go look at raw data. Don't roll over because you heard it before. "Doubt your doubts", as my semantics professor kept harping at me back in 1968. Read a book, Go with the flow. Don't let anybody know you're the least bit as confused as they are (except for friends that need to know they are not alone).


Obvious Music of the Moment
The Rolling Stones
19th Nervous Breakdown, Disc 1,Track 7  Forty Licks
Torn and Frayed Track 7 Exile on Main Street
Jigsaw Puzzle, Track 5, Beggars Banquet
Thank goodness for mood music to sound track your life with.

Regards,
little richard, Big Universe

Thursday, September 9, 2010

If You Are Not Reading Young Adult Fiction You Are Missing Some Of The Best

Just finished Christy Raedeke's Prophecy of Days,
Book One of The Daykeeper's Grimorie.
I am breathless and filled to the brim with joy and trepidation.
I see conspiracies everywhere I look. This book was such fun!
2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar, is near at hand
and daring do is the watch word of the day.
Caity Mac Fireland never stops to twiddle her thumbs.
Once the intros are made the pages burn while turning.
If you are like me and like strong female protagonist,
look no further. (you might look at the second paragraph below too)

I suspect this book will be challenged by foolish folks,
but what the hey, ideas and thinking really are dangerous.

You have to be living under a mushroom to have missed all the
to do about "The Hunger Games" Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
1.The Hunger Games; 2.Catching Fire; 3.Mockingjay.
The young fem protagonist in this series make the young lady
in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga Series,
look like a wimpy damsel in distress looking for a rescue.
On the other hand, Katniss Everdeen is one stand up young lady.
She may not know exactly where she's headed
but she is definitely not standing around waiting for a train.
I'm shaking with anticipation for my turn at book three.
Admittedly the Twilight Saga Series is enjoyable,
but doesn't come close the the above mentioned young ladies
and all the young female characters in the Philip Pullman books. 

I can not stress enough the great reading you are missing
by not looking at the Young Adult Collection.
It is loaded for bear with great writers telling tremendous stories.
I will undoubtedly return to this theme.
I love YA not to mention some serious gems
in the Juvenile Collection.
It's all about the story telling.

Music for the young at heart (YA) readers.
Patti Smith's CD "Twelve"
track 2 "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
originally written and recorded by Tears for Fears.
track 1,  "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Kurt Cobain
and Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic of (Nirvana)

The whole CD is a compilation of 12 cover songs
Smith had been wanting to do for years.
Very interesting mix and great music.
Track 1 is Jimi Hendrixs' "Are You Experienced?"
nuf said; Enjoy!
Richard

Hey Hey Hey
Don't forget to read everything written by Philip Pullman

Thursday, July 29, 2010

High Operatic Adventure From Michael Flynn, And More Imager Intrigues From L. E. Modesitt Jr.

Continuing with some of the intriguing characters from January Dancer, Michael Flynn has put together another enjoyable intergalactic search.  Most interesting to me in Up Jim River is one of the two main protagonists, Donovan (the scarred man). This guy is troubling in spades.  Earlier in his life he was a spy for the bad guys, but they did an experiment to improve his usefulness and failed miserably. Donovan was given five and possibly eight other selves, personalities, in hopes they would integrate into a super spy. What remains is a guy constantly arguing with himselves and living a very messy life. Along comes the daughter of a former lover, spy, antagonist, in search of her mother. The race is on. Enjoy!

I'm in the middle of the third Imager Portfolio book by L. E. Modesitt and am regretting not telling you about this series before.  It is becoming one of my favorite fantasy series in the library.  Imager, the first book, knocked me off my chair.  The characters and story are both strong and well developed. The plotting has grown deeper and broader as the protagonist ages. If you'd like a little magic in your life, I can't recommend anything better.

Music of the moment
Farewell, So Long, Goodbye 
Track 12 on American Myth by Jackie Greene 


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Boy Can't Spell, Spell Casting Fraught With Problems

The first thing I do when starting a new post is open another tab or window with a dictionary, or two dictionaries, depending on what vocabulary gear my brain is in.  I could easily relate the the young man in this story.  He can not spell and casting spells for him can be very dangerous and or very destructive.

He was not born or educated poorly, he was messed with by the bad guys at an early age.  The oh so interesting spell casting alone in this absorbing read is built solidly around the caster's ability to spell in one or more of the languages of spells.

Of course, the world as they know it is in grave peril and Nicodemus Weal, just might be the only man who can save it. The story is much more complicated than your average neophyte "wizard in training" story. Social and political environments are dynamic and complex.

I love first novels and the author, Blake Charlton, has opened his writing career with a great story, Spellwright. I eagerly anticipate the forthcoming sequel to this engaging story.  Booklist gave Spellwright a starred review, I can't agree more, it shines brightly

I could also identify with the author's back story.  Severely dyslexic through the seventh grade where his intense interest in fantasy helped him beat the problem.  The books of Robert A. Heinlein, E. E."Doc" Smith and Ayn Rand brought me into the light about that same time in my life.

 Music in my head today
Real Animal by Alejandro Escovedo 
Alejandro is his own genre, he crosses all trails
and blazes trails where others have not gone.

Regards,
Richard

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Post Apocalyptic Bliss

I have always had a perverse fascination with what comes after, and the different possibilities of what causes the end of life as we pretend to know it.  Elegy Beach : a book of the Change by Steven R. Boyett has a novel precept. The laws of Physics have changed.  Magic, what people can figure out about it, rules the day.  Most things mechanical just don't work anymore.  The story begins a full generation after the change.  The truly horrific stuff, is for the most part over, though there remain plenty of bad guys making mayhem, as bad guys are wont to do.  There are some interesting folks in this story, a unicorn, Ariel, who has spent entirely too much time with humans. A father, Peter, who walked through Hell for years before landing in a, somewhat safe, beach community on the California coast and stopping there to raise his son Fred in a community.  Ariel ©1983 is the story of Ariel and Peter's journey in the early years after the change.

The story is, at it's heart, a coming of age story, Fred's, and an exemplary one at that.  It has all the makings of a good heroic myth and the final pages, oh the final pages, be still my heart. The final pages are capable of calming the disturbed (I feel much better).  Both books are standing alone stories in their own right, but, I am now going to read Ariel and get the back story for Elegy Beach the writing is just too good to leave it unread.  The writer knows prose and has a human heart.

Enjoy,
Richard

Music in my life at the moment.
Gretchen Peter's wonderful song, Revival.
Covered on Jimmy LaFave's CD Blue Nightfall Track #1
and
Brother Paul Thorn's Mission Temple Fireworks Stand by Paul Thorn.
The title cut Mission Temple Fireworks Stand
has one of my all time favorite song quotes I paraphrase often.
"...bottle rockets, two for a dollar, salvation is free."
Paul Thorn started out as a boxer but retired the effort after
spending six rounds in the ring with Roberto Duran, hence
the title of his first CD Hammer & Nail, he seemed not
to want to be the nail anymore.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Am Not A Critical Reader. I Am A Viceral Reader. Give Me Something To Expirence!

I have just finished the Jump 225 Trilogy and am breathless. Few writers and critics disagree, this trilogy is a brilliant piece of work.  These books grabbed me, shook me and would not let go.  On the grand scale of things I kept thinking of The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, Dune (usually #1 on my all time ever list) by Frank Herbert and strangely enough but really not so strange, Pattern Recognition by William GibsonFoundation and Dune because of the grand scope of world building and Pattern Recognition because the unique sub genera "Sci-Fi Business Thriller" with  much to do about advertising.  I'm hoping the two mentions of "pattern recognition" I caught in my reading of book three, Geosynchron, were homage to Gibson by Edelman. Anyone who has ever seen an advertisement or plans to see one in the future should read Gibson's book.  You will be changed in what you see forever and have a lot of fun reading to boot.

I am a slow deliberate reader.  I read everything the author writes.  I pause for commas, I hesitate for semicolons and I reread the occasional line or paragraph that inspires or baffles.  I am aghast at some of the reviews I read of the books I've blogged.  Some critics are so puffed with self aggrandizing, I wonder if they even read the book.  Don't they like a good story?  Don't they want to escape and or think about something else for a little while? You will not find books I have not liked for one reason or another in this blog.  I don't finish books I don't like, my list is too long to accomplish to begin with, I don't have time for fiction I don't like.

About the near future Jihadist war series with no name by Tom Kratman, it is now officially Carrera's Legions. Thank you H. O..

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BURNING BOOK! Fire Unsuppressable! YIKES! Grand Master Spins and Spins and Spins Time!

Summer Reading Fans, Here's One Lightening Fast and Fun Read.
Jack McDevitt could not have pleased me more with his newest,
Time Travelers Never Die.  It is a joy to read.
No heavy thoughts, save the usual paradox involving time travel.
It's like some of the old great stories where the author takes an idea
and turns it loose on a Mobis Strip and then plants it
at a very uncomfortable juncture in an M. C. Escher drawing..
Time! What Fun! What an idea! What a concept! You get the idea.

Music after reading this one.
"Well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer.
The future's uncertain, and the end is always near..."
 Roadhouse Blues [track 1] on Morrison Hotel by The Doors

And yes to you etymologists pulling your hair, roots and all;
unsuppressible should be insuppressible or in-suppressible.
Just didn't sound right to me.
Merriam-Webster would not buy my try,
but the Wiktionary even defined the goofy word.
It's 2010 you don't have to be right if someone else agrees with you.
Just ask a pundit or talk show host.
Did I just become what I loathe?
I hope this isn't becoming a theme for my blog.

Friday, June 11, 2010

More War, More Dragons and Some Summer Reading

I just finished Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb, book two of The Rain Wilds Chronicles. The story continues to stand strong, I'm loving this series. Stronger women, stronger dragons, stronger story.

I finally got my hands on The Lotus Eaters by Tom Kratman, book three of his violent Jihadist annihilation series with no series name. Wow! This guy really makes me think of the value of soldiers and what they do for a living. The war is over now and the troops are at home and starting to deal with local problems, drug cartels, international and intergalactic politics, the usual stuff. The leading soldiers son is being introduced into the story and some of the tribal folks treat him as "Avatar of God." I'm wondering if we have a religious war looming in the next installment (do we become what we loathe?). I continue to burn through these books. My brain continues to re-evaluate my body-politic in regards to war. I think this pondering is good for me. We live in troubling times even as we are evolving (hopefully for the better) as species. I think I've been a little myopic in my middle years. Having a six year old girl makes me look much more to the future.

Enough for now!
Sleepless in Sleepy Hollow Subdivision

Almost forgot the summer reading.  An aging thing again.
 I just read Patrica Briggs' newest Mercy Thompson Novel, Silver Borne.  Of course, a burning book experience. The whole series of stories is just good Urban Fantasy Candy.  Few in the genre compare, but, but, but I just read a new author, Seressia GlassShadow Blade was a lark!  I know this lady is going to delight us in the future, Kira Solomon is a strong protagonist with an interesting day job. Her avocation is fraught with danger and daring do.
Enjoy!

Music at the moment
To be young (is to be sad, is to be high)
David Rawlings' cover of Ryan Adams deliciously down beat song.
CD - Dave Rawlings Machine / A Friend of a Friend [track #2]
Just as an aside, David Rawlings is husband to Gillian Welch.
Their music is always haunting me. Try Time (The Revelator).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Here There Be Dragons, Albeit A Motley Crew

I've always liked Robin Hobb's Fantasies. Her newest, Dragon Keeper, I love.

The two strongest characters are emergent women, one young and by conventional standards, ill formed with a showing of scales and spikes, the other, an older woman, in her early 20's, past marriageable age and not considered comely by her society's standards and she has become bookish and reclusive, studying Dragons and Elderlings, both diminishing races.

Ms Hobb takes her time building characters but the pace is well set and my interest was always piqued. I enjoyed these people and the lives they live. The family stew is always brewing and angst always lurking in the shadows. The self doubt demonstrated in the interior voices of these two women highlights the short comings of the speech and actions of the people in their lives spurring their awakening true selves.

I have enjoyed Science Fiction and Fantasy with strong female protagonists since reading Robert A. Heinlein's, Podkayne of Mars back in 1963 when it was published. It is my belief that most young boys enjoy reading fiction with strong female protagonists, it gives us clues about those beings, we eventually learn, that we will never fully understand. I am sure Science Fiction & Fantasy led me to my strong feminist posture in the mid 60's. That belief remains strong and in place today. My mother, of course, played her part as well. Future reading of this Blog will undoubtedly demonstrate my proclivities in this bent of my psychosocial development and personal preferences in choosing my reading materials.

Turning the last page was totally unexpected. There was no more to read! The book was over! No semi closure, no warning, the end. YIKES!!! This was not expected. This was not acceptable!

I ran to the basement. WHEW!, book two was sitting on the received shelf and ready for processing. It helps to have friends in Tech Services. Dragon Haven, book two of The Rain Wilds Chronicles, is now in my paws and I don't have to wait. Being an American I'll just butcher Jim Morrison's great line with "I want more, and I want it now."

Did I mention there were dragons in the story. Ill formed at hatching but, like the women in the story, emergent and very interesting.

Music haunting my psyche today, Easy Tiger (the whole CD) by Ryan Adam.

Regards,
Richard

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Objectivism, Meets Capitalism, Meets Speculative Fiction

In many ways this is a Business Thriller with some serious Speculative Science. After reading Infoquake I know why this book is selling so well. This is fun! David Louis Edelman has been in close proximity with many titans around Washington, DC and knows the business and governmental turf he fictionalizes so well.

The glimpse of our possible business future is fascinating, fast paced and oh so cutthroat. The scientific speculation is fresh and the spin is oh so intriguing. Those of us from the GimmieGottaWanna tribe "want" what these people have (then again maybe not). "Hack the body and the mind will follow" is the catch phrase of the day. Programed bots in your neural system do the job that needs to be done (a few powder milk biscuits won't hurt), on command and or automatically depending on the program. Feel surprised call up Poker Face 46.2 or what ever the current version is running in your body. Get sick and the Government controlled Dr.Plugenpatch will fix you right up, you may not even notice.

The personal and business rivalries are deliciously convoluted and complex. The characters are well developed and easily loved and hated at different junctures of the story. Those of you who have read Ayn Rand will undoubtedly keep hearing Howard Roark and John Gault as you burn through the book(s), I'm already about to finish book two, Multireal, and waiting with bated breath to get to book three, Geosynchron, of the Jump 225 Trilogy.

Happy Reading,
Richard

Today's Music
Al Green's "Take Me to the River"
covered by Talking Heads on Saturday Night Live. 25 Years of Music disc 2

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Franz Kafka And Philip K. Dick Dream Noir

I have admired China Mieville since his release of Perdido Street Station in 2000. The book was so amazingly fresh. His newest release The City & The City is once again, something new. You'd think Philip K. Dick and Franz Kafka had collaborated on a hard-boiled police procedural (not quite Dashiell Hammett but so much fun). The bureaucracy is very Kafka the read is very Philip K. Dick (a psychotic break is always skulking in the periphery of your psyhche). There are two cities sharing the same physical space. Ul Quoma a modern, vibrant European metropolis and Beszel a downtrodden remnant of eastern Europe's, not so great, recent past. The citizens of the two cities "may not", "must not", see one another (tough living condition).

I don't want to give too much of this one away. The story has been crafted by a through, professional, entertaining writer. If you like detective stories, and/or, have enjoyed Philip K. Dick you will not want to miss this somewhat speculative noir romp.

Song in my head today.
"Neon Meat Dream of a Octafish"
Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica (1969)
Produced by Frank Zappa
Top 500 Albums of All Time / Rolling Stone Magazine (2003)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not Earth Shaking, But Unquestionably Thought Provoking.

Just finished The Quiet War by Paul McAuley.
A far future revolt between earth and
the folks who have colonized the outer solar system.

There are two speculative science delights in this book.
The work on earth to re-establish the destroyed ecosystem.
And, the genetic hacking used to survive away from Earth.
I usually find plausible hope delicious. I run a little low personally.
Science can solve all our problems! Really!
Then we can figure out how to solve the problems the solving caused.
Cynicism is not aiding and abetting a better life for me.

Why terra form a planet, moon or asteroid that can’t be terra formed.
Adapt, dig in, or build a cage. Do what needs to be done to survive.
Different atmospheres demand different bodies.

This four hundred page book plays much bigger than it looks.
Lots of political and familial intrigues and a very diverse cast.

The earth did not shake but the book kept me interested.
Glad I finished it, the reviews for the sequel are looking
very good and I’m looking forward to the rest of the story.

//Flashback:
“see a smiln’ woman and a frown’ man
she’s got a ring in his nose and a ring on her hand”
Savoy Brown - Blue Matter (1969)
End of Flashback//

About the flashback; music lives large in my head.
Books live large in my head too.
A good hook or a good quote deserves head space.
Both are more edifying and elucidating than myspace..

Regards,
Richard

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do You Worry About Genetic Manipulation?

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a thought provoker.
Fear provoker might be a better descriptor if you have any
sparks at all jumping the synaptic paths in your cranium.

The book happens in a somewhat near future Bangkok.
A Bangkok protected by monstrous dikes and levees.
(The water is up again in this future)

The world has “contracted”.
Genetic manipulation of our crops has tipped the scale.
Famine, Blight, Plague; the whole shootn’ match.

Agra Business rules most of the world.
Thailand has managed to keep the world
and the Agra Businesses at bay.

Enough! I liked this one! The guy can write!
His characters are all flawed, beautifully flawed!
I could relate!

Regards,
Richard

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Think This Is A Rant. Mea Culpa and My Apologies, Sorta Maybe

A patron came in the other day asking for Orson Scott Card’s
new book Hidden Empire. She said I had recommended Empire
and wanted to know what happened next.
I did not remember recommending the book Empire.
I did not remember reading the book Empire.
Aging is not a funny thing.
I have now read the book Empire, I had not read it before.
Basic premise is Civil War in the United States of America.
With no real North South or East West divide it was a mess.
Blue States vs Red States with messy Urban Blues in the
midst of Rural Reds thrown in everywhere and don't forget Your Neighbors.
How could such a thing happen in the United States of America?
Simple, we are polarized as never before save the 1860's.
Just before the Civil War we all know about.
No one is moving an inch to meet in the center.
We are going down and we are going down hard.
I will undoubtedly read the new book to see what happens next.

But; and this is a really big but.
If you do nothing more, read the “AFTERWORD” p.341-347.

Everyone is “right” in what they think in today’s America.
Critical Thinking may now be defined as thinking critically of anyone,
absolutely anyone, who thinks differently than you.
We are all rocket scientist in this America.
I grew up in the late 50's and early 60's and remember Hope.
I wish there was a little more to go around.
Regards,
Richard

Monday, February 8, 2010

I've Been Reading

Not every thing I read is Science Fiction and Fantasy.
I love many (all) of the other fiction collections in the library.
In December I noticed a title. It caught my eye.
Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk.
I stopped and read the reviews, quite favorable.
I requested a copy be purchased for the library.
When it arrived I gave it to my wife. She disappeared.
Closing the book and arriving back in the family
she says “One of the ten best ever!”.
This is not idle chit chat. Quickly I ask “In the
realm of Carry Me Like Water by Benjamin Saenz?”
“Oh yes.” She says.
My turn with the book. I quietly disappear.
Upon my return I am in love again.
I love my wife. I love my family. I love life itself.
I tell my wife, “One of the ten best ever!”
So, I don’t always read SF n’F.and I can’t not
share the good news when something good happens.
Waiting for Columbus satisfies.

I was running the shelves the other day and noticed
how pretty (“distinct,” guys) the covers on the
Starship series by Mike Resnick looked.
They have been around a while but I grabbed one anyway.
I needed some candy. I was shaking like a junky.
I wanted some Space Opera. I wanted something fun.
BINGO! In spades.
I’m on book three; mind you I’m always reading
two or three other books and pick up the candy
when the heavy thought lifting wears me down.
Thank goodness for the candy.

Regards,
Richard

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Sky Is Not Falling. The Water's Rising

It may not be global warming, but it is global and the water is rising.
The resulting action in the tectonic plates, and what may or may not lie beneath,
keeps this book’s pages turning of their own accord.
Flood, by Stephen Baxter is a good mix of hard science fiction
and big adventure novel with much to contemplate
scientifically and about the base nature of man.
We all see how we react to catastrophic events around the world.
Sometimes with a great outpouring of aid and succor,
other times with complete indifference to the suffering and death of others.
What do we do when the catastrophe is global?
Some scary speculation on how man will react.
Good story line, good character development, good read.

Regards,
Richard