This review is for Part 3 of this serialized Steampunk fantasy. This will contain spoilers for the first two parts. If you wish to get the background...moreThis review is for Part 3 of this serialized Steampunk fantasy. This will contain spoilers for the first two parts. If you wish to get the background to Part 3, you may wish to read my reviews for Parts 1 & 2.
The 3rd Part of Nimbus follows the form of the 1st two parts. Each chapter alternates between the characters Jude Finley and Demetrius Rucca and the respective fawns that have bonded with them. Jude's fawn keeps Jude alive even though Jude is shot dead in an aborted mutiny by some of the crew of the Gangly Dirigible. Rucca's fawn gives Rucca extraordinary power to destroy all who oppose him.
Jude and Rucca embark on a course where they confront each other in the capital port of their skyworld. The two fawn recognize each other when the two human hosts confront each other. The fawns were enemies in the time before their races encounter with humans. Thus we are set up for the final conflict between them as well as their human hosts.
I have enjoyed seeing how the two human characters have been developed in these parts. Rucca is particularly interesting to me. He is far from a one dimensional character. At times, Rucca demonstrates care for the people he encounters, especially for those who are the underdogs and rejected who see in him a leader who can challenge those in power. Rucca has been marginalized during most of his life, and he strikes back at those who have marginalized him, in a very horrible way.
Jude is an underdog having escaped the world of those living underground by becoming a water harvested on a ship, pure water being the most valuable commodity on this planet. His fawn is not interested in power. He simply wishes to find his family. Jude lost his family when Rucca destroys a air station that in turn kills all those living underground including Jude's family.
The technology is not so well developed. In fact, the chief function of technological elements like the air stations and mechanical devices is to provide the characters with something to destroy. (less)
A look at Romney's ill-fated campaign from a member of his staff. I enjoyed how he revealed how clueless Romney was about how average American's live....moreA look at Romney's ill-fated campaign from a member of his staff. I enjoyed how he revealed how clueless Romney was about how average American's live. His "47%" remark was only one of the more obvious examples of this.
In the second part of Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel, we follow the further adventures of Demetrius Rucca and Jude Finely as they fly around in their sky w...moreIn the second part of Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel, we follow the further adventures of Demetrius Rucca and Jude Finely as they fly around in their sky world aboard Rucca's pirated ship, the Primrose Doubloon and Jude's ship, the Gangly Dirigible. Each chapter alternates between the book's two main characters. Both Rucca and Jude are hosts to mysterious and very powerful beings called "fawns", referred by humans as "fogspawn." Rucca's fawn is named "Malrok" and Jude's is named Altza. Altza provides Jude with a little background into how they came to inhabit their word in the form of a fog that is injurious or even lethal to humans.
Mining in this world released the subterranean fog into the part inhabited by humans. At first the fawns were hunted by humans till they grew too powerful and inhabited the area between the sky dwellers and subterranean folks living in the Burrows where they toil as miners drinking filthy water, fresh, pure water being a luxury in this world.
The fawn's make Rucca and Finley nearly invincible, but with a catch. The fawns must take over their hosts to be effective, something Rucca is unwilling to do except in a crisis, and Jude is unable to do for reasons Altza has of its own.
I enjoyed the way that the characters were developed in this part of the serial. Rucca, though the antagonist of the series, is complex. His "bonding" with Malrok came because of his father, not of his own choosing. He is no two-dimensional villain. He shows kindness and concern for his allies and subordinates, but he has been a helpless cripple for many years and enjoys the power Malrok gives him over those who oppose him.
Jude is on the opposite end of Rucca, who is the son of the high priest of his world. Jude has escaped the Burrows by signing on to a ship owned by a powerful business leader. He became Altza's host by opening a holding prison where Altza was locked for many centuries. He clearly wishes he were not a fawn's host, but is willing to help Altza find out about his family, news Altza does not welcome.
The main weakness in the series is its settings. Keeton and King write a Steampunk novel with very little development of the Steampunk technology. Rucca, for example, is confined to a steam wheelchair, but there is no accounting for how it is powered or works. For example, how does one heat the steam? how is the exhaust, if there is any, dealt with: It simply is, for the sake of being Steampunk, a steam wheelchair.
However, the series is engaging, and a very quick read. Keeton and King give the two characters engaging cliffhanger endings in this part of the series. I look forward to seeing how they are resolved in the next installment.(less)
Nimbus is a 4-part serialized Steampunk novel set in a world where one either lives underground or above "the fog", a flesh eating substance that arri...moreNimbus is a 4-part serialized Steampunk novel set in a world where one either lives underground or above "the fog", a flesh eating substance that arrived some time in the murky past. Wherever one lives in this world, the most precious commodity is fresh clean water harvested by dirigible crews, at great peril, from the few clouds the crews can discover, much like 19th century whaling voyages.
Only the very wealthy can obtain clean water, with the exception of the few families of the airship harvesting crews, one of whom is Jude Finley, a "Hoser" whose task is to operate the hose devices used to extract water from the clouds, a often fatal task given the perils involved in the operation. Jude has managed to get out of the underground, mining life where for the most dwellers must drink foul, polluted water. He gets his pay in clean water, which he sends to his impoverished family.
The books antagonist is Demetrius Rucca, the son of the High Priest, Cornelius Rucca. The book begins with Cornelius receiving the news that his son has died. Cornelius uses a type of ancient magic involving dark forces to resurrect his son. The dark forces warn Cornelius that there will be a price for their favor, but he forges ahead. Demetrius revives, but discovers that he is a paraplegic cripple. Demetrius grows up an embittered young man who takes out his rage on those less powerful than himself.
Demetrius' one desire is to be an airship captain, something not possible for him, as his father continually reminds Demetrius. However, through a unexpected act of kindness on his part to a beggar being assaulted by an officer, Demetrius finds himself the leader of a crew of lowlies who fulfill his wish by taking over an airship in port. Thus begins Rucca's air adventure.
Demetrius and Jude seem destined to meet and oppose each other as both find in their air journeys that the ancient forces that brought about the conditions on their world find in the two of them hosts through which they can operate.
I enjoyed the book, but the settings of the novel's world, so far at least, are not a developed as they could be or at least as they are in richer Steampunk books with similar alternative worlds. The book was a very quick read, and now that the major players are set up, I hope to find more of the back story developed in subsequent parts of the novel.
I would recommend this book for those who enjoy more of the "space opera", high adventure type of plotting.(less)
Daniel Johnson presents a well-researched account of the role chess played before, during and after the Cold War. Johnson is very pointed in his conde...moreDaniel Johnson presents a well-researched account of the role chess played before, during and after the Cold War. Johnson is very pointed in his condemnation of Soviet communism and his analysis of how chess played a role in its downfall presents a side that few have considered before or even since. According to Johnson, chess was vitally important for Soviet propaganda and culture. When challengers like Samuel Rheshevsky and Bobby Fischer appeared to challenge Soviet hegemony, the Soviet chess establishment spared no effort or considered no tactic too low to thwart the threat. When Garry Kasparov, himself at one time a member of the Communist Party, decided to step outside the system in his successful challenge to Anatoly Karpov, it dovetailed with the eventual overthrow of the Soviets in the 1980s and 90s.
This book does not require much more than rudimentary knowledge of chess to understand. Johnson does an excellent job of explaining the nuances and personalities of the game to the non-expert. Recommended for those interested in history and politics as well as chess.(less)
When I started reading Lilith Saintcrow's Steampunk fantasy, The Iron When Affair, I thought that I would be reading another Sherlock Holmes variation...moreWhen I started reading Lilith Saintcrow's Steampunk fantasy, The Iron When Affair, I thought that I would be reading another Sherlock Holmes variation with a bit of magic thrown in. Archibald Clare is a "mental" , a highly logical, deduction human. He is recruited by Emma Barton, a sorceress of highest ability known as a Prime, to help save Britannia from a conspiracy against the Queen. What impressed me about the book is how fully developed Saintcrow's alternative reality is. The Queen,Victrix, is a vessel for an incarnate spirit known as Britannia. Sorcery and rationality mix in a rather uneasy alliance. Mechanisms,for the most part, run on clockwork gears, steam, and magic combined.
The adventure turns on both characters, Bannon and Clare, employing their strengths at their highest level. This works according to the conditions set out in the writers world.
I am looking forward to following the rest of this series.(less)
I have to admit that I read David Boren's call for courageous action on the part of all Americans with a good deal of prejudice. I first met Boren in...moreI have to admit that I read David Boren's call for courageous action on the part of all Americans with a good deal of prejudice. I first met Boren in 1973 when he was a back row legislator running for governor in the 1974 campaign. Boren promised to bring a "new broom" to Oklahoma politics and sweep out the corruption of the Old Guard. Instead, he pretty much governed politics as usual, howbeit less corrupt than the previous governor who served time in a federal prison.
Then as U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, Boren pretty much laid low and did not leave any sort of legacy. He also voted for the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. It is true that he later expressed much regret for this vote, but when it came time to take courageous action, Boren went ago to get along.
In this short book, Boren makes the claims that most have already made. He cries over our extreme partisanship, lack of cultural literacy, lack of knowledge of American history and political structure, crumbling infrastructure, shrinking middle class, burgeoning deficits, and public cynicism.. He calls for civic involvement, education investment, a host of other recommendations, and the political courage to see these lofty goals realized.
Nearly everything Boren says in this book has been said by others in a more persuasive manner and with better credentials than he possesses. He has few specifics as to how the miracles he wishes to see accomplished will be accomplished.
I have to say to President Boren, "Sir, your actions have spoken so loudly that I have trouble hearing your words." And that is my letter to David.(less)
This book is very well researched and attempts to balance the often contradictory sides of Ted Williams' personality. What is not in dispute is that T...moreThis book is very well researched and attempts to balance the often contradictory sides of Ted Williams' personality. What is not in dispute is that Ted was the greatest pure hitter and greatest student of the art of hitting in baseball, something that is acknowledged as one of the most, not the most, difficult skills in sports.
Ted was also profane, abusive, and a total wreck as a husband and, until the very last years of his life, as a father. Even then he enabled a rather worthless son who exploited and tarnished Ted's legacy.
Williams was also a kind benefactor to many, particularly sick children through his support of the "Jimmy Fund" for sick kids, and out of his own time and money for which he demanded that no publicity be given.
Ben Bradlee's massive 850 page tome on Williams is very detailed, almost of the point of tedium, but still full of information and insight that make it indispensable in understanding Williams and obsessive sports psychology. (less)