If there is a book that you want to pick up for some interesting reading, try Larry Niven's "Ringworld." Though the book purports to be about Louis WuIf there is a book that you want to pick up for some interesting reading, try Larry Niven's "Ringworld." Though the book purports to be about Louis Wu and his motivation for going with a Puppeteer on a journey to handle Wu's bored 200 year old life, it's really about the dumb luck of Teela Brown, a ditzy dame with a charmed life, whose never known pain or loss.
I have read a few of Niven's stories and enjoyed his Man-Kzin Wars and other such stories in this same universe. To read his early novel of the Ringworld was really enjoyable, since it touched on science but stuck to the character development I've often enjoyed in Niven's books.
Niven tends to get off to a slow start. If you have read Niven's books before you know about the transport booths that can instantaneously step onto any part of Earth – and he makes a point that culture is so inter-mixed that London is the same as Bali as the same as Minnesota, etc. Is this a commentary on our own "jet set" mentality where we go and travel so much as to lose a cultural identity? Or am I making a fun story so serious?
The Puppeteers (two-headed beings, a cowardly race – even their most exalted king is called the "Hindmost." Taking up the rear, oh boy!) have been trading with the human race for many years but then suddenly packed up their entire civilization and took off towards the Clouds of Magellan.
One of their more insane, Nessus, wants to put together a team of human and Kzin (cat-like warriors, who lost a few wars to the tenacity of Man) on a secret mission to explore a strange place in a system so far that only the Puppeteer's special hyperdrive can reach it in a short time – the Ringworld.
Niven gets into some of the romance and danger of the Ringworld, but really the story is about Teela Brown. We find that the Puppeteers have been manipulating the human race, breeding it for luck. Unfortunately Luck is a power that our group soon finds is much more dangerous than one supposes.
The kzin are painted as tamed warriors but Niven does this much better in his Man-Kzin Wars series of novels. I'm not sure if Ringworld is the first appearance of these aliens, but it is interesting to see the cunning and yet the unabashed complexity they see in us humans. I know the feeling.
Louis Wu touches on various places and times that I remember reading in other Larry Niven tales of other worlds and other colonies. These are not well expressed – but the emotional "snarkiness" of Wu is the most enjoyable part of the book. There is some light sexuality embraced between Wu and a couple of female characters and we get a peek into the psychology of a 200 year old man.
Teela Brown: The true mistress of the tale: a woman who just wants to have fun, knows nothing of pain or anxiety, yet has been bred for luck. So lucky that she ends up on a Ringworld and her team thinks her luck is protecting them – aren't they in for a surprise!
Ringworld Engineers: The Ring is mostly abandoned or lost in savagery – its once great floating cities are now crashed to the surface, its inhabitants hairy savages who worship "gods" some of whom are actually Louis and his crew. They often play the "God gambit" when in need of food and supplies.
Bottom Line: Interesting adventure. If you have not read more detailed views of Niven's worlds, then the book might seem somewhat wandering and the reader feeling left out and lost! I have read other reviews that Niven's science was a bit off, but this should be handled in later editions. The book flows well and is a quick read. Recommended.
What I liked about The Husband has to do with the husband's reactions to the news that his wife has been kidnapped and the kidnappeFirst Impressions:
What I liked about The Husband has to do with the husband's reactions to the news that his wife has been kidnapped and the kidnappers seem to have unlimited resources and can kill him at any time.
Plots (some spoilers):
His name is Mitch, and he lives a good life as a gardener. He knows he does not have the money. Later the criminals get him to get his brother Anson involved, who, it turns out, is a criminal himself. The kidnappers know this and want to pull one over on Anson.
Despite these criminals thinking they have it all under control, Mitch finds deep inside himself the balls to do something about it, including killing (in self defense, of course) and stealing to get the money together.
Dean Koontz does get into a sub-plot of Mitch and his brother and their relationship with their parents who had an unusual way of raising children, including a sense-deprivation room that was designed to "help" but really it was to break them. The book really does not explore this fascinating item very well. We meet his dad, Daniel, but his mother Kathy is barely mentioned and not at all developed. They were caricatures to me and not really well-developed, despite them being a critical influence on Mitch and Anson and their sisters (who are not even mentioned until near the end of the book and even then not developed).
The book does get into the criminal minds and only fully develops the last guy – the one with a spiritual bent and who has no problem killing people so that they may attain "ascendancy".
Holly is the kidnapped wife who we don't even meet until well into the book – at least not to any great degree. She too has depth and needs to reach in for strength and is surprised to find that she too can be devious.
Why The Book Fails:
The book fails for me in touching on certain characters (Julian Campbell with his child porn business is never developed, so you have no sympathy nor care that the guy gets his later) and leaves a huge plot hole at the end (Mitch kills and steals and then near the last chapter he has kids and is friends with the Columbo-like detective – huh? What happened?). Too much landscape vocabulary to show us how smart and real Koontz is, but does not add to the tale.
Conclusion: Not Dean's best, though I do appreciate his writing a "straight" novel. However, I much prefer his supernatural stuff. ...more
The book reads rather rapidly and well for a young adult novel, originally appearing in Astounding Science Fiction back in the 1940sFirst Impressions:
The book reads rather rapidly and well for a young adult novel, originally appearing in Astounding Science Fiction back in the 1940s. Heinlein's writing and plotting had improved since those days, but there's something fun and unique about his early writings such as Space Cadet, or Starship Troopers, contemporary stories that involved a strong lead character and lots of plot points.
I may be wrong but this may be one of the first stories of a multi-generational ship that had some kind of catastrophe where everyone forgot they lived on a ship and thought the Ship was all there was! I've seen this idea played out in the original Star Trek episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" and the television series "Star Lost."
The main character Hugh Hoyland lives on a Ship where scientists are reverred as holy and the Captain of the ship is near godhood. There are farms going on, and a Converter that is used to create energy from mass (and occasionally from dead bodies). There is an internal struggle with mutants in the upper levels. It's very dictatorial and people know their places. To question is to court death.
But Hugh questions. And he ends up with the mutants, a two headed guy called Joe-Jim and his sidekick Bobo. This small unassuming trio are the vanguard of a major change where the Ship is headed for a star -- but the inhabitants don't even know what space is.
Fascinating scenario, but not enough time is spent on the whole religious aspect of the scientists. They do mention a few scientific facts but have decided its all allegory and ancient myths -- such as the law of gravity!
The part where we move into rebellion, assassination and betrayal towards the end of the book is really fascinating. The end is a bit rushed, but Heinlein acknowledges that as a string of amazing coincidences! Ha!
Overall a great read and highly recommended to fans of early Heinlein. ...more
Hubbard was a top adventure and science fiction writer in the 1940s. With his Dianetics research pretty wrapped up by the early 1980s, he returned toHubbard was a top adventure and science fiction writer in the 1940s. With his Dianetics research pretty wrapped up by the early 1980s, he returned to writing with Battlefield Earth. What first struck me was that the characterization was similar to the pulp fiction of the Forties without the corny dialogue. And a lot of the dialogue was very tongue in cheek. Please don't compare this book to the awful movie of which it is loosely based. The book is superior. It's written as a satire of governments, banking and finances, military, greed and corruption. Having absolute power, what would you do with it?
Basically an alien mining operation has been going on Earth for the last 1000 years by the Psychlos (Hubbard's tongue in cheek word for psychologists, of course). Johnny Goodboy Tyler, leading a Native American lifestyle, rises in the ranks, gathers the remnants of Mankind and throws off the invaders. Then they become members of a galactic community that is every bit as devious as the Psychlos were!
Fast paced and just a mere 800 plus pages! Good fiction history of the giants of science fiction in the introduction, including mentions of Asimov, Heinlein and John W. Campbell. Highly recommended....more
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of Horror & Suspense by the Master Writer, December 4, 2009
I will on occasion pick up an old sci-fi or horror anthology 5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of Horror & Suspense by the Master Writer, December 4, 2009
I will on occasion pick up an old sci-fi or horror anthology and stuff it in my pocket for safekeeping. Such a book is "The Mythos and Kindred Horrors", a collection of stories originally appearing in Weird Tales back in 1930s America, when pulp was king and Robert E. Howard was tops.
Howard, author and creator of the Conan series, also delved into Lovecraft territory. Lovecraft was a contemporary of Howard and they would often correspond. Unfortunately Howard committed suicide at a young age, so we will be forever rereading his wonderful horror stories.
Here's the contents!
Contents * Introduction by David Drake * Arkham (poem) * The Black Stone * The Fire of Asshurbanipal * The Thing on the Roof * Dig Me No Grave * Silence Falls on Mecca's Walls (poem) * The Valley of the Worm * The Shadow of the Beast * Old Garfield's Heart * People of the Dark * Worms of the Earth * Pigeons From Hell * An Open Window (poem)
The Old Ones and ancient Gods, such as Cthulhu and others will seem familiar to Lovecraft fans. The stories were pretty scary in their time and still grab you by the heart and freeze it! What lurks in the abandoned mansion in "The Shadow of the Beast?" Why does Old Jim still live and looks like he hasn't aged a day in the last 100 years in the horror western, "Old Garfield's Heart"?
The "Pigeons from Hell" is not a tale of white-spotted bronze statues!
The "Black Stone" harkens to the horrors of ancient gods and the spirits that still worship them and still appear on Midsummer's Night during the full moon. The "Necromicon" appears throughout several of the tales, a book that just by reading it you go screaming insane!
I remember this this book back when I was introduced to Spider Robinson back in college. At that time Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon, Shogun and Asimov'I remember this this book back when I was introduced to Spider Robinson back in college. At that time Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon, Shogun and Asimov's Foundation trilogy were my favorites.
Well, Spider's tales are not up there with those great writers. In fact the stories are pretty strange, enlightening and give a lesson at the end. Even now in my reread, the lessons seem a bit trite. But I am getting ahead of myself.
First published as a collection in the 70s, Robinson's bar joint with its misfit clients came to life between the covers of Analog Magazine. And though more fantasy than science fiction, makes for some interesting reading.
These nine stories always start with some pretty crazy characters. The narrator is Jake; the barkeep is Callahan and whoever walks into that bar usually has a story to tell as we say a toast and crash our glassware into the fireplace!
Callahan is a tough Irish barman, but he meets his match when he hears the story of a man who lost his wife and was locked away, forgotten, in a South American prison cell for over ten years. Or an alien who has been assigned to recommend annihilation of the human race! Or another, who was once Adolph Hitler (could Callahan forgive that?!). And a woman who has lived over 200 years and has a death wish; interesting solution to that problem. Or a time traveler who wants to stop a certain tragedy and would the boys in the bar help him out?
And the puns in this book are just horrible! And a few philosophical lines like "joy always equals pain in the long-run" are a bit beyond my understanding but what the heck - it's a Spider story!
Because the stories were written in the 70s, references to Vietnam and Nixon are evident. Despite these dated situations, you should have a great time visiting Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon, meet a few wild and crazy people and throw your glass half-full of Bushmill's Brew as you tell a tall tale.
Other Spider Books:
The Free Lunch Very Hard Choices The Callahan Chronicals ...more
In keeping with her naming her books after places, L.K. Hamilton's novel, Blue Moon, has several connotations. One, it's a place. Blue Moon is a campiIn keeping with her naming her books after places, L.K. Hamilton's novel, Blue Moon, has several connotations. One, it's a place. Blue Moon is a camping area that people come to play or in this case people come to die. Blue Moon is like the old jazz song, "You left me standing alo ho hone..." And thirdly, Blue Moon is rare - a full moon twice in a thirty day period - which can spell havoc for werewolves, who are drawn to the lunar light and have a nasty habit of getting hairy at the drop of a paw.
In the previous book Anita broke up with Richard when she freaked out at the site of him changing into a werewolf and then eating his enemy. Yuk. In this book, Anita is walking down a dark path of death and destruction. She finds it easier to kill. She gets creative in creating trouble for her wolfpack. Her were-leopard friends are becoming more touch-friendly and she is playing with fire when it comes to handling Nyer and his wish for the Spear of Christ, an artifact that was supposedly the spear that went through Christ at the Crucifixion 2000 years ago.
The book is troubling for several reasons: Anita is even more moral-less than in past novels. She does not hesitate to shoot to kill. In one scene, she tortures a guy to tell her where some kidnap victims are, and then shoots him in the head to shut him up! Morals? What?
She meets another necromancer, a psychic and a killer, not in that order. There is also Colin the vampire that they make a big deal out of. Colin does not want Anita in his territory. That part of the story builds well but is over by the halfway point, sadly. No real development of that aspect.
Hamilton really gets into the Richard/Jean Claude/Anita triumvirate and we discover the true intentions of Jean Claude's apparent magnanimous gesture in letting Anita have sex with Richard, not as graphic as it could have been.
Hamilton wears me down with the same old actions over and over - sudden ring - "Jumpy, who me?" about five times in each novel. Annoying.
Marianne is the only stable character in the mess. She's some kind of witch or clairvoyant, who uses her positive energy in the same way Anita uses her negative energy. Calling her "child" and understanding Anita's churning mental state, she guides Anita to a more manageable character. Hope to see more of her in the next book.
Bad cops, some aspects of Dolph open up, but basically a Claude-less book, which is fine with me. Really hoping Obsidian Butterfly gives a return to the vampire killer I used to know in Guilty Pleasures. ...more
Uncanny X-Men, first issue by Stan and Jack, could cost you thousands. Why not get a reprint instead? I got the Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 trade paperback [Uncanny X-Men, first issue by Stan and Jack, could cost you thousands. Why not get a reprint instead? I got the Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 trade paperback [The Uncanny X-Men Masterworks (The Uncanny X-Men, Nos 1-5)]of the first issues of X-Men stories and though I'm not a fan of the characters, I can see why the series would be so popular among the many characters that Stan and Jack pumped out in the early Sixties.
The X-Men are teenagers at the start. It was interesting to see the development of The Beast, Hank McCoy, who was not talking the high intellectual jargon in the first few issues, "For the love of Pete!". The first and most threatening villain is the evil mutant Magneto, whose power of magnetism are more than a match for the X-Men and they have a hard time putting him down.
Later stories involved the Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver as they team up with Magneto, the Toad and the illusionist Mastermind. My favorite stories in this set include the fight with The Blob, the evil mutants and each other!
Bottom Line: The intro is written by Stan Lee as he relays what he went through and why the X-Men are one of the more popular teams coming out of the Marvel bullpen. The Kirby art and the fun, witty dialogue (and yes at times cheesy) make for some fun and incredibly entertaining stories.
Other Marvel Adventures: X-Men, Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks) The X-Men, Vol. 2 (Marvel Masterworks) The Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 3 (Marvel Masterworks) ...more
Though this book is not for those new to Scientology nor for those exposed to the subject for the first time, it nevertheless has philosophy and interThough this book is not for those new to Scientology nor for those exposed to the subject for the first time, it nevertheless has philosophy and interesting practical developments useful to the man on the street, regardless of ones’ feelings toward the subject.
I do grow tired of the internet Trolls and their poorly researched opinions regarding this and other Hubbard books and I won’t relay their tired arguments here: why give them publicity? But I will say that there are various aspects of the human condition that it would be wise to read about, whether a student of this subject or not.
Hubbard’s exploration into the human condition was explored in a series of 52 lectures in 1952 and the response from his students was such that he wrote a book on the subject. Scientology 8-8008 gets its name from the theory that the infinity (8, turned on its side makes the symbol for infinity) of the universe could be reduced to zero and the zero of one’s own universe (sphere of influence, etc.) could be increased to infinity.
This is an interesting concept. How often have we felt that we could do nothing, after all we are just one person, what could we do about the world? Let’s start with who and what we are. The Beingness of Man chapter lays it out quite well. What I got out of that was the division of a life into 8 areas (Dianetics covered four of these in the original 1950 edition) and what the anatomy of these areas are. One’s self, one’s family, one’s groups and the main group of the species of Man is gone over, as well as others.
There are many theories regarding our relationship with the physical universe and how we can be causative in it, and why this is very important for our personal development.
The Code of Honor for me was the most enticing: Be your own counsel and select your own decisions; Never worry about yesterday since life is in you today and you have tomorrow. How often do we get stuck in the past without any thought of future consequences?
Bottom Line: Sorry for rambling, boys and girls, just that I’m trying to make succinct over 290 pages of some pretty heady material. Suggest reading the earlier books first for a better grasp of this one.
First Impressions: Odyssey took some getting used to in order to plow through it! My only other introduction to the author Jack McDevitt is through hiFirst Impressions: Odyssey took some getting used to in order to plow through it! My only other introduction to the author Jack McDevitt is through his excellent novel, "Time Travelers Never Die" so I was hoping this book was going to be a continuation of the excellent style I was used to.
"Not so" say a few other reviewers, who pointed out to this writer that McDevitt has a series and Odyssey is the culmination of such a series starring Hutch, a former space pilot now administrator of the Academy, a space-faring service for scientists and such, and MacKenzie, a snarky, cynical journalist whose 23rd century profession has not changed much in the last couple of centuries.
Odyssey moves slow, and takes its time in commenting on that 23rd century life, implying criticism of today naturally. It's just too obvious and too much! For example there is a thread through the story of a mousy man named Beemer who attacked a priest for preaching hellfire which frightened him and "ruined his life" when he was told there was no redemption for this 12 year old now man. MacKenzie was backing up Beemer hoping for some kind of conviction. The end chapters give headlines and blurbs of the ongoing trial. Very minor part of the story and a bit of a waste of time for this reader.
After a few hundred pages of administrative angst by Hutch, and her politically motivated boss, there are rumors that the Academy may be shutting down since it has been found that there is little to no life in the immediate vicinity of the Milky Way and that we are wasting our time on the space effort and that we should concentrate on the failing Earth's ecology – greenhouse has really come a long way in two centuries, apparently.
Finally some political intrigue, the death of a favored character and still the unexplained and incomplete ending of the first and only contact with alien life left me a bit "so what." There is also the senator's young daughter Amy who is contacted by these aliens but it comes in the form of a late-night visit. Was this a hoax? Should we pay attention to their threat of destroying an atomic collider that could give us the answers to the Big Bang, or should we worry about reputation and not tell anyone of the true dangers of this collider?
Bottom Line: Great potential, but the story could have been shortened a couple hundred pages as an interesting short story than a novel.
Still, I have not given up on Jack McDevitt. Let me look up his Hugo winners and see if I can see some of his early work. The present Odyssey, though supposedly in alignment with Homer's similarly-titled tale, drags for me and is more a political criticism in the guise of science fiction than a novel that would rival Heinlein or Asimov. No danger there! ...more
I’ve read Jack’s “The Odyssey” and was mildly entertained. With that, I decided to explore his earlier novels includ"Stargate" Lite!
I’ve read Jack’s “The Odyssey” and was mildly entertained. With that, I decided to explore his earlier novels including the stand-alone book Ancient Shores. A decent tale, but goes off on too many tangents to follow. Ending seemed rushed.
Story & Plot:
I enjoyed the build-up of the character Max, a man who was good with antique airplanes, had a military family history but shunned that route, deciding instead to restore old aircraft. The book makes a big deal of a horror accident where he could have saved but did not save a girl in a plane that exploded on a runway as a hapless man attempted to save her.
From this we get that Max is not one to take chances or risks that would endanger himself. Later in the book this takes the form of his not defending the “Roundhouse” (an alien artifact that turns out to be a transporter to other worlds) from the USA which wants to destroy it in order to save the economy (a roundabout way of building that plot!).
April, the Black scientist, who thought it sad that her retiring collegue got recognized for his work and then faded out, wanted fame and fortune and saw the sailboat found on a farm in North Dakota her ticket to ride. It’s a story of “be careful what you wish for.”
And the author’s tendency to give the reader the complete rundown of each main character’s love life was a bit much and did not add to the overall plot.
The book tends to go off on several tangents, telling stories of minor characters who are affected by the discovery of alien technology – some find religion, some radio minister makes money off it (not sure what the point of that was) and some want to blow the Roundhouse up (an odd account of a man who has a radio-controlled bomb in his truck and drives by someone who just happens to have the same frequency for his garage door opener – really?).
There are some interesting points that are immediately dropped – who is this invisible alien who comes onto Earth? What happened to him?
And the subplot of the Native American plot of land and how they’re repeating history by defending their land against the government was a fine opinion of exploitation and political ranting & raving, but highly unlikely.
Bottom Line: As other reviewers have found, the book seemed to have a hard time finding its way until the end, where we finally get some closure – but a disappointing ending where we’re still left to wonder what about the other worlds out there – would the discovery of super-human technology actually crash the economy?
I recommend reading his Nebula and Hugo award-winning tales instead. Ancient Shores, like Odyssey, are cute one-time novels that make a point of the human condition but leave the reader unsatisfied at the end. ...more