Picked this up over the weekend in belated tribute to Robert Asprin.
Lieutenant Scaramouche (aka Willard Phule, heir to the Phule-Proof Weapons fortunPicked this up over the weekend in belated tribute to Robert Asprin.
Lieutenant Scaramouche (aka Willard Phule, heir to the Phule-Proof Weapons fortune) has been assigned as captain of the Omega Legion, the dregs of the Space Legion. His superiors expect him to quit any day. But Phule is no fool, and is more than ready to rise to the challenge. The story is told through the eyes of Phule's butler, which lends an interesting viewpoint to a military-themed story.
While Asprin may not be as well known in the humourous speculative fiction world as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett or even Piers Anthony, he had a very productive career and IMHO writes an engaging, funny and satisfying story. There may not be any deep philosophical lessons to be learned, but the characters have some depth to them, and the plot wraps up nicely, while leaving the possibility for future stories open. I'm bumping it up a star from my previous rating. ...more
I'd taken McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (Michael Chabon ed.) along when I went to my sleep study - something to read while I waI'd taken McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (Michael Chabon ed.) along when I went to my sleep study - something to read while I was getting wired up. I finished it up over the weekend; I really enjoyed the collection & may be checking out some of the other authors. ...more
Dangerous Visions had been on my wish list for a while - I'd picked up Again, Dangerous Visions used a few years ago & was impressed with the collDangerous Visions had been on my wish list for a while - I'd picked up Again, Dangerous Visions used a few years ago & was impressed with the collection of stories Ellison put together. Finally bought & read through it this week.
I'm not as familiar with the history of science/speculative fiction as I'd like to be - some of the names are completely unfamiliar to me, while others I recognize, yet don't know if I've read any of their work. I can see why many of the stories in this collection would have been difficult to get published in the mainstream SF in the late 60's, due to their subject material. Ellison, as always, has to have his say, not only in the individual introductions to the stories, but also in a new introduction to supplant his original introduction. Isaac Asimov's original intro was worthwhile as well.
A couple of standouts that were new to me: "The Night that All Time Broke Out" (Brian W. Aldiss); "Gonna Roll the Bones" (Fritz Leiber): "The Dollhouse" (James Cross); "From the Government Printing Office (Kris Neville). I also found the intentional intersection of "A Toy for Juliette" (Robert Bloch) and "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World" fascinating. I was pleasantly surprised that only a few stories were what I'd consider "New Wave" - i.e. "Riders of the Purple Wage" by Philip Jose Farmer. I prefer standard story & sentence structure - regardless of how wild and creative the ideas are.
Recommended to speculative fiction fans with an interest in the history of the genre and a relatively open mind.
I spent yesterday afternoon spellbound by Pattern Recognition. This is probably the most accessible of Gibson's novels, as it could easily be set in tI spent yesterday afternoon spellbound by Pattern Recognition. This is probably the most accessible of Gibson's novels, as it could easily be set in the present day.
The main character, Cayce Pollard is a "coolhunter" -- exploring the world's big cities to discover what's coming next in the world of fashion, music and art. She also has an innate sense of whether a logo will "work" for a company. As a hobby, she is a footagehead - tracking bits and pieces of an art film that is slowly being released to the world over the internet. This hobby and her work intertwine when she is hired by Hubertus Bigend; travelling to London, Tokyo and Moscow in her jetlagged search for the genius mind behind the film.
The action builds nicely - the supporting characters have quirks comparable to Cayce's, and the exotic settings are described in a very believable and detailed way. A good portion of her communication is via e-mail and message boards - I found the tone quite authentic, as well as her reaction when she meets someone she'd only known through the message board that discusses the footage. The resolution was rather odd, but appropriate to the story....more
I'd put off reading the last novel in the Dark Tower series until I had a chance to re-read the previous books, as I felt I was missing things in theI'd put off reading the last novel in the Dark Tower series until I had a chance to re-read the previous books, as I felt I was missing things in the last 2 installments. Well, with one thing and another, I hadn't had a chance to get started with The Gunslinger until now.
The novel opens with an evocative first line: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." I'll admit to rolling my eyes a bit at the use of "parsecs" to describe the extent of the desert, but the story soon sucked me in. Roland, the titular gunslinger, is in search of the Tower, and believes the man in black (with whom he shares a dark history) has some of the answers he needs. We learn bits and pieces about Roland, both in flashback and in his reactions to the people he meets. The story gets even more interesting when Jake, a boy from (what seems to be) "our" New York, is suddenly dropped into Roland's path, as a companion and as a temptation.
I debated on whether to read the "new & improved" version of this novel, but decided to stick to the original after all, as I have mixed feelings about authors going back & tinkering with their works. Regardless of his reputation as a hack, King can tell a hell of a story when he tries, and IMHO, this series is one of his best works.
Recommended to fans of epic fantasy that isn't really swords & sorcery. ...more
Daniel Waterhouse "fearless thinker and courageous Puritan" in pursuit of Knowledge, rubs up against many of the great minds of the mid-late 17th centDaniel Waterhouse "fearless thinker and courageous Puritan" in pursuit of Knowledge, rubs up against many of the great minds of the mid-late 17th century, including Newton and Leibnitz.
He witnesses the London Fire, travels to the Colonies and (we hope) escapes pirates. A grand, sweeping novel that makes me wish I were more knowledgable about this time period and the prevailing philosophies. I also wish I'd read this closer to The Last Witchfinder (James Morrow) as his protagonist is also a "fearless thinker" who encounters Newton.
I got Lullaby as a pass-along from my mom a few months ago & finally started reading it earlier this week.
Wow. I don't think I've read anything tI got Lullaby as a pass-along from my mom a few months ago & finally started reading it earlier this week.
Wow. I don't think I've read anything this powerful & bleak since the first time I read Cat's Cradle. Carl Streator is a reporter with a terrible past, investigating SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). He discovers that the deaths all seem to have something in common: a book of poems & rhymes that contains a culling song - a simple poem that kills whenever it is recited. He is joined by Helen Hoover Boyle, a realtor specializing in haunted houses with demons of her own, in an attempt to eradicate all traces of the culling song.
Potent and disturbing at times, this book is my first exposure to Palahniuk and is one of the more compelling reads I've had so far this year. The themes of power & corruption and media influence are interwoven through this darkly absurd tale. I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed this book, per se... but it was a fascinating and worthwhile novel. I'll be reading more of his books - but maybe not while eating....more
Pterry's take on the Phantom of the Opera story, featuring Granny Weatherwax & Nanny Ogg, along with Agnes... I mean... Perdita X. Nitt, who is faPterry's take on the Phantom of the Opera story, featuring Granny Weatherwax & Nanny Ogg, along with Agnes... I mean... Perdita X. Nitt, who is fairly determined she doesn't want to be a witch, despite her preternatural singing skills.
Perhaps not my favorite Witches novel, but pretty good, nonetheless....more
Felt like taking it easy with a re-read, so I picked up Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett.
The celestial Auditors have determined that Death has taken onFelt like taking it easy with a re-read, so I picked up Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett.
The celestial Auditors have determined that Death has taken on a personality, and therefore must be replaced. As a consequence, the life force in Discworld has nowhere to go, with odd results, such as Windle Poons, a wizard, becoming one of the undead. Death himself is given a deadline of sorts, and decides to live a normal life by going to work on a farm. Oh yeah - and these odd little paperweights start to appear around the city...
Pratchett's exploration of "Death Takes a Holiday" is well written, generally humourous with the occasional out-loud laugh, but there's some philosophical ponderings hanging around the edges as well. IMHO, Reaper Man is one of the links between the early simple parodies of the first few Discworld books and the more sophisticated satire that appears in the later books.
Recommended to anyone with a taste for fantasy and humour....more
To heck with Universal Studios & Disneyland - I wanna go to Dreamworld - a fantastic (in the traditional & contemporary sense of the word) theTo heck with Universal Studios & Disneyland - I wanna go to Dreamworld - a fantastic (in the traditional & contemporary sense of the word) theme park portrayed in this novel.
We see the park thru Mike's eyes - a pre-teen who goes Under (behind the scenes) - only to meet someone already living there - Annie. She's been investigating the fact that more employees are *leaving* the park than are coming in and suspects the park owner's main rival.
Pop culture references abound in the park - you can visit Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, meet Oscar and the Mother Thing. Some aspects of seem copied from Niven & Barnes' Dream Park - but other elements are pure Spider.
The ending was satisfactory - but leaves the story wide open for a sequel. The "bad guys" are believably evil, and there's some interesting twists along the way. IMHO - it's got a lighter tone & less preachy than some of his other works - it could almost be a YA book. ...more
I Capture the Castle was a 50BC challenge recommendation from last year. I picked it up used, then loaned it to my mom for several months & finallI Capture the Castle was a 50BC challenge recommendation from last year. I picked it up used, then loaned it to my mom for several months & finally got it back.
Written in the form of a journal, this novel documents approximately a year in the life of 17-year old Cassandra and her family: her older sister Rose, father Mortmain, stepmother Topaz, and brother Thomas, as well as Stephen, a "hired hand" of sorts. They are living in not-so-genteel poverty in a leased, drafty & dank castle in the English countryside. Their father, who wrote a brilliant novel some years ago, has sunk into an eccentric inertia, and the only money coming to them is what Stephen earns doing odd jobs in the community.
As spring arrives, so do their new neighbors, the Cottons. Simon and Neil are brothers from America, who meet the family in a rather odd manner. Rose decides "to go after" Simon, as he has inherited the castle, as well as the local manor. Cassandra doesn't quite warm up to them at first, but eventually develops a relationship. Simon is familiar with Mortmain's novel and tries to cajole him into writing another story. Cassandra realizes that Stephen is in love with her, but wants to discourage him. Other various romantic hijinks occur along the way, with a relatively happy-ever-after ending.
Not having looked at the publishing date (1948), I was a little confused at first as to the timeframe of the story. It's a very English novel - reading it and Pride and Prejudice at the same time makes that even more obvious. I also found myself thinking of Britannia Mews by Margery Sharp, for some reason. The writing sounds very much like a self-conscious teenager, with the waves of emotion ebbing and flowing with the seasons. I wish I'd read it when I was Cassandra's age, as I might have had a bit more tolerance for her at times.
Recommended to fans of English coming-of-age novels....more