In the thirdSluggy Freelance collection we're treated to the first Hallowe'en sortie against Torg by the denizens of the Dimension of Pain, a flashbac...moreIn the third Sluggy Freelance collection we're treated to the first Hallowe'en sortie against Torg by the denizens of the Dimension of Pain, a flashback to Torg and Riff's junior high days, an ancient Egyptian tomb, an attempted murder from the future, and an attempt by the demon K'z'k (no vowels) to take over the world. Oh, and the holidays attack.(less)
The second Sluggy Freelance collection is slightly less brilliant thanthe first, but it made me giggle just the same. In this book Torg first encount...moreThe second Sluggy Freelance collection is slightly less brilliant than the first, but it made me giggle just the same. In this book Torg first encounters the Dimension of Pain, Bun Bun takes off with Riff's robot and the gang encounter the Lysinda circle of vampires.(less)
This is the first collection of strips from the webcomic Sluggy Freelance. The art is somewhat crude. The storylines are simplistic. Some of the gags...moreThis is the first collection of strips from the webcomic Sluggy Freelance. The art is somewhat crude. The storylines are simplistic. Some of the gags are dated. But I continue to laugh out loud. (less)
I first read this book back in high school. My tastes had started to run towards sword & sorcery fantasy and my eye was caught by the Boris Vallej...moreI first read this book back in high school. My tastes had started to run towards sword & sorcery fantasy and my eye was caught by the Boris Vallejo illustration on the cover. I read the book and was enchanted by the world of Gor--a world filled with hawk-riding warriors, beautiful women and the mysterious Preist-Kings. I devoured the first seven Del Rey editions, following the adventures of the hero, Tarl Cabot, an earth man transported to the planet. With him I discovered the fascinating world of Gor, as he defeated evil foes, rescued beautiful damsels and unraveled the mystery of the Priest-Kings. The series continued with another publisher--Tor, perhaps? As it progressed the books became filled with less adventure and more philosophy: men are naturally more dominant, women are naturally submissive, blah, blah, blah. I suspect Mr. Norman had never encountered stubborn women of midwestern and/or German descent. (Now there's a book, HausFrau of Gor.)
Anyway, when I finally got around to paring down my library, the Gor books were easily sold off. Years passed and at the most recent Friends of the Library sale, I found a copy of Tarnsman of Gor on the book tables. I had forgotten a lot about the book, so I figured I'd reread it and see how much I'd enjoy it 30+ years later. The story itself was all right, once I got over the bad science and the similarities to A Princess of Mars. I could relate somewhat to Tarl Cabot, a young man learning a new culture, but still hanging on to some of his native values. The plot moves along pretty well and the characters are likable stereotypes. But in the end, I wasn't even slightly tempted to read the next book in the series.(less)
There's been a couple of times that I've wondered why, if there is creation science out there, have I never seen any creation science fiction? Well, R...moreThere's been a couple of times that I've wondered why, if there is creation science out there, have I never seen any creation science fiction? Well, Robert Sawyer has addressed that issue... sort of. Calculating God is a tale of first contact, of aliens coming to visit Earth. The aliens are strange to human eyes, as one might expect. (Though their personalities were refreshingly pedestrian.) But what was most odd to the protagonist, Dr. Thomas Jericho, was the fact that these advanced aliens believed in God. As the story progresses, Dr. Jericho and the alien Hollus discuss the latter's beliefs and Jericho wrestles with his own atheism. Mr. Sawyer does a good job of presenting some of the evidence that I've heard creation scientists cite, and his alien theists come across as credible representatives of real world believers. The weakest part of the book is the subplot with the fundamentalist Christian terrorists. And the story itself is far from Mr. Sawyer's better works. Still, I'd recommend checking it out. (less)
This was a blast from the past. ... Er, let me rephrase that. I grew up in the 60's and 70's, when the idea of a nuclear war was part of the cultural...moreThis was a blast from the past. ... Er, let me rephrase that. I grew up in the 60's and 70's, when the idea of a nuclear war was part of the cultural background. Nowadays, we're much more worried that we'll be done in by a suicide bomber from Tehran (to use a stereotype) than an ICBM from Siberia. So when I read this book, an science fiction tale about a nuclear war occurring in 1959, I felt downright nostalgic. Cities destroyed, technology rendered useless, slow death by radiation: Alas, Babylon has it all. While sometimes the plot gets a bit too convenient, it is an interesting story.(less)
Back in the seventies, Byron Preiss tried to recapture the magic of the pulp magazines of the thirties, commissioning authors and artists to create ne...moreBack in the seventies, Byron Preiss tried to recapture the magic of the pulp magazines of the thirties, commissioning authors and artists to create new characters and tales for the "modern" day. Reading it in the twenty-teens, it comes across as somewhat nostalgic. The only story that really grabbed me was the one featuring Archie Goodwin's character Adam Stalker. As for the rest, well, it would be nice to have in a waiting room. Otherwise, I could do without.(less)
This is the ultimate waiting room material--a book that carried me through the tedious moments of jury duty. It's a collection of short-short science...moreThis is the ultimate waiting room material--a book that carried me through the tedious moments of jury duty. It's a collection of short-short science fiction stories. 100 tales, each of which fills but a handful of pages. Many of them are humorous, some horrific. Plenty of them have been written by the great authors of science fiction. I'm tempted to say that all of the stories are good, because I can't remember a single klunker in the lot. Anyway, I'm keeping this gem on my shelf.(less)
Giggle time! Redshirts takes the tropes of Star Trek and similar space operas and lampoons them from the perspective of the lower ranks of the ship's...moreGiggle time! Redshirts takes the tropes of Star Trek and similar space operas and lampoons them from the perspective of the lower ranks of the ship's crew. Instead of trying to sound intellectual about it all, I'll simply say: It's funny, it's clever, and you should read it.(less)
This collection of science fiction stories written between 1934 and 1966 was published with the intention to "inspire curiosity" and "lead the student...moreThis collection of science fiction stories written between 1934 and 1966 was published with the intention to "inspire curiosity" and "lead the student into lines of questioning of his own". To that end, Dr. Asimov followed each tale with a brief commentary and some questions related to the ideas used on the story. I originally bought this book for a high school course in science fiction. In that class, we never did use the questions, focusing instead on the literary aspects of the stories. Nor did I ever pursue Dr. Asimov's questions on my own. But, by golly, I certainly did enjoy the stories themselves, hanging onto the book for all these years. It's classic science fiction from the mid-20th Century. Man is often the master of his domain, either by conquering his environment or by inventing wonders that astound. Of course, that observation is what I picked up in my 2012 reading of the tales. What originally endeared me to the book is the variety of concepts and the well written stories that explored those ideas. Hopefully, Dr. Asimov wouldn't have been a too disappointed in my response, missing his goal as it does.(less)
This is one of those rare times when I pull a beloved book off my shelf and end up thinking less of the tome than I did on my previous readings. Stran...moreThis is one of those rare times when I pull a beloved book off my shelf and end up thinking less of the tome than I did on my previous readings. Strangers is a Star Trek novel, telling of a first contact between Vulcans and Humans. (This was written before the movie Star Trek: First Contact, so now we know that this story never really happened.)(Well, you know what I mean.) Like the movie, it wasn't enough to simply present the tale of this event. The author also had to include time travelling members of the Enterprise crew, in this case, from the original series. In the past, I enjoyed the cultural anxiety of the encounter and the building drama of the story. This time around, I also (eventually) got caught up in the plot, but I spent far too much time noticing the clichés and two dimensional characters. I may hang onto the book out of nostalgia, but I really couldn't recommend that any one else pick it up outside of the waiting room.(less)
This is a scary, scary book. 'Twas written in 1932, yet it resonates far too well with 2009. Brave New World features a dystopian future, where all th...moreThis is a scary, scary book. 'Twas written in 1932, yet it resonates far too well with 2009. Brave New World features a dystopian future, where all the world is regulated and happy. No, seriously, people are conditioned from conception to fill and be satisfied with a particular niche in society. After work, they're given a variety of pleasures to keep them happy and satisfied. Well, I suppose there are a few odd people who don't quite fit in as perfectly as they're supposed to. (You have to have some sort of conflict to have a story, don't you?) But they are truly the exception. Mr. Huxley's story is not a gripping one, but it's placed in an interesting setting and populated by very real characters.(less)
This sucker is actually four novels collected into a single volume. The collection starts with They Shall Have Stars. The year is 2013 and humanity is...moreThis sucker is actually four novels collected into a single volume. The collection starts with They Shall Have Stars. The year is 2013 and humanity is out among the solar system while, back on Earth, a quiet struggle is going on between the West and the Soviets. It's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the two, however, as the Western governments seek to impose more and more control on their populace. Amidst this all is a scheme of Alaskan senator Bliss Wagoner, which is playing out in a lab on Earth and a gigantic construction project in the atmosphere of Jupiter. They Shall Have Stars was entertaining enough. The 1957 story seemed dated in many ways, but in others it seemed eerily prescient.
A Life for the Stars is the second tale in the collection, set centuries after the first. Humanity has discovered the gravitronpolarity generator, or "spindizzy" and over the years, first factories, then entire cities have used this gravity cancelling device to leave Earth and propel themselves through interstellar space. Chris deFord gets press ganged onto the departing city of Scranton and begins a new life among the stars.
Story #3, Earthman Come Home, is the first (and best) of the tales to have been written. It's the saga of the city of New York, an "okie" city travelling the stars and looking for work. Mayor John Amalfi and City Manager Mark Hazelton guide the city through a series of adventures culminating in a... well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?
The Triumph of Time closes out the volume. Mayor Amalfi comes out of retirement to face a final challenge, one that will have significance for the entire universe. It was the least satisfying of the four stories. Overall, the book is good, classic science fiction. The concept of space faring cities is intriguing, though it failed to truly grab hold of my imagination. But it was enough to carry me through dozens of lunch breaks, so I can't really complain.(less)
Wow. This is just... wow! Great! Wunderbar! Incredible!
Maybe I should elucidate. I've enjoyed comics practically all my literate life, really becomin...moreWow. This is just... wow! Great! Wunderbar! Incredible!
Maybe I should elucidate. I've enjoyed comics practically all my literate life, really becoming a fan in the mid-seventies. By that era, the staples of the super-hero genre--the heroes from DC and Marvel--were pretty well established. I spent many an hour delving into the treasure trove of their history. The comic books and characters that had their start since that era, however, I've usually found lacking. I've bought many a premiere issue, wanting to get into the character, along with its setting, its supporting cast, its rogues gallery and ended up being disappointed. The magic just wasn't there. So anyway, back in 1994, the new Starman came out. I heard a lot of good things about it, but money was tight and comics weren't as appealing to me as they used to be. I didn't check it out. I mean, hey, Starman? I always considered him just a Green Lantern wannabe. If I had only known then what I know now, I might have been spending more money. Or maybe I would have been too young to appreciate it. Anyway, now it's 2009. I picked up this collection of Starman issues 0 through 16, read it and... wow. This is the series with that classic quality. Interesting characters, intriguing setting and a hero with an honest-to-Ghandi personality. I don't have the money for it now, but one day I'd like to get a copy of this sucker. Or maybe I should dare to haunt the comic shop back issue racks one again?(less)
Over the years, I've found that a collection of the "best" stories of a year usually lives up to its title. Any other "bests" tend to fall short. This...moreOver the years, I've found that a collection of the "best" stories of a year usually lives up to its title. Any other "bests" tend to fall short. This one came close, however. Mr. Malzberg has collected tales from the forties through the nineties--ah, given the focus of the book, I should say the nineteen-forties through the nineteen-nineties. There are nice, solid time travel tales in here, including one of my personal favorites, "Brooklyn Project". While not spectacular, it's definitely a keeper.(less)
This was purely a comic book fan-boy purchase from the Friends of the Library sale. I really enjoyed Roy Thomas' work on DC Comics, All-Star Squadron,...moreThis was purely a comic book fan-boy purchase from the Friends of the Library sale. I really enjoyed Roy Thomas' work on DC Comics, All-Star Squadron, so naturally I would pick up this collection of Marvel Comics' Invaders series. I mean, they both tell the tales of super-heroes during World War II and all, right? Yeah, sure. For the record, let me state that while The Invaders does offer an enjoyable read, it's not quite a classic--even by comic book standards. Frank Robbins art is dynamic, but it's a style that I've never quite enjoyed. And the writing is somewhat formulaic. Fortunately Mr. Thomas did better when he tried his hand with another group of wartime heroes. But none of this is important when there's a collection to complete, eh?(less)
Marvels is a look at the early years of the Marvel Universe from the viewpoint of normal folks. Our everyman is Phil Sheldon, a news photographer. As...moreMarvels is a look at the early years of the Marvel Universe from the viewpoint of normal folks. Our everyman is Phil Sheldon, a news photographer. As the events of various Marvel comics occur in the background, Phil observes and reacts to them. The original series had four issues. The first deals with the rise of super-powered beings, referred to as "marvels" by Phil. The second shifts to the second age of Marvel comics in the early sixties, contrasting the celebrity of the Fantastic Four with the fearful reactions to the X-Men. Issue three shows the reaction on the street to the first coming of Galactus. And, finally, issue four tells how Phil hooked up with Gwen Stacy in his attempt to write a book on what the "marvels" should mean to the common people of humanity. It's a collection that really struck a chord with this fan-boy, or ex-fan-boy, or whatever I am these days. I loved getting a different perspective on the stories--the mythology--I read all those years ago. And of course Alex Ross' art is magnificent, bringing a unique sense of reality without sacrificing the necessary unreality that the superhero genre requires. Part of me is tempted to go out and get a brand new copy rather than this worn hand-me-down paperback. Either way, I want to keep Marvels on my shelf.(less)
I literally picked this one up off the sidewalk. One evening whilst out strolling, we came a cross a neighbor's house with boxes of books for the taki...moreI literally picked this one up off the sidewalk. One evening whilst out strolling, we came a cross a neighbor's house with boxes of books for the taking sitting out along the sidewalk. It looks like the St. Alphonsus School Library was cleaning house and didn't feel like sending someone all the way down to the Goodwill. Anyway, I tell you this to explain why I bothered to read this particular book. Tunnel Through Time is a science fiction tale written for kids. Bob Miller is the seventeen-year-old son of a physicist who's invented a method of time travel. His dad has convinced a paleontologist, Doc Tom, to make the first trip into the past. Doc Tom insists on pushing the machine to the limits, going back in time 80 million years. When he doesn't return, Bob and Doc's son, Pete, convince Dr. Miller to send them back as a rescue party. So begins a teen-age adventure in time. As time travel tales go, I found this one to be pretty lame. 'Tis a thinly veneered science lesson, imparting the latest paleontology information from the mid-1960s. The whole plot was also pretty hard to swallow. Maybe when I was a kid I would have found the tale believable, but nowadays I know that in the real world, Doc Tom wouldn't have even gotten near the time machine until it had been properly debugged. If then. Ah, well. It was a historical curiosity, if nothing else.(less)
I grabbed this at the Library sale, because, hey, it's been years since I could buy a comic book for 75¢. It reprints JLA issues 47 through 54. The wr...moreI grabbed this at the Library sale, because, hey, it's been years since I could buy a comic book for 75¢. It reprints JLA issues 47 through 54. The writing is good, the art is mostly excellent. My one complaint is that it starts in the middle of a story without any summary of what had gone on before. As near as I can figure, right before these tales, the Justice League discovered that Batman had devised plans to capture and/or disable each member in the event that they turned to the dark side or some such. They discovered this because one of Batman's enemies, Ra's al Ghul, managed to get ahold of this data and put the fail-safe plans into action. This honked everybody off and the result was that Batman was voted out of the League, 4 to 3. The result is that you have a divided league who are not only in disagreement over whether Batman should have been axed, but also are starting to wonder what dark secrets their other teammates might be harboring. It makes for some ineffective crime fighting across multiple dimensions. Anyway, that's a long winded explanation of the overall scenario. If you want details, you'll just have to check it out for yourself.(less)
(I don't normally review comic books, but this one has an ISBN, so I'll make an exception.)
Sometime back the folks at DC Comics must have stumbled acr...more(I don't normally review comic books, but this one has an ISBN, so I'll make an exception.)
Sometime back the folks at DC Comics must have stumbled across the notion that since their comics are so archetypal, they could take their characters, drop them into a whole new scenario and milk a story out of it. Having been a comics junkie for decades, I tend to enjoy these little jaunts of fantasy, enjoying all the little references to the original mythos that have been tucked into the tale. In Justice Riders, you have the Justice League of America (circa 1997) as they might have existed in the Old West. Sheriff Diana Prince is seeking to avenge the destruction of her town, Paradise. In her quest she gathers people of unique skills to help her--Kid Flash, the Hawk Shaman, Booster Gold, the Beetle and the mysterious manhunter John Jones. They hunt down the wealthy industrialist Maxwell Lord and try to bring him to justice. It's a deliciously rendered offering; a steam-punk tale with just a touch of super-hero fantasy.(less)
Ah, how can I do a capsule review of this book? On the surface, it's the story about two comedians, Muscroft and Ashby, and their robot, Carlton. The...moreAh, how can I do a capsule review of this book? On the surface, it's the story about two comedians, Muscroft and Ashby, and their robot, Carlton. The team is playing the Circuit--the dozens of clubs in amongst the asteroids, satellites and mining stations between Mars and Saturn. They're looking to make it to the big time, Mars, and finally a lead opens up. Unfortunately, the road to Mars is complicated by terrorists, a disaster and the biggest diva of the solar system. The tale is written (quite well) by Eric Idle, a member of the Monty Python troupe. As one might suspect, the book is fraught with wit and commentary about life, the universe and everything. Only one transvestite, though. Anyway, if you can handle that you may want to check it out.(less)
This one's a sequel to Red Thunder, the story of how good, ol' American ingenuity beat the Chinese to Mars. (Well, okay, it was American ingenuity bac...moreThis one's a sequel to Red Thunder, the story of how good, ol' American ingenuity beat the Chinese to Mars. (Well, okay, it was American ingenuity backed by the nigh magical invention of an idiot savant.) It's some twenty years later and two of those first humans on Mars have settled onto the Red Planet. They run a hotel. Humanity is reaching for the stars, while the less adventurous settle for an interplanetary vacation. The story, however, really doesn't deal with that. The focus of Red Lightning is Earth. Earth has just suffered a great disaster--an object travelling at near light speed has skipped off the northern Atlantic Ocean and kicked up the most devastating tsunami the planet has ever seen. We're then privy to the adventures of the Garcia-Strickland clan as they deal with the disaster and its repercussions. Some of the latter are expected, some are, well, going off on a tangent. It doesn't make for great literature--it is a sequel, after all--but it's enjoyable enough.(less)