A worthwhile grab-bag. The SF stories in this book are fine entertainments, nicely done, they just didn't really stick to me. I enjoyed the essays a lA worthwhile grab-bag. The SF stories in this book are fine entertainments, nicely done, they just didn't really stick to me. I enjoyed the essays a lot more; really intelligent and well thought-out but with a punk-zine kind of voice to them. Smart & grumpy, in a way that reminded me a little of Thomas Disch's last book. Maybe it's a New York thing....more
This series is a total guilty pleasure. Albert Einstein in a t-shirt and bandolier blasting away at an army of jellyfish-headed robots with a five fooThis series is a total guilty pleasure. Albert Einstein in a t-shirt and bandolier blasting away at an army of jellyfish-headed robots with a five foot machine-gun whilst shouting "Aim for ze heads, Richard! Ze heads!" to Richard Feynman ... you either love or hate such things.
I started with Vol. 2 for some reason, but the non-linear nature of the narrative is such that it didn't seem to matter a whole lot. Basically every single historic figure from 20th century physics has been re-imagined as a character in this sprawling story about atomic scientists discovering alien technologies and using them to take over the world, starting at the end of WWII. Almost all of these physicists/generals/spacepersons turn out to be ruthless bastards of one kind or another, but they're still fascinating characters, and the narrative takes turns telling the story from all their different sets of eyes. Yuri Garagin is brave but vain, Albert Einstein is a hard-drinking shit-talker, Werner Von Braun is a rocket-obsessed sociopath (but we knew that), Enrico Fermi is an alien from another dimension and Robert Oppenheimer is, to borrow a phrase, "a very sick and dangerous man."
Add that to near constant rock-em-sock-em bloody violence, robots and rocketships, aliens, talking animals and a simulated F. D. R. ... again, what's not to like? (I suppose I'm slightly surprised I haven't seen boobs yet, but I'm sure they're coming.)...more
Non-stop wisecracking mixed with detailed historical fiction mixed with philosophical inquiry ... there's such a weird mix of awesome things in this bNon-stop wisecracking mixed with detailed historical fiction mixed with philosophical inquiry ... there's such a weird mix of awesome things in this book. Jesus and Biff learning kung-fu in a monastery, eating lunch with a yeti, watching a dude hump a goat in a pit, competing for the affections of Mary Magdelane, fighting demons, having sex ... (view spoiler)[(but not with each other) (hide spoiler)] in fact there's lots and lots of sex, but nothing graphic except maybe the foot-washing. I can understand how some people might get tired of Biff's wisecracking that never ends, but it's all very true to character and even if a joke or two is pushed beyond the limit there's always a better one on its way. Speaking of: I loved how well-formed Moore's characters are, even or especially the fifth business; Moore has a lot of sympathy for "extras," and no character is too minor for a good line of dialogue. And then there's this Jesus fella ... kudos to Moore for creating a believable human character where once a mere god stood. By the end of this novel, the gospels almost make sense.["br"]>["br"]>...more
I find myself more and more drawn to rivers. Last summer I got to float a short segment of the Willamette with some friends, and had a magical time. SI find myself more and more drawn to rivers. Last summer I got to float a short segment of the Willamette with some friends, and had a magical time. Since then I've been thinking about trying to float from Portland to Astoria next summer on some kind of junk barge, and doing some research on the matter. I forget how I heard about this book, but it's pretty much the perfect document: a guy somewhat like myself (but much better at boats) describes the entire length of the Columbia from the seat of his canoe.
It took me a chapter or two to get acclimated to the language, which initially comes off as a bit posh-poety but became entirely forgivable as I settled into Cody's mindset. It's amazing how he never runs out of words to describe coastline, or rowing, or water, or beavers, and remarkable how even-handed he is toward every farmer and dam-overseer he encounters, even though his sympathies clearly lie with the fish and the ducks. The big theme of this book is how the damming & complete regulation of the river has profoundly altered the experience of living on it or near it for everyone, and how everyone seems to know we're killing the fish & destroying native ways of life, but so many benefit from the dams, the irrigation, the hydropower and the calm state of the river that we probably can't ever go back of our own volition. All the structures and settlements take on a temple-like quality in that light, symbolizing a belief system in jeopardy.
I wish I knew the secret of keeping and relating such detailed accounts of experience. This book was written before it was economical to install surveillance devices in the bow of a canoe, and yet Cody seems to remember the full name of every single person he met of the river, what they looked like, everything they said and everything else about them, plus nuances of detail for every single bend in this very bendy river, a running census of waterfowl and fish and trains and RVs passing by ... every last thing a person could notice. Then he weaves in history, personal and otherwise, and a boatload of detailed research. Remarkably, it never gets dull or repetitive or even smug.
It leaves me wondering: is Robin Cody still alive? Is he my next-door neighbor? What does he have to say about the changes on the river since he wrote this? The Trojan nuclear plant is gone, but Hanford is still leaking radioactive water in the river. How are we doing, riverwise? I've come to realize that everybody in norther Oregon & southern Washington talks about the river, but very few of us actually go there. Probably this book is the next best thing. ...more