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East of Eden (Guest Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 03 March 2019 00:00

ohn Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden is a must read for any avid reader. Published in 1952, the language and references still relate to chaotic world of the 21st century. My mind quickly relaxed into the gentle rhythm of the novel, thankful for the opportunity to spend more time reading and less time on Google just to understand the narrative.

Though Steinbeck’s writing style is simple, the underlying messages are complex and dense. To fully appreciate John Steinbeck’s masterpiece, one must prepare themselves for hours of contemplation on personal development and volition. Steinbeck artfully conveys a story that, by example, demonstrates why each individual must take responsibility for balancing the internal struggle within themselves and the array of consequences if they fail. If you so choose to take on the complex nature that makes us human, then you will follow the life of Adam Trask.  As the reader follows Mr. Trask on his adventures traveling the western frontier, falling in love, and family quarrels; he and every character he meets will eventually face their own inner darkness. Each with a puzzle piece to add to the complex puzzle Steinbeck tries to solve.

So whether you are looking for a novel that facilitates deep thought, or just an entertaining read, East of Eden should definitely be on your list.

Kirstin Raymond is ranked as a favored niece and an avid reader. This is the first of hopefully many reviews from this level-headed, always-smiling young lady.


Last Updated on Sunday, 03 March 2019 08:15
The coming of the Martians (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 24 February 2019 00:00

ith all the miles beneath my wheels and all the audio books I’ve listened to, it’s kinda funny to have this one which I knocked off in an afternoon. The Coming of the Martains is a good audio dramatization (meaning they aren’t reading, they are acting) of my all-time favorite book, The War of the Worlds.

There is a lot going on here, and I was interested to figure how they would do this production. After all, reading aloud how the narrator’s dog cart topples over as the Martian’s tripod steps over it is one thing, but to actually pull it off in a dramatic format is tricky – after all, you can’t have a guy huddling in the cart’s wreckage (with a dead horse at his side) tell you aloud what he is seeing. Because nobody narrates their precarious positions in real life. But here, they actually carry it off pretty well, blending the story with superb vocalizations, sound effects and music. Oh, of course, having read it helps, but otherwise it’s a lot of fun, and very faithfully replicated. Here’s a sample of how it plays – close your eyes and see what you think.

That’s probably most important to me, that we stick with the story. Oh, there are tiny little changes. I mean, this is tiny-squat criticism but the Artilleryman (when they first meet up and journey to Weybridge) doesn’t seem so knowing and worldly. He’s just yes-siring and no-sirring all the authority figures. No grim humor. No “bows and arrows against the lightning” lines. But really, I was more happy by what they put in than what they left out. Interesting, I’ll note that in the novel, the Artilleryman teaches the narrator how to play a card game and it is the latter who suggests chess. But in this version, it is the Artilleryman who breaks out the pawns. Little things.

But overall I rather enjoyed this version (which is more accurate than most). My only real issue with this was how long it took the creators (Sherwood Sound) to deliver on my order. I saw this online and ordered it, I dunno, the middle of last year? I got the downloaded audiofiles but who wants to just sit there and click through them? But the disk, it took about as long as it takes to womb out a baby. Truthfully, I’d all but given up. Finally it showed and how happy I was with it.

So, if you are a WOTH fan, you might want to check this out. A very clever rendition.


Last Updated on Sunday, 24 February 2019 07:41
Fondly Fahrenheit (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 16 February 2019 21:00

kay, I’ve got an audio book and a paper one both half-done for this weekend. My niece hasn’t come through on her promise to submit a review. I’ve got nothing.

A little poking around the net found a reference to one of the thirty greatest scifi shorts, a piece called Fondly Fahrenheit. Kinky. So I found it HERE (sorry about the format, but it will print okay and it isn’t that many pages). And I read it.

And I loved it.

First off, this piece was pretty raw for 1954 (when it was first published). I can see why people we’re shocked. People die in horrible ways. Children are left dead in muddy fields. Bodie are burned in ovens. All in about eleven pages. So it’s tight and it’s graphic. For the squeamish, be warned.

Further, it is delivered in a strange way. I hit page two and suddenly was confused by a grammatical error I discovered. But this problem continued to manifest itself, really confusing me. What the hell was going on? Why these occasional referential typos. But as the story ground onwards and the blood flowed, it became clear what I was dealing with. Painfully clear. Beautifully clear. Keep an open mind on this and just see where the story takes you. You’ll be amazed (and a little disturbed) by the ending of it.

I am quite fond of Fondly Fahrenheit. It’s a ten-minute classic you are sure to enjoy!


The Swarm (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 10 February 2019 00:00

’ve got a friend in a hospital sixty miles off whom I visit three times a week. This is an extra 300 miles a week in the car, or five hours going putt-putt-putt. There was a serious concern that, following a long day at work, I might fall asleep at 80mph on the lonely swamp-crossing highway, go into the brush, get eaten by alligators and never be seen again.

Listened to music CDs and actually drifted off the road one night. This wasn’t working. Next trip out, I stopped at the local library and fingered through their audio books collection. And that’s how I ended up listening to The Swarm, a prequel to the wildly popular Enders Game.

Ender’s Game involves humanity fighting against the Formics (a race of creatures seemingly controlled by a hive mind). In this history, the first time the Formics showed up they gassed half of China (and this was a scout ship). And now they are coming again, a fleet of them. This book picks up characters hinted at in Enders and carries them through the dire times where Earth is attempting to unify its defense, to figure a way to penetrate the Formic hull armor, and to keep from being extinguished (or, more correctly, terraformed (formicformed?)) And good luck to them.

The story centers around four plotlines, that of a young Chinese boy who grew up in war, a Kuiper Belt miner and his crew out in the black, a military officer who boarded and destroyed the Formic scout ship, and an industrialist trying to come up with a solution about that impregnable armor the enemy uses. Through these characters, we see various aspects of our desperate system at war.

I’ll say this, the story rolled along pretty briskly, the voice acting was top-notch and the miles rolled by. I really enjoyed seeing where Ender’s Battle School came from. My only disappointment came from the fact that I thought I had another disk to listen to (there was the back side of the last sleeve) and suddenly it was the end. And not a full end, not with the Formics massing and insurmountable problems (internal and otherwise) facing our race. Only the next day was I able to check – yes, part one of the trilogy, so that’s literally not all she (or a pair of he’s) wrote. More to come.

But it was a very interesting story of vast space and human frailties. And if my friend can’t get his ass out of the damn hospital, well, in a short while, I’ll have another set of disks to listen to.



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