Book Blog
The Regulators (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 14 October 2012 00:00

I fled into the world of The Regulators (by Richard Bachman / Stephen King) after a friend's suggested book proved so dry and badly written that I had to balm myself with enjoyable, cutting fiction. And really, through people hate to admit it, King is a solid writer. It might feel clever to say he isn't, but his prose is hard and sharp and imaginative, and his stories horrifically fun. And this one was no exception.

The book explores the ironic zone between the peaceful world most of us live in (suburbia) and the brutal popular culture that flies through the airwaves and down into our homes, through our antennas. How many of us sit in our comfy little houses, sealed off from the world, while imagines of pain, horror and death flicker from our televisions?

So here we are on Poplar Street, in eastern Columbus, Ohio. It's a lazy summer's day, with car washing, Frisbee tossing and paper delivering going on. How idyllic. How nice.

But in 247 Poplar, a small child is gathering power. For inside him grows some creature named Tak, picked up in a family outing out west, an outing that ended with his entire family being gunned down in a drive by. His aunt has become his plaything. His uncle, sucked of all life force, has been discarded. And now he's going to cut lose, to bring to life all those images the young boy has watched, of cowboys and Indians and van-driving cartoon action-figures. And all these things are coming to Poplar street.

We start with a lot of characters, almost too many. I kept referring to the street map in front to remember who was how. But in King fashion, that's not an issue. First, King has distinctive character types; you know them on your own street. And secondly, they start to die in horrifically nasty ways. The field is culled down until its easily remembered.

It's a good story, solid King, modern-horror delivered piping hot. Just the thing I needed when reading a private press libertarian fantasy that goes down like a mouthful of oyster crackers. I do know (from poking around) that this was one of a two-set companion book deal with a mirror novel named "Desperation". Apparently its the same characters, the same monster, just in a different setting. I'm not sure what the point is in that - it seems a bit too much a gimmick for me. Besides, once you have someone blown into gravy by a barrage of shotgun shells, what's the point of having them back alive again?

Anyway, it was a lot of fun. Now, back to that self-righteous political pulp...


Last Updated on Monday, 08 October 2012 10:23
RailSea (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 07 October 2012 00:00

You cheated! Cheated! I hate you! I refuse to accept! I won't win any way but my way! You've ruined my reputation, do you hear? You I hate! You and your hair that's always combed, your suit that's always white, your car that's always clean! I refuse to accept! I challenge you to another race!

-Professor Fate (The Great Race)

I hate China Mieville. I hate that he's one of those guys who can actually look cool in leather, with a shaved head and silly earrings. I hate that he lives (and works) in London. I hate that he's a very successful writer. But most of all, I hate his writing.

I hate that his prose is always funny, that his imagery is always startling, that his worlds are weird and his characters always cool. I hate that he can present a strange world and pull it off, and that he can actually mock (faintly) the ideals of western storytelling while he's writing a western culture story. He just shines in this book, one of his best since Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council.

Just hates him, we do.

So, aside from all this, what is RailSea? Well, just turn off your disbelief firewalls. Just accept a planet like Dune, where there are great seas of dirt surrounded by human settlements on rocky highlands. And that stepping on that sand can get you ingested by something nasty pretty quick. Now, supposedly this planet was part of a huge galactic federation at one time, and economies were different and strange. Railroads were built. Lots and lots of railroads, competing with parallel tracks. Railroads that double, triple, and quadrupled their mainlines to handle the loads. So now the sands are covered by a shimmering sea of rails in the form of yards, switching junctions, intersections and the like.

And over these vast tangled rail networks set out trains. Some of them are salvagers, seeking ruins from the past. Some are moliers, hunting the meat and pelts of huge moles. Some are wartrains of various nations. And some are pirates.

Get where this is going? It's rather like a sailing yarn with trains rather than ships. It's an obvious lampoon, one so faint that the author even mocks it. Many captains have lost limbs to distinct creatures, and these creatures they pursue are called their philosophies. Captains brag about their pursuits, inquire about specific monsters, then chug out of port (with harpoons gleaming), hot on their latest lead. It's a wonderful combination of Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, as well as your routine pirate novel. And as you read it (hell, as you savor it), the author stands behind you, joking, quipping, and doubling his adventure back on itself. Even given my love of sailing stories, even given my love of trains, this book stood out as a gem.

The strange thing was when I went to pick it up - Barnes&Nucklehead didn't have it on their new arrivals or scifi shelf. So I asked. It was way across the store in young adult. Really? A book who's first line reads...

This is the story of a bloodstained boy.

Not that I don't think young adults would enjoy this - I think they would. But really, its better suited for adults, and best for adults who are true readers.

Check it out. Maybe you'll end up hating it too!


Hatred comes in all forms...

Last Updated on Monday, 08 October 2012 10:22
Ark (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 September 2012 00:00

Flood was a book I'd read a couple of years back, before I was blogging (flogging?) books. It was an interesting idea, that underground oceans were down emptying upwards, that the world was slowly flooding, deeper and deeper until savage fights were breaking out around the last few mountain tops, and that as those went under the final survivors (floating on their garbage-roped rafts of trash) watched a bright flash as an off-stage space ark fired off its warp drives near Jupiter, throwing a set of human candidates towards a distant star system.

Ark is the companion book to Flood, the story of how the ship is constructed, who goes (and who stays) and what they find when they get to their crap-shoot colony.

Like I said, I had read Flood some time ago, and Ark starts pretty abruptly - I can almost imagine Baxter tossing the final page of Flood over his shoulder and shouting "Next!" as he rolls a fresh sheet into his typewriter (such a dated image!). I had a dim memory of characters, a couple of hazy scenes from before, and suddenly we were into the first reel without so much as a character list or a warmup chapter or anything. Many of characters I finally remembered as the story got rolling, a couple I figured it wern't too important, but yes, it was catch-up for most of the book. That doesn't mean you can't read Ark as a standalone. But just don't think anyone is going to help you.

Still, I rather liked it - it conveyed the desperation of the launch, of readying the ship while masses of desperate humanity are pressing the fences, while the Mormon state of Utah is attacking, of candidates getting pulled off the launch while favorite-sons and -daughters of rich backers are forced on. And, of course, once the warp drive lights and the ship runs out into the great dark sea of space, then the tensions begin to mount. It's a multi-year haul towards their unknown destination, petty feuds erupt into ship-threatening wars, and it's touch-n-go for a number of scenes.

And what happens when they get there? What do they find?

Heh. Read it yourself.

I will say that Baxter's comments on life, the universe, and everything (including alien cultures) is sad and believable. It's worth the price of admission alone.

I can't recommend reading this beachside (too spooky) but its worth cracking the cover, somewhere high and dry.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 19:44
THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA (all reviews) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 23 September 2012 19:33

What follows is my full list of reviews, with links. You might not find every book published by man here, but damn, there's a lot of them.


Accelerando (Review)

A Clash of Kings (Review)

Across the River and into the Trees (Review)

After London; or, Wild England (Review)

The Aftermath (Review)

After the Golden Age (Review)

Aircraft of World War 1 (Review)

Algorithms to Live By (Review)

Alive Day (Review)

All You Need Is Kill (Review)

Amanda Todd: The Friend of Cats (Review)

And all the Earth is a Grave (Review)

American Flagg (Review)

Another Brick in the Moon (Review)

Arabella of Mars (Review)

Ark (Review)

Artemis (Review)

As easy as A.B.C. (Review)

The Ashtabula Diaster (Review)

Astounding Stories July 1931 (Review)

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Review)

Atlas of the Moon (Review)


Bad Monkey (Review)

A Bad Season for Necromancy (Review)

Bartleby, The Scrivener (Review)

Battle-Chasers (Review)

Beachhead (Review)

Beginning Go (Review)

Biketopia (Review)

Bicycle Diaries (Review)

The Big Over Easy (Review)

The Black Cloud (Review)

The Blockade Runners (review)

Book of Daniel (Review)

A Borrowed Man (Review)

A Boy and his Tank (Review)

The Brick Moon (Review)


Cæsar's Column (Review)

Caliban’s War (Review)

Cannibal Reign (Review)

The Carnivore (Review)

The Cartels Jungle (Review)

Casca (Review)

Casca, the Outlaw (Review)

Casino Royale (Review)

Cat Crimes I (review)

This Census-Taker (Review)

Chasing Fire (guest review)

The City & The City (Review)

City of Widows (review)

Clash of Eagles (Review)

Closer (Review)

Cloud Atlas (Review)

The Club Dumas (Review)

The coming of the Martians (Review)

A Compendium of Model Railroad Operations (Review)

Concrete Island (Review)

Cool Japan Guide (Review)

The Count of Monte Cristo (review)

CultureSmart!India (Review)


Damnificados (Review)

A Dance of Dragons (Review)

Dark Matter (Review)

The Day of the Star Cities (Review)

Days of Infamy (Review)

The Days Work (partial review)

Dead Man’s Chest (Review)

Deception Point (Review)

Derailed (Review)

The Diary of a Young Girl (Review)

Dick Trevanion (Review)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Review)

A Doctor at Calvary (review)

Doom of London (Review)

Down these strange streets (Review)


Earth Winter (Review)

East of Eden (Guest Review)

The Edge of the Knife (Review)

The Egyptologist (Review)

Eidolon: The Thousand Year Ghost (Review)

Embassytown (Review)

Embedded (Review

Empire (Review)

The End (Review)

End of the Beginning (Review)

End of Watch (Review)

Enemies (Review)

The Enlightened Cyclist (Review)

Eternity Road (Review)

Existence (Review)

Exodus (review)

Extraction Request (Review)

The Eyre Affair (Review)


Falcon (review)

Fall of Giants / Winter of the World (Guest review)

The Fantastic World War II (Review)

A feast for Crows (Review)

The Fencing Master (Review)

15 Views of Orlando (Review)

The 5th Wave (review)

A fight with a cannon (review)

First Love (Review)

Flashman (Review)

Flashman (Series Review)

Floor Games (Review)

Fly by Night (Review)

Flying Dutch (Review)

Flying to Valhalla (Review)

Following the Equator (Review)

Fondly Fahrenheit (Review)

Footprints of Thunder (Review)

40 Days with Jesus (Review)

Frankenstein (review)

Frank Reade (Review)

Free 5 (Review)

The Further Adventures of Captain Gregory Dangerfield (Review)


The Game of Rat and Dragon (Review)

Game of Thrones (Review)

Gelato Parlour (Review)

Genesis (review)

Get out of our Skies (Review)

The Girl on the Train (Review)

The Glass Hammer (Review)

Go for Beginners (Review)

Go Fundamentals (Review)

Gods of War (Review)

Good Luck, Yukikaze (Review)

Good Omens (Review)

Green Eggs and Ham (Review)

Great Pirate Stories (Review)

The Great Time Machine Hoax (Review)

Great World Religions - Hinduism (review)

Grunts (Review)

The Gum Thief (Review)

The Gun (Review)

Guns, Germs, and Steel (Review)

Gyo (Review)


He gave me Barn Cats (Review)

The Helmsman (Review)

Hiero's Journey (Review)

The Historian (Review)

History of the Persian Empire (Review)

The Hollywood History of the World (Review)

Homeward Bound (Review)

The House in the Borderland (Review)

How to be happy (DOG EAR)

Hunter's Run (Review)


I Am Legend (Review)

I Call Bullshit (Review)

The Immortal (Review

In the Orbit of Saturn (Review)

Industrial Revolution (Review)

Infected (Review)

In the City of Bikes (Review)

In the days of the comet (Review)

Interpreter of Maladies (Review)

Inverted World (Review)

Iron Sunrise (review)


The Johnstown Flood (Review)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Review)

Journey to the Past (Review)

The Jungle Book (Review)


The Keeper (Review)

The Kill List (Review)

King Rat (Review)

Krakatoa (Review)


The Last American (Review)

The Last Days of Magic (Review)

Learned Optimism (Review)

Leiningen versus the Ants (Review)

Leviathan Wakes (Review)

Liftport (Review)

Lincoln the Unknown (Review)

Little Wars (Audio Review)

Live Free or Die (review)

A Lodging for the Night (Review)

London Under (Review)

The Long Earth (Review)

Looking Backwards (Review)

Lord Foul's Bane (Review)

Lords of the Stratosphere (Review)

The Lost City of the Templars (Review)

Louis XIV-A Royal Life (Review)

Louise de la Valliere (Review)

Luftwaffe Fighter Aces (Review)


The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF (Review)

A Man called Ove (Review)

The Man in the Iron Mask (Review)

Mark Twain for Cat Lovers (Review)

Manufacturing Consent (Review)

The Marquis of Carabas (Review)

Martin Citywit (Review)

The Martian (Review)

The Massacre of Mankind (Review)

Metagame (review)

Micro (Review)

The Mirror (Review)

Mirror to the Sky (Review)

The Misplaced Battleship (Review)

Mr. Mercedes (Review)

Moby Dick (Review)

Moby Dick - a counterpoint (Guest Review)

Moonfleet (Review)

Murat (Celebrated Crimes) (Review)

My Brother's Keeper (Review)

My Tank is Fight (Review)


The Name of the Wind (Review)

Nausicaa (Review)

The Neptune Strategy (Review)

Neverwhere (Review)

New Jules Verne Adventures (Review)

The New World (Review)

The Night Circus (Guest Review)

19 East, Copy Three (Review)

No Country for Old Men (Review)

Northwest Passage (Review)


The Odyssey (Review)

One of Clive's Heroes (Review)

The Orion Nebula (Review)

Out of the Silent Planet (Review)

Out of their Minds (Review)

Out on a comet (Review)


Pandemonium (Review)

Pandemonium: Smoke (Review)

Patriots (Review)

A People's History of the United States (Review)

Perdido Street Station (Review)

Phantom (Review)

Piece of Cake (Review)

Pillars of the Earth (Review)

Pipers (Review)

The Point of Honor (Review)

The Powder Monkey (Review)

Powers of the Earth (Review)

Pygmy (Review)


Quicksilver (Review)


The Race for God (Review)

Raiders of the Universes (Review)

RailSea (Review)

Raising Steam (Review)

The Ragged Astronauts (review)

Razor Girl (Review)

Ready Player One (Review)

The Real Story - Series (Review)

Reamde (Review)

Red Hill (Review)

The Red Room (Review)

The Regulators (Review)

The Republic (Review)

Rikki-tikki-tavi (Review)

The Riddle of the Sands (Review)

River of Doubt (Review)

Rivers of grass (Review)


Salammbo (Review)

Scaramouche (Review)

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Guest Review)

The Sea Witch (Review)

The Search for Fierra (Review)

The Second-Class Passenger (Review)

The Serene Invasion (Review)

SevenEves (Review)

The Shack (Review)

Shades of Grey (Review)

The Shame of Motley (Review)

The Shelter (Review)

The Siege of Dome (Review)

Singularity Sky (Review)

The Sirens of Titan (Review)

Sketches Old and New (Review)

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Review)

Snow Crash (review)

Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas (Review)

Some Remarks (Review)

...Something I Could Quit (Review)

Space Boy (Review)

Specters Anonymous (Review)

Stardust (Review)

Starwolf (Review)

Steampunk (review)

Stone Lake (Review)

Stories of the Sea (Review)

The Story of the Treasure Seekers (Audio Review)

A Storm of Swords (Review)

Suffer the Children (Review)

In Sunlight and in Shadow (Guest Review)

The Swarm (Review)


Tanks (Review)

A Temporary Matter (Review)

The Ten Thousand (Review)

Ten Years Later (Review)

The Tenth Planet (Review)

Terminal (Review)

The Thin Man (Review)

Three Moments of an Explosion (Review)

The Three Musketeers (Review)

The 13th Star (Review)

The Thirteenth Tale (Review)

Thy Kingdom Come (Review)

Tigana (Review)

The Time Traveler's Wife (Review)

Tom Jones (Review)

Toomai of the Elephants (Review)

The Trampling of the Lilies (Review)

The Travelling Cat Chronicles (Review)

Tricky Business (Review)

Troy (Review)

2BR02B (review)

To have and have not (Review)

Transmetropolitan (Review)

Trapped (Review)

Trees of Change (Review)

Tubitz and Mergenstein (Review)

12 Years a Slave (Guest Review)

Twenty Years After (Review)

Two-for (two Reviews)

299 Days : The Preparation (Review)

Two short scifis (Review)

Tyrannosaur Canyon (Review)

Tyre (Review)


Under Enemy Colors (Review)

United States of Japan (Review)

The U.P. Trail (Review)

Utah Blaine (Review)


Venus of Dreams (Review)

The Vicomte of Bragelonne (review)


The Wanderer (Review)

War & Space (Review)

War Dogs (Review)

The War in the Air (Review)

War of the Worlds (review)

War of the Worlds, plus Blood, Guts and Zombies (Review)

The war that killed Achilles (Review)

War World (Review)

A Watch-dog of the North Sea (Review)

Watership Down (Review)

We Have Always Lived on Mars (Review)

What Money Can't Buy (Review)

Whiskey Beach (Guest Review)

White Wing (Review)

The Wheels of Chance (Review)

Why the Allies won (Review)

Winchester Law (Review)

The Wise Man's Fear (Review)

With the Night Mail (review)

The World House (review)

The World Set Free (Review)

The Wrecker (Review)

The Wreck of the Titan (Review)

Wool (the Silo Saga) (Guest Review)



Yowamushi Pedal (1-3) (Review)

Yukikaze (Review)


Zombie Apocalypse! (Review)


...thebada...thebada...That's all, Folks!


Last Updated on Sunday, 03 March 2019 08:16

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