Book Blog
Caliban’s War (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 January 2019 00:00

nother installment of my up-in-the-favorites scifi series, the crazy-interesting books by a writer team carrying the pseudo name of James S. A. Corey, and what you can view as Season 2 of the Expanse on some of your streaming services.

You’ll remember that in our last review, James, Naomi, Amos and Alex had discovered that there was an alien molecule that was being dicked with by a soulless corporation – their thought: hey, we can really save on space suits if we could alter humans by changing their bodies, down to their DNA, to make them into whatever we want (that’s really pretty much it). To see sorta how this worked, they infected an asteroid station (a big one, with a million test-subjects). The plan did not go as intended, and the fab four (with a porkpie-wearing gone-to-seed detective) had to move Heaven and Earth (mostly Earth) to crash the rogue station into Venus. So, hey, you want more details – read it. Here’s your link to that review.

The deal in this installment is that now, some spin-off corporations are still dicking with the protomolocule. That massive die-back wasn’t enough, but now they want to weaponize it specifically, to make super-soldiers that they can sell to Earth or Mars of the Belt or develop the market. And yes, to make it work, they’ve rounded up a couple of dozen children with weak immunity systems that will be better situated to be turned into crazy blue monsters.

In the first book, we had chapters divided between Holden and Miller (the detective I mentioned). Now, with Miller presumably mushed on Venus, we’ve got new alter-POVs. There is Bobbie (a Martian space marine who is present when the first super-soldier is fire-tested against them). And there is Avasarala, the Indian grandmommie who happens to be a high-ranking Earth official in the UN, and whose language is so foul it needs to be read to be believed. And there is Prax, the little biologist whose daughter has been kidnapped for corporate conversion, pretty much the example of how much suffering a human can go through. So the adventure continues, more secrets are revealed, and crazy shit is just around the corner.

This one is a great read. If you want to get into a solid series that makes space a lot dirtier that your scifi movies do, where it’s actually a working, realistic universe and the characters can be nasty and brutish and loving and funny, you need to pick these up. Easy to find on your bookstore shelves – these mothers are thick!



Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 06 January 2019 00:00

eil DeGrasse Tyson is a science popularist, rather like Bill Nye and Carl Sagan. He brings science down to the level where normal nabobs (such as your humble reviewer, with his small backyard scope) can understand. And he does a good job at it.

His book on general astrophysics was very good. Starting with the complete history of the universe (at least for its critical first day or so) was quite fascinating. Moving out to the scale of the universe, how scientists calculate things, how we basically know what we know, was quite revealing. It got me to realize just how “impotent” I am with my scope. I am now aware, as I try to focus on the light emitting from a distant star, just how many other wavelengths I ignore (radio, UV, radio and gamma rays) – in other words, it’s like seeing a world where everything is limited to a single color. Also fascinating were the discussions on the various bodies circling our remote little star, the peculiarities of our system, the span of the various bodies, even the reasons planets form into the balls of dirt that they are.

It was actually disturbing to read how other galaxies are actually racing away from ours – I’d always assumed they were slowing and might (in some distant time) come crashing back. That they are accelerating away from us, ever faster, and in some distant future will vanish in our night sky, well, that was disturbing. Where are they going? Why are they accelerating?

And what is dark matter? Why are things we can’t see or sense causing such disturbances?

The more I learn, the less I know, it seems.

Anyway, a good read for anyone who just wants to appreciate the amazing universe around us.


The Travelling Cat Chronicles (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 December 2018 00:00

kay, backstory – while visiting Japan, I saw a movie poster with a shot of a cat that looked exactly like my late Mookie. Stunned me. Looking further into it, I discovered the book the movie was based on, The Travelling Cat Chronicles. Part of me will continue my search for the flick. But part of me will finish the review of the wonderful book it uncovered.

The novel follows a strange and interesting journey of Nana the cat and his companion (not owner – it’s not that sort of relationship) Satoru the human. Satoru, it seems, had found Nana the stray after he’d been hit by a car. Satoru, a very good-natured soul, veterinarianed and nursed Nana back to health and Nana, finding Satoru’s house warm and his crunchies good, decided to stay. And they have lived a life of contentment and companionship for six years.

And now, for reasons ungiven, Satoru needs to place Nana in a new home. And since Nana is his friend, he wants to make sure of the accommodations. In that, he loads Nana into a carrier that Nana can get out of any old time (and doesn’t, of course, let on), starts up his van and travels about Japan, calling on old childhood friends. Perhaps one of them can find a place for the haughty Nana.

Each of these visits is a look into Satoru’s past, a study on the relationship he’d formed with these people. We come off liking Satoru even more. And in his friends, we see their own loves, hopes, fears and weaknesses. In each case, something goes wrong and Nana cannot find a home. But the trip is wonderful, the scenery beautiful, and the world (through Nana’s eyes) extraordinary.

And, like A Man Called Ove, this one is going to make you cry.

Yes, so I really loved it, so much that all those books I’m looking at for 2019 are going to have to be damned good to beat it out for the Best of Five at years end. Let’s hope for some good competition, right?

This one is most certainly recommended.


Last Updated on Sunday, 30 December 2018 00:35
Leviathan Wakes (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 22 December 2018 23:46

f you’ve seen The Expanse on the Sci-Fi network then you’ve seen this book (the first in a series of seven or eight). It’s set in the solar system a century or so forward from ours. Earth is a UN dominated world, Mars bold and fascist. And the belt, it’s free-wheeling yet controlled by the inner worlds (and falling more and more under the sway of the OPA (Outer Planet Alliance)). So, yes, this is a universe set for conflict and action.

Into this backdrop we find four people, late crewmembers of the ice rigger Canterbury (destroyed as part of an attempt to trigger interplanetary war) fleeing for their lives on a stolen Martian ship, trying to keep out of the way of the terrifying forces seeking them out. Yes, we have the ah-shucks farmboy, the exotic belter engineer, the tex-drawl, Indian-heritaged pilot, and the merc from the depth of the Baltimore slums, all running together. And they make a neat team, one you really want to root for

Add to this Detective Miller, an out-of-date policeman on Ceres, tasked with finding the daughter of a missing industrialist. He’s got his own quirks and his own interesting ways, and putting him in parallel with our fab four (and eventually getting them to cross paths) really moves the story along.

All this leads, as we spool in the clues, to a horrifying discovery about how far a massive corporation will go when they find an alien life form that might be weaponizable. All they need is a place to test it…

Yes, so, max stars for this effort – I’ve enjoyed the series on video and these books as well. At the time of this writing, I’m out to the third and plowing through. I can tell you that if you like good storylines with exiting thrills and fully lines, this one’s got you covered. Check it out!



Page 2 of 91