Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: "Destiny's Forge" by Paul Chafe (2006)

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The Man-Kzin Wars series has been running for about 20 years now, but I've generally avoided them. I read volume 1 when it came out, and though there was nothing wrong with it, it had the feeling of product rather than passion to me. While I enjoyed the idea of other writers "Playing in Mr. Niven's Garden" so to speak, it just felt wrong to me in actual practice. For me, personally, Niven's "Known Space" universe is inseparable from Niven's own jaunty writing style and everpresent neat ideas.

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BOOK REVIEW: “The God Engines” by John Scalzi (2009)

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If you’re a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim, you probably shouldn’t read this book. Heck, if you’re a Hindu or an African tribal shaman, you should probably try to stay away from it as well. Basically, this book is an equal opportunity offender: If you believe in God or gods at all, this story will bother and scare you. It’s like an old Pkzip file that unzips in your mind, flooding your thoughts with disturbing notions that you can’t really easily delete. Definitely not a tale to be entered into lightly and unawares because it’s a very hard one to leave behind again.

That said, I find I quite liked it.

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BOOK REVIEW: “The Wind From Nowhere” by JG Ballard (1962)

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It occurred to me while reading this book that J.G. Ballard really is the high-lord grand poobah of Science Fiction disaster novels. There’s at least five of them I can think of off the top of my head that all follow a similar plot: Nature goes screwy, and everyone dies, or is very likely to die in the near future. One would think that he’d have been gobbled up as a new age saint by the environmentalists as a result, but he hasn’t. Why?

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BOOK REVIEW: “Crusade: Behind the Scenes” by Joe Nazzaro (2010)

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I’m a pretty obsessive compulsive guy, and Babylon 5 is my favorite show in the history of ever. I’m easily as obsessive over the show - though I like to think I’m a bit more enlightened about it - as diehard Trekies are about their shows. It’s sad, really.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Building Harlequin’s Moon” by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper (2005)

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I have to say I put off reading this book for quite a while. It received mixed reviews in the press, and all of my friends who took a stab at it either gave up half way through, or finished it and hated it. Those are never good signs. When my superiors gave me this assignment, I wasn’t exactly falling over myself with excitement, and I dragged my heels for several months before even cracking the thing open.

And I instantly wished I hadn’t.

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BOOK REVIEW: “How Few Remain” by Harry Turtledove (1997)

What if the South won the Civil War?

Okay, you have probably seen that alternative history idea thrown out around 2,344,154,324,445,251 times. Since this is the 2,344,154,324,445,252nd time you have heard of it, we are dealing with a concept that some would say is overused, the author must approach the subject in a way that is both unique and enjoyable. The latter, at the very least.

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BOOK REVIEWS: “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (1957 - Part III)

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CAUTION: THIS PORTION OF THE REVIEW DEALS HEAVILY WITH MATTERS OF RELIGIOUS FAITH, AND COULD BE DISCONCERTING FOR THOSE NOT INITIATED IN SUCH THINGS. IF YOU ARE THE KIND OF RELIGIOUS PERSON WHO INTERPRETS SCRIPTURE LITERALLY, I WOULD STRONGLY, STRONGLY, STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT READ FURTHER BECAUSE YOU WILL DOUBTLESS ENCOUNTER CONCEPTS THAT WILL DISTURB YOU. IT IS NOT MY DESIRE TO CAUSE ANYONE ANY DISCOMFORT, OR SHAKE THEIR FAITH, I’VE HAD THAT DONE TO ME AND IT’S NO FUN TO HAVE THOSE KINDS OF SLEEPLESS NIGHTS.

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BOOK REVIEWS: “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (1957 - part 2 of the review)

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Yesterday I gave an introduction and synopsis, today we'll get to what it all means.

OBSERVATIONS

I’ve got a thing for Russian Novels. I haven’t read as many of them as I’d like to have, but I really enjoy them for their singleminded lack of brevity. I love how they’ll take a concept or story and just keep on hammering at it until every possible permutation is driven home. I admire that level of completion, and I really have a thing for American-Written Russian Novels. That is, Novels written by Russian expatriates in America in the 20th century. I’ve read everything that Nabokov ever wrote in English, for instance. It’s important to remember, then, that Ayn Rand’s real name was Alisa Zonov’yevna Rosenbaum, from St. Petersburg in Tsarist Russia. This, therefore, is a Russian-American novel.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Out of Orbit” by Carole Wilkinson (Originally published as “Phenomena” in 1999)

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Recently, I’ve been reading the Republispawn bedtime stories from the “Fact Meets Fiction” series. These are books that are aimed at grade schoolers, and attempt to introduce real science, history, and whatnot in to fictional stories, thereby educating and entertaining kids at the same time. It’s a noble idea, but thus far I’ve found the ‘fact’ side of the fiction to be a little disappointing. Just the same, as many of our readers are parents, and as this entry in the series was an actual Science Fiction book, I thought ‘why not review it?’

PLAY BY PLAY:

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