Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Recommendations

I'm a voracious reader. But a terrible book reviewer. For an example of a great book reviewer, I would point you to Jeffro at the Castalia House Blog. On to the recommendations:

JACK CLOUDIE, by Stephen Hunt.

I've  been a fan of Hunt's Jackalian universe series from the beginning. I wish these books got more attention. And I wish he'd return to them! They're gonzo Steampunk. Hunt has the ability to throw everything but the kitchen sink into a story and somehow make it work.


I finally got around to reading this book after a friend's recommendation a few years back. As I turn away, more and more, from the traditional publishing powerhouses and their "Literary/Social Justice" agenda driven works, I am finally coming around to reading the independent stuff being kicked out by the biggest print revolution since Gutenberg happening at Amazon. This was a surprisingly entertaining book. My first forays into the self-published world were...blah. I could see why many of them were self-published. But that is changing! A very good thing, I think. HOLLYWOOD PHARAOHS is a modern day thriller written by a stage magician. And it's a lot of fun.

RIDING THE RED HORSE, Edited by Tom Kratman and Vox Day.

I purchased this one a few months back and finally got a chance to read it last month. And it was well worth it. First of all, the presence of Jerry Pournelle's story His Truth Goes Marching On is nearly worth the price alone. And there wasn't a bad story in the book. Besides Pournelle's, my other favorite was Shakedown Cruise by Rolf Nelson. I loved the way the A.I. was portrayed and can't wait to read more about Armadillo.

Another thing that makes this book special is the Non-fiction. From combat lasers to Fourth Generation war, which was a fascinating essay by William S. Lind, there was a lot of good stuff in this book.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

Combine APOLLO 13 with the MACGYVER T.V. Series. Add liberal doses of humor to help the dry, cold martian terrain go down. Mix well.

THE MARTIAN is one of the best Science Fiction books I've had the pleasure of reading in a good long time. Hard science fiction, at that, which usually doesn't hold my interest for very long.

It's refreshing. The only agendas this book has is to A) Entertain you and B) Demonstrate that daring the impossible, odds be damned, is itself a worthy thing. If I took away any theme from the book, its that nothing worthwhile happens without risk. And we've become far too risk averse for our own good.

Highly Recommeded.

My how time flies...

It seems like just yesterday that I was posting on my love of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Then family crises and real world drama struck. I don't know how the big bloggers do it.

Anyway, I'm still here and still plugging away on my fiction. I hope to have some book and movie reviews up soon.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is a lot of things. It's funny and action packed. It's even heartwarming. It's strikingly beautiful and even awe inspiring. I loved it.

Talking with my friends as we walked out of the theater, it occurred to me that this movie is everything that The Fifth Element aspired to be but wasn't: fun, gonzo, epic but mostly, coherent

I remember how hopeful I was back in the day. Standing in line with my then girlfriend (a dumb ass) and her little brothers, I kept thinking that here comes the sci fi movie I've been waiting for: the next Star Wars. Oh, how my hopes and dreams were dashed by that atrocity of a movie. It was certainly a beautiful movie and visually striking. But that was it. It was empty and hollow. There was action but no passion. But mostly, it just devolved into an incoherent mess of a narrative. Maybe it made more sense on repeated viewings. I wouldn't know. I never watched it again.

I'm not saying that Guardians of the Galaxy is the next Star Wars. But if it had been made by Luc Besson, rather than a former Troma director, I would consider it one hell of an apology. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014


So, I have been on a Richard Laymon kick the past few weeks. He passed away in 2001 and I try not to read too many of his books so as to not run out of them. I reread Night in the Lonesome October and One Rainy Night. If gore and stomach twisting horror aren't for you, then run away!. But if you want horror, real scary horror, give a Laymon a try. 

I just finished Funhouse by Laymon, which I hadn't read before. It was pretty good. His usual stuff, which means compellingly readable and dread inducing. But the ending, well... it was crap. Not just over the top. Way, way over the top. It still wasn't as bad as most of Stephen King's endings (at least the ones that  I have actually made it to), which are horrible.

I headed back to Amazon, in search of the next book to read and noticed something in the reviews of various books that has bothered me in the past: There are people who absolutely hate "Happy Endings" no matter the genre or story.

Shouldn't the end of a story be appropriate to the story itself? I have always thought so but I get the feeling I am outnumbered.

I like Happy Endings. I like Unhappy Endings less, but if they seem appropriate, it won't ruin the story for me. The only endings I actively dislike, in movies or books, are the Sudden Fade to Black/Faux Daringly Ambiguous Endings (I'm looking at you Inception). But that's neither here nor there.

But the hatred of Happy Endings, for the sake of hating  happy Endings, reminds me of an ex-girlfriend of mine who liked to wallow in the misery of her horrible upbringing and consequently, avoided Happy things (Endings, Christmas, rainbows and smiling children) like the plague (There's a reason she is an ex-girlfriend).

However, Amazon tells me she wasn't alone. Far from it. I have always known this but have never been able to puzzle out the lure of dark, depressing things, like Unhappy Endings. I don't think  I will ever undertand it.

Been away a while...

Life, while being great and all, happens and laughs at our plans.  Life happened for me these past few months. While I was able to write a bit more in my Atoms & Arcana epic, I wasn't able to get much else done, outside of my real world obligations. But I hope that has changed and we have turned a corner.

I have discovered a few new daily reads:

Vox Day's (in)famous site, Vox Popoli.

John C. Wright's website. I discovered his books through the Vox Day site and I am glad that I did.

I have now finished Count to a Trillion and Awake in the Night Land. Where has this guy been all of my life? Wright has a way with the English language that is nothing short of masterful.

As for Vox, I have found him to be sometimes borderline offensive but always thought provoking. If political correctness is the neurotoxin slowly bringing Western Civilization to its knees, then the conversations that happen at Vox Day, and those like it, are the antidote.

I am reminded of a Carl Sagan quote regarding James Randi and feel you could apply the same to Vox:

    • "We may disagree with Randi on certain points, but we ignore him at our peril."

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    Pandemonia: The Art of Audacity

    "Complacency, not failure, is the opposite of success."

    While many military leaders in the Stormsea Republic like to point to the Lord Zachias' magnum opus, The Manual of Maneuvers, as the most influential treatise on strategy in the Republic (if not most of the civilized world) some consider him a bit too irreverent, and more than a little cynical. Those that would say such things would hold up their own champion of strategy, the ancient mercenary, and least cynical of men, Ignezio, author of "The Art of Audacity".

    Not much is known about the man. It is held that he most likely made the Crossing, from the Old World to Pandemonia, with the original men and women and was most likely a Centurion in their Legion. Historians believe he was integral in the training and organization of the Proto-Republic's first armies as well one of the more influential forebearers of what would later be called Stormsea. Ignezio's book is devoid of personal details and focuses solely on the man's philosophy, one that he believed applied as much to life as to war.

    As the title would suggest, Ignezio held that of all virtues (namely the seven Cardinal Virtues of the Proto-Republic: Volition, Reason, Integrity, Love, Duty, Kindness and Audacity) in high regard but Audacity, being boldness, was the most important.

    Ignezio said:

           "Audacity, that which some call Courage and others Boldness, is the greatest of all of the virtues. For without Audacity, where would the others be? How would a man maintain his Integrity in the face of temptation and pressure without Audacity. Is not every man a man of integrity until pressure or temptation are applied against the fulcrums of our fear or greed?

            And what of Love? Would love be both liberating and daunting without Audacity? No, it would simply be daunting, rendering the would-be lover a prisoner to his or her desires, trapped, with all of the drawbacks of love and none of the beauty, living in fear of a life consumed by loneliness.

           What of Reason? How is a man to maintain his intellectual poise, his equanimity in the face of superstitious fearmongering, weathering the emotional blows and tantrums of the terminally anti-intellectual. The anti-intellectuals being those mediocre men who wear their emotions on the sleeve, indeed, who claim with appalling pride that they are correct because they feel that they are, and that those feelings are as valid as any man's reason. Such mediocre men, with vaste mindless numbers being their only advantage, will always be the enemy. They are the tools and legionaries of Tyrants and Demogogues. Their boldness, a false and hollow boldness, comes from their like minded fellows, swept up in emotion with their mobs and hordes, not from within their own minds.

             Where mediocrity, fear and temptation are fought, Audacity leads the charge, outnumbered as always. Because Audacity wouldn't be Audacity if it weren't outnumbered."