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Archive for February, 2009

My son and I review a book without throwing food at each other

SF Signal asked me to review Kevin J. Anderson’s forthcoming novel Enemies & Allies, The Dark Night meets the Man of Steel. My son Josh and I have been into Justice League and the rest of the DC and Marvel universes since he was born. So we turned this into a “joint dialog review”, with only a few age jokes and jabs (but no throwing of food).

You can see the review on the SF Signal Web Site.

droodpicacio1

bookrev: Drood by Dan Simmons

Very few authors can make something as mundane
droodpicacio1as a fictionalized account of the last five years of Charles Dickens’ life appeal to readers outside of those with Degrees in English.

Dan Simmons is one of that select group. Drood is an enjoyable read, that intersperses factual references about Dickens and Wilkie Collins (a lesser known author of the time) with a character either real or imagined named Drood. Whether the Drood character is truly real or is a figment of Collins’ opium delusions (or some other reason which I won’t spoil here) is a large part of the enjoyment of this novel. This novel succeeds on multiple levels, introducing or reminding one of Dickens’ works and life, introducing the works of Collins, and blending historical fact with fiction in a smooth fashion, quite similar to Simmons’ previous tome, The Terror.

I read the traditional Little, Brown and Co. version, but I also most point out the magnificent cover (see picture) that graces the limited edition from Subterranean Press, designed by fellow San Antonian and Northside School District veteran (although my high school was better than his) John Picacio; another excellent cover, John!

The novel covers the last five years of Dickens’ life, told from the perspective of his sometime friend, rival and collaborator, Wilkie Collins. (more…)

A million miles in the air

With little fanfare (other than self-generated) my local airline has informed me that my last flight (back home from Denver) put me over a million miles traveled with them. Coincidentally, my car turned over 123,456 miles…milestones everywhere, pop the champagne! I have mile on other airlines of course, but not enough to add up to much.

I certainly know some people who have more, though most people have a hard time fathoming spending that much time in a plane. While most of it was for business (esp. international trips during my 15 years with Compaq), we were able to bring the family along on many of the trips, and had more than our share of vacations thrown in (Hawaii a bunch, Greece, Spain, Belize, Guatemala, lots of Mexico).

Plus, I wrote my first novel while going back and forth to gay Paree to close a contract. As long as I find a way to make use of the time (whether it is too relax, read or write a good book, or talk to someone interesting), I have never really gotten tired of traveling.

Some of the highlights that I can recall: (more…)

Conquering Dan Simmons commitment issues

Being a Dan Simmon’s reader and fan takes a lot of commitment, but I must tell you, Dear Reader (pun intended) that it is certainly worth the commitment.

Having just tackled the 766 page behemouth that is The Terror and then immediately diving headlong into the 771 page door stop that is Drood, Simmon’s latest, I’ll admit that I did question my sanity. There are lots of quick little reads staring at my from my reading pile (not to mention writing of my own); was I truly committed enough to this author to spend that kind of time on his disparate works?

In a word, yes.

Mr. Simmon’s efforts do require a high level of commitment, for the following reasons: (more…)

bookrev: Olympos by Dan Simmons

bookrev: Olympos by Dan Simmons

When people are recommending SciFi/Fantasy books to non-SciFi/Fantasy readers, books such as Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card or movie tie-in books are listed. Because of how seamlessly the science fiction is interwoven into the multiple story points, and the inclusion of Shakespeare, Proust and other literary authors and their creations, Dan Simmon’s Ilium and Olympos should also be on that list. My only caution for the new reader is that Simmon’s books are long (the hardcover Olympos is 690 pages), contain complex plots, and do not always answer all of the questions that the prose poses.

The Ilium/Olympos duology examines a world where mankind has given into to the temptation to play Gods, where humans have evolvedphysially into ‘post-humans’ technologically capable of terraforming Mars and transporting the Greek/Troy war and warriors from the past onto that terraformed battlefield.

After reading the extraordinary Ilium, which ended after several hundred pages with more questions left, I was concerned that the sequel Olympos would not live up to the high bar Mr. Simmons set. I found the writing in the second tome just as good, the story lines equally well laid out….my only slight concern is the ending. I’ll try to present my thoughts on that later without spoiling the ending.

Spoilers after the break for the ending of Ilium. (more…)

Self reliance, responsibility and Obama

When our newly seated President has to be the adult in the room and tell the American public to be more self-reliant and responsible (excerpts at the end of this post), it certainly makes one worry about how far the American public has fallen away from our core values. At the very least he appears to be walking the talk, taking responsibility for some poor cabinet nominations (or at the very least, some horrible background checks by his staff).

Recent events, especially hurricanes in my near vicinity, have brought to the forefront that Americans (or at least Texans!), when we have to, are quite self-reliant, and very good at helping thy neighbor. The image burned in many minds of Hurricane Katrina is the picture of people sitting on their suitcases outside the SuperDome awaiting Government rescue…quite the opposite of self-reliance. It may be a media perception of national media coverage versus local media, but those type of pictures were not evident in the Hurricane Ike disaster…though there were many of people helping each other.

The fact remains that many in our country took the President’s admonishment that we need to take care of ourselves as something new and revolutionary when in truth it is, as he says, part of the core principals our country was founded on. (more…)

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

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