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Archive for January, 2010


Pirate of the Pacific (Doc Savage #19)

This is the fifth story originally published by docpirateStreet and Smith. If I remember correctly, this is one of the first ones I purchased back in the late 60s or early 70s. My copy has my name scrawled in it, and the stamp of a Houston book shop on Long Point that is no longer there.

Pirate of the Pacific has, thus far in my re-read, the best “made for movie” plot and action. From the submarine arrival to NYC, on a liner across the Pacific to speed boats, shark battles and machine gun fights, a lot is packed into this short 136 page book.

The story picks up from where the previous story, The Polar Treasure, leaves off, as Doc and his team are returning from the Arctic in a submarine. They are attacked by enemies who have intercepted a request for help to Doc from Juan Mindoro, a politician from the Luzon Union. Avoiding the attacks, Doc rescues his men (who get pinched) and Juan from the men of Tom Too, a man who aims to take over the Luzon Union. Three of Doc’s men get kidnapped (right after he rescues Renny), and Doc follows them on an ocean liner (in interesting disguises) bound for the Luzon Union. They are found out, attacked and imprisoned on the boat. They escape (through a bomb hole with some nifty diving equipment), get to the islands, and end up island hopping, fighting Tom Too’s men, rescuing each other, avoiding sharks and trying to track down Tom Too.

A good passage is included in this story as to why Doc never uses guns (though in some stories he does):

“The reasons I don’t use a gun are largely psychological,” he said. “Put a gun in a man’s hand and he will use it. Let him carry one and he comes to depend on it. Take it away from him, and he is lost – seized with a feeling of helplessness. Therefore, since I carry no firearms, none can be taken from me to leave the resultant feeling of helplessness.”

My sortable table of Doc Savage books is here.

  • Written by: Lester Dent
  • Villain: Tom Too
  • Doc Gadget: underwater breathing hoods, well before the invention of SCUBA;
  • Doc Feat: disappears in a fire, wrestles a shark;
  • Exotic locale: the Pacific islands of the Luzon Union (Philippines?)
  • By the numbers: originally published July, 1933;  Bantam #19 published September 1967; Philip Jose Farmer dated July 1932

The Golden City by John Twelve Hawks

goldencityThe Golden City is the final book in an ambitious trilogy by John Twelve Hawks, mixing a Orwellian 1984 big brother “Vast Machine”, the many worlds theory, quantum computing and martial arts. Sounds right up my alley, right? The first novel in the series, The Traveler, was enjoyable, well-paced, an excellent setup; the second, The Dark River, not so much (my notes).

This third book ties up most of the loose ends, and is as well-paced as the first. While the “good vs. evil” brother characters are predictably drawn, the other characters get more page time in this novel, and are quite enjoyable (especially Hollis). The ending has an Ayn Rand  type speech (which makes you think that was the entire purpose for getting the trilogy out!) and leaves room for more books in these worlds. (more…)

Texas Driver’s License – where not to wait

Let’s just call this a public service announcement.

Like many, I am not a fan of waiting, nor the English perfected fine art of “queueing”. When I had to get my Driver’s License renewed in person, I could find no information on-line for which Harris County Driver’s License office had the shortest lines. I hope this information saves you some time.

  • All of the offices appear to triple the test of your patience by having three lines: the line to the information desk; the line (or chairs) to wait to be called; and the final “hidden” queue to have to take your test or have your picture taken.
  • If you are in northwest Harris county, avoid the Grant Road office (10503 Grant Road); the first line just to get to the Information Desk is almost always out the door, and announced wait times of 3-4 hours are not uncommon;
  • The Townhurst office (1601 Townhurst, near I-10 West and Beltway 8) was the one I went to, and I waited less than 90 minutes for the entire process; plus the people in that office were helpful, and amusing (one lady kept announcing that “lovely new people in line should go to the Dacoma office”);
  • The Dacoma office (4545 Dacoma, near 290 and the Loop) that was being pushed as an alternative had apparently just been renovated and reopened, new, clean and no waiting; whether that will hold out once folks know it is reopened, I have no idea;
  • I heard unsubstantiated reports on the Baytown office (usually no waiting, but too far for me) and the Vantage Parkway office (near the airport, avoid it for its long lines).

Hope this helps you wait less.

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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