I Voted!

high castle

Image Credit: James Pyles – Cover of Philip K. Dick’s novel “The Man in the High Castle”

Now before you freak out at the photo, no I didn’t vote for the Nazi party or the Axis powers. My son and I were discussing the television version of the late Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle last Sunday, and I realized I probably hadn’t read the novel since the mid-1970s.

So after voting, I swung by the Public Library and checked out a copy. Since public libraries have free and totally unrestricted WiFi (Hooray freedom!), I took the opportunity to email this photo to myself so I could post the image all over the place (blogging, social media, etc…). So here it is.

I took an early lunch so I could hit my polling place while it was relatively uncrowded. Really, I was in and out in about fifteen minutes, and it’s like a five-minute walk from my house. I was tempted to stop by home, but my wife is watching our three-year-old granddaughter while her Mom’s at work, and I know that while she’d be happy to see me, she wouldn’t understand why I couldn’t stay.

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Book Review of Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes

echo2

Cover for Echo Vol 2: A Taste of Ashes

It’s been over two years since I reviewed Kent Wayne’s (pen name) military science fiction novel Echo Vol I: Approaching Shatter. I’ve had volumes 2 and 3 on my Kindle Fire forever, but just hadn’t managed to get around to reading them (so many books, so little time). But then, I hit just the right break in my reading schedule and inserted Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes.

Echo I set the stage for the action in Echo 2, which is an adrenaline-fueled, supercharged, watch-the-body-count-rise, military “gore-fest.” No kidding, for nearly the first half of the book, the protagonist Atriya is constantly battling hordes of enemy Dissidents without a single break.

In the book’s Afterword, Wayne admits he probably could have shifted the scene a little bit or avoided describing, second by second, everything Atriya was going through in microscopic detail. My personal opinion is that he should probably just repackage Vol I and II as a single novel, since it would even things out a bit.

I’m not being particularly critical when I say this. I enjoyed the action, although there were times when, even with the Crusader’s advanced augmentations, he seemed more superhuman than any of his contemporaries.

So what’s going on?

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Galactic North: A Brief Book Review

galactic north

Cover art for Alastair Reynolds’ book ‘Galactic North.”

A friend of mine loaned me his copy of this book because we share similar tastes in reading and I must say I found it well-written and compelling. Galactic North is a collection of eight short stories all set in the same “universe” and spanning centuries.

They involve different variations of the human race, and how they cooperate and compete with each other across the ages and light years. It’s space opera at its finest including plausible “space pirates.”

Author Alastair Reynolds has a Ph.D in Astronomy and was previously employed as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency, so he definitely possesses the qualifications for writing “hard science fiction.”

Interestingly enough, in addition to realistically portrayed interstellar travel, suspended animation, and human cybernetic hive minds, he focuses quite a bit on the medical adaptations to human beings, from the hyper-cerebral Conjoiners, to the terrifying Denizens.

The only thing that put me off a bit were the instances of what I call “medical atrocities,” that is, how some of the people in the stories end up horribly altered and mutilated, but that’s more a problem with my squeamishness than Reynolds’ writing.

As I understand it, Reynolds has written a number of other short stories and novels in the “Revelation Space” series, comparable to Larry Niven’s “Known Space” series. I have no problem giving “Galactic North” a solid five stars on Amazon, which I will be doing in just a bit.