Book Review of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s “Gray Lensman”

gray lensman

Mass market paperback cover for “Gray Lensman”

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Gray Lensman by E.E. “Doc” Smith (I bought the cheap kindle version) is the fourth book in the Lensman series following Triplanetary, First Lensman, and Galactic Patrol.

After my binge read of James S.A. Corey’s nine-book The Expanse saga, I realized I hadn’t read a Lensman book in over a year. Part of the reason was that they’re hard for me to read. They’re really old fashioned, to the point of being almost farcical.

But they are also an important part of science fiction history and the development of the classic space opera.

This particular book was originally published in serial form in Astounding (later Analog) magazine in 1939. It made it to book form in 1951 and to the paperbacks I became familiar with in the 1960s.

As I’ve mentioned before, in the mid to late 1960s, while all the other guys were reading the Tarzan and Lensman books, I was absorbed in the Barsoom and Skylark books, by Edgar Rice Burroughs and E.E. “Doc” Smith respectively.

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Book Review: “Swirling Darkness” by Sam M. Phillips

swirling

Promotional art for Sam M. Phillips’ “Swirling Darkness”

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Sam Phillips is an author, poet, and a co-founder of Zombie Pirate Publishing with Adam Bennett. They published some of my very first short stories and have been a lot of fun to work with.

Sam is branching out as an individual author and I recently read two of his books, Infinity and I, published by the aforementioned Zombie Pirate, and Swirling Darkness published as part of the Underground series by Black Hare Press

The description for his anthology is:

INFINITY AND I is a collection of seventy brand new science fiction stories from Sam M. Phillips, the co-founder of Zombie Pirate Publishing. Inside you’ll find surreal space journeys, bizarre aliens, futuristic technology, rogue AIs, and a girl who just wants to be loved. Follow a huge array of exotic characters across the galaxy as they use inter-dimensional drugs and fight battles on faraway worlds. Action, drama, and science combine with the complexity of the human soul in the year’s most exciting new sci fi release. Open up a portal and step into the depths of a unique mind with INFINITY AND I: Seventy Science Fiction Stories!

As an aside, I should note that my novella Time’s Abyss is also part of the Underground series.

Sam publishes his poetry on his blog Big Confusing Words. That’s important to know for my review as you’ll soon see.

The blurb for “Darkness” states:

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Book Review of “Leviathan Falls”

falls

Cover of the novel “Leviathan Falls”

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This is it. I just finished the ninth and final book in the Expanse novel series Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey (really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). I checked it out of my local public library like all the others. It’s a new book, so I put a hold on it December 1st and finally got my hands on it February 9th. I have to give it back after two weeks, so I’m pushing things a little.

The quality of the series held up, which is important. I’ve read a lot of book series that started out great and then fizzled at the end. That’s usually because the author (or publisher) decides that they’ll make more money on more books people like, but don’t have a clear vision of the end from the beginning.

I’m not sure Abraham and Franck did either when they wrote the first in the series. Some things got a little repetitive in some of the stories. It seemed for a while that going from an earlier book to a later book meant the disasters got bigger and worse. That didn’t happen this time around, but there’s definitely a resolution. There’s not a lot of room for the characters to reappear in the long haul except Amos and maybe Jim. No, no spoilers but I’m not above dolling out a few hints.

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Third 5-Star Review of “Ice” on Amazon

iceIf you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

Hooray! Frankly, I’ll take just about any sort of review on “Ice” just so it’s noticed, but I love how all three (so far) are five-stars on Amazon.

Click on the link to find the review and read it. If you’ve read “Ice” and haven’t reviewed it on Amazon and Goodreads, please, please, please do so. Even if the review is less than complementary, I’ll learn more about how to improve my writing.

Here’s my “blurb:”

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Review of Spider Robinson’s “Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon”

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So I was having a discussion with my grandson, actually playing a game with him over the phone, and realized I needed a bar. That is, I needed a bar as one of the scenes for our game. Author Spider Robinson (apparently his given first name is a jealously guarded secret) wrote a collection of short stories in the late 1970s called Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. I remembered reading it when it was first published and I remembered liking it, but that’s all. I had long since gotten rid of my original copy, so I bought the digital version.

After reading the first couple of short stories, I not only realized I had remembered this collection wrong, but found it was totally unsuitable for what I had in mind for the game with my grandson. I immediately set to work at creating my own “fantastical” saloon which, as of today, I also decided to incorporate in a short story I’ve just plotted out.

But that’s neither here nor there for this review.

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Book Review of Wilbur Smith’s “The Seventh Scroll”

7th scroll

Cover art for the mass paperback edition of the novel “The Seventh Scroll”

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Wilbur Smith’s 1995 novel The Seventh Scroll isn’t the sort of book I’d read today, although action, adventure, and archeological mysteries are something I’d have considered back in the day.

But on Facebook, I read that it’s author died last November. Smith was highly regarded as a writer on the FB writers page where I saw the announcement. I figured I should read something of his for the sake of his passing.

He was one of those highly regarded and well-reviewed authors you hear about. Just to give you a few examples:

“The plot twists and turns with constant surprises. This old-fashioned adventure novel keeps the reader enthralled all the way to its very exciting conclusion.”
– The Washington Post Book World

“Life-threatening dangers loom around every turn, leaving the reader breathless….An incredibly exciting and satisfying read.”
– Chattanooga News-Free Press

“An entertaining yarn.”
– Fort Worth Star-Telegram

I looked through his books and decided on “The Seventh Scroll” because it is the very type of story I’d have consumed when “Scroll” was first published. It’s actually part of a series, some of which is set in ancient Egypt. I prefer a more modern adventure.

I’d characterize this tome into three parts:

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Book Review of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Time”

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Cover art for “Children of Time”

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I decided to read and review Adrian Tchaikovsky’s SciFi novel Children of Time when someone on twitter called him one of the top three living science fiction writers in the world. Wow! That’s quite a testimony. I was curious if that statement was anything close to being accurate.

I asked another person on twitter what would be the best Tchaikovsky novel to start out with. He mentioned a book that is hard to get outside of the UK and then the “spider” tome I just finished.

There are three basic “voices.”

The first is Dr. Avrana Kern who is running an ambitious experiment. With Earth at the height of its technological civilization, we are terraforming exo-planets in the galaxy. Kern’s planet is to be populated with primates and then a nanovirus is supposed to be introduced that will rapidly accelerate their evolution. Another scientist is supposed to wait in stasis in an orbiting platform to periodically wake up and observe their progress.

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Book Review of Joe Haldeman’s “The Accidental Time Machine”

haldeman

Cover art for Joe Haldeman’s “The Accidental Time Machine”

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In going through my “Facebook memories” the other day, I found I’d posted a full review of Joe Haldeman’s 2008 SciFi novel The Accidental Time Machine way back in 2009. Haldeman is a highly acclaimed, award winning author, but while I enjoyed his earlier works some decades previously, this one made me decide to never read Haldeman again. Like so many other “science fiction luminaries,” not only do they disdain almost all people of faith, but in this case actively mock them. Read my views from thirteen years ago for more.

Surprise. I normally review books on actual and not fictional technology, but I came across the hardcopy version of this book at my local library and, having not read a Haldeman novel in a couple of decades, decided to revisit science fiction as one might revisit an old girlfriend. I wanted to see how much my interest in the genre and specifically Haldeman’s writing, had held up over time. I’m also kind of a sucker for time travel stories.

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My Novella “Ice” is Reviewed

iceI just saw that the blog shared by Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie has reviewed my SciFi/Fantasy novella Ice.

I actually saw it in my twitter notifications. I was checking social media one last time before settling down into bed with a good book and a cup of tea.

Yes, I am an old guy. Sue me.

It’s a very nice review, too. I don’t want to spoil it by quoting it here, but they do use words like “exciting,” “dramatic,” and “gripping” so I’m feeling pretty good about it (please write the same thing on Amazon and Goodreads).

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Book Review of “Hounded” by Kevin Hearne

hounded

Cover art for the mass market paperback edition of “Hounded”

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I admit that I only read Kevin Hearne’s novel Hounded because my twelve-year-old grandson enjoyed it along with the rest of the Iron Druid Chronicles.

Actually, for a long time, my grandson and I have played a two-person “role playing” game of one sort or another just for the run of it. In our current game, he based his character very heavily on Hearne’s protagonist Atticus O’Sullivan, a two-thousand year old man and last of the Druids posing as a twenty-year-old bookstore owner in Tempe, Arizona.

I can’t swear to the lore in Hearne’s book, but he did add more than a little whimsy to his tale. Speaking of “tail,” Atticus also has a rather intelligent wolfhound named Oberon who likes sausages and French poodles and the two manage some interesting conversations.

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