Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Preliminary Assessment by Vernor Vinge

A Preliminary Assessment of the Drake Equation, Being an Excerpt from the Memoirs is Star Captain Y. T. Lee

What a wonderful story. Interstellar flight is now commonplace and the exploration and terraforming is routine.

In a nice departure from common science fiction tropes, this story plays with the notion that there is NO alien intelligent life. What would it be like to have an entire galaxy to explore and claim?

This was refreshing work and exactly what I'm looking for in science fiction.

Learn more about Vernor Vinge HERE

Learn more about his writing HERE

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Report #45, Cop Hater by Ed McBain

First published in 1956, the first book in the 87th precinct series has finally come to eBook.

I love the detective fiction from the 50's and 60's, during the paperback hay day.

This story is a straight-up police procedural about a serial killer who's targeting cops.

It was very well paced, considering its the first in a series; I would have expected much more exposition. McBain seemed content in letting the story play out and only giving the reader the minimum amount of back story needed to tell the tale.

I was surprised at the level of sophistication forensics was at for the time. McBain went to great lengths to show police procedures as accurately as possible which makes for convincing story telling.

Ed McBain's website is HERE

If you want to buy the Kindle version, go HERE

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Futures in the Memories Market by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

This was a touching and almost sad story told by a body guard of a future "movie star."

Instead of acting in front of a camera Geeta is sent to all kinds of exotic locations and has interesting adventures and experiences. When the day is done her memories are extracted to be sold to the public. Not only does the public see what she saw but they also experience her emotions and five senses.

The cost to Geeta is large; the extractions erase her own memories; the public can have the experience but she cannot; leaving her nearly child-like, to experience everything for the first time.

It was an interesting concept and one that I could see expanded to novel length with a corporate greed element to it.

Learn more about the author HERE


Read the story online HERE

Clakesworld Magazine is HERE

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Petopia by Benjamin Crowell

The story of two poor African kids struggling to help their family get by. Mina is sorting through a pile of high tech garbage when a child's toy starts speaking to her.

It's a toy dog with an AI built in. She eventually takes it home where her older brother begins to use it for his own reasons.

This has the same feel as the street scenes from Blade Runner; crushing poverty surrounded by wealth, technology, corruption and the hope of youth.

I especially liked the action packed and open-ended conclusion

Well done.

The author's website is HERE

The story can be read for free HERE

Friday, July 20, 2012

Castoff World by Kay Kenyon

Set in a world ravaged by global warming and today's civilization gone we follow the story of Child and Grandpa living on a floating island of garbage.

The refuse is being transformed my nano-bots who Child calls NORA. They are adrift in the North Pacific gyre where Grandpa tells her about her past a prepares her to survive on her own.

Grandpa is dying.

This story is quite touching and sad but is forever laced with optimism for the future. A future imagined by Child.

I enjoyed this story on my patio on a sunny afternoon while enjoying a couple beers. I was very happy to look up from the story to see the green of my back yard.

The author's website is HERE.

Read about ocean gyres HERE

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sleeping Dogs by Joe Haldeman

Year's Best SF 16

Here's a fine story about a former soldier returning to a planet where he fought in a war. His memories had been erased and through a drug therapy he tries to recover them.

What I loved about this is how it just simply reflects the wars of our recent past.

When fiction works best is when it can show us a truth about ourselves.

You can find the author's website HERE

 Buy the book HERE

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Report #45 - The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Why we do what we do
in life and business

I bought this eBook in with the hope of getting some insight into my bad habits.

It promises to reveal the three components of the habit "loop" and how to control and change these loops.

I found the subject fascinating; because habits work on a nearly subconscious level they are often difficult to observe and understand.

The format is part self-help, part sociological which gave the book a couple hard turns that took me out of it and made completing the it a chore for me.  Since I made the purchase with the expectation of a self-help my difficulties with the read in no way means the book is flawed, only that my expectations and reasons for reading it split away from the narrative.

To get the most out of the book from a purely self-help angle I'd recommend  Part One and  the Appendix which will give you a lot to work with.

The book expands on the notion of habits from the individual to organizations and finally to societies.  Each of these sections are also very interesting especially how organizations can improve performance by experimenting with habits.

This book touches on so many categories that I would find it hard to shelve, if I was running a book store; you could find it in Self-help or Biography & Memoir or Business and Finance or Social and Cultural Studies there's even a bit of Religion and Spirituality thrown into the mix.

This was a solid, well thought out and broad look at human behavior.

I recommend it.

You can purchase the book HERE

More about the author can be found HERE

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Magazine giveaway.

Now that I've read and reviewed this issue of EQMM I'd like to give it to anybody who's interested.


Just email me or leave a comment and I'll mail it to you. It's in good shape, as a reading copy, but it is in no condition to be called collectible. Still, I'd like to give the issue a good home - it's yours for the asking.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Blood in the Water by Janice Law

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

Now THIS story I liked.  It was another life insurance scam tale involving an indebted securities trader a beautiful babe and the sinking of a yacht.

The cold, cold ending made for a perfect closure to this issue of EQMM.

The author's website is HERE

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hank's Tale by Dorothy Salisbury Davis

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

Set in the hills of Rural Whatever, USA, Hank is the local lawyer who tells the story of two strong headed and influential women in the town they live in.

God, I really wasn't paying attention to this story. I found it boring just reading about local gossip; who hates whom because of some slight done years before.

There was a killing from way before this story begins and stories about pastors, baptisms and traveling evangelicals.

This was simply not for me. I kept putting it down and should have just skipped it but I was always just a few pages from finishing, so I kept reading it.

If you like stories a bout human relationships then you'll surely like this one.

Information about the author can be found HERE

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Bones by Peter Turnbull

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

A nice, straight-ahead police procedural set in the UK countryside.

I found the story a bit short, actually. But to be fair it had the feeling of being close to how investigations really happen. It's about how you approach the questioning of suspects and the timing of the interviews that really matter.

I'd be very happy to read one of Turnbull's novels.

Very believable and well told.

Information on the author can be found HERE

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Extortionately Dear Departed by David Williams

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

A clever insurance scam that goes wrong, then ...

This was a well constructed story with a couple clever twists. Set in France and England a couple, in financial stress, cook up a plan to collect the Husband's life insurance benefits.

You can find out about the author HERE (Scroll to the top of the page when it loads)

Sadly, Williams died in September of 2003.  LINK

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Big Shuffle by Clark Howard - short story review

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

This was a very good mystery from the point of view of an insurance claims investigator.

Jack Nash is sent to Nevada to investigate the crash of a plane on Ghost Lake. His boss smells something fishy about it and wants to deny the claim of $4 Million for the death of the passenger, an executive for an oil company.

Clark Howard has been writing short fiction for decades and has won many awards in the process. You are in very sure hands when reading his story.

Nicely done.

The author has no website of his own but you can get a list of his works HERE

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Hunters by J. F. Freedman

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

This was a quiet, menacing story. True noir.

Two brothers go on a hunting trip. The hunt seems unrelated to the story that is told after they return.

I was disappointed with the ending; it turned out exactly how I thought it would. I kept hoping there would be some kind of twist.

But that was what made it so cold, so calculated. (A twist would have been nice thought.)

You can find the author's website HERE