Monday, April 25, 2016

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol 1 by Alan Moore (writer) and Kevin O'Neill (artist)


I don't normally post about graphic novels but this one stood out so much that I felt it deserved mention.

Having never read the classics of adventure novels and knowing this was once made into a movie, I thought it would be a fun romp.  And it was.  Mixing Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Jekyll & Hyde and others from the period the reader is treated to a fantastic, Victorian tale of derring-do.

It was a charming story piquing my interest in H. Rider Haggard's stories of Quartermain's adventures.

There was also a treat at back the of the volume.  In keeping with the way these stories would have originally been published, Moore wrote a serialized, six-part adventure that explained how Quartermain found his way to opium den in Cairo.  It is there where he is introduced to the adventure of the graphic novel itself.  Moore's wonderfully ornate purple prose gave it the feel that it was lifted directly from a penny dreadful.  This made for a nice bookend to the whole thing.

Since the six-part story was prose I am counting it towards my short story reading challenge.

Alan Moore - writer.

Kevin O'Neill - artist.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Consequences by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - Book Report #155


I keep saying Rush is one of my favourite SF authors but I just keep reading other people's work.

I dug this book out of my To Be Read pile and decided to just jump in, even though it is the third installment in the series.  The story stood on it's own but, as I feared, I felt that I was missing quite a bit by not having read the previous two novels.

There are two main characters; Miles Flint, a Retrieval Artist and Noelle DeRicci, a cop.  Both of whom used to be partners back when Flint was also a cop.  So there is the back story there that informs much of their current relationship.  

In this book Flint is contracted to reunite a daughter with her family. Things go badly when the family is then quickly murdered.  Now Flint and DeRicci are working the case but from opposite sides.  The plot is thickened by the introduction of a sub plot about an alien race that is seeking membership in the Earth Alliance.

All of this is, of course, tied to the primary plot.  I found myself getting impatient with the structure because, it was obvious these plot lines were going to converge but it was taking a long time to do so and I wasn't very interested in it in the first place.  I wanted more of Miles and Noelle.

It was a good story and Rusch has proved, once again, that I should be reading more of her work.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch -

Monday, April 11, 2016

Powersat by Ben Bova - Book Review #154


This is the kind of stuff I like.  Plausible SF without aliens or FTL.

Bova has been delivering this kind of fiction for decades and I really enjoyed this audio book.

That's not to say it was perfect, to be honest I found his love scenes to be ham-fisted and the women were depicted in an antiquated way; only ONE woman was not driven by love.  That's not to say they were not strong or smart, each one was, but the underlying driver was that they were in love with the main character Dan Randolph.

Randolph himself was irrationally in love with a senator to the point that his proclamations of love to her grated on me.  I found myself saying, "Really??" a lot.

Okay, many of the characters were just a bit off, but one must remember that Bova has been writing this kind of thing right from the tail end if the pulps and for the entire life of the paperback thriller era.  His plotting was excellent, his villains were diabolical and Randolph's competitors were formidable.

I kept thinking that this was very close to what Elon Musk and SpaceX must have felt like when they were getting started.  Without the body count.  That's not to say the book is very violent.  The industrial espionage within was believable and the action sequences were thrilling and cinematic.

All in all, none of it felt impossible and I found myself wishing SpaceX would take up the challenge of developing space based power generation.  Randolph and Musk share the same vision, they want to make the world a better place and are willing to take fantastic risks to get it done. They are men of vision.

Perhaps that is what makes this book work for me; there is a real life Dan Randolph, and Tony Stark rolled into one and he is Elon Musk.

Go SpaceX!

Go Ben Bova!

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Next Ten Years by George Friedman - Book Report #153


Once again I turned to the Edmonton Public Library's digital offerings and downloaded the unabridged audio book.

I thought I was borrowing a technology book, what I got was an exploration of the geopolitical future of the United States.  It was fascinating.  I was confused, outraged, saddened, disgusted, curious, amazed and given a glimpse at the overwhelming complexity of power politics.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to listen to this book.  At times I was dizzy with information and did not fully understand what I was hearing.  But as I went deeper into it, I began to think of the dealings the US has with other countries works much like a game of chess.  Politics are not so much about the current move but but what needs to be accomplished four or five moves from now.

Throughout the book the author stresses that the United States is now truly an empire.  Even though the US never intended to be one, nor is it comfortable in the role, but that is the position it finds itself in.  To that end, the president (whoever it will be) must be prepared to work in such a reality.

I now find myself listening more intently to the international news, trying to see some of the insights the author illustrated in action.  This book shifted my understanding of things. 

Highly recommended.