Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Stars, Won’t You Hide Me? by Ben Bova

For a last installment in a very good collection this one was mind-blowing in its scale.

Holman wakes with the ship's computer AI asking for instructions.  Where should we go?  The ship has been damaged in an attack but it is repairing itself.

Humanity has been at war with The Others and they have come back to exterminate every last person left alive.

Not only did the include faster-than-light travel but  it is an intergalactic chace story.  Humanity has been judged as unworthy to continue existing.

This was a terrific epic that could easily have been made into a complete series of novels.  Bova did a great job of succinctly telling a giant story by showing us what happened to one single man.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The 50-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, Book Two by Mark A. Altman & Edward Gross - Book Review #231

This was a giant addition to the previous book.

Once again it is just packed with insights some readily known others scathing.  But it still manages to make me wonder how the shows ever made it to the screen.  There was so much interference by the creators, studios, networks that all managed to dumb down the product.

What rally made me unhappy was how the powers that be consistently underestimated the audience.

As I've mentioned before, I love the DVD extras that are part of most movies you can buy.  This filled that desire so very well.

I've enjoyed these volumes as audiobooks and I must say that the productions was very well thought out.  It was not just read by one person.  Since the books is nothing more interviews thoughtfully laid out to make a cohesive narrative, the producers of the audiobook hired a cast of narrators which made following along that much easier.  It would have been very easy to lose track of who was doing the talking had it been read by only one person.

I had no idea how scripts were written for the show, when you have that many people writing and making changes along the way to production, the original idea of an episod was often completely lost in the process.  How I would love to read the originally intended stories in book form, just to get an idea of what could have been.

The only example of that is Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever, which has been made into a comic book and released as a novela under his own name.  What was intended and what was delivered is actually quite disappointing in comparison.

I loved this series of books.  If you like knowing what happened on the set an in the writers room, then you'll love these books.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Long Way Back by Ben Bova

I found this story less plausible, so I had trouble getting behind the premise.

In America, after a nuclear exchange, society has devolved as you might expect - into tribal behavior.  One enclave is formed where the leadership decides to rebuild society by first scavenging rocket parts and then sending one volunteer into orbit to assemble a power satellite that has been parked there since before the war.

He has been trained by hypnosis (really?) and barely has enough oxygen to get the job done (odd).

Once the true nature of the mission is discovered, and the manipulations that took place to get it done, our poor hypnotized astronaut changes the rules.

There was something that could have worked in the story but placing it in a post-apocalypse setting threw the whole thing off balance .  At least for me.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Star Wars: Aftermath, Book One by Chuck Wendig - Book Report #230

This is an interesting series.  In the run up to the much-anticipated release of the new Star Wars movie The Force Awakens Chuck Wendig wrote a trilogy that bridges the time between since Return of the Jedi.  32 years is a lot of time to play with.

The only downside to the story is the filler.  There are so many action sequences, that felt unnecessary, it quickly became boring.

But it was the narration, done by Mark Thompson, that kept the story lively.  He is a terrific voice actor with a complete command of accents.  This was impressive considering how many characters the author used.

It should also be said that the music and sound effects were amazing.  It was a complete experience.  It is unusual to hear a full audio drama.

There was a lot of exposition to cover, but since the leadership of the Empire is dead, Wendig chose to focus on one splinter group which control three capital ships.  During a secret meeting with this group of Empeirals an unlikely group of people come together to thwart their plans.

I loved the formation of that rebel team.

Chuck Wendig's website:  http://terribleminds.com/ramble/

Chuck Wendig


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sword Play by Ben Bova

This was not a SF story but more a coming of age one.

Luckily Bova writes an introduction to each story in this collection. Otherwise, I would have been left wondering why it was included. 

It deals with boys coming to terms with things they don't currently understand, about being open to others and willing to learn.

It was a warm story.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Count Backwards To Zero by Brett Halliday - Book Report #229

I must admit that I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes while reading this book.

Sure it's a hard-boiled detective story, which is something I love, but I couldn't help thinking about how it just did not stand up to what transpires today.  Okay, I know it's not fair, it was written in 1971 and things were different.

I may also have suffered by the fact that this is the 62nd volume in the series so there are many relationships in the book that seem so very convenient that they took me out of the story.

Here's the premise: an British scientist, suicidally depressed, is convinced to smuggle plutonium into the US on board the RMS Queen Mary.  Mike Shayne boards the ship in Bermuda and immediately becomes entangled in the conspiracy.

The moment the story had Shayne doing some pretty heroic automobile maintenance in the hold of the ship, I was out.  There is no way one man could do what he did, and talk about a dangerous job to boot!

Once he is on his home turf of Miami the level of suspension of disbelief I needed was too much.  It started with his personal car, which had a car phone - in 1971!  I had to Google when car phones first made it to market.  Yup, that fit reality, but it must have been incredibly expensive.  This Mike Shayne guy must be very successful and have tons of money.

This was further proven out when his car is shown to have a booby trap right out of James Bond.

It goes on - his reputation is so good that the local police allow him to investigate the conspiracy.  When the FBI become involved the local cops convince the feds to let Shayne continue.

The sex was unbelievable, the relationships and deals Shayne creates out of nothing were also impossible to buy.

In short, this book is terrible because it was written straight.  Today, with only a little bit of rewriting, it would make a terrific comedy.

Funny how nearly 50 years can change a story.

Brett Halliday


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Shining Ones by Ben Bova

This could be shot as a movie by Steven Spielberg.

It has all the elements; a troubled youngster, a small town, local police, the army and an alien encounter. 

Johnny has run away from home and discovered a UFO landing site.  While he hides out he watches the affairs around the craft. 

Forced by curiosity, his own personal need and hunger he sneaks into the camp the military have built around the UFO. 

The story was charming and warm. 

A treat.

Ben Bova's website:  http://benbova.com/


Monday, May 7, 2018

The 50 Year Mission - Book One by Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman - Book Report #228

Simply terrific stuff.

I am a person who LOVES DVD extras; this is over 400 pages (25 hours of listening) of unedited, unauthorized and unapologetic behind-the-scenes stories of the first 25 years of Star Trek creativity. 

The stories contained are fearless in exposing the warts, egos and political maneuvers that created this thing. 

My god, I would have thrown my hands up and gone on to something else if I had to work in such an environment. 

It is shocking that anything made it to television, never mind the movies.

All-in-all it was terrific fun.

Highly recommended - if you're a fan.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Next Logical Step by Ben Bova

Wow!

THIS is what great science fiction is all about. 

It is just as timely and important today as it was back in 1962.

A top secret computer model predicts the likely scenario of a world after a nuclear exchange. 

This should be required reading to those in power and to every high school student. 

Chilling. 

To me this is the best story in the collection. 

Ben Bova's website:  http://benbova.com/