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Ballroom of the Skies

1515885908450-05189bcd-2e9d-4287-b2ad-361ce083c986.jpgBallroom of the Skies by John D. MacDonald
Fawcett Gold Medal, 1968
Originally published in 1952
Price I paid: $1.25

Have you ever stopped to wonder why the world is eternally war-torn? Why men of good will, seeking only peace, are driven relentlessly to further disaster?

In Ballroom of the Skies, John D. MacDonald suggests a strange and monstrous explanation. He pictures an intricate and totally convincing future society, where India rules the globe, and everyone chases the mighty rupee. The First Atomic War has just ended, and already the Second is clearly building.

People shrug. War is man’s nature, they think. And that’s what Dake Lorin thought until he became aware of the aliens living among us—and discovered their sinister purpose.

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Starsky and Hutch #6: The Psychic

1515339560676-fb6ae284-ba73-4153-97c2-57fc49cd1f7c_.jpgStarsky and Hutch #6: The Psychic, adapted by Max Franklin
Spelling-Goldberg Productions, 1977
Price I paid: 50¢

HELP WANTED: A MENTALIST WITHOUT ANTS IN HIS TRANCE!

Two tough-as-nails jailbirds have snatched Joe Haymes’ beautiful daughter, and asked the football team owner for major-league bucks to get her back. He has signed up Starsky and Hutch to make an end run with the ransom—safely; one fumble and it could mean her life—unless the boys can find her first. Only a mind reader could solve this one, and the one they’ve got hasn’t a thought in his head!

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Just Sharing a Link

Hey folks, I’m just popping in mid-week to point y’all to a blog post by author Syd Logsdon on the matter of jacket copy and book blurbs, a matter that is near and dear to my heart (it turns out). I enjoyed having an insider’s perspective on the matter, and I thought you might too! It’s good to know that they’ve historically been a plague on the writer as much as the reader.

Find it at his blog, which is chock full of good writerly stuff, serialized fiction, and other thoughts and sundry matters worth reading.

(Also, I know I mentioned it before, but I want to reiterate Cyan is very good.)

The Great Brain Robbery

1514731674877-48234642-a100-458d-b174-12188b271ce8_.jpgThe Great Brain Robbery by James P. Fisher
Unibook, 1974
Price I paid: 50¢

Dennis Sands was just another college junior. Then, he learned that he had strange psychic powers valuable and needed on another planet. He agreed to travel to Ikonia, even though he didn’t trust Cynnax, disguised as a professor, who revealed his true identity as a being from another world in a distant solar system, a world that was on the brink of extinction. When Dennis got there, he realized why his psychic powers were treasured. And that the evil Cynnax and his perverted band planned to rob him of his brain.

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Merry Christmas, No Review Today

I hope everybody has a wonderful Christmas (where applicable) and a wonderful weekend (where applicable) and whatever kind of positive sentiment that is as close to universal as possible.

I haven’t renewed anything this week, mainly on the grounds that I’m at my mom’s house and it’s hard to concentrate with a Yorkshire terrier begging for my attention every third minute. On the plus side, I just finished a piece of nonfiction that would make very good reading for anyone looking to write or enjoy science fiction, a popular science book called We Have No IdeaA Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson. I’m not one to argue that a writer must have a grounding in science or engineering to write good science fiction, but I am one to argue that learning about such things is excellent fuel for the imagination. Yeah, ideas are cheap, but that doesn’t mean a writer should ignore any opportunity to find one. Tap water’s pretty cheap, too, but that doesn’t mean you should leave the faucet on all night.

A writer’s prompt I thought of while I was reading:

Physicists discover the most fundamental building block of the universe. Maybe it’s a wave or a particle or a wrinkle in space time or all of those things because the quantums are totally bonkers. It also turns out that this thing is sentient.

Here in a little bit I’m going to start We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’m not sure if I’ll get any good science fiction ideas out of that one, but you never know! Sociological science fiction is a fine and noble thing, and moreover, it’s important for any writer to read as broadly as possible. It can only help.

(This also is true if you’re not, you know, actually a writer.)

Anyhoo, I’ll be back next week with a review of something or other. I think I’ve got an interesting one lined up for you. It’ll be the last one of 2017! That’s bananas!

Moon Zero Two

1513557346247-cfeb66ce-eb15-4c77-828e-aafff417af0f_.jpgMoon Zero Two by John Burke
Signet Books, 1969
Price I paid: 50¢

Giant corporations control the colonies on the moon and Mars. Travel is limited to a few safe “milk runs.” Exploration is ended—perhaps forever.

But one maverick pilot, Bill Kemp, still dreams of reaching the outer planets beyond the asteroid belt. Even though his leaky space-ferry is condemned and the corporations are trying to have him grounded, Kemp has a plan—a bold plan that will change the very shape of the solar system and catapult him to Jupiter and beyond!

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A World of Trouble

A World of TroubleA World of Trouble by Robert E. Toomey, Jr.
Ballantine Books, 1973
Price I paid: 90¢

Belaker Meas, agent for galactic control CROWN, did not really have any choice: He could spy for them—and risk a rapid death—or he could die, period. But slowly.

He knew going in that his job of Jsimaj was not going to be the gentlest in the galaxy, at lest not if he could judge from the ground transport CROWN had provided, “Pacesetter” was a rendal, originally from Jsimaj, a twelve-legged, armor-plated, fanged, clawed behemoth who was, totally and ideally (and significantly) adapted to his native planet.

But Pacesetter proved to be an affectionate, staunch, and gentle friend in comparison with the other inhabitants of Jsimaj…

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“Fool’s Mate”

“Fool’s Mate” by Robert Sheckley
from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight
Belmont Science Fiction, 1968
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, March 1953
Price I paid: none

“DO NOT FOLD, BEND, OR MUTILATE”

marked the beginning of our cybernetic society. How will it end?

The varied answers to that question have proved to be fertile ground for some of the greatest science fiction imaginations. But perhaps we shouldn’t look too closely into the future of cybernetics. It may be that the survival capacity of the thinking machine is greater than that of its maker…

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Level 7

Level 7

Sorry about the crap on the L. There was a sticker that refused to come off nicely.

Level 7 by Mordecai Roshwald
Signet Books, 1959
Price I paid: $1.25

OFFICER X-127 IS 4000 FEET UNDERGROUND

He is safe from nuclear war…safe from sunshine, blue skies, and love. His perpetual assignment is the Bomb―to stand guard ready to push the button that will turn the world into a charred ember of smoking death…

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To Keep the Ship

To Keep the ShipTo Keep the Ship by A. Bertram Chandler
DAW Books, 1978
Price I paid: $1.25

Although this was a low point in the ever-changing space career of the legendary John Grimes, it was not without its surprising moments. Between jobs, between loyalties, Grimes was owner and pilot of a small auxiliary vessel whose principal oddity was that it was made of gold. But precious metal or not, Grimes was running errands with it.

Until he fell into the clutches of terrorists. Susie and her comrades had a Cause and it was going to take all his efforts to keep the one thing he had to have―his ship.

Especially since they left the ship infested with a constantly increasing horde of mini-Susies―vicious little homunculi that looked exactly like their sexy prototype except that they were hungry, sharp-toothed, and their only Cause was to eat Grimes alive!

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Who Is This Dopey Guy

Hi! My name is Thomas and I’ve been reviewing the cheapest books I can find since January 2013. It has been an interesting experience.

Apart from reviewing books, I am a librarian. It is a good job. You should support your local library.

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