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Yearly Archives: 2017

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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The Penetrator #41: Hell’s Hostages

The Penetrator #41: Hell’s Hostages by Lionel Derrick
Pinnacle Books, 1981
Price I paid: 50¢

Mark Hardin takes on one of the most explosive challenges of his career―on foreign turf. Crazed rebel students, under the banner of the self-styled prophet Ayatollah Kohbali, have gone wild and imprisoned a staff of American diplomats in the consulate―an impenetrable compound.

A mysterious KGB agent―in skirts―is taking orders from the Kremlin and passing them on to the rebels. Somehow, she’s always one step ahead of the Penetrator and his special team of trained fighters―and Hardin smells a rat.

He’s got to figure out―and fast―how to match sharp wits against raw violence if he’s ever going to break through the wave of Muslim madness!

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Cyberweb

CyberwebCyberweb by Lisa Mason
Avon Books, 1995
Price I paid: $1.95

Carly Nolan was once a professional telelinker with a powerful corrupt legal firm. Now she lives an outlaw life at the bottom of the human garbage heap―a penniless recovering cram addict wanted by the authorities for dubious crimes against the Data Control bureaucracy. But with a new job―and the help of an aging standalone A.I. entity named Pr. Spinner―she hopes to find the fast track back into public telespace.

Her assignment, however, has sticky strings attached. For it has made Carly the target of a ruthless mercenary Ultra fembot, the love obsession of the young shaman of a savage urban tribe―and a possible pawn of Silicon Supremacists plotting no less than the annihilation of humankind.

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Bloodworld

BloodworldBloodworld, by Laurence M. Janifer
Lancer Books, 1968
Originally published as You Sane Men in 1965
Price I paid, 75¢

What is a Remand House? Who are the Bound Men and Bound Women? What makes them different from the Lords and Ladies―and why are they the eternal slaves of pain?

They are human beings. But their world―their weirdly logical but not-sane world―is isolated in time and space, and totally insulated from humanity as we know it. It is a world where suffering and torture are essential to the maintenance of civilization.

Except for one man…

But Bloodworld can not be described in a few brief words. To understand it, you must read this unique book from its first searing words to its violent and all-important last page. It is a science-fiction novel with a difference. And it will shock you as only a vital, living thing can shock.

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