Monday, November 24, 2014

Musical Monday - Not Very Musical at All Today


Monday is the day of the week that I usually post a nerdy musical selection. I originally planned to post a cute little song by Molly Lewis about the "fight" between those who love Christmas and those who love Thanksgiving. But I'm not in a very festive mood tonight.

Tonight we have seen our country devolve further into a dystopian nightmare. I don't think it was a coincidence that Rue was black, a child, and unarmed. I think that was a deliberate choice on Collins' part, and sadly, a prophetic one. If one can feel empathy for and understand the rage of the rioters in District 11, but not that of the protesters in Ferguson, then there is something fundamentally wrong with your understanding of the world, and you really should reexamine your life. America has failed to live up to its stated ideals yet again, and we all suffer for it.

Previous Musical Monday: The Final Countdown by Melo-M

Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Blogger Hop November 21st - November 27th: Live Seventy-Nine Is an Album by the Space Rock Band Hawkwind

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Writing a blog is a marathon, not a sprint. I have seen so many blogs get started by excited readers who put out posts for a couple of months and then abandon their creation, probably because churning out post after post day in and day out week after week is actually a lot of work. So my advice to new bloggers is this: Plan for the long haul. Plan to set aside time every week - even every day - to write material for your blog. Even if you are only posting once or twice a week, you need to make sure you've budgeted enough time to do it. And you need to make sure you don't merely love reading books, but that you love writing about them too, because you'll be spending a lot of time doing that.

You can make a blog on a lark, but you can't make a successful blog without putting in a lot of work. So my advice to new bloggers is to plan on putting a lot of hours into your blog. And don't expect a lot of payoff right away. Building a following takes time. A lot more time than you would think. And even more time than that. Keep working, and keep plugging away, even if you don't think anyone is reading your material and eventually you'll find your audience. But you have to put in long hours and write thousands of words first.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, November 21, 2014

Follow Friday - Kevin St. Onge Threw a Playing Card 185 feet, 1 Inch


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Musings on Fantasia and Welcome to the Book Cove.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Create an ad listing all the qualities and qualifications of your perfect co-blogger.

This is something that is likely to never actually happen. I simply don't have any real desire for a co-blogger. I don't even permit guests posts on this blog - and I have turned down more than a few requests in that vein. Everything that has been written on this blog has been written by me, and I see no reason for this to ever change.

That said, the only co-blogger I would ever accept would be the redhead. She meets every qualification that I would require to co-blog with me, the most important of which is that she is married to me. No other applicants need apply. You'll all be turned down.


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review - Fantasy & Science Fiction: Volume 116, No. 2 (February 2009) by Gordon van Gelder (editor)


Stories included:
Shadow of the Valley by Fred Chappell
The Texas Bake Sale by Charles Coleman Finlay
Winding Broomcorn by Mario Milosevic
Catalog by Eugene Mirabelli
The Night We Buried Road Dog by Jack Cady

Full review: The theme for this issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is apparently "weird stories". Each of the tales in this volume is bizarre in its own way, including the classic reprint The Night We Buried Road Dog, an ethereal ghost story revolving around an automobile graveyard. Not all of the stories are strange, and not all of the stories are good, but overall, this issue is one of the better ones, buoyed largely on the strength of the excellent classic reprint.

Shadow of the Valley by Fred Chappell is a strange fantasy about an expedition to a dangerous valley where plants consume shadows. The protagonist aligns himself with a collection of bandits, and there are numerous turns of events as rivals and obstacles crop up that have to be dealt with along the way. In the end, the protagonist finds more than he expected, and uncovers a mystery where he didn't expect to find one. The Texas Bake Sale, by Charles Coleman Finlay, is a post-apocalyptic science fiction story involving a unit of Marines trying to make their way after the collapse of the government. The story is humorous in tone, but serious in nature. The story asks the serious question of what obligation soldiers have to their nation when that nation has disintegrated, and where exactly the line might be drawn between struggling military unit commandeering supplies and bandits engaged in thievery.

Winding Broomcorn by Mario Milosevic is an odd little fantasy about a maker of handmade brooms. It is a little bit of a ghost story, and a little bit of a witch story. The story isn't all that interesting and doesn't really have a whole lot to recommend it. Catalog by Eugene Mirabelli is a bizarre alternate reality tale as a man tries to pursue a woman he loves from the pages of an L.L. Bean Catalog across the realities of various pieces of reading material. It is weird, but in a way that should appeal to people who have lots of books and magazines lying around their house, as the central character seems to drift between characters who seem to share only the potential connection of being from periodicals and books staked together on a messy coffee table. The story isn't really deep or meaningful, but is a fun little piece of weirdness.

Continuing with the inclusion of classic reprints, this issue includes the magnificent The Night We Buried Road Dog by Jack Cady. A ghost story rooted in the love of cars and the open roads of the large empty expanses of the middle part of the United States. Cady captures in a manner that many "coastal-bound" readers may not understand, the combination of love and fear that the dwellers of the "big square states" feel for those long lonely journeys on the empty stretches of highway that criss-cross the plains, deserts, and mountains of the heartland. The story occupies the same dreamlike space as a driver on a long journey who is caught between being fully alert and asleep as the endless miles roll by. It is rightly regarded as a masterpiece, and though it isn't really fair to compare the otherwise decent stories in this issue to it, they simply come up wanting. This comparison highlights what, to me, has proven to be one of the problems with the idea of plucking great classic stories from the various editorial eras of the magazine and reprinting them: They are generally so good that the other stories in these issues simply pale in comparison. Unless you already have a copy of this story in another publication, this issue is worth recommending just based on the strength of this one story.

While the remaining stories in this issue are a more or less equal mix of average to good, The Night We Buried Road Dog raises the whole issue to being very good. As a result, although not all of the individual stories can get a high recommendation, the issue as a whole gets a strong recommendation.

Subsequent issue reviewed: March 2009

Nebula Award Winners for Best Novella

1994 Hugo Award Nominees
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1994 Nebula Award Nominees
1994 World Fantasy Award Nominees

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Musical Monday - The Final Countdown by Melo-M


With lyrics about boarding a starship and heading for Venus coupled with a made for a sports montage keyboard riff, The Final Countdown was already a fairly nerdy song when Europe first recorded it in 1986, but the song's true destiny was realized when a trio of long-haired Latvian cellists recorded their own instrumental cover version. There is simply something perfect about the transformation of this synthesizer and guitar metal song into an orchestra and cello metal song. because there is no way to describe Melo-M's version as anything other than metal in suits played with classical instruments. Before they recorded this, I would not have thought this were possible, and even if I had believed it possible, I would have not thought it would be any good. And yet it is sublime in its utterly brilliant nerdiness.

Previous Musical Monday: Star Trekkin' by The Firm
Subsequent Musical Monday: Not Very Musical at All Today

Melo-M     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Blogger Hop November 14th - November 20th: There Are 78 Total Gifts in the Song "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: As you grow in your blogging experience, have you become more particular in terms of what you will post on your blog or what books you will read for review on your blog?

Yes. When I started blogging, and review requests were few, I accepted most of them. Granted, I have never really accepted e-book review requests, but in the early days of my blogging I'd accept almost anything in paper form. Now, however, I am much more selective. I generally won't accept anything outside of the science fiction or fantasy genres, and even then, I tend to reject more than I accept.

After I read a couple of pretty bad offerings, I established a policy of rejecting almost all "Christian" science fiction and fantasy. I also try to suss out and reject all of the obvious political screeds disguised as science fiction or fantasy. I am also pretty likely to reject a book if the pitch e-mail is poorly written - taking the position that if an author (or their publicist) cannot write an e-mail reasonably well, I'm not going to want to read an entire book by that author. In fact, my "to be reviewed" shelf is so large that these days I often go through my e-mails looking for reasons to reject a review request rather than to accept one.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, November 14, 2014

Follow Friday - 184 Is the Sum of Four Consecutive Prime Numbers


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - A Leisure Moment.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Create a playlist or if you are lazy, just one song for a book.


This song is for every book that has really badly choreographed and described fighting scenes in them. Because the fighting in the Karate Kid is truly terrible. Let's leave aside the fact that this is supposed to be tournament in which there is apparently no required safety equipment and yet somehow no one (except Daniel) seems to get injured as a result. Mr. Miyagi starts the scene off by telling Daniel to "keep his balance", and then Daniel proceeds to fight the entire tournament off balance in what seems to be a really awkward version of a Tae Kwon Do tiger stance. The rules of the tournament don't seem to make much sense, and what is and is not a legal target appears to change almost at random. All things considered, this entire sequence is simply ridiculous. Just like so many fight sequences in more books than I can count.


Follow Friday     Home

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review - Fantasy & Science Fiction: Volume 116, No. 3 (March 2009) by Gordon van Gelder (editor)


Stories included:
The Curandero and the Swede by Daniel Abraham
The Unstrung Zither by Yoon Ha Lee
Quickstone by Marc Laidlaw
Shadow-Below by Robert Reed
That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch

Full review: With a couple of science fiction and fantasy crossover stories, and a couple of southwestern folklore stories, this issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction seems to have a couple of minor mini-themes. Unfortunately, one of these mini-themes appears to be "stories that wander aimlessly before coming to an abrupt halt". As a result, with the exception of the classic reprint, most of the stories in this issue are readable, but not particularly memorable. As a side note, this is the last monthly issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction, as the lead editorial notes, the magazine market has shifted to an extent that it had become unfeasable to publish and mail eleven issues per year, and instead the future issues will be larger, bimonthly double issues. As with many things in the magazine industry, this change seems ominous, and I hope it doesn't herald even more substantial changes in the future.

The Curandero and the Swede by Daniel Abraham is a ghost story involving an angry Native American spirit plaguing the Swede (who is actually a black man) who seeks help from a Mexican witch doctor. The story's conceit is that it is being told to the author by an old southern relative relating the tale in an effort to make a point about the author's northern-born fiancee. The Swede in the story is hounded by his own past, and the story wanders and digresses through a couple of other semi-related stories, just like a story told by an old cigar smoking southerner on the front porch at a family gathering might. The story is okay, but I could not figure out how the point it is trying to make flows from the elements of the story.

The Unstrung Zither by Yoon Ha Lee is an Asian-influenced science fiction and fantasy crossover story in which the classic elements of Chinese folklore are used to create an interstellar empire controlled by the Phoenix General. The protagonist is a musician called in to educate captured assassins from planets being conquered by her empire who discovers that what she thought she knew about politics isn't quite what she expected. The story is decent, but neither the individual characters or the fantasy elements are incredibly well-defined so that everything seems to happen more or less by nothing more than fiat. Shadow-Below by Robert Reed is also a science fiction and fantasy mixture, this time melding Native American folklore with a future involving genetically engineered elk and bison and programmable house robots. The title character is a Native American wilderness guide who straddles both the modern world and his native traditions. Like most of the other stories in this issue, it is decent, but has a tendency to wander aimlessly before trailing off and ending.

Quickstone by Marc Laidlaw is also a fantasy involving elemental magic. In this case the protagonist is a bard who, as a result of a cruse, has had his hand replaced with that of a gargoyle's. As the curse makes it impossible to ply his trade - his new hand being unsuitable for playing an instrument - he undertakes a risky pursuit to find the gargoyle who has his hand (and whose hand he now has) and tries to figure out a way to reverse the curse. Along the way he makes an unexpected friend as well as some pretty frightening enemies. This story is quite good, and among the new stories in the volume is probably the best of the bunch.

This issue's installment in the classic reprint series is That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch. It is a story involving a rather shiftless individual making a deal with the devil in which the protagonist ends up negotiating for something that the devil didn't quite expect. The story is darkly humorous, well-written, and, as usual with the classic reprints, excellent. Once again, the classic reprint in the volume overshadows the "normal" stories in the issue.

Overall, this issue is barely adequate and is only truly saved by Quickstone and the very good classic reprint That Hell-Bound Train. Otherwise, most of the remaining stories are really only adequate at best. With a collection of mostly decent but flawed stories punctuated by by few highlights, this issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction gets only a moderate recommendation.

Previous issue reviewed: February 2009
Subsequent issue reviewed: April/May 2009

1959 Hugo Award Winners for Best Short Story

1959 Hugo Award Nominees

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review - Fantasy & Science Fiction: Volume 116, Nos. 4 & 5 (April/May 2009) by Gordon van Gelder (editor)


Stories included:
The Spiral Briar by Sean McMullen
'A Wild and Wicked Youth' by Ellen Kushner
The Price of Silence by Deborah J. Ross
One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright
The Avenger of Love by Jack Skillingstead
Andreanna by S. L. Gilbow
Stratosphere by Henry Garfield
The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas M. Disch
Sea Wrack by Edward Jesby

Full review: The April/May 2009 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction marks the end of one era in the magazine's history, and with luck, the beginning of another. From this issue forward, the magazine will be published six times per year with larger "double issues" instead of the previous eleven issues per year schedule. This makes for fatter individual issues, but means that they will have to incur mailing costs less often. Gordon van Gelder's editorial focuses on the feedback on the internet from the previous month's announcement of the format change, and includes some musings on the nature of the internet as a forum of discussions in general. As a double issue, this installment includes not one, but two classic reprints, one of which is really good, the other is merely pretty good.

The lead story in the issue is The Spiral Briar by Sean McMullen, a fantasy that takes on the medieval folklore about fairies and the fairyland they inhabited. In this story, a knight and an armorer, both having suffered injustices at the hands of capricious fairy dwellers, plot revenge through technology. The story is quite well done, and takes a couple twists and turns on its way to a fairly satisfying conclusion. One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright is a Narnia-style fantasy, but the protagonists are older people who had journeyed into a magical land as children, but lost touch with the magic as they grew older. They are called upon to take up the cause of goodness again, but the years have robbed them of their child-like bravery and innocence and they struggle to deal with problems that they would have easily overcome in their younger years. The story has definite Christian overtones, much like C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, and seems to pull in some Arthurian mythology as well. Even though the story is about an older protagonist, it is still something of a coming of age story. I thought it was an okay story, but for this type of fantasy one would be better off simply pulling books off the shelf by C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, or even Lloyd Alexander.

'A Wild and Wicked Youth' by Ellen Kushner is a prequel to Swordspoint and the rest of Kushner's Riverside series in which Richard St. Vier's childhood is revealed. For a coming of age story detailing the life of a subordinate in a feudal society, the story is quite good. There's not much more to the story than that, but as a well-executed fantasy it is decent. The Avenger of Love by Jack Skillingstead is a dark fantasy about a man trying to deal with the anger stemming from the loss of his father under strange circumstances as a boy. This story walks the fine line between fantasy and simple delusion, in that you are never sure if the protagonist is actually experiencing the events described, or if he has merely gone insane, and it walks that fine line successfully.

The Price of Silence by Deborah J. Ross is a science fiction story following the crew of a supply ship that uncovers a terrible secret on a destroyed colony. A terrible sacrifice is made to keep a secret (hence, the title). The story is a little cliched in the "secrets that must not fall into the wrong hands" vein, but it is told well enough that it was at least adequate.

Andreanna by S. L. Gilbow is a little story about a damaged robot (and androbriefer) that had been uploaded with some after market enhancements that may have led to her being damaged while wandering about a lunar base. The story doesn't really resolve, it just unfolds long enough for the reader to figure out what might have led to the robot's odd behavior and then ends. This isn't as unsatisfying an ending as one might think, and the final result is a decent little story. Also set on the moon is Stratosphere by Henry Garfield, a story about a legendary baseball hit in a lunar baseball league. On a side note, the author takes a swipe at the Apollo program, or rather the criminal abandonment of the moon by the U.S. at the end of that program. This little dig at the shortsightedness of the U.S. space program is told in passing, but I think it is well-deserved. On the other hand, the author clearly loves a style of baseball that is simply self-defeating, and sets up a lunar baseball league designed (against all rationality) to emphasize "little ball" in a low gravity environment. The story is a nice little physics problem other than that, and is mostly fun.

The "really good" classic reprint in this issue is The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas M. Disch. I have not read a lot of Disch, but this is probably the best story of his that I have read. It is a cute fairy tale about what our creations do when we are not around, and what they might try to do if we abandon them. The story has been made into an animated children's movie (which I have not seen), which I think must have gutted much of the story as there are certainly elements that, to my mind, simply wouldn't fit into typical children's fare. The story is good, even if the idea of anthropomorphized household appliances embarking on a quest to find their long-lost owner seems like an odd place to start.

The other classic reprint, Sea Wrack by Edward Jesby, is merely good. Originally published in 1964, it still reads well and is an example of what I call "ocean science fiction" which is a subgenre of science fiction that one does not see very much any more, so it seems like a novelty in a modern magazine. In the story humans in what is clearly an unequal society host a visitor from beneath the sea who reveals the vast civilization that has emerged among the modified humans living in the world's oceans. There is a hint of social conflict that marks this story as a creation of the 1960s, but other than that there is little that would mark this story as dated.

The issue also includes a science fact article titled A Lighter Look at Science by Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty that goes into the possibilities of lighter than air flight in various atmospheric conditions (and undersea conditions). Though the article is well-written, and gives a clear and comprehensive overview of the subject, there isn't really anything in here that a science fiction fan who has read Arthur C. Clarke's 1971 novella A Meeting With Medusa wouldn't already know. I suppose for someone new to the science fiction genre (and who had no science background of any kind) it would be mildly useful, but the material simply isn't really interesting enough that I would think it worthy of inclusion.

Once again, the classic reprints save an otherwise mediocre issue and make it pretty good. Other than those two, the remainder of the issue is filled with a mixture of good stories and weak stories. While this even mix would have normally resulted in a completely average final rating that would have been dragged down to poor by the weak science article, the inclusion of the two reprints pulls the overall rating back up to the slightly above average range. This is certainly not an auspicious start to the new era of larger issues of the magazine, but it is at least worth a moderate recommendation.

Previous issue reviewed: March 2009
Subsequent issue reviewed: June/July 2009

1981 Locus Award Winners for Best Novelette

1981 Hugo Award Nominees
1981 Locus Award Nominees
2010 Locus Award Nominees
1981 Nebula Award Nominees

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Musical Monday - Star Trekkin' by The Firm


The redhead and I are currently in the middle of rewatching the original Star Trek series from beginning to end, so I decided that this would be the perfect time to make The Firm's Star Trekkin' the Musical Monday selection for the week. In just over three and a half minutes, this song captures both the excellence and absurdity of the original series of adventures with quotes from Uhura, Spock, McCoy, Kirk, and Scotty. Well, its not a quote from Spock, although the line is very close to what he said. And I'm not sure if Kirk ever said "We come in peace" immediately followed by "Shoot to kill", but in The Apple he did punch a guy in the face after which he immediately says "We won't hurt you", so in spirit the line in the song is true.

Previous Musical Monday: Love Song for Internet Trolls by The Doubleclicks
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Final Countdown by Melo-M

The Firm     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Blogger Hop November 7th - November 13th: During World War II, "77" Was Used as a Password at the Swedish-Norwegian Border

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Should book bloggers be doing more to support bookshops rather than just give links to Amazon or Banes & Noble as a place to buy the printed version of books they read?

Yes. While Amazon and Barnes & Noble provide a valuable service such as being generally good places to find things in the long tail of the internet, the influence these kinds of large retailers hold over the products that are available to purchase is somewhat problematic. When the makers of music, movies, television, and books bend their offerings to satisfy the parameters set by large retailers, then the diversity and dynamism of art is curtailed. A healthy market has many venues to obtain products, and supporting local businesses like bookshops helps to keep the larger chain retailers honest.

Also, local bookstores are, by and large, run and staffed by people who actually love books. They know which books are worth recommending, they know how to figure out what book you are looking for from a vague description of the cover, they can offer a level of personalized service that online or big box retailers can only approximate via database algorithms, and those can never truly understand artistic endeavors, and will never be able to replace human effort. While there are many people who are too far away from a bookshop to be able to patronize one, and as a result, Amazon is their only viable option, for people who do live in proximity to a local book store, you are only cheating yourself if you eschew patronizing them in favor of an internet retailer.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, November 7, 2014

Follow Friday - 26 U.S.C. § 183 Limits the Amount of Losses That Can Be Deducted from Taxes for Hobby-Related Losses


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - Boarding with Books.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Craziest thing you’d be willing to do for an ARC you are dying to read (aka what would you doooo-ooo for that ARC you want? *think of the Klondike Bar music*)

Ask politely. Or possibly go to a convention or signing and talk to the author and ask politely. Or just wait and buy the book when it is released. I know, I'm boring and no fun at all. Of course, I'm also the kind of person who would just go to the store and pay the tiny amount of money necessary to buy a Klondike bar.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review - Fantasy & Science Fiction: Volume 116, Nos. 6 & 7 (June/July 2009) by Gordon van Gelder (editor)


Stories included:
Paradiso Lost by Albert E. Cowdrey
Firehorn by Robert Reed
Adaptogenia by Wayne Wightman
Economancer by Carolyn Ives Gilman
The Spaceman by Mike O'Driscoll
The Motorman's Coat by John Kessel
Corona Centurion FAQ by Terry Bisson
Retrograde Summer by John Varley
Sooner or Later or Never Never by Gary Jennings

Full review: With relatively pedestrian stories, this is a rather uninspired issue of the magazine. Even the classic reprints included in this issue are only decent, but not great. Further, I can't figure out why Sooner or Later or Never Never was published in a speculative fiction magazine to begin with.

The anchor story, the Cowdrey novella Paradiso Lost, is a decent tale involving an inter-service rivalry, murder, and betrayal on a interstellar mission to rescue the inhabitants of a colony of cultists. The story is functional, but not particularly insightful, relying on gross stereotypes and clichéd plot devices. The Spaceman is a fantasy story disguised as a science fiction story that suggests people would be happier if they gave up rationality in favor of unfettered imagination, which I think is a fairly weak argument. The plot of Economancer advocates still more anti-rationality, but this time applied to the financial system, suggesting that since the banking system supposedly runs solely on belief, then it is nothing more than magic, and relying upon magical is just as valid as rationality.

The best story in the issue is Adaptogenia, a tale about mutations running amuck to doom the human race (and all other non-insect life) to extinction. It is a good story, although a fairly dark one, continuing a trend towards depressing science fiction that Sheila Williams recently suggested was occurring in an editorial in Asimov's Science Fiction. Robert Reed's Firehorn does a much better job than The Spaceman at exploring the power of imagination, and does it in a way that doesn't suggest throwing common sense out the window is a good idea. Corona Centurion FAQ is a funny short piece about the glowingly described benefits and highly downplayed drawbacks of a new product.

Continuing the magazine's series of classic reprints, this issue includes the John Varley story Retrograde Summer, set in the eight worlds universe that first appeared in the novel The Ophiuchi Hotline. The story gives a view as to what life on Mercury would be like in this future, as well as some insight about family and gender attitudes, but it isn't really anything particularly memorable. For a classic reprint, it was fairly disappointing. The other classic reprint in the issue is Gary Jennings' Sooner or Later or Never Never about the travails of a dimwitted Baptist missionary in the wilds of Australia. I can't figure out why this was printed in Fantasy & Science Fiction to begin with, since there isn't any actual fantasy or science fiction in the story. While it is somewhat funny, it is out of place. As it appears in the same volume as Economancer, there are two stories in the issue that resort to the "narrator writing a letter to someone to form the text of this story" motif, making for a modestly repetitive issue. I really can't figure out why it was included as a classic reprint.

Which brings me, finally, to The Motorman's Coat by John Kessel. This story, about a swindle set ostensibly in the future, is the weakest in the issue. The main character is a dealer in antiquities from the 20th century which is ancient history by the time the story takes place. The entire plot is essentially the main character being offered a motorman's coat that turns out to be a fraud. Other than telling the reader it is set in the future, there is nothing that would mark this story as science fiction (or fantasy), and there is no real point to the story. In the end, the story seems like wasted pages.

On the whole, this is a very uneven issue, with the moderate peaks just barely compensating for the deep valleys. I had hoped that with the shift to a bimonthly format, each individual issue would be more likely to contain one or two superior stories, but that hope is not realized in this issue, which has a collection of decent stories marred by the inclusion of some really quite bad ones. For me, this issue was a disappointment.

Previous issue reviewed: April/May 2009
Subsequent issue reviewed: August/September 2009

1976 Locus Award Nominees
2010 Locus Award Nominees
1976 Nebula Award Nominees

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Musical Monday - Love Song for Internet Trolls by The Doubleclicks


So, there's things happening on the internet, and there's a "movement" happening that seems to be comprised primarily of internet trolls. Members of this faux-movement like to claim that only a small minority of its adherents are bad actors, but everyone else knows the real truth: Their movement is loaded to the gills with the worst kinds of people. So, here's a love song from the Doubleclicks that goes out to these sad, slimy, worthless individuals who spend their time on the internet attacking other people with poorly written screeds filled with vitriol and poorly reasoned arguments.

This is an angry song, and for good reason, as I am sure that, like all women, both Aubrey and Angela have been targeted with much more venomous harassment than I can even imagine. And yet, through their song, they are much more polite than I ever could be to the human refuse that populates the dark corners of the world wide web. I don't know how they do it, but my hat is off to them.

Previous Musical Monday: All My Guns by Sarah Donner
Subsequent Musical Monday: Star Trekkin' by The Firm

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Book Blogger Hop Halloween Edition October 31st - November 6th: The "76" Brand Gas Stations Are Owned by Conoco

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: You can go trick-or-treating with any fictional character (book or film). Who would you go with?

Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, because they'd be young enough that taking them trick-or-treating would be acceptable. Plus, they are all wizards, so they wouldn't really need to find costumes.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: 75 Is the Age Limit for Canadian Senators

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