Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sunday Post #79

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

January is humming right along. It's been a quiet week, not much going on. I'm looking out as I write this Saturday morning, and it looks like another day just like we've had all week- not much sun. We're supposed to get snow tomorrow, just a bit. I'm still looking for just the right book to read. Maybe this week the right one will come along. 

This week I reviewed Star Man's Son and another Leigh Brackett for Vintage Science Fiction Month. This not-a-challenge will be wrapping up at the end of the month, but there have been a lot of good reviews and posts. 


Star Man's Son
The Reavers of Skaith 


TUE: The Secret of the Caves 
THUR: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore


Dreams and Dragons celebrated Dragon Appreciation Day with this list of favorite dragon stories. 

If you're a Game of Thrones fan you may have wondered who Jon Snow's parents are. There's a very prominent fan theory out lined below. A well done video. Spoiler alert obviously. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Reavers of Skaith

The Reavers of Skaith (The Book of Skaith, Vol. 3)

The Reavers of Skaith by Leigh Brackett is the conclusion of the Eric John Stark trilogy. Stark has been betrayed by the starship captain he was counting on to get him offworld. Stark had come to the world of the ginger star to rescue his friend Simon Ashton from the Lords Protector, the overlords of that world. Thus began a journey across half a world, from the only starport to the Citadel of the Lords Protector, in the far north. Stark succeeded in freeing Ashton, and in the process gained the allegiance of the Northhounds, great telepathic guardians of the Citadel- until Stark came and wrenched their loyalties away through sheer force of will.

As the third book opens the starship captain they negotiated with has ransomed back the people he was going to take to the Galactic Union and has taken Stark in the bargain. He now intends, with two other ships, to pillage this world and make a tidy profit. Stark and Ashton escape, of course, but with all roads closed to them, they must venture into the humid south of the planet, to seek new allies and try to find a new way offworld.

Gerrith the wise woman, meanwhile, leads a company south to meet Stark and save him from the doom she sees in her visions. Gerrith foresees that Stark yet lives, and their fates are intertwined. The two parties soon meet, and continue their journey across a dying world, hoping to win back to the starships and the stars beyond. Complicating matters is the rapid decay of climate conditions- the cold is returning, more quickly than anticipated, and this is causing great upheaval. THe situation gets desperate as Stark and his companions must once more face the Lords Protector, for the fate of a world- and themselves.

This was a satisfying and compelling conclusion to a fine saga. Brackett's prose is tight and focused- the story is always moving, something is always happening. The dialogue and characterization are solid as well, although Gerrith could use a larger role. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, and this is a fascinating world- the nights are illuminated not by a moon, of which there is none, but by three milky white star clusters that rise and set at different times. I enjoyed this book a great deal, although I did think things fell into place a little too easily, and everything wrapped up a bit too tidily. Also Stark is a bit of an antihero- he is only too willing to kill to achieve his ends, and by uprooting a society his actions cause a lot of death, although one can argue that this would have occurred anyway. And I understand his motivation- he is trying to survive, and save his friend, and get offworld- but still, the odds do make it difficult to take this too seriously. In spite of that, this is a fun read, and a great planetary adventure, and is compellingly readable.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: Star Man's Son

Star man's son

Star Man's Son by Andre Norton is a science fiction novel set in a post apocalypric future where the survivors live in clans, eking out an existence in the wilderness. Fors is a mutant, born with the silve hair that marks him as different. He is the son of a Star Man- and as such, his place in the clan should be assured. The Star Men are the explorers of the clans, and they scour the ruined cities for knowledge and resources, avoiding the blue areas that are still radioactive. Fors aspires to be a Star Man himself, but the clan elders pass him over. After the latest such rejection, Fors decides to leave and strike out on his own, to seek out the great ruined city to the north.

He is accompanied by Lura, a great cat who is herself a mutant, and with whom he a special bond. Together they brave the dangers of an unknown world, with only their wits to guide them. There are other clans and scattered bands of survivors, not all of them friendly, and there is also the threat of the Beast Things- dangerous mutants that prowl the old cities. Together Fors and Lura find the lost city, the remnants of an ancient civilization, and uncover a shocking truth that may doom the clans forever.

This was one of the earliest books I read by Andre Norton, and remains one of my favorites. It's a thrilling adventure story, and presents a world that is both dangerous and exciting at the same time. Many of Norton's works had an optimistic tone, and were explorations of what is possible. I got the sense on reading this that everything was wide open, a vast new world to be explored in spite of the very real dangers. I was anxious to see what Fors would discover in the great ruined cities, and also if he would be able to return to his clan and assume a place of honor among them. There are lots of nice moments in this one. At one point Fors hears drums in the night and wonders who else is out there. At another point Fors is ambushed by Beast Things, and this leads t a harrowing chase over rooftops and through the streets of a deserted city. Great stuff.

This book was also released under the title Daybreak 2250AD, with a different cover. That title gives the sense of a new beginning, I think. This is a great introduction to Andre Norton if you've never read her work, and a superb vintage science fiction novel.

Daybreak 2250 A.D.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sunday Post #78

This week has been good, for the most part. I got some reading done and I have a few reviews planned for the Vintage Science Fiction challenge. It's a bit windy as I write this, but otherwise not much is going on.We still have a fair bit of snow but the temperatures have been warming, so it's melting a bit. It looks be a quiet weekend so hopefully I can get ahead on some of my reviews.

This week I also binge- watched some classic Hawaii Five-O on Netflix and also saw Catching Fire, finally. Now I need to see Mockingjay- maybe this weekend.


TUE: Star Man's Son (a classic post apocalyptic tale, for Vintage SciFi Month)
THUR: The Reavers of Skaith (another Vintage read, by Leigh Brackett- a good one)
FRI: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore 


For Vintage Science fiction Month:

Star man's son   Star Guard Galactic Derelict


Little red Reviewer has a rundown of the Vintage reviews so far.

Tales Between The Pages has a Page to screen on Mockingjay. 

Love the X- Men? Just curious? This is a good podcast

Here is the schedule for Schuler Books and all the book happenings for January, if you're a Michigan resident. 

If you'd like a picture of a futuristic noir LA, or are just a Blade Runner fan, check this out.

Read Me Away has a new installment of ReadPlayBlog.

Marni Bates has thoughts on the Stacey Jay kickstarter controversy, and I think she sums it up well.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

20 000 Leagues Under the Sea and other Classic Novels

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a book I've always wanted to read. I grew up fascinated with the Nautilus, the great submarine with a library, comfortable quarters and windows that look out upon the undersea world. The idea of Captain Nemo, a man who forsook the surface world, with its petty jealousies and endless conflicts, to pursue solitude and peace was a romantic one as well. I have several differnt versions and enjoy seeing it on my bookshelf, but I had never actually read the book.

20,000 Leagues is the story of Professor Arronax and his companions who find themselves captured by Captain Nemo and taken aboard the Nautilus. Thus begins a journey around the world and through a fabulous undersea realm, a journey that will take the Nautilus and its crew to the lost continent of Atlantis and even the south polar icecap. Throughout all this Arronax tries to understand his host, to glean what motivates him Will ever be free of the Nautilus? And what is the ultimate fate of Captain Nemo?

This book is a classic and an important early work of science fiction. The Nautilus is fascinating, and more so for the fact that submarine technology was in its infancy at this time. However I have to say that I was not enthralled by this novel. The pace and the story  just didn't grab me, and Arronax is largely a passive spectator. There are pages of descriptions of marine life, and I found myself necessarily skimming these to stay in the story. The descriptions are more scientific classification than anything else, so that was a bit tedious, at least for me. Nemo also disappears for days at a time, but in a submarine, it's never clear where exactly he goes. The crew is not often seen, either. There were some minor details like this that affected my enjoyment of the story, unfortunately. I thought I would like this more than I did.

In spite of these flaws I'm glad I finally read it. So even though I didn't love the book I still enjoy the story, and the Nautilus remains as fascinating to me now as it ever has.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Downton Abbey Thoughts Season 5 Episode 2

I thought last week was a good start to the season, and a lot happened. This week Jimmy leaves and says goodbye to Thomas Charles Blake is apparently going to reappear- a little competition for Gillingham? Mary is preparing to go off with Gillingham on their scandalous excursion- but tells her family she's going off with a friend. Yeah, no one will find out. Edith goes to see Marigold and Mrs. Drewe is clearly not happy about it. Wouldn't it solve a lot of problems if Mr. Drewe just, you know, let his wife in on it? Isobel tells Violet that her patience for the dowager's teasing has its limits. Mary leaves, and Anna tells her to be careful- she'll have to undress without help after all- to which Mary replies "But I'll have his help." Okay then. And she wants Anna to make a purchase for her. Poor Anna!

Rose wants Robert to get a wireless, and wonderful Thomas tells Molesley about Baxter's crime, planting the seeds of doubt in Molesley. Nice guy, that Thomas. Edith tells Robert and Cora that she wants to get involved in Marigold's life- but they don't know she is Marigold's mother of course. Carson and Mrs. Hughes disagree about the memorial location- okay, so they're not always on the same page. Anna makes her purchase for Mary, and Sarah Bunting agrees to tutor Daisy. Molesley and Baxter talk- he's shocked that she has no good reason for her thievery. Hope he accepts her as she is now, I like their friendship.

Blake shows up with art aficionado Simon Bricker- who happens to be the guy who played a footman in Gosford Park- neat to see him again in a Fellowes production. Blake and Mary spar a bit, as he says he is clearly not the winner of her heart.

And Cora and Bricker sure seem to enjoy each other's company. Watch out Robert! The last line of the night was also one of the funniest. "And tell your friend Bricker to stop flirting with Isis." Cora replies she'll tell him to stop... flirting.

WHAT I LIKED: Tea with Lord Merton. He remarks that the room needs the presence of a lady, and Violet just smirks at Isobel. She is clearly enjoying this! 

Richard Grant appearing as art aficionado Simon Bricker- and he seems rather taken with Cora. 

Molesley and Baxter- I like them together. 

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: "Every relationship has its ups and downs." Mrs. Hughes to Carson when he expresses disappointment in her for not agreeing with him.  

RUNNER UP QUOTE: "I'm going back tomorrow and ordering a baker's dozen," says Anna as she tells Mary how irritated she was at the shopkeeper. 

AND THIS: "I love Rose's definition of ordinary life: dancing and shopping and seeing one's friends." - Blake to Mary. 

BOTTOM LINE: A good episode - I think Bricker is going to be trouble, Blake flusters Mary, and Edith has a rocky road. I'm very much enjoying Violet and Isobel together, and I think Lord Merton and Isobel would be an interesting pair. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sunday Post #77

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

The big news this week is the snow! It's been like a blizzard the last two days and the roads are terrible. The temperatures have been very cold and wind chill have hit -20. Looks like it will be a good weekend for staying indoors and drinking lots of hot beverages.

Last week my first review went up for Vintage Science Fiction Month. I read The Ginger Star by Leigh Brackett. You can check out the reviews at #VintageSciFi.

On Sunday I'll have my thoughts on Downton Abbey episode two up. Feel free to stop by and let me know what you think. And have a great week.


Review: The Ginger Star
Downton Abbey Thoughts


Downton Abbey Thoughts- Episode Two
Review: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea 



Hawaii Five-O: Season 1


Have you seen this hilarious Downton Abbey spoof yet? If not check it out- and George Clooney makes an appearance as well. Kathryn from Book Date pointed this out to me last week in the comments- thank you Kathryn!

Read Me away talks about simultaneous reading.

Some fun posts this week over at Bronze Age Babies, including discussions of favorite TV shows and other zaniness.

Do you like ambient music? Hearts of SPace is a good way to de- stress. You can find samples here.

If you like Downton Abbey but have not seen Gosford PArk, you may want to check it out. It's a movie with many of the same theme and is quite good.