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swynn gets back to the DAWs in 2017 -- 3d thread

This is a continuation of the topic swynn gets back to the DAWs in 2017 -- 2d thread.

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Edited: Nov 15, 2017, 12:11pm Top

Thread number three, so let's check my predictions:

Expect a mixture of the following, in decreasing density:

Science fiction and fantasy
Crime & mystery novels
Popular history (American, mostly)
Popular science
Library science/history of the book

Well, I've delivered on science fiction and fantasy and a sprinkling of crime & mystery novels. I've done a few popular history, but only a couple popular science (if you count Hidden Figures, which is actually probably more popular history than science). And alas, no library science or math. Must fix that.

I have delivered on my promise to get back to the DAWs: 21 of them so far this year, with more on the way.

I am still tracking state-specific reading here, in case you're looking for a Delaware read or something.

And still, regardless of plans, priority usually goes to things that must be returned to the library. This is a stack generated more by whim & hope than by plan, which I call "The Tower of Due." Here's what it looks like now:

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 9:29pm Top

(1) Dragon Coast / Greg van Eekhout
(2) Two for the Dough / Janet Evanovich
(3) All the Birds in the Sky / Charlie Jane Anders
(4) A Quest for Simibilis / Michael Shea
(5) Nightwise / R.S. Belcher
(6) History of the Civil War, 1861-1865 / James Ford Rhodes
(7) Still Life / Louise Penny
(8) Borderline / Mishell Baker
(9) Red Queen / Victoria Aveyard
(10) Midsummer Century / James Blish
(11) Creepers / David Morrell
(12) The Glass Universe / Dava Sobel
(13) Alanna / Tamora Pierce
(14) The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse / Vicente Blasco Ibañez
(15) Junky / William S. Burroughs
(16) Paper and Fire / Rachel Caine
(17) Mindship / Gerard F. Conway
(18) Hero of the Empire / Candice Millard
(19) Dark Matter / Blake Crouch
(20) Rendezvous with Rama / Arthur C. Clarke
(21) The Art of the English Murder / Lucy C. Worsley
(22) The Burrowers Beneath / Brian Lumley
(23) The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon / Tom Spanbauer
(24) The Man of the Forest / Zane Grey
(25) Countdown City / Ben H. Winters
(26) Latin@ Rising / Matthew David Goodwin, ed.
(27) The Genius of Birds / Jennifer Ackerman
(28) Promised land / Brian Stableford
(29) The Evening Spider / Emily Arsenault
(30) The Diamond Deep / Brenda Cooper
(31) Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day / Seanan McGuire
(32) Death on Demand / Carolyn G. Hart
(33) Famous Modern Ghost Stories / Dorothy Scarborough, ed.
(34) Impulse / Dave Bara
(35) Die Trying / Lee Child
(36) Three to Get Deadly
(37) Lost Among the Stars / Paul Di Filippo
(38) Raiders of Gor / John Norman
(39) Infomocracy / Malka Older
(40) Main Street / Sinclair Lewis
(41) Still Midnight / Denise Mina
(42) The Overlords of War / Gerard Klein
(43) If Winter Comes / A.S.M. Hutchinson
(44) Half-Resurrection Blues / Daniel Jose Older
(45) Crosstalk / Connie Willis
(46) Phantom Pains / Mishell Baker
(47) The Tetris Effect / Dan Ackerman
(48) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet / Becky Chambers
(49) Matto Regiert / Friedrich Glauser
(50) Too Like the Lightning / Ada Palmer
(51) A Closed and Common Orbit / Becky Chambers
(52) Black Oxen / Gertrude Atherton
(53) Planet Big Zero / Franklin Hadley
(54) Twenty-Five Ghost Stories
(55) I Know I Am, But What Are You? / Samantha Bee
(56) How Are the Mighty Fallen / Thomas Burnett Swann
(57) The Devil in the White City / Erik Larson
(58) Captive of Gor / John Norman
(59) Identity Seven / Robert Lory
(60) Unternehmen Stardust / K.H. Scheer
(61) The Lady into Fox, and, A Man in the Zoo / David Garnett
(62) Hidden Figures / Margot Shetterly
(63) Die Dritte Macht / Clark Darlton
(64) Hunters of Gor / John Norman
(65) Die Strahlende Kuppel / K.H. Scheer
(66) Prince of Scorpio / Alan Burt Akers (i.e., Kenneth Bulmer)
(67) So Big / Edna Ferber
(68) Götterdämmerung / Clark Darlton
(69) As the Curtain Falls / Robert Chilson
(70) The Planet Savers, and, Sword of Aldones / Marion Zimmer Bradley
(71) The Dark Forest / Cixin Liu
(72) Atom-Alarm / Kurt Mahr
(73) Can You Feel Anything When I Do This? / Robert Sheckley
(74) Death's End / Cixin Liu
(75) Das Mutanten-Korps / W.W. Shols
(76) Hadon of Ancient Opar / Philip José Farmer
(77) Invasion aus dem All / Clark Darlton
(78) The 1974 Annual World's Best Science Fiction
(79) Die Venusbasis / Kurt Mahr
(80) Soundings / A. Hamilton Gibbs
(81) The Unsleeping Eye / D.G. Compton
(82) Hilfe für die Erde / W.W. Shols
(83) Amos Meakin's Ghost / Wilbur Morris Stine
(84) The Hawks of Arcturus / Cecil Snyder III
(85) Raumschlacht im Wega-Sektor / K.H. Scheer
(86) The Weathermonger / Peter Dickinson
(87) The Breath of Suspension / Alexander Jablokov
(88) Mutanten im Einsatz / Kurt Mahr
(89) The Dracula Tape / Fred Saberhagen
(90) Tooth and Talon / Alex Hernandez
(91) The Fall of Chronopolis / Barrington J. Bayley
(92) Das Geheimnis der Zeitgruft / Clark Darlton
(93) The Caped Crusade / Glen Weldon
(94) The Metallic Muse / Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
(95) Thirteen Views of the Suicide Woods / Bracken MacLeod
(96) Flux / Ron Goulart
(97) All Times Possible / Gordon Eklund
(98) Die Festung der sechs Monde / K.H. Scheer
(99) The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series II
(100) The Private Life of Helen of Troy / John Erskine
(101) Das galaktische Rätsel / Clark Darlton
(102) Ghosts and marvels
(103) Die Spur durch Zeit und Raum / Clark Darlton
(104) Rama II / Arthur C. Clarke
(105) The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter / Rod Duncan
(106) By the Light of the Green Star / Lin Carter
(107) Die Geister von Gol / Kurt Mahr
(108) The Bloody Sun / Marion Zimmer Bradley
(109) Cinderella, Necromancer / Faith Boughan
(110) Planet der Sterbenden Sonne / Kurt Mahr
(111) The Paradise Game / Brian Stableford
(112) Die Rebellen von Tuglan / Clark Darlton
(113) Elmer Gantry / Sinclair Lewis
(114) Orphan X / Greg Hurwitz
(115) Der Unsterbliche / K.H. Scheer
(116) Give Warning to the World / Jack Gaughan
(117) Venus in Gefahr / Kurt Mahr
(118) Manhounds of Antares / Kenneth Bulmer
(119) Der Atomkrieg findet nicht statt / Kurt Mahr
(120) The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell
(121) Thora's Flucht / Clark Darlton
(122) All Against All / Nathan Allen
(123) Children of the Dark / Jonathan Janz
(124) The Man with a Thousand Names / A. E. Van Vogt
(125) Geheimschaltung X / W. W. Shols
(126) Transformations / Mark Teppo (ed.)
(127) Im Dschungel der Urwelt / Kurt Mahr
(128) Star of Danger / Marion Zimmer Bradley
(129) Der Overhead / Kurt Mahr
(130) The Bridge of San Luis Rey / Thornton Wilder
(131) Zenya / E. C. Tubb
(132) Futureland / Walter Mosley
(133) Duell der Mutanten / Clark Darlton
(134) Devil Said Bang / Richard Kadrey
(135) Im Banne des Hypno / Clark Darlton
(136) In the Bleak Midwinter / Julia Spencer-Fleming
(137) Der kosmische Lockvogel / Clark Darlton
(138) The House of Shattered Wings / Aliette de Bodard
(139) Die Flotte der Springer / Kurt Mahr
(140) The Atrocity Archives / Charles Stross
(141) The Star Road / Gordon R. Dickson
(142) Tifflor, der Partisan / Kurt Mahr
(143) Im Westen Nichts Neues / Erich Maria Remarque
(144) The Wayward Man / St. John Ervine
(145) One Against the Moon / Donald A. Wollheim
(146) In the Lair
(147) The Bear and the Nightingale / Katherine Arden
(148) Der Kaiser von New York / W. W. Shols
(149) Ausflug in die Unendlichkeit / Clark Darlton
(150) Eiswelt in Flammen / Clark Darlton
(151) Throne of Glass / Sarah J. Maas
(152) Levtan, der Verräter / Kurt Brand

Edited: Aug 26, 2017, 7:49pm Top

Here's some poetry to celebrate the new thread:

by Pam Lewis

To the butterfly
it was no big deal,
this beating of wings
to set off a cyclone
half a world away.
It was just another day,
another day of countless beats,
setting off cyclones
or preventing them
with equal ease,
all day long.

(from The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics)

Edited: Aug 27, 2017, 2:57pm Top

97) DAW #108: All Times Possible / Gordon Eklund
Date: 1974
Tagline: In alternate America all roads lead to Tommy Bloome

Alternate-history novel set in an America that saw a Stalin-style revolution in the early twentieth century. Tommy Bloome begins as a labor organizer and rises to lead the country. After a brief reign and a few purges, Bloome is himself displaced. The story is told from multiple perspectives -- Bloome's wife, girlfriend, friends and enemies -- and the cumulative effect is a rich alternate history. What's missing is a traditionally structured plot, but I found I didn't miss it much: the worldbuilding, the characters, and the engaging style kept my interest anyway.


The cover is by Charles Gross.

Aug 26, 2017, 10:10pm Top

Happy new thread, Stephen.

All Times Possible looks interesting. Even Tommy Bloome is probably preferable to the Donald.

Aug 26, 2017, 11:07pm Top

>5 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Ugh, I hate the thought of playing "Would You Rather" where the choices all lean totalitarian. Tommy Bloome I suppose has the virtue of having started with good intentions ...

Aug 27, 2017, 9:46am Top

Happy new thread, Steve. All Times Possible looks like a good one. You also have a good looking pile of "Tower of Due" books.

Aug 27, 2017, 11:01am Top

Happy new thread, Steve! I see In the Bleak Midwinter in your Tower of Due. I read it earlier this year and while it was enjoyable it wasn't quite my jam for mystery novels. Hope it suits your tastes more.

Aug 27, 2017, 2:55pm Top

>7 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I did enjoy it -- it makes me interested in finding more of Eklund's works. I don't think I've read any others, but I'm pretty sure I have a copy of Thunder on Neptune on my unread shelves.

>8 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Too bad about In the Bleak Midwinter. Honestly, I don't remember why I picked it up, but there it is in the tower. I hope it works better for me.

Aug 27, 2017, 5:49pm Top

>9 swynn: I ended up giving it a try because it was highlighted a few months ago in that reader's advisory column that's always near the back of Library Journal. Maybe the same source for you?

Aug 27, 2017, 6:48pm Top

Happy new thread! Love the Tower of Due. Perfect name...

Aug 27, 2017, 7:04pm Top

Happy new thread, swynn!

Aug 27, 2017, 7:10pm Top

Happy new thread, Steve! Keep up the, um, interesting reading.

Edited: Aug 28, 2017, 9:25am Top

>10 MickyFine: Possibly ... I think I saw something about the latest book in the series and thought I'd better start at the beginning. But then that seems unlikely since the latest book was published in 2013. I don't know, maybe reading it will jog my memeory.

>11 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>12 brodiew2: Thanks, Brodie! BTW, I picked up Orphan X this weekend: it's now in the Tower of Due.

>13 ronincats: Thanks, Ronnie! Hope I can keep it, um, interesting for you!

Edited: Aug 28, 2017, 1:44pm Top

>14 swynn: It warms my hear to know it, swynn! You never know what will hit as exceptional and you just hope that other feel the same way.

Edited: Sep 4, 2017, 3:43pm Top

98) Perry Rhodan 13: Die Festung der Sechs Monde (= The Fortress of the Six Moons) / K.H. Scheer
Date: December 1, 1961
Tagline: The Topsiders believe their fortress is impregnable -- but they haven't counted on the mutants.

The story so far: With help from his mutants, Perry Rhodan, Lord of the Third Power, has not only managed to capture a gigantic battleship but also to drive the reptilian invaders from Topsid away from the main planets of the Vega System. But the commanders of the Topsider fleet know that their dictatorial leaders view every defeat as an unforgivable crime so have withdrawn their forces to the edges of the Vega System, in order to erect a fortress there: THE FORTRESS OF THE SIX MOONS, which will serve as a base of operations for a new attack. But once again they have forgotten about Perry Rhodan's mutants -- and Crest the Arkonide ...

The introduction pretty much covers it, except that Rhodan isn't only worried about a new attack in Vega. He's worried that the Topsiders will discover Earth's location, because he knows that Earth is not yet ready to defend itself. He also wants to achieve his goals as bloodlessly as possible, not only for his own forces but for his opponents as well. Because he's righteous that way. To that end he contrives an elaborate ruse to infiltrate the Topsider base and to misdirect their attention away from the solar system. The plan seems a bit Rube-Goldbergish but it succeeds up until the end, when Crest steps in with a ruthless solution.

Rhodan's plan has the Topsiders abandoning Vega for an uninhabited system they mistakenly believe is Rhodan's home. Of course the team knows the Topsiders will realize they've been fooled almost as soon as they arrive ... so what to do next? Crest announces they don't have to worry about it: the coordinates they fed the Topsider fleet don't just lead into an uninhabited system; they aim into its sun. This is exactly the bloody kind of policy Rhodan wanted to avoid. But Crest does not share Rhodan's scruples. In fact, he admonishes Rhodan, they are a luxury which the leader of a galactic empire really can't afford.

It's nice to have someone finally stand up to Rhodan because frankly he's a prig. It'd be nicer if it were someone who wasn't killing a fleet's worth of living beings just because they're inconvenient.

Teaser for the next adventure: By falsifying destination coordinates, Crest the Arkonide has led the Topsider fleet to its doom, thereby giving Perry Rhodan the opportunity to resume the interrupted search for the Planet of Immortality. The Unknowns who possess the secret of eternal life, make high demands of all who seek this secret -- and so they place THE GALACTIC RIDDLE in Perry Rhodan's path ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided six interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Fortress of the Six Moons. The first edition was published by Ace in 1971:

Aug 28, 2017, 1:31pm Top

>15 brodiew2: I'm looking forward to it, Brodie!

Edited: Sep 2, 2017, 12:49am Top

99) DAW #109 The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series II / Richard Davis, ed.
Date: 1974
Tagline: The pick of the nightmare crop

These stories are pretty good, but nothing bowled me over: they're pretty standard stories about poetic justice, revenge, or meddling in things one oughtn't. It's a little odd that two authors are represented twice: were the pickings really so bad that the editors couldn't find two more authors worth including? My favorite is Robert Bloch's, which takes a standard revenge structure and wraps it up in a tidy closing that's spooky powerful for letting the reader draw conclusions.

Foreword by Christopher Lee
Lee distinguishes between "horror," which relies on physical revulsion, and "terror," which relies on "the lure and attraction of the Unknown." He commends the stories in this collection as excellent examples thereof, and declares them stories about "the power of possession," which he says, is true of most stories of the occult.

David's Worm by Brian Lumley
A radio-biologist conducts experiments on planarians, which involve chopping up flatworms, irradiating them, and feeding the radioactive pieces to other flatworms. His son is in the lab one day, and notices that one of the bits of ex-flatworm is moving. He takes it home ...

The Price of a Demon by Gary Brandner
Paul Fielding's wife dabbles in New-Agey stuff, and most recently has picked up an old book titled "Daemonic Spelles" at a rummage sale. Just for kicks she tries one of the incantations to summon a demon ...

The Knocker at the Portico by Basil Copper
A rich scholar marries a much younger woman. They get along pretty well until the scholar buries himself more deeply in his work and a kindly surgeon starts paying social visits more frequently and the scholar starts hearing a knocking with no obvious source ...

The Animal Fair by Robert Bloch
A hitchhiker is dropped off somewhere in Oklahoma where he takes in a traveling freak show, which features a sickly-looking gorilla in a pit. Later, as the hitchhiker leaves town, the showmaster picks him up and tells a story ...

Napier Court by J. Ramsey Campbell
A young woman, recently broken up with her boyfriend, hangs out in an empty maybe haunted house.

Haunts of the Very Rich by T.K. Brown
A bunch of rich vacationers in a remote mountain resort experience a series of disasters, and slowly begin to suspect that they may be dead.

The Long-Term Residents by Kit Pedler
A biochemist, at a colleague's recommendation, goes to a hotel in the country. The getaway is relaxing at first but then some weirdness -- he goes into town & has trouble finding the hotel agains because all of its signs have been taken down. Then there's an out-of-place odor of tissue culture medium ...

Like Two White Spiders by Eddy C. Bertin
Memoir of a patient in a mental instution who describes how his hands took on a life of their own.

The Old Horns by J. Ramsey Campbell
On an afternoon at the beach, a poet and his friends get a paganish vibe from the nearby woods and dunes. Things get even weirder when he sees a group of balloon-headed dancers near the dunes.

Haggopian by Brian Lumley
A second-tier reporter scores an interview with a reclusive millionaire. But there's something fishy about him. As in Innsmouth-fishy.

The Events at Poroth Farm T.E.D. Klein
A literature professor takes a an extended vacation at a farmhouse in a rural religious community. It gives him lots of time to read gothic novels, and to be tormented by spiders and zombie cats.

The cover -- and after some lame ones isn't it terrific? -- is by Hans Arnold.

Edited: Sep 2, 2017, 12:34am Top

I know there's a film of Haunts Of The Very Rich; I feel like I should have seen it, but I don't know that I have...

BTW - if I can nudge a little - did you finish Helen in August? 'Cause you didn't update the TIOLI wiki one way or the other. :)

Edited: Sep 2, 2017, 12:51am Top

>19 lyzard: Yep. Finished this evening. Wiki updated.

I didn't know about the Haunts of the Very Rich movie-- although it's a story I feel like I've already seen as a Twilight Zone episode (or two).

Sep 2, 2017, 2:52am Top


(That's a personal record of shared reads: I was very excited to see you on the wiki! :D )

Yeah, it's a made-for-TV movie from the 70s. Not one of the better ones, I gather, but the kind of thing I've usually seen.

Edited: Sep 4, 2017, 5:33pm Top

100) The Private Life of Helen of Troy / John Erskine
Date: 1925

After the Trojan War Menelaus brings Helen home to Sparta, hoping to settle back into something like normalcy. But no luck: Helen shows no signs of humility or regret for starting the war; the servants are having affairs with the nobles; the Oresteia is playing over at his brother's house; and his daughter Hermione is mooning over a broody, matricidal reprobate. What's a family to do? Talk, that's what. Argue about the good life, about fate, about responsibility, and endlessly about community standards. The book reads less like a novel than a play, an extended Greek drama with quotation marks and "said Helen" in place of speaker labels. (Ironically, the book had a single movie adaptation -- as a silent film.)

But I mislead. The story does not center on Menelaus, who turns out to be a weak-willed sort, sometimes comically so. Instead it is on Helen, who maintains an uneasy tension between demands of the heart and arguments of experience: she refuses to feel guilty for having followed Paris, and yet she sees her daughter becoming entangled in a relationship that threatens grave consequences. How does one advise another to give one's self up to an irrational passion -- but please, not with that guy, please be reasonable. Often supporting multiple conflicting positions, Helen pulls off the ambivalence with charm and grace.

(Or is motherly advice really Helen's motive? She urges Hermione to meet Pyrrhus before committing to Orestes and says it's to test Hermione's passion -- but isn't Helen herself attracted to Pyrrhus? Is she trying to rekindle the passion she felt for Paris? Does she even know her own motives?)

I really shouldn't like this book: it's talky, the action all happens remotely while the characters merely comment on it, and although it's not exactly plotless the story takes a back seat to abstract reflection, and goodness will they never stop talking about *love*. So it was especially delightful to find it so absorbing. The dialog is thought-provoking, but mixed with understated humor that keeps things from becoming oppressively earnest. Recommended.

This was the bestselling novel in the U.S. for 1926-- and with its unconventional structure and classical subject it's not obvious why. I have guesses: the theme of shifting social standards in the wake of a foreign war must have resonated with an American readership recovering from World War I; and Erskine's promotion of the Great Books movement must have generated some curiosity. But as always I'm also curious about Liz's insights.

Edited: Sep 4, 2017, 9:58pm Top

101) Perry Rhodan 14: Das galaktische Rätsel(= The Galactic Riddle) / Clark Darlton
Date: December 8, 1961
Tagline: Perry Rhodan seeks the Planet of Immortality -- and finds a trail that leads into eternity ...

The story so far: The stations that Pery Rhodan and his crew have already passed on the search for the Planet of Eternal Life seem like child's play when compared to those that will follow. The Unknowns who possess and protect the secret of immortality will play all sorts of psychological tricks to discourage all but the most determined seekers. But Perry Rhodan believes in humanity's destiny and does not give up easily. He follows his goal and comes upon THE GALACTIC RIDDLE ...

Certain that the Planet of Immortality *should* be located somewhere in the Vega system, and also certain that none of the existing planets meets the requirements, Perry's crew study the system and discover that one of Vega's planets is missing. There ought to be another planet between the orbits of the ninth and tenth. The only logical conclusion is that the missing planet is the one they seek, and its erstwhile inhabitants have packed up and driven it elsewhere.

Desperate for clues, Perry Rhodan chooses a crew to return to the time vault. There they discover a matter transmitter that takes them to a sort of danger room where they are given several assignments to prove they are worthy to learn the secrets of immortality.

Meanwhile, one of Perry's officers Sergeant Groll and the Ferronian scientist Lossoshér search another avenue: perhaps the missing planet did not leave Vega at all, but was just moved. Sure enough, on the second moon of the thirteenth planet they find a mysterious pyramid housing mysterious high-tech electonics.

As the adventure closes, the team uncovers an encrypted message from the powers who guard the secret. But will they decipher it in time?

Teaser for the next adventure: The galactic riddle was solved literally in the last minute -- but the Unknown who guards the secret of immortality is far from having shot his last round. He, for whom millennia are but a second, has left a TRAIL THROUGH SPACE AND TIME ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Galactic Riddle. The first edition was published by Ace in 1971:

Edited: Sep 4, 2017, 11:49pm Top

102) Ghosts and Marvels / V.H. Collins, ed.
Date: 1924

This is an excellent collection of mostly 19th- and early 20th-century ghost stories. About half of them are new to me -- among them the Scott and the Oliphant, both of which I found excellent -- and those that aren't were mostly worth rereading anyway.

Mrs. Veal by Daniel Defoe
Story, presented as fact, about two friends Mrs. Veal and Mrs. Bargrave, and how Mrs. Veal pays Mrs. Bargrave one last visit after her death.

Wandering Willie's Tale by Walter Scott
With his rent in arrears to an impatient landlord, Steenie Steenson scrapes together his debt and pays -- at the very moment that the landlord falls dead. Frightened out of his wits, Steenson flees without getting a receipt. So when the landlord's heir consults the books Steenson's debt remains outstanding. Steenson has no choice but to find extraordinary means to verify his payment.

The Werewolf by Frederick Marryat
A Hungarian peasant kills his unfaithful wife and her lover, then flees with his children into the wilderness to escape justice. After a time, a stranger wanders through their homestead with a beautiful but odd daughter, who takes the peasant's fancy.

The Haunted and the Haunters by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The narrator investigates a haunted house, and spends a lot of time explaining his theories of how spiritual phenomena are physically mediated.

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Here's a favorite: about a New England naïf who arranges to meet the Devil in the woods ... and finds out he's not the first to seek help there.

Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe
Still not my favorite of Poe's works, about a man who pines for his perfect first wife Ligeia. His second wife Rowena also dies young, and at her death she transforms into Ligeia.

A Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter by J. Sheridan le Fanu
Schalken the Painter's greatest work is a haunting portrait of a white-robed woman, illuminated by a lamp. The story behind the painting lies in Schalken's early love Rose, who disappeared mysteriously after marrying a strange and deformed suitor.

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
A young man discovers an ability sort of like clairvoyance. Only his brother's beautiful fiancee Bertha is closed to his ability, and her opaqueness makes her more attractive, despite the fact that she is clearly duplicitous and hateful. When his brother dies the man jumps at the opportunity to marry Bertha instead, which can only end badly. There's an especially odd scene near the end, in which a doctor resurrects a deceased patient via blood transfusion.

The Open Door by Mrs. Oliphant
An officer returning from India rents a home in the Scottish countryside near Edinburgh. The large old home has character ... and something more. One afternoon the officer's son becomes distraught and is confined to bedrest after hearing a child's voice pleading, "Oh mother, let me in!"

The Body-Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson
A young medical student supports himself in part by procuring bodies for the school. Sources for the bodies are unimportant: what one doesn't ask one doesn't know. Until the student recognizes one of the specimens ...

The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs
A monkey's paw grants its owner three wishess

The Crystal Egg by H. G. Wells
The owner of a curiosities shop is mysteriously reluctant to sell an egg-shaped crystal from his stock. It turns out that he has discovered that if he looks at it when the light is just right, he can make out another world -- one preferable to the world he inhabits.

Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood
Werecat witches in rural France.

The Moon-Slave by Barry Pain
A princess dances alone in the moonlight at the center of a hedgerow labyrinth. Then one night she's not alone.

Casting the Runes by Montague R. James
An alchemist casts a curse on the reviewer who rejected his manuscript.

Sep 5, 2017, 6:30am Top

That's a pretty impressive collection!

Sep 5, 2017, 11:54am Top

>24 swynn: Agreed. This is a pretty cool collection with some heavy hitters.

Edited: Sep 5, 2017, 2:51pm Top

>25 lyzard:
>26 brodiew2:

Isn't it though? It's hard to pick standouts from a list of stories that would be standouts in any other collection.

Others must have thought so too, since it drew enough interest to publish a sequel, 1927's More Ghosts and Marvels, which couldn't help but have a less impressive table of contents. Still, there's some good stuff in that volume too -- another Scott, Dickens, Gaskell, Dunsany, Machen -- and I hope to get to it sometime soonish.

Edited: Sep 8, 2017, 2:21pm Top

103) Perry Rhodan 15: Die Spur durch Zeit und Raum (= The Trail through Time and Space) / Clark Darlton
Date: December 15, 1961
Tagline: To seek the immortals you must penetrate the past ...

The story so far: The Unknown who guards the secret of immortality seems to have prepared an entire series of tests to be undertaken by anyone who seeks the secret. Perry Rhodan, Lord of the Third Power, has advanced too far in the chase to be able or willing to turn back now. After an adventure that tested the limits of his team's courage, he is now in possession of another message from the Unknown. And this message will launch Perry Rhodan's most unbelievable adventure yet: THE TRAIL THROUGH TIME AND SPACE ...

Perry Rhodan and his team continue to seek the legendary "Planet of Immortality." Crest and Thora, his Arkonide friends, believe that learning the secret of immortality will restore their degenerated race (really: "degenerierte Rasse," and no it doesn't sound better in German) to its youthful vigor. Perry, of course, is hoping to use the secret to advance human interests.

To find the secret, the team is given a series of increasingly difficult challenges. In this adventure, they have to learn the name of an Arkonide explorer who visited the Planet Ferrol some ten thousand years ago. Then they have to go back in time to meet him, and acquire some object to use later in their quest, with the constraint that they may not kill anyone in the past. But the Ferrol of ten thousand years ago is at a technological level corresponding to Earth's European Middle Ages, and is deep in a bitter war ...

Teaser for the next adventure: Perry Rhodan and his companions, despite the many varied dangers brought by their sojourn in the planet Ferrol's distant past, have returned unharmed to their own time. But their search has not ended, for they have once again acquired a message from the Unknown, which promises new and greater dangers: "... space will soon be shaken. Pay heed and watch, but remember that this world is strange and huge!"

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided four interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Quest Through Space and Time. The first edition was published by Ace in 1971:

Edited: Sep 8, 2017, 1:54pm Top

Good morning, swynn! I hope all is well with you.

I saw that you added Orphan X to your list. I look forward to your thoughts when you get to it.

I also did my fist DAW search when at Goodwill this week. I found one of Andre Norton's Witchworld books. I did not look like my thing, but I should have gotten anyway.

Edited: Sep 8, 2017, 2:32pm Top

>29 brodiew2: Hi Brodie!

Hey, Spell of the Witch World, DAW #1! Where it all began: smack in the middle of another series, of course. It would have been a gentle place to start, though. It's a collection of three self-contained stories that don't require much (or any, IIRC) background knowledge of the series. And I do like that Jack Gaughan cover.

I will get to Orphan X soon, probably next week.

Sep 8, 2017, 2:38pm Top

I'm not sure if it was 'Spell' or another of the Witchwold booked. One was DAW and the other 2 were Ace as I recall.

Sep 9, 2017, 9:29pm Top

>31 brodiew2: Hm. I was thinking that Spell of the Witch World was DAW's only WW novel, but turns out there were four, and I've already read two of them -- I forgot about The Crystal Gryphon. So there's another series I ought to catch up on before it comes up again.

Sep 9, 2017, 9:49pm Top

104) Rama II

Sequel to Rendezvous With Rama, following the adventures of a team sent to investigate a second Rama-like object passing through the solar system.

The sequel is an entirely different class of story from the first. Rendezvous was about the alien object, while this one focuses more on the human team's interpersonal relationships -- which might have worked better if the characters were a less wooden. There are also some mystical elements -- pagan visions and answers to Christian prayers -- that for me don't fit the hard-science aesthetic of Rendezvous. Still, I enjoyed it well enough to read the next, especially as it ends without a resolution.

Edited: Sep 11, 2017, 4:58pm Top

105) The Bullet Catcher's Daughter / Rod Duncan

Bandwagon joined: This one's a fantasy about a girl who pretends she's a boy in order to make a living as a detective in a steampunk England. Fun, fast, and I've got the next on my phone waiting to be read.

Edited: Sep 12, 2017, 12:44pm Top

>33 swynn: I recognized that the following trilogy is about the characters as much as the ship, but I think the environment, the 'alien object', is what kept me coming back. I love the exploration of a deserted alien 'city' as well as the characters.

>34 swynn: I've seen this one, too. I may have to jump on the bandwagon myself.

Sep 11, 2017, 5:15pm Top

>34 swynn:, >35 brodiew2: Already on my wish list!

Sep 11, 2017, 5:28pm Top

>33 swynn: I'm enjoying your reactions to the Rama series as you work through them, Steve. I'll be very surprised if you don't find that the first one continues to be the best one all the way through, but it's still worth reading them all even if they fall a bit short (or at least they did for me; you may have a different opinion).

Sep 12, 2017, 12:01pm Top

>34 swynn: Dang nabbit. That brief review got me. :P

Sep 15, 2017, 10:57pm Top

>35 brodiew2: I'm interested to see how the world develops, Brodie.

>36 drneutron: Hope you like it, Jim!

>37 rosalita: Compared to RWR they're bound to fall short. I hope to enjoy them for what they are.

>38 MickyFine: Hope you like it Micky!

Edited: Sep 15, 2017, 11:47pm Top

106) DAW #110: By the Light of the Green Star / Lin Carter
Date: 1974

Third in Carter's "Green Star" series, in which a rich man, disabled by polio, astrally projects himself to a distant planet for John-Carterish adventures. In this one he's separated from his true love, the Princess Niamh. He is captured by albinos in an underground fortress, while she is captured by black elites in a sky city. It starts where Book 2's cliffhanger left off, then goes on for awhile until it ends with another. The whole thing feels like marking time. Not helping is the first-person omniscient perspective, which makes no sense. Not especially recommended, but not exactly awful-- hopefully something a little more consequential will happen in the next volume.

Cover art is by Roy Krenkel, who also contributes some interior illustrations. I like it.

Edited: Sep 16, 2017, 8:01pm Top

107) Perry Rhodan 16: Die Geister von Gol (= The Ghosts of Gol) / Kurt Mahr
Date: December 22, 1961
Tagline: "The great ones of Gol become too powerful while you hesitate, Perry Rhodan!"

The story so far: What does an immortal being mean by the expression "soon"? Perry Rhodan doesn't know -- the last message from the Unknown, which fell into Perry Rhodan's hands on an expedition into the past of the planet Ferrol, says nothing about how "soon" he, Perry, must face the next test to attain eternal life. But the Lord of the Third Power knows that the next test will cast a shadow on all the others he has so far survived. Even if the risks have grow too large already for the Arkonides, Perry Rhodan is determined to see it through -- and only this determination can save the expedition when it meets THE GHOSTS OF GOL ...

Perry Rhodan continues the hunt for the Planet of Immortality. The next test is set on Gol, the 14th planet of the Vega System. Gol is a gas giant with a methane/ammonia atmosphere and gravity of 90g at its surface. Perry and his team can only survive thanks to powered shields and the Arkonide gravity-neutraliser. So it's bad news to find various obstacles between them and their goal: mountains, a sea of frozen methane, and a wandering pack of energy-eating light-creatures ...

Teaser for the next adventure: The STARDUST II has reached outer space once again, even though for a long time it looked like the titanic craft of Arkon-steel would never lift itself again from the planet Gol. But what is the use of returning to space, when they don't know their position and no familiar constellations light their way? But there is the PLANET OF THE DYING SUN, which is supposed to hold the coordinates ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided four interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Ghosts of Gol. The first edition was published by Ace in 1971:

Sep 20, 2017, 7:25pm Top

108) The Bloody Sun / Marion Zimmer Bradley

Third (in publication order) of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series. This one features Jeff Kerwin, a half-Darkovan orphan who was raised on Earth by his Terran father's family. Despite his half-Terran heritage he has never felt at home on Earth and longs to return to Darkover. Now an adult and an officer in the Terran military he requests and wins reassignment to Darkover -- the competition after all is not heavy for such a backwoods outpost.

When Kerwin tries to trace his Darkovan roots, however, he quickly meets obstacles. Nobody seems to have any records of his early life: no birth certificate, no record of him at the orphanage where he stayed before moving to Earth. To find his roots, and his destiny, he'll have to abandon his post and leave his Terran identity behind ...

This is not bad. It's less frenetic than Sword of Aldones, and the intrigue works pretty well until the narrative takes a tangent into polyamory. The speechifying about free love slows things down enough, but the way Kerwin freaks out about it is just as annoying. It goes on longer than it should, then Bradley gets back to the story and closes with a tidy ending. I'll read the next.

Edited: Sep 21, 2017, 5:59pm Top

109) Cinderella, Necromancer / F.M. Boughan

Faith (dk_phoenix) wrote this retelling of the Cinderella story, in which Cinderella turns out to be a precocious master of the Dark Arts. It's better than your average fairy tale retelling-- Cinderella has more agency than in the Disney version for instance, and the prince doesn't solve all of her problems. Plus, there's enough blood to satisfy old Bill & Jake Grimm. Recommended.

Sep 22, 2017, 8:12am Top

>43 swynn: Oh, yay! I pre-ordered and have my copy, too, but it may be a little while before I get to it. I'm glad to hear that you liked it!

Sep 22, 2017, 9:16am Top

>44 scaifea: I hope you like it as well as I did, Amber! I'm usually not up for retellings of fairy tales, and probably wouldn't have picked it up but for the author. But Faith makes the story her own -- maybe not so much a "retelling" as a "story inspired by" -- and I found it satisfying.

Sep 22, 2017, 9:36am Top

>45 swynn: Excellent! I do, in fact, love a good fairy re-tale-ing, so I'm looking forward to it!

Sep 22, 2017, 1:21pm Top

Gonna have to find this one...

Sep 23, 2017, 3:00pm Top

>47 drneutron: Yes you should! And I hope you like it, Jim.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:45am Top

110) Perry Rhodan 17: Planet der sterbenden Sonne (= Planet of the Dying Sun) / Kurt Mahr
Date: December 29, 1961
Tagline: "They landed on the planet of the dying sun and found -- hate ..."

The story so far: Perry Rhodan and his people, searching for the secret of immortality, landed on GOL, the 14th planet of the Vega-System, where they surely would have fallen victims to energy eaters had the Unknown not thrown them back into space via nominal-transmitter. But despite the rescue from imminent danger, the mood is subdued on board the powerful STARDUST, for the crew finds itself in an entirely unknown region of space. The Unknown has told them that the exact jump coordinates for a return voyage are on a nearby world, but where is it? Is it the PLANET OF THE DYING SUN?

The next phase in the search for immortality takes Rhodan and his crew to the planet Tramp, in a region of space so remote that not even the Arkonides can identify it. And Tramp holds plenty of danger: gravity storms, hostile telekinetics, robots, doppelgangers, and herds of creatures that resemble an overgrown hybrid of beavers and mice: mouse-beavers. Really: in German they're "Maus-Biber" or sometimes "Mausbiber." It's the latter form that sticks, and we might as well get used to it, because one Mausbiber is about to become a recurring character.

Teaser for the next adventure: Tramp, the planet of the dying sun, had more dangers than anyone could have expected from such a harmless-seeming world. But how often have appearances already deceived! Now that the Milky Way model has been discovered, it should be easy to make the return trip to the Vega System -- or maybe not ... ? Perry Rhodan next meets THE REBELS OF TUGLAN, thanks entirely to Gucky, stowaway on the STARDUST ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Planet of the Dying Sun. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972:

Sep 23, 2017, 10:48pm Top

>43 swynn: Nice to see support for one of our own and that she hit the ball out of the park too!

Have a great weekend.

Sep 26, 2017, 11:57am Top

Good morning, swynn! I hope all is well. I really enjoy the cover art on the right side edition. They have been good going all the way back.

Edited: Sep 26, 2017, 1:22pm Top

>51 brodiew2: Yeah, don't they just snap? The covers on the 1976 reprints are by Chris Foss, who is a terrific artist and one of the first to do those sleek, airbrushed vehicles. We've seen some of his work on the DAW project also, like on Barrington Bayley's Collision Course and Brian Ball's Singularity Station:

Sharp as Foss's work is, I prefer Johnny Bruck's rougher, more pulpy covers. Part of that is sentimental: Bruck was still *the* artist for Perry Rhodan when I discovered the series in the mid-1980s. Another part is that his illustrations almost always portray scenes from the text, giving you the feeling that he isn't just a craftsman but also a fellow fan. (Chris Foss, in contrast, famously dislikes the literature between his covers and avoids reading the stories he illustrates.)

And I'm simply in awe of Bruck's productivity: he illustrated 1,797 weekly issues of Perry Rhodan -- and his last was for issue #1799 in 1996. It's amazing to me that for 35 *years* Bruck missed only 2 issues of a weekly publication. Besides that, he also provided 3-6 interior illustrations for each weekly issue, and also illustrations for various other publications, including weekly covers for the PR spinoff series Atlan, and for PR paperbacks. Some of the compositions don't quite work, but the vast majority of them are solid, admirable craftsmanship and more than a few knock your socks off. Well, mine anyway.

Sep 28, 2017, 4:43pm Top

>52 swynn: And Bruck's cover seems to have story elements included which can be a plus serialized or other wise.

Did you ever get around the Orphan X?

Edited: Sep 28, 2017, 7:11pm Top

>53 brodiew2: Actually, I'm enjoying it now! Some crazy schedules have disrupted my reading habits over the last few weeks, leaving the Tower of Due to languish -- most of my reading has been paperbacks or ebooks I carry while walking the dog. Hopefully I'll finish Orphan X this weekend, but no guarantees. Chances are there'll be another Perry Rhodan and another DAW first.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:45am Top

111) DAW #111: The Paradise Game / Brian Stableford
Date: 1974
Tagline: If this world was Eden, in what guise was the snake?

Fourth in the "Hooded Swan" series, or "Star-Pilot Grainger" series, depending on what source you consult. The series features a space pilot (Grainger) who through misadventure finds himself in the driver's seat of a cutting-edge starship (the Hooded Swan). Grainger is also host to a mental symbiote he calls "the wind."

In this one, Grainger's boss sends him to the planet Pharos, which the Carradoc Corporation plans to turn into a "paradise planet," a resort for the very wealthy. Pharos is practically paradise even without Carradoc's help: there is indigenous life, but no predators, no pests, no disease-causing bacteria or viruses. Grainger doesn't trust it. It's his experience that evolution expands to fill ecological niches, so if nothing is filling them then something is wrong. He's right, of course.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series, though the third got a little annoying with Grainger's repetitious it-may-be-the-seventies-but-I-don't-have-to-like-it comments about "lady pilots." Fortunately, in this episode Grainger's misogyny takes a backseat to a more general and snarky misanthropy. It's a nice return to form for the series, and I'm looking forward to the next.

The cover is by Kelly Freas.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:47am Top

112) Perry Rhodan 18: Die Rebellen von Tuglan (= The Rebels of Tuglan) / Clark Darlton
Date: January 12, 1962
Tagline: "He looked so totally harmless -- but he turned the powerful STARDUST II into a toy ball ..."

The story so far: Their experiences on Tramp, the planet of the dying sun, have worn the nerves of Perry Rhodan and his crew -- for they defended themselves against something that struck suddenly from the darkness. But now in possession of jump coordinates that could be determined from a model they discovered of the Milky Way, they should be able to return to the Vega System with no further interruptions. But Gucky, the stowaway, has other plans for the STARDUST. Gucky makes them run up against THE REBELS OF TUGLAN ...

Thanks to a 3-D galactic map discovered on Tramp in a Mausbiber (rhymes with"mouse-beaver") tunnel complex, Perry Rhodan has a pretty good idea where to find the planet of immortality. But he doesn't count on a stowaway: a telekinetic, teleporting, mind-reading Mausbiber with an overdeveloped sense of play. For fun, the Mausbiber resets the coordinates, causing the STARDUST to miss the Vega system by 33,000 light years. Instead of Vega, the STARDUST emerges near the Arkonide colony world of Tuglan. Coincidentally, they arrive just as a local rebellion threatens to overthrow the benevolent Arkonide government. Before they can move on, Rhodan's crew must identify the insurrection's leader and squash it.

This is the first appearance of Gucky the Mausbiber -- think Rocket Raccoon as played by Micky Mouse -- who will become a series regular. I've never quite grasped his appeal, but I hope this project will help clarify that for me. I don't get it yet -- Gucky's role here is slapstick trickster, and as comic relief it's too broad for me. But Gucky will have plenty of chances to win me over. Or to turn me off the series entirely. (Extra-trivial note: the English translations changed "Gucky" to "Pucky." I sort of get why the translators might have leaned away from "Gucky" -- but is "Pucky" really any better?)

Teaser for the next adventure: Gucky, the intelligent furry being from Planet Tramp, has brought Perry Rhodan into considerable danger. But nobody can stay angry at Gucky for that reason, because he took decisive role in cleaning up Tuglan and made good on his "mistake." And in the end, this interlude on Tuglan gave Perry Rhodan the chance to demonstrate his honest intentions for the Arkonides. But now Rhodan relentlessly approaches his goal, where THE IMMORTAL awaits ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided four interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Rebels of Tuglan. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972:

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:50am Top

113) Elmer Gantry / Sinclair Lewis

This 1927 bestseller has been in the Someday Swamp for a very long time. I'm not sure why I never got around to it because I'm sympathetic toward criticisms of American religion and especially of hypocrisy therein. But I never did. Now I wish I'd read it earlier because I think in my twenties it would have resonated much more.

Now for some disclosure: my own alma mater could be described as a "small midwestern Bible college." Mine was a bit more southerly and is now a "university," but remains proud of its Bible-college roots. Elmer Gantry was known to my professors, and they generally approved of it as an exposure of hypocrisy in religion -- by the late 1980s they could hardly pretend it was rare. Their only criticism was its failure to recognize the value of true religion, or to acknowledge the sincerity of most believers. My alma mater and I parted philosophically long ago, and I'm inclined to commit the same failure.

You probably don't need me to tell you it's about an evangelist whose private life and public message conflict. We're introduced to Gantry at a small midwestern Bible college, where he is an aimless student with weak impulse control, thinking about going into business or maybe law. But he discovers a natural talent for religious oratory and enjoys the attention it brings him and the feeling of power. Thanks to his poor impulse control he crashes and burns early and goes into sales. Sometime later his religious ambitions are reawakened by itinerant evangelist Sharon Falconer, to whom he becomes apprentice and lover. Through the rest of the book Gantry matures as a cynical and ruthless manipulator of public religious sentiment. It's not a pretty story but it's an uncomfortably plausible one.

Indeed, despite (*cough*) my alma mater's best (*cough*) efforts, manipulators of religious sentiment have flourished. They've even invaded our highest political offices, and they barely need to fake piety anymore. (Of course I went there. Did you think I wouldn't?)

I digress. Gantry is hardly the most interesting character in the book. To balance Gantry we get Frank Shallard, a classmate of Gantry's who also becomes a minister. Shallard comes to doubt the value of organized religion, but can't bring himself to leave the ministry for fear of the disappointment he'd cause his friends and family, and for the loss of income. Shallard may have weakness of will, but he also has the integrity to refuse Gantry's game. In the meantime, he cares for his congregation and promotes community. This seems to be where Lewis expects the honest ministers to land. And though I dislike Shallard's weakness, it's probably where I would have landed had I completed my plan to enter the ministry.

But for my taste the most interesting and frightening character is Sharon Falconer, a mysterious mad evangelist with a messiah complex and a taste for luxury. She goes to an early grave but with a little more time she'd have led her entire congregation there. In fact, I think one of Lewis's biggest mistakes comes during her demise: as Falconer's church burns down around her, she picks up a cross and says, "Have faith! I'll lead you safely through the flames!" Lewis writes: But they ignored her, streamed past her, thrusting her aside. Ignored her? Post-Jonestown, post-Heaven's Gate, post-Waco it's hard to believe she would be ignored. Did Lewis overestimate the faults of organized religion? Maybe, but here's a case where he dramatically underestimates them.

So: some interesting characters, an occasional facility of phrasing, but does it work as a novel? About that I'm ambivalent. The plot is oddly paced, episodic, and meandering. The dialogue is stiffer than a starched collar. As polemic it's okay but unimaginative. As sardonic humor it works frequently, though it's little more subtle than its antihero. Still: I'm sympathetic to the polemic, and it's weirdly and uncomfortably timely. I am happy to have finally read it, but doubt I'll read it again.

Edited: Oct 1, 2017, 1:00pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Oct 1, 2017, 8:08pm Top

>57 swynn: Like you, Steve, I don't know why I haven't read this one yet. Your review has made me more interested than ever in seeking it out. Sounds like the themes of religious hypocrisy still (unfortunately) resonate today!

Oct 3, 2017, 12:57pm Top

Good morning, swynn! I hope all is well with you.

>57 swynn: I remember the film and Lancaster's fiery performance. It is sad that 'manipulators of religious sentiment have flourished'. It makes it that much harder for believers to share the message. Too many people get hurt by churches showing judgement rather than mercy. But that wasn't your point. you were speaking the the cult of personality in which Christianity, or another religion, is the vehicle for a narcissist to manipulate the masses. Say what you will about belief in Jesus, there is enough bad happening to obscure the good that the true Church is trying to accomplish. I belive. I guess, I went there as well.

Edited: Oct 4, 2017, 12:54pm Top

>59 rosalita: They do resonate, Julia, uncomfortably so.

>60 brodiew2: Hi Brodie! I should hasten to add that when I say I'm inclined to commit Sinclair's failure of blindness toward the good that is done by many believers, I do mean that it's a failure. It's been a maddeningly painful few decades watching the church I was raised in -- of a denomination which began with radical Methodists who ran stations on the Underground Railroad -- turn into a conservative-party club where political discussions dominate theological ones, Fox News is cited more frequently than Jesus, and hostility to difference is encouraged. And the religious adulation for our child in Chief -- I mean, I get holding your nose and voting for the lesser of two evils. Even if I disagree about who the "lesser" is, I understand the principle. But to regard a transparent fraud as some sort of quasi-religious culture-war Messiah ... Really? Do they not realize how they're being manipulated? And their manipulators haven't even a fraction of Gantry's style.

But it's even more complicated -- it's not just that Sinclair focuses on the manipulative or the gullible believers and neglects the sincere, benevolent ones. The messy thing is that there's no neat line between "good" and "bad. The believers who accept a role as unquestioning political tool, or who fight to shut down access to women's health clinics, or who send donations to support some televangelist buy another private jet, are sometimes the same ones who hold their community together through acts of grace and compassion. Those radical Methodists who helped slaves escape on the Underground Railroad didn't necessarily want former slaves attending their white churches. (Why, it's almost as if believers were human beings!) Lewis would have had a better and truer novel had he tried to address that ambiguity, but I confess the current environment and Lewis's narrow perspective made for a satisfying rage-read. YMMV.

Oct 5, 2017, 1:31pm Top

Hello swynn. I appreciate your response. It is clear that you are not a fan of the president or conservatism in general. I also see that you understand the 'holding your nose' quandary. I have to admit that I do not consider the president 'quasi-religious culture-war Messiah'. Nor do I feel like I'm being duped. Isn't gulluiblity in the eye of the beholder, at least when you are not being taken advantage of in a criminal way. I made an informed choice. I considered the president the 'lesser evil'.

I also am sorry to hear that the church of your youth has disappointed you. It certainly a different time, but in some respects the Church (broad) has fallen prey to technology, cultural shifts, and charlatans. Believers are human beings, and as such are not perfect and do not always make good choice. This is as true with the believer in the pew as it is with the Pastor in the pulpit.

Elmer, if I recall correctly, was a man with a gift, who chose a vacation, not because he was called or had Jesus, but because he was good at it. He was a manipulator as well as one being manipulated. I forget.

Edited: Oct 5, 2017, 11:16pm Top

Hi Brodie. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I appreciate your patience as I express some frustrations. My thoughts & feelings on religion are several and not entirely consistent, and the ones on the surface tend to be the ones that get fed. Lately it's been an unlimited buffet for the negative feelings and I really ought to do something to balance that. I wish I had time to read something .... :)

And yes, my feelings on religion have been recently complicated by my feelings on politics. It's long been a frustration to me that the church of my youth -- with which I no longer identify, but still have mostly positive feelings -- has taken such a strong turn toward political engagement in causes I find indefensible. I appreciate that not all believers are comfortable with politicized religion, nor with this strain in particular. But I have friends and family -- whom, let's be clear, I love dearly -- who are. When engaging with them I'm necessarily filtered, so the filter tends to come off here. It is my strong impression that within the context of this politicized religion, "quasi-religious culture-war Messiah" is no exaggeration. I stand by "gullibility" as descriptive for a perspective that consumes information from a narrow range of sources and that refuses to engage with counterarguments. Am I prone to gullibility myself? Probably, which is why I appreciate feedback and correction.

So how does Elmer get away with it? Yes he has a gift. He has style and a bag of rhetorical tricks. (Ah, nostalgia: remember when we expected style and rhetoric from our public frauds?) He tells his audience what they want to hear and scapegoats easy targets: small-time bootleggers, liberal Christians and the like.

I'm a poor judge of whether anyone has a "call" or "has Jesus", and frankly I'm most suspicious of those who are most sure of their divine calling. As you say, believers are human beings. So are we all. (And it's really not such a bad thing to be.)

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:52am Top

On a less religious note:

114) Orphan X / Gregg Hurwitz

Brodie's right. This one's good. It's an action thriller featuring a hero who's a bit Jack Reacher and a bit of Andrew Vachss's hypervigilant hero Burke. It starts at a sprint, then speeds up, and the plot has enough kinks to keep things interesting.

Thanks for the recommendation, Brodie! Looking forward to the next.

Oct 6, 2017, 12:50pm Top

>63 swynn: I really appreciate your willingness to have this discussion, swynn. I want you to know that is strange having DT as president. I agree with you that there is a lack polish( expected style and rhetoric) in him. However, he is no different than his television personality. It is definitely different.

I also have to filter myself with my parents and brother as they do not share my views and beliefs. It is frustrating and an outlet like LT is a beautiful things to have for such needed catharsis. For me, LT is a place where most views are contrary to mine, but there is the ability to talk about things without tempers flaring (too much). As for balancing some of your negativity, I won't presume to make recommendation as I don't know you well enough. However, I hope you will seek something out. I am grateful that you recognize the need. ;-)

>64 swynn: I'm glad you liked it. I've never read Vachss, mostly because of the subject matter he engages. My brother has enjoyed his books. Is there one of his that you find especially good?

Oct 6, 2017, 11:02pm Top

Thanks, Brodie. I do appreciate your habit of respectful engagement, and your perspective is always welcome here.

If you dislike Vachss's subject matter I'm not sure what to recommend because it's all about monsters who exploit the vulnerable. If you're going to sample one, the beginning is as good a place as any; and Flood would certainly give you a sample of the hypervigilance that Evan Smoak called to mind. If you want a full serving and don't mind reading out of order, my favorites are Blue Belle and Down in the Zero.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:55am Top

115) Perry Rhodan 19: Der Unsterbliche (= The Immortal) / K. H. Scheer
Date: January 19, 1962
Tagline: "An entire solar system threatened with ruin -- only Perry Rhodan can save them ..."

The story so far: Gucky, the intelligent furry being from Planet Tramp, can be blamed for Perry Rhodan's detour through Tuglan before returning to the Vega-System. Now as the Lord of the Third Power emerges from hyperspace he discovers chaos: the stable sun Vega going nova! If Perry Rhodan wants to rescue the endangered Ferrons he has only one chance: he must finish the last task THE IMMORTAL gave him ...

Perry Rhodan and crew finally return to Vega system, only to discover that its formerly stable sun is about to go nova. Whatever time Vega has left, that's how long they have to find the planet of immortality. Thanks to the map they found on Tramp, Rhodan knows where to find it ... within a few light-years. There are a few more tests for Rhodan's crew to overcome, including gravity beams and an undead gunslinger from Earth's past, but Rhodan's team is up to every challenge.

In the end they meet a disembodied being they call "It" or "He," because beings that have evolved beyond the need for bodies must be either masculine or neuter, I guess. (Long-term, the writing team will go with IT, all-caps.) "It" explains that immortality is achieved through a sort of cellular cleansing which will prevent aging for 62 Earth-years, after which the patient will quickly decline unless another treatment is given. This is the treatment Crest crossed the universe to find, so Rhodan offers him priority. But no. "It" refuses to treat Arkonides: they had their chance, "It" says. Instead, "It" gives the treatment to ... well, I bet you can guess.

Teaser for the next adventure: "He" or "It" -- this ancient ghost-being composed of billions of formerly physical individuals -- has made its decision and thus thrown the both Arkonides into deepest despair. Only Perry Rhodan and Bully, as representatives of a young and aggressive humanity, were found worthy of a cellular conservation. And the rest of humanity? Is it ready to own the stars? An answer lies in the next Perry Rhodan volume, VENUS IN DANGER ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided three interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Immortal Unkown. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972:

Edited: Oct 9, 2017, 4:40pm Top

Update from the Department of Unfortunate Book Covers.

At least it's not bicycles, I guess.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:56am Top

116) DAW #112: Give Warning to the World! / John Brunner
Date: 1974
Tagline: The aliens are among us -- now!

Intelligent exploding body-snatching extraterrestrial plants. Really. It's great fun until the explanation, which drags on for thirty pages. I'd rather have had thirty more pages of exploding plants and not known why.

The surrealist cover is by Jack Gaughan, back in top form.

Oct 10, 2017, 12:12pm Top

Good morning, swynn. I hope you have a good one!

Oct 10, 2017, 1:04pm Top

>68 swynn: *snerk*

Oct 10, 2017, 4:22pm Top

>68 swynn: Heh heh heh.

Oct 10, 2017, 8:07pm Top

>68 swynn: Oh, dear. I never pictured Moby Dick looking quite so ... jolly.

Oct 10, 2017, 8:12pm Top

>73 rosalita: He was reveling, Julia, in at last noshing on old Ahab's head, body, arms, and one remaining leg. He who laughs last laughs best.

Oct 10, 2017, 8:15pm Top

>74 weird_O: By golly, I think you might be right, Bill! :-)

Oct 10, 2017, 8:22pm Top

>74 weird_O:

Best reading of Moby Dick EVER!!

Oct 11, 2017, 9:09pm Top

My guess is that the person responsible for the cover image was told it was a book about a "killer whale," and that's what came up in an image search.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:57am Top

117) Perry Rhodan 20: Venus in Gefahr (= Venus in Danger) / Kurt Mahr
Date: January 19, 1962
Tagline: "An entire solar system threatened with ruin -- only Perry Rhodan can save them ..."

The story so far: Only Perry Rhodan and Reginald Bull, the two representatives of an aggressive and ambitious humanity, received a treatment on the planet Wanderer which stopped all aging process for 62 Earth years. For both Terrans was an ancient dream of humanity fulfilled-- the dream of immortality! But every thing has its price! -- and as the STARDUST II returns to the earthly Solar System, this price must be paid ...

As Rhodan and his crew return to Earth they believe they've spent about six weeks searching for the planet of immortality. Instead, they've been gone for four and a half years. In that time, the political situation on Earth has returned to its cold-war tensions. Nuclear war threatens once again.

The Eastern Bloc has sent an expedition to Venus, hoping to discover some of Rhodan's military technology. They know neither what to look for nor where to find it, but set down in the Venusian jungles with a force of ten thousand, planning to find *something* by brute force if necessary.

And that's when Perry Rhodan returns. It's an awful mismatch, Perry Rhodan's advanced technology and home field advantage, versus the Eastern Bloc's inexperience and inferior weapons. But Rhodan barely has to do anything, since the planet is challenge enough. You actually begin to feel sympathy for the Russians, whose efforts should earn them a barrack-room ballad at least. So here's one:

The jungles on Venus were hellishly hot
As we staked our tents in the damp;
But the planet was ours ... or so we thought
Til Rhodan buzzed our camp.

A remnant of ships and a remnant of men
Survived the STARDUST's blast
So Tomisenkov split us up
And split us up right fast.

Oh it's "Sign and see the galaxy" when fleet recruiters crow,
But it's "Didn't see that coming," when Perry Rhodan shows.

Our squadron cut into the bush,
Lost one man to a snake,
And one to something like a rug
That floated in a lake.

We met a pterodactyl
And a hungry lizard-bear
And a sprightly giant polyp
With a deadfall for its lair.

Oh it's "March and on to victory!" when generals dispose,
But it's "Watch out for the critters" when Perry Rhodan shows.

And Perry Rhodan sat and watched
And felt some sympathy
For us sorry starcrossed Soviets
But he never missed his tea.

Oh it's "Thank you for your service!" when the firecrackers blow,
But it's "Better you than me" whenever Perry Rhodan shows.

They lose, of course. It's not the first time in this series that I've rooted for the badguys and probably won't be the last.

Teaser for the next adventure: The short stay on Wanderer, the planet of immortality, cost Perry Rhodan and this team almost four and a half years. It is understandable that the earthly powers, no longer expecting his return, began to play their old games. But Perry Rhodan strikes a line through their plans -- and THE NUCLEAR WAR IS CANCELED ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided four interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Venus in Danger. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972:

Oct 12, 2017, 12:33am Top

Hi there.
I must say, I'm impressed with your project...

You might be interested to know that back when LT was new, I started a 'DAW' group (...which has since gone dormant...):

Oct 12, 2017, 12:40am Top

OMG, it's AsYouKnow_Bob! With whom I share 1052 books!

Oct 12, 2017, 12:42am Top

Hi Bob! I didn't know about the DAW group, so thanks! Interesting stuff there about the missing numbers. I had a vague idea that some were missing, but didn't know details. I did know that some were assigned a new number upon reprinting; I have two copies of a Philip K Dick novel -- I think it's Flow My Tears the Policeman Said -- printed with different numbers.

Edited: Oct 12, 2017, 12:48am Top

Hi Roni! Hm, I wonder ... Turns out Asyouknow_Bob and I share 175 books: about 65% of my LT collection! And as I add DAWs I expect that number to climb higher ...

You obviously have excellent taste, Bob, and are welcome any time!

Oct 12, 2017, 4:30pm Top

You and I only share 35 books, somewhat of a surprise.

Oct 12, 2017, 5:02pm Top

>83 ronincats: I would have guessed more too. The obvious solution, of course, is for me to buy more books.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:58am Top

118) DAW #113: Manhounds of Antares / Alan Burt Akers (i.e., Kenneth Bulmer)

Sixth in Bulmer's sword-and-planet series featuring Dray Prescot, an 18th-century adventurer transported to the planet Kregen, where he carries out various missions assigned by the mysterious Star Lords.

As this one opens, Dray has been reunited with his true love Delia. The Star Lords leave Dray alone long enough to marry Delia and start a family ... almost. Just as Delia is ready to deliver twins, Dray gets whisked away again and dropped into a stinking slave pen on the continent Havilfar. It turns out that the slaves are kept as game for organized recreational hunts. Dray concludes that the Star Lords want him to rescue one of the slaves. He only has to figure out whom ....

The first two-thirds of the novel have a Groundhog Day structure, as Dray repeatedly guesses incorrectly who he's supposed to rescue: just as each escape is complete the Star Lords transport him back to the slave pens. When he finally chooses correctly, it sets him up for a larger task that will develop over the next few books. Of course, he'll be away from Delia *again* so we'll get to hear him whinge about that, but for me this is the first book in the series' sweet spot. The plots feel more deliberate, the main recurring characters have been established, Bulmer knows what he's doing, and he hasn't lost interest yet. If you can get past the stilted prose it's great fun, and I'm looking forward to the next.

The cover is by Jack Gaughan.

Oct 16, 2017, 9:40am Top

"Manhounds" is a great word, no matter how you look at it.

Edited: Oct 16, 2017, 11:25am Top

>86 rosalita: Agreed! In this case, the word refers to the "hounds" used in the hunt, who are in fact humans who have been bred and conditioned to move and behave like vicious hunting dogs. Bulmer was going for creepy and it works.

Oct 16, 2017, 12:00pm Top

Good morning, swynn!

>85 swynn: I'm glad you liked this one. Though I'm missing your scathingly sarcastic GOR reviews. :-P

Oct 16, 2017, 12:07pm Top

>87 swynn: That is a creepy mental image!

Oct 16, 2017, 4:14pm Top

>88 brodiew2: Ugh, those will be back soon enough, and too soon for me.

Sometime early next year you can look forward to comments on Marauders of Gor, which promises to involve Gorean Vikings. I shouldn't judge it unread, but I'll be surprised if it's not awful.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:59am Top

119) Perry Rhodan 21: Der Atomkrieg findet nicht statt (= The Atomic War Will Not Take Place) / Kurt Mahr
Date: January 26, 1962
Tagline: "An agent of the Third Power intervenes -- and the world holds court ..."

The story so far: Equipped only with conventional earthly weapons, no army -- no matter how large -- can compare to the achievements of the ancient Arkonide technology. Perry Rhodan knows that very well, and so he doesn't worry that the remainder of a landing force under General Tomisenkov's command still doggedly advances against his fortress on Venus. Greater worries for the Lord of the Third Power are the new political developments on Earth. Perry Rhodan has lost four years during his stay on the Planet Wanderer -- and now he must reach home quickly, so that THE ATOMIC WAR WILL NOT TAKE PLACE ...

Having defeated an Eastern-Block invasion of Venus, Rhodan rushes to Earth where cold-war rivalries have revived and threaten nuclear war. Rhodan secures Galakto-City, his base of operations in the Gobi Desert and demonstrates the power of Arkonide technology by turning off all electrical power worldwide. One of Rhodan's officers, Conrad Deringhouse, goes on a solo mission to disable installations used for the manufacture, development, and deployment of nuclear weapons. And as Deringhouse sabotages The Eastern Block's ability to wage nuclear war, Rhodan assembles the Western Block and the Asiatic Federation for talks about a unified world government, particularly the establishment of a world court of justice.

There's some comic relief in Deringhouse's exploits, but mostly this adventure sees Rhodan in asshole mode, behaving like a supervillain and aggrandizing himself while trying to play "helper of humanity."

Teaser for the next adventure: An agent of the Third Power, armed with a few surprises of Arkonide technology, was enough to bring turmoil to an entire country, and to bring down the supreme commander of the peacebreakers. But a political union of humanity is still not accomplished. And as long as this union is not complete, Perry Rhodan cannot establish contact with Arkon itself. Thora, the last scion of the ruling class of Arkon, is now losing patience. She flees!

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see all of them at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

As far as I can tell, this adventure was never translated into English. But a review by Sig Wahrman did appear in volume 25 of the Ace series (Snowman in Flames), where the adventure was called, "Threat of the Atom War."

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:00am Top

Halloweeney ...

120) The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell
Date: 1980

A film critic gets involved with the occult, practices astral projection, and finds herself possessed by the spirit of ... if I've got this right ... a Golden Dawn magician-priest who was buddies with Hitler. (Remember when Nazis were badguys? Ah, 1980 how I've missed you!)

It's okay. The pacing is a bit laggy for me, but Campbell's going for a slow burn like Rosemary's Baby so that's probably the point. It would work better if the prose weren't so overdone. It's dense with random similes and squishy verbs like "feel", "appear" and "seem." (It's been a while since I've read Levin, but recollection says his sentences punch harder.)

Others liked it better than I did, enough to win it the British Fantasy Award for best novel in 1981. I'm not sure what the competition was since I can't find a shortlist online, but I note that the World Fantasy Award went to Gene Wolfe that year for Shadow of the Torturer, a better book by orders of magnitude.

I read this as an ebook, having picked it up for a buck or so. I've since found it on my paperback shelves, with a delicious 1980's-paperback-horror cover by "Gerber". I *love* the Satanic stained glass. I'd even attend services there. Well, once anyway:

Oct 18, 2017, 4:24pm Top

I wanted to check in with you about The Wayward Man: I won't be getting as many books read this month as planned, and I'm currently reshuffling my plans. Do you have this on an ILL or any other short-term arrangement? I can squeeze it in this month if you need to get it done, otherwise I'll probably leave it until next.

>90 swynn:

I'll be surprised if it's not awful

And some of us will be bitterly disappointed. :D

>92 swynn:

I've read that, but not recently enough to debate its merits with you. Do I own a copy? I can't remember, but if so it will Come Out Of the Box for a re-read sooner or later. I do own several of the early Campbells.

Oct 18, 2017, 4:42pm Top

>93 lyzard: I have a borrowed copy, but can either renew or go ahead & read it if needed. No rush.

Having learned that Parasite won the British Fantasy Award, I'm wondering what I missed. I'd enjoy a second perspective, even if it's so far in the future that I'd have to revisit it to remember what I was thinking, so I'm selfishly hoping it's in The Box.

Edited: Oct 18, 2017, 4:46pm Top

Okay, thanks - I'll let you know when (if!) I get myself better organised.

Something Out Of The Box is YET ANOTHER of my personal challenges: I'm going through stuff to see if I want to keep it or whether it might be decommissioned, picking books by closing my eyes and sticking my hand into The Box (or more truthfully at the moment, the green carry-bag). Next up is a Guy N. Smith, although not, alas, one of his crab stories! :D

Oct 18, 2017, 6:19pm Top

Guy N. Smith! I have one of his crab stories -- I don't remember which one but it's not the first one. I once went looking for the first one and found it priced well out of my comfort zone.

Oct 18, 2017, 6:41pm Top

I've read a few, though I couldn't tell you which ones: for some reason they tend to run together in my mind...

Oct 18, 2017, 11:31pm Top

>97 lyzard: Well if that's the case then I'm sure they can be read in any old order.


Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:01am Top

121) Perry Rhodan 22: Thoras Flucht (= Thora's Flight) / Clark Darlton
Date: February 2, 1962
Tagline: Perry Rhodan chases a fugitive -- and becomes a prisoner of Venus ...

The story so far: The Third Power, which owns the great inheritance of Arkonide technology, was doubtless in a position to quickly force a political unification of Earth. But Perry Rhodan judged such an act unwise, because -- now immortal -- he regarded things from a different perspective than (for example) Thora. She, the Arkonide, has lost all patience. She wants to reach Arkon immediately -- and since Perry Rhodan, who wants a united Earth behind him before establishing ties to Arkon, continues to postpone her homecoming, she takes FLIGHT.

From the very first adventure, the Arkonide Thora has been trying to get Perry Rhodan to take her back to her homeworld. Rhodan keeps putting her off. Now, while he is distracted by political maneuverings on Earth, Thora commandeers a recently-built spaceship and flees to Venus, where she hopes to contact Arkon for a pickup. Unfortunately, her ship is so new that it hasn't been outfitted with the security codes for communicating with the Venus base. So as she enters Venus's atmosphere she is shot down by the very installation she was hoping to reach. When Rhodan notices Thora's absence he puts together a crew to chase her down. But in his haste he makes the same mistake, taking a ship from the same production line and being shot down also. Compounding their problems, the robotic brain controlling defenses on Venus has interpreted the encounters as an imminent threat, and has activated "Secret Circuit X" which prevents any other ship from landing on the planet.

Stranded in the jungles of Venus with no hope of rescue, both parties think things could barely get worse. Then they meet remnants of the Eastern Block space force whose invasion was thwarted in adventure #20. The Russian soldiers have survived and even established settlements, but they're still no friends of Perry Rhodan ...

Teaser for the next adventure: Even immortals can be foolish! Perry Rhodan has committed such foolishness, as he chases the fugitive Thora to Venus with a new spaceship that cannot communicate the security codes for the Venus fortress. So the Lord of the Third Power can only blame himself now that SECRET CIRCUIT X has made him a prisoner of Venus.

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Escape to Venus. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972.

Oct 19, 2017, 4:40pm Top

>98 swynn:

The exception that proves the rule. :D

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:02am Top

122) All Against All / Nathan Allen

A cash-poor young reporter in near-future U.S. joins a lottery in which the prize goes to the last surviving contestant.

It's an independently-published novel with the expected lack of polish, but it's also fun. The prose is direct, the plot moves fast, and there's a generous helping of satire. There are missteps -- a deus ex machina and a couple of points where the heroine is too stupid for words, but the ride is worth well more than the price (currently nothing).

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:04am Top


123) Children of the Dark / Jonathan Janz

A group of high school kids in rural Indiana deal with an escaped psycho and a secret race of cryptids that live in a cave in the woods. The first 40% builds supernatural creepiness while the kids establish rivalries and friendships. The last 60% is mayhem.

Fun, but not for the gore-averse.

Oct 23, 2017, 3:30pm Top

^ Gore averse. :-P

I hope you're having a good one, swynn!

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:05am Top

124) DAW #114: The Man With a Thousand Names / A.E. Van Vogt
Date: 1974

Spoilers follow.

What a mess. We start with an expedition to the planet Mittend, but turn quickly to a story about body-switching, in which the switchee is Steven Masters, a spoiled rich brat (and, $omehow, astronaut) who has offended just about every social inferior he ever met. For reasons that grow gradually stranger, Masters switches bodies with people whom he owes karmic debt. This goes on for a while until the body-switching story turns into (deep breath) an alien-invasion yarn about ancient Atlantean women who evolved too quickly into a state of psychic unity, then had to abandon Earth because the universe wasn't ready for their perfection; who are now under threat of invasion by intergalactic psychic bullies; and who are looking for an insufferable jackass who can teach them violence and oh yeah mate with all of them in order to sire a next generation that can defend itself, thus saving their entire race.

I promise I'm being only a little flippant. The story really is that bonkers. Any narrative rule you please is violated. The hero is unsympathetic. He's not even a lovable rogue. Treatment of women is, well, less than ideal and there's even a casual rape. Arguably, the hero's perspective is not the author's -- the hero is *intended* to be a jackass after all -- but things work out for everyone's benefit in the end without any notable acts of redemption or even notable remorse on Masters's part. Unless you count cash settlements, which in some cases turn out to be as much a nuisance as the original offense. The story barely makes sense and explanations tend to make things worse.

And dear reader, I'd read a sequel. I'd like to say "because somehow it works" but it doesn't. It's just really that bonkers.

The cover, which makes little more sense than the plot (look at the guy in the foreground, and the spaceship, and try to infer the source of illumination), is by Vincent Di Fate.

Oct 24, 2017, 6:17pm Top

>103 brodiew2: Hi Brodie! Am having a ... well, as you can see from the Van Vogt comments, a ... one.

Oct 24, 2017, 7:28pm Top

>104 swynn: 'and who are looking for an insufferable jackass who can teach them violence and oh yeah mate with all of them in order to sire a next generation that can defend itself, thus saving their entire race.'

That's why I love this place. Play on, minstrel!

>105 swynn: Your pain is my gain, swynn. :-P

Edited: Oct 24, 2017, 8:09pm Top

>104 swynn:

...because what the universe most needs is more races whose leading genetic heritage is insufferable jackassism...

Oct 25, 2017, 7:21am Top

>104 swynn: That sounds even more dreadful than usual, but your reviews are never disappointing, at least.

>105 swynn: Isn't that the truth?!

Edited: Oct 25, 2017, 12:00pm Top

>106 brodiew2: Glad you enjoyed it! The next few DAWs look like better fare, although Zelazny and Anthony can be pretty bizarre so there might be something awful again soon, but I'm optimistic. Van Vogt's next is #206, in the 1976 catalog. We'll have three more John Normans before then.

>107 lyzard: No kidding. There are so many things wrong with this plot, but just consider the whole "need to mate with an unrefined brute" idea. Let's pretend that's a thing. Why must it be just one jackass for the whole race? Has their super-evolved hivemind never heard of an evolutionary bottleneck? It's not like there's a shortage of jackasses. Weirder: they're looking for protection from an invading force led by the last jackass they considered for jackass-mate. You'd think a super-evolved intelligence might come up with a Plan B. But no.

>108 rosalita: Hi Julia! It really is something. I'd call it a train wreck, but a train at least begins with some order and design. This is stream-of consciousness plotting: it's both dreadful and weirdly fascinating.

Oct 25, 2017, 1:07pm Top

Thanks again for the book bullet up in >34 swynn:. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Oct 25, 2017, 4:57pm Top

>110 MickyFine: Yay for joining the bandwagon! Reminds me I still have book 2 waiting on my phone ...

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:05am Top

125) Perry Rhodan 23: Geheimschaltung X (= Secret Condition* X) / W.W. Shols
Date: February 9, 1962
Tagline: The nature of the planet is deadly -- but even more dangerous are the people who live there ...

The story so far: Perry Rhodan has followed Thora to Venus, in order to prevent her from using the Venus fortress to establish contact with Arkon. But he forgot that the new space destroyer could not yet transmit security codes to the fortress's positronic brain. But robots have no such forgetfulness, they treat everything logically -- and so it happened that upon Thora's and Rhodan's "unannounced" arrivals, the robot commander of the Venus fortress activated SECRET CONDITION X, hermetically sealing the planet ...

Perry Rhodan continues to race the Russians through the jungles of Venus. This adventure doesn't advance the plot much, but it does provide breathless excitement as Rhodan and his crew battle Venusian jungle fauna, try to establish contact with a herd of semi-intelligent seals, and draw fire from Russian patrols. The Russians, meanwhile, have more schisms than a Baptist convention and so have to deal with internal rivalries and mutiny. Thora finishes the adventure still in Russian hands, but without her guardian robot, and captive to a group more ruthless and better equipped than the one before.

Teaser for the next adventure: Reginald Bull wants to rush to aid his stranded freind and commander, but has learned that "Secret Condition X" resists penetration, even by attacks through the fifth dimension. So Perry Rhodan can expect no external help. He must free himself if he wishes to survive IN THE JUNGLE OF THE PRIMEVAL WORLD.

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Secret Barrier X. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972.

*German nerdery: "Geheimschaltung" is a compound of "Geheim" and "Schaltung." "Geheim" is easy: it means "secret." But "Schaltung" is a little trickier. It usually means "switch" or "circuit." But "Secret Switch X" or "Secret Circuit X" imply meanings other than what's intended here, I think, which is a sort of computational state -- i.e., the internal configuration of a logical system given the values of all inputs, switches, and circuits. Not liking my choices I've decided to call it "condition". (Other German nerds: please correct me!) The translators of the English edition chose a title with another meaning, referring to the Schaltung's effect rather than itself.

Oct 28, 2017, 3:54pm Top

I want to throw out a request for participants in a group read of one of my favorite but relatively unknown fantasy novels, God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell. The "stalk" refers to stalking gods, not a stem. It is the first of a still ongoing series, but it is a complete story and easy to walk away from after the first book if you wish--indeed, all of us had to wait many years after this one to get a sequel. I am looking at possibly November, December or January for the time frame, but the actual month will depend on what those interested work out. If you would be at all interested, please PM me or drop by my thread and let me know.

Oct 30, 2017, 12:58am Top

>113 ronincats: Thanks Roni! Reported in at your thread. I've heard of God Stalk, so here's an excuse to get around to it. With company!

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:05am Top

126) Thirteen : Stories of Transformation / Mark Teppo (ed.)

Here's one that took longer than it should have done. It's a collection of short stories with a transformation theme. I've been reading it off and on for a few months, and though the stories mostly seemed pretty good at the time, I felt no strong compulsion to read the next; and now that I'm finished I can't remember most of them.

Exceptions include Fran Wilde's "A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed," set in the same world as her novel Updraft; Richard Bowes's "Oh How the Ghost of You Clings," about a guy's codependent, weirdly supportive relationship with his evil twin; and Jennifer Geisbrecht's haunting "You Can Go Anywhere," about a girl in a distant future who can go anywhere and chooses to go to a blasted, no-longer-inhabitable Earth. A couple are memorable for their oddness, though I wouldn't call them favorites: Liz Argall's "Augustus Clementine," in which the protagonist is a roller skate; and Claude Lalumiere's "The Thirteenth Goddess," in which a Catholic detective investigates a murder in a city where the prevailing religion is ... um ... decidedly un-Catholic. The other twenty-four stories and poems I've either forgotten or will soon.

That cover is striking, though, right? It's by Jennifer Tough.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:06am Top

127) Perry Rhodan 24: Im Dschungel der Urwelt (= In the Jungle of the Primeval World) / Kurt Mahr
Date: February 16, 1962
Tagline: They go through Hell -- and win a world ...

The story so far: Even for well-armed visitors the primeval fauna and flora of Venus hide uncoutable dangers. So it's easy to imagine how hopeless is the position of three men who must not only take arms against the Venusian jungle without assistance but are also mercilessly chased by others! Perry Rhodan, John Marshall, and Son Okura are thrown into this position after the crash of their spaceship -- and if they want to survive IN THE JUNGLE OF THE PRIMEVAL WORLD they must find the shortest path to the Venus fortress ...

This concludes a story arc begun in adventure #22: first Thora and then Perry Rhodan crashed on Venus, and have been trying to make their way overland to the planet's Arkonide base. Obstacles include spectacularly dangerous flora and fauna, also remnants of a Russian invasion force who have become Venusian homesteaders and who would love to get their hands on the base's technology. Besides, closure, this adventure offers exciting encounters with giant polyps, tyrannosaurs, pterodactyls, intelligent seals, and a villainous faction of Russians with helicopters and bombs. Fun.

Teaser for the next adventure: More than once on their way to the protective energy-dome of the Venus fortress they cheated certain death. From the safety of the fortress, it was then no hard thing to end the senseless power struggles among Venus's unwilling colonists with a suprise attack. With this liberation of Venus, Perry Rhodan's field of action turns back to Earth, where THE OVERHEAD begins his evil game ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Venus Trap. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:14am Top

128) Star of Danger / Marion Zimmer Bradley
Date: 1965
Tagline: He ventured where expert spacemen never dared

Fourth (in publication order) in Bradley's "Darkover" series. This one is a YA entry featuring Larry Montray, a sixteen-year-old who comes to to Darkover when his bureaucrat father is transferred there. Wandering the streets near the spaceport, Larry strikes up a friendship with young Darkovan noble Kennard Alton. The friendship turns into an invitation to Alton's estate, then adventure: forest fires, kidnapping, psychic powers, and a survivalist cross-country hike.

It's pretty fun and more tightly plotted than earlier entries. I'm getting tired, though, of stories about non-Darkovans who arrive on Darkover only to discover they are super-psychic True Darkovans after all. The wish-fulfillment gets thick. Hoping for a new story in the next book.

Edited: Nov 1, 2017, 12:36pm Top

Thought-provoking library conversation of the day:

A colleague who teaches information literacy to college students recently told me that she finds she has to help students learn how books work.

I think of this, of course.

Of course, it's always been the role of librarians to help users learn how *some* books work: reference tools especially, since every user encounters a concordance or a citation index or a metrical index for the first time and needs orientation. (True story: one of my favorite Sunday-morning "sermons" was a presentation by a music professor discussing how the church's new hymnals worked. I was twenty-five, and learned more about hymnals in half an hour than I ever had from twenty-five years of using them.) But what my colleague sees is that students get through high school using online searches and article databases -- the only time they encounter the codex is in literature classes, where they're expected to read the whole thing, front to back. Come to college and they're expected to consult "books" for a Freshman Comp paper, and they find the idea intimidating. (I have to read the whole thing?)

What these students haven't yet grasped is that in some circumstances a book doesn't necessarily need to be consumed in its entirety, and that strategies exist for selective use: tables of contents, indexes, strategic scanning of an introduction, etc.

I see her point but I think about a generation of 18-year olds who need an explanation for "table of contents" and ... damn, I feel old.

Nov 1, 2017, 2:06pm Top

>118 swynn: That video was delightful.

And oy at the thought of having to explain tables of contents or an index to freshmen. That makes me feel old too.

Edited: Nov 2, 2017, 11:28am Top

>118 swynn: I am far from being a Luddite, but there's no question that new technology means that younger generations don't know how to navigate some basic aspects of the offline world. I had to add an explicit message to our outgoing office voice mail saying "Don't forget to leave your phone number!" because students, who all have cell phones that obligingly show them the phone number that just called them, just assume that everyone has that technology, so why go to the bother of saying your number when you want a call back?

Of course, it's not all the younger generation who struggle with navigating between the online and offline worlds, either; I'm a bit abashed to admit that the other day, while reading a paper book, I tried to long-press a word to bring up the definition!

Edited: Nov 2, 2017, 4:49pm Top

>119 MickyFine: A colleague forwarded it to me a couple of years ago. It doesn't get old.

>120 rosalita: Agreed: It's tempting to just shake one's head and mutter "Kids these days ... " and I confess to doing it. But the kids at my employer's campus are really bright, and they prove that in so many ways ... so if it's happening enough to call it a trend, then I have to conclude that some things that seem obvious really aren't.

I haven't long-pressed printed text yet. But I'll bet somebody, somewhere, is working on a way to make that work. Maybe one of these kids across campus who just found out what a table of contents is and realizes it could use an upgrade.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:14am Top

129) Perry Rhodan 25: Der Overhead (= The Overhead) / Kurt Mahr
Date: February 23, 1962
Tagline: His power is unbounded-- he brings every brain under his spell ...

The story so far: Having survived the exciting weeks on Venus, Perry Rhodan has returned to Terrania, the Third Power's center on Earth. On Earth, though, an unpleasant surprise awaits! The Third Power faces a strong and dangerous opponent -- an opponent who likewise commands a well-prepared Mutant Corps. This opponent is THE OVERHEAD!

The Overhead is a villain with the power of super-hypnosis. (Also with one of the lamest supervillain names, ever.) He has brought an army of mutants under his control to rival Perry Rhodan's Mutant Corps. He exerts total control over his subordinates, with whom he plans to overthrow the Third Power and Conquer The World. And sure enough, The Overhead steals three destroyer-class spaceships before Perry Rhodan knows what's happening, and nearly brings the Third Power to financial ruin through hypnotic control of its finance minister.

But The Overhead overplays his hand when he tries to kidnap Perry Rhodan. Rhodan narrowly escapes The Overhead's trap, then hatches a plan to lead his own team right to The Overhead's base of operations. The adventure wraps up with a satisfying showdown in a supervillain lair, complete with the usual secret escape tunnel to ensure that Rhodan's victory is a temporary one.

Teaser for the next adventure: In the early days of the Third Power, Perry Rhodan sent out "mutant hunters," who brought him people to build his Mutant Corps. The Overhead had the same idea. Quietly he built his secret organization, which he now believes is strong enough to take on the Third Power -- And so it comes to the DUEL OF THE MUTANTS ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. It looks uncomfortably like a "yellow-peril" image, but actually depicts one of the goodguys, teleporter Tako Kakuta, as a victim of The Overhead's superhypnosis. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

"Overhead" was changed to "Mutant Master" for the English translation. Because no self-respecting supervillain, etc. This adventure was translated into English as Menace of the Mutant Master. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972 with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with an essay by Ray Bradbury, short stories by Spencer Strong and T.D. Hamm, and the third of seven chapters serializing Garrett P. Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars. It was reissued by Orbit in 1976 with a cover by Peter Jones.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:15am Top

I'm a little late with October's bestseller, which is odd because 1928's is the shortest we've had in a long time. Anyway, I finished before Liz got her comments up, so I'm calling it on schedule :).

130) The Bridge of San Luis Rey / Thornton Wilder
Date: 1928

A rope bridge fails over a chasm near Lima, Peru, sending several people to their deaths. This is a collection of interconnected stories exploring the lives of victims, their friends and family and acquaintances: a marquess who writes lovingly crafted letters to her daughter who does not reciprocate her affection; a scribe, distraught over the loss of his twin brother with whom he has unresolved issues; an aging aesthete who has given his career to training and promoting an actress who has lost her passion for the theater; and a monk who has studied the victims' lives in order to prove a thesis about divine providence.

Nice things first: the prose is extremely well-crafted, and it's a pleasure to read the work of an author who obviously cares so much about sentences. The book won Wilder the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1928, and though I don't know what competition it had I'll say it's a respectable choice.

The work I associate with Wilder is the only other of his works I've read, Our Town, which has always appealed to me for its effective stage devices and its theme of isolation. For this novel, the trickeries of staging are not available but I quite enjoyed tracing the threads joining the stories. Isolation is a theme again, almost oppressively so: no affection is reciprocated, or none reciprocated for long. Some characters seem entirely incapable of affection; another thinks love is a phase young persons go through before they can go about the business of living. There is a deceptively optimistic bit near the end: "There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." Of course, the novel's very premise is that bridges fail. The message of isolation appealed to me less here than it did in Our Town, probably because I encountered the play at a time when I was more open to the message. Isolation is surely a thing, but so is connection, and overemphasizing the former feels dishonestly cynical. It doesn't help that the characters flirt with stereotype and that the whole thing has a feel of fake exoticism.

Still, I'd read more Wilder. He makes lovely sentences.

Nov 7, 2017, 2:30pm Top

>123 swynn: Now there's one of those books that I feel like I've known the title forever, but never really knew what it was about. I think in my jumbled brain I keep confusing it with Bridge Over the River Kwai, which is of course, very different indeed! Thanks for helping me straighten things out, and you've inspired me at least to read more Thornton Wilder, if not this particular book (although I'm by no means ruling that out).

Nov 7, 2017, 4:05pm Top

>124 rosalita: Me too! The Bridge of San Luis Rey has been on my Dad's shelves since I was old enough to know what a book was; he's now gone through several rounds of downsizing his library but Bridge remains. I feel like I must have read it, but I've only read the spine a million times. It wasn't what I expected, and I'm curious what Dad saw in it -- something to talk about next time we visit.

Nov 7, 2017, 4:25pm Top

>123 swynn:

Yes, thanks for reminding me I haven't touched October yet! :D

Nov 8, 2017, 7:52am Top

>123 swynn: That one's on my list, too, since I'm working through the Pulitzer winners. I'm happy to see that it's a good one.

Nov 8, 2017, 11:26am Top

>126 lyzard: I'm looking forward to your thoughts when you get around to it, Liz. I know you mentioned it a couple of times as angry-making while reading it. I'm curious why.

>127 scaifea: Hope you like it at least as well as I did, Amber!

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:15am Top

131) DAW #115: Zenya / E.C. Tubb
Date: 1974

Eleventh in Tubb's series featuring Earl Dumarest, a traveler trying to find his way back to Earth. In this one he is lured into searching for the estranged son of a crazy aristocrat, believed to be hiding somewhere on the planet Paiyar. When Dumarest arrives on Paiyar, he finds an incipient war between the colonizing humans and the colonized indigenes. The indigenes have never been hostile, and in fact are mostly cheap labor on the human farms. But suddenly entire towns of humans are being wiped out, with no non-human casualties or even injuries. The colonists smell a revolution. Dumarest smells something ranker. He wrangles a military appointment and gets to the bottom of the mess.

Once again, Dumarest finishes the adventure not much closer to Earth than he started.

Like the rest of the series it's light action-packed fun. There's a theme of colonialism, obviously, but not an especially thoughtful or nuanced one.

Cover is by Kelly Freas.

Nov 8, 2017, 3:20pm Top

I just wanted to drop by to say hello - and to revel in your always entertaining reviews!

I recently reread The Bridge of San Luis Rey - I actually like it more than Our Town, but that may be simply because I've seen too many weak productions of it. Just because high school students CAN do it, doesn't mean that they SHOULD.

I read most of the Darkover books years ago, but I rarely revistit them. I suppose they're a little, er, dark for me. I like things to work out happily for people, at least occasionally.....

Nov 8, 2017, 4:56pm Top

Hi Dejah! You're always welcome.

Of course high school is where I first encountered Our Town, and though I know it's standard high school fodder, I haven't seen enough productions to ruin it for me. I reread it for a college lit class which is where I really connected with it. I ought to visit again, because I doubt I'd have the same response.

So far I've read the four earliest Darkover novels -- all of which have ended well -- and Darkover Landfall which didn't, but was a disappointing something else entirely. I have the fifth in the Tower of Due, and Spell Sword is coming up on the DAW list; we'll see how they develop.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:15am Top

132) Futureland / Walter Mosley
Date: 2001

This is a collection of interconnected stories set in a near-future world where class divisions have broadened. A lucky few live in paradise, masses live in cramped unpleasant dangerous quarters underground, and a large part of the population survives at subsistence jobs just to stay (literally) above ground. Corporations control, or at least have found ways to profit from, everything from drug addiction to religion. It's like a Trumpist wet dream.

Whispers in the dark. A precocious child is born to a poor Black mother. When the state realizes the child's potential they want to take possession of him. For his own good, of course.

The greatest. Brilliant young boxer Fera Jones manages her career in hopes of being able to afford treatment for the drug addiction of her father (and trainer).

Doctor Kismet. Doctor Kismet is the most powerful man in the world, living like a supervillain on a secluded island complex. The activist M Akwande meets Kismet hoping to leverage that power.

Angel's Island. A prison-break story set in an impossible-to break (and massively profitable) prison.

The electric eye. Detective Folio Johnson investigates murders of a secret group of globalist neo-Nazis.

Voices Fera Jones's father gets the treatment for his drug addiction, after which he hears voices.

Little Brother. A young activist goes on trial for murder, before a judge who is an artificial intelligence.

En Masse. A claustrophobic cubicle worker is on the verge of joining the permanently unemployable, when he is extended an offer to work on a project that will realize his potential. Problem is, the project is illegal. So are the humane working conditions.

The nig in me. A globalist neo-Nazi plot to wipe out nonwhite races backfires.

Mosley brings to dystopian science fiction his noir aesthetic and his stories about heroes determined to survive in a world determined to destroy them. Guy knows what he's doing. Recommended.

Edited: Nov 10, 2017, 9:23am Top

>132 swynn: I never knew Mosley had written sci-fi; I only know him from Devil in a Blue Dress and those books. Sounds interesting!

>133 swynn: Reason No. 7,638,494 that makes me seriously wonder how some people can sleep at night.

Nov 9, 2017, 10:26pm Top

My sophomore year in high school I was in training for the lights for the senior class play of Our Town. Hearing it over and over during rehearsals, I got something new out of it every time! I have a LOT of admiration for authors who can pull that off.

Nov 9, 2017, 10:36pm Top

>133 swynn: Wow, she shows up the hypocrisy of the tax laws wonderfully, bravo to her.

Edited: Nov 12, 2017, 10:16am Top

>134 rosalita: He's written several science fiction books, though this is the first I've read. If certainly read more.

I expect the answer to Rep. DelBene's questions is that individuals are taxed on income while businesses are taxed on profits, so her line of questioning compares apples to oranges. Still. It's pretty infuriating that businesses are increasingly treated like persons when it's profitable and like something else when it's not.

>135 ronincats: I was talking with my brother this weekend about Our Town. He remembers setting a production in the Twin Cities that took the bare-stage aesthetic a step further and removed all the curtains, making the backstage and wings an extension of the stage, so that the audience could see not only the show but also the "offstage" actors waiting for their cues. It's an intriguing idea, and he said it was very effective.

Nov 12, 2017, 10:18am Top

>136 PaulCranswick: Isn't she great? I appreciate a good indignant bluster as much as anyone, and this situation certainly calls for it. But to calmly guide a hostile witness into making your case for you ... I just wish I could vote for her.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:16am Top

133) Perry Rhodan 26: Duell der Mutanten (= Duel of the Mutants) / Clark Darlton
Date: March 2, 1962
Tagline: The Overhead drops the mask -- he wants to rule the world ...

The story so far: The Overhead's initial attacks are beaten down. The Third power has proved itself sound. But the sinister enemy still has his headquarters, from which can can carry out new attacks against the Third Power or even other states. To find this secret headquarters and to beat the Overhead's weapons from his hand -- those are Perry Rhodan's most urgent tasks, if he wants to avoid chaos. Perry Rhodan sends out his mutants, and they meet worthy opponents. The DUEL OF THE MUTANTS begins!

The Overhead does not lie low for long. He still has three stolen destroyer-class starships, and one of them attacks a training flight from Perry Rhodan's space academy. Fortunately, a quick-thinking cadet -- Julian Tifflor, soon to be a series regular -- not only survives the attack but turns the tables, disabling the stolen destroyer and detaining its crew. Rhodan gains another valuable prisoner when one of his agents captures Mihalowna, an Overhead agent who has been bombing passenger flights.

From Michalowna, Rhodan learns that The Overhead's main headquarters lies in an underground bunker in the deserts of Utah. Its defenses are significant, and crewed by The Overhead's army of mutants. Rhodan plans a raid using his own mutants, a force of military robots, and Arkonide technology. Rhodan's attack succeeds but once again The Overhead escapes, this time in one of the stolen starships.

Teaser for the next adventure: The duel of the mutants has been decided! The people whom The Overhead had forced under a hypnotic spell are mostly freed. With reorientation they can become good allies for the Third Power. The Overhead himself, though, was not captured -- and that is a dangerous thing, for as long as others are UNDER THE HYPNO'S SPELL, the threat remains ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Yes, it really features a choke hold on a robot. And yes, the hold actually seems to be working. (And no, though Bruck's covers are usually loyal to the narrative, nobody in the story tries anything *that* stupid.) Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Mutants Vs. Mutants. The first edition was published by Ace in 1972, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with short stories by John R. Pierce and Oscar G. Estes, and the fourth of seven chapters serializing Garrett P. Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars. It was reissued by Orbit in 1976 with a cover by Chris Foss.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:16am Top

134) Devil Said Bang / Richard Kadrey

Fourth in Kadrey's series about James Stark, aka "Sandman Slim," a tough guy whose school of hard knocks was the fighting arenas of Hell. Due to events in the third volume, Stark begins this one ruling Hell as Lucifer, a job less fun than it sounds as it's short on mayhem and long on paperwork and office politics. Eventually Stark breaks out of Hell ... just in time to avert another terrestrial apocalypse.

The novels are narrated first-person from Stark's snarky perspective, which is fun but also wears thin with length. II'll get around to the next eventually but need a break first.

Nov 15, 2017, 11:43am Top

'I'm out of it for a little while and everybody gets delusions of grandeur'.

18 posts. I don't think I missed your post for that long before.

>132 swynn: Nice review of Futureland, swynn. I remember Blue Light, but never read this one.

>140 swynn: My brother loves Sandman Slim. Not really my thing.

Nov 15, 2017, 1:41pm Top

Welcome back, Brodie! Thanks for the compliment on Futureland. Sandman Slim's snarky occult noir definitely demands a certain taste.

I laugh through it, but I often have to reread parts of it -- Kadrey seems to prefer jokes to clear narrative.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:16am Top

135) Perry Rhodan 27: Im Banne des Hypno (= Under the Hypno's Spell) / Clark Darlton
Date: March 9, 1962
Tagline: He knew not what he did ... A human as the ultimate weapon of destruction.

The story so far: The Third Power -- that fortunate mix of Arkonide supertechnology and human moxy -- can already look back on ten years of existence, reckoning by earthly time. Much has happened in these ten years: the moon landing of the STARDUST I, the successful defense against invaders from space, the unraveling of the ancient mysteries of Venus, the battle with the reptilian Topsiders and the discovery of the World of Immortality, to name only a few of the dramatic highlights from the Third Power's young history under Perry Rhodan's leadership. But even if the Third Power has so far survived all of the dangers lurking in space, she now faces a monstrous threat originating on Earth itself! This threat comes from "Overhead," a power-hungry scientist who seeks to destroy the Third Power in order to erect a world dictatorship. The Overhead doubtless possesses the mental power for his scheme, for he is a Hypno -- and as long as human minds fall UNDER THE HYPNO'S SPELL, Perry Rhodan and his people will have no chance to pause for breath ...

Escaping Perry Rhodan's Mutant Corps, The Overhead flees to Mars where he has one last base and his most potent weapon: Ivan Ivanovitch Goratschin. Goratschin is a two-headed mutant who, with the power of his mind, can detonate any object containing carbon or calcium. Which is pretty much everything and everybody. To complete his strategy, The Overhead lures a pursuing ship into a position where he can take over the minds of the crew. With the newly-captured ship and newly-subordinated crew he sends Goratschin back to Earth to make one last desperate attack on Terrania.

Rhodan responds by deploying his most powerful telepaths, hoping to overpower The Overhead's hypnotic control. Guess who wins?

Teaser for the next adventure: The Overhead is dead! Everyone who had fallen under his spell, everyone who had been made the unwilling subordinates of this mutant with the nearly insurmountable powers of hypnotic suggestion, can finally breathe a sigh of relief. But The Overhead's evil plans still have unexpected and unintended consequences! Just what sort of consequences will be revealed in the next novel, THE COSMIC DECOY ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. I love how Goratschin has two heads crammed into his helmet, and can't help thinking that Bruck missed an opportunity to design a twofer double-bubble helmet. Oh well. Bruck also provided four interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Thrall of Hypno.The first edition was published by Ace in 1972, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with short stories by Steven Utley and Forrest J. Ackerman, and the fifth of seven chapters serializing Garrett P. Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars. It was reissued by Orbit in 1976 with a cover by Angus McKie.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:17am Top

136) In the Bleak Midwinter / Julia Spencer-Fleming

Clare Fergusson, ex-Army chopper pilot and new Anglican priest of Millers Kill, New York, discovers a baby left at the door of her church. The child arrives with a note asking that he be given to a couple in the congregation who have been trying to adopt a child, so far without success. Shortly afterwards a young woman's body is discovered in the woods, almost certainly the baby's mother.

As Clare works through questions about who, why, and what is the proper response, she establishes a friendship with police chief Russ Van Alstyne ... a friendship that may be closer than prudent. And goodness me did I want to reach through the page and slap some sense into these two dingbats. Clare seems to have no sense of where her responsibilities end and law enforcement's begin; and Russ is so smitten that he never tells her that investigating homicide is sort of, you know, *his* job. The result is that Clare keeps making missteps that compromise the investigation or could do so, but Russ never sits her down for the stern talking-to she needs. You'd think that someone with an Army background would have a keener sense of concepts like "area of responsibility" and "chain of command" but no. Nor does anyone call Russ to the carpet for what amounts to letting a volunteer lead the investigation.

It was an occasionally annoying read but not an unpleasant one. The mystery is okay though nothing surprising. In the positive column, the prose does what it needs to do, and otherwise stays out of the way. There's some nice local color for upstate New York. And to be fair, my complaints are probably a little unfair considering I knew it was an amateur-detective story when I opened it. Still, I won't be in a hurry to continue this series because I'm currently getting my fill of meddling incompetents by reading the newspaper.

Nov 17, 2017, 3:07pm Top

>144 swynn: I was underwhelmed by that one too. Glad to see I'm not alone.

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 6:08pm Top

>145 MickyFine: Yeah. I like the setting, I like the dramatic possibilities for a series featuring a woman priest in a rural congregation, and I'm even willing to tolerate some romance. And maybe the series gets better. But I'm disappointed.

Nov 17, 2017, 10:51pm Top

>144 swynn: I read several in the series - in large part because I was living in upstate NY at the time - before I gave up on it. I know people who've loved every book, but not me.

Nov 18, 2017, 9:36pm Top

>147 Dejah_Thoris: I see that it won a truckload of awards, including the Agatha, Anthony, Barry and Macavity awards for Best First Novel. And good for it; it was done very well without me and will doubtless continue to do.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:17am Top

137) Perry Rhodan 28: Der kosmische Lockvogel (= The Cosmic Decoy) / Clark Darlton
Date: March 16, 1962
Tagline: Cadet Tifflor on a secret mission -- so secret, that he himself knows nothing about it ...

The story so far: The Third Power -- that fortunate mix of Arkonide supertechnology and human moxy -- can already look back on ten years of existence, reckoning by earthly time. Much has happened in these ten years: the moon landing of the STARDUST I, the successful defense against invaders from space, the unraveling of the ancient mysteries of Venus, the battle with the reptilian Topsiders and the discovery of the World of Immortality, to name only a few of the dramatic highlights from the Third Power's young history under Perry Rhodan's leadership. Even the Overhead, that mutant equipped with hypnotic-suggestive powers of unbelievable strength, was finally defeated. But the battle against the Overhead seems not to have gone unnoticed -- how else to explain the sudden appearance of cosmic spies ... Who are these spies? Where do they come from? What do they intend?-- To find out, Perry Rhodan deploys THE COSMIC DECOY ...

Three ships disappear from the solar fleet, and Perry Rhodan has reason to believe that extraterrestrial spies are loose in the solar system. To lure the spies into the open Rhodan plans to create a decoy. He selects Julian Tifflor, a promising cadet in the space academy. He surgically implants a "cell activator" in Tifflor, a device that will turn Tifflor's body into a transmitter sending a signal that can be located by telepaths up to two light years away.

Rhodan sends Tifflor on a mock mission to New York: sure enough, extraterrestrial agents attempt to kidnap the cadet. Raising the stakes, Rhodan sends Tifflor on a secret mission to the Vega System. The mission's actual purpose, unknown to Tifflor, is to draw out the enemy. And the plan works, sort of: an alien craft attacks Tifflor's ship, but unfortunately Rhodan's reinforcements arrive too late, and Tifflor's ship and crew are abducted to some unidentified system many light years distant.

Rhodan can calculate the ship's destination from its five-dimensional wake, but that takes time. Meanwhile, Tifflor meets the crew of the alien ship: they are "Springers," a community of interstellar merchants. Biologically they are related to the Arkonides; economically they have a monopoly on galactic trade and have not taken kindly to Perry Rhodan's economic ties to the Vega System. The Earth was brought to their attention by a psychic distress call from The Overhead, and the Springers have in their crew a human formerly in The Overhead's employ.

The Springers pump Tifflor for information and will not be satisfied with the fact Tiflor knows nothing they want. Tifflor and crew must attempt an escape ...

Teaser for the next adventure: Cadet Julian Tifflor, graduate of the Third Power's space academy, was selected for the rol of "cosmic decoy." The cadet fell, according to plan, into the trap laid for him -- Perry Rhodan, who wants to free him with the STARDUST as soon as possible, meets difficulties when he encounters THE SPRINGER FLEET ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Cosmic Decoy. The first edition was published by Ace in 1973, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with an essay by Ray Bradbury, short stories by Charles Tanner and Clive Jansen, and the sixth of seven chapters serializing Garrett P. Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars. It was reissued by Orbit in 1977 with a cover that ISFDB credits to Angus McKie, but to me looks more like Chris Foss's.

Nov 23, 2017, 3:47pm Top

This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.

I am thankful that you are part of this group.

I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.

Nov 23, 2017, 5:57pm Top

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2017, 1:17pm Top

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Steve.

Nov 24, 2017, 9:05pm Top

Paul, Dejah, Beth:

Thank you for the Thanksgiving wishes! We're spending the weekend with Mrs. Swynn's large extended family in northeast Oklahoma. I hope everyone else's holiday -- or harvest-season ponderings, for those outside our odd-and-growing-odder republic -- has been as rewarding as mine.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:17am Top

138) The House of Shattered Wings / Aliette de Bodard

This one is a fantasy with bits of horror story, political suspense and noir murder mystery, set in an alternate Paris ruled by an aristocracy of fallen angels, in the aftermath of a devastating war among the ruling houses. The war was not a win for anyone but emerging the strongest was House Silverwings, ruled by the powerful and magnetic Morningstar. But Silverwings is now in decline: Morningstar is gone, maybe for good, and his successor Selene is not his equal. Worse, something or someone has loosed a curse on the house: shadows lurk the halls to kill humans and angels indiscriminately. Selene must find a way to remove the curse before her house's power and status are irretrievably diminished. She has allies and she has enemies but the wild card is Philippe, a mysterious foreigner brought to Paris from a southeast-Asian colony to fight in the great war. Philippe is not a fallen angel, nor is he exactly human: he's surprisingly powerful and may be the source of the curse, or maybe part of its solution, or both.

There's so much good here: the setting is rich, the characters are compelling, and the suspense is effective. As moral drama it's hugely ambiguous and resists easy readings of goodguys and badguys. Except for the monsters, which are appropriately unnerving. I love this stuff, and recommend it highly.

Edited: Nov 26, 2017, 1:19am Top

Hey, if y'all are ever in Tulsa you must must must stop by Gardner's Used Books and Music because oh so many books. (And yes, they really do have a bigger-than-life-size Red Hulk decorated for the season.) And if you can spare an entire afternoon, be sure to visit on the weekend when they have their "annex" open.

I mention it because I spent some time there this afternoon and picked up (among other things) P.C Hodgell's God Stalk. A bit beat up but just a buck. I'm ready for the read-in, Roni!

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 1:18am Top

139) Perry Rhodan 29: Die Flotte der Springer (= The Fleet of the Springers) / Kurt Mahr
Date: March 23, 1962
Tagline: For 8000 years they have held a monopoly on galactic trade-- for they destroy all competitors ...

The story so far: The Third Power -- this fortunate mix of Arkonide supertechnology and human moxy -- has already existed for ten years, measuring by earthly time. Much has happened in these ten years: the moon landing of the STARDUST I, the defense against invaders from space, the unraveling of the ancient mysteries of Venus, the battle with the Topsiders and the discovery of the World of Immortality, to name only a few of the dramatic highlights from the Third Power's young history under Perry Rhodan's leadership. Even the Overhead, that mutant equipped with hypnotic-suggestive powers of unbelievable strength, was finally defeated. But his malign operations were ultimately the reason that the "Galactic Merchants", also called "Springers" were made aware of Earth. The Springers sent spies to Earth, whereupon Perry Rhodan sent space cadet Julian Tifflor as a "cosmic decoy" for counterespionage. But now, as the leader of the Third Power wants to free Julian Tifflor from a highly awkward position, he runs up against THE FLEET OF THE SPRINGERS ...

At the end of the last adventure, Julian Tifflor and a crew of cadets from the Space Academy were plotting escape from their Springer captors. Back in the Solar System, Perry Rhodan was furiously working the positronic brain in the STARDUST III to calculate the route taken by Springer ship. Both have success -- and so Tifflor and a few of his crewmates escape the Springers' clutches just as the STARDUST III arrives from earth with a pair of cruisers. The Springers immediately call for help from the Springer military fleet. Space battle ensues.

Tifflor's ship is damaged in the fray, losing all of its communication equipment and severely damaging its life support systems. Fortunately, Tifflor discovers a suitable planet for an inelegant landing. Unfortunately, the site he picks has a temperature measured in degrees Kelvin. Tiff's crew have little choice but to take the opportunity it offers, but unless they can MacGuyver some communications equipment or thumb a ride on a passing ship, then the opportunity it gives them will be measured in days.

Teaser for the next adventure: For 8000 years the Springers have held a galactic trade monopoloy, because they have remorselessly squashed every competitor they have met. The purely commercial thinking which over time has developed among the Springers, is also Perry Rhodan's only chance! For as long as the Earth-discovering traders think only of their own advantage and bring no other trading clans into the business, only then can the Third Power hold out against their attacks. Another important moment in the deflection of the Springers is performed by the Space Cadets stranded on the ice world ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Cute how the robot has to carry the girl cadets, hm? Yeah, that's in the story. At least they don't have to wear skirts, I guess. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as The Fleet of the Springers. The first edition was published by Ace in 1973, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with short stories by Donald A. Wolheim (yes, as in "DAW") and Charles Fritch, and concluding chapter of Garrett P. Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars. It was reissued by Orbit in 1977 with a cover that ISFDB credits to Angus McKie.

Edited: Nov 26, 2017, 2:16am Top

German-language nerdery:

Honest to goodness, the text calls them "space cadets": The word to be translated is Weltraumkadetten, look it up.

When the text refers to Julian Tifflor's cool bravery it says he has "keine Nerven." Interesting that, where we would say Tiff has "nerves of steel", the Germans say he has no nerves at all.

Another interesting English/German comparison: this adventure uses the term, "lion's share" (Löwenanteil) in the same sense as the modern English expression, i.e., meaning the major part. I find it curious that not only have both languages derived the same expression -- presumably from Aesop -- but also have it similarly corrupted. Because in Aesop, "the lion's share" does not mean "the greater part." It means the whole darn thing.

Nov 26, 2017, 1:48pm Top

>157 swynn: I found that nerdery utterly delightful.

Nov 27, 2017, 12:08am Top

>158 MickyFine: Thanks Micky! I wondered whether anyone would be interested in my little language notes but then thought: my thread, my nerdiness. Glad someone else enjoyed it.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:49pm Top

140) The Atrocity Archives / Charles Stross

Everyone who ever told me that I should read some Stross because it would be right up my alley: you were right. I did love this story about math nerds saving the world from interdimensional Nazi cultists. Of course this year it's been a delight to read *anything* where the Nazis are badguys, but this little gem also has casual jokes about topology and the P vs NP problem. Fun as anything, and I will read more.

Nov 27, 2017, 8:11am Top

>159 swynn: I don't speak German but I love little linguistic nerderies like that in any language, so thanks for those, Steve!

Nov 27, 2017, 12:36pm Top

>160 swynn: That description made me crack up. Very decidedly not up my alley but I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Nov 27, 2017, 7:44pm Top

>160 swynn: Some good ones I’m going to re-read when I get a chance!

Nov 28, 2017, 9:04am Top

>162 MickyFine: Thanks Micky!

>163 drneutron: I didn't remember, but I suspected that you were one of the readers who put Stross on my radar. If so, thanks!

Edited: Nov 29, 2017, 12:55pm Top

Worst. Training. Ever.

Dear trainers of the world:

Reading the documentation is good, but it alone does not make you an authority. Especially if you're not familiar with the documentation's vocabulary. Especially if you're reading the documentation during the training.

Your training should include some content that I can't find by reading the documentation.

If some one asks a question about preferred practices, and a preferred-practice document exists, please consider that as a source. I promise it trumps your best guess.

Personal anecdotes can be good, especially if you have a point. Long rambling reminiscences about the music of your youth generally aren't.

Please do not use foreign-language examples from languages you do not speak, unless you have a good reason. (Specifically, if you don't speak German, then your German almost certainly hurts my ears. I'm willing to endure that if you have a point, but your delight in making throat-clearing sounds does not count.)

Please spell check your Power point slides. Spell check especially closely any examples from foreign languages you do not speak.

Anyone else have suggestions from your training nightmares?

Nov 29, 2017, 2:05pm Top

>165 swynn: Oy. That sounds awful.

Nov 29, 2017, 3:34pm Top

Yeeeesh. Sounds like a nightmare.

Edited: Nov 29, 2017, 8:59pm Top

>166 MickyFine:
>167 drneutron:

Thanks for the commiseration. It was pretty awful. Alas, I got one-upped while griping to a colleague.

She reminded about a training she attended several years ago, for a module that had been added to our library system. The module was still in development at the time and not fully featured. (This was back when "perpetual beta" was a buzzword.)

The trainer hadn't had access to the module until the day of the training so all he knew was what he had read in the manual. But "perpetual beta," so the software did not behave as documented: some features hadn't been added yet, while other features had been developed beyond what the manual documented. The training degraded into a situation where the trainer and a couple of attendees alternated reading out of the manual and experimenting with the software, while the other attendees waited for the hours to pass.

So I must withdraw my "Worst. Training. Ever."claim. Because, really, things *could* have been worse.

Nov 30, 2017, 6:29am Top

>165 swynn: Oh, whoa. That sounds amazingly awful. There's a crazy part of me that just loves this sort of thing; I would have had a very difficult time making it through that meeting without giggling the entire time.

Nov 30, 2017, 9:17am Top

Because, really, things *could* have been worse.

Yup. There could have been role-playing in the mix...

Nov 30, 2017, 9:47am Top

>169 scaifea: It definitely would have been an experience. I did not attend that training -- though I certainly heard about it. If I'd been there I probably would have been one of the attendees pushing buttons just to see what might happen.

>170 drneutron: Ugh. Yes, that was a mercy ...

Nov 30, 2017, 12:16pm Top

Good morning, swynn. I hope you're recovering well from the horror, the horror, of the worst. training. EVER!

Edited: Nov 30, 2017, 10:22pm Top

Hi Brodie! Happy to report I'm doing fine. My ADD brain is distracted by the fantasy of making this my next training opportunity:

Calling bullshit : Data Reasoning in a Digital World

I am very interested in the content but confess to a little thrill just at the thought of using "BS" in a technical sense.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:51pm Top

141) DAW #116: The Star Road / Gordon R. Dickson
Date: 1974 (reissue of a collection published in 1973; contents originally published 1952-1968)

A collection of stories by an author who is a favorite of sorts: he rarely knocks my socks off, but he produced a large body of reliably solid, enjoyable work. This collection meets that expectation.

Whatever Gods There Be. After a disastrous landing on Mars, an exploratory team discovers they won't be able to return to Earth unless they drastically reduce the payload. Coincidentally, the crew's medic has just discovered that one of them has leukemia.

Hilifter.Spaceship hijacker hijacks a spaceship.

Building on the Line.A construction worker on an interplanetary communications project finds himself stranded far from home base when a freak accident knocks out his transportation and his partner. He has little choice but to walk back to base, carrying his partner who may be dead, and ignoring voices that may be real.

The Christmas Present. Short O Henry-style story about a gift exchange between a boy in a space colony and an indigenous creature.

3-Part Puzzle Interplanetary civilizations are essentially of three sorts: aggressive, passive, and shielded. Aggressive civilizations fight each other and subjugate the passive civilizations, and both of them wonder what goes on in those mysterious shielded planets, which can be observed but never communicate and are impervious to attack. Problem is, the latest civilization -- from a planet "Earth" -- seems to disrupt the tidy classification.

On Messenger Mountain. After a brief space battle and a Pyrrhic victory, an exploratory ship crashes on a distant planet. With communications shot and no easy way back to orbit, the astronauts realize their best bet is to climb to the top of a nearby mountain from whose peak they can launch an emergency communication beacon. Unfortunately, their ship was not the only one to crash on the planet, nor are they the only survivors. This is my favorite of the lot: I have some trouble with the resolution, but loved the buildup of creepy suspense as the climbers drop out one by one, until the party is down to two and the hero realizes that the other remaining climber is one of the aliens.

The Catch. When Earth finally makes first contact with extraterrestrials it is only to discover a vast interplanetary empire. Fortunately, the extraterrestrials seem surprisingly eager to greet humans and make us comfortable. Unfortunately, the extraterrestrials seem surprisingly eager to greet humans and make us comfortable ....

Jackal's Meal. Delicate negotiations between Earth and the Morah, a belligerent and more powerful extraterrestrial civilization, are disrupted when a frightened, hungry and severely mistreated *something* escapes from a Morah ship and seeks asylum with the humans. The *something* looks human -- but the Morah say it's a mere plaything, a pet genetically engineered to look human and insist on its return.

The Mousetrap. A man wakes up, his memories gone, on a strange tiny planet with a single small building and no other inhabitants.

Cover is by Eddie Jones. There's also an interior illustration by Jack Gaughan. DAW reissued it 1980 with a manlier cover by Jordi Penalva, and giving Dickson the nickname the "Dorsai" man:

Me, I prefer Jones's.

Dec 1, 2017, 9:26am Top

Fun discovery from the Open Syllabus Project:

Syllabus to Current Issues in Racism and the Law, a Spring 1994 University of Chicago course, taught by "Prof. Obama."

Check out page 11, where he recognizes and defends the unusually large volume of assigned reading.

Too much reading.

Oh, for problems like that.

Dec 1, 2017, 5:08pm Top

>157 swynn: I really enjoyed your German language-nerdery!

>160 swynn: I'm a big fan of the Laundry novels. I don't like everything Stross writes, but I almost always enjoy a visit with Bob. I read The Delirium Brief not too long ago - #8, I believe.

>165 swynn: *snort* Oh wait - I'm suppose to commiserate, right? How miserable for you!

Dec 2, 2017, 10:07pm Top

>176 Dejah_Thoris: Thanks Dejah for supporting my nerdery! I'm looking forward to The Jennifer Morgue, maybe even this month or next. As for training woes ... well, thanks for your sincere commisseration.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:51pm Top

142) Perry Rhodan 30: Tifflor, der Partisan (= Tifflor the Partisan) / Kurt Mahr
Date: March 30, 1962
Tagline: Cadets of the Space Academy in an emergency operation on a strange world and against a powerful enemy ...

The story so far: The Third Power led by Perry Rhodan -- that fortunate mix of human energy and Arkonide supertechnology -- already has an eventful story to tell of its ten-year existence, full of dramatic highlights. But most recent events make the impression that Perry Rhodan, in his encounter with the "Springers" or the "Galactic Merchants," has run up against a power that is willing and able at any time to destroy the Earth in order to defeat any possible competitors their interstellar trade. For eight millennia the Springers have held the galactic trade monopoly, for until now they have beaten down every competitor they have met. The purely commercial philosophy that the Springers have developed over the millennia is humanity's only hope. For Perry Rhodan can keep the Springers away from Earth only if these galactic merchants, who think only of their own advantage, and who discovered Earth only through The Overhead's nefarious schemes, neglect to inform other trading clans who might edge in on their business ... TIFFLOR, THE PARTISAN does his part in this assignment.

Julian Tifflor and his crew, stranded on a frozen planet they have christened "Snowman," have secured shelter and dug in to hide from the Springer fleet. The Springers mistakenly believe that Tifflor knows secrets of the Planet of Immortality, secrets with an unimaginable market value, so they are eager to find him. Perry Rhodan lurks at the edges of the solar system, trying to get any information he can about the Springers and any threat they might pose to Earth. He risks a daring insertion operation to teleport Gucky to Snowman. Once there, Gucky must infiltrate the Springer ships while Tifflor & crew create diversions by engaging Springer search parties. Suspense and peril ensue. What Gucky learns is distressing on a couple of points: first, he learns that back on Earth the Springers have infiltrated the Third Power with robotic spies; second, he learns that the Springers are so determined to control information about the Planet of Immortality that they intend to vaporize Snowman if they cannot capture Tifflor.

Teaser for the next adventure: A handful of graduates from the Terran Space Academy fight on a strange world and against an overwhelming enemy, what seems to be a losing battle! And still they get Perry Rhodan the information he needs to counter the Springer plan unfolding on Earth. THE KING OF NEW YORK is a central character in the Springers' plans ...

The cover -- which is Gucky's first appearance there -- is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Peril on Ice Planet. The first edition was published by Ace in 1973, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with short stories by Francis Flagg, Forrest Ackerman, and Hannes Bok, and the first chapter in a serialization of Richard Vaughan's The Exile of the Skies. It was reissued by Orbit in 1977 with a cover by Paul Lehr.

Dec 7, 2017, 12:12am Top

I have found The Atrocity Files books to be clever and amusing but they just don't grab me at any deeper level, I fear.

Dec 17, 2017, 7:33pm Top

>179 ronincats: I won't say The Atrocity Archives hit me at any deeper level either -- but sufficiently clever and amusing is reason enough.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:52pm Top

143) Im Westen Nichts Neues ( = Nothing New in the West) / Erich Maria Remarque
Date: 1929

The bestselling book in 1929 was the English translation of Erich Maria Remarque's influential war novel about a group of German high-school children who volunteer for World War I, translated into English as All Quiet on the Western Front. I read the English translation long ago in high school, and remembered a few viscerally effective scenes, but also some dissatisfaction at a lack of plot. I watched the 1930 film version just a few years ago and had the same response. For this reread, I expected to find it less appealing than I did thirty years ago and thought I'd add interest by reading it in Remarque's German.

I was wrong. I found it an even better book than I remember, more unsettling and more authentic. The battle scenes are as effective as ever, and I admire Remarque's journalistic style more now than I did then. I also admire, in a way I could not have possibly done thirty years ago, the insight into how the war short-circuits his characters' paths to adulthood. Remarque's charge that the war ended the lives even of those who survived, is chilling and incontestable. Yes the story is episodic, but oh teenage swynn that's precisely the point: if there is any grand narrative thread to the soldiers' ordeal it is certainly not apparent to the soldiers.

I can't say that reading it in German gave me any special insights, with one exception. The German word for "trench" -- der Graben -- is very similar to the word for "grave"-- das Grab. it's very tempting for a nonnative speaker to make too much of this sort of orthographic accident, so I don't want to exaggerate its importance. But for me it certainly added to the relentlessly morbid atmosphere. Other than that, I occasionally wondered how the translators dealt with a few colloquialisms: there's a scene at mess for example early in the book where one of the characters says, "Jedes Böhnchen hat sein Tönchen" (= "Every little bean has its little tone.") (Goodness, it's been a long time since I've heard that expression.) I hope some translator rendered it, "Beans, beans, the musical fruit." This sort of triviality aside, the book's style is so objective and direct that there needn't be much lost in translation.

My copy comes with a collection of about 20 reviews and responses, from 1929 to 1984. There is a gushing 1929 response from Carl Zuckmayer, a playwright and screenwriter (notably for the Marlene Dietrich vehicle Die blaue Engel = "The Blue Angel") who had also served on the Western front: "This is the war as we lived it on the front," he says, and further that the book "belongs in the school rooms, the lecture halls, the Universities, in all the newspapers, on all the radio stations, and all of that is not enough." There is a response from the Communist paper Die Rote Fahne, which condemns the book's apparent pacifism for playing into the hands of the capitalistic forces that caused the war. Rudolf Binding, who had been a dragoon commander in the war, criticizes Remarque's indifference to the reasons for the war and his dishonesty in portraying German soldiers as likewise indifferent. Binding declares (in 1929) that nobody will talk about the book in just a couple of years -- which turned out to be very nearly true, since Remarque's works were among the first to be banned by the Nazis (who, since it bears repeating, were badguys). Carl von Ossietsky observes in 1932: "For years and days Erich Maria Remarque has been attacked from all sides, because we cannot forgive him for writing a successful novel in the unfriendly colors of truth." The 1984 piece is a report on the book's use as a required text in a grade school (the grade level is not identified). The authors report that students find the book absorbing, some alarmingly so: "For some students the book was so depressing that for days they could not put their minds at ease."

Recommended, obviously.

Dec 17, 2017, 9:50pm Top

He was, I believe, frequently criticised for "exaggerating the horrors of the war". I wonder how, exactly, one would go about doing that...?

Edited: Dec 17, 2017, 10:06pm Top

I think Binding's position is that Remarque exaggerates the *importance* of the horrors of the war. That yes, there was hunger and disease and horrible death and that he had seen those things too. But he had also seen acts of heroism that Remarque had chosen to ignore; and that the soldiers had a better grasp of the war's causes and aims than Remarque will admit.

Of course, Binding was an officer so he had a rather different perspective. He was also a Nazi sympathizer, so fuck him.

Dec 17, 2017, 10:09pm Top


Dec 18, 2017, 8:05am Top

I read All Quiet on the Western Front not too long ago for the first time and was blown away by it. Silly that I never thought to look up his other stuff; clearly I should.

Dec 18, 2017, 10:21am Top

Hi, Steve! I really need to read All Quiet on the Western Front; I've been meaning to for ages and originally thought the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I would be a good time. But that's came and went several years ago, and now I either need to read it next year to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the war or give it up.

By the way, I love your comments on translation subtleties in your reviews. If I ever do get around to All Quiet, I'll let you know how the beans ended up getting translated!

Dec 18, 2017, 10:40am Top

>181 swynn: Excellent review and commentary! I have not reread the book since I was a teenager and my memories of it now are essentially non-existent. I think I should fix that.

Dec 20, 2017, 9:25am Top

>181 swynn: It's been many years since I read All Quiet on the Western Front - I'm planning a reread for 2018. I suspect that I'll appreciate it more this time around, even if I do stick to English!

I really enjoy the German - English translation insights you share - thank you.

And your 'spoiler' @ >183 swynn: was spot on!

Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 1:18am Top

Just FYI, Steve---I've read The Good Earth quite recently, in fact finished the trilogy, so I'll be skipping that next month. Catch you in February, I guess!

ETA: Good grief! - just realised it was #1 for two years running! So I guess we can both take a month off, before we tackle the chunkster lurking in the shadows of 1933... :D

Dec 22, 2017, 11:34am Top

Hi swynn! *waves*

Dec 22, 2017, 11:47am Top

>185 scaifea:: Remarque's next book was a sequel of sorts, Der Weg Zurück, available in English as The Road Back, about the difficulty veterans had reintegrating into postwar society. I have requested it through my library consortium, and am looking forward to it.

>186 rosalita:: When you get to it, Julia, I hope you find it as effective as I did. "Like it" probably isn't the best phrase ... but even if you don't get to it soon, don't give it up!

>187 RBeffa:: I'd be interested to read your thoughts on it, Ron!

>188 Dejah_Thoris:: Looking forward to your reaction, Dejah! I'm pleased to see the positive responses to my amateurish German observations. I'll keep them up as they strike me. And yes, jeez, Nazis, I wish we were done with them by now.

>189 lyzard: Two months for The Good Earth ... good. I seem to be finishing these a month late, so maybe that will give me a chance to catch up. Just in time to fall behind for the 1933 read: holy cow, my library's edition is 1,224 pages. That's ... a lot of pages. Looks like we have two months to read it, though ...

>190 brodiew2: Hi Brodie!

Dec 22, 2017, 3:55pm Top

>191 swynn:

I can't remember which year, but I saw that The Road Back is on one of the upcoming best-seller lists.

Ha! - yes, I had that reaction, too. Was also amused to note that later releases broke the book up into three independent, separately titled volumes, so you could approach it in a less intimidating format.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:53pm Top

So I'm heading out of town for the holiday, and will be out of wifi range for most of the time. I'm a bit behind on comments, and will fall further behind by the time I return Tuesday evening. So here's the basics so far, which I reserve the right to expand or not next week:

144) The Wayward Man / St. John Ervine

It turns out that getting banned in Boston is reeeeally easy.

145) One Against the Moon / Donald Wolheim

It turns out that getting to the moon isn't much harder than getting banned in Boston.

146) In the Lair : a Fantasy Bridge Anthology

This collection of stories by independent fantasy authors left me wondering whether I've reached a saturation point on fantasy.

147) The Bear and the Nightingale / Katherine Arden

It turns out I have not reached a saturation point on fantasy. Recommended.

148) Perry Rhodan 31: Der Kaiser von New York / W. W. Shols
149) Perry Rhodan 32: Ausflug in die Unendlichkeit / Clark Darlton
150) Perry Rhodan 33: Eiswelt in Flammen / Clark Darlton

A robot invasion, a cosmic history lesson, and telepathic tulip-people. You know, the usual.

In the meantime, to everyone who drops by between now and then, I wish a very happy holiday and very merry Christmas and very blessed anything else you choose to celebrate or not.

Dec 22, 2017, 4:43pm Top

Safe travels, Steve! Please pass along my best holiday wishes to Mrs. Swynn and SwynnJr. :-)

Dec 23, 2017, 5:37pm Top

It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:

Dec 25, 2017, 4:14am Top

Wishing you all good things this holiday season and beyond.

Dec 25, 2017, 8:07pm Top

Safe travels in this holiday season, Steve, and peace and joy to you and yours!

Dec 27, 2017, 2:42pm Top

>194 rosalita:
>195 ronincats:
>196 PaulCranswick:
>197 Dejah_Thoris:

Thanks, Julia, Roni, Paul, and Dejah for the holiday wishes! We had a wonderful visit with family, safe travels, and finished only one additional book because I didn't have time for more. Not complaining!

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:54pm Top

Back in September, Liz found an article from a 1928 issue of The Guardian listing "the books now proscribed in Boston," and, finding it difficult to see a list without thinking "reading challenge," floated the idea of reading these scandalous books. And I, finding it difficult to refrain from reading things I'm told I shouldn't, thought that sounded like fun. So here's the book that topped that list ...

144) The Wayward Man / St. John Ervine
Date: 1927

.... and dear readers, if you were hoping for a scandalous, shocking, or even mildly titlillating read I am sorry to report you must look elsewhere. Unfortunately. it is not a "bad" book. Fortunately for the curious, it's not a bad book either, though understandably not a well-remembered one. It follows the life of a restless Irish boy whose mother wants him to become a minister but who wants for himself only a hard and adventurous life at sea.

Act One follows Robert Dunwoody's childhood in Belfast as he begins to resist the plans of his strong-willed mother and eventually runs away from home. Eventually he joins the crew of a ship bound for Australia and finds himself well-suited to a sailor's life. In Act Two, Robert finds adventure at sea and in ports and finds himself well-suited to a sailor's life. But he returns to Belfast after a disastrous voyage in which his ship founders and the only survivors endure six weeks of starvation and thirst. The third and final act has him attempting to settle into a comfortable middle-class life with a proper wife and business. The first two acts are appealing, with colorful anecdotes and a generous helping of humor. The third act fails to maintain the same interest and humor, which is perhaps the point because Robert himself struggles to maintain interest in his life ashore. Unfortunately, it's a dissatisfying way to wrap up an otherwise appealing book.

As for scandal .... meh. Back in September, Liz mentioned there is a scene set in a brothel, which is true, but sexual gymastics there are not. It is probably the case that the city fathers disapproved of sailors in brothels and thus forbade imagining them there. Or perhaps they disapproved of Ervine's prostitutes for enjoying their work and failing to properly bewail their fallen state. Or perhaps they disliked the ending, which has Robert fathering a child out of wedlock and failing to be properly scandalized and repentant. In any case, they could have thrown us something juicier. (Sherwood Anderson is next. I'm optimistic about writing quality, but not about salaciousness.)

Dec 27, 2017, 3:42pm Top


I thought the attitude towards religion might have had something to do with it too, but given that every review I found mentioned the brothel, it was probably just that. :D

Sherwood Anderson will be an ILL for me so I'm not quite sure if I'll be getting to it January or February.

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 1:09am Top

>200 lyzard: I wondered the same thing about its joking attitude towards religious institutions in the first act, but nothing seemed to me to cross a line of propriety. The jokes seemed to be attributable to a young boy's amusing misconceptions of theology. Of course, I and the Boston town fathers have very different attitudes towards religion; and censors are generally not selected for their sense of humor.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:54pm Top

145) One Against the Moon / Donald Wollheim
Date: 1956

Robin Carew is an out-of-work orphan who thinks he'd like to work on the space program, but his lack of money and contacts means his dream will probably never happen. So an opportunity comes along to sneak onto a rocket testing field, he takes the risk knowing it may be his only chance. He discovers an experimental rocket on a launch pad lacking security and climbs aboard, then fails to exit the rocket before it is launched the next day. The purpose of the launch is to test a new nuclear fuel, which works beyond all expectations. The rocket carries Robin beyond Earth and right to the Moon. It turns out the Moon is porous, like Swiss cheese, with a breathable atmosphere in the lower layers. The rocket breaks through the first few layers and right into a perfectly habitable environment. Robin's immediate needs for food and shelter are met, leaving him the task of surviving until the first manned Moon landing, and somehow signaling the mission when it finally arrives.

Despite the ridiculous convenience of every little thing that happens -- I'm going to bet it was ridiculously impossible in 1956 too -- I found myself drawn into Robin's situation and Wollheim's bonkers vision of a thriving environment beneath the Moon's surface. Classic science fiction it is not, but as a piece of fifties science fantasy by the guy who went on to found DAW, it's interesting.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:55pm Top

148) Perry Rhodan 31: Der Kaiser von New York (= The Emperor of New York) / W. W. Shols
Date: April 6, 1962
Tagline: Red alert in Terrania -- the robots revolt!

The story so far: The Third Power led by Perry Rhodan -- that fortunate mix of human energy and Arkonide supertechnology -- already has an eventful story to tell of its ten-year existence, full of dramatic highlights. The most recent events make the impression that Perry Rhodan, in his encounter with the "Springers" or the "Galactic Merchants," has run up against a power that is willing and able at any time to destroy the Earth in order to defeat any possible competitors their interstellar trade. For eight millennia the Springers have held the galactic trade monopoly, for until now they have beaten down every competitor they have met. The TERRA and the SOLAR SYSTEM, the Third Power's two space destroyers, and Julian Tifflor's team on the ice planet are making things difficult for the Springers and keep them from attacking the Earth directly. But the Springers already have a "fifth column" on Earth, a large number of agents that seek to conquer the Third Power's bases! THE EMPEROR OF NEW YORK is one of these dangerous agents ...

Outnumbered and outgunned, Perry Rhodan leaves Beta Albireo in the hands of Julian Tifflor and Reginald Bull. His plan is to fly to Wanderer, the planet of immortality, where he hopes to beg a weapon of sufficient force to take on the entire Springer fleet. But first he must resolve a problem on Earth: the Third Power's worker robots have been compromised by secret Springer agents, and are revolting worldwide. It's a battle Rhodan must wage on multiple fronts, and he'll have to enlist the help of the most dangerous mutant: Iwan Iwanowitsch Goratschin, the two-headed Russian "igniter" who can explode things with the power of his mind. After the quashing the robot revolt, Rhodan's team must find and destroy the Springers' secret base.

Teaser for the next adventure: True, the military forces of Earth have largely succeeded in turning back the danger of their own reprogammed robots. But for Earth to stand against the united power of all Springer clans, Perry Rhodan must use a new weapon. He will acquire this weapon in his EXCURSION INTO ETERNITY ...

The gorgeous robot-apocalypse cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

As far as I can tell, this adventure has not been translated into English.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:55pm Top

149) Perry Rhodan 32: Ausflug in die Unendlichkeit (= Excursion into Infinity) / Clark Darlton
Date: April 13, 1962
Tagline: They are damned to loneliness -- on a world without stars ...

The story so far: The Third Power led by Perry Rhodan -- that fortunate mix of human energy and Arkonide supertechnology -- already has an eventful story to tell of its ten-year existence, full of dramatic highlights. But most recent events make the impression that Perry Rhodan, since his encounter with the "Springers" or the "Galactic Merchants," has run up against a power that is willing and able at any time to destroy the Earth, thereby neutralizing a possible competitor to their interstellar trade. So far, the defensive barrier built by the heavy cruisers TERRA and SOLAR SYSTEM in the Albireo System have held. But how long will it last until the Springers notice that the Terrans only play a diversionary game ... ? Perry Rhodan has no time to spare* but to acquire an effective weapon against the Springers he must once again find the Planet of Eternal Life -- and make an EXCURSION INTO INFINITY ...

Having quashed the robot revolt on Earth and neutralized the Springers' base, Perry Rhodan can finally seek out Wanderer, the Planet of Eternal Life. The location of that planet is, of course, exactly the secret the Springers want to learn -- and unknown to Perry Rhodan he is surreptitiously followed to the region of space where Wanderer is currently located. Fortunately, the Springers can only follow him so far, because shortly after their arrival the Springers watch Perry Rhodan's ship disappear.

The disappearance is effected by "He", the mysterious noncorporeal superbeing who rules Wanderer. After exchanging pleasantries and a practical joke, "He" casually mentions that, some 200,000 light-years away, an entire race is about to be destroyed. Rhodan insists that something can be done to save them. "He", apparently amused by Rhodan's interest, offers to take Rhodan on an excursion to the distant planet Barkon and its doomed inhabitants.

The excursion turns out to be something more than a mission of mercy: it is both a history lesson and a test for Perry Rhodan. The history lesson is a deep one, for it turns out that the Barkonides are the distant ancestors of the Arkonides and indeed of all the humanoid races in the Milky Way galaxy. But their solar system, has been pulled out of the galaxy and for millennia has been drifting deeper into starless intergalactic space. They have sent numerous expeditions into the galaxy in hopes of establishing settlements that would eventually grow into a peaceful interstellar community, but they have no idea whether their plans have been successful. They intend to transform Barkon into a planet-sized starship that can eventually return to the galaxy -- a plan which Rhodan and "He" know will fail without intervention. "He" warns Rhodan that rescuing the Barkonides may cause problems later. Rhodan is willing to take the risk and thus passes the test, which was to measure his goodwill for all races.

Satisfied with Rhodan's performance, "He" gives Rhodan the desired weapon: a "fictive transmitter," a six-dimensional matter transmitter that can be used (for example) to teleport bombs directly to the interior of an enemy craft. Rhodan quickly puts the new weapon to use, for as he leaves Wanderer the Springer forces lie in wait ...

Teaser for the next adventure: The EXCURSION INTO INFINITY gave Perry Rhodan a shocking glimpse into the most distant past and future -- and earned him two fictive transmitters. These fictive transmitters are dangerous weapons. They have already been used and must be used again, for the Springer patriarch Etztak has condemned a world to death ...

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided six interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Infinity Flight (Perry Rhodan #24). The first edition was published by Ace in 1973, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with short stories by Steven Utley and Ben Singer, a short essay on the Perry Rhodan film, "Mission Stardust", and chapter two of a serialization of Richard Vaughan's The Exile of the Skies. It was reissued by Orbit in 1977 with a cover by Bob Layzell.

Edited: Dec 29, 2017, 5:26pm Top

*German nerdery.

The phrase I translate above as "Perry Rhodan has no time to spare" reads in the original:

Perry Rhodan brennt die Zeit auf den Nägeln

Literally: "Perry Rhodan burns the time on the nails."

Apparently "to burn on [or to, or under] the nails [or nail]" is a common expression, but curious enough even to native speakers to merit a substantial Wikipedia entry. According to that entry, the expression dates at least to the 16th century, where the full expression was "to burn the candle to the nails." The article notes that the expression also exists in Russian, Hungarian, and other Slavic languages and offers several theories regarding its origin.

The first explanation is a Slavic folktale, in which a wicked mother-in-law tests the loyalty of her son's bride-to-be by giving her a burning candle and a demand to remain silent. The girl complies, even as the candle burns her fingernails.

The second explanation is a historic one, and claims that during the middle ages monks would affix wax candles to their thumbnails in order to bring the light more closely to the page. (These guys really loved their books. I have no idea whether the story is true other than, heck, I'd do it. Maybe only once but at least once.)

The third has to do with methods of medieval torture.

In any case, the meaning is plainly that Perry Rhodan is extremely pressed for time.

Dec 30, 2017, 3:38pm Top

I love those kinds of language trivia. Thanks for sharing!

Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 6:33pm Top

Thanks Micky! The occasional bits of random language trivia are one of the perks of the PR project, and I'm delighted that others seem to enjoy them as well.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:56pm Top

150) Perry Rhodan 33: Eiswelt in Flammen (= Ice World in Flames) / Clark Darlton
Date: April 20, 1962
Tagline: The Springers know no mercy -- they have condemned an entire world to die ...

The story so far: Disputes on Earth, invasions from space, space battles, fights on distant planets -- all those things the Third Power, founded with the help of ancient Arkonide technology, has successfully survived in the short span of its existence. But the Springers -- those descendants of the Arkonides who for eight thousand years have held an uncontested trade monopoly in the galaxy because they have implacably beaten down any potential competitor -- represent a threat that cannot be taken earnestly enough. And Perry Rhodan has so far done everything in his power to prevent the Springers from making a colony out of Earth. His space cruisers have flown mock attacks against the collected Springer fleet, while he himself in the STARDUST sought out the Planet of Immortals in order to acquire a new weapon against the Springers. He has already needed to use this new weapon, and he will have to use it again, for Patriarch Etztak sets the ICE WORLD IN FLAMES ....

For the last couple of adventures we've been following Perry Rhodan as he looks for a weapon to use against the Springer fleet. Meanwhile back at the Albireo System, the Springer fleet has Julian Tifflor's team (composed of Tifflor, four other cadets, Gucky the mouse-beaver, and Moses the battle robot) pinned down on the ice planet Snowman while two Terran space cruisers harry the fleet.

The team on Snowman has gone deep underground to hide from the Springers, who are losing patience. Etztak, patriarch of the Springer clan, has decided that the Terrans are more trouble than they are worth. But does not want to risk that the Terrans might fall into another clan's hands. The most certain way to eliminate that risk is to ignite the ice world with an atomic fire that will transform the planet into a miniature sun.

Obviously Etztak's action threatens the Terrans, but even worse it turns out they are not alone on the planet. Gucky has discovered near the equator a population of tulip-like aboriginal life he calls "half-sleepers." During the planet's long winter the half-sleepers live underground beneath artificial miniature suns. Gucky was alerted to half-sleepers presence by their telepathic ability: they sense what is about to happen and their fear is infectious. As the atomic fire nears the half-sleeper colony it becomes clear that they are doomed; the only hope for their race is for Tifflor's team to rescue a few reproducing pairs ... but even that strategy will succeed only if Rhodan returns in time ...

Teaser for the next adventure: The ice world no longer exists, on which Julian Tifflor and his companions cleverly escaped again and again the Springer-commando traps, because a Springer patriarch in his anger gave an order of destruction. But this order, intended as a death sentence for Julian Tifflor and his companions, happened at a time when Perry Rhodan was already in a position to rescue not only his own people but also a few half-sleepers, the strange inhabitants of the ice world, from the atomic fire ... But what will the Springers undertake next against Earth? What are their further plans ... ? LEVTAN, THE TRAITOR knows the Springers' plans -- and he looks for Perry Rhodan ....

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Snowman in Flames. The first edition was published by Ace in 1973, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with short stories by George W. Proctor and Gregor Drummond, a review of the film, "First Men in the Moon", and chapter three of a serialization of Richard Vaughan's The Exile of the Skies. It was reissued by Orbit in 1977 with a cover by Bob Layzell.

Dec 30, 2017, 8:01pm Top

The God Stalk group read thread is up in the 2018 group, Steve, here:


Dec 30, 2017, 11:14pm Top

>209 ronincats: Found and starred, Roni!

Dec 30, 2017, 11:23pm Top

The year is drawing to a close. Buh-bye 2017...

As I skimmed through about the last 90 of the messages here, I recognize that I missed some interesting conversation. Fooo.

So Happy New Year, Steve.

I'll be trying this reading business anew in 2018, hoping to do better both in numbers (just...just...well, uh....a half-dozen more would be satisfying) and in being more social (getting around the threads, tipping the hat, sharing a smile). See you on the other side, my friend.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 7:56pm Top

151) Throne of Glass / Sarah J. Maas
Date: 2012

I picked up this one on the strength of a valued recommendation: my nephew (13, since you're sure to ask) informed me that it is "the best book EVER!"

I am afraid that my nephew's tastes and mine diverge. Ostensibly a story about a young assassin seeking her freedom while in service to her enemy, it reads more like a high school romance where the "assassin seeking her freedom" seems to be more interested in dresses and parties and kissing the dreamy prince than in liberty. Looking for commiseration I checked other comments on LT and was a little disappointed to see that it's pretty well liked in these parts also. I reluctantly conclude that it is an excellent book that I Just Don't Get. It's not the first.

For the romance-averse like me: avoid. All others, check out other reviews because what do I know?

Despite my feelings about the book, the cover rocks. It is by Alessandro Taini.

Dec 30, 2017, 11:26pm Top

>211 weird_O: Thanks Bill, and I'll see you in the New Year!

Dec 31, 2017, 8:57pm Top

152) Perry Rhodan 34: Levtan, der Verräter (= Levtan, the Traitor) / Kurt Brand
Date: April 20, 1962
Tagline: A Springer lands in Terrania and becomes the central figure in a grand bluff ...

The story so far: Disputes on Earth, invasions from space, space battles, fights on distant planets -- all those things the Third Power, founded with the help of ancient Arkonide technology, has successfully survived in the short span of its existence. But the Springers -- those descendants of the Arkonides who for eight thousand years have held an uncontested trade monopoly in the galaxy because they have implacably beaten down any potential competitor -- represent a threat that cannot be taken earnestly enough. And Perry Rhodan has so far done everything in his power to prevent the Springers from making a colony out of Earth. His space cruisers have flown mock attacks against the collected Springer fleet, while he himself in the STARDUST sought out the Planet of Immortals in order to acquire a new weapon against the Springers. The power of the Springers is enormous -- and even though they retreated after the encounter with the new weapon, there is reason to suspect they may further develop their plans against Earth. A galactic merchant knows these plans and is willing to sell them for a reasonable price ....

In the last adventure Perry Rhodan drove the Springer fleet into retreat; but he knows that the Springers could at any time amass a greater force. If such a force attacked Earth directly, the Terrans could not defend itself, new weapon or no. As Rhodan and his friends consider options, a new factor enters the equation: Levtan, pariah among the Springers, arrives in the Solar System claiming to know the Springers' next move. The next move is a convention on a distant Springer base called Goszul's Planet, where all Springer patriarchs will meet to decide collectively what to do about Perry Rhodan.

Rhodan hatches an elaborate scheme to infiltrate Goszul's Planet: first, by various psychic tricks, he convinces Levtan that the Earth fleet is orders of magnitude larger than it actually is. Then, he convinces both Levtan and his crew that, by taking this exaggerated information to the convention they can redeem their pariah status. Finally, Rhodan inserts into Levtan's crew a team of four from the Mutant Corps: telepath John Marshall, teleporter Tako Kakuta, telekinetic Tama Yokida, and suggestor Kitai Ishibashi. (A "suggestor" has the skill of inserting thoughts into a target's mind in such a way that the target believes the thoughts are his own. Ishibashi's skills get a heay workout just in preparing Levtan and his crew for the mission.)

The plan, of course, is to convince the Springers once and for all that Earth is not to be messed with. Failing that, the Mutant Corps team will have to improvise, keeping in mind the opportunity of having all heads of all Springer clans conveniently located in one place ...

Teaser for the next adventure: Treachery and dirty work never profit in the end, as even Levtan must have recognized as his own people schlepped him off for "brainwashing." For Perry Rhodan however Levtan's appearance was a stroke of luck, for it allowed him to smuggle four of his mutants into the council of Springer patriarchs on Goszul's planet. These four mutants -- four Earthmen alone on a strange world -- play a large role IN THE LAND OF THE GODS ....

The cover is by Johnny Bruck. Bruck also provided five interior illustrations for the original edition. You can see them all at the (German-language) Perrypedia webpage for the Heftroman.

This adventure was translated into English as Cosmic Traitor. The first edition was published by Ace in 1973, with a cover by Gray Morrow, together with short stories by Charles Fritch and Alan Ramm, and chapter four of a serialization of Richard Vaughan's The Exile of the Skies. It was reissued by Orbit in 1977 with a cover by Bob Layzell.

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 9:19pm Top

>212 swynn:

If at thirteen he's comfortable with books that have a female lead and that deal with feelings, he should be encouraged by all means and at all cost. :)

Dec 31, 2017, 10:34pm Top

>215 lyzard: You're right: he's a remarkable young man and deserves encouragement.

I should add that I try to communicate that to him in all our conversations, and not only about books. The reminder to keep my cynicism in check during those conversations is well taken.

Dec 31, 2017, 11:04pm Top

Happy New Year, Steve! See you over at the new place.

Jan 2, 4:41pm Top

>216 swynn:

That wasn't meant as a dig at you! - just some positive reinforcement. (Because, yes, I know that impulse all too well...)

Jan 3, 12:27am Top

>218 lyzard: No worries, Liz. It's the old dilemma: how do you break it to a friend that the book he loves drives you crazy? Usually for me it's something dismissive like "It was a bit X for me, but thank you for recommending it." I'd been contemplating something like that in this case -- "It was a little romance-y for me" -- but your comment together with a conversation with Mrs. Swynn made me rethink that. I thought of some positive points, especially regarding a secondary character who intrigues me a bit, and we traded some comments when he texted a couple of days ago. It was a more enlightening exchange than it would have been otherwise. Which was good, except that now I'll probably have to read book 2 ....

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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