Book Review #16

The Whenabouts of Burr

I just got back from a short time travel trip.

I recently visited the website of a female author. She has written 5 or 6 Young-Adult Sci-Fi books, all centered on Mars – ‘The Tunnel on Mars, A Ranch on Mars, Subduing Mars, etc.’  The post I read was her book-review of Time And Again, a seminal time-travel novel.

I told her that I was also fascinated with time travel stories. I showed a bunch of them in my post of books read in 2016. I remembered a somewhat different time-travel book, and suggested it to her. Later, I went back in time, dug it out of my hoard of old Sci-Fi books, reread it, and decided to do a book review of it.

The Book: The Whenabouts Of Burr (1975)

The Author: Michael Kurland

The review: The time travel in this book isn’t – quite. It’s a story about parallel Universes, and alternate Earths, created by different choices at significant historical nexus points, like the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton duel. Like a deck of cards skewed sideways, each reality is just over nine hours from its neighbors. The more levels you travel through, the further back in time you go.

It’s a great device for the author to make sociological comments – a fun game of “What If”. In some levels, Burr lives, but becomes an exiled political outlaw. Some levels have benevolent, supportive democracies, others have restrictive tyrannies. On some worlds, Europeans did not reach the Americas, and the natives have developed their own civilizations.

The sharpest social comment/warning comes from the author’s description of Prime Time, the world which originally developed the Temporal Translation Technology. The people have become like professional Victorian tourists, slumming, and gaily gadding about the alternate words, observing. The entire society has become effete and static. There is no interest, or challenge, nor further research or advancement through struggle, because they now steal/import all discoveries and new technology from the other ‘Earths.’

Published only a little over 40 years ago, it’s not as old as many of my books. It was a fun re-read, and a warning reminder of how Western society may be going. I got back in time to publish this post, and I’ll move forward, to have another ready in a couple of days. See you then. 😀

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2018 List Of Books Read

I read a book, once….  Others, I’ve read more than once.

My GP sees me so seldom that she forgets who I am, because my “yearly” physicals are often 18 to 24 months apart.  I continue to accrue a lengthening list of medical specialists for myself, the wife, and the daughter.  Because of this (and normal physical deterioration), available free time for reading diminishes.

Next year, instead of a list of books that I managed to read, I may just put up a list of all the medical appointments I had to drive to.  This past year’s list is down to 21 books – I think.  I’m too tired to check.  Someone add them up, and get back to me.  These are the ones that I managed to get through.

Eric Flint/Griffin Barber – 1636: Mission To The Mughals

Mission to the Mughals

This series was interesting Sci-Fi when it started out.  I’m done with it.  Now it’s just a 700 page excuse to publish a little political history of India around the time of building the Taj Mahal.

Chris Ryan – Stand By, Stand By – Zero Option – Greed

Stand by, Stand by

Zero Option

Greed

A very British men’s action series.  Not bad if you’re into that sort of thing.

Gregg Loomis – The Cathar Secret

The Cathar Secret

More suspense and plot development than any of the above.  A good way to waste an afternoon.

Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child – The Pharaoh Key

The Pharaoh Key

A suspense/action tale good enough to sink your eyeteeth into, but not deep enough to need to munch your molars.

Tom Clancy’s Commander In Chief

Commander In Chief

Tom Clancy is long dead, but his ghost writers continue to grind out the pot-boilers and royalties.

Michael Kurland – The Whenabouts Of Burr

The Whenabouts of Burr

This is a re-read from 1975.  I was reminded of it because of a conversation with a lady author who said that she liked time-travel Sci-Fi, as I do.  It’s actually more of an alternate universe/history story, with minor temporal displacement.  I’ll publish a review on it soon.

Blake Crouch – Dark Matter

Dark Matter

This one is another alternate universe story like the above, but with no time travel.  I’ll publish a review on it also, in a couple of months, to compare the viewpoints and construction.

Steve Berry – The Columbus Affair

The Columbus Affair

Christopher Columbus and his navigator were both secret Jews, escaping the Inquisition…. and they hid the Temple Treasure in the New World??!  Okay, you’ve got my attention and interest.

Isaac Asimov – The Rest Of The Robots

The Rest Of The Robots

I thought that I had read every Asimov story in the Foundation series, about robots.  Turns out that I was wrong.  This book was published in 1964.  It contains 8 short stories, and two novellas about the positronic predecessor to Star Trek’s Data character.  I was able to purchase a Kindle version, and wallow in classic Asimov.

E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith – Imperial Stars

Imperial Stars

This is another Sci-Fi re-read.  This is the first in a series of 12 books.  In 1976, after the death of Doc Smith, his younger author friend, Stephen Goldin took notes, and drafts, and conversations/discussions with Doc, and assembled the story line as he felt Doc would have.  Performers from the interstellar Imperial Circus are used like James Bond, as intelligence gatherers and executioners.  Goldin has his own books, but he did well with this lot.  They still have Doc Smith’s feel to them.

E. C. Tubb – The Temple Of Truth – The Return – Child Of Earth

The Temple of Truth

The Return

Child of Earth

I read the first 27 books of this never-ending series years ago, but ‘life’ caused me to give it up.  When I heard that another author like Stephen Goldin above, had brought it to a post-mortem culmination after Tubb’s death, I bought the final 7.  I read four of them in 2017, and the final three last year.

James Rollins – The 6th Extinction – The Kill Switch

The 6th Extinction

The Kill Switch

A couple more rollicking-good men’s action books.  ‘The Kill Switch’ is the first of a series within a series, where the hero, introduced in a previous book, is an ex-Army, now-paramilitary, who has brought along his K9 partner, which the Government was just going to destroy.

Clive Cussler – Lost Empire

Lost Empire

All the old, well-known authors are increasingly, farming out the sub-series.  Grant Blackwood, who wrote this one for Cussler, also wrote Kill Switch, above, for James Rollins.

David Ignatius – The Quantum Spy

The Quantum Spy

One of the new type of secret agent books.  As you might guess, while there is lots of travel, suspense and physical action, much of the plot revolves around the World Wide Web, hacking, and code-breaking.

Nan Yielding – Things I Never Learned In Sunday School

Things I never Learned in Sunday School

The very-Christian wife of an author decided to do some research to prove the inerrancy of the Bible.  Along the way she turned up so many mistakes, contradictions and unprovable claims, that she turned herself into an Atheist.  I ran into her blog-site one night, and she was pleased that I had read her book, and gave it a recommendation.

James S. A. Corey – Caliban’s War

Caliban's War

This is the second book of a grand Sci-Fi series, recommended to me by my buddy BrainRants.  It is/was available as a series on SYFY, which I can’t access.  Even if you’ve seen some/all of it, I still suggest that you try the books.

Sisterhood Of The Blog

Reapers

This is where we explore the distaff side of this ‘Meet The Blogger Tour.’

TWOFER!  That’s what I got.  Two for the price of one.

I’ve been stumbling around like a constipated rhino, yodeling, “We’re going to Rants’!  We’re going to Rants’!” but there’s another side to it.  BrainRants would like to be a published author, in fact the reason that he originally started his blog, was so that he could practice composing and publishing 500 words a day, for an entire year.  That’s where I first found him.

He attracted the attention of a lovely, lady author, named H. E. Ellis.  Since I was constantly hanging around his blog back door, like a lost puppy hoping for a pat on the head, she noticed me also.  She had already published a coming-of-age novel titled The Gods Of Asphalt.

Using stories solicited from a circle of bloggers, she compiled an eBook titled Fucked-Up Fairy Tales, to which I was allowed to submit a disappointing little ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ story.  She also assembled a Christmas spoof titled Iconic Interviews, in which I was interviewed as a crusty, corpulent Frosty the Snowman.

After Rants’ marriage ended, the online writing seminars graduated to personal visits.  One backyard brainstorming session of two couples produced the story line of the Grim Reaper, overworked by the deaths of Earth’s burgeoning population and subject to Other-Worldly bureaucracy.  H.E. wrote it as a book titled Reapers With Issues and 3 sequels yet to come.

I purchased an eBook version of it, and also a paperback copy for a memento.  With my usual, unthinking arrogance, I asked if I could get an autographed, first-edition copy.  While H. E. did the actual composition, she gave the other three co-writing credits.  Not only did she sign it herself, but she arranged for the other three to sign it also.

The logistics of the care and concern, time and effort, organization and labor, to get three other people together with one book, is awe-inspiring and heart-warming.  All the more so, because a monkey-wrench got thrown into the situation.

By the time the book was written and published, Rants was back on his second 1-year tour of Afghanistan.  After getting the book signed by the other two, she packaged it up, and shipped it half-way around the world to BrainRants.  He autographed it and added a dedication, and shipped it back Stateside.  It still reeks of camel shit, and desert sand sifts out when I hold it – AND I HOLD IT DEAR TO MY HEART!

So, this is the heart-high Yin, of the Yin and Yang creative and caring couple that we’re going to visit.  They’re each younger than our actual children, but maybe I might persuade them to adopt us.   😀  I forwarded photos of the entire clan, and haven’t heard of any vision or psychiatric problems, so here’s hoping.

DON’T SAY ANOTHER WORD!

Use the correct one.

They’re practicing English without a licence again. Hang onto your dictionaries and thesauruses, kids.

Grammar Nazi

Pros

something about her physiognomy which helped her beat the illness – here’s a two-bit writer, trying to use an eight-dollar word. Physiognomy is a face, or outer appearance, which some pretentious Brits tried to use, and failed, and shortened to ‘fizz.’  He wanted physiology, or inner construction.

In an article about expensive typos – Officials site a missing hyphen in the code – Even GrammarCheck insists that it is cite.

Same article – Enjoy these spelling mistakes from passed and present – What’s passed is past.

This section totes up a variety – to be totes honest, it tots (tawts) up a variety of errors, even though that word means totals, or adds.

It’s a tough road to hoe – and a row of angry gardeners with hoes, don’t know whether to blame a city works crew, a drugged-out old rocker, or the entertainment columnist who interviewed him.

She gave her heighth in centimetres. – You can give length and width, or even have an eighth, but it’s height,

He was the hooten and holleren champion – No, that was me hootin’ and hollerin’, because you can’t handle apostrophed abbreviations.

the kids’ “hot water challenge” has them dumping scolding water – and I’m scolding them for not using ‘scalding.’

Man wins the open sheath throw contest at the Highland games – Most Highland Game events were originally Army contests.  While still showcasing Scottish brute strength, this one though, began as a county fair display.  Originally using an agricultural implement to throw large bundles of harvested grain up onto a wagon, it is a sheaf throw contest, open to all contestants.  A pitchfork is used, rather than any edged tools/weapons, so there is no sheath, open or otherwise.

all those fellow suffers of the writing bug – How many sufferers of her second 80,000 word novel will there be?

The Norsemen made 4 journeys around 1000 BC – not an incorrect usage, as such, just a newspaper writer who made a 2000-year mistake by not knowing BC from AD.

Link bellow for descriptive video – This one, obviously, should be below.

Smoke had begun to bellow from the bow of the ship – No smart-ass comment – just billow.

The stunted trees are not like the soaring furs of the Cascades – These soaring furs better be worn by RuPaul, ‘cause the Cascades evergreens are firs.

I know that proofreaders are as extinct as dinosaurs, and spell/grammar-checkers won’t catch most of the incorrect homonyms, but, the above two examples are from two successful, well-known authors. I am dazed as to why/how they could use these incorrect terms, without noticing.  Data-entry transcribers are about as aware as earthworms, but didn’t an editor (whose job it is to notice these things) notice these things?

Amateurs

I saw the term being banded about – I know that bandied isn’t common, but ‘banded’ makes no sense.

I am defenetly sure – that you’re definitely wrong.

The best story teller is defiantly Jesus Christ. – Jesus Christ!  I’m definitely sure you’re related to defenetly.

Sue me yah shitty resuraunt
you’re food I don’t want –
Shut up, yah shitty language user
you’re just an English abuser.

but I won’t you to get used to it kinda not being there – And I want you to stop writing in hillbilly.

I just did a poppa wheelie with my bicycle – and yo’ momma wants you to pop a wheelie.

I opened the book to an unformiliar question. – Open a dictionary to ‘unfamiliar,’ which comes from the word, ‘family.’

other ways the homo Sidle maniac could think up – That homo, Sidle, became homicidal because of usage like this.

The government should release how stupid this is. – Why??  You don’t realize how stupid release sounds.

I don’t mean this as a depreciation – you should mean it as a deprecation, once you take the ’I’ out of it

the juggle is nature’s most biodiverse area – too diverse to juggle a SpellCheck, it’s a jungle out there.

The gold band was diamond-stubbed – and your attendance record at your English course was studded with absences.

everyone was present an (sic) accounted for – sic, sick, sick

Grainy was my favorite character on Beverly Hillbillies – That one explains itself.

I can understand why to some extinct. – I understand why dictionaries are extinct, to some extent.

Do things like these grate on your nerves??  Tell me about it!   😈

 

It’s All Newton’s Fault

I’m not talking about Sir Isaac Newton. I’m referring to Newton Minow, an American who was Director of the FCC during the Kennedy Era.  In 1961, he declared television to be a vast wasteland.  This irritated many within the industry, to the point that, the SS Minnow that washed up on Gilligan’s Island was named after him.

The cost of accessing this wasteland by cable continued to increase. About 12 years ago, we dumped cable, and went with satellite TV.  Satellite rates soon followed Cable rates.  Two years ago, when the wife’s mobility problems meant that she had trouble going down to the basement rec room to watch TV, we cut the satellite cable also.

Almost 50 years of marriage means that we have little new to talk about, so we relied on books to fill the excess time. OH!  WOW!  Last year’s list of 51 books, has increased this year to 57.

Jim Wheeler’s question about rereading books had me going back to reread some old Sci-Fi. I have quite an interest in time travel and temporal paradoxes. Note toward the bottom of the reread section, the time travel group.

pebble-in-the-sky

nemesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tunnel-in-the-sky

spacehounds-of-ipc

the-far-traveller

to-conquer-chaos

the-world-swappers

the-super-barbarians

 

armageddon-2419

the-outposter

starlight

the-dark-light-years

i-aleppo

the-world-at-the-end-of-time

renegade-of-time

serving-in-time

masters-of-time

time-raider-1-wartide

Continuing with the time travel theme, I recently bought and read

tales-of-the-time-scouts

I also purchased Book II, and will read it this year.

a-wanted-man

never-go-back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

personal                                                                                                        make-me

skeleton-coastghost-ship

treasure-of-khan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-judas-strainaltar-of-eden  the-last-oracle

devil-colony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-doomsday-key

the-emperors-tomb  the-jefferson-key

the-kings-deception

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-lincoln-myth

the-alexander-cipher the-exodus-quest

magic-breaks magic-shifts

all-the-rage hosts

fire-with-fire

crazy-english

And a couple from an up and coming author – not published yet, but look forward to them.
He’s Will Greany.

Blue On Blue

blue-on-blue

Domestic

Tank

locked-on threat-vector

command-authoritysupport-and-defend

guns-germs-and-steel  This one came highly recommended by BrainRants.

flesh-and-blood

the-crusades-from-beginning-to-end  Not what was promised.  Quite disappointing!

the-tau-ceti-agenda

hell-hath-no-fury

the-fold

robert-a-heinlein

free-short-stories-2013free-short-stories-2014

Now that you’ve spent all that time lookin’ at the pretty pitchurs, you won’t have time fer yer own readin’.  Sorry!

 

THE DAY I FELL DOWN

Lighthouse

Chantry Island lighthouse off Southampton Ontario

 

Did I lead a charmed life as an active, adventurous young boy?? Did I actually put enough preventive thought and safety planning into some of my more life-and-limb-threatening activities?  Or is it just that what was, to a horrified adult retrospect, not really that dangerous?

How did some of us ever survive to grow up? Most (but not all) of my questionable young antics involved getting high – I loved to climb things.  I have written of being 9 years old, and scrambling to the topmost branches of a mighty, old oak, located on the highest elevation in town.

When I entered my teens, a trusted friend and I often crossed the river on the arching steel support trusses, beneath the new bridge, ignoring the possible 50 foot plunge to the river below. In the summer by boat, and in the winter by walking across frozen lake ice, groups of us went to an island a mile offshore, and climbed to the top of the 100 foot lighthouse.

It is possible that large rocks, and chunks of logs got up the inner stairways, and accidently fell on the roof of the attached, unused, derelict, century-old storage shed.  When the caretakers bricked up the entrance and added a steel door with a stout padlock, I went around the back, and used the 1 ½ inch copper lightning-ground cable to reach the observation level.  Apparently, only to prove I could.  These were reconnaissance missions only – no bombing runs.  The view of a flat lake, whether liquid or frozen, isn’t really that spectacular.

In the early 1950s, what passed for the cognoscenti of our little town were all agog, waiting for the release of a book. A ‘famous writer’ from Toronto, 100 miles south, had researched 8 lighthouses in the north end of Lake Huron, including ours.  When the book finally arrived at the General Store, I managed to sneak a copy off the shelf, and quickly read what he’d written.

He said that, after climbing the circular metal stairway inside the lighthouse, the view from the top was magnificent…. only; our lighthouse had solid wooden floors every ten feet, for storage, with unrailed wooden stairs ascending from level to level, East to West, then North to South, etc.

I don’t know if he ever actually set foot on the island, or just did his research from the pub. It was the first time I caught an author lying to me.  Sadly, it wasn’t the last.

Alone, and with my friend’s help, I reached the top of many of the town’s public buildings. The arena was easy, but boring.  I got to the roof of one church, and the top of the bell-tower of another.  He and I sat on the roof of the three-storey bank building at the main intersection.  When his mother was late, and he was locked out of the second floor apartment in the building next to it, we scampered up the front and went in the balcony door, or up to the roof and down through the skylight.

The view from the top of the 120 foot water tower, next to the oak on the hill, was worth it. The climb was simple.  A steel ladder reached to within 10 feet of the ground, but was right beside the overflow pipe.  A foot placed here, and a grab there, and soon we were at the top.

It was so easy that my girlfriend caught us lurking near it one evening, as she walked to the library, and wanted to know what we were up to.  When we explained, she demanded to accompany us.  With him pulling and me providing a shoulder, we all soon enjoyed the lights in the town 5 miles away.  Crazy!

The day I fell down, I started with my feet firmly on the ground. I was in Grade 7, and returned to school after a September lunch break, to find a gaggle of boys surrounding a burly Grade 8 lad.  Slowing to eavesdrop on the conversation, I heard that he was bragging that he knew a way to make someone unconscious. ‘Bet you don’t!’ ‘I bet I do!’

To prove his claim, he needed a victim willing volunteer.  Why is everyone looking at me?  “Now you need to take a deep breath and hold it.  I’m gonna get behind you and give you a bear-hug, and squeeze you really, really hard.  Don’t forget to hold your breath!”

….and I woke up with my face embedded in the blacktop. My nose was bloody.  My lips, especially the top one, were swollen, and I’d lost a tiny chip off the corner of one front incisor.  None of us, me included, really thought this thing through, did we?

“Why did you let me fall down?” “Well, you didn’t collapse.”  “How could I?  You were holding me up.”  He’d set me down, but apparently my knees were locked.  Instead of winding up in a limp pile at his feet, (would that have been any better?) I had pitched forward, like the mighty oak up the street, plowing a furrow with my face.

Nowadays, I ingest an OxyContin, and take along a pillow if I have to wind down a window in the car. Surely none of you readers were as foolish as me.  Do you have a childhood escapade you wish to admit to?   😉

I Read You, Loud And Clear

For years, I averaged reading a book a week – about fifty a year. Two years ago, when I first listed what I’d read, there were only 31 books.  Last year’s list improved minimally, to 33.

When we moved into this house 15 years ago, we placed the TV and all attendant electronics in the finished Rec Room in the basement. The wife’s deteriorating mobility and bladder problems have meant that we haven’t watched more than 10 hours of TV together since last April/May.  That has led to an increase in my reading.  Below are what I read last year.  The year’s total ran to 46.

Eric Flint – Grantville Gazette VI

grantville gazette VI

David Weber/Linda Evans – Hells Gate

hells gate

Lee Child – Nothing To Lose – Gone Tomorrow – 61 Hours – Worth Dying For – The Affair

nothing to losegone tomorrow 61 hours

worth dying for    the affair

Clive Cussler – Golden Buddha – Trojan Odyssey – Sacred Stone – Lost City

golden buddha  trojan odyssey

sacred stone   lost city

James Rollins – Sandstorm – Map Of Bones – Black Order

sandstorm  map of bones black order

Greg Loomis – The Coptic Secret – Gates Of Hades

coptic secret gates of hades

Steve Berry – The Romanov Prophecy – The Alexandria Link – The Venetian Betrayal – The Paris Vendetta

the-romanov-prophecy-1 the alexandria link

the venetian betrayal the-paris-vendetta-1

Ilona Andrews – Magic Bites – Magic Burns – Magic Strikes – Magic Bleeds – Magic Rises – Magic Slays – Gunmetal Magic

magic bites magic burns magic strikes

magic-bleeds magic-rises

magic slays gunmetal-magic

John Ringo – Strands Of Sorrow

strands-of-sorrow

F. Paul Wilson – The Tomb – Legacies – Conspiracies

the tomb  legacies conspiracies

This is a series introduced to me by Ted, at SightsNBytes.  Thanx Ted!  There will be more in next year’s list.

Sharon Lee/Steve Miller – Saltation

Saltation

Larry Correia – Monster Hunter Nemesis

monster hunter nemesis

I read the paperback version of this, but the best photo I could download was the audiobook.

William C. Dietz – At Empire’s Edge

at empires edge

Tom Clancy – Against All Enemies – Dead Or Alive

against all enemies dead or alive

Like Monster Hunter, above, I read the softback version of Dead Or Alive, but picked up the photo of the CD version.

David Feldman – Why Don’t Cats Like To Swim ? (Imponderables)

why cats don't swim

Jonathon Sarfati – Refuting Evolution – Refuting Evolution II

Refuting Evolution Refuting Evolution 2

Tony Daniel – Guardian Of Night

guardian of night

William Manchester – A World Lit Only By Fire

a world lit only by fire

This was a book suggested by Jim Wheeler, as a research tool for the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.  It clearly lists the excesses and sins of the European Royalty and the Catholic Church hierarchy (They were often the same thing.), and justifies claims I made in my The Torture Of Faith post.

Bonaventure Des Perier – Cymbalum Mundi (The Noise of the World)

cymbalum mundi

I found this book mentioned in Manchester’s treatise, above.  Written about 1542, it sneaks around mentioning the same things as ‘World‘ does, because, at the time of writing, accusations of heresy or sedition could get you tortured and burned at the stake.

Robert A. Heinlein – The Door Into Summer

the door into summer

Still in my book collection, I hadn’t read this one for 30 or 40 years.  It’s always possible to get a new insight from Heinlein, so I re-read it.

Gordon R. Dickson – The Man From Earth

The man from earth

Another book from the ’60s.  A collection of 10 of Dickson’s short stories, written from ’52 to ’65.  This anthology was published in ’66.  I never read it then, but pulled it from a pile the son was getting rid of.

***

In past years I have proof-read about half of two novels, for two different authors.  This past year, I had the privilege of beta-reading (proof-reading, character and plot development suggestions) for two new authors.  There are no cover pictures because they have not been published yet, hopefully soon.

Tom Elias – Degree Of Separation

Moon

Sci-Fi mystery

Will Greaney – The Last Ride

Tank

Army mystery

Aside from my posts (Thank you!  Thank you!), what have you guys been reading?