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.

Not Mirror Image

Mirror

Words with two Meanings

1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Female…… Any part under a car’s hood.
Male….. The strap fastener on a woman’s bra.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Female…. Fully opening up one’s self emotionally to another.
Male….. Playing football without a cup.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Female… The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one’s partner.
Male… Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip with the boys.

4. COMMITMENT (ko- mit-ment) n.
Female….. A desire to get married and raise a family.
Male…… Trying not to hit on other women while out with this one.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Female…. A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male…… Anything that can be done while drinking beer.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Female…. An embarrassing by-product of indigestion.
Male…… A source of entertainment, self-expression, male bonding.

7 MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Female…… The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve.
Male….. Call it whatever you want, just as long as we do it.

8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Female… A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Male… A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.

AND . . .

He said… I don’t know why you wear a bra; you’ve got nothing to put in it.
She said….You wear pants don’t you?

He said….Shall we try swapping positions tonight?
She said… That’s a good idea – you stand by the ironing board while I sit on the sofa and fart!

He said….. What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?
She said ….Turn sideways and look in the mirror!

He said…. Why are married women heavier than single women?
She said…..Single women come home, see what’s in the fridge and go to bed.
Married women come home, see what’s in bed and go to the fridge.

😳

 

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.

Fun With One-Liners

Comedy

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….
….It

I began speed reading, and last night I read “The Da Vinci Code” in 15 minutes….
….I know it’s only 4 words, but it’s a start

How do you make headlines?….
….with corduroy pillows

Police arrested two teenagers today. One was drinking battery acid. The other was eating fireworks….
….They charged one, and let the other off.

I was going to start up an Apathy Anonymous support group….
….then I thought, Why bother?

I’m trying to come up with a Theatre pun….
….but it would just be a play on words.

I’m not stubborn….
….my way is just better

What’s the most reactive fish in the ocean….
….2NA

What’s brown and sticky?….
….a stick

As a kid, I was made to walk the plank….
….because we couldn’t afford a dog

I have a pet tree….
….kinda like having a pet dog, but the bark is quieter.

I hate those new parents who do all that baby talk….
….Yes I do! Yes I do!

As a scarecrow, people say I’m outstanding in my field….
….but hay, it’s in my jeans

I went into a pet shop and said I’d like to buy a goldfish. The clerk said, “Do you want an aquarium?”….
….I said I didn’t care what star sign it was

My boss told me that I intimidate my co-workers….
….so I just stared at him until he apologized

I love telling Dad jokes….
….He loves them

There are so many scams on the internet these days….
….For $19.95 I can show you how to avoid them

It’s okay, Password….
….I’m insecure too

I went to a can crushing convention….
…seeing all that metal destroyed was just soda pressing

Christmas always sucked when I was a kid….
….I believed in Santa Claus, but unfortunately, so did my parents

I’ll never forget the last thing my Grandpa said to me….
….are you still holding the ladder?

I saw two blind people fighting. I said, “I’m rooting for the one with the knife.”….
….they both ran away.

I invited my math teacher to my house. I told her to get here at ten past one….
….so she turned up at eleven.

I know it’s you going around stealing enclosures….
….whether I’m right or wrong, please don’t take a fence.

I told my friend that I was selling my car….
….he didn’t buy it.

 

Fun With Lawyers

Lawyer

THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HATE ATTORNEYS

These are from a book called “Disorder in the Court” and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm and straight-faced while the exchanges were taking place.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?

WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

______________________________ ______

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?

WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

______________________________ ______

ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?

WITNESS: July 18th.

ATTORNEY: What year?

WITNESS: Every year.

______________________________ _______

ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?

WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.

ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?

WITNESS: Forty-five years.

______________________________ _ _________

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his

sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?

WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

______________________________ ______

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

WITNESS: He’s 20, very close to your IQ.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS: Are you shitting me?

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?

WITNESS: Yes.

ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?

WITNESS: Getting laid.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?

WITNESS: Yes.

ATTORNEY: How many were boys?

WITNESS: None.

ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

WITNESS: Your Honor, I need a different attorney. Can I get a

new attorney?

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS: By death.

ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

WITNESS: Take a guess.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.

ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.

______________________________ _______

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant

to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?

WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

______________________________ ________

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you

performed on dead people?

WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: ALL of your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school

did you attend?

WITNESS: Oral.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?

WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM.

ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?

WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?

______________________________ ________

ATTORNEY: Just what did you do to prevent the accident?

WITNESS: I closed my eyes and screamed as loud as I could.

____________________________ __________

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you

check for a pulse?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you

began the autopsy?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive,

nevertheless?

WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and

practicing law.

***

2017 Books Read

That title is a calendar reference, not mathematical. I did not read two thousand and seventeen books – I’ve probably read twice that many in my lifetime – just not all last year.

With the daughter’s power wheel chair missing, the wife’s two knee replacement surgeries, more visits to more doctors, and the discovery of yet another crossword puzzle site, my book reading fell off significantly. From 51 books in last year’s post, I was down to about 25 in 2017.

I also reread a few old sci-fi books that I didn’t count, and a few on the list are 700/800 page – one even 1200 page – super-books, the equivalent of 2 or 3 books each. Here’s what occupied some of my time

Charles E. Gannon -Commander Cantrell In The West Indies

1636 Commander Cantrell in the West Indies

Another in the ‘1632’ series about a modern Tennessee town transported back in time, and how the inhabitants struggle to survive, both politically and literally.  Sadly, it’s all alternate history, and no real action, just a reason to sell another 800-page blah book.

Mark Greany – The Grey Man – On TargetOn Target

The Gray Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the ghost writers for the now-deceased Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Jr. series, this author has one of his own action series about an ex-CIA assassin, forced to go independent.

Tom Clancy’s – Full Force And Effect – On Target

Full Force And EffectUnder Fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Clancy’s name is the one that still attracts readers, but Mark Greaney and Grant Blackwood are two of 3 or 4 contract writers who pump them out.

Lee Child – Night School

Night School

After four years, I’m caught up.  It has been a most enjoyable series.  There will be one more Jack Reacher book this year, one more Dan Brown novel, and one more Ilona Andrews ‘Magic’ book in 2018.

Ilona Andrews – Magic Binds

Magic Binds

I got out of ‘Magic’ Sci-Fi about 30 years ago, but this series has lots of diverse character and plot development, thought and planning, and action.

Steve Perry – Patriot Threat

The Patriot Threat

A Dan Brown type of author, with a wide range of plot ideas, very enjoyable, but with just not quite the same OOMPH.

James Rollins – Blood Line – The Eye Of God

Blood Line

The Eye Of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like Steve Perry, above, a good, solid action/adventure author.

Clive Cussler – Plague Ship

Plague Ship

While not dead, like Clancy, Cussler is old enough that he is co-writing with his son Dirk, and a couple of other commercial writers, as well as establishing the story arc and parameters, and letting them loose.

Will Adams – The Lost Labyrinth

The Lost Labyrinth

A fresh young writer who isn’t likely to die before I do.  His books (so far) are about action and intrigue around Middle Eastern archeological sites.

E.E. (Doc) Smith – Subspace Encounter

Subspace Encounter

A re-read that I downloaded a cover for.  I also re-read his ‘Skylark’ series, The Skylark of Space, Skylark Three, Skylark of Valeron, and Skylark Duquesne.  This year I hope to re-read all 12 of his ‘Family D’Alembert’ series.  While not as prolific as Isaac Asimov, Doc still pumped out almost 50 novels in four different series.

E.C. Tubb – Earth Is Heaven – Melome – Angado – Symbol Of Terra

Earth Is HeavenMelome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AngadoSymbol of Terra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost this series about 20 years ago, after reading the first 26 episodes.  I recently thought of it again, and found that there were seven more available on Kindle.  The original author wrote to number 31 before he died.  He left notes for novel number 32, which his estate hired another commercial writer to assemble.  The story arc almost got the hero home to Earth, so he wrote a happily-ever-after finale to this epic tale.  I read four of them in 2017, and plan to finish the other three this year.

James S. A. Corey – Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes

Recommended by BrainRants, this is the first of five books, being made into a television series on SYFY, which I can’t get here in Canada.  The hero ‘acquires’ a slightly outdated destroyer spaceship, and renames it Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse, establishing the whole ’tilting at windmills’ flavor of the story.

Robert Asprin/Linda Evans – Tales Of The Time Scouts II

Tales of the Time Scouts II

Another adventure into the paradoxes of time travel.  This is actually 800 pages of two related stories in one (large) book.

Thomas Cathcart/Daniel Klein – Plato And A Platypus Walk Into A Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

Another recommended book, although, with apologies, I can’t remember the nice gentleman’s name.  (Stand up Sign in and take a bow.)  This one explores the philosophy and psychology of jokes and humor.  I can’t find its companion, ‘Aristotle And An Aardvark Go To Washington’ in Canada.  I’ll wait till the next time we order something from Amazon, and add it to the order to get free shipping.

Well, that’s (more than) enough about me.  Besides my output, what did you read last year??