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.

Flash Fiction #162

Robbie Robot

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON

I hid out in my barbershop on the mezzanine, but I didn’t hear any screams, so I sneaked out.  “Is it gone?”, I asked the fellow beside me at the rail.  “Is it really The Day The Earth Stood Still, I heard that there was a hundred-foot robot stalking the mall, shooting laser beams, and it zapped some poor woman.”

“You don’t get out much, do you, Mr. Conspiracy Theory?  It’s just the security drone. Have you never seen it, too dumb to even sidestep the fountain?  That’s gonna take a lot of paper towels.  I hope the warrantee’s valid.”

AmphiRobot

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction #155

Xanadu

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

XANADU

Who would have believed that Shangri-La would be located in the Black Hills of South Dakota?? Certainly not him, before he began his research.  The friends he’d been foolish enough to tell, all laughed at him.

Year by year the threads all came together, directly over this little peak. This was his third summer expedition, and he’d finally found a trail.  He remembered all the clues that claimed it could not be found or reached.

Proceeding carefully but confidently, suddenly this thing waddled out…. Was it an animal, a robot, an alien??  Perhaps he wouldn’t reach Shangri-La after all.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

SkyNet Is Postponed

Terminator

Despite the hard labors of a lot of capable people, who work their neurons to the bone(head), A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), the SkyNet that so many people already fear, will still be some time coming.  There are a few little kinks and quirks to be ironed out.

AmphiRobot

The above photo is a screen capture from a mall security camera. What might look like a splashed-down North Korean nuclear nose-cone in a mall fountain, is actually a semi-autonomous security robot.  It’s a kind of flightless drone, with wheels, rather than wings; really, just an overgrown Roomba with a few upgrades, mindlessly ricocheting off all obstacles, human and otherwise, while constantly, wirelessly sending CCTV images back to a monitor in a security office.

One lady Apple worker from Cupertino, wanted to dance with one in San Francisco. The mere presence of these things makes people feel safe and happy.  This one just didn’t receive enough upgrades though.  Someone forgot to download the ‘@Walking On Water’ app.  It’s a good thing that it didn’t manage to bumble out the mall’s front doors.  It probably would have been run down by a self-driving car that swerved to avoid a plastic shopping bag, swirling in the wind.

They’re built by a company with the sinister name of Knightscope, evoking the thought of ‘night vision devices’. “We can see you, and know what you’re doing, even in the dark.” Our not-so-little belly flopper is Model K7.  It/they still have a long way to go, before they’re the equal of another Knight Industries self-aware vehicle, with a K-model number – the Knight Industries Two Thousand, K.I.T.T. car of TV’s Knight Rider.

😆

 

Criminal Assholed

Grammar Nazi

Alas, poor English language, so assaulted and insulted. You are misspoken, misheard, mispronounced, misunderstood, misspelled, miswritten, misprinted, misrepresented, misused, abused, confused.

The following are only a few of the ways that the more (or less) erudite have mangled the mother tongue recently, some of them professionally. We start with a couple of bloggers who felt the need to include their own definitions.

may the peace of the garden bewith you – Bewith, a word meaning – enchant, enlighten curiously

I think she was trying to define bewitch. Be with is two words, which mean ‘to enter your heart, soul or mind, and remain there.”  The next blogger defined….

gomble – a large risk with no guarantee of success  I’ll gamble that his Spellchecker doesn’t work.  Then on to….

My brain shut down oredi this week – and I’m already pissed that you mumble when you listen.

a still toddering child – toddling? tottering? They’re just making these up as they go.

we are directed, neigh commanded – A horse’s mouth neighs.  A horse’s ass doesn’t know that it’s nay.

My friend became a little two comfortable – because it takes more than one to make that mistake.

an interesting little trieste – in a treatise by a pretentious writer

Jack DeBrul, writing as Clive Cussler – was an instant from firing, before adjusting his site picture.  Stop web-surfing Jack, and see the sights.  He had an old fishing boat – held together with duct tape and bailing wire.  When bailing boats, use a bucket.  Only use wire when baling hay . Later in the story, he had a character ride a motorcycle and – swiftly turn the wheel to avoid a collision.  A steering wheel – on a motorcycle??  Maybe he needs to do that computer research!

choose to lye with the same sex – Ow!  That would smart – If only the writer was.

I remember when Cypress was ‘The War of the Week’ – I remember when Cypress was a large tree, and Cyprus was where Canadian peacekeeping troops went.

The Toronto Sun says ‘Toronto Mayor is not board at council meetings.’ – He looks more like a brick, but I’m bored.

They alluded authorities for weeks – and the correct word eluded the writer.

Dictionary

It never seizes to amaze me – that people don’t know that it’s “ceases to amaze me.”

A Toronto bus driver was punched in the face – over a fair dispute.  I wonder how hard he’d have been punched if it were a serious dispute – over a fare?

I corrected a blogger who published ‘low and behold.’  Damn you Autocorrect, which doesn’t know about ‘lo and behold.’

swallowed chick eyed as slight-of-hand trick – You made a slight mistake!  The phrase is, sleight-of-hand.

Serena ‘pushes the envelope’ with bare midriff, naval ring, – Hello sailor, new in town? – and then wore it in her navel.

Russian fishermen rescued from broken ice float – I’ll float the idea that it was a floe (not a flow).

the likely hood of a revolution – There’s a likelihood SpellCheck didn’t catch this.

Christmas is passed – No, no, laws are passed.  Christmas is past.

an undo emphasis on building walls – Undo your dictionary, and look up undue.

a homeless guy was stabbed in the juggler – by who, a Clown?

murder in disabaled daughter’s death – Another newspaper headline typo that proves that the last proof-reader, like the last dinosaur, is long extinct.

I think I’m ovary acting about this – Then you can’t be Chris/Caitlyn Jenner.

We find are selves back at square one – We should find ourselves back at that dictionary.

A Cambodian student has invented a robot to diffuse landmines.  With 10 million of them in his country, I think they’re diffused enough.  It stabilises the detonator and cuts it out….oh, it defuses landmines.

Crossword clue, cul-de-sac = alley.  No, no!  Alley narrow, open at both ends.  Cul-de-sac wide, closed at one end.  Crossword editor lazy – stupid – pissing me off!

Not an error, but in a recent post I wrote Superbowl as one word, instead of Super Bowl. SpellCheck offered me ‘Superb owl’ as an alternative.  I wish I owned a superb owl.  It could have watched me laugh till I almost peed myself in the dark.

 

Never Satisfied

The employees of a small local firm became more and more upset, as the plant aggressively became totally automated.  Robots, conveyor systems, self-controlled machines, it all got installed.  Finally The Day came, and all the workers were called into the cafeteria.

The boss confirmed their worst fears, and the moaning started.  “No, no, don’t worry.  You guys have all stood up for me and the company when we needed it.  I’m not going to forget you.  It’s like a divorce.  I’ll continue to pay you today’s salary, until you get another job.  Some of you are old enough; I’ll pay you till you officially retire.”

Smiles and cheers, Yay Boss!  “The only thing is, I can’t legally pay you for nothing.  The plant’s not Totally automated.  We still get some snail-mail, the automatic oilers need to be topped up, the floors and machines will get dusty, and the windows will need cleaning.  What say we get together for a half a day each week?  Everybody wants Fridays off, and nobody wants to work Mondays.  If you get Friday and Monday off, Tuesdays and Thursdays might be a problem.  Let’s get together on Wednesdays, not too early.  We’ll work from ten till two, and be done till next week.”

And a whiny voice from the back says, “What, every Wednesday??!”

White Lady Special

A classroom of small children, half white, and half black, found out that the Teacher’s birthday was the following day, so they unanimously decided to buy her a gift.  All the white children chipped on a dollar each, to buy their gift, but the black kids could only afford a few meager cents apiece.

On her birthday, she found two presents on her desk.  When she opened the first, she was surprised to find a beautiful pair of leather gloves and a silk scarf.  When she opened the other, she was alarmed to find a beautiful chocolate cake, but bearing the letters F. U. C. K. on top.  Bewildered, she cried out, “Who could be so cruel as to put such a horrible word on this lovely cake?”

The little children answered, “Heck Teacher, that’s not FUCK, that’s      F rom   U s   C  olored   K ids!”

Business Practices

TO:  ALL EMPLOYEES

SUBJECT:  ABSENCES

It has been brought to my attention, that the attendance record of this department is a disgrace to our gracious benefactor, who, at your own request, has given you a job.  Due to your lack of consideration for your job with so fine a company, as shown by such frequent absenteeism, it has become necessary for us to revise some of our policies.  The following changes are in effect as of today;

SICKNESS

NO EXCUSE….we will no longer accept your doctor’s statement as proof, as we believe that, if you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

DEATH

(Other than your own)  This is no excuse.  There is nothing you can do for them, and we are sure someone else with a lesser position can attend to the arrangements.  However, if the funeral can be held in the late afternoon, we will be glad to let you off work one hour early, provided that your share of the work is done far enough ahead to keep the job going in your absence.

LEAVE OF ABSENCE

(For an operation)  We are no longer allowing this practice.  We wish to discourage any thoughts that you may need an operation, as we believe that, as long as you are an employee here, you will need all of whatever you have, and you should not consider having any of it removed.  We hired you as you are, and to have anything removed would certainly make you less then we bargained for.

DEATH

(Your own)  This will be accepted as an excuse, but we would like a two-week notice, as we feel that it is your duty to teach someone else your job.

Also; entirely too much time is being spent in the restroom.  In the future, we will follow the practice of going to the restroom in alphabetical order.  For instance, those whose names begin with “A” will go from 8:00 to 8:15, “B” will go from 8:15 to 8:30, and so on.  If you are unable to go at your assigned time, it will be necessary to wait until the next day, when your time comes.