Book Review #19

The Psychology Of Time Travel

The Book – The Psychology of Time Travel

The Author– Kate Mascarhenas (?)

The Review – Let’s start with the author’s name. It’s really Kate Flynn, but the name on the cover is Mascarhenas. That comes from the same base as ‘mask’, and ‘mascara.’ It’s a Portuguese-language nom de plume, which means “nom de plume.”

In the book, she includes the words ‘quango’ and ‘lanugo,’ neither common, even in Britain. They are valid English words, but seem as if they should be peeking out of a Romance language, like Spanish, or Italian. I’ll properly introduce you to them later.

This is a book – by a woman – for women – about women. It includes the description of an 8-year-old girl’s birthday party, where, “Her blonde ringlets hung down to the tops of her puffed sleeves, and her lacy skirt stood out straight to the side whenever she twirled around, which she did, a lot.”

The story is inhabited almost entirely by females. The only men who show up, are a male police detective and a journalist, who provide information and clues to the young woman investigating a locked-door murder.

The British authoress works in a commentary on racist attitudes in England. Our hardy, mixed-race investigator came to England as a child, from the Seychelles Islands, where she viewed herself as white. Having recently graduated University as an Engineer, she is working for the time-travel Conclave as a volunteer, but the female police constable who interviews her, regards her as colored, and assumes that she is the cleaning woman.

As usual, I was hoping for some temporal paradoxes to be solved, or some Back To The Future III suspense and manoeuvring, to prevent them. Didn’t happen! I was not surprised to not be given, even a vague hint, at how the time-travel process was accomplished, but it was invented by four women.

As a linguist, I was pleased to read that the process was powered by a newly-discovered, transuranic element called Atroposium, aptly-named after Atropos, the Greek Goddess who cut the thread of fate of mortals’ lives. Apparently the stuff was so safe and stable that it could be carried around in charcoal briquette-sized lumps, wrapped in lead foil.

While not described or explained, the time-travel process is so simple that it is used to produce a child’s toy, a Rubik’s-cube-sized box with a hole in the top. Children put candy in, and it disappears, only to return a minute later. What would happen if they stuck their finger in?

The “psychology” of the title is really just the mental stress felt by (female) time-travellers, caused by experiencing history in a non-linear way. Travelling to the past, they meet people that they know are dead. Travelling to the future, the see death certificates and gravestones for people they know are alive.

The detective/heroine goes back several times, to visit her father, who died when she was young. To her, the visits are weeks, or months, apart. I see, from his perspective, that she shows up twice the same afternoon, or on successive days. This grown woman is not his 8-year-old daughter. ‘Go away lady, you’re bothering me.’

I was expecting nothing when I ordered this book, and that’s what I got. No real time travel. No real psychology. It’s a good thing that I got it for free from the library. It had all the panache of a ‘Nurse Jane’ romance novel, full of ‘feelings.’ I feel disappointed and let down. I feel that I’ll need to read and review something with a little more OOMPH. Stay tuned; I’ll see you later.  🙂

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Three – Two – One-liners

Comedy

When you’re down by the sea
and an eel bites your knee….
….that’s a moray

Life without music….
….would b Flat

Decaf coffee is depresso

Reading while sunbathing….
….makes you, well, red

I had a Wookie steak last night….
….It was a little Chewy

Don’t let anyone call you average….
….That’s just mean

Kleptomaniacs always take things….
….literally

Huge fight at the local seafood diner….
….battered fish everywhere

Last week my doctor told me that I was going deaf….
….I haven’t heard from him since

Try resistance training….
….Refuse to go to the gym.

Whenever I feel blue….
….I start breathing again

I named my IPod Titanic….
….It’s synching now

The four seasons are all different….
….Summer warmer than others

A book hit my head….
….and I’ve only my shelf to blame

Bad puns….
….That’s how eye roll

Looking back….
….I really hurt my neck

If you are in it up to your ears….
….keep your mouth shut

Police toilet stolen!….
….Cops have nothing to go on.

Shenanigans….
….because life is more fun when you’re up to something

Can’t get up to vote?….
….You may have electile dysfunction

Do people in Australia….
….call the rest of the world ‘Up Over?’

I can’t believe it’s been a year…
….since I didn’t become a better person

I don’t have a Fit-Bit….
….but I do have some fat bits

’19 A To Z Challenge – E

 

Letter E

AtoZ2019

 

Canada’s entertainment has (almost) caught up to the USA’s.

First, we dumped cable TV, as content deteriorated, and prices soared. Later we ditched satellite TV, when their charges approached Cable’s. We have YouTube as part of our internet package. The wife signed up for Netflix – considerably cheaper than either of the other two. Later, she enrolled in Amazon Prime, which not only gives us advantages with the increasing number of things that we purchase online, but provides another cheap platform for videos.

I watched episodes of Babylon 5 on TVs in Detroit hotels, five years before it became available on Canadian television. About 3 years ago BrainRants made me aware of an epic series, on SyFy in the US. We couldn’t access it here, but I began reading the 7-book series about The

Leviathan Wakes

Expanse

I have read the first three books, with the 4th on order. Each book becomes a year’s series. So far, the first 3 seasons are available on Amazon Prime. Pleasantly, the wife finds that she likes it. We have watched though the first season, and into the second. They are big, 700-page books. I’d better get reading, to stay ahead of the Canadian video releases.

Are there any other sci-fi fans out there, also watching this series? What do you think of it? Many TV series, including science fiction are consecutive; what happens in this week’s episode occurs after what happened in last week’s, but usually has no direct connection. This series, like many European series, is sequential. There are some flashbacks, but you can’t miss an episode, or you don’t understand what’s happening next.

I am ecstatic that I finally get to watch The Expanse. Thanx Rants! 😀

Book Review #17

Dark Matter

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. In my list of books read in 2016, I included several time-travel novels. More recently, my Book Review #16 – The Whenabouts of Burr, was not really about time travel, but a voyage across parallel, but slightly different versions of Earth.

I recently read another alternate Earth novel. It was

The book: Dark Matter

The author: Blake Crouch

The review: This book is also about alternate Earths/Universes. The narrator is a man who might have been a great physicist, married to a woman who might have been a great artist. Instead, he is a university science professor, and she runs a graphic design studio out of their home, as they raise a beloved 10-year-old son.

He is kidnapped by Himself from a parallel existence, who never married or had a family, but instead invented/designed a device to make this transposition possible. He is thrust into the other’s frenetic life, while the imposter takes over his peaceful existence.

The ‘Burr’ book makes inter-dimensional travel possible by an electronic device that limits which realities are available. It is largely a discussion about social and political alternatives – USA vs. Russia vs. China – disguised in a roman a cléf.

This book is about infinity, quantum entanglement, and the definitions of ‘reality.’ The device is mostly an elevator-car-sized sensory deprivation chamber, because quantum theory says that merely observing an action, changes the outcome. Essentially, the traveller becomes Schrödinger’s cat. He got some help from a biologist friend who developed a serum that shuts down the section of the brain that accepts the remaining input.

Instead of electronic controls, where you end up when you open the door is controlled by the psyche, the subconscious. You go where you unconsciously want or feel to go. It takes him several months, in and out of the box, to train his mind to return to where he started from.

Just when the reader thinks that it is “Happily Ever After” time, the writer throws another curve-ball at reality. While there is only one ‘his world’, and ‘his wife’, and ‘his son’ to return to, decisions that he made during the months that he was gone, caused other versions of him to split off, and 110 of them return, most of them ready to kill to get the prize. How do you surprise, outthink, and win out over yourself??

I found that this was a great, thought-provoking Science Fiction novel, about something that may become science fact in the all-too-near future. What are you reading? 😕

’18 A To Z Challenge – Z

Letter ZChallenge '18

 

Zat’s it folks. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but I’m going to close out this year’s A To Z Challenge, with another word that doesn’t exist. I’m gonna call you a

Zwilnick

When a writer, particularly a science-fiction author, wishes to present a different culture, and needs words or phrases, it’s often easiest to choose and disguise one that already exists here on Earth.

In the Battlestar Galactica movie and TV series, the word for a long time period was ‘Jahren.’ In German, the word for year is jahr. Most German words which are plural, end in ‘en,’ but jahr is an exception. It means both ‘year,’ and ‘years.’ Jahren sounds German, but isn’t quite.

When E. E. (Doc) Smith wrote his Lensman series, he identified the bad guys as Zwilnicks. He even has one of the characters ask, “Why are they Zwilnicks? We call them Zwilnicks. They even call themselves Zwilnicks.” It sounds like it might be German, or Polish, but it’s just the imaginative invention of a great Sci-Fi writer.

The Star Wars universe introduced us to the planet Naboo, which may be a takeoff on Nauvoo (Illinois), one of the birthplaces of Mormon, a silly little Christian sect that promises each of its followers, an entire planet – like Naboo?? – when they die. Its original Human settlers arrived on it by accident, and it shows what a planet would look like if it were settled completely by Hindu Indians.

I am dismayed and disappointed at the number of Star Wars fanatics who refer to the ruler of the planet as ‘Padmé Amidala.’ I watched the movie (and paid attention.) She introduced herself clearly, giving both her name, and her title. She is Padmé Nabaré – Queen Amidala, – in the same way that the leader of the Catholic Church is Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis.

In the ‘60s, the Walt Disney television show expanded, what was to be a single episode, into a three-show arc, about a 20ish Mexican beggar/grown-up street urchin, named Elfego Baca. Later language study revealed that the initial V in a word like that is pronounced like a B in Spanish, so that “Baca” is actually “Vaca.” Vaca translates to ‘calf,’ and ‘elfego’ means flatulence. I believe that some of the Spanish-speaking writers slipped one over on the English-speaking producers and audience, and aired a “Disney” show about a Chicano, derisively nicknamed ‘Calf Farts.’

That’s all the alphabetic challenge for last/this year, in English, or any other language, real or imagined. Tune in again in a couple of weeks, and see me meander down some strange lanes with the 2019 version.

Ahhh, I managed to survive another year.  Here’s to the next one!  😀

A To Z - Survivor

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. 😀

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.