Book Review #19

Paradox Bound

Paradox Bound

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. Oh, wait – I already published that, here.

Are you folks ready for some social and political commentary and satire?? Well, seat belt in. Here we go.

The book – Paradox Bound

The author – Peter Clines

The review – IN THE BEGINNING, was the United States of America. The founding fathers had a dream, a dream of what they had created, a dream of what it could be, a dream of what they wanted it to be. They wanted their dream to be real, solid, physical. Being (mostly) good Christians, they prayed to the Egyptian god Ptah.

Ptah’s father was an older, greater god. Ptah was a carpenter. He died, and came back to life after three days. Maybe they never noticed the difference – or the similarities. Ptah created a real, physical dream for them. It was stored in a safe place…. then one day, the dream was gone – Lost? Stolen? Went to North Korea with some crazy basketball player and forgot to come back?

Most Americans didn’t notice, or didn’t care, but there were many who did care, and they became the Searchers. 48 men had been created with no faces, only plastic Halloween masks. The faceless men’s mission had been to protect the Dream, but when it disappeared, they only protected their own existence. Their greatest strength was “Certainty.” They knew everything around them. They mined the almost 250 years of records of the entire United States. They hunted down and killed any Searcher who might re-establish the old status quo. These faceless bookkeepers were The Bureaucrats.

Is any of this roman a clé beginning to feel familiar? As a Canadian, it took me a few chapters.

Since this entire story is about the United States, there is no “Time” Travel, only about 250 years of History Travel. Like the Back To The Future movies, a vehicle is required. No speed is needed, only the ability to navigate the slick spaces on the roads and trails of America, to slide from one period or era, to another. Travel up-time beyond 2036 is impossible. If The Dream is not recovered and re-installed by then, American history will unravel, and the world will exist without all the wonderful things it has created.

Older vehicles were preferred, because they were stronger, and simpler, able to be repaired with a hammer, pliers and some string, if they broke down. Horse and wagons were mentioned, but usually early 20th century technology was chosen. The author mentions an Indian motorcycle, and apparently John Henry was a real person, riding the rails in a train he assembled himself.

The writer seems to love classic automobiles. He has different characters riding around in a 1929 Ford Model A Business Coupe, a 1940 Cadillac Sixty Special in factory Oxblood Maroon, a 1953 Hudson Hornet, a 1958 Edsel Corsair, a 1961 Ford Fairlane, a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, a 1969 Ford Mustang, a 1970 Dodge Lancer, a 1975 Dodge Dart Sport, and a 1978 Chrysler Newport. Without specific dates, he also mentions ‘tail-finned‘ Cadillacs, which would be from about 1953 to 1960.

Tailfin Cadillac

Since Ptah’s spell only covers the USA, all vehicles must be “American steel.” As an ex-autoworker, I know of American workers, assembling cars in the U.S. with parts produced in Canada, made from German or Pakistani steel. I guess when they cross the border, and get paid for with greenbacks; they become “American.”

Our hero and heroine are the ones driving the ’29 Model A. The author doesn’t know as much about old cars as he lets on. At one point, they make a run for the car. She whips open the passenger door, and “slides across the rumble seat.” I had a mental image of Starsky (or was it Hutch?) sliding across a smooth hood. You don’t do that with a rumble seat! There’s a large, protruding, steel T-handle that could ruin your whole weekend.

SDC10136

There’s the T-Handle that you wouldn’t”t want to slide across.

SDC10135

This car had the ‘rumble seat’ removed, so that the space could be used as a small trunk.

After a few more pages, he began to use the terms ‘bench seat’ and ‘rumble seat’ interchangeably. (Click above) A rumble seat is exterior to the small, enclosed passenger compartment of a coupe. It’s like a small trunk, set on the sloping rear deck, that opens to an exposed, upholstered, double seat.

It must be confusing for the History Travelers, to have the paradox of speaking to a person that they have never met, yet who has known them for years of their time-line – to speak to someone they’ve watched die – to observe the same occurrence from two – or three – different perspectives – and get it.

The ultimate paradox was that, since the Searchers had been trying to find the American Dream through 250 years of history, chronologically, the Dream hid itself, in 1963, so that they could all achieve their dream of locating it. It was never really ‘lost.’

the-fold

I liked Cline’s The Fold novel last year, about parallel time-lines. Despite its ‘Made In America’ plot line, I really liked this one too. I rate it two cheeseburgers. I’d give it three, but I’m trying to lose some weight again (still). 🌯 Tell me what you’re reading.

Time Travel

I read about time travel. I am intrigued by the paradoxes of time travel. I just LOoove time travel…. except when Daylight Saving Time rolls around. Remember, tonight’s the night. At 2:00 AM, we need to turn all our clocks back one hour, to 1:00 AM. Then we get an extra hour of sleep. (Sure we do. We just party an hour longer.) We’ll probably spend that extra hour trying, and failing, and cursing, to turn all the clocks and watches in the house, back. Thank the mystical gods of silicon, that computers, tablets and the like, are smarter than we are, and do this automatically.

For those who are as chronologically challenged as I am, I have obtained a graphic to aid you with this task.

Daylight time

I hope this helps. I’ll see you tomorrow…. or was that yesterday??! 😳

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.  🙂

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? 😕

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.

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??