Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson

Filed under:Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on May 17, 2020 @ 12:29 pm

Red Moon is an adventure story of two people thrown together and running for their freedom.

Fred Fredericks is an American businessman who sells secure quantum communications equipment. He flew to the Moon to meet with a Chinese gentleman who is poisoned during the meeting. The Chinese man was killed during the meeting and Fred detained by Chinese authorities.

The other is Chan Qi, the pregnant daughter of a rich and influential Chinese politician that leads the finance ministry. She is also taken by the authorities for her ideals about returning power in Chine to the people from the Communist party.

From here, it turns into an adventure story taking the two from the Moon to Hong Kong and back to the Moon. They survive by their wits, Qi’s friends and some unknown influences.

I found the book enjoyable up to the end where several plot points didn’t sit well with me.

First, the whole situation was explained by a US government agent who appeared and, after enabling their rescue, felt the need to explain what was going on.

Second, a woman who didn’t know the aforementioned agent, listened to an explanation of how the two (Fred and Qi) were to be extradited, they were rescued, someone is trying to kill them and then accepted the story and agree to cooperate without asking any questions or worrying about her own life.

Third, the story ended too soon. They escaped the Moon a second time in a programmed ship with no idea where they were heading. It felt like little was resolved, although there is plenty of information to find your own resolution.

I enjoyed the book, it is told well, the writing is enjoyable, but the end felt weak.

Successful Business Analysis Consulting: Strategies and Tips for Going It… by Karl Wiegers

Filed under:Technical — posted by Randolph on April 13, 2020 @ 5:51 pm

Karl is an excellent author, making things easy to understand and follow. When you read his work, you can hear him speaking to you, he writes very much the way he speaks.

I only read selective chapters of this book, but I got from it what I expected to learn. In those sections he addressed issues relative to writing. Everything form organization, topic selection, editing and publishing. The rest of the book may yet be beconing to me.

Transformation by Carol Berg

Filed under:Fantasy,Series — posted by Randolph on April 9, 2020 @ 1:48 pm

Transformation is a fantasy novel about the relationship between a contemptuous and overbearing prince, Aleksander, on his way to becoming emperor, and his slave, Seyonne. The story is told from the Seyonne’s point of view.

Carol slowly builds the character of Seyonne. At the start of the book, he lives solely in the present, his past repressed or forgotten, the future irrelevant. It becomes apparent that he has some special abilities to recognize or see things others cannot. His magic was taken from him in a ritual when he was captured. He had been a Warden, a man with some magical abilities skilled at fighting demons.

The early story of the slave is very graphic and, for me, difficult to read. It deals with punishment, his attitude on survival and his slave past. At the same time, Aleksander sees him only as property and a tool. He things nothing of withholding food or punishing Seyonne.

Once he starts seeing things, his tie to Aleksander become stronger and their relationship really starts to develop. At this point I found the book quite compelling and easy to read.

The characters are very interesting and the story is well-told. Carol Berg has created an interesting world with full cultures that interact with the characters to help make this a fascinating story.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: by Mur Lafferty

Filed under:Adventure,Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on April 6, 2020 @ 11:13 am

This is the story of Han Solo prior to the movie saga. It start with his life on Corellia. It goes through his first encounters with Chewbacca and Lando, getting into his smuggling career and his acquisition of the Millennium Falcon.

The book is an action story. Han goes from one event to another. Parts of the book really bothered me, character actions didn’t seem quite right, some events seemed to be just plot points. Some of Han’s schemes didn’t seem quite reasonable, even if they failed, it seems he could come up with a better bluff or idea. It wasn’t particularly bad, it just should have been a lot more.

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Filed under:Horror,Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on March 27, 2020 @ 10:54 am

The story is well-known, but differs from the movies. The story is mostly about Dr. Frankenstein’s reaction to his creation, it is verbose but well-written.

The first parts of the book seemed long and slow, it gets bogged down in long Victorian dialogs. I almost gave up on it. But once the monster is created, the story improved dramatically.

It is all about the relationship between the monster and Dr. Frankenstein. It is a love-hate relationship on part of the monster, and repulsion from Dr. Frankenstein. This gave me some problems as Frankenstein started as a scientist with a purely rational approach to the work. Once the monster is created he became immediately repulsed without getting to know or understand the monster, he is completely driven and consumed by his emotions. It felt out of character given the first part of the book.

Unlike the movies, the monster is very intelligent and capable. He learns to survive on his own, then teaches himself language. Driven by the cruelty of man, his one goal is to find love. I found the monster much more interesting than Frankenstein. He eloquently tells his tale and wins he heart of the reader, but not of Frankenstein who continues his revulsion to the monster.

It is an interesting read. Like many books of the day, in my opinion, it would do well with an update to the characters and dialog. But it is worth the read.

Leather Crafting published by Tandy Leather Company

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on February 17, 2020 @ 4:35 pm

This is a good primer for leather working. It talks you through selecting and preparing leather, discusses basic use and care for the primary tools, stitching, dyeing and antiquing.

It won’t replace classes or instruction, but will prepare you for them. This is a much better option than The ABCs of Leatherwork: http://books.randolphking.co m/?p=1641.

20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Ronald Tobias

Filed under:Writing — posted by Randolph on February 6, 2020 @ 10:23 am

This book categorizes fiction plots into twenty categories, then systematically goes through to discuss each of them.

Each plot is divided into three parts, the author discusses each part and uses well-known examples from literature to help characterize them. They are easy to understand and to follow and provide a basic outline for any basic fiction plot.

My only complaint would be that the analysis is overly broad, but that’s what the author promised. I enjoyed the book and will probably use it for reference in the future.

ABC’s of Leatherwork by Tandy Leather Company

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on December 26, 2019 @ 12:28 pm

This is a minimal primer for leatherworking. It introduces the reader to a few basic tools and techniques, that’s about it. It doesn’t mention maintenance or care of the tools, nor safety. It may be decent for a user who needs a quick introduction and has access to a teacher or someone who can help through any difficulties. It is cheap and a quick read. The company has several better books. Better is Leather Crafting: http://books.randolphking.com/?p=1647.

Painting Sunlight and Shadow with Pastels by Maggie Price

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on December 16, 2019 @ 5:52 pm

This book is an instructional text for pastels. It’s focus is an using light and shadow to create form, addressing different lighting and shadow conditions. The author specifically addresses the predominant sky conditions, sunny, cloudy and rain. She also talks about color under these conditions, reflections and shadows. In each, the changes of color are discussed addressing the conditions affecting the light color and intensity.

Each section starts with a detailed description of what is going on with the light and why. Then proceeds to a number of step-by-step painting instructions that you can work through.

In addition, the paintings used as reference are very good, after working through the book, it still serves as a nice book to flip through for the images.

A few of the work-through paintings are done by different artist, giving a fuller study than the author (presumably) could provide on her own.

Although some of the instruction was rather obvious, I still enjoyed reading through the comments and the example paintings.

Behold a Pale Horse by Peter Tremayne

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on November 25, 2019 @ 10:32 am

This is the 22nd book in the Sister Fidelma mystery series. Set in 664 AD, Sister Fidelma is returning from a trip to Rome. She finds herself on an island where she encounters an old mentor who is dying. But he had stumbled onto something that opened the door to murder, intrigue and conspiracies.

Not speaking the language, Fidelma is limited and manipulated but unknown agents. The story is very well told and compelling to the end.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace