Gateway by Frederik Pohl

Filed under:Adventure,Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on April 15, 2017 @ 3:06 pm


Gateway by Frederik Pohl

This story tells about exploration, about the fear and wonder of it. It is told in first person, and we deal with his anxieties, passions and fears. The protagonist, Robinette “Bob” Broadhead, won a lottery, enough to got to Gateway and become a prospector. Gateway is an asteroid with Heechee ships, the Heechee disappeared millions of years ago leaving valuable artifacts. People risk their lives to find these artifacts on the potential of achieving independence.

There are only a few key characters besides the main character, most of these have very little development. The exceptions are Gelle-Klara Moynlin, Dane Metchnikov who are important to Bob and are key to his character development and his psychosis.

The author does a good job of describing life in a low-gravity asteroid, I found the descriptions interesting and insightful, although I think he missed a point or two. ­čÖé Moving a heavy object would be very difficult, it may not have weight, but it’s inertia would be greater than the friction you would have with the floor. It recurred during the fight scene, it seems like it would be very difficult to maintain footing while struggling with someone. The problem did not detract from the book.

The story unravels along with a parallel path in the future where Bob is seeing a robot shrink, Sigfrid. These sessions provide a harbinger of events to come, but they aren’t very clear. At first, they seemed unimportant, but they help develop both Bob’s character and build to the climax. I found Sigfrid very interesting, even though a very flat character. Bob’s actions later in the book reinforce that Sigrid isn’t an individual, but he seems to walk a line between human and robot.

There are also one-page entries that help build an image of life on Gateway. These include classified ads, personal communications, rule and contracts.

Overall, I found the book very enjoyable and difficult to put down. There is something looming around the corner that needs resolving. The final revelation is unique and thought-provoking.

Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

Filed under:Adventure,Fantasy,Humor,Series — posted by Randolph on April 1, 2017 @ 2:23 pm


Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

This books is set earlier than some of the recent books, following Myth Directions. In this adventure, Skeeve gets hold of a treasure map that leads to a golden cow. At the thought of treasure, Aahz loses his senses, with Tananda, they begin a grand adventure. .

Only, the map is magical and changes as the proceed. They meet some odd characters, some peculiar dimensions. Meeting vegetarian cowboys, odd cattle, and redundant towns on their way to find gold, they face odd obstacles and find humorous solutions.

Tales of the Jedi by Tom Veitch

Filed under:Adventure,Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on March 31, 2017 @ 4:05 pm


Tales of the Jedi by Tom Veitch

This is a small collection of short stories about the Jedi Knights in the age before the movies. These are stories of adventure of young jedi facing their first conflicts. I listened to the audio version of the book.

Unfortunately, the dialog is pretty bad. The characterization of the young Jedi is weak and poorly written. The author explains thing to the reader by using ignorance, often in the jedi, who do know know some of the basics in how the force works. I suspect the reader knows far more than the young jedi.

The Man with the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green

Filed under:Adventure,Fantasy — posted by Randolph on December 2, 2016 @ 7:49 pm

The Man with the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green

This is the first book of the Secret Histories novels, in which a family, the Droods, uses ancient secrets of science and magic to protect the human population from a large assembly of evils, demons, monsters, aliens, etc. Except the official story conceals a dark secret.

Eddie Drood does what the family asks of him. Being independent, he isn’t satisfied living under the roof and rules of the family matriarch, so he works among the normal humans, fighting the family’s fight. Until he is sent on a mission, doomed to fail, and is declared rogue by the matriarch with a kill-on-sight order. Most of the book is his story of trying to find out why this happened.

The book is full of odd and fun characters, each is a creative creation with an interesting story. There is also a large array of odd artifacts, each also creative and unusual.

The author almost gets in the way of the story. He enjoys setting up a situation, and then adding a one-liner to build its opposite. This happens in the characters’ stories, in idioms, settings, all too much. Some of them are very good, which keeps them from getting entirely stale, it is just part of his sense of humor.

The book has several allusions to James Bond. Eddie operates under the moniker Edwin Bond, and has an uncle James Drood with a history that sounds like James. This character sets a high-mark for establishing Edwin as a major operative.

The beginning of the book was a bit difficult to get through. As the author set the scene, he set up Edwin Drood as a masterful and powerful agent with a powerful tool. It felt like Deus-ex-Machina as he pulled new skills out to defeat opponents. But this was all stage setting to familiarize the reader with his abilities. The book definitely improves.

Toward the end of the book, it became a page-turner for me. The situations were exciting. However, I was quite disappointed in the ending, in which an entirely misunderstood plot element suddenly just solved all the problems. Oddly, it didn’t feel like it ruined the book. The story was good enough to carry the novel, the humor was good, and it was interesting. I will make time to read the second novel.

Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

Filed under:Adventure,Fantasy,Steampunk — posted by Randolph on November 1, 2013 @ 4:31 am

Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

This is a travel story, about a young girl who gets involved in a power struggle and finds her place in the world. The setting is very interesting, combining magic, steampunk, zombies and perhaps a little horror into an epic struggle between good and evil. The story is set in an alternate history near the dawn of WW II, Hitler is dead, the Japanese empire plays the role of evil. A secret organization of magic-enabled people in a country that fears them, play the good. Lead by the Chairman, they are striving for world domination. The Chairman has mastered many forms of magic and is believed to be immortal. The story even has a nice plot twist concerning the struggle. It very much reminded me of the X-men universe by Marvel. There a several parallels, most obvious is the public’s perception of people with powers.

Each chapter begins with a tidbit out of the world’s history, often resembling a newspaper account. These relate people we recognize and give clues to how this world deviated from our own. They are a very good addition to the story and provide some interesting backstory.

What doesn’t work is the characterizations. Larry doesn’t create convincing characters, many have characteristics that just aren’t appropriate for that character. One example is the riches man in the world, who seems a heartless sociopath, yet who cringes from a mild threat. Another is a battle-hardened soldier who pauses during a firefight to have a private conversation with his girlfriend. These types of issues almost ruined the book for me. The main character keeps growing in strength, yet this isn’t explained well. She just has new abilities when you see her in battle. They fit with the character, but seem to come too suddenly.

Another weakness is that Larry has a tendency to relate some action to the reader, then to explain how it could happen. It felt like a deus ex machina mechanism, he could have given hints of these capabilities earlier in the story.

For the most part, the book was saved by the author’s creative story and the action in the story. The plot kept moving, the action scenes are well-described, and the book is generally fun.

Hopscotch by Brian Garfield

Filed under:Adventure — posted by Randolph on August 15, 2013 @ 7:45 am

Hopscotch by Brian Garfield

Miles Kendig was a top field agent with the CIA. But when a spy reaches a certain age, he is moved to a desk job. Feeling he was being forced into retirement, he quit. And he took a lot of secrets with him.

Depressed from the beginning, a meeting with a Soviet agent inspired him to play a game. The meeting inspired him to play a game. He is writing a book full of secrets, chapter by chapter he is sending them to the CIA and publishers around the world. It is an open challenge to his former colleagues to stop him before he can finish.

The book is written well. It is in third person getting inside Miles’ head. We watch him set traps, not knowing how they will play out. Then we get to watch the action. Miles anticipates every action his colleagues do and works to not only stay ahead of them, but taunt them at each step.

The writing is good and reflects the mood on the page. During his early depression, Brian describes a meal as “he ate something in a caf├ę and had two Remy Martins.” The tone changes dramatically after the meeting with the Soviet providing a harbinger of action to come.

The book is a fast read and fully enjoyable.

The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Filed under:Adventure,Series — posted by Randolph on July 28, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice BurroughsThis book resumes the story from the first, following Tarzan and Jane separately through most of the book. We Tarzan fall from his height of a sophisticated European back to the jungle animal. He maintains his morals and manages to return to his heights. All the loose ends are tied up this time, but it still leaves some expectations for the next volume. Tarzan seems too much of a superhero than the myth from comic and TV lore. He is both a cultured European with fluency in several languages, and the ultimate savage speaking with apes and many primitive tribes. He is unerring with spear and bow, tracker, spy, and what else? But it is still very enjoyable.

read in July 2009

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Filed under:Adventure,Series — posted by Randolph on July 15, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice BurroughsThis is a great story, but everyone knows how it goes. There are a few details not portrayed in the movies, more info on Tarzan’s parents and how he came to be adopted by the apes, and his early life among the apes.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab: A novel by Gideon Defoe

Filed under:Adventure,Favorites,Humor,Series — posted by Randolph on December 29, 2008 @ 4:22 pm


The Pirates!: An Adventure with Scientists & An Adventure with Ahab by Gideon Defoe

Another great book!  The Pirate Captain has bought a boat from Cutlass Liz and payment is due! The captain comes up with hair-brained, and hilarious, schemes to gain the funds and save his crew. The characters are wonderfully odd, Defoe has a great sense of humor.  This is a must read for anyone!!

Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler, Craig Dirgo

Filed under:Adventure,Series — posted by Randolph on December 8, 2008 @ 4:19 pm

Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace