This was a
hard book to read and a tough one to rate.
The prose is masterful. No word
seems randomly picked. The story and the
form however, are really complex. The
book is a collection of three novellas that take place on the twin worlds of
St. Anne and St. Croix. There is a
common character in the three stories.
Dr. Marsch is an anthropologist who is a minor character in the first,
the writer of the second, and the main character of the third. The stories seem unrelated until well into
the third novella when things start to tie together. It should be noted that the first story was
published first. Wolfe’s publisher then
commissioned him to write two more related novellas so it could be published as
a whole book. This result is this heady
mix of unreliable narrators, hallucinatory journeys, and what seems to be
intentional obfuscation to create a powerful but difficult experience.
story is the first. It’s about a boy who
lives with his brother, father, and aunt in a high-class brothel. He seldom goes out and is tutored by a robot. Known to us only as number five, his father
begins experiments on him that involve psychological tests and drugs. Five and his brother David meet a girl who hangs
out with them and they get involved in some light stealing. Then there is a twist to the story which
throws Five and David’s lives into chaos.
About this time, Dr. Marsch shows up looking for the author of Veil’s
Hypothesis. It’s about the aboriginal
people of St. Anne and what may have happened to them when the first colonists
from Earth arrived.
The second story,
called “’A Story’ by John V. Marsch” is a tale about the aboriginal peoples of
St. Anne. It is about one such
Aborigine, John Sandwalker, who is looking for his twin who was separated at
birth. He meets the Shadow Children, who
you get the feeling may have been from Earth, and were perhaps the first
colonists to arrive. Then he gets
captured by the marshmere people and once again, there are strange twists of
novella is V.R.T. It is a collection of
writings and recorded interviews by and with Marsch. He has captured on St. Croix and is accused
of being a spy from St. Anne. The form
of this story is that an inspector is randomly reading through the writings and
listening to the tapes to glean from them what Marsch’s true mission was. They don’t believe he is an anthropologist
from Earth. Through his research, we get
more on the quest to discover the truth about the Aboriginal people, as well as
some topics from “Fifth Head”. This may
be the toughest of the three to read because it is not a straightforward
narrative. It jumps in time and content
making for a tough experience even if you are paying attention.
book takes a lot of energy. It’s hard to
tell where the first two novellas are going until the end. During the first one, I thought there was no
plot for most of it, until the end.
During the second one, there seemed to be a plot, but between his dreams
and the mysterious Shadow Children, it felt like hallucinatory journey. By the third story, I was pretty lost, so I
cheated. I read a slew of reviews. I found out that this story helps tie
together the first two, so I read it with a little more aplomb, and got the big
I give the
book four stars out of five because to write this way takes a lot of
talent. You just can’t sit down and
write a book like this. It takes much
careful planning and intention. Many
reviews I read either gushed over the book, or described a horrific reading
experience. I myself felt lost, but
relished in the amazing prose and tried really hard to pay attention. I think this is a book that takes multiple
readings to get all the nuances and hints in the first two stories. You can’t be tired when you read it.
This is a
very interesting and entertaining collection of stories that run the gamut of
the LGBTQ experience. The stories are
literary, yet have fantastical elements to them. And there’s an obsession with
firefighters. What really struck me
about these stories was that I was able to get into most of them very
easily. Sometimes with short fiction, it
takes the whole story to get into it, but I found that the stories grabbed me
right from the start and most of the characters instantly likeable or relatable. Some of the stories are standalone and some
of them are related. They all take place
in the same universe, mostly around a city called Massasoit. They take place in different times, but in
the end story, all the stories more or less come together. My favorite of the stories were the Diana
Comet stories, of which there were three where she was a main character. But almost all them were fun and inventive. This book won the Lambda Literary Award for
Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror in 2011.
I think my
favorite story was “Diana Comet and the Lovesick Cowboy”. Diana Comet is a transgender woman. She runs a home for wayward children in
Massasoit where she educates them and inspires them to be curious and expressive
of themselves. She follows up on all the
children that have been placed in homes.
There’s one child living in cowboy country from whose adoptive parents
she hasn’t heard anything for a time. She
hires an alcoholic, closeted gay cowboy to take her to the ranch where the boy
is living. Diana has a knack for putting
herself in the lives of people who need her wisdom and insight, and this cowboy
is no exception. On the way, with Diana’s
help, the cowboy has epiphanies that makes him question his own internalized
homophobia and negative self-esteem.
favorite was “The Fireman’s Fairy”. The
firefighters of Massasoit have magical creatures as mascots. Steven Goodwin has just graduated from firefighters
training and is assigned to Engine Company 13.
Steven wanted to be assigned to the company that had a fierce dragon as mascot. Instead Company 13 has a bisexual fairy as a
mascot. Bob the fairy is pretty
annoyingly overzealous and has a thing for firefighters, male and female. Needless to say, he gets under Steven’s
skin. But even worse is Steven’s own
PTSD stemming from his time in the military.
Can Steven learn to appreciate Bob the way the other firefighters have?
universe of Diana Comet’s has a goddess and/or goddesses who manifests themselves
in various ways. One story that was
particularly interesting was “Fay and the Goddesses”. It’s about a little girl who has a gift for
singing. In the religion of her father
and uncle, the Stern Loving Mother demands that gifts such as her beautiful
voice be offered back to the Mother.
However, in the religion of her mother’s mother, the Water Momma only
demands that you forego luxury. Fay must
choose between her voice and luxury, the love of her father and uncle or her
grandmother, and the choice is not an easy one.
only three of the stories, but I liked most of them a lot. There were only two that I didn’t quite
relate to, but they were still good stories.
There are fourteen stories in all with common threads through some of
them. And as I said, they all sort of
tie in together in the last story. The
book should be read from beginning to end, rather than just the individual
stories, for the full effect. I give the
book four stars out of five. It’s funny,
insightful, and thought-provoking.
I feel like
I’ve written about this book many times before.
It’s because I have, when I read the History of Middle Earth Series, TheUnfinished Tales, The Book of Lost Tales, and The Silmarillion. This book is a full story version of the tale
of Turin, son of Hurin. It brings
together the different versions that Tolkien wrote into a single story. It’s a great tragic tale of doom. I like the tale a lot, but it is a difficult
read. It’s written in a very old style
of prose, with words we don’t use much anymore and complex word order. It definitely feels like you are reading ancient
This is one
of the earliest stories in the First Age canon.
It begins with Hurin going to Gondolin and then fighting in the Battle
of Unnumbered Tears. Hurin is captured by
Morgoth the Dark Lord and cursed to sit in a chair and with great sight forced
to watch the doom of his family unfold. Back
home, the town of Hurin’s family is overrun by evil men and though they are afraid
of the family of Hurin, they make everyone else their thralls. In fear of what these men might do, Morwen,
Hurin’s wife, sends Turin to Doriath to live and be raised by the elves. When he nears adulthood, he accidently kills King
Thingol’s number one advisor. Fearing
the wrath of Thingol, he flees to live as a bandit in the woods. Tragedy after tragedy unfolds as Turin and
his family make bad decisions.
The plot is
very depressing and there is no humor or comic relief in the book. Everything is deadly serious. The plot and the difficulty of the prose do
not make for a quick read. You get the
feeling that every word was carefully selected to convey the sense of doom. Even though this book is short, it took me
about five days to read.
the toughness of the prose, I think another think that makes this a tough read
is that Tolkien throws a lot of names at you through the book, especially at
the beginning, with the story of Hurin and his eventual capture. Tolkien assumes you are familiar with the mythology. He throws in the names of the gods and some
of the more famous elves. Having read so
much of the mythology in the Tolkien’s other works, I was familiar with
them. But even I had some trouble
remembering who was who. Christopher Tolkien
provides an introduction that explains some of the names being used, including
the different names for the Elves and some of their geneology. It was a good refresher for me, though I still
found some of the names to be confusing in the actual text of the book.
I give the
book four stars out of five, knocking off one star because of the difficulty of
the prose. Also, after reading the story
of Turin so many times, I wasn’t drawn into the despair of the doom. I knew what was coming, so I didn’t become as
emotionally involved as I think I would have reading this for the first time. I think if you want to read this book, you
should read the Silmarillion first, to get a handle on the mythology of Tolkien’s
There is so
much more to this book than the movie “Blade Runner”. Despite being a short book, there’s
interesting world building. There’s
television, religion, and an actual electric sheep. And of course, there’s chasing after
androids. The book is a fascinating look
into the creative powers of PKD. He
managed to pack into this small book a post-apocalyptic world with a decaying
ecosystem and nuclear fallout. I wish I
had this book in my science fiction class in college because it there’s so many
things that could be discussed in a group.
Being short, there seemed to be a couple of loose ends that weren’t
neatly tied up, but overall, the book had its intended effect on me.
is a bounty hunter, chasing after rogue androids. His latest assignment is to find and kill six
of the newest model androids that have returned illegally from Mars. He’s also enamored with live animals. In this future world, many of the earth’s
species are going or have gone extinct because of the radiation of the last
war, World War Terminus. It becomes
prestigious to own a live animal, rather than an electric one. Deckard has an electric sheep, but is always
going by the pet store, drooling at the outrageously expensive animals for
sale, like a thirty thousand dollar ostrich, or something more reasonable like
a goat with a five year payment plan.
has its share of gadgets. There’s the
mood organ with which you dial one of hundreds of options to put you into that
mood, from ecstacy to severe depression.
There’s also the device (the name of which I can’t remember) that lets
you experience the martyrdom of Wilbur Mercer, the founder of the religion
Mercerism. Through it, you can share all
the joys and pains of all the other people connected to their device.
television of the future has only one channel and one program, a sort of Today Show/Tonight
Show that’s hosted by the comedian Buster Friendly. The show has guests and features weather
reports about the state of fallout and pronouncements on what’s real and what’s
All of these
things, the animals, the devices, the television, create an interesting future
of consumerism and mood-altering to help people who must stay on Earth. Many people have left the dying Earth for
Mars to avoid repercussions from the fallout.
Those that remain are workers like Deckard, and chickenheads, people
whose bodies or minds have been affected by the fallout. Staying on Earth is depressing business, so
people believe in Mercerism, use the mood organ, and spend all their money on
quite a complex morality play at the heart of Deckard and his business. He often questions his actions as a killer of
androids. Androids don’t have
empathy. The test he uses to determine
if someone is an android or not is a series of questions designed to determine
if the person in question has empathy.
At one point, he asks himself a few questions to determine if he is an
android, because he has lost empathy for the androids.
I give this
book four stars out of five. The basic
plot is exciting, but as you can probably tell, I really dug the animals, gadgets,
the religion, and the ambiguous morality.
I usually don’t notice plot holes, but there were a few. The book could easily have been longer to
deal with some of these loose ends. The
prose is not awesome, but it reads like most of the PKD books I’ve read so far,
terse being a good word for it. But also
like his other works, the prose style fits this noir-ish story. Despite having “Blade Runner” deep in my
psyche, I was able to experience the excellence of this book in its own right. I didn’t even have Harrison Ford as Deckard distracting
I first read
this book in college, during summer break.
I really loved it, but it was so long ago, I didn’t remember it. Upon second reading, it’s hard to imagine the
book without thinking about one or several of the movie versions coming to
mind. In a way, it’s fortunate that the
two movie versions I saw were not like the book, because it allowed me to have
a new experience of the book. To me, the
book was about surviving amidst despair and hopelessness. It’s a character study of what it means to be
Neville is the lone survivor of a plague that turns people into vampires. He travels around the neighborhood by day,
killing vampires as they lay comatose, and spends the nights barricaded in his
house as the remaining vampires try to break in to drink his blood. He struggles with motivation to stay
positive, plummets into alcoholism, then finds a way out by studying the germ
that causes the vampirism. The book is
told in third person limited. We only
know what Neville is thinking and doing. There are some flashbacks to the days when
the plague was taking hold, focusing on what happened to his wife and
daughter. But most of the book takes
place in Neville’s present, the near future, well the 1970s, which was the near
future for the time the book was written.
dog companion like there is in the most recent version of the movie, but there
is a scene with a dog that is quite astounding.
Neville finds a feral dog. The
dog runs away at first, but Neville lures it with food, milk, and water. The significance of this scene is his
response to finding something else alive after being alone for so long. He’s completely overjoyed at the prospect of
having a companion. When he calls to the
dog, it’s the first time he’s heard his own voice in over a year, and its
foreign-ness shocks him. Then he’s
impatient with the dog’s skittishness.
He only slowly wins over the trust of the dog, and even that is
tenuous. Later in the book, he meets a
woman, Ruth. The meeting of her is
almost a parallel to first meeting with the dog. It would almost be comical if it the tone
wasn’t so devastating. I can’t go into
their relationship because it is near the end of the book and that would be too
much of a spoiler. You’ll just have to
This book is
considered a classic in the horror and science fiction genres. To see why, you have to eliminate sixty years
of the development of vampire and post-apocalyptic stories. It’s like thinking of Lord of the Rings and
the fantasy genre. It may seem archaic,
but you have to remember that it came before so much of what we now know of as
genre fiction. I Am Legend came about
when vampire stories were mostly about Dracula.
Matheson plays with the tropes like garlic, crucifixes, and wooden stakes,
but he makes them his own when he has Neville studying them to understand their
affect on the germ. This book was one of
the first of its kind and I would say many of the post-apocalyptic/plague
novels and movies of today owe a lot to it, especially, the zombie genre.
I give this
book five stars out of five. As my
regular readers know, I usually only give five stars to books that affect me at
a deep, emotional level. It gripped me
where it really hurts, in the part of me that often feels alone and isolated,
with the despair and hopelessness that it can cause. While I can’t say the book drove me to
depression (thanks to the miracle of better living through chemistry), it pushed
several buttons and the world appeared a little grayer.
This is the
third book of the Bobiverse Trilogy. It
was a fitting end to a fun series. It’s
filled with action, adventure, and even some romance. Yes, one of the Bob’s falls in love. It’s more of the same as the second book,
kind of a comic-space opera. And it
still suffers from the lack of intensity of the first book, though it makes up
for it in an action-packed ending. It
kept my interest and I had a hard time putting it down at the end of the night.
book picks up a little after the second book, For We Are Many. The first Bob is kicked off his planet of the
Deltans, but returns to live with them as a Deltan android. Androids construction has become so advanced
that a Bob can make a lifelike model of anything and transfer his entity into
the android, while still controlling his primary ship and other drones. Only Archimedes, the Deltan with whom he had
initial contact, knows his identity.
Everyone else believes he’s just another Deltan named Robert. This is one of the best plotlines. He can still guide the Deltans in a quiet
manner, not giving them profound knowledge, but just easing them gently along
known only as Will, is still helping the humans from Earth leave their dying
planet, but it is complicated by the Others.
The Others are the species that invades planets, eating the inhabitants,
and scavenging the planet for its natural resourses so they can build their new
Dyson disk home world (think Ringworld).
Several Bobs tried unsuccessfully to stop the Others from ravaging one
planet, and in the course of events the Others figured out who they were and where
they came from. So their plan is to
invade Earth next. There are still
fourteen million inhabitants left on Earth and getting them all off before the
invasion is tricky business.
favorite Bob is still Howard, the one who falls in love with a human woman on
Vulcan. Her husband dies and she and
Howard grow closer together. With the
android technology, he can now pal around with her physically. They fall deeply in love, and he tries to
convince her to have her consciousness uploaded to a computer as well when she
dies. Her children are not too keen on
the idea and it has sort of scandalized the planet.
I give the
book three stars out of five. It’s
good. It’s a lot of fun, but when all is
said and done, it’s fluff. It’s very
entertaining, but nothing earth shattering.
The quick cuts began to wear me out a little. It makes for fast reading, but in the end, I
just wanted to get on with each plotline.
And there are a couple of plotlines that I didn’t mention. It would make a great television series, or trio
of movies. I highly recommend this for
most people because of the sheer fun of it.
indifferent to this book, neither liked it nor disliked it. It had many parts that were interesting, but
it simply didn’t come together for me.
The premise is interesting, a city built in the arctic because climate wars
ruined the globe. And it has a woman who
comes to the city on an orca with a polar bear.
I felt like it started out well, with four different points of view
narrating the story, but when it all came together, it just didn’t gel. This was disappointing for me because I’ve
read a lot of the author’s short stories online, and really liked most of them.
Qaanaaq, is built in the arctic and is powered by geothermal activity. It’s shaped like an asterisk with eight arms. Each arm is a subdivision of the city, and
has different economic structures. One
is a really wealthy arm, another is very lower class. The city is itself decaying politically and
economically, as the government is not very strong. There is a new plague going through the city,
the Breaks, which seems to be transmitted sexually. Then a visitor comes to the city, a woman
riding an orca with a polar bear for a pet.
She’s seeking someone she lost years ago, and leaves destruction in her
The book is
told from the points of view of four different characters. All of them started out interesting. There’s Fill, a spoiled rich boy who has just
been diagnosed with the Breaks. Ankit is
an elections assistant and government worker who helps keep the city
going. Kaev is a fighter with mental illness
issues who loses bouts in order to get paid.
Soq is a gender-queer messenger who straddles the cities underbelly. About halfway through the book, all the
stories come together to create a linear story line. The story is also punctuated by readings
about the city from what I think was basically like a podcast, giving you
background on the how the city developed and how it’s falling apart.
I liked the
individual stories in the beginning.
They were a little hard to follow, but Miller created four strong and
very different characters. Each one has
a revelation as they meet the woman with the orca, the orcamancer. Unfortunately, I can’t go into too much more
detail because it gives away the ending.
But I can say that the bonding with animals is hereditary and enhanced by
I really don’t
have much else to say about the book because it just didn’t grab me. I give it three out of five stars, leaning a
little more to the two and half star side, though I don’t give half stars for
my reviews. The prose is decent, but I
found the author’s writing much better in his short stories. The ending didn’t grab me, which is interesting
because I’ve read a lot of reviews where the readers found the opposite, the beginning
being hard to get into but really knocking their socks off in the end. The author’s latest book, The Art of Starving
just won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and
Fantasy. I’m definitely going to give
that book a try, and continue reading his short fiction.
Completed 8/31/2018, Reviewed 9/1/2018
This is the second book in the Bobiverse series. It follows the Bobs forty years after he’s been
made a sentient computer on a space probe searching for habitable planets for
the human race. What made the first book
for me was the beginning, when he is transitioning into being a disembodied
intelligence. This book is still a lot
of fun, with all the Bobs scattered across the near part of the galaxy doing
various things. It just doesn’t have
quite the power of the first book.
This book picks up right after the first. The original Bob is playing sky god to a sentient
species on a distant planet, the Deltans, watching them evolve intellectually
now that he’s taught them how to make spearheads and knots. However, now that they’re safe from the gorilloids,
they have a new enemy to battle, giant flying predators. Another couple of Bobs are at the planets
Vulcan and Romulus, helping humans develop their new homes. On Vulcan, the humans have a major predator, semi-intelligent
raptors, not unlike those from Jurassic Park.
One of the Bobs there, Howard, is falling in love with a woman, while,
of course, he’s disembodied. Riker, with
a few Bobs, is on Earth, helping the humans there escape from the nuclear
winter that’s slowly destroying the planet.
And a group of Bobs have discovered an intelligent hive mind species
that is destroying planets for food and resources.
There’s a lot going on, but it’s easy to follow allow the
plot lines. The book is written well, as
a fast paced adventure. It’s easy
reading with lots of dialogue. The
chapters are short, jumping back and forth between the Bobs. It’s almost written in a movie-like style with
lots of cuts to keep the action going.
The plots are all common tropes, but the presentation and basic premise
is what keeps it interesting.
One of my favorite parts was the Bob-Moots, gatherings of
Bobs to discuss what’s happening in different parts of the galaxy. One of the Bobs has solved simultaneous
interstellar communication, so it’s easy to have this sort of conference. They all use virtual reality, so the Bobs are
all gathered in a room looking alike with the exception of hair styles and facial
Another part I liked was with Howard and his longing for
romance with a human woman. It coincides
with the development of an avatar in which he can transfer his consciousness
and experience, so he can appear physically to people. It’s still a little mannequin-like but does
the job. Back with the original Bob, he’s
using the avatar to appear and interact amongst the Deltans.
I give the book three stars out of five. It’s pretty good, fun, and exciting. It just doesn’t have the same intensity the
first book had. I’d also recommend
reading the books a little more closely together than I did. I waited a couple of months and lost track of
some of the personalities. It took some
time to get back into the swing of the book.
8/29/2018, Reviewed 8/30/2018
This is a
good, disturbing book. It’s a look at
war and child abuse through the eyes of a boy who’s recruited by pirates. It’s tough to read in parts because of this
content. The writing style however is
wonderful and it’s a fairly easy read. This
is the third book of a trilogy. I didn’t
realize it was such but the novel stands alone pretty well. It won the Gaylactic Spectrum award for
positive LGBTQ images in science fiction and fantasy back in 2006. However this content is obscured by the sexual
abuse the protagonist endures.
on a moon that was once occupied by aliens.
At the age of four, the aliens attack and he, his family and the
survivors are shuttled off to a refugee camp.
There he lives a troubled life until Marcus Falcone recruits him and his
friend to a merchant ship at the age of nine.
In actuality, Falcone is a pirate, perhaps the most powerful pirate in
the galaxy. Like all pirates, he
recruits homeless and refugee children to his cause, indoctrinating them early
into this lifestyle. Falcone takes a liking
to Yuri and sets him up as his protégé, teaching him the ways of starship
command and violence. At thirteen, Yuri
becomes a geisha, learning sexual manipulation and assassination. Later, he gets his own ship to command, but
is captured and imprisoned. The feds
give him a choice, to rot in prison, or to take a deal to be released and help
bring down the pirate empire.
That’s a lot
of information, but it is not necessarily spoilers. The book is told with two timelines. It begins with Yuri being presented the deal
by the feds, the Black Ops. You find out a lot of the plot in that first
chapter. Then it goes back in time to
tell his story growing up on the moon, the attack, the refugee camp, and life
on the pirate ship. The chapters
alternate between the present and the past, showing how Yuri came to develop
into the pirate he is now.
prose is pretty awesome. The book is
told in first person present and past for the two timelines. The past is pretty straight forward. The present is filled with Yuri’s reflection
and inner dialogue. It makes for difficult
reading at first, but flows well as you get used to it. I think some of the confusion I had at first
had to do with not reading the previous books, and also because it introduces a
lot of concepts that are explained later in the chapters about Yuri’s
It’s hard to
like Yuri throughout the book. This is
mainly due his being manipulated into terrible behavior in his training as protégé
and geisha. Rather than rebelling, he
succumbs to it and embraces it. Most of
what I felt was pity for him. The pirate
ship has become his family and for the most part, does as they command. It’s only later that he has conflicted
feelings about what he has become.
I give the
book four stars out of five. It’s really
well written and a powerful story about life with “the bad guys”. I found myself gripped by the book and
horrified at the same time. It’s not a
story for everyone, but it certainly tells a story about what war and a life of
violence can do to people.