Monday, April 25, 2016


Author:  Andre Norton

First Publication:  1961
Edition being reviewed:  2015

Publisher:  Open Road Media

Andre Norton is a classic writer for my generation.  When I discovered science fiction and went exploring the library, it was easy to find many of her books.  She consistently delivered what was then considered juvenile books.  In today's movie language they would be rated "PG".  She was a safe author that parents did not have to worry about letting their kids read.  Norton was one of the authors who constantly delivered quality adventure stories, good characterization, interesting ideas, all rolled into an exciting story.

"Catseye" is one of my favorite Norton books.  She incorporated many themes that would appear in her other works.  Themes such as a young man who was a loner growing up under less than ideal conditions, animals, and mysteries that are slowly unraveled as the story progresses.  

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good science fiction adventure book.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Short Story Quest: The Beginning of a Quest

A long standing tradition in the fantasy field is the quest story.  Often, it involves a hero or heroine who has lost something.  Either a loved one is taken from them, they are taken from their home, or their kingdom is lost to an enemy.  Many stories have been written with a variation of this theme.  One of my favorite authors, Roger Zelazny, has been known to explore these themes in many of his works.  Among my favorites are the Amber series (in which the hero looses his memory and kingdom), "Jack of Shadows", the Changling series, and too many others to list here.  This time, I will take a look at the beginning of another one of his quest stories, "Dilvish the Damned"...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Harry Potter Read-Along

I have been a big fan of the Harry Potter movies since the first one came out.  Over the years I have lost count of how many times I have watched them.  Every year I keep thinking about reading the books but somehow never get around to them.  Then I saw that Michelle was hosting a read-along and decided now is the time.

So far, I have only read the first chapter of the book that started it all "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".  Already, I can see why fans love them.  Some of my favorite parts of the first chapter are those with Hagrid.  The scene where he rides in on Sirius Black's motorcycle was amazing.  I can't wait to read the rest of the book. The rest of my comments will appear next week when I finish the novel.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Black Dog" by Neil Gaiman

"Black Dog" by Neil Gaiman

First Publication:  Trigger Warning:  Short Fictions and Disturbances

I have a confession to make.  I started reading Neil Gaiman when he did “Sandman” for DC Comics.  His work on it impressed me.  Somehow I never made the time to read much of his prose.  Since then I have started to work my way through them.  “The Graveyard Book” is one of my favorites.  I have also read “Odd and the Frost Giants”.  “American Gods” and his other novels are making their way to the top of my reading stack.

“Black Dog” is a follow up to “American Gods” that takes place a few years after the novel.  Shadow Moon is in England and meets a woman in a small-town pub.  Of course, this is just the beginning of his nightmare.  The Black Dog of the title is a local myth of a large dog that appears to people when they are about to die.  Gaiman starts the story with an uneventful easy pace that slowly builds in suspense as the American God Shadow is drawn into an adventure that could lead to his death.  Another solid effort from Gaiman.

Recommended, especially to fans of “American Gods”.

I read this as part of the Short Story Quest of Once Upon a Time X.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Trying Something Different...

I miss blogging but due to some health issues I have not been able to type much over the last few months.  Basically, I was struggling just to get through my workday.  Things finally seem to be turning the corner.  I realized how much I missed writing and reviewing when I missed 2 of my favorite challenges in December and January.    After my “sabbatical”, this is a good time to change things up.

The Little Red Reviewer published a post on February 1 explaining why she is switching to a “reading diary” type of regular posting.  I like this idea so I will be trying it.  I will be posting regular updates on my reading.  In addition I will put up reviews of the books I read and shows I watch.  The other part of the plan is to do more opinion pieces.

The other change concerns something I have changed my mind about a few times.  I am shutting down my “Comic Book Focus” blog and combining it with the “Science Fiction Times”.  This harkens back to the Jim Baen “Galaxy Science Fiction” magazine.  “Worlds of IF” was being cancelled so Baen combined it with the continuing “Galaxy Science Fiction”.  Some of the features and style of stories was incorporated into “Galaxy Science Fiction”.  In my opinion, it made for a better reading experience.  Although, to be honest, I did miss “IF”.

Tabs will be added for tracking my different types of reading.

The other advantage of the reading diary is that it will show that I tend to read many things at the same time.  Sometimes I get distracted by reviews I read.  Other times by what my friends are reading.  They start telling me about the book they are reading and I want to read it at the same time.  So you will see how this affects my reading.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Anthopology 101: Reflections, Inspection, and Dissections of SF Anthologies

Author:  Bud Webster

First Publication: August 2010

Publisher:  Merry Blacksmith Press

Source:  Kindle

Challenge:  42 Challenge 2015

I have always been a big fan of science fiction anthologies.  Among the ones I have read are Donald Wollheim and Terry Carr “World’s Best SF”, many of Groff Conklin’s classic collections, Roger Elwood’s “Continuum” series, and Roy Torgeson’s lesser known “Chrysalis”.  One look at my shelves show many rows of unread anthologies.  My Kindle contains all 18 volumes of David Hartwell’s “Year’s Best SF” and the last 3 of Gardner Dozois’ “The Year’s Best”.  I was counting down the days until volume 32 of Gardner’s series was released today.  One of my many goals is to start reading more anthologies.  Only time will tell if I am successful.

 That brings me to this book. Periodically, I enjoy reading a non-fiction book about science fiction.  When I saw this one I had to pick it up.  I bought and downloaded the Kindle and was hooked.  Bud Webster’s collection of essays he wrote about the history of the science fiction anthology was a fun trip through time to revisit favorites from my younger days.  The short articles made for great reading and filled me in on the history of some classics.  I hope that Webster will continue and write more along this line.

Highly recommended for fans who want to learn more about the subgenre.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Star Trek: The Original Series: Shadow of the Machine

Author:  Scott Harrison

First Publication:  March 2015

Publisher:  Pocket Books

Source:  NetGalley

Cover Artist:  ???

42 Challenge 2015

One of my favorite Next Generation stories was the one that showed how Picard dealt with being turned against the Federation by the Borg.  It showed him returning to Earth and visiting his brother’s family.  Many times we see a big event but do not get to see how the characters deal with the repercussions.  “Shadow of the Machine” is done in a similar style.

The crew returns to Earth after the first movie encounter with V’Ger.  The Enterprise needs repairs and it is the perfect time for shore leave on the homeworld.  As Scott Harrison shows us, the crew is not perfect.  Take a look at how things go wrong for Sulu when he visits his daughter.  Kirk is hesitant about visiting his nephew (who is struggling with the death of his father).  I give Harrison high marks for capturing the voice and personality of the various characters.  While the stories are not a threat to the Federation, they are very important to the crew.  It is the personal stories he touches on that make this one of my favorite Trek books of recent years.  And the shorter length is perfect for this story.

I will be looking for more stories by Scott Harrison.  Highly recommended.