Monday, October 31, 2011

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

Shambling Towards HiroshimaShambling Towards Hiroshima by James K. Morrow

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In an alternate world, the Americans' work on a project to create biological weapons to end World War II. The creatures are living versions of Godzilla who will be released near enemy cities to invade and destroy without the loss of American troops. A Japanese delegation is coming for a demonstration and that is when things go wrong. An actor is approached about starring as one of the creatures in the demonstration. This is his story.

When I read about this book, it sounded like a fascinating short novel. Unfortunately I found the story to be lackluster. The best part of the book is the basic concept. The execution left something to be desired. While Morrow shows that he can write, it seems like he did not put much effort into the characters. Most of the characters are sterotypes who do nothing to change my opinion of them.

The worst part of the book, in my opinion, was the ending. Morrow uses most of the end of the book to get on his soapbox and preach about the evils of war. Based on the glimpses I saw in this book, and what I have heard from others, Morrow could has been more subtle with his approach. If he had made the same arguments appear as a natural part of the story, it would have made a better ending.

I will give Morrow another try at a later date.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

A Trip to the Bookstore

It's like Christmas morning when I get to visit a used bookstore with some old science fiction books.  Today was one of those days.

The first thing I look for is the old Ace Doubles.  I cannot resist these.  I love the length of the stories, you get two stories, and two covers.  What is not to like about these?

I liked both covers but prefer the Kelly Freas one for "Beyond Capella" over Jack Gaughan's "The Electric Sword-Swallowers".  "Beyond Capella" also has the edge based on the cover summary of the story.

From Goodreads...Planets are for leaving. 
That's an old saying in the Explorers. But for every Explorer there is somewhere a planet he will not leave. For some, the cause is love. For others, the desire to give up the strange roving life of the star wanderers who live outside of planet-time. Even for the ones who love the metal ships that are their only home there is still a planet waiting, a planet that will hold them forever - in the final clasp of death. But until then, life is adventure and wonders undreamed of by mere planet dwellers, an Endless Universe of the unknown.
A very interesting science fiction novel by the author of the Darkover series.

Cuckoo was coming.  No one knew what it was-but everyone knew it was trouble.
Designated Object Lambda when it first appeared on the fringes of the galaxy, 20,000 light-years away, it was traveling at one-sixth the speed of light.
The astrophysicists said it was vast...light...and had the potential for utter desctruction.  So an existing space probe was reoriented to intercept, it was staffed with replicates of both humans and aliens.  
Then the space probe began to leak radiation...

David Mattingly's wrap around cover tells an interesting story.  I never tried any of the books in the Saga of Cuckoo series.

From Goodreads...All alone: an idiot boy, a runaway girl, a severely retarded baby, and twin girls with a vocabulary of two words between them. Yet once they are mysteriously drawn together this collection of misfits becomes something very, very different from the rest of humanity. This intensely written and moving novel is an extraordinary vision of humanity's next step. 

I have enjoyed many of Sturgeon's short stories but never tried this novel length work.

Contents include: The Velvet Glove by Harry Harrison / Road To Nightfall by Robert Silverberg / The Robot Who Wanted To Know by Felix Boyd / The Golden Pyramid by Sam Moscowitz / Title Fight by William Campbell Gault / My Father, The Cat by Henry Slesar / The Amazing Mrs. Mimms by David C. Knight / Mex by Larry M. Harris / Exile From Space by Judith Merril / A Thing of Custom by L. Sprague de Camp / Sit By The Fire by Myrle Benedict / Fall of Knight by A. Bertram Chandler / In Lonely Lands by Harlan Ellison / A Way Of Life by Robert Bloch / The Muted Horn by Dorothy Salisbury Davis / The Bounty Hunter byt Avram Davidson / The Pacifist by Arthur C. Clarke / She Only Goes Out at Nigtht by William Tenn / First Law by Isaac Asimov / The Day Will Come by Vithaldas O'Quinn.

In addition to Ace Doubles, I have trouble resisting old anthologies.  A glance at the table of contents shows many classic writers.

From Goodreads...The Morts were turning up all over Aeolis, the Eden-like planet named for the unexpectedwinds which sprang up from nowhere and swiftly faded away. But unlike the winds, the Morts didn't just fade away. These unidentifiable corpses - which on closer examination proved far from human - posed a bizarre threat to human control of Aeolis. So the Serviceship Halcyon XLV was dispatched to the planet to solve the secret of the Morts, a secret whispered by the winds every day - a secret older than mankind, which could spell the end of human life on the planet...

R. M. Meluch is an author I always thought of trying but never did.  This is the first book in the two book "Wind" series.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Summertide by Charles Sheffield

Charles Sheffield first appeared on the science fiction scene in 1977.  I read many of his short works in numerous magazines including Analog, Galaxy, Destinies, Amazing and others.  He produced quality traditional science fiction stories.  In spite of liking his short fiction, I never picked up any of his novels.  

Before we went to the beach this summer, I wanted to pick up a paperback book.  I did not want to take my e-reader to the ocean.  While looking over the books at a used book store, I spotted this one.  Seeing it brought back memories of reading his short fiction.  So I decided to pick it up and see if his novel length work was as good as I remember his short fiction.