Cole, Allan & Chris Bunch. The Wolf Worlds.

NY: Ballantine, 1984.

This is the second volume in the mostly military adventures of Karl Sten in the 40th century, and it’s very well done space opera. The Eternal Emperor controls a vast amount of space and several thousand inhabited planets and that requires not only a huge army but the much smaller Mantis teams for quiet surgical operations.


Published in: on 23 October 2016 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Crais, Robert. Lullaby Town.

NY: Bantam,1992.

This is only the third installment of the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike private detective series and the body count continues to rise. This time he’s hired by Peter Alan Nelsen, a very famous movie director/producer, to locate the man’s ex-wife, Karen, and his now twelve-year-old son, Toby, whom he hasn’t seen in a decade. Nelsen is an egomaniac; he gets whatever he wants in Hollywood, so he assumes he’s entitled to it and that this also extends to the rest of the world.


Dickson, Gordon R. Dorsai!

NY: Ace, 1980.

This is one of the classics of military SF, published coincidentally in the same month as that other classic, Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Where Heinlein focused on the molding of the individual infantryman, however, Dickson was concerned with the process and problems of command, especially its upper reaches.


Published in: on 18 October 2016 at 12:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Asimov, Isaac. Pebble in the Sky.

Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1950.

I believe this book was my introduction to Isaac Asimov, so I must have read it around 1954 — the same period during which I was discovering Heinlein and Simak and Groff Conklin’s fat anthologies of short stories by every important writer of the period. More than six decades later, I’m pleased to find that the story holds up quite well.


Cole, Allan & Chris Bunch. Sten.

NY: Ballantine, 1982.

Neither Cole nor his late writing partner, Chris Bunch, ever really reached the big leagues among science fiction authors — even though they published more than forty novels (and sold more than 150 screenplays) between them — but this book, the first volume in a series of eight, ought to be rediscovered by fans of high-quality space opera. It’s a big canvas with several larger than life characters and the action hardly lets up for a paragraph. Except, perhaps, when the Eternal Emperor is busy in the kitchen or is reconstructing Kentucky moonshine.


Boyd, Damien. Kickback.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2015.

This is the third in the series featuring homicide specialist DI Nick Dixon of Somerset and the theme this time is horse racing, which is rather different in the UK than in the U.S. A young trainer at a racing stable has been found apparently kicked to death by a horse whose aggressive tendencies are well known, but his brother, just back from Afghanistan, is convinced it wasn’t an accident.


Published in: on 9 October 2016 at 12:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Abercrombie, Joe. Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law.

NY: Little, Brown, 2016.

I’m a great fan of Abercrombie’s adult-level novels — six so far, the original trilogy plus three more set in the same bloody-minded world. (He’s done a YA trilogy, too, but that’s a rather different sort of story.) If you’ve read those books, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy these thirteen shorter pieces. But if you’re new to Joe’s work, these really won’t mean much to you.


Boyd, Damien. Head in the Sand.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2015.

This is the second outing for Detective Inspector Nick Dixon, homicide specialist with the Avon and Somerset Police, and while the first book, As the Crow Flies, wasn’t bad at all, this one is considerably better. The author is apparently getting the hang of this stuff, and the books are gradually getting longer, too.


Published in: on 4 October 2016 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Boyd, Damien. As the Crow Flies.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2015.

It seems to be almost mandatory, when you’re creating a new detective fiction series, to give the lead investigative character some trait or quirk or hobby that makes them stand out from all the other detectives. Nero Wolf is obese and grows orchids, Poirot is a fop with a hairnet, Michael Gideon is covered with bad burn scars. True, Harry Bosch and John Rebus are just old-style coppers working the mean streets, but even they have those oddball names.


Bryson, Bill. A Short History of Nearly Everything.

NY: Broadway Books, 2003.

I know this author has a huge fan base but I haven’t been very impressed by the half-dozen of his books that I’ve read. He tends to be flip, going for laughs rather than accuracy, and generally making fun of anything he apparently doesn’t understand — especially anything “foreign” (meaning not American or British).


Published in: on 30 September 2016 at 3:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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