Monday Book Pick: Grey Lensman

Grey Lensman by E.E. Smith, PhD.

Part of the classic Lensman series, from which all Space Opera springs. It’s the story of Kim Kinnison, the result of thousands of years of selective breeding by an ancient race, to save civilization from the forces of tyranny. It has massive space battles, planet destroying weapons, intrigue, aliens, battles of the mind, and true love.

Let’s not forget the space axe. Space Armor is proof against bullets and death rays, so the heroes use a specialized 30 pound axe to kill their foes.

A ripping good yarn from the Golden Age of Pulp. SciFi Grandmaster Robert Heinlein considered Smith a mentor, and echos of the Lensman series can be found in Heinlein’s work as well as Ringo, Weber, Halderman, and many others.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Hunter Killers

The Hunter Killers by Dan Hampton
A well researched look at the creation of the “Wild Weasel” program by the US Air Force during the Vietnam war. The effective SAM (Surface to Air Missile) was a new thing, and the Russians were providing them to the communists in North Vietnam. So the Air Force put radar tracking equipment in planes, along with an Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO), to track down the SAM sites and take them out before they could take out the attacking aircraft.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: A Night in the Lonesome October

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Once again going to the classic by the late Grandmaster Roger Zelazny. It is set in the month of October, which each day being a chapter. The story is told by Snuff, a watchdog, who like his companion Jack, is the owner of several Curses. One of Jack’s involves a large knife. Whenever there is a full moon on October 31, a group of people and their animal companions gather together and work toward a ritual on the night of the 31st. They are trying to either open or keep closed, a gateway for the Elder Gods (think Lovecraft). So far, the Closers have always won. Up until the end, it’s hard to tell who is an Opener and who is a closer, or even who is in the game. Others who are in the area with Snuff and Jack include: a vampire called “The Count” and his bat; a mad Russian monk and his snake, a broom flying witch named Crazy Jill and her black cat, the Great Detective and his sidekick; Larry Talbot and his furry alter ego. Zelazny had a lot of fun with this book. If you can pick up a copy with the Gahan Wilson illustrations, you are in for a bonus treat.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Black Chamber

Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling
In this book, he is starting yet another alternate history series. The change in history is that President Taft dies of a heart attack, right before the Republican convention in 1912. This allows Theodore Roosevelt to win the nomination, and then go on to beat Woodrow Wilson like a rented mule in the general election. This puts a progressive the the White House with a history of getting things done! Things like nationalizing the railroads, and then extending that federalized transportation to airships. Creating a Federal Bureau of Security that weeds out those who don’t agree with the course of America as defined by the “Progressive Republican” party. Charges of anti-American activities get you 30 years of hard labor building roads and working on national parks. The problem of Mexican bandits crossing the border and raiding Americans was solved by invading Mexico and turning it into an American protectorate. Any Mexicans who objected to that were tracked down by the Army, the Federal Bureau of Security, and the members of the Black Chamber, Roosevelt’s personal black ops group run as part of the Secret Service. But this story really isn’t about all of that. It’s an adventure story. World War I, or as it was known at the time, “The Great War”, was in full swing, and Roosevelt didn’t’ declare War when the US wasn’t ready to fight it like Wilson did. America is going to fight, but when it is well prepared with trained troops with good equipment. The Germans know this too, and have a plan to stop it. Enter Black Chamber operative Luz O’Malley Arostequi. Daughter of a former Rough Rider and a Cuban aristocrat. She boards a airship bound for Europe under cover as a Mexican resistance fighter. She is to link up with a German agent code named “Imperial Sword”, and find out what the German’s plans are, and how to stop them. A dashing good adventure story, as defined by someone else being in a lot of trouble very far away. A good read both as an adventure story, and for S.M. Stirling’s observations into history. This includes the observation that Theodore Roosevelt was a compassionate moderate compared to his daughter Alice.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff and the Annex Security Team
Since today is 9/11, six years after the terrorist attacks against Americans in Benghazi (killing four American, including the US Ambassador to Libya), I’m repeating my pick from May 2, 2016
Mitchell is a journalism professor at Boston University. This is not a political book. It is a detailed account of what happened on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi. It details what the security arrangement were, including the use of local militia groups, who was where during each of the multiple attacks, who died, who was wounded, and what the responses by the State Department, and the rest of the US government, were at the time.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789

The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789 by Edward J. Larson
A well researched book on the period of George Washington’s life between the end of the Revolutionary War and when he became President. What he did during his ‘retirement’ from government service, and how we was drawn in to leading the effort to come up with a replacement for the failing Articles of Confederation. Good insight into the process of compromise that went into coming up with a working constition that both the large and small states could agree on.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Terror in the Navy

The Terror in the Navy by Kenneth Robeson
Let us set the way back machine to 1937 for this classic Doc Savage adventure. Bonus points for his cousin Patrica being involved! U.S. Navy ships are being destroyed in a mysterious fashion. A fellow named Braun says he can protect the Navy’s ships for a cool hundred million dollars (That’s $1.7 Billon in 2018 dollars). The action is fast and dangerous. So much so that even Patrica says it may too rough.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: American Gun A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms

American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms by Chris Kyle with William Doyle
An interesting look at American history through the lens of ten historic firearms that helped shape the nation, and the people who used them. These include a Revolutionary War sniper using a highly accurate American Long Rifle, and Theodore Roosevelt. It was Roosevelt’s experience on San Juan Hill which lead to the development and adoption of the 1903 Springfield Rifle. While the technological aspect of the firearms is examined, who used them and how they were used is explored.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: A Night in the Lonesome October

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Going back to a 2014 pick. A classic by the late Grandmaster Roger Zelazny. It is set in the month of October, which each day being a chapter. The story is told by Snuff, a watchdog, who like his companion Jack, is the owner of several Curses. One of Jack’s involves a large knife. Whenever there is a full moon on October 31, a group of people and their animal companions gather together and work toward a ritual on the night of the 31st. They are trying to either open or keep closed, a gateway for the Elder Gods (think Lovecraft). So far, the Closers have always won. Up until the end, it’s hard to tell who is an Opener and who is a closer, or even who is in the game. Others who are in the area with Snuff and Jack include: a vampire called “The Count” and his bat; a mad Russian monk and his snake, a broom flying witch named Crazy Jill and her black cat, the Great Detective and his sidekick; and Larry Talbot and his furry alter ego. Zelazny had a lot of fun with this book. If you can pick up a copy with the Gahan Wilson illustrations, you are in for a bonus treat.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Guns of Avalon

The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
The second book in the Amber series. Two sets of five books, plus a fist full of short stories and an amazing amount of fan fiction. Prince Corwin has escaped the Dungeon his brother Eric threw him, with the help of the family madman Dworkin. Revenge, and the throne, are what he is after. First he has to go to Avalon, and of course is sidetracked by Lorraine (name of the land and the woman). He does manage to finally get to Avalon and get what he wanted there. Not without complications, including his extremely deadly brother Benedict, another family member named Dara, and the ominous Black Road. This series are amazingly well written, and this volume includes some insight from a guard in the Castle Amber dungeon named Roger.

Monday Book Pick Archive