Another of the late Robert Conroy’s alternate history novels. This one is set in 1945. WWII in Europe is winding down, Berlin is about to fall. Harry Truman is now the US President. The change is scarily probable viewed from a modern perspective. Stalin decides that he want’s a bigger buffer zone than he was promised by Roosevelt and Churchill, so after taking Berlin, he turns the massive Red Army westward to attack American and British troops. Remember that the Russian army was really, really big at the time. Partially because of the US supplying them with food, clothing, weapons, planes, and oil for years. There are few factors that work in the Allies favor, including Stalin’s management style, and the Manhattan project. An enjoyable and engaging read. Check it out.
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
I’ve always been much more of a hard SciFi fan than fantasy, but I like Larry Correia’s fast paced pulp style. I started listening to little bits of this book at the end the weekly Baen Books podcast. When I got a dead tree version, I chewed through it pretty quite. Good adventure with a reluctant hero who has, like some of the characters in his Monster Hunter International books, been given the ‘short straw’ by the gods. Larry Correia is a pen and paper RPG geek from way back, and this book show some serious world building. If you want some fast paced fantasy adventure, where the author was clearly chuckling when writing parts of it, give this book a read.
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.
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.
I’ve got one episode to go in order to finish all five seasons of Stargate Atlantis.
I have already watched all ten seasons of Stargate SG1. Just two seasons of Stargate Universe and I’ll have caught up on all the movies and TV series for this franchise. Except for Stargate Origins, which is worth it’s own post.
The last episode I watched (second to last in season 5), entitled Vegas, is one of my favorites from the Stargate Atlantis series. It’s one of their alternate universe stories (SG1 had some good ones). In this universe, John Sheppard made a really bad decision while on a combat tour, which ended his military career. He ends up as a police detective in Las Vegas. He’s working a serial killer case, where the victims are shriveled up corpses with a handprint in the chest. It’s a Wraith, crash landed on Earth after Rodney Mckay’s team from Atlantis destroyed the Hive ship attacking Earth. The show is shot in CSI style, I think. I’ve only seen one CSI episode, and that was the one written by the writers of Two and Half Men. (Which is owrth checking out. It’s funny and clearly some wish fulfillment by the series creator from another series he worked on.) In this episode, Rodney tells John Sheppard was is really going on. Aliens, space travel, and the time he met another John Sheppard in another universe. One where Sheppard was a planet saving hero. Rodney is betting that fundamentally, the two John Sheppards are the same.
Throw in some cool Johnny Cash songs and you have one fine episode. If you have been paying attention, John Sheppard is a Johnny Cash fan. The same poster hangs in the dective’s office as another John Sheppard has in his quarters in Atlantis.
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.
You may go play video games if you wish.
Remember this: Walk away now and you walk away from your interest in history, your ability to tell a good story, your ability to translate dreams into reality; leaving the next generation with nothing but recycled, unimaginative first-person shooters, online quasi-historical strategy games, yet another multiplayer NFL game, violence-laden driving simulations, and mindless revisions of innumerable cute Japanese animations. Depart now and you forever separate yourselves from the vital gaming legacies of James Dunnigan, Steve Jackson, Gary Gygax, Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman, Frank Chadwick, Andrew Keith, William Keith, John Harshman, Professor Barker, and Richard Tucholka.Turn your backs now and you snuff out the fragile candles of Board Gaming, Miniatures, Fantasy and Science Fiction Roleplaying, and when those flames flicker and expire, the light of the world is extinguished because the creative thought which has moved mankind through the decades leading to the millennium will wither and die on the vine of abandonment and neglect.
— John Kwon on the Traveller Mailing List
Monster Hunter: Nemesis by Larry Correia
This is another book not focused on Owen Zastava Pitt. This one is told from the view point of the infamous MCB Agent Franks. So there is a lot of violence, even for a Larry Correia novel. Franks history is covered, from how he found his way into this world, learned how to deal with humanity and why he is so focused on killing monsters. One of the interesting parts was how he came to American during the Revolutionary War and the contract he entered into with the United States America (written and signed by Ben Franklin after he rebuilt Franks). The story revolves around how STFU (Special Task Force Unicorn) violates that contract. This is one of my favorites in the series. Franks is a bad ass MoFu and like Jake and Elwood, he’s on a mission on from God.
Long before the Black Panther movie, there was the Blade Trilogy staring Wesley Snipes. A series based on the Marvel’s Blade character. A half breed Vampire, who can withstand sunlight, thus the nickname, “Day Walker.” Watch the first one, ignore the second, and then enjoy the 2004 trilogy wrap up. The third and final Blade film, and a good B-Movie to boot. Not only is Snipes a cold, hard, bad-ass in this movie (as he is in all the Blade films), the director made some interesting casting choices. Blade is assisted in this film by two other Vampire Hunters, played by Ryan Reynolds, and Jessica Biel. My take on Reynolds character is this could have been a post college Van Wilder who made some really bad life choices. Jessica Biel doesn’t talk much, but seriously, she doesn’t have to. Comninic Purcell is the chief bad guy, but supporting villains played by Parker Posey and John Michael Higgins just add moments of joy for anyone who has seen Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Parker Posey even has a nice serious dramatic scene. There is even an actress best known for her work in the American Pie movies. I kept waiting for her to talk about double clicking her mouse. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.