Another retro-review, this time from January 24, 2011.

This turned out to be one of those books you remember more for the central concept than any kind of plot.

Review: MetaGame, Sam Landstrom, 2010.MetaGame_

So is a book where “Life is the Game”, where our hero “must kill someone he’s grown to love” and is named D_Light worth reading? Is this just another improbable, game-obsessed society? A recap of Logan’s Run with this villainous computer possessing the boring, generic name Oversoul? Continue reading “MetaGame”

Ready Player One

Inspired by The Books That Time Forgot, I’m reposting some earlier materials.  Specifically, these are reviews I did for Amazon. Since Amazon occasionally screws up their formatting or just decides to lop the ends off with their cyber-cleaver, I’m going to start reposting them here with the original review date noted.

First up is Ernest Cline’s masterpiece, his novel for the ages, Ready Player One.

As you can see, I was less than enamored with it.

The universe (and Steven Speilberg) disagreed with me. Continue reading “Ready Player One”

The Plain Truth and British Science Fiction Writers


I’ve got plenty of reviews to write and a post-migraine brain only fit for web-surfing.

So …

You get a personal, elliptical bit of trivia about the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, and the uses two British writers of the fantastic made of them. I’ve mentioned the church in passing, and I assure you that a web or Wikipedia search for either the church or the man will give you some strange and scandalous reading.

And one Sir Terry Pratchett (whom I’ve never read) shows up on page 23 of the March 2015 issue of The Journal: News of the Churches. Pratchett’s novel Feet of Clay transformed the church’s magazine, The Plain Truth, into a magazine called Unadorned Facts.

Before Pratchett, Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius novel A Cure for Cancer used a long excerpt from The Plain Truth, an article titled “Infection Exposed”, in his psychedelic collage. (Page 251 if you have the old Avon paperback omnibus The Cornelius Chronicles from 1977.) I’m not a big fan of the Cornelius books but that allusion endeared that one to me.

They Don’t Nuke’em Like They Used To

Reading I. F. Clarke’s Voices Prophesying War got me thinking. Does anyone write nuclear war stories now?

The bottom seemed to have fallen out of that particular literary market when the USSR’s flag was lowered for the last time on December 25, 1991. No more USSR, no more nuclear war seemed to be the popular thought.

It’s not that nukes went away. Continue reading “They Don’t Nuke’em Like They Used To”

Did Science Fiction Help Cause World War One?

There is a mountain of literature on what caused World War One and no general consensus.

I. F. Clarke’s Voices Prophesying War looks at one element of pre-World War One European culture, the science fiction sub-genre of the future war story. Nowhere, does Clarke make any bald statement about where all those stories fit in the chain of causation, whether they were cause or effect. He doesn’t even argue that you can consider all these tales of invasion by airship, Channel Tunnel, or by the sea as helping in any way to lay the rails for the train crash of European civilization.

He implies, though, they reflected and shaped popular opinions in France, England, and Germany about the nature and outcome of a coming war. Continue reading “Did Science Fiction Help Cause World War One?”

Lashing the Wind

With this hope, however, academies have been instituted, to guard the avenues of their languages, to retain fugitives, and repulse intruders; but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain; sounds are too volatile and subtile for legal restraints; to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride, unwilling to measure its desires by its strengths.

Samuel Johnson

When I hear the word “trope”, I reach for my revolver.

Attention bloggers, podcasters, and reviewers:

Tropes are not themes. Tropes are not images. Tropes are not motifs.

Continue reading “Lashing the Wind”

Voices Prophesying War

Voices Propheysing War

Hoping that I’d learn something about the place of the future war story in the context of the First World War, I took I. F. Clarke’s book off the shelf.

It fulfilled my hope, and I’ll be discussing that subject at greater length in a future posting.

Review: Voices Prophesying War, Future Wars 1763-3749, 2nd Edition, I. F. Clarke, 1966, 1992.

Free from academic jargon, Clarke traces the development of the future war.

The main focus is on a period starting with 1871’s The Battle of Dorking by Sir George Tomkyns Chesney and going to 1978’s The Third World War: A Future History by General Sir John Hackett et. al. Continue reading “Voices Prophesying War”

Don’t Count on Those Art Books in the Future

I attended Minicon 50 last weekend.

One of the guest of honors was Michael Whelan. I got the distinct impression, from him, that the economic future of the big art books devoted to one science fiction illustrator is not looking good.

Art books are expensive to produce. They take a lot of time to assemble and proof. The availability of images, even legal ones, on the internet reduces the demand for those books.

Whelan’s last book, Something in My Eye, was put out in 1996. I took the occasion to complete my Whelan collection and bought a copy last weekend.

Something in My Eye

At his slideshow, Whelan showed a lot of his work I had not seen before.

Feast your eyes on his work.