Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book reviews: Nine days, nine books.

Well, I've been in a reading fervor for the last week or so, and naturally you readers have to pay the price! Here’s the reviews that are the result of all that reading. Oddly enough, this time I picked my titles a little more carefully, so I didn’t read anything that sucked the big one.
The Annals of the Heechee by Fredrick Pohl. This is the fourth full-length novel in Pohl’s long-running and award-winning Heechee Saga. Everything’s tied up with ribbons to end the quartet of main novels that focused on the adventures of Robinette Broadhead. I enjoyed it, but there’s a lot of semi-theoretical physics in it. The main character is also dead, spending his time as an electronic consciousness. If you’ve read the others in the series, this is a must-read, but I wouldn’t advise someone to start with this book, as even genre fans will be a tad out of their depths. And I’d recommended reading at least the first two books anyway, as they are true modern classics of science fiction.
Ballpark Mysteries: The Fenway Foul-Up by David A. Kelly. I hadn’t realized this was a rather Young Adult title, but its baseball, so how bad could it be? It literally takes less than fifteen minutes to read. It’s a mystery about a stolen bat at Fenway Park, but the clues are way too obvious, even for a kid’s book. The book has a lexicon in back with definitions of a lot of the baseball terms used in the story, and quite a bit of Fenway Park trivia is revealed during the course of the tale. I wouldn’t suggest an adult buy this to read for themselves, but it might be a good tale for a parent and a child who were baseball fans.
Doc Savage: The Man Who was Scared and Doc Savage: The Shape of Terror. These are #138 and #139 in the series of pulp adventures featuring the Man of Bronze, written by Lester Dent (under the house pseudonym of Kenneth Robeson). Both are excellent examples of both Doc Savage stories and great pulp adventures. The first story opens with a man falling dead on Doc’s doorstep, with his plaintive final words being “my breakfast cereal.” The second tale opens with Doc being kidnapped by the RAF and being killed in an airplane crash. His aides Monk and Ham die in a fiery car accident soon after. Both are well-written, as these books are in the phase where Doc was often a somewhat more fallible than his reputation.
I Had the Right to Remain Silent, But I Didn’t Have the Ability by Ron White. A good three-quarters of this autobiography is just restatements of Ron White’s stand-up act. I’m sure even the most anti-redneck/Blue Collar Comedy Tour fan will get a chuckle here and there. There’s a great section on White’s travails in trying to get a couple of TV pilots on the network. It’s a good read if you have an hour to waste.
Godzilla Returns, Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla at World’s End by Marc Cerasini. These are the first three novels in a short-lived Godzilla series from the nineties, inspired by the remakes of the Godzilla movies that started with Godzilla 1984. Godzilla Returns is somewhat based on that movie, but the others have no true movie progenitors. As with most of the Showa and Millennium era G-films, Godzilla was last seen in 1954, where he was driven away (and not destroyed by the Oxygen Destroyer) until his reappearance in the first book. The first two books are pretty standard, though the characters in the Godzilla Returns are a lot more accessible. The storyline in Godzilla 2000 is a bit hard to follow in spots. The third novel is a monster tour de force, with most of the Toho rogue’s gallery out to face Godzilla. It loses a little as it goes, because the whole tale tries to be too much in too short a story. If you’re a kaiju eiga fan, they should be on your reading list. If you’re just a sci-fi fan, try Godzilla Returns before bothering with the others to see if you like the style.
You Might Be a Zombie, and Other Bad News: Shocking But Utterly True Facts by the Editors of If you aren’t familiar with, forget this review and head over to that website immediately. This book is like an actually relevant edition of The Book of Lists meets The Daily Show. There are a lot of oddball, trivia facts in this little tome, and unlike the aforementioned Book of Lists, they’re actually presented in a very readable and hilarious form. Quite a few of the chapters have appeared on the website, but there are a good number of lists and articles that are exclusive to the book. Funny, sometimes caustic and highly recommended.

Well, that's all for this go-around. I've got a couple of album reviews and an old-radio show review on plan for next week, as well as another comic book from the "New 52" reboot. Take care, folks!

1 comment:

  1. I read a couple of Pohl's Heechee novels years ago. And, I recall them as readily as I can remember where I put my car keys. This says nothing about the story lines and more about the lackluster car I drive. Shall I go on about my car? And, where the hell ARE my car keys, anyway?