…SF addict …

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shoot the Moon!

What a quirky little book! The synopsis sounds ridiculous by today's standards; design a 900 foot cannon to shoot a huge ball to the moon using cotton impreganted with some highly flammable substance as 'fuel' (called Pyroxite)
And yet the book is laced with good sound science that one would expect to find in a modern hard SF book! The distance to the moon is known as is its orbital velocity and details such as the apogee and perigee of the moon are figured into the itineray. Its all jolly good fun with a mild poke at the Americans-even though the main characters are American and it reads as if written by an American, at times one detects the odd poke at the 'Yankees' as Verne's character refers to his colleagues.

A group called the Gun Club form with the intention of making bigger and better arms, but when peace is declared its members feel somehow deprived of an enemy to fight and so must look elsewhere. Then up pops the idea of a huge gun, bigger than anything they have seen before, and it will be used to fire a cannon at the moon to gain relations with the selenites up there (i.e. colonise!) and plant the American flag declaring the world theirs! But thats how people thought back in the day, and bear in mind this was written over 100 years before the 1969 moon landing!

All in all quite incredible and great fun!
Oh, as a sidenote I have now read all the books featured in this blog's banner! :D

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Entity by Frank de Felitta

This book has been on my partner's shelf for as long as I've known her, and I always imagined it to be a poor, cheap horror story, especially as she asked me to list it on bookmooch.com. But then I read it, and wow, it was quite good actually!

I've never heard of the author before, and he hasnt writtten a great deal but this is well written, with authority. Yes it has sexual scenes which everyone talks about but the story within is great! And creeepy!
You begin to wonder, is the entity real or is it all a psychosis?
I recommend you read it and find out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hell House!

This is a story about an old haunted family house led by maniacal Emeric Belasco, who would lure people into his house and engage in orgies and wild parties. Many died at his hand and years after Belasco's own death his spirit infests the place. Dr Barret along with his wife, a medium and a previous resident who survived are sent in to investigate and 'cleanse' the house once and for all...

I wasnt sure I'd like this as I'd not read this author before and I always associate him with SF (he's responsible for I Am Legend as well as the excellent B-movie from the 50s The Incredible Shrinking Man) but I can honestly say I enjoyed it! Its a typical haunted house horror story, maybe nothing new but, well it was written in the 70s when Hammer House of Horror was regularly on our TV screens, and Hell House is a prime example of that genre.
Good creepy stuff!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A bad case of Asimov followed by a dose of horror

I tried in vain to read Asimov's The Gods Themselves but I got to the second part and gave up! Its my second attempt at this book but life is too short!
Basically its about the discovery of an alternate universe in which tungsten becomes very important to its inhabitants and a way for our side to get free energy. Its in 3 parts, the first part involves the duscovery that a piece of tungsten has been transformed into a radioactive substance. The second part deals with the aliens on the other side. Sounds interesting but I found it interminally dull! And awkward!

I liked very much his robot novels and stories, but didnt like his Foundation books at all. I did enjoy his time travel novel End of Eternity though!

Anyway time for something completely different.
I started Hellhouse by Richard Matheson, the guy ultimately responsible for the movie I Am Legend as well as 50s movie The Incredible Shrinking Man. Review will follow...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Mother's Love-not!

Just finished For Love of Mother-not, the prelude to the Pip and Flinx/Commonwealth books by Alan Dean Foster which was written in the early 80s. Foster's first novel, in 1972, was The Tar-Aiym Krang and is very much a hard SF space opera type romp. He later expanded the universe it is set in by adding more books in a series, and then he decided to write a kind of prequel, a book to explain how Flinx, and his mini dragon, came about.

For those not familiar with the series Flinx is a young lad with a Talent. He can perceive the emotions of those around him and detect someone's presence or change of mood, and he is accompanied by Pip, a kind of flying snake which shares a similar talent in as much as it can detect when Flink is angry at someone or in trouble. The story is set on one planet, Moth, but the other books are much more set in space, with various alien cultures- rather in the vein of Larry Niven's Ringworld.

Despite reading like a young adult's fantasy at times this book is a fun tale with decent characters and is a good introduction to the series.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A big trip, up yonder!

Last night I read a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, and I enjoyed it.
Big Trip Up Yonder (1954) is about a time in the future in which a drug has been developed that prevents aging. A family is sharing a house and its a family made up of generations, so there's grand sons, great grand sons, great nephews and nieces etc and at the head is Gramps, who's pushing 150. Its quite a humorous tale as the real old guys call their 60 and 80 year old companions 'kids', but also there's conflict between the groups and eventually it comes to a head and the group is seperated. Gramps goes missing and the rest end up in a care home which isnt half as bad as they'd feared, but Gramps gets the last laugh!

I've tried to read a Vonnegut novel years ago but failed and never tried again, but this story made me smile in the wee hours (well, midnight!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Bob Shaw mooch!

This came up bookmooch.com and I thought it sounded fabulous!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Heinlein fail!

Tried to read Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a book about a colony on the moon in the 2050s, trying to get trade embargos and such with Earth lifted. It sounds good but I found the writing style awkward and choppy, with verbs omitted, kind of like how teenagers tend to talk on facebook. No The and A, so instead of saying It gets very annoying, very quickly, we get Gets annoying quickly, or Went to computer room, no-one there.
Plus there are lots of politicing which reminded me of Asimov's dreary Foundation saga.
On the whole I found the book tedious and boring, or as Heinlein would say in this book, "found book tedious, boring..." Which is annoying because I like Heinlein's stuff; have read and enjoyed Stranger in a Strange Land, Waldo, Magic Inc, The Puppet Masters and a few others, but this one just did my head in!
Yawn...gonna read some Alan Dean Foster instead...

Monday, April 4, 2011

A touching story!

Just read Death of a Spaceman by Walter M. Miller
An old spacer reaches the end of his career but wants to witness one more launch...
Story here

Miller is well known for his novel A Canticle for Leibowitz which I've yet to read- in fact he is yet another new discovery for me!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Discovered an author-Algis Budrys

Now I'd heard of this author years ago but never read any of his stuff. Some may vaguely remember a 70s sci fi film called Who?- it was based on one of his books.
Anyway I found a couple of stories on Project Gutenberg and downloaded them to read, which I just have.

Citadel can be found here
and concerns itself with colonisation of the Galaxy and the creation of a safe haven where alien races can meet on neutral territory.

Stoker and the Stars is a shorter story, about 15 pages on my reader, and is about an enemy race and one man's intervention to bring a kind of peace.
The author seems big on alienation and repatriation!
You can get that here
Stoker and the Stars

Some information on the author:
Algis Budrys

Monday, March 28, 2011

Its windy out there!

Just finished The Wind From Nowhere by J. G. Ballard.
Basically a strange wind comes out of the blue and keeps on accelerating until its travelling about 250 mph, the people having to build shelters underground. This is Ballard's first novel from 1961. I've read in the past two of his books from the 60s but this is quite a simple book compared to say The Drowned World. I felt this book concentrated too much on the characters- I'd have like to have seen the environment explored further. And then at the close of the book it just ends!
Not bad but lacking depth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A bit Grey around the Beard!

Just finished Greybeard, an early post apocalyptic book by Brian Aldiss.
I read this years ago, or tried to but I didnt get it at the time and probably didnt finish it back then. This time however I found it very enjoyable!
Basically its set in about the 2030s, 50 years after a nuclear accident when bombs were set off in space, causing a catastrophic disruption in the Van Allen belts that surround the Earth and protect us from olar radiation.. This 'accident' resulted in radiation from the sun briefly reaching the Earth which rendered the human ace sterile. At the time the book opens the human race is represented by the elderly, eeking out a living pottering around Oxford and London, looking for, and on guard against, others. There are rumours of new children born but it seems to be all myths perpetuated by deranged old lunatics, or is it?.....

Re-reading after all these year I would heartily recommend this if you are a fan of post-apocalyptic works- in fact I'd go so far as to say this is the best Aldiss book I've read so far!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A very strange book!

Last book I read was a classic weird tale by William Hope Hodgson.

When I downloaded House on the Borderland (1908) I was expecting a gothic horror tale, and at first it did fit into that kind of gothic horror mold, but then it changed, and became something quite strange! Basically its a tale about an old manuscript discovered in an old house, kind of a journal which describes the character's adventures in and around the house. There is a strange pit in the garden which also leads to the house's cellar. There are strange 'swine faced beasts' and a journey into space! I'm not quite sure where this story fits genre wise but it was quite entertaining! Think Edgar Allan Poe meets the Time Machine meets the stargate sequence in 2001 A space Odyssey! Odd but fun!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Discovered authors: 2010

Not been on here for a while and as well as the flu I had a bit of a reading disaster during the Christmas period where I lost all interest (I didnt finish a Arthur C. Clarke book I was trying to read!) But hopefully I'm back on the horse as they say!

Anyway here's a list of authors I discovered for the first time last year.

To begin with there was The Keep, a WWII horror by F. Paul Wilson, which I quite enjoyed. I hope to read other books by this little known author!

Then there was a short SF story by Tony Ballantyne which I read in a new anthology,(The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction (Solaris, 2007)) quite good, but I've not come across this author since.

Then finally I got to read a book by Neal Asher,an author of fast paced SF I'd heard a lot about on the SFFChronicles forum. I found one of his stories in the above mentioned anthology so went on the hunt, and found Prador Moon in the library and enjoyed it immensely!

Next I read a well known female author I'd heard a lot about but never, until now, got round to reading- Ursula K. LeGuin.
I had a couple of her paperbacks from Bookmooch.com and read them, or tried to. Trouble is although her work is SF, it reads very much like fantasy (at least these early works do) and the writing style was quite odd in places. As such I didnt finish the second one, (City of Illusions) I'd just had enough!

Then I got an e-book reader and that opened up a whole world of free classics, most of which I wouldnt find in a library! As such I set to reading The Purple Cloud, a 1901 post apocalyptic tale by british author M.P.Shiel, which I downloaded for free from The Purple Cloud at Project Gutenberg

Going back further in SF's history I then downloaded Edison's Conquest of Mars, an official sequel to H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds written by Garret P. Serviss in 1898 which was brilliant, if totally different to what Wells would have written!

Then from 1901 I read A Honeymoon in Space by George Griffith which was fun!

Next up, and a change of direction, I read The City of the Singing Flame, a sort of Lovecraftian horror cum SF tale by Clarke Ashton Smith. You can read that for free here: Clark Ashton Smith portal

More early supernatural stuff from from Ambrose Bierce with his brilliant short horror, An Occurence at Owl Creek.

Then I found some stories by legendary Irish horor meister J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Carmilla is a pre-Dracula horror tale concerning itself with a vampiress!

I then found a really early horror tale,The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, dating from 1764 this was the earliest piece of fiction I've ever read!

Finishing up with some short stories from Rudyard Kipling, that is my list of discovered authors from 2010!