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As the Bookworm Turns (Current Reading Thread) 
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Burning Godzilla
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My Amazon review of The Warrior Lost by my friend, Scott Blasingame:

I was excited to read this, as the first book in Scott Blasingame's series, THE WARRIOR SON, ended on a cliffhanger. This book doesn't quite pick up exactly where things left, but is set three years after *SPOILER* Thorn's defeat at the hands of his martial arts teacher, the treacherous Boko *END SPOILER* and all the tragedy that followed that fateful confrontation. Blasingame is kind enough to include some flashback (or "history," as Blasingame names them) chapters to fill us in on what happened to the characters in between the end of the first book and the beginning of this one.

The premise is pretty simple. At the yearly meeting of the dominant tribes in the Valley of the Hand, we learn that the wicked usurper Rame of the Kudzu Tribe has not only reinstated slavery among the "lesser" tribes, but has also started hunting other small, dispersed tribes for sport. Many of the other chiefs are against his practices, but a few assassinations later, Rame has installed a few "puppet" chiefs in power for the neighboring tribes in order to consolidate his power. But the appearance of a Messenger claiming to be sent by the mysterious Seer of the East changes everything. Word eventually reaches Thorn, and he reluctantly joins forces with Dorin and Arn (the Warrior Sons of the Wysteria and Hawk tribes, respectively), his friend Tad, the comely Bliss, a contingent of Ant Tribe Soldiers, and two members of the Fox tribe, in order to find the Seer and unlock the key to Thorn's destiny.

I had a blast with this story. The action and fight scenes are as well-choreographed (in a literary sense) as anything Blasingame has ever written. Blasingame expands on the action by having the characters develop new weapons, which would be the equivalente to a kusari-kama (sickle-and-chain) and kwan do. The suspense factor of the fights has also increased tenfold, with there being more at stake and the opponents being more powerful than before. The last two "set pieces," where Thorn's friends take on the main Kudzu warriors followed by the final showdown, had me at the edge of my seat.

The characters are still likable, although they all have some powerful emotional obstacles to overcome over the course of the story. And there's a Strong dark mood to the story, especially in the first third, when good guy after good guy is murdered and Rame's power becomes more and more absolute. And even once the hero's journey is well on its way, it's not a question of the heroes just traversing a long distance, there will be opposition that'll make the Snake Men fights of the last book look like light sparing. And even once the heroes *do* reach the Seer, things aren't 100% peachy keen. And the final twists? Oh man, I *so* did not see them coming.

Blasingame has expanded his WARRIOR SON world into something suitably epic with this book, complete with brutal, bone-crunching fights, new tribes and races, magic, twists, and more! Excellent work!

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Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:15 pm
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The Master Mind of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this sixth books Burroughs sets aside the Carter family and introduces is tp Ulysses Paxton, a World War One officer who was big fan of the stories of Barsoom by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who is blown apart on the battlefields of France to only then find himself then transported to Mars. Paxton ends up working for Ras Thavas, one of Barroom’s greatest scientific minds, and learns the process of swapping brains from one body to another. As well as giving us the classic "Brain Swapping Trope" Burroughs takes an even more blatant and satirical treatment of religious fundamentalists, all adding up to a very fun and exciting book.

You can read my full review here: The Master Mind of Mars

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Sun Nov 06, 2016 1:12 pm
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About to start another SF anthology. This one is Chrysalis (later known as Chrysalis 1, when others in the series came along), edited by Roy Torgeson (1977).

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Dark tears for is alabaster muse lost forever into the unforgiving jade daggers of the night. Her slim form no longer to touch his burning lips, her blood like the thorny rose no longer his, O Death! O Oblivion! Why havent you come! I wait in my garden of shadows for thee! -- Juniper releases her inner Goth.


Sun Nov 06, 2016 4:19 pm
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Roadshow: The thesis of the book is that the roadshow concept collapsed due to the studios seeing The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady making it big and deciding to invest heavily in Broadway adaptations with relatively limited markets. Author Matthew Kennedy also apparently believes Barbra Streisand's existence contributed a fair share to the dilemma... somehow.

An all-around readable look at the subject, but Kennedy injects too much of his own personal opinions on the films involved, taking the position of an infallible judge. Given that he considers every post-Sound of Music roadshow film to suck with the exception of Fiddler on the Roof and maybe Funny Girl, this gets tiresome pretty quickly. The book completely loses the thread in the last page of the last chapter and the epilogue, where Kennedy veers wildly into ranting about the modern movie-going experience and the state of the modern musical (short version: digital projection ruined movies forever and the only good musicals since Cabaret came out are from Disney).

A good book as a whole, but with some very obvious weak spots.

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Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:14 am
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And on to Chrysalis 7, edited by Roy Torgeson (1979).

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Dark tears for is alabaster muse lost forever into the unforgiving jade daggers of the night. Her slim form no longer to touch his burning lips, her blood like the thorny rose no longer his, O Death! O Oblivion! Why havent you come! I wait in my garden of shadows for thee! -- Juniper releases her inner Goth.


Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:49 pm
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A Fighting Man of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Here you have a standard action hero opening; guy meets girl, girl isn’t exactly into him, then girl is kidnapped and hero rushes off to rescue her, but in this book Burroughs changes it up a bit; normally the hero would eventually track down his beloved, whatever obstacle stood in the way of their love (i.e. betrothal or class distinction) would be resolved and then they’d get married, instead we will be introduced to one of the best written female characters in the Burroughs pantheon and that would be Tavia, an escaped slave girl whose boyish figure and short hair makes her a very atypical Burroughs heroine. Not only is she far from the curvaceous buxom figures of previous damsels in distress but she is by far one of the most well rounded female character in this series; she is self-reliant, witty, brave, and good in a fight. This is another must read for fans of Burroughs.

You can read my full review here: A Fighting Man of Mars

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Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:55 pm
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Movie Mike wrote:
A Fighting Man of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Here you have a standard action hero opening; guy meets girl, girl isn’t exactly into him, then girl is kidnapped and hero rushes off to rescue her, but in this book Burroughs changes it up a bit; normally the hero would eventually track down his beloved, whatever obstacle stood in the way of their love (i.e. betrothal or class distinction) would be resolved and then they’d get married, instead we will be introduced to one of the best written female characters in the Burroughs pantheon and that would be Tavia, an escaped slave girl whose boyish figure and short hair makes her a very atypical Burroughs heroine. Not only is she far from the curvaceous buxom figures of previous damsels in distress but she is by far one of the most well rounded female character in this series; she is self-reliant, witty, brave, and good in a fight. This is another must read for fans of Burroughs.

You can read my full review here: A Fighting Man of Mars

Don't know why lovers fighting side by side isn't more of a stock thing in classic pulp fantasy. I mean, it obviously it is a major stock thing. But of the two* basic female character types that Howard, Burroughs, etc ever wrote, they used #1 (scantily clad damsel in distress) way more often than #2 (scantily clad sword-wielding chick). Speaking as someone who used to be a twelve-year-old boy, always figured the latter was way sexier and more fun.

*Not counting scantily-clad cackling villain


Last edited by Benjamin on Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:15 pm
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About to start Man and Superman (1903) by George Bernard Shaw, in an edition that not only includes the play (complete with the "Don Juan in Hell" sequence which is often left out when it is performed on stage) but a long introduction by Shaw and a couple of related addenda, "The Revolutionist's Handbook" and "Maxims for Revolutionists."

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Dark tears for is alabaster muse lost forever into the unforgiving jade daggers of the night. Her slim form no longer to touch his burning lips, her blood like the thorny rose no longer his, O Death! O Oblivion! Why havent you come! I wait in my garden of shadows for thee! -- Juniper releases her inner Goth.


Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:18 pm
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Benjamin wrote:
Movie Mike wrote:
A Fighting Man of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Here you have a standard action hero opening; guy meets girl, girl isn’t exactly into him, then girl is kidnapped and hero rushes off to rescue her, but in this book Burroughs changes it up a bit; normally the hero would eventually track down his beloved, whatever obstacle stood in the way of their love (i.e. betrothal or class distinction) would be resolved and then they’d get married, instead we will be introduced to one of the best written female characters in the Burroughs pantheon and that would be Tavia, an escaped slave girl whose boyish figure and short hair makes her a very atypical Burroughs heroine. Not only is she far from the curvaceous buxom figures of previous damsels in distress but she is by far one of the most well rounded female character in this series; she is self-reliant, witty, brave, and good in a fight. This is another must read for fans of Burroughs.

You can read my full review here: A Fighting Man of Mars

Don't know why lovers fighting side by side isn't more of a stock thing in classic pulp fantasy. I mean, it obviously it is a major stock thing. But of the two* basic female character types that Howard, Burroughs, etc ever wrote, they used #1 (scantily clad damsel in distress) way more often than #2 (scantily clad sword-wielding chick). Speaking as someone who used to be a twelve-year-old boy, always figured the latter was way sexier and more fun.

*Not counting scantily-clad cackling villain

Burroughs did have a third female character: Thuvia, Maid of Mars who was your standard scantily clad damsel in distress, but she also had the ability to control the monstrous Martian lions. So could be very dangerous in her own way.

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Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:13 am
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Swords of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this installment John Carter has decided to rid Mars of the League of Assassins, this of course is not popular among the assassins so they kidnap his wife and hide her on one of the moons of Mars. The coolest element here for science fiction fans is that Carter gets hooked up with a scientist building a rocket ship that has "synthetic brain" which has to be one of the earliest fictional versions of a computer. Once again Burroughs relies on a certain formula to his stories but as always it is populated with brilliant characters, cool ideas, and great action.

You can read my full review here: Swords of Mars

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Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:18 am
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About to start VOR by James Blish (1958), a greatly revised and expanded version of the short story "The Weakness of RVOG" which he wrote with Damon Knight.

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Dark tears for is alabaster muse lost forever into the unforgiving jade daggers of the night. Her slim form no longer to touch his burning lips, her blood like the thorny rose no longer his, O Death! O Oblivion! Why havent you come! I wait in my garden of shadows for thee! -- Juniper releases her inner Goth.


Mon Nov 21, 2016 6:16 pm
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I'm revisiting Amazon Adventure by Willard Price. When I was like nine I read the entire series -- let's see how it holds up.

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Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:47 pm
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Finished James Baker Hall's "Yates Paul. His Grand Flights. His Tootings." - a story about the complex relationship between a precocious 13-year-old and his frequently adolescent father. I got some entertainment out of it, but your mileage may vary. Not very much "happens" but it's a terrific characterization and a good, low key story.

Then I blew through L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz. Which is as it should be. Its a children's book. But wowsers, what wild-assed imagery for a children's book. Particularly, the Tin Woodsman beheading 40 wolves. Lots of beheadings. The Wicked Witch is dispatched about two-thirds of the way through - didn't expect that! In fact, the whole novel reads like Baum just made crap up on the spur of the moment. I have a collection of the first five books and I'll likely consider myself well-versed in Oz cana after that. But damn, is there a children's book series nearly as twisted? Maybe the Phantom Tollbooth.....

Up next - complete the collected short stories of Harriette Arnow, Burrough's Thuvia Maid of Mars, and Margaret Atwood's latest novel.
In audiobooks, I'm listening to Mark Twain's The Innocent's Abroad.

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Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:13 am
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About to start Recalled to Life by Robert Silverberg (1977 edition with new introduction for the 1971 rewriting of the 1962 novel, serialized in Infinity magazine in 1958.)

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Dark tears for is alabaster muse lost forever into the unforgiving jade daggers of the night. Her slim form no longer to touch his burning lips, her blood like the thorny rose no longer his, O Death! O Oblivion! Why havent you come! I wait in my garden of shadows for thee! -- Juniper releases her inner Goth.


Sat Nov 26, 2016 12:34 pm
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Synthetic Men of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this installment that dastardly Master Mind of Mars Ras Thavas has created an army of monstrous looking synthetic men, who quickly turn the tables on the scientist and force him to make more of their kind so that they can eventually conqueror Barsoom. Some of the head synthetic men also have swap their brains into the bodies of good looking Red Martians because even monsters can be vane. The plot has Vor Daj, a young lieutenant in the Helium army, transferring his brain into one of these monstrosities so that he can protect the woman he loves. She doesn't know about the brain swap, and he's afraid to tell her, and so we get a kind of Beauty and the Beast thing going on. This isn't the best of the series but it does have some fun moments making it worth the read.

You can check out my full review here: Synthetic Men of Mars

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Sun Nov 27, 2016 3:08 pm
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