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As the Bookworm Turns (Current Reading Thread) 
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Burning Godzilla
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Godzilla - The novelization of the 1998 film by Stephen Molstad - I picked this up because, although I don't collect Godzilla toys, I do try to collect Godzilla-related books (as I can find and afford them here in Brazil). I was hoping at the very least there would be something in the book that wasn't in final film product, something in the script that had been cut or glossed over by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. The book itself is an adequate, workmanlike product, telling the story in the first person (from Nick Tatopoulos's POV). No great shakes in Molstad's writing. Only three things stuck out to me in this version:

1. The Nick Tatopoulos character feels less like a Matthew Broderick character and more like an arrogant, cynical, conspiracy theorist. In other words, this is the Nick we'd have gotten had they been able to bring on Jeff Goldblum to play him as had been the original plan.

2. Dr. Elsie Chapman, the female paleontologist who was supposed to be Nick's "boss" in the Gojira Project, was written as something of a sexpot. The way Molstad describes her, you think that the part was written for Christina Hendricks or Scarlett Johansson circa 2012 when she was sporting her Black Widow look...or for someone working in film in the late 90s, Julianne Moore or Angie Everhart.

That brings me to the final observations:

3. Dr. Mendel Craven, the third scientist on the Gojira Project team. In the movie, his character serves absolutely no purpose at all (and don't try to tell me that his presence in the movie was justified by his development as a character in the later animated series). The book does give him some background, letting us know that he's a scientist (or some sort) best known for publishing a series books about different ways the world could end and how each scenario would play out. While that's more background than he got in the film, it doesn't really justify his being called by the military. And then, in the book's epilogue, we learn that he's writing a book about the possibility of a second nest of Godzillas, which he intended to title "Cretaceous Era Park, or something*." So that implies that the character was created as a parody of Michael Crichton, which would make sense, considering that even the book points out how much like velociraptors that baby Godzillas behave. If that's true, that all of it was lost while bringing the script to the screen, and what might've been a reaction or parody of the previous year's Lost World: Jurassic Park ended up looking more like a desperate rip-off.

* - The title of Craven's book doesn't make any sense in the contexto of the novelization, as he was the most vocal opponent of Dr. Chapman's theory that Godzilla was an embiggened allosaurus.

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Tue Nov 29, 2016 3:08 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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Taking a break from my pile of old science fiction with The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy For Cupcakes But Fed Up With Fondue (Plus Baconomics, Superfoods, And Other Secrets From The World Of Food Trends) (2014) by David Sax. The insanely long title should be self-explanatory.

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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 Dec 03, 2016 5:32 pm
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Looking ahead a bit... come B-fest, I make it a point to always read at least a few pages from a book by SF/F author C.J. Cherryh at some point during the festival. To a book, her stuff is never an easy read, but always worth reading. It was just one of those things where by chance I happened to be reading one of her books two or three years in a row, coinciding with my doing the full 24 hours (and needing a lobby break for quiet reading). It has since become a weirdo tradition wiyh no real significance other than amusement.

Read so far:
2006 - Gate Of Ivrel
2007 - Fortress In The Eye Of Time
2008 - Forty Thousand In Gehenna
2009 - Wave Without A Shore
2010 - Angel With The Sword
2011 - Chernevog
2012 - The Paladin
2013 - Heavy Time
2014 - Serpent's Reach
2015 - Exile's Gate
2016 - Downbelow Station

Continuing the haphazard way with which I've approached her catalog, I was at a used book giveaway/sale (a pay what you want and have the run of the table kind of deal) at the library today, and picked up a Cherryh book, Hammerfall. So, I guess that'll be this year's selection. A look at her bibliography reassures that there is little danger of running out of books in the next few decades.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._J._Che ... bliography


Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:37 am
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Llana of Gathol by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This penultimate book in the Barsoom series consists of four connected stories; John Carter must escape the "City of Mummies" then he is forced into the fighting pits of “The Black Pirates of Barsoom” in "The Yellow Men of Mars" he must take control of an enemy ship to discover just what a certain warlord of the north is up to, and finally in “Invisible Men of Mars” Carter and his friends must deal with an enemy that has discovered invisibility. The thread that connects these stories is the constant rescuing of Llana of Gathol, John Carter's granddaughter, and though this does get to feel a bit redundant it's just a framework for some nice satire of the author's own work.

You can read my full review here: Llana of Gathol

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Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:12 pm
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John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this last book by Burroughs we get two stories one ghost written by his son, which isn't very good, and then the second one is by Edgar himself and it's very good, but this story is about Skeleton Men from Jupiter planning to invade Mars, which is really cool, but then Burroughs stopped writing the Barsoom series and so we will never know what happened to John Carter and Dejah Thoris. So this leaves the series ending on a rather odd note.

This is my last Edgar Rice Burroughs book review and you can check it out here: John Carter of Mars

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Sun Dec 11, 2016 2:40 pm
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About to start Beyond (1960), a collection of stories by Theodore Sturgeon. The oldest is from 1941, the newest is original to the book.

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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 Dec 12, 2016 3:23 am
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Next up is Shards of Space (1962), a collection of stories by Robert Sheckley, dating from 1953 to 1960.

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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.


Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:28 pm
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Next up is Year's Best SF 5 (2000), edited by David G. Hartwell, collecting stories from 1999.

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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 Dec 17, 2016 4:45 pm
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I'm revisiting The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft and am about halfway through. I think I like it more than a lot of the more famous Cthulhu mythos novellas, as we get to see the monsters without the hero going insane, and the travelogue-esque world building is just a lot of fun. It's very episodic, but the Dreamlands world is pretty cool. Of course, to Lovecraft newbies, be sure to read "The Silver Key", "Celephaïs", "The Cats of Ulthar", "The Other Gods", "Pickman's Model", "Polaris", "The Doom that Came to Sarnath", and "The Statement of Randolph Carter" before reading this. This novel takes those short stories and sythesizes them into a huge world-building exercise.

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Mon Dec 19, 2016 2:58 pm
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Margaret Atwood's The Heart Goes Last - Not as biting a dystopia as her previous novel trilogy or her most famous novel - The Handmaid's Tale. Once again, notions of power are explored as well as satire about sexual politics and spy thrillers. Very good, subtle comedy. I hope it remains a comedy through to the end, because it has been one of Atwood's most entertaining pieces. She is indulging in some pulp cheesiness which is quite fun.

The Chessmen of Mars - Burroughs addresses the idea of intellect versus physical. The first half of the book features yet another heretofore unknown race on Mars (do these people every just explore their planet?!) in which heads can detach from bodies via spider-like tendrils. The race believes they have attained evolutionary perfection in being a race detached from their emotions and are only purely intellectual. At which point, Tara of Helium, the daughter of John Carter, and the jeddak of Gahan chastise Ghek for being too cocky about its brain. You need the body, too. And you need emotions. I suspect we are getting to the point where Ghek is able to demonstrate how cool it is to outthink and outwit an opponent - yet ANOTHER Martian race that is blissfully unaware of anything more than its immediate surroundings. Still, in terms of pure creativity, Mike is absolutely spot on. It's been a thoroughly entertaining novel thus far, and most refreshingly, not without its own logic. There has been only one really and truly difficult coincidence to swallow. The rest has resulted in one of the better adventures in either the John Carter or Tarzan series that I have read.

The Collected Short Stories of Harriette Arnow - This has been quite a good collection. I worried that some of these short stories would get to be too repetitive, but Arnow has a dark, dark heart to her Appalachian roots.

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Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:01 pm
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About to take a break from old SF and read the nonfiction book The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World by Trevor Cox (2014, originally published in the UK as Sonic Wonderland: A Scientific Odyssey of Sound.) I guess Americans like things that blankly announce themselves as The [whatever] Book.

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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 Dec 25, 2016 5:10 pm
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About to start Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912) by Stephen Leacock. This edition is from 2013 and is "designed and decorated" by somebody called Seth, who is apparently a big name in graphic novels. Lots of comic book style illustrations. This seems to be a classic of Canadian humorous writing. I picture it as something like early 20th century Lake Wobegone, on the other side of the border.

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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 Dec 26, 2016 6:08 am
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Back to SF with Space Stations (2004) edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, a collection of original stories on that theme.

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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.


Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:15 am
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Just finished Category 5: The Story of Camille by Ernest Zebrowski and Judith Howard, and moved from there to Modern Manners by P.J. O'Rourke.

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Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:25 pm
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About to start Typee (1846) by Herman Melville, his first book. Debate still rages about how fictional this account of his adventures in the South Pacific may be.

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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 Jan 01, 2017 4:11 pm
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