DMcCunney

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DMcCunney

DMcCunney’s book reviews

The Game of Rat and Dragon is an early story in Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind series. The planoform ships that ply the stars are menaced by malevolent interstellar entities, and protected by pinlighters - parasite craft released from the host vessel carrying light bombs that can dispel the attackers. The pilots of the craft are sentient cats in telepathic communication with human controllers aboard the ship they are protecting. The cats perceive the attackers as rats, hence the title.

The cats are examples of Underpeople - animals genetically engineered to provide sentience - and used for various tasks deemed to risky for true humans. The fate of the Underpeople is an underlying thread in the Instrumentality series, with slowly growing attempts to see the Underpeople granted full rights as sentient beings.

All of Smith's work is simply wonderful.
______
Dennis
01/30/2017
Triplanetary is the first book of Smith's classic Lensman series. The others are First Lensman, Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensman, and Children of the Lens.

It details the conflict spanning eons between the Arisians and the rapacious Eddorians, invaders from another continuum, with humanity as Arisia's ultimate weapon.

It's classic space opera, and every time you think Smith has gone as far as he can, rest assured he has a topper up his sleeve, and a topper for the topper behind it,

This is based on the serial that appeared in Amazing Stories. The book publication differs. Alas, not all of the Lensman books have entered the public domain. (Magazine stories back then had a different copyright than the books, and often lapsed into the PD when the books didn't.)
10/17/2013
This is a novelette set in Piper's "Federation" universe, which was also the setting for his classic "Little Fuzzy". It was expanded to novel length and published as "The Cosmic Computer" and "Junkyard Planet".

Conn Maxwell is the son of Rod Maxwell, a prominent planter on the planet Poictesme. Poictesme is economically depressed, and Conn has been sent to school on distant Terra.

Decades before the story takes place, the Federation had fought a war with the secessionist System States Alliance, and Poictesme had been a major advance base. An assortment of folks on Poictesme prospect for abandoned Federation supply dumps to salvage and resell the equipment. There have been rumors for many years that the Federation built and installed a super computer somewhere on Poictesme that was used to help manage the war, and many dream that if they find it, it can provide the answers to lift Poictesme out of economic stagnation and decline and make it a prosperous place again. Part of the reason Conn was sent to school on Terra was to gather information to aid that search.

Conn has returned home, and the search for the super computer is on, but what will the results be if it is found? The answers it can provide may not be those the searchers hope to hear.
06/25/2011
It's one of a series Reynolds did under the general title "Frigid Fracas". The US and the Soviet bloc have recognized common interests and become much like each other. A world peace has been imposed, and weapons development strictly limited.

The US has what is called "People's Capitalism", with everyone issued Basic shares at birth and able to earn Variable shares in various manners. The social structure has stratified into Lowers, Middles, and Uppers based on shares held.

The protagonist is a Major in Category Military, hiring out to fight in various clashes. Corporations which cannot resolve differences by other means hire mercenary troops to fight for them. Combat is restricted to use of weapons designed before 1900, and the clashes are televised for the entertainment of the masses.
12/10/2010
Little Fuzzy has achieved status as a classic, and may be the best known of Piper's works. There are two sequels by Piper: Fuzzy Sapiens and The Other Human Race. They take place about midway in the Federation timeline.

Piper died in 1961, and the manuscript for the planned third Fuzzy novel disappeared. Ardath Mayhar wrote a third Fuzzy novel called Golden Dreams, and William F. Tuning wrote a third called Fuzzy Bones. Both took off from the ending of Fuzzy Sapiens, but in different directions.

Years later, Piper's manuscript for the third Fuzzy novel was discovered in a trunk by an old friend, and was eventually published as Fuzzies and Other People.

Author John Scalzi, whose Agent to the Stars is available here, has signed a contract to produce another novel in the Fuzzy universe, tentatively titled Fuzzy Nation, which will be published by Tor Books in 2011.
09/19/2010
Fortunately, Ken Applebaum's comment is no longer really true. Missing footage from Metropolis was discovered in a film museum in Argentina, and Kino has a newly restored version in circulation that is nearly complete. (Lang was reportedly inspired by a visit to New York City in the 1930's.)

The print verion of Metropolis with the Kaluta illistrations is hard to find. But Mike put the illustrations online on his website, at http://www.kaluta.com/pages/metropolis/metbook.html

I created a custom Mobipocket ebook version with the illustrations starting with the HTML version here.

I've read the book a number of times over the years, and get a different take each time. In part, these days, I see it as a story of redemption.

Yoh Frederson is Master of Metropolis. His beloved wife Hel died giving birth to his son Eric. Yoh has sealed himself off from feelings since, seeking to become a precise, efficient machine like those that power his city. Machines don't feel. Machines don't hurt. In the process, he has divorced himself from empathy and the ability to understand the plight of the workers who keep things going.

His chief scientist, Rotwang, has created a robot that can replace the fallible workers. Rotwang too loved Hel, and was a rival for her affections before she married Yoh, so the relationship between the men is complex.

Eric becomes involved with Maria, daughter of a worker and leader of a worker religious sect, and discovers the worker's plight and resolves to help, setting in motion the events of the film.

See the film. Read the book. They complement and illuminate each other.
07/08/2010
This is the serialized version of "Uller Uprising", which appeared in Space Science Fiction in 1952. It's a novel written for an anthology published by Twayne Books as a "Twayne Triplet", based on an essay by Dr. John D. Clark postulating a world with intelligent life based on silicon instead of carbon.

It's set in Piper's Federation universe. Uller is colony world run by the Chartered Uller Company. The protagonists find themselves in the middle of a native uprising. The natives are silicon based hermaphrodite humanoids with four arms and a roughly early industrial revolution level of technology.

Piper uses the canvas to retell the Sepoy Rebellion in India in SF terms. It's not the best of his books (that honor probably goes to Little Fuzzy or Space Viking, also available here), but it's a brisk fairly enjoyable read.
06/30/2010
I found this a brisker read than Leah. Richard Hannay is an Englishman who has made his pile in South Africa, and returned to England. He is very soon bored to tears and considering returning to South Africa, when he finds himself caught up in events that will culminate in WWI. He finds himself dashing across England, pursued by both the authorities who suspect him of murder, and the German agents whose plans he has stumbled upon.

There are two more Richard Hannay novels besides the ones available here - _The Three Hostages_ and _The Island of Sheep_ - available at Project Gutenberg Australia.
06/26/2010
Let's see...

Mrs. Clara Moreton is a pseudonym of General Dwight D. Eiosenhower, and Frank and Fanny was written in odd moments while winning World War II, yet the book was published in 1851, and Ike wasn't born until 1890?

The descriptions of Frank and Fanny are equally removed from reality.

Lovely little work of fantasy. Utterly useless review.


07/18/2009
I'd give this a higher rating than Parky, though I understand his complaints. At the time it was written, psi abilities were a major theme in SF, with the late John W. Campbell leading the way in stories he chose for Astounding SF/Analog SF.

Part of the problem with Voodoo Planet is length: it was published as half of an Ace Double novel, which had two books, back to back, under the same cover. Because of the format, books tended to be about 45,000 - 50,000 words long to be able to fit. If Andre had more space to play in, I suspect she would have provided more details. (And it's possible she did, and they got cut by the editor.)

It's a nice look at a pretty well realized foreign culture. No, Chief Ranger Asaki doesn't really understand his powers, either: he simply knows that he can do certain things, and is in tune with his environment in a way others aren't.

It isn't Andre's best book, but I don't believe she ever wrote a *bad* one.
08/28/2008
Elana Johnson - A Friends to Lovers, Fake Fiance Romance
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