Monday, July 31, 2006

The Man In The Iron Mask - Alexandre Dumas

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At times my favorite Dumas. World weary cynicism, mixed with heroism. A band of aging heroes must right a terrible wrong, and deal with upcoming youth at the same time. They have been betrayed and pensioned off by those they have bled and almost died for, and so set out to see what they can do to rectify the situation and the darkness surrounding the throne of France.

4.5 out of 5

Olga Romanoff or the Syren of the Skies - George Griffith

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An Amazon of the Air, even. An entertaining science fiction action adventure air war story. The more interesting thing of course, is that one of the female characters is a strong, military figure. She has a commanding presence and i snot being told what to do or protected by the males around her. Certainly something different for this turn out of the century type science fiction novel

3 out of 5

The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune - Robert E. Howard

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Introspection and philosophy are not cures for what ails a bored warrior-King. Neither are wizardly mirrors or Lovecraftian elder races.

Thankfully, the stout, pragmatic Spear-Slayer is there to remind him.

4 out of 5

Raiders of the Red Death - Curtis Steele

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Jimmy defeats an Aztec empire's death plans, treats his kid sidekick with disdain, barely touches his girlfriend while trying hard to resist an evil seductress, and saves his noble father, imprisoned, of course, by said Aztech empire. All in all, highly entertaining.

3.5 out of 5

A Week In The Future - Catherine Helen Spence

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A woman in 1888 Adelaide is told by her doctor she has a week heart, and only a year or two to live. She decides she would like to see what the future will hold, having a keen interest in the political and economic realm of the time.

She makes a request to the man capable of providing this service, to swap the time she has left, for the title of the novel.

What follows is an interesting, and at times insightful, if somewhat utopian-wishful look at future conditions in London, which is where she is transported to.

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Shadow Kingdom - Robert E. Howard

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There is evil treachery afoot in the time of Atlantis, the serpent priests are stirring, and a cunning old king brings them to the attention of a somewhat restless Kull. More pity them. With a stalwart Pictish spear-slayer at his side, he wreaks bloody havoc among them, and vows to take the war to them. No-one else would ever have copied this plot later on, would they?

3.5 out of 5

The Maracot Deep - Arthur Conan Doyle

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A scientific genius of the Doyle era comes up with a method for deep sea exploration, and gives it a try. Unfortunately, a cyclone wrecks the ship they are attached to.

Fortunately for them, not all the Atlanteans were destroyed, and they are rescued by some of the denizens of aforementioned remnant.

A fairly genial reception awaits the adventurers (who also find some hot chicks, it seems, at least the younger two do).

Initital verbal communication is established through classical Greek, as apparently said Atlanteans kept Greek slaves, from their war with ancient Greece.

Just to throw you for a loop, in the midst of all this scientific discovery, we have some reincarnated heroes.

A more than slight problem is discovered, as the advent of these gentlemen has led to the reawakening of the ancient nemesis of the Atlanteans, Baal. (Seems they can never get rid of the guy in Stargate, either).

Baal apparently is not the only powerful being with tricks left, as his ancient white magic enemy manages to possess Professor Maracot for a time, leading to his defeat.

Of course, they devise a means for getting a hopeful message to the surface world, to organise a possible rescue, and slip away from their hosts, complete with female companionship.

All in all, entertaining enough, and I didn't see the Baal coming, that is for sure.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hammer of the Gods - John York Cabot

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A neanderthal type level band, in what presumably is a post-apocalyptic situations discovers a magic weapon. On it is written something very similar to 'grenade'. Nice, short, and sharp, this one.

3 out of 5

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Vandals of the Void - James Morgan Walsh

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An exciting space adventure. For a book from 1919 it has an interestingly pro-active, intelligent, and action-seeking heroine, in Jansca Dirka. Interplanetary Guard Captain Jack Sanders has influenced a lot of characters, as well, it would seem. A very enjoyable tale of solar system conflict.

This also pretty likely has the first ever depiction of an interplanetary space battle in a science fiction novel. Pretty good for an aussie. Highly recommended.

4 out of 5

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven - Mark Twain

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This was in a book I had as a kid that was quite influential. Still remember it vividly, so must be good! Slyly funny satire - angelic life is as boring as all get out, and you can't talk to dead Germans or cavemen when you don't speak the same language!

So, what else is a bored man to do? Trade in the harp and wings (no decent bands in Heaven either) and go off adventuring, chase comets, and do other fun things, not sit around and sing way too many high pitched notes.

4 out of 5

A Boy and His God - Charles Stross

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First, imagine Cthulhu as your pet, contained to a reasonable size. Then, imagine him on a skateboard. Sound way too crazy? Read this story, both happen.

4 out of 5

Friday, July 14, 2006

Printcrime - Cory Doctorow

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A chilling tale of the future when Z-Printers abound, and it becomes a crime for the common man to have one, for the typical fascist reasons. Then one of the protagonist's family, has an epiphany at the end of the story.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, July 10, 2006

Gladiator - Philip Wylie

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A modern Hercules literally struck down by a thunderbolt from Jove. The amusing part is seeing all the frat boys called 'birds'. Otherwise, a very modest superman, he was. Unsurprisingly, the text in a 50 year old paperback is a little on the dodgy faded side. Never, ever make a super cat.

4 out of 5

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Bid for Fortune - Guy Boothby

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Dr Nikola is an enigmatic supervillain type, with his own strange code of honor. Unfortunately for him, he crosses paths with a bored adventurer on holiday, and life becomes more difficult for him. A fun, straightforward, clear adventure on one hand, with the enigmatic Nikola in the background.

3.5 out of 5

Friday, July 07, 2006

Dot and the Kangaroo - Ethel Pedley

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A change of pace here with a good children's bush tale, complete with violence and death, but, of course, a happy ending, with a conservation theme.

A little girl, Dot, gets lost. She is helped by some friendly animals, and a kangaroo appoints herself her minder. The kangaroo has a lost child to find as well, so Dot happily fits in her pouch, and can communicate with the wildlife after eating some useful magic type berries so she understands all their speech.

She also escapes being put on trial for humanity's crimes!

4 out of 5

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Kwa and the Beast Men - Perley Poore Sheehan

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Tarzan, this is not. The hero appears to be a bit closer to the ape level of intelligence. The names of some of the species are fun, though.

1.5 out of 5

A Honeymoon In Space - George Griffith

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Interplanetary romance, I suppose you call this. With skirts, shaperones, possibly caddish noblemen who are not, all that sort of thing. Anglo-American wedded rivaly is amusing, and it seems the heroine's intelligence is not ignored in this particular book. Sympathetic aliens, as well, even.

This would probably appeal somewhat to your Jane Austen crowd, as well as those who enjoy early science fictio tales.

3.5 out of 5

The Vampire Maid - Hume Nisbet

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If a really sexy girl is living by herself on a very creepy moor, in an old house, there is usually a reason.

3 out of 5

The Dualitists - Bram Stoker

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Whoa, that story is cold. If you are going to be put off by two evil psychopathic boys plotting to draw the father of two babies into blowing the heads off his babies with a shotgun, then stay well away.

4 out of 5