Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Five Children and It - E. Nesbit

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/778

A bunch of kids in England move from the big smoke to the country. After they get there, they discover a bizarre grumpy weird looking supernatural guy.

Due to various rigmarole, this discovery means that said oddity grants them a bunch of wishes. Being kids, they generally wish for kids adventure type stuff.

3 out of 5

The Phoenix and the Carpet - E. Nesbit

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/836

The same kids from Five Children and It are now back at their house in London. One Guy Fawkes night they get a bit too keen with the fire workings, doing some damage to the floor coverings.

The replacement has an odd egg in it. Out of this, they get a Phoenix, a magic carpet, and yet more wish stuff.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Black Magic - Marjorie Bowen

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0605181.txt

Black magic there is indeed. Dodgy students, women, sorcery, mayhem and murder. Throw in some priets, Rome and satanic types aspiring to the papacy, and you have a pretty solid book.

Dirk and Thierry are drawn deeper and deeper into darkness as their dalliance with black magic grows into murder, corruption and worse.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, January 29, 2007

Star Born - Andre Norton

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/18458

The planetary Terran government at the time is oppressive and insular. This did not stop a few intrepid types risking the dangers and getting into space.

When they explore the planet of the Astra, they find resistance, but eventually make a deal with the local aliens, and go exploring with them.

They find people they didn't expect.

3.5 out of 5

Plague Ship - Andre Norton

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/16921

The second of the adventures of scruffy young merchant traveller Dane Thorsen. An expedition to another planet is also anything but routine, as the locals are hard to deal with, and the consequences of leaving, are worse.

Aliens and other problems lead the outside to believe that their ship is a disease carrier. This is not good as it might mean destruction.

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, January 28, 2007

1984 - George Orwell

http://www.gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100021.txt

In these days of Echelon, Satellite spying, and the ever-increasing proliferation of surveillance cameras, 1984 will definitely leave you with an uneasy feeling.

The story of one man's doomed rebellion against almost total totalitarianism, where even the text record of the day and the past can be altered to suit those in power.

Many concepts from this novel have entered the common lexicon.

5 out of 5

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Animal Farm - George Orwell

http://gutenberg.net.au/0100011.txt

Animal Farm is a dark satire, showing us what the author considers are some of the worse implications of communism and its failures, and human politics in general.

He uses a farm animal setting as the means to do this, as the various creatures set up their own class structures, leadership and indulge in repression and violence.

4 out of 5

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - R. E. Raspe

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3154

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is one of those tall tales sort of books. However, in the Baron's case, these are pretty extreme, not just stuff about big fishes. He goes on and on about all the stuff he has got up to, where he has been, who he has been, what he has ruled, what he has invented, etc. It was all pretty dull though.

1.5 out of 5

Puss In Boots - Anonymous Anonymous

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/503

The story of a guy that is down on his luck and broke, and all he has is a cat. Lucky for him, as this cat turns out to be rather clever. It guides him to an improvement in his station, once he realises it has intelligence.

They end up dealing with royalty, ogres, and other entertaining situations.

3 out of 5

Selected Prose Poetry and Eureka - Edgar Allan Poe

Other Poe

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/10031

Eureka :

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0603391.txt

This is a slightly more eclectic collection of Poe, with some lengthier pieces. It is also falling apart, unfortunately. Some of this will be a little harder to find in general, than some of the more famous work, so it is certainly useful to have because of that fact.



3 out of 5

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fangs of Murder - Robert Wallace

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0608161.txt

As the Phantom says, you are not very likely to work out what is going on in this case very early on.

"I surprised Fenwick with him at the Gargoyle Club the night he was killed, and when I so nearly was. And, gentlemen, I think that about winds up the most bizarre case I have ever had the pleasure of
assisting the Homicide Bureau with."

It is definitely odd. Axe murders, aerial queens, clubs of men starting to be bumped off, and a dead comic strip artist on top of it. It turns out to be literally freaky.

3.5 out of 5

Tycoon of Crime - Robert Wallace

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0608201.txt

It takes the Phantom a while to uncover this crime, as it is a complex plot involving a crimelord, the doing away of some scientists, and some other trying to get the site of a new government plan moved.

They want to do this because a group of men have made a discovery of a pitchblende deposit, enabling the production of radium. This would, of course make them a lot of money.

Some clues from one of the dead men at the start finally lead the Phantom to the truth.

3 out of 5

Tarzan and the Lost Empire - Edgar Rice Burroughs

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600911.txt

This adventure into a small lost civilisation of the past is a lot more fun than Lord of the Jungle. Tarzan is much more the focal character in this book, rather than a sideline character, so that helps.

Running around with his simian sidekick provides some comic relief, as he comes up against a couple of tinpot Caesars, manhandles one, overcomes in the arena, survives a siege, and topples some government.

Definitely entertaining.

"He rose from the throne and raised his hand for silence. The hum of voices ceased. "Caesar is dead, but upon someone of you must fall the
mantle of Caesar."

"Long live Tarzan! Long live the new Caesar!" cried one of the gladiators, and instantly every Sanguinarian in the room took up the cry."

Tarzan doesn't really fancy the job, so makes a suggestion that one of his martial Roman friends would fill the void nicely.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tarzan Lord of the Jungle - Edgar Rice Burroughs

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600681.txt

Tarzan goes Ivanoe! Two guys on a hunting/photography expedition, and get separated. A lost medieval colony and some Arab slave trades also feature. Tarzan runs around keeping an eye on people after being captured at the start and being rescued by an elephant and a gorilla.

This sums it up:-

"And so it was that Tarzan of the Apes, clad in chain mail, and armed with lance and sword, rode down into the Valley of the Sepulcher just as Bohun put his foul scheme into execution and carried off the Princess Cuinalda."

2.5 out of 5

Monday, January 15, 2007

Heu-Heu - H. Rider Haggard

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200191.txt


Allan is asked to retell a story, and he tells his group of drinking friends this one. For this gist of it, his statement here does quite well: "Also the adventure proposed was of an order so wild and unusual that it drew me like a magnet. Supposing that I lived to old age, could I, Allan Quatermain, bear to look back and remember that I had turned down an opportunity of that sort and was departing into the grave without knowing if there was or was not a Heu-Heu who snatched away
lovely Andromedas--I mean Sabeelas--off rocks, and combined in his hideous personality the qualities of a god or fetish, a ghost, a devil, and a super-gorilla?"

A sneaky African wizard informs him of a situation with a monster that needs handling, diamonds are to be had, and he could use some rare plants.

The priest of Heu-Heu have a setup similar to the sacrifice of Andromeda to Poseidon's monster.

Allan suspects this is all pretty Scooby Doo, and sets out to prove it. He needs some of Hans' quick thinking to get them through, as well as the majority of their ammunition to finally get away and get back home, after solving the situation for the tribe that had been lorded over for so long.


3 out of 5

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Shadow of the Vulture - Robert E. Howard

http://www.gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0608101.txt

Not much sorcery to be seen in this historical adventure, but it is the origin of the character that Roy Thomas and others adapted with such success for Marvel in comics form, so of interest to fans of Conan and Red Sonja as she currently stands, chainmail bikini wearing barbarbian Hyrkanian warrior.

It is also a sterling Robert E. Howard tale, as well as being the origin of the flame haired swordswoman.

Von Kalmbach is a knight who managed to injure the Turkish leader in battle in the past, when his other 31 comrades died. When it is learned he is still alive, an assassin is sent after him:

""Enough of excuses," interrupted Ibrahim. "Send Mikhal Oglu to
me. ... The man whose very name was a shuddering watchword of horror to all western Asia was soft-spoken and moved with the mincing ease of a cat..."

"...nor could Ibrahim guess that he was taking the first steps in a feud which should spread over years and far lands, swirling in dark tides to draw in thrones and kingdoms and red-haired
women more beautiful than the flames of hell..."

Von Kalmbach is drinking in a small town outside Vienna when he realises an invasion is coming, and rides quickly for the city, where a defense is being mustered.

Looking around, he is surprised: "Turning toward the abandoned gun, he saw a colorful, incongruous figure bending over the massive breech.

It was a woman, dressed as von Kalmbach had not seen even the
dandies of France dressed. She was tall, splendidly shaped, but lithe. From under a steel cap escaped rebellious tresses that rippled red gold in the sun over her compact shoulders. High boots of Cordovan leather came to her mid-thighs, which were cased in baggy breeches. She wore a shirt of fine Turkish mesh-mail tucked into her breeches. Her supple waist was confined by a flowing sash of green silk, into which were thrust a brace of pistols and a dagger, and from which depended a long Hungarian saber. Over all was carelessly thrown a scarlet cloak.

This surprizing figure was bending over the cannon, sighting it in a manner betokening more than a passing familiarity, at a group of Turks who were wheeling a carriage-gun just within range.

"Eh, Red Sonya!" shouted a man-at-arms, waving his pike. "Give 'em hell, my lass!""

Thomas and company certainly lifted her temperament, and physical presence, wholesale : "A terrific detonation drowned her words and a swirl of smoke blinded every one on the turret, as the terrific recoil of the overcharged cannon knocked the firer flat on her back. She sprang up like a spring rebounding and rushed to the embrasure, peering eagerly through the smoke, which clearing, showed the ruin of the gun crew. The huge ball, bigger than a man's head, had smashed full into the group clustered about the saker, and now they lay on the torn ground, their skulls blasted by the impact, or their bodies mangled by the flying iron splinters from their shattered gun. A cheer went up from
the towers, and the woman called Red Sonya yelled with a sincere joy and did the steps of a Cossack dance.

Gottfried approached, eying in open admiration the splendid swell
of her bosom beneath the pliant mail, the curves of her ample hips and rounded limbs. She stood as a man might stand, booted legs braced wide apart, thumbs hooked into her girdle, but she was all woman. She was laughing as she faced him, and he noted with fascination the dancing sparkling lights and changing colors of her eyes. She raked back her rebellious locks with a powder-stained hand and he wondered at the clear pinky whiteness of her firm flesh where it was unstained.

"Why did you wish for the Sultana Roxelana for a target, my girl?" he asked.

"Because she's my sister, the slut!" answered Sonya. "

Pretty soon, Gottfried is very happy she is there:
"It was Red Sonya who had come to his aid, and her onslaught was no less terrible than that of a she-panther. Her strokes followed each other too quickly for the eye to follow; her blade was a blur of white fire, and men went down like ripe grain before the reaper. With a deep roar Gottfried strode to her side, bloody and terrible, swinging his great blade. Forced irresistibly back, the Moslems wavered on the edge of the wall, then leaped for the ladders or fell screaming through empty space.

Oaths flowed in a steady stream from Sonya's red lips and she
laughed wildly as her saber sang home and blood spurted along the
edge. The last Turk on the battlement screamed and parried wildly as she pressed him; then dropping his scimitar, his clutching hands closed desperately on her dripping blade. With a groan he swayed on the edge, blood gushing from his horribly cut fingers.

"Hell to you, dog-soul!" she laughed. "The devil can stir your
broth for you!"

With a twist and a wrench she tore away her saber, severing the
wretch's fingers; with a moaning cry he pitched backward and fell
headlong.""

The somewhat bewildered knight still does not know what to make of her: ""By God, my girl," said he, extending a huge hand, "had you not come to my aid, I think I'd have supped in Hell this night. I thank--"

"Thank the devil!" retorted Sonya rudely, slapping his hand aside. "The Turks were on the wall. Don't think I risked my hide to save yours, dog-brother!"

And with a scornful flirt of her wide coattails, she swaggered off down the battlements, giving back promptly and profanely the rude sallies of the soldiers."

He enquires about this woman: "Eh, she's a devil, that one! She drinks the strongest head under the table and outswears a Spaniard. She's no man's light o' love. Cut--slash--death to you, dog-soul! There's her way."

"Red Sonya from Rogatino--that's all we know. Marches and fights
like a man--God knows why. Swears she's sister to Roxelana, the
Soldan's favorite. If the Tatars who grabbed Roxelana that night had got Sonya, by Saint Piotr! Suleyman would have had a handful! Let her alone, sir brother; she's a wildcat. Come and have a tankard of ale."

After an ill advised excursion against the enemy, Sonya pulls Gottfried to safety, and after telling him of the death of a leader, she displays no patience for sensitive men: Gottfried sat down on a piece of fallen wall, and because he was
shaken and exhausted, and still mazed with drink and blood-lust, he
sank his face in his huge hands and wept. Sonya kicked him
disgustedly.

"Name o' Satan, man, don't sit and blubber like a spanked
schoolgirl. You drunkards had to play the fool, but that can't be
mended. Come--let's go to the Walloon's tavern and drink ale."

After some more heavy fighting and a respite, the Turks try some sneaking to get to von Kalmbach, but again Sonya is there: "Tshoruk snarled like a wolf and struck him savagely on the head
with a scimitar hilt. Almost instantly, it seemed, the door crashed inward. As in a dream Gottfried saw Red Sonya framed in the doorway, pistol in hand. Her face was drawn and haggard; her eyes burned like coals. Her basinet was gone, and her scarlet cloak. Her mail was hacked and red-clotted, her boots slashed, her silken breeches splashed and spotted with blood.

With a croaking cry Tshoruk ran at her, scimitar lifted. Before he could strike, she crashed down the barrel of the empty pistol on his head, felling him like an ox. From the other side Rhupen slashed at her with a curved Turkish dagger. Dropping the pistol, she closed with the young Oriental. Moving like someone in a dream, she bore him irresistibly backward, one hand gripping his wrist, the other his throat. Throttling him slowly, she inexorably crashed his head again and again against the stones of the wall, until his eyes rolled up and set. Then she threw him from her like a sack of loose salt."

As she says : ""The bells of Saint Stephen!" cried Sonya. "They peal for victory!""

The defenders have won, and the Turks retreat. Sonya and von Kalmbach spare one of the sneakers they have caught, and send him back with a grim message for the attackers.

4 out of 5

Friday, January 12, 2007

Slayer - Karen Koehler

Download Slayer

Interesting enough concept. The writing was just B-A-D. The writing was very poor, the concept will be interesting enough to died in the wool vampire fanatics, with conflict between various vampire groups, and who is allowed to kill who. Complete with long coats and pretty males, and all that sort of thing. If I ever see one, I will look at a sequel to see if it gets better, she has other books, so may well have improved.

1 out of 5

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

In the Rue Mongue - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602931.txt

A short work with the Pimpernel again amusingly pulling the wool over the eyes of his pursuers to reunite a scholarly gentleman with loved ones overseas.

3 out of 5

Pimpernel and Rosemary - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602631.txt

This book is about the next generation of Blakeneys and their circle. Peter, for one, and a young woman named Rosemary, who is of journalistic and writing intention.

Another amusing tongue in cheek opening, too :-

"To Peter Blakeney, Rosemary Fowkes' engagement to his friend
Tarkington seemed not only incredible but impossible. The end of the
world! Death! Annihilation! Hell! Anything!

But it could not be true.

He was playing at Lord's that day; Tarkington told him the news at the
luncheon interval, and Peter had thought for the moment that for once
in his life Tarkington must be drunk. But Tarkington looked just as he
always did-grave, impassive, and wonderfully kind. Indeed, he seemed
specially kind just then. Perhaps he knew. Perhaps Rosemary had told
him. Women were so queer. Perhaps she did tell Tarkington that he,
Peter, had once been fool enough to--

Anyway, Tarkington was sober, and very grave and kind, and he told
Peter in his quiet, unemotional way that he considered himself the
happiest man on God's earth. Of course he was, if Rosemary---But it
was impossible. Impossible! IMPOSSIBLE!!

That afternoon Peter hit many boundaries, and at the end of play was
148 not out."

The pair get themselves involved in some intrigues.


3 out of 5

A Child of the Revolution - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602771.txt

This is not really a Scarlet Pimpernel story either, the only time the Pimpernel appears is at the start and the end of the book.

Percy Blakeney tells his Royal Highess the story of Andre Vallon and what he gets up to and the woman he is involved with.

It is ok, but it ain't the Pimpernel.

2.5 out of 5

Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602761.txt

The Scarlet Pimpernel again has to deal with a femme fatale, but this time, she is Spanish. This doesn't mean that the Robespierre types are not around, just that she is involved with one of them.

The Pimpernel has to save a brash young man from her wily clutches, and really is quite enjoying himself in the process.

When she can't outthink or seduce our hero, they decide to do the kidnap the wife routine. Committe, you should know by now, that trick never works.

3.5 out of 5

Sir Percy Hits Back - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602731.txt

The goings on in Sir Percy Hits Back are a little bit different to the rest. Chauvelin features as a major character in a different way.

His daughter, Fleurette, is involved in an incident that brings her under suspicion of the committee. He realises that with the zealousness shown so far, and the number of innocent people murdered that she is likely doomed, even if he can try and sway the court.

There is not much hope that she can be saved, unless he turns to his bitter enemy, The Scarlet Pimpernel.

3.5 out of 5

The Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602741.txt

In the Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel a young woman tries to rescue a friend of hers from those dastardly employers of the guillotine. A little naive, she believes some documents she has in her possession will give her the leverage necessary.

The Committee are not rookies at the game of underhandedness and subterfuge, and she is facing a neck shortening herself. The Pimpernel must come to the rescue!

3 out of 5

Lord Tony's Wife - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602871.txt

This book is quite lacking in Scarlet Pimpernel-ness.

A young French local, mad at the treatment of the people at the hands of the nobility, attacks some. This goes wrong, and when he flees, his father is executed instead of him.

Now in England, he tries to lure a woman back to the guillotine, but Lord Tony likes the same girl, and hopes the Pimpernel will help out.

This one is not that interesting.

2 out of 5

Mamzelle Guillotine - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602621.txt

In this book, Percy isn't opposed by Chauvelin, really, but instead, has to deal with a femme fatale, instead.

A young woman ends up in the bastille because of a complicated story involving the execution of her father. When the mob releases her after the storming, she goes the other way, and becomes a feared agent of the blade, and is in fact nicknamed after it.

She works to take revenge on those who wronged her, and their families. This is where the Pimpernel and company work to try and stop her and save the innocent.

3.5 out of 5

The Airlords of Han - Philip Francis Nowlan

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0606931.txt


This is definitely one for the military geeks, as Rogers historically reminisces over a major event in his life, the conflict and conquest of the Airlords of Han.

He outfits his troops in a way Warhammer 40K fans might like:

"The field unit of the Delawares was also heavily armored. It was one
of the most efficient bodies of shock troops in our entire line. They
carried circular shields, about three feet in diameter, with a vision
slit and a small rocket gun. These shields were held at arm's length
in the left hand on going into action. In the right hand was carried
an axe-gun, an affair not unlike the battleaxe of the Middle Ages. It
was about three feet long. The shaft consisted of a rocket gun, with
an axe-blade near the muzzle, and a spike at the other end. It was a
terrible weapon. Jointed leg-guards protected the axe-gunner below the
rim of his shield, and a hemispherical helmet, the front section of
which was of transparent ultron reaching down to the chin, completed
his equipment."

Then there are inertron shielded flyers at times, a metal hard to make apparently.

In his role as commander of one region, he ends up being captured, and learns something of the Hans, and their impressive mental development, but they lack something on the physical and emotional sides, apparently.

Wilma, his wife, no mean warrior, comes looking for him:

"I had gone five miles, and had paused for a moment, halfway up the
slope of the valley to get my bearings, when a figure came hurtling
through the air from behind, and landed lightly at my side. It was
Wilma.

"I put Dave Berg in command and followed, Tony. I won't let you go
into that alone. If you die, I do, too. Now don't argue, dear. I'm
determined."

and

"With a shout of unholy joy, I gripped a bayonet-gun from the hands of
a gunner whose leg had been whisked out of existence beneath him by a
pistol ray, and leaped forward into the fight, launching myself at a
red-coated officer who was just stepping out of a "worm hole."

Like a shriek of the Valkyrie, Wilma's battle cry ran in my ear as
she, too, shot herself like a rocket at a red-coated figure.""

Other than that, there is not a lot to recommend this, given the nature of the narravtive, and the previous book is definitely better.

Sir Percy Leads the Band - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602721.txt

A priest, a baron, a doctor, a lawyer and the Scarlet Pimpernel walked into a bar. Ok, well, not really, but take those characters and a woman, throw in a love triangle, and you have the basics of this book.

That, and the execution of the king of France. Sir Percy's band has to sneak around in entertaining disguises and extricate most of the above from the problems they have gotten themselves into.

To make matters worse, Chauvelin has become interested.

Fun stuff.


3.5 out of 5

El Dorado - Emmuska Orczy

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1752

Another fun Scarlet Pimpernel romp. A friend of Percy's, has his head turned by yet another French actress (this one is not of the sneaky sort), and says some things that he shouldn't.

Throw in a dodgy Austrian baron, and Chauvelin, and the rescue of a young French monarch, and you have your adventure.

Because of his foolish friend Percy himself is captured, because Chauvelin wants him to reveal where the young French blueblood is being hidden, so that they can do some more chopping off of heads.

3.5 out of 5

The First Sir Percy - Emmuska Orczy

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602601.txt

This is the second of the prequels I suppose you could say, to the main Scarlet Pimpernel chronology, and is the story of the older generation.

The woman the first Sir Percy is to marry has a brother that is definitely a nogoodnik, and this gets in the way of their life.

This has to be resolved, but it is not the same superheroic type style of the Pimpernel escapades, although the writing is similar.

2.5 out of 5

The Elusive Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/2785

You can't catch him! A French agent is sent to England undercover as a French diplomat, to try and capture Percy Blakeney (or, actually, his alter-ego, the Scarlet Pimpernel) and get him back to France where they can lop him for all the humiliation and trouble that he has caused.

Said dodgy Frenchman with the help of a sneaky French actress manages to get his hands on Marguerite, and has her in prison.

This leaves the Pimpernel to come up with a plan that will make the Frenchies look silly again.

Definitely an entertaining adventure.

3.5 out of 5

I Will Repay - Emmuska Orczy

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/5090

A man loses his son in a duel, and requests that his daughter help him do something about the man that did it, even though it was in a duel. In this book the Pimpernel is a supporting character, and he is needed later, after the young woman gets herself into trouble with Robespierre's committee.

She also learns that the surviving duellist is really not such a bad bloke after all, and, in fact, is rather attractive.

3 out of 5

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar - Edgar Rice Burroughs

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/92

Tarzan needs some cash, so he is off to look for a source. The Jewels of Opar sound like a good idea. He has a bit of a problem when there, when he loses his memory.

This gives the gorgeous seductress and loopy priestess La a chance to try and get her hands on the muscular King of the Jungle, until he remembers the whole Jane thing.

A pretty good Tarzan adventure.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, January 08, 2007

Man Of Steel Woman Of Kleenex - Larry Niven

http://www.rawbw.com/~svw/superman.html

While not a story as such, Niven satirically pontificates on the damage super spoof would to a human mortal woman, and the possibilities of super surrogacy.

Wonder if Superboy had Element Lad make him some special material condoms on his trips to the 30th century?

3.5 out of 5

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/10148

Howard Pyle has put together a bunch of Robin Hood tales, legends and songs, and turned it into a book that is basically aimed at young readers. It is certainly enjoyable, and plenty of people should enjoy Robin Hood and his Merry Men running around in the forest causing trouble for those Sheriff types and others. Definitely fun.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Heroic Measures - Matthew Johnson

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2006/20061218/heroic-f.shtml

Superman is deathyly ill, and in hospital, but there is not much they can do for him given most of their instruments and techniques won't work. His powerful immune system is trapped in a cycle, it keeps failing and repairing itself, but, malfunctioning, it is mutanting diseases that can affect others.

Lois is keeping watch over him, knows what must be done but can barely bring herself to do it. She makes a deal with Luthor for some green kryptonite to help him go peacefully.

Poignant story that could easily fit in one of those earlier Greenberg type anthologies.

4 out of 5

Super-Villains - Michael Canfield

http://archive.sonandfoe.com/issue1/super-villains

An aging hero has run out of enemies to fight, and he has always used his crusade to prevent him coming to close to the woman he desires.

An old foe of his is released from prison and said woman decides to do something about it, accompanying the villain to an exhibition where the Venus diamond is on display, a stone with reputedly magical properties.

When Ginny gets the diamond, a new super villain is born, Fevre, and the Wing again has an opponent to chase.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In This Corner Death - Emile C. Tepperman

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0603821.txt

A fun pulp crime story with a boxer turned lawyer wanting to be a boxer again. He shouldn't have suggested to Fortuna that he was bored though, as his girlfriend is kidnapped, he has to on the lam due to a frame, and fight a crimelord's hulking Greek bruiser. He, of course, triumps, but it rattles along nicely.

3 out of 5

The Hour of the Dragon - Robert E. Howard

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600981.txt

The novel length Conan work. An aging Conan is now in a position of responsibility, being King of Aquilonia.

His reign is threatened by a very powerful sorcerer, whom Conan is unable to stop by mundane means, and must take himself off hunting for a mystic artifact.

Having done this, there is some wizard smiting to be done.

Top notch work.

5 out of 5

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Starwinds Howl - Elliot S. Maggin

http://superman.ws/thebook/starwinds.php

Firstly, Jor-El is definitely not a dog person. He gets Kal-El a puppy for scientific reasons, and when he needs a test flight for his ship, the pup goes.

Krypto ends up being taken aboard an interdimensional pirate hopper, through probable good luck, and growing up there with some dog friends.

The pirate comes to a bad end, but near a yellow sun system, which Krypto is a bit surprised by. He eventually tracks down traces of the boy he knew via his new supersenses.

He finds his way to Earth, but smells of Superboy are everywhere, so he finds the biggest city, flies above it and lets out a window-shattering howl. This quickly draws his long lost friend's attention.

4 out of 5

Last Son of Krypton - Elliot S. Maggin

http://superman.ws/thebook/lsok_contents.php

In Elliot S. Maggin's Superman novels, Superman and Lex Luthor have a strange sort of codependent relationship. Coming from their childhood, and now grown men, they must work together to stop an alien threat, and learn why philtrums, of all things, are important.

Ancient alien prophecies can certainly be annoying.

4.5 out of 5

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Diver - A. J. Alan

http://www.gutenberg.net.au/gutindex_aus.txt

A tongue in cheek story about a haunted diving board and pool. I kid you not. Amusing.

3 out of 5