SurrDave (surrdave) wrote,

Recent Books

Continuing my review approach of letting them speak for themselves, if they were worthy of it.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander.  Stories and Prose Poems.

    No one writes about this lake, and it is spoken of only in whispers.  As though to an enchanted castle, all roads to it are barred and over each one hangs a forbidding sign—a plain, blunt straight line.
    Man or beast, faced with that sign, must turn back.  Some earthly power has put that sign there; past it none may ride, none may walk, crawl or even fly.
    Segden Lake is as round as though traced out with a pair of compasses.  If you were to shout (but you must not shout, or you would be heard), only a fading echo would reach the other bank.  A secret lake in a secret forest.  The water looks up and the sky gazes down upon it.  If there is a world beyond the forest, it has no place here.

Tao Te Ching

The master does nothing;
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The kind man does something,
yet something remains to be done.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds,
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

Frost, Mark.  The List of 7

Mr. Abraham Stoker was the first to gently advance the conversation.  “Miss Temple, you should tell them what happened here the night before I found you.”
    She nodded and lowered the handkerchief.  “I was awakened in the middle of the night.  Gently.  I don't know why, I didn't move, I just opened my eyes.  I wasn't sure, I'm not sure now, if I wasn't dreaming.  A shape was standing in the shadows in the corner of my room.  I looked at it for the longest time before I could be sure what I was seeing.  A man.  He didn't move.  He looked...unnatural.”
    “Describe him for me,” said Sparks.
    “A pale face.  Long.  All in black.  His eyes—it's hard to describe—his eyes burned.  They absorbed light.  They never blinked.  I was so terrified I couldn't move.  I could hardly breathe.  I felt as if I was being watched by... something less than human.  There was a hunger.  Like an insect.”

    “Because if you think you can do better--”
    “I'm brimming with confidence in you, old boy--”
    The hood was no more than ten feet away.  (Arthur) Doyle fired.  The creature, incredibly, dodged the bulled and continued to slowly advance.
    “Not trying to be critical, you understand.  It's just,” Jack said, beginning to twirl the scarf above his head in a tight circle, “They're a good deal quicker than they first appear.  Better to lay down a dense field of fire and hope they dodge into it.”
    Doyle fired again; the creature slipped left, the bullet ripped through its shoulder, it staggered, righted itself, and still came on.  Wiping the rain from his eyes, Doyle aimed down the sight of the gun.
    “These things,” Doyle said, “they're not quite alive, are they?  In the traditional sense.”
    “Something like that,” Jack said, and let fly the scarf.  It whistled through the air and caught the creature at the throat.

Lieber, Fritz.  Lean Times in Lankhmar (omnibus of Swords In the Mist and Swords Against Wizardry)

    Obelisk Polaris was not a noisy mountain, as many are—a-drip with glacial water, rattling with rock slides, and even with rock strata a-creak from uneven loss or gain of heat.  The silence was profound.
    The Mouser felt an impulse to tell Fafhrd about the living girl-mask or illusion he'd seen by night, while simultaneously Fafhrd considered recounting to the Mouser his own erotic dream.
    At that moment there came again, without prelude, the rushing in the silent air and they saw, clearly outlined by the falling snow, a great flat undulating shape.
    There was nothing at all to be seen except the flat, flaekeless space the thing made in the airborne snow and the eddies it raised; it in no way obscured the snow beyond.  Yet they felt the gust of its passage.

Braun, Lillian Jackson.  The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare.
Braun, Lillian Jackson.  The Cat Who Robbed A Bank.

    In Moose County, four hundred miles north of everywhere, it always starts to snow in November, with a storm the residents call The Big One.
    Koko declined to eat.  Something was bothering him.  Both cats had the shaded brown bodies and fawn points of pedigreed Seal-point Siamese: brown masks accentuating the blueness of their eyes; alert brown ears worn like royal crowns; brown legs elegantly long and slender; brown tails that lashed and curled and waved to express emotions and opinions.  But Koko had something more: a disconcerting degree of intelligence and an uncanny knack of knowing when something was...wrong!
    That morning he had knocked a book off the shelf in the library.
    “That's bad form!” Qwilleran had told him, appealing to his intelligence.  “These are old, rare, and valuable books—to be treated with respect, if not reverence.”  He examined the book.  It was a slender leather-bound copy of The Tempest—one of a thirty-seven volume set of Shakespeare's plays that had come with the house.

Carr, Caleb.  The Angel of Darkness.

    “With an instrument that he can easily discard, so that it will not be discovered on his person by the police, should he be detained for any reason.  After all, our young friend in the windowsill”--the Doctor jerked a thumb in my direction--”carried just such a weapon for just such a reason.  Isn't that so, Stevie?”
    I glanced around to find each of them staring at me.  “Well—yeah, I guess.”  They kept staring, and I started to fidget.  “It ain't like I do it anymore!” I protested, which seemed to give them a chuckle.
    “All right, then,” the Doctor said, taking the limelight back off of me.  “He's a professional.  Who happens to be about the height of his victim and possesses a remarkably light touch.”  The Doctor moved to the right side of the circle.  “But who can have hired him?  Moore?  You're the one who favors this interpretation—give me your candidates.”
    “We're not short on those, “ Mr. Moore answered from his desk.  “There's a lot of people who'd like to see a diplomatic incident between the United States and Spain right now.  We can start with the war party in this country--”
    “Very well,” the Doctor said, listing them as U.S. CITIZENS FAVORING WAR on the board.  “Those Americans who don't care who starts the was so long as we finish it.”

McDevitt, Jack.  Chindi.

    Hutch frowned at the picture as Bill traced the circle of the moon's orbit, a few degrees askew at top and bottom on either side of a longitudinal line drawn down the middle.  “I wouldn't have though that kind of orbit would be stable,” she said.
    “It isn't,” said Tor.  The comment surprised Hutch.  How would he now?
    “That thing will be ejected or drawn in,” he continued, “eventually.”  He caught her looking at him.  “Artists need to know about orbital mechanics,” he said, with a cat-that-got-the-cream grin.
    George shrugged.  “It's only a rock,” he said.
    Tor shook his head.  “It might be something more. That kind of alignment.  In a place like this, a place this glorious.  I have a question for you, George.
    “Look at the system.  Lots of satellites adrift in the plane of the rings.  If you were going to live out here, where would you want to be?  To get the best view?  Where do you think an artist would set up his easel?”


Preiss, Byron (ed.)  The Ultimate Frankenstein.
   Not bad overall.  Most of the stories dealt with some way of bringing the original monster into the modern world or showing what sort of thing a twenty-first century doctor would create.

Preston, Douglas and Lincoln Child.  Riptide.
   Well, I enjoy their techno-thrillers, and this was a strong entry in their series.

Petroski, Henry.  The Evolution of Useful Things.
   Wow, that was a slog.  Would you like to know EVERYTHING about the history of modern cutlery?  How about the variations in patents on early paper clips?  Etc ad nauseum, or at least that was my experience.

Tyers, Kathy.  The Truce at Bakura.
   Early Star Wars novel, and as such some departure from current dogma about the Force.  Generally a bit precious.
Tags: book review

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