Thursday, April 27, 2017

World's Fair Goblin (Doc Savage #39)World's Fair Goblin by Kenneth Robeson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The scene opens at the 1939 World's Fair where Doc is performing a groundbreaking surgery, two people have gone missing, and Professor Martin Uppercue frantically runs from seemingly nothing. And then the Goblin shows up.

Of course, Doc immediately investigates and soon Long Tom, Monk, Ham, and Patricia Savage are all embroiled in a mad adventure.

Unfortunately, Pat Savage makes an appearance only to be taken captive and not seen again until the end. She needn't have been written in at all since she's captured along with Kay Uppercue and one maiden in distress would have sufficed.

As with most Doc books, there are occasional bouts of bad writing, but the most egregious example comes on p. 62 (Ballantine edition) when Monk hesitates trying to pronounce the word "fluoresce." He's supposed to be a brilliant chemist! Sometimes the writer, in this case guest author William Bogart, goes too far trying to give Monk and Ham something to squabble about.

While Bogart does have some fun with the World's Fair, mostly involving the iconic Perisphere and Trylon, it does seem that he under utilizes the event itself; a bit of a missed opportunity.

A fun little adventure, not the best, not the worst, but kind of nice that all of the events take place in one locale as a change of pace from their usual globetrotting.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

A Clockwork OrangeA Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are nearly 10,000 reviews of this book on Goodreads, not to mention all the published reviews at the time of its release, the essays, the theses, the this and the that, so I'll be brief: I liked it.

Okay, I'll be a little less brief than that. I was a little intimidated by the Nadsat (the lingo) after reading the first page, but as you continue, it's easy to learn it or else intuit the meaning based on the sentence structure or the description. In other words, you'll soon pony it and quite skorry.

As for the now somewhat notoriously optimistic last chapter, well, it was Burgess' intent that it be there so I'm glad I had the option to read it, but I can certainly understand why the American publisher (and Kubrick's film adaptation) omitted it. It seems too optimistic and not really earned.

Lastly, if you want to have fun, I decided to look up to see if anyone created a translator from English to Nadsat and the internet didn't disappoint me. Here's the link:

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Free Play: Improvisation in Life and ArtFree Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book's prologue opened with a Japanese folk tale that I absolutely loved. I eagerly dived into this book... only to be bored and disappointed. Yes, there are occasional good ideas, and some very good passages, but they are too few and fleeting. As I continued to plod along, I kept thinking that this would have been a good essay, or maybe more than an essay, but definitely something shorter than a book. Unfortunately, the necessity of creating a "book" and trying to fill two hundred pages meant elongating it until the author becomes repetitive.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Beyond the Farthest StarBeyond the Farthest Star by Edgar Rice Burroughs

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Beyond the Farthest Star isn't very good. It feels rushed, almost as if it's an extremely detailed outline for a future novel, but for Burroughs this is definitely not one of his better books. Some imaginative ideas and you can see where the events of WW II are clearly influencing him, but the writing itself is rather dull and far too expository. There's also an incredible amount of coincidence and Deus ex Machina as well. For purists and ERB fanatics.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

The RiderThe Rider by Edgar Rice Burroughs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but what's not to like about the Frazetta image that adorns this book. It's what inspired me to pick it up, many many years ago, from a used book store. However, it sat on my shelves for many years until I finally read it this evening in just a few hours.

I did try reading it once, many years ago, but immediately I could tell I wasn't into it. I was in the mood for a Burroughs adventure and this book is not your typical ERB novel. Instead, it's more a comedy of errors, kind of like watching a 1930's screwball comedy combined with an Errol Flynn adventure. And it is a comedy of errors as characters switch identities purposefully or accidentally as befits their needs. While the premise is a rather tired cliché by today's standards, giving the book some leniency (it was written over 100 years ago!) along with its brevity made it a nice delightful distraction.

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