Friday, June 30, 2017

Purple Aces (G-8 and His Battle Aces #2)Purple Aces by Robert J. Hogan

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am a fan of the pulps and I've been reading Doc Savage for years, so I write this review with the knowledge that these books were written quickly and not meant to be more than fun adventurous yarns. So why is it that Doc Savage appeals to me and this was a grind?

First, there are no interesting characters. G-8 is bland and has virtually no personality whatsoever. His two colleagues, Bull Martin and Nippy Weston are pretty one-dimensional and yet they're more interesting than our lead. G-8's manservant, Battle, takes everything literally to the point of being absolutely absurd. Adding to his caricature is his use of "sir" at the end of almost every sentence to the point of becoming unbearable.

Second, the action isn't very interesting. The description of the aerial combat quickly became redundant. There are three of four major aerial scenes, but they all more or less read the same. G-8 is supposed to be a master of disguise, but his disguises all seemed to be based on the number of scars he would place on his face.


So that leaves the nefarious plot. The initial idea, that the enemy has somehow found a way to turn allied pilots against their own country and leaves them with a purple spade on their face, was a nice pulpy idea. But even that gets sidelined. A mad scientist develops a technique to turn people and animals into their opposites, but he destroys the method before the enemy can use it. So instead they just hypnotize the pilots. A rather bland idea considering the alternative. Lastly, once the hypnotist is killed, the spell is magically broken on everyone he hypnotized, as though he were the head vampire in Lost Boys. (Three pilots who volunteered to a suicide run simply don't do it once the hypnotist is killed even though they would have no way of knowing he died.) Unfortunately, that was the most interesting part of the book and it wasn't very interesting. They took their one good idea and didn't even use it.

The one thing I did like was that there was a little continuity in that they referenced their previous adventures and the mad Doktor Krueger, the villain the first adventure, reappears.

Sadly, I cannot recommend this to even the most ardent pulp enthusiast. It simply wasn't very good.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 26, 2017

Star Trek Log One (Star Trek: Logs #1)Star Trek Log One by Alan Dean Foster

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm really not sure what possessed me to grab this from my shelf, but I'm enjoying jumping around and reading new books and then finding old books I've had forever, but never read. This obviously falls in the latter category.

At the moment, the Star Trek Animated Series is on Netflix so I enjoyed reading a story and then watching it. In some areas, it's almost amazing how much Foster adds. In "Yesteryear", we get a long prologue of events before the point of entry in the actual episode. Many of the additional scenes and insights are welcome, but occasionally they do feel out of character.

Also of interest is the continuity. Until recently, most TV shows were stand alone episodes without ever referencing what came before. But Foster constantly alludes to the story before it, which in many ways is way ahead of its time.

I enjoyed "Yesteryear," but the other two stories were just okay. It was also interesting to read them first, imagine the scenes and then have those images obliterated by what's in the actual episode. Despite the limited animation, I am enjoying the episodes and their look. Of course, no adaptation can ever live up to one's imagination.

I would probably rate this a 2.5, but alas, I'll bump it up to three. Unfortunately, I wasn't hooked enough to continue with the next in the series. The next few volumes will have to continue sitting on my shelf for the time being.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 19, 2017

Little Black Book of StoriesLittle Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

No! No, no, no. Absolutely not, no. Upon finishing this book, I read through the reviews in an attempt to understand why so many people seem to love this book. Is it well written? Yes. The beginnings of the stories, the descriptions, these are all wonderful. But a wonderful description and flowery language do not a good story make. No, there must be more and I found the endings of all five stories very disappointing.

I read the book chronologically and so I was enamored enough with the details of "The Thing in the Forest" to find it interesting, but then the story seemed to be about the details instead of the characters of events. Pause while I think this one out -- I think that's it. That's what bothered me the most in this book. It's about the details, the descriptions and not the characters, not the story. The details should be in service to the former, not the other way around.

Enough already, I've wasted too much time. The endings of "The Thing in the Forest" and "Raw Material" were completely unearned. "A Stone Woman" was simply boring. I enjoyed "Body Art" until the horribly vague ending. But to be clear, it's not just the endings. There is a point in each of these stories where the details overwhelm the events, the very narration that is supposed to carry us through to the end. This is when I would sigh and flick through and think, "Agh, twenty more pages," but the writing was enough to pull me through those twenty pages at which point I was ready to toss the book against the wall.

Once again, I say no!

View all my reviews

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mystery on Happy Bones (Doc Savage, #96)Mystery on Happy Bones by Kenneth Robeson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The last of the single edition Bantam books, I recently acquired a mint condition copy and I think that's why I grabbed it. Though usually not as big a fan of the later adventures, this one had a few interesting aspects including Hannah, the female lead who is no damsel in distress, but quite a capable brawler. Doc even seems to look upon her admirably and one could almost imagine them on further adventures if the series had ever been allowed to grow outside its normal formula.

This adventure takes place in 1943 and it one of the first ones that I've read involving the war effort. Doc tries to unravel the mystery of Happy Bones, an island in the Caribbean where the U.S. military wishes to build an airfield. But strange things are afoot as Doc and his crew investigate.

Being one of the later adventures, Doc isn't as infallible as he is in the early part of the series and he's seen making several mistakes. They're mostly minor and he regains control fairly easily, but it's almost a little refreshing to see them take place.

There's also an amusing ruse by Monk and Ham in the first part of the story when they try to fool a messenger boy who they think is an assassin and end up being outwitted.

Overall, a fun, but mostly typical adventure in the series.

View all my reviews