Book Review: Doomsday Morning by C. L. Moore (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Doomsday Morning by C. L. Moore

(Four Stars)

“Maybe you don’t know it, but the world is dead.”

A fine example of early science fiction in general and the works of C. L. Moore in particular, though no mention of space travel or aliens. Published in 1957. Set in a post-apocalyptic America ruled by an aging dictator and suffering unrest, all seen through the eyes of a washed up actor. Spies and betrayal abounds.

“When a Comus sampling turns up false, they’ll repeal the law of gravity.” “In California the law of gravity has been repealed.”

Well-conceived and executed. Moore still had the touch she first exhibited in the 1930s. She takes you deep into the mind of her protagonist and deep into his world. Works well.

“When you’re young you never doubt yourself. You never wonder if you’re justified. But as a man gets older he learns to doubt.”

Fewer technical groans than you’d expect for a story written sixty years ago. She managed to create a “modern” world which contains few jarring anachronism–except maybe telephone booths, and even those have video.

Quibble: “The hollow thunder of bomber was beginning to blanket all other sound.” Even in the 50s, you couldn’t hear approaching bombers. (B-52 bombers were already operational then.)

“How do I get out of here?” “Don’t act like that.” “It’s not acting.”

Contains the requisite SF/F cliché phrase: “I had been holding my breath without realizing it.”

“What’s past is prologue. Wait and see.”

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Book Review: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

(Four Stars)

“What do I have to be depressed about?”

Short story opening with a Wizard of Oz tie-in. Creative tying of Baum’s classic to previous novels set in Kowal’s Lady Astronaut universe.

“It shames me that my first reaction was anger. How dare he?”

Quibble: “They’ve got a slingshot that can launch a ship up to near light speed.” Maybe someday, but not with then-current technology. These folks still use punch cards to program computers.

“The decision would be easier if I knew when he would die. I still hate myself for thinking that.”

Book Review: Starseers by Lindsay Buroker (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Starseers (Fallen Empire #3) by Lindsay Buroker

(Three Stars)

“Are you reading my mind?” “Of course. Would you trust anything that comes out of your mouth?” “Perhaps not in this case, no.”

More space opera adventures of Buroker’s fighter pilot turned pacifist and herder of strays. Alisa seems a magnet for conflicting and conflicted companions and all the trouble which floats in their wake. The storytelling is fast paced and snarky.

“Did you expect something else?” “From you? I’ve come to expect inappropriate humor when it would be … inappropriate.” “I don’t always make a joke.”

Previously noted the parallels to Star Wars stories, perhaps a more apt comparison would be to Martha Wells’ murderbot stories, though in them the snarkiness and cyborgnetics are in one package.

“I won’t do anything cyborgy.” “Cyborgy? What would that look like exactly?” “I don’t know, but I assure you it’s very menacing.”

Quibble: “Her ship, which weighed thousands of pounds … was resting on a sheet of ice.” No, any kind of space freighter would weigh thousands of tons. And it just crash landed on that ice. If it was going through the ice, it would have been when velocity multiplied its mass.

“A tool is only as good or evil as the man who wields it.” “Says the man smithing a sword.”

Wallace Gray, RIP

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Dr. Wallace Gray died Sunday, February 3.

I met him over fifty years ago at Southwestern College, Winfield, KS where he was the Kirk Professor of Philosophy and Religion for forty years. His enthusiasm and inquiring mind led me into a lifelong study of life, religion and people.

Recently he helped me polish my book, Living in the Spirit.

We saw Wallace last October when we returned to Winfield for my fiftieth class homecoming.

He made a huge impact on my life. I’ll miss him. Dr. Wallace, rest in peace.

Movie Review: The Least of These, directed by Aneesh Daniel (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: The Least of These: the Graham Staines Story, directed by Aneesh Daniel

(Three Stars)

“We can’t make mistakes.”

True story well told, but hindered by mediocre quality. Missionary Graham Staines spent 35 years of his life working among lepers in India. Both his motives and his methods were questioned by some people. The story follows a young journalist who set out to prove Staines was a fraud. Instead he found was a man who had made the world a better place because he expressed selfless love to all people.

“Leprosy is the veil behind which Staines operates.”

Telling the story from the point of view of askeptical Indian reporter increased depth and drama. Sharman Joshi and Shari Rigby were convincing, but Stephen Baldwin not. Production values were made-for-TV level. The sound didn’t synchronize with the picture. A good movie despite that.

“The Bible says God created us from the dust of the Earth, dust for dust.”

The Future of Work: Compulsory (Murderbot 0.5) by Martha Wells (Four Stars)

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The Future of Work: Compulsory” (Murderbot #0.5) by Martha Wells

(Five Stars)

“With my governor module inert, I sometimes do things and I’m not entirely sure why. (Apparently getting free will after having 93 percent of your behavior controlled for your entire existence will do weird things to your impulse control.) Without thinking about it, I stepped off the edge Continue reading

Book Review: Imager’s Battalion by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (Three Stars)

Book Review: Imager’s Battalion (Imager Portfolio #6) by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

(Three Stars)

“I want a land where Pharsi, scholars, and imagers can be what they will, under the same laws as everyone else.” “You are either mad … or a lost one.” “Is there any difference?”

A fun story, well-told, but lots of repetition–and war. One continuous series of battles with the climax mirroring that of the previous volume. Every skirmish and every staff meeting, not to mention the bureaucratic in-fighting, related in excruciating detail.

“He doesn’t forget, Quaeryt.” Neither do I. Ever.

Book of Rholan has become Modesitt’s philosophic hand puppet. Much of that philosophy–in fact the basic plot–is foreshadowed in the first three books of this series, which occur hundreds of years after this book.

Editing quirks: “In less than a fraction of a quint …” Twice. “Rain began to come down.” What else? Dozens of blotting head and adjusting brim cap.

“It’s hard not to think about the consequences when you’re the one who causes the deaths of so many.”

His Will, Not Mine, Be Done

“Even though I’m born again, I have nothing in me to do God’s will. I have the will, but not the doing. Until the Holy Spirit in us overcomes the flesh, he can’t inhabit us and take us over.” Gary Garner

“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

The fear and trembling comes from pretending we do his will when we’re doing our own. The only will we have naturally is our will. To be all we were designed to be, we must have his will and his power.

Meaning and Darkness

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” C. S. Lewis

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

We not only see the son, but by his light we see everything else as it really is.

Wilson to Blame for Delayed Armitice

21465842Woodrow Wilson delayed the armistice because he was in secret negotiations with the Germans, leading them to think they were getting a better deal and unconditional surrender, based on his famous 14-points. In fact, The Treaty of Versailles was so bad it virtually guaranteed World War Two.

The full story of this debacle may be found in Charles L. Mee, Jr’s book, which I reviewed here.