Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Time Machines

edited by Bill Adler, Jr.

This one claims to contain the greatest time travel stories of all time. Well, I can't say that I would agree -- after all, as a collection of short stories, it automatically has excluded novels and screenplays. Of course, I can also think of couple short stories ("Brooklyn Project" pops to mind) that were excluded. But they did give it the old college try. The stories range from the 19th Century to the mid 1990s. Most are rather short and I can't think of one that isn't entertaining. A couple of oddities, however is that the book cover on the copy I checked out says the book contains a story from H. G. Wells. It doesn't. Poe and Kipling are included, but not Wells. Also, the last tale, Harry Turtledove's "The Last Article" doesn't contain an iota of time travel. It's alternate history. One of my favorite AH tales, mind you, but alternate history nonetheless. Oh, well. All I can say is that if I can find it at a library sale, I'll put it on my shelf.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, June 21, 2000

The Triumph of Propaganda

by Hilmar Hoffmann

Occasionally my curiosity gets piqued and I have to get something from the library to satisfy it. Well, about a month ago I started wondering how I and my fellow Americans were viewed through the lens of foreign propaganda. What triggered this, I don't know, but the question remained. I did a search at the Settle Public Library and didn't exactly find what I had in mind. There were a number of books on propaganda, of course. I was surprised to find that there were volumes from the 20s to the present day. But none of them addressed my particular interest. Even so, I picked up this book, which looks at how film was used as propaganda in Nazi Germany. If I were a more dedicated student of film or history, I would have found this more interesting, but since I'm not, I'm afraid that I got bored in places. Still, I did take the time to read it through and it did spark some of my curiosity in regards to newsreels, German culture in the early half of this century, and the twisted minds of Hitler, Goebbles and their pals. Maybe when I'm retired I'll have time to delve into all that. Anyway, while the book is well written, I'm afraid that my interest wasn't up to the challenge, so I have to rate this as waiting room material.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Flash Forward

by Robert J. Sawyer

What if you got a glimpse of your life twenty years in the future? How would that change you? What if everybody got that glimpse? What would that do to our world? Well, that's the premise of Flash Forward. This is a classic science fiction tale: the hero is a scientist and the narrative occasionally detours off into explanations of the latest scientific theory. An experiment in Switzerland causes everyone's consciousness to jump ahead 20 years to spend two minutes in the future. Of course, this causes problems in the present as everybody just blacks out and falls over. Annoying if you're sitting at your desk, deadly if you're on a landing plane. Sawyer then takes you through the consequences of the event -- first the response to the disasters, then the realization of what happened and the piecing together of different people's visions. (or lack of them, for those who were slated to die in the next 20 years) I found the whole story quite gripping...until the end. Unfortunately, Sawyer takes the story a bit too long and goes off into some bizarro future scenario. I suppose it's just a matter of conflicting worldviews here. (I can suspend disbelief enough to swallow that the future dead don't see visions of Heaven or Hell, but I can't buy the .... Hey, I better not spoil the ending.) That being said, I think I might try to get this one on my shelf. It's a good story and good science fiction. I've got to read more of this Sawyer guy.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, June 07, 2000

Republic

by Michael Jan Friedman

This is volume one of the Star Trek "My Brother's Keeper" trilogy. That sounds so pretentious, doesn't it? (Or maybe not, given the mania for sequels these days.) But like other Trek, it's hardly Shakespeare. Not that I was looking for Shakespeare. This was a book I picked up at a used book store because I had some time to kill and wanted something to read over my burger and fries. It fulfilled that purpose admirably. The tale is a about an adventure early in the career of James T. Kirk. (If you don't know who James T. Kirk is, just skip to the next review. I'm sure that there are plenty of Star Trek web sites that could explain it better than I.)  The framing sequence is set just after the events of the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before". In the aftermath of that story, Kirk recounts how he first met his friend Gary Mitchell and how they happened to save the day when serving aboard the starship Republic. As a fan of the show, I appreciated seeing an untold tale of Kirk's youth. That's probably the best feature of the book. The story in and of itself has its moments, but otherwise it's pretty much standard Star Trek. Definitely waiting room material, unless you're a fanatic Trekker.

LibraryThing link

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