Friday, July 28, 2000

Beyond Time

edited by Sandra Ley

Beyond Time is a collection of Alternate History short stories. It was done in 1975, so some tales are straightforward while others are more impressionistic. (following the "new wave" of SF which had happened in the late 60s) There is nothing spectacular in the collection, though "Soy la Libertad" by Robert Coulson comes close. Since I read through most of it while holding a place for Seattle's torchlight parade, I just have to rate it as waiting room material. But it's top quality waiting room material.

LibraryThing link


Sunday, July 23, 2000

The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders

by Isidore Haiblum

This is billed as the first Yiddish science fantasy novel ever. It is about a tsaddik, which is a title for a very learned man. If I recall correctly, it's a bit more than a rabbi, perhaps with a mystical element involved. I forget the exact definition. (Like I can't afford to just buy a copy of The Joys of Yiddish.) Anyhoo, this tsaddik, named the Tsaddik, is quite magical and is travelling about through time. Meanwhile, in the future (I love messing with the tenses in a time travel discussion.), the Cosmo Corps has lost caseworker Lund in the past and caseworker Courtney is called in to finish Lund's mission. As you might surmise, eventually, the three men get together and, well, the story reaches its climax. (How it ends, I won't tell.) This book isn't memorable -- I had to skim the book to recall the plot. (Which I didn't tell you anyway.) But I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It has a very Yiddish flavor to it, as any reader of The Joys of Yiddish will recognize, and I loved almost every minute. Consequently, this one stays on my shelf. Anti-Semites might disagree, but then, I wouldn't recommend anything good to them. So there.

LibraryThing link


Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Casca #15: The Pirate

by Barry Sadler

The Casca series is about this Roman soldier, Casca Rufio Longinus, who was the soldier who stabbed Jesus with the spear when He was being crucified. Jesus then cursed Casca to "remain as he was" until He returned. (Mr. Sadler obviously got a bad translation of the Bible, because it reads there that Jesus had died before being stabbed.) So, ol' Casca becomes an immortal soldier ("eternal mercenary", it says on the cover) traveling about the globe and invariably getting into some war or police action. I was intrigued with the concept back in the 80s and bought about eight titles of the series before I got bored. In #15, it's 1718 and Casca has traveled  to the Caribbean. He gets caught up with some pirates and has some pirate adventures. Refreshingly enough, he makes only a mediocre pirate, unlike other adventure characters who quickly master everything they do. But otherwise it's pretty much standard hack and slay, with time out for an occasional wenching. I suppose this is good waiting room material, if you like that sort of thing.

LibraryThing link

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Thursday, July 13, 2000

Killing Time

by Della Van Hise

'Tis another Star Trek novel. Can you detect the enthusiasm in my voice? I bought this one years ago because I love time travel tales and this qualifies. But what was good enough for me to keep back in my early 20s didn't make the cut in my mid 30s. Basically the story is that the Romulans (one of the recurring Star Trek villians) have sent some agents back in time to alter Federation history. After they do, everything is changed around and certain individuals are being driven insane. It seems that if your life has been altered too radically, your soul or something rejects the new reality, much like a body might reject a transplanted organ. Anyway, it's up to the the crew of the good ship ShiKahr (er, that's the Enterprise for those of you who haven't had your history altered) to save the day. The background theory is mildly interesting, but upon a second read it fell apart. Wouldn't a badly traumatized society have collapsed soon after the event changed, rather than a hundred or so years later? But then I suppose that you could question why any society altered by time travel would remotely resemble our own, as they do in so many alternate history tales. Anyway, there's some romance and relationship stuff in there, too, but for me it's not good enough to keep the book. Rating-wise, I'll call this one waiting room material, mainly because I just chucked the previous book. Besides, you can always get money for a Star Trek book at the used bookstore.

LibraryThing link

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Saturday, July 08, 2000

Tijuana Bibles

by Bob Adelman

Finally, a book I can toss in the Elbe river. (That's a reference to what the theologian Martin Luther wanted to do with a book he had disagreed with.) However, I feel a bit guilty making such a recommendation. Heck, I feel guilty for checking the book out in the first place. Let me explain: "Tijuana Bibles" were cheap little pornographic comics that flourished in the thirties, forties and fifties. I knew about them and had seen some reprinted examples of their content. Then I stumbled across this book at the Library (!) and even though I knew what Tijuana Bibles were, I checked the book out. Mostly, the book reprints a number examples of the genre. There is about a magazine article's worth of history and analysis, but it really didn't justify my perusing of this volume. (Of course, I didn't have the good sense or willpower not to peruse the pornographic examples.) So anyway, even though I looked at the book myself, I would recommend that you don't. 'Tis a hypocritical review, perhaps, but more than any other of my reviews, I think it's sound.

LibraryThing link


Monday, July 03, 2000

Man of Two Worlds

by Julius Schwartz with Brian M. Thomson

This is an autobiography of SF fan and comic book editor Julius Schwartz. For those of you who aren't comics fans, he was the man credited with reviving super hero comics in the mid-50s, the "Silver Age" of superhero comics. Actually, I think autobiography is too strong a word to describe this book -- it's more a collection of anecdotes. But for those in comics or science fiction fandom, that may be enough. If you have a passing familiarity in either field, you might get some pleasure from reading Mr. Schwartz ramble. If you're looking to plumb the depths of one of the greats in the field of comics, however, you'll be disappointed. I enjoyed the book, then happily returned it to the library with nary a second glance. To my fellow comics fans, I say check it out.

LibraryThing link


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