Wednesday, July 25, 2007


by Betsy Armistead and the Village of Schaumburg

I was poking about my parent's house and happened to find this one sitting on their shelf. An entire book about my ancestral lands, complete with a picture of some of my ancestors! Like Seattle's Beacon Hill, this book documents the history of Schaumburg, Illinois via pictures and text. It was fascinating to get a little glimpse as to how my forebears lived, but it was also depressing to read how their way of life was transformed into the type of suburban community wherein I grew up and then left behind. All the more reason to try and get my own copy of the book to enjoy and pass on.
LibraryThing link


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Street Lawyer

by John Grisham

This is a tale of a mid-life crisis come early, but since it's a John Grisham novel, it's also a tale of crime, corruption and legal shenanigans. The hero of the tale is Michael Brock. Michael is an anti-trust lawyer, making the big bucks in a prestigious Washington, D.C. law firm. One day a homeless man enters the firm's offices and takes Michael and eight other lawyers hostage. The crisis is resolved violently and sets off an unraveling of Michael's lifestyle. He finds himself drawn to help the homeless as a street lawyer, working for a legal clinic. But his connection to his former employer also puts him the center of a major mess of litigation. I found it to be an entertaining story. The characters aren't quite as well rounded or conflicted as those in some of the other Grisham books I've read, but I found them to be enjoyable. It's an entertaining tale which I'm glad I was able to check out.
LibraryThing link

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Complete Peanuts: 1961 to 1962

by Charles M. Schulz

Another two years in the history of Peanuts. 'Tis amusing stuff, of course. The only thing that struck me about this particular collection was that these years saw many of the gags that were swiped for A Charlie Brown Christmas. I wonder if I would have enjoyed the special as much if I had been ten years older and familiar with the originals. Anyway, it's classic stuff, well worth checking out.
LibraryThing link

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The Gladiator

by Harry Turtledove

I don't know, but I've been aching to read some Harry Turtledove since I've returned from overseas. Maybe it was living in an "alternate world" for the past years that moved me to seek out the master of alternate history. Maybe not. Anyway, when I saw this one on the library shelf I snatched it up. The Gladiator is a novel in the Crosstime Traffic series, set in a world where the Soviet Union won the cold war. The year is actually around 2090, and the Crosstime Traffic folks have set up a few gaming shops in Communist Italy. The games they offer are quite different than standard fare, allowing folks to role play capitalism. The store also offers books to help customers play the game better. It's a brilliant, subversive scam, but one that the secret police notice and shut down. All but one of the Crosstime Traffic folks escape, and he has to rely on a teenage customer and his neighbor to find a way back to his home reality. The book isn't spectacular, but it is an entertaining read with good setting and likable characters. Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Why Darwin Matters

by Michael Shermer

The conflict between evolution and intelligent design is one of the warmer issues of the day. Since reading Darwin on Trial, I've been in the design camp, but I've never been completely comfortable there. There's been too many times when a person whose opinions I respect blasts into intelligent design and I fumble about looking for an excuse for my position. And when some ardent supporter of my side starts laying on the propaganda, I likewise wince. So while I was back overseas, one thing I decided I should do upon my return to the land of the free and home of the public library was do some more digging on evolution. Specifically, I wanted to get some more info on how a supporter of evolution would respond to the main arguments of the design side. Well, this book was my first attempt at getting more info. Mr. Shermer was helpful in clearing away some of the confusion in my mind, but didn't draw me any closer to the evolution camp. The biggest favor that Mr. Shermer did was point out that the leading proponents of intelligent design are really creationists trying to sell their beliefs in a new package. I don't care for sales pitches regardless of who's doing the selling. That's the main reason why I would rate the book as waiting room material, despite the useful information it contains. Mr. Shermer has his own agenda to promote. As for the meat of the debate, I get the impression that, like the abortion conflict, the problem lies in the conflict of two different issues. By definition, science excludes the supernatural. If you can't observe it, measure it, study it, then you can't assume it exists. To bring divine revelation, namely, the Bible, into the science classroom, is a violation of the scientific method. I think what happened over the years in Western society is that many people have started to consider the scientific method the only source of authoritative knowledge. So while any good scientist will tell you that any scientific law or theory might be proven wrong some day, they will proceed to live as if the accepted laws and theories are the truth. Just as I live as if the Bible is the truth. So where does this leave me? Well, I wouldn't mind digging up some more info on evolution. I'm curious about the fossil record and just how many of the bones in the skeletons are real and how many have been imagined to fill in the gaps. But I also realize that I'm never going to have a simple, irrefutable argument as to why we should believe we're created. In the end, only the Creator can prove He exists.
LibraryThing link


Friday, July 13, 2007

Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution

by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson

This is a compilation of The Legion of Super-Heroes issues 1 through 6. The 2004 edition, that is. It's another reboot of the Legion, a concept created back in the 50s. (At one time I knew what year the Legion first appeared--I think I'm losing my fanboy status.) I've been a Legion fan on and off for years. I've been turned off by some of the darker visions of the group. This generation, however, is intriguing. The setting is somewhat dark--the government is oppressive, there are wholesale slaughters happening on distant planets, etc. Yet the Legion itself has an element of hope, an idealism that is shooting for a better way of life. Another unusual aspect is that the Legion has an undercurrent of rebellion which I don't recall seeing in its previous incarnations. When I first noticed it, I was a bit taken aback. Was I just reacting to finding a new concept in an old familiar package? Or am I just getting to darn old and identifying with the grown-ups more than the teenage heroes of the story? I don't know. I do know that the latest version of the Legion is worth checking out, if for no other reason than this particular collection leaves a lot of plot lines dangling.
LibraryThing link


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Frontier: Volumes I & II

by Darwyn Cooke with Dave Stewart

New Frontier was a six-issue miniseries set in the "Silver Age" of DC Comics, from the mid 1950s through the 1960s. The stories from that era were the first I had ever read, and the superheroes I enjoyed had, for the most part, been defined in that era. New Frontier is not a return to that era of storytelling, but rather an attempt to fuse the Silver Age spirit with modern, more adult storytelling. I have a love-hate relationship with modern comics. There have been some great stories out there, but over all I think the attempt to be realistic drags the escapist fantasy down into the mud. Mr. Cooke, however, has done a good job of recasting those old characters into a modern mold, while retaining the old fashioned optimism of the stories of my youth. If you're a middle-aged boy like me, I'd recommend this as a book to check out.
LibraryThing links: I & II


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


by William Durbin

This sequel to The Broken Blade is... well, a sequel. It pulls in many of the same characters from the original and attempts to catch that magic that made the original so good, but in the end it doesn't quite match up. Ah, well. It's not a bad story for all that. Wintering picks up the tale of Pierre La Page the summer after his coming of age journey described in The Broken Blade. Once again he has journeyed from Montreal, across Lake Superior to Grand Portage, where European goods are traded for American furs. This year, however, Pierre has chosen to join the hivernants, those traders who spend the winter out west gathering the furs to be traded at Grand Portage. He travels westward with his fellow voyageurs, along the rivers and lakes, to establish a new trading post. All in all, this story focuses more on Pierre's relationship with his comrades and less with his own maturing and growth. It makes for a less interesting tale, but it still offers an enjoyable bit of waiting room material.
LibraryThing link


Saturday, July 07, 2007


by Robert J. Sawyer

An interesting tale about an 87-year-old man who receives the "gift" of rejuvenation. The biggest problem was that it really wasn't intended for him. The year is 2048. Thirty-eight years earlier, Earth had received the first ever radio transmission from another world. Many folks puzzled over the message, trying to figure it out, but it was Dr. Sarah Halifax who made the breakthrough and allowed Earth to understand the message and respond. Now the second message has arrived and the main financier of the SETI project is certain that Dr. Halifax, who is also 87, is the person not only to decode the latest transmission, but also to maintain a dialogue with the aliens. He's so certain of this that he's willing to fund Dr. Halifax's rejuvenation--an obscenely expensive procedure called a rollback. She agrees to do it on the condition that her husband, Don, receive the procedure, too. Mr. Moneybags agrees and the rollbacks are begun. The problem is, while Don regresses to a physical age of 25, the procedure doesn't work on Sarah. What follows is the tale of a man facing a second chance at life in a world where he no longer fits in with his rapidly disappearing peer group. Intertwined with all this is the story of the alien messages. It's wonderfully written, as one expects from Mr. Sawyer. I think I especially clicked with the tale because I'm roughly the same age as the lead characters and I could relate to a lot of their reminiscing. But no matter what age you may be, this book's well worth checking out.
LibraryThing link


Friday, July 06, 2007

Crucible: McCoy

by David R. George III

I was looking for a book to read on my flight back to the States and picked up this one. It basically has two story lines branching out from the Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever". The first story line follows the life of Leonard McCoy after he saves the life of Edith Keeler and changes history, the second follows the life of Leonard McCoy after Kirk and Spock prevent him from saving Edith Keeler and they all return to the 23rd Century. How can this be? Well, the explanation is a bit lame. But the story is interesting enough for waiting room material. I'm tempted to check out the other Crucible volumes, if for no other reason than to find out how the Spock and Kirk tales fit together with this.
LibraryThing link

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