Thursday, June 26, 2008

Asimov's Mysteries

by Isaac Asimov

This one's a nice collection of science fiction mysteries, written by Dr. Isaac Asimov. Well, mostly. One tale, "Marooned Off Vesta", isn't a mystery tale, but rather it's included because its sequel, "Anniversary", is one. Another tale, "A Loint of Paw", isn't a mystery either--it's a courtroom drama that is simply a set up for a pun. But since it's only two pages long, I don't feel cheated. All in all, this book is good, classic science fiction, well worth reading.

It's been on my shelf for years.
LibraryThing link


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


by Adolph L. Harstad

Ahhh, it's always a pleasure to finish a thick book. With thin books, you might desire more--perhaps a sequel or two--but thick books, ah, thick backs leave you full and eager to read anything but more of the same. But I digress. What is this thick book, that I so eagerly started, lethargically plowed through and then finished with a renewed burst of enthusiasm? Well, Joshua is a commentary on Joshua, the sixth book of the Hebrew scriptures. The Biblical book is a macho book, a tale of battle and conquest, of ideals and duty and mighty miracles. This commentary is likewise a macho book. Like the leader Joshua who lent his name to the book, Professor Harstad boldly marches right into his study, challenging all those scholars who would try to remake the text into one more suited to their own ideals. Which is not to say that Joshua is exciting. Like the other volumes of the Concordia Commentary series, it's a scholarly work written for pastors and other biblical scholars who know a whole lot more than I do. There are plenty of times my eyes glazed over or I ended up skimming to a more comprehensible section. But that's the fault of the reader, not the author. Professor Harstad brings a lot of textual and archeological knowledge into the book. And throughout it all is the clear focus that the book of Joshua points toward the future Joshua--Jesus--who is leading His people into the future Promised Land.

It's on my shelf!
LibraryThing link

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

All Star Comics Archives: Volume 11

by John Broome, Arthur Peddy and others

The end... sort of. This volume completes the reprints of the Justice Society's Golden-Age adventures in All-Star comics, covering issues from December of 1949 to February of 1951. After that fateful issue, the JSA was no more, and All Star Comics became All Star Western. Of course, the JSA returned in the sixties, as guest characters in Justice League of America comics. Then in the seventies, All Star Comics was revived with new JSA adventures. Heck, even this volume of the archives wasn't the end, as DC published Volume 0 of the archives, reprinting the three issues of All Star that preceded the JSA. But enough history. How does this last-volume-that-isn't-the-last-volume of JSA reprints measure up? Well, it's standard fare. The JSA spent their last year fighting off alien invasions and thwarting earthbound crimes. They even had one last jaunt through time. While it's not spectacular, it's entertaining... if you like this sort of thing.

Ah, check it out for the historical value if nothing else.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Complete Peanuts: 1965 to 1966

by Charles Schulz

This volume of Peanuts reprints contains lots of baseball gags, lots of Snoopy as the World War I flying ace strips, the account of Charlie Brown's time at summer camp, Sally's treatment for "lazy eye" (and attendant eye-patch jokes) and the first appearance of Peppermint Patty. It's amusing stuff--nothing spectacular, but worth checking out if you need a chuckle.

LibraryThing link

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

All Star Comics Archives: Volume 10

by John Broome, et al

This collection of reprints from 1948 and 1949 is okay. There are no real stories that stand out, but none that are truly awful, either. In this volume the JSA solve a mystery in Hollywood, corral a gang of cosmically powered criminals, thwart the schemes of a seemingly "Invisible" band of burglars, face off against the ghost of Billy the Kid, peer into the future of a boy named Edmund Blake and repel the invasion of the alien Fire People.

Pretty good waiting room material.
LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

This one's an odd tale--mostly autobiographical, I'm told--about a teenage boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He's creative and smart, but he's also lived with a host of medical problems. As the story unfolds, he decides to transfer to a school off the reservation in a nearby community. He catches flack from his friends and neighbors for leaving, and he endures all the challenges of being a minority kid in a different culture. His journey is recounted with humor, teenaged philosophy and great illustrations by Ellen Forney. It's a great read, one that goes a bit deeper than a generic coming-of-age story. It brought to mind the fact that I tend to approach people and cultures from my own cultural perspective. When I see the problems of a person, say a poor, Native-American teenager, I fail to realize not only all the issues that may underlie the situation but also the cultural forces that may make my "solution" to the problems unworkable.

I think I'd like this one on my shelf.
LibraryThing link


Monday, June 09, 2008

In at the Death

by Harry Turtledove

At last! The final volume of the Settling Accounts tetralogy which is the final section of the eleven volume Timeline-191 saga. One could argue that this book sees the end of two wars. The first is the "Second Great War", or World War Two, as we called it in our reality. It's the final conflict between the greater population and resources of the United States of America and whatever secret weapons the Confederate States of America might be able to pull out of their collective hat. This book also offers, one could say, the end of the War Between the States. There is a definite end of hostilities and after four wars of increasing intensity, both the North and the South realize that they cannot peacefully coexist on the continent. Like The Great War: Breakthroughs, this volume picks up the pace from its predecessor, bringing an end to the interweaving stories that recount American life during wartime. I'm pretty sure also that this is the end of the saga. I suppose Mr. Turtledove could create some tales from an alternate history cold war, I hope he'd refrain and turn his talents to some other endeavor. (like maybe that Kennedy story he had started on.)

Worth checking out, if you've been following the series.
LibraryThing link

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Stellar Science Fiction Stories #5

edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey

This is a simple collection of science fiction tales, published back in 1980. None of the tales are particularly "stellar", but my fondness for the lead tale, "The Sword of Damocles" by James P. Hogan, led me to keep the book on my shelf. "Damocles" is a tale of temporal blackmail, where an alien artifact enables unscrupulous fellows from the past hold the future for ransom. The other tales in the book are:

"Chains of Air, Web of Aether" by Philip K. Dick, a tale of two people stationed in at communications outposts in the depths of space.
"Grimm's Law" by L. Neil Smith, in which a time courier kills some time in a bar, regaling the bartender with an account of a recent job.
"Corpus Cryptic" by Lee Killough, a murder mystery solved by the scientific research of an assistant coroner.
"Elbow Room" by Marion Zimmer Bradley, another tale about a woman carrying out vital work in the lonely reaches of the cosmos.
"The Nobel Laureate" by Robert H. Curtis, a glimpse of what might have been if the gods had not chosen to intervene.
"All that Glitters" by G.C. Edmondson, a tale of another lonesome soul, this time in the nearby Yukon, who gets an interesting new neighbor.
"The Subtle Serpent" by Charles Sheffield, a story about a starfaring crew searching for the resources to repair their ship and escape from a primitive planet.

LibraryThing link


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Grapple

by Harry Turtledove

Ah, the penultimate volume of the Timeline-191 series! I am such an addict! By this time, I have to admit that these alternate history books about the ongoing conflict of the United States and Confederate States have devolved into hackwork. You get the same ideas swirling around and around throughout the tale. Highly competent soldiers on the front lines can (and should) get away with mouthing off to their superiors. Confederate tobacco is much superior than the crap the USA produces. The superior numbers and manufacturing capability of the USA can win the war if it's drawn out... unless the CSA manages to split the atom first. So why do I keep reading? Well, I've come this far. 10 volumes as of this book. I want to see how it ends. Who lives, who dies, and will Jake Featherston get the nasty death that he truly deserves? Guess I'll just have to get the next one to find out. (And pray that Mr. Turtledove hasn't decided to embark on an alternate Cold War epic....)

Merely waiting room material.
LibraryThing link

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Growing Up Protestant

by Margaret Lamberts Bendroth

This was a pretty interesting read, though my wife enjoyed it much better than I. Ms. Bendroth takes a look the the role of home and family in the mainline Protestant denominations from the mid-19th Century through the 1980s. It was a changing relationship, one that seemed to be as much influenced by the surrounding culture and the emerging field of psychology as by the Bible. As a Lutheran, the book didn't really strike a chord with me. But then, it did with my wife, who's also a born, bred and baptized Lutheran. What does this mean? Was my upbringing more faithful to our religious traditions than hers? Or was my family just more working class? Ah, well, it really doesn't matter. The mainline churches never really found the perfect relationship between church and home. So when faced with our own church and family, we have to figure out our own equilibrium--just like the generations before us.

An intriguing bit of waiting room material.
LibraryThing link


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