MIND’S EYE by Douglas E. Richards

5 02 2016

Minds Eye cover

He wakes up buried in slimy, foul-smelling garbage. He is in a dumpster, and unable to remember how he came to be there. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he finds he can’t remember anything at all, not even his own name. (Hence the “He”.) He clambers out, and while searching for some way of getting clean and acquiring presentable clothing, he finds that on the other hand he is able to access and manipulate the internet without any hardware whatsoever, simply by the power of his mind. And he can read people’s thoughts.

Impossible? No. This book makes it seem perfectly plausible. And delves deep into the ethical questions raised by such powers in the hands of one man and probably in the hands of others.

In this case, the one man, whose name turns out to be Nick, happens to be a good man. A quite exceptionally good man. But he is surrounded by the less than good, and the downright evil, who home in on him like flies on a dumpster. Which brings me back to where I started.

No spoilers here.

Just another very good (and very well written) free read from Kindle.





An Angela Carter Quote

3 02 2016

Angela Carter quote





MARKING TIME by April White

3 02 2016

Marking Time coverSaira Elian is a 17-year-old Californian girl whose English mother disappears while Saira, a solitary parkour free-runner and tagger (hope I got that right!), is out doing her thing in “the tunnels” somewhere under LA. Faced with the Child Protection Services unless she can name a relative who will take responsibility for her, Saira reluctantly tells them about someone in England.

That someone was waiting for me when I stepped off the British Airways fkight in London: Millicent Elian. I hadn’t seen my grandmother since I was three years old […] My mother couldn’t stand her. Not a big surprise given the way she was sizing me up, probably wondering if I was worth the effort. […]

“I see you got his height.” Millicent’s tone was not flattering.

“Hello, Millicent.” I knew I should be more polite and call her “Grandmother”, considering she just kept me out of foster care, but she hadn’t really earned the title.

“And his manners, too, obviously.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

[…]

“I have a car waiting.” Of course she did. Millicent’s fancy gray Rolls Royce waited at the curb outside the airport, and her fancy gray driver held the door open for us.

“Home, Jeeves,” she said with total authority.

“Jeeves? You’re joking.”

“I don’t joke.” Millicent’s expression didn’t change.

Jeeves caught my eye in the rear-view mirror and very slowly, he winked. It wasn’t much, that wink, but it was something.

It turns out that the Elians are a family of time-travellers, and Saira’s mother, who is normally gone for only a couple of days (or so it seems!) is now being held against her will in Victorian London. And that, of course, is where half the story, and most of the adventure, takes place.

One aspect of the story that fascinated me was the love between Saira and a young man in Victorian times who had already known Saira in the future in her own time and fallen for her there – or should that be “then”? He, of course, doesn’t know about this yet, and she can’t tell him because the secret of how he came to be still a young man all those years later is just – well …

I’ll leave it to you to sort all this out when you read the book, and add only, by way of encouragement, that while the ingredients may not be entirely original (there’s Hogwarts here, and Ann Rice, and Jack the Ripper, and Time Travel) the resulting dish is something different from the usual run-of-the-mill YA, and I enjoyed every minute of it.





THE LAST COMPANION by Patrick McCormack

16 01 2016

Last Companion coverSet in both Arthurian and post-Arthurian Britain, this novel is a little confusing at first, but stick with it.

Once you grasp that the hermit Budoc, protagonist of the post-Arthurian story, is one with the knight mab Petroc, hero of the Arthurian story (“mab” being the ancient British form of the Scottish “mac”, son of) and that Budoc is the last of those once known as the Companions of Arthur, it all comes clear. Though it is not until the end of the book that we learn who exactly Budoc / map Petroc was. (Though I notice that one of the other reviews here names him, which is definitely a spoiler.)

Budoc the hermit lives on a hill above a fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall, in ancient Dumnonia. Life is peaceful, for him and for the villagers. But then, suddenly, trouble comes out of the blue, and troubles do not come singly. A band of Scotti (Irishmen) arrive in the village in search of a sacred chalice which, or so they have been told, the local hermit has in his possession. They proceed to massacre the inhabitants of the village. The three-page description of the massacre is detailed and horrifying, but also, because we see it through the eyes of a village girl, very moving. Then a boat full of Saxons anchors off the beach. They are looking for somewhere to settle and know nothing of the massacre or the presence there of the Irish warriors. The hermit, and the local girl, who survived the slaughter, hide in the forest.

Meanwhile, back in Arthur’s time, the big question is whether, following his overwhelming victory against the Saxons at the Battle of Badon, Arthur will be content to remain the Magister Militum, Commander of the Armies of Britain, or will declare himself Emperor. It transpires that to do so legitimately, he must travel north to Iardomnan (the Hebrides) and pass a test and receive a chalice from the priest of the Attecotti, the first-comers And mab Petroc, our hero, has fallen in love with a mysterious female bard who sets out with them on the long journey on horseback to the north coast of Dumnonia and by ship up through the Irish Sea to the Western Isles of Scotland.

Don’t miss McCormack’s ten-page appendix on the historical background to the novel. The story is full of myth and magic, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, for so was Britain at the time, but it is not fantasy in any sense; it is realistic and historically accurate all the author has done in effect is to give the name Arthur to the Commander of the British forces at Badon and go from there.





Five Fascinating Facts about John Brunner

15 01 2016

Interesting Literature

Interesting facts about John Brunner (1934-1995), British science-fiction author

1. John Brunner coined the term ‘worm’ for a program that infiltrates another computer. In his 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider, Brunner came up with the idea of the ‘computer worm’, a program that sabotages another computer (or a whole network). In that novel, one character says, ‘I’m just assuming that you have the biggest-ever worm loose in the net, and that it automatically sabotages any attempt to monitor a call to the ten nines.’ Prescient indeed! Now, of course, ‘worms’ are part of the modern world of computers connected to the internet, along with Trojan Horses (from Greek myth, of course). viruses (borrowed from biology), and other insidious programs.

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Back Soon!

13 01 2016

Back with reviews very soon! Meanwhile, enjoy these –

copyeditor-cartoon

HereLays

 

And think about this –

Ayaan Hirsi

 





What Is Cultural Marxism?

13 01 2016

Snooze 2 Awaken

Thorium

To understand the emergence of political correctness, social justice, modern feminism, etc., one must first understand the history of critical theory/Cultural Marxism.

[SL: And it ain’t pretty.]

[SL: Also of possible interest …]

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