Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best SF of the Decade

5 Star Novel Section

Bacigalupi, Paolo - Windup Girl,The - [science fiction]
Mieville, China - Perdido Street Station - [sorcery fantasy]
Reynolds, Alastair - Chasm City - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Revelation Space - [science fiction]


5 Star Story Section

Bacigalupi, Paolo - Calorie Man,The - [science fiction]
Barron, Laird - Hallucigenia - [scary horror]
Bisson, Terry - Pirates Of the Somali Coast - [scary horror]
Carrico, David - Quiet Man,The - [science fiction]
Chiang, Ted - Exhalation - [science fiction]
Denton, Bradley - Sergeant Chip - [science fiction]
Di_Filippo, Paul and Bruce Sterling - Scab's Progress,The - [science fiction]
Doctorow, Cory - When SysAdmins Ruled the Earth - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Doing the Line - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Flashmen - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Rynemonn - [science fiction]
Foster, Eugie - Body and Soul Art - [scary horror]
Geston, Mark S. - Allies,The - [science fiction]
Isle, Sue - Doing Shadow Time - [scary horror]
Kress, Nancy - Computer Virus - [science fiction]
Kress, Nancy - Saviour - [science fiction]
McAllister, Bruce - Kin - [science fiction]
McDonald, Ian - Tear,The - [science fiction]
McDonald, Ian - Verthandi's Ring - [science fiction]
Pratt, Tim - Cup and Table - [supernatural fantasy]
Reed, Robert - Man With the Golden Balloon,The - [science fiction]
Rex, T. - Evensong - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Diamond Dogs - [science fiction]
Shepard, Lucius - Radiant Green Star - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Antibodies - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Halo - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Lobsters - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Tourist - [science fiction]
Westerfeld, Scott - Unsportsmanlike Conduct - [science fiction]
Williams, Walter Jon - Green Leopard Plague,The - [science fiction]


5 Star Anthology Section

Adams, John Joseph - Wastelands - [science fiction]
Anders, Lou - Fast Forward 2 - [science fiction]
Ashley, Mike - Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction,The - [science fiction]
Datlow, Ellen and Kelly Link and Gavin Grant - Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 20th Annual Collection,The - [scary horror]
Dozois, Gardner and Jonathan Strahan - New Space Opera,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Galactic Empires - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 18th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 19th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 20th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 21st Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 22nd Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 23rd Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 24th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 25th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 26th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Eckert, Win Scott - Myths For the Modern Age - [science fiction superhero]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 07 - [science fiction]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 10 - [science fiction]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 11 - [science fiction]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 12 - [science fiction]
Strahan, Jonathan - Science Fiction the Very Best of 2005 - [science fiction]
Van_Gelder, Gordon - In Lands That Never Were Tales of Swords and Sorcery From the Magazine Of Fantasy and Science Fiction - [sorcery fantasy]


5 Star Collection Section

Asher, Neal - Gabble and Other Stories,The - [science fiction]
Bacigalupi, Paolo - Pump Six and Other Stories - [science fiction]
Barron, Laird - Imago Sequence and Other Stories,The - [scary horror]
Chiang, Ted - Stories Of Your Life and Others - [science fiction]
Doctorow, Cory - Overclocked - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Rynemonn: Leopard Dreaming - [science fiction]
Egan, Greg - Oceanic - [science fiction]
Kress, Nancy - Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories - [science fiction]
Martin, George R. R. - Dreamsongs - [science fiction]
McDonald, Ian - Cyberabad Days - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Galactic North - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Zima Blue and Other Stories - [science fiction]
Shepard, Lucius - Best Of Lucius Shepard,The - [science fiction]
Simmons, Dan - Worlds Enough and Time - [science fiction]
Steele, Allen M. - Coyote Rising - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Accelerando - [science fiction]
Swanwick, Michael - Best Of Michael Swanwick,The - [science fiction]

The Best Old Books I Read in 2009

2009 Old Books

5

Fast Forward 2 - Lou Anders
The Gabble and Other Stories - Neal Asher
Pump Six and Other Stories - Paolo Bacigalupi
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories - Laird Barron
The Halfling and Other Stories - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse - Leigh Brackett
Lean Times In Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
Dreamsongs 1 - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 2 - George R. R. Martin
Cobra Trap - Peter O'Donnell

4.5

Martian Quest the Early Brackett - Leigh Brackett
Stark and the Star Kings - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances - Leigh Brackett
A Cruel Wind - Glen Cook
A Fortress In Shadow - Glen Cook
The Giant Book Of Frankenstein - Stephen Jones
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 18 - Stephen Jones
Night Shade Books December 2008 - Jeremy Lassen
The Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 - George Mann
The Sleeping Sorceress - Michael Moorcock
Starstreak Stories Of Space - Betty M. Owens
Coyote Frontier - Allen M. Steele
Eclipse 2 - Jonathan Strahan
Born Bad - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays - Andrew Vachss
Bloodstone - Karl Edward Wagner
The Barrens and Others - F. Paul Wilson

4.0

The People Of the Wind - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn: Star Trader - Poul Anderson
The Engineer Reconditioned - Neal Asher
History Of the Science Fiction Magazine 1 - Mike Ashley
Ravensoul - James Barclay
Books Of Blood 1 - Clive Barker
Phase Space - Stephen Baxter
All the Windwracked Stars - Elizabeth Bear
The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett
The Nebula Awards Showcase 2008 - Ben Bova
Diamonds In the Sky - Mike Brotherton
Refining Fire - Elizabeth Bear and Emma Bull
Cyborg - Martin Caidin
The Burning Man - Mark Chadbourn
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
The Simple Art Of Murder - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business - Raymond Chandler
Killing Floor - Lee Child
A Century Of Noir - Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane
Passage At Arms - Glen Cook
Inferno - Ellen Datlow
Dangerous Games - Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann
Explorers - Gardner Dozois
The Furthest Horizon - Gardner Dozois
Deadhouse Gates - Steven Erikson
Ribofunk - Paul di Filippo
Mountain Magic - Eric Flint
The Cold Equations and Other Stories - Tom Godwin
The Survivors - Tom Godwin
Wildside - Steven Gould
Down Among the Dead Men - Simon R. Green
Evil Ways - Justin Gustainis
The Adventures Of Sam Spade - Dashiell Hammett
Waking the Moon - Elizabeth Hand
Science Fiction the Best Of the Year 2008 - Rich Horton
Already Dead - Charlie Huston
Half the Blood Of Brooklyn - Charlie Huston
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 06 - Stephen Jones
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 17 - Stephen Jones
The Mammoth Book Of Zombies - Stephen Jones
The Vampire Sextette - Marvin Kaye
Dirty Martini - J. A. Konrath
Fuzy Navel - J. A. Konrath
Warriors Of the Steppes - Harold Lamb
Busted Flush - George R. R. Martin
The Quiet War - Paul J. McAuley
Dark Blood - John Meaney
To Rescue Tanelorn - Michael Moorcock
Dead Man's Handle - Peter O'Donnell
The Silver Mistress - Peter O'Donnell
The Xanadu Talisman - Peter O'Donnell
Thriller - James Patterson
Thriller 2 - James Patterson
The Nebula Awards Showcase 2007 - Mike Resnick
Going Under - Justina Robson
A Gentleman's Game - Greg Rucka
Private Wars - Greg Rucka
The Retrieval Artist and Other Stories - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Hotel Midnight - Simon Clark
Starfire - Charles Sheffield
Crossover - Joel Shepherd
Nebula Awards Showcase 2001 - Robert Silverberg
The Great Chain Of Being and Other Tales Of the Biotech Revolution - Brian Stableford
Empire In Black and Gold - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Choice of Evil - Andrew Vachss
Footsteps Of the Hawk - Andrew Vachss
Evolution's Darling - Scott Westerfeld
Cascade Point - Timothy Zahn

The Best New Books Of 2009

2009 New Books

5

The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
Cyberabad Days - Ian McDonald
Oceanic - Greg Egan
The Year's Best Science Fiction 26 - Gardner Dozois
Zima Blue and Other Stories - Alastair Reynolds


4.5

By Blood We Live - John Joseph Adams
Monster Hunter International - Larry Correia
The New Space Opera 2 - Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan
Blood Of Ambrose - James Enge
This Crooked Way - James Enge
The Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 - George Mann
Night Shade Books January 2009 - Jeremy Lassen
Night Shade Books April 2009 - Jeremy Lassen
Night Shade Books September 2009 - Jeremy Lassen
Wireless - Charles Stross

4.0

Best Served Cold - Joe Abercrombie
Rise Of the Terran Empire - Poul Anderson
Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews
Moxyland - Lauren Beukes
Diamonds In the Sky - Mike Brotherton
The Best New Horror 1 - Ellen Datlow
Bauchelain and Korbal Broach - Steven Erikson
Year's Best SF 14 - David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 20 - Stephen Jones
Green - Jay Lake
Patient Zero - Jonathon Maberry
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year 3 - Jonathan Strahan
The Grand Conjunction - Sean Williams

3.5

Federations - John Joseph Adams
The Patriot Witch - Charles Coleman Finlay
Winter Song - Colin Harvey
Angel Of Death - J. Robert King
Madness Of Flowers - Jay Lake
Cryptic - Jack McDevitt
The Walls Of the Universe - Paul Melko
Wonder Woman - S. D. Perry and Britta Dennison
Kell's Legend - Andy Remic
Book Of Secrets - Chris Roberson
Sixty-One Nails - Mike Shevdon
Coyote Horizon - Allen M. Steele
Midwinter - Matthew Sturges
Lightbreaker - Mark Teppo
Norse Code - Greg van Eekhout
Nekropolis - Tim Waggoner

The Best New Stories of 2009

2009 Best New Stories

4.5 out of 5

Free SF Reader

Fire and Sleet - James Enge [Pyr.com]
Moon Moon Moon - Kim Newman [Subterranean Online 11]

Not Free SF Reader

The Lost Princess Man - John Barnes [New Space Opera 2]
One Of Our Bastards Is Missing - Paul Cornell [Solaris New SF 3]
Paradiso Lost - Albert E. Cowdrey [FSF 683]
It Takes Two - Nicola Griffith [Eclipse 3]
The Wide Carnivorous Sky - John Langan [By Blood We Live]
Rendezvous At Angels Thirty - Tom Ligon [Analog 939]
Firehorn - Robert Reed [FSF 683]


4 out of 5

Free SF Reader

The Best Monkey - Daniel Abraham [Solaris New SF 3]
Off-Track Betting - Madeleine Ashby [Flurb 7]
This Must Be the Place - Elliott Bangs [Strange Horizons]
Cuckoo - Elizabeth Bear and Emma Bull and Leah Bobet [Shadow Unit]
TVA Baby - Terry Bisson [Tor.com]
Placa del Fuego - Tobias S. Buckell [Clarkesworld 34]
An Education Of Scars - Philip Brewer [Futurismic]
All About the Sponsors - Jeffrey R. DeRego [Escape Pod]
Six Bullets For John Carter - Chad Eagleton [Beat To A Pulp]
Within Your Soul I Sightless See - Eugie Foster [HPL's Mag of Horror 5]
Fortune's Soldiers - Julie Frost [Cosmos]
Fembot - Carlos Hernandez [Daybreak]
High Stakes - Sarah A. Hoyt [Darwin's Evolutions]
Soul Mate - Shelly Li [Cosmos]
Open Your Eyes - Paul Jessup [Apex]
The Ascendant - Ted Kosmatka [Subterranean Online 10]
Rolling Steel - Jay Lake and Shannon Page [Clarkesworld 31]
The Courage Of the Lion Tamer - Anya Martin [Daybreak]
Crimes and Glory - Paul J. McAuley [Subterranean Online 10]
In the Autumn Of Empire - Jerry Oltion [Diamonds In the Sky]
Another End of the Empire - Tim Pratt [Strange Horizons]
Mother Scorpion's House Of Fallen Flowers - Mike Resnick [Subterranean Online 11]
Scales - Alastair Reynolds - [guardian.co.uk]
Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs - Leonard Richardson [Strange Horizons]
The Very Difficult Diwali of Sub-Inspector Gurushankar Rajaram - Jeff Soesbe [DayBreak]
This Was Education - Jeff Somers - [eternalprison.com]
The Culture Archivist - Jeremiah Tolbert [Federations]
The Nostalgist - Daniel H. Wilson [Tor.com]

Not Free SF Reader

Silent Blade - Ilona Andrews [Samhain]
Magic Mourns - Ilona Andrews [Must Love Hellhounds]
Artifacts - Stephen Baxter [Solaris New SF 3]
Miles To Isengard - Leah Bobet [Interzone 220]
The Qualia Engine - Damien Broderick [Asimov's 403]
A Lovely Little Christmas Fire - Jeff Carlson [Asimov's 407]
Gunfight On Farside - Adam-Troy Castro [Analog 938]
Hot Rock - Greg Egan [Oceanic]
Hell Of A Fix - Matthew Hughes [FSF 686]
Morality - Stephen King [Esquire]
Act One - Nancy Kress [Asimov's 398]
To Raise A Mutiny Betwixt Yourselfs - Jay Lake [New Space Opera 2]
From the Heart - John Meaney [New Space Opera 2]
A Clown Escapes From Circus Town - Will McIntosh [Interzone 221]
The Art Of the Dragon - Sean McMullen [FSF 684]
Mother Of Champions - Sean McMullen [Interzone 222]
The Spiral Briar - Sean McMullen [FSF 682]
Another Life - Charles Oberndorf [FSF 685]
Memory Dust - Gareth L. Powell [Interzone 220]
The Fixation - Alastair Reynolds [Solaris New SF 3]
Sinbad the Sand Sailor - R. Garcia y Robertson [Asimov's 402]
Wife-stealing Time - R. Garcia y Robertson [Asimov's 405]
Defect - Kristine Kathryn Rusch [New Space Opera 2]
Lion Walk - Mary Rosenblum [Asimov's 396]
The Price Of Silence - Deborah J. Ross [FSF 682]
Sublimation Angels - Jason Sanford [Interzone 224]
Dog-Eared Paperback Of My Life - Lucius Shepard [Other Earths]
Halloween Town - Lucius Shepard [FSF 685]
The Highway Code - Brian Stableford [We Think, Therefore We Are]
Colliding Branes - Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling [Asimov's 397]
Rescue Mission - Jack Skillingstead [Solaris New SF 3]
Palimpset - Charles Stross [Wireless]
Adaptogenia - Wayne Wightman [FSF 683]
The Island - Peter Watts [New Space Opera 2]
Inevitable - Sean Williams [New Space Opera 2]
The Tenth Muse - Tad Williams [New Space Opera 2]
Fearless Space Pirates Of the Outer Rings - Bill Willingham [New Space Opera 2]
This Peaceable Land Or The Unbearable Vision Of Harriet Beecher Stowe - Robert Charles Wilson [Other Earths]

Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Novella

Number of words : 21000
Percent of complex words : 7.1
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 10.6


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.1
Flesch : 76.2
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.3




: Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett


SETTING

Pax : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Capital of Galactic Center

The Hub : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Major city there.

Senya Dik : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Sister planet to Nanta Dik, in Sector 9G.



CHARACTERS

Lloyd Durham : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

An ex-agent and current drunk.

Hawtree : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

An administrator in charge, uses his influence to prevent Dik requests to the Federation getting heard.

Susan Hawtree : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

His daughter, and a love of Durham's, involved in the accident that wrecked his career.

Morrison : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Hawtree's parter, who oversees Universal Mineral operations in Sector 9G.

Baya : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Durham's Mintakan girlfriend.

Willa Paulsen : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Durham's ex-fiancee.

Varnik : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A dodgy joint proprietor in on trying to set Durham up with Baya.

Wanbecq-ai : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Female Nantavan agent out to get Durham.

Wanbecq : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Her male partner.

Jubb : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Ruler of Senya Dik.

Karlovic : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Terran consul in league with Jubb, wanting to get evidence against Hawtree.


TECHNOLOGY

Servall : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Robot domestics. Durham and Hawtree had them, the models differ.

Bitter Star : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A created being that is an energy absorber, sucking in all around it until things freeze.


PLACES

Mintaka : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A star.


Nanta Dik : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

World in Sector 9G where Durham's mission takes him.


VEHICLES

Margaretta K : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Ship to Nanta Dik Durham has been booked for.

Varney : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A tug of Morrison's.


RACES

Senyans : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

People of Senya Dik. Have four legs.

Nantans : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

People of Nanta Dik.

Darkbirds : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Senyan aliens able to go insubstantial and stun on contact, they are not made of matter, and are a creation.



ORGANISATIONS

Universal Minerals : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Rapacious mining company basically looting the Sector, with Hawtree providing the interference.

Federation : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Political organisation of worlds in the galaxy.


PLOT

Lloyd Durham is a broken down ex-agent on Galactic Center, living with little in a cheap apartment, having blown his job and his fiancee, and a possible relationship with the woman he really loves thanks to a vehicular accident. Susan Hawtree is the daughter of a high ranking diplomat, who summons Durham for a mission. This lands him in the middle of something very serious.

First, Nantavan agents are after him, and then Senyan darkbirds - and Susan gets in the middle when she comes to say goodbye to him, little realising he isn't going home, but on a mission for her father. Nanta Dik and Senya Dik are the two inhabited worlds in Sector 9G.

Unknown to Durham he was supposed to get drunk and blab his mission, helping to start a war between the two worlds. This would be to the advantage of Universal Minerals, a mining company run by Morrison, with Hawtree as his partner running diplomatic interference and allowing him to get away with anything. The two Dik worlds have been in conflict in the past, so are manipulable.

Durham takes his mission seriously, and when he works it out thanks to talking with the Nantavan agents, and the Senyan leader he realises he should flip, and try and hang his boss and partner, and hopefully keep Susan alive. The Senyan planet is problematic in that they are not oxygen breathers.

One of the angles that Morrison had taken was rumours about a destructive force that legend said had terrorised the Nantavans in the past. Little does Morrison know that this is real, and the leader of the Senyans knows how to control it. Or hope he does. Because it is one giant energy drain, leaving those it affects frozen - and it can devastate planets.

With Morrison's agents and men able to provoke armed conflicts between Senyans of different sympathies. The Terran consul Karlovic, who has been working with the Senyans to try and work out who was the dodgy diplomat preventing their requests for aid from the Federation, must work with Durham. Their only choice now is to appeal to Jubb to unleash the Bitter Star, as the only thing that can stop Morrison. Before their air runs out. Of course, it may also destroy everything if they get it wrong and the darkbirds can't or won't control it.


4.5 out of 5

The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

The Long Tomorrow is a postapocalyptic story about two young men growing up in a repressed future town.

After a nuclear war, society changed, and the Amish and the Mennonites were very well suited to life in this post-technology society, and their sect mutated into the New Mennonites. They gained political power and changed the US Constitution to prevent any town growing over a certain size. Transgressors are punished lethally.

Len and Esau Colter have found textbooks and a radio, and want more. This is a dangerous road to take. After being found out and beaten, they leave and encounter more conflict over expansion. Also the existence of a place called Bartorstown, which is aiming at technological improvements, and has the only functioning computer. This conclave has to be very secretive and sure of its recruits though, to prevent their destruction.

A fine novel.


4 out of 5

The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Novel

Number of words : 80000
Percent of complex words : 5.8
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 18.0


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 9.5
Flesch : 74.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.3



: The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett


SETTING

A post nuclear holocaust USA where the oldest people still alive were very young children at the time. It is now politically dominated by Mennonite types who are against technology and expansion, and some of them are of the more violent persuasion. That is, they will stone offenders to death.

Piper's Run

Colter's home town, in Pennsylvania.

Refuge

A larger town, approaching the legal limit for development according to the Thirtieth Amendment. Situated on the North bank of the Ohio. Most of the people of a different sect here.

Shadwell

A commercial rival town on the Kentucky side of the Ohio.

Bartorstown

A hidden mountain settlement with a functioning computer, doing research into anti-nuclear defenses: "named for Henry Waltham Barter, the Secretary of Defense who had it built". It is near the Fall Creek mining town.


CHARACTERS

Len Colter

Boy that favors learning and advancement. Acquires some physics books and a radio against the wishes of the elders.

Esau Colter

Len's cousin, their destinies entertwined.

Amity Taylor

Girl from refuge, love interest of both and later wife of Esau.

Elijah Colter

Len's father.

Judge Taylor

Refuge authority figure and conservative.

Reba Taylor

His wife and Amity's mother.

Mike Dulinsky

Refuge businessman who wants to expand past the legal limits, forces a conflict.

Ed Hostetter

Bartorstown trader and agent keeping an eye on Len.

Gran

Len's grandmother.

David Colter

Esau's father, a conservative.

James Colter

Len's brother.

Ma

Len's mother.

Soames

Man who is stoned to death for being a progressive.

Mr. Nordholter

The schoolmaster and Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Spofford

Miller and James future father-in-law.

Mr. Glasser

Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Harkness

Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Clute

Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Fenway

Piper's Run councilman.

Fisher

New Mennonite in Refuge.

Meyerhoff

Refuge conservative.

Noah Burdette

Twin Lakes preacher who comes with farmers to confront Dulinksy and shotguns him down.

Ames

Refuge conservative that tries to lynch Len.

Watts

Refuge conservative that tries to lynch Len.

Harry Sherman

Bartorstown mine superintendent.

Joe Kovacs

Bartorstown river-boat man.

Collins

Bartorstown radio operator.

Petto

Bartorstown electronics man.

Rosen

Bartorstown administrator and canal operator.

Charlie

Bartorstown boiler operator.

Wepplo

Bartorstown man, father of Joan and hence father-in-law of Len.

Julio Gutierrez

Bartorstown chief physicist.

Frank Erdmann

Bartorstown electronics engineering chief.

Mary Sherman

Sherman's wife and manager.

Joan Wepplo

Wepplo's disaffected daughter, becomes Len's wife.

Jones

Bartorstown man.

Jim Sidney

Bartorstown steam plant chief.

Irv Rothstein

Bartorstown librarian.


ORGANISATIONS

New Mennonites

Mutated and more aggressive form of the pre-holocaust strain.

Old Mennonites

Pre holocaust religious sect.

Amish

Pre holocaust religious sect.

Church of Holy Thankfulness

Called Kellerites after the James P. Keller who founded the sect. Many such in Refuge.

Ishmaelites

Group of wandering extreme religious crazies that can be aggressively violent.



TECHNOLOGY

Clementine

The name for Bartorstown's computer.


CONCEPTS

Solution Zero

Term for the possibility that Bartorstown will never be able to discover a working forcefield as an anti-nuclear defence.



PLOT

Len and Esau Colter are older boys in a New Mennonite society that is around 3 generations removed from a nuclear war that destroyed the cities. This particular religious group grew out of the old being suited to life in this setting. They have seized political power in some places. They believe in keeping a static way of life, and have amended the Constitution to limit the size of human settlements by law. This also inclues technological proscription as work of the devil. Complete with stonings to death, etc.

Len and Esau want more, and after having their childhoods literally beaten out of them due to an incident with some purloined textbooks and a radio decide they will leave. They do, and go to Refuge. This town is run by a different sect, and is more commerce oriented, as opposed to agriculture. One local businessman is looking to expand past the limits of the law, and Len takes his side. This leads to a literally fiery and violent confrontation where Dulinsky is shot.

A Bartorstown traded named Hostetter had been keeping an eye on Len, and manages to get the boys and Amity out of trouble, and takes them on the trek to Bartorstown. They find out they have nuclear power and a computer, and are rather stunned. Their upbringings clash very hard with what they see, mentally. Esau is both less bright and now also a father, so manages to settle. Len falls in with Joan, who has teenaged boredom with being stuck in the one place, and sees Len as a way out, little understanding how things are out in the world, even though Len does. An attractive young woman, she marries him and they do make a run for it - but what to do when you have no place in particular to go and it is hard to go anywhere or be accepted anywhere is a big problem.

Hostetter tracks them down, and it is life or death decision time, absolutely, for Len. Bartorstown can't have people leading a raid to their facility, so it is up to Len as to what he will do. Joan has had enough, too.


4 out of 5

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lorelei Of the Red Mist Planetary Romances - Leigh Brackett

This book is the second volume of Brackett science fiction stories that Haffner has done, and it would appear that they are approaching the work chronologically, as this follows Martian Quest: the Early Brackett. So the stories start where those finished, and go up until 1950.

The title is apt, as there are several stories set on Venus and on Mars, as well as in odder locations like the tenth planet of the Jewel of Bas, or the lost in space or radioactive featured smaller bodies in Thralls of the Endless Night or The Lake of the Gone Forever.

Bonus material if you like includes an article Brackett penned about writing SF.

Excellent work, overall with the Venus tales being the strongest: The Blue Behemoth, Lorelei of the Red Mist and The Moon That Vanished.

Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Blue Behemoth - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : Thralls of the Endless Night - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Jewel of Bas - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Veil of Astellar - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : Terror Out of Space - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Vanishing Venusians - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : Lorelei of the Red Mist - Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Moon That Vanished - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Beast-Jewel of Mars - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : Quest of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Lake of the Gone Forever - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist : The Dancing Girl of Ganymede - Leigh Brackett

Four-way male mate doublecross rampage.

4 out of 5


Ship Legend heatstone rebellion explosion deal.

3.5 out of 5


Cimerians, Hyperborean forests, slave gangs, androids, monsters, immortals, priests of Dagon, energy weapons, stone of destiny, telepaths, and harpiing

3.5 out of 5


Interdimensional space vampire X-crystal life showdown.

3.5 out of 5


Plant people deity defense deal.

3.5 out of 5


Psionic flower children hunt.

3.5 out of 5


Power from the Greenwitch
Zombie army from the sea,
All shall find victory at last
Starke's barbarity

4.5 out of 5


'Few men have ever reached the Moonfire,' the Venusian said. 'They were the strong ones, the men without fear.'

4 out of 5


A devolutionary drug-type ceremony draws a spacer in a search for a lost womann, and some truths about the Martians are revealed.

4 out of 5


Anti-gravity greed nerve ending companion consumption crash.

3.5 out of 5


Transuranic memories.

3.5 out of 5


Girlbot love verboten.

3.5 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Stark and the Star Kings - Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton

An anthology that features the three Eric John Stark novellas, the Star Kings novel and fix-up, and the crossover story Stark and the Star Kings - the only time that the two writers worked together.

Brackett of course is far the superior talent, but the Star Kings stuff is diverting enough. The three Brackett stories are wonderful, though, and Black Amazon of Mars is one of my all time favorites.

It seems that publishers of Eric John Stark books just refuse to accept that Stark is not a white guy in pursuit of sales. The previous SF publishers Ace etc. are guilty of this, and so is Baen with their recent otherwise fabulous omnibus with a similar title to this one. Whether cheap paperback, or hardback collectible they can't get over it.

Until Planet Stories that is, who have been happy to feature Stark as the dark-skinned Mercurian he is. Perhaps it does take a later generation.

There's an introduction by John Jakes (who also did a book with a Star Kings title), telling of the time he went to a science fiction convention and was actually warmly welcomed by Brackett and Hamilton on stumbling into to a room full of sf legends.

This Haffner book is a volume for keen fans, because the material is available elsewhere.

Stark and the Star Kings Haffner : The Star Kings - Edmond Hamilton
Stark and the Star Kings Haffner : Queen of the Martian Catacombs - Leigh Brackett
Stark and the Star Kings Haffner : Enchantress of Venus - Leigh Brackett
Stark and the Star Kings Haffner : Black Amazon of Mars - Leigh Brackett
Stark and the Star Kings Haffner : Return to the Stars - Edmond Hamilton
Stark and the Star Kings Haffner : Stark and the Star Kings - Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton


Space prince swap.

John Gordon is rather surprised to be mentally contacted by a man claiming to be from a long, long way in the future, who claims he can swap minds in an experiment with a man from the past such as himself.

When he agrees there are beautiful women to try and fool, Galactic Empires to save, battle fleets to be fought, and atom-pistols to be wielded. Oh, and a super Disruptor weapon to protect from falling into the wrong hands.

Not what your average 20th century bloke has to go through, that is for sure, but he gives it his best.

3 out of 5


Eric John Stark has to deal with plotting by the last of the serial immortals of Sinharat.

4 out of 5


Stark goes looking to find a lost friend he thinks is in trouble, and ends up fomenting a slave rebellion, among other things.

4 out of 5


Lord Ciaran, distaff discovery and Stark decide to stop trying to kill each other to prevent bad things from coming back beyond the Gates Of Death.

5 out of 5


The second in the Star Kings sequence turns into a somewhat charming cheesy space opera.

According to pulpgen, the novel is made up of these four stories, but whether they are changed, added to, or what, to make this 'fixup' I am not sure.

Kingdoms of the Stars Amazing Stories, September, 1964
The Shores of Infinity Amazing Stories, April, 1965 -chap 8
The Broken Stars Fantastic, December, 1968 - chap 13
Horror from the Magellanic Amazing Stories, May, 1969 - chapter 19

However, if I had guess, I'd put the second at around chapter 8, the third at chapter 13 and the last at chapter 19, perhaps, for an approximate look.

Others will of course know a lot more.

John Gordon is actually in analysis, worried that his previous experiences were just a fantasy, until he miraculously wakes up, and there he is with Lianna in his actual body, not inhabiting Zarth Arn's.

Their problem now is to stop an extra-galactic invasion of evil aliens.

To do so, this book transforms into sort of a 'reverse-buddy' story, as previous antagonist Shorr Kan and Gordon go on the run together, to try and do something about the problem. This becomes rather amusing at times, and if this sort of thing makes you chuckle, then it is pretty much doing its job.

Just before they get away, in the presence of Kan's new master:
"Look at him, Hull," said Gordon mockingly. "Isn't he the one to put a brave face on? Lord of the Cloud, master of the Dark Worlds, almost the conqueror of the Empire itself . . . and now that he's reduced to skulking in the Marches and mixing up in filthy plots with ragtag one-world counts, he still stays cheerful."

When trying to save the Galaxy, in a ship:
"It does," said Gordon, "sound exactly like the kind of clever double cross you've always been good at." "Doesn't it, though," said Shorr Kan, and smiled. "And I'll have to admit that I considered doing it just that way."

"Then let's find something else to pitch it on," said Shorr Kan brightly. "Friendship, for example. I've always rather liked you, Gordon. I've said so in the past. Doesn't that count for anything?"

"Oh, my God," said Hull Burrel softly. "Here's the biggest scoundrel in the galaxy, and he asks you to believe in him because he likes you. Let me kill him, John Gordon."

...

"Look at me," said Shorr Kan. "I'm in as much danger as you. More, because if we get out of this mess there's more trouble waiting for me. I'm flying for my life . . . the second time . . . me that was lord of the Dark Worlds. But do I get upset? Not a bit. If Shorr Kan has to go, he'll go with his head high."

Much later, Lianna comes up with this, which seems to describe the villain in question quite well:

"At last I see what it is in that devil that attracts you," she said. "One hardly ever meets a man who is perfect at anything . . . but Shorr Kan is the perfect rogue."

So, straight man space hero, charismatic nogoodnik, and your smart, brave, space princess vs the diabolical H'Harn invasion.

Oh yeah, and Gordon is the only one that can use the Disruptor super weapon that can save them all.

I liked this book quite a bit more than I thought I would.

Return To the Stars : 1 Kingdoms of the Stars - Edmond Hamilton
Return To the Stars : 2 The Shores of Infinity - Edmond Hamilton
Return To the Stars : 3 The Broken Stars - Edmond Hamilton
Return To the Stars : 4 Horror from the Magellanic - Edmond Hamilton

Yes, this space hero business is real.

3 out of 5

Got to get out of here, princess.

3 out of 5

This busted up space travel makes a man want a drink.

3.5 out of 5

Disrupting the evil alien takeover.

3.5 out of 5


3.5 out of 5


When very bad things are detected, Stark is sent into the future to enlist the aid of the Star Kings to stop a sun destroying menace.

3.5 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

This Crooked Way - James Enge

I was going to write about this at some length by story, but there is no usable ebook version and I haven't had time to scan it yet. I also wanted to get a rating of it in for this year, given I read it quite some time ago and am rapidly running out of year.

Overall, the Morlock stories that I had not seen are high quality and odd in the same way the others are, in general. They vary points of view from Morlock to others in a similar manner. The interstitial thread about the growth to adulthood of the other racial antagonist doesn't live up to the rest. The appendixes may cause some WTF moments perhaps with their fictional faux-academic oddity.

Also, more of the unpleasantness of Morlock's family is revealed as a reasonable chunk of this book focuses on what has happened to his mother.

This Crooked Way : The War Is Over - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Interlude Telling the Tale - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Blood from a Stone - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Payment Deferred - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Fire and Water - James Enge
This Crooked Way : An Old Lady and a Lake - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Interlude Book of Witness - James Enge
This Crooked Way : The Lawless Hours - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Payment in Full - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Destroyer - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Whisper Street - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Interlude The Anointing - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Traveller's Dream - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Where Nurgnatz Dwells - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Interlude How the Story Ends - James Enge
This Crooked Way : Spears of Winter Rain - James Enge

Pointed declaration of preference for oats over beer.

4 out of 5


Multiple mouthed Morlock harmony.

3.5 out of 5


That monster didn't eat my horse.

3.5 out of 5


Golem have to do better than that to fool this Maker.

4 out of 5


To try and catch your shoes, and not get poisoned or eaten or usurped.

4.5 out of 5


Mum's sort of gone to pieces because of you, dad.

4 out of 5


Motherdeath story.

3 out of 5


Unmaking the Boneless Bargain.

4 out of 5


Hi guys, I'm clay.

3.5 out of 5


Problem with running away from monsters is running into bigger ones. Problem for them, too, if it happens to be Morlock the Maker doing the running.

4 out of 5


He built a Crooked House for a reason, daddy-o.

4 out of 5


Little queen tale.

3 out of 5


Wolfbane Dark removal deal.

3.5 out of 5


A Gnome There Was. Monumentally.

4 out of 5


Big queen story.

3 out of 5


Jar Golem avalanche mother trap.

4 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Convent Of the Pure - Sara M. Harvey

Fields of the Nephilim Inkubus Succubus ghost love, with crossbow.


3 out of 5

A Prelude To Penemue - Sara M. Harvey

Leave dead, learn staff.


3 out of 5

Shadow Wood - Diana L. Paxson

Shanna summons some from, but hasn't got the time to stop for snogging afterwards.


3 out of 5

Tongues Of the Moon - Philip Jose Farmer

South Atlantic Axis UFO Russo-American fight.


3 out of 5

Goddamn Redneck Surfer Zombies - Michael Jasper

Dead Hang Ten brain blast.


3.5 out of 5

The Big Book Of Noir - Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman and Lee Server

The Big Book of Noir is catholic in its approach to media. It looks at them all, although some get considerably more space than others. Film and novels get by far the most coverage, then television and radio, and briefly comics, with short stories of interest not really rating it appears, generally speaking.

There are a variety of articles, ranging from people involved of interest, to overviews of paperback publishers of the past.


4 out of 5

Zima Blue and Other Stories - Alastair Reynolds

The third collection by Alastair Reynolds, and this later version of the book has more stories than the earlier Night Shade edition, so nice work publishers, editors and author in that respect.

Each story, or related group in the case of the Merlin tales is followed by a bit from the author of the whys and therefores. Making one even sound ancient because he sent it in to Asimov's, had it accepted and didn't know because his landlady had dropped it along with a bunch of her mail and misplaced it for months! He was living in the Dutch equivalent of a granny flat at the time.

An extremely strong collection, basically a 4.75 rounded up for the notes, and it also has a pretty good introduction by Paul J. McAuley.

A variety of stories here, from the interstellar craziness of the Merlin trio of Hideaway, Minla's Flowers and Merlin's Gun, crazy people in Everlasting and multiple Multiple Word Theory stories like Cardiff Afterlife and Signal to Noise. Post apocalyptic, mechanical aliens on Mars. Plenty of variety to be found here.

Zima Blue and Other Stories : The Real Story - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Beyond the Aquila Rift - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Enola - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Signal to Noise - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Cardiff Afterlife - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Hideaway - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Minla's Flowers - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Merlin's Gun - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Angels of Ashes - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Spirey and the Queen - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Understanding Space and Time - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Digital to Analogue - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Everlasting - Alastair Reynolds
Zima Blue and Other Stories : Zima Blue - Alastair Reynolds


Martian Captain's multi crackup scary dive interview trip still worth it.

3.5 out of 5


Lost In Space.

'Space,' it says, 'is big. Really big. You just won't believe how
vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is.

4.5 out of 5


Smart missile upgrade meld family observation.

3.5 out of 5


Quantum reality spousal coordination.

4.5 out of 5


Cold calling multiversal congruence crackup.

3.5 out of 5


Husker pursuit Shadow universe scanning destruction escape syrinx study isolation.

4 out of 5


Planet evacuation tech boost co-operation is hard.

4 out of 5


Black hole shooter crucial in prevention of stellar duo's stupendous collapse and civilisation sterilisation.

4.5 out of 5


Supernova quantum Road to Perdition catechism clan uprising.

3.5 out of 5


'Space war is godawful slow.'
Everything is also not as it seems in this conflict, partly as a result of the above.

3 out of 5


Martian sole survivor's Elton imaginary friend accidental endings gets machine man revival upgrade cosmological study session black hole comeback.

4.5 out of 5


Didn't mean to help spread an alien invasion by dance music, really.

3.5 out of 5


Well, after Russian roulette, I'm still alive somewhere. I hope.

3.5 out of 5


Enhanced artist megastar is really Kreepy Krawly.

4 out of 5




5 out of 5

Monday, December 28, 2009

Everlasting - Alastair Reynolds

Short Story

Number of words : 7000
Percent of complex words : 7.7
Average words per sentence : 16.7


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 9.7
Flesch : 67.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.9

: Everlasting - Alastair Reynolds


CHARACTERS

Ian Caldicot

Very smart inventor of stuff, including balsawood pterodactyls. Friend of Moira's from uni.

Moira Curbishley

His rather more with-it friend.


MEDIA

Ben Elton

A comedian and author.


PLOT

Ian calls Moira, a friend from uni, on a dark and snowy night. He is a somewhat flaky very bright dilettante, but says he won't kill himself. She goes over, and has a cup of coffee while he explains his Many Worlds theory. In that he cannot die, because he will always be alive somewhere, however unlikely. This is extremely worrying to her as he is going to demonstrate, Russian roulette style. This proof does not go well, and she calls the cops etc. to tell them about the dead person. The pair had drifted apart in the past when a snap decision to go back for something saved her from skydiving with an incorrectly packed parachute.

She says she is ok to drive home, but in the bad weather ends up sliding off into the river, and a tree therein collides with her. Amazingly, she finds she survives with minor scratches only when she wakes up.

Ian, of course, could just have gone from flaky to complete loon.


3.5 out of 5

Digital To Analogue - Alastair Reynolds

Didn't mean to help spread an alien invasion by dance music, really.


3.5 out of 5

Everlasting - Alastair Reynolds

Well, after Russian roulette, I'm still alive in some world somewhere. I hope.


3.5 out of 5

Angels Of Ashes - Alastair Reynolds

Supernova quantum Road to Perdition catechism clan uprising.


3.5 out of 5

JAM Jars - Robert Hood

Jettisoned Amorphic Mechanism death replacement overmatch.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Leigh Brackett's Future History - An Examination

LEIGH BRACKETT'S FUTURE HISTORY - An Examination

It is well known that Leigh Brackett has a group of stories that share a common setting, and that those are based on the planets of the Solar System, primarily on Venus and Mars.

However, there is much other SF included in 50+ short stories and ten novels.

I thought it might be interesting to see what work might coherently fit in one Future History, even if it was never explicitly stated. I haven't seen anything written talking about the interstellar and other stories in general, whereas there are good articles at Wikipedia about the planetary romance era.

Very few dates are given in Brackett stories, so this is an attempt at division into rough periods, in order. There is no mention of medical technology or lifespans given for humans, either, at least insofar as they may differ from the known range of readers of the times.


ELIMINATION OF WORK

Firstly, there are definitely a small number of works that definitely do not. The novel The Long Tomorrow and its on-Earth postapocalyptic lost technology religious setting definitely does not.

Secondly, the short story The Tweener has a soldier return from a Mars that is empty apart from some small rabbit-like native animals, that are actually discovered to be sentient. This is not relevant.

Thirdly, The Citadel of Lost Ages is set on a future earth that astronomical calamity has caused to have a Darkside and a Lightside, like Mercury. There is no evidence of such directly in any work. It is in fact somewhat Planet of the Apes-like, Darkside notwithstanding, with hybrid beastmen running the planet, and humans as slaves. An outsider enters with forgotten knowledge, a trove of past human technology including atomic power. Nothing is mentioned of spacefaring or starship technology. Therefore it is extremely unlikely this story is relevant.

Fourthly, her last story, 'Mommies and Daddies' has a near future Earth dystopia ravaged by a drug destroyed populace and their abandoned children. Or at leas the American part is. This certainly does not fit with the rest of the Future History. Given these multiple bad times on Earth stories all do not seem to fit at all, it is presumably deliberate on her part.

Fifthly, Runaway is obviously out thematically with its investigation of the psychological destabilisation of an accountant. Content makes this certain: "He knew that Venus was important because it produced very large amounts of uranium, thorium, germanium, and a lot of other things that Earth was using up too fast. And that was all he knew, except that people had to live there under domes, and that it never rained."

Lastly, I have not seen the story 'Last Call From Sector 9-G', and no-one seems to know what it is about that I have asked. My guess is this might be an inclusion in the Future History, from the title.


CREATIVE MYTHOGRAPHY

If you want to believe in this exercise, the greatest problem is the lack of explicit reference to the interstellar travel at the same time that there is intense focus on the local Solar System, so you have to get past that in a handwaving manner. Brackett of course was American, so you could perhaps assume that the Solar System chroniclers have the same intense inward looking focus that Americans do. The colonisation does have an American flavour. That is, making the happenings around other stars analogous to international affairs as far as interest goes for the average denizen of either at the time. There may also be author notes or mostly forgotten conversations that render this particular exercise moot, but these are unlikely to ever come to light to trouble us, given the passing of multiple decades already. Spaceports are mentioned often, without detailing the types of ships they serve. Certainly starships are given names like Stellar and Starflight.



ONE MILLION YEARS BC

Some background is given of Martian ancient history:

There is a reference to the Quiru living a million years ago or so, which sounds like an extremely rough ballpark figure. Rhiannon was a Quiru, see The Sword of Rhiannon. "The Quiru, said the myths, had for that sin crushed Rhiannon and locked him into a hidden tomb. And for more than a million years men had hunted the Tomb of Rhiannon because they believed it held the secrets of Rhiannon's power."


ANCIENT SEA-KINGS AND OTHER WEIRD TALES

1) Mars

Much later, on a far wetter Mars the Dhuvians ruled an empire as seen in Sea-Kings of Mars. As told to Matt Carse:""You know at least that since long ago there have been human peoples on our world and also the not-quite-human peoples, the Halflings. Of the humans the great Quiru, who are gone, were the greatest. They had so much science and wisdom that they're still revered as superhuman.
"But there were also the Halflings-the races who are manlike but not descended of the same blood. The Swimmers, who sprang from the sea-creatures, and the Sky Folk, who came from the winged things-and the Dhuvians, who are from the serpent.""

An alien race with advanced technology was also living in the City of Shandakor, as per The Last Days of Shandakor. While not a million years in the past, tens of thousands of years it would have taken Mars to dry out.

Also The Thinkers, as mentioned in Shadow Over Mars also likely also were around tens of thousands of years in the past: "But these Thinkers have done a lot of good from time to time."
Mak nodded. "Sure. Theoretically at least they guide the viewpoint of Mars-when they feel like bothering. It has to be some big important split, like the inter-hemispheric war back in Sixty-two Thousand and Seven, when the Sea Kings had trouble."

As did the Prira Cen: "Ancient things. Things deeply buried, nearly forgotten, clouded by superstition and legend. Forty thousand years—" from The Sorcer of Rhiannon.

The serially immortal Ramas had also existed since long in the past as talked about in Queen of the Martian Catacombs/The Secret of Sinharat. The Rama Berild talks of just one relationship:"'Delgaun has had me for a thousand years, and I am weary of him. So very weary!'" Given they are the last of their people, they must have existed a lot further back in the past.

2) Earth

Brackett appears to have liked Robert E. Howard and Abraham Merritt. As far as Howard goes, from The Jewel Of Bas: "He gave them a lament, one of the wild dark things the Cimmerians sing at the bier of a chief and very appropriate to the occasion" and "The priests of Dagon, of all the temples of Atlantis, spoke against me. I had to run away. I roamed the whole earth before the Flood, carrying the Stone."

Her husband of course was a writer for Weird Tales, so these are likely a small nod towards a favored writer. A further nod to the Weird Tales boys: "Ciaran, because he was a gypsy and a thief and had music in him like a drunkard has wine, had heard it, deep in the black forests of Hyperborea where even gypsies seldom go." The Jewel Of Bas is itself set on a hidden world in the Solar System.

Lord of the Earthquake is an Abraham Merritt style adventure where two men enter a portal that takes them back twelve thousand years in the past to Ancient Mu. So a tribute by story type, with Brackett of course injecting one of her favored hardboiled misfit-types in the character of Coh Langham. There may even ben a Doyle influence : "I devoured Burroughs, Haggard, Balmer and Wylie, Doyle's unforgettable "Maracot Deep," with this exploration of the deep in a submarine. The same applying to 'Out Of the Sea', with its attack on the USA by human created sea monsters.

The horror story The Tapestry Gate also has an otherworldly portal contained therein, but is utilised in an horrific vein, as opposed to fantasy adventure.

So Brackett has linked Mu, Atlantis, Cimmeria, Hyperborea and Lovecraftian Elder Gods in to the ancient background of her work.

3) Venus

There were no advanced technological or even literate cultures on Venus, so any history as yet known is limited to fragmented oral traditions, divulged grudgingly, if remembered at all, such as those of the Moon Cult.

4) Mercury

A much harsher place than Venus, aliens such as Shannach, long-lived, may have been there in the past, but not literate natives, so nothing is known.


RIO BRAVOS

There is no reason, in a creative mythography sense, that the adventures of sheriff John T. Chance in protecting his town along with his friends cannot be included here, or even James Beckwourth's frontier work. There is actually no direct mention of the historical 19th century at all that I am aware of in her stories other than these.


L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

As goes the Wild West, the same for the mean streets of 1940s USA and the crooks, cops, dicks, dames and other unfortunates in the following: No Good from a Corpse, Stranger At Home, Murder Is Bigamy, Red-Headed Poison, Murder in the Family Design for Dying, I Feel Bad Killing You, No Star Is Lost and The Misfortune Teller or even the late fifties in The Tiger Among Us, An Eye For an Eye, and So Pale, So Cold, So Fair. The sixties are represented by Silent Partner and The True Death of Juanito Rodriguez.


THEY WALK AMONG US

The 1950s saw aliens with starfaring capability come into contact with humans who discovered what they were, but only in isolated incidents. Wisely, they appeared to have kept away from the big cities. Possibly due to the prevalence of too many smart investigators in places like Los Angeles that may have discovered them eventually and blown the whistle.

In 1950, a local Newhale reporter discovers the Hrylliannu using the area to bring people to Earth in The Queer Ones. In fact, there is even a hybrid child produced, but they cover their tracks well. This year also saw a Pennsylvania farmer and his children encounter joyriding alien children in The Truants. Parents from both worlds were happy for no-one to know about this.

Cornwall in 1952 sees earthman Michael Trehearne discover he is of Varddan extraction in The Starmen Of Lyrdis. As such he possesses the mutant gene to allow him to survive their particularly exacting form of interstellar travel, over which they have a monopoly. As we see here, and with later human ingenuity on display, the Varddans are far from the only people with interstellar travel technology, so they rapidly become of little interest, barely a curiosity. Those that require genetic quirks to survive space travel are not going to be able to compete with the crews of ships that do not, by sheer weight of numbers.


THE COMING OF THE TERRANS

A detailed examination of the colonisation era of the Inner Worlds is beyond the scope of this article (see the Wikipedia articles), but the collection above does give some dates:

There were conflicts and uprisings on Mars that were pro-native. The Martians were more technologically advanced and capable than the native Venusians, so did not suffer the same wars and brutal colonialist programs of slaughter and military action.

1998 The Beast-Jewel of Mars
2016 Mars Minus Bisha
2024 The Last Days of Shandakor
2031 Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon
2038 The Road to Sinharat

Queen of the Martian Catacombs would happen around these times as mention is made of the Shanga trade in that story: "Stark realized now what secret vice Kala sold here. Shanga – the going back – the radiation that caused temporary artificial atavism and let men wallow for a time in beasthood. It was supposed to have been stamped out when the Lady Fand's dark Shanga ring had been destroyed. But it still persisted, in places like this outside the law." So the later Stark stories Black Amazon of Mars and Enchantress of Venus should all be in this range, them or their expanded versions.

In Cube From Space, there is an encounter with representatives of two interstellar capable alien races:"I am Crom. I was king once, in a land called Yf. And they are the Rakshi. The time came when we had to fight them, we humans, because we couldn't take any more."


THE BIG JUMP OUTWARDS

Things changed considerably when the Cochrane Company make the breakthrough to discover a method of fast interstellar travel thanks to their engineer Ballantyne and his drive (The Big Jump). The failure of Barnard II as a colony and exploitation site because of the Transurane was never going to deter further exploration. Nor was the fact that prototypes will have problems. "... whole robot-shift for the drive had bugs in it. The relays won't take the load. Rip it out and rebuild it ..." Even though the Cochranes may lost the taste for it, others would not.


PLANETARY SURVEY

The Preliminary Planetary Survey revisits Barnard II in How Bright the Stars: "It was a hellish world to be wandering on, this second planet of Barnard's Star."... "Man had finally made the Big Jump outward, with the Wenz-Boroda FTL (faster-than-light) drive, and the exploration of the galaxy had begun." The more stable starship propulsion technology had made this possible. Men could also live on Barnard II if they wanted to, but as Jerry Baird discovers, it is still pointless. The galaxy is a hostile environment, in general, but has countless other stars to explore.

Here man has been concentrating on nearby reachable neighbourhood stars, such as Altair in The Woman From Altair. One of the spacemen here actually brings back a wife from one of the Altairan planets, to tragic consequences.


GALACTIC SURVEY

So succesful has man been at least with the ability to explore, if not the usefulness of end targets even getting to stars and planets without name so many have been visited. The Galactic Survey era shows the technology has been developed to enable ships to push past the nearby sites such as Barnard's Star, Proxima and Alpha Centauri, etc.

During The Shadows tired and disillusioned Exploration Team leader Barrier finds the remnants of a race destroyed by astrological catastrophe, and their faithful doglike servants. "Maybe there enough worth in us that here and there some little world will give us another chance. Anyway, it's nice to know there's one place where we have some friends.""

An explicit reference to a far away settlement is givein in Come Sing the Moons of Moravenn. The planet in this story has a topaz colored star in the vicinity of the Vela Spur, which could mean it is up to thousands of light years away.

However, things do change, as should have pleased Barrier greatly. There is a Galactic Union out there, and races involved in this organisation do come into contact with Earth and the Solar System. In fact, in All the Colors of the Rainbow Mintakan weather engineers on Earth have a violent encounteer with nowheresville USA racist rednecks. As the engineer Flin notes: "It was his first big job on his own responsibility, with no superior closer than Galactic Center, which was a long way off." Racism has always been in existence in the Solar System, but such recidivism again is not going to deter the benefits of expansion and exploration.

Sometimes though, it takes some special people becoming involved to sort some planets out. To whit, Simon Ashton and Eric John Stark in The Ginger Star: " A newly discovered, newly opened world called Skaith that hardly anyone had ever heard of, except at Galactic Center. Skaith was not a member of the Union but there had been a consulate. Someone had called to the Union for help, and Ashton was the man who went to see about it."


INTERPLANETARY WARS

Even though expansion can take off some of the population pressure, resources are still an issue, and wars still happen. Mars is particularly water-poor when looking to rapidly increase population by colonisation.

While not a war, Water Pirate is certainly about resources. "It was early in 2418 that the Solar System realized that there was a Water Pirate. The great tanker ships, carrying water to the rich dry-world mines and colonies, began to vanish from the space-lanes, with their convoys. The Trans-Galactic Convoy Fleet, which for two hundred years had kept the space-ways safe, was suddenly helpless."

The Earth-Venus War saw Mars neutral in No Man's Land In Space, and Mars also fought against the Jovians with Earth and Venus as seen in Outpost On Io.

Mars fought a World War in 2504, then became embroiled in an Interplanetary conflict later in the 26th century and tried a disguised sneak attack on Venus, which was foiled in Interplanetary Reporter.

In A World Is Born: "who had conceived this plan of building a new world for the destitute and desperate veterans of the Second Interplanetary War". It is not clear if this is meant to refer to one of the past wars, as a well understood by veterans term, or a completely new conflict. It is possible that the Second Interplanetary War meant is referenced in Thralls Of the Endless Night, with a documentary discovery: "Treaty of Alliance between the Sovereign Earth and the Union of Jovian Moons, providing for Earthly colonization and development of the said Moons, and mutual aid against Aggressor Worlds.
A single sheet fell out of the bundle. "...have taken the precaution of Halm, the treaty secretly in a ship of colonists, in care of the captain who knows nothing of its nature. It has been rumored that our mutual enemy, the Martio-Venusian Alliance, may try to intercept it, possibly with the aid of hired pirates. This would, as you know, mean war. It is my prayer that the treaty will safely..."


STABILIZATION AND DESPERATION

Alpha Centauri or Die shows a Solar System government either disillusioned with interstellar travel, or perhaps having more jackboot clad reasons. They do not want the people to have the freedom to travel and communicate in an uncontrolled fashion. This is explained by the bitter would be escapees: "But damn them all eternally, even so. Because of them all the Stabilization Acts had passed. Trade Stabilization. Population Stabilization. Crop Stabilization. The busy minds of the experts working. Take the manned ships out of space and there can't be any trade wars or any other kinds of wars. The worlds can't get at each other to fight. Stop expansion outward to the stars and eliminate the risks, the economic upsets that attend every major change, the unpredictable rise and shift of power. Stabilize. Regulate. Control. We may lose a few unimportant liberties but think what well gain. Security for all, and for all time to come! And the dark ships of the Government will keep you safe.
...
The populations of the Solar System had been carefully figured to the last decimal point and portioned out among the planets according to food- and employment-potential, so that nowhere was there a scarcity or an overplus, and nobody's individual whim was allowed to upset the balance. If you wanted to change your residence from one sector or one world to another, the red tape involved was so enormous that men had been known to die of old age while waiting for a permit."

If this sort of control is extended and expanded, then the consequences could easily appear in 'Retreat To The Stars'. The 40th century shows a more extreme Soviet-like political structure in the Tri-State, compared to the more extreme right-wing colonialism or American style capitalistic expansion of earlier times. In Retreat To the Stars there are a few rebels on an asteroid base still resisting state control. They are desperately building a starship to escape. The implication here is that starfaring technology is government controlled.

With a Future History of many centuries, cycles of political ideologies and experiments would not be at all surprising. Few dates are given in Brackett stories, so the Alpha Centauri or Die/Ark of Mars situations could have been followed by relaxing restrictions and great expansionism again, cycling around again until the 40th century.

For example, A Peace and Happiness doctrine backed up by actual brainwashing technology saw President Hilton rule the Federation of Worlds in Child Of the Sun. 'There was no way out ahead, either. Mercury was there, harsh and bitter in the naked blaze of the sun. The ships of Gantry Hilton, President of the Federation of Worlds, inventor of the Psycho-Adjuster, and ruler of men's souls, were herding him down to a landing at the lonely Spaceguard outpost." The Unregenerate rebels have almost lost completely and are also looking for a place to flee. "Unregeneracy was almost dead in the inhabited worlds." Falken and Moore do so, and find an immensely powerful stellar energy being using a small world as a plaything, and hope to use him to help them survive Hiltonist oppression.

Two thousand years between The Coming of the Terrans and Retreat To the Stars leaves a lot of time for things to change and plenty of chronological slots for the above to fit in.



REFERENCES

Leigh Brackett (ology)
The Coming of the Terrans - Leigh Brackett
The Halfling and Other Stories - Leigh Brackett
The Eric John Stark Saga - Leigh Brackett
The Solar System - Leigh Brackett
Sea-Kings of Mars
Martian Quest: The Early Brackett - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances - Leigh Brackett
The Big Jump
The Starmen Of Lyrids
Leigh Brackett Summary Bibliography
Leigh Brackett Solar System
Mars in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Venus in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Mercury in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Jupiter in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett

Bone Dog - Kaaron Warren

Fat and skeletal lived in a house with likely a decidedly odd garden.


3 out of 5

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Vanishing Venusians - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 11000
Percent of complex words : 6.4
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 10.1


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 6.6
Flesch : 77.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.9

: The Vanishing Venusians - Leigh Brackett


SETTING

The Sea of Morning Opals

An ocean on Venus.


CHARACTERS

Matt Harker

Crusty ship captain.

Rory McLaren

Young man of Matt's crew.

Vila

Rory McLaren's Venusian wife.

Viki

His daughter to be.

Sim Gibbons

Elderly colonist.

Button

Harker's name for a Venusian girl they meet, a telekinetic who is probably part plant.


ANIMALS

Golden Swimmers

Venusian creatures. Possibly part plant. Have claws.

Flower-hounds

Venusian plant-animal hunters.

Leshen

Swamp dragons.


PLOT

Harker leads a crew of newly arrived colonists to Venus by ship, looking for somewhere to settle. Seeing a possibility, he takes McLaren and Gibbons with him to explorer, but encounter some local plant-animal hybrids, both animal and sentient, to lethal but successful consequence.


3.5 out of 5

The Stellar Legion - Leigh Brackett

Short Story

Number of words : 6000
Percent of complex words : 8.3
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 11.3

READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.9
Flesch : 72.1
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.0

: The Stellar Legion - Leigh Brackett

SETTING

Interworld Legion fort

An outpost to defend colonists from the local tribes of Venus.


CHARACTERS

Lehn

Venusian Commandant.

Ian MacIan

Earthman, Legionnaire. Scotsman, ex-Terran Guards officer.

Thekla

Martian low-canaler, Legionnaire and traitor.

Bhak

Titanian strangler, Legionnaire.



ORGANISATIONS

The Interworld Legion

A bunch of sweaty misfit soldiers from multiple worlds.


RACES

Nahali

Venusian swamp-dwellers.


PLACES

Jekkara

Martian low-canal city.


TECHNOLOGY

Venusian piano

Has three tiers.

Electro gun

Hand weapon.


ANIMALS

Swamp rats

Ruby eyed Venusian creature with iridescent scales. Electrified.


PLOT

MacIan is an ex-Terran Guardsmen who got a couple of thousand men under his command slaughtered, he thinks, so he quit and went the Legion route. A fellow soldier, Thekla, has a plot to get rid of him and discredit the local commander. The pair of them and another soldier have gone out on a patrol. MacIan has to avoid getting fried by Venusian swamp rats to reveal the scheme.


4 out of 5

The Moon That Vanished - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 17000
Percent of complex words : 4.4
Average syllables per word : 1.3
Average words per sentence : 12.2


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 6.6
Flesch : 81.5
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.9


: The Moon That Vanished - Leigh Brackett

SETTING


Palace of All Possible Delights

Dingy bar near the Sea of Morning Opals where Heath is found by Alor and Broca.

Sea of Morning Opals

Where you must go to find the Moonfire. An ocean.

Upper Seas

Part of the Sea of Morning Opals

Dragon's Throat

Part of the Sea of Morning Opals



CHARACTERS

David Heath

Man who found the Moonfire and lived.

Kalruna

Owner of the Palace of All Possible Delights.

Ethne

Venusian temple woman whom Heath feverishly desires.

Alor

Venusian moon cult handmaiden, and a reality Heath can love.

Broca

Venusian uplander and proscribed cult member, of the Sarn tribe.

Johor

A ship captain working for the priests.

Vakor

A priest of the moon cult.


RACES

Nahali

Swamp-dwellers of Venus.

Sarn

An uplands tribe of Venus.


PLACES

Omaz

River near the Sea of Morning Opals.

Deep Swamps

Inland Venus.

High Plateaus

Upland area of Venus.



VEHICLES

Ethne

David Heath's ship.

Lahal

Johor's ship.


CONCEPTS

Moonfire

Myth says it is leftover from the body of a dead god, and can give you powers. Likely some radioactive material that alters the brain.


ANIMALS

Swamp-dragon

Small, reasonably intelligent lizard creatures with claws and wings.

Guardians

Giant black sea creatures.

ORGANISATIONS

Mysteries of the Moon

Oldest Venusian cult.

Children of the Moon

Priests of the cult.






PLOT

David Heath is the only man to have travelled to the Moonfire and lived long enough afterwards for people to approach about a return trip. Alor and Broca are renegades of the Venusian Moon Cult that want to go there. Heath reluctantly agrees, haunted by previous memories. The priests of the cult do not want them to reach the Moonfire and gain powers, so hire another captain and attempt to attack them at sea. Heath has the advantage here, and they managed to reach their destination, but again, not to everyone's taste.


4 out of 5

The Citadel Of Lost Ships - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 12000
Percent of complex words : 6.2
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 9.3


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 6.2
Flesch : 78.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.6

: The Citadel Of Lost Ships - Leigh Brackett


SETTING

Kraylen tribe

Dwindling group of Venusian natives.

Romany settlement

Dwelling for a group of outsiders. Live by a code of helping those who ask for it.


CHARACTERS

Roy Campbell-Thomas Black

Well-known wanted criminal, hides out with the Kraylens and the Romany.

Kraylens

Venusian tribe leader.

Tredrick

Romany Terran overchief.

Eran Mak

Chief Councilor.

Marah

Man with a hook.

Zard

A Romany.

Old Ekla

Romany elder.

Stella Moore

Romany leader.


PLANTS

Liha trees

Venusian tree.


ORGANISATIONS

Spaceguard

Coalition law-enforcement. After Roy Campbell.

Terra-Venusian Coalition Government

Settlement government.



CONCEPTS

Latnik

Someone who is not Romany.


PLACES

Tehara Province

Venusian area.

Lhi

Frontier town in Tehara Province.

Polar Cities

Of Mars.

Kesh

Martian city.

Balakar

Martian city.

Tamboian

Martian city.

Wells of Tamboina

Martian water source.

Martian Mak's

Old trade market in Lhi.

Lhi

Venusian city.


TECHNOLOGY

Needle-gun

Hand weapon.

Infra-beam

Detectors on ships.


VEHICLE

Fitts-Sothern

Small flying craft.

Black Star

Campbell's Fitts-Sothern.

Krub

Type of freighter.



RACES

Drylanders

Martian people.

Shenyat

Ganymede people.

Taxil

Mercurian backwater people.

Baraki

Titanian telekinetic cave dwellers.

Callistans

"Beyond her was a thin, small man with four arms. He wore no clothing but his
own white fur and his head was crowned with feathery antennae. Even in the blue night the antennae and the man's eyes burned living scarlet."


PLOT

Roy Campbell is on the run from the coalition spaceguard, but the Kraylen tribe have little in the way of resources left to hide him as in the past. In fact, they need help. Campbell ends up travelling to the Romany to see if he can find some. They have their own conflicts - those who are traditional, and those who want change and to become more mainstream with money and power. Harboring a criminal has repercussion. The Romany, as with their planet-bound namesakes are a persecuted group. Campbell decides he can better use his infamy by going elsewhere to highlight their plight.


4 out of 5

Terror Out Of Space - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 11000
Percent of complex words : 4.3
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 10.8


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 6.1
Flesch : 80.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.7

: Terror Out Of Space - Leigh Brackett


CHARACTERS

Lundy

A policeman on a mission.

Jackie Smith

An unconscious colleague.

Mike Farrell

A bleeding out colleague.


ORGANISATIONS

Tri-World Police

Law enforcement organisation.


PLACES

Vhia

Trade City on Venus.

Nahali

Get canebrakes here.


CONCEPTS

The Madness from Beyond, or The Vampire Lure

"The guys who suddenly went sluggy and charged off the rails all made it clear that they had met the ultimate Dream Woman of all women and all dreams. Nobody else could see her, but that didn't bother them any. They saw her, and she was—She. And her eyes were always veiled."


ANIMALS

Seadragon

Venus sea animal.

Kelp-beasts

What it says.


PLANTS

Flower-things

Can move.


FOOD

Vakhi

Venusian alcohol.

Canebrakes

From Nahali.


RACES

Cloud People

Live in the highlands on Venus.

Plant-men

Small, blue grey transform into green and winged.

The Others

Cannibal lurers.


PLOT

Three space policeman in a bad way in a small vehicle come under the influence of a powerfully hypnotic creature. One of them can function, and meets some plant people and one of the hypnotisers.


3.5 out of 5

Runaway - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 15000
Percent of complex words : 9.0
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 10.5


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.8
Flesch : 72.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.7


: Runaway - Leigh Brackett


SETTING

Los Angeles

Anthony Reid lives here with his family and unhappily works as an accountant.

Venus

Reid chucks it all in and heads for another planet.


CHARACTERS

Anthony Reid-Joseph Rucker

Accountant that decides to bail out and go to Venus.

Tony Reid

His son.

Phyllis Reid

His daughter.

Fern Reid

His wife.

Mr Jennings

Boss of Jennings Accounting Services.

George Grosset

Friend of Reid's in Los Angeles.

Bill Stocker

Fellow employee.

Dr Eckworth

His psychiatrist.

Crider

Runs a criminal labor operation on Venus.

Holfern

Worker on Venus.

Linson

Worker on Venus.

Everett

Worker on Venus.

Dr Hinojosa

State shrink.

Mr Horst

Immigration officer.

Dr. Buerhle

Madhouse resident doctor.

Mr. Haggerty

Fellow inmate.

Perez

Fellow inmate.


ORGANISATIONS

Jennings Accounting Services

Reid's employer.

Anglo-Martian Enterprises

A company account.

Crider Mining Company

A standover merchant.


TECHNOLOGY

Plastibrik

Building materials.

Solaray

Building materials, glass.


PLOT

Anthony Reid is an accountant with a family in Los Angeles. He has an existential crisis and chucks it all in and heads for Venus. He discovers the current situation there is no better, and in fact with dangerous conditions and a lot of desperate men, no place for someone to be that chose to be there.

He ends up in a mental institution, trying to reorient, along with some in similar situations.


4 out of 5

Hideaway - Alastair Reynolds

Husker pursuit Shadow universe scanning destruction escape syrinx study isolation.


4 out of 5

Cardiff Afterlife - Alastair Reynolds

Cold calling multiversal congruence crackup.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, December 25, 2009

Enola - Alastair Reynolds

Smart missile upgrade meld family observation.


3.5 out of 5

Sharp Shooter - Marianne de Pierres

A lighthearted crime story.

Elements of which include:

A literally extremely low rent ex-basketball player with a Kirlian viewing talent.
An ex-slow white centre Perth basketball team owner.
Two galahs.
One male model bartender.
One coke snorting stunner wife.
A narcoleptic roadie.
Flouncy glamourous aunt.
A flaming gym instructor.
Dodgy pierced teenagers.
A loud Monaro.
Stalker hit and runs women.
Lamborghini.
Toothy triathlete.
One wealthy matron.
A crimelord of Italian extraction.
Couple of hoods.
A popular magazine wannabe best mate.
One basically ordinary family.
A cop of the female persuasion.

And of course, a dodgy politician.


3 out of 5

Thursday, December 24, 2009

David Falkayn Star Trader - Poul Anderson

This collection includes an introduction by Hank Davis, and also the chronology of the Technic Civilisation. Also included are Earth Book of Stormgate style introductions to some of the pieces as if they were being researched via history some time later.

David Falkayn Star Trader : Territory - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn Star Trader : The Trouble Twisters - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn Star Trader : Day of Burning - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn Star Trader : The Master Key - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn Star Trader : Satan's World - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn Star Trader : A Little Knowledge - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn Star Trader : Lodestar - Poul Anderson

With a bit of biffo, we can work it out.

3.5 out of 5


Would be tycoon David Falkayn and faithful friend gets him into and out of trouble as he tries to make some good, reasonable deals, and not get perforated, blasted, blown up, or die of hangovers in the process.

Van Rijn cameos to give the occasional ok to some new opportunity escapades, hijinks and cashflow possibilities.

Trouble Twisters : The Three-Cornered Wheel - Poul Anderson
Trouble Twisters : A Sun Invisible - Poul Anderson
Trouble Twisters : The Trouble Twisters [short story] - Poul Anderson

Some problem solving under fire for David Falkayn.

3 out of 5

Stars and planets to be found for Falkayn, although maybe no great rush given the company, once done.

3.5 out of 5

Falkayn has to get out of his pyjamas when he sees barbarian conflict in front of him. Consulting with Van Rijn he gets the ok to try and open up trade with the planet of such. This will involve a lot of punting, boozing, and swordplay, in various orders.

3.5 out of 5


3.5 out of 5


David Falkayn finds that negotiating assistance to a Merseian planet in the path of a supernova a little tricky.

3.5 out of 5


They domesticated, us wild, for cash, too.

4 out of 5


This novel teams both Van Rijn and Falkayn and his two friends and ship - bringing to the planet in question.

Which is bad: because it contains a race that have a developmental history somewhat like humans.

The planet is in a unique temperature situation that could be exploited for elemental production, so that is obviously something of the interest - money.

Also to stop it being seriously weaponised. Falkayn manages to get into plenty of trouble here.

3 out of 5


''You swine, you filthy treacherous xeno, I'll kill you,' Dologrov groaned. 'Slowly.'

'First you must catch me,' Witweet answered. 'By virtue of being small, I have a larger surface-to-volume ratio than you. My bones, my muscles, my veins and capillaries and cell membranes suffer less force per square centimeter than do yours. I can move faster than you, here. I can survive longer.'

'You can't outrun a blaster bolt,' Olafsson said.'

3.5 out of 5


Some Supermetal seeking for Van Rijn and Falkayn.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Satan's World - Poul Anderson

This novel teams both Van Rijn and Falkayn and his two friends and ship - bringing to the planet in question.

Which is bad: because it contains a race that have a developmental history somewhat like humans.

The planet is in a unique temperature situation that could be exploited for elemental production, so that is obviously something of the interest - money.

Also to stop it being seriously weaponised. Falkayn manages to get into plenty of trouble here.


3 out of 5

Introduction Lodestar - Poul Anderson

Got Hirahouk's private journal.


3 out of 5

Introduction A Little Knowledge - Poul Anderson

Could be useful.


3 out of 5

Introduction Day Of Burning - Poul Anderson

Hloch does some Avalon research.


3 out of 5

Plus ÇA Change Plus C'est La Même Chose - Poul Anderson

Recording adventurer.


3 out of 5

A Historical Reflection - Poul Anderson

Polesotechnic League has problems.


3 out of 5

Lorelei Of the Red Mist - Leigh Brackett

Novella

Number of words : 22000
Percent of complex words : 5.5
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 9.4


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 5.9
Flesch : 80.5
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.4

: Lorelei Of the Red Mist - Leigh Brackett

SETTING

Mountains Of White Cloud

Dangerous Venusian geography to flee over.

Crom Dhu

Faolan's city, under siege by Rann's forces.

Falga

Site of Conan's treachery, a cliff citadel.

Red Sea

Home of the sea shepherds, and the Source Life, a strange energy source, good for recharging dead men armies.



CHARACTERS

Hugh Starke

Criminal on the run, ends up in another body and a war.

Rann

Cruel, pale green haired ruler in ancient Venus. She has plans for Starke.

Beudag

Outland Rover ruler and general, she is an opposer of Rann. Sister of Faolan. Name means Dagger-in-the-Sheath

Romna

Servant of Faolan.

Faolan of the Ships

Ruler of the Outland Rovers, now blind.

Conan

Ex-lover of Beudag and traitor. Starke now inhabits his body.

Geil

A dead man under the sea, betrayed by Conan.

Clev

A dead man under the sea, betrayed by Conan.

Mannt

A dead man under the sea, betrayed by Conan.

Bron

A dead man under the sea, betrayed by Conan.

Aesur

A dead man under the sea, betrayed by Conan.

Tlan

A dead man under the sea, betrayed by Conan.

Linnl

A sea-shepherd who gives Starke a suggestion.


ORGANISATIONS

Terro-Venus Mines Incorporated Special Police

Pursuers of Hugh Starke.

Outland Rovers

Faolan and Beudag's people.


VEHICLES

Kallman

Starke's ship.


CONCEPTS

High Venusian

A language.

ANIMALS

Golden hounds

"Their eyes were huge, jewel-like in their slim sharp faces. They possessed four members that might have been legs and arms, retracted now against their narrowing bodies. Golden membranes spread wing-like from head to flank, and they moved like wings, balancing expertly the thrust of the flat, powerful tails.
"

Flame birds

Found in the mountains near Falga.

RACES

Sea-shepherds

Undersea dwellers, webbed fingers and all.


PLACES

Jekkaran Low Canals

An area and city on Mars.

The Belt

The asteroid grouping in the Solar System.


PLOT

Hugh Starke is a criminal on the run, pursued by corporate police as he escapes with the loot. In desperation he flees in his ship over a dangerous mountain range, and blacks out.

He awakens in the clutches of Rann, a woman who has the power to transfer his mind into another body, to use as her agent against the Outland Rovers. When in the Rover citadel of Crom Dhu he is treated badly, as he is in the body of Conan, Beudag's ex-lover and a traitor who led them into a naval ambush. This has led to the situation they are in now, under siege. Faolan is blind, and Beudag has been leading the defense.

Starke manages to convince them he is not Conan, but Rann's mental hold on him is still strong, as he tries to resist it. This leads to Beudag's capture amd use as a hostage. Starke heads under the Red Sea, looking for help against Rann. Which he finds in an army of betrayed dead men, and the sea-shepherd's Source. Time for some payback.


5 out of 5

Interplanetary Reporter - Leigh Brackett

Short Story

Number of words : 7000
Percent of complex words : 7.7
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 9.9


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.1
Flesch : 74.1
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.4





SETTING

Vhia

Trade City of Venus.

CHARACTERS

Chris Barton

Ex I.P. Reporter on Venus.

John Sanger

Head of I.P. on Venus.

Bobby Lancer

Another reporter.

Kei Volhan

Socialite adventuress of Vhia.


ORGANISATIONS

I.P.

Interplanetary Press.

Venusian Space Committee

Regulate spaceflight.


VEHICLES

Stellar Queen

Liner coming to Venus.

Fitts-Sothern

Type of small ship.


CONCEPTS

Martian World War

Conflict in 2504.

Jovian Mandate

Allocates territory to Jupiter, including water-rich asteroids.

Dark Invasion

Conflict on Earth.


TECHNOLOGY

Atomic heat ray

Ship weapon.


PLOT

Chris Barton is a disillusioned journalist, sick of the media and war, especially when he finds out that a dodgy deal between Mars and Jupiter over water in an interplanetary war. This will see Vhia annihilated in a sneak bombing attack designed to lay blame elsewhere.

Coming across a glamorous adventuress and teaming up with a still employed IP reporter they fly out in opposition to try and stop it and get the story out.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In the Days Of the Red Animals - Kate Orman

Blueface babyeater.


3 out of 5

Alpha Centauri Or Die! - Leigh Brackett

Novel

Number of words : 40000
Percent of complex words : 7.0
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 11.0


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.2059
Flesch : 76.7072
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.2864

: Alpha Centauri Or Die - Leigh Brackett


SETTING

Kahora

Martian Trade City.

Alpha Centauri

Destination for those not liking the restrictions



CHARACTERS

Phil Kirby

A widower, now with a Martian. Head escapee.

Wilson

Sally's husband and Kirby's co-conspirator.

Harry March

Brother-in-law of Kirby, Divisional superintendent and his boss. A government man.

Shari

Kirby's partner, she is Martian. Minor telepath.

Hockley

Fellow escapee.

Pop Barstow

Fellow escapee, experienced.

Sally Wilson

Objector to leaving.

Joe Zimmerman

Passenger.

Joe Marapese

Young man acts as co-pilot in the escape.

Krejewski

Ship builder.

Mrs Krejewski

His wife.

Weiss

Junior assistant in the Cybernetic Division

Fenner

The radioman.

VEHICLES

R-Ships

Ships flown without humans.

R-40

Heavy freighters.

R-10

Mixed carriers.

R-3

Planetary patrol ships.

Lucy B. Davenport

The ship Kirby and the others escape in.


TECHNOLOGY

RSS-1

A probe.


ORGANISATIONS

Pax Terrae

Government organisation.




MEDIA

Trade Stabilization

Legislative act.

Population Stabilization

Legislative act.

Crop Stabilization

Legislative act.


PLACES

King City

Ancient Martian area.


CONCEPTS

High Martian

A language.

Low Martian

A language.


ANIMALS

Espees

Animals with teleportation abilities: "They can shift atoms," Shari said. "They can hold the unstable ones so that there is no emission of particles. In fact, they have complete mental control over matter, and they can do all these things
singly or as a group with enormous potential. And in this way they feed themselves and repel their enemies and keep their wallows at just the right temperature, all without the slightest effort. It isn't fair! Men have labored so hard for thousands of years to learn just a little of what these creatures are born with but never understand!"

PLOT

Phil Kirby and other are sick of not being allowed to space travel, and decide to do something about it by taking a ship and leaving, even if it means taking some people against their will. It is a several year voyage to Alpha Centauri, and even then the robot ships may be able to find them. What they did not bank on was finding native lifeforms with immense mental powers.


3.5 out of 5