The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Jet Lag Blues

Posted on | June 3, 2014 | 17 Comments


Apologies for the lack of Live At Five this morning, or even the token offering of In The Mailbox, but after being up since 0300 in order to make my 6 AM flight to Las Vegas, I was in no position to give either of those posts their due justice. However, before I saunter down Fremont Street to my doom at the Heart Attack Grill, I thought I should at least mention a few books that are worth your attention – or maybe not.

Matthew Harrington is probably best known for his contributions to various Man-Kzin War anthologies, and for his collaboration with Larry Niven, The Goliath Stone, which is an amusing story about nanobots, human evolution, space exploration, and a few other things. He has an anthology out, The Original Uncut SOUL SURVIVOR: and other stories in which he displays not just the quirky humor in evidence from his other works, but tenderness, passion, and a few other things you might not have expected if all you’d seen were the aforementioned stories about Kzin and mad scientists. Most anthologies, I’m happy if half the stories are good; this one runs considerably higher than that, and is a steal for $4 on the Kindle. Buy it now before he or his agent recover their senses! Better yet, borrow it first from the Amazon Prime Lending Library, and then buy it so he gets a double dip of royalties. 😉

In David Drake’s most recent RCN novel, The Sea Without a Shore, Adele Mundy moves beyond being the Deadliest Librarian in the Universe and develops her aristocratic/diplomatic talents to solve what at first seems like an impossible set of tasks, even for the Unstoppable Force of Daniel Leary and his signals officer. If Drake ever stops writing these, I may have to start reading the Aubrey/Maturin novels, which I understand they’re modeled on.

Also worth your time is an oldie but goodie, Steven Brust’s Brokedown Palace (no relation to the drug movie of the same name) which is an offshoot of his Vlad Taltos novels, which I started reading and then stopped for no good reason I can remember. Anyhow, it’s an interesting fantasy about four princes living in a decaying palace in an out-of-the-way kingdom, and well worth your time.

And then there’s Robert Conroy’s 1920: America’s Great War. This account of a German/Mexican invasion of California and Texas gets 4/5 from Amazon reviewers, but it left me cold; individually, each of the factors that leads to the book’s conclusion are plausible, but when you lump them all together, it blew out the suspension on my disbelief. Too many things go right at just the right time, and even the things that go wrong turn out not to be so bad in the end.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a Single Bypass Burger, or maybe two. Pictures will be posted in the burger post later this week. 🙂


  • JeffWeimer

    I’m in the middle of The Sea Without a Shore, and unfortunately Drake’s usual tics are still there. It could be a lot tighter without all the ad-nauseum repeated exposition about Mundy’s motivations and backstory. It’s maudlin.

    Right now I’m annoyed enough to put it down and have started Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. Because I like Game of Thrones.

  • richard mcenroe

    While I like David Drake, the Leary books are Platonic shadows of Patrick O’Brian, more closely on a par with Douglas Reeman’s WWI/II naval novels.

  • Wombat_socho

    Which were not bad brain candy in their own right.

  • Wombat_socho

    Well, if Drake were a perfect writer, he could have retired on the Nobel Prize and Pultizer winning Hammer’s Slammers, but we don’t live in that universe.

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  • Unix-Jedi

    I may have to start reading the Aubrey/Maturin novels, which I understand they’re modeled on.

    I did. They’re good reads, but Drake’s style is totally different. So do it anyway, even if Drake is still writing them.

    The characters aren’t really modeled on Aubrey/Maturin, but more the setup (spy using doggedly efficient Captain as a ride/foil.)

    Leary, for instance, doesn’t get as out of control as Aubrey, with later issues resulting from it, and whining/complaining, and Maturin is hardly as controlled as Mundy, with some addictions and love affairs.

  • Unix-Jedi

    Because I like Game of Thrones.

    Don’t wander into anyplace with the general internet discussing it if you read the books…. I read the books first, then wandered into the imgur/reddit discussion areas.

    I’m greatly saddened and blame the schools.

  • JeffWeimer

    I’m just doing it to get that extra depth and exposition from the stories that the TV show can’t/doesn’t give. And see where the differences are.

    And reddit. Serves you right.

  • Unix-Jedi

    Hey! I don’t even have a login!

    … Yes, yes I probably did.

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