The Other McCain

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

The Labor Day Book Post

Posted on | September 6, 2021 | Comments Off on The Labor Day Book Post

— compiled by Wombat-socho

Well, first some good news from Atlanta and points north: Larry Correia and John Brown took the Dragon for best Military SF novel with Gun Runner, while Eric Flint & Charles Gannon won Best Alternate History novel for 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line. (via Baen Books on MeWe). It looks like the intrusion of Pink Goo/Hugo/Nebula-style SF into the awards last year was a one-off thing, which is Good. Also, per David Drake’s newsletter, the good news is that he doesn’t have Parkinson’s after all; the bad news is that whatever ails him is affecting his interest in/ability to write, so we may not be seeing anything new from him for a while.*
Ceterum autem censeo Silicon Valley esse delendam.

Thanks to the generosity of the commentariat, I bought a mess of books over the last couple of months and actually read many of them; in addition, I finally got around to visiting the historic Tonopah Town Library, about more which anon; suffice it to say for now that their SF section is a confused, eclectic mess, but bringing it up to speed and enlarging it is now on my rather lengthy to-do list; I am also looking into giving them the ability to lend out e-books, which they don’t currently have.

So let’s take it from the top. Kurt Schlichter’s The Split is the sixth of the Kelly Turnbull novels set in a future America where the red and blue states have peacefully gone their separate ways, but the peace is more de jure than de facto, which is where Kelly comes in. This book has him on a mission to Boston to recover a software package from a mad MIT professor, but other people are looking for it too, and soon enough he gets tangled up with some bank robbers from Southie and in some nasty infighting among the blue state factions. As usual in the Turnbull novels, a lot of people wind up dead, but in the end it all works out for the best. If you liked the first five books in the series, you’re going to like this one too.

Speaking of Larry Correia as I was previously, Monster Hunter Bloodlines is out, and while I really liked Guardian (which was mostly written by Sarah Hoyt), Larry is really at the top of his form here. MHI and the Monster Control Bureau are both on the trail of a powerful artifact that’s being traded from one batch of evil scum to another, but it gets jacked by a shape-shifting fifth party who turns out to be a half-Japanese teenage yokai with blood ties to MHI. Hilarity and violence ensue, a major battle at the MHI compound involving everybody from Owen and Julie and Earl to Melvin the troll and the legion of uplifted lab rats goes down, and the book culminates in an audience with a queen of the Fae in Brazil where we finally discover former Special Task Force Unicorn honcho Stricken’s true name…unless he’s lying. Guess we’ll have to tune in for book 9! Two gory thumbs up for Bloodlines, which was well worth the $31 I paid to get it autographed at Uncle Hugo’s, which is still raising funds for rebuilding. 

I thought from the description that Sarah Hoyt’s Other Rhodes was going to be a screwball comedy, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a noir tale set in a future where cyborgs are illegal, harboring one is equally illegal – but Lily Gilden’s only clue to the disappearance of her private detective husband is the crazy cyborg in her airlock claiming to be a fictional detective from the videogame she and her husband used to play. The situation forces her to play Archie Goodwin to the cyborg’s Nero Wolfe, and plunges her into a nightmarish underworld she hadn’t even dreamed existed. Four smoking blasters out of five; available on KU if you just want to borrow and not buy.

Bob Zimmerman of the Behind The Black blog sent me a review copy of Conscious Choice, and I somehow managed to lose the damn thing. This was awkward, since I’d promised him a review, so I went ahead and spent the $4 in the faint hope that Murphy would reveal where the original was. (He didn’t.) Still, $4 was a real deal, because this by God is a righteous Swiss Army knife of a book. Not only is it a concise and very readable history of how and why slavery became an established part of society in the Southern states, it further explains why “the Peculiar Institution” did not also take root in the Northern states. Zimmerman never uses Andrew Breitbart’s line about politics being downstream from culture, but he doesn’t have to – his history of Virginia colonial politics in the 17th century pounds that fact right up your snout. There’s no way to avoid it. The failure of the Virginia Royalists to encourage solid family structures, supported by religious and educational establishments, led directly to the poisoned seed of slavery taking root in the Virginia plantations, and later in the rest of the Southern states as well. It may seem quite a jump from 17th century Virginia to 21st century space exploration, but Zimmerman’s logic regarding the many flaws of the Outer Space Treaty and its likelihood to produce equally poisoned fruit is difficult to argue against, and I for one am not even going to make the effort. This book is useful for refuting the lies of the 1619 Project, for understanding the breakdown of civil society and public order in America today, and ultimately as a call to arms against allowing the same defects to poison the final frontier. Buy this and read it. 

Sometimes you can’t go home again, and so it was with Don Pendleton’s Executioner series. I blew through the first two books but found the third a struggle, and since I was reading these for fun, I put it down and didn’t go back. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of paperbacks when I find the box they’re in. 

Things From Outer Space, edited by Hank Davis, is a mixed bag – there’s some good stuff like David Drake’s “The Hunting Ground” and the original alien horror SF tales, Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out Of Space” and Campbell’s “Who Goes There?”, but there’s a lot of stuff that frankly just isn’t in the same league as the foregoing. 2.5 out of 5 tentacles. Brief Cases, on the other hand…Jim Butcher delivers. This collection of short stories from the Dresden Files is all thriller and no filler. They’re not all about Harry, but I think the ones about Molly may be the best of the lot, especially the one that takes her to Alaska for some OJT on her Winter Queen duties and an encounter with Warden Ramirez. That one hurt. 5/5; borrowed it from the town library, but may be buying my own copy soon. 

*I’m trying to be optimistic here.

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