Wednesday, October 30, 2013

God, Guns & Rock'N'Roll by Ted Nugent

  While I was hanging out at a friend's cabin, steelhead fishing, I picked up a copy of Nugent's book from the bookshelf, and ended up reading the whole thing by the time my trip was done. I'd read his more recent book, Ted, White and Blue, a while back and enjoyed it.

The old rocker rocks on with his tirades against alcohol and drug abuse, mourning the loss of many of his comrades in the music business whose lives were destroyed by their addictions. He waxes eloquent on the subject of hunting every type of game known to mankind, and seems to enjoy a spiritual connection while he stalks his prey in the wild. His rhetoric is outrageous, over the top, and quite amusing.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo

 A typical Ringo caper, aside from the lack of graphic sex, but there's plenty of grue and gore to make up for it. A synthetic virus has been released worldwide by malefactors unknown, which begins with flu-like symptoms, highly contagious, and proceeds to neurological effects, turning people into naked, shambling, ravening hulks, whose bites are also very contagious, and rapidly the world is facing the big ZA. One family of preppers gets early warning about the onslaught of zombies and rapidly evacuates from the mainland to a sailboat they have purchased in a hurry. The father, Steve, is an ex-special forces Aussie expat, and his wife, Stacey, is a competent engineer (shades of Heinlein's female characters). Their elder daughter, Sophia (knowledge) is a bit on the geeky side, and does a stint as a lab tech for a private entity creating a vaccine for its executives and their families and key personnel, while the younger daughter, Faith, is more of a gun geek, and turns into a zombie killing machine extraordinaire.

I feel like Ringo spends far too much time simply setting the scene for this tale. It starts fast, but then bogs down for a while while he recounts what's happening at the semi-evil megacorporation, the CDC, NYPD, and so forth. Of course, if Steve and his family didn't hang around the harbor and allow Sophia to work with the ex-CDC scientist developing the vaccine, they might not have the information about the methodology to trade later on in the book. There's also a great scene when the family and some security folks go out for dinner at a mafia hangout for one last Italian meal in NYC and end up doing a big Escape from New York routine, cutting their way through the hordes with full and semi-auto weaponry.

Once they're on the high seas, the "meat" of the tale begins to unfold, and we get a glimpse of where Ringo intends to take the series. Not sure why he's taking a hiatus from the science fiction Troy Rising series he was writing, but perhaps he's just cashing in on the zombie craze while it's hot and will get back to it when things cool down. We'll see how the zombie killing action holds up over time before rendering judgement on this one.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

 I have been eagerly awaiting the latest installment from Lynch in his Gentlemen Bastards series for quite some time and, all things considered, it was worth the wait - not that I'm encouraging him to take as long to write the next book. Lynch splits the tale of Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen into a continuation of what's happening after their ill-fated adventure in Red Seas Under Blue Skies, the upshot of which is that Locke is fatally poisoned and dying slowly, despite the best efforts of every alchemist and physicker that Jean can beg, hire, or threaten, and snippets from his first meetings with Sabetha and their training together with the rest of the Blind Priest's "children".

In the middle of the flashbacks narrative, Lynch has managed to create a significant portion of a tragic Shakespearian play called The Republic of Thieves, which the five original Gentlemen Bastards are hired to perform, in order to help out an old friend of their thiefmaster, a director of such things.

Locke reluctantly finds a cure for his malady when one of the Bondsmagi (the mother of the one they tangled with in The Lies of Locke Lamora, whom they left mute and crippled) offers to magically remove the poison, in return for their service in influencing the election of a city council in Karthain, where the magi dwell. They are forbidden by their code from using magic to influence the outcome, and every four years each faction hires consultants to run their campaign. The kicker, for Locke and Jean, is that the other faction is being guided by Locke's old lover, Sabetha.

Romantic entanglements aside, the tangled web of dirty tricks that Locke and Jean conspire to play are well matched by Sabetha's street fighting. Too much fun!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shadow of Freedom by David Weber

Weber is one of very few authors who can carry off the MMPOV (Massively Multiple Point of View) novel, and make me like it. Things bounce back and forth between the main protagonist, Michelle Henke, in command of one branch of the Manticoran fleet, and her various subcommanders, the heads of the Mesan Alignment, a brief cameo by Victor Cachat and Zilwicki, and the leaders of various rebellions on planets controlled by the Solarian League's Frontier forces.

Most of the action takes place concurrently with A Rising Thunder, I think. For the most part, the Sollies haven't really learned anything from their defeats at the hands of Manticore's latest military hardware, and Henke and her captains handily destroy even more antiquated fleets, usually allowing the opposing personnel to abandon ship if they aren't too stubborn. But there are some hints that the stupid admirals are being weeded out, and that some of the more intelligent ones are about to give Manticore a better battle at some point.

Waiting to see what happens when the PRH and Manticoran alliance really gets going.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep

I think that Estep is focusing on her new young adult series. Heart of Venom is possibly the weakest book in the Elemental Assassin series. An old enemy of Jo Jo and Sophia has returned and kidnapped Sophia, nearly killing Jo Jo in the process, while Gin stands nearly helplessly by. Gin vows to get Sophia back. A recurring flaw in the world-building rears its head again here when they need to find someone to heal Jo Jo, and must turn to her boyfriend, an untrained (at least in the healing application) air elemental. Jo Jo is the only Air elemental healer in all of Ashland? Really?

Gin regresses to her earlier lone wolf exploits and goes off half-cocked to attack the bad guy, Harold Grimes, in his mountain lair. The attempt is only partially successful, and she is captured and tortured until she finally figures out a sneaky way to escape, nearly dying again in the process. The whole book seems to be more about her reunion with Owen and the resulting sex scene than much of anything else useful, except...Mab's heir appears on the scene at the end, setting the scene for the next book.

If you're following the series, you've got to read it to keep up, but there's not a lot of substance here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Ruling Class by Angelo M. Codevilla

 This was a rambling, seemingly disjointed piece about how there is a "Ruling Class" of people who have taken over the governing of this country, who are somewhat disconnected from the concerns of ordinary Americans. Their groupthink crosses party lines, affecting Republicans and Democrats alike, and the bottom line is that they feel they know better how this country should be run than the folks in flyover country, the Country Class. It really seems like an opinion piece or blog post that someone told Codevilla should be expanded upon and made into a book.

I kept reading on through it, waiting for the prescription at the end, and found that the solution proposed is that the ordinary folks in the Country Class should participate more in the governing process, and "take back" their government, starting with local school boards, city and county governments, and so forth. The problem with that is that the folks who are busy working for a living, raising their children, and just trying to get by seldom have either the time or the inclination to join the political process by standing for election, and unless they are willing to compromise their principles and be corrupted by the big money, they'll never rise very far in government, in my opinion.

If you just want a rehash of how badly things are going, now that we've elected a crop of fools to our national government, go ahead and read this.