Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I've spent some considerable time lately out of town, and am about to do so again, so this may be the only blog post I'm able to sneak in for another ten days or so.

One advantage of traveling is that I get to read a bit more than normal.  This time, I mostly did so on my phone.  I've finished several books—and I can't remember for sure which ones I finished right before I left, and which ones I finished more recently.  Looking back at my latest Kindle post, I see that I didn't actually read the ones that are highlighted in green.  I'll probably update that one and keep it as a kind of constantly updating archive, or something.  Let's do a quick round-up, shall we?
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.  I'm pretty sure that I finished this before leaving, actually, but I hadn't mentioned it here.  It's a true classic.  In at least some ways, the Robert Taylor, Joan Fontaine, and Elizabeth Taylor movie from 1952 loosely based on this novel is more exciting, but in others, of course, it can't compare.  If you haven't read it, you should.  It may try your patience, and will certainly increase your vocabulary.  It's amusing sometimes to read older novels and remark on the pacing and the prose style, which is verbose and sometimes so baroque that it feels rococo.  
  • Galaxy of Heroes by Gus Flory.  This imagines a space opera setting in which humans are kind of at the bottom of the totem pole and always getting chased from one place to another, in danger of imminent extinction.  Kind of how the Jews imagine their history to be, maybe.  It took a while to grow on me, but I ended up being satisfied with the book in the end.  It felt like the whole novel was set-up for a series of sequels, though—in some ways, it doesn't stand on its own as well as it should.
  • Albion Lost: The Exiled Fleet by Richard Fox.  This took a while to grow on me too, partly because it bounced around between too many characters, who only near the end of the book finally started to warm up to the audience.  And then, the whole thing was clearly a prologue to a series—which doesn't exist yet (although I think at least the immediate sequel just came out recently.)  It was intriguing, but clearly can't be seen as anything other than part of a whole which has yet to materialize.  As with Galaxy of Heroes, I found I was further into the novel before it really grabbed me than I'd have liked.  If I wasn't traveling, I might have ditched it and read something else at about the 25-30% mark, but I persisted, and as with Galaxy of Heroes, in the end, I'm glad that I did, and I'm intrigued enough by this prologue to think that actually seeing what the series proper looks like now that it's primed to get moving, wouldn't be such a bad idea.
  • Galaxy's Edge: Legionnaire by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach.  Fabulous novel.  Absolutely wonderful.  Can't wait for the follow-up, which is due out tomorrow (I've already got it pre-ordered.)  Although this is the first of the #StarWarsNotStarWars series, i.e. an ersatz Star Wars not unlike my own AD ASTRA at least in gross conception, I should point out that this initial offering is fairly different than classic Star Wars.  It's military fiction with truly elite troops, and the "Empire" (the Republic, as it's called here) is not so much evil in the mustache-twirling, Nazi-uniform wearing Star Wars style as they are incompetent, bureaucratic, and careless with the lives of its citizens and others alike in a all-too realistically cold manner.  In other words, they're much more realistic and frightening—yet ironically a bit less iconic.  That said, it misses almost all of the Star Wars beats—it's pretty much a straight up war story with a plot borrowed from Michael Caine's Zulu at a high level.  And the epilogue seems to suggest that it too was prologue-like in nature (three for three with space opera books I've read recently) and somewhat atypical (for Star Wars) approach was setting the stage for one of the characters to emerge as a more cynical bounty hunter type character in the future—as if there were a Boba Fett with a Heart of Gold variant or something.  We'll see how it develops, but faulting the story for not being as Star Wars-like as I anticipated when it's still uniformly excellent seems a bit unfair somehow.
  • Enemy of Man by Scott Moon.  I really wanted to like this, as Scott Moon seems like a nice guy, but I admit that I've been kinda struggling with it.  I'm not really liking the protagonist character very much, because he seems like one of those "buffeted about by stronger personalities" types of characters rather than someone who takes charge.  I'm not giving this up, but I am not finishing it until after I read the next Galaxy's Edge book, so it's on the back burner for now.

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