Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Home

Don's reviews have a new home here. Come visit!

Monday, August 23, 2010

October 2010 Column Online

My October 2010 column is here.
There's an essay on steampunk. Books reviewed:
  • Wrath of the Lemming Men by Toby Frost
  • Pinion by Jay Lake
  • Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann
  • Ares Express by Ian McDonald
  • The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons

Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

September AColumn Online

My September 2010 column is here.
There's an essay on worldbuilding and SF's beloved worlds. Books reviewed:
  • Coyote Destiny by Allen Steele
  • Geosynchron by David Louis Edeman
  • InterstellarNet: Origins by Edward M. Lerner
  • The Business of Science Fiction by Mike Resnick & Barry N. Malzberg

Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Monday, May 17, 2010

July/August 2010 Column Online

My July/August 2010 column is here.
This time around there's no particular theme. Books reviewed:
  • Blackout by Connie Willis
  • Veracity by Laura Bynum
  • Pennterra by Judith Moffett
  • C.M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Ficiton Visionary by Mark Rich
  • How to Defeat Your Own Clone by Kyle Kurpinski & Terry D. Johnson

Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

June 2010 Column Online

My June 2010 column is here.
This time around the theme is series. Books reviewed:
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer
  • And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer

Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

September 2010 Column Submitted

Last night I finished and submitted my column for the September 2010 issue. This time around there's an essay on worldbuilding and SF's beloved worlds.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

May 2010 Column Online

My May 2010 column is here.
This time around the theme is fun. Books reviewed:
  • Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
  • Brain Thief by Alexander Jablokov
  • Total Oblivion, More or Less by Alan Deniro
  • The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner
  • The Lives of Stars by Ken Croswell

Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Monday, February 1, 2010

April Column Online

My April 2010 column is here.
This time around there's an essay on prisons in sf. Books reviewed:
  • The Prisoner by Carlos J. Cortes
  • The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers
  • Destroyer of Worlds by Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner
  • Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds by Geoff Johns, George Perez, Scott Koblish
Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

March Column Online

My March 2010 column is here.
This time around there's an essay on time travel in sf. Books reviewed:
  • Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt
  • The Return by Ben Bova
  • From the Pen of Paul: The Fantastic Images of Frank R. Paul Edited by
    Stephen D. Korshak
Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reviews From 1984

Here's another set of retro-reviews. These appeared in the Baltimore Sun sometime in 1984.

Harry Harrison's West of Eden is a stunning book. Its premise is simple enough: What if dinosaurs had never died out, but continued to evolve until they were the dominant intelligent race on Earth? What if the only humans on the globe were poor Stone Age creatures hiding in the frozen northlands?

Harrison has taken this single premise and built up a fascinating and intricate world. He has created every aspect of the dinosaur culture, from a language based on both sound and body position, to the living creatures that the dinosaurs have created as part of their technology. The main story springs from the conflict between human and dinosaur creatures, but the main delight of the book is the marvelously complex and deliciously detailed background. West of Eden is a book to pore over, a book to reread every so often, a book that will become a classic. I hope we have not seen the last of this particular world.

Heechee Rendezvous is the third book in Frederik Pohl's Gateway series. Conventional wisdom teaches that sequels ought to play it safe by resembling the first successful book as much as possible. Fred Pohl has sought the unconventional -- and succeeded.

In this book Pohl's hero, Robinette Broadhead, is an old, very rich and very influential man. His life is happy -- he is deeply in love with hsi wife, he has many friends (including one of Pohl's most delightful touches, a computer program modeled after Albert Einstein), and he has the best medical attention on the planet.

But Boradhead's conscience bothers him. He feels guilty because his life is maintained by transplanted organs that belonged to others. He feels angui9sh that humanity is beset by terrorism and the threat of war. And Broadhead lives in fear that the Heechee, a long-vanished race of godlike aliens, will return to judge mankind -- and Boradhead.

Eventually, Broadhead gets everything he ever wanted -- and, characteristically, he has trouble dealing with that, too.

The book is filled with compassionate humor. Its underlying message -- that love and compassion are more important to human salvation than technological wonders -- is as vital to us today as it is in Pohl's future world.

In the tradition of Mary Renault and Mary Stewart, Robert Silverberg has taken the 4,000-year-old Epid of Gilgamesh and turned it into a delightful novel.

Gilgamesh the King is the story of the Sumerian folk hero Gilgamesh, told in his own words. Silverberg has chosen to present the historical Gilgamesh, king of the cioty of Uruk, rather than the mythological hero, and so his tale is more believable than it might have been otherwise.

Robert Heinlein's new book, Job: A Comedy of Justice will offend everyone. Everyone, that is, who lacks a sense of humor. Heinlein manages to good-naturedly insult religious fundamentalists, atheist, liberals, conservatives, women, men, angels, and God himself.

The story is a complex one that is unfolded gently and with skill: Alex Hergensheimer becomes lost in alternate universes with Mergrethe, the girl he loves. Alex is from a world where religious fundamentalism is the rule, and as the book develops, he is tested again and again with situations that would sorely try the pateince of Job. Every time Alex and Mergrethe manage to start adjusting to a new and different universe, they are cast into still another world and left without money or belongings.

But Alex continues to work and continues to be happy, for he is with Mergrethe, and that is all he wants on earth.

Until the Last Trump, when Alex becomes a saint in heaven, only to find that Mergrethe has been kept out of paradise on a technicality. So he challenges the highest authority....

Heinlein tells this madcap story with gentleness and compassion. Alex is such a likable character that we stay with him through metaphysical speculation piled layers deep atop theological whimsy. Heinlein doesn't become preachy, as he has so often in the past. Job is a book that leaves the reader with a sense of well-being in his heart and a smile on his lips.


Monday, November 23, 2009

January/February Column Online

My January/February 2010 column is here.
This time around the theme is otherness and mooreeffoc. Books reviewed:
  • A Glimpse of Splendor and Other Stories by Dave Creek
  • Of Wind and Sand by Sylvie Berard
  • The Sunless Countries by Karl Schroeder
  • Maine Quartet by Thomas A. Easton
  • The Medea Hypothesis by Peter Ward

Comment here or on the Analog Reader Forums.

Friday, November 6, 2009

April 2010 Column Submitted

Wednesday night I finished and submitted my column for the April 2010 issue. This time around the theme is prisons.