Monday, December 10, 2007

Fin

This blog will no longer be updated. I started the blog to explore a different way of publishing my book reviews (I was bored and looking for purpose in life). It's been fun (not really), and I've learned a lot about Blogger in the process (it sucks). But ultimately, the blog must give me something of value (I want my own groupies) to justify the time and effort I spend maintaining it (I'm really lazy). After six months of updates, the blog has given me nothing of significant value (snarky comments by Thainamu don't count).

I will continue to write my book reviews. They will continue to be available online at http://luforum.dyndns.org/strangerthansf/, or you can subscribe to my RSS newsfeed. They will no longer be available online.

Update: You can read them at strangerthanSF.com

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Land That Time Forgot, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rating: 3
Pages: 153

The Land That Time Forgot is the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Caspak trilogy. It begins with terror on the high seas: a German submarine torpedoes an American liner in the English Channel. Our hero, young Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., clings to life in a single surviving lifeboat. He rescues his dog, Nobs, and a beautiful young woman named Lys La Rue--whom he instantly falls in love with.

The three are picked up by an English tug, which has the misfortune to run into the same German submarine which sunk the American liner. This time, the Allies get the upper hand. They trick the Germans and storm the submarine, taking control of U-33.

Tyler and the rest try to sail the submarine into an English port, but sabotage by the German prisoners (or somebody) gets them lost. They stumble upon the lost island of Caprona in the Antarctic Sea. Caprona--or Caspak, as the natives call it--is a huge island rearing hundreds of feet out of the sea. The sides are sheer impassable cliffs. Over the cliffs, on Caspak, lies an ancient primitive land from Earth's forgotten past. Volcanic heat creates a tropical atmosphere that supports lush forests. Dinosaurs and savage, pre-historic beasts roam the land. Ape men eke out a meagre existence. Out of oil for the submarine's engines and out of food and water for the men, Tyler and his crew must survive on Caspak.

Most don't survive, of course. And the German prisoners are up to no good. This book was written during the first World War, and it shows.

It's a good book, marred by a few throwaway lines of subtle racism.

The Land That Time Forgot is out of copyright. It is freely and legally available online at Project Gutenberg: The Land That Time Forgot.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Day of Their Return, by Poul Anderson

Rating: 3
Pages: 185
Spoilers?: Minor
Better than Moby Dick?: Yes

The conflict between Mersia and the Terran Empire is a primary focus of all Poul Anderson's Technic series books. The Day of Their Return is no different. Commissioner Chunderban Desai is sent to the frontier planet Aeneas, to restore order after a recent insurrection. The recalcitrant Aeneans still desire independence. The Terran Empire is afraid the Mersians will try to use Aeneas to drive a wedge into the Empire and hasten the beginning of the Long Night.

The seeds of rebellion are still strong on Aeneas. Young Ivar Frederikson, Firstman of Ilion, stirs the people's hearts when he attempts an attack on a Terran patrol. The attack fails and Ivar is forced into hiding; Commissioner Desai tries to bring him to justice, but is constrained because he fears to create a martyr.

While Ivar hides out among various nomadic groups, strange things are going on elsewhere. Aycharaych, a mind-reading Mersian agent, is loose on Aeneas. An Ythrian agent is also operating on Aeneas--and Ivar hopes to secure Ythrian aid for the Aenean independence movement. Finally, the prophet Jaan claims that the fabled Elder Race--which built the ancient ruins on Aeneas--will shortly return and free the people.

Minor spoiler: the nomadic tinerans of Aeneas keep pets which they call lucks, and which the Ythrians call slinkers. Unbeknownst to the tinerans, the slinkers are emotional amplifiers, reflecting emotions back at those around them.

The Day of Their Return to be one of Anderson's better books. It rates a strong 3. I wanted to give it a 4, but Anderson doesn't follow up on the slinkers--they're a throwaway plot element.