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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jack Williamson

Today, Love All Books remembers birthday of the author Wikipedia reports is considered by many the "Dean of Science Fiction": Jack Williamson.

Jack Williamson is the Hugo and Nebula award winning author of the Legion of Space Series, the Humanoids Series, the Undersea Trilogy, the Starchild Trilogy (with Frederik Pohl), and many other books.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Terry Pratchett & Harper Lee

Today, Love All Books wishes the happiest of birthdays to authors Terry Pratchett, OBE and Harper Lee.

Terry Pratchett is the wildly successful fantasy author of the Discworld series. If you enjoy fantasy fiction, you'll enjoy these books immensely if you have an ounce of a sense of humor in your body.

If you have a sense of humor, but don't care for fantasy, you still might enjoy this series because they are just so incredibly funny.

Think of the series as the fantasy world's equivalent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

If you need me to tell you that Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, you should—perhaps—be moving on to someone else's blog.

Or not: if you need me to tell you that, you do need a "book mentor" and are, I hope, in the right place!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Ah . . . The Joy of Blogs

One of the "interesting" (a word which here means "strange or unexpected") things about the wide world of blogging is this: somewhere "out there" (a phrase which here means "out in the world of myriad blog hosting options") there just might be another blog named "Love All Books" (in which case I'd wonder about the blog's owner and his choice of names—regrets? Moi? Nah!)

Why do I bring this up?

Well, after posting about it being Comment Friday at Blog about your Blog, who do I get my first comment from? Another blog named Blog about your Blog!

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A. E. van Vogt

Today, Love All Books is a day late celebrating the birth of Golden Age science fiction author A. E. van Vogt.

Unlike any number of other authors, I have read—and immensely enjoyed—almost every book of his I have (though it has been quite a few years since I read any of them!)

My favorite, so far (at least in my clouded memory) is his first novel: Slan, though he has many other morally, ethiclly, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably excellent books!

His earliest books are amongst my favorites (The Weapon Makers, The Book of Ptath, The World of Null-A, The Voyage of the Space Beagle, The Weapon Shops of Isher, Mission To The Stars, and The War Against the Rull stand out in what passes for my memory).

But these just might be my favorites because, after discovering him, I tried to read everything he wrote, in the order of publication, and probably (a phrase which here means "almost certainly") got sidetracked along the way.

So, in short, when I say I'm celebrating his birth, I mean I'm truly appreciative to a universe that not only let that happen, but that put me in it as well to enjoy his books.

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Blog about your Blog

There's a blog that I'm now into called Blog about your Blog. I'm still lurking at the moment, but I just left a comment there.


It's funny you should ask!

It is because today is Comment Friday at BAYB, a great idea if I ever heard of one.

So I hereby proclaim this site a Comment Friday site (yes, I'm stealing the idea) and will also visit your site if you comment here. If I like your site, I'll even link to it—and I visit the sites I link to fairly often—but I'll only do either as long as you hold my interest!

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

I've Been Robbed!!! (A rant in one part harmony, whatever that means...)

Boy am I ticked off!

I set up a directory ad at BlogExplosion yesterday and I just went to add some more credits to it. Not many, just ten or so because my bid was so low.

Just ten credits.

Ten lousy credits.


Not every single unassigned credit I have!

And BE doesn't allow you to unassign credits once they've been assigned, so they're all tied up there until they're used.

Not that I'm suggesting people go find my ad just to help me use them up, but what I'd really like is to get them back!

I've reported this shortcoming on the Forums at BE before—about some other feature, credits assigned to banner ads, I believe—but it is still a problem that they need to fix!

I am quite put out!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Keith Peterson: The Trapdoor (Rating: 7)

I just finished reading a book I've owned for years—perhaps since it was first published in 1988— called The Trapdoor, by Keith Peterson.

Keith Peterson is a pseudonym of Andrew Klavan, who has written—under his own name—a number of books that I have never heard of, and two that I have only heard of because they've been made into movies: Don't Say a Word and True Crime.

I'm actually amazed I've never heard of him; Amazon says:

Andrew Klavan is the author of several bestselling novels . . .

The Trapdoor is, possibly, not a book I would have chosen right now, but I've had it on the small bookshelf I use as a nightstand for some time now, hiding it from my son. (He's six years old and has had a—possibly unhealthy—fascination with the cover for years.)

Anyway, a while back I was doing some spring cleaning and that meant taking everything off of the bookshelf and dusting and rearranging and voila, there it was, so I gave it a go.

Things I liked about this book:

  • the main character: John Wells, a dinosaur of a journalist who refuses to turn in his manual typewriter for a computer. I like a flawed character, and this guy has a few, not the least is that fact that he is haunted (not literally) by the memory of his daughter who commit suicide five years ago when she was 15.
  • the situation: there have been a rash of teen suicides in a nearby county and he has been pulled off of his usual beat by his somewhat sadistic editor and sent up to cover the story. (The aforementioned editor knows John's personal history when he assigns him to the story.) Once he shows up at the scene, it quickly becomes apparent that there just might be more going on here.
  • the pace: after a somewhat slow start, the book picks up to a nice clip, and the last half just flies by. The pace is further aided by keeping the chapters short and leaving you hanging at the end of each, sort of the James Patterson school of writing.
  • the plot & resolution: I liked the way the story played out. Fiction writers use a technique, well—the good fiction writers do, anyway—that Rust Hills called (in Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular) the inevitability of retrospect which means, essentially, that:
    • as a character moves forward in time there seems to be any number of ways they can go, any number of choices they (and all the other characters) can proceed,
    • but when you reach the end of the story and look back, the whole process seems to lead inevitably to the resolution as it occurred.
    That's how the plot of this book works. When it is done right, and it is here, it is very effective.
Things I didn't really care for about this book:
  • the main character: Yeah, I know what I said above, but there are things about him I just didn't like. For instance, he really needs to get some Nicorette ®. And though I've heard cigarettes called "cigs", has anyone ever called them "'rettes"? I've never heard that one. There are other strange words or phrases this guy uses as well, and perhaps they're just painting a picture of who he is and used for effect, but I didn't care for it.
  • the plot & resolution: I didn't care for the fact that I got wind of what was going on so long before the end of the book. Maybe I'm just smarter than most folks (extraordinarily doubtful) or the ending was telegraphed a bit too much.

All in all, I can see why this book was an Edgar Award runner up. His next(?) John Wells book, The Rain did win an Edgar, though.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why I Believe In Some Form of ESP

Here's some more "back story".

But, before we begin today's lesson in what makes me tick, let me say that anyone who really knows me would say that I am a very pragmatic fellow. Which is to say that I don't take a lot on faith, and that I need to see some real convincing proof before I can say "This is what I think about that!" in regards to many things.

Slow and steady wins the race.

That sort of thing, if you get my drift.

But this ESP thing; even though there has been very little scientific proof to date that it isn't all a bunch of hooey, I still have strong reasons for telling you that it is real.

I can even sum up why it is possible that ESP can be real:

The universe is far stranger than we can ever know, so we cannot really rule out anything as being impossible, now can we?

But I don't expect such generalities—no matter how lucidly they might be expressed—to carry my argument. But no matter.

I can do better than that!

Now I swear to you on my parent's graves (or I would if they hadn't both chosen cremation)—and I swear to you on whatever both you and I hold most holy—that what follows is the honest truth.

When Julie and I lived back east we often visited a couple we were friends with, a couple whose last name is Jester.

On the day of this story we were leaving our place to go see them, as we'd done any number of times before, and I had this great thought which I passed along to Julie: "Hey," I said, "wouldn't it be great if they someday had a baby girl and named her Courtney? Then she could be known as Court Jester!"

As usual, I got "the dirty look for trying to be funny" (a look I got often, even though I never saw the problem being at the transmission site, but rather on the receiveing end, if you know what I'm talking about.)

Well we head over to the Jester residence, and what is the first thing they show us when we get there?

Their new border collie, that's what.

"We named her Courtney," they said. "We call her Court Jester for short!"

Now, mind you, we'd been to this couple's house many times before.

Why, then, did I suddenly, that day, decide to make that wonderful joke?

It's because there is more going on in the universe than we're aware of.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Richard Monaco & Avram Davidson

Today, Love All Books extends birthday wishes to authors Richard Monaco and Avram Davidson.

Richard Monaco is the author of the Parsival and the Leitus series.

Avram Davidson is the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and Edgar Award winning author of many fine books.

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Read This Post!

If you love books, there's something really cool at Literature-Map that you need to check out!

They call this place "the tourist map of literature".

Go on over there and enter the name of your favorite author (or any other) in the text box and click on the continue button. Go on! We'll wait!

Pretty cool, hunh?

No need to thank me. Your just reading this post is thanks enough!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Ian Watson

Today, Love All Books extends birthday wishes to science fiction author Ian Watson.

His first novel, The Embedding, won the Prix Tour-Apollo Award.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Limerick (Poetry! By Moi?!?!?!?)

Here's a limerick I wrote several years back when I learned a bit about the formal structure of one, and how the first, second, and last lines (the A's in the A-A-B-B-A rhyming pattern) had three beats, and that the third and fourth lines had two beats (I've bolded the beats below):

Two “threes”, two “twos”, and a “three
This sounds like a lim’rick to me!

I can’t write this rot,
a poet I’m not!

That’s something that I’ll ne’er be!

Need I say that the last line says it all?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lloyd Biggle Jr.

Today, Love All Books extends birthday wishes to science fiction and mystery author Lloyd Biggle Jr.

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Coming To a Sad Realization (Cancel or Allow?)

I know I typically—and vehemently—discourage religious discussion here, but I have to make an exception today. I'm coming to a sad realization: why would anyone use a PC when there are Macs out there?

Follow the link above if you don't agree!

And, it turns out, I could sell myself one if I wanted one badly enough.

Or at least I could, if I had the money right now.

Or could convince Julie to switch.

Oh well. That's what happens when you acquire tons of legacy software, I suppose.

Update: Aw, hell, scratch that!

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bruce Sterling

Today, Love All Books would like to offer birthday wishes to Bruce Sterling, Hugo Award winning author of Involution Ocean, Schismatrix, and (with William Gibson) The Difference Engine.

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Janet Evanovich: Hot Six (Rating: 8)

I just finished reading Hot Six another extremely enjoyable Stephanie Plum novel from Janet Evanovich.

The usual cast and crew are back again, but this time there is a quite unusual twist: the FTA—that's bounty-hunter-speak for "Failure To Appear", as in for a court date—that Stephanie's boss/cousin (Vinnie Plum, owner of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds) wants her to bring in this time is no other than fellow bounty hunter (or should we say bounty-hunter extraordinaire) Ricardo Carlos Manoso—AKA Ranger.

It wouldn't be giving anything away to say that Stephanie is not the best bounty hunter there ever was—she sucks at it actually—but she's very lucky so she usually succeeds at bringing in her FTAs.

Ranger, on the other hand, is everything Stephanie isn't. And Vinnie wants Stephanie, of all people, to bring him in! You just know this has got to be good!

In addition to the usual crew, Stephanie has a few more folks in her life during this book: a dog named Bob (who she begins watching for a Trenton cop who never comes back for him) and a kind-hearted druggie named Mooner.

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that Grandma Mazur moves in with Stephanie as well?

Four dead cars later I have to say: these books just keep getting more enjoyable!

Addendum (April 16, 2007)—I forgot, I had a really funny quote from this book I wanted to share:

For as long as I can remember, every Sunday morning, my mother went to church and stopped at the bakery on the way home. Every Sunday morning my mother bought jelly doughnuts. Nothing but jelly doughnuts. It was like taking communion. I'm a Catholic by birth, but in my own personal religion, the Trinity will forever be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Jelly Doughnut.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Sheri S. Tepper

Today, Love All Books wishes—with much appreciation—the happiest of birthdays to author Sheri S. Tepper.

I fondly recall (or more truthfully, as my mind ages faster than the rest of me, I dimly recall) reading her The True Game series.

The True Game is a trilogy of trilogies (that is to say, nine books in all: The Peter Trilogy, The Mavin Manyshaped Trilogy, The Jinian Trilogy), with each trilogy named for its main character.

If I read them again today (and hey—I just might; who's gonna stop me? You? Ha!) I might find them quaint, typical, run of the mill stuff, but I don't think so.

What I recall is that, at the time (a time when novelty was valued greatly), I had not previously read anything remotely like these books and, therefore, I enjoyed them a great deal. Take this with a grain of salt, but I do think I can safely recommend them!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

So It Goes . . . .

The phrase "So it goes" is an expression often used by Billy Pilgrim, the main character in the book Slaughterhouse-Five—and it is with great sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of that book's author, a truly great American literary figure: Kurt Vonnegut.

Please don't take the title of this post as being cruel or sarcastic—it is meant as the highest form of flattery and respect.

I don't know why that phrase has stuck with me so well over the years, but it has. It always seemed to capture an adequately balanced mixture of abject cynicism or optimism—as the occasion warranted—and total acceptance, a sort of "Well doesn't that just figure; oh well!" quality about it. But then, it has been ages (at least fifteen years, I'd venture), since I last reread this book! Time to change that I guess.

Yes, time to change that indeed; I just saw at Wikipedia that the phrase is

used whenever death or dying is mentioned (be it that of a man, an animal, or the bubbles in champagne), serves to downplay mortality, making it routine and even humorous
and goes on to mention
Vonnegut used the chorus "So it goes" every time a passage deals with death, dying or mortality, as a transitional phrase to another subject, as a reminder, and as comic relief. It is also used to explain the unexplained. There are about 106 "so it goes" anecdotes laced throughout the story.

As for the book itself, sure it is confusing the first time through (or seventh or tenth if you don't have the right mindset to see what it all means), but it is an exceptional book. I highly recommend repeated readings of it to suck out all of the available nuance (of which there is an abundance!)

Oh, yes, and he also did not give the infamous Wear Sunscreen commencement address at MIT in 1997.

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Beverly Cleary

Today, Love All Books would like to extend birthday wishes to Beverly Cleary, the author of a number of fine children's books that I recall fondly these many (many, many, many) years later.

In particular, I was a big fan her Henry Huggins books, and look forward to the day when Riley is old enough to appreciate them.

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Monday, April 9, 2007

It's Not Easy Being . . . Yellow? (With appologies to Kermit the Frog)

While surfing at The Soda Stand I was enticed to learn the color of my brain!

Your Brain is Yellow

Of all the brain types, yours is the most intellectual.

You crave mental stimulation, and your thoughts tend to very complex.

Your thoughts tend to be innovative and cutting edge, though many people don't understand them.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about science, architecture, and communication.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Rudy Rucker: Software [Rating: 6]

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have had Rudy Rucker's book Software on my bookshelf forever.

Well shortly after writing that post I pulled it down from there, dusted it off, and read it (I just finished).

The book takes place in the year 2020, and the main character is a retired computer scientist named Cobb Anderson. At the beginning of the book, Cobb is in dread of his "second-hand" heart giving out (and with good reason: he cannot afford another). Then a robot double contacts him with a plan to get him to the Moon, where he will be given immortality—the robot community's "thank you" from enabling them to evolve freewill.

Along the way Cobb pairs up with a young druggie—who has legally changed his name from Stanley Hilary Mooney to Sta-Hi Mooney—and gets him to accompany him to the moon. There the duo find themselves in the midst of a robotic civil war that threatens to seriously affect humanity.

All in all, I'd have to say it was an enjoyable read, but there were parts of it I thought could be better. The ending in particular left a bit to be desired, to the point that if I didn't already have the next book—Wetware—on order I would probably not read it.

On the other hand, what disappointed me about the ending simply might be prelude to some really good stuff, so I am willing to give Wetware a chance.

For some enjoyable reading of a binary kind, take a look at Rudy Rucker's blog sometime!

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Goldfish Teeth

Goldfish teeth?

Enough said!!!

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Ann Maxwell & Robert Bloch

Today, Love All Books wishes the happiest of birthdays to authors Ann Maxwell (AKA A.E. Maxwell and Elizabeth Lowell) and Robert Bloch.

RITA Award winning author Ann Maxwell began her career writing science fiction and has been nominated for the Nebula Award seven times (once coming within one vote of being a finalist).

Hugo Award, Bram Stoker Award, and World Fantasy Award winning author Robert Bloch is perhaps best known for his 1959 novel Psycho.

Didn't some guy named Hitchcock turned into a movie <sarcasm>that almost no-one has heard of</sarcasm>.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Dan Simmons & Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Today, the gang at Love All Books (okay, that gang's just me—Techsplorer) would like to celebrate the birth of authors Dan Simmons and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.

Hugo-, Locus-, World Fantasy-, and Bram Stoker- Award winning author Dan Simmons has the honor of producing one of the most involving and thought provoking pieces of fiction I've read in, well, maybe ever (a description which here means: "Dan Simmons is the author of the the Hyperion Cantos: Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion.")

Ernestine Gilbreth Carey is one of the twelve Gilbreth children that are the basis for the book she co-authored (with her brother): Cheaper by the Dozen.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Blogging at the DCL

It's spring break for my kindergartener Riley, and I've gotten us going this morning in what is—for me—record time, and taken him to the Dakota County Library (DCL).

He likes to play games on the computers they have set up for kids (the games he doesn't have at home, few as they are), and I had a book to pick up for Julie (Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward).

Knowing I would be here 29 minutes longer than I needed to be, I brought the laptop along, hoping that an attempt at using a public wi-fi hotspot would be more productive than last time I tried it!.

And it is (more productive): this post is being composed at the library right now!

As soon as I finish this post I can continue researching part 2 of the final project for my JavaScript class (er, excuse me, CSCI 2440, the Internet Programming - Client Side class) at Saint Paul College where (as I've said before) I'm working toward a Web Developer Certificate.

This part of the final project is really cool, actually. We're supposed to

integrate and demonstrate three javascript functions/effects from three separate third party sources.
I've pretty much decided that I'm going to employ effects that will be useful to me at some other sites I maintain. To that end, I've picked the following for the project:

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Joan Vinge, Hans Christian Andersen, & International Children's Book Day

Today, Love All Books celebrates the birthdays of Hugo Award winning (and Nebula and John W. Campbell Award nominated) science fiction author Joan Vinge and popular fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen (HCA).

Joan Vinge's books are very good reading, and should be considered "highly recommended" if you like SF.

Her novel The Snow Queen is particularly good and—in light of today's other birthday—it is (to me, at least) particularly interesting: it is based on the HCA fairy tale of the same name!

(It isn't the only HCA story she's adapted, either; her short story "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" is also by a story of his of the same name. One has to wonder if she knows they share a birthday!)

Another interesting bit about HCA's birthday: it is the day that International Children's Book Day is celebrated!

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Samuel R. Delany & Anne McCaffrey

Today, Love All Books wishes a very happy birthday to a couple of greats among the science fiction field: Samuel R. Delany and Anne McCaffrey.

Samuel R. Delany is the Hugo and Nebula award winning author of Babel-17, The Einstein Intersection, and Driftglass, all of which have graced my bookshelves for many a year.

Anne McCaffrey is likewise a Hugo and Nebula award winning author, perhaps best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series, or maybe her The Ship series, or maybe The Crystal Singer series, or perhaps—oh, nevermind, you get the idea!

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