Books I’ve been reading

RE-ENTER FU MANCHU revives Sax Rohmer’s “Devil Doctor” a decade after Shadow of Fu Manchu, as a young American becomes unwitting dupe in Fu Manchu’s scheme to provide America with a foolproof defenses against air attack (on the theory that this will shift the balance of power to the point the Si-Fan can overthrow the Chinese Communist government. Shows again how Rohmer had to adjust to the changes in China’s fortunes (Fu Manchu may be a diabolical villain but at least he’s not a Red!), and I suspect the scenes in Egypt reflect Britain’s recent humiliation in the Suez Crisis (in contrast to the reality, America here is quite deferential to Great Britain’s expertise in the area). Like Shadow this is a routine spy story, with little of the exotic thrills Fu Manchu used to deliver.
THE HEMINGWAY HOAX by Joe Haldeman is a short novel in which an eidetic Hemingway scholar contemplates the possibility of faking a Lost Novel of Hemingway’s, only to discover the potential time paradoxes this creates (“Hemingway’s cult of masculinity is vitally important in the late twentieth century.”) bring down the time cops—who are as baffled as the hero to discovers that killing him simply shunts his consciousness to another timeline to carry on. Entertaining until the end, which substitutes blurry cosmic mystery for explanations.
OUTSIDE THE GATES OF SCIENCE: It’s Time for the Paranormal to Come in From the Cold by Damien Broderick, argues that the evidence for ESP, TK and clairvoyance is solid enough that psi should be taken seriously (he doesn’t raise the argument I’ve heard elsewhere that “it’s not evidence if it could be faked” isn’t a standard applied anywhere else in science), although he admits many grandiose claims are a little dubious (“As predicted, there was a stock market dip in late 2001—but that’s ‘accurate’ in the same way as saying ‘the Japanese economy will slump in late 1945.’”). Broderick discusses the evidence, theories for how it works and why it doens’t work better (one theory is that psi evolved as a survival mechanism poorly designed for reading cards or predicting stocks) Interesting, though Broderick’s adamant insistence that since God is dead, psi cannot be mystical in nature gets a little tedious (I believe in God so I admit I’m biased).
THE VOLCANO OGRE was Lin Carter’s third Zarkon book, wherein reports of a homicidal lava man draw Zarkon and his crew to a Pacific island where they cope with the title monster, a crotchety millionaire and a sexy thrill-seeker (“Foeey” Gilbert who returns as an aspiring romantic interest for Zarkon in the next book). The weakest so far—the menace is pretty puny compared to the crime syndicates of the first two books.
100 BULLETS: A Foregone Tomorrow is the fourth trade paperback in the series, which provides a lot of information about the sinister Trust (“400 years ago they pulled off the greatest crime in history.”), the Minutemen and all the agendas in play, as well as introducing Benito, an heir to one of the Trust families who I’m sure we’ll see again. Storywise, entertaining, though one or two felt a lot like filler.
AIR: A History of the Future wraps up the DC Comics series as Blythe takes on a series of challenges to prove her worth as a hyperpraxis pilot, including inspiring The Little Prince and learning she’s just a character in an unpublished Jules Verne book. The strain of wrapping this up before cancellation shows, but it’s still good.
ALICE’S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND was, of course, the first version. Charles Dodgson’s classic, hand-printed and illustrated by Dodgson himself. The main difference between Underground and Wonderland is length—lots of episodes such as the Mad Tea Party, the Duchess’s kitchen and the Cheshire Cat are non-existent here (a lot of the poems are also different). Charming whimsy, but no match for the remake.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

2 responses to “Books I’ve been reading

  1. Pingback: Any sufficiently advanced technology— « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: James Bond: the spy on whom the sun never sets (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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