Book Review: Otherland: The City of Golden Shadows

Author Tad Williams

Genre:  Fantasy

Verdict: Very Cool!

I think it’s been forever since I started seeing Williams’ tomes eating up shelf space at the library and at book stores.  He’s not an author often mentioned in the same circles as Martin, Weeks, Lawrence, Rothfuss, Sanderson, Erikson, and Hobb.  He’s not a favorite of the in-crowd, and I’ve always wondered why? What’s different, if anything, about his work?  It isn’t that he isn’t popular. There’s another crowd that likes him or his books wouldn’t take up the precious shelf space that they do.  But why aren’t his books recommended more often than they are?  Too many self-generated questions that I needed answers to, so I dove in.
Now that I’ve finished book 1 of his first series (a tetralogy), what I still don’t know is why his books aren’t recommended more often.  But what I now know is how much I liked it.  I enjoyed it so much that, once finished, I immediately started reading book 2, something I have only done with Erikson and h…

Nuclear Football Fumble

This from Axios •When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry. (The official who carries the nuclear football is supposed to stay close to the president at all times, along with a doctor.) •A U.S. official hurried into the adjoining room and told Kelly what was happening. Kelly rushed over and told the U.S. officials to keep walking — "We're moving in," he said — and the Americans all started moving. •Then there was a commotion. A Chinese security official grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man’s hand off of his body. Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.
So it is U.S. policy that its leader walk into the highest government offices of another country carrying with him the means too obliterate them?My first thought is, what hutzpah.But I’ll hold off on that until I know what the Chinese and Russians do.D…

Fractured Book Review: Kings of the Wyld

Fantasy Humor

Fantasy Humor?  How much of that do you see these days with GrimDark all the rage?  But here it is, and it’s good, really good.  Like most humor, the humor here relies on character and situation, and Eames really knocks the characters and situations out of the park.

Welcome to a world of monsters and mercenaries. Because of all the monsters, mercenaries are in such great demand that they have booking agents.  If the price is right you can book one over the weekend to rid your town of pesky minotaurs or some such monsters.  (Dragons cost extra.)  But don’t wait until the last minute, the demand is great and tickets are selling fast.

Meet Saga, the most famous mercenary band of them all.  The most badass band of them all.  The most legendary band of them all.  The most retired band of them all.  They've been retired for 20 years now.  They thought it was for good.  But what do mercenaries know? 

They had plans: Settle down, marry, get a a nice job down at the mill or s…

The Lightbulb Man

This happened twice some years ago.
I received a phone call from some guy in Texas. In a most humble and non-threatening voice, not sounding like a telemarketer or scam artist at all, he says to me he’s handicapped and confined to his house but makes a living by making light bulbs in his home and selling them over the phone.He asks me to buy some.
Usually when I get a sales pitch over the phone it’s more direct.Either I am asked to give to a charity I’ve never heard of, or I'm asked to surrender my social security number so they can free all the money in an account an uncle I never knew I had died and willed to me.These are old, tried and tired telemarketing gimmicks, but this one was new and fresh. 
The whole idea of someone calling asking me to buy homemade lightbulbs to support a handicapped person such as himself was refreshing.  He had succeeded in turning the ignition to my brain on, and my pistons were chugging at a rapid pace wondering all sort of interesting things.
He makes…

The Execution

You are being led to you own execution.You are fixated on your impending death, and your mind is in shock as it desperately looks for a path of escape.For the first time in your life you are forced to face your own immortality.“This can’t be happening to me,” you say to yourself.Your senses flip to maximum overdrive as they search for something, anything that might lead to your escape.  But when your senses open up everything comes at you all at once, too much, too fast, and so it happens -- your brain overloads and your mind explodes.
Suddenly everything turns surreal, everything happens in slow motion. The input comes at you slower and you can now process it, but a penalty is paid: you see it all through the fog of a numbed brain.Everything is real and unreal at the same time.And there is one other thing.You are now standing outside yourself, looking down at someone marching ever so slowly to his death.
On both sides of the path that leads to the gallows, there stands a crowd hootin…

Nano Trucks

You are looking at a nano-truck, about the width of a single strand of DNA.  Well, actually, this is someone's rendition of one because you can't actually see it.  That would be silly.  Nonetheless, it's amazing, and something I hadn't heard of before.  Imagine the size of the tweezers used to place these few atoms and molecules together.  This probably took a while to achieve. Then, again, as fast as technology progresses, perhaps this little wonder was created overnight, while we were sleeping.  But, no, that can't be, because...

There's more than one.

There is an entire nano-transportation world out there -- trucks, taxis, limos, jeeps, 4-wheel drive, AWD, Nano-Uber -- if only we could see it, which we can't.  And they race them on nano-race tracks. Sorry no dimensions on the size of the track, but I'm sure its circular and about a nano-mile in circumference because there are no nano-towns to run a Grand Prix through.  But who knows what tomorrow b…

Science News Trivia

Warning!  Don't condition your hair after a nuclear attack. This one goes right along side the Internal Revenue procedures for collecting taxes after a nuclear attack.  I don't want to be that tax collector.

And here's a short NYT article on the IRS procedures to collect post-apocalyptic taxes.  ''Operations will be concentrated on collecting the taxes which will produce the greater revenue yield.''  Yield? That could be the all time example of double entendre.  Like I said, I don't want to be that tax collector.

Sneeze Trivia -- Did you know we can sneeze up to 10 miles an hour?  That our brain stem contains a sneeze command and control center?  That when we sneeze our body contracts from esophagus to sphincter?  Why do we close our eyes when we sneeze?  This and more just a click away.

Scientists report isolating the gene that produces large plump tomatoes.  How about rediscovering the gene that puts taste back into the tomato?  You know the gene I'…

Solar Elipse Overkill

Not everyone was enthralled by the eclipse.  A few, a very few, journalists thought the media had gone bonkers in its reverence.  Shepard Smith was one.  Here is a two minute video of Smith covering the eclipse, and it's hilarious.

Walking, What Could Go Wrong?

A couple of years ago I really got into walking.  I never run.  Walking is easier on your knees, ankles, and feet than running, and it can be just as effective at keeping you in shape as running.But there are people who swear by running.
“Great exercise, running.”
“I run 7 miles a day and do 5 marathons a year.”
“I meditate while running.”
To those who say running miles each day and doing a marathon about once every two months is great exercise, I say wait until age 60 when your knees and hips have been replaced with metal and plastic.  Then let’s see what you think of running.
As to meditating while running, well I see people at the recreation center reading books while walking fast on a treadmill, so I guess there are people who can do this, but I’m not one of them.About the only thing I’d remember from reading a book while on a moving treadmill is how out of breath I was.And the only thing I can meditate on while running is how boring it is.But I do have mantra I repeat over and over a…

Quote That Wears Well With Time

"He was willing to do anything for people except get off their backs and let them live their own lives. He would never let go until they forced him to and then it was too late. He never seemed to understand there's a big difference between trying to save people and trying to help them. With luck you can help 'em -- but they always save themselves."

-- Raymond Robbins (Sept. 17, 1873 -- Sept 26, 1954), economist and writer criticizing Woodrow Wilson and his foreign policy.