Cataloguer. A profession for which the ideal qualification is to know everything in the universe. I'm working on it ...
I confess that if I'd only had the blurb to go by I most likely never would have read this book ... the description made it sound like a lame low-budget space movie from several decades ago (and not one of the so-bad-it's-brilliant ones like "Dark Star"). But, fortunately, it was listed in the Recommended Books column in the November issue of Galaxy's Edge with enthusiasm and a far more appealing description. And Galaxy's Edge didn't lie ... there's a very good, fun novel hiding behind that less-than-appealing blurb (I don't blame the blurb writer ... it's really not a story that's easy to describe well) and I'm certainly going to be reading volume two in the series when it's published. :-)
Guess I need to cruise through my back issues of Galaxy's Edge and see if there's any other hidden gems in the Recommended Books ...
It was interesting reading this book right after the author's "Sheena and Other Gothic Tales". Instead of the follow-up to the longish short story "Sheena" that I was expecting, this novel turned out to be an expansion of that story into a short novel. A very good expansion, I hasten to add, and well worth reading for the extra depth and detail Stableford has added to this tale.
I only recently discovered Brian Stableford via his six-volume Daedalus Mission series and was impressed enough by that to want to read more of his work. Now, after reading "Sheena and Other Gothic Tales) I continue to be impressed; Stableford can obviously do a first-rate storytelling job in any genre. Every tale in this book is a different flavour of gothic and all of them are delicious.
Especially refreshing are the three vampire tales, just because they are not tied together but are three separate and unique takes on the notion of vampirism. Any author who can come up with one new variation on the vampire thing (and write it well) is a gem; Stableford has come up with three new variations and written them exceedingly well ... and makes gems look like cheap glass by comparison.
His "Vampires of Atlantis" novel is now moved to the top of my to-read list ... from the title and certain things in the blurb I suspect it's connected to the third vampire story in this anthology but I'm not going to assume or expect that as I read; I'm totally open to a fourth vampire variation if that's how it goes because I know it's going to be great either way.
After that I need to read everything else Stableford has ever written ... I bet even his grocery lists are enthralling.
Interesting as an early work of survivors-of-apocalyptic-event science fiction. I heeded the introduction's warnings of racism and other obsolete period attitudes and read it as an artifact of its time. Glad I did, just to know the inspiration for later, better works of this kind.
I do confess to giggling at the repeated plot point of concrete being the ultimate indestructible building material that will last for millennia (with the cracking and flaking around the edges of my merely fifty-years-old balcony in full view)
Have been reading, for the first time, Mike Resnick's four-volume "Widowmaker" series over the past few days. It's entertaining, basically a space western as most of it takes place in the author's vast Inner Frontier setting.
But volume three, "The Widowmaker Unleashed", deserves special mention for revealing an interesting quirk of the title character: along with banking much of his bounty money for his old age/retirement (a chronic health issue changes his plans and triggers the events that are the series), the man has stashes of real paper books (he doesn't like "reading pixels") stored on various planets which he plans to send for once he settles down so he can spend his time reading them (along with gardening and birdwatching). When he buys his first house, planning to live out his remaining years there, one of the priority renovations is building bookshelves in anticipation of his collection arriving. It's impossible for me not to love a fictitious character who does that. :-)
Prothero-irreverence love ...
"Sloths and armadillos and their kin are the two most familiar families of the Xenartha. The third are the anteaters, which are placed in the group Vermilingua, which means "worm tongue" in Latin. (There is no known connection to the villainous Grima Wormtongue in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.)"
And the section on the mammals with evergrowing incisors is, of course, titled "Rodents of Unusual Size" ;-)
Overall a nice little book not deep or overly detailed but one of those informative, engaging (and fun) overviews that puts the general evolution of known large South American faunas, ranging from early protomammals of Gondwana to recent mammals, birds, and reptiles, in ecological and historical perspective and serves as a guide to things to find out more about (lots of critters that don't often get a mention in the more-usually-North America/Euro-centric-with-an-occasional-dash-of-Asia palaeontology books). South American dinosaurs are included, of course, but kept in perspective (and a single chapter) as they existed for only a small percentage of the timeline covered.
Now I have a strong urge to grab my copy of Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" to re-read it ...
A marvelous start to the second "season" of "The Witch Who Came In From The Cold". Allies-by-circumstance are now looking at each other with suspicion for a variety of reasons. One being that there appears to be a third player in the magic game, competing with both the Ice and the Flame.
Fascinating and packs a lot of info into its mere 144 (heavily illustrated) pages, thus proving that concise and plain language is a far better and efficient use of one's text space than showing off with unnecessary syllables and flowery phrases. An excellent beginner's introduction to exactly how snow crystals form and then become snowflakes or one of a myriad of other forms of particles that make up snow. Also includes instructions for capturing and "fossilizing" snowflakes to prevent them melting (hint: involves glass slides and superglue) and photography tips, plus how to make synthetic snowflakes in a chest freezer.
And the photographs! Incredible, beautiful photographs! Even if you don't read a word of this book, it's worth having just for the photographs.
Authors have created Snow Crystals.com which also contains a lot of info and gorgeous photos (some from the book). You'll never be able to look at snow the same way again.