Friday, January 20, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tales of the Grand Tour

A better title for this collection Ben Bova by might have been "Tales of the Grand Tour, As Well As Some Of My Other Series Plus a Few That Don't Fit In Anywhere", but I guess that would not sell very well! Bova's so-called Grand Tour is a loose collection of books that depict the opening of the Solar System. It's a tad looser than most series, as has has "retrofitted" earlier works and tacked them into the series.

The collection has a number of stories that are excerpted from the novels (e.g., Leviathan). Some are set in the same universe. There are also a couple (Sam and the Flying Dutchman and Fifteen Miles) that are from different series (the Sam Gunn tales and the Kinsman tales, respectively). One (Greenhouse Chill) is a complete independent, both in terms of setting and the time of the story. The stories vary in quality. Greenhouse Chill doesn't really fit, either the setting or the sense of exploration and discovery that many of the Grand Tour tales convey. The Sam Gunn story and the Kinsman story fit better and the Sam Gunn story is a lot of fun (as are all the tales of that misfit astronaut). The best offering here is probably Death on Venus, a gripping tale of an attempt to penetrate the clouds of Venus and recover the remains of an earlier explorer. Now that I'd like to see expanded to novel length!

Made up of: Introduction; Sam and the Flying Dutchman; Monster Slayer; Fifteen Miles; Muzhestvo; Red Sky at Morning; Greenhouse Chill; High Jump; Death on Venus; The Man Who Hated Gravity; Appointment in Sinai; Sepulcher; Leviathan; Afterword: The Roads Ahead.

Counts as fourteen entries in the 2006 Short Story Project.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


H.M.S. Surprise

H.M.S Surprise by Patrick O'Brian: So what do I do after overdosing on historical novels last year? I start the year off with a historical novel! A great read all around, a nice slow introduction and middle section (that will probably foreshadow future events) and one heck of an excellent naval battle to round off the book. No disappointments here. On with the next installment (The Mauritius Command)!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006: The Year in Kid's Books

2006 was the year that our daughter really started reading on her own. We still read to her, and she comes to us when she's reading on her own when she finds something difficult, but like father, like daughter. Last Sunday we had to take the books away from her and shoo her into bed. She did three hours of reading that night on her own!

So, given that we are still reading to her, I thought I'd mention some of the more "adult" books we've been reading together. Plus, I'll toss in any "young adult" books that I'm reading on my own. This will serve as another "master list" (like the book list, the short story list and the magazine list I've done). Hopefully I'll continue to do this every year as well!

"Victor Appleton": Tom Swift Young Inventor #1: Into the Abyss (Alladin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9-781416-915188). Victor Appleton is a pen name and this marks the latest attempt to bring this series back into the popularity it had in its first appearance or the appearance that I grew up with. The character is still Tom Swift, Jr. Some of the characters are the same as in the series I grew up, but changed (e.g., Bud Barclay is now black). Some are new (a female character name Yo). Alas, to my eye, the book is thinned in terms of length and characterization (not that the ones I've read have any great depth of character...but when you thin even that) and are "dumbed down" as well. Pretty big print. Oh well, what did I want for $1.99 (series introduction price).

Victor Appleton II: Tom Swift and His Flying Lab. Tom Swift and His Jetmarine. Tom Swift and His Rocketship.

Bertrand R. Brinley: The Mad Scientists' Club (Purple House Press, ISBN 1-930900-10-4). I'm reading these myself, as since they are only "about boys", our daughter does not seem all that interested. (Boys singly don't seem to be a problem; boys in a pack don't seem to interest her!) The books are being republished by Purple House Press (see below for more on this publisher).

I first read these as a kid. This was the club that I always wanted to belong to. They may not have done anything as earth-shaking or globe-girdling as Tom Swift, but they sure had a lot of fun. Purple House republished the books I read, and has also come out with a pair of novels (one had been published, but I never read it; another is new to publication). You can learn more about the author and his characters at a website his son runs.

The first two volumes are collections of short stories, so they will be part of the 2006 Short Story Project (got to get that count up!).

Made up of: Introduction (Sheridan Brinley); The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake; The Big Egg; The Secret of the Old Cannon; The Unidentified Flying Man of Mammoth Falls; The Great Gas Bag Race; The Voice in the Chimney; Night Rescue (collection completed!).

If there is one common theme to the stories in the first collection, it is variety. They range from practical jokes (Sea Monster and Chimney) to science fiction (Egg) to pure adventure (Gas Bag) to drama (Rescue). The boys are pranksters, for the most part, but do know something of science, studied hard enough to get amateur radio licenses, and are Explorer Scouts. And when their talents are needed for a serious endeavour, they can pull that off as well. A nice little collection.

Bertrand R. Brinley: The New Adventures of The Mad Scientists' Club (Purple House Press, ISBN 1-930900-11-2).

Made up of: Introduction (Sheridan Brinley); The Telltale Transmitter; The Cool Cavern; Big Chief Rainmaker; The Flying Sorcerer; The Great Confrontation.

They're mad! They're made, I tell you! The Mad Scientists' return in five more adventures, ranging from making rain to sparring with their rivals to pulling more practical jokes (this time, the big joke involves UFOs). I'll need to get the two novels and continue the adventure!

Oliver Butterworth: The Enormous Egg (Little, Brown, ISBN 0-316-11920-2). I first read this as a kid and was curious to see how it would hold up both in terms of what we've learned about dinosaurs since 1956 and how our daughter would like it. Two thumbs up, way up! One of the chickens at Nate Twitchell's farm in New Hampshire starts acting funny. It lays an egg, an enormous egg. Nate helps the chicken hatch the egg out, and it turns out that it laid a dinosaur, a triceratops, to be precise! Nate enlists the help of a visiting paleontologist (who is certainly happy to have the live version to study) in bringing up baby (so to speak). Eventually he gives the dinosaur to the museum in Washington, D.C. as the New Hampshire winter would be too much (I guess all the hot air in Washington will keep that region warm enough for dinosaurs!). When "Uncle Beazley" (as the triceratops is named) is involved in an auto accident, Congress gets involved. Hilarity ensues as a sequence worthy of something like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" occurs and Uncle Beazley is saved by the citizens of his native land. Our daughter was enchanted with the story and I have a feeling we'll be reading it again during vacation. And the science? Hmmm...dinosaurs hatching from chicken eggs? There are actually some pretty good statements about the more than probable links between birds and dinosaurs made. Good stuff!

Evelyn Sibley Lampman: The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek (Purple House Press, ISBN 1-930900-09-0). Another favorite from my childhood, and a favorite author. Along with this, two books by Lampman that I recall fondly are The Shy Stegosaurus of Indian Springs and The City Under the Back Steps. The "also by" page of the book mentions one called Rusty's Space Ship, but I can't recall if I read it or not. The book was republished by Purple House Press. Alas, they don't seem to have plans to bring out either Indian Springs or Back Steps, which is a darn shame given the quality of this book.

So did our daughter like this one? You bet! A bit harder to get through, due to both length and the vocabulary (but we always ask when we come across a new word if she understands it and explain it if needed); however, we raced through this one almost as quickly as The Enormous Egg. Twins living on a ranch befriend a lonely stegosaurus who has managed to survive the demise of all the other dinosaurs by munching on sagebrush for a few tens of millions of years. The twins are trying to help their border (a paleontologist, they do get around, don't they!) find enough fossils to keep him at their ranch (and have his money coming in). Toss in a few plot twists and you've got a tale to keep a seven-year-old hopping for several days. More good stuff!

Indian Springs continues the adventures of the stegosaurus named George. Back Steps was entirely different and featured adventures in an ant colony. Maybe somebody will bring them into print again (or I'll be haunting those second-hand shops!).

Robert McClosky: Homer Price (ISBN 0-670-37729-5, Viking). Made up of: The Case of the Sensational Scent, The Case of the Cosmic Comic; The Doughnuts; Mystery Yarn; Nothing New Under the Sun (Hardly); Wheels of Progress. (Counts as six entries in the 2006 Short Story Project.)

Robert McCloskey: Centerberg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price (ISBN 0-14-031072-X, Puffin Books). Made up of: Grandpa Hercules: 1. The Hide-a-ride; 2. Sparrow Courthouse; 3. Looking for Gold; 4. The Gravitty-Bitties; Experiment 13; Ever So Much More So; Pie and Punch and You-Know-Whats. (Counts as seven entries in the 2006 Short Story Project.)

This pair of short story collections is by a author who produced many classic children's books. You (especially if you're a parent) have probably come across Burt Dow, Deep Water Man or Make Way for Ducklings or the duo of Blueberries for Sal or One Morning in Maine. The first of this pair (Homer Price) was published in 1943; Centerburg Tales followed in 1951. Both were greatly enjoyed by our daughter and I read the entire set to her in about a week. No deep earth-shaking concepts here, just some funny stories about automatic doughnut machines, skunks, balls of yarn and the like. Very enchanting stuff!

George Selden: The Cricket in Times Square, Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse, Chester Cricket's New Home, Tucker's Countryside.

I bought these a while back thinking that our daughter would like them. We absolutely could not get her interested, so I had written it off as a bad investment. Then after we got her interested in some of the other books listed here, we tried again.

Success, sort of. She would not read The Cricket in Times Square. But, she seemed interested in Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse. So, we started with that one. Then we worked our way through the other books (there are a few others that we have not yet bought), and ended up reading the book that started it all (The Cricket in Times Square) while on vacation. Heck, we read a couple of these through a second time, thanks to Tropical Storm Ernesto. They were a hit (finally)!

E.B. White: Stuart Little. I haven't posted to this in a while as our daughter has moved from having us read to here most of the time, to reading for her very rarely. She is doing most of her reading on her own, sometimes as much as an hour a day! I did read her this one, as she seems to think she can't handle "chapter books" (but she has, so she can!). A lot different from the movie! This was, in parts, a pretty grim tale for a "kid's book"!

I'll link this into the 2006: The Year in Books (Master List) posting.

Addendum (September 11, 2006): Well, what do you know. I've inspired somebody to search for a memory.
2006: The Year in Shorts

This is the third year that I've done this, based on a posting on SF Signal and carried out previously here and here.

As I did for the past two years, I'll be following a variant on the program that SF Signal did. First, I don't differentiate between stories of various lengths (one story = one entry). Second, I'll be reading a lot of short non-fiction as well and will count these various collected articles as individual entries. (Note: For this year, when I start reading a short story collection, I'll list the title and author of the book and list the titles of the stories or essays. As I read them, the titles will be italicized. There will be a link to the individual review present, but there might be a delay between the time I start reading a collection and when I feel I am ready to start reviewing the installments in a collection. The short story count will be updated as I complete stories, to give a hopefully accurate count of my goal of at least 365 stories!)

On to the count and the entries!

Short story count (as of December 31, 2006): 705 (61 entries were from paper or electronic magazines). Goal for the year: Minimum of 365 entries, hoping for 600+.

Individual Short Stories and Short Story Collections (Master List)

Isaac Asimov: Black Friar of the Flame (1 story).

Isaac Asimov (editor): The Hugo Winners (Volumes 1 and 2) (9 stories so far, project sidetracked in 2007, started again in 2008).

Gregory Benford: A variety of short stories from single and multi-author collections (43 stories).

Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski (editing, introduction, notes): Skylife: Space Habitats in Story and Science (Collection completed, 16 stories read).

Alfred Bester: Virtual Unrealities (2 stories so far).

Ben Bova: Tales of the Grand Tour (completed reading collection, 14 stories total).

Leigh Brackett: Martian Quest: The Early Brackett (9 stories so far).

Ray Bradbury: The October Country (Collection completed, 20 stories read).

Bertrand R. Brinley: The Mad Scientists' Club and The New Adventures of The Mad Scientists' Club(14 stories read, both collections completed).

Michael A. Burstein: Paying It Forward (1 story).

"Don A. Stuart" (John W. Campbell, Jr.): A New Dawn: The Complete Don A. Stuart Stories (19 stories and essays, collection completed).

Sir Arthur C. Clarke: The Sentinel (1 story).

Jack Dann: Da Vinci Rising (1 story).

Gordon R. Dickson: Dickson! (2 stories so far).

Paul Di Filippo: A Year in Linear City (1 story).

Gardner Dozois: The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Third Annual Collection (6 stories so far).

David Drake: The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume One (23 stories, collection complete).

David Drake, Eric Flint and Jim Baen (editors): The World Turned Upside Down (30 stories, collection completed).

Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett): The Collected Jorkens, Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 (completed reading Volume 1 and 2, Volume 3 for 2007; 104 stories total).

George Alec Effinger: Schrodinger's Kitten (1 story).

Greg Egan: The Planck Dive (1 story).

S. Foster: Vintage Smog (1 story).

David G. Hartwell (editor): The Science Fiction Century, Volume 1 and Volume 2 (2 stories so far).

David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (editors): Year's Best SF 10 (1 story so far). Year's Best SF 11 (32 stories, collection completed).

Douglas R. Hofstadter: Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern (An Interlocked Collection of Literary, Scientific, and Artistic Studies) (36 essays, collection completed).

Robert E. Howard: The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (29 stories, collection completed).

Nancy Kress: Out of All Them Bright Stars (counts as 1 entry).

Geoffrey Landis: Falling Onto Mars. Impact Parameter. (Counts as two stories.)

Alan Lightman: Dance for Two (7 essays so far).

Howard Philips Lovecraft: Tales (59 stories of widely varying length; collection completed; other recently published reprints read for items missing from this collection, hence the total of stories read that is larger than the contents of this book).

James Lyn: Magnetic Sheep (1 story).

Barry N. Malzberg: A Galaxy Called Rome (1 story).

Sam Moskowitz: One by our first historian (25 entries, collection complete).

Larry Niven: The Draco Tavern (completed reading collection, 28 stories total).

Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr (editors): Endless Frontiers, Volume IV: Life Among the Asteroids (11 stories so far).

Terry Pratchett: The Color of Magic (4 stories, collection completed).

Chet Raymo: The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage (3 essays so far).

Alastair Reynolds: A Spy in Europa. Spirey and the Queen (2 stories).

Robert Silverberg: Gilgamesh in the Outback. Enter a Soldier. Later: Enter Another (2 stories).

Ian Stewart: Letters to a Young Mathematician (14 essays so far).

Charles Stross: Accelerando (9 stories, collection completed.) A Colder War (1 story).

Rick N. Tumlinson and Erin R. Medlicott (editors): Return to the Moon (4 essays so far).

A.E. van Vogt: Voyage of the Space Beagle (completed reading collection, 4 stories total). Transfinite: The Essential A.E. van Vogt (6 stories so far).

Vernor Vinge: Various stories, two collections and a novel (7 stories).

T.K.F. Weisskopf: Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Sol System (completed reading collection, 13 stories total).

Gene Wolfe: The Castle of the Otter (13 essays, collection complete).

Donald A. Wollheim: The 1972 Annual World's Best SF (8 stories so far).

Magazine Short Stories 2006 (Master List)

In general, I'm probably not going to review every single story I read in each issue. If what I've read so far is any indication, I generally find memorable stuff at the "second level" (book collections). So, I'll only mention the best or worst stories.

The best magazine story I've read so far in the collection of Analog's, Asimov's and F&SF's that have been piling up next to the bed was from 1993, a very short story called Jake's Gift by Bud Sparhawk (Analog, September 1993). It isn't even science fiction, so I wonder how it ended up in Analog. On the other hand...you could say the same of several installments of Spider Robinson's Callahan's stories, and they ended up in Analog. And there are similarities: like the Callahan's stories, Jake's Gift is a character study, not a technology or gadet study. There is some "technology" in the tale, but it is minor stuff. It mostly is a nice little tale of a couple opposite characters and how they get to work with each other.

Looking at Sparhawk's website, it looks like this tale is a solitary effort. Most of his work seems to fall into one of two sets of series. I'm going to have to look for these books; if the fine characterizations that shine in this tale make it into the other tales, they will be tales well worth reading. (On the plus side, it looks like I'll be able to buy an electronic version of Jake's Tale, which is a good thing, as that 1993 issue of Analog is crumbling already!)

Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact: September 1993 (edited by Stanley Schmidt)

Made up of: Course Changes (Jerry Oltion); Small Victories (Linda Nagata): With Time Comes Concord (Duncan Lunan); The Hypersonic Skyhook (Robert M. Zubrin); The Plot to Save Hitler (W.R. Thompson); Generational Conflict (Daniel Hatch); Jake's Gift (Bud Sparhawk); Probability Zero: A Glance Backward (Ian Randal Strock)

The best story in this issue was Bud Sparhawk's Jake's Gift and it isn't even vaguely science fiction. Duncan Lunan's With Time Comes Concord was a pretty good mystery (but John Varley did it first, and better, with either version of his tale Air Raid/Millennium). I've enjoyed Jerry Oltion's other works, Course Changes was adequate but seemed to end abruptly. Part of a planned longer work, perhaps?

Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact: October 1993 (edited by Stanley Schmidt)

Made up of: Darwin's Children (Grey Rollins); The Carhart Shale (Grant Callin); On Tour with Gyez (W.R. Thompson); Working Molecules: Progress Toward Nanotechnology (Richard Terra); Dedication (Jerry Oltion); To Bring Down the Steel (Doug Beason); Probability Zero: De Gustibus (Robert J. Howe).

Grant Callin: The Carhart Shale. I started reading the September 1993 issue and noticed a "In Times to Come" notice that this story was part of a series where Callin was exploring all the planets of the Solar System based on what we've learned from probes like Viking. That's among one of my favorite sub-genres of SF, so I put down that issue and picked up this issue. Other than the opening and ending narrative (which takes place past the time of the story, and was somewhat weak and awkward), it was a nice little story of the discovery of fossils on Mars. Alas, Callin seems to have only really contributed a brief run of short stories as well as a novel.

Asimov's Science Fiction: June 2003 (edited by Gardner Dozois)

Made up of: The Conquest of Space (Robert Silverberg, non fiction); The Bellman (John Varley); Dead Worlds (Jack Sillingstead); Nimby and the Dimension Hoppers (Cory Doctorow); Bernardo's House (James Patrick Kelly); Morlock Chili (Lawrence Person); The Bird of Paradise (Daniel Abraham and Susan Fry); Listen to Me (David Marusek); The Path of the Transgressor (Tom Purdom).

The best tales in here were the Varley, Person and Silverberg entries. Varley's tale is one of his stories of Anna-Louie Bach, a detective on the Moon. Varley pushes the envelope in many of his stories, does female character's better than most female writers, and in this one pushes us a bit on the boundaries of taste (in more ways than one). You can also find this one in his recent collection, The John Varley Reader (which is not a complete collection of stories, alas). The Silverberg entry is a good non-fiction piece about what is wrong with our space program. And the Person story is an amusing tale of aliens at an American institution, the outdoor chili cookoff.

Fantasy & Science Fiction (March 2006): The Revivalist (Albert E. Cowdrey); Shambhala (Alex Irvine); The True History of the Picky Princess (John Morressy); From the Mouths of Babes (Trent Hergenrader); The Capacity to Appear Mindless (Mike Shultz); Czesko (Ef Deal); Intolerance (Robert Reed).

Jim Baen's Universe, Volume 1, Number 1 (edited by Eric Flint).

Made up of: Jim Baen: October 22, 1943-June 28, 2006 (David Drake); Chilling (Alan Dean Foster); Bow Shock (Gregory Benford); Pimpf (Charles Stross); What Would Sam Spade Do? (Jo Walton); Brieanna's Constant (Eric Witchey); Bob's Yeti Problem (Lawrence Person); Slanted Jack (Mark Van Name); Candy-Blossom (Dave Freer); The Darkness (David Drake); Back to the Moon (Travis Taylor, non-fiction); Gods and Monsters in Hollywood (Gregory Benford, non-fiction); The Cold Blacksmith (Elizabeth Bear); Poga (John Barnes); Build-a-Bear (Gene Wolfe); The Opposite of Pomegranates (Marissa Lingen); 'Ware the Sleeper (Julie Czerneda); The Thief of Stones (Sarah Zettel); The Light of Other Days (Bob Shaw); The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut (Mark Twain); The Ancient Ones (David Brin, serial); Travails with Momma (John Ringo, serial); Fish Story, Episode 1 (Andrew Dennis, Eric Flint and Dave Freer, serial); Fancy Farmer (Pamela Uphoff); The Puzzle of the Pergrinating Coach (George Phillies); Astromonkeys! (Tony Frazier); Giving It 14 Percent (Ani Fox); Local Boy Makes Good (Ray Tabler).

Good grief, look at that! Three serials! Stories by five new authors! Heavy hitters from Baen's book line. Classic tales! Non-fiction. Wow.

The first three issues of this electronic magazine (that list of contents is only the first issue, folks!) are on my PDA. Alas, my downtime at work has decreased, so I've only been able to dip into them so far.

The best new story, so far, in this issue is Gregory Benford's Bow Shock. Benford, to me, is best known for two types of stories. There are his grand space operas, the Galactic Center tales (plus a few others not in the series, but on the same grand scale). Then there are a series of excellent books that are similar in that they usually deal with scientists who have to deal with the bureaucracy while exploring the boundaries of science. These are books such as Timescape, Eater, Cosm and others. Bow Shock falls into this second category. It is darn excellent, both in terms of being a hard SF story, but also in terms of its depiction of academic life and character development. I really hope that Benford can spin a novel out of this one. It is one of the best stories I've read this year.

Update! We have another contender: David Drake's The Darkness is also an excellent read (see below).

Alan Dean Foster: Chilling: Set in Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, this was a pretty minor addition to that canon. Nice to visit Tran-Ky-Ky again, but I would have preferred something of more substance or length.

Charles Stross: Pimpf: From what a friend has told me, this is part of a longer series. Alas, that being so, it did not do much for me other than make me want to hunt down the series. It also appears that the friend in question has been Tuckerized in this story.

Jo Walton: What Would Sam Spade Do?: Some interesting background here (cloning blood allegedly from Jesus) and some possibly interesting backstory. However, the story did not do much to develop it (a case where the story is too short for the universe it depicts!).

Eric Witchey: Brieanna's Constant: A physicist tries to alter a force of nature. Throw in some hot chicks, lingerie and coffee and you have one hoot of a story involving a dash of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle with a splash of Schrodinger's Cat.

Lawrence Person: Bob's Yeti Problem: Poor Bob. All he wanted to do was to spend some time in the woods working on a follow-up to his Academy Award-nominated screenplay. Then Yeti (you could tell they were Yeti instead of Bigfeet because they had a silver pelt) started falling from the sky.

Mark Van Name: Slanted Jack: An interesting story involving shady dealings, psi powers, nanotechnology, AI's, FTL and more. This story has quite a lot of background detail and Van Name does a good job of working enough into it so that you get the information you need, get a feel for the universe, but don't feel overwhelmed. I hate to keep sounding like a broken record, but I'd like to see more tales about the two main characters. In this case, it looks like my wish has been answered! I have Cosmic Tales: Adventures in the Far Future (and hope to finish it by the end of the year) and I'll definately pick up the other anthology mentioned when it becomes available.

Dave Freer: Candy-Blossom: Not all that impressed with this one. It was kind of amusing to dig through the language used, but there was not much to the plot. A nice change from some of the other tales, but...

David Drake: The Darkness: A tale set in Drake's long-running Hammer's Slammers series. An excellent tale of a new lieutenant who is assigned to a platoon that then gets assigned to a very chancy situation. This might be the best tale that Drake has written, either in the Hammer's Slammers series or out of it.

Elizabeth Bear: The Cold Blacksmith; John Barnes: Poga; Gene Wolfe: Build-a-Bear; Marissa Lingen: The Opposite of Pomegranates; Julie Czerneda: 'Ware the Sleeper; The Sarah Zettel: Thief of Stones.

I hate to say it, but this batch of stories in the eMagazine under the Fantasy section just goes to show you how disinterested I am in most fantasy. Would you believe the only one that made an impression on me was the Gene Wolfe contribution? Perhaps it is the level of writing ability, but I have a feeling that this parade has just passed me by!

David Brin: The Ancient Ones (Part 1): A multi-part serial that pokes fun at Star Trek much in the same way that Galaxy Quest did. Ends on a real cliffhanger, so I'll look forward to seeing where Brin takes us next!

John Ringo: Travails with Momma: I'm giving this one a "maybe". It has the potential of being interesting, especially for younger readers.

Andrew Dennis, Eric Flint and Dave Freer: Fish Story, Episode 1: It's a story about a bunch of drunks. It's a humorous story. Humorous stories about drunks should get to the point a heck of a lot sooner than a multi-part serial. Pass. (And I do like what Eric Flint and Dave Freer have done in other works!)

Pamela Uphoff: Fancy Farmer: An entry by a new author. Brief, but had some good points. Will look for more of her stuff.

George Phillies: The Puzzle of the Pergrinating Coach: Another new author effort. Sort of Sherlock Holmes in flavor, set after the invasion of Earth by Mars (as told by H.G. Wells). Amusing little tale.

Tony Frazier: Astromonkeys!: Another new author effort. Pass.

Ani Fox: Giving It 14 Percent: Another new author effort. A pretty good tale, involving mythology and quantum physics. I'll look for more from this author.

Ray Tabler: Local Boy Makes Good: Another new author effort. Potential for a long-running series here. Good effort.

Classic Stories:

Bob Shaw: The Light of Other Days: Both of these deserve the moniker "classic", but I feel that Shaw's contribution deserves it more. Of all the bright motes that shone during the "New Wave" this is one of the stories that has stuck with me ever since I first read it. There is one "gizmo" in the story, the rest is about the development of the three characters. The ending is a tear-jerker, but it works.

Mark Twain: The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut: A pretty amusing tale, told as if it really happened to the author. His conscience, his "little voice" becomes visible and the narrator probes what it is that the conscience wants and does. It is told in a narrative style, and done so well that you can hear Twain doing it live.

Non-fiction/Columns:

Travis Taylor: Back to the Moon: While I like "Doc" Taylor's fiction and non-fiction, this one was pretty outdated by the time it was published. I hope that he comes back with more non-fiction, and I hope he starts writing about some of the far out physics and engineering that he has worked on. That I'd rather see!

Gregory Benford: Gods and Monsters in Hollywood: Benford talks about his experiences in Hollywood. Amusing but scary that these people are in charge.

Jim Baen: Why Die?: Given that Jim Baen died around the time of the publication of this issue of the magazine, it is a pretty sad column.

Eric Flint: June 2006: Flint is the editor in chief of the effort, so this is his editorial column. Some excellent stuff here as to why Baen Books is doing this and paying top rates for short stories, even for new writers. After all, where are the novelists of tomorrow going to come from if they don't practice their craft in the short story market?

Eric Flint: A Matter of Principle: Flint has also been the power behind Baen's Webscription eBook effort. In addition to doing nifty things such as releasing DRM-free works and even free (as in no cost) works to encourage sales, he has done a number of columns posted to the site (see the entries marked Prime Palaver). This column appears to be a continuations of the themes he has working on for the past few years about DRM, onerous copyright laws and the like. As a bonus, he includes transcripts of two speeches before Parliment that show we've had this debate before (and as such, I'm adding two entries to my count, due to the length of the speeches).

Mark L. Van Name: Upload Your Life Now: Van Name talks about how improvements in storage ability are making it easier and easier to capture more and more of the elements of your life (pictures, written materials, etc.). Some may find this helpful, but there are questions regarding privacy as well. A thoughtful piece.

Michael Hart: The History of Power from the Gutenberg Revolution to the Computer Revolution: Hart discusses the implications of Gutenberg (the person) and Gutenberg (the project) in this excellent piece that shows just how far electronic publishing might move our society. Lots of good stuff here and I look forward to the next installment.
2006: The Year in Books

Count (as of December 31, 2006): 85 books (includes books listed in the kid's book list for the year).

This posting is intended as a "marker" and a tally. It'll mark the short story collections that I've posted reviews about and it will show you a running tally of how many short stories and essays I read in 2006.

Short works read this year in this list. Kid's books read this year in this list.

(Reviews will be made as separate postings and be pasted to this master list as well.)

Gregory Benford: In Alien Flesh. Matter's End.

Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski: Skylife: Space Habitats in Story and Science.

Ben Bova: Tales of the Grand Tour.

Ray Bradbury: The October Country.

John W. Campbell, Jr.: A New Dawn: The Complete Don A. Stuart Stories.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke: Astounding Days: Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography. 2001 A Space Odyssey. The Lost Worlds of 2001. 2010: Odyssey Two. Indian Ocean Adventure. Imperial Earth.

Cory Doctorow: Eastern Standard Tribe and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.

David Drake: The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume One.

David Drake, Eric Flint and Jim Baen (editors): The World Turned Upside Down.

Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett): The Collected Jorkens, Volume One. Collected Jorkens, Volume Two.

D.C. Fontana: Vulcan's Glory.

Jane Goodall: My Life with the Chimpanzees.

David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (editors): Year's Best SF 11.

Douglas R. Hofstadter: Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern (An Interlocked Collection of Literary, Scientific, and Artistic Studies).

James P. Hogan: Inherit the Stars (one half of The Two Moons).

Robert E. Howard: The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.

Jeffrey Kluger: Journey Beyond Selene.

H.P. Lovecraft: A variety of collections and standalones, starting with Tales, but including several other relatively recently published editions with the texts corrected and restored. Six collections or standalones total.

George R. R. Martin: The Hedge Knight.

Sam Moskowitz: One by our first historian (25 entries, collection complete).

Mike Mullane: Riding Rockets.

Larry Niven: The Draco Tavern.

Patrick O'Brian: H.M.S. Surprise. The Mauritius Command. The Far Side of the World.

Jerry Pournelle: West of Honor (or Part I of Falkenberg's Legions or Part I of The Prince). The Mercenary (or Part II of Falkenberg's Legions or Part II of The Prince).

Terry Pratchett: The Color of Magic. The Light Fantastic.

Julie Phillips: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon.

John Ringo: Into the Looking Glass. Ghost. A Hymn Before Battle.

John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor: Von Neuman's War (eARC).

Spider Robinson: The Callahan Touch. Callahan's Legacy. Callahan's Key. Callahan's Con. (What? No more Callahan books since 2004? O.K., no I'm getting annoyed...)

Charles Stross: Accelerando.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Two Towers.

A.E. van Vogt: Voyage of the Space Beagle.

Vernor Vinge: A Deepness in the Sky. Rainbows End.

T.K.F. Weisskopf: Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Sol System.

Gene Wolfe: The Castle of the Otter.