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The Stars are Ours: A fine SF adventure

The Stars are Ours by Andre Norton

Tantor Media has been publishing the omnibus editions of Andre Norton’s science-fiction adventures in audiobook format. The omnibus (originally published by Baen) called Star Flight contains the novels The Stars are Ours and Star Born (the PAX/ASTRA duology). Both novels are set in the same universe (ours, actually) but they stand alone.

The prologue of The Stars are Ours, originally published in 1954, is a big infodump which details a frightening future history of the world in which we basically destroy ourselves with extreme nationalism, a nuclear war, a Cold War, terrorism, a propaganda-spewing anti-science demagogue, and racism. This leads to the destruction of ci... Read More

Tom Swift and His Flying Lab: The series that introduced me to sci-fi

Tom Swift and His Flying Lab by Victor Appleton II

What was the first science fiction novel that you ever read? For a long time, the answer to that question, for me, would have been Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 classic Childhood’s End, which Mr. Miller, back in high school, made us all read for English class. (A very hip teacher, that Mr. Miller!) Upon further reflection, however, it has struck me that I probably read Jules Verne’s 1864 classic A Journey to the Center of the Earth back in junior high school, and that, going back to late public school, there was the series of books featuring teenage inventor Tom Swift, Jr. Baby boomers may perhaps recall how very popular these books were back when, vying for sales with such other series as Read More

The Caves of Steel: An SF mystery story

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

In 1966, Isaac Asimov’s first three FOUNDATION novels won a one-time Hugo Award as the “Best All Time Series” for science fiction. While I still think the award was a reasonable (albeit highly subjective) one for the time, I’m becoming more and more convinced that Asimov’s three “Robot/Mystery” novels starring Earthly detective Elijah Bailey and his partner R. Daneel Olivaw (the “R.” stands for Robot, naturally) are better books, and quite possibly would have been a better choice for the award. Having just re-read his original FOUNDATION trilogy, I think I’m in a good position to compare it to the ROBOT novels.

The Caves of Steel is the first book in the ROBOT series. The setting is a densely populated Earth, a few millennia in the future. Our home planet has become a backwater, looked down upon by the rest of the human galaxy, and humanity... Read More

The Children of Green Knowe: A hidden gem in children’s literature

The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston

Reading this book was a strange experience for me, as even though I had never read it before in my life, it evoked a strange sense of familiarity that only the very best books, movies and music are able to achieve. Usually these are reserved for the ones that are experienced in childhood and carried through into adulthood, but every now and then one arrives that touch one on so deep a level that one feels they've always known them. The Children of Green Knowe is one such book.

This is the perfect book for anyone who has a love of old homes, and especially for those who have very little chances of exploring them, much less living in them. Since Lucy Boston wrote the Green Knowe series based on her own house and garden that was built nearly nine hundred years ago, the descriptions of the house and grounds are painstakingly created and thus utter... Read More

The Fellowship of the Ring: Magnificent work of fantasy

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Even today, almost six decades since its first publication, J.R R. Tolkien's magnificent work of fantasy is still attracting readers and scholars — more so now due to the publicity surrounding Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Perhaps for the first time ever, the movie release of a book adaptation has actually boosted sales of the book involved. And this can only be considered a good thing, as one cannot claim to be a literary reader without exploring Tolkien's Middle-Earth at least once in their lives.

To outline the story seems almost redundant, but here goes: in the idyllic pastoral land of the Shire lives the hobbit Frodo Baggins, who is entrusted with an immense task. The magical Ring that his uncle brought back from his adventuring is revealed by the wizard Gandalf to be none other th... Read More