THE ROOM OF WHITE FIRE By T. Jefferson Parker


The Room of White Fire is the first book in T. Jefferson’s Parker’s Roland Ford series. Ford is a San Diego-based private detective whose specialty is finding people. Arcadia, a mental health facility for wealthy “partners,” discovers that Clay Hickson–son of powerful corporate mover-and-shaker–is missing. High profile psychologist Briggs Spencer, owner of Arcadia, hires Ford to find Clay Hickson. But immediately Ford begins to find flaws in the data about Clay Hickson. Hickson served in the Air Force in Iraq…except he didn’t. Ford learns Hickson was actually at a secret CIA black-ops site in Romania during his Air Force career. What happened there caused Hickson’s mental break-down that led to his stay in Arcadia.

While tracking Clay Hickson down, Ford deals with the death of his wife in a plane crash. T. Jefferson Parker blends personal trauma and page-turning action in his thrillers. If you’re looking for a fast-paced Summer Read, The Room of White Fire delivers. I plan to read the Roland Ford series in the weeks ahead. Are you a T. Jefferson Parker fan? GRADE: B
Roland Ford series:
The Room Of White Fire (2017)
Swift Vengeance (2018)
The Last Good Guy (2019)

LOST IN YONKERS: A PLAY BY NEIL SIMON


Diane and I joined three other couples at Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre for an evening of fun and drama. Yes, Neil Simon wrote many funny plays, but Lost In Yonkers–which won Simon his only Pulitzer Prize–blends comedy with some tragedy. Local actors (not Richard Dreyfuss nor Mercedes Ruerhl) star in this production. The two young boys, Ayden Herreid (15 years old) and Timothy Whipple (13 years old), are brothers who must deal with the 1942 World War II circumstances their father (Kevin Nagel) finds himself in: he owes money to a loan shark.

The brothers are forced to stay with their crusty grandmother (played by Ellen Holst) and follow her strict rules. Their mentally challenged Aunt Bella (Diane DeBernardo) both comforts the boys and drives them crazy. Uncle Louie (Eliot Fox), their father’s brother who is a small-time crook, shows up to liven the action.

Lost In Yonkers is not my favorite Neil Simon play (that would be The Odd Couple), but this local production was fun and entertaining. And the food was good, too. Do you have a favorite Neil Simon play or movie? GRADE: B

LITHIUM: A DOCTOR, A DRUG, AND A BREAKTHROUGH By Walter A Brown


In 1949, Australian doctor John Cade, working alone and in obscurity, discovered that lithium–a natural occurring substance like salt–could relieve the symptoms of manic depression (aka, bipolar syndrome). Cade published his work, which was mostly ignored, and for decades a treatment for one of the worst mental health problems went unnoticed.

One reason for lithium being ignored is that it wasn’t a drug that pharmaceutical companies could make Big Money on. You can get lithium at your local health food store for a few bucks. Meanwhile, people suffering with manic depression or bipolar syndrome where given expensive electroshock treatments and psychotropic drugs that didn’t work well. In the 1970s, Norman Lear’s Maude (based on his wife) featured an episode where Maude takes a drug that helps her combat her depression. The Network censors would not allow the word “lithium” to be spoken (p. 147), but Lear’s wife was on it at the time and found great relief from her mood swings. A couple decades later, Homeland’s Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) struggles with her psychotic problems and only finds relief with lithium (p. 148).

Three years ago, I started to experience vague but persistent anxiety and troubled sleep. I could find no logical reasons for these conditions. At that time I read an article in the New York Times about lithium. Regions with high lithium levels in their drinking water–Texas, Japan, Austria, Greece (p. 183)–had lower levels (up to 50% decrease) in suicide rates. And lower rates of manic depression. So I bought a bottle of lithium and started taking it. Within a week, my vague anxiety disappeared. I started sleeping better and longer. My blood pressure went down. Placebo Effect? Possibly. But I returned to normal and I’ve continued to take lithium daily ever since. Walter A. Brown’s Lithium explains why my mental health and the mental health of thousands of others improved. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction vii
1. Manic-Depressive Illness, A Brief History 1
2. The Naturalist 29
3. Lithium 47
4. Breakthrough 61
5. Aftermath 89
6. Prophylaxis Rex 127
Epilogue 165
Acknowledgments 191
Notes 193
Selected Bibliography 205
Index 213

BUFFALO BILLS VS. NY GIANTS


Today, Diane and I host our Annual Buffalo Bills Party. We invite some of our friends, provide pizza, chicken wings, wine, assorted beverages and Peanut M&Ms. Desserts include carrot cake, chocolate cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes with sprinkles, and pumpkin cupcakes. Our friends usually bring the salads, shrimp, appetizers, and beer.

The Buffalo Bills return to Met-Life Stadium after their incredible come-back game against the Jets last Sunday. Today, the Bills face the NY Giants who got stomped 35-17 by the Cowboys last week despite generating 470 yards of offense. Eli Manning threw for more than 300 yards in that losing effort. The Giants defense allowed several big passing plays. The Giants’ All-World running back, Saquon Barkley, rushed for more than a 100 yards. I’m guessing Eli will be feeding Saquon the ball much more in this game.

The Bills are 2-point favorites in this game. I’m expecting a close game (and hoping for a win). How will your favorite NFL team fare today?

ROBOTS IN AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE By Steve Carper


Yes, I actually owned the issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION (January 1953) that featured this robot cover by Ed Emshwiller. Robots in American Popular Culture explores how robots entered the American consciousness. Steve Carper traces the evolution of robots from clunky machines to sexbots. Carper provides a lot of history of the development of robots, both real and imaginary. Good robots and bad robots (aka, terminators) are all discussed in context of science fiction and American society. If you’re a fan of robots, this book is a must-read. My only quibble with Robots in American Popular Culture is the lack of robot artwork. Other than the iconic cover, the pages are lacking artwork with the variety of robots. Maybe in the next edition… Are you a fan of robots? Would you buy one? GRADE: A-
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction 1
Part One: The Robot ­Pre-Computer 9
1. The Robot and the Android: The Origin of the Species 11
2. The Heimlich Maneuver: Robots in Early Fiction 21
3. Is It Mechanism or Soul? Robots on the Stage 35
4. The Wonderful Walking Mechanical Men 46
5. “Quiet, Please—I’m Talking”: The Westinghouse Family of Robots 64
6. Iron Monster Turns Traitor: Amateur Robots 74
7. Buck, Flash, Tillie and Mickey: Robots in Comic Strips 89
8. A Tribe of Living Mechanical Men! Robots in Comic Books 110
9. Utterly Alien and Nonhuman: The Robot in Golden Age Science Fiction 128
10. The Automaton! Robots in Movies 148
Part Two: The Robot ­Post-Computer 157
11. Robots as Camp 159
12. Robots and Kids 172
13. Robots as Androids 192
14. Robots as Sexbots 208
15. Robots as Enemies 220
16. Robots, Robots Everywhere 229
Chapter Notes 245
Bibliography 261
Index 285

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #546: Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy Compiled by Desirina Boskovic



Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy compiled by Desirina Boskovicas is a browser’s delight! And, of course, Lost Transmissions has a wonderful Paul Lehr cover, too! I enjoyed the essays of Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Nisi Shawl, Molly Tanzer, Charlie Jane Anders, Lev Grossman, Jeff VanderMeer, and other knowledgeable writers.

Favorites include “The Weird World ofMervyn Peake’s Gormenghast,” “Harland Ellison’s Legendary Lost Anthology,” The Outerworldly Visions of Philip K. Dick,” “On Viriconium: Sone Notes Toward an Introduction” by Neil Gaiman, and the eye-popping artwork in the ART AND DESIGN section. All in all, Lost Transmissions is the best table-top Science Fiction book of 2019! Don’t miss it! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Forward by Jeff Vadndermere viii
Introduction xi
LITERATURE 1
Kepler’s Proton-Science Fiction Manuscripts Somnium and its Legal Consequences 2
How Jules Verne’s Worst Rejection Letter Shaped Science Fiction…for 150 Years 6
Jane Webb Loudon’s The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Christie Yant 9
Early Feminist Utopias, from Gilman’s Herland to Rokeya’s Sultana’s Dream 13
The “Timeless Green Kingdoms” of George MacDonald 18
The Inklings: A Friendship that Changed Fantastic Literature Forever 26
Henry Dumas’s Foundational Afrofuturism by John Jennings 29
The Author of the Narnia Books Worked on a Mega-Creepy Time Travel Story…Probably 31
The Weird World of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast 36
The New Wave and New-Metal Men: The Almost-Forgotten Brilliance of David R. Bunch 39
The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe 43
Harlan Ellison’s Legendary Lost Anthology 45
The Otherworldly Visions of Philip K. Dick 48
The Empress of the Sensual: Kathy Acker by Nick Mamatas 53
On Viriconium: Some Notes Toward an Introduction by Neil Gaiman 56
The Salvage Yard: Real-Life Experiences Revisited in Science Fiction by Darran Anderson 61
The Dark Fairy Tales of Angela Carter 64
Funny Fantasy’s Myth Conceptions by David Barr Kirtley 68
It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s Apocalypse by Grady Hendrix 70
Forward to John Shirley’s City Come a Walkin’ by William Gibson 73
An Interview with John Shirley 76
An Interview with Thomas Olde Heuvelt 81
An Interview with Karen Joy Fowler 85
FILM AND TELEVISION 91
Le Voyage duns la Lume, The First Science-Fiction Film Ever Made 92
Metropolis: The Long Shadow of the Never Seen 95
THX 1138: A Decidedly Un-Lucas-Like Production 99
The Enduring Creations of Ralph McQuarrie 101
The Death Star’s Architect: Concept Artist John Berkey 103
Star Wars vs. Battlestar Galactica: The Legal Battle Over Space Opera’s Look 105
“The Spice Must Flow”: Iterations of Dune 108
“The Tourist”: The Alien Sex Film Noir We Deserve 115
The Unicorn-Like Creations of Moebius, Concept Artist by Meg Alison 118
How WarGames Changed American Military Policy 120
The Alien III(s) That Might Have Been 122
Behold, the Science-Fiction Comic Horror of Phase IV! by Paul Tremblay 129
A Boy and His Goblin: E.T.’s Creepy Origin Story 132
The Overlooked Genius of Space Island One by Charlie Jane Anders 136
The (Very) Secret Adventures of Jules Verne by Emily Asher Perrin 138
James Cameron’s Explorations of the Watery Depths On-Screen and in Real Life 141
ARCHITECTURE 145
Hugh Ferriss: Draftsman, Theorist, Gotham Visionary 146
Dreams in the Desert: The Utopian Vision of Paolo Soleri 148
Reality Ahead of Schedule: The Deisgns of Did Mead by Matthew Kresel 151
ART AND DESIGN 155
Weird Tales Regular, Pulp Illustrator Virgil Finlay 156
The Surrealist Stylings of Richard M. Powers by Stephen Sonneveld 159
The Dreamy Atmospheres of Painter Paul Lear 160
Space and Science-Fiction Artist David A. Hardy 163
Psychedelic Master Bob Pepper 164
A New Realism: Contemporary Cover Artist Michael Whelan 165
On Fantasy Maps by Lev Grossman 166
MUSIC 171
Science-Fiction Storytelling in the 1960s and ’70s, Set to Music 172
Astro Black by Nisi Shawl 175
The Who’s Liflong Search for the “One Note” 178
Sweet Bye and Bye and Speculative Fiction in Musical Theatre 181
X-Ray Spex, Poly Styrene, and Punk Rock Science Fiction Annalee Newitz 183
Speculative Music of the New Millennium 190
The Timeless Brilliance of of Deltron 3030 Mark Oshiro 194
The Science-Fiction Soundscapes of Porcupine Tree 196
Metropolis Meets Afrofutrism: The Genius of Janelle Monae 198
FASHION 203
Plenty of Pockets: Fashion in Feminist Utopian SFF By Penny. A. Weiss & Brennin Weiswrda 204
The Fashion Futurism of Elizabeth Hates and Rudi Gernreich By Ekaterin Sedia
David Bowie’s Queer Glam Futuristic Fashion By Meg Alison 212
Textile Arts Are Worldbuilding, too By Jeannette Ng 215
Savage Beauty: Alexander McQueen By Genevieve Valentine 218
FREEDOM AND POP CULTURE 221
The Surreal Potential of the World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript 222
Celebrity Robots of the Great Depression By Selena Chambers 227
The Historical and Literary Origins of Assassin’s Creed 223
Jack Kirby, the King of Comics 232
Valerian, the Popular French Comic Series that Inspired a Generation 236
Beyond D&D: Lesser-Known Fantasy Role-Playing Games By Frank Romero 239
Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play: A Grim World of Perilous Adventure By Molly Tanzer 241
Kentaro Miura, Grandmaster of Grimdark By Jesse Bullington 243
The Ambitions of BioForge 245
The Massive Artificial Landscape of Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! 247
Raelism: The Space-Age Message of the Elohim By Robert Levy 250
CyberCity: Hackers, Virtual Reality, and the Games of War 252
On the Internet, No One Knows You Aren’t a (Gay) Wizard: An Ode to Fan Fiction By K. M. Szpara 255
The Time of the Mellon Chronicles By Silas K. Barrett 258
An Interview with Hugh Howey 261
Contributor Biographies 266
Sources and Credits 278
Index 272
Acknowledgements 276

THE LIBRARY BOOK By Susan Orlean


The same kind of bewilderment swept over me while reading THE LIBRARY BOOK that I experienced when I watched the play Come From Away and the documentary MAIDEN: how did I not know about this!

Back in April 28, 1986, a fire in the Los Angeles Public Library destroyed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 books. Was the fire an accident…or was it arson? That’s the mystery Susan Orleans investigates in her brilliantly researched THE LIBRARY BOOK. Orleans starts by explaining why most people don’t know about (or remember) the Los Angeles Public Library fire (because an even bigger catastrophe occurred at the same time). Along the way, Orleans presents the history of the Los Angeles Public Library and the quirky people who ran it. My favorite is Mary Foy, the 18-year-old, who was named head of the Library in 1880 at a time when men dominated the library field.

THE LIBRARY BOOK blends history, true crime, a love of reading and books into a compelling chronicle. Highly recommended! How do you use your local public Library? GRADE: A

THE GIRL WHO LIVED TWICE: A LISBETH SALANDER NOVEL By David Lagercrantz


I’ve read all the Lisbeth Salander novels. Steig Larsson, for all his flaws, created an astonishing charter in the genius hacker. David Lagercrantz has continued the series after Larsson’s death, but there’s a fall-off in quality.

The Girl Who Lived Twice is my least favorite novel in the Millennium Series. Lisbeth Salander goes Rambo at the conclusion, but that isn’t enough to save a dull book. The mystery of the strange, deranged homeless man that holds many secrets didn’t engage me. Salander’s evil sister, Kira, and her gang of thugs cause a lot of havoc, but to little purpose. The sub-plot of a botched climb of Mount Everest didn’t generate much suspense. Unless you’re a big Lisbeth Salander fan, skip The Girl Who Lived Twice. GRADE: C
THE MILLENNIUM SERIES:
Steig Larsson:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2007)
David Lagercrantz:
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015)
The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye (2017)
The Girl Who Lived Twice (2019)

BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON


Jillian Bell plays Brittany, a 29-year-old woman whose life has gone off the rails. Brittany drinks too much, smokes too much, and engages in meaningless sex too often. If you’ve seen movies like “I Feel Pretty” and “Trainwreck” you know the plot: a funny but flawed girl self-sabotages her Life with shallow friendships, illegal substances, and over-eating.

Brittany decides what she needs to do to get control of her Life is to run in the New York City Marathon. And, as Brittany trains for the race, she actually loses 40 pounds! Watching Jillian Bell physically transform from a chubby, irritable, and moody Millennial to a more fit, healthy, and affable modern woman is one of the charms of Brittany Runs a Marathon. What weakens the movie is predictability. I hope Brittany Runs a Marathon launches Jillian Bell into more demanding starring roles. This movie is being marketed as a comedy but there’s way more drama than laughs. GRADE: B-

SEMICOLON: THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF A MISUNDERSTOOD MARK By Cecelia Watson


Cecelia Watson had me at her Dedication: For my parents, who made sure I always had enough to read. Watson gives us the history of the semicolon, first “invented” in Venice in 1494. So it has been around for awhile. I enjoyed Watson’s analysis of Raymond Chandler’s use of the semicolon. I had no idea there were 4000 semicolons in Moby Dick. But, of course, the King of the Semicolon is Henry James. Watson provides several brilliant examples of the proper use of semicolons in Henry James’s incredible sentences. This slim little book delivers a lot of practical and entertaining grammar advice. Are you a fan of the semicolon? Do you use them? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: Love, Hate, and Semicolons 1
I Deep History: The Birth of the Semicolon 13
II The Science of Semicolons: American Grammar Wars 23
III Sexy Semicolons 45
IV Loose Women and Liquor Laws: The Semicolon Wreaks Havoc in Boston 57
V The Minutiae of Mercy 73
VI Carving Semicolons in Stone 91
VII Semicolon Savants 97
VIII Persuasion and Pretension: Are Semicolons for Snobs? 159
Conclusion: Against the Rules? 173
Acknowledgments 185
Notes 189
Credits 207
Index 209