RADICALIZED By Cory Doctorow

Radicalized is a new collection of four Cory Doctorow stories. Doctorow has been compared to Frederik Pohl because of the social commentary in many of his works. The first story, “Unauthorized Bread,” projects a near future when appliances are all “smart” which in this case mean that users are charged each time they make a slice of toast, or open their fridge, or run their dishwasher. In a “mixed” facility–rich people live on the first 30 floors, poor people live on the upper floors–a refugee named Salima learns how to “jailbreak” her appliances so she doesn’t have to pay the onerous costs. But, that freedom leads to more problems. GRADE: A-

“Model Minority” features a superhero named America Eagle who bears a strong resemblance to Superman. America Eagle finds that police beat up innocent people, hide evidence, and prevaricate. His good intentions make matters worse. GRADE: C+

“Radicalized” explores situations where politicians and medical insurance companies deny services to sick citizens…and the citizens die. An online group of radicalized people decide to assassinate the politicians and attack the companies who essentially killed their loved ones for profit by withholding live-saving therapies. GRADE: B

“The Masque of the Red Death” telegraphs its message. Based on the famous Edgar Allen Poe story, Doctorow poses a near future where a wealthy investor named Martin projects a complete collapse of the United States. Martin builds a hidden desert retreat he calls The Fort and stocks it with guns, ammo, food, and antibiotics. He invites thirty friends to join him when the catastrophe hits. And just as Martin predicted, the riots begin and the Government falls. Martin and his friends think they’re safe inside The Fort, but even smart people make mistakes…and each mistake means death. GRADE: B


Back in 1952, this massive (585 pages!) anthology set the bar for SF anthologies. John W. Campbell, Jr.’s “Introduction” explains why he didn’t include stories from the 1930s–he wanted to focus on the development of Science Fiction from 1941 to 1951. Campbell also stresses the importance of robots…in 1951! Clearly, the man was a visionary. In defending his choices for The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology, Campbell explains that he picked stories about “ideas” and not necessary “the best” stories written by these authors. The stories are presented in chronological order. This is another aspect of Campbell’s strategy to demonstrate the development of the SF genre over a decade.

I’m also pleased that like Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg’s THE GREAT SF STORIES anthology series, Campbell includes multiple stories by the great writers of this time period. All the great writers are here: Heinlein, Williamson, van Vogt, de Camp, Asimov, Kuttner & Moore, Leinster, Russell, Sturgeon, Simak, and del Rey. Later SF anthologies would include better stories and explore bolder themes, but The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology set the standard in the early 1950s. Have you read these great stories? GRADE: A
“Introduction”, John W. Campbell Jr (1951) ix
“Blowups Happen”, Robert A. Heinlein, (1940) 1
“Hindsight”, Jack Williamson (1940) 43
“Vault of the Beast”, A. E. van Vogt (1940) 60
“The Exalted”, L. Sprague de Camp (1940) 84
“Nightfall”, Isaac Asimov (1941) 105
“When the Bough Breaks,” Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore (1944) 137
“Clash by Night”, Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore, (1943) 160
“Invariant”, John R. Pierce (1944) 213
“First Contact”, Murray Leinster (1945) 218
“Meihem in ce Klasrum” (essay), W. K. Lessing (1946) 247
“Hobbyist”, Eric Frank Russell (1947) 250
“E for Effort”, T. L. Sherred (1947) 280
“Child’s Play”, William Tenn (1947) 326
“Thunder and Roses”, Theodore Sturgeon (1947) 351
“Late Night Final”, Eric Frank Russell (1948) 371
“Cold War”, Kris Neville (1949) 404
“Eternity Lost”, Clifford D. Simak (1949) 415
“The Witches of Karres”, James H. Schmitz (1949) 440
“Over the Top,” Lester del Rey (1949) 480
“Meteor”, William T. Powers (1950) 492
“Last Enemy”, H. Beam Piper (1950) 506
“Historical Note”, Murray Leinster (1951) 561
“Protected Species” H. B. Fyfe (1951) 573
A Note About the Editor 585
“When The Bow Breaks” was published under the “Lewis Padgett” byline. “Clash By Night” was originally published under the “Lawrence O’Donnell” byline. “Meihem in ce Klasrum”, a satirical piece, originally appeared under the “Dolton Edwards” pseudonym.

IN THE END By The Cranberries

On January, 15 2018, lead singer of The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, was found dead of drowning in a London hotel room bathtub due to sedation by alcohol poisoning. O’Riordan struggled with substance abuse and depression for years. She was 46.

The Cranberries were an Irish rock band formed in Limerick, Ireland in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990. The Cranberries gained international fame in the 1990s with their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which became a commercial hit. The single, “Linger,” hit #3 in the Republic of Ireland, #8 in the United States, and #14 in the United Kingdom. The Cranberries had a decade of success and touring, but the 21st Century was not kind to them. Internal strife between Quinn and O’Riodan led to a lawsuit. When O’Riodan died, the surviving band members decided to record this album and disband forever. The music is melancholy and bittersweet…like cranberries. GRADE: A
“All Over Now” – 4:16
“Lost” – 4:00
“Wake Me When It’s Over” – 4:12
“A Place I Know” – 4:26
“Catch Me If You Can” – 4:38
“Got It” – 4:02
“Illusion” – 4:07
“Crazy Heart” – 3:25
“Summer Song” – 3:34
“The Pressure” – 3:22
“In the End” – 2:57


For all of 2019, I’ve been on a waiting list at my local Rite-Aid pharmacy for the new Shingles shot. Diane and I got the old shingles shot years ago. But the commercials for this new Shingles shot on TV have been horrific enough to motivate us to sign up. Plus, one of Diane’s friends just called to say she’s stricken with Shingles for the THIRD TIME!

A guy at the pool where I frolic every day told me he had Shingles a couple months ago. Shingles spread to his face and his doctor was concerned that he might lose sight in his right eye. The pool guy also reported Shingles hurts like hell. Neither Diane or I have had Shingles, but we’ve heard nothing but Bad News about every case our friends and relatives reported to us.

Finally, when I was picking up some prescriptions at Rite-Aid over the weekend, the clerk said, “Dr. Kelley, the Shingles vaccine arrived this week. Would you like your shot today?” I, of course, answered an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Diane managed to get her first Shingles shot a few weeks ago at a Walgreens. This new Shingles shot is a 2-step process. We’ll have to get the second shot in two to six months. Have you gotten this new Shingles shot? Are you planning to get one? Have you suffered with Shingles?


Diane and I like to support local theater companies so we bought tickets to this O’Connell and Company musical that featured an all female cast. The founding fathers, who declared that all men were created equal–but didn’t give the slightest thought to women’s suffrage–are all played by women. The result is ironic and fun. I appreciated the energy and singing of the women who played John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. The musical shows how difficult it was to reach unimity on the Declaration of Independence. Each of the 13 colonies protected their own agenda. It’s amazing this country ever got established!

Sherman Edwards provided the lyrics and music to 1776 and Peter Stone provided the book. 1776 premiered on Broadway in 1969 and ran for 1,217 performances. The production was nominated for five Tony Awards and won three, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1972, a movie version of 1776, starring William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Donald Madden, John Cullum, Ken Howard and Blythe Danner, hit the big screens around the country. 1776 was revived on Broadway in 1997. Have you seen 1776? Did you like it? GRADE: B+
Act I
“Sit Down, John” – Adams and Congress
“Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve” – Adams
“Till Then” – Adams and Abigail
“The Lees of Old Virginia” – Lee, Franklin and Adams
“But, Mr. Adams” – Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Sherman and Livingston
“Yours, Yours, Yours” – Adams and Abigail
“He Plays the Violin” – Martha, Franklin, and Adams
“Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” – Dickinson and The Conservatives
“Mama Look Sharp” – Courier, McNair and Leather Apron
Act II
“The Egg” – Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Congress
“Molasses to Rum” – Rutledge
“Compliments” – Abigail Adams
“Is Anybody There?” – Adams and Thomson


Tim Major’s new science fiction conspiracy novel, Snakeskins, is set in a Britain that has a lot more problems than Brexit. A freak meteorite storm hit Britain and caused some people to become Charmers (aka, Snakeskins) who have the power to regenerate themselves, heal quickly, and not age. In the process, a clone is created. Some clones only exist briefly and turn to dust, but as young Caitlin Next learns, some clones survive. Caitlin investigates what happens to the clones.

Caitlin isn’t the only one searching for answers. Journalist Gerry Chafik and government aide Russell Handler probe the secrets of the Great British Prosperity Party. There are enough loose ends to suggest a sequel. If you’re in the mood for a SF novel with plenty of twists and turns, Snakeskins delivers. GRADE: B+

Skechers After Burn M. Fit Slip-On Walking Shoe (Men’s)

I’ve been a New Balance sneaker guy for over a decade. So I blame those Tony Romo commercials praising Skechers footwear for this purchase. I wanted to escape the tyranny of shoe laces with a comfortable slip on. I knew Diane found her Skechers fashionable and comfy. So I tried on a pair of Skechers After Burn Slip On Walking Shoes and enjoyed the fit and comfort. Plus, Diane had a $20 off coupon at DSW (Diane ALWAYS has a coupon!) so the new Skechers only cost me $41.53. The shoe box raves about “memory foam” in Skechers’s products. What kind of footwear do you prefer?


Imagine you just spent billions of dollars to build a space ship that would go 97% the speed of light. Who would you choose to be your crew on this critical mission? The folks in High Life picked criminals and death-row inmates as their crew. What could go wrong?

In the first hour of High Life there are fights, a rape, murders, and suicide. Director Claire Denis stumbles in this science fiction movie. The space ship looks like a shoe box. The rooms look like they are borrowed from a minimum security prison. Everyone is climbing ladders (this is not a design for those with physical impairments). The “hero” is Monte (played by Robert Pattinson) who killed someone over a dog. Monte is shown raising a baby in a series of flashbacks. The crew is being monitored by Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche) and manipulated. And, of course, there’s the obligatory Black Hole.

I found the pace of High Life glacial. The plot seemed pointless to me. Claire Denis should have stayed in the realm of her great movie, Beau Travail (1999) instead of tackling a genre where she ends up lost in space. GRADE: C


Back in 2001, this Anniversary anthology was published to celebrate 25 years of the Mysterious Press. Sara Ann Freed and William Malloy, who worked for Mysterious Press for 16 of those 25 years, provide an enlightening Introduction. Otto Penzler, who started Mysterious Press in 1975, shares the stories of the ups and downs of publishing. Mysterious Press almost went out of business in the early 1980s, but Penzler managed to find resources to keep it afloat. When Penzler sold Mysterious Press to Warner Books in 1989, it was successful publishing the novels of writers like Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Len Deighton, James Crumbly, Donald E. Westlake, Ross Thomas, Ellis Peters, Aaron Elkins, Joe Gores, Marcia Muller, Eric Ambler, Patricia Highsmith, and Kingsley Amis. This is a fun anthology with wonderful stories like Westlake’s “Come Again,” Estleman’s “The Anniversary Waltz,” Beaton’s “Handle With Care,” and Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Mule Rustlers.” Are you a fan of the Mysterious Press? Do you have a favorite Mysterious Press author? GRADE: A
INTRODUCTION by Sara Ann Freed & William Malloy xi
Foreword by Otto Penzler xii
Come again? / Donald E. Westlake — 1
The anniversary waltz / Loren D. Estleman — 28
Inscrutable / Joe Gores — 45
The usual table / Peter Lovesey — 65
Them! / William Marshall — 79
The imposter / Marcia Muller —
Activity in the flood plain / Ed McBain — 122
Sometimes something goes wrong / Stuart M. Kaminsky — 151
Countess Kathleen / Jerome Charyn — 172
Instinct / Archer Mayor — 184
What’s in a name / Margaret Maron — 205
Coming around the mountain / James Crumley — 211
Handle with care / M.C. Beaton — 234
The mule rustlers / Joe R. Lansdale — 251
Body zone / Lindsey Davis — 276
Revision / Robert Greer — 301
Birdbath / Charlotte Carter — 312
High maintenance / Beth Saulnier –324