I considered saving Hank Davis’ collection, The Baen Big Book of Monsters, for a future FFB but I just can’t resist sharing this wonderful book with you. The Baen Big Book of Monsters takes me back to the Sixties when publishers would assemble stories around some theme and serve it up to an enthusiastic reading audience. This book reminds me of Forrest J. Ackerman’s monster anthologies. In fact, Ackerman edited and wrote a great introduction to Monsters, an anthology of A. E. Van Vogt’s classic SF monsters. As you can see from the Table of Contents, this anthology is a mix of old and new. I enjoyed rereading some of these great stories as well as encountering some new writers. If you’re looking for a theme anthology with plenty of variety, you’ll like The Baen Big Book of Monsters. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: “Size Matters” by Hank Davis
“The Shining Ones” by Arthur C. Clarke (Playboy, August 1964)
“All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past” by Howard Waldrop (Shayol #4, Winter 1980)
“The Monster-God of Mamurth” by Edmond Hamilton (Weird Tales, August 1926)
“Talent” by Robert Bloch first (If: Worlds of Science Fiction, July 1961)
“The End of the Hunt” by David Drake (New Destinies VIII, Baen Books, 1989)
“Ooze” by Anthony N. Rud (Weird Tales, March 1923)
“The Valley of the Worm” by Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales. February 1934)
“Whoever Fights Monsters” by Wen Spencer – New
“Deviation from a Theme” by Steven Utley (Galaxy, May 1976)
“The Eggs from Lake Tanganyika” by Curt Siodmak (Amazing Stories, July 1926)
“The Dunwich Horror” by H.P. Lovecraft (Weird Tales, April 1929)
“From Out the Fire” by Sarah A. Hoyt — New
“Beauty and the Beast” by Henry Kuttner (Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1940)
“The Island of the Ud” by William Hope Hodgson (The Red Magazine, May 15, 1912)
“A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond — New
“Planet of Dread” by Murray Leinster (Fantastic, May 1962)
“An Epistle to the Thessalonians” by Philip Wylie (Finnley Wren, 1934)
“The Monster of Lake Lametrie” by Wardon Allan Curtis (Pearson’s Magazine, September 1899)
“The Giant Cat of Sumatra” by Hank Davis — New
“Greenface” by James H. Schmitz (Unknown Worlds, August 1943)
“Tokyo Raider” by Larry Correia – New
In the 4th volume of the IRON DRUID series, Tricked, the Druid fakes his own death to mislead his enemies. But, the Druid chooses Coyote (the Indian trickster) to help him pull off the deception. In return for his help in the deception, Coyote requires the Druid to convince an elemental to create a gold mine. But, the elemental won’t create a gold mine until a coal mine is shut down. But when the Druid tries to shut down the coal mine, two skinwalkers (powerful Indian supernatural spirits) attack. As you can see from this brief summary, Kevin Hearne builds his plots by having one action lead to unexpected consequences that lead to more unexpected consequences.
In volume 5, Trapped, the Druid’s fake death is revealed. Loki, from the Norse pantheon, arrives intent on burning the Earth to ashes. The Druid goes on the run, but Diana and Atticus (two other powerful figures from Asgard) hunt him down. There are some great battle scenes as the Druid uses his powers in clever ways. If the Druid can reach England, he can enlist Herne the Hunter and Flidais (the Irish goddess of the hunt) to help him. But a bunch of sea serpents lurk in the English Channel under the control of Neptune. Plenty of surprises here! If you’re in the mood for some fantasy fluff, the IRON DRUID series will spirit you away for a few hours. GRADE: B (for both).
Dial M for Murder—1954 fine Hitchcock murder mystery with Ray Milland
Special Features: Hitchcock and Dial M and 3D: A Brief History/Original 1954 Theatrical trailer
The Country Girl—1954 (7 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture)
The Bridges at Toko-Ri—1954 with William Holden
To Catch a Thief—1955 Alfred Hitchcock classic with a great Cary Grant performance
Special Features: Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich & Laurent Bouzereau;
Writing and Casting To Catch a Thief; The Making of To Catch a Thief;
Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch a Thief: An Appreciation;
Edith Head: The Paramount Years; Theatrical Trailer
High Society—1956 musical with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby
Special Features: Cole Porter in Hollywood: True Love;
Millionaire Droopy [1956 MGM Cartoon];
Gala Premiere for High Society [Newsreel];
Radio Ads [Audio Only]; Theatrical Trailer
Also Includes Grace Kelly’s last television interview (by Pierre Salinger)
If you’re a fan of Grace Kelly, you’ll love this wonderful collection! GRADE: A
For readers who thought Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies were too long, here’s a new short story collection that captures Mantel’s wit and writing style. Much of Hilary Mantel’s fiction have historical aspects to them, but these short stories are more contemporary. Mantel has fun in these stories, too. There’s a ghost story, stories about marriage, gender, sex, and culture. My favorite stories are “The Long QT” where a husband who is found groping a neighbor at a party has to deal with the unexpected consequences and “Offenses Against the Person” where a daughter discovers her father is having an affair with a secretary. If you’re a Hilary Mantel fan, you’ll be reading this book soon. If you’ve been wondering if you’d like Hilary Mantel’s work, here’s the perfect place to try a sample. GRADE: B
Table of Contents:
•Sorry to Disturb
•The Long QT
•Offenses Against the Person
•How Shall I Know You?
•The Heart Fails Without Warning
•The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
After the debacle in Houston last week, the Bills benched rookie QB E.J. Manuel and installed ancient backup Kyle Orton as their “new” quarterback. Disaster awaits the Bills in Detroit. The Lions are a much better team. The Lions lead the NFL in defense. Kyle Orton hasn’t played a down in over a year. And, most disturbing, Orton lost his job in Denver to Tim Tebow. It feels like the wheels are coming off of the Bills’ season. I’m sure the new owner of the Bills can’t be happy with this situation. How will your favorite NFL team do today?
Think what you like about Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl novel, but David Fincher’s movie version successfully distills the essence of Flynn’s convoluted story. I’m willing to give Rosamund Pike a Best Actress nomination for her role as Amy Dunne. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, the Gone Girl’s clueless husband, with a convincing mix of doofusness and cunning. I also liked Kim Dicken’s as Detective Rhonda Boney who investigates the disappearance and Carrie Coon as Margot Dunne (Nick’s twin sister). I liked David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and his sensibility elevates his Gone Girl. This is a movie that will stay with you after you leave it. GRADE: B+
The Millennium Express is Volume Nine of Subterranean Press’s series of Robert Silverberg’s complete short stories. I’ve been reading these volumes and I’ve come away with growing respect for Silverberg’s talent and longevity. I was reading Silverberg’s work as a kid back in the 1950s. Silverberg’s work evolved over time. My favorite Silverberg stories are from the 1970s. But looking at Silverberg’s output for over 50 years, I’m impressed by his quality control and versatility. If you’re a fan of Science Fiction, the Subterranean Press Silverberg series contains several must-read volumes.
Table of Contents:
Diana of the Hundred Breasts
Beauty in the Night
Call Me Titan
The Tree That Grew From the Sky
The Church at Monte Saturno
Hanosz Prime Goes to Old Earth
The Millennium Express
The Colonel Returns to the Stars
The Eater of Dreams
A Piece of the Great World
Against the Current
The True Vintage of Erzuine Thale
Defenders of the Frontier
Smithers and the Ghost of the Thar
David Tennant plays a Big City police detective who investigates a murder in a small town. Nothing new here, you think. Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series followed the same template. But, no, Gracepoint is an American adaption of a British series called Broadchurch. David Tennant reprises his role from Broadchurch in Gracepoint. And, the producers say the American version will have a “different ending.” I’ve liked David Tennant since his stint as the 10th Doctor Who. I’ll be watching Gracepoint tonight.
The second season of The Bridge was less compelling than the first season. The Big Difference is that the second season had many more subplots than the first season. And that slowed the action down and focused attention on other actors. Diane Kruger, the German actress who plays Detective Sonya Cross of the El Paso Police Department, is brilliant. She plays a detective who’s autistic. Sonya Cross was partnered with another brilliant actor, Demian Bichir, as Juarez police detective Marco Ruiz. The rest of the cast is talented as well especially the druggie reporter, Daniel Frye, played convincingly by Matthew Lillard. This season’s focus has been on Mexican drug lord, Fausto Galvan (played menacingly well by Ramón Franco). If The Bridge is renewed for a third season, I hope the scripts become tighter and more focused.
Trishankupune recommended The Far Pavilions to me. I enjoy historical fiction and I haven’t read many books about India so The Far Pavilions sounded intriguing. Plus, I had a paperback copy of The Far Pavilions on my shelf for years. M. M. Kaye sets her novel in British Raj in India. She shows the sweep of cultures, religions, beliefs–and the conflicts that result. Kaye lived in India and knows what she’s writing about.
The British military is under stress. Change is in the air. Kaye also presents situations where chaste and religious beliefs separate people who the reader will want to get together. She tells her story through a character who was raised in the Indian culture for his first 11 years. Then, he’s sent back to England for schooling, and returns to serve on the frontier. When he accompanies a wedding party, he discovers his first love. Then things really get complicated!
After I read the novel, I watched The Far Pavilions DVD series (also on my shelf for years). The five-hour series was first broadcast in the States on HBO with Ben Cross, Amy Irving, Christopher Lee, Omar Sharif, and John Gielgud. The mini-series tries to capture the scope of the massive novel, but many of the novel’s subplots never make it on film. The film is a blend adventure, action, and romance. As it tells its story, the film offers a window into aspects of colonial India that I knew nothing about. If you’re a history buff, or want to learn more about India, I highly recommend The Far Pavilions, both the novel and the mini-series. Thanks for the recommendation, Trishankupune! GRADE: A