Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Timeline (Crichton)

Timeline, Michael Crichton, 1999

Fast-paced, thoroughly enjoyable. Better than Pastwatch. The ending with Daniger was a little wanting. Sure, he deserved whatever he got, but how it was delivered wasn't quite right.
A group of historians goes back in time to find "the Professor", who is lost back there, using technology of an evil, greedy, corporate scientist, who uses the past to shape the future. The past also supplies detailed floor plans for excavation work in France. Twists and turns galore wrapped up in 32 hours. It would be a shame to make a movie out of it. A mini-series (a real one: 6 or 8 hours) would be better.

Of course, a movie was made from the book. I haven't seen it as of this writing, so I don't know how well it translates. Then again, at this point, I might not remember enough to notice how different the adaptation was.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Empire of Time (Kilian)

The Empire of Time, Crawford Kilian, 1978, 182 pages

Short but boring. I fell asleep too many nights without finishing two pages. Dense and too long. Might've made a good 90-page Analog story.
Interesting premise: Other timelines are discovered, all parallel to ours, all in the past, except for two future ones where the world has been destroyed.
I bought this book for a quarter and picked it, probably, because of the word "Time" in the title and the subway train (No. 1 line) on the cover (with rats). Subways allow more people to travel through the I-Screen quicker --- saves energy.
It started off well, though with lots of exposition, but the middle gets bogged down as the plot unravels.
You never get to like the characters at all.

Another book that I'd forgotten that I'd read. I don't remember any of it. Not even the cover that I seemed to have liked.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus (Card)

Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus, Orson Scott Card, 1995

Apparently a result of anti-Columbus propaganda from 1992 (the 500th anniversary), but it was an interesting premise nonetheless. A science group can observe the past and find that under certain circumstances, they can affect the past in small ways. They start a group dedicated to pinpointing when Columbus made his decision to sail west so that they can change history and prevent suffering. What they discover is that someone has already changed history so that Columbus went west instead of going to Constantinople on a Crusade.
Interesting theories about the American Indians rising up from the ashes of the fall of the Aztecs to eventually take over Europe (having been innoculated by a small group of Portuguese that land in Brazil).
Interesting historical "footage" of Columbus.
And a nice association of Noah, the Great Flood and Atlantis (and the last Ice Age).
Enjoyable book.
Long, but good.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lord Demon (Zelazny/Lindskold)

Lord Demon, Roger Zelazny, Jane Lindskold 1999

Billed as the last work of the great master, it was also the first Zelazny book I read. I wanted to read at least one Lunacon book raffle book from last year before this year's Lunacon, and this was an excellent choice.
Fun to read, interesting characters, and only one really stupid part. Well-paced, and you can never be sure where it'll go next -- literally, as they cross several odd planes. (The Hangers plane got dumb and the Socks plane was nearly too much. It was silly at a time when it should have been serious.)
The one thing that got me was a character that was mentioned a couple of times and when he finally showed, he was nothing like my mental picture because no description had been given beforehand. Not a big deal.
Enjoyed the planes-hopping with the demons, gods and fu dogs.

The other thing that I remember about the book is that I had previously read Roald Dahl's "The BFG" (Big Friendly Giant), and I could've written an interesting essay comparing and contrasting the two. There were enough similarities to make reading Lord Demon that much more interesting.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Harold R. Foster's Prince Valiant

Harold R. Foster's Prince Valiant, Martin Delrio, 1998
screenplay by michael Frost Becker, Anthony Hickox, Corsten Lorenz

I was warned that the movie (which I hadn't known existed) was bad. This book only confirms it. Not a very good story on its own, and not very well-written for an adaptation, the story goes on to decimate the storyline from the comic. Major characters die. The Singing Sword is lost. And Valiant doesn't even meet Areta.
The story is that Excalibur is stolen (and Sir Tristan is killed along the way). The sword is brought to Thule, where almost comedically it is dropped into the stone floor, where it becomes stuck. And the rest of the movie concerns getting the sword back and getting it out of the ground.
Quick read.
Didn't like it.

Just plain awful. Avoid.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

News from the Edge: the Monster of Minnesota (Sumner)

News from the Edge: the Monster of Minnesota, Mark Sumner, 1997.

The cover is laid out like a tabloid newspaper -- first clue that this book wasn't going to take itself seriously. (Actually, after the characters were established, it did turn serious.) The cover compares it to The Cat Who... and X-Files, but it was more X-Files because they had an episode with a lake monster years ago.
"Savvy" was mostly Scully, looking for the truth, but she's willing to believe that something is there.
The ending is set up to go either way (which is disappointing) except for one minor detail mentioned earlier in the book that comes back.
Fun to read. Quick. Light.

If anyone has read this and wants to classify it, let me know. I'm just calling it "not-too-serious" because I don't know anything better to call it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Hidden Agendas (Pieczenik)

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Hidden Agendas created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik, 1999.
(technically, I never actually saw the name of the author in the book)

An elite government computer force with cool equipment set 10 years from now. Second in the Net Force series, but the characters were well-enough introduced if you weren't familiar with them. (I wasn't. I didn't read the first book.)
Lots of "hidden agendas", lot of double-crossing, but borrows two much from Die Hard.
Not overwritten like many of Clancy's books and I guess that "apostrophe s" is the reason.
The romances were interesting: two couples get together, one broke up, and one never got together (and if they did, it would've been way too cliche).
Only one subplot seemed to go nowhere. The boss's kid was having his heart broken by a girl -- big flippin' deal as far as the rest of the story is concerned. He only briefly interacted with his father in two key scenes, neither of them key.
Overall, a good read. I'll pick up the first book sometime if I see it at the library.
(Glad I broke the adaptation cycle.)

Just thinking: 10 years into the future would be this year.
I still haven't read book 1, but I did read the next few as I found them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Black)

Raiders of the Lost Ark, by Campbell Black, based on a screenplay by Lawrence Kasden, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman, 1981

This is what a movie adaptation should be. Lots of background and descriptions, not a scene for scene, shot for shot regurgitation. There are a few differences from the film, probably last-minute production changes made after the script was sent off for novelization.
In fact, it has some changes in it that I remember being "wrong" when reading the comic book many years ago.
Quick read. Excellent.

This book is the Gold Standard for movie adaptations, along with Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Babylon 5: Book #8 - Personal Agendas

Babylon 5: Book #8 - Personal Agendas

A total and complete abomination! The jacket says that Al Sarrantonio has won several awards -- he won't win any here!
A 200-page book with 61 chapters??? First indication that something was wrong.
Such a blatant and direct translation that he might as well included the camera angles and lighting instructions.
Two saving graces: 1) 50 cents went to the Brooklyn Public Library for this purchase.
2)No one else will ever take this book out again.

Five or six years later, I'm still bitter.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dark and Stormy Rides Again (Rice)

Dark and Stormy Rides Again, compiled by Scott Rice, 1996

The best (?) from the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest to write the worst opening line to a fictional novel.
Numerous bad puns, wildly inappropriate imagery, and clever wordplay.
Amusing read, though reading too much at one sitting lessens some of the humor.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Roar (Kiernan)

Roar, Sean Kiernan, 1998
based on the TV series created by Sean Cassidy and Ron Koslow

Very enjoyable. A keeper. Based on the series pilot (which I didn't see -- I only saw 1 or 2 later episodes). The story starts with Longinus and the Crucifiction, jumps 400 years and shifts to Ireland and spans another 25 years. The story has solid characters multiple interwoven storylines that don't all end with someone dying. A little open-ended, but it was a series pilot, so that is to be expected.
Well-written, especially for an adaptation.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Independence Day: Silent Zone (Molstead)

Independence Day: Silent Zone, Stephen Molstead, 1997

Starts with a day-after "Prologues", jumps into a 1970s timeframe and ends without really refering back to the prologue and without an epilogue to close what's left hanging.
Explores the Area 51 story, centering on Brackish Okun and introducing Dr. Isaccs along the way. Nimziki, a major player in the beginning, fades away fast, though he pops up occasionally.
Good read as long as you didn't hate the movie, but it contradicts some of what the author wrote (and what the characters would seem to know) in ID4. (Stupid acronym, by the way.)

Not much to add, except the two Independence Day books were worth the spare change that I spent on each of them. I wouldn't have paid full price though.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The X-Files: Ruins (Anderson)

The X-Files: Ruins, Kevin J. Anderson

Better than Goblins (whatever it was called -- read it years ago), but that doesn't say much. Real like a complicated episode, which never would have had this kind of budget to be made.
As good as the average Trek novel. (Hmmmm, that doesn't say much either.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The X-Files: Fight the Future (Carter, Spotnitz, Hood)

The X-Files: Fight the Future, Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz (story), adapted by Elizabeth Hood

A Highlander-type adaptation, only much faster to read since I saw the movie. One day on the train, I read 150 pages (a lot more than I usually read).
Good story, could have been a much better read.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Independence Day (Devlin, Emmerich, Molstad)

Independence Day, 1996

Much better than the Higlander adaptation. And possibly improves upon the movie. It gives better background and doesn't belabor the onscreen action and dialogue.
Great read. Explains a few things that the movie leaves you guessing at. (If you hated the movie, or had problems with it, you'll hate the book, too.)
I enjoyed it and might pass it on. I have the sequel to read.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Highlander (Kilworth)

Highlander, adapted by Garry Kilworth, Harper Books, 1986

Never saw the movie. Didn't even remember it when Highlander 2 came out.
Clumsily written at first and annoyingly so at the end. It reads like a direct adaptation of the script with very little added. Worse, some of the visual gags seemed to be painfully drawn out. No quick takes in writing.
So to get into, but I knocked off the last 200 pages this past weekend.
I recycled it back to the bookstore. I don't think it has anything of interest to anyone who saw the movie.

This book ranks as a prime example of what a movie novelization should NOT be.
You don't know what a character is thinking on screen, so you have to read facial expressions and body language. You do know what they are thinking in books. So tell me what they are thinking. Do NOT describe their facial expressions and body language instead!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Bridges of Madison County (Waller)

The Bridges of Madison County, Robert James Waller, 1992

True story of an Italian immigrant housewife, who is nothing like Meryl Streep, who has an affair with a traveling photographer for National Geographic, who rides into Iowa from the Pacific Northwest in a pickup truck named Henry. He stops for directions and is sleeping with her within two days while her family is at a state fair with a prize cattle.
The children find out about it when they're grown after she dies.
"Literary" work turned into a movie that miscasts both roles.
Quick read. Not bad.

I guess I wanted to know what all the hubbub was about, so I read it. Kids find out that Mom had had an affair. So they write the "true" story (which no one really knows) and publicize it to the world. That's the way to remember mama.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Time Blender (Dorn, Hemmingway, Lindsay)

Time Blender, Michael Dorn, Hillary Hemmingway, Jeffrey P. Lindsay, 1997
(not a Star Trek novel)

Samurai warriors battle Egyptian gods on the island of no return!
First off, that didn't happen. Close, but it doesn't happen. (Both groups do appear in the latter half of the book -- the samurai only briefly.)
The story starts Tony Miller, archeologist, and his buddy on an island in the path of a tsunami. The other guy falls and gets a concussion and Tony rescues him, tosses him in his plane, and mistakes the invasion of some foreign entity into his friend's body as the ravings of a man whose sanity is in doubt.
Half the book passes before they encounter The Artifact, the destruction of which sets off the Time Blender (not Time Bender, as I originally thought when I picked up the book).
He travels with a Celtic warrior woman, battles an Egyptian god, and makes his way to San Francisco, which is still where it should be despite all the other land masses and time periods intermingling. He has a fateful decision to make, but instead we get:
Here ends Book One of Time Bender

Nowhere on the cover does it say, "1st book in an exciting new series!"

The copyright page doesn't list a "Coming Soon".
There is no indication anywhere that this book is multiple parts.

I wasn't happy.

Good setting. Okay follow through. Lousy ending.

I was going to pass this on -- now I'm going to chuck it out.

Despite the tag, this is not a Star Trek novel. However, it might be of interest to Star Trek fans that care that the publicist of two nobody authors got Michael Dorn to put his name on their book so that it would sell more copies. I only paid 39 cents (might've been 79 cents -- I don't remember) for it, so at least I didn't waste much.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Street Magic (Reeves)

Street Magic, Michael Reeves, 1991

A runaway boy lives on the street dreaming of his own Middle Earth, which is a conglomeration of every fantasy he's ever read. One day, he meets a fairie, and she insists that he (the boy) is the Keymaster that can bring them back.
Many ill-defined or under-defined characters, like the boy's father, who hires a P.I. to find him, several of the fairies that Danny meets, and some Nazi skinheads that appear to be just stuck in there for no reason.
Too many little in-jokes and scenes that go nowhere. The tone of the book changed in a couple of places.
Disappointing overall.

I think I remember what the cover looked like for this book. Not much else. I don't think I know anyone else who has read this -- or anything else by Michael Reeves.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm Only One Man (Philbin)

I'm Only One Man, Regis Philbin, 1995

A year in the life, with anecdotes of the past. Interesting way to do a biography -- especially since the slow speed O.J. chase happens in the first week -- but overall it dragged a little.
A straight bio might have been better but then there wouldn't have been as many "cameos" by the celebrities on his show that year.
Not bad. But not great.