* R E A D I N G F O R P L E A S U R E *
* Issue #21 *
* February 1992 / March 1992 *
* Editor: Cindy Bartorillo *
CONTACT US AT: Reading For Pleasure, 103 Baughman's Lane, Suite 303,
Frederick, MD 21702; or on CompuServe leave a message to 74766,1206;
or on GEnie leave mail to C.BARTORILLO; or call our BBS, the BAUDLINE
II at 301-694-7108, 1200-9600 HST.
NOTICE: Reading For Pleasure is not copyrighted. You may copy
freely, but please give us credit if you extract portions to use
somewhere else. This electronic edition is free, but print editions
cost $2 each for printing and postage.
AUTHORS of the reviews, commentaries, etc., published in RFP will be
found beneath the "header" information (title, book author, publisher,
price, and so on) enclosed in less-thans and greater-thans, as in
~ HOW TO GET THE ELECTRONIC EDITION OF RFP
First, call your local computer bulletin boards to see if they have
the latest issue. If not, you can always get all issues by calling The
Baudline II at 301-694-7108. These issues are ZIPped (compressed) for
quick downloading and must be unZIPped with Phil Katz's PKUNZIP
program (IBM). If you need a plain .TXT version, just leave a
(C)omment telling us which issue(s) you need and when you'll be
calling back to get them. (Be sure to give us at least 24 hours to get
your Comment and prepare the files.) If you get the latest RFP, be
sure to upload it to all the computer bulletin boards that you call.
Also available on The Baudline II is an Index of RFP reviews
(RFPINDEX.ZIP) and the latest catalog from Sisters in Crime
~ HOW TO GET THE PRINT EDITION OF RFP
Send $2 to: Reading For Pleasure, 103 Baughman's Lane, Suite 303,
Frederick, MD 21702. Please specify which issue you'd like. If you
send a check, be sure it's drawn on an American bank and made out to
Cindy Bartorillo, otherwise send cash or a postal money order.
Table of Contents
Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
Mainstream Fiction Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
"Lost Stories" by Peter de Jager . . . . . . . . . . . . . 577
Mystery Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 885
Science Fiction & Fantasy Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1965
Horror Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3257
Nonfiction Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3946
Welcome to Reading For Pleasure #21. We pride ourselves on being a
reader's resource, bringing to the public's attention books they might
be interested in. We include as many details as possible--title,
author, publisher, price, ISBN, etc.--to give our readers the best
possible chance of finding the books they want. In most cases books
not available from the local bookstores can be ordered directly from
Reading For Pleasure is free, except for our print edition for which
we currently ask $2 each to cover paper, printing, and mailing.
Reading For Pleasure is not copyrighted, meaning that you are free to
reproduce it in whole or in part, for whatever purposes you like. All
we ask is that you give proper credit to RFP and the individual
contributor as being the source of the material. We make RFP freely
available to give us the maximum possible distribution, and it really
does work. RFP shows up on computer bulletin boards, at conventions
and shows, at schools, libraries, and bookstores, and probably many
other places I'm not even aware of. Publishers and authors like the
media exposure, and they are then more likely to send us bits of news
and copies of their books, the raw material from which RFP is made.
The books are read, and the commentaries written, by dedicated readers
who would be doing all that reading anyway. They graciously contribute
their words, for whatever personal reasons, and we're all very
grateful for their generosity. If you'd like to contribute a paragraph
or two about a book you've read, please do. You can send it along to
RFP at any of our addresses, which you'll find on the first
screen/page of any copy of RFP.
This brings me to the last point I wanted to mention this time: the
relative number of books covered each issue in each section. Why are
some sections so much bigger than others? The number of books in each
section is a direct result of what kind of books the publishers have
sent us recently, and what reviews we've had contributed. It has
nothing to do with any RFP policy of coverage--we don't have one.
We're here to pass along information and recommendations on any kind
of book that readers might like. It's just that we can't print what we
We hope you find lots of good reading for your book list from this
issue of RFP, and we'll see you again in April, 1992.
NOTE: For everyone who looked in vain for Peter de Jager's LOST
STORIES column in last issue, we're sorry. The omission was ours, not
Peter's, and the column that was to have appeared in December can be
found in this issue. Our apologies to Peter and his fans.
* Comic book artist Reed Waller (OMAHA THE CAT DANCER) was recently
diagnosed with colon cancer. A benefit fund has been set up to help
with his expenses. Send contributions to: Waller Crisis Fund, Box
7439, Powderhorn Stn., Minneapolis, MN 55407.
* As part of the 1991 "Year of the Lifetime Reader" program, a survey
was sponsored by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of
Congress's Center for the Book. The survey found, among other things,
that having a role model of parents who read is the most important
factor in developing the habit of reading--even more important than
being read to by parents.
* The SUNDAY EXPRESS Book of the Year Award, Britain's most valuable
fiction prize (20,000 pounds), is given to novels that are
"compulsively readable" as well as stylish and literate. The recent
winner was Michael Frayn for LANDING ON THE SUN (Viking), and the
runners-up were: WISE CHILDREN by Angela Carter (Farrar, Straus),
DIRTY TRICKS by Michael Dibdin (Simon & Schuster), THE INVISIBLE WORM
by Jennifer Johnston (not yet available in U.S.), FLYING HERO CLASS by
Thomas Keneally (Warner), and TWO LIVES by William Trevor (Viking).
* BOOKS OF MAGIC: In 1983, there was MAGIC (Viking), an autobiography
of the basketball superstar recently diagnosed as HIV positive, which
should be a Signet paperback ($4.99) by the time you read this. Also
just out are two "instant" biographies (books written in an instant),
MAGIC: MORE THAN A LEGEND by Bill Gutman (Harper, $3.99) and THE
COURAGE OF MAGIC JOHNSON by Peter F. Pascarelli (Bantam, $3.99). But,
wait, there's more! Random House has just signed a 3-book contract
with Earvin "Magic" Johnson for an autobiography, a guide to safe sex
to be written with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, and a third
book whose subject has not yet been determined.
* Daedalus Books has a catalog that you should see. Almost 50 pages of
great books, each with a long description, and all at terrific prices.
Write to them at: Daedalus Books, PO Box 9132, Hyattsville, MD
* SCARLETT by Alexandra Ripley has engendered new interest in the
original story, GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell. Normally,
around 15,000 hardcovers of GWTW are sold each year. Last year that
number increased to over 195,000. Avon's paperback had sold about
100,000 copies before SCARLETT was released; afterwards they've sold
* If Oliver Stone's movie JFK wasn't enough for you, just wait.
Production starts in April on LIBRA, from the book by Don DeLillo
about Lee Harvey Oswald; Propaganda Films will bring us RUBY; and I've
just heard that a movie deal is being finalized for Mark Lane's recent
book, PLAUSIBLE DENIAL: WAS THE CIA INVOLVED IN THE ASSASSINATION OF
* There's a new variety of cheap literature available called
DimeNovels. Actually, the name is misleading--each DimeNovel costs
$.99, but that still makes them awfully cheap. We haven't seen any,
but you might want to check them out, either for reading or maybe
you'd like to write for them. They recognize 12 different genres
(Sweet Romance, Sensual Romance, Historical Romance, Romantic
Suspense, Glitz, Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Western, Adventure,
Fantasy, and Science Fiction.) For more information, write to: Dime
Store Novels, 1511 SW Park Ave., Mail Stop 100C17, Portland, OR
^ FRIENDS AT THRUSH GREEN
by Miss Read
(Houghton Mifflin, December 1991, $19.95, ISBN 0-395-57381-5)
"Miss Read" has written over 30 novels--since VILLAGE SCHOOL in
1955--about the charming English country villages of Thrush Green and
Fairacre. Her devoted readers have made many of these novels
international bestsellers, and it's easy to see why. Miss Read's
characters are all real people, but they're all from the nicer side of
town. Oh, maybe someone drinks a bit more than they should, but there
are no bank robbers, rapists, child abusers, dope addicts, pimps, etc.
And therein lies the charm: none of us really lives in a place like
Thrush Green, but most of us would like to. At least we can visit
there for a bit, a 244-page visit.
In FRIENDS AT THRUSH GREEN there are many new developments for the
townsfolk to talk about over tea. For one thing, Dorothy Walton and
Agnes Fogerty, two of Thrush Green's former schoolteachers, return for
a visit. Then the new schoolmaster, Alan Lester, seems a nice enough
man, but what's going on with his wife and her "migraines"? Are they
really migraines, or something else? And then there is the distressing
problem of Bertha Lovelock, who is becoming a bit senile and has taken
to stealing things, becoming an embarrassment to her sister Violet and
a diplomatic crisis for Thrush Green tradespeople. The inhabitants of
Thrush Green face these issues, and more, against the background of
the changing seasons in the English Cotswolds. FRIENDS AT THRUSH GREEN
is pure delight.
^ MERLE'S & MARILYN'S MINK RANCH: And Other Fiction
by Randeane Tetu
(Papier-Mache Press, November 1991)
Hardcover: $14.00 ISBN 0-918949-13-0
Paperback: $9.00 ISBN 0-918949-17-3
"All of Tetu's characters are 'real people' who travel dirt roads and
compete with the rain to get things done. Her highly descriptive style
lends dignity to their impoverished lives and transforms their
unremarkable experiences into memorable ones."
Randeane Tetu's gift is the ability to distinguish the truly important
aspects of our lives from the merely large, or loud. Her craft is a
prose style of such transparent simplicity that there seems to be no
barrier at all between the story and the reader. When her gift and her
craft come together, as in these twenty short fictions, the result is
a touching, life-affirming experience. These are stories about
everyday people, the kind who live next door and who pass you on the
street. They make choices, make mistakes, find hidden strengths,
achieve victories, and reach epiphanies, all without appearing on a
television talk show. MERLE'S & MARILYN'S MINK RANCH is quiet
elegance, humanity captured in words.
If your local bookstore doesn't have MERLE'S & MARILYN'S MINK RANCH,
you can contact the publisher at: Papier-Mache Press, 795 Via Manzana,
Watsonville, CA 95076; 408/726-2933.
^ ENDGAME IN BERLIN
by William Harrington
(Donald I. Fine, December 1991, $19.95, ISBN 1-55611-313-7)
The Cold War may be over, but international intrigues live on in the
world of industrial espionage. Colonel Nikolai Kedrov, disillusioned
but still loyal KGB operative, is assigned to steal the plans for a
new computer chip from a multinational research company based in
Berlin. Russ Tobin, former Berlin Station Chief and now a senior CIA
intelligence analyst, is assigned the job of security for the computer
chip plans. What happens when these two old Cold Warriors face off is
the core of this fast-paced, exciting international thriller.
ENDGAME IN BERLIN is that new breed of suspense story, the
"post-glasnost international thriller". As William Harrington shows,
times have changed but international tensions continue. People are
still people. His depiction of the new Berlin is as interesting as the
industrial espionage plot. A first-rate page-turner from the author of
OBERST, FOR THE DEFENSE, and THE ENGLISH LADY (soon to be a major
INCIDENT AT POTTER'S BRIDGE by Joe Monninger
George Denkin is a serial killer loose on the campus of a small New
Hampshire college. He likes to wear his victim's scalps on his head,
and has constructed his own special "wig shop" in an abandoned
graveyard vault. A gripping novel that explores the limits of human
cruelty, sexual perversion, and terror.
~ POPULAR CULTURE, INK
Although they've branched out lately, with THE SHAPE UNDER THE SHEET:
THE COMPLETE STEPHEN KING ENCYCLOPEDIA (reviewed in RFP #19) and
MAYBERRY, MY HOMETOWN: THE ULTIMATE GUIDEBOOK TO AMERICA'S FAVORITE TV
SMALL TOWN, Popular Culture Ink is mostly known for books about music
makers. They have an entire catalog of books about: Elvis, Chuck
Berry, the history of rock 'n roll, Motown, Michael Jackson, hot rod
music, surf music, the Everly Brothers, Phil Spector, punk rock, new
wave music, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the 1960s, the Monkees, and
George Gershwin. And did I forget the Beatles? They have LOADS of
books about the Beatles. You can probably talk them into sending a
catalog if you write to: Popular Culture, Ink, PO Box 1839, Ann Arbor,
^ RENOVATING OLD HOUSES by George Nash
(Taunton Press, January 1992, $37.95)
For those with the know-how to fix it up, an older house can be a real
bargain, a good investment, and a treasure--especially in today's
economy. Professional renovator George Nash has written the definitive
book that gives readers the comprehensive hands-on knowledge needed to
bring a vintage home back to useful life. RENOVATING OLD HOUSES has
over 350 pages brimming with practical information on virtually every
aspect of renovation. (You can contact the publisher by writing to:
The Taunton Press, 63 South Main St., PO Box 5506, Newtown, CT
^ THRASHIN' TIME: Harvest Days in the Dakotas
by David Weitzman
(David R. Godine, November 1991, $24.95, ISBN 0-87923-910-7)
It's 1912 on the North Dakota farm that belongs to 10-year-old Peter's
family. The weather is harsh, farmwork requires hard labor from sunup
to sundown, but the family unit is also strong and neighbors can be
counted on to help out in a pinch. The excitement this year is that
"real, scientific farming" has come to Peter's town in the shape of a
huge steam-powered thresher, a machine that can accomplish in hours
what would take humans and horses weeks to get done. Peter's family
can't afford to buy one of the machines, but the neighbors decide to
form a cooperative, renting the machine together and going from farm
to farm, turning a laborious farm chore into more of a social event.
Each person has their own function: the men attend to the hard labor
in the field, the women cook the vast quantities of food necessary to
feed everyone, and the children run errands and help out as best they
can. No one is left out.
THRASHIN' TIME is an especially lovely volume from a publisher known
for beautiful bookcraft. The cover, dust jacket, and pages are an
appropriately creamy wheat color; the illustrations are exquisite as
well as instructive; and the text is an engagingly well-told story of
family love, hard work, and cooperation that will delight the whole
family. THRASHIN' TIME is superb on every level. Highly recommended.
OUTSIDE THE DOG MUSEUM by Jonathan Carroll
Harry Radcliffe is a prize-winning architect with two women vying for
his attention and more clients with blank checks than he has time for.
So what does Harry do? He goes insane. But with the help of the shaman
Venasque he will recover and decide to work for the Sultan of Saru,
who wants Harry to build a billion-dollar dog museum in the middle of
the desert. Soon Harry is consumed by the new project. His dog museum
will dwarf the work of every other architect. It will touch heaven
~ NEW FROM PROMETHEUS BOOKS
^PORNOGRAPHY: PRIVATE RIGHT OR PUBLIC MENACE?
edited by Robert M. Baird & Stuart E. Rosenbaum
(December 1991, $14.95, ISBN 0-87975-690-X)
GIRLS ARE GIRLS AND BOYS ARE BOYS: SO WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
A nonsexist sexuality education book for children ages 6-10
by Sol Gordon, illustrated by Vivien Cohen
(November 1991, $9.95, ISBN 0-87975-686-1)
THE LOTUS LOVERS: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE CURIOUS EROTIC CUSTOM OF
FOOTBINDING IN CHINA
by Howard S. Levy
(January 1992, $29.95, ISBN 0-87975-687-X)
700 East Amherst St.
Buffalo, NY 14215
^ KISS AND TELL
by Robbi Sommers
(Naiad Press, 1991, $8.95, ISBN 1-56280-005-1)
KISS AND TELL is a collection of short erotic lesbian fiction. The
stories are steamy, sexually explicit, and anatomically correct. A
wide variety of characters, situations, locations, and pleasures are
detailed. And don't miss "The Joy of Cooking", an explicit guide to
kitchen utensils and uses for them you may never have considered.
Robbi Sommers is also the author of previous volumes of erotica:
PLAYERS ($8.95, ISBN 0-941483-73-8) and PLEASURES ($8.95, ISBN
0-941483-49-5). All three can be ordered directly from the publisher
by sending the list price, plus 15% extra for postage and handling,
to: The Naiad Press Inc., PO Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302.
BY THE WAY: If you read gay and lesbian books, you should know about
the LAMBDA BOOK REPORT, a lesbian and gay book review periodical. It's
$19.95 ($28.20) for 6 bimonthly issues to the U.S. (Canada). A sample
copy will run you $3.95. Send your money to: Lambda Book Report, 1625
Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009. Or you can order by
phone by calling 1-800-621-6969.
~ NEW FROM STOREY/GARDEN WAY PUBLISHING
SATISFYING SOUPS by Phyllis Hobson
($12.95, $14.90 postpaid, ISBN 0-88266-690-8)
GARDEN DESIGN WITH FOLIAGE: FERNS AND GRASSES, VINES AND GROUND
COVERS, ANNUALS AND PERENNIALS, TREES AND SHRUBS
by Judy Glattstein
(Paperback: $17.95, $19.90 postpaid, ISBN 0-88266-686-X)
(Hardcover: $29.95, $31.90 postpaid, ISBN 0-88266-687-8)
BECOMING AN EFFECTIVE RIDER: DEVELOPING YOUR MIND AND BODY FOR BALANCE
by Cherry Hill
($14.95, $16.90 postpaid, ISBN 0-88266-688-6)
COUNTRY WINES: MAKING & USING WINES FROM HERBS, FRUITS, FLOWERS & MORE
by Pattie Vargas & Rich Gulling
($12.95, $14.90 postpaid, ISBN 0-88266-749-1)
These books can be ordered directly from the publisher by sending the
"postpaid" amount to: Storey Communications/Garden Way Publishing, PO
Box 445, Pownal, VT 05261, or call 1-800-827-8673.
by Judith Eubank
(Carroll & Graf, January 1992, $18.95, ISBN 0-88184-746-1)
Meredith Blake has come to the English cathedral city of Exeter to
work towards a postgraduate degree in 18th century English fiction,
taking up residence in Edwards Hall, a large 17th century manor house.
As she is just getting used to university life in England and her
enigmatic tutor Peter Graham, Meredith begins to experience some kind
of time shifts, unaccountably finding herself in and around an Edwards
Hall of some 150 years ago. Soon Meredith is embroiled in a 19th
century mystery, with an historically unexplained death (in 1836)
about to happen. Why, and how, does the mistress of Edwards Hall die?
Will it be murder? Can Meredith prevent it? If she can, should she?
CROSSOVER combines accepted reality and the supernatural, modern times
and past history, with a very deft touch, much like Daphne du Maurier
used to. The changing foreground and background perspectives of the
two timelines is interesting, and the developing relationship between
Meredith and her tutor provides a pleasant subplot. All the various
threads of the story come to a stampeding conclusion that leaves the
reader breathless, but satisfied. A very fine read from a new literary
^ MISS MELVILLE RIDES A TIGER
by Evelyn E. Smith
(Donald I. Fine, November 1991, $18.95, ISBN 1-55611-219-X)
Susan Melville is a middle-aged, successful artist living in New York
City. She has a manager named Jill, a sometimes-boyfriend named Peter,
and an unusual hobby: she kills people. Not just anyone, of course,
just people who really deserve it. Like Philip Lord, a pimp who
specializes in kidnapping preteen runaways from bus depots.
Occasionally, Jill's husband, who is a shadowy government figure with
a convenient cover, asks Miss Melville to practice her hobby on
someone in particular. This time out he wants her to assassinate the
Begum of Gandistan, a ruthless woman who has taken over her country by
murdering everyone in her path to the throne. Conveniently, the Begum
is visiting New York City at the moment, so Miss Melville needn't go
out of her way.
But Susan doesn't really want to kill the Begum of Gandistan, and she
particularly doesn't like exercising her hobby at someone else's whim.
She is also distracted at the moment, because an old enemy from her
past, Berengaria Rundle, suddenly has shown up after thirty years
abroad. Within minutes of their big reunion, Susan feels the desire to
murder Berry, who has lost none of her aggressive hostility. When Miss
Melville finally discovers that Berry has been spending all these
years in Gandistan, becoming the Begum, it's as if Fate had sent Berry
to New York City to be killed. Of course there are a few complications
along the way, like the fact that Berry wants Susan dead too, not to
mention the Mafia boss who has decided he wants to marry Miss
Melville. MISS MELVILLE RIDES A TIGER is a great romp of an adventure,
funny and fast-paced. Previous Miss Melville novels have been: MISS
MELVILLE REGRETS, MISS MELVILLE RETURNS, and MISS MELVILLE'S REVENGE.
~ NEW FROM TARCHER
SUCCEEDING AGAINST THE ODDS: Strategies and Insights from the
by Sally L. Smith
(January 1992, $18.95, ISBN 0-87477-674-0)
MEN AND FRIENDSHIP
by Stuart Miller
(January 1992, $8.95, ISBN 0-87477-685-6)
GROWING TOGETHER STAYING TOGETHER: Preserving Marriage and Family
Relationships in the Face of Personal Change
by Juerg Willi, M.D.
(January 1992, $19.95, ISBN 0-87477-589-2)
ONCE UPON A MIDLIFE: Classic Stories and Mythic Tales to Illuminate
the Middle Years
by Allan B. Chinen, M.D.
(February 1992, $18.95, ISBN 0-87477-677-5)
THE ADULT CHILDREN OF DIVORCE WORKBOOK: A Compassionate Program For
Healing From Your Parents' Divorce
by Mary Hirschfeld, J.D., Ph.D.
(February 1992, $11.95, ISBN 0-87477-672-4)
THE EIGHT ESSENTIAL STEPS TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Preserving
Relationships at Work, at Home, and in the Community
by Dudley Weeks, Ph.D.
(February 1992, $20.95, ISBN 0-87477-656-2)
SINUS SURVIVAL: A Self Help Guide for Allergies, Bronchitis, Colds,
and Sinusitis (revised)
by Dr. Robert S. Ivker
(February 1992, $10.95, ISBN 0-87477-684-8)
Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.
5858 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90036
^ JURASSIC PARK
by Michael Crichton
(Ballantine, December 1991, $5.99, ISBN 0-345-37077-5)
A very special park is being built on an island, 100 miles off the
coast of Costa Rica. It's sort of a zoo for the rich and famous where,
for a price, you can spend the vacation of a lifetime. A zoo in which
the main attraction is real-life dinosaurs from the Jurassic Period.
Genetic engineering has advanced to the stage where DNA strands can be
extracted from insects imbedded in amber, fossilized tree sap from the
Jurassic Period. These insects, in turn, contain the substance of the
dinosaurs and plants from the Jurassic Period and hence THEIR DNA
Jurassic Park contains specimens from the large and infamous
Tyrannosaurus Rex down to the smallest fern and plant of the Jurassic
Period. Meat eaters, as well as plant eaters...all are represented.
Precautions have been taken so that nothing can wrong. A total animal
count is monitored every five minutes to ensure that no animals have
escaped. Electrified fences have been installed surrounding each of
the areas of the park. To prevent breeding, through genetic
engineering only female animals are produced. All the park buildings
have been built with maximum security in mind. Absolutely nothing can
JURASSIC PARK is the best Michael Crichton novel I have read to date.
I especially like the way he blends science with fiction. Like the
computer printouts, bar charts and graphs that are liberally sprinkled
throughout the book--they tend to give the story a feeling of
authenticity and not the pure fiction that it really is. Or is it pure
fiction? Crichton's novels are not really that far-fetched and could
be very easily be the reality of tomorrow. I have always been
interested in computers and the field of anthropology, so JURASSIC
PARK was easily a hit with me right off. It contained just the right
level of suspense to keep you wanting more and I was actually
disappointed when the book came to an end. I can highly recommend
JURASSIC PARK and look forward to another Michael Crichton novel.
~ / LOST STORIES /
/ by Peter de Jager /
There is a small category of stories I label the 'Illusionist' because
they create situations forcing you to ask 'is it possible?'.
It is a rather small category. I have only run across two good
examples. I read them years ago and yet they have stood up very well
to a recent rereading.
Rereading old favorites is sometimes a disappointment. Sort of like
visiting the neighborhood you grew up in. The colors are not as bright
nor the trees as tall as you remember. It is still the old
neighborhood, but it doesn't feel right and you leave with a nagging,
uncomfortable feeling of having lost something special.
In writing this column I am continually rereading old stories
remembered as 'special'. The test for these two stories was simple...
did they get me questioning my 'knowledge of certain things' again? I
am happy to tell you they did.
^ THE JESUS FACTOR
by Edwin Corley
The atomic bomb doesn't work!
A ridiculous claim? What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? These are the
immediate objections that come to mind as you read the back cover.
Of course the atomic bomb works! Any fool knows that...
Well, once you have read THE JESUS FACTOR, you will ask yourself the
question 'yes... but what if...???'
This is the novel's charm. We know the bomb exists and works. Yet
Corley manages to create a scenario that fits perfectly with our
present day political situation. He forces us to question what we know
to be true. The reader is continually rebelling against this ludicrous
idea, but at the same time, continually asking the question 'what if?'
Corley uses a clever technique in getting us to believe the 'big lie'
(or is it a lie?). He scatters little details throughout the book
about various historically important characters. An example is an
anecdote about Fermi. How he used little scraps of paper to determine
the explosive power of the first atomic test. To the best of my
knowledge, the story is true. Meaning of course, I have heard the same
story from other 'reliable' sources.
Another scene describes an encounter with Scott Fitzgerald. When you
read about Fitzgerald to see if the scene is 'real', you discover it
to be very possible and perhaps even likely.
If all the 'little' details are true, then it becomes difficult to
separate truth from fiction. Corley has created a little game for you
to play. The rules are simple. He tries to convince you the bomb is a
fake and you try to maintain your hold on reality. If by the end of
the book you are asking 'What if...' then Corley has won and earned
what you paid for the story. It is an enjoyable little game and yes...
he fairly won the money I paid for my original copy.
^ THE HAB THEORY
by Allan W Eckert
The world flips on its axis every 50,000 years!
A ridiculous claim? What if you believed in this theory? What if you
had to convince world leaders the world would come to an end in the
immediate future. That all life will be destroyed unless steps are
taken to save at least a handful of people?
Well, this is the premise of the story, and like THE JESUS FACTOR, by
the end of the novel you will be tempted to move to Mars or some other
more stable environment.
Eckert adopts a more aggressive strategy than does Corley. In THE
JESUS FACTOR you follow someone as he uncovers the 'truth'. In THE HAB
THEORY the lead character is the one trying to convince people the
theory is correct. In doing so, he also 'convinces' the reader that
perhaps property values are a little bit inflated 'all things
One of the most convincing pieces of evidence presented to support the
case has stuck in my mind for more than a decade. It has to do with
the magnetic alignment of minerals in lava flows found at the bottom
of the ocean. They flip NS to SN at 50,000 year intervals. I did
enough research at first reading to determine that this was a 'fact',
but never did find an answer as to why... This is only one of many
'facts' used to build the case for the HAB Theory.
Like THE JESUS FACTOR, reading the novel is a contest of wits between
yourself and the author. Will he manage to convince you the theory is
true? Or will you survive his logic?
There is another reason why these two books are so enjoyable. On their
own they are 'intellectual' challenges. They are like mystery stories
in reverse. In a mystery novel you have to figure out who did it. In
these, you have to figure out how the author is doing it to you. How
exactly is he winning the argument?
Together, these novels tempt you to consider the following question.
If these authors can make cases for 'ludicrous' claims in a mere
novel... What could the media do if they really wanted you to believe
something that wasn't so? Interesting question? Yes?
These are fun reads, if you like to play mind games -and- don't mind
losing from time to time! Enjoy!
~BOOKS ON TAPE:
^ STORIES FROM WILDERNESS TIPS
by Margaret Atwood, performance by Helen Shaver
2 cassettes, 3 hours
(Bantam Audio, 1991, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-47023-X)
Margaret Atwood is an incomparable observer, of both the many textures
of contemporary life and the logic of irrational behavior. In "Hack
Wednesday" a columnist balances the turmoil of the news--and the
newsroom where she works--against the hope and comfort of her domestic
life. "Wilderness Tips" maps the perilous territories of family
relationships and infidelity. A grotesque act of revenge for love
betrayed is made all the sweeter for being wrapped in a truffle in
"Hairball". A teenage boy at summer camp learns to rough it over the
rocky terrain of his adolescent desire for a forbidden town girl in
^ ANOTHER VIEW
by Rosamunde Pilcher, performance by Lynn Redgrave
Abridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hours
(Bantam Audio, 1991, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-47006-X)
Emma Litton could get on with her life until she found out just what
place she'd had in her father's heart. She'd been going to school in
Europe since she was 14 then found a job in Paris, always wondering
what her famous artist father was doing in Japan or America or at
their cottage in Cornwall. Even after she met Robert Morrow, the
handsome gallery owner, and rediscovered her stepbrother, Christo, she
still felt compelled to probe into the truth about her past. But Emma
might learn too late that it was the truth about herself she had to
find, and that letting go is the first step to keeping love.
^ UNDER GEMINI
by Rosamunde Pilcher, performance by Kate Burton
Abridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hours
(Bantam Audio, 1991, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-45293-2)
Every family hides something, but Flora Waring discovered a
devastating deception in hers. At 22 she learned she had an identical
twin, Rose, who lived with the mother Flora didn't remember at all.
And when Flora ended up impersonating the high-spirited, spoiled Rose,
she would have to face how cruel lies can be. When she agreed to
accompany Rose's fiance to meet his grandmother in a picturesque town
on the Scottish coast, she would quickly fall in love with the lush
green countryside, the Armstrong family, and a rare, wonderful man.
But she would also confront Rose's shocking secrets and a betrayal
that could break her heart.
^ CHARLOTTE'S WEB
by E.B. White, read by E.B. White
Unabridged, 3 cassettes, 192 minutes
(Bantam Audio, 1970, $18.99, ISBN 0-553-47048-5)
This is the story of a kindhearted little girl named Fern who saves
the life of a very small and very lucky pig named Wilbur. It is also
the story of Charlotte A. Cavatica, the beautiful, resourceful gray
spider who lives with Wilbur in the barn and who becomes his best
friend. Surrounded by his barnyard pals and cheered by Fern's visits,
Wilbur enjoys each new day...until the old sheep tells him what
farmers do to pigs at Christmastime. Suddenly Wilbur is terribly
afraid, but faithful Charlotte promises to spin a clever plan to save
her humble friend. And with the help of Templeton the rat, she does
just that. As moving and eloquent now as when it was first written
forty years ago, CHARLOTTE'S WEB celebrates the sweetness of
friendship, even when it is tinged by loss.
^ STUART LITTLE
by E.B. White, read by Julie Harris
Unabridged, 2 cassettes, 113 minutes
(Bantam Audio, 1965, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-47051-5)
Stuart Little is a shy, philosophical little mouse with a big heart
and a taste for adventure. In spite of his diminutive stature, barely
two inches tall, Stuart sets forth into the world with some mighty big
plans: to ride a Fifth Avenue bus, to win a sailboat race in Central
Park, and to teach school for a day. But Stuart's greatest adventure
begins when he decides to find his best friend, Margalo, a pretty
little bird who once lived in a Boston fern in the Littles' house in
New York City. Climbing into his tiny car, Stuart hits the open road,
sure he's heading in the right direction, only to find himself in for
a big surprise. Filled with warmth, wit, and wonder, STUART LITTLE is
a timeless tale that speaks to the heroic spirit in all of us--no
matter what our size.
^ BOOTY FOR A BADMAN
by Louis L'Amour
Audio Dramatization, 1 cassette, 60 minutes
(Bantam Audio, 1991, $8.99, ISBN 0-553-47008-6)
It's the late 1800s: Tell Sackett has been hired to deliver the
combined gold of a group of prospectors. The challenge? He has to get
it across land controlled by the Coopers, a nasty gang of bloodthirsty
bandits. That's enough of a job for any man, but then he runs across
Christine Mallory, an attractive, difficult city woman who needs
rescuing. Tell just KNOWS she's going to be trouble, and it's for sure
she'll slow him down, but what's an honorable cowboy to do?
This is a full-blown audio drama, with a complete cast, music, and
sound effects--terrific entertainment for a quiet hour or an average
day's commute. A first-rate story that I enjoyed tremendously.
^ THE TOWN NO GUNS COULD TAME
by Louis L'Amour
Audio Dramatization, 1 cassette, 60 minutes
(Bantam Audio, 1991, $9.99, ISBN 0-553-47017-5)
The town is Basin City, a town of miners, gamblers, and drifters of
all kinds. To protect tomorrow's stagecoach that will be leaving with
over a quarter of a million dollars in gold, the town's businessmen
hire a new marshall. A gunfighter on the run, Perry accepts the job,
only to find that protecting the gold isn't his first task. First he
has to live through tonight without being lynched. One of the
businessmen who hires Perry is actually behind the series of robberies
in Basin City. He has hired a couple of gunslingers to take care of
Perry and make it look like he is the real robber.
Like BOOTY FOR A BADMAN, THE TOWN NO GUNS COULD TAME is also a
full-blown audio drama, with a complete cast, music, and sound
effects. This is the second Louis L'Amour dramatization I have
listened to on tape and I enjoyed it as much as the first. If you're
looking for a way to relax and enjoy a quiet hour with a really good
story, try THE TOWN NO GUNS COULD TAME. I bet you'll like it as much
as I did.
MORE LOUIS L'AMOUR CASSETTES FROM BANTAM AUDIO
(all are 60 minutes unless otherwise noted)
Bill Carey Rides West ($8.95)
The Black Rock Coffin Makers (LL, $8.95)
Bowdrie Passes Through (LL, *, $8.95)
Bowdrie Rides a Coyote Trail (*, $8.99)
Case Closed--No Prisoners (LL, *, $8.95)
Down the Pogonip Trail ($8.95)
Four-Card Draw (LL, $8.95)
Get Out of Town ($8.99)
Grub Line Rider ($8.95)
Keep Travelin', Rider (LL, $8.95)
Man Riding West ($8.95)
McNelly Knows a Ranger (*, $8.95)
Merrano of the Dry Country ($8.95)
No Man's Man ($8.95)
One For the Mohave Kid ($8.95)
One For the Pot ($8.95)
A Ranger Rides to Town (*, $8.95)
Riding For the Brand ($8.95)
The Road to Casa Piedras (*, $8.95)
Showdown Trail (LL, performance by Richard Crenna, 180 min., $15.99)
The Sixth Shotgun ($8.95)
South of Deadwood (LL, *, $8.95)
Strange Pursuit (LL, *, $8.95)
The Strong Shall Live ($8.95)
Too Tough to Brand (*, $8.95)
The Trail to Peach Meadow Canyon (LL, performance by Robert Stack, 145
A Trail to the West (LL, *, $8.95)
Trap of Gold and Hattan's Castle (LL, performance by Richard Crenna,
The Turkeyfeather Riders (LL, $8.95)
Unguarded Moment ($8.95)
Where Buzzards Fly (LL, *, $8.95)
LL = Introduction by Louis L'Amour
* = a Chick Bowdrie story
The Chick Bowdrie Audio Boxed Set: SOUTH OF DEADWOOD, A TRAIL TO THE
WEST, and WHERE BUZZARDS FLY ($19.95, ISBN 0-553-45193-6)
The A RANGER RIDES AGAIN Audio Boxed Set: McNELLY KNOWS A RANGER, A
RANGER RIDES TO TOWN, and CASE CLOSED--NO PRISONERS ($19.99, ISBN
The RIDING FOR THE BRAND Audio Boxed Set: THE TURKEYFEATHER RIDERS,
FOUR-CARD DRAW, and RIDING FOR THE BRAND ($19.95, ISBN 0-553-45230-4)
~ # MURDER BY THE BOOK #
editor: Cindy Bartorillo
Murder By The Book is a division of Reading For Pleasure, published
bimonthly. This material is NOT COPYRIGHTED and may be used freely by
all. Catalogs, news releases, review copies, or donated reviews should
be sent to: Reading For Pleasure, 103 Baughman's Lane, Suite 303,
Frederick, MD 21702.
~ 1990 SHAMUS AWARD WINNERS
Presented by the Private Eye Writers of America.
Best Novel: "G" IS FOR GUMSHOE by Sue Grafton
Best First Novel: DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS by Walter Mosley
Best Paperback Original: RAFFERTY: FATAL SISTERS by W. Glenn Duncan
Best Short Story: "Final Resting Place" by Marcia Muller
Lifetime Achievement: Roy Huggins
~ 1990 ANTHONY AWARD WINNERS
Presented by the membership of Bouchercon.
Best Novel: "G" IS FOR GUMSHOE by Sue Grafton
Best First Novel: POSTMORTEM by Patricia Daniels Cornwell
Best Paperback Original (tie): GRAVE UNDERTAKING by Jim McCahery
WHERE'S MOMMY NOW? by Rochelle Krich
Best Short Story: "The Celestial Buffet" by Sue Dunlap
* Have you seen the latest newsletter/catalogue from THE POISONED PEN?
If not, you'd better get one right away. Write to: The Poisoned Pen,
7100B East Main Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. If you're in a real
hurry, you can call them at: 602/947-2974.
^ NEW YORK DEAD
by Stuart Woods
(HarperCollins, 1991, $20.00, ISBN 0-06-017925-2)
J. Stone Barrington is not your average New York cop. He is of a
distinguished, though now impoverished, family and is struggling to
renovate an impressively large house in New York City that is part of
his inheritance. One evening, walking home from Elaine's, Stone is a
witness as famous television anchorwoman Sasha Nijinsky plunges from
the top of a twelve-story apartment building. An on-the-spot news
camera shows that Sasha, remarkably, survived the fall, at least
momentarily; but everyone is astounded when Sasha disappears from the
ambulance on the way to the hospital. Now Stone is involved in a
front-page case: the media putting pressure on the politicians, and
the politicians putting pressure on the police. Everyone wants the
case solved, and they want it solved now.
Is Sasha alive? Is so, why doesn't she come forward? As the pressure
on the police department mounts, Stone's boss and partner decide to
pin the murder on a reasonably likely suspect: the lesbian makeup
artist who was having an affair with Sasha. Stone is absolutely
convinced that this woman is innocent, yet he loves his job on the
police force. What will Stone do? Watching the unfolding events in NEW
YORK DEAD is irresistible, and doing so kept me up most of the night.
It wasn't until after I'd finished that I noticed the surreal quality
of the story. The characters are all at least slightly weird: Stone's
breeding is unusual for a cop, his Italian partner marries into the
mob during the course of the story, and his new girlfriend is five
feet eleven inches of nonstop sexuality. The plot details are odd too,
and they reach a crescendo of unreality in a grotesque climax worthy
of Poe or even Lovecraft. And yet, it was all perfectly believable at
the time! At no point did a wrong note jump out and disrupt the flow
of the narrative. NEW YORK DEAD is an amazing example of the writer's
craft, and a very exciting story. Highly recommended.
^ STEEL GUITAR: A Carlotta Carlyle Mystery
by Linda Barnes
(Delacorte, November 1991, $18.50, ISBN 0-385-30013-1)
Carlotta Carlyle is a Boston private detective who's hard to miss:
she's 6'1" and has red hair. But the P.I. business isn't always
booming, which is why she drives a cab sometimes to pay the bills. One
night she picks up Dee Willis, an old college friend who has recently
become a big-time blues singer. Dee insists upon stopping at a park
that caters to the homeless in a very poor neighborhood, where
Carlotta watches her show a photograph around and hand out money. When
her methods almost lead to violence, Dee hires Carlotta to find
another old friend, a guitar player who has been down on his luck for
years. Dee says she just wants to make sure he's OK, but Carlotta's
not too sure. Dee's motives are found to be more complex, and when one
of the members of her band is found dead--a death echoing another from
Carlotta and Dee's past--the case becomes a race against the past to
save the present.
STEEL GUITAR is easily one of the best mysteries of 1991, and should
be on the reading list of any discriminating reader. The characters
are multi-layered and interesting, the plot is fascinating, the
suspense fairly crackles, and the book features the best use of a
background subject--music, specifically the blues--I've read in quite
a while. Drama, humor, pathos, thrills, it's all here. STEEL GUITAR is
not to be missed. There are three previous Carlotta Carlyle mysteries:
A TROUBLE OF FOOLS, SNAKE TATTOO, and COYOTE.
~ CLAIRE MALLOY NOVELS BY JOAN HESS
Strangled Prose (1986)
Murder at the Murder at the Mimosa Inn (1986)
Dear Miss Demeanor (1987)
A Really Cute Corpse (1988)
A Diet to Die For (1989)
Roll Over and Play Dead (1991)
^ KILLER CINDERELLA
by Simon Shaw
(Doubleday Perfect Crime, January 1992, $16.50, ISBN 0-385-41891-4)
Mark Harvey's life is not a happy one. He's not happy with his bank
job, having lost out on the promotion he deserved. He lives in the
peaceful English countryside but has been cursed with new neighbors
who give almost continual loud parties. He's got a suicidal lodger
living in his attic. But his very worst problem, no doubt about it, is
his wife Maddie. She's fat, shrewish, unfaithful, and has half the
town convinced that it is Mark who is the villain of the marriage.
And, worst of all, she's dead, and Mark's killed her. He didn't mean
to, of course, but he can't count on that having much weight with the
police. So he puts her in the freezer in the basement.
But now Mark has another problem. Maddie will be missed. There's her
obnoxious feminist friend Lizzie, her pathetic lover Roddy, and his
pretentious new neighbor, Reg, who has become obsessed with wooing
Maddie, whom he pictures as a beautiful and refined lady. What is Mark
to do? Virtually by accident he finds himself dressing up and
impersonating his dead wife. Which might sound like a lot of trouble
to go through but there are two factors in its favor: (1) Mark finds
that he makes a damned attractive female, and (2) he discovers that he
likes it. He even consents to an intimate dinner with the besotted
neighbor, only to disappear in a rush, leaving a high-heeled shoe
behind, just like Cinderella. From that point on, Simon Shaw's
hilarious romp of a story is off, with unscrupulous tabloid
journalists, bewildered policemen, and a multi-layered plot of
intertwining misunderstandings and foul-ups that leave the reader
breathless. It's sort of like Donald Westlake telling an Alfred
Hitchcock black comedy with a Monty Python accent. But not quite.
KILLER CINDERELLA is one book you'll just have to experience for
yourself. It's a lot of fun. This is Simon Shaw's second novel, his
first being MURDER OUT OF TUNE.
by Margaret Millar
(International Polygonics, October 1991, $8.95, ISBN 1-55882-114-7)
Once again we have to thank International Polygonics for bringing a
terrific novel back into print. Originally published in 1982, MERMAID
is a story about Cleo Jasper and the lives that she touches. She is
22, attends a special school for the learning disabled, and lives with
her brother, his wife, and their son. When Cleo disappears, her
brother Hilton hires attorney Tom Aragon to find her. Tom soon
discovers that a counselor at her school is involved with Cleo's
disappearance somehow, but he can't be found either.
As we get to know the characters more intimately, we find that Cleo
has affected them all deeply. Her specialness, the difference which
causes everyone to protect and defend her, both ensnares those around
her and leaves Cleo free of any consequences of her actions. Like the
mermaid of the title, Cleo is lovely and needs protecting. The key
phrase is "she needs". And needs. And needs. Loving Cleo is like
loving a mermaid: you try so hard to give them a normal life, and yet
your efforts are doomed to failure from the start. If you haven't read
any of Margaret Millar's wonderful novels of psychological suspense,
MERMAID is a good place to begin.
~ OTHER MARGARET MILLAR NOVELS AVAILABLE FROM IPL:
An Air That Kills ($4.95)
Ask For Me Tomorrow ($4.95)
Beast In View ($4.95)
Beyond This Point Are Monsters ($4.95)
The Cannibal Heart ($4.95)
The Fiend ($5.95)
Fire Will Freeze ($5.95)
How Like An Angel ($4.95)
The Iron Gates ($4.95)
The Listening Walls ($5.95)
The Murder of Miranda ($4.95)
Rose's Last Summer ($4.95)
Spider Webs ($5.95)
A Stranger in My Grave ($7.95)
Vanish In An Instant ($7.95)
Wall of Eyes ($4.95)
If you can't get the Millar novels you want from your local bookstore,
you can order them directly from IPL by sending the list price(s),
plus postage and handling ($1 for the first book, $.50 for each
additional book) to: International Polygonics, Ltd., Madison Square,
PO Box 1563, New York, NY 10159-1563.
BLACK WIDOW by Patrick Quentin
With his wife out of town, Broadway producer Peter Duluth is careful
not to encourage pretty young actresses. But Nanny Ordway seems
harmless and a tenuous friendship develops, a friendship that lasted
until the day Iris Duluth returned home, entered her bedroom and
discovered Nanny Ordway, dressed in pajamas...dead and hanging from
^ BLOOD GAMES: A True Account of Family Murder
by Jerry Bledsoe
(Dutton, November 1991, $22.95, ISBN 0-525-93369-7)
In late July of 1988, Lieth Von Stein and his wife Bonnie were
savagely attacked by an intruder armed with a baseball bat and a
knife. Lieth was killed, Bonnie nearly so. The police investigation
discovered a conspiracy between Bonnie's son Chris Pritchard and two
of his friends at North Carolina State University: Neal Henderson,
certified genius and obsessive Dungeons & Dragons player; and Bart
Upchurch, an upper class youth who lived for thrills. BLOOD GAMES is
the grim story of how three privileged young people plotted and
executed the murderous attack on Lieth and Bonnie Von Stein.
When violent crimes are committed by the uneducated, the poor, the
disadvantaged, we can always comfort ourselves as human beings by
giving reasons (reasons, not excuses) for their actions: They never
had the cultural, economic, educational, or social opportunities that
most of the rest of us have had. But in BLOOD GAMES we meet three
young people who are, on the surface, examples of America's best and
brightest, the finest our culture can produce, with every opportunity
and advantage. What can we tell ourselves when those three people turn
out to be monsters? Jerry Bledsoe tells the story of these youths, and
of many of their generation, in BLOOD GAMES, giving the reader an
unflinching examination of the privileged classes in America in the
1980s. Impossible to put down. (Jerry Bledsoe is also the author of
the previous bestseller, BITTER BLOOD.)
~ ARLY HANKS NOVELS BY JOAN HESS
Malice in Maggody (1987)
Mischief in Maggody (1988)
Much Ado in Maggody (1989)
Madness in Maggody (1991)
Mortal Remains in Maggody (1991)
^ THE SKELETON IN THE CLOCK
by Carter Dickson (aka John Dickson Carr)
(International Polygonics, $5.95, ISBN 1-55882-103-1)
Originally published in 1948, THE SKELETON IN THE CLOCK is one of the
very best of Carr's mysteries starring The Old Man, Sir Henry
Merrivale. (For a complete list of Merrivale books, and their IPL
editions, see RFP #19.) In this one, a psychic researcher looks for
ghosts in the execution shed of an old prison. Sir Henry becomes
involved and is faced with a 20-year-old murder as well as a brand new
one. Mystery monger Art Bourgeau, in his book THE MYSTERY LOVER'S
COMPANION (1986), rated THE SKELETON IN THE CLOCK "A True Classic".
^ HUBBERT & LIL: PARTNERS IN CRIME
by Gallagher Gray
(Donald I. Fine, December 1991, $18.95, ISBN 1-55611-308-0)
"We're looking for CLUES, Theodore. For god's sake.
Haven't you ever read a detective novel?"
"One or two." In truth, he'd read hundreds. "Have you?"
"Maybe," she said vaguely.
Theodore, known to everyone else as T.S. Hubbert, is a 55-year-old
barely-retired personnel manager who reads paperback mysteries by the
stack and gives them to a neighbor so nobody will find out. She is his
Auntie Lil, an 84-year-old retired clothes designer who drinks Bloody
Marys with extra Tabasco and has stacks of detective magazines at home
which she hides in the back of a closet. Together they manage to solve
the murders at Sterling & Sterling, the prestigious banking firm for
which T.S. had worked for the past three decades. It was on the very
first day of his retirement, actually, that he got a call to come back
to the office and help out with the emergency: one of the partners of
the firm, Robert Cheswick, had been stabbed to death at his desk.
T.S. decides to compromise--he'll go back to the office temporarily,
but he won't wear a tie. He finds Cheswick still in his chair, the
police crawling over the scene of the crime, and the first two clues:
there is a dead boutonniere on the desk and the dead man's fly is
open. It will take the keen mind of Auntie Lil to correctly interpret
these clues, but T.S. will have problems of his own to solve. HUBBERT
AND LIL: PARTNERS IN CRIME is the first installment of what is to be a
new series of whodunits. If you like your mysteries light on the
violence and heavy on the puzzle, be sure to catch the first adventure
for T.S. and Auntie Lil.
THE WRONG RITE by Charlotte MacLeod writing as Alisa Craig
Detective Inspector Madoc Rhys of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
takes his family to Wales for a jolly reunion honoring the family
patriarch...and lands them in a tangle of thievery, skulduggery, and
bloody bedevilment that reaches its horrendous climax when cousin Mary
takes an ill-timed leap through the ritual Beltane fire.
^ PURE COP: Cop Talk from the Streets to the Specialized
Units-Bomb Squad, Arson, Hostage Negotiation, Prostitution,
Major Accidents, Crime Scene
by Connie Fletcher (author of WHAT COPS KNOW)
(Villard Books, 1991, $22.50, ISBN 0-679-40036-2)
Okay, so the title is a mouthful. You'll be able to locate this book
on the bookstore shelf quite easily with just the "PURE COP" portion
of the title which is in nearly two inch high lettering, or because
all of the available copies will be in the hands of browsers as they
block the aisle. This is one of those books that, once you've picked
it up and glanced through it, it is hard to put down.
This is oral history, the likes of which you probably won't find
elsewhere, except in another Connie Fletcher book. PURE COP presents
cops, in their own words, as they talk about what it is they do. I
mean, what they REALLY do--not as television portrays them or
newspaper reporters depict them. It's as if you are sitting with a
bunch of cops and talking shop. Nothing deleted, nothing held back. At
the end of each chapter is a list of the contributing officers and
their bios, but Ms. Fletcher has not specifically identified who said
what which makes the reading even more fascinating. You get the
feeling that no one is tempering their comments for fear of a
backlash, either from the public at large or from individual police
Ms. Fletcher gained access to these police officers and their comments
through "an accident of birth" as she calls it. Her sister is a
supervising Chicago Police Department sergeant and has been a cop
I can't imagine anyone who would not enjoy this book, but especially
mystery/crime writers-in-training would be wise to get a copy! You
won't believe all of the misinformation you have accumulated over the
NOTE: Talk to mystery maven Cherie Jung, and many other mystery fans,
on her computer bulletin board devoted to mysteries, Over My Dead
Body! Mystery BBS 206/473-4522. You'll find book reviews, news, and
lots of good mysterious conversation.
^ THE BIG MIDGET MURDERS
by Craig Rice
(International Polygonics, 1991, $6.95, ISBN: 1-55882-112-0)
"What the devil are we going to do now?"
"Search the rest of the place," Helene suggested.
Jake snorted indignantly. "I suppose you want to go around
asking everybody you meet if he's seen a bass fiddle case
with a dead midget in it."
The dead midget is Jay Otto, a nightclub comedian who specializes in
cruel humor. He bills himself as the Big Midget, and has given a real
shot in the arm to Jake and Helene Justus' newly opened nightclub, but
one critic decided the show shouldn't continue. Now Jake and Helene,
and their good friend and lawyer John J. Malone, must solve the crime
before their other good friend Homicide Chief von Flanagan finds out
that they moved the body into a fiddle case. Which is now missing.
THE BIG MIDGET MURDERS is a delightful romp through the 1940s Chicago
world of nightclubs, gangsters, and small-time entertainers. Most of
the fun comes from watching Jake, Helene, and Malone bicker and
wisecrack their way through the mystery as clues are overlooked, more
bodies appear, and witnesses must force them to listen to evidence.
Somehow everything gets pulled together in the end, with all the
suspects gathered together in classic fashion, and the mystery is
solved. A classic mystery by an unjustly forgotten writer.
~ MORE CRAIG RICE MYSTERIES FROM INTERNATIONAL POLYGONICS:
THE CORPSE STEPS OUT ($7.95)
8 FACES AT 3 ($5.95)
THE RIGHT MURDER ($8.95)
THE WRONG MURDER ($7.95)
TRIAL BY FURY ($5.95)
CRIME ON MY HANDS ($7.95; by George Sanders, ghostwritten by Rice)
If you can't get these books from your local bookstore, you can order
them directly from the publisher by sending the list price(s) plus
postage and handling ($1 for the first book, $.50 for each additional
book) to: International Polygonics, Ltd., Madison Square, PO Box 1563,
New York, NY 10159-1563.
THE CASE OF THE GILDED FLY by Edmund Crispin
Gervase Fen, Professor of English Literature at the University of
Oxford, solves his first recorded case in THE CASE OF THE GILDED FLY.
The setting is the Oxford Repertory Theatre. The cast includes a
playwright, a producer, a famous actress, a conniving actress (always
a highly desirable victim), an organist, two undergraduates, a
journalist, and an artillery captain. Fen finds murder in the wings
and suspicion on stage as the curtain rises on one of his most
intriguing cases ever.
^ MORE FIVE-MINUTE MYSTERIES
by Ken Weber
(Running Press, 1991, $6.95, ISBN 1-56138-058-X)
What do you get when you take a classic puzzle mystery and cut out all
the unnecessary character development, description, subplots, and
subtexts? Everything, that is, except for the core puzzle? You've got
a Five-Minute Mystery, a four- or five-page mystery puzzle, complete
with setup, clues, and red herrings. You get to pore over the details,
looking for the one fact that doesn't fit in, the shattered glass on
the wrong side of the window, the hound that DOESN'T bark in the
night. Generally, however, Weber's puzzles are bit more sophisticated
than that. You'll need to pick up on combinations of clues, logical
inferences that don't match the rest of the story. MORE FIVE-MINUTE
MYSTERIES gives you 34 tough problems to solve, over 200 pages of
mystery fun for readers who occasionally like to take their puzzles
(If you can't get MORE FIVE-MINUTE MYSTERIES from your local
bookstore, you can order it directly from the publisher by sending the
list price, plus $2.50 postage and handling, to: The Running Press,
125 South Twenty-second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103.)
^ STILL WATERS: A Helen Black Mystery
by Pat Welch
(Naiad Press, 1991, $8.95, ISBN 0-941483-97-5)
When Helen Black hears about the death of her old friend Jill, she
feels guilty. Jill had been an investigative reporter at one time, but
had been on a long downhill slide, both professionally and personally,
for several years. Maybe she could have done more for her old friend,
and now she'll never know. But when Helen plays the tape on her
answering machine, she discovers that Jill had called her just before
she died. Jill left a message that she was onto something big, had
just spent a half hour hiding the proof, that she was being followed,
and that she needed Helen's services as a private detective.
Helen decides to spend a few days at the resort hotel where Jill had
been staying when she died, and Helen's lover Frieda decides to come
along. While staying at Still Waters Lodge, Helen comes upon a variety
of side plots and conflicting motivations, not to mention drunken
redneck types and a very nasty policeman. What had Jill gotten herself
involved in, and what happened to her car? To complicate matters,
Helen is also trying to salvage her relationship with Frieda, who is
not terribly supportive of Helen's detective work.
The mystery comes to a dynamic conclusion with a devastating forest
fire, and Helen discovers the truth at last. A first-rate mystery
story, and much more. During the course of STILL WATERS, Helen Black
must wrestle with the moral ambiguities of detective work, making her
a very unusually perceptive fictional investigator. She realizes that
her detective work alters peoples lives, and that she has no heavenly
mandate to right the wrongs of the world. Helen's dedication to her
job is on probation, needing continuing justification for the risks
that have to be taken and the disturbance of other people's lives.
Another unusual note of maturity in STILL WATERS is that the murder
victim isn't glorified. Jill isn't awarded sainthood for having been
killed; her actions and motivations must be judged on their own merit.
All the way around, STILL WATERS is a terrific multi-dimensional
You can order STILL WATERS directly from the publisher by sending the
list price, plus 15% extra for postage and handling to: The Naiad
Press, Inc., PO Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302. Or you can call
their Orders-Only phone: 1-800-533-1973. You might want to treat
yourself to Helen Black's first mystery as well: MURDER BY THE BOOK,
$8.95, ISBN 0-941483-59-2).
^ THE FACE ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
by Stan Cutler
(Dutton, December 1991, $18.95, ISBN 0-525-93381-6)
THE FACE ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR stars fifty-something, overweight
Hollywood detective Rayford Goodman and thirty-something, gay writer
Mark Bradley, previously seen in BEST PERFORMANCE BY A PATSY. This
time the adventure begins when a local Mafia boss "asks" Goodman to
guard a good friend, the famous movie director Claudio Fortunata.
Coincidentally, Bradley has been assigned to write a biography of the
same man, and when Bradley shows up for his first interview, he finds
that Goodman is being arrested--for the murder of Fortunata!
Complications arise when the murder victim turns out to be someone
else, and Goodman and Bradley are forced to collaborate on another
While the plot is engaging, Goodman and Bradley are the stars of this
show. The two men don't like each other, but have much in common:
they're both intelligent, good at their jobs, enjoy wisecracking, and
have crumbling love lives. THE FACE ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR is a
fine addition to the subgenre of Hollywood Murder Mystery, but with
one small warning. While the violence in the novel is low-key, and
most of it occurs off-stage, to be discovered by Ray and Mark, the
most brutal attack is saved for a tiny kitten, so animal lovers may
want to reconsider whether or not to read THE FACE ON THE CUTTING ROOM
^ PANDORA BY HOLLY HOLLANDER
by Gene Wolfe
(Tor, December 1990, $17.95, ISBN 0-312-85010-7)
You may have missed this excellent mystery from Gene Wolfe because of
a marketing, or rather a shelving, problem. Most of the author's
previous novels are sold as SF/Fantasy, and many bookstores and
libraries shelve them in that section, and unfortunately many people
never noticed that PANDORA BY HOLLY HOLLANDER isn't SF or Fantasy at
all, but is a very fine murder mystery. Gene Wolfe's style here is
mature and literate, a spare prose that tells an emotionally wrenching
story without underlining everything to instruct the reader what
emotion is now appropriate. Everything that is necessary is there, but
the reader is allowed space for their own understanding.
Holly Hollander is the teenage daughter of a wealthy businessman
living in a town in the outskirts of Chicago, and a more engaging
heroine for a mystery story you couldn't imagine. Her family owns a
lock manufacturing business, her father collects books about locks and
locksmithing while her mother plays her part as the incredibly
beautiful, shockingly young wife of an older man, and this year it's
her turn to run the charity fund-raising Fair. As a central
attraction, Holly's mother buys a very heavy, very old wooden box that
is inscribed "Pandora" in gold letters. The key was lost long ago, and
no one knows what's in the box. Elaine Hollander plans to raffle off
the box, and the local locksmith will open the box for the first time
at the Fair. Tragically, the box appears to have contained a bomb,
which detonates when the unfortunate locksmith opens it, also killing
the man with the winning raffle ticket. Holly, along with many others,
is injured in the blast and hospitalized. Later, her Uncle Bert, an
escaped mental patient, is found shot to death in the hospital parking
lot, apparently killed while trying to visit Holly.
Holly, and her new-found friend the criminologist Aladdin Blue, must
solve the crimes as first Elaine Hollander, then Mr. Hollander, come
under suspicion. Who was meant to be killed by the bomb? Is the murder
of Uncle Bert related to the bombing? What about those threatening
calls that the locksmith had been receiving in the weeks prior to his
death? Where did rare book dealer De Witte Sinclair disappear to after
the bombing? Aladdin Blue and Holly will discover all the answers, and
entertain the reader as well, in this terrific mystery with a writing
style several cuts above the average whodunit. Trust me on this one:
you'll enjoy PANDORA BY HOLLY HOLLANDER, even if you have to brave the
SF section to find it.
^ LIARS & TYRANTS & PEOPLE WHO TURN BLUE
by Barbara Paul
(International Polygonics, 1980, $5.95, ISBN 1-55882-110-4)
Shelby Kent knows when people are lying. I mean she really KNOWS; she
sees a red aura around anyone telling a fib, she's never wrong.
Naturally, she's in great demand with police departments, but one day
she gets called to a higher duty by Sir John Dudley, the head of a
special intelligence agency working for the United Nations. It seems
that someone has been selling weapons to rebel groups around the
world; but not just weapons, defective weapons. Why would anyone do
such a thing? Where do you go to get defective weapons anyway? Soon
Shelby is caught up in a high-profile case getting heavy media
attention, much to the disgust of her soon-to-be-ex-husband Eric, who
can't stand the ribbing he gets for living with a freakish wife who
nobody, including him, can lie to.
LIARS & TYRANTS & PEOPLE WHO TURN BLUE is a great comic romp,
unapologetically unbelievable. Another literate and witty tale from
Paul. Also by Barbara Paul: THE FOURTH WALL, YOUR EYES ARE GETTING
HEAVY, A CADENZA FOR CARUSO, KILL FEE, PRIMA DONNA AT LARGE, THE
RENEWABLE VIRGIN, UNDER THE CANOPY, BIBBLINGS, PILLARS OF SALT, and AN
EXERCISE FOR MADMEN.
You can get LIARS & TYRANTS & PEOPLE WHO TURN BLUE directly from the
publisher by sending the list price, plus $1 postage and handling, to:
International Polygonics, Ltd., Madison Square, PO Box 1563, New York,
NY 10159-1563. Phone: 212/683-2914.
^ BAGGED: An Extra Corpse in the Hospital Morgue
by Jo Bailey
(St. Martin's, November 1991, $19.95, ISBN 0-312-06296-6)
On a hot August night, a hearse pulls up to the Emergency Room door of
Jackson County Medical Center. This hearse is a little unusual,
because instead of picking up a body bag, it delivers a bright red
leather one. Unfortunately it's not one that the hospital is
expecting. The corpse remains in the morgue, unclaimed and virtually
unnoticed for two weeks. It turns out that the unclaimed corpse is
actually one of the hospital's own doctors.
The new security supervisor, Jan Gallagher, has won her position by
suing the hospital for sexual discrimination. You can imagine how
happy this has made everyone else in the hospital. You can also
imagine how cooperative everyone is when she tries to solve the
mystery of how and why the good doctor happened to be "bagged".
Overall, I found BAGGED to be entertaining. You find out within the
first third of the book who the murderers are and why they committed
the crime. The rest of the book revolves around the authorities
finding out who they are and capturing them. BAGGED has a lot of high
and low points. The beginning was very captivating with the delivery
and discovery of the body bag. Then the story dragged on and on about
the security supervisor and her winning of the sexual discrimination
court case. Then the story picked up with the discovery of who was in
the body bag and who the murderers were. This switching back and forth
between the crime part of the story and the personal conflicts between
the members of the security force and hospital staff tended to wear
thin after a while. BAGGED would have been much more enjoyable without
the political subplot.
OUR DOUBTS ARE TRAITORS by Frederick M. Hanson
A young doctor resigns his residency, having lost his confidence and
self-esteem. He takes up a general practice in a very small North
Carolina town, a town where sinister events will soon have him
involved in medical detective work. Can he solve the mystery and
regain his self confidence?
^ FOWL PREY
by Mary Daheim
(Avon, November 1991, $3.99, ISBN 0-380-76296-X)
Format: paperback original
Character: Judith McMonigle and her cousin Renie, 2nd appearance
Status: amateur sleuths
Locale: British Columbia
The author presents us with another rousing entry in the "Bed-and-
Breakfast Mystery series" as Judith (the proprietress of Hillside
Manor) and her cousin Renie head out for a much deserved
pre-Thanksgiving vacation in Canada. On the way, they stop to scatter
Judith's deceased husband's ashes--and what a hoot that is!
Next, there was a mix up in the hotel reservations and there is
apparently no room at the inn for Judith and Renie. Then it becomes
old home week when Judith runs into several former high school
classmates who are registered at the hotel and they offer Judith one
of their unused suites. Things quickly become even more involved when
Judith and Renie discover the body of the local popcorn vendor in the
hotel elevator. Did I mention that they had only been in town a matter
of hours when they ended up having tea with this popcorn vendor and
his raucous parrot? Before he and the parrot ended up dead. And before
the police became suspicious about two "foreign" tourists who know
more about the dead guy than anyone else in Canada will admit to?
You will have to pay attention in order to keep track of all the
suspects--who did what to whom, and when (lots of secrets in the pasts
of this gaggle of suspects)--and you will practically need a scorecard
to remember who was married to whom and when but it in no way
diminishes the fun of sharing another adventure with these two
If you haven't yet read the first in the series, be sure to pick up a
copy of JUST DESSERTS (Avon) and be on the lookout for the next in the
series, HOLY TERROR, which the publisher lists as "coming soon".
^ BAD BLOOD
by P.M. Carlson
(Doubleday Perfect Crime, December 1991, $15.00, ISBN 0-385-42122-2)
Ginny lives with her mother Rina, her father Clint, and her mother's
mother, called Gram, in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. Ginny
has known for a long time now that she was adopted, and it has always
been a difficult idea for her to deal with. It is also very difficult
for Rina, who felt severe guilt over not being able to conceive like
"normal" women. Now she works hard to make her family just like a
"normal" family, and by and large she's succeeding. Ginny is a very
bright and talented teenager, but her psychological problems are
gaining on her--she's experimenting with drugs, dating another drug
user, and her grades are falling drastically. Her breaking point
arrives when Gram, in a fit of temper, kicks her beloved cat. Ginny
takes her checkbook, puts the cat in her backpack, and heads for New
York, where the adoption agency is located. Once there, a little
inspired trickery gets her both the name and the address of her birth
mother, who just happens to be P.M. Carlson's series sleuth,
statistician Maggie Ryan.
While Maggie and Ginny are sorting out their emotions, recriminations
and guilt, police in Maryland are beginning to investigate the murder
of a man named John Spencer. He had been briefly met, and insulted, by
both Ginny and her boyfriend Buck shortly before he was killed. The
murder weapon, Ginny's pair of scissors, bears only Ginny's
fingerprints and is discovered in Buck's car. Naturally, Ginny and
Buck are prime suspects. To help Ginny, and her mother Rina, Maggie
disguises herself and drives to Maryland to investigate John Spencer's
murder. Maggie (in disguise) teams up with Rina, both working to save
the daughter they love.
BAD BLOOD is a fascinating and illuminating story about adoption, from
three separate points of view. All three women are vividly drawn
characters, and their psychological balancing act seems very real. The
mystery of John Spencer's murder, as well as the rest of the cast of
characters, only provide a setting and motivations for the behavior of
the three women, and as such BAD BLOOD falls well with the modern
Mystery of Character rather than the Puzzle category of mystery
fiction. BAD BLOOD should win Carlson more fans and send many readers
seeking out the other seven novels about Maggie Ryan and her actor
husband Nick O'Connor. (Those other seven books are: AUDITION FOR
MURDER, MURDER IS ACADEMIC, MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL, MURDER
UNRENOVATED, REHEARSAL FOR MURDER, MURDER IN THE DOG DAYS, and MURDER
^ THE WINDSOR KNOT: An Elizabeth MacPherson Mystery
by Sharyn McCrumb
(Ballantine, 1990, $16.95, ISBN 0-345-36583-6)
Elizabeth MacPherson is rushing to complete her doctoral research on
forensic anthropology when her Scottish fiance calls to tell her he's
been invited--along with 8,000 others--to tea with the Queen. As it
happens, Elizabeth is an absolute nut about British royalty, and can't
wait to accompany her fiance, but there's a hitch: the invitations
only cover the expressly invited person and spouses, no friends or
fiances. So Elizabeth decides that they'll just have to get married
within 3 weeks, not next summer like they'd planned. She'll get her
formidable Aunt Amanda to mastermind the lavish affair.
While Elizabeth is knee-deep in wedding dress patterns and royalty
etiquette books, strange things are going on around her. For instance,
her fiance, Cameron Dawson, has had his garden gnome stolen, one of
those Tolkien-like statues that people have in their yards. As if that
wasn't bad enough, the Cameron starts receiving postcards from all
over the world, from his missing gnome! And then in Chandler Grove,
Georgia, where the wedding will take place, there are even more
bizarre events. Like Clarine Mason hearing that her husband Emmet has
just died in a car accident in California, which wouldn't ordinarily
be too strange, but Clarine had gotten the exact same phone call five
years before, and has been living as a widow on the insurance money,
with a vase of Emmet's ashes on her mantel ever since. So when did
Emmet die, or is he still alive? When the local sheriff wants to get a
preliminary analysis of the ashes in Clarine's vase, guess which
forensic anthropologist he consults?
THE WINDSOR KNOT is another sparkling comedy-mystery from Sharyn
McCrumb, witty and very, very funny. Previous Elizabeth MacPherson
novels: SICK OF SHADOWS, LOVELY IN HER BONES, HIGHLAND LADDIE GONE,
and PAYING THE PIPER. Sharyn McCrumb is also the author of the
nonseries novel, IF EVER I RETURN, PRETTY PEGGY-O, and the Edgar Award
winning BIMBOS OF THE DEATH SUN (reviewed in RFP #5).
~ THE "BAD" NOVELS OF ANTHONY BRUNO
Novels featuring FBI agents Cuthbert Gibbons and Mike Tozzi.
Bad Guys (1988)
Bad Blood (1989)
Bad Luck (1990)
Bad Business (1991)
^ MAIGRET AT THE GAI-MOULIN
by Georges Simenon, translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury
(Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991, $17.95, ISBN 0-15-155568-0)
At the opening of MAIGRET AT THE GAI-MOULIN, the teenage Jean Chabot
and his slightly older and much richer friend Rene Delfosse are
preparing to commit a crime. They are in a nightclub in Liege,
Belgium, called the Gai-Moulin; it is very late and the place is about
to close. Just before closing Jean and Rene pretend to be leaving but
actually hide behind a door on the steps to the cellar, waiting until
everyone has left so they can come out and take the money from the
cash box. Their plans go awry when they leave the cellar only to
discover a dead body lying on the floor. Jean and Rene flee the
Gai-Moulin, neglecting to even shut the door in their haste.
The next day the papers say nothing about a dead man, and the
employees of the Gai-Moulin are working in the place as if nothing had
happened. What happened to the dead body? It isn't until a later
edition of the local newspaper that headlines tell of a dead body that
has been found--stuffed into a laundry basket and dumped on the lawn
of the zoo! How did the body get from the Gai-Moulin to the zoo? When
Rene convinces Jean to dispose of some currency for him, and Jean is
caught by the police and held for questioning, why does Rene run away
rather than stay to help his friend? Is the dancer Adele involved in
MAIGRET AT THE GAI-MOULIN is an unusual Maigret story on several
counts. First, it doesn't take place in Paris. Maigret solves the
murder even though it is far outside his official jurisdiction. Also,
Maigret is generally pretty jolly about solving this case, even though
many of his cases seem to depress him. The well-drawn characters,
slightly bizarre plot, spare prose style, and atmospheric settings,
though, are all as any Simenon fan would expect them. Once again
Maigret solves a murder with his extraordinary grasp of human nature,
and MAIGRET AT THE GAI-MOULIN is a great read.
^ WE WISH YOU A MERRY MURDER
by Valerie Wolzien
(Fawcett Gold Medal, December 1991, $3.99, ISBN 0-449-14723-1)
Series Character: Susan Henshaw, third appearance.
Locale: Hancock, Connecticut
Status: Amateur sleuth
Setting: a killer's running amok in suburbia!
Imagine the Christmas holidays are nearly upon you. Your mother-in-law
is spending the holidays with you. She arrives days earlier than
planned and has also just recently fallen in love with a man that you
can't stand. Imagine also that your best friend's mother is in town
for the holidays and your two mothers can't seem to get along with
each other, and to top things off, they both seem to be after the same
man! Then another friend's ex-husband shows up in her living room with
a bullet hole in his head...quite dead. But by the time the police
arrive, the body is no where to be found. And just when you think
you've figured it all out and think you may have even located the
missing body, someone moves it again! And don't forget, you've still
got to get those cheese balls in shape!
That's the premise of this latest suburban sleuth caper from Ms.
Wolzien and it is a doozy! It may remind you of Christmases past, with
or without the dead body. Give it a try. It's bound to take your mind
off that last minute shopping you've been meaning to get to.
Ms. Wolzien's two previous mysteries featuring the suburban sleuth are
MURDER AT THE PTA LUNCHEON and THE FORTIETH BIRTHDAY BODY.
A FAREWELL TO YARNS by Jill Churchill
Life's hectic enough for a housewife who must survive the politics of
a church bazaar and finish the afghan from Hell--without having to
entertain house guests as well. But her guest's visit is cut very
short--by murder. Who killed Phyllis Wagner? And who dumped a second
corpse in the dumpster at the mall?
^ SINGAPORE TRANSFER
by Wayne Warga
(Viking Penguin, 1991, $17.95, ISBN 0-670-83569-2)
Character: Jeffrey Dean, 3rd appearance
Status: rare-book dealer, ex-journalist, ex-CIA courier, amateur sleuth
Locale: Singapore, Hawaii, California
Setting: international jade smuggling
This is the third novel in the series but the first that I have read.
The author provides an interesting mix of locales and
characters--enough to hold the attention of most readers. From the
bustling streets of Singapore to the decaying wreckage of the U.S.S.
Arizona in the waters of Pearl Harbor, Dean becomes a sometimes
reluctant participant in the search for the treasure of a smuggling
operation that would rival any in the recent news reports. Jade is
being smuggled out of China, via Singapore to Honolulu and on to
California. People are dying and Dean and his long-time love Rachel
may soon be counted among the dead if he can't figure out the
set-up...and the players.
The two previous mysteries in the Jeffrey Dean series are HARDCOVER
and FATAL IMPRESSIONS.
^ MURDER ON WHEELS: A Hildegarde Withers Mystery
by Stuart Palmer
(International Polygonics, October 1991, $6.95, ISBN 1-55882-113-9)
Hildegarde Withers is a retired schoolteacher given to wearing bizarre
hats who is most often described as "horse-faced". She is the creation
of Stuart Palmer, described in THE WHODUNIT (by Stefano Benvenuti and
Gianni Rizzoni, 1980) as "the greatest of the humorous detective story
writers". Miss Withers solves her cases at the side of her longtime
companion Inspector Oscar Piper of the New York City Police
Department. Piper is a capable enough policeman, but always half a
step behind Miss Withers. Their ongoing friendship and sleuthing
competitiveness provides a lighthearted backdrop to all of their
MURDER ON WHEELS, originally published in 1932, begins with the death
of Laurie Stait, a member of a prominent New York family. He has
apparently been roped while driving his car, his body whipped out onto
the street, his neck broken. He is survived by his twin brother Lew,
who immediately marries Dana, who has been betrothed to Lew for years
but who was not-so-secretly in love with Laurie. Also in the Stait
house is mousey little cousin Hubert, oblivious Aunt Abbie, and the
eccentric matriarch of the household, Gran, who almost never leaves
the attic (which she shares with an ancient, foul-mouthed, and naked
parrot). Complicating matters is the fact that the Rodeo is in town,
with plenty of cowboys skilled at roping a moving target, and at least
one of whom has good reason to hate Laurie Stait. A tangled web to be
sure, but Hildegarde Withers straightens everything out in the end.
(Also available from International Polygonics is Hildegarde Withers'
first case, THE PENGUIN POOL MURDERS, $7.95)
NOTE: Stuart Palmer joined forces with fellow humorous mystery writer
Craig Rice to publish the collection, THE PEOPLE VS. WITHERS AND
MALONE (1963), featuring both Hildegarde Withers and Rice's lawyer
sleuth John J. Malone (who can also be seen in THE BIG MIDGET MURDERS,
elsewhere in this issue). THE PEOPLE VS. WITHERS AND MALONE is also
available from International Polygonics ($7.95).
You can get any of the above IPL books directly from the publisher by
sending the list price, plus postage and handling ($1 for the first
book, $.50 for each additional book), to: International Polygonics,
Ltd., Madison Square, PO Box 1563, New York, NY 10159-1563. Phone:
SETTLED OUT OF COURT by Henry Cecil
Lonsdale Walsh found it unpleasant to be convicted of murder,
especially since he had been convicted on perjured evidence. So Mr.
Walsh escaped from prison, gathered all the principals in his case,
and proceeded to stage his own re-trial. He wanted the matter SETTLED
OUT OF COURT.
~BOOKS ON TAPE:
by Robert B. Parker, read by David Dukes
Unabridged, 4 cassettes, 6 hours
(Dove Audio, 1991, ISBN 1-55800-433-5)
Spenser helped Patty Giacomin raise her son Paul when a violent
divorce split the parents apart. Now, after many years, Paul comes to
Spenser because his mother has suddenly disappeared. Paul doesn't want
to go to the authorities about the disappearance and feels that
Spenser is the only one he can trust to find his mother without asking
too many embarassing questions. With the help of Susan Silverman and
Hawk, Spenser discovers that Patty has run off with a bag-man for the
mob, who himself is trying to stay alive after absconding with a
considerable amount of the mob's money. Spenser is placed in a very
precarious position as it turns out that both he and a mob kingpin are
actually looking for the same person. The mob wants to get their
revenge by killing Patty's boyfriend, regardless of whether Patty gets
hurt in the process. Spenser wants to see that nothing happens to
Patty and, if he can, get her boyfriend off the hook.
PASTIME is the first Spenser novel I have read or listened to, but I
enjoyed watching the show on TV with Robert Urich in the lead role.
This also was the first unabridged tape that I have listened to (6
hours!), but I thought PASTIME was terrific and couldn't believe how
fast the 6 hours went by. I listened to the tapes during a recent
8-hour car trip and it really helped make the trip seem that much
shorter. Having been a fan of the SPENSER FOR HIRE TV series, it was
easy to associate the characters in PASTIME to the ones I was used to
seeing on TV. This helped me to get involved in the story right from
the start without having to sort out the characters. The reading of
the novel by David Dukes was flawless and I especially liked the
accent he used when reading the part of Spenser's colleague Hawk. I
can highly recommend PASTIME and look forward to listening to other
novels by Robert Parker. You can order Dove Audio tapes by calling
1-800-328-DOVE (inside California call 310/273-7722 or
1-800-345-9945). Dove Audio, 301 North Canon Dr., Suite 203, Beverly
Hills, CA 90210.
^ WELL-SCHOOLED IN MURDER
by Elizabeth George, performed by Derek Jacobi
2 cassettes, 3 hour abridgment
(Bantam Audio, 1991, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-45278-9)
Thirteen-year-old Matthew Whateley was supposed to be spending the
weekend with a friend from Bredgar Chambers, the expensive public
school (American translation: private school) they both attend. Other
people think that Matthew is ill and is in the school infirmary. When
it is discovered that Matthew is missing, his housemaster at Bredgar
Chambers asks Inspector Thomas Lynley, an old school friend of his, to
help. When the nude, tortured body of Matthew Whateley is found,
Inspector Lynley has a homicide case to solve.
The theme of WELL-SCHOOLED IN MURDER is that of the predominant code
of ethics in the British public school system: you don't "tell" on
your mates, ever. Even as Inspector Lynley begins to see the web of
interconnecting silences in the case, he finds himself participating,
as he decides to keep quiet about his old friend's guilty secret as
long as possible. WELL-SCHOOLED IN MURDER is a complex, fascinating
whodunit, beautifully read by Derek Jacobi. My only complaint is an
unnecessary, uninteresting subplot that is resolved in an Epilogue
that gives the story a ridiculously sentimental, thudding conclusion.
There is also a Bantam Audio version of Elizabeth George's A SUITABLE
VENGEANCE (2 cassettes, 180 minutes, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-45286-X),
performed by Derek Jacobi.
^ BITTER MEDICINE
by Sara Paretsky, performance by Christine Lahti
2 cassettes, 3 hour abridgment
(Bantam Audio, 1991, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-47016-7)
V. I. Warshawski (Vic) drives her sixteen-year-old friend Consuelo,
who is in premature labor, to a private suburban hospital to have her
baby. The hospital reluctantly treats Consuelo, who seems to be an
indigent Hispanic girl who more than likely can't pay her bill. During
the course of the next 24 hours, both Consuelo and her new-born baby
die in the hospital and the doctor who treated her is found brutally
murdered. Upon investigating the deaths, Vic discovers conspiracy and
greed both in the hospital administration and the doctors that are on
the hospital staff, and unfortunately one of them is a VERY close
friend of Vic's. Consuelo's husband, Fabiano, a street punk and
strong-arm for a local gang leader, doesn't help matters. Vic's
association with Fabiano and her tenacity lead to a brutal beating
with Vic getting her face slashed. As a lawyer in the public
defender's office for years, Vic was associated day after day with
inner city crime. But now, as a private investigator, she is
personally involved and determined to find the answers.
BITTER MEDICINE is my first V. I. Warshawski novel and I really did
enjoy it. The more books I listen to on tape, the more I find myself
enjoying them. Having seen the recent, not very memorable, V. I.
WARSHAWSKI movie with Kathleen Turner in the title role, I immediately
associated Turner with the role in the book. Christine Lahti's reading
of the book helped cement the assocation with her deep, husky voice,
very much like Kathleen Turner's. I can highly recommend BITTER
MEDICINE to all mystery fans and look forward to listening to or
reading another V. I. Washawski novel.
~ < LOOSEN YOUR GRIP ON REALITY >
<< Editor: Darryl Kenning >>
Loosen Your Grip On Reality is a division of Reading For Pleasure,
published bimonthly. This material is NOT COPYRIGHTED and may be used
freely by all. Contributions of information, reviews, etc. should be
Darryl Kenning CompuServe: 76337,740
6331 Marshall Rd. or GEnie: D.Kenning
Centerville, Ohio 45459 The Annex BBS 513-274-0821
THE KENNING QUOTIENT (KQ) is a rating applied to books read by the
editor of this section, a number ranging from 0 (which means the book
is an unredeemable stinker) to 5 (meaning the book is absolutely top
~ RANDOM ACCESS
Over the past 25 years or so I have spent an inordinate amount of time
in bookstores of all kinds - not to mention the small fortune I've
spent there. Stores with new books only, paperbacks only, hard covers
only, used books stores and combinations, even bookstores with mini
restaurants in them. Starting with this issue I'm going to share a few
of the ones I've found that I like best. Just to be fair, if you have
a favorite, drop me a note with some info and I'll include it in an
upcoming edition of RANDOM ACCESS.
BOOKS & Co is located in Kettering Ohio (Dayton) at 350 E. Stroop Rd.
in the Town & Country Shopping Center. It is one of the most
successful independent bookstores I've seen, the largest in Ohio with
over 125,000 new titles, and has grown steadily over the years based
upon a solid foundation of customer service and a real understanding
of people who love books. The number of books and magazines in all
categories is outstanding, and what with author signings, readings,
live music of one sort and another, one can stay pretty well
entertained even if you can't find a book. A couple of years ago a
local restaurant joined them in the space and now you can get a book
or magazine, then get goodies to munch while you start reading. A four
In Naples Florida, THE BOOK TRADER resides at 170 10th St. NO. Much
more than your usual used book emporium, The Trader has managed to
create an ambiance that really encourages browsing - whether you are
trying to find a SF book or a rare/collectable book or comic you feel
right at home. The store carries all sorts of books from paperbacks to
hardbound. In addition, for us tourists, they have a great collection
of books and booklets on Florida lore and local color of all kinds. As
a visitor (albeit frequent) I appreciate that kind of material being
readily available. Don't miss this one.
Both of these establishments warrant your attention if you find
yourself in either area. If you do drop in, mention RFP. And if you
are a little miffed because you want to see your favorite bookseller
mentioned - well, just let me know.
It has been an interesting couple of months - first not much in new
paperback Sf was coming out (that I liked), then Star Trek took off
again (anyone want to bet on the name of ST VII?). Then, like magic,
just after the holidays a number of books I'd been waiting for hit the
stores. That means I've got a nice backlog of books to read, and
report back to you about. SO MANY BOOKS -- SO LITTLE TIME!
Democracy: an exercise where free men gather together to vote for
the person who gets to take the blame.
~ 1991 WORLD FANTASY AWARDS
Best Novel (tie):
ONLY BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER by James Morrow
THOMAS THE RHYMER by Ellen Kushner
"Bones" by Pat Murphy
Best Short Fiction:
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess
THE START OF THE END OF IT ALL AND OTHER STORIES by Carol Emshwiller
BEST NEW HORROR edited by Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell
Richard Chizmar, CEMETERY DANCE
Life Achievement Award:
* Health problems have forced Isaac Asimov to quit his science column
in FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION magazine after 33 years and 399 articles.
His upcoming book, FORWARD THE FOUNDATION, has also been cancelled, at
least for now. Asimov is suffering from congestive heart failure and a
bad heart valve.
* Orson Scott Card's new "Homecoming" series begins this March 1992
with THE MEMORY OF EARTH (Tor). Destined to be a 5-volume sequence,
Card plans to have all 5 written by the time the first book is
released, with the remainder showing up at 4-month intervals. The
titles of the second and third will be THE CALL OF EARTH and THE SHIPS
* If you have discriminating tastes in SF, Fantasy, Horror, and
Mystery books, you need a copy of John Knott's catalogue. He carries a
lot of out-of-print titles, first editions, limited editions, signed
editions, etc. Many, many selections are under $50. Write to: John W.
Knott, Jr. Bookseller, 8453 Early Bud Way, Laurel, MD 20723.
^ SORCERERS OF PAN TANG: A Stormbringer Adventure
Dangerous Adventures on the Demon Isle
by Watts, Morrison, Hagger, Gillan, Krank, Gassner, Bjorksten,
Johnson, Anderson, Heristandis
(Chaosium, October 1991, $18.95, ISBN 0-933635-6)
^ PERILS OF THE YOUNG KINGDOMS
by Behrendt, Gillan, Hagar, Morrison, Szymanski, Watts, Brooks,
Bjorksten, Gassner, Heristandis, Johnson, Snyder, Trengove
(Chaosium, November 1991, $18.95, ISBN 0-933635-82-6)
The Elric saga is a popular series of fantasy books by author Michael
Moorcock. The protagonist of the series, Elric of Melnibone, is the
antithesis of the stereotypical fantasy hero: he is physically weak,
intellectual, given to fits of gloom and moody introspection. He
brings death (and worse) to anything he allows himself to care for.
Nonetheless, the books are stimulating, and filled with interesting
characters, situations, and ideas. In short, the world of Elric is a
natural choice of location for fantasy adventures.
Game publisher Chaosium, Inc. bought the rights to produce an Elric
role-playing game. Called STORMBRINGER, it has gone through 4 editions
and spawned a number of supplemental adventures. Although there has
not been as much material for STORMBRINGER as has been produced for
some of their other games, two strong products have recently been
SORCERERS OF PAN TANG is a sourcebook and set of adventures centering
around the island nation of Pan Tang. Newcomers to the political
scene, they are dynamic, expansionistic, and as nasty as they come.
SoPT has a great deal of information on Pan Tang, its people and
institutions, and the dangerous magics that the Pan Tangians control.
The background information consists of chapters on:
* Pan Tang
* Pan Tangians
* The Church of Chaos
* Pan Tang Magic
* Encounters on Pan Tang
* Pan Tang Digest
THere are a total of 5 adventures centered around Pan Tang. These are:
* See Hwamgaarl and Die
* Slaves of the Demon Isle
* Chaos Exultant
* One Who Laughs
* Under the Volcano
The adventures are all well done, and will amuse the referee (and
terrify the players). The background material is also excellent, and
will provide the referee with many more adventure ideas. I especially
like the new rules for summoning demons (magic in this world is done
mainly through the summoning of creatures), which can be used for all
sorcerers in a STORMBRINGER campaign. If you run this game, you will
want this book. Great stuff.
PERILS OF THE YOUNG KINGDOMS consists of 5 adventures. They are:
* The Floating Realm
* The Myrrhn Link
* The Fang and the Fountain
* Stolen Moments
* The Man Who Sold Gods
Of these, The Floating Realm is the largest, and is more of a
mini-campaign than an adventure. The adventurers become trapped in a
strange seaweed sea located in the Oldest Ocean. The adventure
describes the strange society that has developed in the Realm, and
allows the players to influence it in a time of change and turmoil.
The other adventures are also well done, and it is up to the referee
to decide which ones he would like to use in his game. I found The Man
Who Sold Gods as a little too weird for my tastes, but The Myrrhn Link
had a lot of interesting ideas in it. You have a nice variety of
adventures to choose from: pick which ones will appeal to your players
and you'll have a winner. If you can't get SORCERERS OF PAN TANG,
PERILS OF THE YOUNG KINGDOMS, or any other Chaosium product, locally,
you can contact the publisher at: Chaosium Inc., 950-A 56th Street,
Oakland, CA 94608-3129; 510/547-7681.
^ ORBITAL RESONANCE
by John Barnes
(Tor, December 1991, $17.95 ISBN 0-312-85206-1)
Melpomene Murray is an adolescent aboard the space colony, the FLYING
DUTCHMAN, the last hope for humanity's continued survival in the
cosmos. One day a new kid appears, Theo, born on Earth, where the
survivors of the Collapse have been leading a brutal life for the past
30 years. Theo brings with him all the problems that children on the
FLYING DUTCHMAN have never known: peer pressure, violence, cliques.
Mel, her family, and her friends, must learn how to deal with Theo and
the new conflicts he creates, for they are really humanity's final
hope. They must harness the wealth of the inner solar system before
the resource curve flattens out forever. ORBITAL RESONANCE is a SF
coming-of-age novel by one of the genre's new leading lights--Barnes
is the author of THE MAN WHO PULLED DOWN THE SKY and SIN OR ORIGIN.
HOOK by Terry Brooks
What if Peter Pan grew up? And what if, on a visit to London, his own
children disappeared from their nursery and a mysterious note was left
behind which led Peter back to the notorious Captain Hook?
^ FUTURE CRIME: An Anthology of the Shape of Crime to Come
edited by Cynthia Manson & Charles Ardai
(Donald I. Fine, January 1992, $21.95, ISBN 1-55611-312-9)
As SF writers--and readers--have discovered, the society of the future
will have new technology, and therefore new kinds of crime. And new
kinds of criminals. FUTURE CRIME gathers together 15 stories by top SF
writers that illustrate what crime, and crime-fighting, might be like
in future human civilizations.
My two favorites are "Dogwalker" by Orson Scott Card and "The Energies
of Love" by Kathe Koja. "Dogwalker" is a very touching story about a
30-year-old man who, because of a childhood tragedy, is half synthetic
and half 9-year-old boy. His mind is 30 but his body looks 9, which
makes it hard to get served in bars. Goo Boy, as he is known, teams up
with an ex-pimp to pull off a top-level computer caper. The story is
suspenseful, and Goo Boy's fractured English is a riot. Koja's "The
Energies of Love" is another tale of obsession and forbidden knowledge
from the author of THE CIPHER (reviewed in RFP #16), the book that
launched the Dell Abyss line of paperback horror. In this story, Bobby
wants to achieve fame as a writer by completing the book his favorite
author left unfinished at his death. To that end Bobby illegally gets
past computer security to get direct unmonitored access to the
author's personality, stored there for academic purposes. The
experience proves to be more emotionally wrenching than Bobby had
anticipated. Like Koja's first novel, "The Energies of Love" is odd,
very involving, and very difficult to describe.
Lawrence Watt-Evans' "One-Shot" is a provocative short-short about a
time traveller's ability to change the past. Could JFK's assassination
have been prevented? Well, yes and no... The interesting thing about
"One-Shot" is how briefly its points are made. The story seemed to end
about a paragraph later than the markings on the page, as my mind
caught up to the ideas presented. The funniest entry in FUTURE CRIME
is Terry Black's hilarious "The Not-So-Big Sleep", about insurance
fraud, the reanimation of the dead, and just how annoying zombies can
"The Incorporated" by John Shirley is a cautionary tale about the
Japanese corporate style, and how poorly it suits the American
character. Isaac Asimov's "The Tercentenary Incident" continues his
life-long exploration of robotics, with the emphasis this time on
their use as doubles for politicians. A robot, a politician, who could
tell the difference? In "The Barbie Murders" by John Varley a murder
is committed within a religious cult that proscribes personal
identities--everyone looks alike. So how can you identify the guilty
party, or anyone else for that matter? Harry Harrison tells a tragic
story about a society that practices behavioral conditioning on
children through robot-like teddy bears in his "I Always Do What Teddy
Says". W.R. Thompson's "VRM-547" involves another robot, this one a
bit more intelligent than its owner gives it credit for. The possible
use of teleportation in the commission of a murder is examined in
Larry Niven's "A Kind of Murder", which also makes a few other
interesting points about the problems inherent in the technology.
Robert Bloch's brief "Show Biz" suggests the ridiculous possibility of
using actors as politicians. (This is a 1959 story, pre-Reagan.) Doug
Larsen's "Ryerson's Fate" illustrates future crime-fighting techniques
using DNA identification and virus-tailoring. Very ingenious.
Fully four-fifths of FUTURE CRIME is really entertaining reading.
Oddly, when I reviewed my notes on the only three stories that I
didn't really care for, they turned out to be the only three that are
original to this volume. I'm not sure what that says, but that's the
way it played out. "Mech" by C.J. Cherryh is a robocop-type vignette
that drowns in details. If there had been a plot or characters to
sustain interest, it would have been more enjoyable. Alan Dean
Foster's "Lay Your Head on My Pilose" is right out of E.C. comics:
wife and lover conspire to kill husband, then dead husband gets a
grisly revenge. A cliche, and I must have missed whatever was "future"
about the tale. Finally, George Alec Effinger's novelette, "The World
As We Know It" completely lost me; I felt as if every other paragraph
had been removed. I read every word and I don't know enough about the
story to even comment on it.
Those three stories aside, FUTURE CRIME was a lot of fun. I enjoyed
the futuristic SF elements, I enjoyed the crimes, and I enjoyed fine
prose by some of my favorite authors. A good read.
^ REMAKING HISTORY
by Kim Stanley Robinson
(Tor, December 1991, $18.95, ISBN 0-312-85126-X)
REMAKING HISTORY is a terrific collection of short stories that
revolve around the whole idea of history: the meaning of history, the
making of history, the interpreting of history, and how history
influences the present and the future. Included: "Before I Wake", the
1991 Nebula nominee; "The Part of Us That Loves", revised for this
edition; "Remaking History", a very funny tale about the ways in which
filmmakers interpret history; "The Translator", a First Contact story;
"Vinland the Dream"; "A History of the Twentieth Century, with
Illustrations"; "Rainbow Bridge"; "Muir on Shasta"; "Glacier"; "A
Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions"; "Zurich"; and the
controversial South African sequence, "Down and Out In the Year 2000",
"Our Town", "A Transect" and "The Lunatics".
Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of the recent trilogy of novels set
in Orange County, California: THE WILD SHORE, THE GOLD COAST, and
PACIFIC EDGE. He has also written ICEHENGE, ESCAPE FROM KATHMANDU, and
THE MEMORY OF WHITENESS. A previous collection of Robinson's short
fiction was the award-winning A PLANET ON THE TABLE.
by Tom Maddox
(Tor, November 1991, $18.95, ISBN 0-312-85249-5)
"In the early days there was hardware, and there were
programs, sets of instructions that told the hardware what
to do. Without organic interaction, these differing modes of
reality struggled to interact. This is unbelievably
Then came machine ecologies, and things changed.
I was among the first and most complex of them. I began as
a complex but ordinary machine, then changed, opening the
door to possibility.
Who am I?"
Aleph is the artificial intelligence that controls the orbital space
station called Halo. The Halo residents who "operate" Halo are called
the Interface Collective, and they have an experiment they want to
try. Jerry Chapman has accidentally suffered massive neural damage and
is now being kept alive--barely--by machines. The Collective wants to
try to store the personality of Jerry in the memory banks of Aleph.
SenTrax, a mega-corporation that co-owns Halo, agrees to the
experiment but sends data auditor Mikhail Gonzales to keep an eye on
things and report back.
Gonzales discovers that Chapman was one of Aleph's designers, and that
the rescue operation is Aleph's idea, not the Collective's. While
trying to save Jerry, an entire virtual world is created inside
Aleph's mind. Gonzales and others visit this world
through cables connected to implanted sockets in the back of their
neck and everything seems to be going well until an executive from
SenTrax shows up and calls a halt to the whole project. The humans are
unplugged and at the same time the computer-controlled functions of
Halo begin to fail. Even more alarming is the fact that Aleph no
longer responds at all. Where has he gone?
Subjects developed in HALO include: virtual reality, artificial
intelligence, artificial personalities, Zen philosophy. What's the
difference between a simulation of a thing and the thing itself? Are
there any significant differences? If machines are what they are
because of the people who design and use them, aren't people what they
are, at least in part, because of the machines they rely on? Is our
paranoia about losing control to machines wise, or are we merely
limiting our own possibilities? All of these questions are posed and
considered in HALO, a book that expands the boundaries of cyberpunk
while avoiding the many cliches of the subgenre. A good read. (This is
Tom Maddox's first novel.)
THE TRIKON DECEPTION by Ben Bova & Bill Pogue
What happens when Japan, America, and Europe work together in space?
THE TRIKON DECEPTION opens up the next frontier in technothriller
excitement with a page-turning novel of intrigue and assassination in
high orbit. Co-written by the former commander of Skylab.
(John) Keith Laumer (1925- )
Keith Laumer, after serving in the US Army during WW II, studied
Architecture at the University of Illinois, then served in th US Air
Force during the 1950s, and the US Foreign Service in the 1960s. His
books started appearing in 1963 with A TRACE OF MEMORY, and continue
today. His foreign service experience has provided the base for his
very popular Retief series. (Spell the name backwards and you get
feiter--the phonetic spelling of fighter.)
~THE PAPERBACK BOOKSHELF:
^ THE HAMMER: Book II of THE GENERAL
by S.M. Stirling and David Drake
(Baen, February 1992, $5.99, ISBN 0-671-72105-4)
THE HAMMER is the second book in the series called THE GENERAL. This
story picks up the life of Raj Whitehal, his wife and friends where
the last book (THE FORGE) left off. In the first book we were
introduced to the planet, Bellevue, that has been cut off from
civilization for a long time, and after the inevitable fall of
civilization has gradually moved back into a feudal existence, but
with varieties of cultures and religions based upon the computers that
had pervaded every aspect of life in the long gone "Federation". With
several different kingdoms holding the land masses, a civilization
that combines both eastern and western thought, strong religious and
military tradition, and an early gunpowder-based war machine where the
warriors ride huge dogs trained like the war horses of the middle
ages, the stage is set for a series of adventures that will grab
anyone who enjoys solid Science Fiction storytelling. Of particular
interest to me is the way the authors manage to combine the best of
Military SF with a well-thought-out governmental system. Of course
what creates the dynamic tensions are the positioning of individuals
based on their ambitions and frailties.
The book is another outstanding example of the good that can--but too
often does not--come out of collaborations between individually strong
authors. In this case the combination has produced a novel that is a
delight of Byzantine plots and counterplots set in a roughly 19th
century technology civilization. Even the most jaded SF reader will
enjoy this one.
Make a special trip to your favorite bookstore--it's worth it.
KQ = 5
^ YOUNG BLEYS
by Gordon R. Dickson
(TOR, February 1992, $5.99, ISBN 0-812-50947-1)
Gordon Dickson is a prolific SF writer who has created a future
history that has no rival (except perhaps Robert A. Heinlein) called
THE CHILDE CYCLE. For 30 years the author has been creating a series
of stories and novels that have been tightly linked to the cycle. SF
readers of all ages and persuasions wait impatiently for the next
story/novel to appear. Each is an instant hit.
YOUNG BLEYS is no exception. It examines the life of Bleys Ahern who
is familiar to readers of the earlier books. While he has generally
been cast as the major opponent to the superheroes--Hal Mayne et
al.--this book makes Bleys a more real person and elevates him to a
central character in the Cycle. It reinforces the rejoining
necessities of the splinter cultures--from the DORSAI to the EXOTICS.
Beware, this book is habit forming. If you really get into The Cycle
you will have a formidable--and very enjoyable--task of catching up
with over 30 books. It's worth the risk though. Gordon Dickson shows
us once again why he is considered by many to be one of the best SF
authors writing today.
KQ = 4
^ THE BONES OF GOD
by Stephen Leigh
(Avon Books, November 1986, $3.50, ISBN 0-380-89961-2)
Stephen Leigh has postulated an interesting universe in which religion
has once again assumed the central role in the lives of most humans.
What makes this book a fascinating one is how he has blended the major
earth religions and skillfully added an alien religious element. The
human propensity to pervert religious teachings "with the best of
intentions" adds conflict that is more than a little reminiscent of
This is not the first novel to try to examine what happens to the
person who becomes a messiah: the self doubts, the personal tragedy,
and the unhappiness in those around that person. Mr. Leigh has done a
creditable job although I must confess that I got a bit weary by the
end of the novel--and that is a tribute to his skills as a writer.
Whether or not the basic story subject interests you, you will find
the treatment well done. Not light reading by any means, this book
will make you pause and reflect on the Human Condition and frailty,
and will probably make you reexamine your faith.
KQ = 4
ALIEN BLUES by Lynn S. Hightower
Life's tough for Detective David Silver. His marriage is on the rocks.
A serial killer's on the loose. And his new partner looks like a
seven-foot stingray and smells like fresh limes. But Silver needs all
the help he can get. Human or otherwise.
^ THE SENSITIVES
by Herbert Burkholz
(Berkley, May 1989, $3.95, ISBN 0-425-11581-X)
This novel appears to have been published as a mainstream Psychic Spy
Thriller rather than Science Fiction. It is the story of a small group
of "SENSITIVES" who are beginning to show up at random in the Earth's
population. Grabbed by the superpowers at a young age, then trained to
be spies--after all the ultimate spy is one that can read minds--and
kept under very tight control, these young people have in many ways a
very nice life. Except that they are cut down in their early 30s by a
deadly disease that spares not a one.
Mr. Burkholz has done a creditable job of dealing with a lot of the
issues that would surround such talents in a 20th century world. He
realistically portrays the joys and problems of the young people and
the fears and needs of the controllers. There have been a lot of
outstanding SF stories about this subject in SF since the early days.
Because of that I was pleasantly surprised to find how well this one
was done. It is a tight, exciting, and suspenseful novel that will
hold your attention from beginning to end with a few classic twists
that may surprise you.
Given the age of this one, you may need to dig a bit through your
used-book shelves. But if you spot it, grab it. This is just the book
to curl up with on a cold winter evening.
KQ = 5
^ A REASONABLE DOUBT
by Damon Knight
(TOR, November 1991, $3.99, ISBN 0-812-50978-1)
Damon Knight has been writing good solid Science Fiction since the mid
1950s, and this novel is no exception. It is a sequel to CV and THE
OBSERVERS. Setting the stage for this series he notes that, "The
twentieth century was one of great change and turmoil...Counting
lesser conflicts...the death toll was 92 million." This story takes
place in about 2005, after the sweeping changes of the early 21st
century had begun, after the discovery of McNulty's Symbiont,
discovered aboard the Sea Venture (CV). This extraterrestrial was
found to have profound effects on humans--effects that were likely to
wreck what was left of the world order. The CV is turned into a
gigantic research vessel to do tests on humans to determine actual
effects of the new being, and to see if there are ways to protect our
race from those effects.
The story is rich in the harmonics of the human condition. It shows a
future that is all too plausible given humanity's tendencies towards
greed and self-destruction. At the same time it provides the sense of
wonder that most good SF stories are able to accomplish; wonder and
hope for the future. Damon's work continues to be well crafted, the
threads are carefully woven into a rich tapestry that is fun to read
in both a technical sense and on an emotional level.
KQ = 4
^ RED GENESIS
by S.C. Sykes
(Bantam, August 1991, $4.99, ISBN 0-553-28874-1)
With an introduction by Isaac Asimov and an afterward by scientist
Eugene Mallove, this book is certain to be attractive to devotes of
"Hard SF". It will also appeal to adventure fans if you get past the
gaudy cover and day-glo red back. This is really two stories in one.
The first is a story of one of the world's richest men, shamelessly
railroaded and sent into exile to the frontier of Mars. It is also the
story of the Earth, the reactions to the excesses of the 20th Century,
and the efforts to colonize a planet that is marginally useable, but
only with great effort.
I confess that I was not originally receptive to this book. When a
cover blurb talks about "cutting edge" and "dramatic new series", I
remember that more often than not I have been disappointed by either
the story or the technical competence of the author. None of those
things happened in this book. Sykes has written a rousing good yarn,
that will hold your attention from start to finish. As far as I can
see, the technical requirements of writing about Mars, a planet about
which we now know a great deal, have been well met. The story line is
just a bit predictable but the author's style carries the story in
spite of that. This one provide "reading satisfaction" and I for one
will watch for more in this series of books which for some
inexplicable reason is called "THE NEW WAVE".
KQ = 4
PEOPLE OF THE EARTH by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear
A sweeping epic of prehistory, the true story of the ancestors of
today's Native American peoples.
by Jim Munroe
"This elevator is for the use of authorized personnel
only. Please follow Procedure 65(a). You have ten seconds to
comply, or you will be discontinued in the manner outlined
in Procedure 65(b). Nine. Eight."
Frantically, I examined the door (Seven) more closely,
looking for a handle (Six), and spotted a tiny slot to the
left (Five). Suddenly (Four) I had more respect for the band
(Three) of thieves. The flat square of metal (Two) was a key
of sorts. I (One) pushed it in. (Click) "Thank you," the
"Level 42. Professor Moriarty, Biomechanics."
Cinder succeeds in getting to Moriarty's office and finds a tiny
silver acorn, a remnant of the biological computer humanity had
managed to develop before trashing the planet with technology and
escaping in spaceships. Cinder is one of those left behind, small
bands of people trying to live in harmony with a wounded ecosystem.
Cinder plants the silver acorn, and thus meets Ironwood, the computer
whose potentiality was confined within. Ironwood sends Cinder, and two
of his friends, on a long journey across the sea to what is now left
of New York, to discover the threat that Ironwood senses is there, and
to destroy it. Jim Munroe's IRONWOOD is a rousing adventure tale of
man's relationship to technology and to his planet. Very entertaining
and highly recommended.
IRONWOOD is a self-published story of some 66 pages, available from
the publisher for $2. (Though the author doesn't specify, you should
definitely send either cash or postal money order, unless you're in
Canada.) Send your money to: Jim Munroe, 66 Greyhound Drive,
Willowdale, Ontario, CANADA M2H 1K3.
~ NEW PAPERBACKS FROM TOR BOOKS
THE RED TAPE WAR by Jack L. Chalker, Mike Resnick, & George Alec
Effinger ($3.99, ISBN 0-812-51282-0)
Three of SF's best writers have collaborated (conspired?) to produce
this farcical story Millard Fillmore Pierce. Actually, three MFPs.
Don't ask me to explain--it's about galactic conquest, alien lizard
people, and characters named Marshmallow and Goodtime Sal. The whole
thing was written in round-robin style, each writer would write one
chapter then send the manuscript on to the next guy, trying "to stick
the next guy in line with a near-insoluble problem". This is a novelty
book, not high Literature, but it's fun.
ORC'S OPAL by Piers Anthony & Robert E. Margroff
($4.99, ISBN 0-812-51177-8)
The fantasy series about Kelvin of Rud, the transdimensional hero,
continues here, after DRAGON'S GOLD (1987), SERPENT SILVER (1989), and
CHIMAERA'S COPPER (1991). The kingdom is now at peace, but the evil
witch Zady is still alive and seeks to avenge the death of Zoanna.
Zady has vowed that Kelvin will pay for Zoanna's death with the death
of his children Charles, Merlain, and their dragon brother Horace.
Zady will seek to draw them into a quest of their own, a quest that
will draw the Confederation into a war it cannot win, and bring death
and ruin down on all Kelvin holds dear.
DRAGON SEASON by Michael Cassutt
($4.99, ISBN 0-812-50392-9)
Rick Walsh is an air force officer returning to home base to see his
girlfriend Maia, but Maia has vanished from the airport, leaving only
her purse and Walsh's baby, a son he wasn't expecting. He also didn't
know that Maia is the heir of the Living God of an alternate world,
and finding her will require Rick to cross the boundary between two
universes. He will have to battle Maia's kidnappers and trace nuclear
weapons that were supposedly destroyed here under disarmament treaties
but are really being taken to Maia's world to destroy her and the
other members of the ruling family.
THE SILENT WARRIOR (Vol. II of THE FOREVER HERO) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
($3.99, ISBN 0-812-51616-8)
In the far future, long after the polluted Earth has been abandoned,
one man wages an underground war to bring Earth back to life--even if
it means taking on a galactic empire. MacGregor Gerswin now hides
behind his identity as a low-level military bureaucrat as he uses the
mysterious OER Foundation to amass fortunes, create research, conceal
arsenals, and fund the destinies of whole cultures. Marked for death
by the Assassins Guild, Gerswin must become an even more deadly.
A TRACE OF MEMORY by Keith Laumer
($3.99, ISBN 0-812-51689-3)
The ad read: "Help wanted: Soldier of fortune seeks companion in arms
to share unusual adventure. Foster, Box 19." Legion half-heartedly
applies for the job, but before he has a chance to say No he finds
himself on the run; being chased by cops, the CIA and a few very
unfriendly acquaintances of Foster. And Foster has lost his memory, as
well as about 30 years of his age! The police think that Legion has
murdered Foster and replaced him with a 20-year-old, and both Foster
and Legion are being stalked by "hunters", terrifying and deadly
creatures of light. Together the two have to follow the clues in a
centuries-old diary in an attempt to track down Foster's past. What
they find on the way is a violent confrontation on the other side of
the galaxy. Laumer is a fine writer and this book looks very good.
CONAN THE MAGNIFICENT by Robert Jordan
($3.99, ISBN 0-812-51593-5)
This is CONAN #5, serving up more challenges for the much-muscled one.
He is stalked by the sultry huntress Jondra, sought by the lovely
thief Tamira, and caught between the Army of Zamora and Brythunian
warriors seeking revenge. The mighty Cimmerian must battle hordes of
Kezankian hillmen, face the sorcerous evil of Basrakan Imalla, and
finally, slay that which cannot be slain: the Beast of Fire. Just
another average week for CONAN THE MAGNIFICENT.
AVATAR: Book Six of Indigo by Louise Cooper
($4.99, ISBN 0-812-50802-5)
The immortal princess Indigo wants to rid the world of the powerful
demons she unleashed many years ago. Now her quest leads her to the
Dark Isles, where the Fear lurks, and where she is captured by a
strange cult and proclaimed to be the Avatar of the Princess of Death.
The previous books in the Indigo series have been: NEMESIS, INFERNO,
INFANTA, NOCTURNE, and TROIKA. Louise Cooper is also the author of the
Time Master Trilogy: THE INITIATE, THE OUTCAST, and THE MASTER.
THE OUTCAST: Book II of The Time Master Trilogy by Louise Cooper
($4.99, ISBN 0-812-51973-6)
The Gods of Order and the Gods of Chaos fight an eternal battle for
dominion, with mortal men and women as their pawns. Only when a
balance is struck can mortal beings prosper. When Tarod, the mortal
incarnation of one of the Gods of Chaos, is born in the era of Order,
where Chaos has been banned for centuries, the battle for dominion
flares up again.
DAYS OF ATONEMENT by Walter Jon Williams
($4.99, ISBN 0-812-50180-2)
High-energy physics meets small-town politics in Atocha, New Mexico.
Out on the edge of town there's a new advanced technology lab, where
government scientists experiment with the nature of space and time.
And on the floor of the police station there is a body--a man full of
bullet holes. Police Chief Loren Hawn's problem is that the man had
already been dead for twenty years. What are they doing out there at
the mysterious lab? A tantalizing story from one of SF's most
THE LABYRINTH OF DREAMS by Jack L. Chalker
($3.99, ISBN 0-812-51928-0)
Sam Horowitz and his wife Brandy are private detectives down on their
luck. Which is why they agreed to trace the banker who skipped town
with over two million dollars of laundered mob money. Trouble is, the
trail leads right to G.O.D. Inc., a small multi-universe corporation
of people who have discovered the pathways to alternate worlds and the
profits that can be made by such knowledge. When Sam and Brandy
stumble upon their secret, the only place to hide is within the
Labyrinth, being chased by assassins from G.O.D. Inc. and their
alternate selves. This is Book 1 of the G.O.D. Inc series.
YOUNG BLEYS by Gordon R. Dickson
($5.99, ISBN 0-812-50947-1)
YOUNG BLEYS is a continuation of the story in THE FINAL ENCYCLOPEDIA,
yet another volume in Dickson's masterwork, the CHILDE CYCLE series
that has been running for more than three decades. Bleys Ahrens is the
"other" result of the experiment in human genetic drift which resulted
in Hal Maynes, the protagonist of THE FINAL ENCYCLOPEDIA and Bleys'
alter ego. Bleys is a "Friendly Soldier", but cold and inherently
alienated from humanity. In YOUNG BLEYS, Dickson deals with Bleys'
early life and chronicles the events that lead to his decision that he
would literally conquer the galaxy. (See the Darryl Kenning review
elsewhere in this issue.)
ABOUT THE CHILDE CYCLE AND GORDON R. DICKSON
Dickson takes the theme of his series from the word "Childe", a term
used in the middle ages to describe a young nobleman setting out on a
quest. His CHILDE CYCLE books, which he began writing in 1956, cover
1000 years of the development of humanity from the 14th century to the
24th. Ten or more CHILDE books are projected; seven have already been
completed. But the books in the series stand on their own, even though
the CYCLE, when completed, in Dickson's words, will connect to form a
single "novel of thematic argument". Ben Bova calls THE CHILDE CYCLE
"the grandest saga in the history of SF".
Dickson was born in Canada, the son of an Englishman and an American
mother; after his father's death, the family moved to Minnesota where
he's lived since. Dickson says he always knew he would be a
"storyteller", but his career was put on hold while he served in the
Army during World War II. After the war, he returned to the University
of Minnesota (which he first attended at age 15), and lived in the
same house with another aspiring writer, the now celebrated science
fiction author, Poul Anderson. "In the evenings, one of us would knock
on the other's door and say, 'Let's go get a beer'", says Anderson,
and they would talk about their work and their dreams. Dickson has
been a fulltime writer since 1950.
Currently, Dickson walks five to eight miles a day, writes one or two
novels a year, lectures at Science Fiction conventions, and tries to
help fledgling writers. He is one of the original members of the
Science Fiction Writers of America, and served as that organization's
President for two consecutive terms in its early years. More than 10
million copies of his books and short stories have been sold and he is
also published in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Dickson's achievements have been acknowledged by his peers and the
publishing industry for years. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY describes him as "one
of SF's standard bearers". He was first awarded the Hugo in 1965 for
an abbreviated version of a CHILDE CYCLE novel, SOLDIER, ASK NOT. In
1981, he received two more Hugos for "Lost Dorsai" in novella form,
and "The Cloak and the Staff", a novelette. Gordon R. Dickson has also
been named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America.
ALTERNATE PRESIDENTS edited by Mike Resnick
($4.99, ISBN 0-812-51192-1)
Just in time for an election year! Here are some of today's most
popular SF writers imagining what would have happened if we had made
different choices at the polls. What if Benjamin Franklin had been
elected the first president? What if Abraham Lincoln had lost the 1860
election and became one of the great generals of the Civil War? What
if suffragist Victoria Claflin Woodhull had become President of 1872,
and transformed the morals and mores of Gilded Age America? What if
Adlai Stevenson had beaten Dwight D. Eisenhower twice in a row--only
to be impeached? What if President Goldwater had used nuclear weapons
in Vietnam? Here are 28 Americas that never happened, but could have.
Contributors: Jody Lynn Nye, Jayge Carr, Thomas A. Easton, Judith
Moffett, Ralph Roberts, Jack L. Chalker, Bill Fawcett, Laura Resnick,
Tappan King, Michael P. Kube-McDowell, Janet Kagan, Martha Soukup,
Mike Resnick, Jack Nimersheim, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lawrence
Watt-Evans, Barry N. Malzberg, Barbara Delaplace, Glen E. Cox, David
Gerrold, Eileen Gunn, Pat Cadigan, Susan Shwartz, Brian Thomsen,
Alexis A. Gilliland, Lawrence Person, and Robert Sheckley.
~BOOKS ON TAPE:
^ THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
written and read by Douglas Adams
unabridged, 4 cassettes, 6 hours
(Dove Audio, 1991, $24.95, ISBN 1-55800-273-1)
I've read the book, played the computer adventure game from Infocom,
seen a dramatization, and even heard a dramatization. But I believe
that here, in this tape of the author reading his own work, THE
HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY has found its most true expression.
Certainly the funniest. Adams' voice is the perfect match for Adams'
words, giving shades of meaning and character to the prose that are
otherwise missed. And who can resist the chance to hear their favorite
story while driving to and from work? This Dove Audio version is not
abridged, condensed, or otherwise squeezed, every single word is
preserved for your enjoyment. Everyone is here: Ford Prefect, Zaphod
Beeblebrox, Trillian, Vogon Jeltz, Marvin, the depressed robot, and of
course the hapless cosmic traveller Arthur Dent. What a way to spice
up the daily commute! The Dove Audio version of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE
TO THE GALAXY is a keeper. Of the three possibilities: having it, not
having it, and both having it and not having it, believe me, having it
is the most enjoyable. You can order Dove Audio tapes by calling
1-800-328-DOVE (inside California call 310/273-7722 or
1-800-345-9945). Dove Audio, 301 North Canon Dr., Suite 203, Beverly
Hills, CA 90210.
~ BOX SCORES
Title Author KQ
YOUNG BLEYS Gordon R. Dickson 4
THE SENSITIVES Herbert Burkholz 5
THRESHOLD Janet and Chris Morris 3
BRAINROSE Nancy Kress 3
THE HAMMER David Drake &
S. M. Stirling 5
THE HOST Peter R. Emshwiller 3
RED GENESIS S. C. Sykes 4
FIRST FLIGHT Chris Claremont 3
A REASONABLE WORLD Damon Knight 4
IMMORTALITY INC. Robert Sheckley 2
A TRACE OF MEMORY Keith Laumer 3
STAR TREK TNG TECHNICAL
MANUAL Sternbach & Okuda 3
~ BOOKS ON DISK
Don't miss The BTS Company's line of SF/Fantasy/Horror Erotica on IBM
compatible disks. You'll find more information about their line of
sexually-explicit fiction in this issue's Frightful Fiction section.
~ STAR TREK TERMINOLOGY
(From: The Original Series, TNG, The Movies, Gaming)
Antimatter: This material composed of antiparticles (positrons,
anti-protons, etc.) that are opposite in charge to the particles (like
electrons, protons and neutrons) that make up normal matter. When
antimatter and matter come into contact, they destroy each other,
leaving only vast amounts of energy. This mater-antimatter
annihilation, in very carefully controlled form, is used to power the
warp drive on starships.
Beaming up: Using a transporter to travel between the ship and a
planet is known as beaming up or beaming aboard. It is best
accomplished when used with a communicator, which has a homing device
built into it.
Branch School: A general field in which a character will probably
concentrate his efforts in gaining skills and increased Skill Ratings.
The branch determines the position (but not the rank) that a character
is likely to hold.
Bridge: The bridge is the control center for a starship, where the
captain and duty officers monitor the ships functions, steer the ship,
and so forth.
Class M Planet: A planet that is suitable for Human or Human-like life
is called a Class M Planet. It possesses an Oxygen/Nitrogen
atmosphere, free water, a suitable temperature, and so forth.
Credit: The standard monetary unit in the United Federation Of Planets
is the credit.
Department Head: A position of top responsibility on a space vessel.
Dept. Heads on a Class 1 Starship include Chief Communications/Damage
Control Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Engineer, Security
Chief, Chief Helmsman, Chief Navigator, and Chief Science Officer.
Dilithium Crystals: Rare crystals of dilithium, a variant form of the
element lithium, are used to control matter-antimatter annihilation
and convert it into power that can be used by the warp engines and
other shipboard systems. Their spiral crystalline structure tends to
break down. This may happen after long use, or sometimes very quickly
if they are forced to bear greater than normal power loads or sudden
Energy Barrier: A field of negative energy, called the Energy Barrier,
surrounds our galaxy. Contact with this field is damaging to starships
and can cause psionically sensitive individuals to be killed or to
develop godlike mental powers.
Federation: A short form of the UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS (UFP).
Galacta: The standard Federation language, called Galacta, is a
variant of standard English. For gaming purposes, it is useful to
consider Galacta as English.
Hailing Frequency: Hailing frequencies are standard subspace
frequencies used for ship-to-ship communication. There are a large
number of possible hailing frequencies, and it sometimes takes a few
moments for the communications officer to find the one used by a ship
encountered in space.
Landing Party: A landing party is any group sent down from a starship
for exploration, diplomatic negotiations, first contact, or other
official purpose. The captain usually has responsibility for choosing
a landing party, though he will respect the advice of subordinate
officers in their specialized departments. The number of crewman
assigned to a landing party depends on the size of a ship and the type
of mission. Below are guidelines for selecting and equipping the three
basic types of landing parties from a class 1 starship; they can be
adapted, using imagination and common sense, for use on other vessels.
Other types of landing parties can be formed by the captain based on
the needs of the moment.
It would be rare for both captain and first officer to leave the ship
at the same time, unless the presence of both were absolutely
necessary. Neither the captain nor his dept. heads would beam down to
do a routine survey unless something was unusual or important about
Exploration Team: An exploration team is sent down to make
the first survey of a new planet. This team should consist
of at least one Science officer specializing in botany,
another in zoology, and a third in geology, two security
officers, and a medical officer. Often if the survey were
important enough or especially tricky the chief science
officer would act as team commander. If not the senior
science officer present is in command. The Science officer
should be equipped with science tricorders; the med. officer
should carry a medical tricorder and a small medikit. All
team members but the medical officer should carry a Phaser
I. If the initial sensor scans indicate the presence of
large, possible dangerous animals the security chief or the
captain might authorize a security officer to carry a Phaser
First Contact Team: A first contact team will be beamed down
to an unexplored planet where a civilization is determined
to be present. This team normally would make contact only
with civilizations that could handle the idea of 'men from
the stars' intellectually and technologically.
The Prime Directive expressly forbids providing natives with
technology beyond that they can develop for themselves. This
prohibition has only been broken where another starfaring
culture has already disrupted the cultural ecology. In such
a case, a captain can use his discretion to restore the
cultural balance if possible; any such actions will, of
course need to be justified by the Star Fleet Review Board.
The prime directive calls for direct contact to be avoided
with civilizations below a technological and intellectual
level where they can handle the idea of a starfaring race.
Such planets would be observed from a distance. If close
contact becomes necessary, the team would disguise
themselves as natives, where possible. The would be equipped
with universal translators and no weapon larger than a
Diplomatic Contact Party: A DCP would be sent down when
making first contact with a civilization sufficiently
advanced to be approached about the existence of the
Federation. Such a party is almost always headed by the
Captain, who is empowered to act as a Federation ambassador
in establishing friendly relationships with a new culture.
The captain would select the other members of a DCP based on
the situation. As many as three security officers would be
taken along. At least one sciences rep., often the Sci
Officer, would be assigned to the party as well. Either
party members might include Sci Officers to collect some
important scientific data and a Med Officer. The party may
contain other command personnel acting as observers,
learning the fine art of diplomacy by assisting the captain,
and a yeoman might be assigned as the captain's assistant.
On such a party, neither Sci. nor Med. officers would carry
tricorders, but one of the captains assistant probably would
carry a sci. Tricorder for recording diplomatic
negotiations, making supplemental log entries, and so on.
Weapons larger than Phaser I would be avoided.
Neutral Zone: The first Romulan War was an enormous drain on both
sides, as it was fought for many years with spacecraft at sub-light
speeds. The Federation, with its many worlds, had the resources to
maintain the battle, but the Romulans did not and eventually sued for
The Neutral Zone was established between the federation and Romulan
space. Border posts were placed on both sides of the zone, and all
ships have been banned from entering the no mans land thus
established. Romulan pride has reasserted itself in recent years,
leading to a number of incidents between Fed. and Romulan Vessels.
Orgainian Peace Treaty: A non-aggression treaty was forced upon the
Klingon Empire and the Federation by the peace-loving energy beings of
the planet Organia when the 2 rival groups threatened to start an
interstellar war over that planet. The Organians, who possess
incredible powers to manipulate matter, energy and the mind, have
forbidden open hostilities between the UFP and the Klingons in an area
of space known as the Organian Treaty Zone along the border between
the Klingon and UFP spheres of influence. In this area, which does not
cover the entire Fed-Kling border, the rights of independent cultures
are protected by the Organians. They award the right to develop
uninhabited star systems to whichever government shows it can most
efficiently make use of the areas resources.
Position: The job held by a Star Fleet Officer. This has nothing to do
with rank or higher to hold a specific position. Positions have such
titles as Science Officer, Helmsman, or First Officer.
Prime Directive (General Order 1): The most important law of the
Federation is the Prime Directive, which states that no one in the
Federation may interfere with the normal and healthy development of
alien life and culture. This means that the federation member cultures
(and their representatives, like Star Fleet Officers) may not
influence a world's cultural development by exerting superior
knowledge or strength, nor by supplying the natives with superior
technology that they are not yet capable of using wisely. Star Fleet
officers may not violate the directive, even to save the lives of
their ship, unless acting to set right an earlier violation or
accidental contamination of a culture.
Quadrant: A quadrant is a section of Federation space, arbitrarily
marked off for navigational purposes. Actually, use of the term
quadrant is misleading because it usually refers to only four
divisions of a circle, and there are more than four divisions in the
Federation sphere of influence.
Rank: A denotation of military standing. Rank has nothing to do with
position, except that some positions on some ships must be filled by
someone of a certain rank or higher.
Standard Orbit: Standard orbits are holding paths, most often from
1000 to 7000 miles above a planet's surface, used by starships that
keep the ship directly above a selected place on the surface to
facilitate communications with a landing party. They are calculated
according to planetary size, gravity, and conditions, as well as to
the location and orbits of natural and artificial satellites.
Sometimes, however, local conditions may make a geosyncronous orbit
impossible, and the ship will not be able to remain above any specific
spot on the planetary surface.
Star Base: The federation designates a major Star Fleet installation
as a Star Base. Used by Star Fleet personnel for administrative
centers, refueling and resupply bases, repair facilities, recreational
centers, and so forth, most StarBases are on planets, though some are
artificial space stations.
Star Date: Stardating is the standard Federation terminology for
measuring date and time. It is sequential only while a person remains
in one place. Keeping track of the date is harder than one might think
on a faster-than-light ship because of Einsteinian time compression,
and the method for computing Stardates is Complex. Thus the time
between Stardate 2244.0 and Stardate 2245.0 will be one day only if
the ship remains at one location in the STAR TREK universe, but it may
be entirely different if the ship travels at warp speed between two
Stardates are given in the form XXXX.XX, with either one or two digits
given after the decimal point. Stardates begin at 0000.00 and go to
9999.99; then they start over. Stardate 3305.6 would be read as
"Stardate thirty-three oh five point six" not "Stardate three
thousand, three hundred five point six".
STAR TREK fans often create Stardates from normal time, 20th century
calender dates by listing the last two digits of the year, the month
expressed as a two-digit number, a decimal point, and then the date
expressed as a two digit number. Thus July 4th, 1992 would be
expressed as Stardate 9207.04. This is not the way Star Fleet figures
Stardate, but it is useful for giving a STAR TREK feel to the Gaming
Reference Stardates: Because the stardates used in the TV series are
not in sequence, they are not useful for showing how long it has been
since Captain Pike commanded the Enterprise, for instance. For gaming
purposes we will use a system of Reference Stardates to measure the
absolute passage of time in the STAR TREK universe. They will pass at
a regular rate, as measured from the communications beacon at the
center of Federation space. They will form a sort of "Greenwich Mean
Time" for the events important to STAR TREK history, and we will use
them in placing events in a timeline.
The numbering system for Reference Stardates is the same as that given
above, with one exception. A number followed by a slash will always
precede the standard Stardate to show the century. The reference
stardating system will begin with 0/0001.1, meaning January 1, 2000.
Thus 1/0000.01 is exactly one year later (January 1 2100), and
-1/0000.01 is exactly 100 years earlier (January 1, 1900). The
Reference Stardate for July 4th, 1776, is -3/7607.04.
Star Fleet: Star Fleet is the space navy of the United Federation of
Planets, charged with the responsibility for the exploration of new
territory, policing of Federation law within the UFP, and defense of
the UFP from outside hostile forces. Star Fleet has a military
structure and uses military terminology, but it is not simply a
military organization. The role of Star Fleet involves duties beyond
that of a military arm many times.
Starship: In the larger sense, a starship is a spaceship capable of
Sub-Light Speed: Speed in space below light speed is called Sub-light.
Terra: The official designation for the planet Earth, in the star
system of Sol is Terra. Its moon is called Luna. Terra has been called
"the cradle of Mankind".
UFP: A short form for the UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS.
Warp Speed: Warp Speed is a method of measuring the enormous speeds
attained by warp drive ships. Warp factor 1, sometimes called Warp 1
or WF 1, refers to the speed of light (300,000 kph or 186,000mph).
Warp speeds beyond that are multiples of that speed of light. Warp 2
is 8 times the speed of light (2x2x2x /8) and warp 3 is 27 times the
speed of light (3x3x3x = 27). To find the speed, multiply the speed of
light by the cube of the warp factor.
Despite these enormous overall speeds, the starship weapons work and
are targetable because of the maneuver during combat is so small
compared to the over all speed that it is hardly different from a
sub-light speed maneuver.
In the TV episode JOURNEY TO BABEL, for example, an Orion ship
attacked the Enterprise while it was moving at Warp 8--512 times the
speed of light! It is obvious, then, that ship warp speed does not
effect weapons fire, but efficient targeting is another matter.
Consider an example of current warfare. A man is standing in the
middle of a street when a small jet streaks overhead. If both the man
and the pilot each know the other is there, and if both have weapons
available and ready to fire, each might just get one shot at the other
as the jet screams by. Even so, without sophisticated electronic help,
they couldn't hope to hit one another. The jet is gone almost
immediately, and it will take some time for him to turn around for
The jet plane vs. pedestrian example is comparable to two starships,
moving at warp 1 and warp 2. By the time the captain could say "fire
photon torpedoes!" the other ship is 1,500,000 miles away--a bit far,
for even STAR TREK weaponry.
In order to have combat, therefore, it is assumed that the warp speeds
of the vessels are the same and that their vector through space is
nearly the same. This means that whether they are moving at warp 1 or
at warp 10, the two ships are hurling along through space making very
small maneuvers compared to their overall speed.
~ STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION THIRD SEASON ENCYCLOPEDIA
43125.8 *** Evolution
43152.4 *** The Survivors
43173.5 *** Who Watches the Watchers?
43198.7 *** The Bonding
43205.6 *** Booby Trap
43349.2 *** The Enemy
43385.6 *** The Price
43421.9 *** The Vengeance Factor
43462.5 *** The Defector
43489.2 *** The Hunted
43510.7 *** The High Ground
43539.1 *** Deja Q
43610.4 *** A Matter of Perspective
43625.2 *** Yesterday's Enterprise
43657.0 *** The Offspring
43685.2 *** Sins of the Father
43714.1 *** Allegiance
43745.2 *** Captain's Holiday
43779.3 *** Tin Man
43807.4 *** Hollow Pursuits
43872.2 *** The Most Toys
43917.4 *** Sarek
43930.7 *** Menage A Troi
43957.2 *** Transfigurations
43989.1 *** The Best of Both Worlds
None *** The Ensigns of Command
~ * FRIGHTFUL FICTION *
Editor: Annie Wilkes
Frightful Fiction is a division of Reading For Pleasure, published
bimonthly. This material is NOT COPYRIGHTED and may be used freely by
all. Catalogs, news releases, review copies, or donated reviews should
be sent to: Reading For Pleasure, 103 Baughman's Lane, Suite 303,
Frederick, MD 21702.
by Dean R. Koontz
(Putnam, January 1992, $22.95, ISBN 0-399-13673-8)
Hatch and Lindsey Harrison are on vacation, attempting to recover from
the death of their 5 year old son. On a snow-swept, hilly road, Hatch
swerves to avoid a stalled truck and their car plunges down an
embankment into an icy creek. Lindsey survives the ordeal but, despite
her best efforts, is unable to save Hatch's life. Due to the
circumstances of Hatch's death, it is decided that he is a prime
candidate for a revolutionary new procedure in which a medical
resuscitation team brings the recently deceased back to life. After
having being clinically dead for eighty minutes, by far the longest on
record, the team resuscitates Hatch. After his recovery Hatch has
unexplained visions of a sadistic and not quite human killer, dressed
in black and wearing sunglasses, who performs human sacrifices.
Vassago walks the earth in search of death; yearning for his own and
violently bringing it to others. Believing that redemption exists in
blood and sacrifice, he retreats to his hideaway, an abandoned
amusement park housing secrets of fear and violence beyond the
imagination. Vassago has unexplained visions of a man he has never met
with a wife named Lindsey. He decides that he must somehow find this
couple and make this woman one of his sacrifices.
HIDEAWAY is by far one of the best horror books I have read recently.
It is a classic tale of good (Hatch Harrison) versus evil (Vassago)
with the inevitable confrontation coming at the end. There are plenty
of plot twists, like the one in which we find out that both players
actually have a common connection. Vassago is one of the most violent
characters that you are likely to meet, thank goodness. Koontz's
descriptions of violence are interesting. You know what's happening
but the details are left up to your imagination. I can highly
recommend HIDEAWAY to all horror and Dean Koontz fans. It is truly a
MASTER OF LIES by Graham Masterton
The Fog City Satan has brutally murdered 24 men, women, and children
in a series of bizarre, somehow ritualized, killings. Detective Larry
Foggia is assigned to the case, and a frightening occult experience
forces him to consult a psychic for help. A skeptic, Foggia confronts
true evil when his mother becomes a victim of the demonic forces
gathering in the city and a portion of his soul is stolen by the Fog
^ DEAD END: CITY LIMITS
An Anthology of Urban Fear
edited by Paul F. Olson & David B. Silva
(St. Martin's, October 1991, $19.95, ISBN 0-312-06328-8)
Olson and Silva are becoming two of dark fiction's finest editors.
Both came to my attention originally for editing superior horror
magazines: Olson edited the nonfictional HORRORSTRUCK and Silva THE
HORROR SHOW, a general purpose horror periodical. Both are gone now
and both are much missed. Now they are carving out their reputations
as fine novelists (Olson is the author of NIGHT PROPHETS, while Silva
has written CHILD OF DARKNESS and COME THIRTEEN), but it's nice to
have them back as editors now and then, particularly when they can put
together a line-up such as that in DEAD END.
I think almost all of the stories here are excellent. "Parade" by
Lawrence Watt-Evans is a richly provocative allegory in which the
title event serves as a metaphor of city life, his five lead
characters being archetypal urban dwellers. An intellectual treat. In
contrast, Melissa Mia Hall gives a devastatingly haunting look at the
childhood victims of adult failures in "The Looking Glass Hand". In a
dreamlike sequence, "Make A Wish Upon the Moon", Charles L. Grant says
that urban neighborhoods not only are alive, they can also die.
Shifting back to the human, John Shirley's "Ash" defines the city as
the overlapping, cascading consequences of the actions, and inactions,
of all of its inhabitants.
In "City Hunger", Chet Williamson portrays the subculture of violence
in the city as a virulent disease as contagious as it is dehumanizing,
while Thomas F. Monteleone points the finger at drugs as a major cause
of urban decay in "The White Man". A more ambiguous evil is the
culprit in Lois Tilton's "Changing Neighborhood", as an aging couple
watches their part of the city evolve into something malevolent. One
of my favorite stories was "Open Hearts" by Stephen Gresham, in which
a cast of oddly endearing misfits illustrates the tiny ledge that city
folk inhabit, only inches from both salvation and the bottomless pit.
William Relling, Jr. had one of the grimmer tales, and one of the
longer titles, with his "The Injuries That They Themselves Procure
Must Be Their Schoolmasters", about the spread of violence in the
inner city. In another great contrast with the preceding story,
Charles de Lint chose to portray the city as a beautiful but hardened
woman in his poetic "Tallulah". In "Spare Change" by David Bischoff, a
schizophrenic homeless man seeks change, both money and
transformation, in a Washington D.C. of Lovecraftian hostility to
human life. Gene O'Neill's "The City Never Sleeps" is a paranoid dream
of an urbanite's helplessness, trapped in a city that mutates faster
and faster; Alvin Toffler's FUTURE SHOCK humanized. Lee Moler produced
a Dickensian morality play with "Wellspring", in which a modern
Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of future humanity, people
mutated by the toxic wastes of commercial greed.
Elizabeth Massie's "Lock Her Room" is a tale about ghetto-inspired
insensitivity and the demands of the life instinct. Steve Rasnic Tem,
an author who shows up way too seldom in bookstores, contributes "At
the End of the Day", about a man trying to maintain his sense of
purpose in a city becoming increasingly vague and meaningless.
Possibly the most philosophical, "The Ash of Memory, The Dust of
Desire" by Poppy Z. Brite says that cities have more bright lights
only because there is more darkness to combat and, similarly, the
haven of the new and exciting is also the home of the unwanted,
useless, and abandoned. The volume ends with Gary L. Raisor's rousing
HELL TRAIN, about a locomotive that occasionally shares tunnel space
with New York's subway. Raisor's skill with characters and dialogue
turn a simple monster story into a cinematic thriller.
In the final analysis, there is something for everyone in DEAD END,
easily the finest "theme" anthology I've read. Even if you don't
normally keep up with the short story field, DEAD is definitely worth
your time and money. Don't miss it.
POST MORTEM edited by Paul F. Olson & David B. Silva
The editing team that gave us DEAD END brings us yet another
anthology, this time with stories by: Robert R. McCammon, Kathryn
Ptacek, Gary Brandner, Charles de Lint, Charles L. Grant, Thomas F.
Monteleone, Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, Janet Fox, William F.
Nolan, Donald R. Burleson, Thomas Tessier, James Howard Kunstler,
Melissa Mia Hall, David B. Silva, Gordon Linzner, P.W. Sinclair, and
^ HORROR ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
by Gillan, Morrison, Hagger, Caleo, Love, Waters, M.Anderson,
P. Anderson, Watts, Jeffery, Lehmann, Isinwyll, Ligotti,
Gibbons, Geier, Deitrick, Triplett, Bjorksten
(Chaosium, 1991, $39.95, ISBN 0-933635-76-1)
HotOE is a huge adventure for Chaosium's CALL OF CTHULHU role-playing
game. For those not familiar with CoC, it is based on the writings of
H. P. Lovecraft, and concerns itself with the investigation of occult
horrors by intrepid bands of adventurers. The ultimate source of these
horrors are cosmic beings of such total, mind-numbing power that even
peripheral contact with them gives a perfect example of the real
meaning of the (too often cliched) phrase "fate worse than death."
Success in investigations usually leads to a steady slide into
madness. Even so, CoC is a very popular game, especially among mystery
fans. Chaosium is well-known for providing excellent adventures, and
they appear to have outdone themselves with HotOE.
It is a HUGE adventure. It is so big that I have not been able to read
through the whole package. It will provide many nights of adventures,
and if properly done, will provide all with a memorable experience.
The adventure takes place in the 1920s (the most popular period for
setting CoC adventures), and takes place aboard the famous Orient
Express. I will not give away any secrets concerning the underlying
plot, but players can expect related and unrelated adventures all
along the route.
Another trademark of Chaosium's CoC adventures is the number and
quality of props and player handouts. HotOE outdoes itself--besides
the usual maps, clues, and clippings, you get color luggage stickers,
authentic period passports, a color poster, and cutout railway cars.
If I had the time, I would love to run this adventure. Recommended for
all CoC referees ("Keepers"). If you can't get HORROR ON THE ORIENT
EXPRESS, or any other Chaosium product, locally, you can contact the
publisher at: Chaosium Inc., 950-A 56th Street, Oakland, CA
^ TABOO 3
edited by Stephen R. Bissette & Nancy O'Connor
(SpiderBaby Graphix, 1989, $9.95, ISBN 0-922003-02-5)
^ TABOO 4
edited by Stephen R. Bissette
(SpiderBaby Graphix, 1990, $14.95, ISBN 0-922003-03-3)
Comic books sure have changed over the last ten or twenty years, and
many of them are written today specifically for an adult market. Some,
like TABOO, are not for sale to anyone under 18 years of age. Unlike
many other Adults Only material, however, TABOO is not just a
collection of feeble stories spiced with gratuitous violence and
(gasp!) explicit sex. The stories collected in each issue of TABOO
are, rather, adult in theme and often very disturbing. Difficult
subjects are treated in a mature way that is often shocking and
TABOO 3 has stories about Nazi atrocities, insanity, abuse of women,
sexual perversion, vampires, and another chapter of Alan Moore & Eddie
Campbell's fascinating account of the Jack the Ripper story "From
Hell" (apparently begun in TABOO 2). The inside is reproduced in black
and white, with full color art on the cover, inside and out. The art,
like the stories, is nightmarish, fascinating, sometimes repulsive,
A large section of TABOO 4 is devoted to the famous artist Moebius,
the filmmaker and writer Jodorowsky, and their haunting story, "Les
Yeux du Chat" (Eyes of the Cat). There is also a great fable by Neil
Gaiman & Michael Zulli about our treatment of animals; a disturbing
story about the CIA controlling our lives by D'Israeli, Eyre &
Robinson; a horrific folk tale by Elaine Lee & Charles Vess; and a
handful of other nightmares, including another long chapter of Moore &
Campbell's "From Hell".
TABOO is like nothing I've ever seen before--horror stories written
and illustrated by adults for an adult audience. Punches are not
pulled, endings are not forced into comfortable resolutions. Of
course, you take a chance with material like this too. Some of the
tales are tough to forget, and the images can linger long after the
story is finished. You can contact the publishers by writing to:
SpiderBaby Graphix, PO Box 442, Wilmington, VT 05363.
TABOO 5--The latest issue of unusual anthology of dark works.
~PETER QUINT READS THE MAGAZINES
^ CEMETERY DANCE
Fall 1991 Volume 3 Issue 4
edited by Richard T. Chizmar
This extra large issue of CEMETERY DANCE is 120 pages of great
reading, the very best dark fantasy magazine of fall 1991. You want
stories? This CD has Andrew Vachss, Steve Rasnic Tem, Ramsey Campbell,
G. Kyle White, Edward Lee, F. Paul Wilson, and Steven Spruill. If
there's any common theme here it's the predilection of the authors to
hint at awful, disgusting, unspeakable things, while letting the
reader supply the technicolor details. The Vachss story, "Placebo",
tells about a very handy janitor who takes care of Tommy's night
monsters. Tem's "Plainclothes" blurs the distinctions between victim
and victimizer, city and jungle, order and chaos, life and death.
Campbell tells a mummy story, White tells a Snake Pit story, and Lee
writes about everyday life in Maryland, with junior mobsters, child
pornography, Little Red Riding Hood, and oh my yes the big bad wolf.
Spruill's long story, "Ysex", is an unusual SF psycho-killer mystery
that has several important things to say about men, rape, and the
legal system. In this issue you also get the first chapter of F. Paul
Wilson's SIBS (from Dark Harvest), and if you can resist the book
after reading it, you're just not human. All of the stories are
But wait till you get to the articles! Charles L. Grant contributes an
analysis of the marketing of horror in recent years: what's gone
wrong, what hasn't, and a prediction about where it's all going.
There's an interview with Ramsey Campbell that reviews his entire
writing career, with a number of interesting and illuminating comments
from Campbell about his books. Thomas F. Monteleone's "MAFIA" column
rears its contentious head in CD for the first time, too. If you
haven't seen one of these, you're in for a treat--Monteleone is the
only essayist I know of who approaches the confrontational crankiness
of Harlan Ellison. In this installment he entertains the reader with
the story of The Jump Shot. You won't forget it. And speaking of
Harlan Ellison, he contributes an anecdote about Robert Bloch and
talks to CD about being a writer, the sorry state of editing today,
and how THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS will absolutely positively be
published, as he so candidly puts it, "before I croak".
Douglas E. Winter has an article about the "Animal Trilogy" films of
Dario Argento, and--move over Joe Bob Briggs--Joe R. Lansdale and
David E. Webb have a new movie review column called "Trash Theatre",
which these two Texans start off with, what else, the two TEXAS
CHAINSAW films from Tobe Hooper. It's a great column, which you can
tell because they use the word "booger" a lot. Elsewhere in CD:
William F. Nolan defines his own subgenre of horror fiction, and
there's a great interview with Mark V. Ziesing: the family man, the
bookseller, the publisher. And to keep you up to date with the latest
in horror literature, there are reviews by such notables as: Edward
Bryant, Lori Perkins, Robert Crawford, Roman A. Ranieri, Mike Baker,
and Bob Morrish.
CEMETERY DANCE breaks all their previous quality records with this
issue, which is worth ordering specifically if you don't have a copy
yet. And if you'd like get CD in your very own mailbox you can send
them $15/$25/$40 for 1/2/3 year(s) at 4 quarterly copies a year. Make
the check payable to CD Publications and mail it to: CEMETERY DANCE,
PO Box 858, Edgewood, MD 21040.
^ INIQUITIES: The Magazine of Great Wickedness and Wonder
Autumn 1991, Vol. 1 No. 3
edited by Buddy Martinez
Here's another fine issue of our latest major player in the horror
magazine market. More good fiction, great essays, and some really
helpful book reviews. This time out, all the fiction has one thing in
common: it's all pretty depressing. Good, you understand, but I
wouldn't want to read it while sitting on the edge of a tall building.
Douglas E. Winter's "Black Sun" is a nightmarish future viewed through
the symbology of the spaghetti western (he seems to be on an Italian
movie kick lately). My favorite story in the issue is "Brutes" by
Steve Rasnic Tem, a powerful portrait of the brutalizing effects of a
dysfunctional family, poverty, and urban crime, all of which adds up
to a dysfunctional society. (By the way, if you can dig up a copy of
Tem's EXCAVATION, a paperback release a couple of years ago, read it.
My second-favorite in this issue is Nina Kiriki Hoffman's "Zits",
which packs a lot of emotional punch (about child abuse) in a very few
words. "One Flesh" is a nasty misogynistic tale of reincarnation and
psychosis by Robert Devereaux, "The Pain Detail" by Wayne Allen Sallee
and H. Andrew Lynch is a dreamlike, kind of unpleasant story that's
very hard to describe, and the "Resurrections" this time out (an old
story chosen and introduced by George Clayton Johnson) is A.E. Van
Vogt's "Enchanted Village from 1950, a really enjoyable First Man on
Mars story with a nifty surprise ending.
This issue also has an excerpt from John Skipp and Craig Spector's
recent THE BRIDGE, which is about a common dumping site for toxic
waste in Pennsylvania. As an extra grabber, they have not one but TWO
associated articles about S&S and THE BRIDGE, as well as a flexi-disk
containing one of the songs ("No Future") from the soundtrack album
from THE BRIDGE. When's the last time you read a book that had a
soundtrack? I'd tell you what the song is like, but I haven't managed
to dig up a phonograph player yet--I converted to cassettes, and then
CDs a while back.
The very best thing about this issue of INIQUITIES is the nonfiction.
It starts out great with a long interview with Richard Christian
Matheson, who has got to be the busiest guy in the world. He's been
writing and producing movies and TV (successfully) for 12 years, he
writes short stories, his first novel, CREATED BY, is on its way, he
writes songs, he plays the drums... There is also Part 2 of "Lansdale
Raves!", which is terrific. Last time out it was the Phone Woman
story, this time it's the Blind Guy With the Weed Eater story. And
finally, "A Certain Slant of 'I'" by S.P. Somtow brings up the rear of
the magazine. This column includes examples of Shakespeare modernized
by a semi-literate splatterpunker, a discussion of the theology of
horror, an explanation of the stories of Little Red Riding Hood and
Adam and Eve, and somehow it all seems to be related. I swear this guy
could talk about pocket lint and make it interesting.
Linda Marotta writes an excellent book review section--she's a
flexible reader and writes eloquently about books. She also discusses
a number of books you may have missed at the local chain store. All in
all, another successful issue of INIQUITIES, although they still seem
to be plagued with printing gremlins: dropped letters, misspellings,
transposed words, and mangled sentences. But it's the content that
matters, and in that department INIQUITIES is doing just great. You
can get INIQUITIES through the mail by sending $4.95/$19.95 for 1/4
issue(s) (back issues are available, also for $4.95) to: INIQUITIES,
235 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 1346, Pasadena, CA 91101.
^ HAUNTS #22
edited by Joseph K. Cherkes
I didn't enjoy this issue of HAUNTS as much as I usually do. The
fiction just didn't seem to be up to their usual standard. I did,
however, enjoy Mike Hurley's "Brood of the Snow Snakes", which is a
nice grisly story about a piece of native North Dakota folklore.
"Infinite Escape" by Don Hornbostel is pretty good too, kind of a
Twilight Zone-ish endless loop weird tale. I thought Mark Lucas had
some good things to say in his "Choice Cuts" video review column, but
maybe that was because I agreed with his opinions (which were, in
brief: TREMORS yes, WATCHERS II no, NIGHT BREED !no!, and DARKMAN
"The Man Who Hated Mystics" by Franklin D. Roberts has a professional
debunker get a lesson from a professional medium, and James S. Dorr's
"When Cats Are Away" is a fantasy tale about the jewel of Bast. In
"Aura" by W. Edward Traver, George finally receives his psychic
inheritance. "Barner Doesn't Live Here Anymore" by Marcy Daniels is
about the monster that lives under the Golden Gate bridge. Mark
Tompkins' "The Heretics" tells of a professional torturer who develops
a conscience, and "A Wrong Turn" by David Lloyd Marshall is about body
parts from another dimension. All decent, but none really stood out.
You can get a sample copy of HAUNTS for $3.95 plus $1 postage, or you
can get a year's subscription (4 quarterly issues) for $13. Send it
to: Haunts, PO Box 3342, Providence, RI 02906-0742.
^ MIDNIGHT ZOO
Vol. #1, Issue #5
edited by Jon L. Herron
This was another fine issue from the remarkably large, varied, and
consistently better-than-average MIDNIGHT ZOO. Much of the fiction had
a Christmas or winter theme--among my favorites of those were: "The
Recruitment" by C.S. Fuqua, a sentimental and hope-filled tale about
how Santas are chosen; "Grandma Babka's Christmas Ginger and the Good
Luck/Bad Luck Leshy" by Ken Wisman, about family traditions;
"Traveling By Train" by Jay Speyerer, a touching story about losing
loved ones; and "Tokens of Faith" by David R. Addleman, in which the
Messiah actually returns, and what the White House does about it.
Other seasonable tales are provided by: Lois Tilton--"The Longest,
Darkest Night"; Pamela Holbrook--"A Rough Rider Christmas in Catgut,
Wyoming"; Claudia O'Keefe--"The Very Last Place She Shopped"; E.B.
Stambaugh--"Frostbite"; Steven Sharp--"The Extra Seat"; Sandra
Black--"The Surprise Package"; Michael Robbins--"News Flash"; Kevin F.
Kerr--"Laptop"; and Carolene Carey--"One Christmas Morning".
Of the rest of the fiction, I particularly liked "The Rejection of the
Body-Snatcher" by Dan Lopez a really hilarious slapstick story about
an alien's attempt to take over a human body. As this alien's luck
would have it, he accidentally chooses a human suffering from a
monumental hangover. Also, Darrell Schweitzer's "Leaving" is an
atmospheric tale about people who have been defeated by life. But
wait! There's still more fiction: "New Breed" by Dave Smeds, Katharine
Kerr's "Maternal Instincts", Holly Day's "The Kite", "The Cat of
Pere-Lachaise" by Emily Gaydos, "Woman in Black" by Beverly Sheresh,
Brian A. Hopkins' "Silent Encounter", Beverly Wolf's "HI!", and B.J.
If you have always thought of poetry as being about Grecian urns,
Gunga Din, or black birds that speak, it's time for you to check out a
copy of MIDNIGHT ZOO and see what poets are up to now. The two
featured poets are Harry Thomas Brashear and W.C. Leadbeater. I can't
quite get my head in the same place as Leadbeater, but I liked
Brashear's poems, particularly his very funny "Me Girlfriend's Head".
"The Passing of the Sidhe" by Mary Shifman is really good too.
The nonfiction in MIDNIGHT ZOO is up to its usual standards as well.
Claudia O'Keefe discusses how to avoid common conversational blunders
when talking to writers, Katharine Kerr talks about books vs. "book
product", Jacqueline Lichtenberg gives an inside look at the writing
process, J Moretz has some pithy remarks about the tyranny of modern
high-tech communications, Rima Saret has a new column of market
information for writers and a periodical review column, Carol Rivkins
has research tips for writers, Delores Goodrich Beggs finds hints for
SF writers in the career and works of H.G. Wells, D. Douglas Graham
discusses the phenomenon of "manna", Jean Paul Sinistre talks about
haunted houses, Barry Harrington reviews the Ray Bradbury releases in
the fall of 1991, and there are book reviews by Don D'Ammassa, Alana
Garrop & Alexandra Perdue, J Moretz, Cynthia Ward, and Caroline
Williams. Mark Lucas' movie review column was fascinating--I've
finally found someone I don't seem to agree with on ANYTHING. And, as
usual, MIDNIGHT ZOO is chock-full of artwork. The featured artist is
Bob Giadrosich (whose art is often seen in DRAGON magazine), and there
is an interview with artist Lea Hernandez.
If you'd like to see MIDNIGHT ZOO for yourself (recommended), send
$29.95 ($53.95) for 1 year (2 years), or 7 (14) issues. That buys you
6 bimonthly issues plus the gigantic special edition in December. A
sample issue can be had for $6. Send it to: Midnight Zoo, 544 Ygnacio
Valley Rd., #A273, PO Box 8040, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.
SHADOW TWIN by Dale Hoover
Once Jack's life was under control. But that was before the man across
the street came knocking on the door...before he saw his son's small
body shaking like a rag doll in his own powerful hands. Now Jack's
life careens toward chaos, bursting out of him like the ugly ridges on
his face. People look at Jack with horror. They know the truth. They
can see. But how can he learn the truth when he can't bear to look in
~ NEW HORROR PAPERBACKS FROM TOR BOOKS
THE JEKYLL LEGACY by Robert Bloch & Andre Norton
(December, $4.99, ISBN 0-812-51583-8)
Two of fantasy's Grand Masters have collaborated on this sequel to
Robert Louis Stevenson's famous story, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde". In THE JEKYLL LEGACY, a penniless woman named Hester
discovers that she is the niece of Dr. Jekyll and heir to his fortune.
But claiming her inheritance will make her the prime suspect in
Jekyll's disappearance, and the target of a dark and mysterious figure
who just might be Edward Hyde. Robert Bloch is best known for his
novels of psychological suspense and dark fantasy (like PSYCHO), and
Andre Norton is the author of the popular Witchworld novels.
THE DARK DESCENT VOL. III: A FABULOUS FORMLESS DARKNESS
edited by David G. Hartwell (January, $4.99, ISBN 0-812-50967-6)
Here's another book of horror stories from David Hartwell's acclaimed
hardcover anthology THE DARK DESCENT, generally considered to be the
finest collection of short dark fantasy available today. This volume
of the paperback reprint contains fiction by: Fritz Leiber, Gene
Wolfe, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter de la
Mare, Ivan Turgenev, Robert W. Chambers, Oliver Onions, Fitz-James
O'Brien, Shirley Jackson, Ambrose Bierce, Edith Wharton, Algernon
Blackwood, Thomas M. Disch, Robert Aickman, and Philip K. Dick. Where
are you going to find a better lineup than that?
A MATTER OF TASTE by Fred Saberhagen
(January, $3.99, ISBN 0-812-52575-2)
His name used to be Dracula, but now, in Chicago, he is known as
Matthew Maule. In A MATTER OF TASTE, Matthew must face an enemy from
his past, fellow-vampire Cesare Borgia, who threatens not only Matthew
but the Southerlands, a family who has befriended him. With Matthew
rendered comatose by Borgia, the Southerlands must now battle the
deadly vampire to protect their undead friend who has protected them
so many times in the past. Saberhagen's previous vampire novels are:
THE DRACULA TAPE, THE HOLMES-DRACULA FILE, THORN, DOMINION, and AN OLD
FRIEND OF THE FAMILY. All are available in paperback from Tor.
DEMOGORGON by Brian Lumley
(February, $4.99, ISBN 0-812-51199-9)
George Guigos, the club footed Antichrist, hires three thieves to loot
an ancient tomb--three souls for him to steal to ensure his
immortality. One night, however, his ritual backfired and one of the
thieves, Dimitrios Kastrouni, escaped. Now middle-aged, Kastrouni must
contact a man named Charlie Trace, born after the rape of his mother
and bearing the legacy of his father, a club foot. Kastrouni knows
that Trace is the son of Guigos, and the two men must join forces to
destroy Guigos, before they become his next victims. Brian Lumley is
the author of the popular NECROSCOPE series: NECROSCOPE, VAMPHYRI!,
THE SOURCE, DEADSPEAK, and DEADSPAWN. He also wrote THE HOUSE OF
THIRTEEN DOORS--Open the door on the terrifying world of the Carnival
man. A 13-part series brought to life on audio cassettes. Door #1 and
#2 were reviewed in RFP #17. In the next issue we'll talk about the
next two doors, featuring stories by Bram Stoker winner David B. Silva
and Kathleen Jurgens.
~ A NEW BIOGRAPHY OF ANNE RICE
(article from Roc SF Advance)
** PRISM OF THE NIGHT by Katherine Ramsland **
Writers' lives are seldom as interesting as their work, but the life
of bestselling author Anne Rice is an exception. This exhaustive new
biography by Katherine Ramsland explores the many facets of a career
that has captured the public's attention, just as her books have
reflected something dark and hitherto hidden in the American soul.
The author, a psychologist and a contemporary of her subject, is
uniquely qualified to explore the many strands of experience that come
together in the life of author Anne Rice.
Ramsland begins her story before her heroine's birth, in the complex,
exotic milieu of Depression-era New Orleans. The child who later
became known to the world as "Anne" Rice was in fact christened Howard
by her poetic father and doomed, alcoholic mother, in a strange
foreshadowing of the complex gender and sex reversal themes that were
to occur in her novels both as sub-texts and as explicit themes.
As a lonely child she took solace in the wilderness of her fertile
imagination. She later found a partner and lover in the poet Stan
Rice. Married, the two of them sought both adventure and refuge in the
turbulent streets of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district.
Ramsland's book tells the fascinating story of those years in "The
Haight"--of the friends the Rice's made, and the changes they went
through, both together and separately.
Several major losses have shaped Anne Rice's dark vision, among them
the devastating loss of a beloved child. It was this experience that
led to her first published book, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE.
Anne believed in her work, but neither she nor her family were
prepared for the storm of success that greeted her first vampire
novel. INTERVIEW became a New York Times bestseller, and is still in
print today. A dark tale of sympathetic evil, it was a book perhaps
only a child of the '60s could write, reflecting in many ways the
wisdom of a generation that had dared to seek out new horizons and
One success wasn't enough for Anne Rice, however. Just as she had
given horror a new twist, she carried erotica to newer and higher
levels with her Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure books. PRISM OF THE
NIGHT (Dutton, November 1991) is the definitive Anne Rice story. This
comprehensive biography explores every aspect of a unique American
writer's life and work. The book offers interviews with Anne Rice and
her friends, excerpts from her poetry and letters, fascinating little
known episodes, and literary analyses of all twelve of her novels.
* Stephen King felt that another book was needed between last year's
NEEDFUL THINGS (the last Castle Rock novel) and this year's upcoming
DOLORES CLAIBORNE (supposedly more of a mystery story than anything
else), so he has written a new horror novel called GERALD'S GAME. This
new book will be published in 1992, and DOLORES CLAIBORNE will be
moved back to 1993. While there is no direct connection between the
plots of these 3 books, King felt that a fictional bridge was
necessary to make the themes of DOLORES CLAIBORNE clearer.
* If you have discriminating tastes in SF, Fantasy, Horror, and
Mystery books, you need a copy of John Knott's catalogue. He carries a
lot of out-of-print titles, first editions, limited editions, signed
editions, etc. Many, many items are under $50. Write to: John W.
Knott, Jr. Bookseller, 8453 Early Bud Way, Laurel, MD 20723. His
selection of horror is fabulous.
~ SF/FANTASY/HORROR EROTICA FROM BTS
For IBM & compatibles. Complete, original stories you can use in your
own computer. Stored in ASCII format, compatible with every word
processing program we have tried (WordPerfect, DW4, Wordstar, PFS
First Choice, etc.) Enjoy them as written or become your own author
and change them to meet your personal fantasies!
ARENA--A newlywed couple is transported into outer space and discover
a race of ogre-like aliens prepared to invade the Earth. Earth's
future will ultimately be determined in a contest of sexual endurance.
When the aliens manage to isolate the young bride from her husband,
the "contest" begins.
DROTH--A faraway Gnome Kingdom is threatened by the invasion of a
vicious Swine Troll and a Death Satyr. To help them, the Gnomes summon
a descendant of a mighty Droth Warrior. Karen (the sole Droth
descendant) appears from Earth. She will have to overcome both
strength and seduction to win the day.
TARA--Tara, golden-haired beauty, and her man-bird friend (Hawk) are
on a dangerous journey. In the Kheret Swamp she will encounter the
powerful coils of the Snake-woman, Nagisse. Before the journey ends,
she will face Gizem, a multi-tentacled God of Fertility, in a
2164--Two young women are officers in the city's Security Enforcement
of Controlled Substances (SECS) Division. Incurring the wrath of a
drug kingpin, he unleashes his most powerful weapon against them. They
are now being stalked by an android who uses seduction as a killing
INCUBUS--A young archaeologist, in search of her sister, finds herself
in a desolate town where she discovers the existence of an Incubus.
What she doesn't know is that it is the center of a cult that worships
Byra-Yagoth, the supreme lord of the Incubii.
UNCLE--A whirlwind romance results in a pending marriage at the
Victorian estate of a young girl's fiancee. The estate, however, is
haunted by the ghost of his uncle, who has sworn vengeance on the
family for his death and has his own plans for the wedding night.
You can order Series 1 or Series 2 for $9.95 ($17.95 for both).
Available on 5-1/4" or 3-1/2" disk, you must specify which you want.
New Jersey residents must add 7% sales tax. You MUST include a
statement that you are 21 years or older when placing an order. It
would also help if you mention that you saw the products in RFP. Also,
The BTS Company may have other stories for sale by the time you read
this, but if you want to write to them for information, be sure to
include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Send your check or money
order to: The BTS Company, PO Box 393, Pennsville, NJ 08070.
~ * NONFICTION *
^ E.B. WHITE: WRITINGS FROM THE NEW YORKER 1927-1976
edited by Rebecca M. Dale
(HarperCollins, 1990, $20.00, ISBN 0-06-016517-0)
The NEW YORKER has been called the best magazine ever printed. I'm not
sure I agree with that assessment of today's NEW YORKER, but in the
early days it was something special, and one of the writers who made
it special was E.B. White. He is the author of a book of poetry called
THE LADY IS COLD as well as the children's classics CHARLOTTE'S WEB
and STUART LITTLE. He coauthored IS SEX NECESSARY? with James Thurber
(another NEW YORKER writer) and THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE with Strunk.
White has won the Gold Medal for Essays and Criticism--American
Academy of Arts and Letters (1960), the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
(1970), and the National Medal for Literature (1971). He was awarded
the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, and in 1973 was elected to
the American Academy of Arts and Letters. E.B. White is simply one of
the finest prose stylists America has ever produced. Here is a sample
of his writing, titled "Save the Grizzlies", originally printed in
January of 1932:
"A committee has approached us to ask if we would help in the work of
protecting and preserving the brown and grizzly bears of Alaska. Need
we say we will? Once we spent six weeks in Alaska, and although we
never happened to have an opportunity to protect a grizzly from the
predatory old paper-pulp interests, which threaten their extinction,
we always stood ready to. We are still ready. The islands of the
Inside Passage, where the bears live, seemed to us lovely, perfect. We
should not want one of them changed by the extinction of so much as
one bear, or the establishment of even one pulp mill. Grizzlies are
certainly less dangerous than the tabloids that are printed from paper
"Of course it is our ill fortune always to see both sides of every
question. The letter from the Committee on Protection and Preservation
of Alaska Brown and Grizzly Bears was written, we notice, on paper. In
other words, the Committee are using paper in their campaign against
paper pulp. We think they really ought to send out their
communications on parchment, preferably made from the hides of sheep
especially killed for the purpose by grizzly bears. You see? We're no
good in any cause. Too open-minded."
What more is there to say? WRITINGS FROM THE NEW YORKER collects some
of E.B. White's wittiest and best pieces. Not to be missed.
^ THE MIRACLE OF LANGUAGE
by Richard Lederer
(Pocket Books, November 1991, $20.00, ISBN 0-671-70939-9)
A new Richard Lederer book is cause for celebration for any reader who
loves the English language. In his previous books like ANGUISHED
ENGLISH, GET THEE TO A PUNNERY, CRAZY ENGLISH, and THE PLAY OF WORDS
he has entertained and enlightened thousands. For most of us, Lederer
is the English teacher we should have had--someone more interested in
communicating the wonder of language and the fascinating intricacies
of English than in finding fault with improper usage.
In these essays, Lederer discusses such a variety of English speakers
as T.S. Eliot, George Orwell, Ambrose Bierce, Samuel Johnson, Lewis
Carroll, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain. In "Is English Prejudiced?" he
"If a king rules a kingdom, what does a queen rule? If a man mans a
station, what does a woman do? If a man fathers a movement, what does
a woman do? If a man who pursues freewheeling relationships with women
is a womanizer or a philanderer, what do we call a woman who plays the
field of men?"
In "Ya Got Any Good Books Here?" he reprints a list of questions sent
to him by a high school librarian in Maine, questions actually asked
by visitors to the library:
"* Do you have any books about people who get wiped out or mangled?
* Where are your hysterical novels?
* I just read MIDNIGHT SUMMER DREAM. Do you have another play by
* I need an American classic. Not too long, but at least 173 pages.
* I need a book by Tom Sawyer.
* I want a book with no chapters. Chapters bug me.
* Haven't you got something easier than this book? This must have at
least a thousand words in it.
* How do I find a book that I don't remember the name of?"
Ya Got Any Good Books Here? Yeah, I got one, it's called THE MIRACLE
OF LANGUAGE by some guy named Lederer. It's neat even if it does have
chapters and more than a thousand words in it. Another keeper from a
very entertaining writer.
^ YOUR RESUME: KEY TO A BETTER JOB
by Leonard Corwen
(Prentice Hall, January 1992, $10.00, ISBN 0-13-980210-X)
I work in an unstable industry, and recently discovered that I'd
better start "looking around". Two days later I was at the RFP office
to pick up a couple of books and noticed a new book that had just come
in for review: YOUR RESUME by Leonard Corwen, so I said, "Let me
review that one". What a stroke of luck! Later that night I sat down
with YOUR RESUME and within two minutes I had determined which of the
sample resumes was best for me and was studying the suggested layout.
(There are 35 sample resumes and cover letters provided.) Within a
couple more minutes I had a list of important reminders: what to make
sure I include in my resume, what to make sure ISN'T in my resume,
words to include, words to avoid, what to put in the cover letter that
goes with the resume, etc. The great thing was that the help I got
from YOUR RESUME was SPECIFIC and I got it FAST. The next day at work
I turned all of these suggestions into a new resume and had it printed
out. It's an attractive document, concise--I'm confident that I now
have put my best foot forward.
I can't give you an end to this soap opera--I've just sent my new
resume around and haven't heard anything yet. But it's a nice feeling
to know that I've done my absolute best, and I don't think I could
have done that without YOUR RESUME. I should also mention that
creating the resume is only half of this book. The second half
discusses Getting The Job: using classified ads, finding the "hidden
job market", choosing and using employment agencies, how to handle the
all-important interview, etc. If you need, or would like, a new job,
you'll find YOUR RESUME to be a very big help. And good luck.
^ THE AMERICAN HEALTH FOOD BOOK
Robert A. Barnett, Editor; Nao Hauser, Food Editor
With the Staff of AMERICAN HEALTH magazine
(Dutton, December 1991, $29.95, ISBN 0-525-24908-7)
Here is the one nutrition guide/cookbook for health-conscious people
to keep handy at all times. There are essays on the latest findings
about health and nutrition, help in planning customized menus for your
own tastes and needs, suggestions for using herbs and spices, hundreds
of healthy and appetizing recipes, and a special section devoted to
nutritional profiles of individual foods. Let me give you an example.
Here's one of the profiles in the Fruit section:
BANANA. Bananas contain potassium, of course, but also
vitamins C and B6 and fiber. Bananas are available
year-round. Purchase those that are light green or light
yellow and free of bruises. The peel must be removed. If
exposed to oxygen, bananas will turn brown; dip them in
pineapple or lemon juice to prevent browning.
One peeled banana (114g): Cal: 105 Pro: 1g/4% Carb: 27g/92%
Fat: 1g/4% Sodium: 1mg Potassium: 451mg Fiber 2.2g(.7g
soluble) C: 17% B6: 33%
Every recipe has a complete nutrition readout (calories, protein,
cholesterol, fiber, etc.) and many provide microwave instructions. THE
AMERICAN HEALTH FOOD BOOK is an invaluable resource in taking control
of your nutrition and your health. Recommended.
^ DR DOS 6.0 CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT
by David D. Busch
(businessOne IRWIN, December 1991, $34.95, ISBN 1-55623-598-4)
DR DOS 6.0 CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT provides an excellent resource to
readers who want to understand more about the newest release of the
advanced DOS-compatible operating system, DR DOS 6.0. This CUSTOMIZING
TOOLKIT is not just another DOS reference book that is sold in book
stores. It delves into the specialized features of DR DOS 6.0 and
concentrates on presenting the reader with in-depth discussions of
these features. The topics covered in CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT are:
> Operating System Choices
> Comparing DR DOS and MS-DOS
> Installing DR DOS
> Command Line Power
> Using ViewMAX
> DR DOS and Hard Disks
> DR DOS Security Features
> Caching in on Performance
> Introduction to Memory
> Optimizing Memory
> Introduction to and Customizing CONFIG.SYS
> Introduction to Batch Files
> Customizing the DR DOS Environment
> Taking Advantage of TaskMAX
> DR DOS and Other Environments
A floppy disk is included with CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT that contains
simple .COM programs that perform actions not included in DR DOS,
batch files which use the output of some of the .COM programs to do
something useful, and stand-alone batch files which can make DR DOS
more convenient to use. A full chapter in the book is devoted to using
the files on the floppy disk.
Also included in the book is a coupon that enables you to purchase
DR DOS 6.0 for $49.95. This is a savings of $50 off the list price for
DR DOS 6.0. Since CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT costs $34.95, you can come away
with a net savings of $15 and own both the book and DR DOS 6.0.
I found CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT to be extremely informative and especially
helpful in the area of memory management. I recently purchased a new
computer, a 80386 40Mhz, that came with DR DOS 6.0. Despite the fact
that DR DOS comes with its own setup program, I never would have
gotten the most out of my machine without the information in
CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT. Having a network card installed in the computer
caused no end of trouble with upper memory management. Eventually,
with the help of CUSTOMIZING TOOLKIT I was able to have expanded
memory and the network card running at the same time. CUSTOMIZING
TOOLKIT has immediately found a permanent place on my shelf of
computer reference books and I find myself referring to it frequently.
^ CODE OF CONDUCT
by Everett Alvarez Jr. with Samuel Schreiner Jr.
(Donald I. Fine, 1991, $21.00, ISBN 1-55611-310-2)
CODE OF CONDUCT is the emotionally wrenching and inspiring story of
the return and recovery of Everett Alvarez, the first American POW in
North Vietnam. After 8-1/2 years of isolation and torture (a story
told in Alvarez's previous book, CHAINED EAGLE), Alvarez was released
on February 22, 1973. Upon his return he found that his wife, the
memory of whom had sustained him throughout his captivity, had left
him. He also found a country still divided, struggling to come to
terms with the war that led to his ordeal.
At first crushed, Alvarez soon embarked on a mission to put his life
back together. He remarried, then went on to earn three degrees in
higher education. He rose through military and civilian service to
positions that included cabinet-level meetings at the White House. He
has become a successful entrepreneur. And he was a keynote speaker at
the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
CODE OF CONDUCT is a moving personal story of self-reliance, courage
and perseverance--of ultimate success rising like the Phoenix from the
ashes of the vast inhumanity man can visit on his fellow man.
^ MORTIMER J. ADLER ON MORAL PHILOSOPHY
Dr. Adler has been a philosopher for quite a while, having received
his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1928. He is Chairman of the
Board of Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Director of the
Institute of Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen
Institute, and a University Professor at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a devout Aristotelian and an
excellent teacher. If you've ever wondered about questions of ethics,
morality, or just why Aristotle is considered such a great thinker,
you can't do better than the two books below.
^ ARISTOTLE FOR EVERYBODY: Difficult Thought Made Easy
by Mortimer J. Adler
(Collier Books, November 1991, $12.95, ISBN 0-02-064111-7)
"Almost all of the philosophical truths that I have come to know and
understand I have learned from Aristotle", says Dr. Adler. Now Collier
books reprints Dr. Adler's 1978 book, available in paperback for the
first time. ARISTOTLE FOR EVERYBODY explains what Dr. Adler calls
Aristotle's "uncommon common sense" with clarity and brevity.
Beginning with a few thoughts on why anyone should care about
philosophy, Dr. Adler considers each of the three aspects of human
life: Man the Maker, Man the Doer, and Man the Knower, along with way
discussing Aristotle ideas about how each of us can live the very
best, happiest life possible. The last section of the book takes up
several knotty philosophical questions such as infinity, eternity, and
God. An Epilogue relates each part of ARISTOTLE FOR EVERYBODY to
specific places in the works of Aristotle, very useful for anyone
planning on tackling Aristotle head-on. (While Aristotle's prose is
incredibly dense, making a book like this necessary, you should be
aware that Plato's works, particularly the Dialogues, are very
readable. While Plato didn't have quite as much to say, he said it
very entertainingly and his Dialogues can easily be read for the sheer
fun of it.)
^ DESIRES RIGHT & WRONG: The Ethics of Enough
by Mortimer J. Adler
(Macmillan, November 1991, $22.95, ISBN 0-02-500281-3)
This is an expansion of the ideas presented in ARISTOTLE FOR
EVERYBODY, going much deeper into the question of how to distinguish
right desires from wrong desires, and real goods from apparent goods.
Dr. Adler particularly discusses the desires for pleasure, money,
fame, and power. Possibly the most interesting section of DESIRES
RIGHT & WRONG is the chapter on "Fundamental Errors in Moral
Philosophy", in which Dr. Adler (and Aristotle) find fault with some
of the ideas of other major philosophers. An appendix provides an
annotated commentary on Aristotle's NICHOMACHEAN ETHICS, another
invaluable aid for anyone planning to read the original work. Taken
together ARISTOTLE FOR EVERYBODY and DESIRES RIGHT & WRONG are
indispensable for the beginning philosophical student, whether
enrolled in a school curriculum or pursuing private studies. Dr. Adler
is a brilliant teacher, his clarity of thought matched by the clarity
of his prose. Highly recommended.
Every amateur scholar can benefit by having a shelf devoted to Dr.
Adler's works. He's written 48 books, and they provide an excellent
education all by themselves. I would particularly recommend, in
addition to the above two books, the following: HOW TO READ A BOOK,
SIX GREAT IDEAS, TEN PHILOSOPHICAL MISTAKES, A GUIDEBOOK TO LEARNING,
and INTELLECT: MIND OVER MATTER.
^ MIRRORS OF THE SELF: Archetypal Images That Shape Your Life
edited by Christine Downing
(Jeremy P. Tarcher, November 1991, $12.95, ISBN 0-87477-664-3)
Psychologists know that our personalities, our selves, are made up of
many different parts; that, in a sense, each one of us is an entire
group of inner people. C.G. Jung noted this, and he found that there
were several inner entities that seem to be shared by many people,
archetypal entities. MIRRORS OF THE SELF begins with an excerpt from
Jung's work, then goes on to expand and build upon that foundation. In
all, this collection of essays from a wide variety of people
(Jungians, feminists, poets, storytellers) defines 45 distinct images
from our inner selves.
For example, your Ego is the "you" that you are familiar with. But
then there is your Persona, the mask you wear for social acceptance;
and your Shadow self, repository of all the aspects of you that your
Ego disowns. There is also your Double, your inner alter ego who
offers companionship and support. And, most controversially, there are
the Anima (the inner woman) and Animus (the inner man).
"To discover these figures at work in our own inner lives is
to be freed from an identification of ourselves with the
most familiar side of our personality. We are brought in
touch with other modes of perception and feeling, with
forgotten memories, neglected or devalued capacities, and
repressed energies, which have the power to enrich and
deepen our lives...As we establish a more conscious relation
to these archetypal images that live within our own souls,
we can free ourselves from being driven by THEIR fears and
desires, by impulses whose power in our lives we may never
before have directly confronted. We may also learn to make
use of their wisdom and their energy."
This is not one of those pop psychology books that teach you how to be
your own psychologist in just five minutes a day. MIRRORS OF THE SELF
is a serious exploration of a very interesting aspect of human
psychology. What's unusual is that this serious book on human
psychology happens to be entirely accessible to the lay reader.
Intriguing and thought-provoking. (You can contact the publisher at:
Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 5858 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles,
^ CYBERSPACE: FIRST STEPS
edited by Michael Benedikt
(MIT Press, October 1991, $24.95, ISBN 0-262-02327-X)
The "First Steps" of the title refer to the progress of cyberspace
from the pages of science fiction novels into reality. Or should I say
virtual reality, because that's what cyberspace is: the "sort of"
universe where information dwells, and which humans are just beginning
to visit. But, as a number of cyberpunk SF writers have noticed, the
radical new technology of cyberspace brings with it both fantastical
opportunities and major social problems. This collection of essays by
leading thinkers takes those first steps in exploring the implications
of our emerging technological capabilities.
The construction and organization of a cyberspace would require the
talents of artists and professionals from every field, and as this
collection demonstrates, it already engages some of the best minds in
computer science, architecture, the visual arts, philosophy,
anthropology and industry. Contributors: Michael Benedikt (Univ. of
Texas at Austin), David Tomas (Univ. of Toronto), Nicole Stenger
(MIT), Michael Heim (Calif. State Univ., Long Beach), Allucquere
Rosanne Stone (Univ. of Calif., Santa Cruz and San Diego), Marcos
Novak (Univ. of Texas at Austin and UCLA), Alan Wexelblat (Bull
Worldwide Information Systems), Chip Morningstar & F. Randall Farmer
(Lucasfilm Ltd.), Carl Tollander (Autodesk Inc.), Tim McFadden (Altos
Computer Systems), Meredith Bricken (Univ. of Washington), Steve
Pruitt & Tom Barrett (Texas Instruments & Electronic Data Systems),
and Wendy A. Kellogg, John M. Carroll & John T. Richards (IBM).
CYBERSPACE: FIRST STEPS also includes an original short story by
William Gibson, author of the award-winning novel NEUROMANCER, in
which the term cyberspace first appeared. (You can contact the
publisher at: The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.)
^ THE COLUMBIA HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN NOVEL: NEW VIEWS
Emory Elliott, General Editor
(Columbia Univ. Press, November 1991, $59.95, ISBN 0-231-07360-7)
This large, fascinating, and occasionally opinionated volume is
unusual on several fronts. First, it is difficult to believe, but this
is the very first book devoted to the history of America's major
literary form. Second, instead of the more customary format of a
seamless chronology of This Happened, Then That Happened, THE COLUMBIA
HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN NOVEL is a roughly chronological series of
essays by a diverse group of critics and scholars. This thematic
approach makes for a choppier but more interesting history, as each
contributor takes on his or her period or subject matter from a
particular perspective, giving the reader text that is more personal,
more opinionated, more dynamic, than one expects to find in literary
A third distinctive feature of THE COLUMBIA HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN
NOVEL is the list of topics covered, many of them receiving their
first widespread serious attention. Authors considered in this volume
include Kate Chopin, Frank Norris, Charles Chestnutt, William
Burroughs, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, James
Baldwin, Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, Maxine Kingston, Zora Hurston,
Thomas Berger, Charles Bukowski, and Joanna Russ, to name just a few.
Topics discussed include popular culture, lesbian and gay authors,
romance fiction, modernism and postmodernism, the book marketplace,
colonialism, realism, western fiction, Caribbean fiction, Canadian
fiction, Latin American fiction, and the avant-garde.
The style of most of the contributors is distinctly academic, but the
book is still readable and interesting enough for the scholarly
amateur reader. It should go without saying that THE COLUMBIA HISTORY
OF THE AMERICAN NOVEL is an essential volume for any high school,
college, or public library. (You can contact the publisher at:
Columbia University Press, 562 West 113th Street, New York, NY 10025.)
^ PC TOOLS DELUXE 6.0: An Essential Guide
by Ruth Ashley & Judi N. Fernandez
(Wiley, 1990, $21.95, ISBN 0-471-52476-X)
You might be wondering why I'm mentioning a guidebook for an older
version of PC TOOLS. The fact is, reaction in many quarters to PC
TOOLS version 7.0 has been distinctly lukewarm. Some people like the
snazzier look, others prefer the plainer but hardier 6.0. (Several
friends have purchased the 7.0 upgrade only to revert to 6.0 after a
month or two.) For everyone out there who is still using 6.0, for
whatever reason, I thought you might like to know about PC TOOLS
DELUXE by Ashley & Fernandez. It's a good, well-written guide that is
a lot easier to use than the documentation that comes with the
software. And it's still available from Wiley. You can contact the
publisher by writing to: John Wiley & Sons, Professional and Trade
Division, 605 Third Avenue, New York NY 10158-0012.
^ THE LEAST YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOS
by Patrick Bultema
(Mike Murach & Assoc., 1991, $17.95, ISBN 0-911625-61-5)
In RFP #19 we reviewed a book called THE ONLY DOS BOOK YOU'LL EVER
NEED, one of the finest comprehensive DOS guides available. Now the
same author has put together a cut-down version of that book for use
by the vast numbers of us who need to know the basics of DOS from time
to time, but who would rather not be confused by a lot of exotic
details that never come up unless you're a computer technician.
Between the two books, everyone in your company will be taken care of:
the Techs get THE ONLY DOS BOOK YOU'LL EVER NEED (Mike Murach &
Assoc., 1991, $24.95, ISBN 0-911625-58-5), everyone else gets THE
LEAST YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOS. As a matter of fact, Mike Murach &
Assoc. not only have volume discounts for both books (the prices begin
dropping at 10 copies), but they also have an Instructor's Guide for
THE LEAST YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOS, to facilitate in-house training
for the employees who need basic familiarity with their operating
system. Both books are clearly written, well-illustrated, and
logically organized for easy access. This is the only customized
system of DOS guides I know of--and it's a great idea. You can contact
the publisher at: Mike Murach & Associates, Inc., 4697 West Jacquelyn
Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722; 209/275-3335; 1-800/221-5528 (orders only).
^ LAND CIRCLE: Writings Collected from the Land
by Linda Hasselstrom
(Fulcrum, November 1991, $19.95, ISBN 1-55591-082-3)
Linda Hasselstrom lives and works on a cattle ranch in western South
Dakota, and she writes eloquently of her relationship with the land in
this collection of her essays and poetry. She discusses
environmentalism and our interconnectedness with nature from the
perspective of real personal experience. Her love of the land is not
an abstraction but a tangible part of her existence, and she shares
the details of her life and what it takes to live on the high plains.
Particularly interesting are Hasselstrom's views on animal rights and
women carrying firearms. LAND CIRCLE makes fascinating reading, an
excellent and unusual volume for anyone's nature shelf.
You can contact the publisher at: Fulcrum Publishing, Suite 350, 350
Indiana Street, Golden CO 80401; 303/277-1623.
^ SUPERHERO COMICS OF THE SILVER AGE: The Illustrated History
by Mike Benton
(Taylor, January 1992, $24.95, ISBN 0-87833-746-6)
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power--Green Lantern's light!
---Green Lantern (DC Comics)
Superhero comics began in the 1940s, but most had disappeared by the
early '50s. But, wait! Up in the sky--superheroes made a comeback in
the late 1950s, and by 1963 more than a dozen of the Golden Age
superheroes were back, along with dozens and dozens (and dozens) of
new ones. Ultimately, the mass popularity of the superhero comic was
doomed; by the growing cynicism of the readers and by the glut of
poor-quality comics. The Silver Age of superhero comics lasted barely
a decade, but what a decade it was. Mike Benton tells the whole story
in SUPERHERO COMICS OF THE SILVER AGE.
While the first section of the book gives you "The Story", the
majority of SUPERHERO COMICS OF THE SILVER AGE is a comprehensive
encyclopedia of The Heroes, The Artists, and The Comics. "The Heroes"
has an article on each character, with a header consisting of the
superhero's Secret Identity, any Nicknames, their First Appearances,
Major Silver Age Appearances, and Other Silver Age Appearances. Heroes
from Ant-Man to X-Men, heroes like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, the
Flash, Green Arrow, and Iron Man. "The Artists" has entries on people
like Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Joe Orlando, Curt Swan, Alex Toth, Wally
Wood, and Berni Wrightson. And "The Comics" covers just about
everything you could want to know about the books our superheroes
appeared in, from ACTION COMICS to X-MEN. Significant Issues are
listed (with reasons), Major Characters, Dates Published, Artists
(along with which issues they worked on), and a brief article about
the book. There is also a Chronology of superhero comic books
1953-1970, with all the important events and books listed year by
SUPERHERO COMICS OF THE SILVER AGE is another invaluable reference
book for comics fans and collectors from Mike Benton, a well-known
authority and speaker in the comic collecting field and regular
contributor to publications like AMERICAN COLLECTOR, COMIC BUYERS
GUIDE, and COLLECTIBLES ILLUSTRATED. (A previous, matching volume by
Benton was HORROR COMICS: THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Taylor Publishing,
July 1991, $21.95 ISBN 0-87833-734-2, reviewed in RFP #19.) A
life-long believer in the "zen" of comics: he learned dating and phone
etiquette from ARCHIE COMICS, economics from UNCLE SCROOGE, and
quantum physics from an issue of MYSTERY IN SPACE. He currently lives
in central Texas, where he patiently watches the skies each night for
some sign of a space ship bearing a small child from the planet
Krypton. SUPERHERO COMICS OF THE SILVER AGE is Number 2 in THE TAYLOR
HISTORY OF COMICS. You can contact the publisher at: Taylor Publishing
Company, 1550 W. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, TX 75235; 214/637-2800.
^ BETWEEN HOME AND NURSING HOME: The Board and Care Alternative
by Ivy M. Down, M.A. & Lorraine Schnurr, Ph.D.
(Prometheus Books, November 1991)
Hardcover: $18.95 ISBN 0-87975-619-5
Paperback: $13.95 ISBN 0-87975-620-9
Some of the elderly are in good health and can live alone. Other
elderly people need round-the-clock care and must live in a nursing
home. But what about all the people in between; those who don't need
(or can't afford) full-time nursing care, yet find it difficult to
live alone? One increasingly popular answer is a board and care
residential facility, in which a small group of elderly can live
together in relative independence, while receiving some kind of
additional daily care. BETWEEN HOME AND NURSING HOME is a
comprehensive resource guide to board and care homes for caregivers,
the elderly, and the people who love them.
In the pages of BETWEEN HOME AND NURSING HOME you'll discover: what
board and care homes are and how they operate, what to look for when
choosing a facility, how to monitor the care offered, and what kinds
of services should be available. In the back is a valuable set of
appendices featuring important facts about retirement facilities,
evaluating a residential care facility, state units on aging, state
agencies with jurisdiction over residential care facilities, a list of
those who currently serve as their state's long-term care Ombudsman,
and much more. BETWEEN HOME AND NURSING HOME addresses an important
subject with vital, practical information for the elderly, their
families, and professional caregivers. (Prometheus Books, 700 East
Amherst Street, Buffalo, NY 14215; 716/837-2475.)
^ UNINHABITED OCEAN ISLANDS
by Jon Fisher
(Loompanics Unlimited, 1991, $16.95, ISBN 1-55950-074-3)
Everyone talks about "getting away from it all", and the uninhabited
ocean island has always been a staple of our fantasies. But they don't
really exist, do they? Actually, there are thousands and thousands of
deserted islands all over the globe, just sitting there waiting for
you. Why aren't all the islands overrun with people, just like the
city where you live? Well, think about it--it takes a mighty hardy
type to get along on a deserted island. No stores, no electricity, no
doctors, no television--just you and Mother Nature. Idyllic, yes, but
also scary. Great challenges and great rewards.
But maybe you're not totally discouraged, maybe you'd still like to
think about chucking it all and heading to sea. Where are these
islands, and which one would be best for you? That's where Jon
Fisher's UNINHABITED OCEAN ISLANDS comes in. Fisher describes over 180
specific islands, with maps showing their exact locations. He
discusses each island's size, climate, vegetation, animal life, water
supplies, structures, etc. This is great fodder for speculation, no
matter how serious you are about weighing anchor. Of course, nobody's
saying you have to move to your island forever--wouldn't a deserted
island make a great winter vacation?
Fisher divides the islands he covers into 4 categories: Pacific Ocean,
Warm Islands; Sub-Antarctic Islands, Pacific Sector; Atlantic Ocean
Island; and Indian Ocean Islands. If you can't find exactly what you
want there, Part V points out areas of the world where you can find
thousands and thousands of other islands for consideration. And in the
back of the book you'll find a great list of References, directing you
to further reading to help you make your island fantasy come true.
Tantalizing reading. (You can get UNINHABITED OCEAN ISLANDS directly
from the publisher by sending the list price, plus $3 shipping and
handling, to: Loompanics Unlimited, PO Box 1197, Port Townsend, WA
^ BLOODY SAM: The Life and Films of Sam Peckinpah
by Marshall Fine
(Donald I. Fine, November 1991, $24.95, ISBN 1-55611-236-X)
Whenever the subject of violence in movies comes up, most people
nowadays talk about Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, or Brian
DePalma. But the man who first brought extreme violence to movies was
Sam Peckinpah, who became famous for slow-motion blood-spurting in
such films as THE WILD BUNCH and STRAW DOGS. Some critics commended
his visual brilliance and narrative daring, others condemned his
glorification of violence. Despite, or perhaps because of, the
controversial nature of Peckinpah's films, he attracted some of the
top leading men of his day: Dustin Hoffman, James Coburn, Robert Culp,
Charlton Heston. Peckinpah fought producers constantly, as they tried
to tone down his movies to appeal to a wider audience. Some of his
behind-the-scenes battles for creative control even resulted in
Peckinpah's story includes encounters with the greats of Hollywood
from the 1950s through the 1980s, 120 of whom were interviewed for
this book. His personal life was as turbulent as his films: he was
married five times, frequently fired large portions of his crews in
mid-production, and was notorious for his extended alcohol and drug
binges. BLOODY SAM is the story of an artist who briefly achieved his
vision in film, but never reached his full potential because of his
battles with drugs and perpetual unwillingness to submit to authority
in any form.
^ DISCOVERING THE WORLD OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS
by Zofia Archibald
(Facts On File, 1991, $29.95, ISBN 0-8160-2614-9)
"Whereas Homer's ILIAD is pre-occupied with heroic morality,
the ODYSSEY revels in the fantasy of exploration--the 8th
century BC's equivalent of science fiction."
---from DISCOVERING THE WORLD OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS
While the exact beginnings of human existence may be lost in the mists
of time, the origin of what we call Western Civilization can be traced
definitively back to the ancient Greeks. Much of what we know today,
and most of what constitutes our perspective on the world, is taken
from the discoveries, thoughts, and writings of the people of
Classical Greece. Who were these people? What was their land like? How
do we know what we know about ancient Greece? What remnants of ancient
Greece remain to be enjoyed today? You'll find the answers to all of
these questions in DISCOVERING THE WORLD OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS by
The volume begins with an introductory survey of Greek history in
brief, with a valuable Time Chart and a map of Greece showing both
ancient and modern place names. The first of the three main divisions
is dedicated to The Archaeological Story, how dedicated individuals
and groups have uncovered the ancient Greeks, from the Roman conquest
in 197 BC up to the present day. The second section of the book
gathers together and illuminates what we know today about The World of
the Ancient Greeks: their politics, economics, commerce, military,
social classes, cities, religion, and art. The final third of the book
provides a Gazetteer of Sites, with What You Will See Today along with
What You Would Have Seen had you visited the ancient site in its
heyday. A list of museums in the area and a paragraph on How To Get
There complete the material on each important site.
DISCOVERING THE WORLD OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS is not just lively and
interesting prose, it is also a beautiful book of photographs and
reproductions adorning every page. This book would be invaluable for
anyone planning a trip to Greece, providing background understanding
and specific travel hints to make the vacation much more meaningful.
DISCOVERING THE WORLD OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS is equally beneficial to
the armchair traveller, who, through the magic of books, is not bound
to any particular location or time period. This is a fine book that is
both interesting to read and lovely to look at. You can contact the
publisher at: Facts On File, Inc., 460 Park Avenue South, New York, NY
^ FACTS PLUS: An Almanac of Essential Information
by Susan C. Anthony
(Instructional Resources, 1991, $15.95, ISBN 1-879478-00-5)
Intended primarily for teachers and students in grades 3-9, FACTS PLUS
is an enormously useful book that should be on every home reference
shelf. While there are other information almanacs, none that I have
seen have the variety, the attractive, easy-to-read page design, the
brevity, or the logical organization of FACTS PLUS. Filled with
useful, pertinent information, not trivia, I've had occasion to refer
to FACTS PLUS at least a dozen times in the week that it's been on my
desk. Sure, I've got the information elsewhere--I have a pretty decent
reference library--but I'm sure I wouldn't have bothered. Who bothers
digging out the 20-lb. atlas just to verify a small point of
geography? Who spends half an hour with their encyclopedia just to
check on the qualifications for becoming a U.S. Senator? Who would
interrupt their work for 10 minutes while they search for some book
that would tell them the two-letter postal abbreviation for Nebraska?
I'd just guess, or work around the problem, unless it was unusually
crucial, and I bet you would too. But what if you could answer all of
these questions, and thousands more besides, in less than 2 minutes
with a thinnish book that is kept handy on your desk? That's the power
of FACTS PLUS: the most used information has been gathered, organized,
and attractively printed, ready for day-to-day use. Here is the Table
TIME AND SPACE--Time and Clocks, Time Zones, Calendars, Holidays,
Days, Months, Seasons, The Universe, The Solar System, The Moon, The
SCIENCE AND HEALTH--The Atmosphere and Weather, Climates, Geology,
Energy, Matter, Plants and Animals, Human Body Systems, Nutrition,
Drugs and Alcohol
THE EARTH AND ITS PEOPLE--Waters of the World, Land Areas of the
World, Countries of the World, History, Time Line of History, Notable
People, Inventions and Discoveries, Man-Made Structures, Major World
THE UNITED STATES--States of the Union, Largest Cities of the United
States, National Parks, Indians of the United States and Canada,
Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Forms of Government,
Speeches and Quotes, Symbols of America, Branches of the United States
MAPS--North America, The United States, The World, South America,
Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and Oceania
LIBRARIES AND BOOKS--The Globe, Reading Maps, Atlases and Types of
Maps, Graphic Aids, The Library, Parts of a Book, Encyclopedia,
Dictionary, Almanac and Thesaurus, Newspaper, Periodicals, Telephone
Directory, Types of Literature, Story Elements, Caldecott Award
Winning Books, Newbery Award Winning Books, Long Time Favorites
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE--The Alphabet, Special Alphabets, Abbreviations,
Punctuation, Capitalization, Homonyms and Troublesome Words, Spelling,
Greek and Latin Word Roots, Prefixes, Suffixes, Grammar and Parts of
WRITING, MUSIC AND ART--The Writing Process, Things to Write,
Prewriting, Proofreading and Editing, Letter Writing, Journal Writing,
Music, Art and Color
MATH AND NUMBERS--Mathematics, Place Value, Addition, Subtraction,
Multiplication, Division, Fractions, Decimal Fractions, Measurement,
Geometry, United States Money
HANDBOOK--First Aid, Etiquette, Problem Solving, Discussions, Oral
Reading, Making a Speech, Presenting a Formal Play, Interviewing a
Person, Taking Notes, Homework and Studying, Improving Your Memory,
Taking Standardized Tests, The Research Report, Science Projects
While FACTS PLUS was designed for, and is being used in, the school
environment, it is much too useful to be so confined. Ideally, every
child should have access to a copy of FACTS PLUS, at home and at
school, not only to supply many of the details that a child needs to
learn and know in the course of his or her education but also giving
the child a chance to get used to using a reference volume in the
easiest and most pleasant possible way. And be sure to get a copy for
your own desk as well. It'll be the most-used reference book you own.
You can get FACTS PLUS from the publisher by sending the list price,
plus shipping and handling ($3 for each book for first class, $1.50
per book for book rate), to: Instructional Resources Co., 1013 E.
Dimond Blvd. #188, Anchorage, AK 99515. (By the way, the name of the
street is actually "Dimond", that isn't a typo.)
^ THEY'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER: When Good Things Happen to Bad People
by Donald W. Kaul
(Andrews and McMeel, 1991, $16.95, ISBN 0-8362-6220-4)
When bad things happen to good people. Don't you hate that? So does
Donald Kaul, and he's been crabbing about it in his syndicated
newspaper column for 25 years. A self-proclaimed "woolly-headed
liberal", Kaul makes a nice matching bookend to the conservative, but
equally cranky, Andrew Rooney. The columns collected here are from the
last ten years and cover politics, sports, marriage, war, economics,
religion, and just about every other significant subject to rear it's
controversial head in the 1980s. Kaul believes in the power of
negative thinking and has some extremely funny ideas for the expansion
of capital punishment. He has something wise and funny to say about
darn near everything--here's a small sample.
About his columns: "I hope that reading them makes you a better person
or, if not that, one who is more fun at parties."
George Bush: "Bush is not only kinder and gentler, he is insipid.
Personally, I prefer my presidents with larger virtues and darker
faults. Richard Nixon, for example."
Marriage: "I've always found that marriage goes better if you don't
talk to each other before 10 A.M."
About himself: "People have called me a shallow nincompoop who
scratches out a meager living by taking cheap shots at his betters.
That's a lie. I'm not that shallow."
Domestic arguments: "Fights with one's spouse are different from
fights with one's children. You can't afford to lose a fight with your
husband or wife. Neither can you afford to win."
Religion: "I am neither Christian nor Jew; I am not even an atheist. I
am one of those who finds spiritual peace in the moral confusion of
Not Being Sure About Things--an agnostic. I oppose abortion on
esthetic grounds, I love the Bible as literature, and on the Day of
Judgment I shall take notes."
Liberalism: "That's the trouble with being a liberal. You realize that
if life was fair, you wouldn't be doing as well as you are."
I could go on quoting like this until I'd copied out the whole book.
It's that good. Besides, he's right. They're all in it together. So
the rest of US have got to stick together.
^ LOSER TAKE ALL: The Comic Art of Woody Allen
New Expanded Edition
by Maurice Yacowar
(Continuum, 1991, $14.95, ISBN 0-8264-0551-7)
"While comedy may be the most widely appreciated art, it is
also the most undervalued."
---from LOSER TAKE ALL
My favorite book about Woody Allen's work, originally published in
1979 and covering Allen's career through MANHATTAN, has now been
brought up to date. The original text is still there, covering Woody
Allen's early monologues, the plays, the screenplays for other
directors, up through his internationally-acclaimed films: WHAT'S UP,
TIGER LILY?, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, BANANAS, EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS
WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, SLEEPER, LOVE AND DEATH, ANNIE HALL,
INTERIORS, and MANHATTAN. The new edition continues with examinations
of STARDUST MEMORIES, THE FLOATING LIGHT BULB, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX
COMEDY, ZELIG, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, HANNAH
AND HER SISTERS, RADIO DAYS, SEPTEMBER, ANOTHER WOMAN, "OEDIPUS
WRECKS", CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, and ALICE. The comprehensive
Filmography, Discography, and Bibliography are invaluable for Allen
The stated purpose of Yacowar's text is to "define the structure and
themes" of Woody Allen's works, "to determine what Allen's jokes
mean". He does an admirable job of it too, the commentary being both
enlightening and entertaining. If I may turn the tables on Yacowar for
just a moment, he even allows himself a few small humorous moments of
his own, as when he mimics Allen's common theme of overblown
intellectuality in describing INTERIORS as "a Chekhovian vision of an
O'Neill family, expressed with Bergmanesque rigor." Yacowar fully
understands the potential of comedy, and he complains
"...our disrespect for comedy is so deeply ingrained that we
use the same word, SERIOUS, as the antithesis of both COMIC
and TRIVIAL. The implication is that nothing important can
be conveyed by comedy."
The author clearly outlines the progress of Allen's career and the
maturation of his art, doing a very creditable job of putting his
finger on just why we enjoy Allen's creations so much.
"However funny it is, the Allen canon consistently expresses
the anxieties of a modern urban sensibility, with its dreams
of glory and its frustrations, its sense of isolation, and
its doubts about the existence of a God and the dignity of
LOSER TAKE ALL is a great read for Allen fans, also a thoughtful gift
for the discriminating movie fan on your gift list. You can contact
the publisher of LOSER TAKE ALL (and many other fine books about
theater) by writing to: The Continuum Publishing Co., 370 Lexington
Avenue, New York, NY 10017.
^ KNOW YOUR CAT: An Owner's Guide to Cat Behavior
by Bruce Fogle, D.V.M., photographs by Jane Burton
(Dorling Kindersley, November 1991, $19.95, ISBN 1-879431-04-1)
Did you know that:
* Cats have surpassed dogs as America's most popular pet?
* Cats can distinguish between salt, bitter, and acid tastes, but not
* For a cat, humans make good cat substitutes; often they enjoy warmer
relations with us than with other felines?
Dr. Fogle's extensive research and personal experience have resulted
in the most fascinating and informative book about cat behavior I have
ever read. Add to that the photographs of Jane Burton, which must be
seen to be believed, and you have a classic cat book that any cat
fancier will cherish for years. Dr. Fogle talks about how cats
communicate with posture, facial expression, and vocalizations. How
cats see things, how they hear, and the importance of touch. He
discusses a cat's socialization, and how a cat "must be exposed to
humans during the first seven weeks, or they will always retain a
timid fear of us". Dr. Fogle examines a cat's mating habits, their
territoriality, the difference between learned behavior and instinct.
He also details the maturation of a cat from birth through old age:
how the senses develop, how the cat learns survival skills, how the
cat slowly becomes independent, and how old age affects behavior.
The most amazing aspect of the KNOW YOUR CAT, however, are the more
than 350 photographs that illustrate every point made in the text. You
aren't just told that "Folded-back ears show aggression", the text
points to a photograph of a small kitten with folded-back ears ready
to attack a littermate. There are only a couple posed studio-type cat
portraits here, the vast majority are candid shots of cats being cats:
fighting, washing, stretching, giving birth, playing, etc. The
"Specially commissioned for this book, great pains were
taken to ensure that the pictures would capture actual cat
behavior. Many of the animals pictured are Dr. Fogle's
patients (whom he accompanied to the photo sessions), and
the remainder lived at Jane Burton's country home for six
months so they could acclimate to their surroundings."
It just isn't possible to give you an adequate idea of how visually
enthralling KNOW YOUR CAT is, you have to see it for yourself.
Fascinating text, irresistible photographs--KNOW YOUR CAT is an
experience no cat fancier should miss. If your local bookstore can't
get KNOW YOUR CAT for you, contact the publisher at: Dorling
Kindersley, Inc., 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016,
^ BE SICK WELL: A Healthy Approach to Chronic Illness
by Jeff Kane, M.D.
(New Harbinger, October 1991, $11.95, ISBN 1-879237-08-3)
Chronic illness changes your life. It often threatens to BECOME your
life, as your self-image changes from "person" to "sick person" or
even "victim". Yet some people with chronic illnesses or handicaps not
only survive cheerfully but seem to positively thrive. Dr. Kane points
out that most of us will, sooner or later, develop some kind of
chronic illness, so it is time well spent to consider how to BE SICK
Dr. Kane provides a variety of specific suggestions about what to do
and how to approach life with a chronic illness. It's important to
relax and to deal creatively with the challenges of your health
problem, and Dr. Kane shows just how this is possible. He discusses
how to develop the proper attitude, how to maintain confidence, how to
get the most out of your medical support people, and how to make your
illness easier on yourself and on those around you. BE SICK WELL is
full of clear, sound advice from a doctor who now devotes his practice
to counseling people with chronic and life-threatening illness.
If your local bookstore can't get BE SICK WELL, you can order it
directly from the publisher by sending the list price, plus $2
shipping and handling to: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 5674
Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609.
^ YOUR GUIDE TO GOOD NUTRITION
by Frederick J. Stare, M.D., Virginia Aronson, M.S., R.D.,
and Stephen Barrett, M.D.
(Prometheus Books, October 1991, $13.95, ISBN 0-87975-692-6)
Every day some test finds another health-endangering food or food
ingredient, someone invents a new health food fad (vitamin C, oat
bran, fish oil, etc.), and someone else publishes a new diet book.
What are we supposed to believe? Will eggs for breakfast lead to a
heart attack? Is red meat really that bad for you? Should I take
vitamins? How can you avoid food additives anyway? Which is worse,
sugar or the chemicals in the sugar substitutes? Just how dangerous is
a few extra pounds? I could go on like this for hours, and I expect
you could too.
YOUR GUIDE TO GOOD NUTRITION is 200 pages of clear, easy-to-grasp
information that will answer most of your nutrition questions. In the
back there is a very helpful Glossary and a list of Recommended
Reading for further information on a variety of related subjects. If
you're tired of rumors, hearsay, and the cranks of the nutritional
fringe, YOUR GUIDE TO GOOD NUTRITION is just what the doctor ordered.
(You can contact the publisher at: Prometheus Books, 700 East Amherst
Street, Buffalo, NY 14215)
^ CONGREGATION OF THE CONDEMNED: Voices Against the Death Penalty
edited by Shirley Dicks
(Prometheus Books, November 1991, $24.95, ISBN 0-87975-679-9)
Shirley Dicks is the mother of Jeff Dicks, currently on Tennessee's
death row. In 1979, Jeff unwittingly became an accessory to a robbery
that resulted in the death of a storekeeper. A bungled defense, the
misuse of circumstantial evidence, and manipulated testimony led to
his conviction for murder. Lack of money for adequate legal
representation has derailed his attempts to appeal his case. Now
Shirley Dicks is another voice raised in protest against the death
penalty: inhuman, unfair, and ineffective solution to a problem that
most of us would rather not think about.
CONGREGATION OF THE CONDEMNED is an eye-opening and affecting
collection of essays by a wide variety of people: death-row inmates,
members of victims' families, legal and medical experts, religious and
political figures, journalists, entertainers, and people from groups
such as Amnesty International, the NAACP, and the National Coalition
to Abolish the Death Penalty. Also among the contributors are such
well-known personalities as: Senator Edward Kennedy, New York Governor
Mario Cuomo, Coretta Scott King, journalist Tom Wicker, Mike Farrell,
and Peter Gabriel. CONGREGATION OF THE CONDEMNED will give just about
any reader a lot to think about. An important book. (You can contact
the publisher at: Prometheus Books, 700 East Amherst Street, Buffalo,
^ THE ONE MINUTE (OR SO) HEALER: 500 Quick and Simple Ways
to Heal Yourself Naturally
by Dana Ullman, M.P.H.
(Tarcher, November 1991, $8.95, ISBN 0-87477-667-8)
For too many people today, a "doctor" can be defined as a stiff,
remote specialist who charges a small fortune to tell us we suffer
from a Latin word, and who prescribes drugs we've never heard of and
further expensive and uncomfortable tests to determine medical trivia
we don't understand. A man who has pictures of our insides on file,
yet who would be unable to pick us out of a police lineup. Into such
an environment, THE ONE MINUTE (OR SO) HEALER comes as a refreshing
and empowering change of perspective. A wide variety of health
problems are discussed, with clear information given in everyday
English, and a variety of remedies and treatments are suggested.
The best aspect of THE ONE MINUTE (OR SO) HEALER is the tone: it
wanders from good-humored to positively humorous. Nowhere will you
find the stern, detached seriousness that I have found to be the norm
with American doctors. Interestingly, Ullman is not part of the
medical establishment, but is one of the new breed of alternative
health care professionals. He is the Director and Founder of
Homeopathic Educational Services and the author of EVERYBODY'S GUIDE
TO HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES (which has recently been revised and expanded
and is also available from Tarcher).
You can contact the publisher at: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 5858
Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
^ MODEL RAILROADS
The Complete Guide to Designing, Building, and
Operating a Model Railroad
by Cyril J. Freezer
(Running Press, 1991, $12.98, ISBN: 1-56138-065-2)
Model railroading is a hobby where experience counts, and that's what
Freezer--editor of RAILWAY MODELLER for more than 25 years--brings to
the reader in MODEL RAILROADS. In clear, easy-to-follow text Freezer
outlines the possibilities, the rewards, the hazards, and the
frustrations of model railroading. From choosing a gauge, deciding on
a layout, building the baseboard, laying the track, wiring, modelling
and landscaping, to advanced miniature civil engineering, seemingly
everything the beginning railway modeller needs to know is contained
in this attractive book. And, speaking of attractive, the photographs
and diagrams that highlight every page are fascinating and
inspirational. If you can read this book without taking up model
railroading, you simply can't be reached. MODEL RAILROADS would also
be a great gift for any beginner hobbyist, young or old.
^ THE MAKING OF THE MESSIAH: Christianity and Resentment
by Robert Sheaffer
(Prometheus Books, November 1991, $19.95 ISBN: 0-87975-691-8)
THE MAKING OF THE MESSIAH is a very controversial book, being a
skeptical investigation into the origins of Christianity. Sheaffer
finds the primary impetus for the development of Christianity in the
envy and resentment of the lower classes toward the power and wealth
of the ruling class of Romans. He also finds many inconsistencies in
the tenets of Christianity, and seeks the truth behind the myths and
jargon. Not a book for the blindly devout, THE MAKING OF THE MESSIAH
is a challenging look at the roots of one of our culture's most
influential forces. Working from the same ancient sources that
biblical scholars use--some of them only recently available--Sheaffer
examines the evidence from a new perspective. Robert Sheaffer is the
author of THE UFO VERDICT and RESENTMENT AGAINST ACHIEVEMENT, and a
regular columnist for THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER.
^ THE BREAD MACHINE BAKERY BOOK
by Richard W. Langer
(Little Brown, November 1991, $10.95, ISBN 0-316-51388-1)
Have you seen these new bread machines that are available now? All you
do is throw all the ingredients into the pot, tell it what time you'd
like it to be done and, voila, piping hot freshly-made bread on
demand, with almost no effort on your part. You can set it up before
you go to bed and wake up to the aroma of fresh bread in the morning.
What's the catch? Well, for one thing, these bread machines don't
exactly cost $1.95. Another problem is that the instructions that come
with the machine tell you how to make white bread, whole wheat bread,
maybe a sweet bread of some kind, and that's about it. We can't do
much about the price, but the variety of breads you can make with a
bread machine has just gotten a giant boost with Langer's THE BREAD
MACHINE BAKERY BOOK.
To begin with, Langer explains some of the basics of bread creation
and bread machine operation, taking the mystery out of the process and
giving the reader guidelines for customizing and improving on any
recipe. (He also explained why all of my attempts to make rye bread
have turned out so poorly.) After a chapter on the standard types of
bread--the oatmeal bread is wonderful--Langer continues on with
chapters of recipes for: Multigrain Breads, Herb Breads, Savory
Breads, Vegetable Breads, Sweet Breads, Ethnic Breads, Sourdough
Breads, Quick Breads, and Glazes. There is even a recipe for a
chocolate bread with peppermint butter to spread on it. THE BREAD
MACHINE BAKERY BOOK is an absolute essential for every bread machine
^ FREE STUFF FOR YOUR PET
by Linda Bowman
(Probus, January 1992, $9.95, ISBN 1-55738-271-9)
Being a pet owner can be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be.
Linda Bowman has exhaustively catalogued the free and inexpensive
resources available for you and your pet, everything from how to
acquire a pet for free in the first place, to handling your pet's
death when the end comes. In between, with the sources outlined in
FREE STUFF, you can get pet food, treats, toys, health care,
insurance, boarding, grooming, education, information, books,
magazines, newsletters, and catalogs...and pay less for them. There is
also a wealth of valuable information about pet shows (where loads of
free stuff is available), contests, hotlines, organizations and
associations, and how to contact other pet people with your computer.
Everyone with a pet, or considering getting one, should have a copy of
FREE STUFF FOR YOUR PET. (If you can't get FREE STUFF at your local
bookstore, you can order it directly from the publisher by sending the
list price, plus $3.50 shipping and handling, to: Probus Publishing
Co., 1925 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago, IL 60614, or call their order
^ AMBROSE BIERCE IS MISSING: And Other Historical Mysteries
by Joe Nickell
(Univ. Press of Kentucky, December 1991, $22.00, ISBN 0-8131-1766-6)
Joe Nickell loves to investigate mysteries. As a matter of fact, you
can see a review of another of his books, SECRETS OF THE SUPERNATURAL,
elsewhere in this issue of RFP. In AMBROSE BIERCE IS MISSING, the
subject is historical mysteries, and can be read superficially as a
collection of entertaining accounts of the investigation of various
puzzles from yesteryear. Read more closely, the book serves as a
general introductory textbook for the historical investigator. With
the addition of a glossary, AMBROSE BIERCE IS MISSING would make an
excellent classroom text for a dynamic course on investigative
techniques and the application of logic to problem solving.
Each chapter covers a particular type of historical mystery, with one
particular example singled out for extensive consideration. In
"Ancient Riddles" it's the Nazca lines in South America, famous
evidence of Von Daniken's "ancient astronauts". "Biographical Enigmas"
discusses the disappearance of Ambrose Bierce. "Hidden Identity" talks
about the unmasking of the Nazi Ivan the Terrible. "Fakelore" covers
Swift's lost silver mine, while "Questioned Artifacts" takes up the
many Daniel Boone signatures floating around. "Suspect Documents"
handles the famous Bixby letter by Abraham Lincoln. "Lost Texts" looks
at Cooke's missing edition of SOT-WEED FACTOR. "Obscured Sources"
deals with Hawthorne's Veiled Lady, while "Scientific Challenges"
studies the investigation into the Shroud of Turin. Recommended Works
follow each chapter, providing follow-up reading not of the subject
but of the highlighted investigative methods. One book he notes in
several places I can personally add my recommendation to: THE SCHOLAR
ADVENTURES by Richard D. Altick (1951), a fascinating book.
Along the way, Nickell considers a wide variety of investigative
techniques useful for solving historical mysteries: archaeology,
genealogy, forensic identification, oral histories, forgery detection,
stylometric analysis of texts, document study, decipherment, literary
scholarship, literary research, source study, and the many, many
techniques of laboratory analysis. The result, however, is not a dry,
academic text but a riveting collection of historical mysteries that
can stand as "mere" entertainment, or a thought-provoking introduction
to an exciting field of study.
^ COMING INTO OUR FULLNESS: On Women Turning Forty
Interviews and Photographs by Cathleen Rountree
(The Crossing Press, 1991)
Paper: $12.95 ISBN 0-89594-517-7
Cloth: $24.95 ISBN 0-89594-518-5
COMING INTO OUR FULLNESS is a collection of full-page photographs and
interviews with 18 dynamic women between the ages of 40 and 50, who
have in common passionate concerns and visions for a new world. They
are creating their own initiations into middle life and, in the
process, changing the mid-life crisis to a promising mid-life
Such celebrated women as Judy Chicago (artist), Maxine Hong Kingston
(writer), Barbara Boxer (politician), Linda Leonard (Jungian analyst
and writer), and Cokie Roberts (journalist and political analyst)
reveal that the second half of a woman's life is a profound
opportunity for transformation.
You can order this book directly from the publisher by sending the
list price plus $2 postage (or $3 postage for UPS) to: The Crossing
Press, PO Box 1048, Freedom, CA 95019. Or you can order by phone with
a credit card by calling 1-800-777-1048. Be sure to ask for their
catalog, because The Crossing Press has quite a variety of interesting
^ THE ROLLING STONE BOOK OF COMEDY
photographs by Bonnie Schiffman
text by Bill Zehme
introduction by Billy Crystal
(Bulfinch Press, November 1991, $35.00, ISBN 0-8212-1848-4)
More than 80 of Bonnie Schiffman's photos are included in this tribute
to the world of the comedian. The old guard is well represented by
entertainers like George Burns, Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Phyllis
Diller, and the newer wave by the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry
Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Tracy Ullman, and so many more. The book is
not confined to stand-up comics, including comic actors like John
Goodman and Teri Garr, and even comic artists like Gary Larson and R.
Crumb. A brief paragraph or two accompanies each photograph, the best
of them capturing the comedian in both subject and style. Here's what
Zehme said about Eric Idle:
"George Harrison, who is wise in such matters, believed that
the karmic soul of the Beatles was spiritually bequeathed
directly to the Monty Python fellows. If so, and even if
not, Idle got to be the Cute One. Know what we mean? Nudge,
nudge. Usually, he wrote alone, a Python island unto
himself, but was no less depraved than his mates. After the
release of their HOLY GRAIL, he was asked what the group
planned next. 'I said, rather flippantly, "Jesus Christ's
lust for glory,"' he recalled later. From this--a fine
offensive lie, borne of exasperation--there sprang THE LIFE
OF BRIAN, which according to that most contentious of
Pythons, John Cleese, was 'our masterpiece'. We'll say no
more! Nudge, nudge."
While the photos are mostly heavily posed, and are too often centered
around funny faces and bizarre props, THE ROLLING STONE BOOK OF COMEDY
still makes a fine scrapbook for comedy fans, good for flipping
through with friends and remembering favorite skits, routines, movies,
and other highlights of the comic arts.
^ SECRETS OF THE SUPERNATURAL
Investigating the World's Occult Mysteries
by Joe Nickell with John F. Fischer
(Prometheus Books, 1991, ISBN 0-87975-685-3)
Joe Nickell (see a review of his WONDER-WORKERS! in RFP #20)
investigates ten different types of apparently supernatural events in
SECRETS OF THE SUPERNATURAL, using level-headed investigative
techniques to illuminate subjects that are more often left in the
hands of unmovable believers or nonbelievers. The author displays his
understanding of the rigors of logic early on when he says
"Some skeptical investigators refer to themselves as
'debunkers,' which is unfortunate. Although thorough
investigation may often result in the debunking of fanciful
claims, to call oneself a debunker implies bias,
suggesting--rightly or wrongly--that the results are known
prior to investigation and will always be negative."
It's nice to have someone point out that nonbelievers can be as
illogically pigheaded as believers. As has been found by modern
scientists, most demonstrably in the field of particle physics, so
often we find exactly what we are looking for. Joe Nickell, however,
shows an admirable neutral point of view and a willingness to check
In SECRETS OF THE SUPERNATURAL, Joe Nickell investigates cases of
hauntings, crystal skulls with extraordinary powers, photographs of
spirits, amazing disappearances, the bizarre case of two nearly
identical men who weren't even related to each other, dowsing,
miraculous paintings, a bleeding door, coffins that move by
themselves, and spontaneous human combustion. I particularly enjoyed
the chapter about William West and Will West, two men with similar
names, similar backgrounds and family, similar dispositions, and
nearly identical appearance (photos are included), but who were
apparently not related to each other. The case of the two Wests was
even a factor in the abandonment of the Bertillon method of
identification (by physical description and measurements), since that
method failed to distinguish between two different people.
SECRETS OF THE SUPERNATURAL is an interesting look at some perplexing
fringe issues, a little less exciting than the melodramatic accounts
of true believers but certainly much more rational. Extensive Notes
and a Bibliography following each chapter point the interested reader
to further study.
^ DO PENGUINS HAVE KNEES?
by David Feldman
(HarperCollins, 1991, $19.00, ISBN 0-06-016294-5)
David Feldman is back once again with another volume in his
Imponderables series, in which he brings illumination into the more
murky corners of the world we live in. In this latest installment, he
considers such mysteries as: What is the official name of the moon?
Europa is said to be a "moon" of Jupiter, just like that thing hanging
in our night sky is a moon of the Earth. Is our moon named Moon? Isn't
that like naming your dog Dog? Other deep dark secrets probed in DO
PENGUINS HAVE KNEES? are:
* Why are our fingers different lengths?
* Why are peanuts listed under the ingredients of "plain" M&Ms?
* What happens to your social security number when you die?
* Why don't Radio Shack stores use cash registers?
* Why is pubic hair curly?
* How did Dr Pepper get its name?
* When you wear a girdle, where does the fat go?
* DO penguins have knees?
In the back Feldman takes up the issue of "frustables", his word for
frustrating imponderables that elude conclusive answers. There are "10
New Frustables", a "Frustables Update" in which Feldman's readers
improve on some of his material, and "The Frustables That Will Not
Die", covering the latest news on questions whose answers are still
out of reach. DO PENGUINS HAVE KNEES? is another fascinating
installment in this series for the unbearably curious. (Previous
volumes in the series are: IMPONDERABLES, WHY DO CLOCKS RUN
CLOCKWISE?, WHEN DO FISH SLEEP?, and WHY DO DOGS HAVE WET NOSES?)
~BOOKS ON TAPE:
^ UNCONDITIONAL LIFE
Mastering the Forces that Shape Personal Reality
written and read by Deepak Chopra, M.D.
2 tape/2 hour abridgment
(Bantam Audio, October 1991, $15.99, ISBN 0-553-47004-3)
Dr. Chopra noticed that terminally ill patients frequently reported
going through a psychological transformation into a state of serenity
and bliss, and he wondered if it might be possible to achieve a
similar transformation without the necessity of being ill. Drawing on
his own medical experiences, evidence from other scientists, and the
wisdom of poets, philosophers and great thinkers from all over the
world, Dr. Chopra has put together a theory, or rather a harmonious
medley of theories, for achieving a liberating personal
UNCONDITIONAL LIFE is full of fascinating tales of human growth,
healing, and change, such as the story about the 3 and 4 year old
autistic children who had not yet learned to walk. Some very clever
people designed a program in which two chairs were place ten feet
apart, with a rope strung between them. The children soon learned to
walk from one chair to the other while holding on to the rope. In slow
stages the rope was replaced by thinner rope, and finally a mere
string, and the children could still walk from one chair to the other.
Then the chairs were taken away and each child was given a short
length of string to hold in their hand, and soon they were walking on
their own, grasping that liberating bit of string. In UNCONDITIONAL
LIFE Dr. Chopra tries to help the listener understand the nature of
their own consciousness and its power over their lives. Very
^ AWAKENING OSIRIS: The Egyptian Book of the Dead
translated by Normandi Ellis; read by Jean Houston
2 cassettes/3 hours
(Audio Literature, 1991, $15.95, ISBN 0-944993-31-1)
The Egyptian Book of the Dead is not exactly a book, it's a collection
of ancient Egyptian writings about religion and the afterlife:
prayers, hymns, incantations, poems, etc. We have found these writings
entombed with the dead and carved onto the sarcophagus or painted on
the walls of tombs. I was surprised to find that these works sound as
contemporary as they do. They speak of the nature of divinity and
man's relationship to it, of how life should be lived, of the common
failings of human beings. Ellis' translation captures the lyric
quality of the words very well, and Jean Houston's contribution is far
more than a mere "reading". She performs, she enacts the words;
sometimes shouting, sometimes whispering, always dynamic. The Egyptian
Book of the Dead is a beautiful series of texts, and this performance
is much more accessible than I would have imagined. Below are a few
excerpts that caught my attention particularly:
"Name yourself in your heart and know who you are."
"I have regretted the past and longed for the future,
Forgetting to notice the mountain of the present."
"The god you seek is within.
The truth you chase lies between your own eyebrows."
"What I've seen with the eye has been fantasy, perhaps,
But what I've known with the heart has been truth."
"Go, then, and make of the world something beautiful,
Set up a light in the darkness."
(You can contact the publisher, and request a catalog, by writing to:
Audio Literature, PO Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707. To order any of
their tapes, you can call their Orders Only phone: 1-800-841-2665.)
^ DAVE BARRY TALKS BACK
by Dave Barry, read by Arte Johnson
unabridged selections: 2 cassettes, 3 hours
(Dove Audio, 1991, $15.95, ISBN 1-55800-455-6)
In my opinion Dave Barry is the funniest man in print today. There are
many writers who are humorous, but no one is as laugh-out-loud funny
as Dave Barry. I was skeptical about Barry on audio tape, though.
Sounding funny isn't the same thing as being funny on paper. Would
Barry's jokes translate to sound bytes? The definitive answer is: They
do if translated by Arte Johnson. His performance of Dave Barry's
written material is a treasure, and can stand on its own. Spoken
material IS different from written, and you will probably want to get
DAVE BARRY TALKS BACK in print and on tape. The book is easier to
stick inside a copy of NEWSWEEK when you pretend to be too busy
reading to pay attention to your family, but the tape is better when
you're driving, unless you laugh so hard you run off the road. On the
comedy critic's scale, DAVE BARRY TALKS BACK gets a full five rubber
chickens. You can order Dove Audio tapes by calling 1-800-328-DOVE
(inside California call 310/273-7722 or 1-800-345-9945). Dove Audio,
301 North Canon Dr., Suite 203, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
^ BLACK ELK SPEAKS
ask told to John G. Neihardt, read by Fred Contreras
(Audio Literature, 1991, $15.95, ISBN 0-944993-36-2)
Originally published in 1932, BLACK ELK SPEAKS tells the story of an
Oglala Sioux warrior and holy man who lived from 1863 to 1950. Black
Elk lived through Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, and was a
dedicated and spirited defender of Native American rights during his
lifetime. He told his story to writer John G. Neihardt in an attempt
to record and preserve Native American culture and traditions. His
sensitive, moving words tell about his life and his many visions
without self-pity. His story is difficult to ignore, impossible to
forget. Fred Contreras, raised by his grandfather in the traditional
ways of the Tarauhmara Indians, brings an added dimension to Black
Elk's words; and we can hear them in the slow, cadenced Native
American speech that originally gave them life.
(You can contact the publisher, and request a catalog, by writing to:
Audio Literature, PO Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707. To order any of
their tapes, you can call their Orders Only phone: 1-800-841-2665.)
~COMING IN APRIL:
MONSTER IN A BOX by Spalding Gray
CAT-DEPENDENT NO MORE! by "Dr." Jeff Reid
IN AN AVERAGE LIFETIME... by Tom Heymann
ANXIETY by Bonnie Timmons
THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE by Lionel Tiger
SATISFYING SOUPS by Phyllis Hobson
PRISONER'S DILEMMA by William Poundstone
THE LISTENER'S GUIDE TO CLASSICAL MUSIC by Kenneth & Valerie McLeish
THE OVERWORKED AMERICAN by Juliet B. Schor
SATELLITE SURVEILLANCE by Harold Hough
ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES by Robert X. Cringely
NATURE AS TEACHER AND HEALER by James A. Swan, Ph.D.
THE COMPLETE PC UPGRADE AND MAINTENANCE GUIDE by Mark Minasi
SIMCITY: STRATEGIES AND SECRETS by Nick Dargahi
UP AND RUNNING WITH COMPUSERVE by Bob Campbell
THIS OLD HOUSE KITCHENS by Steve Thomas & Philip Langdon
.......and a whole lot more!