Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog - June 2011
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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Monthly Blog.
Responses to subjects brought up by this blog are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.
Subjects this month: Forty acres or five, Odd perspectives, At last, Smart, Mexico, I’m Obsolete, Book Reviews, Mechanically challenged, The Dream Act, Progress report, Zero tolerance gone amok, Religion, Excerpt from Three For The Money.
Forty acres or five?
My next younger brother always wanted a place in the country of at least forty acres. He has it but now is only two years younger than me and kind if wishing it was only five acres--without hosses!
Each generation of humans has their own type of music. That’s a little odd but there are other aspects of the human race that are odder. Just think of all the ways the young generation differs from the older. It’s almost as if they were different species living the same habitat. And as if that weren’t enough, think of the differences between the sexes. The opposite sex really is like a different species and neither of them really understands the other!
All five books in the Williard Brothers series (also known as the Medics Wild series) by Darrell Bain are now available in both print and ebook editions. In order, Medics Wild, Postwar Dinosaur Blues, Bigfoot Crazy, Three For The Money and Space For Sale. I just finished reading the last two. Three For The Money is undoubtedly the Williard Brothers' wildest and craziest, funniest and zaniest adventure yet, with more hair-raising escape scenes, brawls, and love scenes and is more politically incorrect than any book of the series, but it also sets the stage for more to follow in Space for Sale. And have the other two brothers finally been corralled by women who suit them? If so, how did it finally happen? Find out now! You’ll be amazed!
I just got my first smart phone. I’ve decided that the damned phone is smarter than I am. What do I do now? I know. I’ll buy a laptop. I bet I can outsmart it.
Last month in Bainstorming I said that the Mexican government should allow their citizens to carry guns to protect themselves since the government seems incapable of it. Then a few days ago I saw a segment on the evening news about Mexican citizens clandestinely arming themselves. Good for them! The more the better. Maybe they’re reading Bainstorming?
Once upon a time I got asked a lot of questions that people didn’t know the answers to. I read so widely and so much that I’ve got zillions of factoids running loose in my brain. I could usually come up with an answer. Now I don’t get asked anymore. Anyone who is stumped just pulls their phone out and googles for the answer to questions. I’ve been outdated by technology!
Several unrelated circumstances caused me to do more reading than writing this past month. That’s why you’re seeing so many book reviews in this issue of Bainstorming. As usual, I only report on books which I believe would be interesting to just about anyone.
Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick is an unusual time travel novel, done very well indeed by this writer. It involves paleontologists who are able go back to the time of the dinosaurs in person and observe their habits. There’s a great big catch, though!
A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane is the book that introduced Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, PI partners. Ordinarily I’m not much for Private Investigator novels but this one had such good reviews I decided to take a chance--and I’m glad I did. Lehane is a tremendously gifted writer. I zoomed right through the book, trying to follow the plot of Boston politicians hiring the PI team to recover some stolen documents. The job turns out to be much harder than they ever thought. I’ve already ordered the next two books in the series.
Exodus by Steve White and Shirley Meier continues the bestselling Starfire series begun by David Weber and Steve White. After the Insurrection of the last book succeeds, eighty years later giant ships of another species are spotted coming through normal space. It is found out the hard way that they have come to colonize planets and humans or any other species simply don’t seem to matter.
Extremis by Steve White and Charles E. Gannon continues the Starfire series with a huge war between new colonizing species and the alliance of humans and other species. Perhaps this ends the series and perhaps not. Extremis was a long book but didn’t completely settle matters, leaving some questions open. It was well worth the time I spent on it.
Allan Dean Foster is a versatile author who writes in many genres, although he’s probably best known for his science fiction. With Sagramonda, he has brought forth a book that is one of his best, and that can be enjoyed regardless of which genre you normally prefer. The story takes place in Sagramonda, a city in India of the near future with a population of over 100 million. You’ll learn more interesting facts about India than you ever thought possible and have fun doing it! You’ll find some of the richest and most wretchedly poor life styles described. You’ll join in a complex interweaving of events that include a scientist who has stolen a world-changing secret from his corporation and wants to sell it to the highest bidder, a low-level shopkeeper needing money to move his family to the big city, one of the most feared corporate underground operative looking for the scientist and his data, a man-eating tiger preying on humans at the edge of the city, a woman that an overdose of designer drugs has turned into a chilling serial killer, a woman of the untouchable caste the scientist has fallen in love with and wants to marry, the father of the scientist who is intent on killing him to salvage the family honor, and on and on. Foster brings all these disparate characters and events to a stunning climax that solves some enigmas you’ve been wondering about almost from the first page and then--the world changing stolen data is nothing at all like you imagined it was. This book grabs you right from the start and doesn’t let up until the end. Highly, HIGHLY recommended!
First published as a two part serial in 1941 (that’s right, 1941) Robert A. Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky was the first novel featuring a generation ship, a giant spaceship aimed for the stars that will take centuries to reach its destination, and therefore multiple generations will live in it. He was also the first to write about the prospective colonists forgetting all about being on a ship and who come to believe the ship is the universe! This theme has been done many times before in books that sometimes take up over a thousand pages. None of them come close to Heinlein’s original story. He covered all aspects of the theme in 129 pages, including the original colonists, the later ones who think the ship is the whole universe and the daring ones who discover it isn’t. The fact that he could do so much in so few pages and do it better than anyone since tells you what a great writer he was. I believe it is still in print after all these years, and if not, there are plenty of used copies around. A great read!
James B. Johnson hasn’t written many books, but the few he has written are very good, particularly Mindhopper. You will absolutely fall in love with the narrator of the novel, a ninety-something year old character who thinks the world has left him behind but is still able to cope with all the changes in the world, including helping to deliver a baby who grows into childhood with a talent that has the authorites willing to kill, torture or do anything else to rip the secret from the child. Pembroke Wyndham is having none of it, though. Despite his age he charges the authorities with all the force of his ninety years of surviving, daring them to do their worst as he rescues his young charge and tries to keep him free. One of the best science fiction adventure novels ever!
And also by James B. Johnson is Daystar and Shadow which takes place hundreds of years in the future where an alien species has turned much of the earth into deserts as they prepare it for colonization. They’ve also introduced deadly fireworms and there’s a religion which takes orders from the aliens. But it turns out that there’s two alien species, not one. Daystar is an autistic and so is shadow. In that future world life is so tough that autistic children are taken to the desert and abandoned, as Daystar and Shadow were. There are many other characters in this fine novel. It’s a very good read.
I’ve never had an aptitude with anything mechanical. I needed to change a sticker on the car but the old scraper wouldn’t work. I decided to change the blades. I thought that ought to be simple enough for me to do. A half hour later my fingers were numb, I had cut myself and still couldn’t get the damn new blade to stay where it belonged. I examined the scraper some more and finally saw the two little depressions where a couple of tiny extrusions fit to hold the blade in place. Aha! I thought. Now I’ll get the blade changed. Arrrggghh! I had fooled with the old scraper so much that it would no longer stay together. I went to a new scraper. It worked slightly different but after another half hour I finally got a blade in that would stay. Then I went out to scrape off the sticker. Unfortunately, I had put it on a curved part of the windshield. I couldn’t get the scraper to work and cut myself again. By this time both hands were bloody and my fingers and thumbs both were numb. I gave up on scrapers and got some hot water and soaked the damn sticker off, soaking myself and the car seat while I was at it. However, there was an upside. Soaking it off did wash the blood off my hands.
Next month: Drilling holes in the door to put a doggie scratcher in place.
The Dream Act
The Dream Act is a proposal by some members of congress to allow illegal immigrants brought here as children to earn their citizenship by serving in the military or performing some other needed service. For some kind of reason I can’t understand, it is hung up in Congress. One of the reasons given for the act not being passed is that the parents of these children, some now grown, came her illegally. Well, yes. I’m completely against illegal immigration. I believe the border should be closed as tightly as possible and only legal residents, those with work permits or visas, or legal immigrants be allowed in and to make it illegal to provide free services to illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense. But why punish those kids? They were brought here and didn’t have a damn thing to say about it but now this is the only country many of them have ever known. Suppose someone intended to ship you to Mexico or Guatemala for the rest of your life because of something your parents did? You damn well wouldn’t like it would you? In fact, you’d hate it. You would have no idea how to survive in a completely unknown environment. Hell, you’d probably starve! Surely there’s enough compassion left in the United States of America to allow those kids brought here when they were too young to have anything to say about it to earn their citizenship. I think there is. Now let congress prove it and forget about their stupid politics for once in their stupid lives!
I’m winding up the second book in the Apertures Trilogy, titled Apertures: Allies and Enemies.
Zero tolerance gone amok
When teachers can’t even give their students a hug to console them, there’s something wrong and I know what it is. It is the blind obedience to rules, no matter how ridiculous it makes a person or an institution look. A perfect example is the recent uproar about the guy not being allowed to attend a prom because of a minor infraction of rules. Couldn’t a more suitable punishment have been found? Apparently not until public pressure on the school and its politically correct administrator became too much to resist. The decision was reversed. In Texas there are two former death row convicts who were declared innocent. One spent 18 years in prison, the other 12 years. Because of a few words on a document were not entered neither man has been able to collect the reparations from the state they are due. How stupid! And how crazy our society had become. I’m sure all of you can cite many other examples. Is there any way to return some semblance of reality to our social institutions? I don’t know. I really don’t.
There seems to be something in the makeup of humans that impels a large majority of them to believe in a supreme being and consequently, to invent religions to interpret this being’s intentions. But somehow, the religions always seem to go awry. As Robert A. Heinlein said in one of his books, religions begat new religions as naturally as a cat has kittens. Or words to that effect. For instance, Protestants and Catholics believe entirely differently on how God’s intentions are delivered. Catholics think it’s through the Pope and forgiveness has to go through a priest. Protestants differ. The Islamic religion has similarly split into Shiite and Sunni factions on no more than a different interpretation of which relative inherited Muhammmed’s mantle. The Protestants have fractured into dozens, if not hundreds, of factions. I could go on and on but I believe this sort of happening indicates that religions are inventions of men, not Gods. Without debating the pros and cons of the existence of a God, I personally believe every person should develop some kind of ethical concept which has at its heart: Do not harm others intentionally. For me that takes care of most questions. What happens after I die, if anything, is a question that can’t be solved with our present knowledge.
Excerpt FromThree For The Money
This is the fourth book in the Williard Brothers (Medics Wild) series but any of the books can be read as a stand-alone novel. Three For The Money and Space For Sale have just appeared in print and are also available as ebooks at all the ebook stores, making them all available now. The following is a scene that shows why the Williard brothers have never been bested, at least not for very long
It was short notice, but Brandy thought she had enough troops lined up to protect Jerry if he got into trouble—and to corral his brothers if they happened to show up. She had thought about sending a contingent to the dope runners’ concealed landing strip to blow up that pesky Cessna so she could maybe entice them with a plane and pilot of her choosing, but just before she was ready to order it done, she had to cancel the idea. Word came that the feds had hired a platoon of the Mexican Army to back them up. She decided to keep her mercenaries close to Forsythe and Burkham for the time being in order to protect Jerry. The other brothers could be helped along later when they entered the fray, if they did. In the meantime, she thought she had a safe and secure method of discovering without hassle what Jerry found at Forsythe and Burkham. She had already made inquiries about Maria. The receptionist was a low-paid employee and could certainly be bought. Then she saw Maria walk outside carrying a briefcase, trying to look like a casual courier and doing a bad job of it.
“Who the fuck is that?” Mutt asked as he saw three men in windbreakers pull out pistols and charge the gang of Mexicans swarming Jerry.
Now what? Brandy thought. She jumped out of her car and yelled for her mercenaries to go rescue Jerry. She had briefed them on his appearance and what she thought might happen outside the bank. It had happened all right, but where in hell had all these different gangs come from? Were they all after Jerry and his brothers?
With the dearth of local Mafia button men and soldiers after the rise of the Mexican drug cartels, all the Don had been able to do on such short notice was to get his few contacts there to round up one of the big street gangs looking for action and money. They barely made it in time.
“Goddamn it, that’s Jerry I saw in the middle of all that shit! Come on, let’s go! Terry, keep the car running! Tex, follow us and don’t stop for nothing!”
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