19 February 2012

Review - Tarzan at Earth's Core

(image from Amazon.com)

THE STORY Tarzan gets hired by an American, Jason Gridley, for an expedition to find the legendary polar opening to the inner world of Pellucidar. Gridley had learned that David Innes, the Emperor of Pellucidar, has been captured by enemies in that world and is in need of rescue.

An incredible airship is constructed. Tarzan and Gridley lead an expedition of specialists to find the opening to the Earth's core and rescue Innes. The airship manages to find the opening and descends into the Earth.

In the core things are very different than on the outer crust. A central sun provides light across Pellucidar, but gives the illusion that it is constantly noon. There is no night in Pellucidar. Navigation is also difficult, even looking for mountains as landmarks can be tricky since the horizon curves up and this creates tricks that men from the outer world have trouble compensating for.

Then there are the animals that have been long extinct on the surface. Dinosaurs, sabertooth tigers, and other prehistoric beasts dominate much of this new land.

After the airship lands Tarzan becomes lost and expeditions are sent out to find him. Many of these also become lost and things begin to look hopeless. Gridley even comes across a primitive yet beautiful princess who he falls in love with but manages to accidentally offend because of their different cultures (a standard storyline in many of Burroughs' books).

In the end incredibly lucky (or contrived) circumstances bring all of the various storylines to a successful and happy conclusion.

THE GOOD Tarzan and dinosaurs. Doesn't get much better than that. Fairly standard Burroughs story so if you like his other works you should love this one. Quick and easy read. Early on it also shows that Tarzan is highly intelligent, including about scientific matters. This is often overlooked by people since they think that since he was raised by apes he has to be some sort of idiot. Tarzan taught himself how to read - only a true genius could manage such a feat.

THE BAD The contrived and predictable situations. I know that convenient events are sometimes needed, especially in adventure stories, but they can many times border on unbelievable and could possibly threaten to ruin an otherwise good story.

The ending also seemed a bit rushed.

OVERALL A solid offering in the Tarzan series. It also ties the Tarzan and Pelluciar series together. Recommended for those who want a quick and entertaining story.

PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books
AUTHOR: Edgar Rice Burroughs
GENRE: Science Fiction, pulp adventure
ISBN: 345-24483-4-125
2012 CHALLENGES: 150+ Reading Challenge 2012, 2012 Read 52 Books in 52 weeks, 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

18 February 2012

Year of the Dragon

Just got back form roller derby bouts at the Dome Arena. Guess I'll give a quick report. This was the first night of derby action of the extended travel season. The local B-sides took on the Worcester Roller Derby and the Roc Stars battled the Tri-City Thunder.

The B-Siders had the advantage in the first bout. The Worcester team had a long trip to get to Rochester and were also short on players. There were times that players would play in consecutive jams without a rest. While this fatigue would hurt them in the long run the B-Siders still pulled to an earlier lead with some outstanding playing. In the end the B-siders won 125-71.

The second bout got off to a bad start for the Roc Stars. Tri-City Thunder jammers were becoming lead jammer on a regular basis and got in a really large lead in the first few minutes. Penalties were quickly racked up by both teams, some players were spending so much time in the penalty box they should have been paying rent. By half-time Tri-City had outscored Rochester by about two to one.

In the second half the Roc Stars had a wonderful opportunity to close the gap in the score. A few jams later they were actually a few points ahead of Tri-City. Things were looking good and it was certainly exciting, and the penalty box was still pretty full. Unfortunately the Roc Stars jammers would end up in the penalty box too often giving Tri-City power jam opportunities that allowed them to re-establish a dominating lead which they held until the end of the bout. Final score, the Roc Stars lost to Tri-City 92-124. Still a great bout.

The musical interludes were performed by Roarshark. Normally I'm not too much into music, a bit hard of hearing. It's always hard to have conversations with friends during intermission with the music playing. While I had the same problem tonight, I actually did enjoy their music.

All in all it was a great time. Next bout is March 24, 2012 at the RIT Field House.

11 February 2012

2012 Book Haul

Recently I sold about 48 DVDs via Amazon Trade-In. Ended up getting about $68 in credit for them. It may not seem like that good of a deal, selling DVDs I originally paid nearly $500 for at such a low price. But a number of the DVDs were old and most I hadn't watched in a couple years. Amazon will make money off them and I cleared out shelf space and was able to buy some books I've wanted for some time. A win-win situation.

I ended up clearing some of the books off my want list. Nine of them in all. A wide variety of topics from science fiction, graphic novels, and pulp fiction to anthropology, history, and political science. A very interesting haul, and possibly the only “book haul” I'll manage this year. Total postage for all of these was about $35.55; more than half of the amount I traded the DVDs in for.

Doctor Omega: by Arnould Galopin. A French sci-fi novel from 1905 translated to English. Unfortunately it has been “modernized” a bit in the process of translation. Possible inspiration for Doctor Who.

The Ayn Rand Lexicon: edited by Harry Binswanger. Looks like this will be a great reference guide to learning more about Rand's philosophy. I'm not really an Objectivist but want to learn more about them.

Adventure volume one: edited by Chris Roberson. Well over a dozen new pulp-style stories by about seventeen different authors. This promises to be very good, and was much larger than I anticipated. Overall I'm usually very happy with Monkeybrain Books.

The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: by G.P. Maximoff. I know a little about Bakunin. I want to read some of his writings to see if my picture of him is correct. Even if my initial perceptions of him are wrong I'm sure he's still a better man than Marx.

Road Belong Cargo: by Peter Lawrence. An anthropological study of the Cargo Cults of New Guinea. Has a bit of underlining and highlighting. Looks like it may be an ex-college book. Looking forward to reading it; I've always wanted to learn more about the Cargo Cults.

The Seychelles Affair: by Mike Hoare. The story of Hoare's failed attempt to liberate the Seychelles after being hired by its government in exile. I've read some magazine articles on the subject, it'll be nice to read the memoirs of the man in charge of that operation.

The Kingdom: Graphic novel by DC Comics. A sequel to the awesome Kingdom Come series. While not nearly as good as the original I do remember the stories begin entertaining.

Gold & Iron: by Fritz Stern. A study of the relationship between Bismarck and Gerson von Bleichroder and how it influenced the rise of the German nation. Hopefully there will be some useful insights in this book. Some very light pencil underlining and a little stained but good binding.

Pearls from Peoria: by Philip José Farmer. A large collection of short stories by Farmer. This book is huge; about 770 pages or so. It is an ex-library book but in pretty good shape considering that.

The biggest problem I have now is to decide which of these to read first. And since they are new acquisitions for me they won't count for my TBR Pile reading challenges for this year. Well, there are far worse problems to have.

09 February 2012

Third Sentence Thursday - Tarzan at Earth's Core

Third Sentence Thursday
1. Take the book you are currently reading, and share the third sentence in the first chapter (NOT the preface, preamble, introduction, etc. – Chapter 1). Feel free to share more (maybe the first three, the second through fourth, or the third plus the two following) if you’d prefer.
2. Share your thoughts on the sentence (or sentences).
3. Post a link on Proud Book Nerd's Third Sentence for the week by clicking on the image above.
4. Visit one or two of the other blogs to check out their third sentence(s).

"You could have smelled nothing but the mustiness of decaying vegetation, which blended with the aroma of growing things." (from Tarzan at Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs)

Sounds like Tarzan is at home in the jungle. It turns out he is in Africa about to be approached by an American who offers him a chance to take a journey to Earth's core.

In this book Burroughs crosses over his popular Tarzan series with his Pellucidar stories. Should be quite an adventure.

02 February 2012

Review - Gods of Manhattan

I'm already slipping behind in my reading challenges. While I know I'm not going to reach the 150+ goal I hope to make a much better showing than the 60 I read last year.

After doing some heavier reading I decided to read some fiction. Back during a Borders clearance sale a book caught my eye. It had a really cool cover and I figured, "what the heck, 80% off is worth it for the cover." So I picked it up. It was Al Ewing's Gods of Manhattan, part of the Pax Britannia series.

(image from Amazon.com)

The book is set in an alternate universe where it appears technology is more based of steam-tech than regular science. There were going to be potentially cool characters like Doc Thunder, the Blood Spider, and El Sombra. Pulp adventures in a world that won't limit it to our history. Lots of potential.

Overall the book is well written and does have some interesting characters. The story had many references to events that the characters were involved in years earlier and all the back story felt real in that 'comic booky' sort of way. It feels like a 'lived-in' world which helps enhance the realism of the setting.

Basically a man is murdered, a man who was long thought to be dead and who wasn't a very nice person to begin with. That death leads to a chain of events that will grow to threaten all of Manhattan, the United Socialist States of America, and possibly the entire world! Nice flow of action as the events progress and escalate.

While there are multiple main characters Doc Thunder got the most 'screen time.' Despite that I got the feeling that El Sombra was THE main character of the story. There was a rather interesting supporting character who is Doc Thunder's chef; a man who made a very interesting deal with the Devil. Too bad that wasn't developed a bit more... but then again that would have distracted form the main storyline.

There was a hints of modern day politics being thrown in. There were a couple times I got pulled out of the story because I felt like I read something from the comments section of a news article. None of it ruined the story, it was just a little distracting.

Some of the main characters are in desperate need of development. For the Blood Spider there is no development, he is a one-dimensional character whose only motive seems to be murdering minorities. The Batman/Shadow-type character is actually a fascist? I've seen that on numerous occasions; nothing new there. In fact it was done much better in From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain by Minster Faust.

That being said there is one highly used character that will never get old. Although he did not make an appearance he was mentioned.... Hitler's brain in a jar! Well something like that was mentioned anyway.

Overall the story is interesting. Not too many surprises, but there are plenty of nice pulp & comic book schticks to be entertaining. There was a bit of a mystery, some good action, and plenty of great concepts. The writing was well done for the most part.

Nice looking cover too....

Some of the main characters are weak. Blood-Spider is very one-dimensional, Doc Thunder is a bit better but I would have preferred if he was a bit more on the level of Doc Savage instead of an early Golden Age Superman. El Sombra was almost as fanatical as Blood-Spider but had a little more to him. I'm sure he got great development and back story in his own book, El Sombra, which predated this one.

Overall I would recommend this book to any one who likes pulpy action or who wants to explore a world that is filled with great potential. I'll be returning to Pax Britannia at some point. The cover of Dark Side of the Moon looks cool.... of course you can't always judge a book by its cover.

PUBLISHER: copyright 2010 by Rebellion.
AUTHOR: Al Ewing
GENRE: Science Fiction, pulp adventure, some steampunk elements
ISBN: 978-1-906735-86-9
2012 CHALLENGES: 150+ Reading Challenge 2012, 2012 Read 52 Books in 52 weeks, 2012 A-Z Book Challenge, 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, Steampunked reading challenge
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