Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Read Just Lately

The Arabian Nightmare, by Robert Irwin

Is a dizzying trip through 14th century Cairo beside an insomniac Christian spy named Balian.
Yes, this novel predates Ridley Scott's The Kingdom of Heaven by quite some time.
Full of great characters and intertwining short stories that all weave together, at times confusing even infuriating this is still a book that I greatly enjoyed. Hints of magic and intrigue abound as plotters utilize different talents and pawns all leading to a surprising twist ending. I admit the final lines did frustrate me, yet at the same time it was almost what you expected.

Granting splendid views into a sprawling city like Cairo in a post-crusades world Irwin's writing is magical and verbose, he is above all an entertainer but with something to say. The Arabian Nightmare has a lot to offer in seeing an exotic fantasy city for those of you who like a lot of detail-yet it flows in the stories as if it too is a character. One of the better books I have read this year. This also gives a great background (even if chronologically later) to another book I have just started Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones.

Report from Iron Mountain, (On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace) by John Doe

I've really been getting into listening to Douglas Dietrich on a variety of radio programs, and while he would be regarded as quite conspiratorial and subversive, I have yet to hear him say much of anything I found too outlandish-but he doesn't have any books out yet-I know I've been haranguing him about this dilemma, and so I went back and looked over the library for some of my own rare and unusual military type books-probably should have stuck to Secrets of World War 2 for fun-cuz Iron Mountain isn't fun-but it is intriguing. I first heard about it from a strange inventor I knew, he told me to go to the SLC Library and read it-they of course had never heard of it.
But I remembered...
Years later I actually found a copy in a used book shop. In essence it is the confession (anonymously) of a think tank from the Kennedy administration, courtesy of McNamara, on what to do now that the wars have all been won. Now all kinds of things could be said that this is a crock, BUT it was published in 1967 and everything it says that the Gov'ment should do to keep us "Under the Thumb" and distracted has been happening, so it's a little eerie. I had read it before but was on a kick to read something conspiratorial again since Dietrich's The Reality of the Red Undead isn't out yet-oh yeah, I'll be all over that one.

Solomon Kane: Deaths Black Riders, by Robert E. Howard, Scott Allie, Mario Guevara

This graphic novel splices in a short REH tale Rattle of the Bones (which is a great short by the by) and tells us what happened directly before and after that short. Problem is by doing it that way it weakens the REH tale or perhaps a better way to say it-they just don't belong sandwiching it. Sometimes I don't mind Dark Horse doing this with the Conan tales (other times I do mind) and nobodies perfect and while the stories are in of themselves alright and the art is fine, splicing it with more than a fragment to go on like *the first Solomon Kane graphic, Castle of the Devil, is bad form. I'll still check out whatever the next Solomon Kane book is-but if its like this I won't get a third. I would rather they wrote a brand new Solomon Kane tale than sandwich in a classic between two slices of dry bread.

Conan the Barbarian, by Robert E. Howard

This was the mass market paperback used as a tie in for the movie-the logo emblazoned on the cover reads 'Storeies that Inspired the Movie"  IF ONLY
Anyone who has read a REH Conan knows any of these tales would have been a far, far, far better movie. It has actually been awhile since I read the originals in paperback (well awhile for me) and the magic that 'People of the Black Circle' weaves still brought me back, the intrigue and danger of 'Phoniex on the Sword' drew me in like the first time I read it. 'Tower of the Elephant' still looms over filthy Zamora on a steamy spider-haunted night and 'Red Nails' crunches bone beneath dragon feet. I still want those movies made, alas...

One Second After, by William R. Forstchen

Think The Road, as a community. What begins as your perfect small town-which we know is gonna become paradise destroyed, actually has quite a few surprises for even this old paranoiac. We have all heard about doomsday coming one way or another and Forstchen hits us with something that has slipped under the radar a bit too much. Not zombies, or radioactivity or viruses but our own lack of preparedness and ingenuity that modern day life has retarded us on. The very real probability of what do you do when the power is gone?
America is hit with multiple EMP blasts - Electro Magnetic Pulses that fry everything electronic-nothing works. So what happens? No communication, no refrigeration, no transportation, and you can see the breakdown coming. What really hit me was the reality that if the lights don't come on in a couple weeks everyone who is dependent on pharmaceuticals is in serious trouble, then the elderly and what about gangs and those who think they should take what they want? Cormac McCarthy (still the superior writer) was grim (and it was supposed to be an asteroid in The Road by the way, not nukes) but this paints a more horrific picture in the sense that you can see how this would actually affect you and everyone you love-you're not dropped into the story after its almost over-you're there One Second After.


Paul R. McNamee said...

RE: One Second After S. M. Stirling has a similar series based around "the change" - where a phenomena causes all electricity and combustion to stop working. No power, no engines, no gunpowder flash. I haven't read it myself yet. You can get some details on his wikipedia entry.

I agree with you about the event in The Road. I don't know why so many think it was nuclear war. There is no mention of radiation or war. Though, there is clearly a "nuclear winter", it was caused by non-nuclear event.

RE: Solomon Kane DH, I am thinking of catching up but with the digital comics on that one. DH digitals are cheaper, and sometimes on sale, and my aging eyes are starting to like the comfort of comic frames I can zoom in on. Plus, save shelf space.

I'll probably still buy Hellboy in tpb, though.

RE: Iron Mountain When the Orcs invaded the great Dwarven hall ... wait, wrong Iron Mountain! ;)

That's always an interesting idea and premise, too - what do you do with all the soldiers if there is no more war? (and, what do you do with the populace, too, if you're vain and like to keep power for its own sake.)

David J. West said...

Paul-yeah go with Hellboy-thats what I'm reading next too in the graphic arena.
I like thinking about weird stuff.

Heidi L. Murphy said...

I know this doesn't have anything to do with 'The Road', but it seems you are into armor and pointy weapons, as I am. Have you ever read any Bernard Cornwell? I find that he's extremely accurate on anything war-related, plus very entertaining. These books are not for the faint of heart, though. He puts you right in the fray along with the guts and flying limbs.

David J. West said...

Heidi- I love Cornwell, I haven't reviewed one since The Burning Land but they are good stuff-I look forward to a number of his other series.

Ty Johnston said...

RE: One Second After

And then there are those of us with an electronic device implanted in our body (in my case, my chest over my heart). If my internal defibrillator suddenly went kaput, I wouldn't keel over dead, but my life expectancy would drop drastically. And without meds, my life expectancy would become just about nil in a short amount of time. I could probably survive a couple of months without too many problems, but after that my body would start breaking down on me. And there would be the pain to suffer. Something as simple as alcohol might help with the pain, but it would kill me faster. Over-the-counter pain relievers wouldn't touch me.

On the plus side, if there is little or no radiation, those of us who survived after the first year would probably actually eat healthier than we do today. I'm thinking toxicity in our food and water sources would be the biggest problem, but there are ways to help with that. A lot depends upon what the apocalyptic scenario actually entails. Zombies, for example, would likely in and of themselves be a fairly short-term problem, because I'd think they would rot away after a few months (or sooner, depending upon weather and climate).