no forgotten book, current reading, etc.

No book this week, – computer problems. I may have to go to the Apple store tomorrow.

Update: No CURRENT READING either, also, since it was 103.4 yesterday, no trip out to look at a new computer. Posts will be delayed for a while.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 9 Comments

Aging Computer

For the last few months my main computer, the iMac, has been “acting up”. Slow to load programs, unable to access many websites, balking at running larger files, etc. I’ve done some fiddling with it, and haven’t been able to do much. It’s not crashing, I’m not in danger of losing files or any data, it’s just getting old and tired, I think.

But everything on it is set up just the way I like it, all the settings and so forth. So I keep trying to keep it going.

Cranky computers are a pain in the neck. How’s your computer running these days?

 

Posted in At Home in Portland | 12 Comments

Current Reading: not much, how about you?

I know I read a few short stories in a locked room anthology edited by Martin Edwards, but right now the name of it escapes me. The neighbors are having their 4th loud pool party in a row (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, today). It will stretch into the night like the others, we assume. It’s summer, theirs is the party house of the entire neighborhood, and they live next door to us. So who can read? Not me, I just grind my teeth and take Excedrin™ for my migraines.

Barbara is reading All the President’s Men and enjoying it.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading | 21 Comments

Forgotten Book: Orbital Decay by Allen Steele

this is the 260th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Orbital Decay by Allen Steele, Ace Science Fiction 1989 mass market paperback – science fiction – Near Space series, book 1.

I’ve liked the books by Allen Steele that I’ve read, Apollo’s Outcasts (2012) and Avengers of the Moon (2017). Though Steele is probably best known for his Coyote series, I decided to try his Near Space series, and this is the first book in it. Here’s the set:

Near-Space series (also called Rude Astronauts series

  • Orbital Decay (1989)
  • Clarke County, Space (1990)
  • Lunar Descent (1991)
  • Labyrinth of Night (1992)
  • A King of Infinite Space (1997)

By “near space” we’re talking about within the solar system, in this case the book is  set at a space station under construction in Earth orbit. The novel starts out with an unnamed narrator telling us his space suit is soon going to run out of either power or air. He’s not sure which will happen first, but either way, he’ll die. But before that happens, he wants to tell us a story. The rest of the book, with occasional look-ins on our narrator, is that story.

Like any construction gang, the beamjacks on Olympus Station lead a regular life, much of it the same day after day, except that monotony is multiplied by the tight quarters, crowded conditions and the inability to go anywhere. Same white walls, same narrow bunk, little or no privacy, lots and lots of rules and restrictions. Yet they suit up and do the work day after day, having signed up for a 2 year term working for Sky Corp.

Orbital Decay reads a lot like Arthur C. Clarke at his didactic best. That’s fine, but as I read, I wanted a little more action and a bit less exposition.

At about the halfway point, I realized that the work, life and personalities of the beamjacks, and the other personnel on the station are the action, and as pressures slowly build it becomes apparent something’s got to blow. The discovery of a clandestine program called Big Ear, intended to implement eavesdropping on a massive, world-wide scale and to such a fine focus that any conversation on any radio, telephone or electronic device can be identified, monitored, recorded. The heart of this system is to be installed on Andromeda Station, in near orbit to Olympus, and the beamjacks decide they have to do something, anything, to stop it. There’s plenty of action then.

To say more would be to spoil the book, but that action I was waiting for came, and though not space opera battles or alien attacks, it was satisfying, and I liked the ending.

I have the next book in hand and plan to read it soon.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Books, Science Fiction | 19 Comments

Current Reading: Bernstein/Woodward, Deaver

The weather has been nice, the garden looks great, things are fine. I haven’t done a lot of reading, but I finished Orbital Decay by Allen Steele, and liked it better at the end than at the middle point, which does happen sometimes with books. I read Paul Hollywood, a biography by Andrew Dagnell. It’s one of the worst biographies I’ve ever read. Slim on facts, oozing with stories from British scandal sheets and full of repeated information, this one is so bad it went directly into the recycle bin.

Vastly better, of course, is All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. I bought and read this in 1974 when the hardcover was published, but considering events in Washington D.C. these last months I wanted to reread it. I couldn’t find my copy (buried in a box somewhere here) so I got this 40th anniversary edition from the library.

The uncovering of the Watergate scandals. I’d forgotten a lot of the details, but it’s in essence as I remembered, and reading the book brought back to mind the time Watergate and all the fallout was happening. I lived through it, remember reading the newspaper articles, seeing the news, later taking days off work to watch the hearings. Of course I’ve seen the film more than once, but it edits so much out to fit a time frame.

I also have a hold for The Final Days which is the follow-up and should have it from the library in a week or two.

Barbara has just about finished Jeffrey Deaver’s The Burial Hour, the latest Lincoln Rhyme novel.

She’s going to read All the President’s Men next, though she wasn’t as caught up in Watergate as I was, so we’ll see if all the detail is fascinating, as I found it, or overwhelming.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Non-fiction | 27 Comments

Incoming – Fredric Brown

Just arrived yesterday, from Haffner Press, these first two volumes of their Fredric Brown Mystery Library.

These beautiful books have taken some time in production, but they are here at last and I must say they are worth the wait.

Volume One is Murder Draws A Crowd and contains the first 39 stories sold by the author to the pulp magazine markets from 1938 to 1942. Brown’s two rare western stories are  included. Plus there are some tales of humor. All this with original illustrations reproduced.

Volume Two is Death In The Dark, which contains 29 stories which appeared in various 1942 pulp magazines. Again, original illustrations are included.

I can hardly wait to dip into volume one, and will do so soon. Here’s the contents:

MURDER DRAWS A CROWD
The Moon for a Nickel, Detective Story Magazine Mar. 38
The Cheese on Stilts, Thrilling Detective Jan. 39
Blood of the Dragon, Variety Detective Feb. 39
There Are Bloodstains in the Alley, Detective Yarns Feb. 39
Murder at 10:15, Clues Detective Stories May 39
The Prehistoric Clue, Ten Detective Aces Jul. 40
Trouble in a Teacup, Detective Fiction Weekly Jul-13-1940
Murder Draws a Crowd, Detective Fiction Weekly Jul-27-1940
Footprints on the Ceiling, Ten Detective Aces Sep. 40
The Little Green Men, The Masked Detective Fall 1940
Town Wanted, Detective Fiction Weekly Sep-7-1940
Herbie Rides His Hunch, Detective Fiction Weekly Oct-19-1940
The Stranger from Trouble Valley, Western Short Stories Nov. 40
The Strange Sisters Strange, Detective Fiction Weekly Dec-28-1940
How Tagrid Got There, unpublished until 1986
Fugitive Imposter, Ten Detective Aces Jan. 41
The King Comes Home, Thrilling Detective Jan. 41
Big-Top Doom, Ten Detective Aces Mar 41
The Discontented Cows, G-Men Detective Mar. 41
Life and Fire, Detective Fiction Weekly Mar-22-1941
Big-League Larceny, Ten Detective Aces Apr. 41 {as by Jack Hobart}
Selling Death Short, Ten Detective Aces Apr. 41
Client Unknown, The Phantom Detective Apr. 41
Your Name in Gold, The Phantom Detective Jun. 41
Here Comes the Hearse, 10-Story Detective Jul. 41 {as by Allen Morse}
Six-Gun Song, 10-Story Detective Jul. 41
Star-Spangled Night, Coronet Jul. 41
Wheels Across the Night, G-Men Detective Jul. 41
Little Boy Lost, Detective Fiction Weekly Aug-2-1941
Bullet for Bullet, Western Short Stories Oct. 41
Listen to the Mocking Bird (NT) G-Men Detective Nov. 41
You’ll End Up Burning!, Ten Detective Aces Nov. 41
Number Bug, Exciting Detective Winter 1941
Thirty Corpses Every Thursday, Detective Tales Dec. 41
Trouble Comes Double, Popular Detective Dec. 41
Clue in Blue, Thrilling Mystery Jan. 42
Death is a White Rabbit, Strange Detective Mysteries Jan. 42
Twenty Gets You Plenty, G-Men Detective Jan. 42
Bloody Murder, Detective Fiction Jan-10-1942

  • Plus the Appendix
    Fredric Brown in Trade Magazines, Part 1
    The “V.O.N. Munchdriller” stories from The Driller
    The “William Z. Williams”” stories from Excavating Engineer

DEATH IN THE DARK
Little Apple Hard to Peel, Detective Tales Feb. 42
Death in the Dark, Dime Mystery Mar. 42
The Incredible Bomber, G-Men Detective Mar. 42
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter, Strange Detective Mysteries Mar. 42
Twice-Killed Corpse, Ten Detective Aces Mar. 42
A Cat Walks, Detective Story Magazine Apr. 42
Mad Dog!, Detective Book Magazine Spring 1942
Moon Over Murder, The Masked Detective Spring 1942
“Who Did I Murder?”, Detective Short Stories Apr. 42
Murder in Furs, Thrilling Detective May 42
Suite for Flute and Tommy Gun, Detective Story Magazine Jun. 42
Three-Corpse Parlay, Popular Detective Jun. 42
A Date to Die, Strange Detective Mysteries Jul. 42
Red is the Hue of Hell, Strange Detective Mysteries Jul. 42 {as by Felix Graham}
Two Biers for Two, Clues Detective Stories Jul. 42
“You’ll Die Before Dawn”, Mystery Magazine Jul. 42
Get Out of Town, Thrilling Detective Sep. 42
A Little White Lye, Ten Detective Aces Sep. 42
The Men Who Went Nowhere, Dime Mystery Sep. 42
Nothing Sinister, Mystery Magazine Sep. 42
The Numberless Shadows, Detective Story Magazine Sep. 42
Satan’s Search Warrant, 10-Story Detective Sep. 42
Where There’s Smoke, Black Book Detective Sep. 42
Boner, Popular Detective Oct. 42
Legacy of Murder, Exciting Mystery Oct. 42
The Santa Claus Murders, Detective Story Magazine Oct. 42
Double Murder, Thrilling Detective Nov. 42 {as by John S. Endicott}

  • Plus, the Appendix
    Fredric Brown in Trade Magazines, Part 2
    “Willie Skid: Cub Serviceman Says” from Ford Dealer & Service Field
    “Let Colonel Cluck Answer Your Questions” from Independent Salesman
    “Barnyard Bill Says—” from Feedstuffs
Posted in Books & Reading, Fiction, Mystery, New Arrivals | 9 Comments

Current Reading: Steele, Deaver

Not much to say this week. I’m still bogged down, trying a little of this and that, making little to no progress on any of it. I did finish Aliens: Bug Hunt, an ebook story collection of Alien stories I got from the library. It was okay, but when at the beginning of every story you know there are going to be those nasty aliens vs. humans in kill-or-be-killed situations, it takes a lot of the interest out of things.

I have other short story anthologies and collections in progress, but nothing’s exciting me just now. I’m also about a third through Orbital Decay by Allen Steele, and as I said last week at the 40 page mark, not much is happening. It reads a lot like Arthur C. Clarke at his didactic best. That’s fine, but I want some action to go with the detailed science, especially as the thing is set at a space station in Earth orbit. Yet I keep picking it up and reading a few pages before setting it aside.Meanwhile I keep looking at the spines of books on the shelves, and nothing looks especially appealing.

Barbara finished Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson, and liked it a lot. It’s a first novel, a legal mystery. She says she’ll read the next with this character when it becomes available. Now she’s reading the latest novel by Jeffrey Deaver, The Burial Hour. She always enjoys Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme novels, and is racing through this one.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 19 Comments

Casablanca – Bogey to Bergman: “We’ll always have Paris”

Well, no. Thanks to Chief Dufus, who thinks climate change is a hoax. He doesn’t care about the health of the planet we live on – the only one available – only that he and his business buddies can have bigger profits. So while the rest of the world is trying to make things better, Dufus & Pals will be making the world a dirtier, less healthy place.

Posted in Books & Reading | 12 Comments

Current Reading: Cats & Bugs & Lost Boys

A little of this, a little of that, that’s my story these days. I’m still reading the Jo Gar short stories, but decided to take a break from them and tried some pulp science fiction, and got tired of that, and tried a non-fiction ebook from the library, The Lion in the Living Room – How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World bAbigail Tucker, which was just okay, or maybe it was just me. I’m also reading Aliens: Bug Hunt, a story collection of Alien stories, and from the TBR I got Orbital Decay by Allen Steele. I’m about 40 pages into it and so far not much is happening. It reads a lot like Arthur C. Clarke at his didactic best. That’s fine, but I want some action to go with the detailed science, especially as the thing is set at a space station in Earth orbit.

Barbara finished Good To the Last Kiss by Ronald Tierney, which she said was interesting and well written. She liked it and says she’ll seek out other books by Tierney. Now she’s started on Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson. It’s a first novel, a legal mystery.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction | 16 Comments

Forgotten Book: Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler

this is the 259th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler, stories originally published 1934-1941,
this collection © 1964. Shown is my Ballantine Books 1977 mass market paperback

This short story collection contains 8 stories: “Killer in the Rain”, “The Man Who Liked Dogs”, “The Curtain”, “Try the Girl”, Mandarin’s Jade”, “Bay City Blues”, “The Lady in the Lake”, “No Crime in the Mountains”.

These stories by Chandler are both less and more than they seem. Every one of them was cannibalized by Chandler and became part of a novel. Sometimes it was a character or two who made the transition, more often it was whole pieces of plot, in some cases the entire story was used and became a novel by added plot and a few name changes.

In his informative introduction to this collection, Philip Durham traces the publication and cannibalization of these eight stories, part or all of which became The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely and The Lady in the Lake.

None of the stories in this collection appears in Chandler’s 1950 “official” short story collection The Simple Art of Murder. Once Chandler cannibalized a story he believed it should be buried, so the stories were left to fade away with the pulp magazines in which they were originally published, thus none of these stories was published by Chandler during his lifetime, though three were published in collections, which Chandler maintained were published by mistake and without his permission:“No Crime in the Mountains” appeared in Great American Detective Stories edited by Anthony Boucher (1945), “The Man Who Liked Dogs” appeared in Joseph Shaw’s The Hard Boiled Omnibus(1946) while “Bay City Blues” appeared in Verdict (1953).

This collection – bought new – was my introduction to Raymond Chandler. I was wowed by the writing, and I was hooked. I read this collection, The Simple Art of Murder and the collection Pickup On Noon Street before I ever got to one of Chandler’s novels. When I did start on the novels – with The Big Sleep if I recall correctly – I was so enthralled I didn’t notice there were pieces of the short stories I’d already read. If I had, I wouldn’t have cared. Or perhaps I noticed and just don’t remember now, after I’ve read all of Chandler so many times.

This collection should be easy enough to find through the usual used book channels, and while these stories are not in the two volume Library of America set of Chandler’s works, they are to be found in the 1,300 page Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories published by Everyman’s Library, which contains all of Chandler’s short fiction, mystery and other. Whatever the source, it’s worth seeking these out. You just can’t go wrong with Raymond Chandler.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 19 Comments