Saturday, May 21, 2005

Assassination Vacation
Sarah Vowell

From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue--it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and--the author's favorite--historical tourism.

This was fascinating, and a great historical summary that went with my seeing the Sondheim musical "Assassins." I can't say I agree with every conclusion, or every opinion she holds... but she does a good job of delivering a lot of historical information. And her delivery and style are wonderful for an audio book (thanks Audible!).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Voyager: Spirit Walk
Old Wounds, The Enemy of my Enemy
by Christie Golden

Captain Chakotay takes command of Voyager, the starship that was his home through seven years in the Delta Quadrant, following its complete refit. Once again the ship carries a mixed crew, but this time the tension isn't between Starfleet and Maquis. This split is between returning crew members, who shared the long journey with Chakotay, and those who spent the last seven years in an Alpha Quadrant where the horrific Dominion War recently ended. Chakotay knows that he's received his first command only thanks to Admiral Kathryn Janeway's impassioned advocacy.

I am clearly a hard core Trek fan (my domains and should give you a hint) - on the other hand... I don't watch much TV, so I have limited experience / exposure with huge swaths of DS9, Voyager and Enterprise. Yet Golden does an excellent job of telling enough history (but not too much) to pull you into and *IN* the story.

Like other Trek authors, she's good at the history and science of the Trek Universe. Mentioning facts when needed, to keep the reader in touch with the continuity of Star Trek. I liked the tension on Voyager between the old hands who'd been with Janeway, and the veterans of the Dominion war, but I was disappointed that that story just vanished; I suspect it will be back.

Great story - interesting things going on, and I look forward to more from Golden!