Friday, June 09, 2006

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

This was an excellent telling of a remarkable presidency. What a concept - a president who takes his own rivals, and harnesses their insights and personality in the hour our nation's greatest need! THAT's the way to do it - not surrounding yourself with yes-men(and women)!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Betrayal

Aaron Allston

Book Cover

When a mission to uncover an illegal missile factory on the planet Adumar ends in a violent ambush -- from which Jedi Knight Jacen Solo and his protégé and cousin, Ben Skywalker, narrowly escape with their lives -- it’s the most alarming evidence yet that sparks of political unrest are threatening to ignite into total rebellion. The governments of numerous worlds are chafing under the strict regulations of the Galactic Alliance, and diplomatic efforts to enforce compliance are failing. Fearing the worst, the Alliance readies a preemptive display of military might in a bid to bring the rogue worlds in line before an uprising erupts. The designated target of this exercise: planet Corellia -- renowned for the brash independence and renegade spirit that have made its favorite son, Han Solo, a legend.

! Very good! I'm impressed (as I noted in Triple Zero) how the SW books manage to deal with contemporary themes, without being literally ABOUT Iraq and such.

Lots of interesting plot lines, and action (Allston is good at that). Like the Return of the Jedi, there are many quick cuts between scenes and locations. A very good SF story, that just happened to be a Star Wars book!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Star Wars Republic Commando Triple Zero

Karen Traviss

Book Cover

Finally finished this - I don't know why it took so long - I really like Traviss. This is the book that gave us the very fully populated Mando'a language.

Traviss tells a story that this heroic and tragic, as she follows a group from the clone army and their work in quelling terrorist activity on Coruscant. It doesn't matter that we all know the truth about the separatists and the real war being waged by Palpatine - this is a story of men and women who are fighting a good fight. Their honor rises above the treachery they are enmeshed in.

This story - and lots of current Star Wars literature is clearly informed by the world we live in. It is too simple to say it "is about" Iraq, and such. But our understanding of war and its costs is surely informed by our times - and Traviss and the other SW authors are as well. Nothing simplistic is going on here - this book is worth a thoughtful read; maybe it isn't so bad that I took my time reading it. I'm sure I'll be re-reading both Traviss's Commando books - AND her forthcoming Bloodlines:


Book two of the Legacy of the Force

Omon Ra

Victor Pelevin, Andrew Bromfield (Translator)

Book Cover

Hm - this book recalled a quote "I've had more coherent nightmares." from my brother (referring to a sermon titled "ET, 3D and You!")

FROM THE PUBLISHER Omon Ra, by the gifted Russian writer Victor Pelevin, is a pointed, dead-on-satire of the now-defunct Soviet space program, and a moving account of a cosmonaut's coming-of-age. The story is told in the beguiling voice of its young protagonist, Omon Ra, whose odd name combines a term for the Soviet special forces with the name of the sun god in Egyptian mythology.

This was a quick and interesting read - and had a lot of evocative 0f surreal - images and settings. It had a way of seeming representational, as if it really were telling an episodic story... but then it would veer off into dreamy and bizarre ideas. It brings to mind "Red Star, Winter Orbit", written by William Gibson with Bruce Sterling - a story of an aging Russian cosmonaut on an equally aging space station.