Thursday, February 14, 2013

Deep Blue Goodbye

Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald

 A re-read of a classic - the first of the Travis McGee stories. MacDonald's knight errant is always enjoyable an acerbic foil and commentator on our modern age.

Travis lets MacDonald indulge in lots of adventure, blood and guts, and a fair share of male wish-fulfillment action, and still stand apart, observing and judging our modern world. Take this observation about credit cards:

 The cards are handy, but I hate to use them. I always feel like a Thoreau armored with a Leica and a bird book. They are the little fingers of reality, reaching for your throat. A man with a credit card is in hock to his own image of himself. But these are the last remaining years of choice. In the stainless nurseries of the future, the feds will work their way through all the squalling pinkness tattooing a combination tax number and credit number on one wrist, followed closely by the I.T. and T. team putting the permanent phone number, visaphone doubtless, on the other wrist. Die and your number goes back in the bank. It will be the first provable immortality the world has ever known.

 Great stuff - and always worth a read.

Allegiance in Exile

Star Trek: The Original Series: Allegiance in Exile by David R. George III

A beautiful green world, rich in fertile soil and temperate climate . . . a textbook Class-M planet that should be teeming with life. Scans show no life-signs, but there are refined metals, including those associated with a space-faring race . . . and a lone city. But where are all of the inhabitants? Captain James T. Kirk leads a landing party from the U.S.S. Enterprise, hoping to get some answers.The away team discovers a city in ruins, covered by dust, utterly bereft of life. Tricorder readings indicate that this is no ancient metropolis—it has been deserted only for a year. And just beyond the citadel lies what appears to be an ancient spaceport . . . a graveyard of ships that have clearly been sabotaged.
With these ruins too far from either the Klingon or the Romulan Empires, the Enterprise crew can only wonder: Who could have done this? And could this unnamed threat now pose an imminent danger to the Federation?
Very enjoyable, like a good episode - well multiple episodes - of TOS.  George does a good job of creating a backstory to Star Trek The Motion Picture, as well as setting up elements that developed in the next generation (and beyond) stories.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Help, Thanks, Wow

Kirkus Reviews
 A refreshingly simple approach to spiritual practice in a
pint-sized reflection on prayer. As the title of her book
implies, Lamott (Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My
Son's First Son, 2012, etc.) has taken an enormously complex
and often debated topic and boiled it down to three basic
elements that transcend doctrine or creed. Though in her
previous books the author has been forthright about her
Christianity, here she begins with a prelude that assures
readers she's not even remotely interested in trying to tell
them who or what God is; she's simply asking them to
consider that there's a Divine Being willing to run the
show. How is one to get that process going? Prayer. More
specifically, Lamott touts the spiritual power in
powerlessness, gratitude and wonder. The three sections of
the book aren't solely about each one-word prayer; they're
more a running conversation about their collective influence
in her life. "Help" is a complete prayer, writes Lamott, and
uttering it creates space for solutions that humans have
neither thought of nor could pull off on their own. In what
at first may seem like a jumbled mashup of stories and
reflections, Lamott manages to deftly convey the idea that
in trying to control things, we've largely lost our ability
to see the good and the miraculous in everyday life. And
those commodities go a long way, she writes, in terms of
making a Divine connection that brings a measure of hope and
peace. Though fans may be dismayed at the brevity of the
book, there's more here than meets the eye.
Just a nice, straightforward reflection on prayer - and a great summation of prayer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Paragon Walk

Paragon Walk by Anne Perry

In the posh London street of Paragon Walk, a young woman is brutally raped and murdered. Once again the incomparable team of sleuths, Inspector Thomas Pitt and his young wife, Charlotte, peer beneath the elegant masks of the well-born suspects and reveal that something ugly lurks behind the handsome facades of Paragon Walk—something that could lead to more scandal, and more murder....
Interesting stories, good background for the era... and a quick read! I'm happy that the libraries have added these to their e-books. I've been able to pick up the next in the series as I finish each one....