Monday, 23 April 2018

"The It Girl and Me" by Laini Giles

Publisher:[United States] : Sepia Stories Publishing, [2017]
Edition:First edition.
Copyright Date:©2017
ISBN: 9780994734938
Characteristics: 430 pages

This is the second book from Edmonton's Laini Giles (the first being "The Forgotten Flapper"), and I have enjoyed them both. The thing I find hardest to grasp about these books is the amount of research that had to have gone into writing them.

The book is written from the perspective of Daisy DeVoe, Claira Bow's personal secretary, friend, and confidant and tells the tale of what it was like to live and work in Hollywood in the 1920's and 1930's. Daisy is I believe the perfect protagonist for this novel as you get to learn about all of Clara Bow's eccentricities through her. Her mother and three other members of her immediate family were all committed to instance asylums, her father chased virtually every skirt in Hollywood, and much more.

The story details the meeting, friendship, and sudden falling out between the two women when Clara's latest in a long line of paramours decides he wants to take over, run her life and to do this he has to get rid of Daisy. This is done, and Daisy ends up in jail, but she has a few tricks up her sleeve.

If the rest of the hollywood films stars of this era are as interesting to read about as these first two, then Laini will be writing for a long time.

Monday, 16 April 2018

"Pop Sculpture" by Tim Bruckner, Zach Oat & Ruben Procopio

Pop Sculpture: How to Create Action Figures and Collectable Statues
by Tim Bruckner, Zach Oat & Ruben Procopio

Publisher:New York : Watson-Guptill Publications, 2010.
ISBN: 9780823095223
Characteristics: vii, 272 pages :,illustrations (chiefly colour) ;,28 cm

This is an extremely well written book that gives the aspiring sculptor virtually all the information they need to begin turning out small figurines of action characters, and the like. It takes the artist through all the stages of production in great detail, with photographs of all the steps. In addition the authors detail all the equipment needed as well as alternative items that can be used instead, the various processes, and where to expect problems.

Pop Sculpture, however is not designed for the novice sculptor, but would make a valuable resource once they have gained sufficient experience to be able to complete a relatively detailed project. The book details the production of two statues The first of these is a statue of the Greek goddess Athena, and the second the Norse god Thor (an action figure). I wasn't able however to determine if either of these figures were actually produced for sale.

Finally the book gives an overview of what it takes to get into the sculpture business professionally.

An excellent book that is well worth the purchase price, if you are into sculpting these types of figures.

Monday, 9 April 2018

"Islands In the Sky" by Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008)

Author:  Clarke, Arthur C.
Published:  New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Year:  1952
Other Physical Details:  209 p. 22 cm

Once again I am forced to dip into my rather large library to review a book for this week, as I'm still working through the large one (but so far it's really worth it!).

This story is set in the not too distant future (which in 1952 terms likely meant 2001 or there about), still the story in fun to read, and read again. It may be difficult to find in print, but electronic copies are available.

The premise of "Islands in the Sky" is that Roy, a teenager wins a all expenses paid vacation to anywhere that a given company flies to, and he chooses to visit the Inner Station, which is a low earth orbiting satellite likely much like the International Space Station is for us. This is also where the space cadet train, and Roy has to not only learn how to live in null gravity, but interact with others quite a bit older than himself.

He also gets into some exciting adventures as expected, and this set his future course for him.

Islands in the Sky falls definitely into the category of juvenile fiction, and this is one of the places where Clarke excelled, along with Robert A. Heinlein and a number of others. To add to the flavour of the book, Arthur C. Clarke was the scientist credited with inventing the concept of the communications satellite. Today our whole world owes him a debt of gratitude, after all can you imagine what our world would be like today without satellites and what they give us?


Monday, 2 April 2018

"Space Doctor" by Lee Correy (G. Harry Stine 1928-1997)

ISBN: 9780345292636
Edition Language: English
Mass Market Paperback, 245 pages
Published June 1981 by Del Rey

I'm partway through a rather large book right now so I dipped into my library to give this week's review. "Space Doctor" was written 38 years ago by Lee Correy, a pseudonym of G. Harry Steine, and is a great novel in the same vein as the early works of Robert Heinlein (who was a good friend with Steine) & Arthur Clarke. It tells of an energy hungry Earth, and the design and construction of the first of a series of Solar Powered Satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

The book's main character Dr. Tom Noels is hired on to design and operate an orbital hospital which is one of many stipulations that the government insists on before the project can go ahead. But, there has never been a hospital in orbit before so Noels has to reinvent virtually every medical technique that he has been trained in because it all depended on gravity, which he was soon to be without.

The author examines a number of different aspects of both engineering and medicine (G. Harry Steine was an engineer, and model rocket pioneer) and forces the reader to rethink how relatively mundane tasks might have to be redesigned to work in orbit, and eventually on long term missions to other planets. As the title suggests the main focus is on orbital medicine, but a few other aspects of engineering creep in as well along with a good dose of humour.

The blurb on the book jacket was one of the things that originally drew me to the novel as I had never heard of Lee Correy, and I was not disappointed as the story is well written, with believable characters. The plot itself is well thought out and overall is an extremely good read. I had hoped that a sequel to this novel was forthcoming but none was ever written.

Monday, 26 March 2018

"Everyone is African" by Daniel J. Fairbanks

Publisher:Amherst, New York : Prometheus Books, 2015.
ISBN: 9781633880184
Characteristics: 191 pages : ,illustrations ;,23 cm

Having taken quite a number of anthropology and biology courses during my university training, I already knew that racism as a constructed concept that was based on the supposed superiority of certain groups of people. Dr. Fairbanks however was not writing his book for me, but was doing so for the rather large percentage of the population that hasn't already grasped this concept.

Dr. Fairbanks goes into great detail, but in a very readable way that explores the genetic, historical, and various other aspects of racism and hopefully puts them to bed for good. His discussion of topics such as: What is Race, African Origins, Ancestry versus Race, Skin Colour, Diversity and Health and Intelligence, and finally the Perception of Race covers this topic in a thorough manner that really should convince even the diehards, and leave everyone more enlightened.

Unfortunately, as is typically the case when dealing with humans there will always be certain factions (primarily religious, or other insular group) that will refute his explanations. There is likely nothing that intelligent individuals can do about these types of people except pity them in their ignorance, and help them as best we can in doing simple tasks like wiping their noses.

Yes, I know the above sounds very condescending - it was meant to be. I have no tolerance for racism, and even though I was exposed to it rather frequently as a child, I try to combat it as best I can in my daily life. Hopefully I'm succeeding.

Monday, 19 March 2018

"God is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens

Publisher:Toronto, Ont. : McClelland & Steward, [2007]
Copyright Date:©2007
ISBN: 9780771041433
Characteristics: 307 pages ;,25 cm

This book was extremely well written and researched, but when you consider that Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was an award winning journalist then this is to be expected. In this book he took on the subject of religion, and defends the secular viewpoint with well chosen arguments, numerous facts that support his viewpoints with clarity and that are historically accurate.

Mr. Hitchens gives numerous example of how one religion has borrowed from another, and that one borrowed from earlier ones simply to perpetuate the belief system that they wanted people to subscribe to. He does not pull any punches, and this in itself makes the book worth reading.

With examples from history of how the Catholic church supported fascism, and assisted in smuggling members of the Nazi party out of Germany to South America (as well as supporting them in other ways, including such things as celebrating Hitler's birthday). He also goes into a lot of detail that looks at historical reports that expose the Islam, Judism, as well as others.

It doesn't matter whether you consider yourself to be religious or not. I believe that this book is one that everyone should read.

Monday, 12 March 2018

"One Brother Shy" by Terry Fallis

Publisher:Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, [2017]
Copyright Date:©2017
ISBN: 9780771050725
Characteristics: 394 pages

Mr. Fallis has done it again! His latest book is another great story.

Although "One Brother Shy" deals with the serious subject cyber-bullying as a sub-plot it is done in a way that makes it readable by all. The main story focuses on the search for a long lost sibling, and eventually a father as well, and this along with a good dose of hockey memorabilia rounds out a very enjoyable story.

I didn't find this book to be as funny as some of his earlier works but then again with a sub-plot of cyber bullying and the consequences of this it is somewhat difficult to make jokes. As always the characters are likeable, and very real. In some cases, such as Simone too real!

Monday, 5 March 2018

"The Female Eunuch" by Germaine Greer

Publisher:New York : HarperCollins, 2008.
Edition:First Harper Perennial modern classics edition.
Copyright Date:©2006
ISBN: 9780061579530

I had been meaning to read this book for some time, but never quite got around to it. I finally took the plunge a couple of weeks ago and was very sorry that I'd waited so long, as it definitely is one of the most important (if not the most important) books on feminism to ever be written.

Even though it has been 48 years since it was originally published the information in it is still as relevant as it was back then. Dr. Greer's examination of the way women have been, and still are treated and oppressed forms an important historical record for all of humanity.

Some of the references may be considered by modern readers to be very dated. But when the facts presented are examined in a modern context it will easily be seen that very little has changed to any appreciable degree in today's world. In most cases it is just harder in some instances to see the oppression as the oppressors have become more skilled at hiding it, and people today have become so used to it that they tend ignore it.

This is a book that everyone should read - especially by men!

"The It Girl and Me" by Laini Giles

Publisher:[United States] : Sepia Stories Publishing, [2017] Edition:First edition. Copyright Date:©2017 ISBN: 9780994734938 Charact...