Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Adventures with Misplaced Books

Tell me if this has ever happened to you...

You pick up the first book of some trilogy. You're cruisin' along and at least 150 pages deep when you suddenly lose it. Who knows? Maybe it fell into some blackhole or a magician whisked it away to an ethereal place between realities. Doesn't matter. It's gone and you can't find it anywhere. You know better than to go out and buy a new copy, because the moment you return from the bookstore it'll reemerge and be sitting in the middle of your dining room table smiling at you mockingly, as if to say, "Hi, I've been sitting here the whole time." And while you spend your spare time looking around for the blasted thing, you move onto other books, eventually forgetting about that lost novel. One day a memory of it is triggered though, and you realize it's been twenty years and nine home moves since you've thought about it. You decide to buy it and try again, only to learn it's been out of print for the past ten years. Aaarrggghh!

That's happened to you, right? Right? No?

Sadly, that's happened to me twice.

When the Changewinds Blow by Jack L. Chalker and The First Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen both fell victim to this bad luck, although it's been so long ago, I don't remember which one got lost first.

Hey, don't blame me! I'm not responsible for the actions of some rogue wizard or errant blackhole, I'm just your average scifi/fantasy junkie.

Now here comes the weird part:
At a local library-sponsored bookfair in the recent past, not only did I run across the complete Changewinds trilogy, I also found the entire Books of Swords trilogy and its sequel, Book of Lost Swords trilogy. But wait! It gets stranger... Both trilogies had two copies of the first book!

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yep, even though I live over 100 miles away from where they went missing, I'd be willing to bet that those extra copies of the first books were my original copies, whisked there through some wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing eagerly awaiting my arrival to reclaim them as their rightful owner. So in the middle of this gigantic book fair I'm totally geeking out at this point, and quickly throw all eleven books into my bag (Yes, eleven. I bought both copies of the first books - I'm not taking any chances).

Since my "To Read" pile is a queue that is about two years long, I'm just now getting around to reading the first book of the Changewinds series, and maybe this summer I'll start the Swords trilogies. But either way, I'll let you know when I complete them, and if anything "sideways" happens, trust me, I'll let you know.

Until Next Time...
Wobbly Yours,

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Year End Short Form Review

It's the end of the year, and I've surpassed by goal of 52 short stories for the year (one per week). So I thought I'd take a few moments to mention some of the stories and authors I found memorable and worthy of seeking out longer works by.
"The Traveling Salesmen Solution" - David Erik Nelson
"Testimony of Samuel Frobisher" - Ian Tregillis
"Five Tales of the Aqueduct" - Spencer Ellsworth
"We Are Not Insured Against Murder" - Jay Carey
"Sir Pagan's Gift" - Tom Underberg
"The Culvert" - Dale Bailey
"The Wild Ones" - Albert E. Cowdrey
"Embrace of the Planets" - Brenda Carre
"Our Little Secret" - Barbara Nadel
"The Fox in the Water" - Richard Adams
"The Hole in the Sky" - Richard Adams
"I'll Follow the Sun" - Paul Di Filippo
"The Bomb-Thing" - KJ Kabza

The best story I read this year was "Yeshua's Dog" by Tim Sullivan and initially published in the November/December 2014 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Next year, I hope to read more - of course, not the number that well-known editor Gardner Dozois reads in a year - but at least ten to twelve more.
Supporting short fiction by buying and reading short fiction works is good for the overall fiction publishing industry, especially the authors. So, set your own reading goals. It doesn't have to be as high as mine, but at least set one and honestly try to keep it. You'll be a better person because of it.
Until Next Time...
Shortly Yours,

Monday, December 14, 2015

Who Wants Some Doritos?

Who can watch a late night B-movie without snacks? Doritos, Fritos, Ruffles with French Onion dip, or even the old stand-bys of pizza or popcorn. So with that in mind, I thought it would not be too far off theme to share a recent non-fiction book review about nutrition and modern food processing techniques that I've posted on Amazon, LibraryThing.com, and GoodReads:

"In The Dorito Effect Mark Schatzker details the cause of the health crisis today, including obesity and other preventable diseases, as being a direct result of what we as a society (and ultimately world economy) have done to our food. In simplest terms, the link between nutrition and true flavor, and how modern food is grown and processed may increase yield rates, but decreases a food's inherent flavor and nutritional value. In response, we have increased the use of artificial flavors disguised as "natural flavors" to satisfy our biological cravings for the real flavor and nutrition, therefore creating a cycle wherein we, as human beings, continue to eat these "faux" flavored foods in a futile attempt to satisfy our bodies' needs.

He explains that "natural flavors" aren't so natural, or on the off chance that these "natural flavors" really do come from natural sources, these flavors are used and placed within foods that they don't really belong, therefore fooling our tongues with manufactured deliciousness and creating "the snack equivalent of crystal meth." And not only is more manufactured flavor added to our food everyday, the number of availability of those foods is increasing simply due to cost reduction business decision where yield is more important than flavor because it is something that can actually be measured.

I was a little disappointed in the ending narrative when he details a dinner he planned based on a particular strain of tomatoes. It was cliched, not compelling, and predictable. Thankfully it only lasted about ten pages.

The Dorito Effect, quite simply, is what happens when food gets blander, flavor technology gets better, and its consequences to our health."

Note for my Cheesy Readers: The comment below does not appear on my posted review.

Despite all the informative and eye-opening information I read in this book, don't think for one minute that I'm going to stop eating these late night bags of goodness. In fact, I think I hear a bag or two calling to me from the local convenience store down the street.

Until Next Time...
Nutritionally Yours,