Recalled to life

Er. hi. Been a while. Today marks my partial return to work, as I’ve been readjusting to life the last few weeks. I’ve been reading steadily, but have not been home (lots of housesitting), and typing reviews on my laptop is frequently frustrating because of touchpads sending cursors hither and yon. Big hands, small keyboard — not a good fit. Now that I’m home and settling back into my old routines (including wearing pants and socks, a sad change after two months living in gym shorts and sandals), regular posting should resume. For now, an old This Week at the Library-esque wall o’ text!

Many young people wake up with regrets after a one-night stand, but it’s a bit more extreme in Tommy’s case: his girlfriend is a vampire, and now so he is.  I stumbled upon You Suck in a secondhand bookshop, so  I didn’t realize there was a prior book in this series, one that explains why  Tommy and his undead gal pal Jody have an ancient evil vampire imprisoned in a bronze statue, as well as a bronze tortoise. In due time said vampire is inadvertently released,  and the immortal lives of our happy couple are imperiled, as well as the life of their newly acquired minion.  I’ve read Christopher Moore before and have never failed to enjoy his absurdist fantasy stories; You Suck was no exception. I may try to find other books in the series around October.

Libertarians on the Prairie dives into the working relationship between Rose Wilder Lane and her more famous mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Rose was one of the ‘furies of Liberty’ mentioned in Radicals for Capitalism, along with Isabel Paterson and Ayn Rand,  as she became increasingly concerned about the state of the American republic as it was deformed by Roosevelt’s new deal and World War 2.   Libertarians opens with a biography of Laura Ingalls, whose nonfiction version of her story formed the basis for the children’s series that she would write at her daughter Rose’s urging and with her help: Rose served as typist and editor,  and regarded the stories as a way to make Americans remember who they were – inheritors of the rugged, self-sufficient pioneers, and not Old Word serfs, bowing before the State.   The book is fairly critical of Rose and labors under the strange idea that she invented the rugged-free-farmer idea.   Interestingly, she didn’t think much of Ayn Rand, regarding her fans  as pseudo-intellectuals.

Rachel’s Holiday opens with a young woman (named Rachel, would you believe it?)  being forced by her family to attend drug rehab. She’s not an addict (she accidentally took too many valiums to counteract the too-pure cocaine she was enjoying the night previous), but she relents because rehab makes her think of saunas, gym time, and juice cleanses.  When she arrives she’s surprised to find that no one else there is an addict, either: their families were also over-reacting. She’s also dismayed to find no gym, no masseuses, and no access whatsoever to good wine.  She has to stay there at least three weeks, though, and as we spend more time with her, we realize that Rachel is an unreliable narrator who is deeply in denial about her problems. Keyes manages to keep her sympathetic  even as Rachel’s serious issues (including self-obsession, theft, and chronic lying) are exposed.  It’s a psychological story at heart with some romance.

Continuing in Star Trek: My Brothers Keeper, I read the second and third volumes in the trilogy. Constitution  revisits an early Kirk & Mitchell mission in which Kirk is forced to take command and defend a world against an outside attacker with a malevolent satellite system.  We see a lot of character growth here for Kirk, as he’s forced to act more on instinct in a situation that demands quick responses.   In Enterprise, Kirk  is asked by Mitchell’s parents to deliver a eulogy at the fallen man’s funeral, Kirk wrestles with the decision to tell them the truth of their son’s death and his role in it. As part of his reflection, he looks back to another time when he thought Mitchell was dead — to a time when Enterprise was ordered by Starfleet Command to deliver a small team to a barren wasteland, where waited a Klingon cruiser. Kirk knows this is not the first time Starfleet and the Klingons have rendezvoused here, but he has never been privy to the details of these secret meetings — not even now, as captain. Disaster strikes and Kirk soon loses the Enterprise to a small band of augmented Klingons, and must work with Klingon legend-in-the-waiting Kang to free his people and eliminate a threat to the Federation. As a Star Trek novel, this is perfectly fine; it’s an enjoyable adventure with good characterization and humor. As the ending part of this trilogy, though, it suffers for want of Gary Mitchell: he recedes far into the background for most of the book. It’s essentially a Kirk and Kang struggle, with Friedman making an attempt to explain why TOS had human-like Klingons and TNG had Klingon-Klingons. Amusingly, Friedman uses genetic augmentation in the story — taking it the complete opposite direction that ST-Enterprise did.  Mitchell doesn’t play as prominent a role in the third story as one might expect, but the trilogy remains solid light-adventure Trek fun.

The Last Colony completes John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series. In it, the heroes of the first two books, John Perry and Jane Sagan, are enjoying retirement on a colony world, farming and occasional settling disputes between the locals.  Perry is asked by the Colonial Defense Forces to oversee the creation of a new colony, though, at a place called Roanoke. (And suddenly, all the history majors raised their eyebrows.)  We saw in The Ghost Brigades that the CDF and the Colonial Union are not quite playing on the square; that continues here, as Jane and John and their adopted daughter are unwitting pawns in a galactic political struggle. They have to get creative to avoid being destroyed either by their own kind or an alien alliance.

And finally, at least for this Wall of Text (there are more books I need to cover), my first Gore Vidal book!  Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, published just after 9/11 but before DC began its decades-long debacle in central Asia, destabilizing the region, creating generations of new terrorists, and enriching the arms dealers who dictate so much of DC’s foreign policy, condemns the police state that DC was already building and points to the actions of Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden as reactions against a long train of abuses by DC. Vidal does not write in defense of McVeigh and bin Laden: their actions were reprehensible. To dismiss them as crazy, however, or simply Evil — as though they existed only to be comic book villains, creating chaos and sowing destruction for their own amusement — is to remain ignorant. Both men were operating from motives that can be understood — even if not agreed with. Bin Laden opposed DC treating the whole of central Asia as an area to be maneuvered and ordered about in accordance with DC’s own desires: McVeigh opposed DC’s police state and undeclared war on its own citizens, most dramatically broadcast in the Waco massacre and the murderous farce of a police action that was the assault on Ruby Ridge. Vidal is a potent critic, not simply because of his prescience, passion or prose style, but because he can’t be boxed in as an ideologue: he attacks Democrats and Republicans alike, subjects the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal to the same withering rebuke, and would not be embraced by libertarians, either, given his contempt for business mergers and the lack of a National Health Service in the US.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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7 Responses to Recalled to life

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    An interesting mix, as always…………… I hope that you’re *well* on the road to full recovery.

    • I think so!I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and was told my bloodwork looks very good. Stamina was sufficient at work yesterday, and will only improve with time.

  2. grllopez says:

    I’m interested in Libertarians on the Prairie. I’ve read a little about Rose — she’s an mysterious character. I’m intrigued by Rand, too, and her ideology. But more so, I’m interested in how writers paint Rose. For some reason, today’s authors dislike her, and I’m trying to understand why they are so critical of her.

    • I suspect because of her political views: judging by this book ,she had a most interesting life, traveling in Albania and the like and often living with friends. She met one woman on the train in Europe and they became close friends for years afterwards, even owning a car together. Despite the fact that libertarians are an extreme minority (despite the ‘diversity’ of views in our political parties, everyone agrees the State should enforce their views against other people), they/we attract a disproportionate amount of ire. It’s a bit like being an atheist in Saudi Arabia: what is the majority so afraid of?

      • grllopez says:

        And she was living like a feminist, too! You would think she would get some points for that.

        Personally, my liberties would feel a lot safer if we had more libertarians in office; so I do not know what the majority is afraid of.

      • Many people have the unimaginative idea that if the state isn’t doing something, it can’t be done. Nevermind that communities funded (AND CONTROLLED) their own schools until the 1970s, or that workers, communities, etc had their own health insurance and other mutual aid societies, or that we used to have human-sized, human-scaled, human-habitable cities until the state blew them to hell with subsidies and redlining and the like. People clutch their pearls when the state’s hold on something is threatened because they think we mere mortals are incapable of doing something without soaking everyone for money and letting bureaucrats make poor decisions influenced by their elected boss’s campaign donations.

  3. Cyberkitten says:

    That reminds me….. I really need to schedule in some Leftie reading soon. I do have a ‘few’ books on the subject somewhere…..

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