The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper
Originally published as "The Junkyard Planet" in 1963, and based on a short story ("Graveyard of Dreams") first published in 1958. This is the story of a planet down on its luck. Poictesme experienced a boom when it was a major military HQ during the System States War. When the war ended, the Terran Federation couldn't even afford to ship their gear home. Bases and Logistical centers were sealed up and all the military personnel left packed on transports. The planet's economy takes a major hit. They are reduced to two major exports. The first is a local mellon prized for the brandy made from its juice. They can sell it for centa-credits a barrel, which is what the rare interstellar trader will pay for it. The brandy made from the juice sells for several credits a glass on Terra. Their other export is military surplus they dig out of old Terran Federation bases, which they are also paid in single digit centi-credits on the credit. A group of leading citizens pool their money together and send one of their own, young Conn Maxwell, to far off Terra. He is to study computer systems at a major university and learn all he can about the legendary Terran Federation military super computer, Merlin. After being told by impeachable sources that Merlin was a myth, Conn returns home with a plan to bootstrap the economy with a search for Merlin. His hope is that by the time the planet is producing its own starships and engaging in interstellar trade (instead of having middlemen dictate prices to them), the group of 'leading citizens' will realize that they don't need Merlin. Then the unthinkable happens and throws a giant monkey wrench in Conn's plans.
Roswell, Texas by L. Neil Smith
This is a graphic novel, set in one of L. Neil Smith's Libertarian universes. In this reality, Santa Ana was killed by a long range rifle shot from the Alamo, allowing the people in to escape, and the Republic of Texas to survive. Flash forward to 1947. There is a mysterious crash near the Texas town of Roswell. Four Texas Rangers are sent to investigate, along with various military units and spies from various nations. The nations involved include the California Republic (led by President Walt Disney), the Third and Half Reich (The British are now in charge), and a much smaller United States. It's a fun read, and Ranger William Bear doesn't just get the girl, he gets the girl.
Quag Keep by Andre Norton
Let us venture back to 1978 for the very first novel about a role playing game. A group of adventurers, including a Lizard Man, have these strange and vague memories of living in a technological society and having some hobby that involved books, papers, and dice. Dice just like the ones on the bracelets locked on their wrists that spin when they do things like fight or cast spells. Nearly four decades later, there is a pocket industry of role playing game related novels. They all trace their roots to this classic.
George Washington's Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
This well researched book looks into one of the first American spy rings. A group of Patriot spies operating in New York City and Long Island during the British occupation. These spies were key in multiple American victories, as well as foiling several British plots against the Patriot forces. These include foiling Benedict Arnold's plan to hand West Point to the British, and the American victory at Yorktown
Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World by Andrew Breitbart
In honor of the third anniversary of Andrew Breitbart's death, I'm repeating my book pick of September 16, 2011.
Andrew Breitbart tells the story of his transformation from clueless college student majoring in (anti-)American Studies to a warrior for the Constitution and for honesty in reporting from the main stream media. He explains in detail about collaboration between the DNC and the Media Complex (which includes TV News, print magazines and the film industry) and how to use new media to combat them and win! In chapter 7, he lays out his game plan for fighting the left in details some of the highlights include: Don't be afraid to go into enemy territory; Don't let the Complex use its PC lexicon to characterize you and shape the narrative; Ubiquity is key; and Truth isn't mean. It's truth. Leftist will try to talk about "your truth" and "their truth", which is bullshit. There is just the truth.
A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn
This is the first book in the Manticore Ascendant series, which is a prequel series to the Honor Harrington series. It takes place in the early days of the Manticoran Star Kingdom, when the Manticoran Navy was not so powerful or well funded. It took a couple of chapters to get me hooked, but one it picked up, I didn't want to put it down.
Doc Savage: The Sinister Shadow by Kenneth Robeson and Lester Dent
As my gentle readers may know, I'm a big pulp fan, especially of the Doc Savage novels. Most written by Lester Dent, under the house name of Kenneth Robeson. Will Murray proves himself as the modern master of the classic pulp with this mash up with Doc Savage and The Shadow. While I'm a huge Doc fan, I've read enough Shadow novels to do more than just hum the tune. Murray skillfully blends the styles of Walter Gibson and Lester Dent in this book. Stir in an over the top villain, who is completely and utterly ruthless, as an evil villain of the era should be, you have a story that Smith & Street would have proudly published.
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card
In honor of Columbus Day, today's pick is an excellent alternate history novel.
The Desert and the Blade by SM Stirling
The latest in his Change series. This trilogy is the coming of age story of the Crown Princess of Montveil and her companions, which includes the young Empress of Japan. The forces of evil were defeated in North America by the late High King, but won in what used to be North Korea. Evil doesn't want Reiko to obtain her own magic sword (Orlaith already has her father's magic sword), which is the conflict of the novel. Of course there are battles, including one bloody huge one against hordes of eaters under the sway of an evil sorcerer. A good read, in which characters introduced in the last novel are grown, and new allies are introduced. It also sets the stage for the next giant novel in the series.
The Martian by Andy Weir
A fun SciFi adventure read. By adventure, I mean someone else in a huge amount of trouble, very far away from me. Quick summary, astronaut Mark Watney gets left on Mars when his team has to leave Mars in a large hurry because a really big sandstorm is about to tip over their ascent vehicle. He's injured on the way to the ascent vehicle, knocked out with his bio monitor destroyed. So it looks like he's dead to the rest of the team. Watney's challenge is to survive long enough to be noticed, and then rescued. This reminded me of a Heinlein juvenile, which is a good thing. A fun and engaging read.
Friday B-Movie Picks
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