Reading the Sunny Randall series

So far, I have read three books in Robert B. Parker’s Sunny Randall series: Family Honor, Perish Twice and Shrink Wrap. Prior to this, I finished the Jesse Stone series.

I liked the Jesse Stone character because, despite his flaws that glare more than sunshine on Mercury, he was an intuitive man who knew how to get things done and knew how to deal with people. Sunny Randall is more talkative and doesn’t struggle with alcohol the way Jesse does, but she knows how to piece things together. Perhaps it’s Woman’s Intuition, or perhaps it’s just great writing.

When reading the Randall series, you know three things will happen: she will have a deep conversation with her ex-husband, Richie, her friend Spike will insult a customer at his restaurant and he will also manhandle someone who tries to harm Sunny. Spike is a bear of a man, flamboyantly gay and very unpredictable. It makes for very fun reading.

I am currently taking a break from the SR series while I return to science fiction. I’m re-reading Mercury by Ben Bova (which might explain my above analogy) and I also would like to read a sci-fi novel titled Sunborn, which deals with the exploration of Pluto.

Happy reading!

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

Advertisements

Richard’s poetry for March 9, 2011

2-22-2011 — The World Bores Me

The world bores me.

People bore me.

Why do they expect me

To do

Think

Dress

Act

As they do?

Sorry, but I hate most country music.

Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue?

I prefer an in-the-flesh woman

Who prefers to show me

Her beauty

In private.

Redneck humor?

I’d rather tolerate

A gargantuan migraine.

Fashion?

<Sigh>

Who made these rules?

Designers who think

Starvation

Is sexy

Especially bore me.

If the world and its people

Don’t understand me,

Maybe with enough

Education

Tolerance and

Sophistication

They will.

2-24-2011 — The Black Bird

The black bird

On the black light pole

Makes me think

Spring will soon dawn

And

Winter will exit, stage left.

2-24-2011 — The Russian Rust Haiku

Я, в Техасе,

Мне очень жарко, но

Я рад быть дома.

Translation:

(When) I’m in Texas,

I am very hot, but

I am glad to be home.

2-24-2011 — Ode of Odor

“Ode to the toilet bowl…

“Stinks real bad!”

Once said the unlearned

But

Comical poet.

Even now,

Nineteen years later,

I find this “ode”

Absolutely hilarious!!!

3-8-11 — Seeing the Sun

The sun

On earth

Is an angry,

Yellowish-white ball

Pink at sunrise

Orange at sunset.

On Mercury,

It is a giant beach ball

Angrier, much brighter, whiter.

Can it be seen

On Jupiter

Underneath

The thick clouds?

Or are the Jovian oceans

Guarded by a

Perpetual black sky that

Crackles with

Endless lightning?

I imagine that

On Pluto,

The sun is a much calmer,

Paler,

Twinkling

White star.

As bright in the Plutonian sky

As the evening star, Venus,

Is in our sky.

With Jupiter, perhaps our

Distant descendants will know.

With Pluto, we’ll know

In July 2015.

I can’t wait.

Goodbye, ‘The Hunt For Red October’, hello ‘Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl’

Well, technically I didn’t finish reading read Tom Clancy’s novel The Hunt For Red October. I tried. Twice. This time, I made it halfway through the book before finishing the rest in skim mode. I’ll watch the movie soon when I can.

The idea was great, and I agree with a lot of Clancy’s politics. The problem was, I found this book to be far too technical. Clancy likes to describe technology, intelligence procedures and military equipment in explicit detail. It made for slow pacing and, frankly, boring reading. Yes, I know that President Ronald Reagan loved this book (which tells me his attention span was far longer than what his critics care to admit). But for me, while Clancy has great ideas, it just didn’t work for me.

Years ago, I tried reading Patriot Games and didn’t finish that, either. It seemed too far-fetched that Irish terrorists would travel to American soil to avenge a crime. I may try sometime to read Cardinal in the Kremlin, since it deals with a spy for America inside the Kremlin. Maybe. Other books are awaiting my time. Sometime soon, I’ll have to make some time to read Ben Bova’s Mercury. As readers of this blog know, Dr. Bova has turned into one of my favorite sci-fi writers. If you haven’t read Jupiter, do yourself a favor and read it…

I’ve read the first entry of Anne Frank’s iconic diary. This was originally required as reading in my high school in the freshman or sophomore honors English program, but since I didn’t take honors English until my junior year, I missed out.

Little did Anne Frank know, her writings to “Kitty” would become an important piece of literature.

I look at Miss Frank as a delve into two genres of literature: classic (it was written in the 1940s and, technically, was written not only in the prior century, but also in the prior millennium) and foreign (the German-born, Dutch-raised Frank was Jewish and penned her diary in Dutch). What we read in English is a translation.

Having a short attention span has always made it a challenge for me to start and complete classics in literature, especially if they seem slow or are filled with archaic language. We’ll see how this process goes.

I am determined to succeed.

Post comments here or e-mail Richard at richardzowie@gmail.com.
 

 

Finished reading ‘I, Robot’ by Isaac Asimov

It took longer than I would’ve liked, but I finally finished reading Isaac Asimov’s collection of short stories, I, Robot.

This book, for those who haven’t read it, bears some resemblance to the I, Robot movie that starred Will Smith. Perhaps I’m being generous to say “some”: in the movie, I can remember robots doing some harmful things to humans. It was a fascinating tale, but after reading these short stories, I detect a strong sense of disconnect. Perhaps because most of these stories were written in the 1950s while the movie came out a few years ago. And we know how much Hollywood butchers great stories (such as Michael Crichton’s great novels Sphere and Rising Sun).

It would take too long to discuss each story individually, so I’ll provide an overview and then discuss what I liked and didn’t like.

It’s very difficult to encounter a science fiction story that doesn’t feature a robot in it. Writers of today see a world of tomorrow where robots serve our every need. Some are cooks, some are butlers, some are police officers, some do labor while others provide the calculations necessary to help exploration of other planets and even stars. Asimov is no different. In I, Robot, robots serve as babysitters, miners, lawyers and even giant computers used for calculations to improve the economy, promote peace and, best of all, further the human race. Each story is a story related by “robopsychologist”* Dr. Susan Calvin at the end of her life (she dies at 82 in 2064) to a reporter.

Some stories deal with amusing problems that go beyond the malfunctions that are commonplace today with computers. What if robots on Mercury refuse to believe a) that humans created them, b) that their robotic origins are on earth and c) that they’re accountable to humans? Further problems arise when a robot programmed to read minds decides it doesn’t like what it sees and starts doing the unimaginable; another robot decides to hide from humans out of a weird superiority complex; another robot gives the blueprints for a spacecraft that when built, takes humans onto a distant trip to the stars.

My two favorite stories were Evidence (where an honest, squeaky-clean district attorney/aspiring mayor is apparently a robot, but nothing’s done about it since he does such an outstanding job) and The Evitable Conflict (where robotic computers control the world’s economy, peace and make humans wonder why they seem to be giving odd data that suggest errors).

What I liked: Asimov was an excellent story teller. While the book took three months to read, his stories made you think. Robots can certainly be a blessing or a curse to mankind, and Asimov posed plenty of healthy “what if?” scenarios?

What I didn’t like: Sometimes it was a little too technical, which might explain why it took a little long to read. Asimov’s style is vastly different from Ray Bradbury’s energetic, comic-book style of description, and he reads similar to Crichton.

Overall, I liked I, Robot. Someday I’ll re-read this book and add it to my personal library.

*Dr. Calvin is a scientist who specializes in robot psychology rather than being a psychologist who’s actually a robot.

Richard Zowie is a writer. As a child, he wanted to be an astronaut. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.