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Aug 28

Cocktail Hour: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Posted on Friday, August 28, 2015 in Cocktail Hour, Movies, Uncategorized

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Nigh highlights Persian flavors.

When a horror film is called A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, we’re trained to think the girl in question is the one facing the dire threat. But in Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2014 debut feature film, the girl is the the predator, not the prey.

The nameless young woman, played by Argo actress Sheila Vand, wanders the nighttime streets of a fictional Iranian town called Bad City, populated by pimps, prostitutes, punks and junkies. She’s draped in a black chador which can make her appear anonymous or ominous, depending on the situation.

We learn early on that the girl is a vampire, and we see her savagely dispatch the local pimp, the first of several killings that make us wonder whether she’s simply quenching her thirst for blood or acting as a feminist avenger. When her path continues to cross that of the film’s protagonist, a small-time hood played by Arash Marandi, a new question haunts us: Does she actually have feelings for him or is she toying with him, amusing herself before the kill.

Amirpour does a great job humanizing the vampire without explaining too much about her. The girl’s ’80s-inspired clothing, the teeny-bopper posters on her wall and the synth pop she plays on her record player hint at who she was before she became undead. And those trappings also help us understand she’s more than just a murderous apparition.

Be careful of what lurks beneath the chador in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

The movie’s stark black-and-white photography and effective use of silence probably owe as much to the influence of Iranian New Wave cinema and early Jim Jarmusch as they do F.W. Murnau. A creepy atmosphere pervades, but the movie isn’t without humor. The vampire girl acquires a skateboard and uses that to glide along the street for much of the film, and we catch occasional glimpses of street signs warning motorists to watch out for women in chadors — an image that takes on a double meaning here.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night doesn’t deliver the kind of bump scares and roller-coaster thrills of a Hollywood-style horror film, but it’s refreshingly clever in the way it humanizes its monster and draws us into a dream world that borrows details from horror, Spaghetti Westerns and art house cinema.

That’s why it’s the inspiration for this week’s cocktail.

Lime, cherry and rosewater are all ingredients that figure prominently in Persian cuisine, and they all figure prominently in this cocktail. The cherry is doubly appropriate here because of a Persian saying that we taste cherry when we die. Our final reflection on life is that it’s been both sweet and sour.

The cherries’ sourness is augmented by the lime in this drink, while the gin and rosewater lend an aromatic dimension. Like its namesake movie, this cocktail is refreshing and complex without being cloyingly sweet.

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

2 oz. gin
¾ oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
½ oz lime juice
½ oz rosewater (available at most Middle Eastern and Indian groceries)
Maraschino cherry

Shake all the ingredients, except the cherry over ice. Place the cherry and a little of its syrup in the bottom of a chilled coupe glass then gently pour the mixed cocktail over top, allowing the red syrup to drift upward like drops of blood.



Aug 27

Forgotten Book: Space For Hire by William F. Nolan (1971)

Posted on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in Books, Forgotten Book

Psychedelic cover art isn't the only thing going for Space for Hire.

Review by Scott A. Cupp

This is the 156th in my series of Forgotten Books.

William F. Nolan has been around a long time and produced a great body of work. Most famous for his collaboration with George Clayton that gave us LOGAN’S RUN. He’s worked in the teen market, star biographies, non-fiction, mystery, television and film industries. He’s won the Life Achievement Award from the International Horror Guild, the Horror Writers of America, and the World Fantasy Convention. He is an Author Emeritus of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He has also won the Mystery writers of America Edgar Award a couple of times.

I first encountered his work in short story form in the mid 1960’s and then found LOGAN’S RUN. I liked what I read. I later met him at a couple of conventions and found he was a pretty nice guy. In 1987, Joe Lansdale and I took our families on vacation to southern California and one evening was spent over dinner with Nolan, RC Matheson, and David Schow. This was a very fun trip.

So, I was ready for a really good time when I picked up SPACE FOR HIRE the other night as a book to read. It’s an early mystery/science fiction combination. Nolan has a passion for the Black Mask Boys – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Erle Stanley Gardner (with three novels featuring the characters, formal biographies of Hammett, and an informal study of the three writers).

This book was fun. Sam Space (it only takes one small straight line to convert that to Spade) is working on a case for Esma Pitcairn Umani (a striking Venusian woman with three heads and the skill to use all three of them. Her father, Dr. Emmanual Quantas Umani, is working on a secret project. His enemies are fairly successful at killing him, but he has perfected the process of transferring his mind to other bodies. Unfortunately, his supply is low and he needs Space to accompany a load a fresh bodies from Allnew York and see that they arrive safely on Mars. It’s a simple job.

But no job is ever simple. On the trip he meets Nicole, a stunning red head with winking nipples who wants to seduce him. He gets hit with drugs and finds he has missed his return trip and Dr. Umani and Esma have been killed.

This would normally be the logical end of the story, but logic plays no part in this story. There are alternate realities, multiple versions of each person, time travel, Zubu birds from Pluto, gungoons, the Robot King of the Solar System and his pet dragon, and many more twists and moebius style turns.

At first I was skeptical but the story got wackier and wackier until I was absolutely loving it. So, give it a look if the above piques your interest (and even if it doesn’t). Nolan is a demonstrated master of many forms and they all run wild in here.

As always, your mileage may vary, particularly if you have trouble with the whole cross genre thing.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

 



Aug 26

Speculative San Antonio: Artist Alfredo Lopez Jr.

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 in Art, Speculative San Antonio

Freddy Lopez has been a ubiquitous presence at San Antonio conventions, film festivals and comic shops.

Today marks the launch of a new feature on my blog, Speculative San Antonio, in which I highlight a South Texas creator of science fiction, fantasy or horror literature, film or art.

My first real interaction with artist Alfredo ”Freddy” Lopez Jr. came more than a year ago when he illustrated the front cover of my novel Deadly Passage and that of Dog Days, the Joe McKinney novel it was published back-to-back with.

Freddy turned the covers around fast, working closely with myself, Joe and our publisher to accommodate a myriad of suggestions. He was an enthusiastic, patient collaborator and one I’d work with again in a heartbeat. The covers still gets numerous compliments.

Based on that experience, it comes as no surprise that Freddy has emerged as a go-to talent for comic cover art, concept, game and sketch card work. He’s collaborated with some of the top names in comics as a colorist, and he recently launched a Patreon page to free himself to pursue more work outside of comics.

Freddy’s work is recognizable for its vibrant, painterly use of color and for its clever humor. He’s a fan of mash-ups, frequently juxtaposing characters from different comic and movie franchises.

A Freddy Lopez illustration for an RPG rulebook.

I see from your Patreon page you’re trying to make the shift from the comic genre to do more fantasy, horror and concept art. What’s prompting that and what do you mean when you say “concept art?”

Freddy: Yeah it’s a shift that I’ve been talking about for a while but finally putting into action. When I was younger, my goal was to be a fantasy artist along the lines of Boris, Elmore, Bernie Wrightson, Frazetta, the Brothers Hildebrandt, etc. I dreamt of being a book illustrator like other kids dreamt of being athletes. I promised myself when I grew up, I’d be the next Frazetta. Of course, like every kid, I also grew up on superheros. So along with my drawings of knights and dragons, I had drawings of Batman and Superman.

As i grew older, I met more friends with similar goals. At the risk of sounding old, the internet was evolving as I was entering the scene and gave me a new way to get in contact with creative people all over. Forums and online portfolio sites helped get my work out and eventually, as friends broke into the business, they were kind enough to contact me and ask if I’d like to help. So that’s what got me into comic work. Friends like Nate Piekos, Chris Mills, Howard Wong and others really helped open doors for me. My first love was still illustration work, though, and I found what I enjoyed most was doing illustration style comic work like covers, pinups, coloring and painting. I soon discovered trading card work, which helps satisfy that aspect for me. Now I’ve had the chance to work for some of my fave companies and properties like Upper Deck, Walking Dead and Marvel Comics , where I’ve been part of the team of artists doing cards for Ant-Man, Avengers Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and others.

Freddy Lopez's "Goblin Party."

Over time, I’ve also been getting back into more traditional illustration projects by doing work for books and games. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a couple of amazingly talented local authors doing covers for them. I’ve also been getting more work in RPG games and event posters.

The concept art is tied to the RPG projects in fantasy and sci-fi. Aside from cover and spot illustrations, I’ve had the chance to work with some great art directors on concept pieces. The general difference is that while illustrations are final pieces that are used in print, concept is usually higher level work used to get the basic ideas or concepts of a project down. It helps establish color palettes, mood and tone or the design of characters, creatures, ships and environments.

Part of this move to illustration has also included doing more prints for convention signings and appearances. I’ve built up a porfolio of convention poster/exclusives for a wide range of celebrity guests and appearances that have included Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface), Ricou Browning (Creature from the Black Lagoon), Michael Rooker and both Boba Fetts, Jeremy Bulloch and Daniel Logan. Most recently I did the signing for Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy’s Drax) for a new comic store, Alamo City Comics. I even did the poster for the upcoming Horrific Film Fest, which includes celebs such as Elvira, the cast from The Warriors and Buck Rogers.

Freddy Lopez's "Guardians on the Run"

The Patreon page is a new concept for me but sounded like a fun way to reach out to fans and reward backers with behind-the-scenes items (tutorials and source files) as well as helping me to stay on track as I make the transition.

(more…)



Aug 25

Forgotten Films: Zombeavers (2014)

Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 in Forgotten Movie, Movies

Zombeavers: Best viewed with a sick sense of humor.

This is the 131st in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films

I first heard about this film about a month ago and my initial thought was “No way! Such a wonderful play on words. It’s probably not any good.  But, is it bad enough to be good?” So, I checked Netflix and it was there, so, one afternoon, I waited for the wife to leave since I pretty well knew what her reaction would be.

This is got the makings of your basic R rated sex/horror film.  Three college sorority sisters (Mary, Jenn, and Zoe played by Rachel Melvin, Lexi Atkins and Cortney Palm, respectively) are off for a weekend away from their boyfriends, cell phones and civilization at a lake cabin owned by Mary’s cousin. Unbeknownst to them, two slacker idiots (Bill Burr and rocker John Mayer) who were texting and driving have managed to hit a deer. The resulting crash sends a barrel of toxic waste into the river that feeds the lake by the cabin.

The girls are trying to help Jenn who has caught a Facebook photo of her boyfriend Sam with a mysterious woman who is not her. So, no boys allowed – until they show up, in a plot hatched by Zoe.  Guys and girls get naked and sex happens. Except between Jenn and the cheating Sam.

Things are interrupted by the appearance of scraggly looking zombie beaver who does not know how to die. Everyone decides he is a fluke and goes back to the evening’s adventures. The next day, they all decide to go swimming in the lake except Jenn who is eventually coaxed into the edge of the water. Here she feels something brush up against her and everyone makes fun of her until the zombeaver attacks Zoe’s boyfriend Buck and it bites his foot off. Suddenly a full scale beaver apocalypse is going on and the zany kinds are out on a raft in the lake. They need a distraction and Zoe’s pissy little dog provides both a distraction and lunch for the beavers.

From here, the film becomes your basic Spam in a cabin with everyone trying to stay alive and the zombeavers trying hard to prevent that from happening. People die in the course of the film as well as a bear. Phone lines have been chewed, roads have been blocked, and Buck is not doing well.

Sandi came back home and watched the end of the film with me.  Her basic comment was “Ya’ll are all sick” which is why I was watching it alone. It’s a fun little film, lots of gratuitous nudity and swearing. It’s trying to be Evil Dead II good, but not quite there. There are some interesting scenes and effects. The beavers are cheesy but, hey, it is a low budget film, very low budget.

It will never replace Citizen Kane but I had fun. If the description sounds like something you might like, give it a try. If not, I’m sure there’s an Ivory Merchant film on cable (or in your library). And, as with all bad movies, your mileage and humor may vary from mine so keep that in mind.

And watch out for beavers – zombie or otherwise. Oh, and there is quick scene at the end after all the credits, for your amusement. Almost like a Marvel film.

Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

 



Aug 21

Cocktail hour: Spring Boulevardier

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015 in Cocktail Hour, Movies, Uncategorized

This week's cocktail draws its inspiration from the recent film Spring.

The less you know about the recent film Spring before watching it, the better.

The 2015 low-budget thriller presents us with dark and appealing story mashup — part love story, part horror, part science fiction – about the ultimate unattainable woman. It starts out as a well-crafted romance between a traveling American and the mysterious Italian beauty he encounters on the Adriatic. Soon after, it whisks us into alleys of mystery as old and foreboding as those in the medieval town where the pair meet.

The American, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), heads to Italy after problems mount at home and quickly finds himself smitten by Louise (Nadia Hilker), whose charms aren’t just physical. She’s brilliant and worldly — and has a habit of disappearing on him, which only adds to her allure. Louise also places a lot of odd rules on their relationship. The crisply written, often funny, dialogue keeps us interested, even if romance isn’t the reason we’re watching. It makes the relationship seem real and resonant.

How could this end badly? The main characters in Spring come together in a seaside town in Italy.

Co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (whose only other film was the super low-budget horror tale Resolution) help build the suspense with stretches of eerie silence and beautifully framed shots of predatory insects and decay in the ancient seaside town. The effect is dreamlike, and it makes us increasingly certain Evan’s dream of romance will end up  a nightmare.

In other words, see it with a date.

And while you’re watching, why not sip on the cocktail it inspired, the Spring Boulevardier? The Boulevardier is a classic cocktail that serves up a perfect romance between distinctly American and distinctly Italian ingredients. It fuses the bold complexity of bourbon with the enigmatic bitterness of Campari.

In this version, I add a couple dashes of orange bitters to help the orange flavor really pop, as it’s a nice foil to the Campari’s bitterness.

SPRING BOULEVARDIER

1 oz. bourbon
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Italian vermouth
2-3 dashes of orange bitters

 

Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker half full of ice and stir until frost accumulates on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass full of ice and garnish with an slice of orange peel.


Aug 20

Forgotten Book: Anniversary Day by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (2011)

Posted on Thursday, August 20, 2015 in Books, Forgotten Book

The moon starts to look more and more like Swiss Cheese in Rusch's Anniversary Day. Review by Scott A. Cupp

This is the 155th in my series of Forgotten Books.

I have been a fan of Kristine Kathryn Rusch for close to 25 years. I met her in the early 1990’s in New Orleans at one of the NOLACons. She and Dean Wesley Smith came there for several years. I read some of her early works and was blown away by her novella “The Gallery of His Dreams” (1992), which dealt with Matthew Brady and the Civil War. She went on to edit The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for 6 years.

Recently I had the chance to get all eight novels in her recent Anniversary Day series and I grabbed the chance. The Retrieval Artist has been a series she has revisited regularly since 2002. Others had recommended this series to me so I dove right on in.

Anniversary Day begins on a fateful day on the moon, when terrorists destroy part of the dome protecting the city of Armstrong from the cold vacuum outside. Thousands died and each year thereafter there was a celebration of those who survived. Detective Bartholomew Nyquist and his partner were both seriously injured in that original explosion. Four years later, he is back at work. His partner Ursula Palmette was not as lucky and had to leave the police force. So Anniversary Day is always a day seen with trepidation.

Now, four years after the original blast, something is going wrong. The Mayor of Armstrong is getting ready to make his annual speech and is glad-handing the crowd when he suddenly gets rigid and goes into cardiac arrest. Similarly the Governor General of the Moon finds herself attacked in the same way. Moon Security Chief Noelle DeRicci realizes there is something going on and enlists Nyquist to check out the attacks. Another mayor is attacked, but that attack fails. Security measures uncover a major plot to blow all the city domes on the moon.

Nyquist pursues the clues as a policeman. DeRicci also contacts Miles Flint, the Retrieval Artist, who works outside all systems in tracking down people, who begins to track from another direction. They find clues that point to the big plot and realize they have very little time to prevent the total destruction of life on the Moon.

Anniversary Day is the first novel in an eight-novel sequence. The final was published this year, so I know I can read the entire story, unlike some other series where long times pass between installments and I, as a reader, lose track of the story and have to re-read thousands of pages to get back into the plot. Phil Farmer and Riverworld cured me of this, as did Gene Wolfe and the New Sun books. George R.R. Martin is the current one like that.

Anniversary Day is a good, fast police procedural thriller with interesting characters and a well fleshed universe. It was so good, I immediately read the second book, Blowback. It’s just as good. I don’t have time to read eight novels by the same person in a row, but I plan to read the rest during the coming year. I think this will be a very good year.

As always, your mileage could vary, but I don’t think so. This is good stuff. Check it out.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

 



Aug 13

Forgotten Book: The Sinister Shadow by Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray) (2015)

Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2015 in Books, Forgotten Book, Uncategorized

Two pulp heroes square off in Doc Savage: The Sinister Shadow.

Review by Scott A. Cupp

This is the 154th in my series of Forgotten Books.

I was hooked as soon as I saw the cover – Doc Savage versus The Shadow. I have been a fan of both since the mid 1960’s, encountering The Shadow first in the Belmont series written by Dennis Lynds and Doc Savage when Bantam began it reprints. I found the Walter Gibson Shadow novels when Bantam (and later Pyramid) began the reprints of those early pulp classics.

So, when Bill Crider offered me his copy of this fine book, I knew I would be reading it straight away. I was familiar with Will Murray’s Doc Savage adaptations (reviewing Skull Island a few years ago, where Doc Savage and his father ran into King Kong). The Murray work was great, building on the style established by Lester Dent (the real-life name of Kenneth Robeson, for 159 of the 181 novels in the original pulp series run). In this novel, Murray tries to capture the style of both Dent and of Gibson (who did at least 282 of the 325 The Shadow novels, published as by Maxwell Grant) as the viewpoints change throughout the novel.

I started that evening. It was compulsive reading. Murray was familiar with much of the minutiae of each character, throwing the casual Shadow fan for a loop with the early kidnapping of Lamont Cranston and Doc Savage’s aide Theodore “Ham” Brooks. Lamont Cranston was a real New York millionaire that The Shadow had coerced into taking long vacations so that The Shadow could use his connections and identity. In this novel, the real Cranston is back and The Shadow is masquerading as George Clarendon. Cranston and Brooks are kidnapped as they try to reach Doc Savage. Cranston’s lawyer Sidney Palmer-Letts is killed outside of George Clarendon’s hotel room. Everything revolves around a mysterious blackmail note received by Cranston requiring $250,000 be paid or else he face dire consequences.

Rich people around New York are dying of unexpected heart attacks. Doc Savage is convinced something sinister is going on. He and Monk Mayfair are the only ones of his crew in town and they are after this mysterious Shadow who may be behind the whole blackmail thing.

Meanwhile, an evil villain known as The Funeral Director is plotting more. Twice he has evaded The Shadow and wants nothing more than his nemesis’ death.

The action is fast and furious as The Shadow must avoid a hero as swift and brilliant as he is while trying to rescue Cranston and others. Sidemen such as Harry Vincent, Burbank and Clyde Burke assist The Shadow while Monk and Ham assist Doc Savage. The Shadow radio show appears as part of the plot, as does Doc Savage’s criminal rehabilitation facility where criminal tendencies are excised from the brain via surgery. Margo Lane (a radio creation not originally part of The Shadow’s team) is not seen in the book, which I thought was too bad.

I loved this book, even though it was long (over 470 pages), which equates to between three or four Shadow or Doc Savage novels. When I finished, I was sorry it was done and wanted to be there for another 100 or more pages.

If you like either of the two characters, you will love the book. Murray also has a recent Tarzan novel RETURN TO PAL-UL-DON, a sequel to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ TARZAN THE TERRIBLE. Both books are from Altus Press, a wonderful small publisher devoted to the pulps with reprints of great stories, histories of the magazines and writers, and some new work in the pulp tradition. You will probably have to order the book yourself as most bookstores are unlikely to have it on the shelves. If you can get your local bookstore to carry the publisher, you will be richly rewarded with some wonderful reading in all their publications. (This has been an unpaid, heartfelt endorsement from a reader who loves this stuff.)

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

 



Aug 11

Forgotten Films: The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963)

Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 in Forgotten Movie, Movies, Uncategorized

Mars' chief export in this 1963 film is dastardly energy creatures.

Review by Scott A. Cupp

This is the 130th in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films

So, away we go, all the way back to 1963 and a gathering of veteran actors for an odd film. FOX FM showed this the other day and it caught my eyes. Dr. Keith Fielding (Kent Taylor) is a NASA scientist working on the first probe to Mars. He has been working hard on the project and his family life has suffered for it. When the Mars probe doesn’t find any signs of life or activity, the probe experiences an energy surge and is destroyed. Fielding feels odd when this happens and decides to take some time out for his family in southern California.

His kids Rocky and Judi (Gregg Shank and Betty Beall) are happy to have their dad home but it is obvious that his wife Claire does not want him to return to NASA and that things are basically over. But something weird is going on at the home. There is a weird energy version of Fielding that confronts him. Martians, it seems, do exist but are composed of pure energy. They destroyed the probe and have plans to destroy the NASA program. The family is menaced as energy duplicates of each member show up. Judi’s boyfriend is killed trying to avoid a collision with “Judi.” A duplicate Rocky confronts his mother is a creepy moment. The use of Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills heightens some of the suspense. The mansion has been features in many films, TV episodes, and music videos and is very distinctive.

Fielding has a confrontation with his double who explains that the Martians plan to infiltrate certain government and scientific personnel. They plan to take over all of Fielding’s family since the duplicate could not possible fool the family as a whole.

NASA has noted Fielding’s weird behavior and has sent him co-worker/friend, Dr. Web Spencer (William Mims) to help convince him to return. Fielding explains to Web what the situation is and Web agrees to help them try to escape. The aliens may be energy but they have other plans for the family.

This is not a great film, but it is not bad either. It has some great paranoia and the duplicated members are creepy. I had never heard of it before encountering it on FOX-FM.  I’m glad I saw it but was disappointed because the description of the film on the program guide contains a major plot spoiler.

If you have a chance, give it a try.

Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

 



Aug 7

Cocktail Hour: The Chatsubo Quencher

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2015 in Books, Cocktail Hour

William Gibson’s cyberpunk masterpiece Neuromancer has one of the best opening lines, not only in sf but in literature: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

The book’s first few pages, set in an expat bar in near-future Japan called the Chatsubo, are a textbook example of how to yank your reader into an imagined world without boring them with a bunch of leaden exposition. Gibson helps us immediately understand his world — its casual drug use, its cybernetically enhanced populace and street-level con games — not through narrative intrusion but via dialogue, description and action served up in crisp, street-savvy prose.

Check it out: “The bartender’s smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it. The antique arm whined as he reached for another mug. It was a Russian military prosthesis, a seven-function force-feedback manipulator, cased in grubby pink plastic.”

In one descriptive, action-filled paragraph, Gibson lets us know people in his imagined future can be sculpted into any beautiful shape they want and that advanced cybernetic gear isn’t just commonplace but old enough to be antique. All without slowing us down for a yawn-inducing infodump. That’s a master at work.

It’s writing worth tipping a drink to.

While the only drink I remember being described in the opening chapter of Neuromancer is draft Kirin beer, this week’s cocktail seems like the kind of sophisticated urban refreshment that would be popular in the Chatsubo.

THE CHATSUBO QUENCHER

2 1/2 oz. Hana lychee sake
1 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Shake the liquid ingredients over ice in a shaker and pour into a chilled martini or cocktail glass. Garnish with a long, thin strip of lemon peel.

 



Aug 6

Forgotten Book: Man of Many Minds by E. Everett Evans (1953)

Posted on Thursday, August 6, 2015 in Books, Forgotten Book

"Man of Many Minds" offers up Golden Age sf thrills, if you can bear with the info-dumps.

Review by Scott A. Cupp

This is the 153rd in my series of Forgotten Books.

After last week’s fantasy novel, I was ready for some deep space fun adventure stuff. My eyes travelled over the bookshelves and came to rest on MAN OF MANY MINDS by E. Everett Evans. I knew the book by reputation but had never read it. Somehow it found its way into my hands for examination.

It passed the first test – it was short, just 192 pages in the paperback edition I had on hand. The next test was the first page preview. Again, it passed. The story featured a young man disgraced and drummed out the Inter Stellar Corps and he was happy. The final test was the cover, front and back. The front was a shapeless mess by Gray Morrow, an artist I like. The cover was likewise a mess, not really giving much insight into the story. Pass for two of three tests. I went ahead and dipped on in. The prose was readable and the action started on page 2.

This was a fun. Young George Spencer Hanlon is at the top of his class at the Cadet Academy of the Inter Stellar Corps and about to embark on a career of space service. He is summoned before the Commandant of Cadets, as all graduating seniors are, to discuss his future. Suddenly, he finds his life changing. George has a talent that he suppresses – he can “read” minds, not actual, tangible thoughts but feelings and similar processes. The Corps is aware of this ability, though he has not used it while in the Academy. He is offered a job in the Secret Service of the I-S based on his performance in the school, his natural abilities and his special talent. The I-S wants him, but their membership is closely guarded. To join the SS, he has to be dismissed from the I-S in disgrace and shunned by all his friends and family.

George agrees to do this, being the bright, patriotic kid that he is, and he is introduced to his commanding officer, who turns out to be his father. George is surprised until he remembers his father had been disgraced earlier.

George is given his marching orders and sent to the planet Simonides Four, where something is going on. No one is sure what is happening but something is not right. Hanlon books passage on a luxury liner and encounters a man named Panek who is intent on killing another passenger. Figuring that Panek might be part of the problem on Simonides, George convinces the man that he is disgusted with the Corps and is looking for big money. He stops Panek’s attempt on the man and fakes the death to get in good.

While on the ship, George is trying to expand his mental capacities and finds himself able to get into the mind of a small dog, then multiple dogs at the same time. On arriving on Simonides Four, he is aware that he is being followed and goes to look up Panek, supposedly seeking work.

He meets the Boss behind Panek and is given a test: kill the man who was following him. His ability to control a dog works well here, and he is able to orchestrate the death of the man and suddenly finds himself in the gang and assigned a task on a hidden planet. He’s to run a slave operation using living trees called Greenies as miners for rare ores.

Evans keeps the operations moving and the action is hot and fast. Young George expands the uses of his powers and finds himself in a vast conspiracy to take over the Galaxy. All he has to do is get home, stop everyone, stay alive, set the Greenies free and remain sane. A simple task.

This was a fun book, nothing special or notable but a quiet relaxing evening at home with what seemed like old friends. Evans was a friend of E. E. Doc Smith back in the day, and his influence can be seen here. This was a fun example of Golden Age science fiction.

Again, as with many books I read and talk about, your mileage may vary. There are some big info-dump chapters to get the reader up to speed, but they are not incredibly intrusive and you can still move on. The book probably could not be published today, but I had fun reliving my old youthful enthusiasm.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.