Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Janissaries Reaches a Satisfactory Conclusion

 

In 1979 Jerry Pournelle published Janissaries, a novel about a doomed troop of CIA mercenaries in Angola. About to be annihilated by a Cubans they are offered an escape: a one-way trip to the planet Tran. They and their leader, Rick Galloway, are expected to take over the planet and oversee production of a recreational drug that can be grown there every 600 years. Sequels followed in 1982 and 1987. Then, despite the third book ending with many unanswered questions, nothing.

Mamelukes, by Jerry Pournelle, Philip Pournelle, and David Weber, continues the series.

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Trigger Warning: This post has no discussion of Corona virus, racism or the destruction of cultural and historical artifacts (well, except for one). Sorry about that. I am a sucker for book titles. More

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In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue and accidentally discovered the New World. Horizons bloomed; the frontier spirit was born. Although Europeans were already poking around the coasts of Africa and the Indian subcontinent, Columbus sparked what we studied in school as the “Age of Exploration.” Now it’s the Age of Exploitation–no […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Xanadu

 

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

I hope it’s clear I’m not talking about that silly movie with Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck (whoever he is), and Gene Kelly in his embarrassingly awful final film role. (IIRC, this was the movie that launched the Razzies, the annual award for the worst [fill in the blank, movie-related category] of the year.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Amazon is creating a new series based on Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It will be set in the Second Age, the age dominated by the long-lived men of the island of Númenor. Here are the latest (but not so recent) rumors about the production. The Tolkien estate has announced the constraints it has placed on Amazon’s […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Superego: Fathom – Book Review

 

Superego: Fathom by Frank J. Fleming is the sequel to his 2015 novel Superego, where Fleming tells the story of Rico, the top hitman for one of the biggest intergalactic crime syndicates. Rico is a psychopath – a man with no conscience or ability to empathize with other people. It’s a big part of what makes him so successful in his line of work. He’s never found a problem he can’t shoot his way out of, until he’s forced to pretend to be the good guy and find himself feeling emotions he never knew existed. Like love.

This review will contain spoilers for Superego, so if you haven’t read it yet you should stop now and go buy it. There’s also a short story that’s a prequel to the series – Superego: Personality Test – that you can read for free on Fleming’s website.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Future Law Through the Science Fiction’s Lens

 

There have been stories about lawyers and trials for as long as there have been lawyer jokes – maybe longer. So why would they not continue into the future? Why wait for that future to arrive before writing them?

Overruled, edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a collection of science fiction tales about lawyers and trials. Lawyers appear in all of them; guns and money in many.

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I review a lot of children’s books for a website called Redeemed Reader. A common theme in children’s fantasy is “magic” as a lost element in a disenchanted world. The protagonist is born with some supernatural gift or sensitivity that no one appreciates, but once presented with a problem he (or she) forges fearfully ahead […]

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[This long post was prompted by comments in another, from Mama Toad and Ed G., responding to my nomination of Brad Dourif playing Hazel Motes in John Huston’s film version of Flannery O’Connor’s first novel Wise Blood as “the best film portrayal of a film character.” Flannery O’Connor is a pleasure I wish on everybody. […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Dana Gioia, a poet, writer, and the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Dana discusses why the arts are so pivotal to the intellectual and civic development of America’s K-12 schoolchildren, allowing them to grow spiritually, emotionally, creatively, imaginatively, and even physically. He also explores how some of the specific skills students learn through music, drawing, poetry, and theater go well beyond traditional subjects. Dana explains why he believes the lack of arts education in our schools is a national problem, and addresses some misconceptions about why schools are not offering it. He delves into why poetry has such a profound connection to the human experience, and the many ways in which it builds self-confidence, emotional maturity, and can lead to intellectual transformation. Dana shares stories about learning from his Mexican-American mother to love the arts, teaching students to appreciate poetry at the University of Southern California, and the success of a national contest that he launched at the NEA, Poetry Out Loud. Throughout the interview, he treats listeners to recitations from Shakespeare and Poe, and concludes with a special reading of one of his own sonnets.

Stories of the Week: A new poll finds that 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to return to their classrooms if schools reopen this fall, and in a separate poll of parents, 60 percent will likely pursue homeschooling options. A USA Today series highlights the benefits of high-quality dual-language programs to close achievement gaps among America’s five million English language learners, especially in states with a growing non-native population.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Stan the Man and How He Transformed Comics

 

Comic books started out in the mid-twentieth century. Originally they were “kid stuff.” As the twentieth century ended they had become a major cultural influence. No man was more responsible for that transformation than Stan Lee. Stan Lee: A Life in Comics, by Liel Leibovitz explores Lee’s life in a biography revealing the man and his influence.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, Lee grew up in New York City. Good with words, Lee grew up a reader, retreating into books and writing as his father’s career collapsed during the Depression. After high school, deciding to become a writer, he shortened his name to Stan Lee. Comics were not adolescent Lee’s main interest. He read and enjoyed the newspaper comics, but his real love was literature. Shakespeare and movies fascinated him.

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When I was growing up, I read so much that it was basically the same thing as breathing. Unfortunately, classic lit wasn’t usually what I reached for, so I’ve missed out on a lot of great novels along the way. I’m now 30, and I’ve decided to start a new long-term project – catching up […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘Three Good Leads’ Captures the Essence of Houston, Galveston During Spanish Flu Epidemic

 

It’s September 1918. Donald Brown is a photographer in Houston. His close friend Clara Barnes is a nursing student at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. “Three Good Leads,” by Richard Cunningham, is their story, which unfolds as World War I is approaching its climax and the Spanish influenza is sweeping the world — and the Texas Gulf Coast.

Orphaned by the 1900 Storm, Donald was adopted by a white family living in Freedman’s Town in Houston’s Fourth Ward. He picked up photography and become a freelance photographer, selling photographs to local newspapers.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review – Starborn and Godsons

 

The Galveston County Daily News has gone to a five-day publication schedule. They dropped all print-edition book reviews and told me they no longer wanted book reviews from me. This is one of two reviews submitted to them I wrote prior to being told this. There will be a separate post later about my continuing printing weekly reviews later.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Stanislaw Lem and Real Life

 

I have noticed in the past several weeks the surprise by some at what it takes to run our day-to-day lives. The stunning obliviousness as to how the things that we depend on are made and transported to us. “We must shut down the interstate rest areas,” some central planner exclaimed. Only to be shocked by the fact that truck drivers have to use the bathroom. I’m sure that planner, if he had ever been to a rest area, looked at the semis parked there with a type of resignation that he must mingle with the hoi polloi in a substandard bathroom since there wasn’t an exit nearby. It never occurring to him that every item he packed for his trip had originally traveled in a semi to get to him.

This same blindness infects the discussion of what an essential business is. “We must have protein,” the planners decide. The packing plants need to remain open. But just like they have no idea of what it takes to create a pencil, they have no idea of what’s essential beyond the slaughterhouse itself. The packing plant is essential, it must be cleaned. Are the companies that sell the water hoses, mops, rags, etc., essential as well?

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. More

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I just started reading Nicholas Rhea’s ‘Constable On The Hill’, published in 1979. It is an account of incidents and events while he was a constable in a village in Yorkshire starting in the 1950’s. There are a series of the books and there was a long running television series in Britain, 18 years and […]

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A severe lyric from the Irish that gets to the heart of the matter—here the heart being love between Our Savior and His Blessed Mother, and ours. When I discovered this on the web I can’t remember, but every year I find myself returning to it. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hear Writer Seawriter Discuss His New Book

 

Okay, you are at home, bored. That’s a problem. I have a new book out, but all my book signings and promotional appearances have been canceled. That means the book is probably not selling well. That’s a problem. Oh, by the way, most bookstores are closed, which means that’s a problem for the bookstore employees.

Science fiction writer H. Beam Piper once wrote that if you have one problem you often cannot solve it, but if you have enough problems they will start to solve each other. Let’s see if he is right and if we cannot solve all three problems.

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