The Amazing Adventures Of Doctor Tempest And The Terror Of The Trolls

…from the June, 1898 issue

Man, have I been remiss in my LJ posting or what? I think it might have something to do with a combination of S.A.D. and my new night time work schedule. The old “oomph” is just not there. Maybe it will return with the good weather.

Anyway, here are a couple of quick book reviews.

The Dying Earth & The Eyes of the Overworld, both by Jack Vance

It had been on the order of 27 years since I last read any of the Dying Earth stories, so a few weeks ago, I cracked these tho books open. As I remembered from my science fiction/fantasy devouring youth (the mid 60’s to early 70’s), Jack Vance is a hell of a good writer and the Dying Earth is one of the most interesting and engaging settings of all time. True, every character you encounter is, at the very least, morally ambiguous, but that’s what makes them so fascinating. Besides, the sun could wink out any day, so fuck morality.

But besides the characters, the world of these stories is just as interesting. Covered with ruins, forests and wastelands (all of them full of creatures that will kill you, eat you or both), this is a world ripe for adventuring in, altho it is seldom the choice of the characters to do so unless circumstances force them to.

Another thing about these books that any gamer will pick up on is how they influenced both D&D and the way Gary Gygax wrote. I sometimes wonder if Gary typed with one hand while holding a copy of The Dying Earth in the other.

If you haven’t read these books, you really should. If you haven’t read them in a long time, re-read them.

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Wanted: Dancing Elks

…must have own tap shoes

Book Reviews: Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders andSherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery both by Larry Millett

These two books are, respectively, numbers 2&3 in a five part series by Larry Millett that tells the story of Holmes and Watson’s adventures in America, primarily in Minnesota around the St. Paul area.

In Ice Palace Murders, set in 1896, the Great Detective is called to St. Paul to look into the disappearance, then murder of a wealthy young man from one of the cities most powerful families. This book introduces Shadwell Rafferty, an Irish saloon keeper and part time detective who proves to be Holmes mental equal. It’s great fun to watch these two men, so different in most other ways, one up each other in the mystery busting game. Although I had the murderer figured out by about the 2/3 mark, this book was still an excellent read.

Rune Stone Mystery is set in 1899 and once again, Holmes and Watson are off to Minnesota. This time, however, it is at the behest of King Oskar II of Sweden, who wants proof that a recently discovered slab of stone covered in runes is really of Viking origin. Naturally, there is a murder…several in fact…and then the game is afoot. Aided once again by Shadwell Rafferty, Holmes unravels a twisted mass of clues to solve the case. There are some really great characters introduced in this story and I didn’t figure out who the killer actually was until he got what was coming to him.

Millett does Holmes & Watson proud and I highly recommend these books. I can hardly wait to read the rest of the series.