Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Been Difficult, But Well Worth It

Beloved, and all the rest who read:

These past two weeks have been difficult for me. I got very little reading done, and essentially no writing.  I had two MAJOR projects going; both of them were in the class of  "Major Life Events."

Both of them were EXTREMELY time-sensitive, with hard and fast drop-dead dates.

Both of them required me to be dependent on other people, NONE of whom had nearly as much invested in the projects as I do.

Both involved a significant degree of travel, for me as well as for other people. (I don't like travel.)

And, as you well know, there are some things that just can't be put on hold, no matter HOW many important projects are pending. People and pets still have to be fed. Babies have to be changed. Some minimal amount of laundry still has to be done. Toddlers require active supervision, or they will break themselves. Even WITH active supervision, SOMETHING is going to get broken.

But, as of today, projects are completed and were a resounding success.

Will my life return to normal? 

Are you kidding? Here's the outlook for the week:

1. Sometime in the next 48 hours, our youngest daughter (who lives with us) is going to present us with a granddaughter, who is grandchild number 12, and the first girl in 11 years. It will be a big and joyous event.

2. Our next youngest daughter will be trekking through with her two boys, ages 3 years & 5 months, while husband Sam is getting some company training. They live five hours away, so we don't get to see them often, so it's a big & joyous event.

3. One week from today, Alicia and Kenneth will each be given their walk-through of their middle school classes, and the next day, Tuesday August 1, the school year starts. It will be a big and joyous event; if not for them, it will be for me.

4. If my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, does NOT quit her job SOON (like, yesterday would have been good), I may have to go into downtown Atlanta and chew through the cabling connecting her office building to the grid. I need new teeth anyway, and there are so many lawyers in Atlanta, one building full of them won't be missed.

That's a lot of stuff, but actually, for the Patterson Household, that IS normal, sort of. Lots of family things, all important, some of it fairly difficult. Hopefully not as difficult as the concentrated effort of the last two weeks, but, here's my take-away:

1. It takes effort to produce beauty, and
2. It's worth it.

Beauty is found, mostly, in relationships. Relationships (and I mean HEALTHY relationships) convert the energy you put into them into joy, and intimacy, and understanding, and acceptance.
Frequently difficult, true. But it's well worth it.

Peace be on your household.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Straight Outta Tombstone




The link to my Amazon review will be found HERE,  and I made this editorial change at 1:13 AM Wednesday.

I got my copy from Baen, but you can get it from Amazon if you click the picture link .

Okay, we need to talk about the cover. It's by Dominic Harman, and I've seen his work before, BUT:

It's never sold me a book before.

As a matter of fact, I can't think of a time as an adult when artwork has ever sold me a book. Maybe when I was a kid, browsing the paperbacks on sale at Dorsey's Pharmacy in Macon, but even then, I'd mostly buy because it was by Ian Fleming. Yes, I was reading James Bond in the sixth grade. What's the problem?

But, the zombie cowboy with a pair of ...(stop right there.)

A pair of WHAT?

Six guns? Revolvers? Cowboy pistols?

No, those are sho 'nuff Colt Single Action Army. I hate it when authors make gun mistakes, and I LOVE it when they get it right. And I REALLY love it when the artists get it right. Listen: I just pulled one of MY Single Action Army Model 1873 revolvers out of the gun cabinet to verify. Dominic nailed it! He got the grip right, he shows the groove on top of the chamber because there are no rear sights on SAA, and in the gun held in the zombie's left hand, you can even make out the loading gate.

And before some smarty-pants critiques trigger discipline, these are SINGLE ACTION revolvers. It makes NO difference that the trigger finger of BOTH hands is in contact with a trigger, because the firearm in his left hand has the hammer down. It will NOT fire, until he points it at you, pulls back the hammer, and applies a certain amount of pressure to the bang switch, see?

So I'll SEE yer Four Rules of Gun Safety, and RAISE you a ZOMBIE COWBOY, okay?

And yes, the end of that barrel has a bore size perhaps best described as ...prodigious.
Because that's what a .45 Colt (or .44-40 WCF) looks like when it's in yer face, pilgrim. My pair are chambered in .357, and THAT'S enough to make ya whimper.

Sigh. I now leave off discussion of the cover art, which in my opinion is THE best story in the book, to consider the words which are written down. All of them, in some way or another, deal with CTOW,  Creepy Things Out West. There really isn't a 'best one!' story in this collection, in my opinion. Many different styles, of course, but even Waffle House has more than one item on the menu.

Not that I ever need to use the menu at Waffle House, but it's nice to have choices.

BUBBA SHACKLEFORD’S PROFESSIONAL MONSTER KILLERS by Larry Correia. Ever since Owen got to throw his boss out of the window, his fans have been clamoring for more. And, by going into the past, we can get a LOT more Monster Hunter stories. Some things stay the same: not all monsters are evil; chicks with guns are WAY cool; and NOBODY ever said “Dang, why did I bring all this ammunition?” Oh, yeah, and the government is mental.

TROUBLE IN AN HOURGLASS by Jody Lynn Nye. Well, her name isn't REALLY trouble. Beauty may, perhaps, be only skin deep, but mischief goes right down to the bone. Mom tends bar with a shotgun, daddy builds time machines in the shed.

THE BUFFALO HUNTERS by Sam Knight.  What do you get when you go hunting buffalo with a giant Russian count and his daughter? Well, you get buffalo, for one thing. Not much sport to it, but this sort of thing really happened. In this case, though, it's not the buffalo that are the biggest threat.

THE SIXTH WORLD by Robert E. Vardeman.  This story combines mad scientists, native spook stuff, and little grey men. The most sympathetic character gets killed first, but he was sort of a wimp.

EASY MONEY by Phil Foglio. Nasty, nasty man writes a story with a punchline at the end. It's a HECK of a good cowboy story, too.

THE WICKED WILD by Nicole Givens Kurtz. This could ALMOST not be a Wild West story, but it's the wicked ways of the Wild West that make the people possible. Umm, I didn't mean to do that much alliteration. Anyway, bad guys use to be able to get away with stuff until they got shot. Or something.

CHANCE CORRIGAN AND THE LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD by Michael A. Stackpole. Nicely steampunk in nature, a classic tale of the poor & downtrodden being taken advantsge of by the owners of the mine.

THE GREATEST GUNS IN THE GALAXY by Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Ken Scholes. After the Big Shoot-Out, there's always some kid who thinks he has to prove himself. Usually, the story ends with a pimply 15 year old staring up at a blue sky. Sometimes it ends in zombies. Or not.

DANCE OF BONES by Maurice Broaddus. When you take a man's money, you do the job he hired you to do. And if that means you have to do a little extra? Well, that's a risk you take.

DRY GULCH DRAGON by Sarah A. Hoyt. Would you want your sister to marry a dragon? There's really NOTHING I can say about that concept without the risk of offending a brother-in-law. Really. I've got some responses, but I think I may have gone a bit far already.

THE TREEFOLD PROBLEM by Alan Dean Foster. Mad Amos Malone and his trusty steed, Worthless, are not the sort you want to aggravate. Amos walks into a foreclosure situation, and, well, they just blow the competition away.

 FOUNTAINS OF BLOOD by David Lee Summers. It's rather a creepy title, but I don't know what I'd come up with to replace it. A hired gun goes beyond the necessary minimums to provide true service to the man who hired him; and there are vampires, and a bodacious lady marshal who rides a motorcycle called Wolf.

HIGH MIDNIGHT by Kevin J. Anderson. The Shamblin' Zombie Private Eye encounters the ethics of the Wild West through time travel. Sort of.

COYOTE by Naomi Brett Rourke. This particular story has just as much non-natural events as the others, but it reads truer. Some of the other stories NEED a volume like this in order to exist; this one doesn't. The story of the old man and his grand-daughter could appear anywhere from Boy's Life to Playboy to Good Housekeeping. Maybe not Popular Mechanics.

THE KEY by Peter J. Wacks. Sorry. Didn't get this one. It has lots of famous people in it, though. And there is whiskey involved.

A FISTFUL OF WARLOCKS by Jim Butcher. Everybody said Wyatt Earp was a tough lawman. He says, in this story, that he can't leave just because the bad guys want him to, or pretty soon everybody will be pushing him. Seems like a good philosophy for a Wild West lawman to have.

Peace be on your household.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Narwhals Ate Our Tomatoes Plants

For the past couple of years, we've done some minor experimenting with back-yard gardening. And, when I say 'we,' I mean my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA. My involvement has been limited to buying the wire cones at Home Depot.

The first two years, she just used these big honken planters on the back porch. I think she had two plants, and they kept us in an appropriate amount of home-grown tomatoes, and it was nice.

Then she got a bit ambitious, and dug out a garden area by the fence, with borders and tags. Didn't work. I know she had some other stuff in there beside the tomatoes, but I don't think anything bore fruit.

Here are two mistakes she didn't make, both of which I have seen happen.

Mistake 1: Failing to understand the process. A dear friend of mine wanted tomatoes one year. So...he planted tomato seeds. Fortunately, this act was reported by his wife to a person who Knows Things, and they brought out a flat of tomato seedlings, and stuck them in the ground the next day while my friend was at work.  Of course, this meant that my friend was temporarily struck dumb by the vision of seedlings rising several inches from the ground, whereas mere seeds had been planted only hours earlier. He wondered, briefly, if it might be a miracle. Actually, kindness often IS a miracle, so in that sense, he was correct.

Mistake 2. Failing to understand the productivity of a tomato plant. On Monday morning, Barry's buddy came into work, reporting he had spent the weekend setting out tomatoes. Anticipating gifts in the future, Barry asked him how many he set out. The answer: 100. Well, at least he got some good exercise out of it. Which probably included the next day going out and ripping out about 95 tomato plants.

This year, though, we will get no tomatoes, unless we buy them. The narwhals got ours. They use that beak to sense unattended tomato plants, and then they followed the trail all the way from the Arctic down to Savannah, where they hit the rivers and creeks. Unfortunately, we live only a mile away from Little River, so it was no great task for them to bore through the ground until they popped up next to our tomatoes.

I would not have grudged them a FEW tomatoes, but they prefer to slice them on the vine. That beak really is a multi-purpose device. Shredded the tomatoes, the plants, and even trimmed some of the surrounding grass.

I live not VERY far from the Center for Disease Control, so I called them and asked if this was common. They said it was because there is a certain amount of mole DNA in narwhals. It's because the common mosquito feasts on them both, and some exchange is inevitable. When conditions are right, the mole DNA can express itself in behavior of this type.

Nothing to worry about, really. They did caution me against harming the narwhals, because they might be endangered. That's okay, because I don't have any recipes for narwhal. If I want to keep them away, I have to hammer a stick in the ground, then drag a bit of corrugated tin (plastic will also work) over the top of the stick, which sets up vibrations in the ground, and warns them off. I decided not to do that this year.

Peace be on your household.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Correia X 2, I Feel Turrible, Charlie Mike



My Amazon review of the FIRST book may be read here.
and
My Amazon review of the SECOND book may be read here.

I have a VIOLENT reaction to that class of medications known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs). Just the briefest touch turns my innards into thunderstorms.

It wasn't always this way. I was able to discontinue narcotics for my chronic pain for almost a year, with the use of a particularly powerful NSAID called meloxicam. It brought my pain level down to the point that I averaged a half tablet of hydrocodone a week; before that, I was taking 165 mg of morphine daily. It wasn't until my gut started bleeding that I gave up on the meloxicam; unfortunately, my sensitivity to ONE NSAID extended to ALL NSAIDS, so now I can't even take aspirin.

And that extends to topical applications as well. I have some tenderness in my bicep tendon caused by a brief attempt at lifting weights - 10 pounds only! - and my doc suggested I try this cream. Well, I did. I don't know if it helped my tendon any, but it sure has destroyed my innards.

Out of a sense of delicacy, I will not attempt to describe my symptoms. You might very well imagine a tuba concert, but I couldn't possibly comment on that.

Well, it keeps me from wasting my time with such stuff as exercise. We did make it to church this weekend, and I was challenged to keep a close rein on what I watched and read, but other than that, I've been invalided. It matters not; Charlie Mike (Continue the Mission).

And therefore, I found the chance to read a couple of Larry Correia books I haven't noticed before. The fact that any of those existed was a bit of a surprise to me. Of COURSE, I read Monster Hunters, and the Grimnoir series, and Dead Six, and Son of the Black Sword, but I didn't even know The Malcontents were a thing. Don't know how that got by me. PERHAPS it's because they were originally just for table-top gamers; the Privateer Press edition includes the models. I know nothing about that aspect of life, due to poor planning on my part as a youth; hence, my review covers only the stories.

Into the Storm: I THOUGHT I was going to get a quick read, and then goodnight, with this book, because it only shows seven chapters in the Table of Contents. This is an artifact of reading e-Books. Unless you look at file size, and can do the conversion in your head, you have NO idea of length! Yes, there are only seven chapters, and only three of those are substantive, but these are some LONG chapters! They are so long that I got aggravated a couple of time with my reader. I'd accidently bump a control, and find myself at the top of the page, and then I have to swipe down for a minute to get back to where I left off. That's a function of big fingers, though, and should not be taken as a criticism of the book or my reader.
The setting is best described in terms of weaponry, since there isn't any period in our timeline in which these customs exist. Fighting is done with swords, spears, and other sharp, pointy things. The king can afford the latest technology, so he has knights armed with lightning swords. And the mechanized element is represented by the warjack, an iron monstrosity, powered by coal, operating on verbal orders. And there are magical elements around, as well. A man can still get his brains dashed out by a rock, though.
The commanding officer is one Lieutenant Madigan, who was disgraced and nearly executed for his actions in the last palace coup. Not being a whiner, he does NOT offer the defense that the atrocity that brought him low was actually the work of someone else; he is of the opinion that command takes responsibility.
Being at the top of everyone's scut list, he gets the very worst jobs that are available. In this case, he is ordered to form up the Sixth Platoon, consisting of the cast-offs of every other outfit, and turn them into a fighting unit.

Dirty Dozen, right?

But, training works, as it always does. He has a hard time bringing his troops into play, because nobody trusts them, and there is a good bit of personal animosity running around.
Lots of good fighting and blowing stuff up.

Into The Wild.  Book Two begins with the troopers under the command of Lt. Cleasby. Formerly a rule-bound fop, his time with the company has hardened him, and he has earned the respect of the men.
Very interesting scene at the beginning, when he meets up with the academic leading the team he will be protecting. It starts as the typical bosh of a bookworm attempting to bully the grunts, but just when that's so irritating that you want to fling the book, uummm, not going to tell you. Spoilers, you know.

It seems a  rare find has been unearthed way out in the wild, wild forest, and this team is going to fetch it. Ranged against them are the forces of the avaricious original finder of the the artifact, and a tribe of pagan heathen monster people. Victory conditions:  rescue the artifact, and get the scientific party and troops to safety.

Even if it's NOT Owen with his weapons, and even if you AREN'T a gamer, there's still plenty here for you to enjoy.

Peace be on your household.

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Closer Look at "Gilded Cage," by Kacey Ezell, and RED on Friday

This is going to be a shorter post than usual.

First, somehow, I forgot today is Friday. No excuse. Just forgot.

And along with that, I forgot it was therefore RED Friday. I always want to remember that, because it matters.

Right now, there are thousands of sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers who cannot be with the rest of their families on this summer day, because they are doing their part in the Armed Forces to keep us safe in our homes.

They are Deployed.

So: RED: Remember Everyone Deployed. Wear RED on Friday. Until they ALL come home.

And now, a CLOSER LOOK at "Gilded Cage," the creepiest story in the 'Fistful of Credits' anthology I reviewed this morning. There are others that deserve a closer look; in fact, I'd have to confess that they ALL deserve a closer. Particularly ...no, not gonna go there. I was going to mention 'Legends' by Christopher Woods, but if I did, then I'd also mention...STOP THE MADNESS!

See, this is why I LOVE the short story form as a reader, but I hate it as a reviewer.  Whenever I review a collection of short stories, it almost always takes me longer to write the review than it does to read the stories. If you are a reviewer, you know what I'm talking about. Otherwise, you think I'm nuts. How hard is it to review a few thousand words?

So, I'm going to give you an AUTHENTIC review of 'Gilded Cage,' and let you see for yourself.

Here's what I wrote this morning:
This is, in my opinion, the CREEPIEST story in the book. The protagonist does all the wrong things for all the right reasons, and there is never any point at which a reasonable observer would shout "LOOK OUT! DON'T DO THAT!" It brings a different point of view to the understanding that humans have in the scheme of things in the new universe.
 And here's what I wanted to write:

"I've seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone,
But every junkie's like the setting sun..."
(Neil Young, 1972)

It's only after several re-reads of the story that I confirm it: we don't even know the gender of the junkie in the alley until well into the story. That's significant; it's something she has forfeited, along with everything else, in exchange for the simplified life: she is only concerned about obtaining the next fix.

It's clear that she has long abandoned any pretense of respectability. She has exchanged access to her body for the chance of another hit.

Access to her body: normally, that's a euphemism for prostitution, but with two phrases, Ezell suggests it's something even worse.

I’d lost a lot of blood there at the end, when things had gotten really wild.
I crossed my arms over my chest, tucking my wasted hands underneath my armpits, letting them hide in the nest of rags that was all Ghat’s party guests had left of my clothing.

She reports these things as simple facts; there is no suggestion of outrage. She even considers herself lucky to have gotten the good stuff. You can't get a much better depiction of the depths of addiction, no matter how many words you use. I've read "Confessions of an English Opium Reader" and "The Naked Lunch" and "The Lost Weekend," among others.  You can use MORE words, describe MORE scenes, but those two sentences convey the message. The feather touch Ezell uses hits harder than a hammer would have.

Every junkie, every alcoholic has a story: "I used; I got high; I got in trouble." NOBODY sets out  in the hopes of winding up face down in the gutter some day. That's the tragedy of the filthy end our protagonist came to: she didn't PLAN for any of this to happen.  In fact, we discover that she is Doctor Susan Aloh, former Xenobiologist at the University of Texas, and that she was researching this particular drug, because of her interest in this particular race of aliens, and the pusher she bought her first hit from made her use it in his presence.

And she was immediately hooked, and within a couple of years, her professional life was just a memory. Every action she took, after that first taste of the drug, was infected by her sickness. She had lost the power of choice.

And that's not what makes this story the creepiest story in the book.

Here's the creepy part: the alien returns her to complete health, and then claims her as property.

Initially, when the deal is struck, she is impaired, chemically and physically. However,  when she wakes up on the alien ship, of sound mind and body, she is offered the choice again: she can become a pet, or she can die.

It's a trap without an exit.

And THAT'S what makes it the creepiest story in the book.

Peace be on your household.

A Fistful of Credits and Reading Problems



My Amazon review of the book can be found here.


I have reading problems.

That most definitely DOESN'T mean I have a problem trying to read, usually.
Sure, in the minute or so after I wake up in the morning, my eyes don't focus very well. So, when the first thing I do is reach for my tablet, I often can't focus on the text well enough to read what it says.

Mostly, however, I regard that as a feature, and not a bug. I use that interval to get out of bed. And one I am out of bed, I can do other things. Take a shower, etc. Go downstairs. Greet the cat. Whatever.

So, as I said, that's not what I refer to when I say I have reading problems.

The other day I mentioned getting into trouble in the second grade because I was so captivated by the book I was reading, that I didn't have a clue that reading time was over. And when the teacher finally broke through my concentration on the story of Old Yeller, it was only the first time of many that my immersion in text resulted in discontinuity with the rest of the universe.

Of course, since almost all of my internet friends are readers and writers, they understood, and many had had similar experiences. And I'm not sure if it's causation or merely correlation, but many of them also report that they have one or more cats who interfere with them currently, as they read or write.

I wish I could go back to 1961, and announce to Mrs. Bowlin: "One day, you will be replaced with a cat." There is a certain resonance to the idea: my old, fat, white female second grade teacher is now represented in my life by my old, fat, black Manx cat, SugarBelly. It's a pretty good trade-off, for me.

Now, my most recent discontinuity event was also my introduction into the universe of the Four Horsemen. If memory serves, when I was looking for material, I heard that 'Fistful of Credits' was introduced at LibertyCon, so I grabbed it up. The stories are perfect, the intro material needs some work (no, it doesn't), because the links to the two prelude stories don't work (this isn't true. See the comments for a retraction), and editor Chris Kennedy's publishing website is still printed in Latin with pictures of generic people smiling. (I just checked, and it's all functional now (Saturday at 8:17PM. This is the kind of stuff that happens to an early reviewer!)

Nice work on the cover! An appropriately mecha-looking suit with a pistol, and the titles are legible and don't obscure the background. The cover is attributed to Brenda Mihalko and Ricky Ryan; I'm not familiar with either of them, but they did good work here.

Fourteen stories. some of them by writers I've been following for a while, some new to me. All deal with human mercenaries in a universe dominated by other races. Some of them presuppose knowledge of the Four Horsemen universe, which I did not have; others could be stand-alone stories without reference to an outside context. NONE of them REQUIRE the reader to have experience with the earlier works, although they will certainly generate interest in most novices (like myself) to go back and read the foundation stories.

THE LAST ALPHA by Mark Wandrey. Zeke has a history in the earlier stories, and it's to provide some closure to that history that he appears on Earth in his old stomping grounds. This provides the best window on what has happened on Earth following First Contact.

BREACH OF CONTRACT by Terry Mixon. This story introduces us to the Peacemaker Guild, and the role they play in the complicated relationships between merchants and fighters. The contract MUST be treated with respect by all parties in order for the society to work; therefore, much effort is expended in disrespecting it. You can't always get justice. Sometime, you can get revenge.

PAINT THE SKY by Jason Cordova. Ideally, in a military organization, cooks and clerks are free to cook and clerk; artillery troopers fire from long distances, and medics load up with nothing but plasma, splints, and bandages. It rarely works that way in practice, and all too often, the guys who were only supposed to be operating a motor pool are memorialized by points of light in the night.

SURF AND TURF by Jon R. Osborne. Mercenaries make their home wherever they are, particularly when they have a history they want to forget. If they stay in one place long enough, the fights become personal, because they are now fighting for their homes. Everybody needs a home. Everybody needs family.

STAND ON IT by Kevin Ikenberry. An excellent story of layered betrayal by a relative newcomer. It's easy to forget just how worthless the rest of the universe thinks you are when you are fighting for your life, in all directions.

LOST AND FOUND by John Del Arroz. The most basic rule among mercenaries is : you must be loyal to your comrades. After that, loyalties to the paymaster and to citizens are negotiable.

GILDED CAGE by Kacey Ezell. This is, in my opinion, the CREEPIEST story in the book. The protagonist does all the wrong things for all the right reasons, and there is never any point at which a reasonable observer would shout "LOOK OUT! DON'T DO THAT!" It brings a different point of view to the understanding that humans have in the scheme of things in the new universe.

LEGENDS by Christopher Woods. A classic tale of the reluctant warrior, put into impossible situations by a fate that is at best indifferent, but usually hostile.

WITH THE EAGLES by Doug Dandridge. Okay, you want to talk about a hostile environment? THIS environment is worse than Australia. No kidding, WORSE than Australia! You only take a job like this because you have to. Try not to think of why no one else will do it.

DEAD OR ALIVE by PP Corcoran. The Peacemakers appear again, in an operation launched against those who would defy the mores of the collective, and those who support them. Hint: bad idea.

HIDE AND SEEK by Christopher Nuttall. SUCH a great dance between a spook, and administrator, and a government thug. Shows why the timid don't belong in a universe with sharp elbows.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD by Charity Ayres. Sigh. Sorry, I just didn't like this story. I thought too much of it took place in the undisclosed mental processes of the actors.

ENOUGH by Chris Kennedy. The unit is about to be eradicated. But WHY? There is NO hope without getting an answer to that question, and the new commander has to solve the problem as his men fight and die to give him time.

CASPER’S GHOST by Brad R. Torgersen. This story has some of the most vivid images in the book: armored humans, fighting a corrosive, super-hot environment, who are then attacked by what looks alarmingly like an allergic reaction by the planet.

The book was delicious for me to read, and I recommend it highly.

Peace be on your household.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Pushing the Limits With Amazon and Polly's Summer Vacation



Here's the link to my condensed review on Amazon.


I never set out to be a rebel.

Well, that's not EXACTLY true. As a matter of fact, once I found out that rebellion was possible, my path has bounced between rebellion and conformity in the same way that a ping-pong ball bounces for Forrest Gump.

Today, I take pride in my identity as a redneck biker, Life Member of the NRA, Southern Man of Scottish Heritage (Campbell Clan, if anybody is interested), born on a dirt road in Macon, GA.
Sounds pretty white and the slightest bit intimidating, don't it?

But I'm married to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA. And we have CHOSEN to raise our beautiful mulatto grandchildren with the understanding that to a significant segment of the population, the amount of black blood in their veins is going to trump the white amount, and to be proud of who they are. And our social lives center on what is the most racially diverse church we can find. And I babysit my grandchildren every chance I get.
Does that hint that maybe I have rebelled against stereotypes, a little bit?

As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved out of my parents' house, enrolled in a LIBERAL liberal arts college, and spent the next year growing my hair, drinking, joining a fraternity, and scaring people with the amount of drugs I was taking.

After a year of THAT, I joined the Army to become a medic. I did well; got me a medal, a promotion to E-5, and was selected as Soldier of the Year for the United States Army, Europe in 1975.

Got out of the Army, stopped getting hair cuts, went back to college, got divorced, and started riding motorcycles.

The story goes on from there, but the cycles are established, right? Whether I set out to do it or not, there is a lot of rebel in me. I do my best to keep it from harming others; these days, I think it mostly manifests as my absolute refusal to get invested in politics, and my determination to answer a radical call to Christian discipleship.
While carrying a Browning Hi-Power.

All of that is to explain the context of this blog post, which will shortly contain a review of James Snover's latest book, "Polly's Summer Vacation At Excentrifugal Engineering," which you can get by clicking the link at the top of the page.

As I explained yesterday, I'm having some problems in deciding where & how to publish my book reviews. In the past, I write a book review, and then I post a reference link to the review on at least two Facebook pages: my own, and Sarah's Diner, which is a nest of indie writers, along with a few who have contracts with more-or-less (mostly less) traditional publishers. I also write this blog, in which I, Papa Pat, Ramble on about things that are important to me; sometimes, that includes books.

I need both venues. They are NOT identical, and they don't have the same intended audience,>...<
Did he say 'audience?' HA! He has an audience like the construction worker with the singing frog in the Bugs Bunny cartoon.
>...< and there are times when I have a blog post which is intensely personal, and has nothing to do with books.

So, here's what I'm going to TRY, and I actually started this yesterday. I'm going to TRY to get my Amazon book reviews to include a reference to my blog, on those occasions when the blog includes review material. It will be easy to include the link to the review in my blog to the Amazon review; I already did that at the top of the page. However, Amazon does NOT permit a link within a review to anything except to another product which may be purchased on Amazon. So, I'm just going to point out that an expanded review is available at Papa Pat Rambles, and not include the url.

In fact, I did a trial run of that last night, and it allowed the review to post. That may change; in fact, change is a guarantee with Amazon reviews, but unless they change the rules, I believe I can get away with this little rebellion.

And now for the actual review of  "Polly's Summer Vacation At Excentrifugal Engineering, " by James Snover, 2nd Edition. The Ill-Advised Publishing Company (Kindle Edition).

Polly Madison is a delightfully normal 13 year old genius.  She lives on an Earth that has lost its' collective mind, with every sort of political splinter faction running around to do things for the Good Of The People, because they alone know what that Good is.

The WILDEST card in this deck is Rex Mason, the head of Excentrifugal Engineering. He is a certified Mad Scientist, Life Member, with a Challenge Coin, who finds purpose in (umm, what's a good word: periodically? no; too conventional; intermittently? no, that implies a miss every now and then;) SPASMODICALLY saves the world, often by obliterating some part of it.

And Rex has chosen Polly as his very first Summer Intern!

So, she is overjoyed; her parents freak out.  She's too YOUNG! She's had too much DISAPPOINTMENT! She's a PARAPLEGIC!

And here, we cross over from the World of Reality into Fantasy Land. In this Fantasy Land, Rex is able to convince her parents that the very things that they are tossing up as obstacles are the reasons he has selected her for the program. Too young? Well, she won't have to unlearn a lot of things, because she is still gulping in great amounts of math and science and engineering. Too much disappointment? She will have no restrictions placed on what she can learn at E E. Paraplegic? That's PERFECT! She has had to adapt and overcome for her entire life, and THAT skill & attitude set is precisely what will make her a super-nova of success!
So why is this Fantasy Land and not World of Reality? I cheated. It's not a fantasy. Polly has real parents, and I've seen this kind, who are not blind to her impairment, and don't permit her to be blind to it as well, but who also love her so much that they never allow the impairment to destroy her spirit.
Yes, these are real people.

If you move in certain Mad Scientist circles, you will see that Polly's teachers and the staff of EE are all tuckerizations of that special crowd. It makes for a nice touch. These are real people, too.

And as to how Polly's summer works out, I cannot tell you without spoilers. I will tell you, however, that it involves a large musical instrument made out of depleted uranium, and the screwdriver blade of a multi-tool. It is not specified whether or not the multitool is a Leatherman, Victorinox, Gerber, or if it's a specialty that includes an AR wrench and EOD tools.

Peace be on your household.