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The Greek Seaman
The Greek Seaman

46 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Dangers of Self Publishing, March 29, 2011
This review is from: The Greek Seaman (Kindle Edition)
Although there appears to be a couple of (possibly) appealing cliches and tropes trotted out here, they are rendered totally inaccessible by the poor writing. Grammar, spelling, and basic sentence structure are groan-inducing throughout the sample. Pass on this one, folks.

Ms. Howlett, if you read this, there are many talented ghost writers and document doctors out there who would happily punch up your manuscript for you for a couple of hundred dollars. Maybe you should look into that.


Black Amazon of Mars (Einstein Books)
Black Amazon of Mars (Einstein Books)

1.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Unreadable Formatting, November 13, 2010
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The formatting on this edition of Leigh Brackett's public domain story is horrible. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since they didn't even spell her last name correctly.


Ars Magica, Fifth Edition (Ars Magica Fantasy Roleplaying)
Ars Magica, Fifth Edition (Ars Magica Fantasy Roleplaying)
by David Chart
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.30
33 used & new from $18.23

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Old Game, Nice Update, August 29, 2009
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As a long time gamer, I had seen Ars Magica come and go on the shelves through its various editions. I'd always intended to pick it up and take a look, but I didn't get around to it until its fifth edition. Being completely new to the rules and setting, I was charmed by both the setting and character creation process.

The setting is "Mythic Europe," possessing all the places and people we know from history classes, but with magic and wizards added to spice things up. The first thing I thought of was it would be great for folks who have more than a passing interest in things Medieval and Renaissance. Perhaps history teachers might use this for enrichment in their high school classes, even. Having personally slogged through the "D&D is Devil Worship" eighties, I was intrigued to see that the Church and the God worshiped by the Hebrews, Christians, and Muslims is recognized as the most powerful political and spiritual source in the setting.

Many games today have a system where you can buy extra benefits for your character at creation by taking additional faults. I understand this is one of the first systems to do so. There are some delightful ideas in this section of the book. I really enjoyed reading through them. "Difficult Underlings" and "Offensive to Animals" are two of my favorites.

From checking the fan sites before and after my purchase, I got the impression that the players generally liked this update/edition of the rules. I also understand that the drive behind the fixes and improvements in this edition came from a fellow named David Chart. Mr. Tweet gets top bill for 5E, but Mr. Chart gets the fan site love. Not having seen previous editions, I will take the fans' word that this is a nice tightening and fixing of the RAW (rules as written).

I have no problems with the production values of this book. I don't see any marking that might indicate what printing I purchased, but I do not agree with the previous reviewer that the printing was substandard. It won't lay flat like some gamers prefer; it's a nice tight binding that will hold up well to being hauled back and forth to games.

I highly recommend Ars Magica. Cool setting, lots of ideas to take to another game, and a good recent update to the rules system.


Tiny Deaths
Tiny Deaths
by Robert Shearman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $13.25
32 used & new from $1.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Tiny Deaths and Huge Pleasant Surprises, March 21, 2009
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As soon as I finished the first story in this collection, Mortal Coil, I knew I had a very special book in my hands. It's one of those books where, as you read, you think of more and more people to whom you'd like to recommend it. Clever...hysterically funny...touching...; this collection carries a broad mix of emotions with the uniting thread of black humor regarding mortality. Believe the blurbs that say Shearman is on the level of Roald Dahl and Douglas Adams. No wonder the book was the winner of the 2008 World Fantasy Award Best Collection. The honor is well deserved.

P.S. And, just in case you didn't know, he's already won a Hugo!


Heart of Stone (The Negotiator Trilogy, Book 1)
Heart of Stone (The Negotiator Trilogy, Book 1)
by C. E. Murphy
Edition: Paperback
133 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like Harry Dresden? Jilly Coppercorn? You won't hate this book., February 19, 2009
Heart of Stone is a good middle of the road urban fantasy paranormal investigator offering. I purchased this book based on Charles de Lint's favorable mention of it in one of his reviews in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. (He rarely steers me wrong.)

This book was enjoyable, if not exactly fresh. She included, but didn't plagiarize, some of the my favorite themes of urban fantasy; A little Buffy/Angel romantic tension, a little Harry Dresden moving among the hidden Old Races living among us unnoticed, a little Jilly Coppercorn helping out those for whom society has little time, and a little more-to-be-revealed teasing.

You won't hate this book. You won't want your money back. You won't want the time you spent reading back. But you might not recommend it to your friends.


The Jack Vance Treasury
The Jack Vance Treasury
by Terry Dowling
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from $21.23

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Collection, Especially for those New to Vance, October 5, 2008
This collection has a great selection of stories if you're a newcomer to Vance.

Shame on Subterranean for the small print run. I would rather Mr. Vance have gotten his share of my purchase instead of the used book dealer*.

* - She was a very nice used book dealer...


The Jack Vance Reader
The Jack Vance Reader
by Vance
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from $91.90

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous introduction to Vance for me, October 5, 2008
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This review is from: The Jack Vance Reader (Hardcover)
I had never heard of Jack Vance until I was reading a eulogy for Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax, where Vance's work was listed as an influence on the D&D rules. I was surprised, because I thought over the last thirty years I had traced down all the authors who'd influenced Gygax and Arneson. Recently I saw his name again where someone noted Jack's influence on the rules had been removed in the new edition. Being a completist, I immediately headed for Amazon.

This was my first Jack Vance read, and I was enchanted. I couldn't believe I had never heard of him. The Languages of Pao belongs on a list of American literary greats. As another reviewer noted, it is unfortunate that he has not had the opportunity to enjoy the popularity he deserves. I followed up this purchase with Tales of Dying Earth, another treasure trove.

Jack is now the number one bullet in my clip for when my friends toss up their "What should I read next?" clay pigeon.


Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Price: $29.99
190 used & new from $18.87

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you have tension related headaches/pain, SSBB may not be for you, May 24, 2008
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
I received this game as a gift from some very dear friends of mine. My friends, nephews, nieces, kid, and students adore this game. And I love to watch them play it. It was a thoughtful gift and has gotten a lot of play time since I received it.

I am middle aged, and prone to tension headaches. When I play it for more than twenty minutes or so, I find my shoulders creeping up around my ears and my neck becoming stiff as wood. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, SSBB might not be a good choice for you.

My kid begged me to play today and I accepted. We played for about an hour and it was great quality time. But afterward I had to take an analgesic and lay down. (But I'm not going to tell my kid that!) I appreciate the extent to which Nintendo has gone to urge ergonomic caution, but it's tough to keep that in mind when your kid is having such a great time launching you out of the Pokémon Stadium at 10,000 kph.

I avoid the headaches by playing in practice mode with the opponent set first to jump, and I work my way up to attack. I keep the game speed slowed down to two-thirds. This might work for you as well. The down side is that it becomes a one person game.

Great game, but the frenetic pace may not appeal to the Wii's newfound older demographic.


The Golden Compass (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
The Golden Compass (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Nicole Kidman
Offered by Web's Best Deals
Price: $8.50
113 used & new from $0.01

8 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tried to make everyone happy and failed, March 9, 2008
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The filmmakers tried to make 1) an original and fresh Harry Potter size franchise for the studio, 2) a film that wouldn't offend religious viewers, 3) a film that would still promote the author's atheist/anti-church agenda.

1) Fail
2) Fail
3) Fail

The result was a watered down story that appealed to no one. It felt as though the story was on fast forward for those who'd read the (much better) novel. And, perhaps to me the strangest decision of all -- probably in an effort to succeed at number two (see above) -- they didn't include the amazingly powerful closing scene of the book.

Highlight of the film for me? Sam Elliott as Lee Scoresby. Perfect casting.

Stardust was the better film. Wish it had had Golden Compass' marketing budget.

Pass on this one.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 2, 2008 3:10 AM PDT


The Empire of Ice Cream
The Empire of Ice Cream
by Jeffrey Ford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.46
47 used & new from $1.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than The Title Might Suggest, January 7, 2008
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Despite its award winning status, the title of this anthology led me to believe it was either young adult oriented or in the vein of the recent plethora of updated fairy tale collections. I was very pleased to find I was wrong.

Jeffrey Ford is a highly intelligent, clever wordsmith that more closely resembles Bradbury and Wolfe than the Datlow/Windling crowd. Like his unstable scholar's work in "The Weight of Words", Ford's writings are greater than the sum of their parts.

In particular, I'd like to praise the novella, "Botch Town." As soon as I was a few paragraphs into it, I recognized the familiar territory of the "remember the year when..." stories by Bradbury, King, et al, that I enjoy so much. The autobiographical tone was convincing, and the characters were universal and believable. My friends and I had our own version of Mr. Blah Blah, and our own Halloween hijinx were remarkably similar to those described within. (I also appreciated the subtle nod to Spike Jones fans.)

Among my other favorites are the darkly humorous "Boatman's Holiday" and the surreal tour-de-force, "Giant Land."

If you're looking for a collection of substantial, sophisticated yet accessible, stick-to-your-ribs short fiction, then pick up The Empire of Ice Cream.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2014 10:23 AM PDT


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