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Tales of Brave Ulysses (Timeline 10/27/62)

Tales of Brave Ulysses (Timeline 10/27/62) is the sixth book by James Philip in a Brit-centric alternate history take on the aftermath of a Cuban Missile Crisis turned spasmodic WW3. Over in hours, or so it seems, but everything is changed.

I love this title. The author has a fondness for using song titles as book titles, and the Cream song of the same name is one of my favorites.

This is the last one out as I write this, and thus the last in my reread project for this spacific series. There is a parallel series, currently at three books, set from an American perspective, largely in the United States.

Fair warning: This books ends in the cliffhanger to eclipse his previous cliffhangers. Unless you have paid unnatural attention to detail, you will end the book by crying out “nooooooooo!” I admire the skill that went into building that ending. Fantastic! Luckily, the next volume is out soon. I have preordered it. There will be enough chaos, even without Philip being proverbially ghost-written by GRRM.

Obviously, I love the series. I have pointed out some modest complaints previously. The need for editing continues. Other things improved, or didn’t strike me as hard. Your mileage may vary. I can see some people simply not liking the type of story at all, or failing to get into it at the beginning.

By the end of this book, there has been some cutting to the chase, so to speak. What is known versus what is not known is always a driver of story, but ultimately must resolve for a conclusion to occur. Things look grim, but people who need to know now do, with help from the most surprising of sources. And there needs to be some action! Some tidying up loose ends. The next book is the last set in the sixties, within the years immediately following the nuclear madness. There will be two more, but the last is going to be set a decade later. That could be intriguing.

Bad Books – Part 1

So far, if you read my reviews it probably sounds like there’s nothing I dislike or can’t slog through. Not true! Rare enough, but there are books or series I have abandoned or never been able to get into. I’ve been rather lucky with my foray into “cheap Kindle books” over the past, say, year or two. Or perhaps I’ve been selective. I can’t review what I didn’t buy because it didn’t sound like something I really like.

I thought I’d try to name and comment about some of those, as best I can remember them. I’ll obviously post about any new ones I encounter as I run into them. If I remember others from the past, I can do more posts like this. (As it turns out, this will be about just one book and I’ll definitely cover others in future posts.)

The granddaddy of them all is Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I first tried reading it all the way back when it was the only book in A Song of Ice and Fire. People on the rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan newsgroup talked about it, with some hating it, most liking it, and some thinking it made Jordan and Wheel of Time look pathetic. My sister had read and loved it. As I recall, the copy I tried to read was hers.

I just couldn’t get into it. I didn’t even get as far as Bran’s “accident.” I felt like a heretic, but I thought it was boring, and didn’t get far enough then, or learn enough from outside sources, to at least find it a fascinating concept poorly written or presented.

Flash forward. GRRM becomes a media star and gets his masterpiece filmed, by all accounts, beautifully. People who would never in a million years have thought to pick up those books are avid fans of the show and, in many cases, read the books as a result of seeing the show. People around me love the show and the books.

Feeling like I am missing out, someone gifts me the first book for Christmas 2013. Now, I know more about the characters and plot, without ever watching the show (we don’t have cable), because I read things, watch clips or trailers, etc. I have spoiler non-avoidance issues. Which is funny, given that I sometimes think I say too little in my reviews for fear of telling people too much about the books.

So I tried again. I got much farther into the book, but found it a slog. Putting it down and losing my place, I found I could pick it up, open it to somewhere, start reading, and feel like I missed nothing if I had skipped ahead. It seems bizarre that I had trouble identifying where exactly I had left off upon picking the book up again.

Eventually, bored, my reading petered out. Yet the story was interesting enough that I pointedly read all I could about what happened in the books and the shows. I even developed my own theory that Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen were the pivotal characters the whole thing would come down to in the end.

It was after abandoning Martin that my Kindle reading took off. I still feel vaguely like there might be something wrong with me for not getting into such a widely read, highly regard book. But then, I do run into people who have felt the same. Come to think of it, it’s a bit like Dune. Way back when, I read the first Dune. I found it tedious, but managed to get through it. I never even tried reading the others, and have been told that the first one is the only one that was good enough to bother with at all. It strikes me as more socially acceptable not to have liked Dune.

There you have it: One book (without regard to frugality) that I could not finish and would never recommend. Two, if you count my aside when I remembered Dune at the end.

The Bellbottom Incident

Third and final volume in the Incident Series, The Bellbottom Incident by Neve Maslakovic ties things up nicely. Along the way, it gives us a higher proportion of adventure to buildup than the first two. That is, most of the book is a chase to the recent past. This was set up at the end of the second book when a time-orphaned teenager disappears to the past. The wrong past, as it turns out, since she only gets as far as 1976.

This is a great look at the rules of time travel as the author has imagined them, their implications in recent time versus far time, and at the role of human nature.

It is worth noting that these three books are more like one story in three volumes. You could read the first and walk away, but really, if you read more than that, you gotta read all three.

One of the locations in 1976 is the Fort Myers, Florida area. This tickled me, as I lived there for about six weeks at the beginning of 1986. If six weeks is long enough to describe as “lived there.” I took a semester off and stayed with a friend, his first wife and her daughter. Had he not decided they had had enough of Florida, the lack of decent jobs and people they could relate to, I would presumably have been there for at least a few months. I lived a stone’s throw from the Edison Mall and his summer home. I’ve been on the Sanibel Causeway, and even seen what it’s like in dense fog. I kind of liked the area, enough that I thought about trying to stay on my own when my friend moved back north. I just couldn’t see how I could swing it, and how I could do that and also complete college.

Personal history aside, I loved this book, and the set of them it completed. It was worth the $4.99, especially given that it was well edited. It’s not that it leaves absolutely nothing to your imagination, but it ends things satisfyingly, and without any obvious temptation for future books in the same fictional universe. Not that it couldn’t happen.

Before We Begin

I wanted to say more about myself, and about what you can expect here. In doing this post, though, I can see I also need to do some things like add categories.

The plan is mainly to review books, at this point mostly Kindle books, and in keeping with the name, mostly ones bargain-priced, which also means mostly self-published ones.

I could read before I started school, from early enough that I don’t really remember not being able to read. My primary genres are science fiction and fantasy, AKA speculative fiction, though I have been known to read most anything. Which is how I happened to have read The Fallon Blood many years before Robert Jordan came out with The Wheel of Time series. He had written the former under a different pen name, and I could see that it was obviously the same guy, once I learned that. But I digress. Which happens a lot. Besides those genres, I am most likely to read history, biography, and sometimes economics or business. Add alt-history and survivalist/post-apocalyptic fiction if you consider those separate genres from SF. You may perceive, even without reading it in this post, that I lean libertarian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

My review writing experience is all but nil. I have written a couple of reviews on Amazon. I have blogged elsewhere over the course of time on what I have thought of this book or that. That’s about it. Here’s hoping I don’t sound lame. Please bear with me as I get into a groove.

My reading has been so extensive over the past year or so, I fear I will have to reread most of it to do it justice. Horrors! Having to reread some of the best writing I’ve ever enjoyed ? Oh no, save me! I am almost never sarcastic. Just ask my kids.

Finally, I am not an Amazon or other seller affiliate. Not that I object, I just happen not to be, and would let you know if I were, or if that changes. I checked on what was involved years ago and it struck me as too tedious for the benefit involved. Perhaps that has changed. Presumably I will try to link to books or items I discuss, so they are easy to find if you so desire. Additionally, I will make clear if something I review was given to me free as a review copy. I can’t imagine much of that happening, but full disclosure if it does. That’s inherent in the format here, anyway. Sometimes I download a Kindle book being offered free for a brief promotional period. For me, that makes it frugal. If you have to pay for it, perhaps it’s not going to be frugal at all. Details like that will be included.