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Another Disappointing Disney Biography

Hourly History’s short bio of Walt Disney lets readers down, but not for the typical reasons.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been a fan of the Hourly History book series. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re short histories or biographies that are written to be read in an hour or less. I love finding an Hourly History book about an era or person with whom I’m not familiar and getting a quick education.

I signed up for the Hourly History newsletter a few months back because they offer several free e-books every week. Not long ago, one of the free books was a bio of Walt Disney. As a Disney fanatic – and somewhat of an amateur Disney historian – I was intrigued to see what the Hourly History treatment would bring to the long list of Walt Disney biographies.

You Should Binge Watch Schitt’s Creek Now

The first 5 seasons are on Netflix

I very much agree with my former PJM colleague Stephen Kruiser. The Canadian comedy show Schitt’s Creek is something special.

Book Review: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom

One of my earliest memories is of the massive science fiction laden bookcase in my childhood home. I read John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, A. E. van Vogt, Ray Bradbury, Larry Niven and other classic sci-fi authors before I was in middle school. That’s understandable given that I’m named for a character in a Robert Heinlein novel. This means I’m unusually familiar with both the art and stories of Golden Age sci-fi. This is why I chose to read and review “The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Part 1”. Part 1 is devoted to the 1930s and came out in hardback in February, 2020.

Book Review: “Fantastic Schools, Volume 1”

Fantastic Schools, Volume 1” was edited by Jagi Lamplighter and Chris Nuttall. I’d previously read and reviewed his novel “The Zero Blessing”. “The Zero Blessing” is the first novel in his “Schooled in Magic” universe. It is a world very different from Harry Potter, yet his first book is compared to that because that’s become the default comparison for any “preteens sent to magic school” unless they’re vampires. One of the short stories in “Fantastic Schools” is by Mr. Nuttall, but there are more than a dozen short stories in the collection.

Mamelukes Is a Fitting Final Novel in the Jerry Pournelle Oeuvre

Last night, I finished reading the last novel by the late Jerry Pournelle I will ever read.

For me, who has been a Pournelle fan for almost half a century, it was a sad moment. In my last review, of Starborn and Godsons, I reviewed Pournelle’s literary career, so I won’t repeat it. It is extraordinary.

Book Review: Avengers Infinity Saga and Philosophy

Avengers Infinity Saga and Philosophy is a collection of philosophy essays seeking to use Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame to present various philosophical ideas. For example, the multiverse theory means that those who use the likely consequences of their actions to determine the right thing do to are paralyzed, while those with a clear moral structure can still act decisively. There are more than thirty essays in Avengers Infinity Saga and Philosophy, so there’s literally something for everyone. (Including those who agree with Thanos’ doomer worldview or literally see him as the hero.)

Book Review: Enjoying Starborn & Godsons and Remembering Dr. Jerry E. Pournelle

Just this past week, I finished Starborn & Godsons by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes, the third novel in a trilogy about Earth’s first interstellar colony, a planet called Avalon orbiting Tau Ceti.

Entertainment in the Time of Pestilence

About two weeks ago (as you read this column), just as the coronavirus lockdown was beginning, I decided I needed a break from anything too contemporary, and to watch something “historical” for entertainment. I picked re-watching World Without End, the mini-series based on the novel by Kenneth Follett.

I wound up laughing at myself. It had been almost ten years since I had read the novel, and seven or eight since I watched the series. I had forgotten that a large part of the story deals with how the principal characters dealt with the Bubonic Plague of the mid 1300s.

Book Review: The Zero Blessing by Chris Nuttall

I read more science fiction than fantasy, but my family has seen all of the Harry Potter books more than once. The Zero Blessing has echoes of Harry Potter, but it is very different from the main characters to the world-building to the central plot.

The Paranoid Squint of Tim Powers

Tim Powers is my literary hero. He creates secret histories in which historical events are “explained” through fictional embellishments which completely alter history’s meaning. Secret histories have been written by Alexandre Dumas, Gore Vidal, Umberto Eco, and they are especially associated with genre writers like Elizabeth Bear, Steve Berry, and above all, Tim Powers.

Powers’ approach is rigorous. He never allows his fiction to contradict any known historical fact (and he knows a lot). He does, however, allow his fictional additions to make full use of magical and science fictional elements.

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