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westfargomusings

Evolution isn't working fast enough. More dumbasses need to be shot.

Month

March 2016

Status Quo

My review of Mack Reynolds’ Hugo nominated short story Status Quo

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A US Government Agent in Washington, DC, hunts down members of a revolutionary ‘Movement’ that’s responsible for counterfeiting billions in US currency.

Originally published in Analog Magazine August 1961


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Little Fuzzy

My review of H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy

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The chartered Zarathustra Company had it all their way. Their charter was for a Class III uninhabited planet, which Zarathustra was, and it meant they owned the planet lock stock and barrel. They exploited it, developed it and reaped the huge profits from it without interference from the Colonial Government. Then Jack Holloway, a sunstone prospector, appeared on the scene with his family of Fuzzies and the passionate conviction that they were not cute animals but little people.


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Skeleton Dance

My review of Aaron Elkins’ Skeleton Dance

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Les‑Eyzies‑de‑Tayac is known for three things: pâté de fois gras, truffles, and prehistoric remains. The little village, in fact, is the headquarters of the prestigious Institute de Préhistoire, which studies the abundant local fossils. But when a pet dog emerges from a nearby cave carrying parts of a human skeleton—by no means a fossilized one—Chief Inspector Lucien Anatole Joly puts in a call to his old friend, Gideon Oliver, the famed “Skeleton Detective.”
Once Gideon arrives, murder piles on murder, puzzle on puzzle, and twist follows twist in a series of unexpected events that threaten to tear the once sober, dignified Institut apart. It takes a bizarre and startling forensic breakthrough by Gideon to bring to an end a trail of deception thirty‑five thousand years in the making.


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Over inflated much?

So,  a certain author is having kittens over the fact her work ended up on the Sad Puppies IV list. How much of a delusional narcissist are you that you don’t want the wrong people liking what you’ve written? I mean really, if you don’t want people to recommend your writing I suppose they can take you up on that offer and review your work in the context that only the right people dare read it. God forbid it end up on a list that you think is a ‘slate’. For a writer, you don’t seem to know definitions very well. Here, let me help you out on that.

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Well, lookee there. A ‘slate’ is “a list of candidates for nomination or election”. Damn woman, YOU ARE ON A FUCKING SLATE! Hell, you’re on multiple slates. A slate is just a damn list.


EDIT (3-21-16 1911 hrs): The Locus Awards is very much a ‘slate’ of the type she is fearful of. They even used to tout it. “The Locus Awards are presented to winners of Locus Magazine‘s annual readers’ poll, which was established in the early ’70s specifically to provide recommendations and suggestions to Hugo Awards voters.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110612174115/http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/Locus.html


 

Not having read the nominated work I popped over to Amazon to see what it’s like. One of the things that struck me was the suggested retail price of her novella. Both the hard cover and the eBook have the same recommended price.

Overpriced

$40? For a short, 144 page story? Not only no, but mother-fucking-hell-no! I would hesitate to purchase a leather bound copy of something that I actually like for that price. Your publisher is as delusional as you are if you think many people are going to pay full price for a short work like that.

Let’s break this down for easy comprehension. Miss Valente, you have an over inflated ego to think that you can control whether some people like your writing or not. And your publisher is apparently delusional if it thinks it will sell many copies of a novella at such an over inflated price. Get over yourselves before you both end up on the welfare line.

Twenty Blue Devils

My review of Aaron Elkins’ Twenty Blue Devils

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The dead man is the manager of Tahiti’s Paradise Coffee Plantation, producer of the most expensive coffee bean in the world, the winey, luscious Blue Devil. Nothing tangible points to foul play behind his fall from a cliff, but FBI agent John Lau, a relative of the coffee-growing family, has his suspicions. What he needs is evidence, and who better to provide it than his friend, anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the Skeleton Detective? Gideon is willing to help, but surprisingly—and suspiciously—both the police and the other family members refuse to okay an exhumation order. As a result, Gideon, to his surprise and against his better judgment, finds himself sneaking into a graveyard under cover of night with John, a flashlight, and a shovel—not exactly up to the professional standards of the world’s most famous forensic anthropologist, but necessary under the circumstances.

Gideon prefers his bones ancient, dry, and dusty, but the body he must examine had lain in the tropical sun for a week before it was found and then buried native-style—shallow, with no casket—so it is not exactly his . . . well, cup of tea. But it is not the state of the remains that bothers him the most, it is the deeper human ugliness that his examination uncovers: subtle clues that do indeed point to foul play, to mistaken identity, and to a murderous conspiracy that may have percolated through the family for decades—and brewed a taste for murder


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Make No Bones

My review of Aaron Elkins’ Make No Bones

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There is not much left of the irascible Albert Evan Jasper, “dean of American forensic anthropologists,” after his demise in a fiery car crash. But in accord with his wishes, his remains—a few charred bits of bone—are installed in an Oregon museum to create a fascinating if macabre exhibit. All agree that it is a fitting end for a great forensic scientist—until what is left of him disappears in the midst of the biannual meeting (a.k.a., the “bone bash and weenie roast”) of the august WAFA—the Western Association of Forensic Anthropologists—in nearby Bend, Oregon.

Like his fellow attendees, Gideon Oliver—the Skeleton Detective—is baffled. Only the WAFA attendees could possibly have made off with the remains, but who in the world would steal something like that? And why? All had an opportunity, but who had a motive?

Soon enough, the discovery of another body in a nearby shallow grave will bring to the fore a deeper, more urgent mystery, and when one of the current attendees is found dead in his cabin, all hell breaks loose.
Gideon Oliver is now faced with the most difficult challenge of his career—unmasking a dangerous, brilliant killer who knows every bit as much about forensic science as he does. Or almost.


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Icy Clutches

My review of Aaron Elkins’ Icy Clutches

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Gideon Oliver expects to be amicably bored when he takes on the role of “accompanying spouse” at a lodge in the magnificent wild country of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where his forest ranger wife, Julie, is attending a conference. But it turns out to be exactly his cup of tea. There is another group at the lodge: six scientists on a memorial journey to the site of a thirty-year-old glacial avalanche that killed three of their colleagues. Their leader is TV’s most popular science personality, the unctuous M. Audley Tremaine, who is the sole survivor of the fatal avalanche. But he does not survive long and is soon found hanged in his room. If that is not upsetting enough, shocked hikers discover human bones emerging from the foot of the glacier—are they the shattered remains of the three who died, finally seeing daylight after their two-mile, three-decade journey within the glacial flow?

When the FBI seeks expert help, everyone agrees how fortunate it is that Dr. Oliver, the famed Skeleton Detective, is on the scene. Everybody, that is, but the person who wants ancient history to stay that way—and who believes that murder is the surest way to keep the past buried.


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Old Bones

My review of Aaron Elkin’s Old Bones

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Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery novel of the year.

With the roar of thunder and the speed of a galloping horse comes the tide to Mont St. Michel goes the old nursery song. So when the aged patriarch of the du Rocher family falls victim to the perilous tide, even the old man’s family accepts the verdict of accidental drowning. But too quickly, this “accident” is followed by a bizarre discovery in the ancient du Rocher chateau: a human skeleton, wrapped in butcher paper, beneath the old stone flooring. Professor Gideon Oliver, lecturing on forensic anthropology at nearby St. Malo, is asked to examine the bones. He quickly demonstrates why he is known as the “Skeleton Detective,” providing the police with forensic details that lead them to conclude that these are the remains of a Nazi officer believed to have been murdered in the area during the Occupation. Or are they? Gideon himself has his doubts. Then, when another of the current du Rochers dies—this time via cyanide poisoning—his doubts solidify into a single certainty: someone wants old secrets to stay buried . . . and is perfectly willing to eradicate the meddlesome American to make that happen.


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