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The Martian – Book Comment

TheMartianAuthor: Andy Weir

Publisher: Broadway Book, Random House, LLC

Copyright: 2011, 2014, ISBN: [0804139038]

Cover: Erick White, Elizabeth Rendfleisch, NASA

Summary: Fiction, science, mystery. Delightful surprise.

 

If you are the type reader who starts reading a book from the copyright or title page to the end, THE MARTIAN offers everything a reader could possibly want, including a few Old English basic words the Normans thought they had expunged from the language. When we meet Astronaut Mark Watney on page one of the book we are pretty sure he is doomed—he employs some of that Old English to describe the situation. More than just take his word for it, we have the fact that he is keeping a log or diary. We subconsciously equate logs and diaries with doomed, as in death.

Inadvertently abandoned and left alone by fellow crew members, stranded with no way to get home and initially no way to call home, we read with the expectation of a noble death, a miracle, or—please, no hoots—alien contact. By the time we figure out where this novel is going—part of the reason for reading good fiction—we are amazed and enthralled by where Watney has been and where he is most likely going. We realize that not only have we sold the stranded astronaut short, we have sold ourselves short with our and limited circumspect expectations.

THE MARTIAN is one of those books that will survive a couple of generations with obscure references popping up in unexpected times and unexpected contexts.

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Bestial – Book Review

BestialTheSavageTrailofaTrueAmericanAuthor: Harold Schechter

Publisher: Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster Inc.

Copyright: 1998, ISBN: 067132196

Cover: AP/Wide World Photos

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, April 10, 2015

Summary: This could have been a run-of-the-mill book on a serial killer. What makes it exceptional is the writer, Harold Schechter. If Erik Larson is the master of exposing crime immersed within a back drop of great events, Schechter is the master at revealing the commonplace among which extraordinary crime occurs. This book chronicles the twenty-plus murders of Earle Leonard Nelson, the “Gorilla Man”.

 

BESTIAL was published almost twenty years ago. Why review a book that has been in the googlesphere for almost twenty years?

I recently read a Dean Koontz novel, ONE DOOR AWAY FROM HEAVEN. Originally published in 2001, ONE DOOR AWAY FROM HEAVEN and other early Koontz novels are being re-published to get a new audience. Prior to reading Koontz’s ODD THOMAS adventures, I was a Stephen King reader. However, after savoring the oddities of Odd Thomas, I took another read of Koontz. His early work is comprised mostly of adjectives and botanical descriptions of scenery—all the stuff I hate in reading fiction. Seeded throughout all the high fluting and un-necessary verbiage about atmosphere and plants are some entertaining, unusual, and perceptive ideas. Koontz seems to churn out more originality the longer he writes. He has also significantly reduced his use of adjectives–a good thing. Koontz is an originator, King is a synthesizer. But I digress.

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