hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Archive for February, 2016

A Review of The Game

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 29, 2016

The GameThe Game by Ken Dryden
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Boy, I don’t get it. I really don’t. I’m sure I’ll take some criticism for saying this, but I just don’t understand why Ken Dryden’s The Game is considered by most to be the best hockey book ever written and by Sports Illustrated to be one of the greatest sports books ever written. Hell, I hardly read anything about sports in it! Geez, it’s about Dryden’s family, law school, desire and efforts to pass his bar exams, his disillusionment and boredom with hockey and intense desire to retire after a measly eight seasons when truly great players like Jaromir Jagr play through age 44 and beyond, or the great Gordie Howe until age 52. Dryden is so uninspiring a player and so uninspiring and dull a person that I have no idea how he accomplished the few, puny things he accomplished in his pathetically few years in the league. Most of my favorite players have played 10, 12, 15, 18 years in the league. Eight years? And he’s considered one of the best ever? By whom? What the hell did he do that was so damn great??? I know he helped Montreal win five Stanley Cups in eight years. While impressive, that’s a team accomplishment and by his own admission, he was surrounded by all stars, superstars even, so I don’t know how much he contributed. He did win at least three Vezina Trophies for best goalie, which says something, but even then, he levels criticisms at himself in this book that make you wonder how the hell he won the damn things. He apparently split time with another goalie. He got lit up repeatedly by opposing players. Was he really a money player? Hard to tell from this book. I don’t know. I do know that he didn’t seem to have much of a passion for the game, something he basically admits from the beginning. Hardly cared at all for it. Oh sure, like every Canadian kid, he said he liked to play every day growing up, but unlike every other Canadian kid, he didn’t even grow up playing ICE hockey! He played TENNIS BALL hockey in his back yard! Excuse me, but WTF? Seriously? And this guy didn’t go into the juniors. Instead, he went to an American college, which was highly unusual at the time. Why? I don’t know why. And this is the reason. I didn’t even make it a full 100 pages into the book before I became so disgusted with this wimp of a man, this pathetic excuse for an athlete and a human being that I gave up on this autobiography and am left wondering why this has a 4.09 rating on Goodreads and why I have read all of these five star reviews. Who are these reviewers? Why are they so impressed with this book? I don’t get it. I mean, who plays eight years when they are allegedly at the top of their game and part of a dynasty. He writes that he could see the wheels coming off the Montreal dynasty his last year, so basically he bailed on the team rather than sail through rough waters. Like a real champ. What a winner. Would definitely want him in my foxhole. Like hell, I would! This book was boring, there are hardly anything at all about his games or specific games or anything very sports-specific (although there was insightful analysis of his old coach, Scotty Bowman, that was actually good), it was depressing, it was cold, it felt dead, and I hated it with a passion, perhaps as much as I’ve hated any bio I’ve ever read. I can’t tell you how putrid I think this book is and how unimpressed I am with Ken Dryden the man. Dryden, the player, was a few years before my time, so I can’t say anything about him in that respect. If you want to be impressed with a book’s good reputation, I suppose you could invest in this, but I sure wouldn’t waste my time. Most definitely not recommended under any circumstances!

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A Review of The End of Eternity

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 26, 2016

The End of EternityThe End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m just going to say it: aside from a few select novels and stories, Asimov annoys the hell out of me and is, I think, one of science fiction’s most overrated authors ever. There! Start stoning me now. I’m prepared. I know I have blasphemed. I have read a hell of a lot of Asimov, including all of the Foundation novels and all of the Robot novels, including the extra Robot-inspired books, as well as other books, and I’m always astonished – and always mentioning in my reviews – at what a below average writer I think Asimov was, particularly as a young writer. He barely knew grammatical rules, such as how to use transitions. He knew practically nothing about character development, little about plot development, and wrote the absolute worst dialogue of any type of literature of any author I have ever read anywhere, and I have read tens of thousands of books over the course of my life! The WORST dialogue ever! I’m not joking. The most wooden, stilted, unconvincing, academic, formal, boring, inauthentic excuse for dialogue I’ve ever seen in any novel form anywhere. I have three college degrees and have 13 years of university study. I’ve published 15 books of my own. My own poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and criticism have appeared in magazines, newspapers, zines, peer reviewed journals, online magazines and journals, and elsewhere in hundreds and hundreds of sources in dozens of countries in numerous languages and one of my books was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. I have taught literature and writing at three universities and colleges. I feel like I have some credentials. I feel confident when I say that I feel that there are literally dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of science fiction writers who are better writers and perhaps even scientifically superior to Asimov. His legacy is vastly inflated. But that’s my opinion, and as has been pointed out regularly in my negative reviews of his books, my opinion is worth shit regarding his books.

All that said, I’m going to skip the main synopsis of this book, other than to say it’s about time travel and is fairly innovative, especially for such an early time travel book, having been published in 1955. Pretty original, and I appreciated that. What I want to point out instead is something that I’ve pointed out for some previous books and something that several other reviewers have pointed out for this book, although to my total shock, not very many people at all. Asimov, the total misogynistic pig, is in top form in creating one female character in this book whose primary purpose is to be the sexual crush and ultimate seducer (because, after all, she IS a female, and that’s what they do to good men, right?) of our brave and good protagonist, Andrew Harlan, the Eternal. The beautiful, non-Eternal, Noys Lambent, a secretary or assistant of some sort, because after all, that’s what women do, aside from the scientist in I, Robot, creates a conflict with Andrew because women aren’t supposed to be part of the good old boy’s club in Eternity, his world, meaning he’s never gotten laid, I guess, so when she makes herself available on her world to him, he goes for it, initially feeling a little guilty, then goes for it with gusto and is drawn into her sinful female web, allowing Eternity to possibly be destroyed. Nice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Asimov write entire novels with either no female characters or just one or two minor background characters who comb their hair in their bedrooms (Foundation, anyone?). Sometimes there’s a more major female character, but they’re either helpless and dependent on a strong male lead (robot novels) or are seductresses (robot novels). To Asimov, women are evil and/or dangerous. Yet somehow he was married. Was he merely a product of his times, was he secretly gay, or was he a stereotypical engineering/science nerd who was an academic social misfit, scared to death of females, yet strangely married to one? Or none of the above? Why did he hate women so much? Yet why in his later books, like the Prelude to Foundation books, did he write in strong female characters? Did he actually grow with the times? Did his attitudes actually change? Maybe they did. Maybe there was hope. Maybe he was a 1940s/50s-era misogynistic product of his time who didn’t know any better than the Nuclear Era Virgin/Whore Syndrome and who wrote that into his novels. If so, fairly pathetic and that goes to show what a weak writer he truly was, backing up my original claim. But then, he wouldn’t have been the only one, so fair’s fair, I suppose.

In any event, I’m one of the very few to level this accusation against him regarding this or any book. The critics seem evenly split between genders, while the five star fans also seem evenly split between genders. In other words, just as many women love this book as men and apparently most women have no problems with him writing his only female character into the book as a stereotypical seductress whore intent upon making a male protagonist trip up and destroy Eternity. Apparently, women readers have no problems with this. While I find that astonishing, again, I am in the vast minority. I want to give this book a low rating, but at the same time, it was highly original, so that deserves a higher rating, so in fairness, I’m going to compromise and give it three stars. I think that’s a fair rating, given my criticisms versus its originality. Recommended for early sci fi time travel originality. Not recommended for fine quality literature.

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A Review of Better To Beg Forgiveness

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 23, 2016

Better to Beg ForgivenessBetter to Beg Forgiveness by Michael Z. Williamson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Better To Beg Forgiveness is a mess because the author is a loser. Not only a bad writer with suspect military credentials, but a hate-filled agenda where everyone is to be mistrusted, from the UN to the military chain of command to the regular army to the police to civilians in general and so on. In fact, this book is something like Somalia in space. The featureless bad guys are called “skinnies.” I thought I was watching Black Hawk Down. Hey, this book was published in 2007. Somalia was long over by then. Which begs the next question. Why does the author use the phrase “property stealing communists” to describe some people? That’s even more out of date. Um, right wing much, Williamson? Watch a lot of Fox News? Are you sure your name isn’t John Ringo?

The only “science fiction” aspect to this book is the action takes place on another planet and the mercenaries have to travel through space to get there. How they accomplish that really isn’t described. Of course not. It’s only sci fi. Is it a spaceship? A flying saucer? A rocket? How the hell do they get there, Williamson? Otherwise, they ride in Volvos, shoot H&K guns and AKs, use regular explosive devices, etc. Where’s the “science fiction” in that scenario? What exactly is sci fi about this book? Frankly, this book is a fraud and it’s utter bullshit! To make matters worse, the author is so caught up in detail and in proving that ex-military contractors are “obviously” superior to military, regular army, police, etc., that he spends what seems like about 15 pages having his team execute a ballet-like dance of epic proportions in guarding their principle as he walks from his building to his vehicle, while they move in carefully choreographed steps, two at a time, each moving up to replace the next. It’s fucking beautiful, man. I bet he could fill a 900-page book with just these descriptions. Shit. What a pile of horseshit.

I got about 100 pages into this book and found that I just couldn’t get into it, obviously, no matter how much I tried. I like mercenary books. I love sci fi. I like huge odds. I hate stupidity and boredom and this book has plenty of that. I also hate feeling like I’m being manipulated by some right wing, Fox loving asshat with a political agenda for no good reason, ie, not to advance the story line. Don’t misunderstand. Sure, I’m a liberal, but I’m a gun loving liberal and that’s not an oxymoron. My wife and I are Democratic voters who own lots of guns and like to go to the range, etc. We just don’t like Fox News and the ilk who preach its gospel. So sure, I could have given this book more of a chance, but why? One hundred pages is more than enough to sell me on a book. If you haven’t done it by then, that’s all you get – I’m moving on to something better. If I want good military sci fi, I’ll read David Weber or Chris Bunch. As for me, Michael Z. Williamson will be permanently avoided from here on out. Lousy writer.

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A Review of Brother Number One

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 18, 2016

Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol PotBrother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot by David P. Chandler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first “review” I read when I came across reviews for Brother Number One was one by “Annie,” which stated, “More objective, non-sensational and honest than than ‘Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare’.” Funny, having finished both books now, I couldn’t agree with that statement less. I’ll get to the Nightmare book in another review (I think it’s an excellent book), but Brother Number One is for this one. It’s an interesting book. Since this is the “political biography of Pol Pot,” a mysterious man who I have wanted to know something of for quite some time, I thought this book would help me. And in a way, it did. But only in a way. For this book was published in 1992, five years before Pol’s death in 1997. It’s therefore an incomplete work. Moreover, and more importantly by far, the author claims that the subject is so very mysterious and so little is known about him and he has hidden himself in shrouds of mystery, at times for many years at a time, that it’s impossible to know anything of his whereabouts for years at a time. So that gives the author free reign to speculate as much as he wants, and boy, does he do that. First, he includes everything he possibly can about Pol’s, or Saloth Sar – as he was known most of his life – upbringing, including his childhood in a country village, to his upbringing with a brother and other relatives in the king’s palace, essentially, to his French education, first in Cambodia, then later as an elite student, in Paris where he became a communist, most likely around 1951. We learn of his return to Cambodia in the mid-50s, his rise in the Indochinese Communist Party, his helping to form the Cambodian Communist Party in 1960, his dealings with the Vietnamese, whom he needed yet always resented, his dealings with the Chinese, his resentment toward the French, toward the Cambodian monarchy, toward the US, his paranoia, his marriage, etc. But whole years are eliminated in this book. His whereabouts are claimed to be unknown. But that doesn’t stop the author, who begins numerous sentences with things such as, “It would be interesting to suppose,” or “One might assume,” or “It might be possible to guess,” etc, et al. If I had a dollar for every time the author speculates about Pol’s thoughts, feelings, or motives, I would be a wealthy man. Because that is all the author can do. He can only guess. There is very little recorded documentation at all, anywhere. The Vietnamese have some. The Chinese have some. Pol conducted some interviews in the late 1970s. Other than that, little accounts for the 1950s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s.

The author relies on numerous interviews for this book, but I’m assuming, as he often does, as Pol was still alive while the book was being written, that so many interviewees were aware of that fact and were scared to death of him, that few of them were willing to share many details of him or say many negative things about him. For instance, many of his secondary and college classmates were interviewed. He was known as a mediocre student, at best, but seemed to be liked by most. He had a pleasant smile, a decent laugh, and people differ on his effect on people and groups. Some say he had no influence on the Parisian communist groups, while others say he played a leading role. As a teacher in the 1950s, even though he never came close to completing his degree, he was known as a wise and good teacher, patient, well spoken, thoughtful, etc. The image doesn’t jibe with the genocidal maniac of the 1970s.

In fact, it’s hard to reconcile any image of him, pre-1970 or so, until 1975 really, when he started coming out of the woodworks and into the public eye. When he became public circa 1976, it was a shocker. No one knew who he was. He was alleged to have been a rubber plantation worked named “Pol Pot,” but when former colleagues saw him on TV making speeches, they knew at once he was Saloth Sar, the former teacher, childhood friend of the king and themselves, and they were shocked. How could this kind, good man be their new revolutionary prime minister, responsible for the deaths of a half a million people in the civil war which had just ended in 1975, and unbeknownst to anyone, about to become responsible for the deaths of one and a half million people in a probable genocide of epic proportions over the next three years? That’s over one fifth of the country’s population. Yes, Mao and Stalin killed many more people, but there were many, many more people to kill from. They didn’t kill one fifth of their country’s population. So, this was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

And the sweeping changes. Doing away with money. I mean, what the hell??? Emptying the cities? Seriously? Driving everyone out into the countryside, no matter where you were from or where your relatives were. Who cared if you lived or died? No one. Least of all the 12 and 13-year old Khmer Rouge soldiers. Illiterate peasant boys who couldn’t even read passports that were expected to be presented at all times. It was insane. Doing away with virtually all exports except for rice, and then if/when the rice crop fell through, what the hell happens to your country then? And the “base” people versus the “new” people. If you weren’t fighting with the revolutionaries when they “liberated” Cambodia in 1975, you were a “new” person, meaning you weren’t one of them, meaning you were an enemy combatant. Even if you were a peasant refugee who had merely fled to the city to escape the countryside fighting and had no irons in the fire one way or the other. You were the enemy.

S-21. It was the torture/interrogation center. Every communist regime has one, right? Hell, every regime of any sort has one. We have Guantanamo. The French had theirs too. S-21 was a former school. Over 20,000 people were processed through there in the three plus years it existed. Unless my facts have gotten jumbled up, and they may have, only about a half dozen people survived. All were tortured extensively, confessions of up to thousands of pages extracted, and all were killed, most brutally. The confessions typically said the person was a CIA agent, a KGB agent, and a Vietnamese agent. That the likelihood of one Cambodian person being all three, let alone any of these, was absurd as hell appeared to not have sunk in to Pol Pot and his colleagues. It made perfect sense to them that the Russians, their Vietnamese protégés, and the US, whom the Khmer Rouge believed they had defeated militarily in 1975 and who they thought had it out for them and was willing to work with its adversaries, would all be working together. Insanity sees reason everywhere.

This book is only 250 pages long, less than half as long as Nightmare is. It’s not nearly as detailed or in depth. It’s not nearly as well researched nor as well written. It relies far too extensively on speculation; at least 70% of the book is nothing but speculation. But as an introduction to Pol Pot, it’s an interesting book. I would suggest that, if it’s read, it’s read with this information in mind and then one would immediately read something more recent, ideally written after Pol’s death, such as Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare, which as I said, I think is an excellent book and which I hope to review soon. It relies on speculation almost not at all. One of the things that struck me most about Pol, the man, was that in one of these books, and I can’t remember which, sorry, he was asked if he knew how many people his administration was responsible for killing after he had been deposed. His answer was somewhere between several hundred and several thousand and that was because he had been kept out of the loop, or it would have been fewer than that. Stunning, really. Interesting to know if he really believed that or not. Somehow I doubt it. But there does seem to be evidence that he was actually kept out of the loop on a lot of the executions and that many of the “zones” were self sufficient and didn’t really report much back to headquarters and communications were so bad that it could take weeks or more to communicate by messenger, so by that time, things would have happened with or without permission. So things happened. How much was due to Pol? I guess we’ll never know. Of course, since Pol set the tone, ultimately it was all his responsibility. Everything and everyone was ultimately under his control. Anyone who displeased him was purged. He had complete control. Virtually all of his old communist colleagues from Paris and the old days in early communist Cambodia were purged to ensure his power. So, if he thought anyone were abusing their authority by acting genocidal without his permission, he could have done something about it. And he didn’t. So, obviously, the buck stopped with him.

So, I could go on and on, obviously. But I won’t. I’ve got to save some stuff to say for my next Pol Pot book. I learned a lot about a bizarre, incredibly secretive, insane man, responsible for the deaths of millions of people. It was surreal to read about, because this occurred during my lifetime and I remember a great deal of this, although of course not personally, obviously. The book itself is interesting, but for reasons already mentioned, not very good. Even though the author probably tried hard, he didn’t try hard enough. It’s probably a two star book at best, but I believe I’m going to give it three stars for effort because it’s one of the early Pol Pot books and it did make an impact of Pol Pot research, so that’s worth something. Still, it can’t be relied upon on its own. It’s not that trustworthy. It’s got to be supplemented by something more current in its research, so keep that in mind. I’m really not sure that I can recommend it. I can suggest reading it if interested in the subject matter, but only if you intend to read more than one source on the subject. If you intend to read only one book on Pol Pot, don’t let this be that source. It’s not reliable enough.

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A Review of Chris Bunch’s The Gangster Conspiracy

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 17, 2016

Chris Bunch's The Gangster Conspiracy: A Star Risk, Ltd., NovelChris Bunch’s The Gangster Conspiracy: A Star Risk, Ltd., Novel by Steve Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chris Bunch’s Star Risk, Ltd mercenary team is back and all I can say is, Thank God! After Bunch died in 2005 after publishing his fourth and presumably final Star Risk novel, it was a tough pill to swallow, apparently for a lot of people, so esteemed sci fi vet Steve Perry and his son Dal stepped up to the plate to write a fifth in the series in Bunch’s style and they did a damn good job, in my opinion. I think they did Bunch proud. I’m not sure I would say this is the best Star Risk book, of course, but this fits in well with the series and certainly doesn’t do a disservice to the name at all.

The book centers around the mercenary team dragging itself back together after being demolished by a huge competitor in the preceding book and wondering how they’re going to get jobs and pay the bills, just when someone walks through the door offering them a job! He’s someone named the Reverend Josiah Williams from the Artegal System, with several planets in it, and he’s representing the system’s workers, who are being screwed by the system and want to go on strike, but are being strong armed by the government into not going on strike by other mercenary outfits and strong arm tactics, and Williams and his people are desperate. And willing to pay. And he dangles a one million dollar check in front of the Star Risk team. Who eagerly accept the job. Hey, they’ve got bills. And they are immediately, right then and there, attacked in their own new, secret headquarters and are forced to defend themselves with lethal consequences for their attackers. Things are serious.

Soon, they’re on their way to the Artegal System. There are four planets and five of them in Star Risk. They figure out an attack plan and begin their “assault.” The weak link is an underboss named Makko. They begin with some of his nightclubs and his alcohol supply, as well as some of his men, most of whom go poof. Makko gets worried. His boss doesn’t like things like this happening. When things like this happen without resolutions, people go poof. Since his right hand man has died, somehow, he appoints a new man who has figured out some things. He has figured out Williams is probably behind things and he killed him, stupidly. Makko’s boss, Susa, isn’t very happy about that. He wanted to know who was behind what was going on in the system, because other mysterious things are happening too. Makko has to make amends.

Meanwhile, now that Williams is dead, Star Risk ponders ending the contract since the person behind it no longer lives. However, someone else steps in – Williams’ son, Joe. I think this is one of the weak links of the book. They have been estranged for decades. Joe is a billionaire through a casino business and has had nothing to do with Williams. They can’t stand each other and haven’t spoken in decades. But he’s heard of his father’s death and wants it avenged and is willing to pay any price to see it through. So, he spends tens of millions of dollars, including over five million to Star Risk and over five million to buy a dilapidated casino and much more to fix it up in order to establish a “legitimate” business front in order to help find those responsible for his father’s death. But would someone who didn’t even care about his father’s existence for 30 years really spend $10-20 million to avenge his death? It seems highly unlikely to me. But then, what do I know of such motivations? I guess it’s possible. At least, in the fictional world of Steve Perry, it’s possible.

Joe dies in a shootout with Makko’s new right hand man and his henchmen and Makko is beside himself. He knows Susa will kill him. Meanwhile, the Star Risk personnel are mega-pissed. It’s now personal. Two of their clients are dead, one of whom had become a friend. It’s bad for business. They’re going to get both Makko and Susa. But how? Both are closely guarded with over 100 armed guards. Well, where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

I won’t spill the details. You’ll need to read the book yourselves. Even though this is the fifth book in the series, unlike other series’, this can be read as a standalone book. You don’t need to have read the previous four books to enjoy and understand this book, so if you’re interested, find this book and read it. It’s a pretty good and an enjoyable read with lots of good action. I’m not convinced it’s a five star book, even though I’d like to give it five stars. I can’t just give out five stars to every book I like just because I like them. Five star books truly have to stand out. This book is very good, but I’m not sure it truly stands out. That said, I think it’s a very solid four star book at minimum. Steve Perry and his son would make Chris Bunch proud, I’m sure, and they sure made me happy in writing another Star Risk book. I just wish they had continued to carry on the tradition and had written a few more. Twas not to be, I guess. Oh well. Good, fun book. Quick read, enjoyable. Good action. Definitely recommended.

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A Review of The Stars, Like Dust

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 16, 2016

The Stars, Like Dust (Galactic Empire, #1)The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve been saying for a long time that I don’t understand why Asimov deserves his gigantic reputation. If one dares make such a comment publicly, they are practically beaten to a pulp by his legions of fans. Don’t get me wrong – he had some good ideas and wrote some decent books that I’ve enjoyed, but he was never a GOOD writer. When he was young, he didn’t even know what basic grammatical things like “transitions” were, he barely knew about writing character development, and while he obviously worked on this his whole career, I think one of his real weaknesses was his complete inability to write realistic dialogue. His dialogue always came off to me as stilted and wooden, as though the protagonist were an overly aggressive frustrated male (usually) Ivy League engineer or scientist who had no social skills and who, frankly, wasn’t very scientifically advanced. Honestly, in Foundation, set over 20,000 years in the future, the main character at some point goes to the capital home planet/city of the Galactic Empire on a spaceship, having made some “jumps” to get there from Foundation, and immediately opens a paper newspaper. Seriously? Asimov couldn’t imagine a laptop, iPad, smartphone, nothing? Most sci fi writers at least have decent imaginations regarding the future.

Suffice all that to say, I was less than impressed with The Stars, Like Dust. Granted, it WAS apparently his second novel, published in 1951, so you have to cut him some slack for that, and I do, and it did have its moments, but on the whole, it’s pulp sci fi and fairly lame at that. It often reads as though it’s a cross between a Buck Rogers and Star Trek episode. It’s that cheesy.

This story is about one Biron Farrill, who at the book’s beginning, is studying at a university on Earth, when thanks to a colleague named Jonti, he is made aware of a radiation bomb that has been planted in his room. This same person then tells him of his father’s execution by the Tyranni, allegedly for taking part in a rebellion. His father held the highest position on Widemos, as the Rancher. Jonti then convinces Biron to travel to this planet, Rhodia, where his father was killed. Sounds like a good idea at the moment. Apparently, Biron is easily convinced. So, this is where he hears rumors about a rebellion against the Tyranni and it becomes his goal to find the rebel planet. With the aid of the daughter of Rhodia’s ruler and his brother. Her name is Artemisia and, naturally, she’s a hottie, because few women in Asimov’s works would be otherwise. And of course, the two rich kids just might go on to save the day, after naturally falling in love, right? Perfect cheesy sci fi love story. With the CHEESIEST ending to any type of novel I have ever read in my entire life! I have read that Asimov was forced by the publisher to put it in there, and if so, then it wasn’t his fault, but whoever was at fault, it’s bad, bad, bad, and it’s a terrible play at stupid 1950s American patriotism and it makes the book even worse. This book has so much melodrama in it, it’s not funny, and to end it like that, my God!

This book is possibly one of Asimov’s worst. None of the characters are likable, except perhaps the tyrant, if that’s feasible. The character development is nonexistent. The dialogue is putrid. The plot twists and turns too much with a few too many betrayals. The science, per usual with Asimov, is suspect. It’s not his worst effort at prose, nor is it anywhere close to his best. At best this is a three star effort, which I’m knocking down to two stars because of the horrible ending. Not seriously recommended.

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