50BC09: Book Number 51

I kind of forgot to post this one. I think it’s because I spent the better part of the year slowly making my way through it. When I finally finished it, I just placed it back on my shelf, not really registering the fact that, yes, this does count…even if it did take me almost a year to finish it.

This by no means should be taken as indication that it’s not a good book. Quite the opposite, really. Written by Desliu honcho Herb Solow and producer Robert Justman, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story is quite literally the only book you will ever need to read if you want to know the story of how the greatest franchise in television history began. Solow and Justman were involved from Day One, observing and participating and, most importantly, documenting. This is the most thorough history of the original Star Trek series that you can hope to find. It’s also one of the most honest, divulging in healthy portions the truth of what went on when everyone stopped being nice and started being real.

Wait. That’s MTV’s Real World. Never mind.

Seriously, though, this is a wonderful book, even if it will more than likely tarnish the mythology surrounding some of Trek’s stars, Gene Roddenberry included. However, it doesn’t change the fact that this was Roddenberry’s brightest gift to all us Trekkies worldwide. It simply shines light on all the others who had a hand in helping Roddenberry’s dream take root and grow.

I would make one recommendation, however, in reading this book: read Yvonne Fern’s Gene Roddenberry: The Last Conversation first. These two books belong together, dove-tailing in high serendipitous style. Fern captures an essence of Roddenberry that is at turns tender, irascible, irreverent, honest, obfuscating, and ultimately a wonderful and touching final look into the life of the Great Bird of the Galaxy. From there, Solow and Justman’s book will take you right back to the beginning of it all, allowing a completely different view of Roddenberry that at times seems almost antithetical to the man revealed in Fern’s book.

Does this make either book any less true than the other? Not at all. No one person can ever truly be captured in print. And no one person has only one facet or one persona (hell, I’m clocking about five of those at this point). It simply means that these authors all knew Roddenberry at different points in his evolution. I think both these books together provide readers with perhaps the most holistically satisfying take on Roddenberry you can find.

Final score: 5/5. I’d also like to amend my final score for Fern’s book. I guess I was suffering from a case of “I can’t give any book a perfect score” early in this challenge, so I docked her half a point. I can’t think of why I would do that, though, so I’m going to give it back to her. Call it Loba’s Prerogative.

And there you go: 51 books in a year. I’m actually amazed that I pulled this off. I know that I typically read a lot throughout the year…I’ve always got a book or two (or four) on the nightstand with a bookmark in it somewhere, but I never imagined that I could actually read 50 in 52 weeks. Maybe back when I was still in college and reading was not only what I did for fun but what I did for school as well. But not now that I have to contend with big girl things like work.

Will I be doing this challenge again in 2010? I don’t think so. As much as I enjoyed meeting the challenge, as the year wore on I found I was so focused on reading the full 50 that I was choosing books based on their length rather than how interested I was in reading them. I will be keeping track again next year, but this time I think I’m going to be focused more on reading all the books that I own but have never read. So, fewer trips to the library, more trips to my bookshelves. And instead of a 5-point rating system, the final score will be whether I keep the book or donate it to the local thrift store. And there you go…a preview of one of the things to come here at the lair in 2010. You’re welcome 😀

And finally, here is the list of all the books that I read this year. There are quite a few craptacular reads on this list. Luckily, however, there’s far more WIN than FAIL.

  1. 10 Most Beautiful Experiments, by George Johnson (3.5/5)
  2. The Dumbest Generation, by Mark Bauerlein (3/5)
  3. The Memory of Running, by Ron McLarty (4.5/5)
  4. Gene Roddenberry: The Last Conversation, by Yvonne Fern (4.5/5) (5/5)
  5. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman (4.5/5)
  6. The Eyes of the Beholders, by A.C. Crispin (3.5/5)
  7. Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (2.5/5)
  8. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories by Richard Matheson (4.5/5)
  9. Comic Wars, by Dan Raviv (3/5)
  10. It Ain’t All About the Cookin’, by Paula Deen (3/5)
  11. Calculating God, by Robert J. Sawyer (4.5/5)
  12. Walking in Circles Before Lying Down, by Merrill Markoe (3.5/5)
  13. The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British, by Sarah Lyall (4/5)
  14. The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold (4/5 for prose; 3/5 for story)
  15. Captivity, by Debbie Lee Wesselmann (2.5/5)
  16. Resistance, by J.M. Dillard (1.5/5)
  17. The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G. Wells (4/5)
  18. The Last Lecture, by Dr. Randy Pausch (5/5)
  19. One on One, by Tabitha King (2/5)
  20. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (4.5/5)
  21. Golf Monster, by Alice Cooper (4.5/5)
  22. The Stars Like Dust, by Isaac Asimov (2.5/5)
  23. Rapture for the Geeks: When AI Outsmarts IQ, by Richard Dooling (2.5/5)
  24. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (5/5)
  25. The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink (4.5/5)
  26. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer (-5/5)
  27. Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster (5/5)
  28. Avatar, Book One of Two, by S.D. Perry (4.5/5)
  29. Avatar, Book Two of Two, by S.D. Perry (5/5)
  30. Yeah, I Said It, by Wanda Sykes (3.5/5)
  31. Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher (3.5/5)
  32. V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (3/5)
  33. Genesis, by Bernard Beckett (2.5/5)
  34. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick (4/5)
  35. Patient Zero, by Jonathan Maberry (4/5)
  36. Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein (1/5)
  37. A Good and Happy Child, by Justin Evans (3/5)
  38. WWW:Wake, by Robert J. Sawyer (3/5)
  39. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2.5/5)
  40. Shatnerquake, by Jeff Burk (2.5/5)
  41. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov (4/5)
  42. Before Dishonor, by Peter David (Off-The-Scale Horrible)
  43. Button, Button: Uncanny Stories, by Richard Matheson (4/5)
  44. Mosaic, by Jeri Taylor (3.5/5)
  45. Fup, by Jim Dodge (5/5)
  46. This Will All End In Tears, by Joe Ollmann (5/5)
  47. Memories of the Future: Volume One, by Wil Wheaton (5/5)
  48. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (5/5)
  49. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman (5/5)
  50. 13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition, by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer (2.5/5)
  51. Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman (5/5)

And here is my 50BC09 Review Archive, in case you’d like to read (or re-read) my take on almost all the books on this list.

50BC09: Book Number 50

And slipping in on the very last possible day of this challenge, Book Number 50: Nathaniel Lachenmeyer’s 13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition.

I found this book while wandering about in a used bookstore up in Toronto and, being the macabre little minx that I am, I simply had to have it. I guess I’ve always had a bit of a hot/cold relationship with the number 13. Like most southpaws, I embrace this number that most right-handed people shun (although my personal favorite number has always been 9). However, it wasn’t until reading part of this book that it dawned on me that I grew up in a house that had 13 as part of its number. How that slipped by me all this time actually disturbs me a great deal.

Lachenmeyer does his best to explain the mythology of “unlucky 13.” Truth, though, is that there’s really not a whole lot known about it or its evolution as a superstition throughout the centuries. He spends a lot of time hypothesizing about its pagan roots, its Christian roots, its pop culture roots, even its odd fast food roots. There’s discourse about the presence of 13 at Christ’s Last Supper, and how this may have been the reason behind the original superstition about avoiding 13 guests at a dinner. There’s talk about the Knights Templar and about Wicca and about PT Barnum and Oscar Wilde. There’s a section on how filmmakers forever altered the path of the 13 superstition when they changed the name of their horror flick from Long Night at Camp Blood to…Friday the 13th. And let’s not forget the original 13 colonies here in the States or all the instances of 13 on the back of the one dollar bill.

All very interesting. But if you’re a geek like me, you’ve heard or read about most of these things. I did find it interesting to learn about the Thirteen Club, a social club begun in New York in the late 1800s, its members hell-bent on disproving the 13 dinner guests superstition. I suppose you could say they were successful, since I don’t recall ever hearing someone freak out at such an occurrence in my lifetime. Actually, though, not even Friday the 13th has the same power that I remember it having on people when I was a kid. Guess it’s time for some new superstitions…something like if you look into a mirror and say “Skank” five times fast, Paris Hilton will appear behind you with a night vision camera and a roaring case of chlamydia.

Ick.

Final score: 2.5/5. This was an okay read, and I did learn some things about the 13 superstition that I didn’t already know. However, it was very repetitive at times, I guess because there really isn’t that much out there about this superstition. Plus, I was quite surprised and a bit disappointed that Lachenmeyer never once mentions the relationship between lefties and 13, which is an actual phenomenon that many left-handed people acknowledge either believing or at least knowing about. National Lefthanders’ Day is even celebrated on August 13. Sometimes that’s even a Friday. Ooh. Bonus.

So, there you go…but I’m not finished yet. There’s a bonus book review on its way…

50BC09: Book Number 49

And of course the first thing that I write after my big decision…a book review 😉

This was a diversion read, as I am still making my way through a different book. Not that unusual for me, actually. I used to read two or three books at a time. After a while, though, you start to get all muddled about characters and plots and the next thing you know, you’re trying to convince people that you really did read a book in which Major Kira and Frodo tried to save Piggy from the Lord of the Flies.

What?

So Coraline was a Christmas present from my parents. We all watched the movie this summer and loved it, so I decided that I wanted to read the source material. My dad took great joy in informing me that the store clerk had to find the book in the children’s section. Although both the clerk and I explained to him that, though this might theoretically be a children’s book, it most assuredly was not a typical “sugar and spice” type book.

You’d expect nothing less than dark and frightening from the brilliance known as Neil Gaiman.

And what a wonderful story this was! As I already said, I loved the movie based on this book. I think it’s one of the best animated movies I’ve seen in a very long time (“StopMo Rulz!”). I also think that the use of 3-D added a new and welcome dimension (ha! See what I did there?) to an already nicely layered story. However, what’s even better is the fact that you don’t have to watch this in 3-D for it to still be an amazing and captivating film experience. Too bad you can’t say the same thing for all the movies currently out in 3-D.

Hmm.

However, I do know that rarely does a book make it to the screen without major changes. And there are some significant differences between Coraline the book and Coraline the movie. Most notable is the addition of Wybie, the foil/helper/awkward tween crush for Coraline. Nary a sign of him exists in the book and, although I didn’t quite mind him in the movie, I didn’t miss him one bit in the book.

Also, there’s a lovely British flavour to the book that is replaced in the movie by what I would describe as an American brashness. Whereas the book’s inhabitants all have a sense of reserved dignity to them, the Americanized movie characters feel far more in your face and…well, slightly annoying because of it. I do believe I enjoy the English Coraline and Co far more than their American counterparts. There is something to be said for reserve, you bloody Yanks.

Final score: 5/5. Quick, quirky, dark, and deeply satisfying. I’d highly recommend this and its cinematic sibling for anyone who enjoys a bit of Gaiman. Also, Tim Burton fans will devour this story quite greedily, I think.

50BC09: Book Number 48

It’s probably for the best if I stick with something simple for a while. Like book reviews. Although I’m sure you will all be happy to know that Sammy just received his Christmas Eve bath. I think I blasted enough mud and grass out of his wheel wells that I could build my own Smurf village. Yes, I went with the Smurfs.

So, anyway…Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. This was another ImagiFriendTM gift. This is also another graphic novel, although I think it’s more appropriate to call it a graphic memoir, in both the literal and figurative sense of the word.

I’m amazed that two of the most powerful and moving memoirs have come to me in the form of the graphic novel. This, of course, falls as one of the two. The other would be the two-part graphic novel series Maus by Art Spiegelman. Both Bechdel and Spiegelman use the strengths of their artistic skills to bring to life their struggle to understand their fathers, and how the troubles and conflicts of their fathers’ lives carved out their own paths. Whether or not there is a positive lining to these truths is what ultimately Spiegelman and Bechdel are left to struggle with in their own unique ways.

For Bechdel, she is left to wrestle with the memories of her father, an erudite intellectual who invested far more time in the restoration and repair of old homes than he did in the strengthening and sustaining of his own family structure. The title comes from what she and her brothers used to call the family business: a funeral home her father inherited from his father. There are quite a few things going on throughout the telling of this tale, including Bechdel’s realizations about her sexuality and how these revelations become overshadowed by revelations of her father’s own sexuality and the “accident” that ended his life amidst the unraveling of secret sins that Bechdel and her family were left to process after his death.

Bechdel’s art work is gorgeous, clean, and intricate…sharp contrasts to the more primitive and raw imagery of Ollmann’s This Will All End In Tears. Thanks to the journals that she kept throughout her childhood, her storytelling is equally precise and intricate as she plumbs the depths of memory and tries to discover the truth of how her life and her father’s intertwined in such complex and ultimately bittersweet patterns.

Final score: 5/5. Too often I have heard fellow book geeks dismiss graphic novels as undeserving of attention or analysis. To them I say, you are missing some of the most amazing storytelling to come about in modern literature. Don’t let book snobbery keep you from discovering the depth of the materials such as Fun Home.

50BC09: Book Number 47

motfv1

Ha! And you thought I was serious when I said that I wasn’t going to read anymore Trek this year.

Although, to be fair, this isn’t really the same as all those Trek novels I’ve been reading. This is, instead, more of a memoir of dorkery, a love note to the video documentation of a geek’s life at its most delicate, impressionable, vulnerable stages.

I mean, think about it…puberty is a bitch anyway. But here we have Mr. Wil Wheaton, being ravished by the puberty fairies on a nationally syndicated show, playing what would become one of the most reviled recurring characters in Star Trek history. Though, as we learn through Memories of the Future: Volume One, not completely his fault (though he does admit that he was a bit of a teen on the set…but really, weren’t we all?).

Wesley Crusher was written by people who apparently have no memories of their own adolescence. Either that, or they were some of the most abused nerds in the herd…which one would assume would make them a bit more sympathetic to our beloved Boy Wonder. Instead, they wrote him to be anything but sympathetic. I confess to embracing with open arms the “Shut Up, Wesley” crowd. I didn’t think he was at all deserving of such a cool mom.

As I’ve already written numerous times since, however, I have moved beyond that pettiness. I embrace Wil Wheaton in all his geeky glory. I’m not even miffed anymore that this volume of MotF is only on the first half of the first season. Wil is a self-published author now, which means he’s making his way all on his own. And as Cheers taught us so well, “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.”

I’ll stop now since I’ve already blathered on about this book once before…before I even read it! The force is strong in this one.

Final score: 5/5. They’re pure fun, these memories of the future. If you’re willing to let go of past hatred for Wesley Crusher and embrace some honest and honestly funny reviews of that hella bad first season of TNG, then this is the book of choice for you, my geeky denizens.

And, just because I did this last time I talked about MotF, here’s another image from Wil’s Flickr account. It’s so wrong…so very, very wrong. But, strangely, it fits with my previous post, “Full of Evil Clowns.” I love serendipity…

[Loba Edit: Thanks to Marius for being the first to point out that I failed to finish my own blog entry. D’oh!]

50BC09: Book Number 46

endintears

Blame Canada for this one, denizens. More precisely, blame one of my awesome Canadian ImagiFriendsTM.

“Blame” seems like too harsh a word, however. How about “thank”? Or, even better, “praise”? Yes, praise. Let us now praise my lovely Canadienne ImagiFriendTM, who bestowed her own copy of Joe Ollmann’s This Will All End In Tears to me upon our first meeting (of hopefully many).

You know the meaning of the word “serendipity”? No? Well, here: “The faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.”

This book was a gift of serendipity from a serendipitous friendship. It is a graphic novel that comprises five tales of emotional variances: “Big Boned,” “Day Old,” “Oh Deer,” “They Filmed a Movie Here Once,” and “Hanging Over.”

There is something beautifully fractured in each of these stories, something fragile that you recognize instantly as a part of yourself, drawn out there for you in black and white and all those glorious shades of gray (grey?). The final story in particular crept under my skin where it resides still. Aspects of it hit a nerve that left me quite discomfited…as good writing is apt to do.

Plus, how do you not love a book that includes a graphic depiction of someone accidentally ripping the front legs off a deer carcass?

Even better? This is the book that I proudly pulled out of my backpack and started to read in front of the woman I shamed into hiding her copy of New Moon. Yeah, that’s right! This is what a real book looks like!

Final score: 5/5. There wasn’t a moment while reading this that I wasn’t completely entertained. The title has now also become one of my favorite things to say at work…particularly at the beginning of staff meetings. Bonus 🙂

50BC09: Book Number 45

fup

Two Book Challenge entries in one day? Such a treat!

Jim Dodge’s Fup was more of a novella, actually, that I finished in one sitting. But what a glorious novella it was! I don’t know how else to describe it other than to call it a “guy’s story.” That doesn’t mean that I think it’s meant only for guys to read or that women can’t enjoy it. I simply mean that there is something so intrinsically…male…about the story. It’s sort of how I felt after I finished Terry Kay’s To Dance With the White Dog, which is one of my all-time favorite novels.

Both of these books depict male protagonists that are…guys. There’s no better way to describe them. They’re not necessarily machismo. On the contrary, they’re well into their twilight years. They’re curmudgeonly. They swear. They’re set in their ways. But they love in their own ways. They laugh. They’re sharp and wiry, doddering and belligerent. Colorful, kind and a swirl of so many other things that can only be summed up with…they’re guys. Most wonderfully, awesomely, honestly intricately, simply…guys.

I don’t know if I’ve properly captured what I’m aiming for here, except to say that both Kay and Dodge captured the essence of their male characters in a way that lacks any form of falsehood or false aim. They both hit their marks with perfect precision. These are characters worthy of love, but who would grouse or curse at the mere thought of being recipients of such attention.

In Fup, we meet Grandpa Jake, his grandson Tiny, and the little duckling they discover and raise. The little duckling that Grandpa Jake christens “Fup Duck.” As in ” fupped uck,” a spoonerism of “fucked up.” So if you were thinking at first that this was going to be a schmaltzy story based on that first sentence, you now know you missed the mark. It’s not syrupy, but it is a sweet story with an ending that, for all its strangeness and abruptness, seemed quite satisfactory once I processed it for a while.

This story also has a bit of an odd personal history to it.

I discovered the novella about 3 years ago, during one of my infamous Amazon.com perambulations and added it to my wish list for reasons that still elude me. It’s a story about a duck. I love animals, but I’ve never had any particular fondness for birds. Something about the description and the sample pages drew me in, however, and so Fup found a home on my list.

Fup later found its way to my front door as a birthday gift from my generous friend, Z. Fup languished for a while in my book backlog, unfortunately. However, it always remained on my nightstand, patiently awaiting its turn.

A few months ago, I went to my parents’ house to help sort through some of my grandparents’ belongings. There were a lot of books. I do come by it honestly, after all. Among all the books on war, history, gardening, philosophy, and religion…thin and small and unassuming sat Fup.

My grandmother owned a copy of this book. A book that no one else has ever recognized when I’ve told them about it. A book that I would have never heard of either, except I stumbled upon it accidentally while poking around on Amazon one day.

I picked up my grandmother’s copy and flipped through it, discovering as I did that she had written on a few pages, her distinctive script immediately recognizable. She’d also left a leaf inserted among the pages, maybe as a bookmark? I don’t know.

I brought home my grandmother’s copy and decided that this was reason enough to finally find out the story of Fup Duck. Z, I hope you don’t mind, but I read her copy rather than the one you bought me. I just needed to read something that I knew she once read. Something she annotated. Something we both shared without even realizing it. Both copies, however, have now found their way onto a bookshelf, right next to my copy of To Dance With the White Dog.

Final score: 5/5. This was a rare gem, indeed, made even more special by the familial connection recently discovered. I foresee I will be revisiting this one many times.

50BC09: Book Number 44

mosaic

I think this might be my last Trek novel of the year.

Wait, before you all start reading into what that means in regard to this novel, let me say simply that I make this decision based on my recent review of the books I have read this year.

Damn but I’m a dork.

I have read so much science fiction and horror this year. I know that I own other books. I see them sitting around the house in their random piles, patiently waiting for me to pick them up, dust them off, and jump into them with the same fervor and passion I reserve for what are obviously my favorite genres. When it comes down to it, though, when I’m faced with choosing between a book that doesn’t have Kathryn Janeway on the cover and one that does…well, guess which one the dork is going to pick?

So why stop now? Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’m just saying that for the moment…but come tomorrow, I’ll be sorting through my stacks of books, looking to pick up on those DS9 “eighth season” novels. I do need to consider, however, that if I take up this challenge again next year, I should probably focus on expanding my book choices. You know, get back to me English major roots, what?

However, I needed to end on a better note than the teeth-rattling screech of Before Dishonor. I also needed to read a novel that would restore some dignity to the Voyager character eviscerated by Peter David, who apparently harbors a deep well of hatred in his soul toward Voyager and her former captain.

So I come here now, not to berate Voyager, but to praise a novel based on the life of its captain. Well, sort of praise it. Truth be told, I think that Jeri Taylor’s Mosaic would have been better if it had been written as a straightforward “biography” of Kathryn Janeway. Instead, Taylor alternated between events from Janeway’s past that would lead her to the captain’s chair and a rather dull current plot involving her Voyager crew.

Taylor, who started out in the Trek family as a screenwriter of some absolutely amazing TNG episodes (“The Wounded,” “The Drumhead,” “The Outcast”), was one of the three co-creators of Voyager, with Michael Piller and Rick Berman. She was also the primary voice influencing the creation and development of Elizabeth Nicole Kathryn Janeway.

Yes, I do indeed have mixed emotions about this last statement.

That being said, it should come as no surprise that she would be the one tasked with writing a novel about Janeway. It should also come as no surprise that, of all the myriad Trek novels ever written about any of the series, this and one other Voyager novel, Pathways, (also written by Taylor), are the only two ever considered by writers and creators to be canon. I was quite surprised, in fact, when I realized that there was so much within this novel that the writers actually did utilize in later episodes of the show.

There was also quite a bit that never made it into the show, which I think was unfortunate. It was information that really would have added complexity and sensibility to Janeway…two things that every single one of the Voyager characters desperately needed more of. In this regard, then, I view this book with the same level of irritation that I view those ridiculous expository comic books that came out in tandem with the new Star Trek movie. If you can’t figure out how to work this information into the story you’re telling on the screen, then you’re too incompetent to be telling the story in the first place. So please pass it off to someone with a modicum of talent before you ruin the franchise.

Oh, but wait…

Anyway, back to the novel. There’s really not much else to say about it though. It’s all about Janeway. I love Janeway for one of the reasons why I love Dr. Crusher: for the amazing potential that was there, just waiting to be tapped. Janeway could have been my favorite captain if she’d been developed properly, given a stable, rich personality rather than the spotty, somewhat bipolar personality she inherited from the show’s revolving cavalcade of writers. She needed someone to champion her.

That champion was supposed to be Jeri Taylor. From what I read in this novel, she very well could have made Janeway into so much more. It’s a shame that she didn’t.

Final score: 3.5/5. The present-day Voyager plot laced throughout this novel really irritates me, but I think that the moments from Janeway’s past were quite enjoyable. All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours (which is another reason why I love Trek novels…so easy and quick to read!).

50BC09: Book Number 43

buttonmath

There may be a balm in Gilead, but nothing is more soothing for the disappointed geekling’s soul than Richard Matheson.

I should have chosen this book for Number 42, as I have been known to believe that Matheson is indeed the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But life is about moving forward, and what better way to brighten the spirits than by reading some excellent Matheson short stories, most of which I’d never read before?

This particular anthology, Button, Button: Uncanny Stories, received recent renewed attention based on the release of The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. This movie is supposedly based on or inspired by the eponymous story of this anthology. I have no idea how true or even how good this latest attempt by Hollywood was at bringing Matheson to the big screen as I didn’t bother to check out this movie. By how quickly it was pulled from the theaters here, I think it’s safe to assume I wasn’t alone in this decision.

It’s a shame, really, since “Button, Button” is a delightfully dark short story with such a satisfyingly macabre ending. Actually, there were several such stories in this anthology, including my second favorite, “No Such Thing as a Vampire.” The collection, however, does start to lose steam toward the end. I think the last excellent story is “Pattern of Survival,” which is very brief but packs quite a bit of weight in its sparse existence. I read it three times in a row because of how much I enjoyed the strange, surreal nuances. It doesn’t seem to be a very popular story, though, so I might be alone in my enjoyment of this one.

This is my second visit to the land of Matheson this year. My previous visit was his Nightmare at 20,000 Feet anthology, which I’d rate as even better than this collection. The titular story is probably one of his most famous pieces as it became one of the most famous episodes of the original Twilight Zone.

Hmm, I was just getting ready to launch into a list of all the other wonderful things Matheson has written, but there’s simply too much to list with any sort of brevity. Check out his IMDb page to see just how proliferate this amazing writer has been throughout his career. I’m willing to bet you’ll find several things you recognize and hopefully love as much as I do.

Final score: 4/5. Half a point less than my last anthology based on the weakness of the final stories, which are still better than a lot of today’s writers at their strongest. If you listen to anything I’ve said so far in my book reviews this year, hear me now and believe me later on this one: Read Richard Matheson. You will not regret it.

50BC09: Book Number 42

beforedishonor

Ah, 42. As special a number to geeks as 69 is to horny douchewangers. So why not select a special book to read for this number? A book that cannot fail to make me happy? A book about my most favoritist television series, written by the author I have stated here at the lair as being “the author I would trust the most with my precious Star Trek characters”?

Surely, Peter David will be able to deliver to me the TNG novel that I have been waiting to read since those halcyon days of Keith Birdsong covers and awesome non-canonical plots!

I wish I could undo the horrific damage done by this novel, not only to many of my beloved Trek characters but also to my opinion of Peter David. I wish I’d listened to my own words with my previous post-Nemesis TNG book experiences and simply walked away.

Plot synopsis? As if that’s even necessary anymore. It’s about the bloody Borg again. Only now the Borg have evolved. Instead of assimilating, they now absorb. Everything. People. Ships. Planets. I kid you not with what I’m about to quote you from this book:

The bastards ate Pluto!

Yeah. A Borg cube absorbed Pluto (which apparently regained and re-lost its “planet” status several more times from now until its absorption). Not long after, the cube was heard to state, “We cannot believe we ate the whole thing.”

I can’t go on anymore. There’s so much wrong with this book that I’m literally drained by the weight of my ineffable disappointment. Let’s just say that if you are looking for the very definition of “wrongs darker than death or night,” then this is the book you should read. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Especially when you reach the end and realize that Peter David has done something so utterly horrifying and, quite frankly, unforgivable to a character who shouldn’t have even been in a TNG novel in the first place…

Enough. I’m finished. Literally. I swear to you right now, unless Beverly Crusher herself comes to me and personally tells me to read the latest TNG novel, I’m never again reading anything new from the TNG series. At this point, I don’t even think I can go back and revisit those TNG books I once loved. Perhaps I might find them to be every bit as shit as this one was.

No. No, that’s simply not possible. This is the king of that dung heap of misery.

Final score: …

How on earth can one give a score to the book that has effectively drawn the curtain on my love affair with TNG novels AND has made me question every bit of praise I have ever spoken about Peter David’s Trek offerings? There is no score right enough for this wrong of a novel. To misquote the Coen Brothers, burn BEFORE reading. Or at the very least, save your money. This book is so horrible, it’s not even worth stealing.