Today is the first of the lightning reviews.  These are going to be quick reviews of five or so items, sometimes physical, sometimes a bit more ethereal.  Today’s are fairly physical objects.  I will do a quick review of the first five books I happen to grab out of my bookshelf.

Normally this is where the “Read More” link would go.  I’m going to do away with that for the time being (unless people ask me to put it back) because it breaks up the flow of reading and nobody likes to click things they don’t have to.

#1:  Picoverse by Robert A. Metzger

I bought this in New York when we went there for our anniversary a couple of years ago.  It was in the bargain bin at Borders and with good reason.  I haven’t read it in a couple of years but I recall it being rather disjointed and not extremely well written.  I am normally a big fan of parallel universe hard sci-fi but I am a bigger fan of consistent writing and readability.  I don’t really do a rating system but I don’t think I would recommend this one.

#2:  Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy

This was an interesting read.  It’s something of a backward step in the Jack Ryan ‘universe.’  Most of the books in that ficton were published in an order similar to the flow of the story (Without Remorse is a notable exception but, while set in the same ficton [which is a fantastic word for ‘alternate fictional universe’ and coined by Heinlein], it has Ryan as a very minor character) but this was written in 2002 and is set in the mid-80’s.  It’s not as good as Sum of All Fears or the other earlier works but is substantially better than The Teeth of The Tiger which I hated from beginning to end.  If you’ve read other Clancy works and not this one, I’d say give it a go but if you’re not familiar with the series, start at Hunt for Red October and go from there.

#3:  The Spirit Book One by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone and Dave Stewart

Jordyn from the Penny Arcade forums pointed me at The Spirit based on how much I liked V for Vendetta and Batman and a bunch of other graphic novels.  The Spirit is your fairly typical masked crimefighter (not a super-hero, he has no powers).  The art style in this is fantastic and it’s really, really well written.  It puts me in mind very much of some of the much, much older Batman and Superman comics I’ve read but has people talking on cell phones and other modern technologies.  I am actually probably going to re-read this and the second book tonight based on picking this up.  I haven’t seen the movie based on this character but I have heard that it is garbage so I am unlikely to see it.  The edition I have is hard cover and looks nothing like the Amazon link above.

#4:  Company of Adventurers by Peter C. Newman

This is the first of three volumes of a history of the Hudson’s Bay Company (my copy lacks the haunting painting of Hank Hudson).  I am not really sure where I picked this up at first but I had (and moved several times) a paperback copy of this book for years and years and never really looked at it.  I think I may have grabbed it at a library sale at some point.  It is an amazing history of Canada seen through the lens of one of it’s oldest institutions.  A lot of the source material is journals of the fur traders and factors of the various posts and it paints a very colourful picture of the very earliest days of Canadian exploration and settlement.  This is the book that got me started journalling.  I liked this series so much I bought all three volumes in hard copy and then picked it up in paperback for a friend who was interested.  You can probably find it at your local used book store (don’t bother buying it new.  It’s good but not that good).

#5:  The System of the World by Neal Stephenson

I got into this series via the bargain bin at the same NYC Borders that gave me Picoverse above.  This one turned out much, much better.  This book is the third volume of a series that is breathtakingly epic in scope.  It covers about 50 years of the lives of a number of fictional characters in a very believable 17th/18th century Europe.  It is one of my favourite series.  I typically read through it about once a year (and it’s close to 3,000 pages all in).  I managed to get all the volumes in hard back for about $25 total, including shipping.  Stephenson’s stuff isn’t really everybody’s cup of tea (it is pretty tough going sometimes) but I would recommend this to people who have a long attention span and like epic and complex adventure stories.

the patience of a chopping block