“Perelandra” by C.S. Lewis—A Review

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4.5/5 stars “Perelandra” is the second book of the “Space Trilogy.” It is the best of the series. This series was my re-discovery of C.S. Lewis. Like many, I was exposed to “Narnia” as a kid. 20 years later I was admittedly biased toward the negative, thinking that his more “adult” works would be laden down with religious references or burdened by a rickety old Judeo-Christian moral scaffold. I was wrong. The references are certainly there; but his trilogy (and “Perelandra” in particular) is anything but “laden” or “burdened.” The questions posed within are primal, fundamental, universal. What would a human be like, unaffected, uncorrupted by the darkness of a modern soul or psyche? What would her nascent world be like? How would she view it? How would she view herself? The narrative orbits Lewis’ characterization of “Eve.” She is this book—at once naive and lordly, innocent and powerful, child-like and … READ MORE…

“Kindred” by Octavia Butler—A Review

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3/5 Stars I expected more from a work that many of the literary powers that be regard as Butler’s best. It is also clearly her most commercially successful, with over 450,000 copies sold. Wikipedia states, it “is still widely popular; it is regularly chosen as a text for community-wide reading programs and book organizations, as well as being a common choice for high school and college courses.” To be sure, there are elements of the book that are noteworthy. I’d go as far as to say that her premise, and the general outline of the book were both brave and revolutionary when first published in 1979. Kindred tells the story of Dana, a black woman in the mid 1970’s suddenly transported to another time and place; rural Maryland, circa 1820. She finds her life inexplicably linked to that of a young white boy, Rufus, the son of a slaveholding plantation … READ MORE…

“Immense Journey” by Loren Eiseley—A Review

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 5/5 Stars “We are one of many appearances of the thing called Life; we are not its perfect image, for it has no image except Life, and life is multitudinous and emergent in the stream of time.” —Loren Eiseley When it was first published in 1977 it was marketed as a science book for the nonscientist, as something written by Stephen Jay Gould or Stephen Hawking would be today. This categorization is simplistic, however. This is not a book about science, merely. It is not an attempt by an expert to explain some concept to the public. “Immense Journey” is a meditation. It is a work of spirit and of soul, as much as it of anything else. In poetic, musical prose he speaks of his own encounters with the natural world over the course of a notable career in varied natural fields. These encounters are sometimes small and seemingly … READ MORE…

“Ringworld” by Larry Niven—A Review

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 4/5 Stars The image is as powerful as anything in science fiction: an artificial, constructed world—a spinning ring orbiting a star at an incredible speed, its dimensions measured not in the thousands of miles (as Earth and its sister planets are) but in the millions and billions of miles.  The inner surface of the ring looks similar to the surface of any other earth-like world.  Deserts and grasslands give way to forests and jungle.  Mountains rise above the plains.  Oceans, magnitudes greater than the surface area of the Earth, lap against complex, sculpted coastlines.  The world seems familiar, though the sizes of each landform, of each feature, defy human comprehension. A breathable atmosphere is held in place by rims on both of its edges, 1000 miles high.  The immensity of Niven’s creation represents a paradigm that every science fiction author would be wise to honor.  THIS is what an author’s … READ MORE…

The Future of Manned Space Exploration: Buzz Aldrin’s MISSION TO MARS, A Review

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 4/5 Stars As the Obama Administration presents its 2017 budget to Congress tomorrow for review (and an inevitable fight), I’m immediately struck by the relevance of the event to a seminal book that I just finished.  Buzz Aldrin’s “Mission to Mars:  My Vision for Space Exploration” is a powerful explication of a specific near-future strategy for NASA’s manned exploration activities, as well as a potent meditation on the importance of such a strategy for this country and indeed, for humanity. Aldrin really doesn’t need any introducing, as he is of course the second man to walk on another planetary body, the Moon in July, 1969.  His qualifications to speak on such a topic are obviously legion.  As such, I feel wholly unqualified to really “review” and pass judgment on any of the technical assertions he makes in the book.  However, I am particularly attracted to his concept of “Aldrin cyclers”—spacecraft … READ MORE…

The GAIAD—A Review (By the Author)

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 4/5 Stars “Despite his unconventional writing style, including, perhaps, an unhealthy disdain for the traditional use of the English comma, the author makes his debut by telling an original story.  The author is clearly no Clarke or Tolkien, but with some hard work, time, and practice he might one day be regarded as Shchegolyayev or even Mbadinuju.  Certain readers of more conventional, modern, and less questionable tastes may be turned off by the inclusion of strange, macabre imagery—including, most notably and ridiculously, an old book bound in the skin of a long-dead woman’s breasts.  Globally, however, Mr. Burcher gives us a tale that we want to read, with a refreshing infusion of larger, more necessary and ultimately positive themes.” Yes.  Seriously.  It’s hard to review your own stuff.  Instead, I’ll mention how this book came about. In 2014 I was working as a cop just outside of Denver.  I had … READ MORE…