Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Bart, commence Operation: Crazy Plan!

Homer Simpson to his son Bart in the Simpsons episode where Lisa starts ballet under Marge's pressure and realizes that cigarettes are what keep ballerinas slim and attentive. That may or may not be true. Homer's Operation Crazy Plan involved a cigarette stealing racoon.

Congrats to Ferrari on a 1-2 sweep during qualifying and the race. Kimi Raikkonnen took pole with Felipe a hair off in 2nd and the race finished with those positions juxtaposed. Kimi's bad luck struck again with a broken exhaust pipe but he was able to hang on for some much needed points. HUGE congrats to Jarno Trulli and Toyota for coming in 3rd against many odds. Molto bene Jarno!

I'm halfway through the NASCAR race but so far Brian Vickers is holding on at 23rd or so and poor AJ Allmendinger is 2 laps down because he couldn't get his car started after a pit stop so his pit crew had to push start him in the length of 3 pit stalls, not an easy proposition. The race coverage is 3.5 hours and I'm not used to that much racing with F1's 2 hour time limit. More on that later.

Cynical Chris shared with us a list of the Top 10 Obscure but Superb Science Fiction Novels. Some of them are available used on Amazon but being a poor grad student, I'll wait until later in life to purchase these, so I've been trusting Clemson's InterLibrary Loan to track them down for me. Don't bother asking them to find them for you unless you're a Clemson faculty/staff/student. But I'm sure your local library has a similar program!

I skipped down the list a bit and started with #2, William Tenn's "Of Men and Monsters". The book opens with the statement that all of Mankind contains 128 people. Whoa. That's bleak. Then we find out that we live in caves in the wall of a structure that houses horrible grey Monsters. We steal food from the Monsters to survive and hope to one day strike them down and take Earth back. An expedition goes out and all hell breaks loose. Our protagonist is forced to seek out others on his own. It reminded me of the ending scene from Men in Black where our galaxy is in a marble and a monster has a whole bag of marbles. I won't give away the ending but it's good.

Then I read #1 Wasp by Eric Frank Russell. This one is very exciting with seat of your pants action and suspense around every corner. We're introduced to the idea by reading about 3 separate events. #1 involves a single Roumanian (yes I spelled that right) who looked up in the sky and yelled "blue flames!" occasionally and a crowd formed which became a mob and the army was brought in to check out what was in the skies. #2 is a story about 2 convicts who escaped and were caught 14 hours later after being chased by a police force 27,000 strong. #3 centers around an automobile accident that killed 4 but not before one occupant related a story of a wasp getting into the car, distracting the driver and causing the accident. Our hero is recruited to be a wasp on a Sirian planet, who are currently battling the Terrans. His activities, which can only be considered terrorist, have an amazing and profound effect on the plant and the war overall. The Kaitempi, Sirian secret police, are around every bend and I think we're on narrow escape 7 or 8 by now. I only have 10 pages left but it has been a thrilling incredible ride. Plus the planet he has infiltrated is inhabited by bow legged purple people. His phase one propaganda stickers with hydrofluoric acid, HF, on them so they etch the glass when someone tries to remove the stickers with water, has been my favorite terrorist activity so far. His disguises and identities are imaginative and varied also.

I would highly recommend these 2 books and I'll go out on a limb and go ahead and recommend the whole list too. I'm thinking Bloodworld might be next.

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