Monday, April 20, 2009


After last week's fun fest of real-life murder and gore, I thought I'd read a couple of books that didn't involve psychopaths sodomizing young boys or child soldiers cutting the throats of other children. Just a little light reading to cleanse the palette.

Shambling Towards Hiroshima: James Morrow - It's an alternate world take on what might have happened if some of the mad science in the movies of the 1950s wasn't so mad. Syms Thorley is a monster movie actor who gets hired by the U.S. Government to don a rubber monster suit for a presentation to the Japanese delegation toward the end of World War II. The U.S. doesn't want to send troops in, for what would be a costly battle, and that other project they're working on to end the war --the Manhattan project-- is a little stalled. You see, the rubber monster suit is just a presentation. The government has grown three giant sized, fire-breathing lizards out in the desert. They are itching to unleash them on on Japan and unless Thorley is very, very persuasive as his pretend monster, that's exactly what's going to happen.

Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a fun romp. It's funny. It's weird and reads a bit like a slightly self-effacing Philip K. Dick story, where you know, in your heart of heart, this is all nonsense, but for a little while it seems like believable nonsense.

Vulcan's Hammer: Philip K. Dick -I've been a fan of the guy since, seemingly, forever. I never got much into the whole Bladerunner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep thing, but instead like books like "The Man In The High Castle," "Dydedtown World," and "Dr. Bloodmoney." He's at his best when he takes the improbable and gives it a feeling of authenticity.

Vulcan's Hammer is about an earth society where people have submitted their will to a computer for governance. The computer is designed to look at problems objectively and without passion. Eventually, Vulcan begins to suspect people mean to destroy him and he begins plotting against humanity, which leads to a battle between people and machines. Each side essentially fulfills their own prophetic belief that the other is out to get them. It also touches on the failings of dogmatism belief, but without making those who find themselves caught up in the rules and regulations as evil or stupid.

Not one of my favorites, but still a fair read.

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