Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This Week at the Library (20 August)

Reviews are pending for A Man on the Moon, by Neil Chaikan as well as The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn. (Pending, as in, "I meant to finish them on Sunday, but some friends invited me to supper and we did a Horatio Hornblower movie marathon. Ahem.")

Last week  a new novel caught my eye: The Family Corleone, by Ed Falco.  A prequel to The Godfather, the famed novel by Mario Puzo, it proved a worthy tribute. The novel begins in 1933, with the Corleone family active and robust,  but not impressive compared to the  increasingly powerful Mariposa family. While Don Coreleone attempts to preserve his organization's future against the ambitions of Mariposa -- a feat not made easy by the fact that someone keeps raiding Mariposa's liquor trucks, and he's sure Corleone knows who it might be --  his oldest son Sonny is increasingly attracted to the darker side of Corleone's business.  A key character is Luca Brasi, who is in his prime here as a  unaffiliated gang leader who is such a loose cannon that even Mariposa has a healthy fear of him. Homages to the original story abound: it ends as The Godfather begins, with a wedding. Even so, it's less romantic than Puzo's world, inhabited by "men of honor": here, the corruption and stupidity of violence are more obvious.  Although Michael can't help but be noticeable, given his future role in the family's affairs, the star here is 17-year old Sonny, whose temper and ambition drive the story. I imagine most fans of The Godfather will enjoy this.

Also, a few weeks ago I read a Diane Carey DS9 novel, Station Rage, in which Chief O'Brian and Constable Odo discover what appears to be a sealed tomb, full of apparently dead Cardassian soldiers in ancient uniforms. Captain Sisko orders the hidden room sealed again while he makes some delicate inquiries as to how they got there, but unbeknownst to him someone decided to bring the dead back to life. Soon, a Alexander the Great-like character from Cardassia's past is waging a private war on the station with his zombie honor guard, and there's a Cardassian ship outside the station with an eye on destroying it. The plot is remarkably similar to that of "Empok Nor", complete with Garak going crazy.  The characterization seems off throughout, with Kira in particular reduced to a vain creature  who is utterly wow-dowed by Sisko's status as an action hero. The setup is utterly creepy, but the execution doen't live up to expectations. This isn't exactly a jewel in the crown of the numbered Trek novels.

Finally, last week I finished reading Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait, which I've been reading in bits and pieces throughout this year. The book is a collection of corrections about astronomical misconceptions. I'll probably just make a few comments on it in next week's weekly review.

For this next week, I'll be finishing The Tell-Tale Brain by V.S. Ramachandran. After that I have Twilight of the Mammoths to look forward to, at which point  I may continue focusing on science reading for a little bit, or switch gears. I'm itching to read The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt,

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