Review: The Red Spider

The Red Spider
The Red Spider by Kenneth Robeson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The final original Doc Savage pulp novel by Lester Dent (a.k.a. Kenneth Robeson) is also one of the more well-written adventures of the character. Doc and his team infiltrate Soviet Russia to get information from one of Stalin’s right-hand men, and then have to get out again. The tale wasn’t released as one of the original pulp magazine, having to wait about thirty years for publication. It was definitely worth the wait and is an excellent coda to a classic series of one of the original “super-heroes” of American culture.

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Review: Myths and Legends of Our Own Land

Myths and Legends of Our Own Land
Myths and Legends of Our Own Land by Charles M. Skinner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Informative but appallingly dull book on various legends of the continental US. Very dated (obviously), but does give some interesting gleamings into the history of the country, through the various Native peoples and settlers. The book is also heavily weighted toward the East Coast states and territories. The anecdotes are more along the lines of Native American legends and ghost stories told by the US settlers.

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Review: The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy

The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy
The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy by Stanisław Lem
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I always say you cannot go wrong reading the work of Stanislaw Lem, and once again that statement was prove right. Lem is one of the few science fiction writers who manage to blend the genre into proper literature (for the upscale crowd) and tries to make it more than it should probably be, and still make it entertaining for everyone.

The Star Diaries are another in a series of Lem’s books about his eternal everyman Ijon Tichy. This book covers several strange, funny, and odd tales that were written by Lem over the years, and everyone is a real gem. The writing style, from the translation, is something many might find a tad stilted, but a reader gets used to that very quickly once they get to the payoff of the first story.

Definitely recommended!

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Review: The Completely MAD Don Martin His Best Cartoons from MAD Magazine

The Completely MAD Don Martin His Best Cartoons from MAD Magazine
The Completely MAD Don Martin His Best Cartoons from MAD Magazine by Don Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was another great collection of cartoons from MAD Magazine, all showcasing the bizarre humor and great artwork of the legendary Don Martin. You can’t go wrong with these; some may be a little dated, but they are dang funny through and through! Don Martin was definitely an American Original!

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Review: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan: The Mark of the Red Hyena

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: The Mark of the Red Hyena
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan: The Mark of the Red Hyena by George S. Elrick
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I know it’s only a Big Little Book, but this particular story was by far the worst written Tarzan adventure that I’ve ever read, and I’ve read them ALL and seen most of the films. Staid and boring, the bad guy is dealt with in the final chapter almost as an afterthought; it kind of seems like the author was expecting another chapter worth of the story to finish, and was forced to wrap things up way too quickly. Hell, even using the three pages devoted to advertising in the back might’ve improved this tale. Alas, we will never know…

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Review: Children’s Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981: Part I: Animated Cartoon Series

Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981: Part I: Animated Cartoon Series
Children’s Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981: Part I: Animated Cartoon Series by George W. Woolery
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Not the most accurate of reference works, and poorly formatted for a professionally-published book to boot, Woolery’s Children’s Television books used to be the standard for the topic. Luckily, things have changed with the advent of the internet.

Much like the Medveds’ Golden Turkey Award books, one can see quite obviously that this author never watched most of the programs listed in the book (or read much of the source material for the pointlessly long addendums to the descriptions), and used WAY too many TV Guides for sources. Far too much time and page space is spent on distribution companies and syndication notes, which is pretty useless unless you are a TV station executive.

You can more than likely find an example of nearly all of these shows on YouTube right now. Go get your information from there, rather than wasting your money on one of these EXTREMELY overpriced volumes – I luckily got my copy here recently for $1.02 plus shipping, but there are posted listings on Amazon for hundreds of dollars. It is NOT worth it for a bunch of unverified information.

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Review: From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley

From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley
From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley by Terry Lee Rioux
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the better entertainer biographies that I’ve read, this is also THE best biography of anyone from Star Trek. DeForest Kelley was the lynchpin of the show’s chemistry and personal dynamics, but most people – even diehard Trekkies – have no idea he was a movie star in the 40s and a fixture on early television as a cowboy bad man.

This is a book related with respect and love – a truly wonderful read!

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