Last Update 7/15/17

Rose Motel by William M. Breiding, 2017,  $15

Fanzine fandom seems very distant to me nowadays, although I still have about twenty cartons of them in the attic. I recall fondly the days when almost every mail delivery included some mimeographed publication or another. William Breiding was active then and has continued to be active in the rather attenuated version of fanzines that survive, and this is a collection of his essays including work from 1980 to 2014. Although theoretically we were all SF fans, much of what got published was not really related to the genre, and that's mostly the case here. These are largely reminiscences of his life, sometimes related to fandom. They are humorous, sentimental, intriguing, and lots of other adjectives but most of all they are entertaining. The personal memoirs of ordinary people are often much more interesting than those of the rich and famous. 7/15/17

A Lit Fuse by Nat Segaloff, NESFA, 2017, $35, ISBN 978-1-61037-323-4

This is a biography of Harlan Ellison, complete with a large selection of pictures. The project was Ellison's idea and he provided much of the basis for the book himself, so it's not surprising that little time is spent on his various controversies. The author also seems to be much more familiar with Hollywood than with written science fiction, so the context in the latter case is not as well developed. I thought the first few chapters his childhood, life as a fan, and his early days as a writer were of the most interest and the material there was largely new to me. A complete bibliography would have been helpful, but perhaps prohibitively long. Ellison may well be the last successful writer whose work was almost exclusively short stories. 7/7/17

The Linguistics of Stephen King by James Arthur Anderson, McFarland, 2017, $39.95, ISBN 978-1-4766-6834-5

Although this study does not include everything Stephen King has written, it does cover representative samples and most of his most successful novels, including Carrie, The Shining, Misery, It, and The Green Mile, as well as a handful of his short stories, including "The Body." The author examines each in detail, analyzing the plot structure which is often much more complex than it might appear and deciphering King's attitude toward real world issues as demonstrated in his fiction. The thematic analyses were the parts I generally found of most interest. The prose here is straightforward and intelligent while not succumbing to academic obfuscation.  King fans should find this entertaining and informative and those not as enthusiastic about King's work should find it enlightening.. 7/4/17

Secret Weapons of World War II by Gerald Pawle, Ballantine, 1957 

I wish this had been written in a slightly livelier style. It's a history of a variety of secret weapons developed during the war, not all of which were successes. The accounts are detailed but the prose is so dry that it was difficult to read more than a chapter at a sitting. I ended up spending about three weeks on this one. There is a nice selection of photographs. About half of these I had heard of elsewhere, but the rest were new to me. 7/1/17