Modernmoonman. Science Fiction book reviews.

Science Fiction Book Reviews and Stuff...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Modernmoonman song du jour: Moonage Daydream

Moonage Daydream:  (David Bowie version)

Moonage Daydream: (Zen Guerrilla version)

Play loud!

Union Sundown/ Dylan as Prophet

"They used to grow food in Kansas, now they wanna grow it on the Moon and eat it raw...
 I can see the day comin' when even your whole garden, is gonna be against the law... "
   - Bob Dylan

Lots of problems with the unions in Wisconsin these days..., of course, Scifi predicted this years ago 'cos the road to the singularity is paved with a lotta lost jobs being taken over by robots....and it's only gonna get worse; so we live in interesting times...Bob Dylan predicted this 20 years ago, with his masterpiece called "Union Sundown" off of the album "Infidels", you know the one with him in shades, and with Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor, 2 of the greatest guitarists ever; and the rhythm section, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare is tip-top notch, too...Great Album (Get it!) This is a GREAT song: (and so banned!)  I wish I could show the Dylan version (it's great but unavailable), but here's a pretty spectacular cover version:

Here are the lyrics:

Well my shoes they come from Singapore
My Flashlight's from Taiwan
My table comes from Malasia
Build for us from the Amazon

You know this shirt I wear comes from the Phillipines
And the car I drive is a Chevrolet
It was put together down in Argentina
By a guy making 30 cents a day

Well there's sundown on the Union
And what's made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
'Till greed got in the way!)

Well this silk dress is from Hong Kong,
And the Pearls are from Japan
The dog coller is from India,
And the Flower pot is from Pakistan

All the furniture it says
"Made in Brazil"
Where a woman she slaved for sure...
Bringing home 30 cents a day (to her family of 12)
You know that's a lot of money to her...


Well you know lots of people complainin' that there is no work...
I say, "What do ya say that for?
When nothin' you've got is U.S. made...
They don't make nothin' here no more..."

Y'know Capitalism is above the law...
It says, "It don't count unless it sells..."
When it costs too much to build it at home,
You just build it cheaper someplace else...


Well that job that you used to have:
They gave it to somebody down in El Salvador,
Well the Unions are big business friend;
And they're going out like a dinosaur...

They used to grow food in Kansas,
Now they wanna grow it on the moon, and eat it raw;
I can see the day comin' when even your whole garden
Is gonna be against the law....


Democracy don't rule the world
You better get that through your head...
This world is ruled by violence,
But I guess that's better left unsaid...

From Broadway to the Milky Way,
That's a lot of territory indeed...
And a man's gotta do, what he has to do,
When he's got a hungry mouth to feed....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Case and the Dreamer

Case and the Dreamer was written by Theodore Sturgeon and was originally published in 1972.  It's kind of a SciFi love story with a pinch of Jesus themes (resurrection, love) and a touch of Castaway, as in the Tom Hanks movie where he learns to catch fish, climb hills, and create schemes to escape, but on a hostile planet 1000 years in the vague and sad future where humanity has evolved into something "else":

     So Case looked on Earth as a contemporary, ten centuries past his death, and wagged his head slowly.  "It shouldn't have come to this."
      "It had to.  It was that or die," said the blue man; and Case thought a bit and saw that it was so.

     "You see, Case, primitive as you may seem to some of us, you have a quality which we lack and admire--a willingness to go out, to do, to explore and discover and find, actually and physically, and not in theory or in extrapolation or imagination... "

At 60 pages, Case and the Dreamer is a real gem of a story about what love does:  "Frees the slaves.  Damns the consequences," and what is truly important, "finding meaning, making memories." 

Oh, and what is the 2nd most precious and rare thing on Earth 1000 years from now?  Privacy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mission to the Stars (the Mixed Men)

Mission to the Stars (the Mixed Men) was written by A.E. Van Vogt and published in 1952; the stories were originally published in 1943 in various SciFi magazines.  This book is typical Van Vogt; fast paced action and adventure, with some racial integration messages.  The science is very dated, but this is very readable stuff.  This book certainly was the template for "Star Trek," boldly going where no man has gone before, but with a woman Captain manning the bridge.  Pretty fun read.  Here is a sample of the political content in the writing:

     "The coming of Earth power into the Greater Magellanic Cloud will be of benefit to all individuals and groups of all planets.  Earth has much to offer.  Earth guarantees to the individual basic rights under law, guarantees to the group basic freedoms and economic prosperity, and requires all government to be elective by secret ballot.
     Earth does not permit a separate sovereign state anywhere in the universe.
     Such a separate military power could strike at the heart of the human-controlled galaxy, and drop bombs on densely populated planets.  That has happened.  You may guess what we did to the governments who sponsored such a project.  You cannot escape us.  If by chance we should fail now with our one ship to locate you, then within a few years ten thousand ships will be here searching.  This is one thing we never delay on.  From our point of view, it is safer to destroy an entire civilization then let it exist as a cancer in the greater culture from which it sprang."

Seems that some things never change, and that this policy is pretty identical to current U.S. attitudes towards foreign policy....This tale is very Star Trek, but in a good way; in a fresh way; totally fresh as it preceded the show by decades............(I always did have a problem with the "Prime Directive"..., but that's another story...)

Slan and World of Null-A and War Against the Rull are better, but still, A.E. Van Vogt is a great pulp writer, and always delivers a tale worth reading.  Unbelievably he's hard to find at the local chain bookstore.....

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Zenith is a new SciFi film that's in theaters right now, and considering it seems to have been made on a budget of $2.00, it's not bad.  It's not that good either, though parts of it are very cool, probably because they are reminiscent of parts of other movies like Trainspotting, Clockwork Orange, and 1984.  It's a really mixed bag.  I'm glad I saw it, and wish more low budget SciFi stuff like this was made.  A lot of it was filmed in Brooklyn.   Here's the trailer:

Friday, February 11, 2011


Time Magazine published an article this week called 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal by Lev Grossman that is a must read.  It's about Raymond Kurzweil and an event that has been predicted by many, many sci-fi writers (William Gibson, Richard Morgan, and Vernor Vinge to name a few) called Singularity.
Here is the link:,8599,2048138,00.html

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Death of the Human Torch

                                          Marvel Comics killed off the Human Torch this month...


Human Torch R.I.P. 2011...When I was into the torch he looked like this...: 1975.  Fighting a character Annihilus in the Negative Zone...a 70's reprint of Jack Kirby art at it's 60's  high point... Good times.  I haven't really read the Fantastic Four comic since 1980, when I was 12, but I was glad to know that this fictional character was out there somewhere...and when the movie "The Ice Storm" was released, and they had that scene where the kid reads comics, specifically Fantastic Four comics, about the Negative Zone...yeah, I was RIGHT THERE...

so, Damn, ...the Torch died protecting earth from the hoardes of Annihilus in the Negative Zone...just like 1975, ...R.I.P.. Johnny Storm !....

Of course, the first printing of the comic sold out in minutes and can now be found on ebay for $20.00 a pop...
Smell the flames, feel the fire; another childhood hero made outta myth bites the dust; my childhood lies smoking and smoldering on a corner of the negative zone and for childhood deserves better.
Flame On! Oh, and Marvel, you suck!

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

     "This is a very neurotic person, the ship realized.  I am having an awful lot of trouble finding happy memories.  There is too much fear in him and too much guilt.  He has buried it all, and yet it is still there, worrying like a dog worries a rag.  Where can I go in his memories to find him solace?  I must come up with ten years of memories, or his mind will be lost."

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon is a collection of short stories written by Philip K. Dick, the most effective being one that was originally entitled Frozen Journey and published in Playboy Magazine in 1980.  It is a tough and emotional roller coaster ride that, well, is about life itself; and time, and the perception of time, and of how the human brain is constructed to love and concentrate on the things that are good for it by it's nature, but then sometimes things happen, and even though you may mean well, well; things disintegrate, relationships change, people move in and out of your life; it's precarious add a long space trip and some faulty suspended animation and a well meaning computer to the equation....mmmmmmm.......It's a Modernmoonman favorite....a timeless classic....... there's a great review by "A Customer"  on Amazon that, for the sheer excellence and Duende of it, ah, I just gotta steal it (!):

"Philip K. Dick was one of science fiction's short story "master craftsmen", though he was better known for his novels. His short stories are reminiscent of Frederic Brown's, but usually Dick's were better paced and fuller. Published almost exclusively in SF magazines, most of his best stories were printed in Del Ray's "The Best of Philip K. Dick" collection. A good handful of these are some of the authentic gems of short SF. Towering above all the others (including the others collected in this volume), however, is "Frozen Journey", published in this volume with the less effective title "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon". This was one of the first Dick stories to see "mainstream" print, as it first appeared in "Playboy", usually the domain of writers like Roth and Mailer. This short story brings together so many Dick themes in one place, it's like a pure distillation of his explorations; the unclear nature of reality, the difficulty of gender relations, the mistrust of technology, and the tendency to mental instability. But there is also something new here, a powerfully moving evocation of the effect of one man's guilt and sorrow on his consciousness and his resulting isolation from other people. In this story, Dick is able to wed his well-noted ontological ambiguity seamlessly with his compassion for humanity's predicament, something only partially achieved by his best novels (though some come close, notably "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"). All of the elements of the story serve to demonstrate the central tragedy, bring us in to the heart of the protagonist, make us see through his troubled eyes (even at the reality he has become blind to), and move us to reflect on the profound metaphor Dick has created: life as a frozen journey through space, alone with the shadows in our minds and hearts, broken by the sorrows of lost love, corrupted conscience, impending decay and death. Not since the "half-life" concept in "Ubik" has Dick created such a potent and bleak image. To my mind this story represents a special kind of apex for Dick, his deepest expression of tragedy. It deserves to stand among the best such in English in short story form."

Philip K. Dick Interview/ The Matrix

Modernmoonman Interview du Jour:

Minority Report

The Minority Report is a short story written by Philip K. Dick and published in Fantastic Universe Magazine in 1956:

The story is about 30 pages long; it's a classic tale about a man named John Anderson, who is the head of a police agency in the future called "Precrime."  It's an agency designed to prevent murders before they happen with the "help" of three mutant "precogs;" strange humans with special mental powers that enable them to see the future.  The "precogs" are kept in a tank of chemical solution against their will, they are tools and are used by the government to control the population.  Published just 6 short years after Orwell's 1984, this story is sleek and streamlined, with Dick's prose at it's leanest...seriously, omit a paragraph, and the whole thing falls apart, he's so economical here, that he accomplishes a hell of a lot in 30 pages.
It's a story where the government establishes a corrupt system that can instantly declare a citizen a threat to national security, and a potential murderer, and hence, the accused individual forfeits his rights to freedom and all of it's privileges.  They can be imprisoned and held indefinitely.  Violators are placed in a detention camp.  It's about how society is affected when a too powerful military wants control.


Stephen Spielberg made this short story into a major Hollywood film in 2002.   I saw it in the theater then, and thought it was really good...I just watched it again, and was blown away by it; This Film Has Grown In Stature!   Republicans may complain about too much government, but never want to cut the military's budget; the change in surveillance laws during "The Bush Years" has been mirrored by this film; it's about control, control, control, and the rich have got their channels in the very bedrooms of the poor, now don't they.  (Thanks, Leonard.)  Spielberg added some pretty cool shit to the original story, the eye scans, the character development of Anderson as a man who lost a child and his family, and the ADS, the advertisements that hound him wherever he goes are freaking great!   :  The film is actually better than the Philip K. Dick original, and Tom Cruise, he's pretty great in this film:

This is solid gold, If you haven't seen it, please do, and even if you have, it's worth a re-look!