books


Humble Bundle has Start a Series bundle for 12 more days. With one dollar you can get the first books in series from Andre Norton, Barbara Hambly, Dave Duncan, and Lynn Hightower. The second tier, with 8 dollars, you can get books from Greg Keyes (I loved the Age of Unreason series), Octavia Butler (Dawn! Another one I loved), Greg Bear, Katharine Kurtz, and four others. The final row, with 15 dollars has all those and a book from Liz Williams, Timothy Zahn, Fritz Lieber, Patricia Wrede, and others.

They also have a huge bundle for us table-top role players with 12 items (including two maps, a treasury for starting players, and a sourcebook for fantastical mounts) for just one dollar. Of course, the bigger bundles have lots of other goodies.

Storybundle has three bundles:

Urban fantasy for just a couple of more hours, Space travelers for seven days, and World Sci-fi for 21 days. These all look very tempting!

Humble bundle has, as always, several bundles going. Their newest one is a Star Trek comics bundle!

It has new IDW comics, with plenty of TNG stories, some Discovery, and a lot of original Trek.

For couple of hours more, Humble Bundle also has another comics bundle with lots of first volumes to series, like Monstress and Saga.

Also, my other favorite site to get interesting books all bundled together, Storybundle, has 2019 Feminist Future Bundle curated by Cat Rambo. ”This bundle brings together some terrific reading that is some of the best offered by independent and small press publishing. It’s my attempt to celebrate the excellent work being written by today’s female speculative fiction authors.”

The only author I’ve read is R. A. MacAvoy (her Damiano trilogy and Tea with the Black Dragon which I quite liked) and I’ve heard good things about some of the others.

Storybundle has two great new offerings: Summer Steampunk Bundle came alive a couple of days ago. It has 11 books for just 15 dollars, three of them Storybundle exclusives. 2018 LGBT bundle has lots of queer science fiction books for 9 more days.

Storybundle offers again two great book bundles:
https://storybundle.com/fantasy
Historical fantasy
Books from Jo Graham, Martha Wells, and Judith Tarr! Tarr’s “Lord of Two Lands” is set in Alexander the Great’s camp and made me fan of Tarr.

https://storybundle.com/japan
Haikasoru Japan Science fiction bundle

5 (or 10 if you’re willing to spend 15 dollars) Japanese Sci-Fi books and collections translated into English. I’ve read “the Lord of the Sands of Time” by Issui Ogawa and enjoyed it. Couple of more days on sale.

A couple of great book bundles are available:

https://storybundle.com/fantasy
Women in Fantasy which is curated by Kristine Rusch and has 5 books for minimum of 5 dollars and 10 books for minimum of 15 dollars, among them Rusch, Judith Tarr, Laura Anne Gilman, and one Fiction River short story collection. 6 days left to buy

Storybundle has two others bundles, too: Gaming books and True Crime.

https://www.humblebundle.com/books/scificlassics_bookbundle
Meanwhile Humble Bundle has a group of Sci-Fi classics (Males in Sci-fi?) including Zelazny, Asimov, and Bester. (Personally I wouldn’t call Betancourt’s Amber prequels classics.) 12 days left to buy.

The fifth book in the Barsoom series.

Publication year: 1922
Format: an ebook from project Gutenberg
Page count: not in a Kindle book

This was one of my favorite Barsoom books when I first read them as a teenager. Alas, I can’t reread it without any knowledge of what the book contains but it still ended up as one of my favorites because of two elements: the strange species and customs of the enemy peoples and Tara.

The book starts with John Carter visiting the author. Supposedly, John has now learned to travel between Mars and Earth at will. He tells Edgar about his daughter’s adventures. Two young people adventure in lands not well-known to Helium encountering wicked villains, steadfast friends, and strange places and people. It’s a Barsoom book, alright.

Tara is Dejah’s and John’s daughter and she has always known that she’s going to marry the son of her father’s great friend, Kantos Kan. Tara doesn’t love the young Djor Kantos but when Djor starts to pay a lot of attention to another woman, Tara becomes jealous. She also meet Gahan, the jed of far Gathol at her father’s party. Gahan is instantly smitten with her and declares his love for her. She, however, isn’t impressed. In fact, she’s so furious that she leaves the party and in the morning, she flies her one-man flier into a storm. At first, it’s just an exciting adventure, but she soon realizes that she’s caught in a terrible storm which whisks her away into a strange land. Without any food or water, she’s in a bad situation.

Fortunately, she’s a resourceful woman and at first she manages to hide for a while but soon she’s captured by strange creatures called kaldanes. Unfortunately, the kaldanes eat only meat and so they intend to fatten Tara and eat her. The kaldanes practically worship intelligence to the point that they don’t even have much emotions anymore. However, Tara manages to charm one of them, Ghek, with her sweet singing. She’s kept a prisoner for weeks. Then she tries to escape but doesn’t succeed.

Meanwhile, Gahan takes his own vessel into the storm and tries to find her. However, the vessel is caught in the same storm and Gahan goes overboard. After wandering around for weeks, he ends up near the place where Tara is imprisoned. Tara, Gahan, and Ghek manage to escape but end up in another strange city, Manador. Tara doesn’t recognize Gahan so he calls himself Turan, a soldier of fortune so that she wouldn’t be uncomfortable.

Tara gets to do lot more than Burroughs’ usual women, most likely because for most of the book she adventures alone. Even after Gahan finds her, they’re kept apart most of the time. Although she still is captured and imprisoned a lot. However, she’s quite selfless, thinking of the worry she has caused to her parents and others, and as duty bound as the rest of the (good) Martians. She also doesn’t hesitate to use her slim blade on others. It’s also said a couple of times in the book that John has taught her to use a sword. So, it’s frustrating that she isn’t allowed to use her skills, even when she could have just snapped up a weapon and used it. She just her knowledge to judge the fighting skills of the men.

Once again, I loved the eerie Kaldanes and the Rykors. Kaldenes are essentially brains with spiderlike legs and crablike pincers. They live below ground and have a loathing for sun and fresh air. Much like the Lotharians in the previous book, they love intelligence to the exclusion of everything else. However, the Kaldenes have taken it even further: their aim is to produce a pure brain which will alone survive the dying Mars. Their servants are the Rykors, people who are flawless Red Martians except that they don’t have heads. Instead, the Kaldanes attach themselves to the Rykors and use them as bodies. Alone, the Rykors don’t seem to be sentient and without a Rykor, it’s hard for a Kaldane to survive above ground. I used to have nightmares about these and they’re still mightily impressive. Also, John describes the Kaldene rulers as very similar to queen bees; they lay the eggs from which all of the others hatch from but they don’t have drones. Essentially, they seem to be hermaphrodite queen bees. John insist on calling them kings and using the male pronoun for them. In a society which literally doesn’t have biological sex and neither social gender. The Kaldanes also use male and female Rykors for the same jobs equally.

In contrast, mostly the culture of Manator isn’t very different from the other evil cultures we’ve seen in previous books. Indeed, their arrogance and tendency to capture slaves from nearby cities (including Gathol) seems quite similar to the way that the Black Martians lived. However, as a teenager I was fascinated by the idea of playing chess (or jetan in this case) with living pieces where the pieces had to battle each other. It’s still a great idea but I was a bit disappointed when I found out how little time was actually devoted to the living chess games. (Now I want to get a computer game where the chess piece battle each other. Surely there must be some?)

Gahan is a stalwart hero, not really different from other heroes. In fact, Ghek was more interesting to me, although “he” seems similar to other strange culture sidekicks Burroughs’ heroes seem to collect.

Despite slight frustrations and disappointments, this is still one of my favorite Barsoom books.

The third book in the series and a direct sequel to the previous book.

Publication year: 1919
Format: ebook, downloaded from Gutenberg

The previous book, Gods of Mars, ended with a nail-biting cliffhanger where Dejah Thoris and the lovely and virtuous Thuvia of Ptarth are imprisoned for a Martian year into the Temple of the Sun together with their enemy Phaidor who is the cruel daughter of Matai Shang. When the door to the temple closed, Phaidor was attacking Dejah with a dagger and the men outside heard a terrible screm. Then the door closed. John has been waiting for six months for the door to open so that he could know who was killed. He was pretty desperate at first but then he was asked to become the ruler of the black Martians, the First Born. However, he declined and instead appointed his friend Xodar as their jeddak. Then he realizes that one of his earlier foes, Thurid, is up to no good. Thurid and Matai Shang are trying to free the women from their prison and John follows them. Unfortunately, they are able to kidnap both Dejah and Thuvia. John has to pursue them across Barsoom. He finds another ancient and secretive race of Martians, the yellow men.

This is classic pulp SF. Pretty much the only plot device in the book is kidnapping Dejah Thoris, over and over again. However, even though she spends a lot of time in the hands of her captors, she isn’t harmed, which shows old-fashioned chivalry which I, for one, was grateful.

Meanwhile, John has all sorts of interesting adventures, makes new friends and new enemies. The rulers of the cities and whole nations aren’t politicians but warriors and often exceptional in hand-to-hand sword fighting. The descriptions of places are as imaginative as ever and very evocative. The pace is relentless, throwing John from one dangerous situation to another almost constantly.

If you liked the first two novels, you’ll probably like this one, too.

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