Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Review of The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall

In The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall we meet India's most private investigator. Is he the Sherlock Holmes of Delhi? Or perhaps India's Hercule Poirot? As I read this delightful discovery I could see Vish Puri, aka Chubby as a combination. Portly with a certain style in the clothes he wears I certainly am reminded of Poirot but being more hands on I can see Sherlock Holmes. One passage early on in the story reminded me of another detective.

" 'Vish Puri's third rule of detective work is to always make all suspects believe you are a fool', explained the detective. 'That way they are caught unawares.' " pg 80.

I was at once reminded of Columbo.

Most Private Investigators, Ltd. is brought into a case involving a missing servant girl from the Kasliwal household. A body of a woman badly damaged to the point of unrecognizablility is found. The master of the household is arrested as rumors have been about that he had gotten her pregnant and disposed of her. As Puri investigates clues lead to other possible suspects. The one suspect that seems to know the most turns up dead himself. A clue is found that makes Puri suspecious of the settled question that the woman's found body is really that of the missing servant.

Jumping ahead past the trial Vish Puri assembles all the main characters at the Kasliwal house for the final reveal, much as Hercule Poirot would do at the end of his cases. We learn the actual murderer, the motives for the murders, or the seeming murders, and the revelation that yes, the servant was indeed pregnant.

It is quite likely that I would never have run into Vish Puri if it were not for Goodreads. I most definately will be making room for others of this series to go next to my Poirots, Maigrets, and Holmes. It was a most pleasant surprise. A mystery with humor and delightful cast of operatives at the Most Private Investigators, Ltd., Tubelight, Flush, and Facecream. As a bonus, if you get hung up on a term or expression whether it be Hindi, Urdu, or Punjabi, Hall provides us with a glossery at the back of the book. If you love cozy mysteries you have to try Vish Puri, India's Most Private Investigator where "Confidentiality Is Our Watchword".

DISCLAIMER: I have received a complimentary copy of this book through Goodreads FirstRead giveaway program.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Review of Showcase Presents Justice League of America

This black and white rendition of the beginnings of the Justice League of America covers in this first volume The Brave and the Bold #28 from March-April 1960 through to Justice League of America #16 December 1962. Every Justice League of America story in order during this time period.

The stories are very predictable and quite juvenile, but that was because the primary target was kids. One could get these comic books at many variety and grocery stores in spinner racks at very low prices. Appeal to kids they did. This was the day when a story would usually begin and end in a single issue. Occasionally they would carry over into a second issue (talking all comics not just JLA). Even more rarely they would cross over into another title. Longer stories were generally saved for the annual issues where more space was provided. The stories in this volume were mostly told within a single issue.

My rating at 4 stars is not due to storytelling or the graphics, but the nostalgic nature of the contents of this book. I grew up with these stories and they have a value due to the fact I grew up with them, saving my dimes and pennies for my favorite titles each month...each ranging in cost from 10-12 cents each.

If you grew up with later comics in the last couple of decades you will find these stories dull and horrible. I will not debate that as I would agree as a comparison. However, if you are looking for a buzz from your youth this collection is more cost effective than trying to buy the originals, if you can find them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Review of Prepare by Geoffrey Germann

A mysterious stranger seemed to show up at just the right time. A stranger who seemed to be invincible. In a crime ridden section of the city called the Orchard, an attempted robbery of a convenience store is interrupted as the night clerk Nikolai can do nothing but watch as the stranger takes out the thugs who were not only going to rob him but cause him bodily harm if not kill him outright.

At Mercy Hospital, resident Corinne works in an ER that more closely resembles a scene from MASH. As she leaves at the end of her shift a mysterious fighure stands in front of her as gangbangers charge into the waiting room to finish off a rival waiting for medical attention.

What follows is a new type of superhero who stops criminals in their attacks on innocent inhabitants of the Orchard who live their lives in fear of gang activity. There is cat and mouse games drawing out gang members and basically running them ragged as they try to catch up with this taunting mysterious figure.

By day he returns to his home to rest and prepare for another nights activity. Vigilantism is of course frowned on by the local authorities and this stranger becomes very much a person of interest.

Darren is a scientist/technician of micromechanical engineering and teams up with fellow collegue Adam in devising the suit and the technologies that make its wearer impervious to most forms of attack. They sell their company which gives them the resources to carry out their crime fighting agenda.

We also learn at the end that this crusader has a secret lab that escapes the self destruct expolosion that Darren uses to destroy the evidence that is apparant to the police as they close in on him.

I would like to have seen a little more of Adam and his role in this story. I am a bit curious as to how the second gang could have discovered Adam's role in the vigilantism and where their center of operations was located. Other than Adam was executed by the second gang we don't know the particulars. Walter's role at the end and how much he knew was somewhat explained but I not sure it was adequate for me to be believable.

In spite of my few little quibbles with this book, I still found it a fast and enjoyable read. Everything does not have to clearly resolved in order to have a pleasurale experience. If you do find this book and went along for the ride the ending left a door open to further adventures of Darren. As I understand it there is a sequel in the works.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Review of Antimatter by Frank Close

In a short but packed book Frank Close presents the story of antimatter. The beginning is the Big Bang, but leads us to the Tunguska explosion over Siberia in June 1908. An explosion unlike any ever seen by man. Many theories are considered but Close asks us to consider the possibility that this was an antimatter explosion.

The author takes through a history of the quest for antimatter with physicist Paul Dirac and his mathematical equations. As this history progresses the strange world of subatomic particles are cataloged including one called 'strange'. It is a world of weird and wonderful objects. In the discovering of antimatter it is also learned how rare it is in the universe.

We eventually come to a discussion about how we could contain something that has the potential of coming into contact with regular matter annihilate itself and that matter. If a way of containing antimatter without the annihilation it is possible to explain why we haven't been blown to bits in a massive explosion. In other words, according to one chapter, why is there anything at all?

Antimatter has long been a subject useful in science fiction. Are there practical uses for this material? Is it fantasy to consider its use as a clean energy source, or is research going to produce as the Air Force would like, an antimatter bomb. This book also would give the general reader a better understanding of just what physicists are trying to do at the Large Hadron Supercollider.

For those interested in the subject of particle physics, or for those looking for an explanation of how antimatter works would find this book an intelligent introduction without the need for lots of mathematics. The general reader can make sense of the subject matter but some general knowledge of the subject would make it easier reading.

A Review of Mother Desert: Poems by Jo Sarzotti

Through the years I haven't read that much poetry although I had an English lit professor who had a passion for it. We didn't learn the mechanics as to how poems were written but how to appreciate the way the words were selected and used to produce images and emotions. I am totally unqualified to consider whether these poems were technically correct or that they followed a specific form. All I can say is that I enjoyed them.

It has been some time since I last took a "road trip" down some back road that was once a well traveled hiway in the past, but you've seen them yourself or in the movies, and passed by deserted buildings at some intersection. The abandoned gas station, the motel where the "VACANCY" sign has been long ago extinguished:

"On the outskirts of town

Long-boarded up, abandoned

Motels, coyote in the rubble,"


I once traveled the long hiway through the Mojave Desert at night in my younger days, when as a member of the US Air Force I would leave Nellis AFB to travel home to central California for visits. Traveling at night often I would be the only one for long stretches of time. Memories are made fresh with such lines as:

"If I drive far enough, fast enough,

Something will change."

Or even more vivid in the same poem:

"A dead animal blots the yellow line,

Natural taxidermy,

Flattened & dried, particalized,"


The night time desert presented little in the way of change except for a brief stop in a small desert town for refilling the gas tank because it was a long ways to the next. The road occasionally littered with some animal that wasn't fast enough to avoid the wheels of the occasional vehicle that passed. Even in death they seemed to be defiant. As if to say I am still here:

"The dead thing stares back,

Won't retreat, gives no quarter"


My grandparents farmed as a way of life and while they had no above ground silo they had an old pump house with a windmill on the top as a fossil of the time that wind power lifted water from the ground, but to be replaced by an electric pump and a more stable supply. The pumphouse and its windmill stood out in the landscape to give comfort that we were nearly there and would soon be at home with relatives long missed. Two little lines makes vivid that image that replaces the reality that has since been torn down to make way for acres of houses:

"A plank barn, its silo

For all the world a lighthouse on the brink>"


That windmill next to the barn was a lighthouse for me. Opportunities for a city kid to mess about with the cows and calves. Getting our hands wet so that we could rub them on the salt blocks that were placed for the cattle to supplement their mineral needs and letting the calves suck the salt off our fingers:

"Perhaps I'll lie down with the cows

In their still-green pasture, let them lick

Salt from my face"


While Jo Sarzotti images Cairo and barges with tusks, I recall images of Thailand during my time during the Vietnam War. Images of long ago greatness in their part of the world where the elephant was not only heavy load transport but a tool of battle. Images staged for tourists but well remebered in the line:

"Armored for war, its triumphal procession

Is too wide for city gates."


While I have finished this small volume of verses, I am at the same time NOT finished. I am not sure anyone can ever finish a poem and say "that's it. The universe is comprehended. I can now forget about it and move on"

A number of these poems reflected experiences in my life in ways one wouldn't think. In some ways they cause me to think about experiences in new ways. I liked this collection. They made me think about the way a few lines can tell whole stories with well chosen words. I will probable go get more books of verse. They reminded me of that old English lit professor. Don't just read the words, read the pictures.

For disclosure purposes, this volume of poems was awarded free through Goodreads First Read giveaways.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A Review of The MIkvah Scrolls by Steven G. Lightfoot

I rarely rate a book as unliked, but unfortunately I couldn't find anything to like about it. It was a fast read with large type and lots of white space and my first impression upon completion was that with some major editing this might make a passable couple of short stories. There is no novel here.

The characters were almost cartoonish to cliche with no depth. The author gave the reader no reason to care about these people. As an archaeologist the lead Dr. Cross, who was described as "more 'Indiana Jones' than scholorly professor" was setting a standard that the author did not come close to meeting. The archaeology was for the most part invisible.

As a Christian novel I found it to be very shallow. I have read supernatural books that were more realistic and convincing. The dialog did not enhance any way the archaeological reason for why we are supposed to be traveling with these people. A few places there was a distinct political message for our time, which is author's perogative, but in the couple of instances where this was expressed the opinion also did not advance the story. I was raised a Christian and am the son of preacher, but this part of the novel did not present itself well to me. I am sure that in certain Christian circles this might be a positive. If that is the case the rest of the storylines are probably in the way.

There was a Middle East political subplot in the story but was never develop in any fashion that would aide the moving forward of the plot line. I presume that this political subplot of danger was were we come into the story but it was no enhancement to make it interesting.

As I have said previously, this book could possibly shake out as a couple of short stories following heavy editing, and possibly an essay on how this authors understanding of his religious faith should play out in our national politics, but as a whole this book failed to work for me.

Sad that this review was negative as it was a Goodreads First Reads giveaway and the author took the time to autograph my free copy.
Addendum to Goodreads review:
About the only scene that was real was when Rev Proudman flashed back to his combat experience during the first Gulf War in Iraq. The author was a Marine officer during the same war. It is my opinion that had the author wrote about that experience as the subject of his novel, his writing may have been much better. To me it seemed that was the only thing that he really knows and understands. His secret new technology for archaeology work is neither new or unique as ground penetrating radar has been used for some time. Archaeologists even have satellite technology and imaging to aid with their digging. My advise for future book ideas would be for the author to hire, if he wishes to self-publish, an editor.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Review of Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner

We begin with a newsclip about a rag and bone man dying of apparant bee sting in this novel set in 1889 Paris with the World Exposition that is featuring the brand new Eiffel Tower. This novel is translated from the French and is written by Claude Izner the pseudonym of two Paris booksellers and experts on 19th century Paris. Claude Izner is Liliane Korb and Laurence Lefevre. This mystery is the first in what is to be a series of mystery novels featuring Victor Legris.

At the exposition and on the tower a Eugenie Patinot is excorting her sister's children. She sits down on a bench only to feel a pain in her neck and dies. The apparant cause of death is a bee sting. It is during this time we meet the staff of a small newspaper Le Passe-partout. We also meet Victor Legris and Kenji Mori coowners of the Elzevir Bookstore which is the central hub of this mystery.

Two have died of bee stings when a third victim, John Cavendish, is found dead. This makes Victor Legris suspicious of his partner Kenji Mori. There is some evidence that ties Mori to Cavendish. During his investigation he discovers that the two have a past history in Southeast Asia. Also circumstantial evidence begin to point to the illustrator Tasha Kherson of the Le Passe-partout. Tasha presents a problem for Victor as he has fallen for her. Along the way Victor reads up on poisons and suspects that the real cause of death is curare.

Then there is the death by apparant bee sting of a Russian Constantin Ostrovski. The deaths all look totally random with little to connect them. What do they have in common? Kenji's whereabouts have been established and it couldn't have been him. There even are doubts that it was Tasha who could have committed the crimes.

The book was an enjoyable mystery though for me it was a slow read in a couple of places but with a little effort I got by those points in the story and continued on. If you are looking for a "cozy" mystery I would likely suggest this one. I haven't read any of the others in this series of Victor Legris mysteries and would likely read them if opportunity permitted. I went along with Victor in his interpretation of evidence and facts and was a little surprised at who did commit the crimes and why.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Review of Kitty's Greatest Hits: A Collection by Carrie Vaughn

It is in this first short story "Il Est Ne" that that I am introduced to Kitty Norville, werewolf radio personality. A werewolf in human form comes into her life at a diner on Christmas called the Waffle House. During this story I learned that she has control over her changing and teaches this newcomer how to do the same. In the meantime they stop a serial killer. Enjoyed it.

The second story "A Princess of Spain" is an alternative history that has roots in reality. Arthur, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne was actually married to Catherine of Aragon before she was married to Henry VIII who eventually followed Henry VII to the throne of England. The twist is that this short story is a twist on how Arthur died. Or are our history books hiding the truth? Got a giggle out this one.

The third short in this book is "Conquistador De La Noche". This is the tale of a Spanish soldier who rode with Coronado in the New World. He is visited by an old friend who lures him to a remote village where he notices that things aren't right. While there he is attacked by his friend and others to become a blood thirsty demon like them. His faith in God however, helps him to control his urges to kill humans in order to drink their blood. Trapped he does what he was told could not be done.

"The Book of Daniel" is a retelling of the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den in the Old Testament with a twist. Daniel an advisor to King Darius make enemies among Darius' other advisors. A character called Suza who is a dancer joins Daniel on a walk that results in a journey to a forest where others are. They are changing from human form to various animals. Suza, Daniel's companion on the walk, turns into a leopard. Daniel, a lion. Daniel goes into the Lion's Den by order of King Darius....well, you figure out the rest.

"The Temptation of Robin Green" introduces us to a young army officer who works in secret Army base in California in a special lab where the objects of study include a werewolf, a vampire named Rick, a talking dog, a unicorn, a mermaid and a new addition, a silkie. We learn that Robin is a virgin and the power of the silkie is that of temptation. Robin is drawn to the silkie when she learns truely that he is male in the most obvious of ways. Against the advise of Rick the vampire, Robin plans to escape the lab with the silkie, which she accomplishes. Read the story for how this all ends.

"Looking After Family" Young Cormac Bennett's father is killed and Cormac kills his father's attacker. He is taken in to live with his Aunt and Uncle on their farm. One night Cormac goes into the darkness with rifle in hand, but his cousin attaches himself and wants to go out with him. It is in this story that I am introduced to Cormac, werewolf hunter.

Next up is another Cormac Bennett story, "God's Creatures". Cormac is a older and we once again find him hunting a werewolf, this time one which is killing cattle. The rancher who lost the cattle calls him in to track and kill the predator. Cormac tracks the wolf to a Catholic girl's school but eventually loses the trail. He attends church to try and get a "feel" for who might be the one who is hiding the secret. No one stands out but is confronted by a nun after services. Cormac sets bait that night but nothing is tempted. Returning to his motel he is attacked by a very large wolf. This was a interesting story and a side to Cormac in the aftermath of the hunt that seemed sympathetic.

In "Wild Ride" T.J. is introduced. Gay, he is tested and is found to be HIV positive. T.J. is a motorcycle mechanic and is at a race in which a rider by the name of Alex takes a fall and by all appearances should have been seriously injured or killed outright. Alex has a secret and T.J. senses it. T.J asked Alex to help him. Alex invites him to a bar called The Dustbowl. T.J. is eventually invited to a back hallway which leads to a garage where there is a steel cage. A woman takes off her clothes and gets in the cage when she begins to turn. The secret is that these peopole are werewolves and it becomes obvious to T.J. that invincibility has a price. Some time after turning T.J. is tested again only this time there is no sign of the HIV, but now he lives with another disease.

"Winnowing the Herd" finds Kitty at an office party for the radio station whe works at as a night time personality. Basically, Kitty is in dialog as much with the other staff as well as inner dialoge with herself. I found it amusing that playing performance poetry on her show late at night would create tension with programming.

In "Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned" Kitty attends a live concert and in the intervening mosh a young man is killed. Turns out one of the band members "sold his sold" not to be famous but to play his instrument well. When the "devil" is found out and in attendence drawing "life" from the mayhem and violence Kitty is pressed to the point of turning but the bartender takes the action to take control of the situation. A nail gun comes in handy for things other than its intended use.

"Kitty's Zombie New Year" brings Kitty into contact with a zombie. Not the usual horror movie type of zombie but one possessed by object through certain substances. I do wonder if they really could be available through eBay?

"Life Is The Teacher" is an erotic thriller involving a vampire that needs to feed but is learning to do so without destroying the human that gives up the blood. She takes just enough by giving her victim intense pleasure, and who just as quickly loses any memory of the encounter even taking place.

A fan of Kitty's radio show a vampire in "You're on the Air" calls into the show to tell his story. Not a story of involvement with historical figures from long ago, but of the lousy luck in life that he has had. After he tells the story 2 young travelers come into the store. Shortly after a man comes in with the intent of robbing him. Cooperating he empties the register only to have the robber complain about how little. If only the robber would have left right away no one would have gotten hurt. The young girls head to the register and the robber turns to face then with gun pointed. Jake, the cashier acts.

"Long Time Waiting" is a longer story. We come into it in the 1900s when a hunter comes upon a gruesome murder. She knows who committed the act, but the authorities catch her. We next find her facing the hangman's gallows. Moving forward in time Cormac is in the same Colorado prison, for doing what needed to be done in his profession of hunting werewolves, that the hanging in 1900 took place. Then it starts. Throats are being slashed in locked cells with cellmates in a mad desire to escape through the bars. Cormac is having dreams of a young women in old dress. She knows what is killing and how to stop it. She just needs a body and she has chosen Cormac's.

I wasn't sure how I would like this book when I first started it as I haven't been in the custom of reading modern werewolf and vampire books, but am a science fiction fan who will enjoy a good fantasy novel. I have had no experience with the Kitty Norville universe prior to this book of collected short stories. What I have found were some entertaining stories that were in part serious and humorous with main characters for the most part were able to maintain some control over what was inside them. The fact that Kitty tries to live a normal life and has worked to maintain control of the wolf inside her. Cormac does what he needs to do and in "God's Creatures" I sensed that he had some signs of compassion for the possessor of the werewolf inside. I am sure readers of the genre would enjoy these stories and would suggest them. I will likely go looking for at least a couple of the full length Kitty novels to see how Carrie Vaughn works with more space to develop character and plot.

For discloser purposes I received this book free by way of Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A review of Habits of Empire: A History of American Expansion by Walter Nugent

Nugent concludes his survey with words:

" This history of national expansion reals that it has not always been clean. America's preeminence, even its very territory, frequently resulted from force, subterfuge, or other reprehensible means, often varnished over by the language of liberty, freedom, and such terminology familiar since Jefferson, rephrased by Lincoln, and repeated in the American-inspired United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Beautiful rhetoric expresses the ideals of the republic. But the unspoken, unadmitted reality was and is that of an empire." pg. 316.

This conclusion is not the result of just one instance in the past but a parade of occurances and policy that started at the beginning of this country's foundation and carried forward in an almost continuous progression of taking what was wanted by any means necessary. This progression can be explained by merely looking at the chapter headings and confirming the facts presented. Those facts are not always pleasant and often reveal a dark underbelly that too few care to recognize.

Chapters are as follows:
Transappalacthia, 1782: First Land, First Good Fortune

Lousiana, 1803 : Second Good Luck

Canada, 1812-1814: Failed Aggression Northward

Florida, 1810-1819: Southward Aggression I

Texas, 1811-1845: Overpopulating and Conquering

Oregon, 1818-1846: Fixing the Canadian Border

California and New Mexico, 1846-1848: Southward Aggression II

Populating the Empire

To Alaska and Across the Pacific

Around The Caribbean

The Global Empire.

Nugents conclusions are not new ones. What Nugent does do is to put these various movements and periods together, and concentrating on the imperial tendancies we can see that his conclusion is the only one that matches with the reality of history. All through the book he brings to life the thinking of the leaders and exceptionalism and the notions that only white Americans can make best use of the territories as they present themselves on the horizon.

An interesting point in light of some current debate is that the filling of the continent could not have been accomplished without easy immigration. Immigration as long as it was the right kind. It was also the notion of excluding the granting of citizenship to conquered peoples hindered some of out more lustful desire of aquisition such as the taking of all of Mexico.

The postscript accurately describes our imperial appetite as a changed form that does not include direct possession. We have many bases around the world and those forces are there to make sure we have access to raw materials and markets.

These are hard lessons to learn but stopping our ears and eyes do not make them go away. Being aware of our past might help change our views and make our place in the world better. By being aware of our past dark side we may someday really stand for those ideas of liberty.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Superman Chronicles Volume 3

Just completed my third volume of The Superman Chronicles. These are color reproductions beginning with volume 1 of every Superman story in order. The third volume consists of Superman stories from Action Comics No. 21 (Feb 1940), Action Comics No. 22 (March 1940), Action Comics No. 23 (April 1940), Superman No. 4 (Spring 1940), Action Comics No. 24 (May 1940), Action Comics No. 25 (June 1940), Superman No. 5 (Summer 1940), and finally a story from New York World's Fair 1940.

Superman is still without flight. He does have the ability to leap large distances quickly, but does have most of this powers. It is in this series of issues that the Daily Star becomes the Daily Planet. Most of the stories up to now centered around villians who were usually modsters and petty criminals it in this time frame that an evil scientist shows up by the name of Luthor.

This is not the Superman that I grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s but I have enjoyed reading these early entries in the Superman universe. These reproductions are certainly cheaper to come by than copies of the original comic books.

There are further volumes available, but for now this is the last of this series that I currently own.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kitty's Greatest HIts by Carrie Vaughn

Just received in the mail from TOR books what was the 3rd book I won on Goodreads but the first to arrive. Kitty's Greatest Hits: A Collection by Carrie Vaughn. It is in trade paperback so is not a mass-market paperback. I have not read anything by Vaughn. Most of these short stories in the Kitty Norville "universe" which consists of several novels have been previously published elsewhere. This is not a book I would likely buy myself generally but will give it a try because it was given to me. Kitty Norville is a werewolf and radio personality. The back says this is a "world with shape-shifters, vampires, demons, mermaids, and other supernatural creatures coexist with ordinary men and women.".......but then...I do quite enjoy the X-Files. I will review when I complete my reading. I love FREE books.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Review of Redshirts by John Scalzi

In the classic Star Trek series it was fairly typical that the anonymous redshirt on away teams would not return due to some mishap or aggresive alien life form. Redshirts begins the same way. Death by Borgovian Land Worms. The reader begins by being introduced by who could only be considered as Redshirts waiting for their time to come and following the exploits of the Intrepid as they hurtle through space.

One away mission finds Dahl, one of the new low rank redshirts in peril:

"Dahl weaved through the trees, screaming for Q'een and Taylor. Some part of his brain wanted to know if he was running in the right direction; another part wanted to know why he wasn't using his phone to contact Q'eeng. A third part reminded him that he had a pulse gun of his own, which might be effective against whatever was currently eating Cassaway and Mbeke.

A fourth part of his brain was saying, This is the part where you run and scream a lot.

He was listening to the fourth part."

These lines early in the book tickled me and really sets the stage for what is to come. However, why did Dahl not be consumed? He is after all a low ranked officer in a redshirt on an away mission. Therein we are led into another mystery. What really is going on?

We will soon be left pondering if this story line is reality, it merely a television science fiction series where the characters have taken on a life of their own. I will let readers ponder this on their own. Star Trek, eat your heart out.

I came to what I thought was the end of the story but there are 3 Codas at the end. When I started reading the first I was thinking that this was really an unnecessary addition and that the story could have concluded previously. However, as I continued to read this first Coda and the following 2 I realized that my opinion was premature because they really did add to the story.

This was a most enjoyable read and as an original Star Trek original series fan during their first run, this book did indeed turn that world upside down. It was almost as if the transporters malfunctioned and created a bizarro world. I recommend this book to Star Trek fans, fans of television science fiction, whatever....anyone would enjoy this book.

To my surprise I came to learn that John Scalzi was Creative Director on the recent series Stargate Universe, a short lived but I thought an excellent addition to that franchise. I still would like to know what became of the crew. I watched a rerun of S-U and checked the credits more carefully. He is somewhat responsible for the creative direction. Can't wait to read his Fuzzy Nation sitting in my stack.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Family of Mary Wright wife of William Sabin and Mother of Samuel Sabin

  My last blogpost talked about William Sabin and his possible candidates for his parents. I want to provide some information regarding the family of William Sabin's first wife Mary Wright and begin to write about Samuel his first born.
  William Sabin married twice. His first wife was Mary Wright. Mary was born in 1618 in England. It is not known for sure where in England she was born, but I would suspect the south of England. We do not know who her mother was but her father was Richard Wright.
  Richard Wright was born probably sometime around 1598 in England. There is a record of his marriage in 1625/1626 (some dates are a little tricky because of the calendar system at the time) in Stepney, London, England. It is not recorded who his wife was. Richard Wright came to Boston with Winthrop in 1630, accompanied by 4 daughters and a Margaret Wright who may have been his wife, a sister, or other family member. Church records in Boston indicate that Richard was member #89 and Margaret Wright #99. Richard worked for John Humphrey developing land at Saugus (later Lynn, Massachusetts). Richard was likely a bondservent to Hunphrey because there a court record making him a freeman in May of 1634. He was already a leading citizen as he was a made a Captain of the milita in 1630.Richard was fined 6 pounds in 1638 for selling 130 acres of land at Mount Wollaston without the consent of the town. It was not permissible to sell land without permission. There is also a record of Richard selling 200 acres to William Tynge of Boston in 1639. Richard was dismissed from the Boston church in 1639 and joined the Braintree church. In 1641 it is known he had a mill with exclusive rights, in other words a sanctioned monopoly at Braintree. Richard was next found in Seekonk in 1643 where he was one of the first purchasers of land and the primary organizer of the town. Richard was the richest man in what would become Rehoboth with an estate valued at 834 pounds. He got exclusive rights to a corn mill in Rehoboth in 1643. Living there was also his 3 sons-in-law and was appointed overseer of estate of friend Thomas Blaise of Rehoboth in 1649 but apparantly never served. He had gone to England at that time. There is a deposition about some troubles in Rhode Island in 1656/57 with the last recod of him in 1661.
  William Sabin and Mary Wright together had 12 children. The oldest of these children was Samuel Sabin my ancestor in this line. He was born about 1640 probably in England. It was custom at the time to name firstborn sons after their grandfather, which would be Williams father. This is the reason some suspect that William Sabin's father was Samuel Sabin. That theory has some doubters when we look at Samuel son of William and his children.
  It is only his sibling Elizabeth who is thought to have been born in England along with Samuel. All others were born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Elizabeth was born about 1642. The other siblings are in order of birth:
Joseph, June 1645
Benjamin, July 1646
Nehemiah, May 1647
Experience, August 1648
Mary, July 1652
Abigail, November 1653
Hannah, December 1654
Patience, February 1655/56
Jeremiah, March 1657/58
Sarah, September 1660.
  It would seem that Mary Wright died during childbirth or shortly thereafter because there is a record that she died in September 1660 in Rehoboth, leaving William to raise 20 children. He would raise these children until 1663 when he remarried. Williams second wife was Martha Allen. William and Martha together had 8 children. Since my concentration from my personal tree involves Samuel son of Mary Wright I will discuss this step-family in another article.
  William would live until February of 1686/87. The records indicate that his burial was on 8 February in Rehoboth. It should be noted that his second wife was buried July 17, 1687. From this one family it is understandable why there are some 40,000 + decendants in the United States and Canada.

At the end of my last post I indicated that I would discuss the family of Samuel Sabin, Sr. but I thought it would be appropiate to discuss Mary Wright's family first. In order to not make these essays too long I will end this one here. Next up will definately be Samuel Sabin, Sr.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

William Sabin, His Roots in England and Establishment in America

  The immigrant ancestor of the Sabin family in the United States and Canada is William Sabin. The miller William married twice and fathered 20 children and is considered the patriarch of the family. Research on
the family must center on him and this first family in the United States. We know that William was born in Titchfield, Hampshire, England. The following line is recorded in in St.Peter's Parish, Titchfield, England on the occasion of his baptism. "Oct 1609 bapt William Sabin, the XI daye". The custom of the day was to record the names of the child's parents but sadly their names are not recorded.

  There are two theories as to who William's parents are. The predominant theory is that his parents are Richard Sabin and Mary (Bushe) Sabin. The other theory says that Samuel and Elizabeth Sabin are his parents. Perhaps someday a researcher will find a record that will settle this question.

  Richard Sabin and Mary Bushe were married 29 October 1608 in Titchfield. Richard was born in 1589 and Mary Elizabeth Bushe in 1591. The Parish Register in St. Peter, Tichfield lists the burial of Richard as 1 June 1641 and that of Mary as 14 October 1644. Associated with Richard and Mary according to some researchers list possible siblings for William born 1609 as
Thomas, born 1614
Richard, 1616
Peter, 1619
Frances, 1619
Henry, 1624
Robert, 1629
Richard, 1629
all born in Titchfield, England. It was not unusual and quite common to name a later child with the same name as a previous child that died young. That would account for the two Richards as William's siblings. Without an actual record of these relationships that connect one to another it is difficult to establish definitively this family as such. The one evidence that gives pause to this association is in the William's family. William did
not name his first born son Richard as was the custom of the day. One more pause for doubt is that the first born daughter was not named Mary but was named Elizabeth which was Richard's wife's middle name. William did not name any of his sons Richard.

  Other researchers have listed William's parents as Samuel and Elizabeth Sabin, both of Titchfield, England. William's first two children were named Samuel and Elizabeth which would seem that this pair could be the correct answer to the question of who William's parents are. We may never know for sure.

Titchfield in southern England
  William Sabin arrived in the America sometime before 1642. His name appears in connection with the formation of the villiage of Rehoboth, Massachusetts. How William actually arrived in America still has not been discovered. In May 1618 a group from Titchfield, England sailed from Southampton in May of 1638 on a ship called the Brevis. Someday a passenger register may be found and we would know
the names of those that sailed that voyage to the new world.

  William Sabin and his wife Mary Wright appear to have been married prior to coming to America. The IGI claims a Mary Wright was born about 1620 in Kirk, Deighton, North Riding Yorkshire, England to Richard Wright whose wife is unknown. William and Mary were married about 1639. It is also speculated
that their first two children Samuel and Elizabeth were born in England and traveled to America with their parents. Samuel is William's son that my family is decended from.

  Rehoboth (The Roomy Place) is located near Swansea, Massachusetts. Rehoboth has the distinction of establishing the first free public school in America. It wasn't until four years later that Massachusetts Bay Colony followed. William was present during the founding of Rehoboth and took up land for himself in the area, now known as Seekonk, which is now located in Rhode Island. Rhode Island became a haven for Roger Williams, baptist, when he fell out with the leaders of Plymouth Colony.

  William Sabin was a leading citizen of Rehoboth and was very much involved with local matters dealing with schools, church, and affairs of the Plymouth Colony. Looking at the accounts of his estate and gifts for relief to those who were victims of indian attacks would indicate that William was a man of considerable wealth and culture. William was a miller and in the area of Rehoboth there is a sign that indicates the location of his mill at the body of water that bears his name.

  John Dickinson Sabine wrote a book The Family and Decendants of Rev. James Sabine, Washington, DC, 1904. James Sabine was a later immigrant to America in the early 1700s was not a decendant of William Sabin. Some of William's decendants, however, would adopt the spelling of Sabine for their surname. In this book John Dickinson Sabine would write "The Sabine family can be trace back as far as 1600 AD. The first we find of them is in the County of Hampshire (Hants) England, at Titchfield and towns near thereto. They were Puritans and Nonconformists of early date and glorious memory."

  This then is the beginning of the Sabin family in the Americas. Early settlers in New England as part of the Plymouth Colony. Next up will be Samuel Sabin, SR. and Mary Billington, daughter and granddaughter of two passengers on the Mayflower. Mary's grandfather has a distinction beyond coming to America on the America's most famous and celebrated voyage even though it was not the first.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Massive solar flares, zombies and greys oh my

Recently my son Tim asked me to write an article about radio and their usefulness during periods of survival. The following is published here for readers of my blog, which looks to have been nearly abandoned.

One of the technologies that we take for granted is the interlaced global communications satellites. As a benefit of a massive government investment in the 1960s space race you now have the ability to have a cell phone, satellite television, and GPS to show you how to get from point A to point B. All good, but what happens if those satellites no longer function?
Massive solar storms have the potential to damage satellites to burned out hulks of mechanical and electrical components. Should we be the target of an invasion from outer space, the first order of business would be to take out our "eyes". In the case of zombies you would probably be too busy avoiding having your brains eaten.
How would you communicate in the event of an apocalyptic event? Are there means at your disposal to coordinate with fellow survivors? The answer to that is yes.
One of the items that readily available is the simple walkie talkie. Many electronics stores sell these in a wide variety of styles and ease of use. Many outdoors stores sell these even with GPS built in...for a price. There are several services that fall under this category that require no license to those that do require them. The problem with these is that they often are of very low power and only have the capabilities to communicate short distances. They are also fixed on channelized frequencies that require some skill to modify (which is a violation of FCC rules). They also require a charger to convert 120volts AC to the appropiate voltage DC to operate. Some models only require a couple of batteries and an even greater sacrifice of power. If the function is for survival I would probably avoid this method.
Another option is the traditional CB radio. These come in a variety of quality. The advantage of CB is that they operate in the 11 meter band which is down in the upper end of what is called the High Frequency range. They are capable of skipping some distance but it is generally unreliable as a general rule. These are generally mobile and can even be operated as a base station with power from a simple car battery. One downfall is that these radios also have channelized frequencies. While you can modify these it is once again against FCC rules unless you are doing so to work them into the 10meter Ham band and have an FCC license. This is not the most efficient use however.
The next form of communication is to go ahead and get a Ham license. The entry level is the Technician Class and can be obtained relatively easy. This license allows radio priveledges in the VHF (Very High Frequencies) UHF (Ultra High Frequencies) and SHF (Super High Frequencies or more commonly the microwave bands). Many use walkie talkie type units the operate in the 2meter band although you can get them in multiple bands. I own one that allows 4 different tansmitting bands and has general receiving capabilities that include AM, FM, TV, Marine, Air, and commerical frequencies up to 900 MHZ with cell phone frequencies blocked. These bands are generally line of site with the use of repeaters placed in strategic places to retransmit the signal or repeat. The repeater splits the signal by receiving on one frequency and transmitting on another. Modern radios has these splits programmed in and allow modification if a local group chooses to do so. With repeaters here in the Portland metro area I have the capability with low power to talk to people in SW Washington, south to Salem and into the east county metro area. Because there are hills between me and Beaverton I can hear their signals but I cannot transmit into the repeater from my location. The radios are also capable of point to point single frequency transmit and receive but again, you must be in the "line of sight". Certainly usable in emergencies. A test of simple basic electronics, a simple understanding of radio theory, safety, and FCC rules and at one time $12 would net you a Technician Class FCC license.
If you are really looking for long distance and fairly reliable communication the recommended the next step up and test for the General Class license. This license allows numerous radio frequencies along with those of the Technician Class. The plus factor is access to High Frequency bands with much higher power that allows worldwide communication without the use of repeaters or satellites. There are commercially available radios that can operate off a simple car battery with excellent results This license can be obtained by knowing and understanding more advanced electronics, and radio theory. Communication can even include teletype, slow scan television (within allowed frequencies), and even digital data modes. Far more bang for your buck.
While the notion that learning electronics and radio theory seems daunting, it is accessable to anyone. The national organization that represents the Amateur Radio hobby is the Amateur Radio Rely League (ARRL) in Connecticut. They have available for purchase study guides with test questions. Test questions come from a predetermined pool. Each individual test will include several questions from each section of the pool. Morse code is no longer required, but can be learned after obtaining a license and there are study materials even for that. Morse code is handy during periods of high noise or low power and allow a signal to penetrate through the muck when other modes just won't get the job done.
The bottom line is that there is not need to fear communicating in the event of apocalypse. A little preperation beforehand will yeald satisfactory reults. You can even build gear out of old parts. In high school we wound coils of wire around toilet paper rolls to build transmitters on a piece of wood.