Showing posts with label Abebooks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abebooks. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Most Favored Author - H. M. Hoover (Part 2)

And the experiment continues. 

Return to Earth: a novel of the future (1980)   

I really enjoyed this novel, one of the few that features both adults and children. Typically, adults are secondary characters for Hoover. 

Galen is a colony governor while Samara is a corporate magnate's child. This one novel could easily be a Traveller campaign all on its own. Dolmen assassins kill Samara's mother, thrusting the child into the role only Elon Musk could want, sole proprietorship of North America. Galen on the other hand simply wants to retire in his sleep hometown. At the end of the day, Galen and Samara don't need to merely defeat Dolmen, they need to counter the dying earth mentality that gave rise to his group. 

I reviewed Another Heaven, Another Earth (1981) back in April of 2021. It's a good book, I gave it 4 of 5 stars. But I'll skip the link to AbeBooks as a paperback is selling at $25. Too rich for my blood. If you follow the link to my review, you can keep an eye on prices without being driven to that high price point. 

The Bell Tree (1982) is another excellent novel, set in Hoover's default universe... which is also no available at AbeBooks. Jenny and her father discover the fossilized remains of fearsome aliens. This particular book is loaded with all kinds of details about alien lifeforms which are core to the central plot. 

The Shepherd Moon: a novel of the future (1984) is a solid performer in Hoover's universe. The protagonist is Merry, the daughter of two explorers. She befriends Mike, a young boy from the Shepard Moon. Later, Merry and Sara join forces with Merry's grandfather to counteract their one-time friend Mike as he unleashes strange forces upon the Earth. 

This novel is special as it clearly states the time period, the 48th century, and highlights some of the fantastic accomplishments of man, such as the artificial Shepard Moon of the title. There are odd references to the spacefaring culture Earth has created, and it is not without its problems. First and foremost, every spacefaring human is following "The Plan" much to humanity and every individual's detriment. There are dark hints that this culture is crazy paper AI, with every possibility arranged for by some long-gone author. 

Ah, Orvis (1987). If you like robots, this one is for you. Orvis is my all-time favorite robot tasked with an impossible mission: Destroy himself. Here is the link to my 5-star review, but I'll give you a little taste of how crazy this final mission is. I have not goofed on my tenses, I believe that Orvis exists beyond the end of all time. This bot was designed for war and after one war, all of the Orvis class bots were repurposed for space exploration. Orvis went to Venus for ground exploration. Not only does he survive a hell-scape planet for a long period of time, but he survived an Earth return mission. That is insane. 

The Dawn Palace: The Story of Medea (1988) is one novel I have never seen. It is one of Hoover's few historical fantasy novels. 

I recently picked up a copy of Away Is a Strange Place to Be (1990) but have not reviewed it yet. So, of course, I have a link. Be careful with this link as I see some copies for 6 bucks and others for $50. 

This one is an odd title, Abby and her friend Bryan are slaves in an artificial world and must escape before they age out and are euthanized. Whoa... tough love there. 

Not all stories about children are for children, but I would still place this in the YA group. 

Only Child (1992) is a strange title for Hoover as she tends to be more poetic in naming. However, it is an excellent book. Cody was born on a spaceship, illegally. Again, that strange paper AI rears its ugly head. In this return to Hoover's default universe, Cody discovers that the crew of the ship plans to colonize a world after they wipe out the sentient insectoid population. 

I reviewed The Winds of Mars (1995) in May of 2021. I feel that this one is one of Hoover's weaker novels, but it has a bit of charm to it. 

Annalyn Court is the daughter of the President of Mars. Mars experiences both rebellion and war with our child protagonist in the middle of it all. If you were concerned that she won't be able to survive, Hoover introduces the punniest robot guardian into the mix: Hector Protector. It's all right on the tin, "Hector Protect Her". 

If you like the Xanth novels of this time period, this would probably be a good read for you. While I did enjoy those Piers Anthony books, the charm of these types of stories rubs off rather easily on a re-reading. 

Or so I thought when I gave Winds of Mars three stars. In retrospect, the dynamic between Hector and Annalyn was a little more nuanced than I expected on my first read. First, Hoover follows Annalyn's life much longer than you would expect for a 190-page book. Annalyn goes from childhood to young womanhood. Initially, Hector is almost a god-like machine, but as Annalyn's world becomes much more serious and dangerous, his ability to cope with defending her was challenged. Hoover builds this slowly from the beginning to the end. There were zero surprises when Hector fails in his task. Which shouldn't have bothered me. The message of the story was growing up and doing stuff for yourself, with all of the knowledge and care of your parental units. 

(I like the term parental units, it's wrong and funny at the same time.) 

Whole Truth—and Other Myths: retelling Ancient Tales (1996) is yet another book I have never encountered. It was Hoover's last title as far as I know. 

Here ends the experimental post on Marketing and Monetization 101. I won't delete these two posts as I am using them for reference for future reviews. However, I have this powerful feeling that it's poor Marketing and Monetization. I hope it puts the nail in the coffin of non-DriveThruRPG links. 

In a future post, I'll be talking about DriveThruRPG. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Most Favored Author - H. M. Hoover (Part 1)

Just a few posts ago I said, "all most all of the ads are gone." From an informal poll, I discovered that no one really noticed my ads for AbeBooks and found them unobjectionable. 

In this post, I am doing a cross-content post, I'm building a list of books to combo with ads and reviews.  

When I was a child, my favorite author was H. M. Hoover. I was perpetually perplexed that Helen Mary Hoover was not a household name. In fact, I don't think I have ever met someone who knew of her. You can read her bio over here

I have reviewed a great number of her books and I have made it a mission to grab one copy of every book she wrote. And herein lies the problem: I don't know how many books she actually wrote. I have heard it could be as many as 20. I've only honestly encountered 15 of her books and was only aware of 17. So this year, 2023, I mean to find, read and review as many as I can get my hands on. 

The list below is broken into bits. If I have a review, the title will be a link. The image is an ad for a copy on AbeBooks. This is part one of a two-part post. 

Here we go:  

Children of Morrow (1973) - I have a copy of this, but I don't have a review. This is a good place to start as this is the only book with a sequel. 

I'm not sure why I don't have a review of this as I consider this an excellent book. It features a pair of children guided on a mission to escape their humble and primitive situation by a voice. Obviously, it features telepaths and other fun. 

The Lion's Cub (1974)

The Lion's Cub is one of her historical fantasy novels set in the Court of Nicolas I. I cannot even find a source for this book, so there is no ad. 

Treasures of Morrow (1976)

Again, we journey with Tia and Rabbit as they attempt to escape the Base. 

Again, it is embarrassing that I have a copy and have no review. This book reads a bit like a Tomorrow People episode. It is a quick read and very exciting. Somehow, I forgot that this was a sequel to her first book. Very often, her books read so quickly that it is hard to tell where one starts and the another ends. 

The Delikon (1977)

This one is my favorite, therefore that link is to my review. Page one starts with a hell of a hook: 

"Three children played in the garden; Alta was ten, Jason was twelve, and Varina was three hundred and seven."  

Strangely, like The Loin's Cub, it is not available. 

The Rains of Eridan (1977)

I like this review. There is an odd bug on this website. Anything I write on my 1999 iBook has a white background behind the text. It's annoying and I meant to stamp that out. As you can see, this review was written on that computer. 

This book features Colony Base III, on Eridan. The planet has a secret that is a good cause for not staying there. Or at least, good cause to be very careful when traveling in the wilderness. It will make an awful colony someday. 

If you play any sort of Sci-Fi game, Eridan is an excellent planet to dump a band of characters on. 

The Lost Star (1979)

This book is simply poignant. You can check out the review for the details. Lian is a very sad child with some very big problems. 

This Time of Darkness (1980)

You know what's dark? When a city is built around a surveillance system doesn't care for children and parents show even less care. It's dark enough to make 11-year-old Amy run away.  

They are pursued by the Authority, Crazies, and secretive Watchers on their quest to escape this dysphoria life and explore the great Outdoors. 

Again, this would be an interesting setting for a Sci-Fi RPG. 

We are almost half way there, so I am calling it quits right here. I will back again tomorrow. 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Macaulay - Great Books, Lousy Pictures

I'm tired tonight. I glanced over at my bookshelf an noticed a set of books by Dunder Mifflin.

On closer inspection, that was wrong. Very wrong. These books are by the amazing David Macaulay and published by Houghton Mifflin Company or HMCo. Each one illustrates a historically themed location, such as Castle, City, Mill, and Pyramid. The pen and ink drawings are spectacular.

I received Castle from my parents as a birthday present. The other three I picked up on Amazon, very cheaply. I plan on buying one every few months to complete the collection. I prefer the black-and-white editions, on paper, but he has updated the series in color and has many titles available for readers. 

Fast forward to something I didn't know. Some of them were adapted into documentaries by Unicorn Productions. Even better, they are on Youtube.

I have yet to find a better streaming source, but if I find these elsewhere, I will let you know. 



Roman City:

Mill Times:


I was going to watch a little Netflix, but this is much better. 

Last month, I pledged to take all ads down from These Old Games with the exception of DriveThruRPG ads. In that process, an informal poll revealed that most people didn't know that the text links to AbeBooks were ads at all. It kind of explains why this ad format received no traction here. As an experiment, I will continue to offer Abebooks ads and label them like so: 

David Macaulay on AbeBooks. 

Clicking the link will take you to the website and perform a search for all David Macaulay available. I do receive remuneration for purchases made through the links. Additional links below. 

Friday, October 14, 2022

Perfect Pairings, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days

This post comes courtesy of a long-time reader and benefactor, Blackrazor who gifted me a great many books and treasures.  

You can find Alastair Reynolds at and

Alistair Reynolds' Revelation Space is an excellent series of books however, Reynolds manages to zig-zag triumphant epics and eldrich horror in a way that does not make the reader envy the characters. There are too many Faustian endings. It is not the sort of series that makes excellent roleplaying, the players would feel cheated or screwed. 

Except for one game... called Golgotha. It was made for the Revelation Space. Specifically, it pairs with a pair of short stories called Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days. Sure, it's a hack but sometimes hacks make the most sense. 

In my last post, I wrote a great deal about the TV show The Rain. Enough to make the reader interested in watching it. This time, I would like to tell you about Golgotha more than Revelation Space because it appears to me that Golgotha is Revelation Space in RPG form. 

Golgotha is a hacked OSR game, where players generate their characters by special rules. Basically, if one stat is over a specific amount, the next stat must be 7. Once the 7 is assigned, you go back to random generation. It's good that the rules allow you to increase stats because sometimes the player will have some stinkers to start. That's pretty good. At least, better than D&D 3.x where everyone is racing to 18. 

This is a heavily modded OSR D&D-style game. Black Hack in particular. Rather than using tables, each stat is used as a target number for tasks and usually low rolls are better. The lack of tables makes this edition of ORS D&D very rules-light. Damage is based on class, abilities also on class. Oddly, characters have no Con bonus for hit points. This seems to be a scaling issue, where gobs of hit points would be detrimental to gameplay. 

At every other level, you get a talent that improves your character in specific Golgotha-themed tasks. And what an amazing list of tasks it has. Your goal as a character is to obtain materials for trade with an alien species for more power... or quirks. Rather than being trapped in the typical grind for experience, the completion of a task leads to more power. Not only do characters become more experienced and powerful, but they also get special powers based on what they collect for their alien overlords. Participation is equal to specialization because those other random skills make a character unique. It's D&D in Space plussed with fewer rules. That is a unique twist. 

Before I go, let me tell you a bit about the premise of Diamond Dogs which will totally explain why it's a great fit for Golgotha. In the 25th century, Roland and Richard discover something they call Blood Spire, clearly an alien artifact. Roland builds a team to crack the secrets of the Spire: a hacker, a gene-spliced and mind-altered mathematician, and a surgeon/body-modder, plus Richard. 

Each level of the Blood Spire has a specific mystery to be solved. Sometimes it is a difficult mental problem, other times it's a physical challenge. Failure results in ever-increasing peril. Level 1, get pricked in the finger. Level 10? Into the meat grinder, with no saving throw. Level 50, oh... you get the picture. 

It soon becomes obvious that there are several dark forces at work. Roland may be fixated on problem-solving in general or perhaps bewitched into delving deeper into the Spire. The hacker and the body-modder have their own goals. Richard and the mathematician have some history between them. What should be a linear story develops twists and curveballs. And the end has the biggest kicker. 
Go ahead and check out Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days : Tales from the Revelation Space Universe on AbeBooks. 

And don't forget to order Golgotha from Drivethru RPG. 

If you have a Netflix account, you can watch "Love, Death & Robots" for two adaptions of Reynolds stories called “Beyond the Aquila Rift” and “Zima Blue”. Not for children.