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Kelson Reads

Joined 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Techie, software developer, hobbyist photographer, sci-fi/fantasy and comics fan in the Los Angeles area. He/him.

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The fourth novel in Andre Norton’s Time Traders series, Key Out of Time follows Ross …

The line between fantasy and science fiction has always been fuzzy

4 stars

The Andre Norton books I've read over the last couple of years have all been on the action/adventure side of sci-fi, and this is no exception. What I found myself thinking about was how fuzzy, and sometimes arbitrary, the line between science fiction and fantasy really is.

90% of the book takes place on a world with pre-industrial technology. There are two factions with sufficiently-advanced technology that might as well be magic. The Cold War elements of the earlier books are pushed aside by the local conflict on Hawaika, with a handful of stranded humans and dolphins caught in the middle with nothing more high-tech than scuba gear and a convenient translator device. It could easily be a portal fantasy!

While the adventure was entertaining, I started paying more attention to the tropes connecting to the other books and, in some cases, being turned on their heads. Instead of a …

The Defiant Agents (EBook, 2022, Standard Ebooks) 3 stars

The space race has gone interstellar! Western and Soviet agents vie for control of the …

An enjoyable space western with Apaches as the good guys

No rating

An enjoyable space western with Apaches as the good guys, wrapped up in the cold war and tossing in the Golden Horde, a lost alien city and Russians with a mind-control ray.

Third in the Time Traders series, it stands alone pretty well even though it appears much more closely linked to the second book (which I haven’t read) than the first (which I have), largely because the setting has moved from Earth’s past to a distant world in the near future.

It’s kind of a mish-mash, but as an adventure it moves quickly. The characters’ memories are all scrambled, mixed with those of their ancestors (this is how the western and Mongol Horde tropes are brought into the future). But they’re still distinct characters, and when alliances shift they’re actually for character and cultural reasons, not just plot contrivances.

All that said, I’m a white guy reading a book …

avatar for KelsonReads Kelson Reads boosted

@KelsonReads I was reading the daily dracula substack via RSS all year and really enjoyed it. Dracula is a book I read as a kid but re-reading it as an adult made me appreciate it a lot more. The prose in particular is amazing in some places.

Also completely agree wrt codifying vampire lore; it's so cool to see how much of our modern vampire lore comes from this one source.

Dracula (Paperback, 1992, Signet) 4 stars

It tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he …

A great read, not just for codifying vampire lore, but the way it's built from letters and diaries.

5 stars

The original novel is a great read. Not just for the way it codified modern vampire lore. But for the way it's built entirely out of diary entries, letters, news fragments, telegrams and so on. For the way it shows modern science coming to grips with ancient superstition and figuring out how to deal with it. For showing an early example of a woman participating in her own rescue. And for some of the parts that didn't make it into general pop culture. (Count Dracula spends an awful lot of time in a shipping box.)

In some senses it's the written-word equivalent of the "found footage" horror genre. Except the "sources" are wildly varying. John and Mina write their journals and letters to each other in shorthand. Business letters are of course written formally. Dr. Seward keeps an audio diary on a phonograph. Van Helsing's speech is rendered with every …

Content warning How the science stacks up to what we know today

The Time Machine (2010, Megalodon Entertainment LLC.) 4 stars

The Time Traveller, a dreamer obsessed with traveling through time, builds himself a time machine …

Thought-provoking speculation about the future of humanity

5 stars

Content warning Not sure why I'm putting a spoiler alert on a book that's more than a century old, but hey, you might not have seen either of the movies, and even if you did, they might not have made it clear what was going on with the Morlocks and Eloi.