Recent Acquisitions (Early October)…

BooksReceived-201310

Another clutch of interesting books.

A nice mix, actually. I’m really trying to broaden what I feature on here – who knows how successful I will be in that endeavour. Partly, this is because my day-job involves reading a fair bit of SFF, which means I’m finding myself drawn more to thrillers (e.g. John Sandford) and (literary-)fiction. I’m still going to be reading plenty of SFF, of course (my interest in that is never going to go away). I just hope I can at least somewhat keep on top of all of these titles. Maybe I need to get some more writers involved.

Anyway, here’s what has turned up in the first few days of October…

Abnett-GG1-First&Only-BLCDan Abnett, First & Only (Black Library)

In the war-torn future of the 41st millenium, the Sabbat Worlds Crusade has begun. With the massed ranks of the Imperial Guard hard-pressed by the evil forces of Chaos, mankind must prevail – whatever the cost in lives. Commissar Ibram Gaunt has vowed to lead the men of the Tanith First-and-Only safely through the scheming of rival regiments just as much as the lethal firepower of the enemy.

It’s been fifteen years since the first Black Library novel, First and Only, was published. It is, therefore 15 years since I read it first (I bought it on the first day of publication). In many ways, it was a defining science-fiction book for me. I became hooked on Abnett’s writing, and have read (almost) everything he’s written for Black Library since. The Gaunt’s Ghosts series remains one of my absolute favourites, and this new edition is rather nice. If you haven’t tried the series, yet, then I would certainly recommend that you do. This is a great collection of the original Inferno short stories and more. I may actually take this opportunity to re-read this again, for what must be the fourth or fifth time.

*

CardOS-EndersGameOrson Scott Card, Ender’s Game (Orbit)

The human race faces annihilation.

An alien threat is on the horizon, ready to strike. And if humanity is to be defended, the government must create the greatest military commander in history.

The brilliant young Ender Wiggin is their last hope. But first he must survive the rigours of a brutal military training programme – to prove that he can be the leader of all leaders.

A saviour for mankind must be produced, through whatever means possible. But are they creating a hero or a monster?

An author who is no stranger to many – almost more infamous now, than famous. Ender’s Game is one of the seminal science fiction texts of the 1980s (it was first published in 1985), lauded by many, and even (so I’ve been told) taught in some military/strategy classes. As I’ve mentioned (oh so) frequently on CR, I’m a relative latecomer to SFF, and always leaned more towards fantasy than sci-fi (Star Wars and WH40k notwithstanding). Rather than go back to the beginning, as many people do, I’ve always tended towards picking up newer titles (also because those are the ARCs I get). On Monday, I was invited to attend a Q&A with the cast of the upcoming, long-in-the-making movie adaptation of Ender’s Game. It was a very good event, and the enthusiasm the cast, director/screenwriter and producers had for the story and movie was infectious. So, despite being utterly opposed to the author’s politics and social ‘beliefs’, I am very interested in reading the novel. I’ll be reading it relatively soon, too, in preparation for the movie.

*

DelToro-CabinetOfCuriositiesGuillermo del Toro, Cabinet of Curiosities (Titan)

Over the last two decades, writer-director Guillermo del Toro has mapped out a territory in the popular imagination that is uniquely his own, astonishing audiences with Cronos, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and a host of other films and creative endeavors. Now, for the first time, del Toro reveals the inspirations behind his signature artistic motifs, sharing the contents of his personal notebooks, collections, and other obsessions. The result is a startling, intimate glimpse into the life and mind of one of the world’s most creative visionaries. Complete with running commentary, interview text, and annotations that contextualize the ample visual material, this deluxe compendium is every bit as inspired as del Toro is himself.

Contains a foreword by James Cameron, an afterword by Tom Cruise, and contributions from other luminaries, including Neil Gaiman and John Landis, among others.

A gorgeous art and photo book by del Toro on his various movie and comic projects? Yeah, I was definitely going to be interested. I’ve already read through it – it’s a book you can dip in and out of, too – it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the man’s movies and aesthetic. It’s also another example of how gorgeous Titan Books’ products can be. Very highly recommended. I’ll try to get a review up ASAP.

*

Dembski-Bowden-Betrayer(HH)Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Betrayer (Black Library)

The Shadow Crusade has begun. While the Ultramarines reel from Kor Phaeron’s surprise attack on Calth, Lorgar and the rest of the Word Bearers strike deep into the realm of Ultramar. Their unlikely allies, Angron and the World Eaters, continue to ravage each new system they come across – upon the garrison planet of Armatura, this relentless savagery may finally prove to be their undoing. Worlds will burn, Legions will clash and a primarch will fall.

I’ve already read and reviewed this novel, so all I’ll say is that it’s excellent. You can find my complete review, here. Aaron DB’s one of my favourite authors of any type of fiction, and Betrayer is another example of his prodigious talent for characterisation.

*

KymeN-SalamandersOmnibusNick Kyme, Salamanders Omnibus (Black Library)

After the death of their captain at the hands of a traitorous brother, Da’kir and Tsu’gan, battle-brothers and rivals, face enemies from within and without. As their paths diverge and they face trials that will test them to their very limits, their destinies draw them back together for one final confrontation that will decide the fate of the Salamanders Chapter.

Ah, the Salamanders series. Why haven’t I read this yet? Seriously. It should be right up my street, and given how good everything I’ve read by Kyme has been, I really don’t know why I haven’t already read this series. I have the novels already (in eBook), but this omnibus puts everything into chronological order, so what I’m probably going to do is read the short stories and extras in here, switch to the eBooks for the novels, and review it in chunks. Or something. We’ll see. I will read at least some of this series this year. Hopefully. Most recently, I read Kyme’s first full-length contribution to the Horus Heresy series – Vulkan Lives – and it was absolutely superb. If the Salamander novels are even half as good as that, they’re going to be great reads. Watch this space for more (hopefully) soon.

*

McNabA-SilencerAndy McNab, Silencer (Bantam)

1993: Under deep cover, Nick Stone and a specialist surveillance team have spent weeks in the jungles and city streets of Colombia. Their mission: to locate the boss of the world’s most murderous drugs cartel – and terminate him with extreme prejudice.

Now they can strike. But to get close enough to fire the fatal shot, Nick must reveal his face. It’s a risk he’s willing to take – since only the man who is about to die will see him. Or so he thinks…

2012: Nick is in Moscow; semi-retired; semi-married to Anna; very much the devoted father of their newborn son. But when the boy falls dangerously ill and the doctor who saves him comes under threat, Nick finds himself back in the firing line. To stop his cover being terminally blown, he must follow a trail that begins in Triad-controlled Hong Kong and propels him back into the even more brutal world he thought he’d left behind.

The forces ranged against him have guns, helicopters, private armies and a terrified population in their vice-like grip. Nick Stone has two decades of operational skills that may no longer be deniable – and a fierce desire to protect a woman and a child who now mean more to him than life itself.

Another author I’ve not read much of. I now have two of his novels on my shelves to read. I have no idea why I haven’t read anything by him before. Probably because I do tend to be drawn to US-based contemporary thrillers. (Interestingly, I am fine with reading historical thrillers set anywhere, but when they’re modern, I gravitate towards American thrillers… Weird.) I need to break that habit, I think.

*

NivenJ-StraightWhiteMaleJohn Niven, Straight White Male (William Heinemann)

Kennedy Marr is a novelist from the old school. Irish, acerbic, and a borderline alcoholic and sex-addict, his mantra is drink hard, write hard and try to screw every woman you meet.

He’s writing film scripts in LA, fucking, drinking and insulting his way through Californian society, but also suffering from writers block and unpaid taxes. Then a solution presents itself – Marr is to be the unlikely recipient of the W. F. Bingham Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Modern Literature, an award worth half a million pounds. But it does not come without a price: he must spend a year teaching at the English university where his ex-wife and estranged daughter now reside.

As Kennedy acclimatises to the sleepy campus, inspiring revulsion and worship in equal measure, he’s forced to reconsider his precarious lifestyle. Incredible as it may seem, there might actually be a father and a teacher lurking inside this “preening, narcissistic, priapic, sociopath”. Or is there?

You know, I only heard of this book a few days ago, and I can’t for the life of me remember where I heard or read about it… Thankfully, I received a copy from the publisher, and I intend to read it ASAP, on one of my soon-to-be-frequent breaks from SFF. The blurbs for this and Niven’s previous novels are gushing and plentiful, so I have high hopes for this. And I have a soft-spot for novels with academics as protagonists (as a wannabe academic myself, I find them easy to relate to…).

*

Pratchett-ABlinkOfTheScreenTerry Pratchett, A Blink of the Screen (Corgi)

A collection of short fiction from Terry Pratchett, spanning the whole of his writing career from schooldays to Discworld and the present day.

In the four decades since his first book appeared in print, Terry Pratchett has become one of the world’s best-selling and best-loved authors. Here for the first time are his short stories and other short-form fiction collected into one volume. A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett’s long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job on the Bucks Free Press, and the origins of his debut novel, The Carpet People; and on again to the dizzy mastery of the phenomenally successful Discworld series.

Here are characters both familiar and yet to be discovered; abandoned worlds and others still expanding; adventure, chickens, death, disco and, actually, some quite disturbing ideas about Christmas, all of it shot through with Terry’s inimitable brand of humour. With an introduction by Booker Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt, illustrations by the late Josh Kirby and drawings by the author himself, this is a book to treasure.

I have never read any of Pratchett’s shorter fiction. So when this unexpectedly arrived in my mailbox, I was giddy with excitement and expectation. The only question remains, as it is a given that I will read this, is in what order? Will I be able to resist the temptation to go straight to the Discworld short stories, before reading the others? Or will I be good and read it from front-to-back? A pickle, to be sure, and something that will require some thought.

*

Resnick-TheDoctor&TheDinosaurMike Resnick, The Doctor and the Dinosaur (Pry)

Welcome to a Steampunk wild west starring Doc Holliday, with zombies, dinosaurs, robots, and cowboys.

The time is April, 1885. Doc Holliday lies in bed in a sanitarium in Leadville, Colorado, expecting never to leave his room again. But the medicine man and great chief Geronimo needs him for one last adventure. Renegade Comanche medicine men object to the newly-signed treaty with Theodore Roosevelt. They are venting their displeasure on two white men who are desecrating tribal territory in Wyoming. Geronimo must protect the men or renege on his agreement with Roosevelt. He offers Doc one year of restored health in exchange for taking on this mission.

Welcome to the birth of American paleontology, spearheaded by two brilliant men, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two men whose genius is only exceeded by their hatred for each other’s guts.

Now, with the aid of Theodore Roosevelt, Cole Younger, and Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday must save Cope and Marsh not only from the Comanches, not only from living, breathing dinosaurs, but from each other. And that won’t be easy.

This is the fourth book in Resnick’s Steampunk Western series. Sad to say, I’ve only read the first – the middle two are in the US, along with so many of my books, which means they’ve been put on the back-burner. It’s a fun premise, and Resnick can pull it off rather nicely. I’m looking forward to being able to catch up.

*

StewartM-M1-CrystalCaveMary Stewart, The Crystal Cave (Hodder)

The dramatic first novel in the classic Merlin Trilogy, set in fifth century Britain at the beginning of the time of King Arthur.

Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. This is the world of young Merlin, the illegitimate child of a South Wales princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity.

Yet Merlin is an extraordinary child, aware at the earliest age that he possesses a great natural gift – the Sight. Against a background of invasion and imprisonment, wars and conquest, Merlin emerges into manhood, and accepts his dramatic role in the New Beginning – the coming of King Arthur.

Somehow, I had never knowingly heard of this novel before it arrived (it is the third title for the Hodderscape Review Project). I was talking to Alyssa when it arrived, and she said it was fantastic, so I have no doubt I will like this (she has impeccable taste). A re-telling of the Merlin story? Intriguing.

*

Tidhar-TheViolentCenturyLavie Tidhar, The Violent Century (Hodder)

They’d never meant to be heroes.

For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism – a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields – to answer one last, impossible question:

What makes a hero?

Another novel I have already read (and very much liked), this is a must-read take on super-hero mythos, blended with a noir-ish reimagining of the 20th Century. It was the first novel of Tidhar’s that I read, and I was very impressed indeed. I think a lot of people are going to like this. Check out my review, here.

*

Wraight-MasterOfDragonsChris Wraight, Master of Dragons (Black Library)

For millennia, the elves of Ulthuan and the dwarfs of the mountain realm have been friends and allies. Now that time is over and the War of Vengeance has begun. Prince Imladrik, master of dragons and Ulthuan’s finest warrior, is ordered to leave his beloved homeland and lead his host in a war he does not believe in. Facing the fury of the dwarfs, the jealousy of his brother and the ever-present threat of Malekith’s dark elves, Imladrik must balance his love for his wife and home with the thrill of battle.

Another author in the Black Library stable that has been improving in leaps and bounds. I’ve been reading his serialised Horus Heresy novel (Scars) and been very impressed. I haven’t read much of his Warhammer fantasy fiction, though. I enjoyed his novella, Dragonmage, which was also focused on the High Elves and their dragons. This is the second book in the War of Vengeance series, part of the Time of Legends line of novels, but I’ve not read the first – Nick Kyme’s The Great Betrayal. Anyone know if it’s necessary to do so? I know the ‘history’ behind it, but I don’t want to jump right into this if it is a direct sequel-proper to The Great Betrayal

*

ZiskinJW-Styx&StoneJames W. Zisken, Styx and Stone (Seventh Street)

Ellie Stone is a professed modern girl in 1960s New York City, playing by her own rules and breaking boundaries while searching for a killer among the renowned scholars in Columbia University’s Italian Department.

“If you were a man, you’d make a good detective.”

Ellie Stone is sure that Sgt. McKeever meant that as a compliment, but that identity – a girl wanting to do a man’s job-has throttled her for too long. It’s 1960, and Ellie doesn’t want to blaze any trails for women; she just wants to be a reporter, one who doesn’t need to swat hands off her behind at every turn.

Adrift in her career, Ellie is back in New York City after receiving news that her estranged father, a renowned Dante scholar and distinguished professor, is near death after a savage bludgeoning in his home. The police suspect a routine burglary, but Ellie has her doubts. When a second attempt is made on her father’s life, in the form of an “accident” in the hospital’s ICU, Ellie’s suspicions are confirmed.

Then another professor turns up dead, and Ellie’s investigation turns to her father’s university colleagues, their ambitions, jealousies, and secret lives. Ellie embarks on a thorny journey of discovery and reconciliation, as she pursues an investigation that offers her both a chance at redemption in her father’s eyes, and the risk of losing him forever.

Another interesting-sounding novel from Seventh Street. I haven’t read nearly enough of their novels. I shall endeavour to rectify this oversight.

“Armageddon” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowden-ArmageddonTwo Space Marine Battles stories from one of Black Library’s best young talents.

++ Grimaldus…

They lied to us about the Mannheim Gap. They sent us there to die. You know of whom I speak. We cannot outrun the echoes of Khattar. We pay the price now for our virtue in the past. The Celestial Lions will never leave this world. A handful of us remain, but we know the truth. We died at the Mannheim Gap. We died the day the sun rose over the scrap-iron bodies of alien gods. ++

++ Message for Black Templars Reclusiarch Merek Grimaldus, From Celestial Lions Deathspeaker Julkhara ++

Armageddon collects Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s early Space Marine Battles novel, Helsreach, and a new novella set shortly after the events of that novel, Blood And Fire. Both are quite different, and as a long-time fan of the author’s it is interesting to compare them – in terms of style, confidence, and story construction. (Though, fear not, this review is not a piece of academic literary criticism.) Overall, I think this collection is very strong, and while the novella is much better than the novel, both are highly recommended for fans of the author, the series, and science-fiction in general.

I’m going to address each part of the omnibus separately, before providing a brief summation at the end.

*

DembskiBowden-HelsreachHELSREACH

When the world of Armageddon is attacked by orks, the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter are amongst those sent to liberate it. Chaplain Grimaldus and a band of Black Templars are charged with the defence of Hive Helsreach from the xenos invaders in one of the many battlezones. But as the orks numbers grow and the Space Marines dwindle, Grimaldus faces a desperate last stand in an Imperial temple. Determined to sell their lives dearly, will the Black Templars hold on long enough to be reinforced, or will their sacrifice ultimately be in vain?

Helsreach is a very strong addition to the Space Marine Battles series. It is a novel that is both excellent, yet also slightly disappointing. It is an excellent example of military science-fiction, with intense and fast-paced battle and action scenes, strong characters, and a tightly written plot.

Given the series parameters (which is far more combat-oriented), though, I felt that Helsreach doesn’t really give the author the space or time to do what he’s best at: getting into the heads of his characters, exploring the light and dark of conflict, and the psychological impacts of warfare at any length. This is a pity, as I think he approached these themes brilliantly in the Knight Lords trilogy and also his Horus Heresy novels. Helsreach remains a strong novel, however, and I think he certainly fulfills the brief of the series. There are still some very good observations sprinkled throughout. For example, the PR benefits of certain tactics and well-timed speeches, and also when the strategic council discusses the morale-boosting benefit of having the Black Templars assembling in formation before sallying forth, pict-feeds beaming the imagery around the embattled/besieged planet. (Noam Chomsky and John Pilger would have been proud of these observations…)

Despite the slightly diminished focus on character development, there are shades of Dembski-Bowden’s skills evident throughout. I can pick out quite easily the scenes that some early reviewers didn’t like, as they do break up the action and slow down the novel just a smidge. I welcomed these quieter moments, though. For example, Grimaldus’s face-to-face with the princeps majoris of Invigilata, Zarha. It was an interesting scene, he in his imposing armour, her floating in an amniotic tank, on the bridge of a vast war machine. Though even this scene was too short, truncated by the need to get to the conflict.

It was nice to see some brief cameos from familiar characters (Commissar Yarrick, for example, most recently immortalised by David Annandale in his truly excellent novella, Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha). There were also a higher-than-normal number of strong or highly-ranked female characters for a WH40k novel, which is another nice touch.

Above all, though, there are fierce Space Marines of the Black Templar chapter – one I don’t know a great deal about. I must, say, though, that they do seem a rather dour and ferocious lot. Makes for interesting reading. There are also orks. Lots and lots of orks. As I said earlier, there are plenty of solid action scenes, and the author manages to resist the more florid impulses and tendencies of many of his fellow BL stable-mates, keeping descriptions sparse-yet-evocative. A couple of them were still a shade over-long for my tastes.

Ultimately, this is a very good novel of science fictional warfare on a pretty massive scale (So. Many. Orks.), and if that’s what floats your boat, Helsreach should suit your taste very well. However, having read everything else Aaron Dembski-Bowden has written for Black Library, I must admit to preferring his other, less constrained and more nuanced fiction. He’s still my favourite Black Library author, but this is by no means my favourite of his books.

*

DembskiBowden-Blood&FireBLOOD AND FIRE

In the aftermath of the war for Hive Helsreach, Black Templars Chaplain Grimaldus receives a unexpected distress call from an old ally. The Celestial Lions Space Marines are being targeted by the Inquisition and have been brought to the brink of extinction. Will they regroup and rebuild, or will they choose to go out in a final blaze of glory? That is what Grimaldus must decide…

In contrast to Helsreach, Blood And Fire is far more reminiscent of Dembski-Bowden’s post-Helsreach fiction. It’s less about cramming in as much bolter porn as humanly possible, and more about exploring the characters involved, their temperaments and motivations. We get to know Grimaldus more (always a good thing, as he’s a really interesting character). The story builds to a fantastic, intense battle. There are a couple of elements of the story that I thought weren’t as well rounded-off as I would have liked (the role of the Inquisition, for example), which could suggest that there is either more to come from Grimaldus – or, less charitably, that this should have been longer (which would have been no bad thing). As with Helsreach, this is a very strong addition to the series.

If you have any interest in the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, then I would certainly recommend this book. Both stories give us an excellent glimpse into how the Astartes and their Imperial Guard allies make war together, and also just how deadly a scourge the orks can be, when rallied under the banner of a gifted warboss. Intense, brutal, yet also deftly written, this is very fine military science-fiction.

Also by Aaron Dembski-Bowden: Cadian Blood, Throne of Lies (audio), Shadow Knight, Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver, Void Stalker, The Emperor’s Gift, The First Heretic (Horus Heresy), Butcher’s Nails (Horus Heresy), Betrayer (Horus Heresy), Savage Weapons (Horus Heresy)

Space Marine Battles Series: Rynn’s World, Helsreach & Blood And Fire, The Hunt for Voldorius, The Purging of Kadillus, Fall of Damnos, Battle of the Fang, The Gildar Rift, Legion of the Damned, Architect of Fate (anthology), Bloodspire (audio), Wrath of Iron, Deathwolf (audio), Flesh of Cretacia, The Siege of Castellax, Steel Blood (short), The Death of Antagonis

Upcoming: “Abaddon: The Talon of Horus” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowden-A1-TalonOfHorus

I had no idea this cover had been released, yet, but while on Goodreads adding my latest read to my Currently Reading shelf (Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Helsreach), I saw this listed among his novels. Complete with a cover. So I did some more digging/Googling, and this post is the result.

Abaddon: Talon of Horus is the first in a new series of novels focussing on the Black Legion and their leader – former first captain of the Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus (who will be familiar to readers of the Horus Heresy series). Naturally, I’m extremely excited about reading this. The author is one of my favourites, period. (Although, that being said, I’m struggling a bit with Helsreach…) Also, as a more personal aside, Abaddon was my favourite model from the Warhammer 40,000 range, when I was younger and paid more attention.

Can’t wait for this. I’m ready for it to be April 2014, now!

Here’s an early synopsis, which I found on Simon & Schuster Canada’s catalogue…

The rise of Abaddon, successor to Horus and Warmaster of the Black Legion.

When Horus fell, his Sons fell with him. A broken Legion, beset by rivalries and hunted by their erstwhile allies, the former Luna Wolves have scattered across the tortured realm of the Eye of Terror. And of Abaddon, greatest of the Warmaster’s followers, nothing has been heard for many years. But when Horus’s body is taken from its resting place, a confederation of legionaries seek out the former First Captain, to convince him to embrace his destiny and continue what Horus began.

Aaron is also the author of brilliant The First Heretic (Horus Heresy), and the superb Night Lords trilogy (Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver, and Void Stalker), among others.

Review: MARK OF CALTH ed. Laurie Goulding (Black Library)

Goulding-MarkOfCalthThe latest Horus Heresy Anthology

In this all-new collection of Horus Heresy stories, witness the untold tales of the Underworld War.The Heresy reached Calth without warning. In just a few hours of betrayal and bloodshed, the proud warriors of the XIIIth Legion – Guilliman’s own Ultramarines – were laid low by the treachery of their erstwhile brothers of the XVIIth. Now, as the planet is scoured by solar flares from the wounded Veridian star, the survivors must take the fight to the remaining Word Bearers and their foul allies, or face damnation in the gloomy shelters beneath the planet’s surface.The battle for Calth is far from over

I’ve enjoyed all of the Horus Heresy anthologies that Black Library has produced. So I was very happy when I received this as a gift from a friend. I’ve liked some anthologies more than others, it’s true. But in each one, I think the authors have done a great job of advancing the overall story of the larger Galactic Civil War, as well as fleshing out the mythology of the event that has dictated much of the development of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Mark of Calth takes a slightly different approach, focussing on the after-effects of the Word Bearers’ assault on Calth (as portrayed in Dan Abnett’s Know No Fear). It’s a good selection of stories, certainly, but I definitely think it’s time to move the HH story beyond Calth… (I have high hopes for Vulkan Lives, the next novel in the series, by Nick Kyme; and the soon-to-be-more-widely-released Promethean Sun novella, also by Kyme). So, one after the other, here are some short thoughts on the stories herein… Continue reading