Archive for August, 2010

This historical non-fiction book about a gaggle of flyboys who met gruesome fates in WWII. Only one of these flyboys managed to escape with his life, and that was President George H.W. Bush. The caveat, though, he didn’t get shot down with all the others, which was the key to his rescue.

The synopsis on the book speaks of the mystery of the fates of those flyboys. One thing Bradley is good at, is telling the gruesome aspects of war. He paints the Japanese as monsters during WWII. And, indeed, the things they did to the cities and countries they conquered were certainly beastly. One gruesome image: streets lined with poles with people’s heads placed upon them. But, he fails to comprehend the fact that the Japanese didn’t have an American mindset or heritage with rules of war.

Think back historically. Did the Japanese line up their soldiers in colored uniforms and shoot until one group had killed the most people? No. And while my American and European ancestors might have thought this was the honorable way to fight, the Japanese would have thought it foolish. In Japanese military history, the samurai, for example, devoted his life to his emperor. If he failed his emperor he would voluntarily commit seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment), because that was the only way for him to maintain his honor, and that of his family.

All that was to say, that when the Japanese soldiers and their wives killed their children then themselves rather than be controlled by the Americans, it wasn’t the mystifying event that Bradley made it out to be. First off, the military, via the emperor, had warned Japanese people that horrible, horrible things would happen to them if the Americans took over. And, considering what they did to the people they conquered, it’s no surprise that many people killed themselves when the Americans defeated the Japanese.

But lets get back to Bradley’s story.

The flyboys held a very dangerous position in the air force. Although Japan was not able to fight air-to-air combat, they did have anti-aircraft weaponry. It’s this weaponry, and some foolish flying tactics, that led this group of flyboys to their death.

Bradley moves through the story, person by person, historical fact by fact, and allows the reader to see how these men were average kids from America. Some joined the air force because they had always wanted to, others because they felt there were no other options, one because his brother had told him it was time for him to get his life together. Those are words that likely haunted him to his grave. The personal facts about each boy is the magic that glues this story together. The history is great, but the reminder that every single one of those people, who never came home in body bags, were kids, most under the age of 22. They had dreams and girls, but they also had a hefty dose of courage. Bradley honors them with tact and painstakingly sought details, and these boys live on through his work.

I won’t spoil the mystery that Bradley unfolds, but I will highly recommend this book. Read it, or listen to in as an audio book like I did! Learn about the history of Japan’s role in WWII, and how that came to an end. Honor that gaggle of flyboys whose parents never got their remains to bury, and who, didn’t ever learn what had happened to their sons.

James Bradley’s website

Hunter’s Run has an interesting evolution, having taken more than 30 years to be completed and published. Three men worked separately and together to bring this sci-fi novel to life.

Synopsis:

The main character, Ramon, left planet earth because he had prospects working to develop a new planet for habitation. He is carried on an alien spaceship to this new planet, 1000 years pass during his trip, and he becomes¬† a prospector on the new planet when he has arrived. Ramon is a man who is quick to temper and violence, and when he murders a man he is forced to run into the wilderness. Few prospectors or humans have explored the wilderness, there are massive and frightening creatures, there are thousands of animals that haven’t been discovered, and the land has not really been charted. This is when he stumbles upon an alien race hiding from the aliens who brought Ramon to the planet.¬† This is when Ramon begins an unlikely and psychologically interesting adventure.

The themes:

This novel will surprise and delight the science fiction reader. Using a new twist, the authors explore the idea of identity and how experiences can change and affect the ways that we perceive and interact with our world. This novel intersects the themes of guilt, fear, anger, and redemption to create a tightly woven novel that brings you full circle from beginning to end.

The writing:

These men spent decades pouring thought and care into their writing and story craft. And, to be fair, it is decent writing for the science fiction genre. This is not a literary novel and should not be judged as such. The writing does not become tangential or wander unnecessarily (which is one of my complaints with many science fiction novels). All-in-all I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the science fiction genre. I think it would make a good movie for the Sy-fy channel.

The ending:

Endings are so important. I have to say that I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. It felt abrupt and I wasn’t ready to put the book down (which is probably a compliment). The thing is, the afterword was facing the final page of the novel. This was jarring. While I like afterwords, I think it’s best if they have at least one blank page between them and the final page of the story. This will give the reader a moment to pause, reflect, and digest the story that they’ve just spent hours reading.

George R. R. Martin’s Website

Gardner Dozois doesn’t have a website, but here’s the Wikipedia page about him.

Daniel Abraham’s Website