Demon Spirit

The Demon Spirit
(The DemonWars Saga #2)
by R.A. Salvatore (1999)

Second Audiobook in the trilogy.

Elbryan and Pony hope that the tide of darkness is at last receding from the land of Corona. Yet if evil is on the retreat, why are hordes of goblins and bloody-capped powries slashing their way ever-deeper into civilized lands ?

While the first book had a very conventional structure of hero growing up  and defeating evil, the second is more political and strategic in nature. Elements in the church splinter and power dynamics change. Pony develops and her relationship with Elbryan changes. All this makes the story less predictable and interesting.

Now it is not clear how the story will end.


Sierra Bravo

Sierra Bravo
(Harriet Walsh #3)
by Simon Haynes (2018)

A criminal gang has moved into Chirless, Dismolle’s second major city. Elderly residents are fed up with the loud music, noisy cars and late night parties, not to mention hold-ups, muggings and the occasional gunfight.

Chirless has no Peace Force, so Harriet Walsh of the Dismolle City branch has to help out. That puts her up against a gang of hardened criminals with only her training pistol and a few old allies to lend a hand.

And these allies aren’t just old, they’re positively ancient!

The humour of the first two books has gone from this one. This is s straight forward Sci-Fi adventure, getting close to Military Sci-Fi. The story is OK, but not outstanding and there is more action sequences in this novel than any of the previous Simon Haynes novels.

Cosmos #6

This episode looks to the nature of the cosmos on the micro and atomic scales, using the Ship of the Imagination to explore these realms.

Tyson describes some of the micro-organisms that live within a dew drop, demonstrating parameciums and tardigrades.


He proceeds to discuss how plants use photosynthesis via their chloroplasts to convert sunlight into chemical reactions that convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and energy-rich sugars.

Tyson narrates how two Greek philosophers contributed to our understanding of science.

Thales was among the first thinkers to examine a “universe governed by the order of natural laws that we could actually figure out,”.

Democritus postulated that all matter was made up of combinations of atoms in a large number of configurations.

Tyson explains the basic atomic structure of protons, neutrons, and electrons, and the process of nuclear fusion that occurs in most stars that can overcome the electrostatic forces that normally keeps atoms from touching each other.

He explains how subterranean water pool facilities lined with special detectors like the Super-Kamiokande are used to detect neutrinos.

Super-Kamiokande Detector

Neutrinos from supernova SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud were detected three hours before the photons of light from the explosion were observed due to the neutrinos’ ability to pass through matter of the dying sun.

Supernova SN 1987A




Cosmos #5

This episode explores the wave theory of light as studied by humankind, noting that light has played an important role in scientific progress, with such early experiments from over 2000 years ago involving the camera obscura by the Chinese philosopher Mozi.

Tyson describes the work of the 11th century Arabic scientist Ibn al-Haytham, considered to be one of the first to postulate on the nature of light and optics leading to the concept of the telescope, as well as one of the first researchers to use the scientific method.

Findings of William Herschel in the 19th century showed that light also consisted of infrared rays.

Joseph von Fraunhofer would later come to discover that by magnifying the spectrum of visible light, gaps in the spectrum would be observed.

This since has led to the core of astronomical spectroscopy, allowing astronomers to make observations about the composition of stars, planets, and other stellar features through the spectral lines, as well as observing the motion and expansion of the universe, and the hypothesized existence of dark matter:


Cosmos #4

Tyson begins the episode by explaining the nature of the speed of light and how much of what is seen of the observable universe is from light emanated from billions of years in the past.

He describes how the work of Isaac Newton, William Herschel, Michael Faraday, and James Clerk Maxwell contributed to understanding the nature of electromagnetic waves and gravitational force, and how this work led towards Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, that the speed of light is a fundamental constant of the universe and gravity can be seen as distortion of the fabric of space-time.

Tyson describes the concept of dark stars as postulated by John Michell which are not visible but detectable by tracking other stars trapped within their gravity wells, an idea Herschel used to discover binary stars.

Tyson then describes the nature of black holes, their enormous gravitational forces that can even capture light, and their discovery via X-ray sources such as Cygnus X-1.

Herschel’s son, John would be inspired by his father to continue to document the known stars as well as contributions towards photography that play on the same nature of deep time used by astronomers.

Animated sequences in this episode feature caricatures of William and John Herschel. Patrick Stewart provided the voice for William in these segments

John Herschel


The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis
(Inspector Capstan #1)
by David Blake (2017)
Detective Inspector Capstan investigates a murder at Bath’s almost famous Basin Museum, a hapless armed robbery, the theft of ancient Roman weaponry and the answer to “one across” in the local newspaper. Meanwhile, the city is under threat of Roman invasion and their leader, Becky Philips, is taking no prisoners.

After reading all of the Inspector in the future, it’s back to the present for his first outing. And it’s a riot !

The story starts off with a murder. The police investigate, and just when things settle down into a police procedural, things take off in a different direction. The main character of this book is Becky Philips, and she drives the story forward in a crazy way, causing mayhem.

By the end the police play a small part, but it’s all in the service of the funniest book I have read in a long time. Sure, most is based on the stupidity of men in charge, but in our post-truth times that is always the case.



The Distance
by Jeremy & Hilaree Robinson (2016)

When August Finn rises from the depths of the dark matter research facility where he works, he discovers that the human race has been turned to dust. For August, life becomes one grueling test after another as this man of science, unaccustomed to the natural world, must fight to survive, against the elements and against despair.

Hanna Dearborn is alone. She’s the last person living on Earth, hidden away in her parent’s sophisticated bunker. She’s been alone for weeks and can no longer stand the solitude. Gun in hand, she intends to end her life. Then, he calls.

Unique among Robinson’s writing, this is first person from two protagonists, his wife  Hilaree writing one of the characters.

It does fall subject to one of the problems inherent in first person writing; long portions of inner monologue (the book is 119,000 words). Fortunately the story pushes things along  as the two characters move closer together. The ending was a bit disappointing as it was not entirely clear what had happened any why. Still, as they say – It’s all about the journey.


Jurassic W2

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film and the sequel to Jurassic World (2015).

Directed by J. A. Bayona, it is the fifth installment of the Jurassic Park film series, as well as the second installment of a planned Jurassic World trilogy.

Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, A Navy veteran and former dinosaur trainer for Jurassic World.
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing.
Toby Jones as Gunnar Everso (An auctioneer)

A PG13 Monster movie. You can see where the editors cut back the gore to keep within the classification. So while there is a lot of action, it isn’t scary, or horror. There are a lot of generic bad guy minions getting killed and eaten. There is some science fiction themes, but by the third act, it’s just evil industrialist vs the good guys.

Enjoyable while it lasted, but ultimately forgettable.


The Biggest
(Court Theatre)
Written by Jamie McCaskill
Directed by Ross Gumbley
They’re out of their depth

It’s been a while since Walter, Pat and Mick have seen Stu. He’s been absent from the local working men’s club since Stu wrote off the new boat he spent his life savings on and landed himself in a wheelchair.

Reunited, the men seize the opportunity to enter the local fishing competition to win Stu a replacement boat. All they have to do is catch the biggest fish.

Easy, right?



Author Dosh

2018 SFWA Nebula Conference Presentation
May 24th, 2018 by Data Guy

Interesting presentation on the economics of the book publishing industry.