Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest

On a whim, I signed up for a free trial of the Amazon Unlimited program (not associated, blah blah blah).  One of my coworkers used it and had really been enjoying it.  I know that a lot of librarians were worried when it launched because its marketing push was basically that it would replace libraries.

Since I still have a job, and libraries haven't closed their doors en masse in response to Unlimited, I'm pretty sure we're all good.  There's a fundamental difference between libraries and Unlimited: you have to pay for Unlimited, while libraries are free (caveat: unless your books are late or damaged, like being dropped in a pool and turning bright blue from mold--true story).  Plus, it's not like you get unlimited physical books from Amazon, and recent studies have shown that people still prefer to have a physical book over an ebook.  When faced with the choice between a Kindle book and a good ol' paper book, I'll choose the paper book every time.  However, in certain situations, ebooks do present a logistical advantage.  I usually just use my Kindle for eARCs (as a totally non-famous blogger, I don't get physical ARCs in the mail) or when I'm going on vacation and can't lug all the books I want to read with me.

After a fun time reading Psycho on the plane ride out, I figured I'd go for horror of a more tentacled, befanged kind with SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest.  Why did I pick this book?  Well, it had a Chess Team short story in it by Jeremy Robinson, and I've finally finished all of the Chesspocalypse novellas (yay!).  Plus, it was described as military horror.  I will take that please and thank you.  Plus plus, it was free to download with this new Unlimited thing.


This collection of stories was mostly very strong, with some being pret-ty out there.  It also seemed to be heavy on the Vietnam stories, although I think there were only two, plus a Korean War M*A*S*H* shout-out (with its very own Klinger, which I found hilarious!).  Some stories were better stand-alones than others.  For example, there was one story, Fallen Lion, about dinosaur soldiers who fought to save humans and how they had guns in their horns and tails and stuff.  That ... was interesting.  Actually, I had to work really hard to get into the story.  However, after looking up the author, Jack Hanson, I see that his fictional universe is populated with SpecOps Dinos, which, frankly, is pretty darn cool.  But going into that story blind, I was ready to discount it.

One of my favorite stories, The Bohemian Grove by Weston Ochse, is an alternate-history urban fantasy involving secret societies having eldritch meetings in the Hollywood Hills.  It was a bit like The Manhattan Project meets Supernatural.  Loads of fun!

I have to say, I was a bit disappointed in the Chess Team story.  Part of it was that I wasn't sure what had happened to some of the characters (but as I said previously, I am woefully behind in terms of the series).  What happened to the original Bishop?  Knight lost an eye?  Dangit!  I mean, Robinson's not one to spare his team members pain or injury, but whoa.  I also feel like I read or watched something very recently about Mongolian Death Worms but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was, which is driving me mad.  Maybe I'm just thinking of the Guavian Death Gang from Star Wars.

There was one story about Dracula that might have been interesting had it contained, you know, internal continuity.  A hapless science-type (naturally) and his ex-military guards accidentally wake the Dragon Prince from a centuries-long slumber, but Dracula knows what guns are.  How does that work?  Also, the time he's been imprisoned changes three times in the story.  The ending was supposed to be a "gotcha" but I was just glad it was over.

Overall, in spite of editing errors and the preference for guns over character building, this is a fun way to while away the afternoon, or a plane ride.  I'm off to go check out those killer triceratops books--the idea of super dino soldiers has rather grown on me.

4 comments:

  1. Well, I lost one of my library users to Kindle borrowing. The young man always, always had his nose in a book - then he discovered Kindle and told me happily that he could download a book, read and "return" and borrow another one. Oh, well. It is true that most people prefer a print book, even kids. And my niece, a passionate reader, says reading off computers, even her iPad, gives her headaches. Me, being the middle-aged book lover I am, have accumulated far too many books over the years and am getting rid of some to make space on my shelves, so for me, ebooks are the best thing since sliced bread. But I still love going to my local library to borrow. I can return books when finished and one thing you can't do with an ebook is lend it out or give it away!

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  2. Screen reading is hard on my eyes too. And I do believe that the best present to give and receive is a physical book :)

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  3. Thanks for the shout out!

    I hope you enjoyed Cry Havoc tho.

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    1. I did really love Cry Havoc! Dinos with guns takes me back to the days of playing Nanosaur on my iMac.

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