Book Reviews: Music and Sci-Fi Shorts

Drowsing after sex
“I’m almost afraid to get off this bed, for fear it really is Cloud 9 and I’ll fall back to earth.”
I truly am a romance ninja. . .

Punk Rock Princess
Can’t help but think this title would have been great for an outside-the-box romance novel, but thankfully it’s not that. Instead it’s an autobiography of a clean-cut suburban gal who turns her love of punk rock into a journalism career, chronicling her college years and how she met so many now-famous musicians, and the interviews she did for publications after that.
If you have a picture in your head of how a punk fan looks like, brain-scrub it, because the photos in this book are completely opposite of what you’d expect. It’s actually a bit hard to believe this teen was in the clubs headbanging and such, and later went face to face with some of the biggest egomaniac jerks in the music world, but that just makes it all the better. The stories are fascinating, especially when you find a musician you’re familiar with whom she describes as a nice guy, contrary to their reputation.

Dark Murder
I’ve reviewed this same author recently, two books out of three in a series about a group of English cops. This new entry follows a character introduced in the last one, with his own squad and mysteries to solve.
Liked this a little less than the others; perhaps it’s due to the writer needing to include a lot of background on the characters; I haven’t read the first in the other series, so who knows if that happened there too. What I did find here is a lot of extraneous material, for example a scene featuring a long talk between a suspect and his girlfriend, for no reason I could discern. The characters here simply aren’t as likeable as the other squad’s, except for the female detective with the kid.
There’s nothing wrong with it though, and without the previous readings I might have liked it a little more.

Anthology I
A very common title for a collection of eight uncommon science fiction short stories of varying levels of quality.
In the first entry, a teenage girl’s consciousness merges with a ship; something other than hilarity ensues. Okay, she merged when she was younger, but she’s teenaged when this story takes place. This one was really good, 4.5/5
A being not quite human and not quite android does a film noir first person monologue—wait, that’s redundant. Also good, 4/5.
15-year-old girl and dad flee London for the Scottish Highlands to escape a gambling debt, or so he says. At one point I wondered if she was a robot, only to find at the end that I was half right. (If you read this story, you’ll find what I just wrote hilarious.) Good story, but not enough meat on it. 3.5/5
In a Muslim country, albeit a permissive one, in the future, a girl runs away from her rich upbringing and telepathic control. Not sure what to think of that one.
A telepathic hunting hawk is shot, its owner wants revenge, but ends up leaving the killer alive. Unless it was making a point about mercy, this one didn’t have much to it.
There’s an entry told from the point of view of a magic wand. Now THAT’S how you write a story! 5/5
Didn’t care for the next story from the start, with golf, rich old white guys, and then tribes of pygmies. 2/5
The last one. . . don’t even remember reading it.

The Record Store of the Mind
The owner of an independent record label reminisces about some of his favorite musicians, mostly those he’s worked with and reissued on his label. There’s some intriguing stories about how he meets them or is introduced to them, and if you follow on his website he’s got a playlist of the songs he mentions.
After the first chapter I have to say this author’s musical tastes are way different than mine. He talks about modern singer-songwriters lacking “authenticity,” whatever that means, but so far I find his selections lacking spirit. He calls his choices “simple” like it’s a good thing. Our tastes in vocals also differ. It’s different when he’s talking about more famous people, the first—getting his own chapter—being Eric Clapton. He makes Syosset, Long Island with Billy Joel and Lou Reed sound like Jersey must’ve been with Springsteen. There’s also a piece on his friendship with Judd Apatow.
Throughout the book I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t going to review his music picks; just because his taste is different than mine, especially in vocalists, didn’t mean this isn’t a great book full of reminiscences about real musicians, those who make music rather than a spectacle on stage. Still, I had been hoping to make some discoveries, but since I didn’t, I forced myself to concentrate on thinking of this as a biography. For instance, there’s a hilarious note about the author with a musician visiting a dilapidated venue where he’d played over 50 years ago. When they see an old bathroom they muse “Elvis likely pissed in there.”
There are some chapters at the end that might be better described as appendixes. When he’s talking about concerts he’d attended and reached the indie part, I was hopeful he might mention some I knew; didn’t happen. I did find some commonality on more famous acts we’ve both seen live, like Rush, The Police, Tom Petty, and U2. And I happen to be wearing an Alice in Chains shirt when he mentions working with them. . .
There’s a great chapter at the end on why you should—really shouldn’t—have your own label. He’s also a huge proponent of naps.



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