February 20th, 2010

20111112, Marilee


We had bookgroup today and most of us went to the Barnes and Noble for the White & Lamplighter appearence afterwards. There was a table of their books up front by the doors, but nothing that looked like an "appearance" I asked a clerk about it and he said they weren't there yet and when they were, they'd set it up. What actually happened was that when they arrived, they stood behind the book table and talked and signed, even though a staff member brought two folding chairs. I guess I'm just used to more attention toward special guests.

One of our members brought me a chair while the others talked or looked around. There was a half-dozen folk who were not part of the bookgroup while we were there, and they had more time after we headed down the shopping center (I drove to another handicapped spot) to Panera. I really liked the horseradish in the Asiago sandwich. We were all together in one area, but the restaurant was so noisy that we frequently could only talk to the few around us.

I'm not only really sleepy now but I hurt a lot from sitting up straight and standing for so long. I'm going to try to keep going and finish up online, but I have three book reviews to write next and I may just nap after that.
20111112, Marilee

The Getaway Special by Jerry Oltion

This was the bookgroup book and everybody liked it while admitting there were some unlikely elements.

A shuttle has taken a scientist, Allen, up to do an experiment and when he does it, they're somewhere else. He was working on a battery and found a hyperdrive (handwavium). He puts the specs out on the web but the US tells everybody it contains a virus. When they get back from that jump, their vertical stabilizer is vaporized -- the French admitted that they thought it was a terrorist.

Allen and Judy jump out to see Saturn's rings and when they get back, the US considers them traitors. They get close to a communications satellite and send the instructions there, to everybody, and the US still says it's not right.

Allen and Judy take the space station's EMU and land in Wyoming. While they walk toward town, they meet Trent and Donna in a big four-wheeler who take them home with them. Trent lets them make a spaceship in his garage -- out of a septic tank and other fittings -- as long as they show him how to build his own. The US anchors were told to say the design was very wrong, but many of the anchors made it clear in some way to their viewers that the US was making them say it.

The feds come after them at Trent & Donna's and the Getaway Special jumps from their driveway, leaving the characteristic hole from the spherical field. The first place they go already has someone there so they go onward and find an empty habitat in space. They find an Earth-style planet, but because the feds made them leave earlier than they planned, they didn't have mice to check the atmosphere. Judy goes out and it's fine. They find a number of alien plants and beings, although one, Tippet, is not a native and is part of a hive mind. Tippet has varying intelligence depending on how much of the hive mind is assigned to him so he is able to learn English very quickly.

A French submarine shows up in orbit and lands men who want to get away from France, but the men cut down the trees without checking to see if they're semi-intelligent yet. Judy has Tippet's ship aim the exhaust toward the planet, which puts the trees to sleep, and the Frenchmen go back into orbit and the submarine goes on.

Judy and Allen find out that there's close to a holocaust back on Earth and they ask Tippet's species to make humans join together. Allen and Tippet make a big hyperdrive for Tippet's ship and movies that look like a monster species telling Earth they'll be killed. It didn't work and Tippet thinks of nuking Earth. They get a mayday from Trent and Donna, who have made their big red pickup truck into a spaceship, and were shot at when they tried to get home.

Judy and Allen tell Trent & Donna what's happening on Earth and Tippet is still thinking of killing Earth. Judy suggests a real galactic federation and Tippet says too many humans are out in their weird spaceships now to be capable of killing humans.

This was fun to read as long as you can let some of the science go.
20111112, Marilee

Anywhere But Here by Jerry Oltion

This is the sequel to The Getaway Special. I bought it from a used bookstore to see what happened next, and it's the same sort of funny and terrifying that the first book was.

This is about Trent and Donna who are back home and running out of money. So many people are leaving in spaceships that there aren't many jobs and the US is taking all the jewelry-type merchandise because people were trading paper dollars for them. They only have a bit left and decide they'll go back into space and see what jobs are available.

The computer for the hyperdrive is much more sophisticated and therefore Donna (and other people) can use it. They set up the truck again and take off for the planet colonized by the first guy (where Allen and Judy stopped first). When they set down, they listen to the radio bands and hear someone in town saying there looked like a ship that landed that had trouble. Trent replies that they saw a bright object come down and could go see what's up.

When they get to the spaceship, they find a crushed part of it and aliens that have tentacles instead of arms. Through pantomine, Donna is able to convince the mother to bring the injured daughter and the baby back to town and leave the father (small head injury) to be watched by the older son. The doctor gets an xray and the tentacles have little bones in them and the girl has a fracture. She gets a cast and the next day Trent and Donna take them back to their ship.

The night before, after they left the medical center, they stopped at a bar that was still open. The guy who was the first one in a spaceship and the first one there was going on outside the galaxy with his girlfriend and be Adam and Eve. He's sure the US will soon bomb the planet (drop rocks from orbit). Trent and Donna are offered a job -- to take the mail to the French planet because the regular deliveryguy was sick. It pays money, AU money, and they figure they can at least help out.

It's a snowy planet and the red truck stands out. Their contact takes them back to his home which is sort of a giant barrel cactus and starts feeding them dinner when a rock arrives too close. He heads off in his giant white truck and Trent and Donna take off in the pickup which is damaged. They plan to go back to Earth, but end up somewhere they and the computer don't know.

They have to land eventually for air and the first place almost poisoned them. Then they find a planet where the air is okay, there's interesting animals, but all the plants melt rather than burn and the water, even the rain, gives diarrhea and vomiting. They figure out how to get back to Earth, but are again sent somewhere else.

Donna figures out how to do it roughly by hand and they find the Galactic Federation ship and say somebody has to keep the US from bombing all the colonies that are not official US colonies. Donna tells Allen about the program and he looks it over and tells her that it has a module stuck in that if you go anywhere that the US has forbidden (the French planet), the computer will tell the engine to take them 20,000km further than they wanted.

Trent and Donna have a meal with Allen and Judy; Allen offers a way to change things and Trent considers it. Allen also makes a fix to the program and lets the program back out again. Trent and Donna are worried they'll be shot down when they come back to Earth, but all the laser sats have been burned out.
20111112, Marilee

Abandon in Place by Jerry Oltion

The library had this one, too, so I read it. Even with the occult bits, it's a much more serious book, and again has Oltion's anger against the dictatorial US.

Rick is a shuttle astronaut who's unhappy that the space program is going to stop. He's standing on the gantry for a shuttle that's being worked on when he sees a Saturn V appear on a deck that says "Abandon in Place." The Saturn V takes off and can be followed by radar and so forth until it gets to the point where a human would take over and then it disappears. It does that a few times more and then Rick insists on taking the next one up. He meets with the shuttle to pick up his girlfriend and another astronaut and they are able to land on the moon and start back with samples (yes, water at the poles!). But when Rick starts thinking the space program might get started again, the ship starts fading out.

They figure out that Rick's belief that the space program is dying is what's keeping the ship in metal and so the women make him feel negative. When they're back to the Earth, they land in the Pacific and are taken to a carrier where they are arrested and put in quarantine. The Army lets out that they have to be quarantined because they might have brought something back from the moon, even though Rick and others say we already know that's not possible. A group of scientists plus a magician start talking to them. The magician gets Rick to bend spoons with his mind.

The other astronaut goes to Japan with her ambassador and is back in quarantee. Rick and his girlfriend get put in a secured place in Hawaii where more people interrogate them and they are able to do much much more with their minds. The conclusion is that as long as a lot of people believe in them, they can use "quantum foam" to cause these things to happen.

Rick and girlfriend escape and are separated. He finds a radio guy and talks on the radio, telling the truth rather than what the US is telling. He realizes his girlfriend is being taken away somewhere he doesn't know and leads a cavalry of cars to find her. At this point, so many people know what's happening that they can't be taken again.

They decide to get married in a few days and there were lots of famous people there on the beach, including the president. Her wedding gift is a pardon and she requests that they come to visit her soon. Very soon. When they get there, they find out that she wants to start a new space program. They agree and when they get to the test area, there's Allen (Oltion admits he uses the character in different ways in the two books) to help them. They are able to make lunar modules with their minds and drop them on Mars. The president is very happy.

But over in Europe, a dictator is taking over many countries and they offer to help kill him. While at Heathrow, King Arthur appears, Excalibur and all. They find the dictator and try to drop bombs from their minds on him and in the end, they can only drop lunar modules on him. But lots of lunar modules work. Rick gets in a situation where he's in the afterlife but is brought back because of the belief of his wife and lots of people. They think they'd rather stop performing.