Book Report: Space: 1999 by Mary A. Mintzer (1977)

Book coverWhen I bought this book last Saturday, I thought it was a comic book; however, it turns out this is actually a children’s book. So although I do not count comic books in the annual total of books read–so the first issue of Battlestar Galactica that I bought on Saturday doesn’t count (but the first of the novels, which I read in 2011, did). Don’t bother trying to make sense of it–the rules of what I count as a book for my annual reading total based on content, length, and time of year are very difficult calculus indeed.

At any rate, this book includes two short adventures of the crew of Moonbase Alpha. In the first, a colleague thought dead returns but is actually only a cipher for a ruler from the planet Psychon come back to get revenge on Maya, the woman with the sideburns who can change into things. In the second, explorers in one of the ships find a planet suitable for colonization with a small group of mentally advanced people on it who will share their planet. But there’s a dark secret: The planet has no sun, and it’s only the mental power of the Queen that keeps it going–and she steals power from the brains of her subjects.

I remember the program came on on Saturday afternoons in the late 1970s in Milwaukee, but I don’t remember watching it much. All I remember is the woman with the sideburns could change into things. And that it had a low budget, but somehow it didn’t grab one as Star Trek did. And by “one,” I mean sub-ten-year-old me. So I have to wonder if this is worth watching sometime. I just checked on Amazon, and it doesn’t look like it’s available in US DVDs. Which makes my mind up for me. I don’t have time to watch the things I own, so I shouldn’t go buying things I will just put in the cabinet for some day. Also note: It’s far easier to be virtuous for sins one cannot commit; if Amazon had the complete series on DVD for $14, it would be on its way to Nogglestead by now.


I mentioned that I have a new washing machine. Well, I implied it. in addition to a larger tub, it has a more modern interface, all steely and LCD screen and smooth buttons that are but a part of the face of the control box.

But two of the buttons have Braille beside them.

I have to wonder the logic that led to the decision to put a couple bits of Braille on the surface here as it has no real tactile buttons to manipulate and because the other controls do not have Braille and no real way to know what they are.

It’s not like the Braille you see on drive-up ATMs which share buttons with ATMs installed where the blind can walk up to them. This is a smooth surface that doesn’t do anything but run this washing machine (and probably the ones that work better in Asia or wherever they don’t have environmental strictures in place).

I wonder if this is just enough to defend against ADA lawsuits or something.

Book Report: Brazilian Baroque by Sharon Harper Sampson (1972/1973)

Book coverI bought this picture book last weekend and thumbed through it during a football game. It’s the takeaway book from a Washington, D.C., exhibit of Brazilian religious artifacts sponsored/provided by a government ministry of Brazil from the time I was born.

The preface and the introductory essay “Colonial Religious Art in Brazil” describe the development of religious art in Brazil (wait, you mean the title already summed that up?) from the items they brought from Portugal to the different regional styles driven by the materials at hand. To be honest, without a map of Brazil handy, a lot of this information rolled right over me as it’s pretty comprehensive in identifying individual religious institutions, the churches, convents, abbeys, and whatnot, that originally displayed the items and when they were built, burned, and/or rebuilt. The detail was a bit much for any sort of retention, and it certainly hasn’t driven me into further study.

The book also lists, I suspect, all the items at the exhibit whereas the book itself focuses on silver and precious metal-based church service pieces with a couple of other statues and monstraces thrown in. So although a number of terra cotta and soapstone statues are listed in the catalog, they are not in the book. Which is a pity; I think I would have prefered to see them rather than another censer.

Okay, I say it hasn’t driven me to further study, but I am not as familiar with the history of South America, especially Brazil, as I could be. So maybe I’ll pick up something on it sooner rather than later. I have a really dry history of Latin America that I tried to read twenty-some years ago. Maybe I’ll pick that up again. Maybe after I read The Story of Civilization.

As An Investor, I Know Better

I got this in my email box on Tuesday:

Yeah, as a savvy investor in Powerball tickets from time to time, I didn’t fall for this because I know the drawings are not held on Tuesdays, but on Wednesdays.

Also, I am not that kind of an idiot.

Although I do call myself an “investor” in lottery tickets. Because honestly, they pay out only slightly worse than the stocks I pick on my own.

Buy the cheap mall store stocks, Brian J. Retail is coming back real soon, I swear.

In case you’re wondering, I did not win this week. And it cost me less to lose than my investment in Wet Seal did.

Book Report: An Ozark Tapestry and More by Marjorie Shackleford McCune (1987)

Book coverThis is the second of the chapbooks that I bought this weekend; Heartstrings was the first. This is also an example of grandmother poetry, literally, as the back cover has a picture of the author with her grandson. The About the Author bit on the back cover mentions she took a class in writing poetry at Drury University late in life.

Which probably explains why this is a cut above the norm for the genre (which I am probably the one who coined the term grandmother poetry, but I think you will agree it is a genre in itself).

The poems cover the usual genre territory: Family, faith, and the seasons. However, under the influence of the poetry class undoubtedly, Ms. McCune has some poems with a pat abab rhyme scheme, but she dabbles with some other rhyme schemes and even free verse which really frees her from the constraint of the rhyme scheme for better rhythm and imagery. So some of the poems are all right (he said, in Northerner, which tends to dim compliments and to praise with faint praise, or so I tell my beautiful wife when she’s miffed that I say that her dinner was all right).

Apparently, a lot of the books I got this weekend come from the middle to late 1980s, and as I look upon this, which is a chapbook that appeared only a few years before my first, I’m a little–disoriented. I mean, the woman who wrote with this fresh voice was 80 in 1987. She has passed away long ago, and her book is 33 years old. Which means my first published book is 26 (but still remains fresh and is reprinted in its entirety in Coffee House Memories). Which means I am… getting old enough to write grandfather poetry although my grandfathering years are still at least, um, not that many years in the future maybe.

Breaking News From 2016

For some reason, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has this story on its front page, albeit at the bottom, today:

Oh, come now, we can all know the reason: It wants to hurt a Republican.

It looks like the Journal-Sentinel has a rotating series of stories in the same area, and they might have that one thing in common.

Book Report: Heartstrings by Sharon Harper Sampson (1985)

Book coverAs you might have expected, gentle reader, I dove right into the chapbooks and art monographs during the second week of football. As I watched most of three games, I had plenty of time in between plays to read a poem or look at a picture and caption. Given how my attention during football games these days focuses mostly on the books and a little on the football game makes me think that maybe watching football is more of an excuse to read during the day than actual love of football.

At any rate, this is a middle 1990s chapbook back when making a chapbook often meant laying the stuff out yourself on paper. Desktop publishng was very rudimentary then, gentle reader–take if from someone who printed the text of his first 1994 chapbook out and laid the actual pages out on paper and whose first issues of his magazine (the St. Louis Artesian) were laid out on paper until I got Microsoft Publisher on a 386 PC in 1995 for later issues and my second chapbook. Oh, there were small publishing houses that did chapbooks back in that age, but most of us just ran them off at Kinko’s.

The most interesting bit about this book is that it was hand-lettered in a fun, almost italics font that took a lot of work. Here’s the dedication page:

Book dedication

I have trouble making my handwriting legible much less pretty.

However pretty it is, though, it makes for a slower read over the length of a book, even a chapbook like this. I’m currently working on a longer book, a Yoga devotional, presented in an italic font, and it’s not fun going through 300 pages of it. This book, though, is only 53 pages.

The poetry is pretty pedestrian Grandmother poetry talking about family and faith with end rhymes and a bit of a sense of rhythm. So, yeah, nothing that sticks out–but I’m reading the complete works of Keats, and most of Keats’ work doesn’t stick out, either. So take of that what you will: Good poetry, or a good poem, one that strikes a chord within you, is pretty rare.

Yeah, I Had That In A Book Plot, Too

VIDEO: Tourist captures ‘ghost sighting’ at Gettysburg battlefield, sparks debate.

Back in the 1990s when I was under the influence of the Anita Blake novels, wherein vampires come out of the shadows and get legal protections of a sort, I thought what if a ghost on a Civil War battlefield became aware of his surroundings and got legal protections?

It did not go as far as some of my books went, with anywhere from just a title page to several chapters stuffed into an old Microsoft Word document on a PC long ago. Just the idea.

Maybe I should take it up again. Perhaps I could sell a dozen copies.

(Link most recently from Knuckledraggin.)

Good Book Hunting, September 19, 2020: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

As I mentioned, I went to the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County book sale this weekend. Generally, this sale is semi-annual; however, with the Current Unpleasantness, the spring sale was cancelled. I had not realized how much I missed being able to go buy a stack of books and records cheaply.

I brought my boys along, again. They love to read, but the youngest must get overwhelmed with the selection, as he does not like to look for books that he might want to read. He gets very impatient and will badger me about being done very early; to be honest, he only comes because we have a new family tradition of stopping at Five Guys for lunch after. That, in his mind, is the purpose of the trip. Not accumulating vast reserves of books that might well go unread when one’s retirement ends.

So to minimize his boredom, I really only hit four areas:

  1. The dollar (fifty cents on half price day) records.
  2. The collectible Better Books.
  3. The art section for monographs.
  4. The Great Courses section–they now have a whole section set aside for these (and Modern Scholar courses) instead of scattering them among the related book sections.

We were in an out in an hour, a new record (actually, 48 since I failed to look at the Better Books records.

I got the following books:

  • Three poetry chapbooks that were not grouped together for one price: Heartstrings by Sharon Harper Simpson, An Ozark Tapestry and More by Marjorie Shackleford McCune, and Nature Center Rhapsody by Doug McKean.
  • Art monographs on Frido Kahlo, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Grandma Moses (whom I will never again confuse with Georgia O’Keeffe, William Edward West, and Modigliani.
  • A collection of art works called At the Sea.
  • Brazil Baroque, a commemoration of an exhibition of Brazilian religious art.
  • The New Glass House; near the Art section is the Architecture section, which might be collections of pictures of architecture. So I might have a whole new genre of picture books to look at while football plays on the screen.
  • The Widening Gyre by Robert B. Parker, a signed first printing that sold for $7.50. I’m not an active collector of Parker’s work, but I had to buy this one because it was only $7.50 and I would have bid far higher than that back in the day.
  • The first American printing of Secondary Worlds, a collection of essays by poet W.H. Auden.
  • Gladstone: The Man and His Work, an 1898 edition, mainly because I confused Gladstone with Dr. Livingstone. One might almost say, I presumed.
  • Essay on Man by Alexander Pope, which is actually a poem of course. I think I have The Rape of the Lock in a similar edition around here somewhere.

I had worried about running out of CD-based Great Courses for the car (I have a bunch of DVD-based courses, but I don’t want to play videos in the car). Well, I quelled that worry. I found a couple of courses on audiocassette–my newer older car actually has a working tape player, so I can work with that–and most of what the Friends had in the Great Courses section, at least what remained on Saturday, was CDs.

So I got a bunch at between $.50 and $10 each:

  • A bunch of short, four hour courses on various composers including Haydn, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms.
  • Two courses on Buddhism: Buddhism and Great World Religions: Buddhism.
  • Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World.
  • The English Novel.
  • Francis of Assisi.
  • The Aeneid of Virgil.
  • The Search for Intelligent Life in Space.
  • Emperors of Rome.
  • Lost Christianities.
  • The Ethics of Aristotle.
  • Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment.

That should hold me for a while. I might have to think of some additional reasons for road trips so I can have some uninterrupted listening time.

I also got two comic books: Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica #1 because when I went to the comic convention in 2016, I got numbers 2-22 and wanted to fill out my run. I also got an issue of Space: 1999 because I already had one comic–why not others? I left the rest of the nearly contiguous Battlestar Galactica issues because I already have them. They’re probably on their way to be ground up to cat litter even now.

As far as books go, that’s remarkable restraint. I will probably read the art and poetry books before the end of the football season. So I have not gotten myself too much deeper into the hole as far as books I will never have time to read goes.

I did spend over $100, though, mostly on the weight of the old books and the Great Courses. But the Friends could use the funding since the number of book sales has been cut in half and this one might have had diminished attendance because.

Which reminds me: I haven’t been to ABC Books in months.

Revisiting Old Predictions

In a Good Book Hunting post in July 2018, I predicted:

The real question is, which of these books will I read first (aside from Hundred Dollar Baby)? Probably the cartoons. How many will I have read by this time in 2020? Probably the cartoons.

Analysis: FALSE.

I’ll have to figure out where that collection of cartoons is as it’s football season, so I have time to review cartoons between plays. I’d thought I’d already read it, but I don’t see it on the list.

Perhaps I should consider not buying so many books since I tend to buy more in a given year that I actually read–and that’s about a hundred–so I am doing nothing but falling behind.

But I have this real fear about not being able to find a book to read that I’m excited about–it’s been a while since I’ve had to wander aimlessly by my bookshelves because nothing really appeals to me in the moment I’m looking for something to read–but the memory of that fear keeps me going.

Good Album Hunting, September 19, 2020: The Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Well, my friends, I have bought my first LPs in what seems like a long time. I guess my last purchases were in July when I bought a handful of records while spending gift cards at Relics Antique Mall, but, come on, it doesn’t feel like I’ve bought LPs unless I’ve been to this book sale and have bought fifty.

Which I did, sort of.

I got:

  • Brazilian Bird Charlie Bird
  • Countdown Time In Outer Space The Dave Brubeck Quartet
  • One Hell of a Woman Vikki Carr
  • For All We Know Vikki Carr
  • The Lord’s Prayer Perry Como
  • Easy to Love Frankie Carle
  • Praise the Almighty The Lutheran Hour Choir with the St. Louis Symphony
  • Brasil 88 Sergio Mendes
  • Norwegian Songs Kirsten Flagstad and Gerald Moore
  • Puts A Little Sax In Your Life Boots Randolph
  • On Stage Eydie Gormé (I already have this album, but for fifty cents, I’ll buy a back up)
  • Moonglow Artie Shaw and His Orchestra
  • Eydie In Love Eydie Gormé (I also have this one, but the one I already have skips a bit)
  • Albany Park Lani Hall (I have a couple of her CDs, but I’m glad to get her on LP outside of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66)
  • Radioland Nicolette Larson
  • Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3 Val Cliburn (I read something recently about how good of a pianist he is, so I thought I’d get one of his albums)
  • Hit Parade International Tom Jones; this is an Italian greatest hits album with a book cover.
  • TWB The Tim Wiseberg Band
  • Das Lied der Berge; I am not sure if it’s the title or what as it’s completely in German
  • A Very Good Year The Columbia Treasures Orchestra and Chorus. PWC.
  • It’s Impossible Perry Como
  • Wild Heart of the Young Karla Bonoff (PWC)
  • My Favorite Brahms Van Cliburne (as it stands, I got two of his LPs)
  • The Best of The Three Suns
  • Together Again Tierra
  • Song of Norway The Original Cast Album
  • Bouquet of Love The Percy Faith Strings; there’s a lot of Perry Faith in the wild. I might as well see if I like it.
  • Tiger Rag Jo Ann Castle and Her Wild Piano!
  • Fool on the Hill Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66. I know I have this album cover, but I bought it a long time ago to discover it had a different SM&B66 album in it. I might have already bought another copy with the right platter. But I know I’ve got it now.
  • Great Verdi Arias Anna Moffe
  • Sandy Posey Sandy Posey
  • Temptation Roger Williams; one finds a lot of Roger Williams available. For fifty cents, I’ll take a flier on an album with a Pretty Women on the Cover (PWC).
  • April in Portugal Frankie Carle
  • Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music Perry Como
  • Alone Too Long Charly McClain
  • I’m Jessi Colter Jessi Colter
  • The Best of Perry Como Perry Como
  • Joyous Music for Christmas Time Various
  • J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Wanda Wandowska

Not purchased: A copy of Phoebe Snow’s debut album, which I bought in July at Relics for $7.99 and $1.99 as I bought two copies (remember, I had been looking for this album for a year and half at Relics after spotting an unpriced copy of it, so when I saw them this year, I bought both). I could have had it for fifty cents were I but patient! But you never know what you will find today or tomorrow while hunting, so it’s best to buy it when you see it if it’s not too expensive. Note that I did not buy a third copy; this isn’t Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights of which I have three or four copies. I’ve stopped buying all of them that I see as the early Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass albums–The Lonely Bull, Going Places, South of the Border, What Now My Love, and Whipped Cream and Other Delights are still fairly common at book sales. And they will be, undoubtedly, until I need to replace one.

So for $24, I got a bunch of Perry Como along with a lot of late 70s and early 80s pop, jazz, and country.

Did I get any books, you ask? I’ll answer tomorrow.

Unfortunately, two things:

  1. Given that I do not spend as much time in my parlor or kitchen these days, it will take me a long time to listen to all these records;
  2. I don’t actually have room for these in the record shelves that I made last year, so I’ll have to make another set of them sometime soon.

First world problems, I know. But if I don’t hoard, how will my children sell enough things for a quarter each at my estate sale to amount to anything?

A Semi-Annual Tradition: Halloween Shirts

Walmart tends to have racks at the front of the clothing sections with seasonal merchandise tied to upcoming holidays, probably including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day/Independence Day (flags and whatnot can apply to both), Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and probably a bit of New Year’s Eve.

Starting when the boys were just coming into school age, I’ve often picked them up a Halloween shirt. None of the other holidays; only Halloween.

For many years, I bought them matching shirts–that is, shirts with the exact same design. Generally a pumpkin-themed shirt and not one of the more daring designs with zombies or anything. I didn’t want to frighten them or their classmates–later, the younger kids at their Lutheran school.

When younger, they often delighted in having matching clothes and would sometimes wear the same thing to school, including their Halloween shirts.

The penultimate purchase or two, I bought different designs for them as they’ve gotten older and have their own independent styles and want to be differentiated from their sibling.

However, this year, when I was at the Walmart for more practical needs, I saw that the Halloween shirts were out, so I again bought them the same design.

As is the wont, I picked these up when they were in school, and I put them in their shirt drawers without commenting on it. They discovered them, and although they no longer squee with delight when they find these things, they have both worn the shirts several times in the first week. The youngest will wear the shirt year-round and not just during Halloween if the past is any guide. Maybe the older one will, too; he didn’t like the last design, two skeletons where one is holding the other’s spine with the caption, “I’ve Got Your Back.”

You know, when they were younger, I could delight them with surprises like this. New shirts, new socks, new Spider-Man sheets on their bed. Now, they’re more sophisticated. They still enjoy these things, but they can’t squee any more as they’re young men.

Or so I tell myself as I still like to get them little gifts from time to time as a sign of affection.

In Generations Past, We Had A Different Worry

Editorial: West on fire, Great Lakes on the rise, and other climate perils:

The Midwest doesn’t generally have to cope with wildfires, but here, too, climate change is altering our environment in ways that are powerful and dangerous to people as well as property. The most obvious effect is the rising waters in the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan, Erie and Huron set all-time records for high levels this year, and Superior broke its February record. Recent years have been the wettest for the Great Lakes in more than 120 years.

I am so old that I remember a couple years ago when the very opposite worry was true:

Lake Michigan has officially sunk to an all-time low.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported Tuesday that in January the lake plunged below its previous record low level, set in March 1964.

The water is now more than 6 feet below the record high, set in October 1986. The water level is tracked by gauges placed around Lakes Michigan and Huron, which are actually one body of water connected by the Straits of Mackinac. Daily measurements are then averaged at the end of each month for record-keeping purposes.

Remember, gentle reader, when anyone talks about climate measurements being the mostest and the worstest in history, they do not mean like since Ur and the flood that appears in many historical mythologies (the current amount of fresh water, a scarce commodity in many parts of the world, is a CIVILIZATION ENDING EVENT!). History in this case means a hundred years or so when measurement began, and where the measurement in the early part of “history” was not standardized or as precise as it is now.

But the countdown is on to the next set of stories talking about how low lake levels are not going to provide enough water for the cities and the fish. I think it’s got about six years of sand in that particular glass.

I Missed It

I’ve been to Wisconsin Dells a couple of times in the last couple of years–and intended to go again this summer, but. So that plan was deferred until next year, hopefully.

Although I had an inclination to, I did not attend the Tommy Bartlett water-skiing show because it was always there.

Not any more:

After nearly seven decades, the Tommy Bartlett Show in Wisconsin Dells announced Wednesday it will close permanently due to business losses during the pandemic.

In April, the owners of the water-ski, sky and stage show made the decision to close its attraction this summer due to restrictions on large gatherings.

By “No more,” I mean, maybe.

After all, the company owns a lot of attractions and property in the area. It’s possible that they’ll change their minds next year if the property doesn’t sell and tourism comes roaring back. But who knows.

Full disclosure: Although I never saw the full show in the Dells, I am pretty sure I caught parts of the group performing on Milwaukee’s lake front during Summerfest.

(Linked link seen on Instapundit, but I did see the story on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Web site first.)

The Winningest

Tam K. asks:

What kind of loser still writes a blog in 2020, anyway?

Basically, people who took Hugh Hewitt’s 2005 book Blog too much to heart or someone who has heard a business coach in 2020 say You’ve got to have a blog! You’ve got to have a brand! that, with diligent work and a proven track record over decades of fresh content will enable you to sell a hundred or so copies of your novel, one copy of your play (not a typo; it was to Charles Hill, PBUH), and a handful of copies of your poetry collection even though each is only $.99 on Kindle. Well, okay, the business coaches say the first part; the latter part of it comes from my own experience (and the thousands of words on this blog could probably have been better developed into a habit of writing actual books instead so maybe I could have eventually sold maybe five hundred books total.

All daily for the three or four regular readers and to keep my site fresh for search engines so I’m still a relevant hit for reports on obscure books.

Maybe Ms. K’s question was rhetorical, but I certainly explained one of the kinds of loser still blogging.

(Also, note, although I say decades of experience, this blog with its Blogger origin story are only seventeen and a half years old, so clearly I am using hyperbole.)

Book Report: Lord of Janissaries by Jerry Pournell and Roland J. Green (2015)

Book coverI miss Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor blog. I used to read it all the time, and I corresponded with Dr. Pournelle from time to time–he cited me on the blog a couple of times, and he bought my poem for There Might Be War: Volume X. In the months leading up to his death, he mentioned he was working on another Janissaries novel. This year, that book, Mamelukes became available. I ordered it; as I hadn’t actually read the first novels in the series, I ordered an omnibus edition of them as well. Which is how I came to possess this book. When I finished Sixth Column (in August!), I picked this volume up. It helped that it was on the top of the stack.

At any rate, this book collects three books: Janissaries, Clan and Crown, and Storms of Victory. Basically, the story is based on the question of whether a company of Marines could conquer the Roman empire. A squad of mercenaries on a CIA contract are surrounded on an African hilltop in the late 1970s. As they’re about to be overrun by hostiles, a flying saucer appears and makes them an offer: Come act as their agents on a distant planet. Or die.

So the mercs are whisked to a planet where they’re supposed to farm a drug for the aliens. They’ll have to get the locals, humans, to help by any means necessary–it turns out that there are humans throughout the galaxy. On this particular planet, they’re kind of representatives of different eras of human history–barbarians, Romans, and so on. The mercs discover that the aliens end the drug’s multi-year growing opportunity–which is made possible when the most distant star in a trinary system makes its approach by bombarding the planet back to the stone age–not that it gets that far from it.

When they land, the former leader of the group is deposed and ‘exiled’ by his second-in-command. The exiled man is given a gun and sent away, and he encounters the daughter of a barbarian chieftain. He falls for the girl and befriends her priest, and he proves to be an effective war leader as he has studied military history–which comes in handy when he leads the barbarians–now pikemen and cavalry–against a Roman legion effectively.

So that’s the three books, really. The first is the best as it lays the conceits and the world. The characters are developed and the basics of the long arcs and subplots appear. But the second and third books in the omnibus deal a lot more with the intrigues of medieval leadership and military engagements. They’re about making the military alliances and then fighting battles with them. So it gets a little less engaging and a bit repetitive in the last 500 pages.

At the end of the third book, some of the subplots involve interstellar intrigue which are not resolved and the main arc, whether the earthmen fulfill their obligation to provide the drug and perhaps save the planet from the skyfire that falls every couple of hundred years. I guess it’s good that the fourth novel will probably answer these questions.

But I have spent the better part of a month in this world, and as I found the last two thirds of this volume a bit less than the first, I have not picked up the fourth book of the yet and might not for a while. But it’s on the top of a stack, so who knows?