Do you really know what Fascism is?

38255329Fascism is a thing that a lot of people will refer to (he’s such a fascist!) without really understanding what makes the concept of Fascism. In How Fascism Works, Jason Stanley does a good job of breaking down the elements of Fascism, and providing examples from places like Nazi Germany. He also points to examples of similar behaviours in places like Poland and Hungary and the Middle East, as well as the recent United States.

He doesn’t go quite to the point of saying that the US is on the verge of becoming a Fascist state, but he makes it quite clear that it’s in danger of going down that route, and he does it by going through, step by step, and providing concrete examples. I don’t know that he will ever convince someone who doesn’t want to believe (and who thinks that Trump is good for the country), but he does leave you thinking.

Still, the book is short enough that while he covered the basics, there wasn’t a lot of depth to it. I would have also liked to get an idea of if there are any common signs that a society is in the earliest stages of a slide into fascism.


Like Fire and Water…

384650291As a reader of slash fanfiction, I expected Firestorm to be right up my alley, and in a lot of ways it was. Unfortunately, I came out of it wanting just a little bit more.

The concept is a contemporary fantasy, where there are four young men that are hosts to elemental spirits. They use their powers to deal with natural disasters, and they live together, with Fire (Elijah) and Water (Dante) being a romantic couple, as are Earth and Air (Stephen and Christian). But at the start of the novella, when they are around twenty, Fire dies in a car crash. Water is devastated, and even more so when almost immediately, the Fire spirit chooses a newborn as his new host. They are supposed to be partners, as soon as the boy grows up, but he doesn’t want this interloper, he just wants to mourn his dead lover.

The new Fire (Nicholai) ends up on the outside growing up, pulled to Dante, but rejected. Instead he ends up on his own, working solo as much as possible, until Dante pulls his head out of his ass. I doubt it’s much of a spoiler to say that they do end up together eventually, after the Elijah’s secrets are exposed.

I liked the world, although I wondered how the three that are together are living in relative obscurity in a small town when they aren’t needed. Wouldn’t there be tourists that come to try to gawk at them? Wouldn’t religious nuts want to kill them? Wouldn’t the government want to lock them up in protective custody because they are too valuable to run around (let alone die in a car crash behind the wheel). And what about the fact that Fire was ‘reborn’ in a different country? Do they get paid? By who, since they are called all over the world? I would expect them to have giant bank accounts, but I can’t figure out if they have any money at all.

My biggest problem is that when Nicholai is around Dante, Dante acts like he’s the younger one, even though it’s clear that he’s at least twenty years older than his new partner. It’s referred to on a physical basis from time to time, but even at forty, he still tends to behave like a petulant teenager, despite the influence of an immortal elemental. And the elementals are petty enough that, for example, Fire doesn’t let Nicholai have any real lovers, since Fire wants Water, but Dante doesn’t want Nicholai.

I was also left wondering about the fallout of the final twist in the story. We never find out what the reaction of the world to it.

I would have liked to have had the world fleshed out a little more, which would expand the novella to a full novel. Still, it was a nice little bonbon of a read. Just don’t expect any depth to it.

The first half of 2018 in review

I decided to take a look at the books I read in the first half of this year, since I’m a huge list maker, and I’ve been keeping track of my reading for years (including pages read each day). Still, I’ve never actually looked at breakdowns, other than how many books I read in a year and how many of them were library books. I’ve been trying to up the number of books from the library, since I spend way too much money on books, and buy more books than I read. It’s the same way that I’ve reached the point where I’ve got too much yarn in the house, and I’m trying to restrict myself to buying less yarn than I use in knitting projects (and I have trouble keeping to that when Michaels has a sale)

So, what was my reading up until the end of June this year…

48 books read

Some format break-downs
15 library books
14 from NetGalley
2 graphic novels
12 novellas
9 audiobooks

My breakdown by genre
8 non-fiction (5 on politics)
12 fantasy
9 science fiction
6 horror or dark fantasy
6 action/adventure
5 mystery
1 poetry collection
1 short story collection (mystery/sf/fantasy)

Now mind you, some of the books I slotted into one category also fits into a second (or third or fourth) category. In the breakdown by genre, I slotted with which category I thought of first.

Finally, here is the list of all the books I read from January to the end of June, in order they were read. Well, not including fanfiction, which would add the equivalent of a lot of books to the list.

Continue reading “The first half of 2018 in review”

Sound of Thunder in reverse?

36895993I enjoyed Footprints in the Future, a first novel by TG Winkfield from what I can find, but I did find myself wishing for a little more there.

First, the story. A pair of academics in the mid-seventies manage to invent time travel, although we never learn how or what is involved. They put together a team of other academics to oversee the project, and start recruiting young people to actually travel through time to observe history. The first try is something of a failure, since the young man who was assigned to observe da Vinci actually falls in love with him, and abandons the ‘present’ to stay with him, and there are hints that the timeline is tweaked as a result. After that they go for implants to track their travelers. As time goes on, there is hints of other time adjustments from the various expeditions, and that maybe there are other time travelers out there, working towards their own goals. As well, one of the academics pushes for trying to time travel to the future, where it turns out that a man-made disaster has caused widespread death and destruction.

The characters, unfortunately, are less interesting than the story ideas. There is little to differentiate them, so I kept getting characters confused (mostly the male characters, since there were only three real female characters, with two being mother and daughter, and the third having a very minor role). The author really needed to more clearly define them as individuals. All in all, the characters seemed to take a back seat to the ideas.

While I enjoyed the story, there were a few things that threw me out rather solidly. The biggest one was a massive anachronism that had me stop reading so that I could do some research (okay, I googled it). A female student is sent back in time to the late sixties (why so recent a past time? no one ever mentions), and she makes a comment about at least not having to worry about AIDS in the summer of love. Since she was sent back from 1978 or 79, that struck me as completely wrong. First of all, I didn’t hear about AIDS until the eighties, and it was still considered ‘the gay disease’. According to Wikipedia, the disease was not identified in a lab until 1981, and it wasn’t until late 1982 that it was actually referred to as AIDS (initially it was called GRID – ‘gay-related immune deficiency’). I tried to tell myself that a world with time travel would potentially have different timelines for things like diseases, but really, it felt like the author just goofed.

Also, when they identified the disaster that caused so much destruction in the next century, I was a little surprised that they were debating whether or not to try and stop it from happening? I would have thought that it would be a no-brainer, since they are not doing something that would wipe themselves out of existence. And they never really seem to come to a decision, other than sending people to the future to do more investigation.

And in the end, I felt like I was missing sections of the book, since there were definitely plot gaps, and a lack of a full resolution. Hopefully it’s only the first of a series, since it does need some more expansion.