Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Star Trek--TOS #23: Ishmael (Hambley, Barbara)

Rating: 5
Year: 1985
Genre: Sci-Fi/Star Trek
Read again? Yes

James Kirk hopes Spock is dead.

The Vulcan science officer snuck aboard a Klingon ship, convinced its crew were Up To No Good. The ship entered a Space Cloud, ostensibly to investigate a rogue dwarf star...and then vanished. Spock managed two transmissions: "White Dwarf, Khlaru, Tillman's Factor, Guardian" and "Eighteen Sixty Seven."

Kirk knows that if the Klingons found Spock aboard their ship, they would torture him.

Meanwhile, in 1867, Aaron Stemple sees a strange light in the woods as he guides his horse through an early-morning mist toward Seattle. Upon investigating further, he finds an unconscious man. No, not a man, not with those ears, not with green blood. After days of nursing the alien into some semblance of health, Stemple is no closer to understanding him: the alien has no recollection of his own identity. Stemple passes him off as his nephew, Ishmael Marx.

About the same time "Ishmael" shows up, two mean-looking strangers come to town, asking questions; we'd recognize them as TV Klingons--dark skin, dark hair.

Can Ishmael figure out why he's in Seattle? Can Kirk figure out Spock's final transmissions?

This book hies from the era of Space Animals in Star Trek books: a Space Octopus (I'm assuming; she had a tentacle) who takes over at the Science station when Spock goes missing; and a blue-eyed Space Snot Puddle named Aurelia Steiner. There just had to be one, some sort of Cosmic thing, because shortly before getting to the part where we meet Ms. Puddle, I was re-reading the review for "Double, Double," where I made a snarky reference to them.

This book was better than I was expecting. I seem to remember not liking Hambly's style or writing for some reason, but I found no issues with this one that would keep me from coming back to it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Teardrops and Tiny Trailers (Douglas Keister)

Rating: 5/5
Year: 2008
Genre: Nonfiction / Travel
Read again? yes

I've been wanting to build a little teardrop camper for years, partly out of a desire to see forts I've never been to without having to pay for motels, but also because one just needs to get away from time to time.

These hip-pocket homes on wheels date back to the 1930s and are typically built around a standard 4 x 8 foot sheet of plywood. The smaller ones are roomy enough for two friendly people and are light enough to be towed by almost any car. It's a step up from lying in a tent, but still more rough-and-ready (and far cheaper) than a bus-sized RV.

Keister's book is both an attractive guide to the possibilities for designing, outfitting and decorating trailers and a display of their tow vehicles, from Plain Jane to radical; boring to beautiful; wood, fiberglass, and aluminum.

There are plenty of photos of gorgeous old cars and trailers, some of which were built from plans like these from Mechanix Illustrated in 1947.