Category Archives: Free science fiction Nook

This Brain Surgeon Can Write A Mean Science Fiction Novel

Review By KEN KORCZAK

Wow, BRIAN O’GRADY was soaring along, flying high on eagle wings of science fiction excellence, cruising to an easy stellar recommendation from me with this gripping book HYBRID – unfortunately, the eagle makes a couple of unscheduled landings to act like a turkey, tarnishing the luster from what might have been a contender for the Hugo or Nebula Award.

The most important impression I want to leave with the reader is that this is a terrific book; get it, read it and enjoy it – because I certainly did. O’Grady is simply an excellent writer. His strength in creating believable, complex characters and placing them in extraordinary circumstances is considerable. Science fiction legend Ben Bova said that all great SF begins and ends with character. If you create vivid characters and then give them incredibly tough problems to solve – and nearly kill them in the process of an unfolding plot – what you have is a thrilling book, making it a joy to turn each page.

O’Grady does all that. So what’s the problem? Well, for me, and inexplicably, O’Grady takes a couple of pointless detours – one is throwing in a bit about a conventional military action against Iran – which does absolutely nothing to advance his primary plot of biological terrorism.

But even that is not so bad as when it becomes obvious that O’Grady can’t resist grinding a certain political ax here and there. He seems to create scenes specifically just to show that “enhanced interrogation techniques” (the euphemism for torture, in this case, chemical torture) is more effective in getting tough nuts to crack than non-torture techniques. He takes a considerable dig at Vietnam-era war protestors — (you know, those deluded people who thought Vietnam was a horrific mistake) – but at one point, O’Grady can’t help but take a petty, below-the-belt shot at a liberal icon, the filmmaker Michael Moore. Why spoil a great work of SF just to throw a sucker punch?

It’s all forgivable, however! O’Grady has a bright future. I understand his day job is that of neurosurgeon, but if that doesn’t pan out for him, I think he can make it as a writer. I hope he develops a huge audience, and I eagerly await anything else this talented guy has to offer.

Please visit Ken Korczak’s FAN PAGE: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Free Science Fiction Nook, Kindle Gems: Planet of the Damned

Review By KEN KORCZAK

The prolific SF writer Gordon Dickson was called the “Book Doctor” because he was so good at advising other writers on how to make their books riveting page turners. His advice was that a great SF book should have the sound of a metaphoric ticking bomb that could go off at any time, and that the reader should start hearing that ticking on the first page.

In HARRY HARRISON’S pulp offering “Planet of the Damned” the bombs are not metaphors, but literally part of the plot — in this case, a cache of nuclear cobalt bombs in the hands of a planet occupied by the worst kind of violent, savage “cave men” you can imagine. How did such a bunch of primitive grunts get their hands on nuclear weapons, and how do they have the ability to drop them on the neighboring planet in their solar system? Well, like all clever SF writers — and Harrison is among the most clever — he finds a way to make this scenario at least plausible

The savages on the planet Dis want to drop their bombs on the planet Nyjord, populated by a gentle race of passivist philosophers. Only one man stands in the way of this nefarious plot — the incredible Brion Brandd — a super Olympian-style athlete — who finds himself an unlikely draftee to lead the effort to avert the nuclear annihilation of Nyjord. Brandd is not just a jock — he’s incredibly smart, and an empath to boot.

Anyone judging this short novel today must do so keeping in mind that it does not pretend to be anything which it is not — it’s a classic pulp fiction offering, first appearing in Analog SF magazine in 1962. Fast books with a hot premise like this were the bread and butter of pulp-era writers such as Harrison, and he was among the best in delivering genre fiction of this sort, and doing a credible job.

So it’s not great literature, it may not even be stellar science fiction, but it is what it is: A fast-paced, intelligent thrill-novel set in the far future and outer space. Harrison knows his science well, and gives the reader a lesson in exobiology that is interesting and educating, without stalling the plot. That’s no easy task!

Download this free science fiction ebook here: PLANET OF THE DAMNED

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Free Kindle, Nook eBooks: Maybe the Only Jack Vance You Will Find Free Online

Ken Korczak:

This is the only free Jack Vance work I have found online as a free ebook download. Maybe it’s not great literature, but on the other hand, one must keep in mind that there simply is no bad Jack Vance. This short story, Sjambak, is a run-of-the-mill sf short story of the kind that appeared in pulp magazines through the 40s, 50s and 60s. Writer’s like Vance cranked out slightly interesting and amusing yarns like this by the dozen to put coin in their pocket.

But Vance is most likely the greatest sf writer of them all, though far less known than the “big guns” such as Asimov, Heinlein and Bradbury. But Vance is a far, far superior writer to all of the above, (yes, even Bradbury) and the primary reason for that is his extremely unique and elegant style.

Sjambak merely hints at the brilliant potential of Vance. Readers who have read only this story should not make a judgment on Vance until they have read his novels, such as “The Demon Princes” or the sublime “The Planet of Adventure” series. Some of Vance’s shorter novels, such as The Dragon Masters and The Last Castle (the latter actually a long short story) are nothing less than literary work of art. There is no true joy like reading a Jack Vance book.

Downloand this short story free for Kindle, Nook and other formats here: SJAMBAK

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