Tek Power

You’d think I’d be more embarrassed. I mean, I’m a little embarrassed, but not that much. This is my thing. Sci fi and fantasy pulps. And these particular ones are attributed to William Shatner, for whom I have a deep and abiding love.

The thread of these techno drug cartels (the titular ‘tek’) runs through all the novels and this one is no exception. While obviously science fiction, in a semi-near future way (more Neuromancer than Star Trek), I have settled into an appreciative groove by understanding these as decently crafted, fast moving detective novels. Jake Cardigan, the primary protagonist, is very much the archetype of a noir hero: middle aged, tough, haggard, former cop turned PI, formerly jailed for crime he didn’t commit, preternaturally good at his job, and not infrequently beaten up a little.

That all being said, this one had more of an international espionage flavor and I didn’t love that element. Felt more James Bond and less Continental Op. And there was a deus ex machina earthquake that felt unearned.

Well, just one more to go. And then maybe I’ll binge the TV movies.

Krondor: Tear Of The Gods

Finally… after two books, we see a colon used in the third volume!

More than ever, these books feel like Dungeons & Dragons tie-ins. I just finished a long campaign with my long time group, going from first to twentieth level. This feels like a campaign. But the thing is, there is a lot of filler that doesn’t really tie the true narrative together. When playing, it’s not that important because the real joy is the relationship with your companions and seeing your own character grow and evolve. But it doesn’t really work in a novel. This was possibly my least favorite of the three.

‘Tek Secret’ & ‘Tek War’ The Movie/Series

I am not going to justify myself here. I really can’t, except for a sort of pact with the devil and a deep love of William Shatner. Also, a memory of it being on the sort of revolving wire book rack you used to see in drugstores in the Dunedin Library, near the card catalog.

I am reading another one of Shatner’s (sort of) Tek novels and I am watching a YouTube copy of the first movie (which I remember being on the USA network, but which the internet is telling me showed on the SciFI channel [side note: changing the name to SyFy was absolutely stupid]). Both are better than the you would expect and have their charms, but I neither is better than re-reading Neuromancer or continuing my rewatch of Farscape (which I actually never finished, but I’m chugging through season three right now).

Also, can I say that Neuromancer has some of the best scene setting descriptions ever?

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

I never ceased to be amazed by the brilliance of that line, which also ranks as one of the finest opening lines of any novel. The second one that also always gets me is still in the beginning section, but not the first page, if I recall. It talks about a bar being decorated in ‘pale Milanese plastics.’ Now, this is not a real decor. To my knowledge, there is no interior design school in Milan whose plastics are easily identifiable. But… isn’t it evocative? Your brain fills in the details.

The Tek novels aren’t that good. They are, safe to say, workmanlike. As is the TV movie. Workmanlike with a touch of invention that overcomes (some of) the constraints of budgets and mid-nineties CGI.

This particular novel, the fifth, feels more workmanlike the usual; less invested in the ongoing narrative threads of the series. But, I will say that, unlike the series or movies, the books do, at least give a sense that the Cosmos Detective Agency has real clients and real work and is less of a crude narrative device for the hero to continue his vendetta against the Tek cartels of future drug dealing.

Tek Vengeance

I got back and forth on these Tek novels (inexplicable, save for my deep love of William Shatner, who didn’t actually write these novels). Today, I’m feeling generous towards the compulsive storytelling and decent chemistry between the middle aged, but still vigorous and athletic, Jake Cardigan, and his partner in the future world of private eyes, Sid Gomez.

What I am not down for is the revelation that Jake’s girlfriend (who he cheated on with her college friend in the last volume; did we forget that? because I didn’t forget that), is twenty-seven years old to his forty-nine. And they’ve been together for at least a year. Icky.

Reading ‘The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe’ To My Daughter

I would call it quarantine reading but we would have done it anyways. Having finished The Hobbit, an intro to Narnia seemed the next, logical step.

Now, she did not like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe half so much as The Hobbit, but that’s fair. Lewis, as a fantasist, is not half so good as Tolkien.

But I have come to deeply appreciate Lewis, overall, in recent years, and I was glad to introduce my daughter to him. We have put Prince Caspian on hold at the library, but what I really want to read to her is The Horse and His Boy, which, as a child, I might have read even more times than Wardrobe. It is, so far as I can tell, not highly respected, but I found it to be a lovely and beautiful self contained adventure.

Blood Of Elves

This was on my ‘wishlist’ for a while after reading about this Polish fantasy series. Only later did I learn it was the inspiration for The Witcher video games (which are exactly the kind of game I like to play but which I will probably never play at this point in my life).

I bought this after visiting a Barnes & Noble. I hadn’t planned on getting anything, but one of the staff was so nice and patient with my daughter, helping her with some arts and crafts materials they had set out, that I wanted to reward the store’s bottom line a little, so I bought this for myself and a couple of books for the little one.

Now, I will admit that I had already watched the Netflix series when I started this book. Even though this is the first of Sapowski’s Witcher books, it actually takes place after the events of the series, so there were no serious spoilers, in that regard.

Enjoyable and fun. It is fashionable now to compare fantasy always in terms of Game of Thrones, so I’ll bite. More fun and with a more manageable, but without as much of that special thing that elevated Martin’s still incomplete epic.

And I don’t see anything uniquely Polish about that mythology. Now, I don’t know Polish folk traditions, so I would have expected to find somethings I didn’t recognize, but didn’t really. What I did see where many tropes from Dungeons & Dragons.

It felt… I don’t want to say unfocused. Perhaps… leisureful? Full of leisure. A point to which he was aiming, without necessarily being in a hurry to reach it. The ending was more than a little ambiguous and clearly the story isn’t nearly done.

Also, Blood of Elves is not really a very good title for it. Sure, the topic of those words came up and I can see how they could be even more relevant for a future book, but for this one… no.

Krondor The Assassins

Don’t mean to keep harping on this, but like its predecessor, there really should be a colon in the title.

I liked the more urban intrigue of this one, but it missed out by not having one of the main characters of the earlier one. This one has one roguish character named Squire James, aka Jimmy the Hand. But it missed his former companion, the roguish and rakish Locklear. Basically, the other protagonists just didn’t hold my attention.

But, it came with a third book and I imagine I will read that one too. Hopefully Locklear comes back.