Category Archives: From The Homefront

Book reviews from my family.

A Word From The Father: Andre Norton’s The Sioux Spaceman 

Today’s Circle Of Bookish Friends challenge on Bookstagram is about the father figures in our lives and I am fortunate to have an incredible dad who invested his life and love into his family and will always be my inspiration and standard. I grew up in a reading family and my parents to this day are discovering new to them authors! My dad just read his first Andre Norton book and gave me the following review to share on The Sioux Spaceman. Enjoy this word from my father:

First off, “The Sioux Spaceman” by Andre Norton was written in 1960 when I was 12. Skip forward to a great many years and this paperback edition caught my attention on the $0.50 sale rack at The Book Nook, a local treasure house of primarily used books that I like to frequent. Knowing nothing about the author, I looked her up (yes, her) on the Internet only to find out that she was a science fiction and fantasy (along with a couple of other genres), but that she the first woman inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, among other awards (twice nominated for Hugo awards). She wrote for over 70 years having over 300 titles published. I also found it interesting that like another woman author S. E. Hinton, she was advised to publish under a male’s name to increase her marketability to young boys, the main consumer of fantasy.

Since “The Sioux Spaceman” was primarily written for the young adult market in 1960 it would not have caught my eye back then since I was more interested in comics at 12 years of age. Today, 57 years later it caught my eye on that 50-cent sale rack. After all, what’s 50-cents really worth now-days? I found that it was well written, with excellent main character development and well worth my investment of time for an enjoyable read of older works of science fiction. The protagonist, Kade Whitehawk, a Trader for the Space Service, finds himself being reassigned to a Team on the planet Klor in disgrace. Once on Klor, he is slowly being drawn into a battle to help the indigenous population free themselves from the alien Styors who have enslaved mercilessly enslaved them. Again, Whitehawk goes against Space Service policy and sets a plan in motion to help the Ikkinni get free from the hated Styor’s star empire. The plot is, well, just a bit juvenile (after all it was written with that reader in mind), but is sufficient to keep the reader engaged. Since Whitehawk is of Sioux warrior descent he succeeds in getting horses delivered to the planet and helps to get the natives to trust in using them to begin the their liberation. After the battle begins, he is abandoned on Klor in the not so gentle grasp of those he was trying to help. The Space Service sent a rescue ship to his summons and what is revealed to him after the ship lands astounds him. With the Space Service there is the Policy (think Prime Directive of Star Trek) and the Plan. He is one of the few whom the Space Service consider a black sheep who serve in a rebellious state they call the warrior breed. He is then given the opportunity to remain and continue assisting in the Ikkinni’s freedom struggles or go. After all, he is told, “a push here, a push there topples a star empire.”


A Word From The Father: The Invisible Man

A special guest post from my Father! In honor of #VintageSciFiMonth he chose to read and review The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. My parents were my primary inspiration to read so it is with great joy that I share this review from my Dad with y’all:
It’s always good to find one’s roots, whether that is in life or in a chosen genre of literature. The roots of Sci-Fi can be traced to H. G. Wells and one of his classics “The Invisible Man.” Sci-Fi or fantasy literature works when a reader can “suspend belief” or have a “plausible impossible” story line. 

In “The Invisible Man” Wells provides such a story line through a scientist who discovers the ability to render objects invisible. After a few experiments the protagonist turns himself invisible. The crux of the story then becomes his struggles and mad obsession of establishing a “reign of terror” and being able to use his exceptional situation to establish himself as the leader (and benefactor) of his reign. He soon finds that he is ill equipped to survive his invisibility without assistance. Once his secret is out, he struggles to continue and ultimately falls victim to his own avarice and unstable mental condition. As the story unfolds, the reader can see and understand how Wells has crafted a theme that is now a classic in Science Fiction writing. “The Invisible Man” is well written and should be read by all lovers of Science Fiction.

A Review From The Father

A special guest post from my Father in honor of #VintageSciFiMonth he chose to read and review Tolkien’s Roverandom which was published in 1998 but written in 1925 so we feel it qualifies. 🙂 My parents were my primary inspiration to read so it is with great joy that I share this review from my Dad with y’all:

RoverandomJ.R.R. Tolkien

Houghton Mifflin, NY, NY, 1998

 Roverandom is a novella penned by J.R.R. Tolkien during the summer of 1925. It was published posthumously in 1998. This fantasy sprang to life in an effort to bring comfort to his son, Michael, upon the loss of his favorite toy, a miniature black and white dog made of lead, while on holiday in Filey on the Yorkshire coast. It’s an interesting short read in which one can see inklings of his greatest works to come.

Rover, a very small and very young dog playing in his garden with a yellow ball and an old man comes by and picks up the ball. Now as it is said in the book, “Not every old man with ragged trousers is a bad old man…a few, a very few are wizards prowling around on a holiday looking for something to do.” This wizard came wandering up the garden path a ragged old coat with an old pipe in his mouth and an old green hat on his head…with a blue feather stuck in the back of it.” Rover misinterpreting the wizard’s intentions of picking up his ball ultimately bites and tears the wizards trousers. The old man became very angry and simply said, “Idiot, go be a toy!” From this point, Rover begins a journey that will lead him from his beloved garden to an adventure that takes his to the moon and back to under the sea and back home again.

Rover meets up with a ‘sand-wizard’ who takes pity on him and sends him on a journey to the moon to meet the Man-in-the-Moon, a wise and powerful wizard. While there he meets the wizard’s moon-dog, also named Rover. Since two Rovers are confusing, the man-in-the-moon renames him Roverandom. After dealing with dragons and black spiders (among other adventures) he heads back to Earth. There he is sent to the bottom of the sea to find Artaxerxes, the wizard who placed the spell on him in an effort to apologize and be released from the spell.

Artaxerxes hasn’t the time for a small little dog and doesn’t care to be bothered. Roverandom meets up with the Mer-King’s mer-dog, named Rover. Both become friends and swim to many more adventures. Artaxerxes, now the Pacific and Atlantic Magician, meets with an ancient Sea-serpent who is waking and causing trouble. Roverandom manages to create an event with the Sea-serpent that has all of the mer-folk so upset with their PAM that he must leave and go back to land. Artaxerexs ultimately accepts Rover’s apology and the spell is reversed. In the end “Roverandom grew to be very wise…and had all sorts of other adventures…”

In this novella, one can see the beauty of Tolkien’s mind at work in weaving a tale of fantasy to comfort his son in the loss of his favorite toy and more importantly, see the beginnings of greater tales of wizards, dragons and heroes waiting to come to life.

My Wife Starts Her Summer Reading List With Odd Girl Out

My wife (who works full time as a High School Teacher) is starting off her Summer Reading List with Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons. It explores the hidden culture of aggression in girls and my wife is hoping to gain a better understanding and ability to help girls who are struggling with anger and aggression. I’m really looking forward to her thoughts on this book and will be posting her review once she finishes reading the book!