PREVIEW >> Sherlock Holmes: The Thinking Engine

sherlockengineFrom best-selling author James Lovegrove comes SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE THINKING ENGINE, a new novel from Titan Books taking place in 1895. In Oxford’s newly built extension to the University Galleries, Professor Quantock has put the finishing touches to a wondrous computational device which, he claims, is capable of analytical thought to rival that of the cleverest men alive. Indeed, his so-called Thinking Engine seems equal to Sherlock Holmes himself in its deductive powers.

Never one to turn down a challenge, Holmes finds himself going head-to-cog against this new contraption. As man and machine vie for supremacy, it becomes clear that the Thinking Engine has its own agenda. For your enjoyment, here are the novel’s foreword, written by one Dr. John Watson, and Lovegrove’s first chapter.

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The Windchime Legacy

windchimeWhen first published in the early 1980s, A.W. Mykel’s debut espionage thriller, THE WINDCHIME LEGACY, quickly became an international best seller. Mykel followed up with two equally popular spy novels, THE SALAMANDRA GLASS and THE LUXUS CONSPIRACY, and was hailed as the new Robert Ludlum. Then Mykel disappeared from the literary scene as mysteriously as he first appeared. (Mykel was a pen name, but little else was revealed about the author.)

Now Brash Books has republished THE WINDCHIME LEGACY so readers can rediscover how Mykel incorporated speculative technology into a spy thriller that effectively recreates the Cold War era at its peak.

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The Best TV Shows That Never Were / Television Fast Forward / Unsold Television Pilots: 1955-1989

besttvshowsneverAbout a decade ago, while folding laundry, I watched a fun primetime special about TV shows that, for one reason or another (but mostly because they were bad), never made it past the pilot stage. What I didn’t know at the time was that hour-long special was based on a book! While that 1991 edition is now out-of-print, it has been revived, revised and republished as THE BEST TV SHOWS THAT NEVER WERE by author Lee Goldberg under his aptly named Adventures in Television banner. (He simultaneously released two companion volumes, but we’ll get to those. Patience, my dear.)

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We Are the Abyss

iamabyssEach of us is born into the Birth World. It is a place where we can interpret and affect the existence of others, where all of us have influence over the course of reality. The duration of your consciousness in the Birth World is based on your Mortal Path: the journey that we all take as we wander through the shared observable reality. During these journeys our personalities form, continually feeding the pool of subconscious thought and memory that defines us. As we age these pools deepen, preparing for the inevitable deterioration of our physical form to welcome the consciousness that remains.

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The Digest Enthusiast: Book Two

digestenthusiast2No sophomore slump exists with the second issue of THE DIGEST ENTHUSIAST, Larque Press’ perfect-bound paperback quarterly dedicated to the world of digest magazines past and present … but mostly the past, given the narrowed state of physical-copy publishing in today’s times. (Ironically, that same technology that has reduced newsstand readership has allowed this very publication to exist.) In fact, BOOK TWO is even better than BOOK ONE, and not just because the page count has leapt from 116 to 152.

Carrying over the debut issue’s mix of essays and reviews with a smattering of original fiction, discovery lay at the heart of editor Arkay Olgar’s project, perhaps best illustrated (no pun intended) by Joe Wehrle Jr.’s article on a long-running action-comics digest from Italy, starring eponymous he-man MISTER NO. Where else would we learn of such a thing on this side of the globe?

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Off and Running

offrunningPhilip Reed’s latest combines his insight into the history and inner workings of the television industry with his skills at thriller fiction. OFF AND RUNNING is uneven but persuasive enough to follow to the end.
Jack Dillion is a struggling writer in need of an assignment that will provide enough cash to survive, as well as restore his self-esteem and prove to his wife and young daughter that he is not a total failure. The big break comes when his agent lands him the job to assist with the autobiography of comedian Walt Stuckey.

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Murder by Candlelight: The Gruesome Crimes Behind Our Romance with the Macabre

murdercandelightWhile the text of MURDER BY CANDLELIGHT: THE GRUESOME CRIMES BEHIND OUR ROMANCE WITH THE MACABRE by Michael Knox Beran is overall fascinating, it was difficult for me to ascertain the reason why Beran felt the need to write it. Basically, he covers a number of murders that took place in England in the early to mid-19th century, and intersperses this with the thoughts and criticisms of Romantic authors such as Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, and especially Thomas Carlyle and Thomas DeQuincey. Okay.

There are indeed some connections to be made, certainly when these Romantic authors were directly involved with the murders, either in writing about them or in Sir Walter Scott’s interest in the murderer Jack Thurtell which bordered on obsession. But even these direct connections don’t always provide insight.

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Press Start to Play

pressstartI’ve mentioned it before, but I believe a serious, and entertaining, collection could be made of fictional books featuring video games and their cousins, paper and pencil role-playing games. Members in that canon would undoubtedly include Austin Grossman, Darin Bradley, Ernest Cline and D.B. Weiss along with Ellen Ullman for the non-gamers, and you can certainly add more in the comments (or extend it further to an artist like Robert Coover).

So it’s especially exciting to get an anthology of 26 short stories, all about video games, in PRESS START TO PLAY, a Vintage Original paperback edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams, with a brief introduction by Cline.

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It’s a Man’s World: Men’s Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps — Expanded Edition

itsamansworldVigilantes in skirts. Giant otters. Rape in a capsule. Poison in your pork. The racket in big bosoms. And at least one death orgy of the leopard women.

All of the above existed — if only on the covers of the male-skewing (and often female-skewering) pulps, whose reader-facing pages promised death-defying adventure and life-affirming virility. Now a mere memory of American publishing’s past, these he-man magazines are the subject of IT’S A MAN WORLD: MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES, THE POSTWAR PULPS edited by Adam Parfrey.

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Agents of the Internet Apocalypse

agentsinternetLast year, author Wayne Gladstone presented a bitingly satiric look at life suddenly devoid of the Internet in his novel NOTES FROM THE INTERNET APOCALYPSE. Now he continues the saga with AGENTS OF THE INTERNET APOCALYPSE. This sequel contains occasional flashes of the humor that so distinguished the first novel, but it unfortunately gets lost in its more serious ambiance and its indecisive protagonist.

The story begins a few months following the ending of the first novel. Wayne Gladstone, the so-called “Internet Messiah,” has been rescued from his jump into the Hudson River during his effort to save and restore the Internet, and is recuperating in a New York psychiatric ward. Between therapy sessions Gladstone has been researching how the Internet works. But when released, Gladstone abandons his quest to restore the Internet and instead travels west to Los Angeles to save the relationship with his estranged wife, Romaya.

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