The Zap Gun

The Philip K. Dick series continues.

Raw Feed (1989): The Zap Gun, Philip K. Dick, 1965.Zap Gun

In a certain sense, Dick’s negative assessment of the novel’s first half being utterly unreadable is correct.

The opening is boring and confusing. We never do get a coherent explanation of “plowsharing”: it seems to be conversion of mass produced weapons’ components — which seem to work — into civilian consumer goods hence giving the illusion of security and providing an economic boost and salvation from the cost of the arms race.

Like The Penultimate Truth, this is a fake Cold War perpetrated by the power elite of East and West for their benefit. (But it is unclear exactly what the populace believe to be true).

Here the weapons are not those horrifying weapons of mass destruction of old (which are sadly lacking the Sirian slavers show) but rather silly, if inventive, weapons like the Garbage Can Banger that keeps the enemy wake, produces obnoxious odors, or merely mess up his bureaucratic records. That is a funny element. And Lars Powderdry’s horrified reaction to a mere pistol is truly moving.

Those old, truly destructive weapons of old are shown to be sadly lacking by the Sirian slavers. Continue reading

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper

No, I’m not a Ripperologist. I do not (often) go to

But I don’t have to be a Ripperologist to know about Jack the Ripper, and neither do you. Never being caught and writing (maybe) those taunting letters to the police gave him a posthumous infamy not attained by those more vicious.

I’ve rarely gone out of my way to read about the Ripper – no nonfiction beyond some articles, a single novel and some short stories. All those, except for Robert Bloch’s The Night of the Ripper, were encountered by chance.

Ripper movies are another matter, but I don’t do movies at this blog. (For the record, my favorite Ripper films are Time After Time and Jack’s Back.)

So why did I ask Amazon to send me a review copy of an 864 page book on the subject?

Mostly because I didn’t have a copy of Robert Bloch’s “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” in the house, and we were discussing it on the Deep Ones discussion group at LibraryThing. And I am mildly curious about the Ripper.

Review: The Big Book of Jack the Ripper, ed. Otto Penzler, 2016.big-book-of-jack-the-ripper

Yes, it’s a big book, 864 pages, 11 non-fiction pieces and 41 pieces of fiction, and there’s no way I’m going to mention every single entry. (And, while it’s just barely manageable in print form and nicely laid out in double columns, you may want to spare your wrists the effort and go for the kindle edition. There are no illustrations.)

This book should satisfy everyone interested in the Ripper killings. The non-fiction pieces provide the context and introduction to the historical murders. Obsessive collectors on Ripper material will find new Ripper material here. (Though I note only one parenthetical mention of a suspect I find credible, American doctor Francis Tumblety.)

The first 136 pages are taken up with the historical details of the Ripper murders and the wake he left in criminology. Continue reading