Okay, Cussler really jumped the shark (over the moon?) in Cyclops . After the mind control plot of Deep Six , I figured things would stay a bit more grounded this time around.

Nah. Moon colonies. A plot to take over Cuba. El Dorado (or rather La Dorada!). Conversations with Fidel Casto. It’s all here. And it’s completely ridiculous. I wish there’d been a bit more focus on one or two of the plotlines (particular La Dorada, that’s the Pitt I prefer), but so it goes.


Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon

Franny, you are the genuine article. You are solid. You are certain. You are like a refrigerator. You hum.

Francine Poulet is the greatest Animal Control Officer in Gizzford County and now she has to go up against her own worst enemy: self doubt, panic attacks, and facing your fears. Also a ghost racoon. But that’s not really what the story is about.


That Which Other Men Cannot Do

And so it ends (for now).

What they have not yet seen, is that we are willing to go above and beyond, to take that extra step, to cross the furthest line…that we are willing to do what other men cannot do…what the Jung already do. That is a valid reason to attack the Jung home system.


Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?

I’ve started reading chapter books to my children at night. They get to chose (from what we have) and this is where we begin. I don’t think I could have chosen a better first book.

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? tells the story of Baby Lincoln striking out on her own, taking a Necessary Journey by train to… well, it doesn’t really matter in the end, does it? (Fluxom. They’re going to Fluxom.)


Deep Six

With each Dirk Pitt novels, the world Clive Cussler is building seems to get more and more intense and diverge further from the world we live in. We started with simple salvage and simple enough (although extensive) smuggling and drugs. And then they raised the Titanic. And found a treaty to add Canada to the United States.

Deep Six is certainly no exception, with a primary plot essentially resolving around kidnapping and mind controlling the President of the United States. As one does.


Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

400 pages? Pick it up around midnight? Sure! Let’s just read it straight though!

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened is based on the blog of the same name and appears to be essentially a printing of a number of stories that have appeared there (although Menace was published after the book and is thus missing, give it a read, it’s hilarious).


Night Probe!

One one hand, wow can you tell that some of these books were written in the 80s. The energy crisis is top on everyone’s mind and the USSR still stands.

This lays the groundwork for a bizarre alternate reality where a North American Treaty was signed between the UK and the US with the former selling Canada to the latter for $1 billion . It’s a fairly ridiculous premise for a series that otherwise more or less takes place in our world, but that’s become something of par for the course for Dirk Pitt. And it doesn’t matter (in universe) anyways, since after the treaty was lost, two of the three copies were mysteriously lost: one in the (real life) ship wreck of the RMS Empress of Ireland (only 465 survivors out of 1477); the other lost when a train–The Manhattan Limited–falls through a bridge into a river.


The Weak and the Innocent

It turns out that Captain Nash didn’t die in A Show of Force after all, and there’s still a chance that the Jung won’t steal a jump drive . There will be a tense few scenes before we find out for sure. It does rob the ending of A Show of Force a bit, but The Frontiers Saga has always felt somewhat like a television series and for that genre it fits. You need to raise the stakes, but the twist is almost always that the heroes found a way to survive .

Otherwise, all sorts of things are happening. The Pentaurus Cluster has descended into open civil war and can no longer supply the Aurora and the Alliance. Ground troops are forced to withdraw. The Aurora/Celestia get beat up again. Deliza comes back to show off her super smarts and upgrade the Falcons to SUPER Falcons.


A Show of Force

It’s interesting seeing A Show of Force escalate from where we were earlier in the series. The Aurora and her crew have kicked one evil empire’s butt, freed the Earth, and are now taking the fight to the Jung, clearing a 20 light year radius.

It’s a pretty crazy book, with lots of fights, both on the ground and in space. Nothing hugely surprising happens, with most of the book pushing towards the final confrontation I expect we’ll see shortly. We do see a lot more of the Jung now, seeing them as at once more human and at the same time as a force worth fighting. It’s far better than the faceless evil enemies that we’ve had for so long.


Vixen 03

Vixen 03 was a surprisingly good listen. From the reviews, I expected something far worse. It’s Pitt to the core, with crazy action scenes, ocean (more lake really) salvage, weird ships where they shouldn’t be, and Pitt getting himself mixed up in situations he has no reason to be involved in. Oh, and a sprinkling of racism and misogyny. At least it’s getting better?

Plotwise, the story of the doomed Vixen 03, it’s discovery, and the involved salvage mission is the best part of the book. The final conclusion with a retired battleship, retrofitted, and sailed up the Potomac to train their guns on Washington DC is ridiculous and would make an excellent blockbuster sequence. The plot about the African revolutionaries feels… rather racist and bizarre? I’m not actually sure, but it certainly feels very strange. That level of hatred between races and peoples is something that I thankfully have little personal experience with and felt odd in the story. It probably could have been traded out for any sort of terrorist group with little change to the plot.