Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Book Review: 'Vostok' by Steve Alten

Title:  Vostok (Official, Amazon, GoodReads)
Author:  Steve Alten (Official, Facebook, Twitter, YouTubeGoodReads, Wikipedia)

Vostok is an interesting book; one that goes in a direction that you wouldn't really expect.  I am a big Steve Alten fan, in fact he is one of, if not my favorite author (I go back and forth between Alten and Terry Brooks).  I have followed his career since the early 2000s and have read almost everything he has written.  Alten is one of those writers whose work is exceptionally easy and fun to read.  He has this innate ability to craft stories that are vivid and complex and very realistic while at the same time constructing them in a way that even the most reluctant readers can plow right through to the end of the book in no time.  With a style that I've often described as a mixture between Michael Crichton, Peter Benchley, and Dan Brown, Alten's books are filled with science facts that at times make it hard to distinguish where the science facts end and the science fiction begins.

Vostok is the sequel to what I consider to be Alten's best book, The Loch and a prequel to the upcoming MEG 5: Nightstalkers.  The story follow's Zachary Wallace years after the events of The Loch.  Now married with a son, Wallace is floundering in nearly every way imaginable as are the communities surrounding Loch Ness.  Wallace is approached by a team with a picture of an ancient creature whose remains were discovered in Antarctica.  After identifying the species, Wallace was offered the opportunity to part of the first team to explore the hidden world of Lake Vostok, an ancient lake buried under miles of glacier ice in Antarctica.  What they find will change everything.

Knowing Alten's previous work, it is safe to assume that shenanigans with monsters will be prevalent in Vostok but that only scratches the surface.  This book goes from science fiction thriller to philosophic mystery and back again, hitting on themes of family, love, trust, the unknown, the origins of life on earth, the meaning of life, quantum physics, humanity, and God.  The end result is a satisfying read across a bumpy road that takes a little bit a faith to get through but is completely worth it when it is done.  Wallace is a great character and the merging of this world with that of Alten's MEG series not only works but makes perfect sense (there's even a bit of Jonas Taylor thrown in for good measure).  Overall Vostok is a fun, engaging, and even thought provoking read that is one that I will be recommending for years to come.

K98X The Fringe Episode # 35

1.  "Left of the Dial" by The Replacements (from Tim)
2.  "What Grows Up Must Get Down" by Big Awesome (from Party On)
3.  "Optimist" by American Television (from Let's Play Two)
4.  "I'm in Love with a Girl" by Lucero (from All A Man Should Do)
5.  "Knock Me Down" by The Outlets (from The Outlets)
6.  "Going Strong" by Dropkick Murphys (from The Gang's All Here)
7.  "Whisper Hard" by Drop Acid (from Making God Smile)
8.  "Bloodstorm" by Chainsaw Kittens (from Violent Religion)
9.  "For The Singer Of R.E.M." by fIREHOSE (from If'n)
10.  "Holy Attitude" by Fake Problems (from Strange Emotions: Holy Attitude)
11.  "Fickle" by Home Movies (from Hell)
12.  "Anxious Type" by Shit Present (from Shit Present)
13.  "I Found the One" by Teenage Bottlerocket (from Tales From Wyoming)
14.  "In the Dark" by The Stops (from Nameless Faces)
15.  "Saint Forget" by Arliss Nancy (from Simple Machines)
16.  "True Trans Soul Rebel" by Against Me! (from Transgender Dysphoria Blues)
17.  "Dizz Knee Land" by Dada (from Puzzle)
18.  "Last Song" by Embrace (from Embrace)
19.  "Stars" by Hum (from You'd Prefer An Astronaut)
20.  "Chesterfield King" by Jawbreaker (from Bivouac)
21.  "Just Listen to the Songs" by Make War (from Make War)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

K98X The Fringe Podcast Episode # 34: Related Bands Edition

Well we're a day late but hopefully not a dollar short.  This weekend we're doing bands that are related, i.e. bands that share at least one member.  This includes great stuff from Lucero and Red Forty, Classics Of Love and Operation Ivy, and Latterman and Tender Defender just to name a few.

1.  "Flip Your Wig" by Husker Du (from Flip Your Wig)
2.  "Hey Mr. Grey" by Bob Mould (from Beauty & Ruin)
3.  "Sound System" by Operation Ivy (from Operation Ivy)
4.  "Would Be Kings" by Classics Of Love (from Classics Of Love)
5.  "Busted & Disgusted" by Brassknuckle Boys (from American Bastard)
6.  "Earth Dies Screaming" by The Staggers (from One Heartbeat Away from Hell)
7.  "Waiting" by The Rentals (from Return of The Rentals)
8.  "El Scorcho" by Weezer (from Pinkerton)
9.  "Next to You at Night" by Weston (from Matinee)
10.  "Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas" by Beach Slang (from Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas)
11.  "Roller Coasters" by toyGuitar (from In This Mess)
12.  "The Radio Airwaves Gave Me a Lobotomy" by One Man Army (from BYO Split Series, Vol. 5)
13.  "Seventeen" by Red Forty (from Discography)
14.  "Tonight Ain't Gonna Be Good" by Lucero (from That Much Further West)
15.  "Rush" by Big Audio Dynamite II (from The Globe)
16.  "Train in Vain" by The Clash (from London Calling)
17.  "I'm Onto You" by Plow United (from Plow United / The Scandals Split)
18.  "The Legend of Molly Pitcher" by The Rentiers (from Here is a List of Things That Exist)
19.  "Goodmorning, Here Is Jan" by Latterman (from We Are Still Alive)
20.  "Hello Dirt" by Tender Defender (from Hello Dirt)
21.  "Kick Me" by Shit Present (from Shit Present)
22.  "North Street" by Great Cynics (from I Feel Weird)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

K98X The Fringe Podcast Episode # 33

1.  "The Traps" by Hot Water Music (from Exister)
2.  "Optimist" by American Television (from Let's Play Two)
3.  "Bitter End" by Northcote (from Hope Is Made Of Steel)
4.  "John Cena" by Donovan Wolfington (from How to Treat the Ones You Love)
5.  "Wrong" by Archers of Loaf (from Icky Mettle)
6.  "Melatonin" by Smoke or Fire (from This Sinking Ship)
7.  "Just Listen to the Songs" by Make War (from Make War)
8.  "Stay Beautiful" by Manis Street Preachers (from Generation Terrorists)
9.  "Two Out of Three Ain't Rad" by Red City Radio (from Red City Radio)
10.  "No Bad Memories" by Antarctigo Vespucci (from Leavin' La Vida Loca)
11.  "Hate Edge" by Anti-Heros (from That's Right / Don't Tread On Me)
12.  "Glorious You" by Frank Turner (from Positive Songs for Negative People)
13.  "Lonely and Kold" by Matt Skiba and the Sekrets (Kuts)
14.  "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet (from Girlfriend)
15.  "Easy Street" by Soul Asylum (from And The Horse They Rode In On)
16.  "Casemaker" by Sinkhole (from Groping for Trout)
17.  "The Cross and The Switchblade" by Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves (from Scars)
18.  "Wichita Skyline" by Drag the River (from Drag the River)
19.  "Anxious Type" by Shit Present (from Shit Present)
20.  "Right There Beside You" by The Warning Shots (from Volume 2)
21.  "Work for Food" by Dramarama (from Hi-Fi Sci-Fi)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

K98X The Fringe Podcast Episode # 32

1.  "Evaporate" by Chris Farren (from Where U Are)
2.  "Horizon" by Slow And Steady (from In Time We Belong)
3.  "I Scare Myself Sometimes (feat. Lucy Wilson)" by The Smith Street Band (from I Scare Myself Sometimes)
4.  "California Sounds" by Yotam (from California Sounds)
5.  "Behold the Hurricane" by The Horrible Crowes (from Elise)
6.  "Mind" by Willamette Stone (from If I Stay [Original Soundtrack])
7.  "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths (from Hatful of Hollow)
8.  "Rhythm of Peace" by Stephen D. Kent (from Rhythm of Peace)
9.  "When The Angels Sing" by Social Distortion (from White Light, White Heat, White Trash)
10.  "Wichita Skyline" by Drag the River (from Drag the River)
11.  "The Wagon" by Dinosaur Jr. (from Green Mind)
12.  "Drag of a Weekend" by Mineral Girls (from Cozy Body)
13.  "2009" by Lithuania (from Hardcore Friends)
14.  "Golden Coast" by Allison Weiss (from New Love)
15.  "Just Listen to the Song" by Make War (from Make War)
16.  "Daniel Craig Ferguson" by Bombers (from Hospital Museum)
17.  "Far To Fall" by Habits (from Train Wrecks)
18.  "Show M Mary" by Catherine Wheel (from Chrome)
19.  "City Lights" by The GC5 (from Kisses From Hanoi/Horseshoes & Handgrenades)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

K98X The Fringe Podcast Episode # 31

1.  "Hello Dirt" by Tender Defender (from Hello Dirt)
2.  "Ephedrine Blue" by The Briefs (from Sex Objects)
3.  "Troy Davis Blues" by The Roughies (from What's Your Plan For The Wasteland?)
4.  "Stutter Step" by Where My Bones Rest Easy (from Exercises in Futility)
5.  "Doom! Doom! Doom!" by Latterman (from No Matter Where We Go..!)
6.  "Live Right Now" by Hudson Falcons (from Peace of Mind)
7.  "Verse Chorus Verse" by Nirvana (from No Alternative)
8.  "Hell" by Home Movies (from Hell)
9.  "Holy Attitude" by Fake Problems (from Strange Emotions: Holy Attitude)
10.  "Waiting" by Billy the Kid (from Demo-lish)
11.  "Integrity" by Smoke or Fire (from The Speakeasy)
12.  "I'm Onto You" by Plow United (from Plow United / The Scandals Split)
13.  "Now & Then" by Nona (from Through The Head)
14.  "Sick Of Myself" by Matthew Sweet (from 100% Fun)
15.  "The Deep End" by Paul Smith and the Intimations (from Contradictions)
16.  "Votive Candles" The Rentiers (from Here is a List of Things That Exist)
17.  "No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant" by Titus Andronicus (from The Most Lamentable Tragedy)
18.  "Pick 'Em up Truck" by The Smugglers (from Selling the Sizzle!)
19.  "Can't Be Bothered (feat. Luther Dickinson & Davey Lane)" by Tommy Stinson (from Can't Be Bothered [feat. Luther Dickinson & Davey Lane])
20.  "Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas" by Beach Slang (from Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas)
21.  "Caps and Bottles" by Dropkick Murphys (from Boys on the Docks)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

K98X The Fringe Podcast Episode # 30

Normally on Saturday's I try to do some kind of theme but today I decided just to go with some great fucking songs.  We've got stuff from Restorations, Frank Turner, Antarctigo Vespucci, Doug McKean, Eternal Summers, John Moreland, Beach Slang, Armstrong, and The Nils just to name a few.

1.  "No Bad Memories" by Antarctigo Vespucci (from Leavin' La Vida Loca)
2.  "Goodbye To Yesterday" by Ben Lee (from Love Is The Great Rebellion)
3.  "Glorious You" by Frank Turner (from Positive Songs for Negative People)
4.  "Together or Alone" by Eternal Summers (from Gold and Stone)
5.  "Until the Next Cliffhanger" by Doug McKean (from Concerto for Second Fiddle)
6.  "Hoover Street" by Rancid (from Life Won't Wait)
7.  "I Don't Believe You" by The Thermals (from Personal Life)
8.  "Let The Boys Be Girls" by Two Cow Garage (from Let The Boys Be Girls)
9.  "Spent" by Casual (from Casual LP)
10.  "Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas" by Beach Slang (from Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas)
11.  "Is It Really So Strange?" by The Smiths (from Louder Than Bombs)
12.  "California Sounds" by Yotam (from California Sounds)
13.  "Watermark" by The Weakerthans (from Left And Leaving)
14.  "Fountains" by The Nils (from Green Fields in Daylight)
15.  "Back To You" by Billy the Kid (from Horseshoes & Hand Grenades)
16.  "The Shine" by Dave Hause (from Devour)
17.  "Average" by Armstrong (from Dick: The Lion Hearted)
18.  "The War" by Bob Mould (from Beauty & Ruin)
19.  "Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars" by John Moreland (from High On Tulsa Heat)
20.  "Wasted" by The Fingers (from Losers Take All)
21.  "Tiny Prayers" by Restorations (from Tiny Desk Concerts)