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Monday, November 19, 2012

Bob's Books - Conan the Raider by Leonard Carpenter

Conan the Raider is the second of the eleven novels that Leonard Carpenter wrote in the fifty-book Tor series. In William Galen Gray’s chronology it is the sixtieth Conan tale, following Robert E. Howard’s The Man-Eaters of Zamboula (aka Shadows in Zamboula) and taking place before L. Sprague de Camp and Bjorn Nyberg’s The Star of Khorala.

This tale opens up with Conan chasing the man who had stolen a gem, the Star of Khorala from him. Our favorite barbar had obtained the Star at the end of Howard’s The Man-Eaters of Zamboula. While it does take place directly after that story, you need not have read it, as the tie-in to the actual plot is minimal.
This book could more accurately be called Conan the Tomb Raider, and I rather liked it. We get an inside look at the building of a massive pyramidal tomb, which, of course, Conan is going to rob. I liked the shadow that Stygia’s culture cast over neighboring Abaddrah in this book. Carpenter digs into the socio-cultural side of things, which I don’t find too often in the Conan pastiches. The Queen was a bit one dimensional, though.

As in Carpenter’s Conan: Scourge of the Bloody Coast, the hero is awfully forgiving of someone who betrays him. I think Carpenter is showing the practical side of Conan, but, in this book, at least, it seems that Conan will let bygones be bygones (even really, really bad things) if he can make a bit of coin in so doing. I think he undervalues the Cimmerian background too much in this one. Honor and revenge get short shrift.
Where there’s a necromancer, there are undead. I like the horror aspect they bring to this story:  there seems to be more substance to it than there was in Conan the Defiant. “Creepy” seems like  fair description.

Sex is implied with the sultry dancer who has the lead female role, and Conan is rewarded with a woman’s favors at the end of the book. But this one is low on the Conan sex scale.

Readers of Howard’s original Star tale might have wondered what happened next to Conan: this story answers that question, though 98% of the book is really a side trek in the Star’s saga. But it works.
The next Tor book published after this one was John Maddox Roberts’ Conan the Champion. With so many average (or worse) books in the Tor line, Raider and Champion were a rather solid back to back duo.  I found Raider, while not a great book, to be one of the more enjoyable Tor pastiches.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A (Thoughtful) Christian Perspective on the Election

If you watch science fiction shows like Star Trek and whatnot, you’ve probably run across the word “anomaly” a time or two. Basically, it means an odd or bizarre circumstance (hey; I’m not Merriam-Webster. It’s good enough).

I don’t know that we will see a more perfect example of an anomaly during our time than millions of Christians being disappointed that a Mormon was not elected President. I’m not sure you can fully appreciate the unlikelihood of that. In any election year other than 2012, several million Christians rallying behind a Mormon in a campaign against a professed Christian, would be Twilight Zone-ish.

Mormons are not Christians. The very root, the one, fundamental thing that makes a Christian a Christian, is the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and, quoting John 14:6, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Period. If you don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you are not an actual Christian (I mean, look at the root of the word!). Barrack Obama has presented himself as a Christian since before his run in 2008. Unfortunately, his actions and don’t bear out his professed beliefs. At best, he’s a misguided Christian.
So, Christians found themselves choosing between a pseudo-Christian and a faux-Christian. And millions chose the one who, admittedly is not a Christian. I’m reasonably sure this is because, the ‘Christ as savior thing aside’ (talk about ignoring the elephant in the room!), Romney better reflected Biblical values than Obama did. So, many Christians voted for someone who is diametrically opposed to their most fundamental belief. I get it: I voted for him.

Hey: when else am I going to get to use
an Ace Frehley album cover? I like Kiss. Which  may
be an anomaly itself...
But you want an anomaly? THAT is an anomaly.

There seems to be much gnashing of teeth, wailing and beating of breast among Christians with Obama’s re-election as President. 

The separation of powers built into the US Constitution is the bell weather of democracy. I assert that the single greatest power of the Presidency is the ability to nominate Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Court has more influence on the morality and foundation of this county than any other entity.
It was the Supreme Court that instituted the separation of church and State (it is NOT in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Look it up). And it was the Court that allowed abortion (do you think the Founders built in the murder of unborn babies?). And it is the Court that decides the balance of power between the national and local governments. So, the most enduring impact of Obama’s re-election will be related to how many Justices he gets to nominate in the next four years.
To the Christians who are morose, distraught and feel crushed that their candidate (again, a Mormon..) didn’t get elected, you  need to turn to your Bible (which is pretty much ALWAYS the right option).

Romans 13:1 says, Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

And in verse 4, The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good.
God’s plan, right now, is for Barrack Obama to be President. I don’t know why. I don’t know why it’s his plan for my son to have asthma. I don’t have to understand: I just have to accept and to believe.

Psalm 27:1 tells us, The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom I shall be afraid?

The President of the United States is the leader of this country. But he is not the leader of your life. And his relationship with God and the actions he takes are between him and God. But the Lord of your life is Jesus Christ. And events are proceeding according to God’s plan. Keep that in mind as we move on in the next four years.