Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Miracle Chip - A Review

Before I get to my review, please grant me a moment to explain why it’s been so long since the last one.  Just before Christmas I had two surgeries on my left arm – the stroke impaired one – to try to alleviate some of the neuromuscular impairment caused by my April, 2008 stroke.  I am still in recovery mode awaiting the beginning of physical therapy, but even with the surgeon’s restriction of lifting nothing heavier than a cup of coffee (there would have been real problems had he imposed that one as well), I can sort of type  - two fingers – with my left hand.  Any typo’s are thereby blamed on this impairment.
Now - let’s talk a little about The Miracle Chip, the new release by Tampa area author, Stanley Grainger and Xlibris Press, © 2011 by Stanley Grainger:
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011913997 ISBN:
Hardcover  978-1-4653-4845-6
Softcover  978-1-4653-4844-9
Ebook 978-1-4653-4846-3  (Kindle Locations 7-12). Xlibris. Kindle Edition.
That’s the raw skinny on it if you want to read it sight unseen, but, as Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.
Imagine, if you will, a time in the not too distant future a world in which a small but powerful faction of well-placed political, military and religious figures world-wide band together to create a one world society with a completely cashless society, single world religion (Roman Catholicism) and a single Emperor/President of the entire world, all made possible through the mandatory implementation of the neurobiologic ‘Miracle Chip’.
It sounds a bit like a science fiction techno thriller version of what you might get if you added one part Book of Revelation, one part Tribulation Series, one part (insert name of favorite techno-thrill author here), tossed them into a blender, and pour the contents into a book binder.
The story opens with former special forces operative Cantrell Stoggs hacking off his left arm with an ax to remove the dreaded chip, which intertwines itself into the host’s neuromuscular system in such symbiosis that it cannot be surgically removed.
This is followed by a faked jail escape, engineered by the secret faction to flush out Cantrell’s old black ops partner, Tracy Long.  They are joined by reporter/investigative journalist Janine McCormit as the trio runs from the secret society with hopes of rescuing Long’s kidnapped daughter, and stop this nefarious world takeover.
The book essentially reads in three phases.  A short, slowly paced beginning where all the usual suspects are introduced, a lengthy middle where the pace  picks up considerably, and an all too abrupt ending that, like the ending of Star Wars: A New Hope where you see Darth Vader’s T-fighter is spinning off into space and you just know somehow, you’ll see him again, screams sequel.
The concept is fairly good, fairly well developed, but lacking in areas like street dialog and the way characters are addressed by the narrator.  Writer Grainger also seems stuck, not unlike a record with a bad scratch, with a spot that so overuses adjectives before nearly every noun in the book, you’re left feeling like you’re reliving sentence diagramming in eleventh grade English.  Additionally, a reasonably good read is severely hurt by the very amateurish, comic-book like cover art that looks more like a badly copied frame from an episode of Beavis and Butthead than something to be taken as a serious read.
For these reasons, three stars out of five for The Miracle Chip, with the hope that the sequel, if there is one, will give a little more attention to the details.  This is a good start, but not quite yet ready for prime time.
Tampa readers can find The Miracle Chip. at Barnes and Noble on North Dale Mabry in Carrollwood, Books-A-Million on US 19 North in Port Richey, and other fine book sellers in the greater Tampa/St. Petersburg area It is also available to download from
Interested Tampa readers can learn more about Stanley Grainger and his writing at  the author’s web site.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaack!

    Well, here it is: the second day of the second week of my sixtieth year on this planet. Just so you’re not confused, I began the aforementioned sixtieth year in the first day of 2012; the day in which I, by no small coincidence, registered fifty-nine full years during which I satisfied all the major requirements of completion while simultaneously launching my quest to complete the sixtieth year. My ‘Certificate of Completion’ is, presumably, in the mail.

It would have been far less confusing to the reader id I’d just taken care of all these little administrative details on the calendar date actually set aside for such nonsense, but there you have it. The combination of my being who I am superimposed over the circumstance of you being who you are, and, well, let’s just face it.  If you’re not at least marginally lost or confused at this point, I’m doing something horribly wrong.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to go all Frank Pickle on you. Oh, just Google it – it will take far less of your valuable time. (I wonder when and how the proper noun ‘Google’ became the action verb ‘google’ and how and when society as a whole began to use them synonymously and interchangeably for ‘look it up’?)

I am too far into this to get away with ‘long story, short’ so I won’t even try.

On 20th December, my fifty-ninth year only eleven days from completion, I had round two of carpel tunnel surgery on my left hand (round one having been completed sometime during my thirty-second year).  To make it more interesting, they also rerouted the nerve trunk that normally resides comfortably between my left elbow and ulnar.  It is a condition known as ‘Cubital Tunnel Entrapment’ (not to be confused with digging out of Colditz with Dicky Attenborough or stealing fine objects de art with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones).

The procedure seem to be successful, although I am still at the recovery stage.  Physical Therapy for the left elbow and hand are still five weeks down the road.  Slightly less if I drive,

The wrist part of the procedure was a snap.  The Cubital Tunnel release part has left my arm still swollen, bruised, and the icebreaker for many a conversation with total strangers in the checkout line. “What’s the other guy look like?” (who said the other guy was a guy?). “That’ll teach you to mouth off to your wife.” (probable not).  That sort of thing.  The elbow, while no longer in excruciating pain from simply bending or extending it now just hurts all the time, but especially during that gap when the pain meds wear off and when I can take my next one, and even that is getting better.  I still have a rotator cuff repair on the same arm to undergo, but probably not for 6 months at least.

Now I said all that to say this.  Herein is my excuse for not writing a BLOG, Review, new bit of poetry or work on editing my latest novel length WIP.  My left hand was useless after a minute of typing, and trying it one handed required far too much effort.  Toss in Bowl season (The BCS has very nearly succeeded in completely destroying the tradition of College Bowl season) NFL playoff’s (where almost a rookie Tim Tebow made a laughing stock of the NFL’s best defense and the Hero of Steel Town ‘Little Ben’ and the start of Laugh-In 2012 (the Republican Presidential race), and there you have it.  Plus, I see no reason to make people suffer through things like my obscure observations during Holiday season.  Of course, on the other hand I’ve never let that stop me before.

Did I mention that this entire treatise was originally a monologue for Charlie Sheen to do on Two and a Half Men before CBS replaced him with Regis Philbin (or was that Demi Moore?)?  Anyway, at the last minute, CBS scrubbed the idea because Sheen was the only guy on the set who understood it.  And he was sober!  Frankly, that scares me too.

So, all things being equal, happy trails. And remember, no matter how bad things look, God is still in control, not Barry Soetoro.

P.S. – A recent scientific discovery suggests that the reason the Mayan Calendar has the world ending in December, 2012, is that the guy chiseling the tablet ran out of room.  Just a thought.