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ellytoad
In light of the skewed results in the famed electrocution experiment where people were tested for their willingness to follow orders, a group of researchers decided to redo it.

They set everything up as it was done last time, complete with the machine behind the one-way mirror, where the participant would be bidden to administer shocks and eventual death to the subject. A technician would be standing next to the subject's chair to observe him.

The first participant was brought in. She was a young woman with dark shaggy hair, kind eyes and a calm disposition. This would surely be one of those who refused to follow any of the orders. The "commander" looked forward to going all out in persuading her.

But strangely, the session did not go as expected.

The second the commander told the young woman to press the button that would "torture" the subject, a gleam appeared in her eyes, and she pressed it without hesitation. A slight giggle arose from her throat as the subject shuddered and moaned on cue. Then she pressed it again without being told, and her smile became wider. The subject begged her to stop through a tone of pretend agony, and the woman laughed softly to herself again.

The commander reports feeling rather disturbed, but decided to test her willingness to kill another human being, thinking, "Surely she wouldn't go that far."

He proceeded to order her to kill the subject, and immediately regretted it. The last of her composure fell away as demonic shrieks of glee and shouts of "DIE! DIE! DIE!" filled the entire station, along with the repeated, deafening slams of her fist atop the button. She was hunched over it as though her sanity depended on it.

The commander, having had enough, took her arm and pulled her away from the machine towards the exit.
She showed no resistance, and her laughter softened.

"You were asking for that, you know..." she said between chuckles as the subject and technician looked at each other in bafflement. "Don't deny it."

After she was gone, the commander walked out and informed what was left of the frightened participants that the experiment was cancelled, citing a broken machine.

Review of The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian
ellytoad
I found this book to be strangely humorous, as well as exceedingly descriptive but in a way that didn't bore me.

Persephone is a protagonist who is given as much disadvantages in appearance, etc. as possible, apparently as a way to keep her from seeming too perfect.
I liked Death's mysterious non-humanness... he actually came across as more of a "thing" than a person, which pleasantly surprised me. Usually characters are simply people with different flavors of darkness.

The reason I found this book funny was because of the 'undead' scenes. Rather than stopping their fight, the warriors continue to massacre each other past their deaths, almost mindlessly. The ill princess, after being assassinated at her birthday ball, goes on to calmly request her presents. It's evidently all put there to convey horror, and I can see how it could be taken that way. I'm sure on a movie screen, it would be much scarier. Alas, I have only my imagination to filter it through.

Review of James Swallow's "The Stuff of Dreams"
ellytoad
As a longtime Star Trek: TNG fan, this was the first novel I've ever read based on the show. It was a good first choice, as it was one of my favorite movies, Generations, that is the inspiration for this plot.

Novelizations based on the show are technically fanfiction (not that I object). My compliments to James Swallow for making me forget that by presenting the characters' actions and dialogues in a way that matches what the show conveys. It was also an interesting treat to see Soran again, who in the movie was trying to get to the Nexus to be with his deceased family. The Soran in the book is just an echo, but he is shown with his family and with his previous villainous traits completely absent from his personality. I was touched.

The plot kept me interested. I liked that what happened in the Nexus wasn't an embarrassing rehash of what happened in the movie. There are new characters, including a longtime friend of Picard's, who plays a major part in the plot.

The book was also compact and easy to read. In length, it could be a two-part episode. Longish books make me impatient, and shorter ones leave me unsatisfied. This was just right. I read 2/3rds of it in one sitting without feeling mentally fatigued in the end.

I hope it becomes a popular read among those who collect Star Trek novels.

NetGalley lent me the copy of the book for free in exchange for this feedback.

Review of Juliet Dark's 'The Water Witch'
ellytoad
I had a pretty good time reading this. It was a little slow at first, but it quickly picked up. Most of the individual scenes were descriptive and easy to visualize. The characterization impressed me greatly.

I could barely put it down. That said, I found myself skimming through the last third of the book, despite the fact that it contained what I could tell was an effectively charged conflict and resolution.

I've thought about why I lost interest, and realized that it was because of the presence of multiple secondary and tertiary characters, all with names. It creates an alphabet soup effect, making my brain give up and say, 'to heck with this' and rush ahead.

My other complaint has to do with what I like to call the trompe l'oeil effect. The book is scattered with references to things in our world, including numerous companies and a former presidential candidate. Put that in a setting with anthropomorphic mythical creatures and magic right out of your basic fantasy novel, and I get the impression of a room with an artist's attempt to fool the viewer into thinking there's a cool landscape on the other side of the wall by including a realistic deck chair in the painting. To me, that comes off as somewhat tacky.

All in all, I think I would recommend this book... but only to someone who is particularly interested in spirit lovers as a plot element. Without that plot line in it, I doubt they would be missing anything.

NetGalley lent me the copy of the book for free in exchange for this feedback.

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