Reviews of books read last month: three novels and a collection of short stories. 1. "The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare" by G. K. Chesterton <http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Was-Thursday/dp/1613824025> A secret society of anarchists has a ruling council where each of the seven members uses a day of the week as their code name. Gabriel Syme, an undercover policeman, manages to infiltrate the Central Council of Anarchists. A former poet, Syme was recruited by an even shadowier chief detective who is setting up a corps of "philosopher policemen". The newly-elected Thursday finds all is not quite what it seems as he tries to foil an attempt to assassinate a member of European royalty. This was a short and surreal novel was fast-paced and very enjoyable. 2. "Il tempo forse" by Francesco Genitoni <http://www.amazon.it/Il-tempo-forse/dp/8874240287> This is the story of an elderly widow living on an old family farm in northern Italy. Her unwed son lives with her and still runs the farm, but he mistreats her. Television and the occasional visits by her other children and grandchildren provide company in her declining years, but there will inevitably come a time when she has to leave the farm and village where she has spent her whole life. A brief and poignant story, as told through her grandchild's eyes. The title translates literally as "Time, perhaps". 3. "Pump Six and Other Stories" by Paolo Bacigalupi <http://www.amazon.com/Pump-Other-Stories/dp/1597802026> A collection of thought-provoking short stories set in the future, when food and animals are genetically modified, energy sources have become scarcer, and global warming has caused major political and social disruption. Like a lot of good science fiction, the stories take an aspect of current life and examine its consequences by extrapolating into the future. Many of the stories are quite disturbing, but almost always imaginative. Characters and ideas in these stories are explored further in the the author's award- winning novel "The Wind-Up Girl", which I enjoyed and also recommend. 4. "Puttering About in a Small Land" by Philip K. Dick <http://www.amazon.com/Puttering-About-Small-Land/dp/0765328356> This is a contemporary novel set in 1950s California. Roger runs a modest television repair business. He lives with his second wife Virginia, a frustrated dancer. They have a son who they send off to private school every week. They meet another couple, Chic (Charles) and Liz Bonner, whose two sons go to the same school. A complex relationship develops between the two couples, as their underlying differences, impulses and ambitions are slowly revealed. I was pleasantly surprised by this change of style from an author who made his name writing science fiction novels and short stories. His work has been made into several movies, including "Blade Runner", "Minority Report" and "A Scanner Darkly".