Read part of this years ago. It seemed like gibberish at the time, probably because I was in a cult, and this book is an eye-opener. I recently pickedRead part of this years ago. It seemed like gibberish at the time, probably because I was in a cult, and this book is an eye-opener. I recently picked up the audiobook, and spent a lot of time just walking around with my iPod so I could finish listening to it. ...more
**spoiler alert** I feel vaguely guilty about my opinions of this novel, considering that it seems to be generally regarded as a feminist classic. (Wh**spoiler alert** I feel vaguely guilty about my opinions of this novel, considering that it seems to be generally regarded as a feminist classic. (Why yes, I would say I'm a feminist, thank you.)
It's terribly unbelievable though, to me. Are we to accept that thousands of modern young women and educated men, would tolerate the complete eradication of their rights and freedoms, to the point of pretending not to know how to read, lying on their backs between the legs of rich old women and accepting the reproductive efforts of old men-- all in the (apparently) short span of less than five years?
Sure there are whispers in the story of both personal and larger rebellion, but these seem like tokens, and the real intent is to have us believe that the most extreme example of police state and misogyny that the mind can conceive, is possible regardless of how quickly that state develops!
Normally, I'm able to suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy nearly anything I watch or read, (I'm easy that way- Ha!) but with Handmaid I find my third voice constantly mocking me with her "Oh come ON! No WAY!"
For some reason I thought I read BNW in High School. I reread it because my (college-age) nephew has been talking about it, but I realized I hadn't reFor some reason I thought I read BNW in High School. I reread it because my (college-age) nephew has been talking about it, but I realized I hadn't read it at all. This is the story of technology gone awry, life at the lowest common denominator, all in the name of stability. I found it disturbing in its possibility, particularly because the characters seem to have no options, and those who become aware of that fact are destroyed by it. Realistic? Possibly....more
Reading is good, and ebooks are good for readers. They're smaller, cheaper, conserve natural resources. They're accessible to all. Ereaders make it eaReading is good, and ebooks are good for readers. They're smaller, cheaper, conserve natural resources. They're accessible to all. Ereaders make it easier on the eyes and hands. Bad eyesight? Use text-to-speech and other audio devices. Or instantly make any book a large-print version. Ride the bus? Now you have a whole library in your pocket. It's wonderful!
I do believe that, wholeheartedly, and have embraced digital reading, along with millions of other avid readers. I love the digital community, the easy to use devices, and above all, the access. I'm pleased that I've reduced clutter, that (if I maintain my equipment,) I'm leaving less of an environmental footprint. Instead of buying 75,000 pages a year, I'm paying for the ethereal – story in pixel.
“Whitewash washes white not only its target but, over time, any memory of the target. That is the purpose of whitewash.” ~ Ron Powers, CNN Opinion Special, speaking of the sanitizing of Huck Finn.
Boyce Watkins, also a CNN Opinon correspondent, labels it thus: “Making a more appropriate version of Mark Twain's novel available...” He says that NOT editing offensive material is “disconnected from reality.”
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, was quietly censored for over 13 years, and replaced in schools with the mutilated version.
Bradbury's tale has become an iconic tale of censorship, (although he has always maintained that he wrote it to highlight how television destroys our desire for literature.) In 451, it was only after most people stopped reading that the Firemen began to burn the books. In a twist of greatest irony, Ballantine, in 1967, began sanitizing the novel. In all, 75 sections were edited in the school and library version issued by this imprint. Bradbury learned of the “mutilation,” around 1979, and a restored version was released in 1980, and Bradbury issued an incredibly important essay called Coda.
In The Book, we have a society of readers and non-readers, presumably in similar proportions to our current reality, but they read everything on a government edited electronic book. Under the influence of environmental crisis, and a highly effective reduce/reuse/recycle program, books gradually came to be seen as a “wrong” choice, then they became unavailable, and finally illegal even to possess.
The Book showcases some of these concerns, and it does it in a wonderfully well-written, compelling, and believable story of a man who has just discovered how circumscribed his access to thought, controversy, growth and challenge has become. Intention at the highest level has been to make these edits for the greater good. Erase even the memory of conflict, and peace is preserved. It's the uniform presentation of the same interpretations that erases the ideological loggerheads of their past.
Without the print versions to compare, edits, both large and small, became very easy to issue, via daily update transmissions. Digital information being highly mutable, is used to “protect” the citizenry from unpleasantness, maintain political correctness, avoid giving offense, expunge inflammatory ideas, and to eventually bring about peace through uniformity.
It's happening now. Some of the participants at ereading forums refer to printed books as DTBs – short for Dead Tree Book. This is very subtle but it is, nevertheless, shaming language. Printed books are gradually being accepted as wasteful, with digital versions the “environmental” response. And with digital versions, we are faced with a blessing and a curse. Find a typo? Fix it. Terminology becomes offensive? Change it. Maybe we should rename 1984 to 2084? Easy as pie, with just a few keystrokes. Want to add a “stronger female character” to Heinlein's brilliant Puppetmasters? All it takes is a few sentences inserted here and there. Voilá, political correctness. It's good, right?
It's a chilling fiction that is all too real. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.
I always like the idea of reading old sci-fi more than the actual experience, and it certainly held true with this book as well. Logan's Run is, of coI always like the idea of reading old sci-fi more than the actual experience, and it certainly held true with this book as well. Logan's Run is, of course, iconic. Immortalized in a futuristic, and now cult-classic b-movie, it has cinematic influences on everything from Bladerunner to Minority Report. But there's really just not that much story here. Ultimately, that's what disappoints - that there could have been such an interesting story, but all we get is a chase through various decaying and exotic scenes.
Still, there are some passages that stand out, one being a (1967) impression of the modern Internet, described thus:
"Here was a constellation of winking fireflies stretching to infinity. Here was an immense electronic silence. In the endless, glowing dark was Tangier and London, Macao and Capri and Beirut, El Quederef and Chateau-Chinon and Wounded Knee. From these caverns leapt the motive force of a dispensary in Chemnitz, a glasshouse in Shropshire, a call box in Billings, Montana ... This vast mountain brain sent it's signals along Earth's nervous system to the distant places, the villages, towns and cities, bringing order out of disorder, calmness out of confusion.
They beheld the world.
The final realization of the computer age. A direct extension of the electronic brains at Columbia and Cal Tech in the 1960s, it was a massive breakthrough in solid-state technology. Computer was linked with computer in ever widening complexity."
And a giggle-worthy description of a "dirty bomb":
“Brigadier General Matthew Pope authorized the use of one vest-pocket tactical atomic bomb. It was the last act of his life, and no other nuclear weapon was used in the Little War. Ground zero for the bomb was the site of the Smithsonian Institute – and the resultant crater was thereafter known as Pope's Hole. It was a remarkably dirty bomb, and for two weeks Washington was virtually uninhabitable – until the Geiger count fell low enough for observers to re-enter the city and test the atmosphere. Already the zoo animals had begun to breed.”
“Heat from the nuclear explosion stored in tidal salts beneath the earth was still leaching out after all these years. The furnace heat, combined with the high humidity, had created a tropical rainforest. Winter ceased to exist in Washington.”
I recently had occasion to reread this story, and am once again absolutely blown away by the brilliance, significance and modern relevance of this, esI recently had occasion to reread this story, and am once again absolutely blown away by the brilliance, significance and modern relevance of this, especially in view of current events (Penn State.) Quite possibly the best thing Le Guin has written, in a very deep pool of excellent work....more