I gave this book a read after repeatedly seeing it listed as one of the "greatest science fiction stories of all time" in several different places. Qu...moreI gave this book a read after repeatedly seeing it listed as one of the "greatest science fiction stories of all time" in several different places. Quite frankly, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Overall, it's a good enough read. I can see why it's considered an "important" book, and why it would have caused such a splash when it was released, what with its themes of nuclear holocaust and the conflict between Church and State. And, while those conflicts are just as important today as they were then, the book feels somewhat ... dated, nonetheless.
Anyways, the plot in a nutshell: we are given three interconnected short stories, all taking place in the same post-apocalyptic future. Through them, we see how humanity manages to bring itself up out of the ashes, and into the next nuclear holocaust centuries later. The idea of the cyclical nature of time has never been more depressing. (less)
Overall, I would say that I enjoyed this book. When I try to think about what it is that I liked about it, however, it's in spite of a lot of things t...moreOverall, I would say that I enjoyed this book. When I try to think about what it is that I liked about it, however, it's in spite of a lot of things that usually irritate me about fantasy novels: It's far too long, there are too many characters that are given plotlines without any reason for us to care about them, and the ending of it was rather unsatisfying.
At the same time, however, the world that Resnick's created is deeply interesting - the book is set in the island nation of Sileria, a poor backwater holding that has traded hands between several different kingdoms over the centuries without ever truly being free. Within this framework, a young rebel named Josarian starts a revolution that sweeps over the island. In addition to that, you have warring groups of wizards, a ronin-style warrior searching for redemption, prophecy, sex, and politics.(less)
Reading Neal Stephenson's The Cryptonomicon was, simply, a divine reading experience - must have been the most fun reading a book I've had in a long t...moreReading Neal Stephenson's The Cryptonomicon was, simply, a divine reading experience - must have been the most fun reading a book I've had in a long time. Stephenson always has this skill of taking several different story threads, seemingly completely unrelated to each other, and then combining them together in ways that are completely novel, and yet at the same time make complete sense when you look at them in retrospect. This skill is especially notable in Cryptonomicon, because the stories start out separated not only in place, but in time, as well: we start with a US Marine, Bobby Shaftoe, fighting World War II in Shanghai; Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, a slightly-autistic American math wizard who attends Princeton and is a contemporary of Alan Turing; and Randy Waterhouse, a hacker and computer geek engaging in a new e-business endeavour at the end of the 20th Century. The ways in which these storylines dovetail themselves is an amazing feat of plotting - I couldn't help but think that reading this would be akin to watching Haydn compose a piece of music.
As far as the plots are concerned, I don't want to give away too much to anyone that might eventually want to read the book. Let's just say that, like Stephenson's other books, this one can safely be said to have it all: hacking, cryptography, Nazis, gold, Nazi gold, action, suspense, computers, sex, comedy, haiku, oddly-named Welsh stereotypes... all that and yet I've barely scratched the surface.
One of the reasons I think Stephenson's work is so wonderful is that, although he's a science fiction writer, he never forgets that the 'fiction' should be primary to the story, and that the science in the story should serve the fiction elements. At the same time, though, he manages to balance this with science that is completely believable and well thought-out; the only other writer that I can think of that can make the process of reaching scientific conclusions that thrilling is Robert J Sawyer, which definitely puts Stephenson in august company.
I'm seriously considering lifting my current book-buying embargo to pick up Quicksilver, the next part of Stephenson's epic. I don't know what it is that would cause an author to write an 1,100 page novel, and then think "what I really need to do now is discuss those same ideas without the limitations of a single novel", but this is one time that I am really glad that he did.(less)
When I started reading this, I was expecting it to not be all that interesting. "After all," I told myself, "it seems to mostly be based on historical...moreWhen I started reading this, I was expecting it to not be all that interesting. "After all," I told myself, "it seems to mostly be based on historical US intervention in places like Vietnam and Nicaragua. How relevant could that be to today?" Sadly, I was very solely mistaken. Chomsky explores, at great detail, how media in "free" Western countries often toe the line for government when it serves their interests, going to the extent of deceiving people when 'necessary'. Sadly, most of this still seemed relevant, what with the current "war on terror" that the US is waging against many parts of the world.(less)
I have a feeling that I'm going to get crucified by someone for only giving this book one star out of five. However, I feel it's entirely justified, b...moreI have a feeling that I'm going to get crucified by someone for only giving this book one star out of five. However, I feel it's entirely justified, because while I do recognize the historical and cultural imporance of the book, it still almost put me to sleep on several occasions before I was able to finish it. [return]One of the things I found most noteworthy, and almost most sad, about the Aenid is that it seems to suffer from some sort of inferiority complex. Virgil quite obviously wanted to write something on par with the work of Homer; however, the transparency of that desire greatly reduces the quality of it. The prime difference, I feel, is that Homer seemed to write to transmit the culture and history of his people: Virgil wrote to create propoganda and justify the existence of an empire. As an early example of art being used to political ends, it is interesting, but beyond that I could not enjoy it.(less)
I bought this from a table at an Ill Scarlett show benefiting World Vision. Overall, it was a very interesting look at the history of punk, as well as...moreI bought this from a table at an Ill Scarlett show benefiting World Vision. Overall, it was a very interesting look at the history of punk, as well as its place both in the larger culture, as well as in history. While there are some parts of what O'Hara discusses that I disagree with (anarchism, for example), it's an undoubtedly important part of punk history and culture. (less)
That seems to be one of the questions raised by Republic Commando: Hard Contact. On the surface, it v...moreWhen is a Star Wars novel not a Star Wars novel?
That seems to be one of the questions raised by Republic Commando: Hard Contact. On the surface, it very much seems to be one - you have a group of Commando clone troopers trying to rescue a young Jedi from a Mandalorian warrior, and the Clone Wars are very actively happening in the background of the novel's action. Despite these surface similarities, however, the novel bears very little in common with the rest of the Star Wars universe, and what is the "house style" of the EU (Expanded Universe) novels in general. If a few names and titles had have been changed, this could have very easily been an 'original fiction' title, rather than a tie-in novel. For all of the stories that have been written in the Star Wars universe, most of them have focused very heavily on the 'Star' portion of the title, with little if any focus done on the 'Wars' part. Hard Contact changes that by delivering a story of military sci-fi, focusing on an elite group of Commando clones.
Throughout the course of the novel, Traviss does a very good job of developing all of her clone soldiers as distinct individuals. In other parts of the Clone Wars saga, the clones exist more or less as cyphers; in addition to sharing a genetic code, it appeared that they all shared a character (or lack thereof). One of the themes that Traviss explores is the idea of finding both a culture and an individual identity, and the difficulties that would be associated with that, when there are millions of others who share both your physical form and most of your personal past. [return][return]I generally try not to be a snob when it comes to liscenced material, but in the past year I've read a few that were really a chore to get through. Hard Contact is the exact opposite of that; with or without the Star Wars name attached to it, it was a really enjoyable piece of fiction writing.(less)
Mindscan is the latest from Mississauga author Robert J. Sawyer, and continues with his tradition of using cutting-edge science to deal with contempor...moreMindscan is the latest from Mississauga author Robert J. Sawyer, and continues with his tradition of using cutting-edge science to deal with contemporary moral issues.[return]Telling the story of a near-future where a process is discovered that can 'scan' a person's brain and download a perfect copy of it into an artificial body. The artificial body then takes over the person's life, and the 'shed skin' of the original person is sent off to a retirement community on the far side of the moon.[return]As always, Sawyer writes a tale here that uses science to further its plot and resolve some of the central issues of the book; however, at the same time, he does it in a way that remains accessible to people who aren't fans of science fiction. Much in the same way that George R.R. Martin is said to "write fantasy for people who aren't fantasy fans", Sawyer writes for the mainstream reader as much as he does for the science fiction fan.(less)