Sedona, Arizona is full of strange, eccentric, and credulous new-age people. Nothing wrong with being weird, but the sheer number of people who congre...moreSedona, Arizona is full of strange, eccentric, and credulous new-age people. Nothing wrong with being weird, but the sheer number of people who congregate in this beautiful desert town to share inane ideas warrants at least a cursory investigation.
I recently moved much closer to Sedona, and being a pretty staunch skeptic, I thought it would be well worth me researching what it was about, particularly the "vortexes" that supposedly exist in the area.
My girlfriend got me this book for Christmas (she wanted to read it after I was done), and she is moderately spiritual, but I highly doubt even she will be able to take this book the least bit seriously. In case you were wondering, yes, those are UFOs on the cover.
Where to begin? First off, it took me about an hour to read, from cover to cover the book is only about 80 pages. Even though my version is the 18th edition, I noticed several grammatical and spelling errors, as well as just bad sentence structure that you would think would have made it through the editorial meat grinder by now.
The book talks about "Wapeka", mysterious Rock Men from space who inhabit the area of Sedona. I'm not joking. The book literally says they're from deep space, and the author talks about meeting/seeing them on hikes.
It also gives testimony, from both the author as well as "well grounded, intelligent people" on their experiences with UFO's in Sedona. It talks about the "vortexes" ("energy springs") which are apparently very strong points of energy that have (supposedly) been validated by "geological energy studies". Apparently these areas are excellent for meditation and spiritual experiences. The book also makes claims about an ancient advanced civilization in the city of "Lemuria" that used to exist as a spiritual hub in the area Sedona now occupies. Seriously...I'm not making this up.
It talks about a few other minor things, such as a house built under the architectural guidance from extra-terrestrials from other dimensions (there are 12 of them, apparently, in case you were wondering), mysterious encounters with the rock people and other entities, so on and so forth.
Bottom line, the only context under which this book makes sense is if it was written by somebody constantly under the influence of psychedelic drugs (I'm betting on peyote) -- or it was written by a person who I'm fairly sure qualifies as being clinically insane. Content aside, it is written poorly, and has random interjections that don't go with the "flow" of the book at all.
I try my best to stay away from people like the author, Tom Dongo, at all costs. That being said, the book was interesting, cheap (second hand), good for a laugh, and easy to review.
I give it two stars instead of one for two reasons; The first being that the book is mildly entertaining (until you realize that many people actually do believe this stuff), the second being a form of literary pity. This short book really is full of anecdotal, irrational, new-age conspiracy theory tripe. You can try to read it with an open mind, but good luck keeping that state of mind past the first 5 pages. (less)
I guess I should preface by saying that any of the following books in the Dune Chronicles will forever be in the shadow of the original Dune book. To...moreI guess I should preface by saying that any of the following books in the Dune Chronicles will forever be in the shadow of the original Dune book. To continue reading the sequels, and to enjoy them, one must come to acknowledge this simple fact.
Children of Dune dealt very heavily with prescience-motivated-manipulation. Paul and Chani's twin, pre-born children -- Leto II and Ghanima -- basically run the show in this book. There isn't much that I can say without revealing the plot, except to say that the book immediately following this one takes place 3,500 years after the events of this book. So, in a way, it gives closure to the original Dune saga.
At certain times while reading this book I was under the impression that Frank Herbert may have been a bit insane while he was writing it -- certain parts are so complex and abstract the line between genius and insanity seems to be very much blurred. But I enjoyed the book nonetheless and give it 4 stars as proper closure to the original series. Highly recommended.(less)
I bought this book in a small bookstore in Flagstaff, Arizona, after my brother recommended it to me. I had previous...moreThere are spoilers in this review.
I bought this book in a small bookstore in Flagstaff, Arizona, after my brother recommended it to me. I had previously read only one of Vonnegut's books, Slaughthouse-5, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. While Slaughterhouse-5, with its elements of time travel and extraterrestrials, can definitely be classified as science-fiction, the personal and modern nature of most of the book introduced a re-awakened affinity for "regular fiction" that I had not visited since high school. Like many of my Indiana brethren, I found myself quite drawn to Vonnegut's individualistic and quirky character that, in my experience, is a fairly rare export of a state such as Indiana. But I digress.
This book is a testament to Vonnegut's deep sense of satire and social criticism. The first part of the book is normal enough, just interesting enough to catch your attention, without really knowing where it's heading. As soon as he gets on the plane to San Lorenzo, however (a plane ride, I should mention, which has some charming anachronisms -- such as everybody being free to walk around freely on the plane, as well an open rear bar section of the plane --- how I would have loved to live in such a time), the book immediately begins it's descent into the zany and bizarre world of the author's imagination.
One of the things I like about Vonnegut's writing style is how he was quite clearly an atheist, but embraced religion as something that is never quite going to go away -- thus he incorporates God into the storylines of his characters, while at the same time showing very little respect for religion as a whole (as he should). He, rather wisely, uses the concept of a higher being as a motivational force for his characters despite there being any evidence whatsoever to actually believe in one.
His thoughts on religion can be glimpsed by two quotes from the book:
"Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either. So be it."
"I agree with one Bokononist idea. I agree that all religions, including Bokononism, are nothing but lies." - Dr. von Koenigswald
While I personally disagree with the usefulness of religion in the contemporary period, where science has solved and continues to solve many of life's former mysteries, I nonetheless found the concept of Bokononism very interesting. I do not personally believe in signs, but I am at a stage in my life where I am myself experimenting with adhering to "false signs" to help guide my actions, as a form of overcoming a form of mental paralysis to make me make difficult decisions and be a bit more spontaneous.
"Nothing in this book is true."
"Live by the foma [harmless untruths] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy." — The Books of Bokonon
In any case, I highly recommend this book to anybody with an open mind and a partiality to the absurdism of human existence. I actually finished this book while waiting to take-off from Vegas to Phoenix, Arizona. There is something ethereally unique about reading about a sudden apocalyptic scenario while in an airplane that I can't quite put my finger on, and I wager I never will. (less)
I don't do this very often, but I am quitting reading this book at the halfway mark. I know it is a pinnacle of science fiction, but frankly, I just c...moreI don't do this very often, but I am quitting reading this book at the halfway mark. I know it is a pinnacle of science fiction, but frankly, I just couldn't get into it. The book was written in the 80's and appeared to accurately predict the rise of the internet, hacker-culture, possible future AI technology and in general what it would be like if we lived in an entirely technocratic society. It is clear that some modern classic of entertainment, such as The Matrix, were heavily influenced by concepts in this book.
I can't help but wonder if my disinterest in the plot is because I actually grew up in the Information Age, rather than precede it -- while the book has science fiction aspects that have not and possibly never will come to fruition, I found the life of the protagonist very confusing and sort of boring. It's almost cliche -- but once again, I'm not sure if that is because the "fully technological society" concept is so close and we are living in the beginning of it right now. I just didn't find it exciting. The emotions of the characters are unrealistic and entirely too cold, with all the signs of intimate relationships and friendships, and none of the realistic side-effects of being human and the drama that goes with it. This book reminds me of the insides of a computer.
As I said, it's rare that I don't finish a book I start and even rarer that I don't finish it out of boredom and being unable to relate to the characters within it; but that is the case with this book. I would get no satisfaction from finishing it and the confusing, erratic nature of the plot makes it that I do not harbor any curiosity for "how it ends" at all. (less)
"There are times when one wants to hold society's feet to the fire, and to force a confrontation, and to avoid the blandishments of those who always c...more"There are times when one wants to hold society's feet to the fire, and to force a confrontation, and to avoid the blandishments of those who always call upon everyone to "lighten up" and change the subject."
This snippet could summarize the intention of this entire book. The title alone was enough to make me interested, but the fact that it was written by Hitchens sealed the deal for me. Written in the style of Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Letters to a Young Poet', this book consists of faux "letters" written to Dear Reader, under the premise that Hitchens and the Reader have kept an ongoing correspondence with each other over the subject of being a young contrarian.
This book is chock-full of solid advice for those who like to fight and argue not only for moral reasons too-often ignored by the masses, but also those who fight and argue for the sake of fighting and arguing. It is inferred that, if people's opinions are not kept in check by those who would read this book, then the world would not be the place that it is today. The quote below is much more eloquent than I could put it:
"It is too much to expect to live in an age that is propitious for dissent. And most people, most of the time, prefer to seek approval or security. None the less, there are in all periods people who feel themselves in some fashion to be apart. And it is not too much to say that humanity is very much in debt to such people, whether it chooses to acknowledge the debt or not. (Don't expect to be thanked, by the way. The life of an oppositionist is supposed to be difficult.)"
I learned much from this book, and I expect it will take a good many re-reads to fully comprehend it. Hitchens saw so much, and is so well-read that it is truly an intellectually humbling experience to read anything he reads; it is an educational experience that will repay itself many times over.
Hitchens closes his book with the following, and it is great advice for a young contrarian to part with.
"Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you."(less)
I recently finished this book after a trusted friend assured me it was one of the best "modern" science fiction books of our times. I had to give it a...moreI recently finished this book after a trusted friend assured me it was one of the best "modern" science fiction books of our times. I had to give it a read, and I'm very glad that I did.
I finished this book in a matter of days, a testament to how enthralling the plot is. The author Joe Haldeman has a past directly related to the premise of the book. From Wikipedia:
"He received a BS degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Maryland in 1967. That same year he was drafted into the Army and served as a combat engineer in Vietnam."
After only a few chapters you begin to wonder how much of what the author describes is fiction and what is fact, based on the author's personal experiences in Vietnam. The book relates the experiences of a Physics student on Earth drafted into an elite Army unit, part of the first group to ever engage an alien enemy in an interstellar war. Written in journal-style, first-person form, which makes the emotional impact of the book very easy to relate to in a cold, resigning way -- a feeling I'm sure felt by millions of humans conscripted against their will.
This book finds a home in other great military-scifi novels, almost all of which carry extensive and sometimes caustic criticisms of the military in any form. Ender's Game, Armor, and Starship Troopers fit in perfectly with the writing style in this book, and I personally believe all three should be read by anybody ever considering sacrificing their lives to (whether it is 4 years, or an untimely death at the hands of)the military.
The main focus of this book, other than criticisms of military drafting, is a pretty heady subject for the casual reader: the time dilation that one would experience traveling near the speed of light (or in some cases faster) in space, due to general relativity, and new, imaginative physics which we may not have discovered yet. To give you an example of what this means, depending on how fast and how far somebody is traveling into space, months subjectively turn into years -- or hundreds of years -- or thousands of years, on Earth. The main character of this book, William Mandella, lives for about 1,500 earth years, despite being in his 20's the entire duration of the book.
The book details the consequences of what would happen if this sort of world were a reality. Heavy military conditioning, involving manipulating the psyche using medication, psychiatric imprinting, hypnosis and the like are used without shame and without consent on soldiers drafted into the war. The author paints a very grim but also cyclical and insanely imaginative (and depressing) future of what the Earth could look like in a millennia. The book also deals with the psychological impacts of war, murder (which is what war is, essentially), being drafted, and seeing everybody you care for on Earth die while you are out fighting an unknown enemy in the cosmos.
I won't say much more about the book for the sake of spoilers, other than that I thought it was fantastic and a must-read for any fan of science fiction. (less)
Just finished re-reading this book after my first introduction to it in 2008. Alas, I regrettably did not partake in any AP English courses in high sc...moreJust finished re-reading this book after my first introduction to it in 2008. Alas, I regrettably did not partake in any AP English courses in high school, so my latency is somewhat forgivable.
I would place this book in my top-10 must-read books for all humans in our particular epoch. I chose this edition specifically for two reasons: An introduction by one of my favorite authors of all time, Christopher Hitchens, and the secondary part of the book, "A Brave New World Revisited", in which Huxley evaluates his prescience (in some cases) with how "the future" (written in 1958) actually turned out. More on that later, though.
When I read this book initially I was not as educated as I am now, and the social implications in the book the first time around I found more agreeable (particularly the promiscuity) than I did this second time around. I would say the book means different things to different people throughout their lives -- and once you reach a certain level of education you realize the absolute social horror that this book actually portrays. The trials and tribulations The Savage experiences progressively throughout the book are extremely intense and by the tragic end of the book, I find it hard to believe that anybody with a good mind on their shoulders could find themselves anything but disgusted with society-at-large. This book is nothing if not an extremely emotional, intelligent cautionary tale -- and a masterpiece.
The secondary portion of this book, "A Brave New World Revisited" is almost no fiction and all fact. Statistics, social criticism, and further predictions fill the pages. The spot-on analysis Huxley provides proves true 50+ years after he wrote it. "Revisited" is for anyone who cares about our our planet and the shifty politics that govern it, in the past, present AND future.
This book is phenomenal. The complexity of writing from the stage of a series of underground cities on the moon covers everything from how the citizen...moreThis book is phenomenal. The complexity of writing from the stage of a series of underground cities on the moon covers everything from how the citizens of Luna must move through space (at 1/6 Earth gravity), how a "p-suit" (pressure suit) is a constant companion, and how slights such as touching a woman's shoulder can get you thrown into space.
One of the best books a person can read if interested in the concept of, history, or future of Revolution. All revolutions are different, all have different circumstances. A revolution happening on the moon may seem a strange idea to wrap ones head around now, but that is, of course, what science fiction is for. (less)