The first time I read this I thought I missed something. But now I think my confusion was part of the point, and it's made me think about how the them...moreThe first time I read this I thought I missed something. But now I think my confusion was part of the point, and it's made me think about how the theme of horror is executed in literature. I doubt any of the obvious references to Christianic themes etc. mean anything, but the references make it more jarring for our psyche in their vague familiarity, like a frightening dream.
But one meaning I do wonder on is what the boy's animal was going to be, and if it was that he was simply a boy, and all the others were men.(less)
Maybe children get more of a kick out of this than adults? The idea is hilarious (interpreting "history" incredibly wrong) but none of it was subtle o...moreMaybe children get more of a kick out of this than adults? The idea is hilarious (interpreting "history" incredibly wrong) but none of it was subtle or very clever.(less)
I used to crave a fantasy book. Not your cookie-cutter grand adventure, no sirree, I wanted something entirely unknowable, completely foreign, not a s...moreI used to crave a fantasy book. Not your cookie-cutter grand adventure, no sirree, I wanted something entirely unknowable, completely foreign, not a speck of dust from the Earth. It'd be transcendental and achingly beautiful, beyond my own words.
That doesn't exist.
But it made me of think of the stories in this book, how many of them simply plunge you head-first into a world full of references and places and ideas and characters, some strange world you will never get all the pieces of, similar to a child listening to adults speak with patchy comprehension to all the details and allusions at first, yet then absorbing the whole.
Maybe I am overblowing it, but it definitely reminded me of it, and most of these take a bit of effort before you can sink into their worlds. It's not warm and snugly though. They are all dark, and in one case even spirit-breaking, but all worth the read. Good luck, -slides a glass of black juice across the table-.(less)
It's classic old science-fiction. It reads more like a parable (although I hate to use that word), so maybe more like a historic story told around a f...moreIt's classic old science-fiction. It reads more like a parable (although I hate to use that word), so maybe more like a historic story told around a fire by an old man with a white beard.
And it's full of awe and wonder, and emptiness, consequently because it deals with time in the billions, distances beyond the universe; and yet it begins in a city who won't look beyond its own walls.
The city is Diaspar, and I never could stop my mind from tricking itself into reading instead Despair. Alvin is born unique from the people around him. He is not innately terrified of the idea of life outside the city like the others, who live thousands of lives by being reborn by the machines which also keep the city from eroding or any major change. But this is Alvin's first life. The city is quite well imagined.
I think the book captures the ambition and curiosity of humanity, and warns against safe stagnation from fear or any misguided ideas of utopia. It fills me with awe and yet uncertainty and emptiness, because I am unsure if there is anything beyond a rise and fall, rise and fall or eventual extinction of people.(less)
"... Into the gloom & freezing air. Telescope in hand, Sham waited. He looked for flying lights & considered. If he tried to think full-on about where he was, what he was doing, how he had got there, it was all a great deal too much. So he simply didn't. Sham just thought of stories about what was ahead. ..."
A captain with a philosophy. A sort-of-yellow, old bone and ivory philosophy. A giant moldywarpe, claiming a limb and inspiring obsession. But please leave your copy of Moby-Dick at home. This is something else entirely.
Railsea has a very inventive world that takes effort to first wrap your head around. It's not easy going, but, soon you learn the rails. Ahahahaha. Ahem. I found myself easily ensnared in it and the quickening plot. And that is what Miéville is all about -- expert and unique world-building that is not easily forgettable.
But like Sham, the hurtling speed of his journey left little room for me to reflect and I found myself overwhelmed but also irritated by the sudden switches in character. There are little chapters in the book scattered about that try to be very clever but mostly missed their mark on me. Not to say the book isn't clever, there are lots of clever details, but I guess I wasn't as impressed in the actual storytelling this time around.
I obviously quite enjoyed it though and think it is good start for those getting their Miéville, uhm, train-legs. Unless of course you lose one to perhaps a large naked mole rat or giant earth-worm, in which case I wish you well on your own philosophy.
I take it back. Blueprints of the Afterlife is the most difficult thing I've tried to say anything intelligent about. I was just laying in bed reading...moreI take it back. Blueprints of the Afterlife is the most difficult thing I've tried to say anything intelligent about. I was just laying in bed reading it and now it is laying there with its back towards me.
At first I thought it was going to be some humourous and light converging story poking at future dooms-day stories. I was not prepared for all the mind-fuck and eventual complexity. If you've read any review of Blueprints you're bound to see this quote: "“She yearned for plot but instead absurdity after absurdity had been thrown before her, absurdities that alluded to obscure purposes.”". And it's so apt. When you come across it you will chuckle. Or maybe I just ruined it for you. I'm sorry.
I suppose it makes me think of how hopeless and absurd and misguided a lot of the attempts are to fix the world, to get away from any pending apocalypse sparked by modern society. Or even the threat and paranoia of such an apocalypse in the empty feeling of modern society, with questions of identity and life caused by technology. We're always in the age of fucked up shit, or inventing it, or thinking about it, or causing it. You can look at rows of suburban houses and find reason to think of it as fucked-up shit while people are being murdered in streets a country away, which is undoubtedly fucked up shit. History books have a lot of FUS. There are no better times.
(Book context. The end of the world in the book is known as the age of fucked up shit, or more appropriately acronymed FUS)
My feelings sound so serious, and they should be, for something that evokes such pertinent feelings to current society, but the book is full of sci-fi tropes and absurdity. It's not heavy going. It's really enjoyable.
And now I am going to zone out some more. (view spoiler)[It's in my embodiment schedule. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Alright. I initially wanted to read this for two reasons:
1. The cover. 2. Something light to read between the expanses of Infinite Jest.
But mostly the...moreAlright. I initially wanted to read this for two reasons:
1. The cover. 2. Something light to read between the expanses of Infinite Jest.
But mostly the cover. And I was not disappointed in that regard. There are lots of bear hugs and cuddling in Tender Morsels. But the delight of that was kind of ruined when, you know, you find out the bear you're hugging is a man from the real-world who is only trying to fumble at your skirts in his new bear-form.
Before I get to that, there are other things I want to address. One, the book never gave me much sense of the setting. I wanted to be cast in her dream-world where things were all good, yet bad; that feeling of unrealness you get when you're put in a world where it's not exactly what it seems. But that just wasn't there. To amplify this, the book is told with switching narrators, which disturbs any opportunity for the strong sense of setting I want in such a fairytale-esque tale.
On the flip side, this was in a way supposed to be grim and dark. But the fact that the novel seems to focus on nothing but lust and sexual assault as an evil made it nearly laughable in that it never got to a point about it. What was the point of all this? There was no resolution. Nobody really came to terms with anything. In fact, it ends on quite a bittersweet note, with much emphasis on the bitter.
I liked how the bond between the sister's in the book was portrayed, and the relationship between the first Bear and Liga. But these are scant moments. I thought the book was going to have more of a "what makes us human" theme or how to deal with loss. But the only message I can see out of this is that life sucks, you can't live in a dream, you must accept the real life and all it's disappointments and grief upon grief upon grief and just smile, suck it up and deal with it. No thanks.(less)
**spoiler alert** The novel itself is alien with unknown vocabulary and concepts. It's only with immersion (ha) do I really begin to understand. It's...more**spoiler alert** The novel itself is alien with unknown vocabulary and concepts. It's only with immersion (ha) do I really begin to understand. It's not like reading the account from an explorer. It's reading an account of world-changing events from a native, but yet our main character is also given a special status because she is one of the few that has left her home planet. Some things were so familiar to her, and yet soon she realizes she didn't actually know much at all about Embassytown.
The best aliens are ones without any human-like purpose, with completely impenetrable minds. At first this is accomplished. One of my biggest problems with the book though was the humanization of the Hosts in the end. It felt needed in that one never really feels attached to the human characters, but why not have had the human characters more 'real' in the first place? The relationship Avice and Scile felt especially strange and unreal.
After awhile all I could think of was: zombie apocalypse! This felt like a zombie survival story which I found really cool. There was also a lot of suspense, mystery, politics, cool biological architecture and machinery ("In the weeks since I'd flown out last, the landscape had raggedly changed. By the jut of rocks there were skeletons, where biorigging had come to die. The meadows were torn up by the tracks of stampeding machines...").
But the biggest focus is language. There were some really cool concepts and issues explored here. Language purism, living grammar, something more to language than mere sounds. And the interesting realization that the world is being saved by lies, and how this in turn opens up communication and truth. At the Festival of Lies events, I felt happy for the Hosts, as if they were hearing fiction for the first time.
This was difficult, but it was interesting enough to be worth it. I am glad it wasn't my first of his though.(less)
**spoiler alert** The worlds, different species, and technologies are very well imagined. Matter follows many switching character perspectives, and wh...more**spoiler alert** The worlds, different species, and technologies are very well imagined. Matter follows many switching character perspectives, and while the characters are a bit hollow, you end up becoming acquainted with them from following through their experiences and travels.
The book deals with issues about differing technologically advanced species interacting with each other... this is a book in Bank's Culture series, and this is my first one, so I'm afraid if I explain anything about The Culture I will be retelling old news, or that maybe certain aspects of the book is knowledge easily acquired from his other books.
It's also difficult to describe what I found was lacking, because it could very well be that another book covers an issue (in particular I'm wondering more about the intelligent machine AIs in relation to the living species) that I wanted to hear more about.
Matter, admittedly, is lots of buildup to a rushed ending. But I felt the ending was rather fitting after I got over my anger about so many beings dying. It's very interesting to me how when reading, one gets very caught up in the small details of one single level of a world that is rather primitive compared to others, and how by messing with one mysterious artifact, boom, they're gone and everyone around them is gone and dying and we're soon racing the clock trying to stop something much worse than the death of a King or a prince while accompanied with really advanced, badass technology.
I originally thought this book would be more about marriage and romantic love but it's not. It's a book about Time and the unknown.
The effect is inte...moreI originally thought this book would be more about marriage and romantic love but it's not. It's a book about Time and the unknown.
The effect is interesting. A lot of the characters in the book won't even look the way towards Elfland, the land where a day is eternal and everything is beautiful and suspended in magic. They don't acknowledge it even exists. But soon, some of the people of the village decide they need magic in their village to put themselves on the map. And little by little it trickles until there is too much and they want it gone, but everything eventually gets suspended in the flood of it.
I wasn't too crazy for the way Dunsany tells a story at first. It took me until most of the book was over to realize how much it had started to captivate me in its strange way. There's epic journeys and trolls and magic but they all feel out of reach and unknown. It wasn't an exciting book. It was more strange and thoughtful. It's a curious book and my thoughts or what I got about it don't seem very sure -- other than whatever it was, I liked it.
I'm interested in reading more fantasy classics.(less)
I met this with mixed feelings and finished it with not much of a resolution in that regard. :/
This is the third book completed by Mervyn Peake, cente...moreI met this with mixed feelings and finished it with not much of a resolution in that regard. :/
This is the third book completed by Mervyn Peake, centering around the character Titus Groan, Seventy-Seventh Earl of Gormenghast. Peake was struggling with a degenerative disease and this book was apparently compiled together from various manuscripts... it shows.
First, you have Titus Groan. Throughout the first book he is but an infant, and in the second still remains rather elusive and dull compared to the likes of Steerpike and Fuchsia. Yet Titus remains an enigma. "That was the irritating thing about him. He could not force a feeling, or bring himself to love. His love was always elsewhere. His thoughts were fastidious. Only his body was indiscriminate."
Considering this was supposed to be the middle book of a series (always the book that seems to suffer most), this might be forgiven. Also take notice of the titles: Titus Alone, and then Titus Awakes. Obviously this isn't the book where Titus is going to develop an actual personality, or awaken. In fact, the only thing connecting him to the character we know in other books is his knowledge of Gormenghast.
And what does Titus find outside of the crumbling walls of Gormenghast? Modern cities, cars, weird flying machines, underground people, a zoo, houses made of glass, poverty, money-eaters, mad scientists, love. I couldn't possibly review this without pointing out the absurdity of it.
Here you have an ancient, crumbling castle governed by ritual in the first two books-- and then you're met with all this modernity. And no Gormenghast. No, not one person is familiar with his home.
Titus isn't even the only character that suffers from bad characterization-- but there are others. And this is kind of painful to see, because they do not all suffer from this. In particular I'm thinking of Cheeta and the scientists (the latter feeling like something tacked on just for plots sake, something even more of an enigma than Titus).
There's also the matter of writing style. Peake's writing style fits the dusty realms of Gormenghast well. But, now we don't have a Gormenghast. This book really loses the allure and charm of the previous two. Gormenghast, with all it's microscopic details yet vastness, is actually remote and far-away given the obscurity aroused when Titus mentions the name to others.
I'm rather unclear on if there were multiple versions of Titus Alone. But in the one I read, things that are at first described as weird flying machines are later described as helicopters, to give one example. In an essay I skimmed it mentions this, and that editors or what have you wanted to do away with all modern coinage. I wonder if this is an artifact of that. But it is startling, especially when Titus falls out of one with a parachute. It's just so unexpected.
It almost feels, at times, like a really bad movie. Or that this was some amusing longer-than-it-should-be-short-story written just for amusement's sake.
So again, mixed feelings. There is definitely brilliance in this (the underground people, the jail, the beginning of the party surprise), but so many wrongs. It wasn't until the last part of the book that I started to understand why this book got such a bad reputation. Yet I still like it for what it is, and would warn against skipping it like so many instruct.(less)
If I could afford to judge people by their opinion of a book this one just might be it.
This was 10x better than Titus Groan. Or perhaps I was simply m...moreIf I could afford to judge people by their opinion of a book this one just might be it.
This was 10x better than Titus Groan. Or perhaps I was simply more adapted to the setting and writing style this time around. But this definitely had a better balance of description, characters, action, grimness, humour...
The first two books of the Gormenghast trilogy center around a vast castle governed by monarchy and strange, symbolic rituals (rituals in which even the inhabitants are unaware of the symbolism for, so long lost are they with time). Titus Groan is the 77th earl to the throne*, this second book chronicling his childhood and adolescence but also an array of other characters.
All of the inhabitants are wonderfully strange and fleshed out. Reading it is almost devilish when you're rooting for both sides, and nearly harrowing when one inevitably dies.
The detail is once again fantastic and never tiresome. I do not think there is one word in the entire book that could be dismissed. I liked how one reviewer likened it to Peake being an artist. I wish I could describe it better, how everything is depicted so deliberately yet so smoothly it reads..
All of this makes me forgive Peake for killing off so many beloved characters, ;__; (Where's the spoiler blackout when I need it?)
The next book is Titus Alone. I have been warned against reading it, for the author's declining health when writing it and the fact that the the books were supposed to be much longer than a trilogy, but I don't think I can resist.
'I am leavng,' said Titus. 'I am leaving Gormenghast. I cannot explain. I do not want to talk. I came to tell you and that is all. Good-bye, mother.'
He turned and walked quickly to the door. He longed with his whole soul to be able to pass through and into the night without another word being spoken. He knew she was unable to grasp so terrible a confession of perfidy. But out of the silence, that hung at his shoulder blades, he heard her voice. It was not loud. It was not hurried.
'There is nowhere else,' it said, 'You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast.' ...
Giving this 1 star and not saying anything about it seems like a bad idea, so I will explain myself just a little.
The prologue starts by saying, "This...moreGiving this 1 star and not saying anything about it seems like a bad idea, so I will explain myself just a little.
The prologue starts by saying, "This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history." I think part of my displeasure can be shown just from the first sentence.
It seems I already knew all the basic characteristics of a hobbit without actually knowing them by their name. This book has obviously given inspiration to many people, and because of this, the whole book rings absolutely cliché to me. I know this to be false, but that's just how it is. The thought of wizards and elf-like people conversing about magic rings with dragons flying over head just makes me laugh now.
Secondly, the history of hobbits is completely uninteresting. I stopped several times and actually thought picking up my Bible and reading Genesis and all the genealogies in the Old Testament would be more interesting than the history of hobbits.
I can understand the love for these books, but I find it weak. To me the world is entertaining enough, and people have endless possibilities. So why then I would need such an in-depth fantasy world? Sometimes I just think I lack the imagination, though.
(I understand the irony of my mentioning the Bible of all things, and now I kind of wish I had not. But the differences between a holy text and a fantasy novel, I should hope, are obvious).
Basically: another book not for me.
*** The cover of my version is not quite as gay, thank god, but the ISBN shown this version so I'll go with it until I find the correct one.
I do not expect to like this. But, this is a cruel cruel world-- a world where you can get scoffed at for not having read LoTR when you claim you like books. I hope it surprises me and I like it though, I don't like wasting my time.(less)
The Magicians is being described as an "adult Harry Potter". I've never read Harry Potter, but I do know that each features a male protagonist who ent...moreThe Magicians is being described as an "adult Harry Potter". I've never read Harry Potter, but I do know that each features a male protagonist who enters a school of magic through way of portal. And that is where (considering the popularity of Harry Potter) the similarities end.
I didn't know magic could possibly be boring. But Grossman is here to show that it can be! There is nothing special about the prose, and so we have too much telling and not enough of anything that makes you keep reading.
Quentin is hard to like. Despite being rather unremarkable, he's obsessed with a fantasy world by the name of Fillory that is reminiscent of Narnia. So basically a man-child, and he also happens to be a bit of a Mary Sue (or the male equivalent of such) by way of seemingly not doing well with his magic studies, but being progressed a grade forward despite of this.
The book also mirrors Harry Potter in that they play a game of magic. But instead of fun flying on brooms, this game is described as similar to chess. How exciting.
I don't think a book should have to depend on something fantastical, but this book seems to do the extreme opposite. I did not feel that there was anything magical afoot. Replace the spells guarding the school with body guards or iron gates. Replace the magic classes with average school subjects and the teachers with your average, eccentric professors. That is what reading this book is like, completely and utterly dull, with poor prose and Mary Sues.
But take this with a grain of salt because I didn't finish it. I'm sure someone who is familiar with Narnia and Harry Potter might appreciate this if they get past the fact that the novel depends on drawing from such influences (or a bit of ripping them off), but since I'm not in this category I'm content with leaving it unfinished.(less)
Apparently I read a bad collection; earlier stories. It shows. A lot of these were very predictable.
I don't think this was a very good introduction t...moreApparently I read a bad collection; earlier stories. It shows. A lot of these were very predictable.
I don't think this was a very good introduction to Philip K. Dick. I think I will read a novel next before delving into more short stories (and, if I ever do read more short stories, hopefully I'll get a later collection).
I'm told short stories are different from novels in that the characters in a short story do not matter, it's more the idea. It takes awhile to get used to this, at least for me. When reading these I felt a lof of them were hollow.
But I did get some cool ideas from these, and some were fun to read.
Here's my favorite quote, from Of Withered Apples.
"Along the edge of the field was a grove of ancient trees. Lifeless trees, withered and dead, their thin, blackened stalks rising up leaflessly. Broken sticks stuck in the hard ground. Row after row of dead trees, some bent and leaning, torn loose from the rocky soil by the unending wind.
Lori crossed the field to the trees, her lungs laboring painfully. The wind surged against her without respite, whipping the foul-smelling mists into her nostrils and face. Her smooth skin was damp and shiny with the mist. She coughed and hurried on, stepping over the rocks and clods of earth, trembling with fear and anticipation.
She circled around the grove of trees, almost to the edge of the ridge. Carefully, she stepped among the sliding heaps of rocks. Then --
She stopped, rigid. Her chest rose and fell with the effort of breathing. "I came," she gasped."
(I really do not know if this was intentional or not. Either way it makes me laugh.)
(ratings on the left) \\ 2 # "The Cookie Lady" 3 # "Beyond the Door" 4 # "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" 5 # "Jon’s World" 4 # "The Cosmic Poachers" 5 # "Progeny" 5 # "Some Kinds of Life" 4 # "Martians Come in Clouds" 3 # "The Commuter" 2 # "The World She Wanted" 4 # "A Surface Raid" 4 # "Project: Earth" 5 # "The Trouble with Bubbles" 5 # "Breakfast at Twilight" 5 # "A Present for Pat" 5 # "The Hood Maker" 1 # "Of Withered Apples" 3 # "Human Is" 1 # "Adjustment Team" 3 # "The Impossible Planet" 3 # "Impostor" 3 # "James P. Crow" 2 # "Planet for Transients" 4 # "Small Town" 3 # "Souvenir" 3 # "Survey Team" 5 # "Prominent Author"(less)