A prequel to Frank Herbert's fabulous Dune series, Brian Herbert gives us a fascinating look at the galaxy before Dune, when thinking machines were ba...moreA prequel to Frank Herbert's fabulous Dune series, Brian Herbert gives us a fascinating look at the galaxy before Dune, when thinking machines were battling humans for control of the galaxy. An intelligent, thought-provoking story, it's also gripping; you'll be on the edge of your seat. This book is the second of a series called "Legends of Dune", but I found it is not necessary to have read the first, as it is an inclusive story. Recommended to all science fiction fans.(less)
Douglas Adams is one of my favorite writers, and I've been a fan of his books since I was about 12 or 13. Ironically, I was introduced to his first bo...moreDouglas Adams is one of my favorite writers, and I've been a fan of his books since I was about 12 or 13. Ironically, I was introduced to his first book (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) by my older brother, who has no sense of humor whatsoever.
I read this at the same time as reading another Douglas Adams biography, called "Hitchhiker", written by M.J. Simpson. The reason I did this is I wanted to get a more complete sense of the life of my favorite humorist from more than just one viewpoint. Sure, each book is filled with interviews, but different writers focus on different things, and there was bound to be some stories and events that, while glossed over in one book, would be more fully described in the other.
And I indeed found this to be the case. This book did a better job of telling the story of Mr. Adams' life from the viewpoints of his family and close friends. You get a sense of intimacy and closeness that is missing from the other book, largely because author Nick Webb was a close friend of Mr. Adams and family, and he had many personal stories to tell.
I recommend this highly to anyone who has enjoyed or been influenced by the works of Douglas Adams. It is a worthy tribute to his life.(less)
Fascinating, but slow-going, mainly because I'm a nincompoop when it comes to anything math-related. It's my curse, I guess...to be endlessly fascinat...moreFascinating, but slow-going, mainly because I'm a nincompoop when it comes to anything math-related. It's my curse, I guess...to be endlessly fascinated with physics and quantum mechanics, but never being about to grasp the math. Mr. Greene does a good job of explaining his and others' theories for the lay person like me, but he also includes detailed notes for the mathematically inclined. It took me over a year to read, because I re-read many passages, and spent a lot of time thinking about the concepts, to ensure that I understood everything as well as I possibly could. Recommended to all you science-lovers out there. Even if you struggle with basic algebra, like me, you'll find a lot of interesting things in this book.(less)
This classic from author Philip K. Dick is an odd book. If you come to it expecting a typical science fiction story, you will be sadly disappointed. A...moreThis classic from author Philip K. Dick is an odd book. If you come to it expecting a typical science fiction story, you will be sadly disappointed. Although marketed as a science fiction story, it is anything but. When you first begin the book, it appears to be a sort of memoir written by a former drug addict, because the first chapters deal a lot with drugs, drug addicts, the other addicts they hang out with, and the odd drug trips they have. I almost stopped reading after the first few chapters because I found this to be rather distasteful. However, if you continue on, you will find this book is actually about something completely different.
For much of Philip K. Dick's life, he had the sneaking suspicion that the world we perceive around us, isn't the real world. Mr. Dick had been a former drug user, and so he knew the symptoms of paranoia he was plagued with was possibly due to his extensive drug use, but of course he couldn't be sure. So he set himself on a crusade of sorts, to try and find out what was really going on. And the primary way he did this was through extensive research into both religion and psychology.
Because of this research VALIS is a very intelligent book. Through the conversations between the characters, we learn tidbits about a dozen different religions and philosophies and ways of thinking. Mr. Dick puts himself right into the story, in fact, as a character using his proper name. This is a very unusual detail, something not done by many other writers. This detail is also significant, because much of VALIS is autobiographical. Many of the events that happen to Horselover Fat actually happened to Philip K. Dick in real life.
This brings us to the extremely oddly named main character. I didn't understand this at first, so the odd name was very distracting to me as I began the book, but there is actually a very good reason for this weird name. I don't consider this a spoiler, since Mr. Dick takes care to explain this in the first chapter, but if you understand this from the very beginning, reading the book is much easier. "Horselover Fat" is actually the Greek translation of "Philip Dick". "Philip" means "lover of horses" in Greek, and "Dick" is Greek for "fat". "I am Horselover Fat", he declares, "and I am writing this in the third person to gain much needed objectivity." This doesn't hold strictly true, because as you read the book, the author switches from third person to first person, and gradually writes as though Philip and Horselover are two separate characters in the book. There are many conversations between Philip and Horselover, even when amongst other characters, and there are many instances in which other characters address both Horselover Fat and Philip separately. I found this to be very confusing, and off-putting, but near the end of the book it is finally explained that the character of Philip has a split personality, which occurred due to the suicide of a close friend, for which Philip always blamed himself, so Horselover was created to help deal with the pain. All of Philip's friends knew about this, and therefore played along with him, calling him alternately Philip and Horselover Fat, depending upon which personality was talking at the time. I'm probably going to get some nasty posts for revealing this without hiding the text as a spoiler, but I think if you understand this fact from the beginning, reading this book is a lot easier.
Despite the fact that this book represents the culmination of years of research, and despite its intelligence, the ideas presented are so very strange that they are difficult to fully understand. Also, since many of these ideas appear sacrilegious, some readers may find themselves offended by them. To avoid this, my advice is to read the book as an imaginative work of fiction, even though the author actually believed what he was writing was true. Take everything with a grain of salt, and don't worry if something really doesn't make a lot of sense.
I'm giving this book two stars, because in my opinion it isn't really written very well, and much of the storyline is fragmented and doesn't seem to hold together. Also, the book seems to end abruptly, as though it hadn't been completely finished. This may have been intentional, but it's still annoying. Also, I thought there were all too many swearwords, especially the F-word, which I don't see as a sign of intelligence...much the opposite, in fact. It always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, as though I'd been licking ashtrays.
I think only a select group of people will actually enjoy reading this book. It's not recommended for the average science fiction reader, or even the average Philip K. Dick fan. If you get excited by long conversations about philosophy, psychology, religion, and the occasional drug trip, then this may be your kind of book. Frankly, though, you might be better off spending your time reading something else.(less)
The start of another fascinating series from the master of science fiction, Isaac Asimov tells the story of the distant future, when mankind has sprea...moreThe start of another fascinating series from the master of science fiction, Isaac Asimov tells the story of the distant future, when mankind has spread throughout the galaxy, and has established an empire for the rule and betterment of society. The empire has stood strong for long millenia, until one man, Harry Seldon, forsees its end. Using psychohistory--the science of predicting the future, Seldon sees that the empire is deteriorating, and will one day crumble, folled by 30,000 years of anarchy and barbarism. So Seldon establishes two Foundations--one at each end of the galaxy--populated with the brightest scientists and historians in the galaxy, and charges them with the task of maintaining the knowledge of mankind so it is not lost in the empire's fall. When the empire does fall, knowledge of the second foundation is lost. So it is up to the first foundation to maintain order in the galaxy, as well as locate the second foundation before their enemies do. (less)
This was an amazing book, and a fitting end to the long Dune series. As a fan of the series, it was wonderful to see all the loose strands of story fi...moreThis was an amazing book, and a fitting end to the long Dune series. As a fan of the series, it was wonderful to see all the loose strands of story finally get tied together. I also appreciated knowing that this story was based on notes left by the late Frank Herbert. As with all of the other Dune novels, the book is written with a richness and the weight of ages, as though it were real history. The characters are all fully developed and believable, and Herbert's unique style of writing, wherein the reader is privy to all the innermost thoughts of each character, is once again faithfully rendered by the authors. All Dune fans will find this a satisfying if surprising end to the long Dune story. But, although it continues storylines from other novels, it is a self-contained story, and it is unnecessary to have read the previous novels....although, having done so does add to the richness of the experience.(less)
A true masterpiece of fantasy fiction. I've always liked Terry Brooks' work, because he creates such rounded, lifelike characters, and his stories are...moreA true masterpiece of fantasy fiction. I've always liked Terry Brooks' work, because he creates such rounded, lifelike characters, and his stories aren't bogged down by endless pages of detail and explanations. The story is always moving, and something exciting and unexpected is always happening. I read the original Shannara books years ago, and so I found this prequel very interesting. Recommended to not only Terry Brooks and fantasy fans, but to anyone who wants to read an interesting, intelligent, moving story.(less)
This book pretty much leaves off where the previous one ended, and was therefore fairly easy to slide into. The Mule is still searching for the Second...moreThis book pretty much leaves off where the previous one ended, and was therefore fairly easy to slide into. The Mule is still searching for the Second Foundation, but new aspects to this search arise, particularly in the form of a 14-year-old girl. The story moves fairly well, and doesn't lag and has some hidden surprises, as well as a surprising ending.
That said, I didn't like it as much as the other two books in the series, and I'm not completely sure why. The only thing I can come up with is that I didn't really like the characters of this book very much. I found some of them, especially Arkady Darell, to be...well, let's just say "highly unlikeable. It's a personal thing, and another reader will undoubtedly feel differently. But when you don't like the main characters in a book, it's hard to read.
I'd still recommend this book to science fiction fans, particularly those following the "Foundation" series. This was originally the last book in the series, and it ends well, but fans will be happy to know that the series continues on!(less)
This is a very funny book, and my favorite in the Hitchhiker's "trilogy". I first discovered this book more than twenty five years ago, and have read...moreThis is a very funny book, and my favorite in the Hitchhiker's "trilogy". I first discovered this book more than twenty five years ago, and have read it several dozen times since then. The humor in this book, as well as Mr. Adams' other works, kept me laughing all through my school years, and I'm still laughing. The storyline is very interesting, with several twists and turns, making it one of the best Mr. Adams has written. My favorite scenes are the ones with Marvin the Paranoid Android, and the white Krikkit robots and their killer battle clubs. I'm a sucker for robots, I guess.
This was a very good introduction to the process of writing comics. Not comprehensive by any means, but it is written by a pro in the biz, and has a l...moreThis was a very good introduction to the process of writing comics. Not comprehensive by any means, but it is written by a pro in the biz, and has a lot of good info.(less)
I didn't like this book at all. I read it for a college course. The entire book has an overtone of depression, and there is no let-up. I felt betrayed...moreI didn't like this book at all. I read it for a college course. The entire book has an overtone of depression, and there is no let-up. I felt betrayed by the title. Although I expected some stories of misery and hardship, I also expected some about people rising above their situation and striving for a better world, with maybe some humor tossed in. But we get none of that. Instead, we are told about people broken by the system, only enduring their miserable lives and waiting for death. Reading this book made me feel tired, dirty and angry. Whether or not this is an accurate accounting of life in post-war eastern Europe isn't the point. It's just not effective writing about nothing but depression and woe without some uplift somewhere. This book is NOT recommended.(less)