So. Ender's Game. One of many classics of the genre that people can't believe I haven't read. Now I have, and I feel I hadn't been missing all that muSo. Ender's Game. One of many classics of the genre that people can't believe I haven't read. Now I have, and I feel I hadn't been missing all that much. When talking it over with my dad, I described the writing style with the tactful "straight forward," knowing he'd been a fan of the series during the Eighties. He raised the back-handed compliment bar to "written for thirteen year olds turning fourteen." So, there's that.
The plot is also straight forward - but the momentum was great enough to keep me reading, despite none of the characters having much characterization. Ender himself is, while theoretically a child, written largely like a tiny, smart adult. The other children are barely sketched in with singular character traits. Alai is pretty. Petra is the girl and a sniper. Dink is almost nice. (Ender's family back home consists of two basically absent-from-the-story parents, an abusive/sociopathic brother and a sister who is too nice for the battle school, more beloved and loving than anyone else because... plot? Because she's a girl? Because reasons. The Wiggins siblings have their own plot line, which presumably is better filled out in other books of the series.) The process of raising Ender to be a perfect weapon against the Buggers makes very little logical sense, and the adults in charge remain enigmas to the readers as well as to Ender, but the plotting doesn't encourage one to slow down and question the plot points.
Had this book been written more recently, I would have tossed it aside early on when the vanishing small number of girls recruited into the battle school was explained away by "Too many centuries of evolution are working against them," because SERIOUSLY? Seriously? Women fight. Always have, especially in defense of our homes!
If I planned on giving this book a rating, it'd probably be a two star story. However, there's no way to be sure I can separate my ambivalent feelings towards this book from my negative opinion of the author, so. No rating. Now I think I'll go reread some Kameron Hurley to cleanse the palate....more
I keep trying to hook people with the concept. "It's about a person who used to be a spaceship! And all the corpse soldiers within it! But the ship waI keep trying to hook people with the concept. "It's about a person who used to be a spaceship! And all the corpse soldiers within it! But the ship was betrayed and is now down to a single body." And then I go on to mention Breq's chronic frustration with attempting to identify gender in order to use gendered nouns and pronouns. Humans from outside the Radch are so prickly when one guesses gender wrong.
And all of that is great, and exciting, and a true example of what science fiction can be... but the reason I read the book - devoured it, really - is much simpler: I love the main character. Breq, Justice of Toren's One Esk Nineteen, is interesting. Smart, of course, determined and focused, but also brave in ways she doesn't count, and caring in ways she doesn't expect. The Justice of Toren's multiple simultaneous viewpoints in the chapters set in the story's past serve as a slowly unfolding tragedy and provide a window on what Breq was and all (s)he lost.
I don't understand Seivarden (it would be difficult, since Breq doesn't understand him, and we see this universe through her eyes), but I somehow liked him anyway with all his character flaws and the risk he continuously presents to Breq's quest and even security. I wanted better for Awn. I was fascinated by the Radch, by the time she/he made a true appearance on the page.
And I loved the ending. Loved. I see that there is a "loose" trilogy planned, and I simultaneously want more of this weird world and its characters, and I want Ancillary Justice to continue to stand perfectly on its own, because what could possibly follow in these footsteps? ...more
Middle school me loved this book. Actually, middle school me loved all Bradbury.
On rereading, though... I don't know. There are interesting ideas inMiddle school me loved this book. Actually, middle school me loved all Bradbury.
On rereading, though... I don't know. There are interesting ideas in here. I am amazed at how much of the Fifties' future is the Twenty-Teens' past, technologically speaking. But the bottom-up, lowest-common-denominator pseudo-censorship portrayed by the book betrays both a pessimism and a... I don't have the word... domestic xenophobia, maybe? that I found distancing. There are paragraphs of ranting about the way minorities ruined literature by objecting to works of literature that excluded or stereotyped them. According to Bradbury, this kind of critical objection is what leads to the total dumbing down of culture. And I say according to Bradbury, because this is not merely a narrative POV statement - it is a feeling reiterated in author's notes from later years.
This clever tactic nearly convinced me not to talk about the gender issues of the book. Almost. And after all, I shouldn't complain when the forward momentum of the book is started by Clarisse, a seventeen year old girl who lives near the protagonist, fireman Guy Montag. She is curious and engaged with the world and pretty, and she gets Montag thinking (unless she doesn't, since Montag later unveils a cache of books apparently rescued from his own fires over a longer period of time than he'd known Clarisse). Mildred, like her husband Montag and much of the rest of society, on the other hand, suffers from a vague existential sadness. Mildred deals with her unspoken sadness by watching the parlor walls (aka, future tv) and spending Montag's salary on improving the walls. [spoiler] When her friends come over (to watch tv), shrill and silly creatures every one, Montag berates them not only for not thinking, but for failing as women, because they've had more abortions than children and be cause one is disliked by the children she did have. Of course there's no similar condemnation for the failed husbands/fathers in their lives; families are the sole responsibility of women. Montag escapes from the city, from watered down society, and joins a society of men who will one day put the world back together using the books they carry in their heads. He thinks of Clarisse, imagines he is walking down a track she knew, but there's no sign that any of the extended network of books actually includes a woman in their number. Women inspire, men act. [/spoiler]
And now we get to the hyperbolic response of imagined Bradbury: Gender is not the point! The story is not about women (or other minorities), so complaining about their lack of representation or misrepresentation misses/makes his point! A book that offends no one is stripped of depth and meaning!
I hear you, imaginary Bradbury. I do. But for generations, the western canon has declined to hear people like me. If men write all the books, if they learn about women's inner lives only from reading what other men have said... the reflection of the world in literature warps more and more around those errors introduced early on and repeated like fact by later generations of novelists. Books become a funhouse mirror in which majority characters look clear enough, but minority characters, when seen at all, are distorted out of recognition. It's not that we hate thought and critical expression of ideas; when we point out the lack of people like ourselves- or the stereotyping thereof- we aren't trying to silence you. We're pointing out the flaw in the mirror and hoping you simply hadn't noticed.
Good literature is inclusive. Not that every work needs to include a certain number of minority characters or a certain ratio of men to women, like Bradbury throws out as a straw man argument, but when a work does not include any characters but majority characters, that needs to be acknowledged as a choice (even if it is the default choice for the time the story was written), and there will be - should be- critical consideration of what that choice means, what its limitations are. After all, critical thought is the supposed hero of Fahrenheit 451....more
The world's premise was interesting -- a post-oil world afflicted with massive climate change, man-made agricultural plagues, and the collapse of theThe world's premise was interesting -- a post-oil world afflicted with massive climate change, man-made agricultural plagues, and the collapse of the global economy. I liked the Tiger of Bangkok and his right-hand, Kanya, and Hock Seng, the refugee, was interesting and sympathetic if not particularly likeable. Here ends the positive part of this review.
The title character was a Japanese-created wind-up girl, who was brought as a translator to Thailand where she was abandoned and forced into sex shows due to local fear of wind-ups (a fear that persists despite the assertion that obedience is 'bred into' the wind-ups, which, ew). She is very obedient but perhaps not a great translator, judging by her gently broken English. As a result, she reads more like a Western stereotype of a Japanese woman than a character in her own right. It doesn't help that there are no 'real' Japanese women to compare her against. There are two fairly graphic rape scenes, the second of which forwards the plot when the victim finally snaps. The first seems to be there just for titillation.
And then there's the obtrusive use of Thai throughout. I don't understand why an author would sprinkle foreign words into internal dialogue. If characters are thinking in their native tongues (and I'm presumably reading their 'translated' thoughts), there's rarely a reason for an 'untranslatable' word to be introduced. Either write around it, or find a way to introduce and define it in a dialogue with someone who wouldn't immediately understand the word, so the character doesn't sound crazy.
In most respects, I agree with Jaymee Goh's review on Beyond Victoriana. Though I had no clue what a rambutan was either, and I don't live in a world where produce has been so utterly ravaged by genetic warfare, so I forgive the Western character his fascination....more
Ages ago, I read Ethan of Athos without having read anything else from the Vorkosigan Saga. (And loaned it to someone who never returned it -- and nowAges ago, I read Ethan of Athos without having read anything else from the Vorkosigan Saga. (And loaned it to someone who never returned it -- and now I have it as part of this omnibus, so problem solved!) I enjoyed it the first time, but I have to say it is significantly better now that I already know the secondary characters and the larger political world. ...more
Read this instead of Little Brother. For The Win is full of interesting, engaging characters who will win (and then break) your heart. And I came awayRead this instead of Little Brother. For The Win is full of interesting, engaging characters who will win (and then break) your heart. And I came away with a better understanding of global economic theory than my high school econ class even dreamed of imparting.
If I didn't think she'd track me down, I would totally have stolen my sister's copy. As it is, I need to buy my own copy, woe....more
Loved it! The second half more than the first (The Vor Game and "The Mountains of Mourning" more than The Warrior's Apprentice) perhaps, but still, ILoved it! The second half more than the first (The Vor Game and "The Mountains of Mourning" more than The Warrior's Apprentice) perhaps, but still, I continue to be crazy over this universe....more
This collection contains paragraphs of amazing beauty and is of can't-miss historical importance within the science fiction genre.
Caveat lector: manyThis collection contains paragraphs of amazing beauty and is of can't-miss historical importance within the science fiction genre.
Caveat lector: many stories deal in death -- the death of individuals, the death of self in the face of the infinite, the death of species and planets. Perhaps not the best choice when one is already feeling a bit down....more
Zombies. At a Star Trek convention. Ridiculous? Awesome? Ridiculously awesome? (Just to be clear, the authors clearly know and love fans. Although theZombies. At a Star Trek convention. Ridiculous? Awesome? Ridiculously awesome? (Just to be clear, the authors clearly know and love fans. Although there is some mocking of particular fans -- including body-policing -- there isn't mocking of fannishness itself.)...more
Interesting on the message/theme level and for its explanations of tech, current and likely near-future... but the characters other than the narratorInteresting on the message/theme level and for its explanations of tech, current and likely near-future... but the characters other than the narrator tended to be a bit flat....more
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE CORDELIA! I can't believe I hadn't read it earlier. Seriously, this is one of those books that I had trouble setting down eveI LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE CORDELIA! I can't believe I hadn't read it earlier. Seriously, this is one of those books that I had trouble setting down even for a moment for silly things like sleep and work (eating was fine, I can do that with a book in one hand)....more