A mix of science fiction and science geared towards an elementary school level audience. The premise of a company in the future where you can custom o...more A mix of science fiction and science geared towards an elementary school level audience. The premise of a company in the future where you can custom order your very own pet bird to assemble yourself is a wonderful springboard into a lesson on the different types of birds and how their different types of wings, beaks, etc., work.(less)
My guess is Howey watched a marathon session of LOST episodes on Netflix, and was inspired to take the old subterranean subgenre of sci-fi, dust it of...more My guess is Howey watched a marathon session of LOST episodes on Netflix, and was inspired to take the old subterranean subgenre of sci-fi, dust it off, add a layer of modern science and modern fears, and repackage the whole thing as something entirely new. It isn’t – but it feels new in his hands.
He addresses this in an almost meta way as characters repeat history, fully knowing they are repeating history, but feeling it’s worth giving it another try anyway.
Hopeless and hopeful at the same time, an entirely mad world populated with all too human characters, living in an unimaginable way, and yet grappling with the same issues of love, loss, fear, hope, curiosity, and the basic urge to survive that anyone, anywhere, would understand.
WARNING: Comic contains extremely graphic depictions of both sex and violence
A man and a woman are soldiers on opposite sides in an intergalactic war....more WARNING: Comic contains extremely graphic depictions of both sex and violence
A man and a woman are soldiers on opposite sides in an intergalactic war. Each looks at the other side and call them savages, using barbaric weapons, not even able to speak properly, hardly even people. Sound familiar?
However, these two crazy kids fall in love, get married, and have a kid – and everyone, and I do mean everyone, flips out. Like that time the two Hatfield and McCoy kids eloped, but on a Star Wars scale.
Now these new parents are on the run from, not one, but two armies, as well numerous assassins, various monsters, pissed off civilians, pregnant royals.
The imagery is stunning – think X-rated Farscape. The story delves back and forth between the utter fantastic of magic living tree rocket ships to the very mundane details of caring for a newborn. It gets to the edge of preachy a few times about the Horrors of War, but then reigns it back to tell a damn good story.
Chases, explosions, near death experiences, stunning revelations, magic, science, back room deals, exes, in-laws – and that’s just the first few days of the baby’s birth.
A very mixed bag of tales, both in tone and in age level -some would be perfect for the middle graders just getting into sci-fi, while others are deci...more A very mixed bag of tales, both in tone and in age level -some would be perfect for the middle graders just getting into sci-fi, while others are decidedly more adult in tone. Given that, not sure who I would recommend it to. (less)
Don’t get me wrong – the writing is typical sentimental Victorian pulp (i.e. VERY family friendly) and there...more Oh my god. He saw the future and it is us.
Don’t get me wrong – the writing is typical sentimental Victorian pulp (i.e. VERY family friendly) and there isn’t much of a “plot” per sey, but give me a minute to pick my jaw up off the floor after reading how accurately Robida predicted gender equality, the 24 hour news cycle, advertising, transportation, and the importance of career orientated education.
He gets most of the geo-politics wrong, but the absurdness goes well with his fantastical drawings. (less)
The story is a satirical love note to all things Star Trek, and makes for a hilarious parody – right up...more To quote XKCD: "I'm So Meta, Even This Acronym"
The story is a satirical love note to all things Star Trek, and makes for a hilarious parody – right up until the name “Enterprise” is actually used. Somehow, acknowledging what the joke is deflated the humor.
It’s a failed use of fourth wall funny, which was too bad, because the book was pretty awesome up until that point. It continues to be good, but then the actual words “Star Trek” are used, and it starts to go downhill fast, getting increasingly meta and losing its originality.
And to top it off the ending rips off Sophie’s World, leaving me with a sour aftertaste. (less)
A dazzling exploration of the future, combining religion, art, music, technology, love, youth, age, and sacrifice, examining who we are and who we mig...more A dazzling exploration of the future, combining religion, art, music, technology, love, youth, age, and sacrifice, examining who we are and who we might become.(less)
Because I distinctly remember reading this while in the waiting room of a dentist office, my memory of the book is somewhat tainted in the way only de...more Because I distinctly remember reading this while in the waiting room of a dentist office, my memory of the book is somewhat tainted in the way only dental surgery can.
Ending up just skimming. It’s very dense, takes itself VERY seriously, and I would have preferred a setup of each chapter focusing on a book/movie rat...more Ending up just skimming. It’s very dense, takes itself VERY seriously, and I would have preferred a setup of each chapter focusing on a book/movie rather than a vague theme. Felt like an English Lit 301 text. Probably would do well with a new edition. Hunger Games anyone?(less)
“You are such a poser! Changes is a best of!” -Henchman #21, The Venture Brothers
Ah, the eternal debate for the SuperFan – do you buy every book / albu...more “You are such a poser! Changes is a best of!” -Henchman #21, The Venture Brothers
Ah, the eternal debate for the SuperFan – do you buy every book / album / action figure / sticker collection to show you are true and dedicated to your fandom? Or do you disdain such collections as a mere capitalistic ploy?
Personally, I dodged the question by splitting hairs and getting the book from the library.
I skimmed past everything I had already read and/or anything that was not a Company story. (It would have REALLY helped if the stories were arranged by universe rather than which prior collection they had come from. And no WAY was I reading the WTF drawing room horror show of ‘What the Tyger Told Her’ again!)
Also, I was sad we did not get the author notes like the ones in Black Projects / White Nights. It’s always fun to see behind the curtain!
Speaking of behind the curtain, the first of the two stories I read here – “The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park” – violently rips back the curtain in regards to death bed visions of heaven. An autistic cyborg (!!!) gives a girl dying of cancer a pretty little death bed comfort, brought entirely on by the use of circuitry and electricity.
There is no God here, says Baker, only technology – and if never the twain shall meet, neither are they distinguishable from the other in certain circumstances. The worst part is Baker unwittingly poured herself into both the main characters, given the fact I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong) she had a form of autism, and she also died of cancer.
It’s a heart breaking story - but only if you know the Company stories AND you know of the author. It doesn’t stand alone as well as some of her other short stories.
Ah, then, for lighter fare, we have ‘Bad Machine’, in which she examines a logical extreme of a government monitoring its own citizens for the public good. Poor Alec Checkerfield just wants to have safe sex! Is it so wrong that he is very good at sex and hence orders a LOT of condoms online? The story is a hilarious mix up of artificial intelligence and the British variety of sex (think bad pickup lines and some really weird turn ons) , and yet every now and then Baker will causally thrown in one little line here and there that makes the story terrifying. (less)
The arc of the book is, when all’s said and sifted, a simple little story about the daily lives of devout monks at a small monastery, tracing its hist...more The arc of the book is, when all’s said and sifted, a simple little story about the daily lives of devout monks at a small monastery, tracing its history over a thousand years from a time of dark ages where there is little knowledge to a time of renaissance in learning to a time of technology and nuclear war – all post 21st century.
"All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again…” -J.M. Barrie
After reading this, I am 1) happy I – completely by accident – found this book and 2) very surprised it isn’t on the same level of recognition as 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World.
It certainly ought to be, since it is trying to patiently teach the same lesson as the rest that ignorance is dangerous. Possibly the reason it never got its deserved recognition was due to the fact Miller went against the then current Sci-Fi grain and heretically supposed that there will be religion in the Future.
Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Huxley, McCaffrey, Orwell, Roddenberry, Sagan, and a host of other 20th century Sci-Fi writers, were all pretty sure God was going to go the way of the dinosaur in the Future.
However, after the nuclear holocaust, there will be Twinkies and cockroaches – and, Miller speculates, the Catholic Church.
About a thousand years after WWIII has wrought nuclear armageddon, the American southwest closely resembles that of 6th century Europe – lots of howling heathens occasionally banging on the gate, little in the way of technology, infrastructure or literacy, and a religion that has the only library in town.
The events of the nuclear ravishment have been enfolded into the Catholic Church, added to the litany, the same way the New Testament was soldered onto the Old Testament, and the early medieval martyrs were made part of worship.
The Church recognizes as saints the survivors who fought to preserve knowledge shortly after the final war – the Flame Deluge – when mobs attacked them, determined to blame someone for the end of the world as they knew it and those smug politicians and scientists who assured the general populace that an arms race was the only way to keep everyone safe seemed as good a scapegoat as any.
It was said that God, in order to test mankind which had become swelled with pride as in the time of Noah, had commanded the wise men of that age, among them the Blessed Leibowitz, to devise great engines of war such as had never before been upon the Earth, weapons of such might that they contained the very fires of Hell, and that God had suffered these magi to place the weapons in the hands of princes, and to say to each prince:
"Only because the enemies have such a thing have we devised this for thee, in order that they may know that thou hast it also, and fear to strike. See to it, m'Lord, that thou fearest them as much as they shall now fear thee, that none may unleash this dread thing which we have wrought."
But the princes, putting the words of their wise men to naught, thought each to himself, If I but strike quickly enough, and in secret, I shall destroy those others in their sleep, and there will be none to fight back; the earth shall be mine.
Such was the folly of princes, and there followed the Flame Deluge.
It all feels distressingly plausible.
So, a brother monk, sometime in the 31st century or so, finds some artifacts in a “fallout” shelter from the time of the Flame Deluge. There’s the usual jostling from his superiors deciding weather or not the relics are real and if anything found disturbs the holy texts, etc, and it all feels very much like a typical episode of Brother Cadfael, albeit one with bands of mutants roaming the countryside, just slightly more viscous than Norman soldiers.
Then, halfway through the book, (view spoiler)[Miller decides to kill off his extremely endearing, affable, likable and innocent main character in a way as pointless and stupid as when Tasha Yar was killed, with absolutely no hope in this case of a reappearance via an angry half-bred child. (hide spoiler)]
Next, the book skips ahead a few centuries to the point where “civilization” such as it is, is finally getting towards the point of moving forward, so of course the Church and State are more than a little at odds with each. And we have the character of Benjamin, who seems to have wandered in from the set of Lost. He also goes by the title of The Wandering Jew, which kind of made me cringe.
And we then skip ahead a few more centuries and tune back in on a humanity which has reached a space faring, expansionist point, once again armed to the teeth with nuclear weaponry and possessing an itchy trigger finger, and one little monastery doing all it can to help to ensure both life and faith continue...
Neat trick, to start off in Mad Max territory, and successfully wind up in the middle of Battlestar Galactica.
This is an example of the subgenre Cold War Sci-Fi Distant-Future Post-Nuclear Armageddon. This was a subgenre commonly seen in books, movies, and tv from about 1955 to 1995. For a brief while this subgenre was seen as hopelessly dated and trite, with people saying to each other, ‘how silly, isn’t it obvious the whole thing would end peacefully once the Russians went broke?’ and ‘isn’t it great to not live in a Time of Fear? So great to live in a Time of Reason?’
From the place of ground zero, O Lord, deliver us. ~ Ch 2
Hhmmm, turns out religion IS important. So much so that people will fight and scream and kill and die over it.
And I tell you what, it’s a whole lot more scary than a robot uprising, zombolyspse, or Martian invasion. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Not the first and most likely not the last of The Computers Will Kill Us All! genre. It’s a par-for-the-course horror story, sort of Titanic meets Ali...more Not the first and most likely not the last of The Computers Will Kill Us All! genre. It’s a par-for-the-course horror story, sort of Titanic meets Alien meets The Matrix.
What really put me off was the narrator constantly reminding us that this all took place a long time ago, and he constantly spoils it for the reader about whose going to live or die. Foreshadowing is one thing, but this is ridiculous. (less)
The third book starts out by taking a weird u-turn back to the 1980’s, the height of the Cold War, and the sub-genre of science fict...more**spoiler alert**
The third book starts out by taking a weird u-turn back to the 1980’s, the height of the Cold War, and the sub-genre of science fiction that sprung up during those days.
This particular sub-genre she draws from for her third book’s start is one where nuclear Armageddon has decimated the planet’s surface, what’s left of the population is living in very strictly regulated underground bunkers, and the Cold War continues as the underground population has split into two factions.
It was very surprising to see remnants of this genre here, considering how it pretty much petered out circa 1989 when the world realized we could have other, better, different, endings to the Cold War besides complete annihilation.
Meanwhile, in the world of Panem, the stakes go up again. Whatever else, you can’t accuse Collins of sugarcoating what humans can do to each other. Not only the horrors of war – that’s old hat – but what people will do to rise to power, to stay in power, and, worse, the damage we don’t mean to do. Also, she underlines in red ink that war has its cost, and, somehow or other, everyone is forced to pay.
The book chronicles several wars happening at once. There’s the old fashioned bombs and gun battles going on throughout the country along with some man vs. mutant battles that scared the crap of me. There is the personal war each person goes through trying to stay sane – some with more success than others. There is a propaganda war the Capital and the rebels are fighting, issuing commercials to win (or scare) hearts and minds, with the two presidents high jacking each other’s live feeds back and forth that at times felt like a particularly aggressive televised debate between two presidential candidates.
And there is the very, very creepy war between Snow and Katniss.
Snow becomes a pedophile, a stalker, and a pimp as well as a ruthless child killing dictator, just to make sure, on two levels, he has absolutely no redeeming qualities, just to make sure the book audience and the people of Panem are right there with Katniss as she keeps muttering to herself I will kill you, leaving the audience no possible response but you go girl.
Which is why it was so surprising that we don’t get quite the showdown we are promised. The last act takes a lot of weird twists and turns, leaving me at parts wondering if Katniss was caught in some sort hologram or dream sequence or some such.
A word about the Propaganda War.
It’s not enough to steal the plans for the Death Star or blow up the munitions factory or free the slaves or throw tea in the harbor – these days, you have to be able to do it while looking good for the camera.
Does anyone remember studying this picture in high school history class? A secular pieta, a young woman howling her grief, a perfect summary of all that was wrong with that moment in time.
And then it turned out it had been edited from this:
The edited version was made to let the viewer focus better on the tragedy, but the debate to this day wages back and forth on whether it was wrong to doctor a primary source, even if it meant getting the larger Truth out, without letting a few untidy Facts get in the way.
So, Collins asks her readers, what is more important? Truth? Or Fact? (less)
**spoiler alert** My hat off to Ms. Collins raising the stakes in Book 2 to dizzying heights in a follow up to Book 1’s fight to the death plot.
While...more**spoiler alert** My hat off to Ms. Collins raising the stakes in Book 2 to dizzying heights in a follow up to Book 1’s fight to the death plot.
While I expected Katniss to have to return to the arena the second she got out of it at the end of Book 1, and you don’t set up an Evil EmpireTM without planning a revolution/rebellion plot, there were a lot of twists and turns to the story that caught me off guard, and the set up had me tearing through the pages to see who was going to get out of this alive.
Loved, loved, loved, the development of pre-existing characters and the additional characters who joined the story. Nice touch to show Prim growing up, and was very pleased to have Peeta grow a brain. I kinda wanted to slap Gale for his revolutionary zeal, but he is exactly the kind of fired up 18 year old that real armies are made of.
Also, while I had a little trouble picturing the Arena this time round, full marks for creativity. Seriously – what kind of sick, twisted mind comes up with this stuff? And just how much god-awful reality TV drek did Collins have to watch to research her trilogy? ‘Cause there is a lot that is not that different at all from current programming. >shudder< …the horror
And I got what I wanted at the end of Book 1 – a cliffhanger that is sending me running for the third book. (less)