Joe Haldeman is the undisputed king of the science fiction genre. Or so I've been told. I don't ever read any science fiction, so I'm pretty illiteratJoe Haldeman is the undisputed king of the science fiction genre. Or so I've been told. I don't ever read any science fiction, so I'm pretty illiterate in that regard. But I felt a gaping hole in my reading these days and thought that I should give science fiction a try. The Forever War came highly recommended (major award winner here, folks) as a good entry point for me.
The storyline revolves around a conscripted U.S. soldier who in the not so distant future (or at least it was distant when the book was written....for today's readers, that "futuristic" time period was a few years ago, so for those of us just now reading this novel, it's more like an alternate history....clear as mud?) who is sent out to war with a rival galactic enemy, the Taureans. Our intrepid hero finds himself sent all over the galaxy and, due to the use of what we would call a worm hole, finds himself aged considerably less than those who don't regularly travel through space. The reader goes through several battles with our hero, written with a lot of testosterone and military tactical-speak, and gets to grapple with the moral implications of both war and a future Earth that makes most dystopian fiction look like child's play.
Okay, so what did I think of it all? I went through phases with this novel. During the tactical military missions, my eyes tended to glaze over (as they always do with this kind of stuff....no matter what genre it's in). But the portions that dealt with Haldeman's imagined future for Earth I couldn't put down.
Of course, noting the time period in which this novel was originally written, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the parallels Haldeman was drawing to the Vietnam War. He uses a big old club at the end of the book to make darned sure you GET IT. But overall, I enjoyed the story. While it didn't turn me into a die-hard science fiction fan, it certainly left me open to more suggestions for the genre....more
Remember your college Greek mythology classes? If your memory is a little fuzzy, it will all come flooding back to you when you read Margaret George'sRemember your college Greek mythology classes? If your memory is a little fuzzy, it will all come flooding back to you when you read Margaret George's Helen of Troy. Ms. George recreates the story from Helen's point of view and beginning with Helen's childhood, she paints a fairly vivid picture of Helen's family, her home of Sparta, and the circumstances that led to her sad marriage to Menelaus. When Paris enters the picture, as I'm sure you remember, it's pretty much game-over and the beautiful Helen is spirited off to Troy, leading to the infamous Trojan War.
Peripheral characters make the novel quite enjoyable: Priam, Agamemnon, Cytemnestra, Odysseus and Hector, amongst others, all make a good showing and are quite developed, character-wise, for a novel this length. (I'm sure 638 pages seems like a lot, but for the legend this encompasses, Ms. George had to condense quite a bit here.)
Now for my reaction: I never quite developed any sympathy for Helen and Paris. Their utter selfishness came across as irritating, as opposed to uncontrollable fate. I continually felt the need to give Helen a slap and tell her to "buck up." Paris came across as immature - not a man to fall in love with, but a boy who feels entitled to whatever he wants, at any cost. The supporting cast is delightful, however, and made the story worth a read.
This isn't a so-called "heavy read" by any means. It rather strikes me as something that might be classified as a summer beach novel. Fun, but not serious historical fiction. ...more
This is Dennis Lehane's first novel and you see the promise he showed even back then (early 90s). Like many of his subsequent novels, Lehane sets thisThis is Dennis Lehane's first novel and you see the promise he showed even back then (early 90s). Like many of his subsequent novels, Lehane sets this one is Boston and features protagonist private detective Patrick Kenzie and his partner, Angela Gennaro.
Boston politics (and the seedy side of politics, police work and street gangs) feature large in this mystery/thriller....Lehane eventually perfected this technique in Mystic River. Here, though, we see him begin to hone his craft with the flawed protagonists. Patrick Kenzie is tough but emotionally scarred (whether he admits it or not) from an abusive childhood. Angela is equally flawed and is one of the more interesting characters Lehane has ever written: a no-nonsense tough gal who, ironically, has remained in a physically abusive marriage for years.
Patrick and Angie find themselves running for their lives while simultaneously trying to do the morally right thing when a detective job they take leads them to massive corruption in state politics. Do they make the right decisions? Each reader is likely to have a different answer....morality is indeed ambiguous, despite our need to see things in black and white.
If you liked Lehane's later novels like Shutter Island and Mystic River, you'll likely enjoy this one as well. These two detectives are featured in an entire series of novels and I liked this one enough to go on and read the subsequent ones....more