I've always had a weak spot for apocalyptic sci-fi and what could be worse than a world-wide zombie infestation? Max Brooks tackles the subject as a sI've always had a weak spot for apocalyptic sci-fi and what could be worse than a world-wide zombie infestation? Max Brooks tackles the subject as a series of interviews with survivors from around the world. It's a challenging approach that essentially distills into a collection of somewhat related short stories.
Some of the scenarios are more engaging than others and as a result I had a mixed impression of the overall volume. There were some scenarios that could make entertaining novels on their own and left a desire for more detail, while others remained quite stale. There's also the entire problem of how zombies function that removed some of the possibility of such a "viral" outbreak that suddenly removes the reader from the actual story. However, the scientists in the stories were still trying to figure them out as well.
Brooks covers all the continents and has to be credited with managing to efficiently develop so many characters in such few pages. The actual problems on land and water as well as the logistics of the entire scenario are amazingly thought out. Select portions are thoughtful and engaging (the deserting Chinese sub crew is one that lingers) and worth sifting through the book to find. ...more
One of the many benefits of having kids is the whole world of fun bedtime stories. Captain Raptor brings back the fondness of classic sci-fi while havOne of the many benefits of having kids is the whole world of fun bedtime stories. Captain Raptor brings back the fondness of classic sci-fi while having the young reader consider an alien story from a non-human perspective. Captain Raptor and his crew of fellow sentient dinosaurs respond to a possible alien threat of smooth skinned aliens. As it turns out, these aliens from Earth need some help and the story evolves into one of cooperation. The unique twist of dinosaurs extending the friendly help to humans is a lot of fun. The illustrations by Patrick O'Brien are just fantastic and capture the retro feel of the tale....more
I first heard about The Postman over 10 years ago when a good friend briefly gave me an introduction to the plot of the book. It was one of those bookI first heard about The Postman over 10 years ago when a good friend briefly gave me an introduction to the plot of the book. It was one of those books that had been in the back of my mind to read ever since but never quite made it to the top of the ever-growing reading list. Recent reads of several post-apocalyptic sci-fi books reminded me to finally pick up this novel.
Unlike the forgettable Kevin Costner movie (which I may now need to rewatch to reconfirm its terrible reputation), the book now ranks high among other sci-fi favorites. The Postman is not perfect, as several side characters could have been avoided, but The Postman delivers an entertaining read with thoughtful avenues. For example, the discussion on "The Big Lie" is a technique summarized well by Brin (and something we can see has been applied in the past and likely will continue in the future):
"Just sound like you know what you're talking about - as if you're citing real facts. Talk very fast. Weave your lies into the shape of a conspiracy theory and repeat your assertions over and over again. Those who want an excuse to hate or blame - those with big but weak egos - will leap at a simple, neat explanation for the way the world is. Those types will never call you on the facts."
Passages such as the above elevate this tale above standard mass-market fare. While many such discussions are woven into the storyline, another one that stood out was a brief comment on how science is often of little interest to some extreme groups, unless it is for technological application to warfare: "They never had really cared about technology, except what was necessary to make war. Science benefited everyone too much, especially the weak." What a direct statement on science itself and the selfishness that can accompany some views of this grand discipline. Science is fantastic, it solves many problems while continuing to stoke our curiosities - however, its advancements do bring about responsibility to ensure applications benefit mankind rather than selfish, misplaced ideologies. Definitely a difficult task that continues today.
The rebuilding of civilization via a reluctant hero is not a new storyline but David Brin's unusual application of the postal service as the driving mechanism was surprisingly enthralling. This is a book that will be enjoyable in a subsequent reads.
Although this passage does not appear until halfway through the novel, it sums up much of the core of the Midwich Cuckoos storyline:
"If you were wishAlthough this passage does not appear until halfway through the novel, it sums up much of the core of the Midwich Cuckoos storyline:
"If you were wishful to challenge the supremacy of a society that was fairly stable, and quite well weaponed, what would you do? Would you meet it on its own terms by launching a probably costly, and certainly destructive assault? Or, if time were of no great importance, would you prefer to employ a version of a more subtle tactic? Would you, in fact, try to somehow introduce a fifth column, to attack it from within?"
The novel goes on to explore a type of collective-consciousness, or as Wyndham defines it, collective-individualism.
The characterization is at times somewhat prolonged or uninteresting, yet at other times succinct and quite relevant. For example:
"A quick glance at Janet's expression showed me that she had dropped out. When she has decided that someone is talking nonsense she make a quick decision to waste no more effort upon it, and pills down an impervous mental curtain."
I immediately could identify the above two sentences with individuals I have interacted with and suspect will interact with again in the future. Those individuals who refuse to consider evidence if it clashes with their rigid views - ignorance is often far easier than serious contemplation. Passages like these makes Wyndham's sometimes lengthy descriptions worth exploring.
The Midwich Cuckoos is definitely an entertaining look at an unusual invasion storyline. Overall, the pacing is quite slow with minimal action occurring compared to much of today's sci-fi fare. However, when wading through some of the dry dialogue there often seemed to be several pieces that really caused this reader to stop and consider. It is a novel that in the proper hands (not John Carpenter's Village of the Damned) could make an excellent screenplay. Certain events reminded me of some of the concepts from M. Knight Shamalayan's recent bust "The Happening". Perhaps if Mr. Shamalayan steered that recent film directly towards this plotline he would have had a blockbuster on his hands.
In the end, a visit to Wyndham's Midwich is worthwhile - the conversations aren't always invigorating, but the concepts and key events are enough to add this to your reading list - after "The Chrysalids" and "The Day of Triffids" of course. ...more