A world where gargantuan warships soar via the magnificent force of the 8TH SPECTRUM OF PROPULSION!
A world where NUDE SWORDSMEN engage in the MOST INT...moreA world where gargantuan warships soar via the magnificent force of the 8TH SPECTRUM OF PROPULSION!
A world where NUDE SWORDSMEN engage in the MOST INTIMATE OF DANCES with countless armed combatants!
A world where ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE through the modern miracle of RADIUM TECHNOLOGY!
I came across this book by accident, finding it in a random plastic bag on my kitchen table and picking it up more for a good laugh than expecting anything substantial. About a page in, I discovered two immutable facts:
1) I was actually reading a book about the heroic adventures of John Carter, a southerner Civil War vet who somehow found his way to the savage, dying planet of Mars.
2) I would like to know more of this instantly-charming gentleman/poet/champion of the civilized world.
My low expectations were immediately corrected once I fell into the rhythm of the narrator's incredible and ridiculous antics. While the century-old story sounds like something you'd find in a junion high D&D session, the author gets your inner child all riled up and rarin' to go on impossible adventures, free of the tedium of politics or sexy-shenanigans. Beyond that though, you'll find the seeds of so many future science fiction greats here, from the sober Dune to the stupidly drunk Flash Gordon.
It's a short read that captures you up and flies by in an instant, an excellent classic popcorn piece for between headier fare. Find it, read it, love it, and look forward(?) to the upcoming movie.(less)
It took me a while to really accept that this Cold War classic wasn't satire. Through a handful of characters, On the Beach details Australia's last s...moreIt took me a while to really accept that this Cold War classic wasn't satire. Through a handful of characters, On the Beach details Australia's last stand against an inevitable, agonizing, and entirely unmerited death; following a panicked and brief World War III between the superpowers of the northern hemisphere, radioactive fallout has been steadily creeping further and further south, gradually eradicating all life it comes across. The science is a little folklore-ish, the dialogue a little cornball, and the plot suffers from abrupt, awkward scene changes that hit without warning, but the story's primarily a character-driven piece anyway, so I could take those issues in stride. What did throw me off, however, was how unbelievable and Twilight Zone-y those characters were.
In spite of the book's extremely heavy premise (global extinction), our protagonists handle the news with impossible good grace and acceptance. As the days tick down, each character deals with the death sentence in their own way. No one gives in to panic or fear; at worst you see eccentric denial, or the one girl who begins drinking heavily and partying every night (though by the middle of the story she's become a pure and pristine font of virtue and secretarial skills). In today's age of Terror Threats, the idea of people calmly facing down Armageddon is just unthinkable. Somehow rioting, looting, religious mania, and generalized panic seem a whole lot more sensible than stoicism and civilization. Maybe I've just been reading too much Stephen King lately...
Regardless, in spite of some major flaws and a lackluster opening, the book shines in its final chapters. The cornball dialogue suddenly becomes much less laughable, the characters more substantial. The actual emotional impact of the conclusion caught me entirely off guard. It's a short read with an excellent eventual payoff, and if you're looking for something to shake you out of your Judgment Day comfort zone, On the Beach does the job admirably.(less)