OK, it's basically just a big picture book, but what wonderful pictures. Looking through Terra Maxima will make you appreciate that there is amazing aOK, it's basically just a big picture book, but what wonderful pictures. Looking through Terra Maxima will make you appreciate that there is amazing architecture all around the world and stir your desire for travel to places you hadn't previously thought of visiting. I kind of ended up wishing that it wouldn't have been limited to man-made objects, but would also have included natural wonders. Coverage of some of our darker achievements might have also made for interesting comparisons: polluting factories, factory farms, or incarceration facilities for instance. ...more
I quite enjoyed this play about a playwright and his family. Playwright John goes home to visit his aging parents, primarily to seek some kind of permI quite enjoyed this play about a playwright and his family. Playwright John goes home to visit his aging parents, primarily to seek some kind of permission from his father to get a play (called The Cocktail Hour) produced that is inspired by the father. The parents object, the son withdraws the request, but the cocktail hour discussion that it creates reveals many flaws in the underlying family dynamic. An adult sister is also visiting, and the different treatment that her urge to put her family aside while she explores the possibility of becoming a veterinarian makes for an interesting point of contrast.
The meta-commentary on the playwright's life and how one should use one's personal and family experiences is enlightening, and Gurney has a sense of humor about all of his characters. None of them is the villain or the hero of the piece.
I don't know, maybe plays like this about the death throes of WASP culture are passe, but I would be happy to act in or direct this piece, and I think it still has plenty to say. Family dysfunction doesn't have to be as dark as something like Tennessee Williams or August Osage County to work on stage. ...more
This is science fiction as action movie, with lots of tech, lots of explosive set pieces, and quirky characters who often speak in one liners. We've gThis is science fiction as action movie, with lots of tech, lots of explosive set pieces, and quirky characters who often speak in one liners. We've got a somewhat mysterious super agent (Cormac) doing multi-planet battle with a crew of criminals including a mastermind (Pelter), a psychotic cyborg (Mr. Crane) and a more sympathetic member of the villain's crew who is used as the POV. There's also a confusing biomechanical Dragon, a creature with almost godlike powers. On all sides of the battle there are many other secondary characters, mostly there to serve as colorful cannon fodder.
Asher isn't unsophisticated and he has a lot of creative tech. The pacing is good, and the settings are colorful. But perhaps less would be more, in particular, there are too many characters to keep straight. This would be a great step up for those who are dipping into reading from video games or science fiction action, or a nice place for a reader of more conceptual science fiction to take a "breather" without dumbing down too much. But after a couple of books, I feel like I already see a formula in Asher's writing, and I don't know if I will race out to read a lot more. If I do, I would return to his Spatterjay series, a combination of pirates, SF, and creative nautical world that I thought was more fun than this series opener....more
I think the reviews on this one are a bit low, perhaps we're hitting a point of reading fatigue with dystopian futures.
Marshall's first novel imaginesI think the reviews on this one are a bit low, perhaps we're hitting a point of reading fatigue with dystopian futures.
Marshall's first novel imagines a near future where boys who are determined by the state to have a genetic tendency toward violence or criminal behavior are shut into re-education facilities, but of course, as such facilities go, we quickly get a chicken-and-egg problem. Do the boys really have a tendency, or does their treatment as prisoners create anti-social tendencies? To make matters worse, an external group called the Zeros would like to go even further: they'd like the boys simply to be exterminated before they can create any problems. Our narrator James (all the boys are given the last name Goodhouse, after the private firm that runs the "schools" in which they are kept) has already survived the burning of another Goodhouse school before the novel even begins.
This is a sad story in the sense of Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, in that some of the boys believe the criticism against them and don't trust themselves, or simply give into urges toward bad behavior. The people who are supposed to be rehabilitating the boys are also using them as a labor pool and as a population to try experimental drugs on. As the story begins, James meets a strange girl from the outside who gets under his skin. With her assistance, a plan to escape begins to foment in his mind, even as he's exposed to an even rougher world of adult detention centers.
There is perhaps a bit too much going on in this overstuffed novel, but Marshall juggles her many plot lines well. The pacing is good and the characters are interesting. Among a crowded field of dystopias, this is one that deserves your reading attention....more