Damnit Delaney. I made it all the way through, I made it all the way to the last story, suffered through all of Ellison's introductions, sampled worksDamnit Delaney. I made it all the way through, I made it all the way to the last story, suffered through all of Ellison's introductions, sampled works by some of the most prominent science fiction (or speculative fiction, whichever you prefer) writers, and you had to go and give me a quote I couldn't walk away from. You had to go and give me something that just rang so true, after this whole book, after even my beloved Philip K. Dick, after my six-week seven-country trip, that I need to take this quote, and this quote only:
"There are times when you must walk by yourself because it hurts so much to be alone."...more
I want to say something on this but I don't know what. Other than I wish I had read it years ago when I was writing my thesis (post-apocalyptic and alI want to say something on this but I don't know what. Other than I wish I had read it years ago when I was writing my thesis (post-apocalyptic and all). Fantastic. I may need to think about a bit before writing anything....more
I somehow managed to get all through high school and college without ever reading 1984 (everyone read it Sophomore year, except my class, and the onlyI somehow managed to get all through high school and college without ever reading 1984 (everyone read it Sophomore year, except my class, and the only reason I read Animal Farm in high school was that it got snuck into Senior year AP English II, between Hamlet and Waiting for Godot). But I've been on a dystopian kick lately, and since I'd never read it I desperately wanted to, so I ransacked my boxes of books for my copy (including pencil drawing of a pig with the hammer and sickle on its stomach, courtesy of my high school best friend), found it, and put it into the "more permanent library than previously compiled."
I'm finding it hard to write any sort of review that doesn't make it sound like I hated it. I didn't hate the stories, but I found them dry and dated.I'm finding it hard to write any sort of review that doesn't make it sound like I hated it. I didn't hate the stories, but I found them dry and dated.
For the time, I can understand how this was influential. It does fit the time period.
It's not so much the science fiction that bothers me, actually, it's the writing. And I'm sure I would have liked this more if Breuer had been a better writer or even had a modicum of finesse in his craft. I mean, the world of Paradise and Iron was rather well-constructed, I just couldn't stand any more of Davy's American stoic heroism, which goes for most of the other main characters as well. Pip-pip, hooray, all sort of machismo.
Granted, this does cycle back around to it being dated. And trust me, I'm not one for faulting men because they are men and they write for a masculine audience, but the treatment of women in this as pretty, frail, helpless things with such homely names as Mildred (who started out as a particularly strong character and became more subdued over the course of the novel) was dated unto offensiveness.
Onto his endings. I actually liked the ending to the first story, thought it worked rather well in its abruptness, but then as the stories continued I discovered that all of them came to a rather abrupt, almost brusque, end. Rather as if the writer had figured he'd wrapped up all the ends nicely in a bow, and had nothing else to say or do, and without any finesse simply up and stopped. Pip-pip. Hooray....more
Similar in some respects to PKD's The Zap Gun, what with the actual lack of "over there" enemy. Scary, in a sense, what with the paranoia, the endlessSimilar in some respects to PKD's The Zap Gun, what with the actual lack of "over there" enemy. Scary, in a sense, what with the paranoia, the endless corridors and white offices of the Building, the coded coded coded code and the sheer maniacal absurdity of the espionage that occurs for no reason whatsoever. Unforgivingly strange in some places. Yes, okay, there is a Kafka-esque nightmarishness to the whole thing.
What I find really interesting, thought, is where the memoirs (which we never see the protagonist actually write) fit into the story of papralysis. At first you're introduced to this world where there are no books, no receipts, no records, absolutely nothing but oral history that then has to rewrite itself (so to speak) into a digital format, but then you get to read a different history with the same sort of detachment as a scholar of the papralysis period, since what happens to our protagonist is about as foreign (I say about; for me, at any rate, glasnost and perestroika were getting underway by the time I was born, and I was two when the Wall officially started its fall, but for those who experienced the Cold War firsthand, and engaged with it, that type of paranoia would [assumedly:] be less foreign). What impact do the memoirs have on the post-papralysis society? What do they conclude from them? Why did Lem choose a paper blight as the backdrop for an espionage paranoia fable? Bureaucratic, Brazil-esque paperwork reasons? Interesting....more
For some reason, I was hesitant to start reading this after reading the M. John Harrison books, even though I've been wanting to read it for a while.For some reason, I was hesitant to start reading this after reading the M. John Harrison books, even though I've been wanting to read it for a while. And I'm glad I did, it was certainly much better than those.
Good world, interesting story, nice characters. Found it slightly hard to keep up with for some reason, like it didn't stick in my head. Also expected it to be darker than it seemed....more
This was some seriously heavy shit. Unbelievable, gorgeous artwork, and just a very bizarre storyline. Especially Dr. Montana Violet--he sorta deserveThis was some seriously heavy shit. Unbelievable, gorgeous artwork, and just a very bizarre storyline. Especially Dr. Montana Violet--he sorta deserves a complete "WTF?!" It was sorta surprising how very little we see of the "Toaster Man," but then looking at him compared to all the other adult villains makes sense.
Also really like how we never actually learn who Mona is....more
What I really loved most about this book was that, unlike most other dystopic stories, the main character in this one does not want to break out of thWhat I really loved most about this book was that, unlike most other dystopic stories, the main character in this one does not want to break out of the system, and when he's suddenly given the choice he refuses to take it, saved by his willful ignorance of any choice instead of destroyed like his freedom-choosing counterparts. By remaining a cog, D-503 highlights more of the totality of the society, how deeply it affects him, and it is this choice that is more terrifying to us who choose the freedom and identify with I-330 who dies before the Benefactor....more
It was actually kind of weird to see how outdated this book really kind of has become, that in Vonnegut's world of 1952 machines and industry were theIt was actually kind of weird to see how outdated this book really kind of has become, that in Vonnegut's world of 1952 machines and industry were the menacing archnemeses of the future, when now (in the future), it's so much more of a computer-driven world (especially after the Matrix movies), and that we're in the throws of the Digital Revolution (I think that's what they're calling this). I mean, growing up reading SciFi, it was always "ooh, the machines, the machines, fear the machines" but really it's more the computers and the internet that is the real threat. How interesting, these changing times.
Another thing that really stood out for me was that this really was Vonnegut's first book, to the point that it doesn't even really read like other Vonnegut. It doesn't yet have that brevity and irony so obvious in Slaughterhouse-Five or Slapstick. The content is definitely Vonnegut, and Paul Proteus does reflect some of his later characters, but the tone of the writing is still so young and unseasoned. It's really cool to see a writer's growth like that, especially being a writer myself; there's something, not exactly "inspiring," but more "hopeful," or something between the two.
I also realized, by reading this book, how much of a male chauvinist Vonnegut apparently is. The society of the engineers and the machines is an incredibly patriarchal society, and in reflection a good portion of his other books are definitely testosterone-centered narratives. I'm not offended by this (part of this could very well be a product of the times, as well as the fact that he is a man and therefore is not exactly privy to women's thoughts), it's just that I finally noticed it....more