I'm laughing because of this review snippet: "The tag of "simple yet gripping" does not apply to this novel. There's no satire, no social significanceI'm laughing because of this review snippet: "The tag of "simple yet gripping" does not apply to this novel. There's no satire, no social significance... but it does have a pretty spaceship on the cover, which is why I picked up this novel." Laughing, because I did the same thing. The book, itself is not worth your time. Skip this one....more
This feels a little like a toss-off and not quite as good as the first few books. Still fun and enjoyable. And continues where the last one left off.This feels a little like a toss-off and not quite as good as the first few books. Still fun and enjoyable. And continues where the last one left off. Short. Can be read in a few hours. Worth it. Enjoy....more
Visionary history of mankind as told in nine installments by its replacement. Tells the tale like a geologist would - using million, thousand, and hunVisionary history of mankind as told in nine installments by its replacement. Tells the tale like a geologist would - using million, thousand, and hundred year increments - Aldiss shows how man is the perfect seedling for populating the universe as well as the ultimate vehicle for its self-destruction. Man ruins the Earth, leaves Earth for the stars, tackles the problems of time travel through an integrated form of speech-like alchemy, rediscovers a still populated Earth but does not believe it to be the Earth of myth, renames Earth as there are already hundreds of planets in the universe laying claim to that distinction, unifies the universe, institutes galactic warfare as a necessary economical device, and destroys the universe in a truly unique battle against man's successor. Time is the constant, and Aldiss makes us aware that we are just a silly soap opera for the infinite to enjoy for but a minute or two....more
Jack Reacher books are a guilty pleasures. Great literature they are not. But there is a definite enjoyment in sitting down to a book which is primariJack Reacher books are a guilty pleasures. Great literature they are not. But there is a definite enjoyment in sitting down to a book which is primarily about the good(ish) guy punching/kicking/headbutting the living daylights out of the bad guys. Formulaic? Hell yes. But it's a good formula, within its limits. So Reacher arrives in a small American town which is hiding a nasty secret, meets woman, beds woman, travels around dealing to bad guys as necessary, solves mystery, heads off into sunset. No surprises here, although the bad guys are probably the nastiest villains Child has come up with yet. I had a theory about what they were up to which was pretty lurid, but the actual denouement was more lurid still - quite disturbing in fact. It’s a thoroughly satisfying read, but the horrific nature of the ending was just a bit gross, so be warned....more
First of all, sillies…it is not Historical Fiction. It is satire, pure and simple. With a little pseudo-history on the side. Don’t read any reviews—juFirst of all, sillies…it is not Historical Fiction. It is satire, pure and simple. With a little pseudo-history on the side. Don’t read any reviews—just read the book and have fun.
A quick summary: ‘1517 CE —Herr Dismas ‘profession’ is one who procures “authentic” religious relics for wealthy and influential clients. His two most important patrons are Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, and soon-to-be Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz. While Frederick is drawn to the recent writings of that religious liberal Martin Luther, Albrecht pursues the financial and political benefits of religion and seeks to “buy” the cardinalship through the sales of his indulgences and “artifacts.”
Alas, though, ambitions of Albrecht demand grander and more marketable relics and Dismas and his friend Durer conspire to manufacture a shroud to sell to the unsuspecting noble! Unfortunately, Durer’s reckless pride exposes Albrecht’s newly acquired shroud as a fake, so the duo is put in the custody of four loutish mercenaries and sent to steal Christ’s burial cloth (the Shroud of Chambers), Europe’s most celebrated relic.
On their journey to Savoy where the Shroud will be displayed, they battle a lustful count and are joined by a beautiful female apothecary. It is only when they reach their destination that they realize they are not alone in their intentions to acquire this relic of dubious legitimacy!
“The Relic Master” is a delightfully rich and intelligent comic adventure, filled with fascinating details about art, religion, politics, and science. Buckley isn’t going to let us get away without some socially significant lessons. Vatican intrigue (nothing new under the sun) and Buckley’s acknowledged wit are a holy trinity of reading delight.’ ...more
Move over Philip K. Dick: here is an alternate world in which the population of Europe was completely killed off by the plague in the 13th century. EuMove over Philip K. Dick: here is an alternate world in which the population of Europe was completely killed off by the plague in the 13th century. Europe develops as a culturally stagnant, technologically backward group of Islamic states, earliest in the shadow of more vibrant Islamic societies to the East, and later in the shadow of technologically advanced India and militarily united China. China colonizes most of the New World, with Islam grabbing the eastern regions of North America. The world that develops is familiar in two ways -- first, history overall follows reasonably predictable lines, and second, the particular cultures that survive the plague develop more or less as one would expect from their counterparts in the world we actually live in.
Robinson tells a small-scale human story, using the device of reincarnation to allow variants of the same three or four characters (identifiable by their initials) span 700 years. It's very sweet to see the characters lead different lives, sometimes male, sometimes female, not always human -- always friends or lovers, always engaged in versions of the same struggles and conflicts. Eventually, we figure out that it's the weakest of the central characters that is the focus of the book.
The problem with the book is its ultimate shallowness. The characters are archetypes -- a figure of struggle (initial K), a figure of thought (initial I), a servant/follower (initial P) and a figure of human kindness and charity (initial B).
We get to know them, in part, because of the thrill of the chase -- meeting and re-meeting them in different time periods and cultures. "Ah, there's K. I was wondering when he'd/she'd show up!" But if you ask yourself what's really interesting about the characters, besides the way in which they fit (or don't fit) into the different societies in which they live, you realize that you don't actually have an answer to that question.
There's just not much to say about the characters in the end. And that's a shame. You almost get the sense that the author became bored, since apart from the poetical conclusion to the book, the later chapters (starting with the India section) have much less plot than the earlier chapters, and much more preachy, pseudo-scholarly accounts of the history, and of historical theory.
It's a decent read. But mourn for the fact that it could have been deeper and better. ...more
Reviewer (Jack Purcell) expresses my sentiments exactly—so I hope he doesn’t mind:
‘This book was written long before most readers of this review wereReviewer (Jack Purcell) expresses my sentiments exactly—so I hope he doesn’t mind:
‘This book was written long before most readers of this review were born. Maybe that's the reason this great work of science fiction lies dormant and almost forgotten. The book is absorbing, fires the imagination, is both believable and original. I don't believe, of all the thousands of books of science fiction I've read over half a century, I've ever read one similar to this (and few better).
The basic story involves a starship the size of a small city on a voyage lasting hundreds of years. Many generations prior to the time of this plot a cataclysmic event and internal disruptions caused the crew to break into factions and isolate themselves. Thereafter the population forgot itself, what it was, and struggled to survive and understand, by the time of this plot, in a strange world.
If you'd like to discover a 'new' old one you'll treasure and read many times through your life this is a good shot at finding one, while it can still be obtained. Take good care of it.’
PS--(Patrick): I found an original paperback (1959) in mint condition. It is now a prized object.
PPS: I tried to find an email for Jack Purcell for an Ok, but no. Oh well. ...more