-Satan Says (1980)- by Sharon Olds is a landmark book of modern and confessional poetry. It is important as an incredibly well-designed poetic, chrono...more-Satan Says (1980)- by Sharon Olds is a landmark book of modern and confessional poetry. It is important as an incredibly well-designed poetic, chronological narrative of a woman's experience. As expressed on the back cover of the book, "Few first books have had the power or the vigor of design of Sharon Olds's -Satan Says-." I completely agree with statement. This is unforgettable, powerful, of high value---poetry of the human experience. The book (and wonderful metaphor) is set up intriguingly and perfectly through the title piece, 'Satan Says,' as we'll follow Olds through the chapters of her Life: I. Daughter; II. Woman; III. Mother; IV. Journey. This noted, the book should be read as a whole, from beginning to end. Individually the gross majority of poems are fantastic and independently so, at least 80%. And as a whole work, this book is high-art and significant in the world of poetry. Personally, I found this book fairly, for lack of a better term, psychedelic, from my vantage point as a man and as being a young boy during the time when this was written. As for the rating, I struggle to not be overly enthusiastic and give out too many 5 stars, but after re-reading this just now and considering how this places comparatively with most poetry you'll find on the shelf I emphatically give this a 5/5.(less)
Definitive- chocked full of insight and history on St. John and highlighting the company's distinguishing factor and importance in comics history. An...moreDefinitive- chocked full of insight and history on St. John and highlighting the company's distinguishing factor and importance in comics history. An essential comics history reference well-worth a saw buck. Also some great Chicago-related history and 'easter egg' map inside.
Considering the research category and genre (and the fact that most people associated are or will be dead and gone), it is unlikely that more information will ever surface. Therefore, in light of the above, the amount of information and story it offers in its 96 pages, and being a Golden Age comics fan and historian to some fair degree myself, Benson's book to my grading scale easily equals a 9.2 and necessary companion to St. John's romance offerings.(less)
A curious and distant, bleak brother-in-law of Clockwork Orange; a genetic, accidental Fahrenheit 451.
From the beginning, Cooper paints a picture of a...moreA curious and distant, bleak brother-in-law of Clockwork Orange; a genetic, accidental Fahrenheit 451.
From the beginning, Cooper paints a picture of a strange dystopia, harkening a similarly inventive, not-to-distant future as in Clockwork Orange. It is a dark place, where we're introduced to an anti-social 'teen-aged' male character and troubadour of his Age (In, Five to Twelve, Dion Quern, age 46, practically teen-aged in a future where the average 'privileged' lifespan could be 150 years). Also, Cooper, like Burgess, employs invented vocabulary: 'Doms' equal the privileged, female-sexed members of society; 'Sports' are the lowest caste of male members of society, usually prostitutes; 'Infras' are female 'infant-vending machines'; 'Lions,' the currency of the Day.
Besides, as the back cover blurb explains of the plot,
"This provocative SF[Fantasy] novels tells of the revolt of a lone, implacable male against a woman-dominated society of 2071. Dion Quern is....an anachronism in a world consisting of five enslaved men for every twelve superwomen,"
the book expounds on our main character's musing and perception of a soulless and love-deprived world. It does not go too deep to be profound---this is more of an action-adventure story---but it is certainly provocative.
I found this to be an interesting read that I enjoyed, notably Cooper's writing and dialogue. This is the first book by Edmund Cooper that I've read and a first reading. As far as rating goes, I am most inclined to give a 3.5/5. I wouldn't be surprised if most readers who enjoyed this book who issue a 3/5. But, I personally think there is something special in the writer Cooper and can see myself reading this book again, as much as, say, the two classic novels that I mentioned above, so, my verdict: 4/5.(less)
Chamiel is a hidden gem. I am suprised at how unknown and unrecognized this book is in the Fantasy canon. First published in London, 1973 and released...moreChamiel is a hidden gem. I am suprised at how unknown and unrecognized this book is in the Fantasy canon. First published in London, 1973 and released a year later in the States, the book was written by its equally obscure author, Edward Pearson, who mysteriously has seemed to disappear from the writing scene after this book was published. The front cover states, 'A magnificent epic in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien,' which becomes apparent halfway through its mere 143 pages. I'd also compare, contrast, and praise this book in relation to another 'epic' fantasy writer, who on the other hand is extremely well-known, C.S.Lewis. Both The Narnia Chronicles and Chamiel possess incredibly noteworthy and 'fantastic' Christian imaginings---The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, metaphorically, and Chamiel, rather directly. Perhaps, because of Pearson's direct style with its religious content and plot, the book unfortunately never caught on.
Simply, the main character of the story, Chamiel, as the book begins, is a young angel under Archangel Michael's apprenticeship. Most of the book takes place in a Heaven, a rolling, majestic, unspoiled earth. The story includes the rebellion of the Black Angel against God/part Creation Story/Original Sin.
Overall, I found the story to be very well-written, meaningful, and welcome in its portrayal of Heaven and characterizations. In fact, I really liked how Heaven was portrayed, which should be appreciated by many Fantasy readers as well as Nature enthusiasts.
Maybe the weakest part of this little epic in 143 pages is the beginning, where we find Chamiel on Earth about to begin narrating his story to a young boy (which lends a slightly juvenile tone in the first few pages)---but, (a) this was necessary for how the story is narrated by Chamiel, himself, and (b) David, the human boy, in retrospect, gives the story a dimension of time that helps and marks reference points. Soon into the book, any worry that I had disappeared...
The real meat of the book (as it should be) is in the middle, and I can best describe by pulling a quote from the book's back cover by C. Day Lewis, "The writing is surely excellent; many passages have a vivid unearthliness....Exotic yet coherent imagining...bold and unusual."
I strongly agree with this quote, as I found the language and heavy visuals of Pearson's descriptions absolutely wonderful and compelling.
It may also be important to recognize the meaning behind his portrayal of Heaven (as Archangel Michael explains to Chamiel on p.70, 'Even Heaven can be troubled without end.'), the hard 'earthly' but fantastic terrain, and the trials of characters in the book. (It's not all roses in Heaven, necessarily).
My final words: I find this book, unique, expressive, and admirable. A true wonder. A fast and pleasant read. And a real bargain for the 20 cents (December 2008) I got Chamiel for at the last remaining used bookstore in my area.
About the Cover: The Pocket Book version cover with the illustration by Michael Gross is fantastic and fits the tone and visual assets of the author perfectly.(less)
Edmund Cooper's first novel, Deadly Image (aka The Uncertain Midnight), was completed in 1957 and published in 1958. The book is significant -with emp...moreEdmund Cooper's first novel, Deadly Image (aka The Uncertain Midnight), was completed in 1957 and published in 1958. The book is significant -with emphasis- in the science fiction genre. Not only that it's a good book and carries with it several elements that will evolve into the author's trademark writing, but it is mostly likely the first book to discuss the subject of androids and the theme of what it means to be human. The novel came out at the same time of the more famous author Isaac Asimov's 'Robot' book, The Naked Sun, which similarly depicts a world where robots or androids outnumber humans. Deadly Image, though, focuses on a theme specifically of human and android, the exact same theme later repeated in the more famous novel by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). A matter of fact, the following description also perfectly applies for Cooper's book as stated on Wikipedia as in regard to the Dick book,
The novel explores a number of philosophical issues including what it is to be human. By introducing organic and realistically humanoid androids in this novel, Dick[Cooper:] asks what qualities, if any, are unique to or are able to define what is human.
Cooper came first and, unfortunately for reasons I will not suggest here, was unjustly shoved under the carpet after he died---his last book, 1978; died 1982.
This book could also be seen as the forerunner or even potentially, very basically influential(?) on ideas in books/films like Doctor Who, 1963 (Cybermen); Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange, 1962 (which shares a rough likeness to some of Cooper's trademark intense and colorful descriptions, imagery, and lingo); Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1968 (same theme, and the book which spawned the later Blade Runner movie, 1982); the 1972 UK film, Z.P.G. aka Zero Population Growth (similar imagery and spin on androids, future state of birth-control); Star Wars, 1976 (Republic of androids/stormtroopers); USA's 1976 film, Logan's Run (mass conformity and complacency in society).
It wouldn't be hard to see or imagine for those familiar with the above-mentioned works that any one of these creators could of possibly picked up and read at a point Deadly Image (by an author who was more celebrated and known in the 60s/70s) and/or been inspired directly or indirectly.
I find it sad that such a unique, entertaining but thinking writer like Cooper has been neglected and forgotten. Some of his later work can be viewed as a little racy---certainly to a degree and at some point a book or 2 of Coopers has been perceived as politically-incorrect and been misunderstood, a factor which probably turned off some readers to discover more of his work.
In regard to this actual book, the story reads easy with the classic Cooper style of strong visuals, dialogue, and action, telling big concepts in a simple and entertaining manner, as appropriate to the standard-length book of its day---under-200 pages (really, who needs more?). The setting is Earth, first outside London in 1967, then after a disaster, the main character finds himself 150 years later in a utopian/dystopian future where mankind has been 'alleviated' of the necessity of doing work in a world of Man and android. I'm not going to ruin the story by telling more, as Cooper books at best, and like this Cooper debut, provide at least half the fun in discovering the story as well as the discussion. Entertainment with concept and an amiable brain.(less)
Anna Akhmatova is a 20th Century poet whose body of work revolves around themes of time and memory, humanity, and the human soul, of which she bears h...moreAnna Akhmatova is a 20th Century poet whose body of work revolves around themes of time and memory, humanity, and the human soul, of which she bears hers clearly in her poems.
I took forever to read all the poems/the book (which is really a quick read), but finally coming to the end with a reading of the last 2 and most celebrated poems, my initial reactions and thoughts are confirmed in my rating on this particular 'selected' works book. Some notes (also, some comments were left during my reading of the book, if you are able to see..):
- The book as 'selected poems' is designed to be read as a chronological survey, in order, leading up to what is apparently considered to be her masterpieces.
- Translation is good, Introduction is decent
* While the selections did provide a brief snapshot and did link adequately to show Akhmatova's thematic development, I was constantly left wanting to read more from certain collections.
* While there is a positive in allowing the reader to see what Akhmatova is generally about quickly through this book design, there are, in my opinion, some strong negatives/flaws: Her collection overviews (selections) were too brief, showcasing some stellar poems, but ultimately placing what I felt was too much emphasis on her later 2 most celebrated poems- Requiem, and Poem without a Hero (her most complex and cryptic poem). The poet has certainly more to offer than just these two poems. Personally, I know I would greatly identify and find resonance with 1 or 2 of her earlier collections. Also, the book is designed as an introduction for people to Akhmatova, it's not ideal to focus on her 'big' 2 poems, which without reading and having a background in her earlier, very accessible and easily-read and understood poems, would probably be either too difficult for most new poetry readers or might fail in carrying through the full resonance and soul of the poet. The one good thing this book design does allow is to show the poet's development and preceding work, which would only prove this point regarding the latter poems.
It's certainly not a bad book, because obviously the contents are good: good poet, good translation, good info, good poems, but I'd hate to see Anna Akhmatova being judged and read on only the last 2 poems, which no doubt some people will skip or glaze through the beginning collections, which show small glimpses of the poet's greatness.
Therefore, I have some reservations about this book version and presentation (certainly not the poet, who is worth an involved reading and study).
Akhmatova is a poet of great soul and beauty, hauntingly so for those open to read more than just her trendily celebrated pieces. It's too bad that publishers do not present poets' collections in more complete and singular packages (like chapbooks/pamphlets, box sets...).
The book is a good quick read, it made me want to seek out her early collections. Luckily, there is an exhaustive 'Complete Works' out there that I will have to pick up to find and collect all the small gems.
Not a bad book, but not a mind-blower due to the presentation, design, and somewhat limited selections. My rating will have to be 3/3.5. (less)
Another Cooper book that takes place in a future dystopian society. Kronk (doth quoth the Raven) is a bizarre exposition and commentary on the counter...moreAnother Cooper book that takes place in a future dystopian society. Kronk (doth quoth the Raven) is a bizarre exposition and commentary on the counterculture, religion, government, media, the status quo, and ultimately human nature concerning the meaning or value of aggression.
This is an action-adventure story revolving around the idea of a highly-communicable venereal disease that eliminates any aggressive behavior in the individuals that contract it, and the consequences if it spread rampantly to the larger world.
Will peace last forever, or will there be a severe backlash?
I found this to be an enjoyable and interesting read of Coopers, the book, of course is complete with sex, violence, drugs and the good old 'horrorshow.' There are a few very fun characters in the book, especially the international spy twins the Karamazov brothers. The later pages of the book definitely add a touch of absurdism and a healthy sprinkling of satire, then, finally resting where the book started.
I'm apt to rate Kronk a 3.5/5, with some reservations. It is a book with good story, writing, character, and concept, although its appeal may be limited to the few true derelicts out there. It's also a lot to take in for its brevity. Thus, I'll give this one: 3/5.(less)
A girl raised in a training facility for paranormals possesses extraordinary telepathic powers in a near future (relatively) world where telepathy and...moreA girl raised in a training facility for paranormals possesses extraordinary telepathic powers in a near future (relatively) world where telepathy and the few others with the power are viewed by Government as, potentially, threatening psychological weapons. She escapes and is hunted down by the opposing political interests: One who wishes to extinguish her, the Other who wishes to turn her into the ultimate weapon.
Prisoner of Fire is an easy-reading action story, where no heavy or complicated questions are asked. The notable and interesting element of the book was the ending, which I found held a strange effect. And, it was within the last few pages of the book, where the story and Vanessa, the main character, became scorched in my mind. There's a good technique employed to the very--very end, oddly memorable (I had to give a chuckle for Cooper's, let's say vision...)---a book I may have to read again down the road for an attraction other than just the simple story. I'm tempted because of this to rate this a 4 out of 5, but, the rating will be: 3/5. (less)
I hate reviews that for sci-fi or fantasy books like this one give away too much of the plot, but this brief review from Kirkus Reviews sort-of hits t...moreI hate reviews that for sci-fi or fantasy books like this one give away too much of the plot, but this brief review from Kirkus Reviews sort-of hits the nail on the head, even if a little erroneous (which i'll clarify):
A one linger exercise in post-holocaustian conflict about an orbiting super-society of humans who have everything - except fecundity. Therefore they send their robots to the "dirt people" of Earth, now living in primitive tribes, to filch women for breeding. Dirt-person Berry, a chief transported upwards by mistake, outwits the techno-caste and achieves a mutual assistance pact. Active but overly familiar. (Kirkus Reviews)
Clarification: setting = Earth post-apocalypse, circa 2000 years future; there is a caste system in place, but the enemy is not the 'techno-caste,' but another caste or rather the society as a whole.
I like the phrases used in the Kirkus review, 'one linger exercise' and 'active but overly familiar,' although the book and the usual Cooper writing that I admittedly greatly admire is meant to lightly explore ideas, politics, question a moral, and provoke some thought rather than spin a simple yarn.
In the Cooper canon, ultimately this book is probably best enjoyed by Cooper fans. I liked the easily digestible sci-fi with a good dash of fantasy, action, his signature quirky-but-mild sex. Even though I have turned Cooper Über-fan and could even give this a 4/5 just because I love Cooper so much, more objectively this is probably a 2.5-3/5, but I would have to go right in the middle at 3/5. (less)
I quit after Chapter 4, here's my experience and notes from the first few chapters, followed by some history and my verdict on the book:
1. Read the 1s...moreI quit after Chapter 4, here's my experience and notes from the first few chapters, followed by some history and my verdict on the book:
1. Read the 1st Chapter (11 pages in...). Do not appreciate the verbiage. Can NOT visualize the characters, with the generic and long-winded descriptions. This may become the worst book I've ever read...
2. Finished chapter 2---just plain dreadful. Bad writing, confused events, bad time continuity, for no reason thoughts and attitudes change, bad, bad, bad character development. I may be forced to actually stop reading soon, although initially I was determined to read the whole way through. Hmm..
3. Quick update: I couldn't resist continuing on immediately after the last update from a few minutes ago. I think I have reached a second wind and revelation about the book.
The first few pages of the third chapter alone almost perfectly encapsulate how wrong this book is: bad grammar again, confused writing, and maybe, high comedy and satire of the act of writing or, better, novelization itself.
This last point is begging me to read further now.
Story Progress: At the start of Chapter 3, we learn that the initial main character Eric Stone is quite a vain and strange guy, who loves his own hunky looks (him with his long, sandy hair).
What would you do as a young, hot-blooded heterosexual male who grabs a drink at a Denver Cityplex after a hard day of work at the Main Data Bank to find yourself sitting opposite a beautiful woman with 'pouty, full lips revealing a hint of sensuality that lay hidden in them' and who 'tosses her mane of sparkling curls away from her face' in order to express her interest and stare at you? Run, Damn it! Paranoia sets in...Then?
I'm starting not to wince at every word, but instead cherish the absurdness and horrid wordplay of it all. With a necessary, strong sense of humor, this could be readable to the end?
4. Sadly, I finish Chapter 3 and start into Chapter 4. My hopes for the book are dashed. Shortly into Chapter 4, I see where the book may be going, cheat and skim ahead. It's all too much. The verbiage while funny after a while, a short while, just loses its humorous appeal. It becomes all too much. I'm drained.
History: This is the first of the Laser Books, a series edited by Roger Elwwod and produced by the Canadian Romance book publishing outfit Harlequin Enterprises. The story of legend goes,
"Laser’s plan was to ‘flood the market with cheap SF, just like they had with romance novels’. In pursuit of that blasphemous goal, Laser shipped boatloads of cartons of their first book - S.O.C. - to conventions all across the country.
File 770 then - and here is where it gets really intriguing - relates a tale of the book being read out loud, with each page ripped out after it had been read. Mike says that Alan Chudnow claims this activity occurred at the Equicon con, while Glyer remembers it has having taken place at the NASFiC that same year.
Hmmmm. Very, very interesting, cause I didn’t get to Equicon or the NASFiC that year - but I remember this same thing happening as well.
Could it be that SOMEONE ELSE had been coordinating mass book rippings at conventions all across the country? There are only two possible explanations: either S.O.C. and the Laser Books concept were so god-awfully heinous that they engendered instantaneous and universal contempt amongst each and every last fan in the nation - or someone was running an op designed to kill Laser." [Quote Sources: 1.http://crotchetyoldfan.wordpress.com/...; 2.http://file770.com/?p=503]
My verdict: No Conspiracy! I can definitely imagine, some guy on a balcony at a convention, reading from the first chapters and literally and figuratively tearing this book to shreds. I don't ever condone the destruction of books, even bad ones, especially horrible ones with great cover art (by Kelly Freas) and collectability such as Seeds of Change. This is certainly a -limited- collector's edition, and one that I will treasure and attempt to read in the future for kicks and to see how far I can make it through. 1/5. (less)