Pretty much the most awesome adventure ever. An eccentric professor and his skeptical nephew stumble upon a map that leads to a volcano in Iceland. Th...morePretty much the most awesome adventure ever. An eccentric professor and his skeptical nephew stumble upon a map that leads to a volcano in Iceland. This volcano, one with a name that I won't even try spelling, has a portal that descends deep into the interior of the Earth. The professor, anxious to earn an accomplishment for his name, will stop at nothing to reach it. No matter how much his nephew tries to convince him that he shouldn't risk his life for the glory of science, the professor's manic insanity ignores him and alights a flame of ambition to guide them down into the Earth. Giant mushrooms, prehistoric beasts, subterranean oceans, massive echo-chambered batholiths, lightning storms, and an ejaculation over Stromboli make this a highly memorable read. So what if these things aren't scientifically possible? Expand your mind and let the story take hold.(less)
I'll never forget that cartoonish simworld that had the dancing vegetables and fighting utensils. There was a pirate ship too, sailing on a river than...moreI'll never forget that cartoonish simworld that had the dancing vegetables and fighting utensils. There was a pirate ship too, sailing on a river than transversed the entirety of a gigantic kitchen floor, the source of which turned out to be from ice high up in the freezer above a refrigerated waterfall. Orlando and Fredericks were the heros, and they had to out-master the pirates and the animated food-army that was trying to kill them for some Godforsaken reason. Otherland is so out there and creative that you can almost think up your own simworlds and imagine that they exist inside Tad William's versatile creation.(less)
Otherland is a vast network of interconnected simworlds, or virtual reality settings. The settings are grandiose enough for me to rank it really high...moreOtherland is a vast network of interconnected simworlds, or virtual reality settings. The settings are grandiose enough for me to rank it really high on my all time favorites. One simworld has an endless city of enormous mansions with spires shooting to the sky. Others are based on ancient history & mythology- like Egypt and the Homeric Epics. The one the really rattled my brain was the Black Mountain where the climax takes place, when the “reality” of the entire network starts to really buckle and break down. A group of people come to Otherland by various means, most of them for noble causes, like saving a family member. But the mystery of the network's deterioration intrigues them into finding the source of it, as well as their prior ambitions. In Mountain Of Black Glass, the third book of the four book series, the complex plot is escalated onto spectacular, mysterious levels that make the following book (Sea Of Silver Light) a must read.
**spoiler alert** The book is slow at first, but it definitely gets more intense and action-packed the farther along it goes. But that climax man, when all of the seemingly unrelated plotlines merge into (un)focus? Paul’s journey from the seas of Odysseus to the Trojan War to the Black Mountain- Renie & Zabbu & t4b going from “nothingland” to the House City to the Trojan War to the Black Mountain- Orlando and Sam battling simGods in Egypt and Trojans in Troy before ascending the obsidian flank, the villain Jongleur surprised to find himself waiting for them on Egyptian broadcast when they reach the top, trickster Dread swooping in, surprising everyone and putting an exclamation mark on all the chaos; all plots veiled in a cloud of mystery, finally lucid in the agony of a sleeping giant, The Other? That climax is golden in so many facets of storytelling that it may just be the best one I’ve ever read.(less)
Great plots, good endings, but really dry writing. I had heard that Philip K. Dick inspired a lot of my favorite movies, so I thought I'd check him ou...moreGreat plots, good endings, but really dry writing. I had heard that Philip K. Dick inspired a lot of my favorite movies, so I thought I'd check him out. Maybe his short stories are too fast paced, so I'll try his longer work and see if that style suits him better.
Favorites from this collection: Fair Game Strange Eden Sales Pitch We Can Remember It For You Wholesale(less)
What on Earth did I just read? Or should I say space? How about the time-dilated multiverse? In sci-fi lingo you could best describe the hypotheticals...moreWhat on Earth did I just read? Or should I say space? How about the time-dilated multiverse? In sci-fi lingo you could best describe the hypotheticals in this book as the quadruple T: telepathy, teleportation, and time travel. In this day and age these would be classified under the paranormal, but they become quite normal in Bester’s future. If that isn’t enough fun for you then behold the other spectacular oddities that he serves up here: egghead stoics stripped of all senses, an insane blind girl who sees in the infrared, clowns masquerading as bourgeois elitists while plotting the destruction of enterprise, burning spirits showing up at random moments, a man being able to talk after his head is severed from his body, an alloy that detonates with the force of the Big Bang, a bionic man who can slow down time and move at the speed of lightning, unconventional font effects... And what kind of a name is Jiz McQueen? It sounds like a name that Ronald McDonald would make up if he became a cross-dressing pornstar.
Of course, this book has all the machisimo basics that any book for guys can’t go without; like hot women, disjointed shouting, miraculous action sequences, money laundering, romantic betrayal, etc. Gully Foyle, an anti-hero who is strikingly flawed to begin with, is on a mission of vengeance against those who abandoned him in outer space. His primitive drive wreaks all kinds of havoc on the solar system and those closest to him. This psychotic brutality makes it readable even for people who use their conscience because 1) it’s entertaining and 2) his character evolves. It isn’t all this manic space-mongering that makes it widely regarded as one of the best sci-fi books ever written. The greatest thing about this book is Gully’s transformation from a barbaric space cowboy to an interstellar guru. Before the ending I wasn’t sure if I’d give it 5 stars, but now I definitely can.
Author Alfred Bester is a creative genius who uses many interesting plot twists in this fast-paced tale set 400 years in the future. It was only 250 pages, but it could have easily been over 800, as every chapter is jam packed with action and heated dialogue. This isn’t just a book for techies: I’d recommend for anyone into movies like The Matrix, Terminator, The Fifth Element, and Star Wars. (less)
Interesting thought experiment. What would happen if a whole city went blind? Saramango doesn't seem to be much of an optimist, but his predictions ar...moreInteresting thought experiment. What would happen if a whole city went blind? Saramango doesn't seem to be much of an optimist, but his predictions are probably accurate. Nevertheless it's difficult to read about what he thinks would happen. I'm surprised I didn't like it because postmodernist sci-fi's are usually really cool books, and I love long paragraphs that break from convention and meander. Maybe it was a poor translation or it had flat characters that failed to captivate me, but most likely it was the fact that most of the book is set in a white-walled asylum; I guess I felt suffocated by the lack of setting. I think it would have been a much better book if he distributed scenes of civil chaos in the city between the endless chapters of quarantine.(less)
This is a masterpiece of staggering genius, and one of the best books I've ever read. There are six nested stories in the novel and each of them follo...moreThis is a masterpiece of staggering genius, and one of the best books I've ever read. There are six nested stories in the novel and each of them follow six separate lives of a reincarnated soul(s?) whose archetypal drive is to rebel against the powers that be. David Mitchell uses an impressive repertoire of styles to distinguish each of these lives, from the grammatically elitist english of The Pacific Journal Of Adam Ewing to Zachry’s wild southern U.S. slang-uage in Sloosha’s Crossin’ An’ Ev’rthin’ After. As far as genres are concerned, there’s a little something for everyone including the funny & entertaining Ghastly Ordeal Of Timothy Cavendish and the dystopian-scf-fi-mystery-thriller An Orison Of Sonmi-451. But I’ve never read anything quite like the stream-of-consciousness tragic comedy Letters From Zeleghem, my favorite of the stories. The dark romance between the quirky musician Robert Frobischer and Eva the tease won my heart. Sloosha’s Crossin’ was another unique and beautiful tale set in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, my second favorite. The story I haven’t mentioned, The Luisa Rey Mystery, is by no means weak due its stellar plot, but the narrative is formulaic and easy to understand, so I found it the least intriguing but it’s probably the most accessible to other readers.
Underlying all this abstraction, Cloud Atlas leaves these intricacies & clues scattered about that relate each story with one another sequentially. After reading this great quote from Sloosha’s Crossin’ it all came together: “I watched clouds awobbly from the floor o’ that kayak. Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul’ll be ‘morrow? Only Somni the east an’ the west an’ the compass an’ the atlas, yay, only the atlas o’ clouds.” How true n’deed, n’ how relev’nt to th’ scope o' th' novel. It did seem to me that the idiosyncracies in personalities carried through each story, and even multiple ones too. With all the implicit romances it seems like there might have been reincarnated star-crossed soul mates in each tale (I made a chart of all the relationships because I was so intrigued by them, see below). Maybe I think too damn much, but this book's Escher-esque complexity absolutely floored me and I’d recommend it to anyone.
SPOILER ALERT: This is for anyone interested in my soul mate theory. Autua is Robert Frobischer is Isaac Saachs is Timothy Cavendish is Hae Joo is Zachry. Adam Ewing is Eva is Luisa Rey is (Nurse Noakes?) is Snomi-451 is Meronym. The chronological "math" adds up, the behaviorism of them are all similar, and there's an implicit romance between each except for the Cavendish story, which is the only one that could make me dubious.(less)
Conceptually it was pretty interesting, but a lot of the passages were deliberately confusing and the dialogue was awful. I thought his descriptions o...moreConceptually it was pretty interesting, but a lot of the passages were deliberately confusing and the dialogue was awful. I thought his descriptions of quirky futuristic modifications were great, but the characters were so soulless that it became difficult to care for them during the weak action scenes. I can see how it was highly influential to concepts like cyberspace and "the matrix" (this came out in 1984).(less)