In a nutshell, this is one of the best books I have ever read (and, for me, that's saying something).
I'll elaborate. For some reason I seem to be reaIn a nutshell, this is one of the best books I have ever read (and, for me, that's saying something).
I'll elaborate. For some reason I seem to be reading a lot of utopian / dystopian fiction nowadays. Mainly because it makes you think about the direction the human race is taking. Thinking. It's such an intrinsically human capacity, right? Brave New World works on the premise (at least that's one of the premises) that human beings think what they are conditioned to think. Whether that condition comes from genetics, or culture, if you can identify the factors of influence, you can control the human race. And they won't mind, because they've been conditioned to accept it, and even like it.
I feel like whatever I write here won't come even close to what I got out from this book. The world it describes may be horrifying (though, to me, for different reasons to the ones the Savage describes), but I found it to be very believable. Controlling people, not by violence and oppression (like in Orwell's 1984) or the media (like in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451), but by themselves, by their own happiness, and getting rid of everything that might endanger their constructed state of pure bliss.
Love hurts? Abolish love, keep only the sex, conditioning people to feel that any deeper relationship is undesirable, morally and socially repulsive, and unnecessary. Family promotes unrest? Get rid of it by making all the babies in bottles and keeping women from getting pregnant. Work is unpleasant? Condition people from childhood to think of it as a rewarding, easy and natural thing to do. Need different people for each job? Create (quite literally) a set of castes, with different conditioning to make them love their own class (even the lower ones), and each individual will know and love their place in society. Perfect social stability. And so on.
Frightful, isn't it? But then, as I was reading this book, I kept wondering. Isn't that what humans want? Isn't that what they search for, what they work towards? Usually when you ask someone what they want, they will answer they just want to be happy, or something to the effect. From that point of view, this would be the perfect society. Right?
Except that it's not. You finish this book realizing just how complicated human beings are. I'm sure that, at times, when one looks at the world in general today, one gets the feeling that most people only care about the superficial, that they are all too happy to just live their lives without caring for politics, or philosophy, or art. All too happy to care only about their next TV, their next car, their next vacation. But the notion that you can be truly happy with nothing more than that is one I find hard to accept (or maybe I just don't want to accept it).
I guess it depends on the meaning of "happiness" - something that, in my opinion at least, isn't all that easy to pinpoint. It varies from each individual to the next, and the absence of pain doesn't necessarily mean happiness. Of course, in Huxley's world, there are no individuals. Those who, by whatever reason, achieve any kind of individuality, are sent to a faraway island.
I had a few problems with the characters - particularly the Savage, who seemed to behave in a way totally unexpected way (to me, anyway), mainly, by launching into deep conversations about religion and the meaning of it all (yes, we get hints that he doesn't understand some things, but still, growing up in a society like the one in the Savage Reservation, I'd be inclined to think his belief in God would be more intuitive - exactly like a conditioning). Still, the story and the society was so mesmerizing that the rest took a step back. I recommend this to anyone, it's guaranteed to make you think....more
Humanity is doomed. At least that's what goes through my head every time I finish reading a dystopian novel. Obviously, that's an overstatement, and gHumanity is doomed. At least that's what goes through my head every time I finish reading a dystopian novel. Obviously, that's an overstatement, and generally I don't believe the world is as bleak as this sort of novels portray it, since what they do is follow the ideas of what is considered "right" to an extreme and show that everything can be perverted. But still.
This book deals with violence as a moral choice. The protagonist, Alex, knows that what he does (rape, burglary, murder, violence in general) is wrong, but chooses to do it anyway. The book's central question is with regards to free will. Alex gets arrested and submits to a reforming program that involves conditioning him to be repulsed by violence. This is generally regarded as a terrible thing. And this, for me, is where the book looses its strength. I could appreciate the problem of submitting people to a conditioning process that is entirely in the hands of the government, and the potential problems that could arise from that. And I certainly appreciate humanity's free will. Of course the therapy doesn't change Alex. Of course the "good" person he becomes is nothing but an artificial machine (a "clockwork orange"), and not a person. But, in all honesty, I couldn't care less what happened to Alex. All the characters (and Alex himself) who were worried about his free will, about how the government was taking away his freedom of choice, who went on and on about how cruel what he was being subjected to was, sounded to me almost ridiculous. What about the freedom of choice of the girls he raped? Should his choice to rape them be more important than their choice not to be raped? He never seemed to think about their suffering. Why is everyone caring about his?
Of course, this is merely my opinion, and maybe that's just the cynic in me talking. I still enjoyed the book, since I was interested in its exploration of the way street violence was manipulated by politicians, and how the different people reacted to violence. I also liked the language used. The slang is difficult to understand at first, but as the book progresses you get used to it, and I actually almost ceased to notice it.
******* SPOILER ALERT *******
I haven't watched the movie by Kubrick, but from reading the introduction I know that it ends in a different, bleaker way. The book's ending didn't convince me. Blaming the violence on youth? Suddenly not wanting to rape or kill anymore because you're growing up? Sounds like a rather poor excuse (not to mention just a tiny bit insulting to young people).
******* SPOILER ALERT *******
All this aside, I still thought it was a good book, and well worth the read, provided you're ready to tackle with the slang and (especially hard for me) the very graphic depictions of violence....more
A graphic adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, the novel that served as an inspiration for the movie Blade Runner. However, I wouldn't call it a graphic novel exactly; it feels more like an illustration in the style of a graphic novel. The difference is that there's a lot more text that appears to be lifted exactly from the book (I didn't check this, but it felt like everything was there, included the "He responded absently" after the dialog balloons). It's a bit distracting.
This adaptation seems to be particularly directed at those who have seen and loved the movie but who aren't aware of the original material. For me, having seen the movie and read the book, this adaptation didn't bring anything new. The artwork is ok, but very straightforward - I was expecting something more experimental and daring. The cover gallery at the end, however, is gorgeous, and I fell in love with the Collector's Paradise Exclusive by Scott Keating.
Overall, this is a nice read, but not unmissable if you've read the original novel....more
I hate to say this about any book, but this wasn't good. Actually, it was much worse than I had expected. I saw the movie firstPosted on my book blog.
I hate to say this about any book, but this wasn't good. Actually, it was much worse than I had expected. I saw the movie first, and while I didn't love it, it was better than the book. What's more, the stories are completely different, the only real connection is that, in both, there are cowboys and - wait for it - aliens.
This wasn't terrible, but the story is way too basic and nothing, not the characters, the setting or the events, gets explored in the slightest, which was a disappointment....more
I've seen many movies that were inspired by Philip K. Dick's stories, but had never actually read one of them. That will definiPosted on my book blog.
I've seen many movies that were inspired by Philip K. Dick's stories, but had never actually read one of them. That will definitely change now that I've read this book. Once I finished I immediately felt like getting into another story like this, one that defies and faces the future and presents its possibilities in a chillingly believable way.
It's sometime in the future and Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war. The animals are all but extinct, and most humans have emigrated to other worlds to escape the radioactive air that eats away at them and turns them into "specials" (aka, degenerates). Androids that are virtually indistinguishable from humans are made for slave labour, despised and given no rights because they are machines, even though they are programmed to act and "feel" like human beings. The only thing they cannot feel is empathy, which has become so important that a religion has been founded on it. Humans are empathic to each other, and specially animals - everyone is expected to care for a real animal, but those who cannot afford it buy an electric replica. Yet this empathy isn't extended to androids, who are promptly killed if they escape the colonies and try to come to Earth. This job is done by the bounty hunters.
So that's the story. But this book delves deep into many issues. What is empathy, and why do humans show it to each other and to animals (and even to electric animals!) but not to electric humans, aka androids? What's the difference between a human brain and a brain programmed to work like a human's? What is a human being, then?
This is an amazing book, one I can hardly believe was written so long ago. I recommend it to everyone....more
Feels quite rushed and hasty, which is a pity because the plot has a lot of potential. I wish the author had gone more deeply into the pre-crime methoFeels quite rushed and hasty, which is a pity because the plot has a lot of potential. I wish the author had gone more deeply into the pre-crime method and all that it entails. Still, an amazing work, as is customary from Philip K. Dick....more
A história de Steampunk: Manimatron é passada numa Inglaterra alternativa do séc. XIX, na qual um déspota com tendências melodramáticas usurpou o tronA história de Steampunk: Manimatron é passada numa Inglaterra alternativa do séc. XIX, na qual um déspota com tendências melodramáticas usurpou o trono e lançou o pais numa época forçada de industrialismo frenético. O smog cobre o céu sobre Londres, e os habitantes parecem-se pouco com os humanos que costumavam ser, uma vez que toda a gente tem algum tipo de modificação corporal – asas, braços e pernas mecânicos, corpos de aranha - a imaginação (e o acesso a matérias primas) é o limite. Lord Absinthe, o usurpador, é o típico soberano sedento de poder, com um caso sério de complexo de Deus. Os aristocratas deixam-se levar pelos privilégios da nova sociedade, enquanto que as classes mais baixas, horrivelmente desfiguradas e exploradas, ocupam o seu tempo a tentar sobreviver e a sonhar com uma revolução.
Chris Bachalo tem vindo a habituar os fãs a uma arte visionária, detalhada e energética. Nisso, o livro não falha. Todavia, é triste quando as boas ideias são traídas por uma execução pouco brilhante. No caso específico de Manimatron, temos a construção de um mundo original, visualmente interessante e com potencial, que é minado por personagens cliché, uma história relativamente banal, diálogos densos e sem sentido, design de páginas confuso e lettering quase indecifrável.
As personagens apresentam um design visual excelente, perfeitamente integrado no mundo em que se inserem. Os trajes e modificações miscelâneas reflectem o lado mais prático, tecnológico e cru da sociedade, embora a tecnologia avançada de vapor em si seja considerado um luxo apenas acessível aos membros da alta sociedade. No entanto, todas as personagens são típicas: o vilão típico que só quer ter poder e dominar o mundo, o herói masculino, forte e silencioso, a bela e gentil rapariga que é alvo das afeições do herói, a personagem feminina badass moralmente ambígua (completa com o já esperado impressionante par de atributos femininos), e as personagens secundárias de comic relief.
O design do mundo é igualmente detalhado e planeado até ao pormenor, e teria funcionado melhor se os painéis não estivessem tão completamente preenchidos por informação. Assim, tornam-se difíceis de decifrar, dificultando a imersão na história. Certamente, esta dificuldade é tão óbvia que só pode ter sido deliberada, talvez para tornar a banda desenhada mais complexa e intricada; no entanto, depois de decifrada, a história é demasiado simples para suportar tudo o resto. Muito estilo e pouca substância, poderia dizer-se.
Este é um livro que divide opiniões: de um lado, os fãs, que acusam os restantes leitores de serem preguiçosos e de criticarem tudo aquilo que não seja simples de apreender; do outro, aqueles que acham que a densidade e complexidade são utilizados para “mascarar” uma história banal e cliché. Pessoalmente, acredito que a marca de um bom storyteller em banda desenhada não é a dificuldade de leitura, mas sim a dança delicada entre a parte visual e a parte escrita, o equilíbrio entre a complexidade e subtileza. Apesar de tudo, o mundo é suficientemente bom para manter o interesse, e a história poderá surpreender no segundo volume.
Imagine a world where the Mongolian empire has never weakened, and instead developed into a formidable force with a culture and technology to match, quickly moving past anything you could have found in Europe. Imagine that this force, with its center in Xanadu, has managed to successfully conquer Europe. And imagine that the technology they have developed includes genetic manipulation and nanoagents which were spread through food and beverages, and when activated, allows them to control the actions and emotions of the population.
This was the fate of Europe in the Iron Seas series, whole nations falling one by one and relocating to the Americas, where they built a New Europe. Great Britain survived longer, due to the water barrier, but the English people made the mistake of trying to maintain peace with the invaders, establishing a trade route for sugar and tea which ended up being a point of entry to nanoagents. The island was invaded, and for nearly two centuries the royal family and higher classes were dominated, the lower classes enslaved, forced to modify their bodies in order to become more useful tools for working. Emotions were controlled, as well as reproduction, which only occurred when the Horde activated the so-called frenzies, forcing people to mate indiscriminately.
Born from one of these frenzies, there’s the main character, Mina. While the society in this series has moral and social rules that are way more relaxed than what you’d find in its real life equivalent, or even in America, as described in the book, there is still prejudice against women, specially those who try to be independent and have a career (Mina is a police investigator). The situation is worsened by the fact that Mina is of Mongolian descent, a product of a particularly painful frenzy when her mother was with one of the invaders. The story begins nine years after London has been freed from the Horde, not nearly enough time for people to forget or forgive the horrors they suffered, so anything that reminds them of the enemy is met with disgust and hatred.
The world-building is easily the most interesting part of the book. The romance is as you would expect, except that for me, the Iron Duke (aka Rhys) was such an insufferable character that I would have been glad to see Mina falling for someone else. He’s your typical alpha male, used to getting everything he wants, who manipulates Mina into accepting him. He even gets her away from her city, her family and friends because he’s convinced she squanders all her love on them and there will be none left for him. Although his actions get somewhat better by the end of the book, it’s still a wonder why Mina found him so attractive.
That aside, the world that Meljean Brook created is complex, detailed and full of potential, specially when it comes to the nanoagents and their effect on humans and the natural world. Don’t let the semi-nude man on the cover fool you, this book is much more than a steamy romance. It has a compelling story and wonderful world-building. Recommended
Note: I will forever be on page 254 of this book. You know why....more
As expectativas eram muitas antes de ter começado a ler aquela que é considerada uma das obras pioneiras do steampunk original. Certamente, ler as obrAs expectativas eram muitas antes de ter começado a ler aquela que é considerada uma das obras pioneiras do steampunk original. Certamente, ler as obras de K.W. Jeter, autor responsável pela criação do próprio termo (vide carta à Revista Locus, 1987) é algo que está na lista de qualquer fã da literatura do género. E em termos de adequação ao género, o livro não desaponta. Infelizmente, em termos de estilo, história e personagens, deixa algo a desejar.
A história segue George Dower, filho pouco talentoso de um cientista genial, arquétipo dos inventores vitorianos, que morre sem explicar os segredos das suas invenções, deixando ao seu filho uma loja de mecanismos de relógio. Por muito que se esforce (mais por motivos monetários do que por vocação), George não consegue ter com os mecanismos a mesma sinergia que o seu pai tinha. Quando um homem misterioso e exótico o visita no sentido de consertar uma máquina, George começa a aperceber-se que a ocupação real do seu pai não eram os relógios. Com uma intriga que mistura autómatos, sociedades secretas, bordéis, progresso tecnológico e as suas consequências, criaturas sobrenaturais, e viagens no tempo, com muita ironia à mistura, é fácil ver como este livro se tornou influente na história do steampunk.
No entanto, George é uma personagem principal passiva e pouco carismática, o humor é forçado e alguns dos plot twists fazem pouco ou nenhum sentido, falhando na tentativa de trazer algum interesse final à narrativa. A história empalidece em comparação com outros clássicos do género, sem qualquer característica que a torne memorável.
De leitura recomendada para os fãs do género, nem que seja apenas pela sua importância histórica (e a introdução, escrita recentemente em tom de reflexão). Para os que gostam de uma boa história, este livro entretém, mas não satisfaz....more