A four-star rating for a book that's excellent, but which is recommend to people selectively.
Lovecraft has an amazing imagination and he's playing witA four-star rating for a book that's excellent, but which is recommend to people selectively.
Lovecraft has an amazing imagination and he's playing with a set of concepts and symbols from an earlier age, causing the read to feel like entering a different world even before he whirls around in the possibility of darker dimensions beyond the mind or in the depths of the sea.
The writing is phenomenal - he's a very smart man who isn't pulling punches with his vocabulary, and neither is he overly wordy or unnecessarily dense. In fact, part of my experience reading was amazement at how much he conveyed in brief sentences and fast-paced short stories.
The stories themselves are wonderfully diverse, but also clearly share a unity of spirit, and a number have threads that could weave together into a mad world. It's fascinating to imagine whether Lovecraft had such a place in mind.
And each story has things to recommend it. The sequence in which a man attempts to sneak out of town in The Shadow Over Innsmouth is visceral and real, and that story was probably my favorite.
All in all, very glad I read it, but I probably wouldn't recommend it to someone who hasn't read a fair amount of sci-fi or horror....more
I recently "re-read" this in audiobook form via audible. The book has stood up surprisingly well over time (apart from a few nostalgic moments with crI recently "re-read" this in audiobook form via audible. The book has stood up surprisingly well over time (apart from a few nostalgic moments with crude computers). I can't judge how accurate the sci-fi of it is (pretty sure nobody's bred dinosaurs from amber, but less certain about the extinction theory conversations they get into). Regardless, the ideological viewpoints that the characters get into are fun. The suspense is well done and Crichton's writing is solid. Definitely something I'll read again....more
I loved this book so much as a youth that I read a different, increasingly advanced version every year fromThink "The Princess Bride" meets "Batman."
I loved this book so much as a youth that I read a different, increasingly advanced version every year from 4th to 8th grade as a book report book. I even planned to take French when it was offered as a middle school elective so I could read it in the original (a plan I only abandoned because French conflicted with my locked-in Orchestra elective).
With emotional content far deeper than that of the Three Musketeers and its various sequels, Count of Monte Cristo is, to my mind, the best of Dumas' work, and anyone up for a high-adventure, high-romance drama from this time period would do well to pick this one up!...more
This book's a clear success. It's a fun read with a dash of dystopia, and an obvious homage to gaming culture from the 80's. The references will be arThis book's a clear success. It's a fun read with a dash of dystopia, and an obvious homage to gaming culture from the 80's. The references will be arcane to most readers (many were to me, and I've got more than one toe in those waters!), but every reference that you need as a reader is spelled out . . . if it's important that, say, Space Invaders has four different characters, Cline tells you that.
As the premise cooks up into a full-blown plot, there are some things that are easy to anticipate, but they're well-executed. There are some scenes that are clearly in there just for the fun of it. The love affair with arcade gaming and 80's culture is a lot of fun, and the Willy Wonka / Matrix setup works well.
I'd say that -- like Wreck it Ralph in film -- one possible disappointment is that the book sets up a lot of unexplored possibility. The OASIS virtual reality simulation obviously has the capacity to allow for pushing the envelope on what a human being is even farther than the text explores. There are a few nods to this (e.g., choosing avatar skins instead of outfits; people gaming as elves; some of the "side industries" that the OASIS has generated in the real world), and one moment when the new frontiers of possibility are really directly engaged (without being overly spoiler-y, I'm speaking of the events of the party, fairly early on). It would have been fun to see more of that, but the protagonist's zoomed-in focus makes perfect sense, given the book's premise, and the book never loses the sense of an infinite creative world to play in.
The writing's a bit uneven. Some details are provided as if it's an editing afterthought, and a lot of exposition is dropped in from a third-person omniscient viewpoint, which annoys me in books written in the first-person (I want the character to own their reaction to a new situation!). Some timing blocks are jumped without a lot of engagement. Frankly, if it weren't for these things, I'd give the book my stingy five star rating for expanding my sense of what's possible in a genre. And the book's paced pretty frenetically, especially in its third act, so this doesn't really hurt the reading experience much. Given that this is a first novel, I'm very excited to see what Cline writes next, and I have no doubt that this sort of thing will smooth out as he goes....more
Fantastic book. The core plot around the question of "What if the Redshirts in Star Trek realized what was happening to them?" is solid, and then ScalFantastic book. The core plot around the question of "What if the Redshirts in Star Trek realized what was happening to them?" is solid, and then Scalzi takes a few extra twists with it. It's far more thoughtful than, say, "Galaxy Quest," and no less fun for it. There's a bit of language in the book for those who are worried about that sort of thing, but otherwise this immediately earned a place on my list of automatic recommendations for anyone with a nerdy side. Not much more can be said without offering spoilers, but I'd add that Scalzi takes the opportunity to do some great work with the "meta" layer without taking it too seriously, and the three "codas" after the main story were really touching. Five stars, for a work I'll be returning to and masterful execution of a novel premise in a crowded genre.
On a personal note, Scalzi is a fellow U of C grad, and it's great fun to see him hit one out of the park.
The Audiobook: Wil Wheaton is the reader, which is worth a chuckle in and of itself, but the performance is great. I "read" the audiobook over a road trip, and found excuses to sit in my car and listen a little longer. Meant to savor it but wound up burning through it in two days. Definitely recommend the audiobook experience as well as the book....more
The "spoiler" in this review is really the premise: an astronaut struggles to survive after being left behind on Mars. I'm a big fan of Robinson CrusoThe "spoiler" in this review is really the premise: an astronaut struggles to survive after being left behind on Mars. I'm a big fan of Robinson Crusoe style stories, as well as "hard" sci-fi, and this blends the two well. So far as I can tell, the science is well-researched and reasonable, with no more "magic" than your average CSI episode, and probably a lot less.
I wanted more psychological insight earlier, but it does wind up delivering on that front, and the book's eventual philosophical point is good and noble. There are some impressive passages about large-scale ethics (what's it worth giving up to rescue one man? Is one life really beyond any monetary value?), and some that are fun and whimsical (Watney's reflections on what laws apply on Mars ... And his conclusion about his own status!).
I "read" the book via audiobook, and RC Bray's narration is solid - he's steady, voices characters well - and picks up the moments where something snarky or playful is called for. I felt like I was hearing Mark's voice in the log reports.
Glad to recommend this -- though it has some blue language and profanity to it, so be warned if that upsets you!
This is masterful and clear. The author is clearly well-read in both the field and the source material (erm, that'd be Batman comics ...), and the anaThis is masterful and clear. The author is clearly well-read in both the field and the source material (erm, that'd be Batman comics ...), and the analysis has an integrity to it: he offers actual diagnoses and articulates how they might apply to Batman or a given character, then considers evidence. I learned a handful of new psych terms and had fun spotting a couple I knew already.
The book felt to me like talking Batman over a beer with a well-read friend, and was a lot of fun. There are things in here I'll use in some of my own thoughts about what superheroes have to tell us and teach us these days,...more