Wow. I literally just finished 11/22/63, so I wanted to write a few things about it while everything is fresh in my head, and before I begin analysingWow. I literally just finished 11/22/63, so I wanted to write a few things about it while everything is fresh in my head, and before I begin analysing it too deeply and obsessing over misremembered details.
First of all, it’s an oddly structured novel, told in 4 arcs. The first is the introduction, which establishes Jake and introduces the concept of time travel. It reminds me of a short story, the kind of intentionally amusing oddity he would have included in the Night Shift or Skeleton Crew collections. It’s a little far-fetched, but played out so casually, as if there’s nothing to it, that it works. Little details, like buying the same pound of meat hundreds of times and then using it to sell 21st century hamburgers are 1960s prices ease us past the point of disbelief.
The second arc is Jake’s first extended visit to the past, which is really just an homage to King’s past. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – in fact, this was my favourite part of the book – but I suspect some readers will find it self-indulgent. Personally, I loved revisiting the town of Derry, seeing the evil that permeates through an outsider’s eyes, and running into the kids of IT. Later on in the book there are also some obvious nods to Cujo (rabid dogs come up a few times) and Christine (a sinister Plymouth Fury plays a role), as well as to Hearts in Atlantis and The Dark Tower saga.
The third arc comprises the bulk of the story, and deals with Jake’s second extended visit to the past. Here we get an interestingly (perhaps too) nostalgic look at the world of the 60s, one of King’s best stabs at developing a romance (between Jake and Sadie), and a healthy smattering of social and political commentary. This part definitely drags in parts, and is largely the reason I had to put the book down and give myself a break for a week or so before continuing. As events take us closer to the JFK assassination, and we really get to see how the past struggles to harmonize and protect itself, the story does take off, but it is a bit of a slog to get there.
The final arc of the story is one that I am sure will polarise audiences. Personally, I loved the Twilight Zone eeriness of it, and the unexpected way in which King deals with the aftermath of Jake’s intervention in the JFK assassination. It’s a bit heavy-handed, for sure, and easily the most fanciful part of the story, but it really brought everything to a satisfying conclusion with no lingering what-ifs.
Overall, a solid King story, and one that I suspect will end up ranking in my top 10, once I have a chance to digest it....more
Time travel. It`s an overused science fiction plot device, but one that still has some life to it, provided you can either offer the reader a new spinTime travel. It`s an overused science fiction plot device, but one that still has some life to it, provided you can either offer the reader a new spin, or find a new way to incorporate it into a story that uses it, but doesn`t rely upon it. Ferrell does both, providing us with a weary time traveler who spends every birthday with his selves - those who`ve come, those who`ve gone, and those who might never be. This year, however, the party takes an unusual turn, leaving him to find out who will kill him in the coming year.
This is a clever read that almost falters under the weight of its paranoia, but which really hinges on an uninvited guest at the party. It`s a very literary tale, one that sometimes tries a bit too hard to eclipse its genre roots with moments of artistic eccentricity, but which largely succeeds. It`s a near-future mystery, a science fiction drama, and a human interest story, all rolled into one. It`s not as odd or as oddly funny as I expected, but that`s likely a good thing - given the variations on the main character, and novelty of simultaneously investigating and possibly causing your own death, too much humor could have propelled this into the realm of parody.
If you like your science fiction big, bold, and bombastic, then this isn`t the story for you. If you`ve any appreciation at all for one-man-plays and cerebral dramas, then give it a shot. You`ll be glad you did.
As an old-school Doctor Who fan who grew up with Tom Baker, I've been thoroughly enjoying the excitement leading up to the 50th anniversary. We got soAs an old-school Doctor Who fan who grew up with Tom Baker, I've been thoroughly enjoying the excitement leading up to the 50th anniversary. We got something similar a long time ago in The Five Doctors (celebrating 20 years), but with some recasting and stock footage necessary to bring it about. It was 'neat' but certainly nothing like what we're seeing now.
Anyway, that brings us to Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Volume 1 by Scott and David Tipton. It's tough to review the basic storyline, since the ARC only represents the first three issues (there are five in the published edition) of a longer miniseries, but it was more than enough to excite me and make me feel nostalgic. It all begins with a mysterious villain, surveying the long history of Doctors on a wall of monitors, and laying his plans to bring them down through their companions.
In terms of artwork, I thought the three issues looked great. They immediately captured the look and feel of those classic episodes, with Doctors and companions instantly recognizable. The monsters are left deliberately cheesy, evoking memories of low budget special effects from long ago, which is just how I like them. In terms of action, these are exciting pieces, with a lot going on - so much so that they feel a little bit rushed.
If I had one complaint about the opening issues, that sense of being rushed would be it, but I understand we have a lot of Doctors to revisit . . . and a lot of companions to remove from the stage. These three stories are interesting, reminiscent of the classic storylines, with some great historical celebrities involved. I am really curious how they'll all come together, and whether the Doctors will necessarily meet in order to resolve the end-game, and that's all you can really ask.
Whereas so many comic adaptations have left me disapointed and wanting more, I quite enjoyed Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Volume 1 and am looking forward to Volume 2 in September.
Time-travel is always a tricky thing, and sometimes the use of an alternate reality (or alternate history) can do as much to accentuate the problems aTime-travel is always a tricky thing, and sometimes the use of an alternate reality (or alternate history) can do as much to accentuate the problems as it can to provide a safe path for the story to take. What I mean is that it is often relied upon as a crutch or an easy-out, bypassing all the paradoxical complexities. Where it works best - and that is where The Forever Engine finds itself - is when the crutch is turned on itself, using time travel as the excuse to explore the alternate reality.
Frank Chadwick is a name that may be familiar to some readers, and probably more gamers. He was one of the originators of the modern steampunk genre with Space 1889, and this novel is his opportunity to play out the world he helped to create.
Jack Fargo, our hero, is a modern-day history professor, called back by the Army to assist with a top-secret science experiment. An accident in London catapults him back in time to 1888 . . . but not to our 1888. Here, the South won the Civil War, steam-powered airships fill the skies, man has already been to space, and there are dinosaur remnants walking the Earth. Trapped in a history he's unprepared for, with political alliances he can't really trust, Jack finds himself forced to work as hard at picking friends from foes as at trying to find his way home.
The characters here were a bit thin for my liking, and the narrative itself could have benefited from a little more description, but it was still an enjoyable read. It's a large-scale, steampunk adventure tale, complete with witty banter and sarcastic asides that help provide a bit of an edge. There are no real surprises here, and little in the way of actual suspense, but Jack's triumphs and escapes are no less enjoyable for being predictable or convenient. There is some legitimate attempt to drive home Jack's divided loyalties, having become invested in the cause, but still desperately missing his daughter back in the present, and I think that conflict is what kicked his character up a notch.
It's not the strongest steampunk tale I've read this year, but The Forever Engine was enjoyable enough to keep me reading late into the night. It's kind of like a glossy b-grade adventure movie with a big budget - you know the flaws are there, but you're having enough fun to overlook them.