Russell is an amazing, talented writer as anyone who has read Vampires in the Lemon Grove can attest. Swamplandia!, however, is a novel that was meantRussell is an amazing, talented writer as anyone who has read Vampires in the Lemon Grove can attest. Swamplandia!, however, is a novel that was meant to be a short story....more
The reality is (and with Dick, one should be very cautious about defining the edges of reality) Dick was a master of literary fiction more similar to Robertson Davies in terms of character development or Jhumpa Lahiri for defining worlds and culture (seriously - I stand behind that comparison 100%).
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer is an excellent novel that completes the ambitious VALIS trilogy. It contains one of best, most complex and real lead characters created by PKD. Angel Archer is also the most complex and real female character he ever wrote, and this highlights PKD's great shortcoming as a prolific writer: a real lack of gender and racial diversity.
The lack of fully developed female characters or meaningful characters of color is so alien to my interactions with the real world, that as I grow older, I find it harder to suspend disbelief and buy into a world where everybody looks like. Such a world isn't literary fiction. It's not even sci-fi. It's straight up horror....more
Like attending a wake, Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam will be a tough read for many of his loyal fans. Behind the rough writing, the glimmers of hisLike attending a wake, Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam will be a tough read for many of his loyal fans. Behind the rough writing, the glimmers of his greatest ideas, most creative thoughts, and universal truths still dance and draw in readers. They are glimmers, however, the last embers of a great bonfire of a writer, the shadow of a beloved relative once known and admired.
Almost everybody makes an appearance (or gets a mention) in Raising Steam. From Lu-Tze to C.M.O.T. Dribbler, characters toast their departure. Even the untouchable Patrician moves from myth to man so readers, in the final moment, can see their beloved tyrant turn into a rounded human.
For those new to Pratchett, this should be the last Pratchett book they read. This a rare Discworld book where context is vital. Leaving plot descriptions to the other reviewers, this novel centers around the introduction of steam power to the world, and is the culmination of Pratchett’s plans for his universe. However, the writing is poor at best and at times comes across as mediocre fanfiction. People behave out of character, the story is choppy and chunky at best, and the light hearted puns tossed off so beautifully in his other novels are absent.
Pratchett fans should read this book, but not as a Pratchett novel. It is a goodbye. It is a chance to spend one moment with someone who is now gone. It is a wake.
When a writer cross-references himself as much as Philip K. Dick does, the absence of certain details becomes as powerful as the details that actuallyWhen a writer cross-references himself as much as Philip K. Dick does, the absence of certain details becomes as powerful as the details that actually appear on the page. The reader struggles with what he or she knows to have been true many times before. But after repeated attempts to adjudicate the divide between the known past and the unfolding present, the reader is faced with a stark choice: fail and walk away from the novel as a lessened member of literary society or engage the author for the first time again.
Laying aside convenient devices like the Time Scoop and androids, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said brings readers to post Second Civil War America filled run by a fascist police force and fear. Entertainer Jason Taverner wakes up one morning to find more than just his identity cards gone. More than a theft, he struggles to survive in a world where he apparently never existed. Dick's twist on time and the complexity of Police General Buckman more than make up for the tacked on happy ending....more
Few studies offer its disciples more opportunity for misguided assumptions than history. Existing records are only as accurate at the writer (and areFew studies offer its disciples more opportunity for misguided assumptions than history. Existing records are only as accurate at the writer (and are often as biased). And more often then not, the fragile word and questionable word simply does not exist. The realm of biography heightens these perils as researches move from listing mere action (complex enough) to answering the immortal question: what was that person thinking?
As a biographer, Robert K. Massie writes with a command of 18th Eurasian history that reveals both his passion and his knowledge of the subject. His grasp of narrative allows him to explore apocryphal anecdotes like the veracity of Catherine's secret marriage to General Potemkin, with a storyteller's engaging style, but an investigator's take on circumstantial evidence. Fans of Simon Schama's documentaries will appreciate Massie's style, although literary hipsters who claim to enjoy the imposingly dense (although brilliant) essay's of Bhabha, Homi K. Bhabha, Homi K. will find Massie a bit light.
Regardless of the author's skill, however, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman covers a complex, wide ranging cast Eurasian nobility, all of whom had complex relations with each other to a degree that makes the cliché Appalachian gene pool look positively Atlantic in dimensions. Family trees, political and personal time-lines, and other visual aids would have proven invaluable for readers. ...more
Filled with Philip K. Dick's usual cadre of determined women, business bulls, semi-functional schizos, and precog autistics, Martian Time-Slip reads lFilled with Philip K. Dick's usual cadre of determined women, business bulls, semi-functional schizos, and precog autistics, Martian Time-Slip reads like a fractured chess game. Petty squabbles between pawns eventually upset the kings and the entire power structure of a futuristic Mars colony.
Writing in the early 60s, Dick explores schizophrenia and autism as symptoms of a society split apart, dehumanized, and purposeless. Like all great science-fiction, Martian Time-Slip is a timeless examination of human society here and now. An inability to connect beyond a superficial level even as communication technology advances exponentially and the ever growing divide between the have and have nots, are problems Dick began to explore fifty years ago. And in 500 years, they will still be here. ...more