A Cold War parable that retains its relevance well into the days of the War on Terror; after all, although the USSR went away, the various nuclear arsA Cold War parable that retains its relevance well into the days of the War on Terror; after all, although the USSR went away, the various nuclear arsenals did not. In this slender book, which is not exactly a comic but close enough, a couple of doddering Middle Englanders face an impending nuclear confrontation with the same (misplaced) can-do spirit with which they and their families faced earlier bombing campaigns of the Germans during WWII. Clever, tender, and chilling. ...more
Although I have stopped reading Kunstler's blog because of his tiresome tirades against tattoos and black Americans, I still think his overall thesisAlthough I have stopped reading Kunstler's blog because of his tiresome tirades against tattoos and black Americans, I still think his overall thesis about the "long emergency" is an accurate one. Plus I really enjoy the world he has made (by hand!) in these novels. A History of the Future, the third in this series, was as enjoyable a read as the first two novels. It also (finally) provided a look at what happened to the world outside of upstate New York, as recounted by a prodigal son who barely survived his voyage through what remains of the United States. Barge travel, unskilled labor, horse traders, local whiskey, indentured servitude, racial politics, neo-Confederates (i.e., "corn pone Nazis"), and the treatment of the mentally ill by a justice system in tatters are a few of the topics that Kunstler explores here. By the time I finally put this book down, I couldn't wait to see where this imagined future is headed next. It will be a hard world in any case, but not one without beauty and humanity. And lots of locally produced alcohol, which cannot be a bad thing. ...more
Four hundred or so years from now, the landscape of North America has changed dramatically. Memfis, a port city on the Gulf of Meyco, is the largest cFour hundred or so years from now, the landscape of North America has changed dramatically. Memfis, a port city on the Gulf of Meyco, is the largest city in Meriga, if not in the world; ruinmen and their guilds combine urban exploration with resource mining, turning rebar and I-beams from decrepit structures into much needed raw materials; and people still remember stories about the times a half-millennium before when their ancestors not only spoke with beings from other worlds, but landed on a few of those worlds themselves.
In this setting, Greer tells the story (in a voice at times reminiscent of Huck Finn's) of one of these ruinmen, Trey sunna Gwen; the ancient map he discovered in the hands of a mummified corpse deep in a ruin in Shanuga, Tinisi; Star's Reach, the place the map took him and his friends, where earlier human beings had indeed communicated with extraterrestrials; and the larger world in which this voyage of discovery unfolds. Greer includes a painfully ironic comment on the role of today's science fiction in perpetuating what he calls the Myth of Progress, and his acceptance of the reality of intelligent extraterrestrial life is tempered by a sobering revelation from the galactic community (view spoiler)[: that all technologically advanced species out there have experienced similar resource overdrafts and civilizational collapses as those facing 21st century H. sapiens, and that, in spite of all of the advances of all of these species, FTL interstellar travel remains an impossibility. What does exist could be described as an interstellar community of ham radio enthusiasts who endure lifetime-long lags between broadcasts. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>...more
Instead he had this youthful fantasy of writing a fantasy epic, like Tolkien, only Tolkien as written by someone without a graduate education in Old English and Norse mythology. So he wrote a sequel. And another sequel.
He wrote yet another sequel, the fourth volume in the saga, the heart of which comprises an extended flashback into the gunslinger's past. (view spoiler)[After that they're off to meet the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Seriously. Spoiler in every sense of the term. (hide spoiler)] This book, or more accurately the central flashback story, is my second favorite part of the series, because it evokes and explores precisely the world of apocalyptic-western-dark fantasy that King had created in the first book. Other readers don't like this story-in-a-story because it doesn't advance the overall narrative arc of the "magnum opus." (view spoiler)[This makes no sense to me as there is ultimately no overall story arc, other than something King made up as he went along. He lost his outline, as he reveals to us late in the series! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Instead he had this youthful fantasy of writing a fantasy epic, like Tolkien, only Tolkien as written by someone without a graduate education in Old English and Norse mythology. So he wrote a sequel.
Then he wrote another sequel, this book, in which things (view spoiler)[—the deceased kid Jake from the first novel is reintroduced (or is it resurrected?) via a nervous breakdown in the gunslinger and a demonic rape of the now-psychologically-integrated-yet-still-legless Susannah. All of them have to survive a Thunderdome-esque city, a pestilent pederastic punk bent on re-killing the kid to skull-fuck him, and a psychotic AI-operated monorail (hide spoiler)] happen. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
King took a neat idea and wrote a few short stories about the Gunslinger, which were subsequently edited into a unique post-apocalyptic/western/fantasKing took a neat idea and wrote a few short stories about the Gunslinger, which were subsequently edited into a unique post-apocalyptic/western/fantasy/horror novel. This book is my favorite part of the Dark Tower series. He could have stopped here, like George Lucas could have stopped with the original Star Wars, and had a great piece of work.
I wanted to read the whole series at one go, and so I read the revised edition of this book released to accompany the final three volumes. I plan to read the original version to see which I like better....more
Badly-named anthology covering a broad spectrum of genres—revenge, post-apocalypse, ghosts, vampires, creeping horrors, zombies, conspiracies, pastichBadly-named anthology covering a broad spectrum of genres—revenge, post-apocalypse, ghosts, vampires, creeping horrors, zombies, conspiracies, pastiches of Doyle and Chandler, nonfiction (about Little League in Maine), a chilling teleplay, and even a poem!—but not too many truly nightmarish stories or fantastic dreamscapes. That is especially troubling because this was one of my Halloween reads, and I wanted scary stories on par with those in Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. (I skipped the Little League essay, by the way, and not completing a book is an exceedingly rare feat for me. As much as I like King's writing, I just couldn't get into sports reporting.)...more
It isn't too much of an imaginative leap to the world of The Hunger Games from the political and social realities of the early 21st century USA. TakeIt isn't too much of an imaginative leap to the world of The Hunger Games from the political and social realities of the early 21st century USA. Take the contemporary fetish for "reality" television (or, more accurately, humiliation television), the open secret of USAmerican love of war (especially the at-a-distance, shock-and-awe variety), and the desire of many for televised capital punishment, and you have the Games themselves, more or less. As astute bloggers have noted elsewhere, from the perspective of nations and peoples on the periphery (those currently fighting riots over food prices and austerity measures) we in the U.S. already live in The Capitol with our relatively decadent lifestyles and ultra-shallow concerns. As the globe warms, cheap oil becomes difficult to obtain, and lifestyles impossible to sustain, it isn't hard to imagine this center contracting to its fictional locale in the Rockies while the remnants of the U.S. join the rest of the world in providing raw materials for the enjoyment of the few.
Heavy stuff for a young adult novel. Luckily it is leavened with enough young love, self-searching angst, and interesting plot twists to make it appealing to even the least politically and ecologically aware reader. I think the reason that novel has been so explosively popular, though, is precisely because it speaks to those concerns that our young people have about the world they are inheriting. They, after all, are the heirs to the long emergency, a future of climate change, powering-down, diminished opportunities, and other converging catastrophes. ...more