Gripping! A cautionary tale suffused with ecological concerns and man's responsibility for the environment. Though filled with philosophy, ecology, ge...moreGripping! A cautionary tale suffused with ecological concerns and man's responsibility for the environment. Though filled with philosophy, ecology, geology, biology, history, and other weighty subjects, this book is also filled with humor and wit.
This book is ... to put it mildly ... way out there. An ecologist journeys to a Buddhist monastery high in the Himalayas to find a computer which is the personification of Gaia. This computer teleports the protagonist to every corner of the globe (spheres have corners?) and even through time to convey the warning that time is running out.
Filled with the doom-and-gloom environmentalism of the 1980s, this book still has relevance today. It's a darn good story, at least if you're a reader who can suspend your disbelief enough to enjoy science fiction and fantasy, and you're not adverse to some heavy hippy-dippy "Save the Earth" pontificating. (It's a little like Star Trek IV: Save the Whales, but with less aliens and spaceships and more mysticism and flatulent tigers.) Don't get me wrong, I love this book and have read it three times ... but if you don't like speculative fiction, or you don't care about the environment (I'm not judging), I guarantee you won't like this book.
It's too bad an ebook of this doesn't exist, the built-in dictionary in an ereader would be extremely handy when reading this!(less)
Slow pacing at the beginning gives way to an otherwise well-paced and beautifully written story. This is what I think of when I hear the term "urban f...moreSlow pacing at the beginning gives way to an otherwise well-paced and beautifully written story. This is what I think of when I hear the term "urban fantasy".(less)
Lovely prose and beautiful imagery. Although the characters were interesting, they weren't given enough development. I feel compelled to deduct one st...moreLovely prose and beautiful imagery. Although the characters were interesting, they weren't given enough development. I feel compelled to deduct one star for the use of the deus ex machina "time-flurries" and the unbelievable stupidity of the main characters. Otherwise Brightness Falls from the Air is an intriguing story about beauty, love, and the greed and horror humans are capable of.(less)
Red Mars is as dry as Mars, and the story as thin as its atmosphere.
Red Mars is essentially, a book on Martian geography with an exceedingly boring st...moreRed Mars is as dry as Mars, and the story as thin as its atmosphere.
Red Mars is essentially, a book on Martian geography with an exceedingly boring story poured on top, but make no mistake the author's first priority is to describe very precisely every tiny detail of Martian topography to the reader. The characters are unbelievably one dimensional, incredibly annoying, and boring. The author's political rantings throughout were irritating. The passage of time in the book was handled very poorly.
The author neglected to convey any of the inevitable struggle and hardship that would accompany such a monumental feat as the colonization of Mars. Oh no, the first hundred colonists had to take sponge baths! The horror! They seemed to have a boundless supply of energy, and their scientific genius and technology conveniently waved away anything the author didn't want to consider.
Ultimately, I found the entire book an exercise in pretentious erudition; the author wanted the reader to know he did a lot of research, but it just ends up as awkward text that sadly detracts from the already boring story.(less)
Kay at his worst is still much better than most writers at their best. Which is not to say Ysabel is bad, not by any stretch of the imagination, but s...moreKay at his worst is still much better than most writers at their best. Which is not to say Ysabel is bad, not by any stretch of the imagination, but simply that this is the least of an incredible writer.
My only real complaint? The interjection of modernisms like "iPod", "jpegs", Coke, etc felt clumsy. Likewise, there were a couple unnecessary uses of French words (a Canadian from Ottawa would offer an American a napkin, not a serviette, even if they are in France).(less)
This book has it all! It's a novel, it's a history lesson, it's a geography lesson! It has over the top dialogue! It has a main character who is a mas...moreThis book has it all! It's a novel, it's a history lesson, it's a geography lesson! It has over the top dialogue! It has a main character who is a master of everything! He's a master swordsman, physician, historian, alchemist, juggler, tactician, acrobat, merchant, geographer, sailor, philosopher, pirate, and scholar. Could he possibly be a master of women too? Yes! In the span of time covered in the story, which is a little unclear but it seemed to me about three years, he meets six women and falls in love with each one. Of course they fall in love with him too!
The main plot is that of a young man setting out to rescue his father. The bulk of the book, however, follows him doing anything and everything but. He's off travelling the world, gaining and losing fortunes, learning everything it is possible to learn in 12th-century Europe and Asia, seducing women, hobnobbing with royalty, strolling in gardens scented with orange blossoms, pretentiously waxing philosophic about life, reminiscing about the events and women he's experienced...
Meanwhile the reader is left wondering if the protagonist will ever get back to his main goal and rescue his poor father.(less)
1950's post-apocalyptic tale of a comet (or perhaps man-made satellites, who knows) that leaves the majority of humanity blind and susceptible to the...more1950's post-apocalyptic tale of a comet (or perhaps man-made satellites, who knows) that leaves the majority of humanity blind and susceptible to the predations of killer plants. Filled with 1950's British misogyny.
Vicious vegetables sounds like a cool premise for a book, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the true menace of these pernicious plants isn't truly revealed till near the end of the book. Beastly botany should combine well with a calamity that leaves the majority of people blind, unable to defend themselves from the shredder shrubbery... but it just didn't work for me. Within 24 hours of going blind we're presented with people despairing, unable to cope, and already committing suicide. Have these people never heard of temporary blindness? At least wait a week to see if your vision returns before offing yourself, sheesh. Within four years London is crumbling, brick buildings are collapsing, etc. Really?
Perhaps this is too much a product of its time, but I just didn't find the story very engaging. As dystopian fiction I didn't feel it was very cautionary. Oh no, man-made satellites might be filled with bad stuff! Pfft. Mostly just a boring tale about people wandering around looking for food. I fail to see why it's considered a classic.
On another note, and unrelated to the rating I gave the story: The Rosettabooks ebook edition I read was obviously a scan with the most basic OCR run on it. Riddled with unnecessary hyphens, missing periods, incorrect characters ("P" mistaken for "F", "f" mistaken for "t", "l" mistaken for "!", etc). By far the worst retail ebook I've ever read.(less)
What a pretentious load of crap about a bunch of useless, vapid, hypocritical, materialistic, racist, drunk socialites!
Maybe this is a good depiction...moreWhat a pretentious load of crap about a bunch of useless, vapid, hypocritical, materialistic, racist, drunk socialites!
Maybe this is a good depiction of life in the 20's for rich people... I don't really know, nor do I really care. I'm neither rich, nor do I live in the 20's.
I originally read this back in... I don't remember what grade in school... but this was a re-read. I just couldn't take it and was forced to give up 66% of the way through. Another moment of torturing myself with this drivel and I'd be forced to poke my eyes out with sharp, hot pokers right after I acquired some sharp pokers and heated them.
Critiques: Let's start with chapter 4 which begins with a huge list of named socialites who attended Gatsby's parties. Why I'm supposed to care about the comings and goings of fictional celebrities who serve no purpose in the book other than wasting two pages of space as extraneous filler is beyond me. Maybe they show up again in the last third of the book?
Maybe this novel was supposed to be some sort of intelligent socio-political commentary, but to me Fitzgerald just comes across as horribly racist and didn't shy away from any opportunities to throw in ethnic stereotyping. Jews, and Finns, and Negros! Oh my! Please tell me again about the big nose on Mr Meyer Wolfsheim! Four times in three pages simply was not enough. I'd love to hear more about how well-dressed that negro was, or about the three negros (two bucks and a girl) in the limousine. Written in a different time, etc etc, blah blah, yes I know... he was still a racist.
Either Fitzgerald had terrible ADHD, or he simply wrote his characters that way. The conversations were so random in the way they'd jump from one subject to another, even within the same paragraph from the same speaker. Example: (view spoiler)["I see you're looking at my cuff buttons." I hadn't been looking at them, but I did now.
They were composed of oddly familiar pieces of ivory.
"Finest specimens of human molars," he informed me.
"Well!" I inspected them. "That's a very interesting idea."
"Yeah." He flipped his sleeves up under his coat. "Yeah, Gatsby's very careful about women. He would never so much as look at a friend's wife." (hide spoiler)]
Umm... okaaaaay...? Yes, I understand the relevance of the last two sentences as they pertain to the overall story, but... cuff buttons and Gatsby's respect (or lack thereof) for another's relationship in the same breath?
I can't connect with or care for any of the characters. Especially Daisy, who I simply found intolerable. She's an airhead rich girl with First World Problems. She seemed to be mentally unstable, e.g. crying at the beauty of Gatsby's shirts. Moved to tears by a beautiful sonata, yes (Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 does it for me). A spectacular sunset, sure, been there, done that. Shirts though? Really? (view spoiler)[Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.
They're such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such — such beautiful shirts before." (hide spoiler)] Whatever, Daisy.
Honestly, I'm lost as to why this is considered such a good book. Or why it's required reading in schools.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
What sounds like an extremely cheesy concept turns out to be a very compelling story.
As mentioned in other revi...moreDolphiiiiiiins iiiiiiin spaaaaaaace!!!!
What sounds like an extremely cheesy concept turns out to be a very compelling story.
As mentioned in other reviews, the constant shift of perspective throughout is slightly annoying. Obviously the author was trying to give a concurrent view of events, but with many chapters less than two pages I wonder if another approach would've flowed better.
The "end" felt extremely rushed to me, and several things were left unresolved. Still, this is an entertaining read and a good story overall.(less)