Immortality is drowning in waking dreams that are remembered yesterdays. The phantasms of memory come and go like dense fogs overlaying the present, aImmortality is drowning in waking dreams that are remembered yesterdays. The phantasms of memory come and go like dense fogs overlaying the present, and when it doesn't matter whether it is really now or remembered, the balmy Utopias beckon.
Light, pure and blinding, enters a prism and bursts into multiplicity. From a technological singularity, man has colonized the stars and become the Prism, each cultivar of homo sapiens distinctly [i]alien.[/i] And the long lives, the Amaranthine, pass the slow, slow, slow, then timeless years in rule.
Fourteen thousand years have passed when we, dear readers, are dropped into this universe. It starts off innocuously enough, deceiving in its placid beginnings. The scope of things aren't apparent until we follow the Amaranthine, the Mellius, the Vulgar, the Lacaille. This many stranded narrative twists and twines, shedding self-referential truths, until it becomes intoxicating. The reader, injected into dramatic beginnings with absolutely no knowledge of this universe and its vernacular, are required to piece together their understanding from quiet eddies within the larger narrative flow. For the impatient reader, perseverance pays off; it becomes very rewarding.
This is the book I was desperate for after reading Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun. Tom Toner's The Promise of the Child, doesn't have that pervasive feel of [i]ancientness[i/], and is less punishing to the reader's ability to connect dots, but is right up there as a masterpiece of SF and the imagination.
A stink of cordite and human sweat. Wafts of dope smoke shivering in tinkling exhalations of elvish conversational cantations or the rumble of dwarvenA stink of cordite and human sweat. Wafts of dope smoke shivering in tinkling exhalations of elvish conversational cantations or the rumble of dwarven antagonism. It is a street like any other, ordinary in its fantasticism; monsters are the standard. Swanwick has created a world of filth, blood, guts mirrored against the high echelon austerity of rothschildean glass towers. He has married, with arterial blood and magic cantillations, the fey and the ordinary.
He has conjured [i]fey[/i]punk.
Jane, monstrous because of her humanity, lives in secret among the fairy folk. The Iron Dragon's Daughter describes her ascent from imprisoned child laborer to the destroyer of worlds. There is no clear divide between good and evil; there is only the ambivalence of moralities forged in the burn for survival. I have daughters. While I quail at the thought of some of the things Jane does, when I think of my girls, I understand growing up is an alchemy in which one transforms herself through the mercurial fluids of flesh, trajectories of doubt and assurance, and a multitude of social pressures. Strange as it seems, coming from a strange book like this, it has affected my perspective on the autonomous function of my children. It is hard to not step in sometimes take over, and I have to remind myself, "Hey, you had your turn..."
Jane never had the luxury of an authentic filial relationship. After all, she is an Iron Dragon's daughter, and Iron Dragons exist to bring blood and fire into the world. By sharing Jane's tale, Swanwick re-defines fantasy in his signature style of subverting genre expectations, like he did for sf with The Stations of Tides. As always, in concluding of his novel, his people are allowed to create their destinies deep in the imaginations of their readers. ...more
Sometimes the only thing to wake you up from your self-serving, whiny bullshit is the apocalypse.
In an entitled generation, when nearly everything isSometimes the only thing to wake you up from your self-serving, whiny bullshit is the apocalypse.
In an entitled generation, when nearly everything is within your grasp, budget-dependent, of course, it's easy to settle into a routine of first world problems; the hard decisions were made by our ancestors who forged the way to the future in which we squat, above the fossilized history of their achievements. Edgar appreciated this fact, close up. It tastes like ketosis and blood. It's also shame and regret. There are always better choices you could've made, and wholesale death allows you to digest that fact and move on. It's character building.
The conclusion is bittersweet, and quite possibly the best ending for this kind of story. For a person whose apathy has defined himself for half of his life, certain freedoms from social expectations and perks allows a reconciliation of the present with what could have been.
In the salt wind, Edgar can rebuild himself. ...more
This book scared the shit out of me. We've become a cult of the doomsday; we yearn for collapse in our stories of monsters undead or viral or of self-This book scared the shit out of me. We've become a cult of the doomsday; we yearn for collapse in our stories of monsters undead or viral or of self-destruction. Very few have thought that it would be something as stupid,imaginary, as the economy. It seems just unthinkable.
Lionel Shriver has humanized the financial collapse. She's shown us, even plebians not like the eponymous family, well off to the mandibles, how it may happen. Quietly, that's how. It creeps up and drains our bank accounts. It snuffles through now worthless bonds. It laughs at the hunger that settles into the bellies of the affected, because wishes don't bring fishes.
Now, the Mandibles, you don't feel really sorry for most of them. Well, if you were me, that is. The were asking for it, right? Welcome to our world, bitches. Eventually the Mandibles come together, out of necessity, and they grow on you. You wonder how they'll get along, in a society slowly regressing towards its gunslinger roots. You admire Willing and his mother. And, Nollie, God love her; it's how I imagine Shriver imagining herself in the future. You aren't sure about everyone else, except The Great Grand Man. You admire him too, because he stood the most to lose. After all, with Social Security, Roosevelt practically mandated the old are supposed to rest at the twilight of their lives, while the youth prop them up with their earnings.
The Mandibles is a thinly veiled allegory of the sentiment felt by the Millennials towards Baby Boomers in the aftermath of the Great Recession. This is greatly explored in the latter half of the book, through the lenses of those who had the most to lose. The urge to monetize seems to be the continuing downfall of humankind, at the expense of either the previous or the next generation, with no radical "economic" paradigm shift in sight. In any case, this book scared the fuck out of me, so hats off to you, Lionel. ...more
The City of Mirrors is a glittering jewel at the end of the passage, which promises the reader a drowning in a deluge of comprehension. It reflects frThe City of Mirrors is a glittering jewel at the end of the passage, which promises the reader a drowning in a deluge of comprehension. It reflects from afar horror, and from up close, the frailties of human emotion. The City of Mirrors doesn't just tell the tale of how monsters plagued the land, but how the monster became a monster when he wasn't a monster.
An unexpected appearance for the bulk of the novel for one expecting an apocalyptic showdown (we do get this), Fanning reveals all. He walks us through the glittering labyrinth of memory in which we seize, almost vampirically, the details of a life leading up to the annihilation of one of the most powerful countries on Earth. The framework was laid before Patient Zero was a reality. Greed, betrayal, rage, and, eventually, debilitating grief rising from an innocuous poverty, of material and spirit, when we observe Fanning abandon home for the Ivy League dream.
All other players recede, bit players for the moment as Fanning recounts every excruciating, masochistic detail, as if he must punish himself for all the pain he inflicted upon the world (in truth, he feels no guilt, but punishes himself for one thing, only).
But the true Jewel is not the City of Mirrors, but the fragrant future that lies ahead, for memory may also be a garden. In typical Cronin fashion, we are carried, as if on a sea breeze, dreamlike, past the denouement towards another protracted, gentler conclusion. The salt you taste on the wind is not just the sea, but the tears of remembering. ...more
For years I refused to read Atwood, who lugged behind her a rabid fanbase. Too cool for school, I guess... Then I read The Heart Goes Last. I was imprFor years I refused to read Atwood, who lugged behind her a rabid fanbase. Too cool for school, I guess... Then I read The Heart Goes Last. I was impressed at the experimental willingness to explore the darker, guiltier aspects the human condition. I was also taken aback at her ability—in shame, as this is obviously my assumption in reference to her age—to remain on the bleeding edge of technology and juxtapose it with the previously mentioned human condition to manifest new patterns of thought. Then I drank in Maddam trilogy. There ya go, I was right on the bandwagon, slavering with the rest of 'em. With reason. One always wonders how she will top the latest novel, which brings us to Hag-Seed, where she's done it again.
Atwood has thoroughly digested The Tempest and regurgitated it as Hag-Seed, a multi-layered masterpiece. It is a hall of mirrors, with The Tempest at its centre, whose centre is the burning madness and despair of Prospero, played by Felix, exiled Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. The themes of prisons is visited quite literally in Hag-Seed when Felix teaches theater in a corrections facility.
Meta as fuck, Hag-Seed imprisons the reader in a multiplying Tempest narrative, whose plot-points and themes can be found in nearly every scene. Her poor Prospero, burning low the candle of revenge, finds the silver lining in the tempest of his soul. Her Miranda, at once a dream and a lost dream regained, is strong and spunky with non-obvious depths. Her Ariel, that shackled space alien fairy digital wizard, speaks with his many magics towards freedom. Her bastards from across the sea, Antonio and company, are geometries of greed and larceny. Her Caliban, that eponymous Hag-Seed, is a minor player in this novel, but encompasses it in its meaning.
Sensitive, hilarious, and very thought through, Hag-Seed finished me off in a melancholy mood, like the bittersweet denouement of gentle and playful romp between the sheets, caught up in a contemplation of Felix's future after expending his finest hour. Anyone wishing to explore The Tempest would be well done to add Hag-Seed as a fantastic and vital supplementation to this work of Shakespeare....more
The wolf does what it must. It tears out the jugular of its victim out of necessity. The road it walks is lonely, and always shrouded in twilight. InThe wolf does what it must. It tears out the jugular of its victim out of necessity. The road it walks is lonely, and always shrouded in twilight. In the fen, in the bracken, in the gloaming forests, all that walk and breathe shy away when the wolf nears.
A wolf isn't always a wolf. A wolf may stand on two legs and speak as a person. There are many kinds of wolves as there are moralities, but the true for all of them is blood. Elka is a child of the forest, grown under the tutelage of a hag, taken away by a whirlwind, and doctored in the ways of blood by the Trapper who brings home his kills to be skinned and cured.
Elka discovers the man she called Father is a monster. She recoils and flees North to find her true parents. That is the road she treads. Elka is not beautiful and she doesn't have many words—but that don't make her stupid. She is clever and skilled. She is more at home in the woods than within the ways of people. She is a lone wolf, not entirely welp, but still taking in life. This is Elka's adventure, and it is rare that you will ever meet someone as brave as her....more
A pirate utopia seems an oxymoron. Pillage and murder in the name of anarchy and sheer rapacity is the essence of piracy. Sterling's novella imbues piA pirate utopia seems an oxymoron. Pillage and murder in the name of anarchy and sheer rapacity is the essence of piracy. Sterling's novella imbues piracy with sensibility, as if it were a 9 to 5, in a cavalcade of historical figures assuming alternate world personas. This is a story that never happened, but if it had, it is much more sanguine than history. With an oblique narrative, Sterling describes a time that has largely gone forgotten.
Fiume was invaded, taken back from Italy, to say, by a warrior poet and his followers who established the Regency of Carnaro. What ensued was a proto-fascist city-state that quickly filled with expatriates, curiosity seekers, and general decadence. The dream was short lived; it only took four years. This is fact.
(In a weird lighting stroke of potentially self indulgent insight, having watched the Tom Hiddleston movie High Rise, I can't help but wonder whether clever madman Ballard was channeling Fiume in its heyday to demonstrate, using the terms of the zeitgeist, that utopias are, by nature, fallacies. Sterling is an optimist in this regard.)
Pirate Utopia is a quick read in the dieselpunk vein, mostly from the perspective of Lorenzo Secondari, Pirate Engineer, who watches his comrades transform from warriors and anarchists into wheels of government. Himself, rising through the ranks as well, retains his iron-handed sentiment, forged through the pillage of seas, because his rank requires unsavory efforts to keep the populace in hand. There is a sadness in the Pirate Engineer, because very few are true to themselves, and he is. Pirate Utopia is strongly reminiscent of Moorcock's pulpy, less fantastic (but no less fun!) entries in his Eternal Champion Multiverse.
The novella is backed by an interview with Sterling himself, a short account of the true history of Fiume, and the artist's treatise on the fantastic style chosen to adorn chapter openings and breaks. These are interesting, much in particular the historical account, because it allows Sterling's version of events to gain credence and the reader can appreciate what he's doing.
I read A Canticle for Leibowitz when I was fifteen. It was lost on me. I was attracted to the post-apocalyptic then, before it became a fad. Dust ravaI read A Canticle for Leibowitz when I was fifteen. It was lost on me. I was attracted to the post-apocalyptic then, before it became a fad. Dust ravaging the earth while living ghosts lurked; the opening scenes of the book in particular attracted and sustained me. The inherent irony was lost on me.
Humans pride ourselves on our knowledge, yet we tear ourselves down as soon as we soar. Drawing from the chilled post-WW2 vein of Cold War paranoia, this book is Walter Miller Jr's cry for collective sanity. He has appointed the Catholic Church, long regarded in history as obstructors of science and knowledge, as defenders of Man's triumphs. Monks, in drafty cells lighted by guttering candles, illuminate in script Man's achievements of Science and Math. The irony is not lost to the astute reader; I thrilled at having made the connection, but this was quickly followed by the sobering thought that such things were all too possible. In his hubris, Man has added formidably to the list of things with which he might annihilate himself.
This book is spread across decades, then centuries, through a dark age mirroring the previous one, only it is built upon the half forgotten, barely understood technology of fallen civilization. Enlightenment eventually comes, at a cost, though one might argue the nature of said enlightenment. Is it to become technologically viable, or is it to become wise?
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a must read book of any fan of the post-apocalypse, written by a man so haunted by certain engagements of WW2 in which he took place. It will take you so far into the future it resembles the past we left.
This is the true story of Humankind, the one from which all religious tomes shy away. Nobody wants to admit man was created by foul-mouthed beings notThis is the true story of Humankind, the one from which all religious tomes shy away. Nobody wants to admit man was created by foul-mouthed beings not of earth. Nobody wants to believe we were subjugated and filthy, exactly formed in the emotional, if not physical, likeness of our unwitting creators.
The Forming is a book written and drawn by a latter-day shaman whose genius brings him perilously close to the realm accepted by the mainstream as madness. It tells us our gods were as crappy as we are now, and that a lesson learned is a lesson learned; it's also a mistake doomed to be repeated. ...more
Way before the show, before it was even cool to know A Song of Ice and Fire, I had a friend who was especially fervent in his adoration of these booksWay before the show, before it was even cool to know A Song of Ice and Fire, I had a friend who was especially fervent in his adoration of these books. He implored me beseechingly, sweat beading his brow. Many times I have picked up A Game of Thrones, only to return it to its place. Now I very much would love to find that friend, who I have lost somewhere in the world, to tell him what a fool I was.
I must admit, I only started reading because I binge watched the show, and was thirsty for more. So the majority of this book was spent referencing to the show, which is a crying shame. It's just what my brain does. I recently What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund and it states that incorporating a visual medium (graphic novels, movies, etc) before reading the book is a form of theft. The mind is given an opportunity to shape it's own unique vision of the world, based off the reader's own collection of personal experiences. With the show, this world came "pre-rendered." Again, a crying shame, for my fool self.
The majority of this book was spent stripping down these impressions and trying to create my own. Martin is an impressive chronicler. His attention to detail is incredible and his ambition is admirable. Does he have a spyglass into the universe next door, with pen and paper laid next to it?
I was fascinated by this debate a few years ago in regards to the writer's responsibility to his reader; Martin had taken too long fashioning a sequel and his fan base was divided between rage and understanding acceptance. I can see why. You don't drink from this world of lore and treachery, it drinks you in, an sensation at once horrifying and intoxicating. ...more
To accept infinity one has to embrace that the macro and micro are interchangeable, in response to the frame of reference. We exist within matryoshkaTo accept infinity one has to embrace that the macro and micro are interchangeable, in response to the frame of reference. We exist within matryoshka realms of scale, a single point on a line becoming less thick, or thicker, depending on the direction taken. With that said, nanotechnology is an oxymoron, in that it is such a huge concept inside an infinitesimal package. It is also scary, especially when one realizes they are mere machines and a wrong script can send these self- replicating packages eating the world.
Alex Rudall has turned his nanotech into sentient beings… and a drug. Intertwining narratives immerse us in the minds of an ink addict, an ink immune, and the investor who wants to capitalize on rule-changing ink technology. Naturally a collision course is in order, and when it blows up, it BLOWS UP.
While details of the ink could be fleshed out a bit, especially in relation to its escaped cousins, Inkers is an entertaining hurtle into the unknown. You know how they say it’s turtles all the way down? You’ll see. ...more