What can I say? This is a classic. I remember reading it in high school, and rationing it from day to day to make it last. The beginning was confusing...moreWhat can I say? This is a classic. I remember reading it in high school, and rationing it from day to day to make it last. The beginning was confusing and slow; the payoff was huge for sticking with it. This is, without doubt, one of the richest examples of worldbuilding ever committed to paper, a prime example of SF that gets far beyond the techie toys to the psychological underpinnings of the various cultures that clash to such world-shattering effect. From the Bene Gesserit "witches" to the hard-as-nails Fremen, from the incorruptible doctor to the living calculator, one senses thousands of years of history pouring out of Frank Herbert's brain, as clearly as if he had been taught it in school--or lived it.
The politic intrigues, the venality of the squabbling factions, and above all the landscapes of Arrakis are vividly drawn and utterly believable. This place must exist somewhere. And though it has been many years since I read this, the characters still remain vivid in my mind, a rare accomplishment from any book. I remember how said I was when I got to the end, and Paul discovers himself losing what he most cherished in the victory he fought for so hard. Good stuff. Memorable stuff.
If you have never read it, you should, even if SF isn't your thing. It gives the reader quite a lot above and beyond what's on the page--first and foremost, a great read.
This is a fun read. Wilkes has done a good job of keeping her "silly science fiction" story moving. Science fiction has too few purely humorous storie...moreThis is a fun read. Wilkes has done a good job of keeping her "silly science fiction" story moving. Science fiction has too few purely humorous stories unburdened with grand themes and angst-ridden heroes, so this is a bright spot. Take a couple of hours and go along for the ride as a dim-witted hero falls prey to an ambitious female and a thought-control device with an agenda of its own. What did I learn from this book? Nothing, but I had a good time doing it.(less)
It is a tossup from here which of King's books I like better, The Stand or It. He did such a credible job of weaving two timelines together, of aging...moreIt is a tossup from here which of King's books I like better, The Stand or It. He did such a credible job of weaving two timelines together, of aging his young characters, of effortlessly creating a lost era...every character, every scene, is richly realized and believable, and I for one vastly enjoyed spending time with these people in this place he's created.
The only thing that distracts from this book, in my opinion, is the Turtle and the whole weird journey to the ends of the universe taken by the heroes to defeat the evil Pennywise. This seemed like King either couldn't think of a really plausible way to address the origins of the clown and defeat it, or he was indulging in some flight of fantasy (literally) and letting his mind and plot freewheel through the climax of both timelines. He built such a believable base in the richness of the children's summer world and the adults' varied problems, and then took us outside into a strange place that is never quite fully explained and just seems to have "big, bad and scary" set around it in flashing quotations. But despite that, the rest of the novel is so solid you forgive that and just cheer the heroes on, fearing for them, being angry for them, mourning those who don't make it. King never cheats; there are seldom miraculous rescues in his work, and even heroes must bend to the laws of odds and plausibility. It makes for a rich and satisfying read, one you'll think about for a long time afterward.
This, along with It, remains my favorite of King's books, read several times since it was first published in the '70s. The very idea of wiping out the...moreThis, along with It, remains my favorite of King's books, read several times since it was first published in the '70s. The very idea of wiping out the world and pitting the survivors against each other in a cosmic battle of good and evil is wonderful. King imagines very real scenarios quite aside from the fantastic element, with not all the good guys surviving even to get to the battle, and not all the bad guys beyond redemption. King's post-apocalyptic world still has room for accidents, suicide, and the ironies of surviving disaster only to die stupidly. His characters, as always, act like real people, not glorified, lily-white heroes and villains. Perhaps the best here is the one you hate the most, Harold, whose journey is unbearably poignant in discoveries made too late. I am always curious as to why certain people have viciously panned this novel, because it does speak to the heart of humanity, and what we might make of unexpected opportunities to right the wrongs we perceive in the world.
I discovered Carol Berg's books last year, and have been pleasantly impressed. I confess that this one started a bit slow for me, after the killer fir...moreI discovered Carol Berg's books last year, and have been pleasantly impressed. I confess that this one started a bit slow for me, after the killer first chapter, and it hung around on the back of my couch until I was sufficiently in the mood to stick with it. Oh, how glad I am. Valen is the most interesting character I think I have ever read, in many ways. Berg took such a huge chance on this rogue, who is unrepentantly selfish yet good-hearted, obsessed with his own survival and yet unable to walk away from friends. He is a drug addict, a deserter, he hates his family, will do anything to maintain his freedom...and yet, when it comes to the sticking point, there is no one better on your side, and his honor comes out intact. I spent a long time after finishing the second book (Breath and Bone) just thinking about the characters and their world. Berg frankly inspired me to take more chances with my own characters.
This is a terrific read, and it gets better and better as the plot starts to roll like a boulder downhill, unstoppable, scary, and unpredictable as to where it will land. Really good fantasy, in a world rich and complex, cruel and yet struggling tooth and nail to hold onto hope. Buy both books together, because otherwise you will be fretting and impatient waiting for the next one to arrive!
The only reason this doesn't get five stars is the somewhat slow patch in the beginning. Stick with it. You'll be glad you did.
I, too, write fantasy. My first book, Firedancer, is out here.