Eh. This book was only okay. It was about what I expected it to be: a mediocre YA book about time travel. It's funny how they'll dance around sex andEh. This book was only okay. It was about what I expected it to be: a mediocre YA book about time travel. It's funny how they'll dance around sex and whatnot, I guess because it's YA or whatever, but there are all these GUNS and everybody is shooting people and it all seemed a little absurd in the end. So anyway I do not really recommend....more
This was a nice little thing. I guess it's set in the same universe/reality as The Dispossessed, which I read last year and which was my first Le GuinThis was a nice little thing. I guess it's set in the same universe/reality as The Dispossessed, which I read last year and which was my first Le Guin (this is my second.)
There isn't a whole lot of plot here; and (view spoiler)[it seems like it might all go HORRIBLY WRONG at some point, with the terrible Corporation State about to kill poor little villagers, or burn all of their books or something. But it never does, and that's sort of nice, actually. (hide spoiler)] Basically it seems to be Le Guin taking an opportunity to tell us about another kind of utopia that she thought up. Which is basically what The Dispossessed was at its heart, but it was far more masterfully done there. That's okay. I liked this just fine, it was interesting to think about. Every once in a while I thought we were going to get all caught up in a "religion is terrible, look what it will do to society in the future if left unchecked" thing; and I mean I totally AGREE with that, religion is stupid and evil, but I am sort of tired of reading about it. But this never lingered in that much, so I was okay with it all.
The narration was fine. Ms. Zackman seems like she doesn't have an accent at all. That's totally weird. Usually when people say that So-and-so doesn't have an accent, it's because they have the same accent as the speaker -- this lady said some words differently from myself, but I couldn't place it as midwestern or Canadian or what. It was intriguing. Anyway she's one of those narrators who is very careful with her enunciation, but not so much that it was annoying.
So anyway to sum up, it was nice, I liked it, though I'm glad it was short. And I will get around to reading the other "Hainish" books soon. I do like that it isn't a big chronological series, and that I can read books in any order. That's always nice. (See also Banks's Culture series.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So somehow, this book was the most violent but also nothing really exciting happened. We see the reality show side of the war, instead for actual actiSo somehow, this book was the most violent but also nothing really exciting happened. We see the reality show side of the war, instead for actual action, except until the very end, and then it's all pretty terrible....more
I've been having a bad run with science fiction lately, and it occurred to me that I like reading the premises of science fiction novels better than tI've been having a bad run with science fiction lately, and it occurred to me that I like reading the premises of science fiction novels better than the actual books, most times, as the books are never (rarely) executed as cleverly as I anticipate them to be.
Then the other day I was reading the Wikipedia entry on Kilgore Trout and was reminded (because surely I knew this already) that this was the genius of Trout: Vonnegut could come up with as many interesting concepts for science fiction stories as he liked, without having to actually write the things.
So it is with Wool. In Wool, a post-apocalyptic society lives in a silo underground, and has for "hundreds of years." The opening scene describes the worn treads on the steel stairs that run through the silo. It was a great image and it made me excited for the rest of the book . . . but then that was it! If you've got a self-contained society, and the only resources you have are what you can mine directly underneath the silo, wouldn't everything be worn? Re-used? Wouldn't there be a near-obsession about using things until they absolutely couldn't be used again? Wouldn't paper be insanely valuable? Wouldn't new items be rare?
In Dune, you FELT the scarcity of water. Herbert makes you not just understand, but really viscerally feel and KNOW how valuable it is. When it's tossed on the ground to waste, you flinch. In the Dark Tower series, you cringe every time Roland has to use a precious bullet. You wonder every time someone manages to have a scrap of paper. Yet you never get that sense from this book. It just sort of feels like regular old society, with regular old boring names (like Cheryl, and Lucas, and Bernard -- also, are all these people white? Why does everyone have a moustache?) and some slightly different rules and taboos. Oh and apparently there's religion too, though it's only mentioned when it's needed as a motivation.
I had so many questions about a closed society that lives underground. Where does their trash go? Where does their shit go? They're mining oil I guess -- since they make PLASTIC like it's no big deal (really??) -- so where does the smoke from using it go? What color are these people? There's a limit on procreation -- wouldn't there be a maximum age as well? Where does their clean air come from? These are all questions which seem fascinating to me, but they apparently are not to Mr. Howey, as he declined to address them at all.
His novel did raise more questions for me, though. Why is there only one staircase in the entire place? Why aren't there any technological advances, with all those nerds working in IT all the time? How are they able to make firearms in ONE DAY that apparently work fine (and they never made firearms before, supposedly) and why the hell would they make RIFLES if all battles were going to be fought in close quarters? How on earth could you have a revolution appear out of nothing, with no simmering resentments building, just, poof? Does it ever really happen that way? I don't think so. Is there really just a Mayor and . . . that's it? No council of advisers? Really? And is groundwater really still going to be at that elevation, after all those years of people tapping into it?
So . . . yes. It was really boring, and didn't talk about any of the stuff that I had thought of in my head even before I started listening. Also, the characters we meet are mostly supposed to be the smartest people in the place, but they are conveniently stupid when the plot needs it. They don't think of possibilities that seem really fucking obvious to me. At least let these things OCCUR to the characters, and then have them dismiss them for some reason, you know? When you leave things unsaid, but I think of them, it ruins my suspension of disbelief and frustrates me. I don't like being three steps ahead of everyone. I almost always felt that when somebody didn't think of something, it wasn't because it naturally wouldn't occur to them, it was because it was convenient to the plot.
Anyway, there's my review. I'm going to go read the synopses of the books of the rest of the series on Wikipedia now, since I know I'll enjoy that a lot better than slogging through the actual novels.
Oh, I almost forgot! The narration (by Amanda Sayle -- there does exist another edition with a different narrator) was pretty terrible. I listened at 1.5x the whole time, which is something I have never done before. She spoke too slowly, and almost all of the people had absurd cartoon character voices. It was ridiculous....more
I read this in high school . . . I bought it because it was by Anthony Burgess, and then ended up writing a report about this, We, 1984, and A BrI read this in high school . . . I bought it because it was by Anthony Burgess, and then ended up writing a report about this, We, 1984, and A Brave New World, all of which are (if I recall correctly) dystopian novels with authoritarian governments. The report talked about how the governments in these novels used love and sex to control their populations.
I don't actually remember much about this particular book, though. But I think I liked it? Liked it and thought it was weird? Dunno....more
I read the story "Harrison Bergeron" in high school (who didn't?) and to prove it, I can show you the book. Because I stole this. Sorry, RHS! I blameI read the story "Harrison Bergeron" in high school (who didn't?) and to prove it, I can show you the book. Because I stole this. Sorry, RHS! I blame Nancy. (Actually, I know I read "Welcome to the Monkey House" (the eponymous short story) in Seminar. Because I remember uh wow I can't even remember her name anymore, the English teacher who wasn't Helen -- I remember her talking about all the feminine imagery, like walking through a drainage pipe, and the ocean, and a boat, and Amanda Bell (I think it was Amanda Bell) insisting that the snub nosed revolver, as a phallic symbol, trumped all of that. And that it wasn't the suicide parlor chick saying "Pointless," it was Vonnegut. MAN did she hate Vonnegut.)
I re-read this because I am re-reading a bunch of Vonnegut, looking for a suitable reading for the wedding. I love Kurt Vonnegut, and he says a lot of things that I feel. I haven't found anything appropriate yet. I'll let you know.
The stories are mostly only okay. You don't hear Vonnegut's voice in them, not as overtly, anyway, as in later works -- though I suppose some people might prefer that.
The sci fi short stories do exactly what short science fiction is supposed to do: they expand on something that we think we want (like "being happy" or "living forever") and take it to an extreme, show us how maybe we don't want that after all. He does it well, and he keeps things short and sweet, and to be honest I think they all come off as impressively not-dated.
My favorites are the eponymous story, and the last one, about the stuff that can make you live forever. I didn't even re-read "Harrison Bergeron" this time around, because I'm tired of people asking about it in the "What Was That Book?" community. I also like the one about the girl and the cat. And "Long Walk To Forever" -- it's cheesy and sentimental, but I like it anyway, I can't help it....more
Could have been a very run-of-the-mill story of a paranoid, bureaucratic dystopia and the man who saw through it all, but the protagonist was interestCould have been a very run-of-the-mill story of a paranoid, bureaucratic dystopia and the man who saw through it all, but the protagonist was interesting and wasn't the cliche he could have so easily been.
Wish the back cover hadn't told of a development that happened more than halfway through the book, though. What up with that?...more
That said, my view of the book was colored by that stupid dramatization, and it was tough foOkay, so this was WAY better than that dumb dramatization.
That said, my view of the book was colored by that stupid dramatization, and it was tough for me to decide whether I liked it or not. I guess I did, I didn't HATE it, but I also can't think of anything about it that I'll take with me. But it was definitely interesting, and though I don't think this situation WILL happen, I also don't think it's as far-fetched as some people seem to.
There was a little bit of man-hating, but considering the situation the protagonist is in, there actually probably could have been a little more. I'd've liked to have heard more about what a man's life was like in this society, about how manufacturing and stuff like that worked, and I was hoping that that's what the postscript would discuss, but it didn't. Oh well.
I'm giving it two stars for now, because that means "It was OK," and that's how I feel about this book at the moment. If I do end up thinking about it more in the coming weeks, that'll be enough to bump it up to three....more
First of all, remind me never to listen to another "dramatization." Because they sure are dramatic, overly so. The only good thing about thisOhhh kay.
First of all, remind me never to listen to another "dramatization." Because they sure are dramatic, overly so. The only good thing about this one was that the Commander sounded like James Cromwell (he wasn't, though.) I mean, who wants to LISTEN to people kiss? Gross.
I didn't like the story of the Handmaid's Tale as much as I thought I would, given the premise. I mean, I like dystopias, and I'm a feminist, and I am terrified of evangelical Christians (sorry, cousin Janet)! But this was just . . . blah. However, if the book's as short as this dramatization, I'm going to read the real thing and give it a fair shake.
(ETA: I did read the real thing, and my review is here. It only gained one star.)...more
The art was mediocre, the colors muddy. (I wish they had included the cover art before each chapter, too.) I had a hard time distinguishing one EngEh.
The art was mediocre, the colors muddy. (I wish they had included the cover art before each chapter, too.) I had a hard time distinguishing one English dude in a suit from the next, but didn't care enough to make an effort. Thank goodness for that guy at the end with the cockney (?) accent.
I guess anarchy just isn't that interesting. I mean . . . here's the plot: there was a war, which allowed a crazy bureaucracy to develop with little personal freedoms allowed. Then this crazy dude tore it all down, by somehow, in a way that's never explained, gaining control over the system. Boring. ...more
I did a book report on We, 1984, and Brave New World in high school. Didn't everybody? I made my thesis something about love vs. sex. That is, as aI did a book report on We, 1984, and Brave New World in high school. Didn't everybody? I made my thesis something about love vs. sex. That is, as a leader of a dystopian society, in order to keep things going, you have to remove the former from the latter.
I don't remember a lot about this book specifically, except for the touchy and smelly movie theaters, and that everyone lived in glass buildings so that everybody could see everybody else. I do remember that I liked it a lot, though, and wanted it to be as well-known as 1984 and BNW, so that other people would enjoy it too....more
Maaaan 1984! I read this a BUNCH of times in middle school and high school. It was my first "dystopian" novel, and I ate it up like crazy. Even beyondMaaaan 1984! I read this a BUNCH of times in middle school and high school. It was my first "dystopian" novel, and I ate it up like crazy. Even beyond the concepts he raised, though, it's the imagery that stays with me even today. Like the tobacco falling out of the end of his cigarette. And waiting on line in a cafeteria. And tossing that photograph into the pneumatic tube to the incinerator. And overalls....more