The Martian is what I'd call a "Geek's Delight". All the main characters are geeks -- super-smart and tops in their various fields of expertise. But tThe Martian is what I'd call a "Geek's Delight". All the main characters are geeks -- super-smart and tops in their various fields of expertise. But these geeks aren't ordinary geeks. They're also well-rounded, witty, social, and pretty happy with just about everything. They're the heroes. They're the ones who bring the world together in peace and love. And, y'know what? I didn't mind. Someone's gotta do it, so why not geeks and nerds? In that sense, the book is uplifting, describing what mankind could be capable of if we were all just a bit more geeky and joined together for the love of science. The author describes this fantasy world with such simple and plausible language one might wonder why we're not already interacting with one another this way. But, the truth is, this is a fantasy world in a science fiction novel. Credulity was stretched many times but never to the breaking point. Science and math are presented in a way that often verged on getting lost in the weeds but managed to snap back every time so that people without a Master's Degree in Mathematics or other higher science could hang on for the ride.
Now, I do consider myself a bit of a geek. I like sci-fi, playing video games is my entertainment of choice, and I was a pretty smart student back in my school days. Aaaand I'm married to a mechanical engineer. I enjoyed reading a book that relied on smarts rather than angst to tell its story. The antagonist in this story is not man, but Mars, and I found that refreshing. Haven't had a good "man vs. nature" story in awhile? This book will hit the spot.
Regrettably, there was much about this book I did not enjoy. For one, the use of obscenity as "humor" wore thin rather quickly and soon became a needless distraction. I won't give my usual anti-foul language rant here. Suffice to say, the obscenity, profanity, and vulgarity bordered so closely on gratuitous usage I really can't recommend the book to many of my friends. It was especially gratuitous in the character, Annie, where her foul mouth is played for laughs but, sadly, is never actually funny. Her final utterance, which is especially foul and incongruous given the situation, is something no self-respecting, intelligent woman would ever say. Seemed like the author (a male) was guessing at what he thought a foul-mouthed woman might say and he got it wrong, really wrong. When bad writing like that happens, I suddenly find myself thrown out of the story and staring at the page asking, "Why?"
The only other criticism I have is that the characters were all pretty much the same (though some cussed far more than others). Everyone seemed happy, well-adjusted, content, and generally full of goodwill toward men. I enjoyed the optimism and appreciated the lack of cynicism but it did make for a rather unrealistic atmosphere. Still, this is science fantasy! So, it's okay. Nothing wrong with a "feel good" novel, hm? A shame about the filthy language, though. It will ensure The Martian stays inaccessible to a large number of readers who might otherwise enjoy reading it.
I liked On The Beach. I did not find it depressing at all, nor did I find the actions of the people in the story inexplicable. Yes, this is an "end ofI liked On The Beach. I did not find it depressing at all, nor did I find the actions of the people in the story inexplicable. Yes, this is an "end of the world" tale but, like another reviewer, I found it to be a story which discusses the strength of the human spirit in the face of impossible odds. The writing is very plain yet skillfully conveys a message of peace and hope. The writing might even be called subtle. I think what readers take away from this book will have a lot to do with what they bring to it. Some will appreciate the dignity and strength with which the main characters meet their ends. Others will be disappointed that this isn't more like a "zombie apocalypse".
Finally, the book is a bit dated in that I don't believe the scenario that people were so frightened of in the 1950's will ever come to pass. The world has changed a great deal since then and the few nuclear bombs that might be used offensively will not trigger the kind of frenetic retaliatory response that previous generations were afraid of, so the "warning" contained in the book loses some of its teeth. We won't be wiping ourselves off the planet any time soon in a world-wide nuclear holocaust. Yet, the warning about aggression and retaliation still resonates and because of that this book is still a thoughtful read....more
Why I gave this silly book 3 stars...because I did "like it" back in the 1970's when I first read it. Fast forward to now, I probably wouldn't even boWhy I gave this silly book 3 stars...because I did "like it" back in the 1970's when I first read it. Fast forward to now, I probably wouldn't even bother reading it. Pure science fiction! ;)...more
The Turn of the Screw is my first exposure to the writing of Henry James and I'm not sure I'll become a fan although I didWARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!
The Turn of the Screw is my first exposure to the writing of Henry James and I'm not sure I'll become a fan although I did enjoy the story. If I had to describe this story in one word that word would be "creepy". By the same token if I had to describe the style of writing in one word it would be "verbose". I won't fault any reader for needing a dictionary close at hand while reading. And there were many, many times it was hard to find the creepy in amongst the verbosity. Since this was a short story I felt it would be extremely lazy of me to skim and, as I continued to read I realized that gleaning the creepy out of the text did require that I read every word otherwise I might miss something, and this made The Turn of the Screw one of the most nuanced "ghost stories" I've ever read. Finally, the ending is one of those where I found myself reading the last word and immediately going back a page or two to discover what I must have missed! It's not that the writing was bad but the ending did seem very abrupt and the story had been so nuanced throughout that I honestly felt I'd missed a clue.
I would not call this story a "thriller". Indeed, it doesn't fit neatly into any genre in my humble opinion. It is an atmospheric and complex story disguised, through clever writing, as a simple, linear tale of a few months in the life of a governess. The story may actually be more apropos to our time than to the time in which it was written when you consider how "stalking" has almost become a world-wide pastime. The Turn of the Screw gives us a chilling inside look at the mind of a stalker -- how her altered reality seems so very real to her no matter how increasingly illogical or unnatural her world becomes, and how she justifies her actions despite the absence of logic and the promptings of her own good conscience. In fact, she twists her conscience until it conforms to what she wants to believe -- that she is a "protector". She must twist it this way or face the reality that she is the one from whom others must be protected. Is she mad or manipulative? James' writing lets us decide and that, ultimately, made this an interesting read for me. It's definitely not for everyone....more