This is, quite possibly, one of the most impressive and beautiful works of literary science fiction that I have read. It may be the best novel I’ve reThis is, quite possibly, one of the most impressive and beautiful works of literary science fiction that I have read. It may be the best novel I’ve read all year. Le Guin’s characters are so deep, her ideas so compelling, her worlds so rich, her writing so poetic and beautiful that I hardly know where to start.
One of the many things that made this book so good was the depth of Le Guin’s character development. The story had a plot, and Le Guin dropped just enough pieces of it here and there for you to know that there was one, but more than anything this book is a portrait of an incredibly interesting man, Shevek.
The book actually contains two stories that merge into one in the end. One taking place in the present, after Shevek arrives at Urras, and the other is a series of flashbacks showing how he arrived at that point. Le Guin alternates brilliantly between past and present to reveal insights into Shevek’s character that would otherwise remain unexplored. By the end of this novel, I felt that I knew this man–and loved him–better than anyone in real life, including myself. It blew me away.
Le Guin’s worldbuilding, too is incredible. Before reading this book, I didn’t consider myself an anarchist, but after spending so much time in the utopian society of Anarres, I almost want to become one. Le Guin meticulously extrapolates her world from her highly perceptive understanding of human nature, paying such attention to detail that her anarchist world is not only surprisingly plausible, but enviable as well. This is the kind of world that I would like to visit, explore, and perhaps even settle down in and live.
Her ideas, like her world, are meticulously well thought out and incredibly compelling. In the Hainish cycle, Shevek is the inventor of the ansible drive, the technology that eventually enables peaceable diplomatic missions to other worlds, such as the one chronicled in The Left Hand of Darkness. Shevek’s struggle is to find a way to let this technology bring peace and break down walls, rather than empower tyrants to conquer and destroy. Time and again, Shevek’s egalitarian, anarchist values come to the surface, clashing not only with those of capitalist Urras, but with our own.
All of this would be enough to make this a compelling, memorable story–but Le Guin’s stunning, beautiful prose puts this book into a league of its own. The rhythm and beauty in her words made every page a joy to read, with descriptions that kept me entranced and dialogue that made her characters leap off of the page. Above all, her prose conveys with powerful and compelling clarity the many life-changing ideas and themes of this story. The book’s last words still haunt me.
The Dispossed is, without a doubt, is one of the best works of Science Fiction that I have read. I would even go so far as to claim that it is a superior book to Le Guin’s better known work, The Left Hand of Darkness. If I could read a book this insightful every month, I would be a much better man, and have a much deeper and imaginative understanding of the world than I presently have. This book is a true masterpiece.
If you never read any other work of science fiction in your life, READ THIS. Ender's Game is hands down one of the greatest sf novels of all time--itIf you never read any other work of science fiction in your life, READ THIS. Ender's Game is hands down one of the greatest sf novels of all time--it taught me more about leadership and human nature than just about any other book. Worth reading, and rereading, and rereading again and again.
Absolutely stunning. The writing is beautiful, the characters are compelling, and the story is both thrilling and thought-provoking. This book changedAbsolutely stunning. The writing is beautiful, the characters are compelling, and the story is both thrilling and thought-provoking. This book changed the way I think about my relationships with other people and fed my imagination in ways that only the very best science fiction and fantasy can possibly do. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the best works of science fiction that I've read.
A classic work of science fiction. Like most hard sf, it focuses more on ideas than on character development, but Clarke's writing is both beautifullyA classic work of science fiction. Like most hard sf, it focuses more on ideas than on character development, but Clarke's writing is both beautifully evocative and imminently readable. The last fifty pages in particular are earth-shattering.
This book was incredible. Magnificent. It made me think, it made me cry–it made me want to be a better man.
David Gemmell examines issues and themes suThis book was incredible. Magnificent. It made me think, it made me cry–it made me want to be a better man.
David Gemmell examines issues and themes such as life, death, and love in ways that are as meaningful and honest as they are powerful. He is never preachy or trite, never academic or distant. You feel that you are there, with the characters, struggling with their struggles, wrestling with their despair, breaking out of it and finding what it means to truly live, to be a hero. Incredible.
This novel is violent, but never gratuitous. When someone kills or is killed, you see the consequences. That’s part of what makes this book so powerful. It’s a lot like On My Way To Paradise in that respect.
Gemmell does an excellent job developing his characters. Within a couple of pages of each new characters’ introduction, you feel like you know them. As the book progresses, many of them change in satisfying ways–most of them, in fact. I felt such a powerful connection to these people that when they died, or when they grieved because their friends and loved ones died, I cried with them. Awesome.
As far as setting goes, Gemmell gives you just enough information to understand what’s going on without getting in the way. He strikes an excellent balance. You get a sense of history without any massive, story-stopping info dumps–no info dumps at all. At the same time, there are enough interesting world details that you do get a sense of wonder, of another place. I loved it.
The overall plot is pretty basic, but there are enough subplots and twists to keep things interesting. Druss’s story is very straightforward–basically, a retelling of Beowulf. However, Druss doesn’t show up until around chapter five. Before that, we get the setup for the other main characters: Regnak, Virae, Serbitar, Vintar, etc. Their stories get wrapped up in Druss’s, but are just as important to the novel as a whole.
There were a couple of minor twists towards the end that made me go “huh?” I won’t give spoilers, but I will say that they were minor enough that they didn’t take away much from the integrity of the novel as a whole.
Legend was Gemmell’s first published novel, and it’s understandable that certain parts would read like a first novel. What amazes me is that despite the occassional amateur mistake, the work as a whole is so incredible.
Gemmell is in his own league. This book is a classic. READ IT!!!
This book is epic. Epic. I can’t begin to describe how incredible it is. Virtually every page, especially towards the end, is packed with meaning. A cThis book is epic. Epic. I can’t begin to describe how incredible it is. Virtually every page, especially towards the end, is packed with meaning. A cautionary tale of the folly of man in this fallen world, this story held me captivated right up to the chilling final chapter. Bravo.
As I understand it, Walter M. Miller Jr. wrote this book in the late 50s / early 60s, during the height of the Cold War. Science fiction at that time was both sweepingly visionary and frighteningly pessimistic about the future of mankind, and this book successfully captures both extremes. Like Asimov’s Foundation series, it reads more like a collection of elongated short stories, but Miller’s characterization and attention to detail is superior, in my opinion, to Asimov’s.
The most fascinating aspect about this book is the way that Miller hearkens to the past to give us a vision of our future. Many of his ideas are straight out of Augustine and Aquinas–indeed, in several places, the story feels like it’s set in 3rd or 4th century Europe, which only adds to the delicious irony.
Yet, while this book has a strong Catholic feel, I never felt alienated or excluded from its intended audience. Maybe it’s because my Mormon heritage is more compatible with Catholicism than other religious beliefs, but I don’t think it’s just that; the issues in this book are human issues, not just religious issues, and by focusing on that fact, Miller makes the story much more universal.
Even with all the deep, philosophical elements, this story is wonderfully entertaining. Irony abounds, especially in the first section, in which a young novice takes a simple electrical diagram from the pre-deluge world and, completely unaware of its significance (or lack thereof), spends the rest of his life making a beautiful illuminated manuscript of it. Even though the sections were short, I quickly fell in love with the characters in each one, and connected with them almost instantly.
The final scene, in particular, was incredibly touching. I won’t spoil it for you, but let me just say, if you are or ever have considered taking your own life, read this book, just for the final scene. The degree to which the last abbot clings to life, even in the face of so many good reasons to give up, is just incredible. And the final scene, in which…I won’t ruin it for you. Just read it!
A Canticle for Leibowitz is one of the most powerful, meaningful books I have read in my life. It is more than a good read, more than epic. I class it as one of the best works of fiction this genre has ever produced. If you have ever wondered about the destiny of mankind, or the proper relationship between the secular and the spiritual in our modern age–read this book!
Excellent ending to an amazing science fiction trilogy. This book fulfills on the premise and thematic elements of SPIN in a way that I found immenselExcellent ending to an amazing science fiction trilogy. This book fulfills on the premise and thematic elements of SPIN in a way that I found immensely satisfying.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It combined the best of both science fiction and young adult: likeable teenage characters struggling to find their plaI thoroughly enjoyed this book. It combined the best of both science fiction and young adult: likeable teenage characters struggling to find their place in a high-tech alien world. In particular, I found it fascinating how the widespread nanotech shaped both the society and the universe.
But the story isn’t about the technology, it’s about the characters, their adventures, and the friendships that form between them. This was what really made the story come alive for me. There’s a small amount of wish fulfillment, which may or may not be your thing, but overall I found the characters to be both believable and likeable. It was a lot of fun to watch them grow and learn together.
At times, though, it felt as if the characters weren’t challenged enough. The friendship and relationship issues were well done, but it wasn’t until the end that they started to have any significant try-fail (or try-almost fail) cycles in their adventures. Also, while the ending was quite satisfying, it was also a little abrupt.
Those didn’t detract much from the rest of the story, though. Overall, I thought it was a very satisfying read–the sort of book I wish I’d found when I was twelve or thirteen. If I wasn’t already hooked on science fiction by that age, I have the feeling that this book would have turned me into a lifelong fan.