**spoiler alert** More terrifying than most dystopian fiction that I've read because it has a veneer of utopianism. My only complaint is that the Sava...more**spoiler alert** More terrifying than most dystopian fiction that I've read because it has a veneer of utopianism. My only complaint is that the Savage is pretty much only presented with negative alternatives. The reader never gets a picture of what exactly Huxley advocates. There are clues relevant to this in the intro, which one should read for deeper understanding.
This presents a bizarre and impressive picture of totalitarianism. However I am left wondering which strain of totalitarianism is under criticism. Ayn Rand's Anthem is clearly criticizing Socialism/Communism. 1984 is clearly criticizing Corporatism/Fascism. What is Brave New World criticizing? What current political ideology combines the nanny state, eugenics, Keynesian+command economics, a caste system, and vulgar epicurianism? I don't know, it is a thought I will leave for another day.
Another interesting thought is whether or not the Brave New World is even a logical possibility. Central planning is impossible today, but with Bokanovsky groups would that still be the case?
Anyway, it is a great book, very unlike most dystopian fiction. (less)
Every panel like a painting and the story is an awesome blend of scifi, fantasy, and norse mythology. Excellent. Seriously though, this ties with Geof...moreEvery panel like a painting and the story is an awesome blend of scifi, fantasy, and norse mythology. Excellent. Seriously though, this ties with Geoff Darrow's Hard Boiled for my favorite comic art *ever*.(less)
Just found another superb weird fiction author. The only thing I can compare them to is Lovecraft's dream cycle works, particularly the darker parts o...moreJust found another superb weird fiction author. The only thing I can compare them to is Lovecraft's dream cycle works, particularly the darker parts of them (as most of the stories in this collection are dark). The Xiccarph stories take place in the strangest, most creative realm, but I enjoyed the Aihai stories most. They take place in what I think is Mars' ancient past (although it might be in the far future), and mostly in underground caves. The alienness of Smith's aliens is a huge plus. There was also a story towards the end of the book which took a surprising turn towards romance. The romance was between a (spoilers) human stranded on an alien world, and an alien wishing to escape "her" world. So two people feeling weird and isolated by their social surroundings. I can see why this concept would appeal to readers and writers in the weird fiction arena. (end spoilers) The writing is superb, though it is slow, atmospheric, and setting heavy. I had heard that Smith was friends with/influenced Lovecraft and that is clearly evident from these tales. (less)
Not so much a book as a collection of images. But I gotta log it anyway because of some compulsion which hits me every time I see an end cover. I wish...moreNot so much a book as a collection of images. But I gotta log it anyway because of some compulsion which hits me every time I see an end cover. I wish that 2001 a space odyssey had a better poster. But there are plenty of older ones which make it a really beautiful collection.(less)
Phillip K. Dick's writing is rapid and easy to read. Cool setting, interesting enough characters, but what makes it shine is the philosophica...moreGod tier.
Phillip K. Dick's writing is rapid and easy to read. Cool setting, interesting enough characters, but what makes it shine is the philosophical questions it instigates reader inquiry into. Questions such as
Empathy: Who should we feel empathic for? All biological life? All thinking beings? Only humans? Only things which can reciprocate empathy? Only things which feel empathic to one or more of the above categories? All of the above?
Religion: Even if a religion is proven false (as has been done in real life and in the book), people still adhere to it because it appeals to/is a vibrant representation of real emotions which they feel. To a believer, does the truth value of a religion really matter as much as the emotions it addresses?
Depravity: Sometimes we need to do things which we "know" are "wrong" in order to live a comfortable existence (pay taxes, eat dairy, patronize a "bad" corporation, w/e). Does this make us sinful/depraved, or is achieving a comfortable existence a valid enough excuse to bend moral precepts? This also ties into materialism/consumerism in that much of what we need to be comfortable is really societally generated BS (like expensive pet ownership is in the book).
Theres a lot more besides the above which I didn't mention either because I didn't get it, I cant figure out how to convey it succinctly, or I forgot it.
I also now appreciate the comic "Hard Boiled" as a result of this. Anyone who likes this should check out that comic.(less)
What a wonderful universe! Well, really its quite horrific, but anyway...
I've not read that much Dick, but this was an excellent concoction even by hi...moreWhat a wonderful universe! Well, really its quite horrific, but anyway...
I've not read that much Dick, but this was an excellent concoction even by his standards. It has all the elements you would expect: totalitarian states, men/women on the run, people with psychological disorders and psi abilities, androids, unnerving aliens with questionable motivations, and hallucinations. The only thing I didn't like was the ending.
The more interesting part of the story takes place on a moon orbiting an alien inhabited world in the Alpha Centauri system. Originally there was a colony of mental patients on this moon, but somehow that operation fell apart and the mental patients inherited the moon. The moon is ruled by a federal organization made up of various “clans”. Each clan corresponds to a different mental disorder for example manics, depressives, skitzos of different sorts, etc. They actually seem to have developed a modicum of civilization and stability, when the Terrans decide to reclaim the colony and re-hospitalize all its inhabitants. Anti-psychiatric, Szaszian overtones are obvious and I love it. The situation on Earth pretty much sucks. It looks like the Communism now dominates the world, but the US has become its own brand of totalitarian superpower. The CIA is correspondingly very influential, and makes use of simulacrums which are basically remote control androids. The “protagonist” is a CIA agent, at least initially.
As the story progresses it becomes obvious that the sane characters aren’t that sane, which kind of makes the justification for taking over this moon absurd. Also there is a telepathic slime mold from the outer solar system who communicates telepathically with all the main characters and heavily influences the plot. Its actually a pretty complicated plot and universe, and it feels super real.
Its paced perfectly. No wasted words, and very few unclear passages (unless they are meant to be). Blah blah Dick is a good writer.
Anyway I really liked it. This was more of me rambling and gushing about the book than reviewing it, but I can do that I’m a random goodreads user. (less)
Ted Chiang is great at crafting worlds which function by different fundamental rules. This adheres wonderfully to that expectation. This is like as if...moreTed Chiang is great at crafting worlds which function by different fundamental rules. This adheres wonderfully to that expectation. This is like as if an atheist had written C S Lewis' "The Great Divorce". Religion is objectively and obviously real. God is omnipotent, demands love, is not just or merciful, but is benevolent sometimes. Hell exists, but is not much different from Earth in most respects. The story follows the actions of a non-devout man who was married to a devout woman. She was (spoilers) brutally killed in an angel visitation, and went to heaven. Now the only way for him to ever see her again is to genuinely love her murderer-- God.
So damn excellent. This is one of those books I never wanted to finish. I was going to make a list of stories which were excellent, but it was like 2/...moreSo damn excellent. This is one of those books I never wanted to finish. I was going to make a list of stories which were excellent, but it was like 2/3 of the stories. If you know Phillip K. Dick's style you'll know how these generally go. Odd, out-of-place naive writing style. Authoritarian themes, cold war allegories, nuclear stuff, soft scifi, characters who cant tell illusion from reality. There were a surprising amount of totally fantastical scenarios here. Anyway this book was basically perfect.(less)