It's been a while since I've read any PKD, so I was way overdue for a dose of his usual crazy. This one comes with an extra helping of surreality! It'It's been a while since I've read any PKD, so I was way overdue for a dose of his usual crazy. This one comes with an extra helping of surreality! It's the future (i.e. the year 1998 -- Dick didn't really leave himself much room with this one) and for reasons no one is really sure about, time has begun moving backward. It's a phenomenon known as the Hobart Phase, named after the guy who predicted it, who of course everyone assumed was a lunatic until it actually happened. Now people don't eat, they disgorge food; men don't shave in the morning but apply whiskers instead; and people begin smoking by lighting butts from the ashtray, which grow which each inhalation until they're full cigarettes again. There's some amusing wordplay with this -- "food" is now an expletive instead of "shit", and people greet each other with "goodbye" and end conversations by saying "hello". In addition, the library is no longer a depository of books and knowledge but a place where the written word is systematically eradicated. (There's a touch of Fahrenheit 451 about it.) Oh yeah, and the dead come back to life in their graves to start the whole cycle over again, growing young, dwindling into children and babies, and then finally finding a womb to crawl back into. Kind of a disturbing visual, that last part.
The whole reverse-time thing isn't that consistent though, and I wish it were more so. As usual, Dick is really great with ideas and then falters a bit in the execution. His characters are typically a bit flat and undeveloped, and here they're incredibly naive and constantly doing stupid things to boot. I still enjoyed this one, though. I'm actually kind of surprised it was as easy to follow as it was, since the temporal changes were really only window dressing to the main story.
I actually kept trying to read all the future-y words backwards, searching for hidden meanings, but there weren't really any that I found. I almost would have expected Dick to write the whole story in reverse to go with the whole "Goodbye" and "Hello" changes in language and conversation: .him past it put wouldn't I .mindfuck postmodern a be really would that Now .ecneirepe kcolc-retnuoc eurt a rof sdrawkcab yletelpmoc levon eht eht gnitirw ,srettel eht ot nwod lla ti esrever neve rO
But I suppose that would be much more difficult to read....more
I actually enjoyed this one more than I expected to. I thought it would be a total novelty act like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and others of thatI actually enjoyed this one more than I expected to. I thought it would be a total novelty act like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and others of that ilk (none of which I've read or have any desire to), but it's actually pretty clever. It's definitely its own story that borrows from the original Cinderella tale at times but completely differs in other parts.
It's certainly entertaining, but far from perfect. For one, Meyer's foreshadowing is extremely heavy handed so every turn of the plot was totally predictable. (Come on, who didn't call (view spoiler)[Cinder actually being Princess Selene from about the very first time she's mentioned (hide spoiler)]?) Weak character development in some cases, including a total cardboard-cutout villainess. The world building could also use a stronger foundation -- I had quite a few plot hole-y WTF questions. Like (view spoiler)[If the Lunars are all so afraid of mirrors, why do they apparently have them? Just to conveniently place on dinner plates and have immediately identifiable by special runes so the royals know they're being tested? That seems like a stretch... (hide spoiler)]. Also, the ending was completely unsatisfying. It wasn't quite a cliffhanger, but I would really appreciate a little more conclusion to the story than that whether or not there are more books in the series.
I will most likely read the next one, though. If nothing else, it was a nice bit of fluff.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I loved this one. It's both really clever and heartbreakingly sad at the same time. The plot is kind of crazy and my summary might not make sense unleI loved this one. It's both really clever and heartbreakingly sad at the same time. The plot is kind of crazy and my summary might not make sense unless you actually read the book, but I'll give it a go anyway:
Charles Yu (which is the name of the protagonist, as well as the author) lives in Minor Universe 31, a science fictional world in which famous heroes like Luke Skywalker coexist alongside everyday people. Our humble narrator is a time machine repair man with serious daddy issues who has spent the past 10 years avoiding the world and only interacting with his ship's computer, TAMMY, and his boss, Phil, who is an AI but doesn't know it. He also has a dog named Ed that doesn't actually exist. His mother is still alive, but she's stuck in a one-hour recreational time loop because making dinner for a holographic representation of her son again and again is better than reality. Charles' father invented time travel and then promptly disappeared, leaving him with the aforementioned daddy issues. And then one day Charles meets the future version of himself, coming out of his own time machine. Oh, shit.
I was totally absorbed from the first paragraph, which goes like this:
"When it happens, this is what happens: I shoot myself.
Not, you know, my self self. I shoot my future self. He steps out of a time machine, introduces himself as Charles Yu. What else am I supposed to do? I kill him. I kill my own future."
Okay, I guess technically that's two paragraphs. Whatever.
It just gets better from there. The time travel aspect is done really well, with clear rules and just enough mindbendyness, but one thing I didn't expect was the beauty in this book. The writing is excellent, with fantastic, eloquent descriptions, especially those pertaining to his memories of his father. There are a lot of big ideas in here, about math, language, the nature of reality. It's supremely touching. I was expecting a humorous, light read, but I'm glad it ended up being something different. This one might even end up making it to the favorites shelf....more
This book should be called "And Then There Were Gelatinous Replicating Cubes". It's kind of a Dick take on Agatha Christie style whodunit -- a lockedThis book should be called "And Then There Were Gelatinous Replicating Cubes". It's kind of a Dick take on Agatha Christie style whodunit -- a locked planet mystery, if you will. Fourteen people are reassigned to a small settlement on a planet known as Delmak-O without being told why or what their mission is. Pretty soon, they start dropping like flies. And because it's PKD, it gets a little weird after that.
This is definitely one of Dick's philosophy/religious exploration novels, so it's a bit trippy as you'd expect, but still pretty lighthearted and entertaining. I really liked it. One thing I thought was hilarious is that in the table of contents, each chapter is titled -- for instance, "8: Glen Belsnor ignores the warnings of his parents and embarks on a bold sea adventure" or "13: In an unfamiliar train station Betty Jo Berm loses a precious piece of luggage", but none of these have anything to do with the story. There aren't even any train stations or bold sea adventures in the book. And that is why I love Philip K. Dick.
Sidenote: Fairly early in the book, there is a line that made me sit up straight because it was so familiar: "One day," Babble said, "your pills are going to hatch, and some strange birds are going to emerge." I finally realized this is extremely similar to the only lyrics in the Coil song Strange Birds, which goes "One day, your eggs are going to hatch and some very strange birds are going to emerge." Coincidence or not?...more
I don't read that many plays, but I should probably read more considering that I work in theatre. I picked this one up primarily because it's famous fI don't read that many plays, but I should probably read more considering that I work in theatre. I picked this one up primarily because it's famous for coining the term "robot". The creatures in Čapek's work aren't really what we typically consider robots today, though--they're more biological than mechanical.
Written in 1920 and first performed in 1921, this was way ahead of its time. The machines-rebelling-against-their-masters trope is ubiquitous in contemporary science fiction, and R.U.R. is arguably where it all started. It's a dark and apocalyptic vision of the future, but it's also a social commentary and witty satire. There are quite a few bits that are very funny. I wanted to read this for the historical contribution it has made, but it truly stands up today and I enjoyed it based on its own merit.
I'd love to be involved in a production of this....more
Maybe 2 stars is a little harsh, but according to the goodreads scale that means "it was okay", and that's pretty close tHoly crap, this book is slow.
Maybe 2 stars is a little harsh, but according to the goodreads scale that means "it was okay", and that's pretty close to how I feel about this one. It's not a bad book, really. The worldbuilding is really imaginative, it's well-written, and there are some cool ideas here. There's some good stuff going on. It just somehow managed to bore the hell out of me.
I'm not one of those readers who needs to like all of the characters in a novel, or even identify with one, but in this case I couldn't summon up a single emotional response to any of them. That's a problem for me. Everyone was just kind of... bland.
I'm usually a very voracious reader who soars through books, but this one took me over a month to finish--and it's not even 400 pages long. It was very easy to put down and I rarely felt inspired to pick it up again. While I persisted and read through to the very end, I'd be hard pressed to tell you what actually happened in this book because I just didn't care enough....more
I enjoyed this one much more than Virtual Light. The adorably naive and unfortunately named Chia Pet McKenzie is sent to Tokyo by the Seattle chapterI enjoyed this one much more than Virtual Light. The adorably naive and unfortunately named Chia Pet McKenzie is sent to Tokyo by the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club to find out if singer Rez is really going to marry an idoru, or idol singer, a form of AI. Due to the crapshoot seating arrangements on most international flights, she is unwittingly used as a smuggler and ends up on the wrong side of the Yakuza. Oops. Meanwhile, Colin Laney has just betrayed his employers in a world where your corporation is your life, and gets a mysterious job offer in Tokyo that has something to do with the band Lo/Rez. Hmmm. Something is afoot.
This one has all the hallmarks of Gibson's work: gritty Tokyo underworld, cool technology, beautiful writing, antiheroes, badass female characters. Really enjoyable....more
So yeah, it turns out this is nothing like the movie Blade Runner. It's amazing, though. I expected the novel to have the same noir atmosphere as theSo yeah, it turns out this is nothing like the movie Blade Runner. It's amazing, though. I expected the novel to have the same noir atmosphere as the film, but this is pure PKD: surreal, hilarious, and utterly creepy all at the same time. I could spend paragraphs listing the differences between the two, but it just wouldn't be fair. They're each excellent on their own....more