Fun stuff. I'm a fan of the TV series Justified, so I figured I'd go outside my literary comfort zone and check out the source material.
Turns out, it'...moreFun stuff. I'm a fan of the TV series Justified, so I figured I'd go outside my literary comfort zone and check out the source material.
Turns out, it's very similar, at least in tone. It's not quite as dark and the setting (Miami) is less evocative than Harlan County, but Raylan and the other characters have just as much personality on the page as they do on the screen. The plot didn't exactly blow my socks off, but it was a fun read and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a fast, light book.(less)
Call this 3.5 stars. I'm a big fan of Howard's Conan mythos; it's some of the only sword-and-sorcery fantasy that I enjoy. This collection, however, f...moreCall this 3.5 stars. I'm a big fan of Howard's Conan mythos; it's some of the only sword-and-sorcery fantasy that I enjoy. This collection, however, failed to grab me as most of the Conan stories do and I'm still trying to figure out why.
Here's what I've come up with so far. First, Conan is way too powerful. Obviously, he's always been powerful, right from the beginning, but in the earlier stories he seems to lose more battles. He gets captured, knocked unconscious, ensorcelled, whatever. Instead, by these later stories (published later, that is; the stories are thankfully not in chronological order) Conan is a near-omnipotent and borderline-omniscient figure. He's closer to supernatural than superhuman, and I found that less fun. It's no coincidence that my favorite story, "Beyond the Black River," was the one where Conan was weakest.
The second reason is Howard's well-attested race and gender issues (I know, he was a product of his time, but still). The racial stuff was annoying but easy to overlook because there were no few main characters of a non-white race. There were, however, a lot of main female characters, and their constant duplicity and incapacity got very annoying. This was especially a problem in "Red Nails," the last story, where much of the story was told from the viewpoint of a highly capable woman who Conan nonetheless showed up and then wooed.
I still love Conan, and I still love Howard's writing, but this collection just didn't grab me, despite the good narration. Oh well; I still have the early Conan stories. (Side note: this collection is padded out by some incomplete drafts and other miscellany. I can't stand the former and the latter weren't all that interesting, so you've been warned). (less)
I'm adding this to my "history" shelf for a reason. It's not just a movie tie-in with EXCLUSIVE, 100% UNOFFICIAL secrets or something that you'd ever...moreI'm adding this to my "history" shelf for a reason. It's not just a movie tie-in with EXCLUSIVE, 100% UNOFFICIAL secrets or something that you'd ever find advertised in TMZ. Instead, it surprised me by being and exhaustively detailed and comprehensive look at the four-year process of getting Star Wars made.
A lot of the broad info I already knew, but this book is worthy of calling itself "definitive." Lots of primary sources from Fox and Lucasfilm make their first appearance in this book, most of them from around the time of Star Wars's release. Lots of interviews, storyboards, personal conversations...just a treasure trove of new data.
It's also a cool look at the process of getting any film made, something I'd never read about before. It's cool for that reason apart from my admitted fanboyism.
And yes, it does tend to venerate George Lucas. Not entirely unfairly, I think; the story of the book is one of incredible success against overwhelming odds in the real world too. For all his latter-day faults, nobody can question that Lucas turned popular film-making on its head (to say nothing of his technical accomplishments).
I'm a pretty big fan of H.G. Wells, and this is the fourth book of his that I've written. It's not the worst (The War in the Air just wouldn't end), b...moreI'm a pretty big fan of H.G. Wells, and this is the fourth book of his that I've written. It's not the worst (The War in the Air just wouldn't end), but it's definitely the one with the most unfulfilled promise. Moreau's surgical mutilation and manipulation of animals into grotesque humanoids is profoundly creepy, but the book spends relatively little time dwelling on that and more on the narrator's fear of physical harm at the creatures' hands.
It might have something to do with the Wells' late-19th-century culture, but I found the narrator's profound disgust for the savage Beast People to bear a strong resemblance to mere racism, and the author's tacit approval of this opinion was a little disturbing. Obviously Wells was a product of his time, but it does get in the way of the story here.
The novel is briskly written and flows right along, although the reader (who likely already knows Moreau's secret) will probably get bored with the way Wells dodges around the revelation. As with all Wells' work, the prose is clear and the characters readily identifiable. It's a proficient novel, just not a great one.
If you're a fan of Wells or really enjoy classic science fiction, give it a go. It's free, after all. Just read War of the Worlds or First Men in the Moon first.(less)