I want to give this four stars because of all the Chekov references and the nice little scene with the Low King at the end but funny and heartwarmingI want to give this four stars because of all the Chekov references and the nice little scene with the Low King at the end but funny and heartwarming as The Fifth Elephant was, I somehow did not find it as witty and engaging as the other books in the Watch series. Which came as a surprise to me because Vimes + Jaunt Into Unknown Territories is usually a winning combination. I did like seeing more of Sybil though; she's such a likeable character....more
If you grew up with the Internet of the early 2000s, someone or the other was always telling you to read Snow Crash. I almost forgot about this untilIf you grew up with the Internet of the early 2000s, someone or the other was always telling you to read Snow Crash. I almost forgot about this until I finished The Epic of Gilgamesh a few days ago and remembered how I had only half-jokingly assured a friend that I would read this book once I read about Gilgamesh and the Sumerians. The reason I will not give this book the low rating I am inclined to is those feelings of nostalgia that the book conjured up for me. I think I should forget about reading books I had wanted to as a teen because they almost always tend to disappoint as an adult.
There's no reason why I should have disliked this book. It has - on the surface, at least - interesting characters. It has a unique yet not completely impossible world and it's about language and mythology and a wonderfully exaggerated take on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. But I could not like this, despite my best efforts. Mostly because it's like the author is constantly screaming at you from every page - "THIS IS A TOTALLY COOL PERSON. AND NOW I'M GOING TO FIND A TOTALLY COOL THING FOR THIS TOTALLY COOL PERSON TO DO IN A TOTALLY COOL WAY. WHICH YOU WILL FIND TOTALLY COOL."
I would have liked Y.T a lot more if Mr. Stephenson wasn't constantly forcing me to like her. She severely got on my nerves by the end of the book. In contrast, Hiro turned out to be less annoying than the first few pages had me believe. The only characters I really liked were Ng (especially what he says about his new body, "“Your mistake,” Ng says, “is that you think that all mechanically assisted organisms — like me — are pathetic cripples. In fact, we are better than we were before.”) and the Mafia (a though for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about the penguins from the Madagascar movies during the whole bit where they're sailing around with Hiro). The ending, while it was, of course, TOTALLY COOL, felt lazy and hurried. Despite the (literally) deus ex machina ending, I wish I could have read far more about Juanita and how she becomes a "ba'al shem" rather than Y.T and Raven's squicky little encounter.
The bits with the Library were great (and I would *love* to have one like it) but while I enjoyed reading about the Sumerians, Samuel Delaney's Babel-17 does a much better job of exploring language and reality. The book is built on a great idea but the story is ultimately lost in the flash and glitter that the author keeps trying to shove down your throat. I think the next time I want a bit of Internet nostalgia, I'll go log on to IRC and try to get thrown out for using the wrong search command instead....more
I'm kind of crushing on Sam Vimes (although Carrot is more my type, when he's being all righteous and serving justice) so I will probably be finishingI'm kind of crushing on Sam Vimes (although Carrot is more my type, when he's being all righteous and serving justice) so I will probably be finishing off the Watch books before moving onto anything else in the series.
Great, if typical Pratchett, take on relevant issues without being preachy or even remotely boring for one page. I wish 71 hour Ahmed could have had another book to himself and that you could carve "I can see your house from up here" when building Wonders in Age of the Empires....more
I LOVED Dorfl's discussion with the priests in the end and I was happy to find that we both have the same views on atheism. The cover of my edition ofI LOVED Dorfl's discussion with the priests in the end and I was happy to find that we both have the same views on atheism. The cover of my edition of the book gave away a major plot point though. ...more
I watched the BBC adaptation of the Father Brown stories earlier this year and the image of Arthur Weasley as the titular priest was sufficient enoughI watched the BBC adaptation of the Father Brown stories earlier this year and the image of Arthur Weasley as the titular priest was sufficient enough to make me want to give the stories another shot, despite the tiresome narrow-mindedness of the first book. And when I read that ridiculous story featuring the passionate, poetic Italian I thought that was the worst stereotype in the book. Dear God, I was mistaken.
"The God of the Gongs" is astonishingly racist to the point that you could be forgiven for mistaking it for satire. Yes, I know, old timey people were supposed to be bigoted, but how could anyone, even in 1914, could read about Flambeau talking about how he understands why black people get lynched because the - what should one call this character? "Stereotype" is too subtle a word for the absurdity of this creation - is walking around in a swagger, and not think there was something profoundly wrong about a statement like that. By the time the good priest admits that "‘I fear we English think all foreigners are much the same so long as they are dark and dirty…’", I was done with him and with Chesterton.
If it were just racism though, I might have let it pass as an unfortunate mental disease of the time. However, the fact is that the Father Brown stories are simply dull and badly-written. Obviously there are few characters to sympathize with but even the plots are dull. I did like the opening of The Man in the Passage but the story itself was a little lacklustre.
I had initially decided to grit my teeth and finish the other two collections of stories but I fear it will take a lot more than Mrs. McCarthy and Sid to get me back to reading this exhausting tripe....more
Oh my God. Thomas Hardy actually wrote a book where no one dies/ has their life completely and utterly ruined/ gets stuck in a bad marriage/ leaves yoOh my God. Thomas Hardy actually wrote a book where no one dies/ has their life completely and utterly ruined/ gets stuck in a bad marriage/ leaves you contemplating suicide. I swear, last year's brave attempt to finally tackle Jude The Obscure left me so traumatized that I was convinced the kids in Our Exploits at West Poley were going to drown tragically and/or get viciously lynched by irate villagers, thereby reminding us all once again how much human beings suck. Thankfully, this is - somewhat narrowly - avoided.
This book also contained Under The Greenwood Tree which I'd read before and four short stories meant to be something of a mini Wessex Canterbury Tales. Old Tom goes back to telling us how much being married sucks and how most men are pigs but these were - gasp - actually kind of funny.
On the other hand, I missed Hardy's poetic descriptions of the Wessex countryside. I think he can only wax lyrical about trees and stars and birds if he knows he can bump off someone in the end. Still, I might be sufficiently recovered thanks to this volume to attempt Two on a Tower or even The Mayor of Casterbridge sometime soon....more
This book is so embarrassingly juvenile at times that I actually stopped midway to check what age Mr. Callenbach was when he wrote this. Apparently heThis book is so embarrassingly juvenile at times that I actually stopped midway to check what age Mr. Callenbach was when he wrote this. Apparently he was 46, but you could be forgiven for thinking this was enthusiastically hammered out by a teenage boy who wants to save the world (provided everyone does exactly what he says) and would also very much like to finally get a girl to touch his weenie. I've read three books on utopian societies from three different eras - Thomas More's original, H.G Wells' exercise in patience and now, this one. There are few things less ideal than another person's notion of how the world should be run.
I can see that the author had good intentions and I did try to like the book despite cringe-worthy passages, such as the one detailing the Ecotopian propensity to ask themselves "What would an Indian do?" while isolating non-white races, including the afore-mentioned magical Indians - but they don't want to live around white people anyway so that makes it alright. Black people live in a place called Soul City, by the way. I only WISH I were making that up. And then there's Ecotopia's laughable "war games" where men - and only men - prance around hitting each other. Because real men overcompensate.
The biggest problem with this book, though, is its protagonist. Ernest Callenbach can be endearingly earnest but William Weston is a thoroughly unlikable creep. He whines about not being exclusive with Marissa (who by the way, Weston would like you to know, has "powerful sexual odours" - again, not making this up) and then proceeds to, in his own words, "more or less rape her" when she sleeps with someone else at the games. On the other hand, he is happy getting wanked off by a nurse (it's all standard medical procedure and he buys her a tent for her troubles) and taking part in a threesome (MFF, of course). It's disappointing to have a female character who seems promising at first and is then changed to suit the protagonist. I was hoping Weston might drown in the hot tub in the end but Mr. Callenbach chose to disappoint me.
There were bits that I did like and was happy to note ideas that have turned into reality. I liked the Ecotopian vision of public transport and the importance of teaching children survival skills. The train with the large windows is an idea I could definitely get behind, with or without communal marijuana.
In any case, I think I might leave off reading books about utopian societies for a while. ...more
I don't know if it's just me but there seem to be a lot of references to Twin Peaks here - Angua's looking for a "clean room, reasonably priced", VimeI don't know if it's just me but there seem to be a lot of references to Twin Peaks here - Angua's looking for a "clean room, reasonably priced", Vimes talking about being on the path and his particular description of his coffee preferences. Anyway, interesting take on fantastic racism (I was constantly reminded of that line in Witches Abroad about how, on the Discworld, "white and black live in perfect harmony and gang up on green.")
The relationship between Cuddy and Detritus was adorable and Angua makes for a great addition to the Watch. I love how every chracter in the watch is so distinct and yet comes together and complements the group perfectly. They're one of those groups of fictional characters that you wish you were friends with in real life. When they were sitting around, planning to save the city, I found myself wishing just that (yes, even with Nobby).
This book also has one of my favourite lines in the series: "If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you're going to die. So they'll talk. They'll gloat. They'll watch you squirm. They'll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar. So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word."
Also, can we talk about how amazingly picturesque this is: "Three and a half minutes after waking up, Captain Samuel Vimes, Night Watch, staggered up the last few steps to the roof of the city’s opera house, gasped for breath and threw up allegro ma non troppo."...more
One of my best friends gave me this book, a lovely battered copy with golden yellow pages that she'd had with her for years. That was a while ago andOne of my best friends gave me this book, a lovely battered copy with golden yellow pages that she'd had with her for years. That was a while ago and I wish I had come to this earlier.
I thought this was going to be one of those weepy fallen women stories the Victorians seem to love so much. However, while this book does seem like an inspiration for Hardy's Tess Durbyfield and Eustacia Vye, Eliot's characterization is much more nuanced and her plot less likely to make you want to drink yourself to death after you finish reading the book. Hetty is more sympathetic than you would expect - especially during her journey to find Arthur - although I found the constant descriptions of her as "round" and "soft" irritating - it made me feel like I was reading about a doughnut instead of a human being.
I was surprised to find that the digression in the middle of the story, where Eliot talks of genre painting and her approach to realism in writing , was less disruptive. Maybe it's because I love Dutch art for the same reasons but this is, in my opinion, how an author should insert an opinion piece into a work of fiction (I'm talking to you, Leo Tolstoy).
What I didn't like was Dinah giving up her own ambitions towards the end of the book, just like Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch. She was portrayed far too much as a saint, and not being very religious myself, I couldn't be particularly interested in her as a nice, godly girl, but I did like her better when she is torn between love for another man and her love of God - it made her easier to relate to. And I loved the scene where she and Adam meet at dusk....more
The magic of Holy Wood must be genuine because it seems to have seeped through to my world with this book. In its affectionate parody of cinema, it reThe magic of Holy Wood must be genuine because it seems to have seeped through to my world with this book. In its affectionate parody of cinema, it really brought alive for me the excitement, the fantasy that those early movies must have had, for the people who made them as well as those who watched them. I found this to be the most - atmospheric, for want of a better word - of the Discworld books. The scenes in the undersea cavern were genuinely eerie, as well as Holy Wood on the day of the big premiere.
I liked Gaspode and it was fun to have a whole book's worth of C.M.O.T Dibbler. I also liked the bit where the wizards sneak off to the cinema - I loved how it combines comic relief with bittersweet musings on growing old: "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." I've realised that while I don't particularly care for Rincewind, I really do like the rest of Unseen University (also, I ship Granny Weatherwax and Mustrum Ridcully, especially since Cutangle was put on a bus).
Between all the jokes about Uncle Oswald and the hilarious King Kong reference in the climax, Moving Pictures talks about that powerful desire to make something, to be something. I didn't particularly care for Ginger until she made that touching speech about wanting to be someone, or rather, more than someone. "You know what the greatest tragedy is in the whole world?’ said Ginger, not paying him the least attention. ‘It’s all the people who never find out what it is they really want to do or what it is they’re really good at. It’s all the sons who become blacksmiths because their fathers were blacksmiths. It’s all the people who could be really fantastic flute players who grow old and die without ever seeing a musical instrument, so they become bad ploughmen instead. It’s all the people with talents who never even find out. Maybe they are never even born in a time when it’s even possible to find out.’She took a deep breath. ‘It’s all the people who never get to know what it is they can really be. It’s all the wasted chances."
I haven't read too many of the standalone Discworld books, but if they're anything like this and Pyramids, I might be taking a break from Death and the Watch soon....more
Another one of the many books I really wanted to like. There were elements I really enjoyed in the book but it suffers from many of the failings thatAnother one of the many books I really wanted to like. There were elements I really enjoyed in the book but it suffers from many of the failings that so much early science fiction seems to fall prey to - badly developed characters and tedious writing.
For a book that flashes through so many different protagonists, it is severely lacking in variety. It takes Mr. Asimov 200 pages to even introduce a female character (she looks at bling and says "oh"). Throughout this book there is only one speaking female character and then she is little more than the caricature of a nagging housewife. I want to take into consideration the time this book was written and the type of social mores the author would have grown up with (and frankly, I'd rather have no female characters than the godawful portayals in say, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) but the lack of female voices or even a hint of any female participation - outside of clamouring for "feminine fripperies" and being discontent about atomic washing machines. To be fair, the male characters aren't particularly unique either. There is a dreary, cookie-cutter sameness about all of the male protagonists following Salvor Hardin; it feels like you're reading adaptations of the same story over and over again with faint changes in costume and props.
That said, the story is interesting enough to make me want to check out the rest of the series; I can only hope there is more diversity in character and plot in them....more
I thought I was going to adore this right when I read the first line - "It was as black in the closet as old blood." Flavia, in theory, is an amazingI thought I was going to adore this right when I read the first line - "It was as black in the closet as old blood." Flavia, in theory, is an amazing character but after a few chapters she begins to be far too insistently precocious. My biggest grouse though, was with the plot and the climax could have been tied up at least ten pages earlier if the author hadn't wanted to be dramatic. I did however like the little historical anecdotes, about postage of course, but also the clameur de haro. And bonus points for quoting Ernest Dowson. It's still a good book and I'd want to check out the rest of the series....more