Review subtitle: There is so much more than meets the eye...
One reads this short-story and tells himself/herself: "I guessed the ending after readingReview subtitle: There is so much more than meets the eye...
One reads this short-story and tells himself/herself: "I guessed the ending after reading only seven pages." And "The Skull has a blunt anti-war message, but so have a thousand other short-stories."
True and true, but that's not the (ultimate) point of the story. Yes, there is strong criticism of ignorance, intolerance, sadism, and even macabre curiosity, which all encourage violence and ultimately war. Yes, the ending is obvious, but...
... I personally believe that the conclusion is so undisguised in order to point out to the main question of the story: What message would you have for the world should you know that very soon you will die?
What if he could see this, his own skull, yellow and eroded? Two centuries old. Would he still speak? [...] What would there be for him to say, to tell the people? What message could he bring? What action would not be futile, when a man could look upon his own aged, yellowed skull?
This was so good that it simply made my day! Because in the end that's a question all of us (should) ask......more
This installment of the Harry Potter series is by far my favorite one. A few days ago I was randomly browsing GoodReads Listopia when I ran into it liThis installment of the Harry Potter series is by far my favorite one. A few days ago I was randomly browsing GoodReads Listopia when I ran into it listed under Best Time Travel Fiction. And although I remember Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban very well (it's been a few good years since I read it), I had to stop and think where did the time-travel came into play.
Of course I did remember, but in the process I realized that for me what is spectacular about this novel is not the time-travel aspect, but the realization of magic. In my opinion the instance in which Harry produces that larger-than-life Patronus Charm in order to save Sirius from the swarm of dementors is everything magic should be: awe-inspiring, formidable, all along being backed-up by true emotion. It is in fact probably the best magical act that I read in any book and I remember giving me goosebumps when I first read it.
And yes, the book does have quite a bit of time-travel (fitting very well in, what I call, the immovable history school-of-thought), but it is only a tool used to facilitate the plot, not the central theme of the novel. It is this that threw me off when finding it listed in the time-travel category: to me this is a pure fantasy novel (and a peculiar one, in that respect, since it mixes low-fantasy and high-fantasy in a coherent whole).
To end here, this is a great book for all those young at heart....more
In spite of its several lacks, I mostly enjoyed By His Bootstraps, particularly because it condenses my personal theory about the quintessence of timeIn spite of its several lacks, I mostly enjoyed By His Bootstraps, particularly because it condenses my personal theory about the quintessence of time. ツ
Robert A. Heinlein imagines an applied example of "immovable history" (my home-brewed term), which postulates that an actor is not able to change any events (past and future) of his/her life: s/he can only fulfill the history. The fantasy genre (and not only!) makes great use of the concept in the form of prophecies, while science-fiction mostly uses the concept of time-travel to embody it.
What is notable about Heinlein's essay is that he touches on the aspect that makes most people shy away from this doctrine: the free-will. These people argue that if whatever is to happen will happen, then individuals are not responsible for their actions... In this regard Mr. Heinlein points out that, the actors in the middle of events are in no way constrained in their choices, and hence they always maintain their free-will.
"You are telling me that I did something because I was going to do something.” “Well, didn’t you? You were there.” “No, I didn’t—no... well, maybe I did, but it didn’t feel like it.” “Why should you expect it to? It was something totally new to your experience.”
I have my personal theory on this, but this is neither the time nor the place for it. As about the faults of the story, some of them gave me the nails-on-a-chalkboard nausea.
1) There is a manifest chauvinistic feel in the narrative: a woman's "right attitude" is serving food to her man on her knees... No further comment. ☹ 2) Probably even worse than the misogyny is the author's opinion that the lack of what he calls "will-to-power" is a negative aspect of society. Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't we all aspire to a world in which no one has power over another human being, not the other way around? ☹☹ 3) Regarding the story itself, the entire plot would not have been possible if Wilson had not shown distinct signs of obtuseness. Some of the situations can be explained by intoxication, but the rest... And he is supposed to be a math student which doesn't bode well for the future of this science. ツ
So blaming the above issues (#1 and #2) on the social norms of a past culture, I will go ahead and highly recommend this story to science-fiction lovers and/or those interested in the theories of the spacetime continuum....more
This is the story of a twelve-year-old boy who, on October 20, 1962, encounters in the back of his house a visitor from the future. The date is importThis is the story of a twelve-year-old boy who, on October 20, 1962, encounters in the back of his house a visitor from the future. The date is important, since the visitor seems particularly interested in President Kennedy's authorization of the naval quarantine of Cuba.
10 to the 16 to 1 is a well written short story with attention to character analysis, but... I was expecting something more....more
Quick and dirty reading notes and (i)relevant thoughts (There are BOOKS written about this novel and I won't attempt to duplicate them. These are jusQuick and dirty reading notes and (i)relevant thoughts (There are BOOKS written about this novel and I won't attempt to duplicate them. These are just my thoughts, half a day after finishing it.)
✐ I don't think I read anything quite like Slaughterhouse-Five. You are really going to love it or simply stop reading it. There is such a strong anti-war aura about it, yet with the exception of one paragraph at the end, it is never explicitly said "war is bad." Instead Mr. Vonnegut proceeds systematically at demythicizing the war.
✐ There is nothing glorious about it. The soldiers are no heroes, just too young boys, or too old men or, most frequently, untrained buffoons (and not only Billy Pilgrim, although in his case, Mr. Vonnegut takes facts to extreme). And when we are dealing with true soldiers, the British officers, the pride and joy of the their army, they are referred by sobriquets as the Blue Fairy Godmother.
✐ Everything that happens to Billy during the war is ridiculous: he carries no weapon (and when in the end he gets one, it is only to protect himself from wild dogs and rats), he doesn't take part in a single battle, he survives the butchering of Dresden by sheer luck. Being a soldier is just menial work or half-acknowledged traveling.
✐ But what I think it's spectacular about this novel is the fact that although it addresses such a heavy topic, it never feels heartbreaking or distressing. Mr. Vonnegut accomplishes that in three ways:
....1) the gore and horrors of the war are hidden under layers upon layers of good-natured humor or ridicule depending on the story; ....2) every time when something distressing is going to happen, Billy "travels" through time to a happier moment, and the reader never witnesses the slaughterous details; ....3) from the very beginning, in the not-titled Preface, we are given a summary of the novel. There are simply no surprises going on that might detract the reader from the embedded message.
✐ And because this is Kurt Vonnegut, in the end he has to explain the message he wanted to pass: "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters."
✐ Final (i)relevant thought: one of the reasons I liked so much Slaughterhouse-Five was because of its concept of time, which is so close to what I consider my personal views on this topic: time doesn't flow; all the events "future" and "past" already exist and we simply navigate through them. Yet, the Tralfamadorians deny the existence of the free will, which I actually consider incorrect. But that's a discussion for another time. ツ...more