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 just...moreQuick 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(less)
Welcome to the real estate of the galaxy, a.k.a, the Zones of Thought, where everything from te...moreReview Subtitle: "Location... location... location..."
Welcome to the real estate of the galaxy, a.k.a, the Zones of Thought, where everything from technology to the cognitive process itself is a function of the distance from the galactic center. That is, the further away from the center, the more advanced the potential civilizations and the forms of life. So advanced in fact, that the Transcend, the outermost region, is the home of the gods or Powers (entities whose intelligence is omnipotent), while the Slowness, the innermost region, is a galactic ghetto and home of... the Old Earth (modest technology, human-equivalent of intelligence). Mr. Vinge truly creates a fascination and original landscape of our galaxy.
Still, A Fire Upon the Deep is not a story about the Old Earth (by now, an almost forgotten planet), but the story of Tines, a backwater world located even further up in the Slowness and hence stuck for millennia at a Medievalistic level of technological development. It is also the story of Relay, of Straumli Realm, of Sjandra Kei, of Harmonious Repose (humorously nicknamed "Rest in Peace"), all worlds of of the Beyond, the middle zone of the galaxy, and all of them (view spoiler)[destroyed (hide spoiler)] by the Power called Blight that is accidentally brought to life in the first chapter of the novel. And in the same time, it is a profoundly human story of a handful of characters, whose life is threatened by the newborn Power and who try to find a way to annihilate it.
The amount of information that streams in front of us is incredible, and since he used to be a professor of Mathematics, that information is quite often strewn with abstract details. Most often the facts help advance the plot, but at times, I felt that the novel would have done better with 50 pages less. Also, and this is the reason, I down-rated the book, I found some of the characters' motivations a bit weak, Ravna's particularly.
To end, I didn't believe that the solution to expunge the Blight was morally questionable, as it's been suggested. In fact, I believe that a free civilization, even crippled, is superior to a civilization who lost its freedom and selfhood. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
“Forever Bound” by Joe Haldeman “The Eagle and the Rabbit” by Steven Saylor “And Ministers of Grace” by Tad Williams “The...moreStories included in this volume:
“Forever Bound” by Joe Haldeman “The Eagle and the Rabbit” by Steven Saylor “And Ministers of Grace” by Tad Williams “The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland “Defenders of the Frontier” by Robert Silverberg “The Mystery Knight” by George R. R. Martin
“Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik “Dirae” by Peter S. Beagle “Ancient Ways” by S. M. Stirling “The Scroll” by David...moreStories included in this volume:
“Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik “Dirae” by Peter S. Beagle “Ancient Ways” by S. M. Stirling “The Scroll” by David Ball “Recidivist” by Gardner Dozois “Ninieslando” by Howard Waldrop “Out of the Dark” by David Weber