3,7 in truth or in assumption or by the gut feeling. The stories were all very different and after adding each more to the bunch, my take on the book...more3,7 in truth or in assumption or by the gut feeling. The stories were all very different and after adding each more to the bunch, my take on the book continually changed. Chiang is more of a hard science fiction writer, which means on a story 50-70 pages long - which sometimes seems to drag on, as you're wondering whatever WILL come of it, but don't really want to stop, because he really encaptures you with the steady static and a voice that changes from story to story - you will get a lot of detail both by show-and-tell and from dialogue on how some concept, procedure or theory is thought to work. This happens a good few times. Then there is GOD, whose existence and non-existence is pondered and illustrated so lovely (or dreadfully), you'd think the previously uttered "hard sci-fi" is out of the question. However Chiang's precise, long, crafty and somehow a tad chill-feeling sentences stil keep the remembrance. Tying the previous together with overhovering worry of the future, even if it happens in the past, still reflecting the current, he's mostly lining it with the question of and for intelligence, either artificial or human. This insofar as pushing the reader to think of the limits and boundaries of biology and technology. And, for me, being able to think with the author and to continue it further afterwards, is why sci-fi is cool.
In general the collection is definitely worthwile and recommended. I myself just can't get past the fact that Seventy-Two Letters, although beatifully crafted, annoyed me to bits with odd biology theories. But that's probably a glitch in my system.(less)
I've met Corwin about 2 and a quarter times now and since I'm badgered that the English language has not actualised the word thrice, it's all well at...moreI've met Corwin about 2 and a quarter times now and since I'm badgered that the English language has not actualised the word thrice, it's all well at that. Alas! I'll have you know the second time was the best. This review consists of both, as I'm mixing things, as always. It also consists of tiny-detail-spoilers and overview spoilers (not much more you could read from the back cover) but no Actual Plot Spoilers. I hope.
Once, when I was in the proper age of read-way-too-little-fantasy, Amber was wheeled and dealed upon my doorstep by many a friend. It's not the worse for it, not by a smidgen. The first encounter of Corwin and me was one of rainbow coloured fog, whatever that means. You know, when you start meditating and have no idea where to begin so you listen to some creaky guy who bangs his gong an awful lot and tells you to imagine a deep red ball glowing amidst your loins. Thankfully no balls and loins were harmed nor involved in reading this book. Nonetheless, I did have the eeriest feeling that the clearly promiscuous king's children, a number of sixteen if I gather correctly, were quite keen on each other in their spare time, e.g. when they weren't trying to kill each other off. Well, some more keen than others but if the combination of incest and violence doesn't spark one's interest and spawn vile volumes of fanfiction, I don't know what does.
In the first book of the Chronicles of Amber we meet Corwin, a stubborn, stark, stealthy character of a man, who has no clue what's going on but is pretty darn determined to reach to the deep dark bottom of this and kick the ass of whatever he finds there. That's what pretty much happens, really. We're taken to the land of intrigue, glory and apparently – magic! With a glorious amount of sword-swiveling, war tactics, more court intrigue and several worlds, askew or real, you'll start questioning the world you're living in even more. (Thus, if your kid already suffers under the crumbling of the Matrix illusion, then perhaps it's not the best book to start with. Then again, being mad as a March hare is much more fun. Balance it with philosophy and logic.) In any case it is virtually impossible to not notice THE LONG ROAD that serves as a stage for that reality-breaking world-creating interchangeable somewhat constantly liminal space. We spend a lengthy amount on its various forms resulting an On the Road Book (one of Zelazny's favourite tropes?) that seems to channel both Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson spark(l)ing just the right amount of le Supernatural. The reader is posed with one of the puzzling questions that very likely will not leave their side for the whole book. Well, there's several of those, truth be told, but the meaning and essence of shadows and the godliness of the protagonist(s) do boggle your mind. Returning to the infamous road now, since I've left out a tiny-teeny detail - it leads to Amber. The place that evokes remembrance of the golden era, that used to be the epitome of a perfect city if there ever was one. (And evidently there was.) The city that every character in this book notes with a tear in the corner of their eye and to which the Earth can't hold a candle to. Rightfully so! We don't really know why, but we assume it's because the fabrics fit better, sky was brighter, wine sweeter and the communication between lions and lambs was remarkably swell. No matter the fact that most of the princes and princesses haven't been back there for centuries and their memory just might have warped the actual place. No matter, the golden era must be brought back and for that to happen there shall be one king to rule them all!
That's what the gist is, if I brutally cut out all the the picturesque scenery descriptions, fight scenes (not much brutality nor detail there anyway, so you won't miss much 'ere), cunning plans, gore (a good bit of that!) and sibling banter (with sharp objects, mostly). Ooh, and the tarot that got me ever so excited! It might have predicted the coming of video-calls and smartphones so I have no good reason to be disappointed the card pack can't be translated into our reality, but still. Is this review becoming a big pile of spoilers or what?
Also, the first part of the book keeps you guessing. You can give this to your Chandler-reading dad and he'd be fine. Probably until he'd start asking when do they explain the shadows scientifically or something in the lines of that. Think up an explanation yourself. He might be happy to encounter Napoleon or van Gogh later. (And it is not overused this time!)(less)
I read this book slowly, knowing, as I finish, we'll have to depart, and not wanting to, having enjoyed the road trip. How did it happen that my acqua...moreI read this book slowly, knowing, as I finish, we'll have to depart, and not wanting to, having enjoyed the road trip. How did it happen that my acquaintance with Neil Gaiman has lingered so long and yet I hadn't read one of his main works? Gods shall know, perhaps. (Most likely, however, they have more important matters to tend.) It was a long time coming and, having blinded myself to all chatter about it, it was nothing I was expecting. The hours spent with Shadow were almost as intense as the minutes spent marveling at the mythologies, losing oneself in stories of beyond. It's a wonder of his to have woven such a story together so meticulously. "Such" would go meaning the encompassing greatness and lows and dreads and all you have to deal when dealing with gods. A travel as long and broad, as this one was. And it was nice of him to give the reader a little hint here and there, so as you go along, you know a bit more than the characters themselves. And you can test yourself. And prove to be right. Is that a great thing, I can't tell, but it's a nice one.(less)