Warning: these stories do not end happily! The only exception might be the very last one; for the most part, however, these are tales of misanthropes,Warning: these stories do not end happily! The only exception might be the very last one; for the most part, however, these are tales of misanthropes, of people who for one reason or another choose to dream of better lives without actually doing much to alter their reality. They cope, rather than adjust. They are, in other words, regular people who do not live in a fantasy world other than of their own choosing. They are you, and me, and everyone who has dreamed rather than done.
The writing is both funny and poigniant, striking to the heart and then dancing away with sadness. The stories almost seem to end too soon, with a cry of "That's it?!" punctuating every final page. I like to think, though, that there's a larger story here, a general overarching arc that flings itself over the course of the entire book, from beginning to end, starting with a general feeling of guild and dissatisfaction to the final quasi-resolution. It could work, in theory. It's worth a read, at least, because it's stories like these (the slightly disturbing ones) that make us think about our own lives in a larger context....more
An interesting tale of colonial life, demonstrating the reality of the American Revolutionary War -- that a majority of the population were against deAn interesting tale of colonial life, demonstrating the reality of the American Revolutionary War -- that a majority of the population were against declaring independence, and that both sides of the conflict did some pretty despicable things. This is not a happy book, but it is a nicely written one, and perhaps as close to an accurate account of events as one can get without reading a journal of someone who was actually there....more
An engaging read, though I would have to recommend skipping the final chapter in which the author shares her conclusions of the experiment; it's likelAn engaging read, though I would have to recommend skipping the final chapter in which the author shares her conclusions of the experiment; it's likely best if the reader comes to his own.
There does seem to be a tendency to stereotype: all men think this way, all women think that, lesbians are like this, homosexual men are like that. There's a lot of division into either/or, rather than a recognition of the shades of gray between. Still, for those who have wondered what life is like on the other side of the gender divide, it's worth a read....more
There is a certain variety of people that imagine immortality to be a horrible burden; this author is one of those. In this version of eternal life, tThere is a certain variety of people that imagine immortality to be a horrible burden; this author is one of those. In this version of eternal life, the fountain of youth utterly freezes you where you are. If you have only a rudimentary skill in playing the guitar, for instance, drinking from the fountain will ensure that you will never get better, regardless of the centuries you will have to practice. Your favourite things will remain your favourites, never mind the millennia of familiarity. Essentially, the immortals stay stock-still while the world rushes about them.
The author wants us to know that this would be a bad thing. And if this is the only version of immortality available, I would heartily agree....more
This is a classic. I don't know why, however; nothing happens. Mind, the nothing happens most beautifully, with rich if stilted prose, but there's onlThis is a classic. I don't know why, however; nothing happens. Mind, the nothing happens most beautifully, with rich if stilted prose, but there's only so much nothing that can happen at a time before I just lose patience.
Not to mention there's only one character of any real consequence, and that's Jo. Beth deserves what she got for being unrealistically perfect, and Meg and Amy couldn't leave the narrative early enough. The only reason I can imagine this book capturing the imaginations of the readers of the time is from the sheer lack of competition....more
**spoiler alert** The review for this one is a toss-up between one and five stars. It was an amazing story of how a twelve-year-old boy survived the a**spoiler alert** The review for this one is a toss-up between one and five stars. It was an amazing story of how a twelve-year-old boy survived the armed conflicts in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. It's well-written, provides vivid imagery, and evokes the horrors of war.
The one star is because of the vivid imagery. Let's be perfectly clear about this: people die in this book. Blood spatters everywhere, usually blood that should be kept inside some of the narrator's closest friends. From the very first page to the very last, you are kept on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, happy one minute and torn with grief the next, until you and the narrator have both attained a kind of wariness to happiness since you know it won't last. There's a constant suspense of waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does it hits the ground like a ten-ton hammer.
This book is disturbing. It's a good read, but I cannot in good conscience recommend it to anyone who has trouble sleeping; this wont' help at all. Every once in a while my mind will flit to one of the scenes in the book, and I'll wince; it's like I'm having minor flashbacks of things that *never happened to me*. The writing is just that evocative and heart-wrenching.
When I was done reading it -- and I wouldn't have picked it up at all, knowing the subject matter, if it wasn't assigned for a class -- I threw it aside. I'm going to do my best to remember only the general overarching story, and to forget the specific details of the hardship.
An overview, so that you don't have to read it if you don't want to: Sierra Leone has been war-torn since the discovery of the diamond mines in the 1960s; in the 90s things really hit the fan. Children as young as seven were pressed into military service, hopped up on cocaine and other various drugs, and sent out to kill. This happened on both sides of the war; the rebels and the "formal" army. Civilians merely provided a target-rich environment, their villages good only for forceful resupply of ammunition and food. The narrator's village is attacked, and he and a couple of his friends manage to escape and wander the country, moving from village to village. They can never settle down, because everyone is wary of children, worried that they may be brainwashed militants. Eventually, after much hardship and losing his friends to gunfire, the narrator is "trained" as a soldier and sent out to fight. Only through the intervention of UNICEF was he given an opportunity to be rehabilitated and managed to regain some semblance of a normal life, but there could be no hope of that lasting while he lived in Sierra Leone. So he escaped to New York, where he's been more or less living ever since....more
At first glance along the inside cover, one might form the opinion that this is one of those supposedly humorous books that pointedly fail to deliverAt first glance along the inside cover, one might form the opinion that this is one of those supposedly humorous books that pointedly fail to deliver on the laughs. Au contraire! The humour is, thankfully, secondary; this is an action-packed novel with an actual plot, along with political intrigue, shoot-outs, and escapes from impossible situations. The jokes are there as icing on the cake, and to make the highly improbable seem like the setup for a well-timed joke.
There are a couple problems with the text; for one, the editing is sadly slipshod (misspelled words are woefully abundant). The author also makes the mistake of giving away the ending at the last second, literally five pages away from where the events would unfold anyway, squeezing almost all the air and triumph out of the moment.
That said, the dialog is well-written, and though there are clear influences of Douglas Adams in the asides to the audience, they are (for the most part) cleverly done while also imparting critical information. Some of the action scenes read a tad stilted, but there is absolutely no doubt who is about to bash who over the head with a baseball bat, nor why, nor how.
Overall, it's fun read. Clearly inspired by various semi-recent events (including but not limited to: the cloning of sheep, the attempted cloning of Jesus) and issues that affect our lives (the prolific nature of distributed networks, vegetarian-approved meat products, politics), the author ties everything together into a fun jaunt through an intergalactic sphere that teeters on the very brink of war for the want of a single but very special sheep....more
A decent, hard-line story about a group of mercenaries who believe the spirit of the job is more important than the money or politics involved. The chA decent, hard-line story about a group of mercenaries who believe the spirit of the job is more important than the money or politics involved. The characters are a little flat, and the action slap-dash, but all in all it's a fun, light read. While the end-goal is stated early and often, I still found it sudden and complete a little too quickly. This is somewhat, but not quite, balanced by the fact that the whole story is by and large a little too long. This mix works well at first - the story jumps in with both feet - but perhaps continues swimming in the same spot a little too long before the inevitable is set in motion....more
The book started off promising, about a man and his dreams for total xenocidal warfare, with all the ethical and political problems thereof. Things weThe book started off promising, about a man and his dreams for total xenocidal warfare, with all the ethical and political problems thereof. Things were going along swimmingly and then, suddenly, about halfway through, the book changes tracks. Xenocide is no longer an option, and a whole bunch of other elements begin cropping up that weren't even hinted at before. Now there's a secret shadow darkity-dark conspiracy afoot that's been manipulating everything behind the scenes that made sure everything pointed the way towards xenocide, and they're pissed off that the book switched plotlines, too. Um, what?
It turns out the whole thing (the second thing, not the first thing) is just a ploy for the author to write a sequel. I think the book stands well enough on its own, but while it's an interesting universe, I don't see ever visiting it again. The author must have a history in serials; he continually goes over the same information again and again and again -- surely, the book could have been a good hundred pages shorter if all of that had been excised.
Nevertheless, it was an entertaining read, full of enough space battles and scientific explanation to satisfy all but the most die-hard of sf readers....more
Strikingly similar to Britain's Green Rider, not necessarily the world itself, but the scope and feel of the story. Same principle character, too: youStrikingly similar to Britain's Green Rider, not necessarily the world itself, but the scope and feel of the story. Same principle character, too: young woman granted extraordinary powers to save kingdoms in peril.
There's an interesting theme of lack of choice that the author explores, especially poigniant in a world of magic, where the gods take an active role in everyday affairs. In such a land, can free will exist? Is there any such thing as choice? The Greeks and Francis seem to agree that of course there is, but I'm not so sure ......more
A common enough collection of shorts from Foster, with pleasant introductions to each by the same. His fare is a little more distopian than I'd like,A common enough collection of shorts from Foster, with pleasant introductions to each by the same. His fare is a little more distopian than I'd like, but he does have a rich and varied imagination that's fun to peek inside of. Probably not an ideal introduction to either his work in general nor the Pip & Flinx universe, but good nevertheless....more
Written in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Philip Jose Farmer, Chris Roberson sticks to the tradition with everything except the use of hisWritten in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Philip Jose Farmer, Chris Roberson sticks to the tradition with everything except the use of his middle name. The story is ripe with elements traditional to the genre, right down to the cat-men, dog-men, fish-men, not to mention prehistoric life integrated almost seamlessly into the world -- and all with a scientific explanation, or at least as scientific as A Princess of Mars ever was.
A thoroughly enjoyable read, if you enjoy a throwback to an earlier era in science fiction. The only thing semi-modern is the main character's original setting; all else follows the strict rules of romantic sf stories, commenting off-handedly on the politics of the current age. A great little escape from reality, almost as complete as Leena's....more
This book moves amazingly slowly, giving the impression it's regular fiction right up past the hundredth page. By the time the fantasy elements beginThis book moves amazingly slowly, giving the impression it's regular fiction right up past the hundredth page. By the time the fantasy elements begin to creep in, I was asleep. The magic comes in fast and furious spurts, but by that time I had lost interest and just wanted the whole thing to be over....more
I've never read the book by Joseph Conrad this is supposed to be a reinterpretation of, but I did enjoy the tale on its own merits. Really, the best pI've never read the book by Joseph Conrad this is supposed to be a reinterpretation of, but I did enjoy the tale on its own merits. Really, the best parts are Jim's; captain Marlow just feels intrusive, though I can understand using her perspective to give a fresh look at the main character.
The artifice of not using Jim's full name, ever, is woefully transparent, which I'm sure literary scholars would be all too happy to point out and dote upon the importance thereof but, to be honest, I didn't especially notice nor care until I was beaten over the head with the lack. When someone directs your attention to the absence of something, repeatedly, I find it to be more annoying than inspiring.
That said, a good sci-fi adventure. Well in the tradition of John Carter on Mars, though the ending will definitely not satisfy those kinds of fans....more
Robin as a Welsh freedom fighter is a little hard to get used to at first (especially since Lawhead insists on using the Welsh spelling rather than thRobin as a Welsh freedom fighter is a little hard to get used to at first (especially since Lawhead insists on using the Welsh spelling rather than the Saxon-English that we're all familiar with), but it's a good origin story for well-treaded ground. If anything, the time period and setting work a little better than the time of the Crusades, though the author's defense of this decision might have been better served on the front of the book rather than the back.
I look forward to seeing what other adventures this Robin Hood will have....more