In finishing the novella, I remain wholly unenthusiastic about its premise and conclusion. The characters were adequately developed: Gillian, Andre, a...moreIn finishing the novella, I remain wholly unenthusiastic about its premise and conclusion. The characters were adequately developed: Gillian, Andre, and Dorcas made the [un?] holy trinity of main characters. The peripheral, secondary characters seemed heavy handed: Sybil? Marisa? ...They seemed written in as part of another story line that was never quite developed or integrated.
It's incidental to me that while the book takes place at a women's college, ostensibly among close friends, each action and behavior seemed totally encapsulated in the individual character. There is little non-superficial interaction between anyone, excite for Gillian's insipid fawning. Maybe that was the point, that each individual is completely isolated from one another ... but were that the intention, I remain even less impressed with this work.
I expected the book to fit more into the tradition of being John Fowles-esque, insofar as the character becomes very much a victim of others behaviors. For me, the main problem was that there wasn't enough struggle, there wasn't' enough conflict internalized by the characters. (less)
Octavia Butler is one of the most talented, creative contemporary writers. "Bloodchild" is a collection of eight short stories, which essentially span...moreOctavia Butler is one of the most talented, creative contemporary writers. "Bloodchild" is a collection of eight short stories, which essentially span from futuristic dystopias, to parasitic alien races, to strange diseases. While in theory these concepts may be dated and arguably cliche, she writes so fluidly and in such a skilled manner that, litearlly, every word she pens is unique and original.
Butler is still a relatively new voice in the world of writing. Rightly or wrongly, she is catogorised at science fiction, a genre which tends to tie up the loose literary ends of writers who don't exactly fit into any definite species. While at their barest what she writes about is science fiction, she inundates her writing with an artistically humane quality: Moreso than just writing about the ooh's and aah's of science, she writes about the complexities and values of humanity. Her writing is evenly paced, without being drawn out - she does not feed into flashy or gimmicky story lines, but rather baits the reader with beautiful (though not overly wordy) descriptions and portrayals of characters.
"Bloodchild," the opening story, tells of a young adult who is to undergo a "rite of passage," so to speak. In this story, an alien race is symbiotically related to humans: They provide comfort, warmth, and assistance. In exchange, humans house the eggs of these creatures, undergoing a horrendously painful "hatching" prcoess that does not kill them, but leaves them with horrific memories of pain. Butler tells this short story with first person narrative, imparting a sense of emotion and realism that could never be experienced outside of her authorship.
Despite her stylistic flow, Butler still manages to keep what she writes interesting. She tackles each story, however seemingly tired the concept may be, with a refreshing tone. She is able to deftly craft a story with as few brush strokes as possible, but still leave a dazzling landscape.
Bloodchild is definitely one of the most marvelous, beautiful workds of fiction that I have read in recent times. It is science fiction without ever being scientific, fiction without ever being imagined. Butler is talanted and creative, and undoubtedly one of the best contemporary writers I have encountered. (less)
I believe this book to be a haunting work of art. Bradbury manages, through dozens of short vignettes, to tell the story of how mankind came to inhabi...moreI believe this book to be a haunting work of art. Bradbury manages, through dozens of short vignettes, to tell the story of how mankind came to inhabit the Martian landscape. The idea that Bradbury imparted his own social agenda on this book is claptrap: He wrote with the beauty and elegance that is exclusive to him, and wove together a story from many different threads. He tells of the first voyages to Mars - and their subsequent failures - to the extinction of the Martian people.
While the book's premise - and even summary - comes across as nothing more than formulaic science fiction, Bradbury manages to stretch it to much more than that. This book is evenly paced and well-written. It is imperative that one recognises that this book is meant to transcend the circumstance at hand: Bradbury arguably wrote this book to represent the tie that mankind to Earth, rather than to just express the ventures of humanity to the stars.
I don't see this book as being misanthropic or critical of humanity. Rather, it seems that Bradbury portrays humanity positively: He shows that mankind is always striving for something more, to go farther, to be better, faster, stronger, and more attune to their surroundings. And, he also shows how no matter things may change for mankind, we have a primative, yearning nature to return to the place that bore us: The Earth.
Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite books of all-time. I still find it to be crafted in a way which rings true of the Golden age of science fiction: It doesn't get bogged down in misanthropy or cynicism. Rather, it finds the silver lining - a sort of resounding feeling of hope eminates from this book. Wholeheartedly, I applaud not only the story, but Bradbury's magnificant ability to tell a story, an ability which seems to have been lost in most contemporary writing. (less)