I received a copy of this from NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.
I was intrigued by the description of this book, a post-apocalyptic...moreI received a copy of this from NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.
I was intrigued by the description of this book, a post-apocalyptic world where the main character works in an archive? Sounded interesting. In the end, I feel like the author tries to do too much at once - post-apocalypse plus crime plus grief plus a John Brunner media-saturated landscape. It reminded me of Stand on Zanzibar in the way everyone is assaulted by advertising and an abundance of information about every person they encounter, with the added twist of advertising that changes in reaction to a person's response. Porn and graphic violence in the media was also prevalent.
The trouble is, I'm not really sure what this has to do with the core story. I thought it was somehow linked to the destruction of Pittsburgh, but instead it just seems to be the attempt to represent the future and serve as a convenient way to link most of the important clues to solving the crime. And while the survivors of Pittsburgh seem to be greatly effected by its destruction, the rest of the world seems somewhat zombie-like. I never really figured out, is this the world or is this a result to tragedy?
More real to John Dominic Blaxton (who rarely is just referred to as John) is his dead wife, who he is able to spend time with in a recreated virtual space. The virtual reality has been built from actual recorded data (the vast network of surveillance) and added to based on memories, recalled info, and so on. He spends a lot of his waking hours reliving moments with her and trying to feel close to her.
He also is investigating a woman's dead body who seems to be disappearing from the archive, and ends up wrapped up in a crime family of sorts that threatens his most important memory. He's hired as an outside researcher after having to leave his archival job (drugs), one of those situations where the police are no use (necessary for him to be necessary, of course.)
"...The police don't have the resources. Besides, they don't prioritize this as a missing persons case or anything of the sort but rather a data mismanagement claim or at worst cybervandalism or a hacking charge. Digital graffiti, that sort of thing... I've searched on my own, but she's vanishing. I have photographs - I know she exists. Existed-"
The author has created some challenges for himself. In order to make a greater dramatic arc for John Dominic Blaxton, the reveals have to be absurdly violent and gruesome for them even to register for the reader after being exposed to the stream of porn and blood and gossip that the average person in his world encounters every day. To me, that event was not that startling. To me, the most sorrowful moment happened earlier in the story, when his wife suddenly isn't available to him. The poignancy of that story gets covered up by the crime romp.
There's not a lot to live for in this world, but I couldn't help but think the archive was not doing much to allow John Dominic Blaxton to move on. There didn't seem to be a lot to live for otherwise. Early on he even admits this - "I can't fathom what happiness might mean anymore - it seems like luxury to someone whose life feels like a lead-lined discomfort... I don't seek out happiness, just pockets of alleviation - a drowning man sipping at bubbles of air."
I really enjoyed the world-building part of this novel, and the use of existing technology in a more saturated way (adaware, augmented reality, virtual reality). It's just the crime element that I didn't connect to. I wonder what it would have been like as a short story, because I was yearning for a tighter reading experience.(less)
What would you do if you knew the world was ending in six months? Hank Palace decides to keep doing his job as a police detective in Concord, NH.
The...moreWhat would you do if you knew the world was ending in six months? Hank Palace decides to keep doing his job as a police detective in Concord, NH.
The first third and last chapter of this book were my favorite parts - the world, the crisis, the lack of seeming hope. And then it ended with some questions I'm interested in and hints of other things going on that I'm unclear on, so I will probably read more books in this series.
The rest of the book is very much a crime, police procedural novel. Well written and the characters are more interesting than in a regular crime novel because of the pending doom, but still a crime novel. And crime novels aren't really my thing. It didn't make me want to put the book aside or anything, so I still enjoyed it.
A few bits: "The end of the world changes everything, from a law-enforcement perspective."
"People's inability to face up to this thing is worse than the thing, it really is."
We're discussing this on the SFF Audio podcast this weekend, so once it posts I'll link to it.(less)
Full disclosure - I got a review copy of this in audiobook form when John Joseph Adams contacted the review coordinator at SFFAudio, me! I snapped it...moreFull disclosure - I got a review copy of this in audiobook form when John Joseph Adams contacted the review coordinator at SFFAudio, me! I snapped it up because I already own many of his anthologies and reading The Wastelands changed my reading life.
Table of contents and audiobook narrator listings copied directly from John Joseph Adams' website. If you want more detailed summaries of each story, I found the review at Tangent very good, particularly because it is so hard to keep track of short stories when you are listening instead of reading!
The audio was an incredible asset to this anthology, although I will probably also need to buy this for my shelf o' anthologies. The best in audio are Removal Order, BRING HER TO ME, and The Fifth Day of Deer Camp.
My favorite stories were BRING HER TO ME and Goodnight Moon.
I'm most interested in the next installment (so please let there be a next installment) of Removal Order, Pretty Soon the Four Horsemen are Going to Come Riding Through, and Spores.
What do I mean by next installment? Well The End is Nigh is the first volume of a triptych. It will be followed by The End is Now and The End Has Come, with some authors contributing linked stories. Very exciting concept, and as the Queen of Apocalypse there is no way I couldn't read this.
For more detailed impressions, click past spoiler (not really a spoiler) (view spoiler)[
Introduction—John Joseph Adams, read by Lex Wilson
"Post-apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that have already burned. Apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that are burning.
The End is Nigh is about the match."
The Balm and the Wound —Robin Wasserman, narrator Jack Kincaid End times and a preacher rises up.
Heaven is a Place on Planet X —Desirina Boskovich, narrator Folly Blaine Aliens forcing humans to be enforcers of their own people, in preparation for a worldwide move to Planet X. You can read this story on Wired.com.
Break! Break! Break! —Charlie Jane Anders, read by James Keller Teenaged film makers
The Gods Will Not Be Chained —Ken Liu, read by Anaea Lay Communicating with the past through emoji
Wedding Day —Jake Kerr, read by Folly Blaine What does it take for gay marriage not to be an issue? How about an earth-destroying asteroid? Sounds campy but isn't, very present-day pending doom.
Removal Order —Tananarive Due, read by Laurice White A very sad story that left more questions than answers and I hope it continues in the next anthology of the triptych. The narrator was perfection for the tone of the story.
System Reset —Tobias S. Buckell, read by Jack Kincaid A post-Snowden, pre-apocalypse hacker wish fulfillment story. :)
This Unkempt World is Falling to Pieces —Jamie Ford, read by Rajan Khanna Comet story. Honestly I forgot it already!
BRING HER TO ME —Ben H. Winters, performed by a cast that includes Kate Baker, Mur Lafferty, Anaea Lay, Tina Connolly, Rajan Khanna, Lex Wilson, and Jack Kincaid as GOD VOICE Creepy. I hope God never speaks to me. A must-listen in audio.
In the Air —Hugh Howey, read by Lex Wilson In the same world as Wool, a father elects not to go to the silo even though he knows the world is ending. This story is the last day with his family.
Goodnight Moon —Annie Bellet, read by Tina Connolly Astronauts facing certain death. No really, certain. I thought it was lovely.
Dancing with Death in the Land of Nod —Will McIntosh, read by Norm Sherman A decently interesting virus premise, a drastically mundane setting.
Houses Without Air —Megan Arkenberg, read by Anaea Lay In this pending apocalypse, the world is running out of oxygen, which will be certain doom. One person's roommate responds with art.
The Fifth Day of Deer Camp —Scott Sigler, read by Scott Sigler Oh my gosh, you must get the audio for this one. The author does a great northern Minnesota accent for this of what would make a great story from deer camp if these guys can survive.
Enjoy the Moment —Jack McDevitt, read by Sarah Tolbert The first of two stories that include a the interruption of the earth's orbit. This one is more connected with a physicist and an important discovery.
Pretty Soon the Four Horsemen are Going to Come Riding Through —Nancy Kress, read by Mur Lafferty A major volcano blew unknown substances across the world 5-6 years before this story takes place. The effects on the unborn children of the time are just now starting to be noticeable. I'm glad the author is continuing the story in future volumes because non-violence doesn't seem like the end of the world to me!
Spores —Seanan McGuire, read by the incomparable Kate Baker The end is near and it is a FUNGUS. Of course. Not quite as creepy as her Parasite novel but has more heart, and really more about living with OCD than it is about the end of the world.
She’s Got a Ticket to Ride —Jonathan Maberry, read by Ralph Walters Another story about the earth's orbit, this time with more cults!
Agent Unknown —David Wellington, read by Jack Kincaid This story feels very much like straight zombies, but okay, we can call it a virus.
Enlightenment —Matthew Mather, read by Kate Baker This one can only have an emotional response. I was driving when I listened to it and I almost threw up. Horrifying but would have been more believable if the characters had more to them. The relationship between the most important two never made sense.
Shooting the Apocalypse —Paolo Bacigalupi A story about a reporter and a photographer covering the water crisis on the border between Arizona and Texas, which are now separate countries.
Love Perverts —Sarah Langan, read by Lex Wilson Mad Max and an apocalypse lottery. (hide spoiler)]
Some of these can be read for free on the Apocalypse Triptych Website. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Hugh Howey's bio includes this sentence: "A theme in my books is the celebration of overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to...moreHugh Howey's bio includes this sentence: "A theme in my books is the celebration of overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to change who you are in the process."
The cruelty of the universe was clear in Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1), where humanity was several (hundred) years into living in a silo, the only people left alive on earth as far as they knew. Isolated, yet somehow sustainable if only the riots and coups could be held at bay. The silo enforced systematic cruelty as well, with the Cleanings removing people who had violated the social code, and the engineers with access to more than they were sharing. That's about all I can say without a spoiler.
Then came Shift, the backstory to Wool. I didn't review it very highly because I decided that giving me specifics didn't end up satisfying me as a reader, in fact part of the horror that made Wool so successful was not being sure where anything had come from or how long it had been there, and if there was any hope. We don't really get hope from Shift, but it fills in the gaps up to the beginning of Wool. I admit that I went back and upped the star by one after seeing how it all ended up.
In Dust, Howey twines the stories of Wool and Shift together in a satisfying way. The facts we never knew while reading Wool become integral to what happens after. I can't say anything at all about the story without spoiling the other two books, but I was surprised by who became the two main characters.
I also include Howey's biographical quote for a inexplicable reason (just read it), but I do think this hidden optimism has an impact on where he takes the story.
I listened to the audiobook, and read other books in between. I took breaks between the major sections. Tim Gerard Reynolds is a good narrator for these books, but I can't speed him up to 2x like I can with most readers. Even 1.5x felt too fast at times. That isn't a complaint, just an observation; the book took longer to listen to than others have!(less)
Despite the hype, I had not yet tried the Divergent trilogy, but then was given an ultimatum by my husband that he would go see the movie without me T...moreDespite the hype, I had not yet tried the Divergent trilogy, but then was given an ultimatum by my husband that he would go see the movie without me THIS WEEKEND unless I hurried up and read the book. I never see a movie without reading the book first, so I zipped through this in two days.
I think it's a solid story with an interesting world. I'm sure other people have beat the similarities to death to stories like Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, but I think most young adult readers are most interested in stories where someone young has to stand up for their own identity, take risks, and the story doesn't disappoint on that level. In other words I'm not sure there can be "too many" books like this, as long as there are a few new ideas. It was a bit repetitive at the beginning establishing the factions and a lot of situations are a bit convenient, but I pretty much expected these things from so many reviews. They were true but not anything that would keep me from enjoying the story.
I'll definitely read the other two, and I enjoyed the movie (no complaints, actually, pretty faithful to the book and the changes they made moved the story along a bit faster.)(less)
This was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I liked the premise of this book, time traveling from the future where the w...moreThis was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I liked the premise of this book, time traveling from the future where the world is in chaos due to shifting weather patterns and global pandemic.
Unfortunately the ideas don't work in the end. If you were trying to control a community of people from the future for the survival of all humanity, would you put it into the hands of hormonal teenagers attending public school? Would these same hormonal teenagers who can't help but gossip and stubbornly break lesser rules be able to figure out the secrets of the future and go off on a quest to save humanity, along the way hardly even breaking a nail?
As high as the stakes were presented, everything is so easy in this book. And the characters are so smart, with the only flaw being that they want to be physically intimate despite unspoken dangerous horrors that may occur if they are.
I don't think time travel, dystopia, or pandemic is really where Brashares thrives. Perhaps another magical clothing item would have made it more interesting? I don't want to be too harsh here, but I just don't think the story succeeds on its larger themes.(less)
Anana's father Doug, the editor for the Dictionary (North American Dictionary of the English Language), disappears right as the Word Flu starts to appear in the United States. The story is told from Anana's point of view most of the time, but occasionally another narrator tells the story for a chapter. All the chapters start with a word and a definition, alphabetically, 26 chapters.
I liked the book when it felt like a literary thriller, but halfway through the tense changed and Anana started telling the details from the perspective of the future. She also is often one person removed from the action, which lends a note of passivity to the story. People are dying but the situation does not seem that dire when you have a secret society protecting you.
The language deterioration is fun and has traces of Clockwork Orange, or the middle chapter in Cloud Atlas, except it isn't slang or an evolution of a language. People who have word flu and aren't speaking proper English don't know it, but are not understood and can't understand one another.
Here's an example:
"...If not for the pills A zast under my door a little more than a week ago while I shwade in the bedroom in a mase, trippy, fever-sleep, vistish I was hearing things. Of course wtokket jant...."
Language is important not just to the story but to the writing. The author intentionally uses words that aren't always the obvious choices, and near the end it wasn't always obvious if obscure words were real or part of the word flu. It can mess with the reader's head. Anana's sections use endnotes, but not so many that they are distracting.(less)
I'm forcing myself to wait a few days before I read each episode of Positron, because Margaret Atwood writes far far slower than I read. Sigh, it's go...moreI'm forcing myself to wait a few days before I read each episode of Positron, because Margaret Atwood writes far far slower than I read. Sigh, it's going to happen. I'm going to read everything that's out and then I'll have to wait. Like HBO series. I should have just waited until it was over but the idea was too interesting.
In this episode, Stan and Charmaine are seeing more of the underbelly of Positron, and whether or not they have any autonomy against the events or demands. Can a person be erased? Replaced? Can you willfully submit to mind control?
The second episode of Margaret Atwood's serial novel (help me I'm going to zoom through them and there won't be any left), this deals with the afterma...moreThe second episode of Margaret Atwood's serial novel (help me I'm going to zoom through them and there won't be any left), this deals with the aftermath of the marriage in the first episode and portrays the beginnings of what could turn into a war with the world outside Positron, or perhaps the resistance inside it.(less)
Margaret Atwood is writing a serial novel! I had no idea. I only came across this when it came across my daily e-mail of eBook deals from The Fussy Li...moreMargaret Atwood is writing a serial novel! I had no idea. I only came across this when it came across my daily e-mail of eBook deals from The Fussy Librarian (It's working, I bought something!) This first "episode" actually came out in the fall of 2012, and four episodes are available at the writing of this review. She talks about the process in this video from the Los Angeles Book Festival, where she discusses how she compares to Dickens and what can happen when you write a serial novel along the way, with feedback in between. I love that she's doing this!
The story is very near future America, pre MaddAddam times (indeed, there is a mention of a creation that could easily become chickie nobs, I felt like that was for the True Fans like me!). Unemployment is at 40%, particularly with young people, and the government is destined for collapse. Along comes a think tank with the Positron community, where people voluntarily sign up for gated living, and give up communication with their former lives. Half their time is spent imprisoned, the other half living a normalish life in suburbia. The setting is an abandoned former town, and as people move in, houses are renovated and rescued from graffiti and destruction. The community is saved, the economy is saved, and life improves.
At least, that's what the participants are told. I'm not sure we know by the end of this episode if this is indeed the truth. I'm Starved for You focuses more on a love note one man finds under his fridge, and his search for the woman with the fuchsia lipstick who wrote it.
Publisher summary: Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new...morePublisher summary: Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.
This audiobook kept me listening until I finished. Comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood are unavoidable with this book, but in this world where women are valued and imprisoned in order to bear children, M.D. Waters has also added in an element of romance. This means descriptions of the men Emma is interested in, and sex. I don't mind romance, but I think if I were a woman being controlled and manipulated by men, I would be less obsessed with marriage and sex. But Emma has very little memory, and at first no reason not to trust her husband. All she wants is to get past her accident and back to normal life.
I can't say much more without giving it away, and the best part about the book is how all the details are revealed. Archetype is suspenseful and creepy up until the end, and the end leads nicely into the setup for the next novel (Prototype) while being its own self-contained story.
I enjoy Khristine Hvam as a narrator - I had listened to her performance of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and her voice is well suited to a near-future dystopian romance.(less)
I think when something bleak and disastrous resonates with me, it is because of the story of rebuilding...moreThis is not my favorite post-apocalyptic book.
I think when something bleak and disastrous resonates with me, it is because of the story of rebuilding. Of what comes.. after. And it isn't a spoiler to state that in this novel, there is no after. Everyone is going to die - painfully, predictably, over and out.
I thought I had read this before, but I think I had only seen the movie. That made the book harder to read and perhaps have less of an impact than it might have otherwise. The pages are heavy on details about submarines, cars, and fishing. I hate to label something a masculine book, but this might qualify.
I think the other thing that pokes me in the ear (a phrase used at least eight times) is how people handle the knowledge of their pending doom. Most people clearly can't even fathom it, and just go on planning their gardens and buying their (dead) children Christmas gifts. A lot of people are getting drunk a lot, but I'm just surprised that there isn't more extreme behavior going on. Perhaps Shute is simply too polite to say. There is a weird arms-length distance going on here, from the submarine missions being skipped over to Moira pressuring herself to take on a harmless housewife role for the American submarine captain. (less)
I'm still undecided as to whether or not I want to join in on the SFF Audio discussion of Herland, but decided that if I do, I wanted to have at least...moreI'm still undecided as to whether or not I want to join in on the SFF Audio discussion of Herland, but decided that if I do, I wanted to have at least read the sequel.
When Herland ends, the three adventurers are leaving Herland, the female utopian society, to head back home. One of the men (the narrator), marries a woman from Herland, Ellador, who is an arborist. With Her in Ourland starts as they leave the country she has never been outside of.
If you are rating this book as a manifesto of feminist/socialist idealism, I would give it 3-4 stars. As a novel, it... well it is hardly a novel. There is some framework of travel laid out to allow Gilman to organize her thoughts about everything wrong with society. Some ideas/complaints seem still relevant today, others still horrify me. I found the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" to be more effective, probably because I was given more room to interpret the ideas through my own lens. The article in Bitch Magazine, a Portland feminist publication, explains it better than I can. But in With Her in Ourland, it is too didactic to really be called a novel.
The narrator at least seems to be gaining some respect for women who have their own minds and interests through his marriage to a Herlandian. On page two he even remarks, "In our story books we read always of young wives giving up all they have known and enjoyed 'for his sake.' That was by no means Ellador's position. She loved me - that I knew, but by no means with that engrossing absorption so familiar to our novelists and their readers."
Other elements of Herlandia that are admired by the narrator - their method of education, how ideas translate so easily directly to action in their "religion," and a shared social consciousness. This is learned as he observes his wife learning about the lack of cultures worldwide, the tendency toward violence, and the rather glaring problem of inequity.
"Ellador saw human life as a think in the making, with human beings as the makers."
Gilman makes a solid argument for democracy, the idea itself, in a country without a differentiation between people groups based on gender or race. Ellador expresses much of Gilman's exasperation that the USA had such a great opportunity in history and royally fucked it up. Old wine in new bottles - the same ideas, passed down to every generation. Not training children to think, but to parrot. These are not old problems, I'd say!
The part I hate.... the concept that drives me crazy in this and Herland... is the cult of motherhood. Near the end of the book, in a way I believe Gilman meant to be the triumphant finale, Ellador states,
"When your women are really awake and know what they are for, seeing men as the noblest kind of assistants, nature's latest and highest device for the improvement of parentage, then they will talk less of 'sex' and more of children."
I think to Gilman, that is the highest form of life - parenting. I just can't help but think that her imagination was a bit short-sighted, even in the early years of the twentieth century, although it makes me think of a line from "La Vie Boheme" in the musical rent:
"The opposite of war isn't peace; it's creation."
If this is the case, then perhaps it isn't so off base to devise a society where people are focused on furthering and improving the species.(less)
In a near-future apocalyptic Mississippi, hurricanes and flooding are so frequent (nearly constant) that the government has redrawn the southern borde...moreIn a near-future apocalyptic Mississippi, hurricanes and flooding are so frequent (nearly constant) that the government has redrawn the southern border of the country above the disaster zone. Anyone living south of The Line has no government assistance, no security, and must fend for him or herself. This setting is one of the most realistic apocalyptic worlds I have read. I'm intentionally not using the word "post" because throughout the novel, destruction continues. People are trying to survive below The Line, but hail and winds and rains are still a bigger enemy than the sprinkling of humans trying to create lives for themselves.
Cohen is a man who holed up in grief until he goes against his instincts and gives a ride to a man and woman on the road. Various events force him to make the next moves in his life in order to survive. I was quite interested in the story in the first half and in the end, but the middle almost lost me as Cohen seems to wander more in his memories than in solving his problems.
I listened to the audiobook read by the author. I didn't realize he was the reader until the end, and thought he must just be a voice actor I hadn't heard before. His accent is subtle but places the listener within the region, and he sounds slightly worn, slightly tired, which fits the character completely.
I was given a review copy by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.(less)
I keep thinking I'm zeroing in on having read all of the post-apocalyptic or dystopian literature when I stumble across another story I haven't read....moreI keep thinking I'm zeroing in on having read all of the post-apocalyptic or dystopian literature when I stumble across another story I haven't read. This kind of lit has become known as a "Jenny story" in the inner circles of SFF Audio, the podcast I sometimes participate in, as I did for this novel. A newer audiobook publisher to the scene, Dreamscape has been finding books through HiLo's Radium Age project, and doing audio productions of them. The audio version of this novel is fantastic, with Matthew Brenher doing a great job on all the UK dialects in the pages. (I tried reading a public domain PDF version and it wasn't easy!)
So no complaints on the audio production, but as a novel, I'm not sure I'm sold. The basic story is a deadly virus that takes out most of the men in a group. First it hits China and Russia, then Europe, but still the English don't seem worried. Plagues are for poor people, right? When it hits England and takes out most of the men, society comes to a halt. Women only know how to shop (this is 1913) and the entire infrastructure breaks down.
The Goslings are a representative family unit within this society. Mrs. Gosling never comes to terms with the breakdown of the societal framework, and Mr. Gosling abandons his family (despite the fact that he was one of the few male survivors, or maybe because of this fact!). This leaves the two daughters - Blanche and Millie - to try to find a way to survive. Everyone in London moves to the country, but 70% of the women and children starve to death in the process.
In the end, (view spoiler)[they join a farm commune where people have learned to live together without sex or class divisions. As if it's easy. Marriage is a thing of the past. But then an ocean liner arrives from America, and you get the sense that only now they are saved. It patches it up too nicely for my tastes, and I wonder if the ending isn't what faded this novel into obscurity in the first place! (hide spoiler)]
Still, it is interesting to read this in the perspective of the 1910s, a world of pending revolution and a rising middle class. I'm looking forward to following this up with a read of Herland, written by a woman two years later.
I'll post the link to the SFF Audio discussion when it goes live.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
“We are all caught up in the wheels and cogs of the industrial machine.”
When this book was selected for an SFF Audio Readalong discussion (link at bot...more“We are all caught up in the wheels and cogs of the industrial machine.”
When this book was selected for an SFF Audio Readalong discussion (link at bottom of post), I was surprised I hadn't heard of it in all my reading of dystopias and disasters. Jack London, an ardent socialist, published this in 1907 as a warning for the Oligarchy that was bound to take control if the proletariat didn't rise up.
The story itself is told through the diary of Avis Everhard, telling the story of the revolutionary, the man she loved, and his attempts to overthrow the system. Most of the book is lectures on socialism, but there are some exciting bits of action thrown in from a far-off perspective. In an interesting twist (and this is stated at the beginning, so not really a spoiler), socialism doesn't exactly win. When we discussed the novel we puzzled over why he would tell it from that angle if he was hoping to convince people of the solution of socialism. There are even footnotes from a fictional editor to put the journal in the perspective of the current government, the "Iron Heel," which has been in power for several centuries. Knowing they don't succeed in their lifetime, or even several lifetimes, makes it a darker read than it would be otherwise.
The Iron Heel was just too strong!
"Power. Pour it over your tongue until it tingles with it. Power."
It didn't exactly go the way Jack London wrote the future, except a little over 100 years later some of his concerns seem even more alarming than ever. He also foresaw war with Germany, an attack on our ships in Hawaii, an economic crash, using war as a way to overcome financial difficulties, and other minor ideas. He was writing from a world full of natural disaster, corporate destruction, and revolution, so he just followed some of the logical conclusions through.
One interesting note - if you search Twitter for #ironheel, it still gets referenced fairly often. Even though this book was fairly unknown to me, it still must be read in some circles. I give it 4 stars because it was so thought provoking and made for great conversation, but as a straight novel I'd rate it more as a 3.
ETA: Link to podcast, featuring Jesse from SFF Audio, Bryan Alexander, self-proclaimed educator, futurist, speaker, writer, and me (the only thing I proclaim is a lack of mastery). Honestly, I enjoyed the discussion more than the book.(less)
Nominated for the Hugo awards in the novelette category in 2013.
I don't know how to evaluate this story, as itself, or compared to Valente's other wor...moreNominated for the Hugo awards in the novelette category in 2013.
I don't know how to evaluate this story, as itself, or compared to Valente's other works? Put up against her other works, I miss the emotional, intimate, beautiful language. The story itself is ... fine, but lacks the passion I'm used to with her. Or maybe I just personally can't connect to a story about reproduction.
Either way, and I can't believe the blasphemy of my statement, this won't be my pick to win this year. (less)
I was reading an eARC of this novel* at a friend's house, when suddenly I gave a little scream and clasped my hands over my mouth. I moaned, "No, no,...moreI was reading an eARC of this novel* at a friend's house, when suddenly I gave a little scream and clasped my hands over my mouth. I moaned, "No, no, no, what?" and closed the cover of my iPad. Then I had to explain what had just happened, something to do with genetically modified tapeworms and humans that has to be read to be believed. No. I don't want to believe this could ever happen. I can't live in a tapeworm world.
I'm wary of spoiling the story, but this is from the novel blurb itself, and you might get the general idea:
"But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives..."
This book is gross. It is shudder-worthy, disbelief-worthy, and once you start you might not be able to put it down. I couldn't. I know Mira Grant has had a lot of good press and award nominations from the Newsflesh series, but I thought this had more new ideas with that same action-packed storytelling. I don't want to know if the science checks out. I will not be finding out. I don't think I could stand it!
*I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley, where I'm neither obligated to write a positive review nor am I required to write a review at all. When I don't like something, I say so. (less)
After dipping into this book here and there, I finally stayed up past midnight to wade through the rest. Water puns intended.
I am a fan of post-apocal...moreAfter dipping into this book here and there, I finally stayed up past midnight to wade through the rest. Water puns intended.
I am a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, and this has more similarities to a disaster movie, watching events unfold as the disaster takes place. Mitchell Zukor is a mathematician with an innate ability to predict and calculate disaster, and after Seattle is destroyed by a massive earthquake, he takes a new position with a disaster assessment type firm in New York City. I think his boss is supposed to be mysterious, but he wasn't strange enough to do the trick.
I think the author enjoyed the research of this novel quite a bit, as there is a lot of information dumped between dialogue about the potential for viruses, natural disaster, antibiotic resistance, famine, mathematics, logic, government policy, etc. He didn't spend as much time with the characters as there are some that are introduced and then kind of disappear, like Elsa... I don't understand what he was doing with that character at all. She felt like she should have had greater significance, and she isn't the only one.
Still, I'm glad I read it. I've been following a fun blog called Paper/Plates, a blog that combines food and literature. This book was chosen for their book club and while I can't go to their in-person meeting in Chicago, I plan to talk about it online with some of them at the end of the month. Maybe my perceptions will change during the conversation.
One quote that made me laugh, and it was past midnight at this point so bear with me: "It wouldn't make a bad office, if it weren't in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland."(less)
**spoiler alert** Original reaction: For now I'm just going to give a nice long eye roll, and I'll write more later. I'll use the force.
This YA dysto...more**spoiler alert** Original reaction: For now I'm just going to give a nice long eye roll, and I'll write more later. I'll use the force.
This YA dystopian novella started out well. I like the idea of this group of teenagers who have some kind of marriage-power culture as your only way out, the sadness of leaving home so young, not knowing anything about the outside world.
But then you find out where their society comes from. I don't have a beef with this idea of using Star Wars, I wouldn't go as far as calling it Star Wars fan fic as others have done, but there is an important loophole in the story. The origin story of the society says they had a box or a trunk of books but yet the only one having an impact is this one? That's where everything fell apart for me. It needs work.(less)
Connie Willis is a writer of ideas. In longer novel form, I think this is a good thing; I enjoyed Blackout/All Clear quite a bit. I still haven't made...moreConnie Willis is a writer of ideas. In longer novel form, I think this is a good thing; I enjoyed Blackout/All Clear quite a bit. I still haven't made it to her earlier works like To Say Nothing of the Dog or The Doomsday Book - both books that others say are her best work. When this collection of stories was listed in NetGalley, I jumped at the chance, to try to get to know this Grand Master a little better.
Back to this ideas issue. Connie Willis often zooms in on a thought she has (What if we found a way to turn off the menstrual cycle? This becomes Even the Queen) or personal obsessions (A love affair with the London Underground becomes The Winds of Marble Arch, an interest in H.L. Mencken becomes Inside Job) and fleshes it out into a story. The problem for the reader occurs when he or she does not share this same obsession. Honestly, I don't understand the obsession with H.L. Mencken, so that was an automatic turn-off for me. I did enjoy Even the Queen though, with its continuation of concepts in the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (kind of the opposite scenario).
The other stories range from quantum physics to post-apocalyptic letters to aliens that respond to Christmas carols. All ideas that are explored in the length of a short story. Each story comes with an afterword written by the author, explaining where the idea comes from and why the story is significant in her eyes, great stuff for fans of her work.
So what is missing, and why am I only giving this three stars? (Three stars for me means decent but not really for me.) I suppose I expect more from a short story. I want beautiful, expressive language. I want depth of character and emotion. Ideas alone just don't cut it, and that's all I really find here. For a lot of readers, that will be more than enough.(less)