The book is unexpected. Touted as a fantasy, the elements of fantasy are quietly understated. For the most part, it is a story of the present day, set...moreThe book is unexpected. Touted as a fantasy, the elements of fantasy are quietly understated. For the most part, it is a story of the present day, set in Cornwall and involving an archetypal tale of childhood vs. adulthood. In this story many adults are evil, some are neutral and only a very few are actively good. The good onese help the children on their journey of discovery against those who would try to create in them the same neutrality that allows evil to have power. One of the gems in the book is the ambiguity of the ending, I won't go into it, but it definitely sets you up to continue the series.
The children are engaging, and I have hopes that the children I know will like the book. I will be passing it on to them.(less)
Of course this isn't my first time through the Color. It is funny, though, how oddly these things come back to us. It is the first in the Discworld se...moreOf course this isn't my first time through the Color. It is funny, though, how oddly these things come back to us. It is the first in the Discworld series, but not the first one I read, and I have to say Soul Music is tons funnier. It's almost as if Sir Terry were trying to write a serious fantasy novel and kept switching back and forth into humor. It was only in later books that he really hit his stride and decided to let his humor tell his serious messages. However, Rincewind and Twoflower are great characters and the luggage is always a hoot.
Rincewind, the hapless not-so-wizard tour guide to Twoflower, visiting from a gold laden continent in the far unknown (probably Australia, but not really) stumbles in and out of trouble so often as to be a caricature of himself. And that's ok, because that's exactly what he's supposed to be. In fact everything, the Hero, the barbarian, the dragons and their riders, the dwarfs ... everyone is a parody of the tried and true fantasy tropes interacting with Twoflower and his luggage who are interlopers in a world of magic, carrying about with them magic of their own, totally taking it for granted. Don't we all? The constant threat on their lives does not so much move the action as keep the story alive. You know they're in trouble and going to get into more. What it is doesn't matter so much as the portrait of the situation and how Sir Terry will rif on an old tune.
If you like fantasy and are into humor, don't start Sir Terry's work here. Instead look into his later work, perhaps Night Watch. Come back to this only when you're ready for some back story and want to get the lay of the land a little more clearly. All of the Discworld books stand alone, though some less well than others. This one is only for the die hard fan. (less)
This has been my third time through The Time Machine. I forget too much of it each time. Some of the dumb stuff Hollywood has done to foul it up has l...moreThis has been my third time through The Time Machine. I forget too much of it each time. Some of the dumb stuff Hollywood has done to foul it up has leaked into my memories of the actual book, so I get confused. However, this book has much more to offer than it's premise indicates. A device that has become a trope in modern SF was, at the time deeply innovative. Thanks to Einstein, we now nearly dismiss the whole idea as absurd. And that would be all fine and good if that's what Wells was about, but it wasn't.
Wells was deeply interested, as a student of Thomas Huxley (Darwin's Bulldog), in considering the future fate of man as he evolves. He was also a socialist embroiled in a world where communism was on the rise, a philosophy he vehemently disagreed with (a reminder to us all that the terms are not synonymous). So when his nameless "everyman" arrives in the future to find the dark symbiosis of the Eloi and the Moorlocks, it is to bring back a cautionary tale.
His initial foray among the Eloi is understandably superficial. They are a beautiful, simple people given to pleasure. It is only on further reflection that the Time Traveller realizes that they must have an industry of some sort or their material culture would be nonexistant. With the dissappearance of his time machine, he explores and discovers the darkness that lurks beneath.
He has stumbled (literally) into a world where the decadence of humanity is causing it to devour itself with its own unreconciled duality. Its beauty is past its prime, shallow and meaningless. It's industry is hideous, creeping and cannibalistic. There is nothing of the light hearted "what if" tale in The Time Machine. It is rather a warning that humankind must draw together or suffer the consequences.
I am not an evolutionist, but I am a firm believer in the laws of consequence. If the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, sooner or later the poor will no longer tolerate the divide. If the intellectual and the artistic insist on an elitist disconnect, the practical man will sooner or later allow him to wander into his own illusory dreamworld. In a world like that, uninformed power becomes a thing to be feared.
There is nothing of Marxist dialectic in Wells either. He does not suggest that the Moorlocks and the Eloi should try to get along or reintegrate, drawing the best from each other. There is no best. The Eloi are empty and the Moorlocks are savage. Both are beyond hope. The Time Traveler is drawn to the Eloi as all of us are drawn to sunlight rather than shadow, ease rather than work, sight rather than blindness. This suggestion that a point of no return can be reached without realization is the loudest warning of all. If we don't pay attention now, while something can be done, we are swept into the wild fire that kills both humanity's sensitivity and brutality. And the wild fire is lit by a lack of forethought, by reason misused.
In the 1986 Tor edition additional material by James Gunn (an expert writer in his own right) explores Wells' life and influence as well as his ideas about the future that so influenced The Time Machine. It is a beautifully useful devise that helps the reader move beyond the novelty of the story and to pay attention to the Time Traveller's asides reading them as the voice of Wells himself. Even his self-contradictory childhood contributes to his own familiarity with the Eloi, Moorlock contradiction.
The Time Machine is such a pillar in the SF cannon that it is beyond recommendation by any individual, but I recommend it anyway. As Mark Twain observed a "classic" is "A book which people praise and don't read." This book is in danger of falling into disfavor for its naivette' and its linguistic obsolescence. Even its victorian masculine perspective is a threat. Never the less, it's profundity is in its cautionary word, its philosophy more than its specific speculation. It's short. Read it and relive the wonder.(less)
This was a fun book, very good. I thought the attempt to backtrack on the Peter Pan tradition was well executed. Some of the contrivance seams showed,...moreThis was a fun book, very good. I thought the attempt to backtrack on the Peter Pan tradition was well executed. Some of the contrivance seams showed, creating the origins of some of the more well known elements of the story. But that doesn't stop it from being a fast moving romp. Sensitive parents may be a bit put off by the talk of killing, but it is important to note that it never actually happens. Peter's character is well rounded, and James is too, but the other "lost boys" are a little flat. Molly is a nice additional element to the legend. I am undecided as to whether I'll continue the series. There's plenty more to read out there without getting caught up in children's lit, but it wouldn't be out of the question or unenjoyable. Before I do that, I think I'll actually read Peter Pan.(less)
Bester explores the development of human self-actualization. Foyle, who begins as an unremarkable drone, is driven by personal crisis to a life meanin...moreBester explores the development of human self-actualization. Foyle, who begins as an unremarkable drone, is driven by personal crisis to a life meaning shaped by revenge. When he sees that this too is empty, leading, as it does, back to his own doorstep and everything he loves, he is taken by the confines of personal responsibility, humanity, and the burden of free will.
In the end, the voice of reason is a radioactively damaged robot, moving out of it's programming to assess humanity and society and to dictate obligation: to live, to choose, to participate.
Bester's assessment of the race says that we must be responsible, choose responsibility or suffer the whims and abuse of those who will. When we do, barriers are demolished, frontiers expanded and new avenues of perception and enlightenment opened.(less)
I came to this book after being introduced to it by Ken Burns National Parks Television series. It lives up to the introduction. Here a more primeval...moreI came to this book after being introduced to it by Ken Burns National Parks Television series. It lives up to the introduction. Here a more primeval America is introduced, a place whee the landscape is unspoiled but where humanity is less sensitive. War is the norm of the day and life is held in low esteem. the unspoiled landscape is contrasted to the completely depraved human condition. The relationships show none of the smooth, natural beauty of the lake's currents. The peace of the surroundings constantly conceals the conflict that happens on so many levels.
In the end, the story is a tragedy. Nattie's honesty is unassailable and his autonomy is inpenetrable. But the story sets the stage for Nattie's development in later books. The careful reader sees that this later installment of the saga, as far as Nattie goes, shows the seams of contrivance. However, in reading to follow the fortunes of Judith, a sad pathos is discovered, in which the reader sees himself or herself in the harsh light of truth, and knows that only the rarest person could stand the scrutiny.(less)
In all, The Eight is an enjoyable read. It handles the central conflict well, with harrowing escapes from certain doom and unfolding complications tha...moreIn all, The Eight is an enjoyable read. It handles the central conflict well, with harrowing escapes from certain doom and unfolding complications that keep the reader guessing. The blossoming of the love interests at the end were a bit unexpected, but not unwelcome.
If you like conspiracy, you may enjoy this book. Neville is a better writer than Dan Brown, so her story is not so pedantic, even though it is fraught with historical significance. Her device (the Montglane Service) has religious overtones, but it is not so blatantly preachy as The Da Vinci Code. It is interesting to me that since she did not find it necessary to create contraversy in order to forward her book sales, also seems to have kept this work somewhat less well known, but it has everything that Brown has and more, and better executed.(less)
There is a reason this book has hung around for a 40th anniversary edition. I predict it will stay around for longer too. Of all the fantasy books I h...moreThere is a reason this book has hung around for a 40th anniversary edition. I predict it will stay around for longer too. Of all the fantasy books I have read only the Lord of the Rings compares with it in depth, and it surpasses Tolkien in poetic beauty.
Beagle's world is alive. By that I do not mean it seems vividly real, though that is true. In this world stone breathes and laundry gropes. The magic permeating The Last Unicorn's world causes everything to have a heartbeat. Everything, that is, except Haggard, the king. He is as lifeless, most of the time, as our own sand.
The unicorn herself, in all her forms, is enough to stir a longing, a deep wish for a world in which beauty has an ultimate form and immortality can be known, even if it is elusive.
The Last Unicorn is an allegory of the beauty and isolation of uniqueness, of the loneliness of those who will know themselves and the beauty they embody. It is about desire that must remain forever unfulfilled, perhaps what Lewis refers to as a longing for a longing. It is about the fragile nature of true courage.
Read The Last Unicorn, because ultimately, if you do you will be glad you did. You will realize the vast ignorance of not having read it and having missed out on a book so lovely it can create an ache.(less)
Dated? no doubt. Corny? well yes. But Tom Corbett rings the same childhood bells as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, only for space geeks. Yeah, sure, M...moreDated? no doubt. Corny? well yes. But Tom Corbett rings the same childhood bells as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, only for space geeks. Yeah, sure, Mars has no water and you can't walk the surface of the planet without a pressure suit, but really, for entertainment purposes, who cares? If I'm reading for depth, it might make a difference, but you don't read Tom Corbett for that, you read it for the childhood values of fairness, comaraderie, achievement and wonder. Here are three young men in all the spit and polish of the post WW II image of the American G I, unsullied by the realities of crudeness and natural falibility that our jaded age insists upon. It's hard to imagine a military person saying "golly" with all seriousness. So, treat it like a fairy-tale fantasy and a morality play, a fable of what space travel would be like if we were on a course of optimism: where cadets are stary-eyed and great things can be accomplished if only you are idealistic enough.(less)