Ahh, finally. After reading two duds (Great Gatsby and 2001 respectively) it feels so good to finally get a book as excellent as thisFull review here.
Ahh, finally. After reading two duds (Great Gatsby and 2001 respectively) it feels so good to finally get a book as excellent as this one.
The most obviously unique and the thing that's hits you first when you read this book is the incredible language. When I first read "you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches" I had no fucking clue what they were on about. It's incredibly frustrating at first but if you keep ploughing on with the book you quickly pick up the words very easily and by the end you know the language of Nadsat very well.
It also struck me how prophetic this book is. After all the language is all pretty reminiscent of today's youth. You could quite easily replace "yarbles", "horrorshow" and "gulliver" with LOL, ROLF and LMAO. Nadsat was Alex's teenage slang, text-speak is today's teenage slang.
The overruling moral question Burgess poses in this book is that is it right to take away a man's free will, even if that free will is violent and destructive? It's an excellent philosophical argument that leaves you think deeply about the issue which is always what I strive for in a book. ...more
Publisher's summary: "On a moon of the ruined planet Akoshemon, an age-old terror is about to be reborn. Something that remembers the spiral of war, pPublisher's summary: "On a moon of the ruined planet Akoshemon, an age-old terror is about to be reborn. Something that remembers the spiral of war, pestilence and deprivation – and rejoices in it. The Fifth Doctor joins a team of archaeologists searching for evidence of the planet's infamous past, and uncovers more than just ancient history. Forced to confront his own worst fears, even the Doctor will be pushed to breaking point – and beyond."
Well, this seems to be another book that I really damn enjoyed but the majority of people had problems with. Ah, well.
Anyway, remember me saying that Ten Little aliens was dark? Well, compared to this book, that book is like the Cat in the fucking Hat.
To put it bluntly, this book is savage. It's the epitome of the word "bleak". It's brutal, it's hard and it's unrelenting in it's passages of death and emotional torture. The whole book is utterly without any sense of happiness or hope, and throughout the book you just get a really heavy hanging sense of dread. The setting is suitably grim, with our characters on an empty rock far away from any civilisation, right by a dead planet consumed by volcanic fire, a monstrous creature that is seemingly indestructible is hunting them all down, characters who are kind and nice and witty and intelligent die in the most horrendous of ways and there's seemingly nothing that the Doctor can do to stop it all. It really pushes him to his limits.
I think it was a very smart move to make this a Fifth Doctor book. More than any other doctor before or since, you get a sense of fallibility with him. A feeling of perhaps this time it won't turn out all right (as it did in Earthshock). As Baxendale so eloquently put it in his introduction "Often in the TV series, he would come up against some of the bleakest and meanest of worlds: mercenaries and machine guns , voracious corporations, cold-war computers, and they were just the product of human beings. Our most "human" of Doctors was often faced with our species at our most inhuman ".
And he's right, when you think back over some of his stories. Earthshock, Terminus, Warriors of the Deep, Frontios, Resurrection of the Daleks, The Caves of Androzani, all bleak, bleak stories (or at least for Terminus and Warriors, bleak on paper). So that's why putting him in a situation like this one is so suited. Other Doctor's like the Fourth or Sixth, who are very confident and self-assured, you would feel like they would have the situation in their control and come up trumps in the end. But with Davidson's Doctor, the more caring and gentle side to him is going to be harder hit then most when tragedy comes a' knocking. It makes you feel things really will end badly, which makes it automatically much more terrifying.
Suspense in this book is built terrifically well in the opening chapters of this book. There's the "Bloodhunter" (the hideous creature that is running around sucking the blood out of the characters), lurking somewhere in the darkness, and you have no idea when it's coming. And then when it does come it seems to happen so fast and with such ferocity that it seems almost unstoppable. It really puts you on edge and it's really genuinely creepy and nerve-racking. With the first death of the book being a really heart-stopping moment.
One factor of this success is Baxendale's powers of descriptive writing. He can use the English language in such a way to conjure up apocalyptic, almost Biblical images of terror and destruction. The horrific, nightmarish feel to the book is created because of his choice of words. Page 145 is a particular highlight for me: "He heard it then: unmistakeably, the horrifying shrieks and cries of a thousand million beings consumed by blackness. It was very distant, made almost imperceptible by time but it pushed a cold blade of despair deep into his chest. The agony of all those tormented souls welled up inside him like a physical pain." Bloody good stuff.
Then there's the other main enemy itself, the entity simply known as "The Dark". It's a truly terrifying threat, partly because of how unknowable it is. It's implied to be a being of the Pre-Universe , and personally I like to think it's one of the pantheon of beings known as the Great Old Ones, as hinted in the book (and only die-hard Whovian-nerds will know about them really), and as such has powers and abilities far beyond anything in our regular universe. It is mostly because of it's physical appearance, i.e none. It's just a huge mass of amorphous black liquid that you can't kill, won't kill, and is just going to keep killing and killing until nothing else is left alive. It's a really horrible and disturbing villain.
This book starts depressing and just gets more depressing. Despite the fact it's meant to be set in Season 20, it feels more a Season 21 affair with the body count. Out of all the supporting characters, only the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa survive, and it makes the whole book feel really bitterly, tragically sad as a result. One of the main characters called Stoker finally manages to make up and fall in love again with a captain of a ship that comes to rescue them. But just as soon as they find each other again, it all ends in tears. The captain guy ends up being used by "the Dark" and ends up crashing the ship, leading him dead. Or is he? Turns out he is alive, but just barely. He's turned into a grizzled, barbecued human just barely recognisable. And then he dies properly, along with Stoker afterwards. Things like that just add to the despairing feel you get with the book, and makes you sigh very heavily indeed.
Now, this book would've been a good un' in my mind with probably a 5-star rating. Except for one thing: the ending. My god it's terrible. All that build-up, all that suspense and horror and heartbreak, all to be undone in a chapter. It's a major let-down on all fronts. The Dark, which was previously this unstoppable Lovecraftian horror, achieves final corporeal form, and guess what? He's turned into a bore. He's now a cliché, generic ranting megalomaniac spouting stock "I will destroy the universe!" phrases, who's threat and menace have instantly disappeared. It also feels rushed and anti-climatic, a simple add-on used to simply give it an end. Stoker's death as well feels unnecessary and forced, as if Baxendale was thinking "Oh well I've killed everyone else of, so I might as well kill her as well". It feels like it was merely obligatory and not a meaningful, needed death.
It does have a good epilogue though. Anytime the Doctor reflects on the death toll of his adventures, and questions whether he really is a force for good in the universe, are good in my book. And also confronts the eternal curse of time travelling, in which you could feasibly change the events of the past, and stop millions of people dying and suffering, but can't because of numerous disastrous consequences of such a change.
A great shame then, that a book that starts and continues so good, should end of such a resounding thud. The rest of the book is mostly gold. Bleak and tragic with a chilling ambience of fatalistic doom. The entire time you're on tender hooks, constantly fearing for the character's lives and feeling tremendously sad when they do inevitably perish. Suspense is built wonderfully and the whole book has a really truly grizzly, adult feel to it.
So, apart from the stupid ending, I'd thoroughly recommend this. Be warned though, prepare something nice and happy to read afterwards, because you're gonna need it....more
* Hugely interesting to see an "alien invasion" book before any other type of that story had been done. Specifically on how a VictorianFirst thoughts:
* Hugely interesting to see an "alien invasion" book before any other type of that story had been done. Specifically on how a Victorian writer describes alien tech. The heat rays look like cameras, the tripods in those drawings look weird as fuck, instead of spaceships they fall from the sky in cylinders like meteorites. Interesting to see how these things were done before Star Trek, Star Wars, 50s B movies. Must have been a huge leap for him to actually imagine a whole different type of species and how they operate for the time.
* Like how cynical the whole book is, in that humans are actually pathetic against the Martians and it's only something from nature and outside of our control that can kill them. Gives it a rather realistic feel and doesn't put any "We humans are brilliant and can strive over anything" feel-good wank that usually appears in alot of alien invasion stories (e.g Independence Day, although that is more of a "We Americans are brilliant and can strive over anything"). Actively says the opposite - "We humans are actually kinda pathetic and can be crushed really easily when it comes to it". Gives it a very brutal and fatalistic edge, which I love.
* Nice how Wells makes out that man is capable of just as much insanity and irrationality as the Martians i.e the Curate. Even makes the Martians seem more reasonable and calm in comparison.
* His description of England's apocalyptic landscape is pretty damn powerful. Last page 189 is especially ominous and haunting.
* The Martians themselves are really weird. No bodies, no mouth, don't sleep, don't get tires, drink human blood, never invented the wheel, never encountered micro-organisms. However this does make them much for interesting and refreshing for an alien species (not your typical Greys or Greens, as they hadn't been enshrined in popular culture). Pg.134 - 35
* How refreshing of Wells' to use the Martian's invasion of England as a way of reflecting the way the British Empire acted around the world, and compares the subjugation and oppression of the humans as being no different to how Western powers treated the people's in the countries they invaded (such as the Congolese or the Boers). In 19th century I can't imagine this view being very popular, so kudos for him for having a greater sense of perspective, sensitivity and intelligence than other people at the time. ...more
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me".
- Hunter S. Thompson
Christ almighty they take a lot of drugs in this book don't they?
Although if anything actually that's my main problem with this book. And don't get me wrong I'm a big pro-drug legalization supporter so I'm fine with them taking it, it's just that it seems to be the only real hinge to the book.
It's as if when Thompson was pitching this to the publisher he was like:
"Right, okay! So first there in a car...on drugs! Then they go into a casino...on drugs! Then they go back to there hotel room...still on drugs! Then they have to go to a drug conference...on different drugs! Then they go to an airport...on even more different drugs!"
I just got the overwhelming feeling when I finished it of "Really? They get high all the time and then go on crazy hijinks in Las Vegas and then the book ends? Seriously? That was all there was too it?"
But I wouldn't say the book was completely without merit. There are some great bits of social commentary in-between all the drug taking. Thompson provides despairing passages on the failure of the sixties dream throughout. I wasn't born in the sixties so I have no experience of what it was like, but for me there was a tinge of sadness in me knowing that all the positive sixties idealism shrivelled and died to make way for the harsh seventies.
In all honestly though I found most of this book rather underwhelming. And weirdly despite the myriad of twisted and insane things that go on in the book, I actually found it pretty unmemorable. Suffice to say, this book was a bit of a disappointment and didn't leave that much of a mark on me. This is a case in which Goodreads rating system is flawed, as this book is much more a 3 and a half than just a direct four. But failing to have that I think four sums it up best. ...more
Katy Manning does a good job recreating the voices of the characters, particularly those of Jon Pertwee and the Brigadier (the bit when theyThoughts:
Katy Manning does a good job recreating the voices of the characters, particularly those of Jon Pertwee and the Brigadier (the bit when they are arguing in the Doctor's lab is spot on). Her own voice however is quite obviously noticeable older an huskier than when it was in the 70s, which makes listening to her as "young Joe" a bit odd. But other than that she does an excellent job.
Some of it's genuinely a bit creepy, which the repeated "mamas" that occur occasionally throughout the first part being very eerie.
The idea of a backwards universe in which our past is their future is a really clever and intriguing one (even if it is kinda sorta ripped off from a Red Dwarf episode, but ah well), and along with elements like the weird blue-glowing, eyeless dogs and HannaH's soul being trapped inside a doll, it makes for a very visually rich (ironic considering it's an audio) and pleasingly surreal story.
The plot is...confusing, let's say. I normally like to egotistically pride myself on "getting" stories that most people find mind-boggling (in most media, not just Doctor Who). But really, towards the end, I have no idea what's going on. So they sort of transport into the backwards universe, and then see themsleves going back out of a room, and then they try and get to UNIT headquarters, and the Doctor jumps through a crack in time, and then they end up back into the museum office, where they were at the beginning...and then...uhhh... :S
I think in some ways this story suffers being an audio, as I found many times it was hard to visualise dogs running backwards through a wall (how do you do that?) or an un-explosion (an explosion that falls back on itself after having exploded, but then explodes outward again anyway. But if this was a backwards world, why would it then explode outward having just imploded inward, as everything is meant to go backwards, apparently apart from this though?). Perhaps if I actually saw it there happening, I would find it easier to understand.
So, not the best, but still with some very strong and commendable moments that make this story very enjoyable. ...more
Great overview. Gregor has given a detailed overview on Hitler's deranged and constant stream of nonsense that he wrote in his two shit-piles of booksGreat overview. Gregor has given a detailed overview on Hitler's deranged and constant stream of nonsense that he wrote in his two shit-piles of books (if Mein Kampf wasn't bad enough, turns out there was a Second Book unpublished until 2006). Hitler's main preoccupations are (surprise, surprise) the Jews, of which he paradoxically can blame for both the destructive materialist tendencies of industrialised capitalism, which destroys the 'purity' of the good honest German, and also 'Judeo-Bolshevism', in which communism supposedly tries to steal the workers away from their blood-and-soil roots by deluding into believing in human equality and a unification of class overleaping racial and national lines (which of course is basically treason to Hitler). Why? 'Cus the Jews are always trying to good old White European Aryan culture and society, as he repeatedly refers to Jews as, amongst others, 'the plague of nations', 'a disease', 'tuberculosis', 'parasites', 'poison', a 'foreign virus' and a 'noxious bacillus'.
This of course leads into Hitler's belief in medical terminology being fit enough to describe countries and nations, with Germany being the 'body', the fight for racial 'struggle' as the equivalent of the body fighting anti-bodies, and obviously the Jews being the damaging viruses to the body.
The book also covers Hitler's obsession with lebesnuram, and the need for 'living space' for the burgeoning children of Germany (that mothers were encouraged to constantly have) and his views of the disabled (hint, hint, he isn't very keen on them either, for similar reasons as the Jews).
The best sections are Gregor taking to pieces Hitler's thinking and writing style. So for instance, an excerpt in which Hitler states this:
If a really vigorous people believes that it cannot conquer another with peaceful economic means, or if an economically weaker people does not wish to let itself be killed by an economically stronger one, as its ability to feed itself it slowly cut off, then in both cases the mist of peaceful economic phraseology will be suddenly torn apart and war, that is the continuation of politics by other means, steps into its place. (2B, 22-3)
Reading this hopelessly unstructured string of clauses on can picture Hitler standing, peering over the shoulders of his hapless scribe, forming sentences as ideas come into his head and inserting sub-clauses as the thoughts and associations randomly strike him. There is an unmistakeably 'stream of consciousness' quality to the writing, which does not appear to have undergone even the most basic editing, let alone anything like rigorous polishing. It also contains an almost impossibly clumsy mixed metaphor - what is the 'the mist of peaceful economic phraseology'? And how does one tear mist apart? (pg. 7)
Good stuff! And also very accurate.
The main point in reading Hitler would be too discover if Hitler's dribblings are proof of further intentions. Gregor states Mein Kampf in particular is also partly an attempt to wheedle his way in as the new leader for the German far-right. But as to whether what he did in power from 1933-1945 can be seen here in his little books, is doubtful at best. It would be stupid to suggest, as someone like Lucy Dawodowitz does, that Hitler could have planned everything that went on in the war as far back as the writings of Mein Kampf, I doubt anyone, unless they were a James Bond villain, could be assured enough that their masterplan would work out great for nearly 10 years without any sudden contextual changes in the world affecting their decisions whatsoever.
But it does not mean we should ignore it outright. Gregor logically concludes that if Hitler did define the world into medicinal terms, then this metaphor "translate(d)...back into the human world of politics...becomes chillingly clear" in what he meant when he said vague statements like "poison is countered only by an antidote" (MK 306)".
On the whole, as to the question of “should you read Hitler?” The answer is probably not. 600+ pages of the writings of a man, who these days would be probably some drunk ranting on a street corner on a cardboard box, about the “Jews” and the “communists” and all his wacky theories on race, history and how-the-world-works based on these, is not very desirable. Instead, this book is a much better substitute, being short and swift, but detailed enough to give you enough insight into Hitler’s thinking, while still, with Gregor’s commentary, anchoring you back into reality. ...more
For starters, it’s a little weird having a play titled Julius Caesar but only featuring him a handful of times, and then killing him off mid-way throuFor starters, it’s a little weird having a play titled Julius Caesar but only featuring him a handful of times, and then killing him off mid-way through. It would be a bit like calling Macbeth “Kind Duncan”.
Speaking of Macbeth, I also wonder if Shakespeare pinched some of the plot for it. It’s not to say that the two are literally the same, as there are numerous differences in tone, plot, and message behind each one. But never the less, we have:
•Conspiring to murder legitimate ruler after a civil war (Julius Caesar, Duncan) – tick! •Bizarre events occur after murder of legitimate ruler (Casca’s descriptions of a flaming slave and a shrieking owl/ the Old Man and Ross’ descriptions of owls killing hawks and horses eating each other) – tick! •Friends of murdered ruler rise up against the murders and overrule them (Mark Anthony/ MacDuff) – tick! •Murderer of leader sees ghostly vision of person he has murdered (Brutus sees Caesar/ Macbeth sees Banquo) – tick! •Some vaguely supernatural element (Caesar’s obsession with prophecies, wives preconditions of death/ witches prophecies)
Again, a lot of these are tenuous, and have widely different contexts surrounding them, but I couldn’t hope but notice them.
One of the most joyous things about Shakespeare (there are many) is that due to the staggering influence he has had on Western popular culture and the English language itself, is that so many lines and quotes, most I knew long before I ever read any Shakespeare, read before you, giving you a pleasant surprise! For instance:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves...” (1.2, 140-41)
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” (3.2. before 70)
And, lastly, brilliantly:
“Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war” (3.1, 273)
It was very fun for some reason discovering famous phrases pop out of you.
It’s also interesting trying to work out the characters of this play. Who’s the tragic hero? Who’s the villain? Did Caesar deserve to die? Are their growing signs of a paranoid mentality in him (his suggested reliance on supernatural omens indicating a bit of a fanatical side to him?)
Were the conspirator’s plans justified for this reason? What proof did they have to murder him?
Is Brutus the most “noblest Roman of them (5.5, 68)”, or an idiot with not much reason to fear Caesar other than an unfounded fear of “ambition”? On the other hand, he dies sympathetically, and admits as much when he kills himself that “I kill’d not thee with half so good a will (5.5, 51)”, demonstrating some degree of self-reflection, and describes how “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoce at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but as he was ambitious, I slew him (3.2 24-26)” and that “not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more 21-22”, meaning he had to place his overwhelming fears of dictatorship over personal love, which is a pretty dreadful position to be in. So did Shakespeare want us to view him as a justified martyr, or just a tragic fool?
Similarly, is Cassius the bad guy? He is described in the little character list at the front of my edition of the play as “fanatical” suggesting his villain status. But he doesn't really demonstrate fanaticism in the play. He feels grief and sorrow when Brutus is angry at him “O ye gods, ye gods, must I endure all this? (4.3, 41) and does go out in a blaze of glory, meaning he has some dignity. But then again, maybe Anthony’s claim that “All the conspirators, save only he (Brutus)/ Did that they did in envy of Great Caesar (5.5, 69-70)” was true, and that he, along with the others, were simply petty morons who were undone by their own callous misgivings?
Mark Anthony is also a suspicious character. He could be genuinely professing grief over his friend Caesar. But is he just using public grief (that he stirs up) as a means of gaining power over Rome himself? After all, after saying all the wonderful things that Caesar wanted to give to the public, he then starts almost momentarily trying to strip away at it: “we shall determine/How to cut off some charge in legacies (4.1, 9-10)”, meaning that the value Caesar apparently held were clearly not ones he did. So is he a justified hero avenging an unjust death? Or a scheming Machiavelli who sees a power gap and goes for it. Compared to Brutus, who often seemed genuinely caring and reasoned in his actions, he almost comes off more of a demagogue.
I feel Gary Wills summed it up very well when he said that:
“It is a drama famous for the difficulty of deciding which role to emphasise. The characters rotate around each other like the plates of a Calder mobile. Touch one and it affects the position of all the others. Raise one, another sinks. But they keep coming back into a precarious balance.”
It is a technique that has worn well, with it being apparent in contemporary TV dramas such as The Wire or Game of Thrones. Shakespeare forces us to confront some uncomfortable problems, primarily being “Who do we root for?” “Who should we sympathise with?”, and “What does it say of a society where everyone is capable of being corrupt?”
But this here is why Shakespeare is so brilliant. He refuses (as he does in many of his other plays) to stick rigidly to any set of conventions. He writes comedies that turn into tragedies, and comedies that turn into tragedies (The Winter's Tale, Troilus and Cressida etc.) He writes plays where the villain is arguably more sympathetic to the hero (The Merchant of Venice, although this is controversial), and, as demonstrated here, he manages to convey the enormous subtlety and nuance of human nature and morality, and that the desire for power tends to corrupt all, from all sides. And to top it off, he conveys it all with such majesty, poetry and beauty it makes your heart ache.
And of course, me being a student of history (meaning = I had a quick check on Wikipedia just a few minutes ago), I know that in the end, Rome stopped becoming a Republic after this, and the aforementioned Wiki article states that: “The result unforeseen by the assassins was that Caesar's death precipitated the end of the Roman Republic.”
So in the end, all the assassins failed in their only task. Brutus killed his friend for nothing. And all that we can be assured about is the cycle of petty, internecine civil war will continue indefinitely (it should be noted of course, that there was one before the play started, there is one during the play, and according to Wiki, there were about 3 other civil wars after this). It would be interesting to read Anthony and Cleopatra after this, considering it’s essentially a sequel, and it would be interesting to see if Shakespeare keeps up the same style of characters from this, or just starts anew.
So in the end, maybe Rome is the tragic character? Doomed to constant political infighting that only hastens its own demise. Shakespeare was so clever, and had such a wry and cynical outlook on things; I wouldn't be surprised if he knew the true nature of wars, both civil and eternal over the “hollow crown” as he earlier called it. And that the endless coups, revolutions and counter coups and revolutions were simply a revolving door for the power hungry to change their masks, but not their practices. ...more
Okay, really, I'm finishing this. I know normally my book OCD makes me only complete a book until I HAVE READ EVERY LAST PAGE...but really, It's gettiOkay, really, I'm finishing this. I know normally my book OCD makes me only complete a book until I HAVE READ EVERY LAST PAGE...but really, It's getting embarrassing to have this still on "currently reading" when it's a really thin book.
So, this is not as good as the first one. I'm starting to think that maybe the graphic novel genre is not for me. Increasingly I'm finding they are just not value for money, in that normally I'll read a graphic novel of this size in a couple of hours, and then, woof! That's £9 gone. It was like that with the The Manhattan Projects (which was still awesome cool crazy fun mind you), and it was the same for this. It moved so quickly I just found there wasn't any time for me to really get invested in what was going on. I didn't really care about what happened to the characters, or the situation, and I don't know why. It's not like these are new characters or anything (I read this first book and found that very enjoyable), but, when I finished it my overall thoughts were "Meh. Whatver". Which is annoying. But hey, maybe that's a fault of my own. Probably. But anyway, let's move on to the real problem I have this with book.
The New Traveller's Almanac. Dear christ almighty impaled on a BBQ stick, the New Traveller's Almanac. This has to be one of the most dry, boring, long winded and seemingly unending pieces of prose I've read yet. I really just could not bring myself to slog through this any longer. It is interesting, and it's great to see the world of the LOEG fleshed out so much, but FUCK ME it is not fun to read. As much as I tried to imagine the places, and the whole world as one sweeping epic adventure ala Game of Thrones (which is what has happened to me after watching both seasons 1 and 2 and becoming obsessed. I've started trying to see everything I find dull to read as a Game of Thrones story with lots of political intrigue and machinations, in an attempt to make it more interesting. This often helps when reading particularly dry bits of my History textbook), but try as I might, I just could not get my mind to take an iota of interest in the words that were scrolling down my eyeballs.
I really do not think ordinary prose like in a ordinary book does not works in the graphic novel format, with Black Dossier suffering from this as well. Cramming text that normally would be going straight along from left to right on an A3 piece of paper, and squeezing it into 3 separate paragraphs on one single A4 page is an eye-raping exercise.
I should however commend Kevin O'Neil's fantastic artwork, which is just as superb as previously. Whether it be the sweeping red plains of Mars, or the images of people being burnt alive in a fiery green haze by the Martian ray guns, or the red weed enveloping the whole of the Thames, there are some truly staggering pieces of work in here. That's one of the bonuses of graphic novels, even in a comic with the shittest of plotlines, the artwork would be considered masterpieces if viewed separately.
So all in all, disappointing. I'm starting to worry my unadulterated love for Moore may be fading with age (although I still think Watchmen is brilliant, and V for Vendetta has its moments), and that maybe it was a phase of uber-pretentious, very arrogant youth (I say, as a 17-year old. Yeah because I'm so much older and wiser now, aren't I? :/). This would be a shame, as I still find the man himself very intelligent, thought provoking, and hilarious, and From Hell, the last of his major-ish works of me yet to read, does looks gorgeous and very profound. So it would be a shame if I become completely disengaged in someone I used to love. ...more
Mostly very good. Krugman's claim at the front of the book that he intends to make it more readable to the wider non-economic savvy public doesn't reaMostly very good. Krugman's claim at the front of the book that he intends to make it more readable to the wider non-economic savvy public doesn't really hold up by the end sadly. There are many head-scratching paragraphs that I had to read multiple times to properly understand. Economics to me is like most sciences, I'm sorry, but no matter what people say, they are the sort of subjects that can never be fully accessible to the average Joe. The very nature of their subject requires jargon, near impenetrable concepts and a hefty dose of a good Maths background to properly appreciate.
Still, Krugman is better than most, and has some very funny turns of phrases here and there. His baby co-op metaphor at the beginning of the book for the way the housing market was treated by banks was particular inspired, and an excellent way to clarify the complex clusteruck of CDOs, sub-prime mortgages, derivatives and others that lead to the crash.
Overall, his analysis is one I agree with. Unregulated banking, along with their wanton stupidity and their ever increasing, never ending demand for more money (that all capitalists share alike) led to the collapse. Not, as the pernicious, worthless, dishonest little scum in the UK Conservative Party have managed to suggest, because of Labour's spending (A ludicrous claim. How does a spending deficit cause a banking collapse?)
Krugman provides a clear, insightful, hugely detailed outline of how things went wrong, and subsequently gives an informative plan for a global recovery. Sadly, the book, being published in 2009, now seems a disappointingly lost cry, as his plans for a worldwide economic recovery (V.Keynesian spending and growth increases) have not been pursued. In actuality, we have the perverse situation in which a neo-liberal free market capitalist failure is trying to be resuscitated with a neo-liberal, free-market capitalist solution. In continental Europe it's been an absolute disaster, with mass unemployment and huge political and economic unrest stemming as a result of it. In the UK it would seem to be on the surface doing much better (high employment, low inflation etc.) which is a shallow cover for a deeply flaky recovery, with jobs being self-employed, very low paid until very recently, on zero-hour contracts, and with no chance of it being a long-term secure recovery. It may well be shown to be made of sand when the winds of another economic judder (which under neo-liberal free-capitalism is almost certain) possibly putting people’s lives at risk again.
Also, the wider and more crucial point to make is that austerity, if not an economic red herring based on shaky and ill-founded principles (the report George Osbourne used to justify his austerity plans were subsequently proven to be dogshit, which numerous data errors in it), has utterly failed on a moral level. It is an absolute obscenity to humanity.
It has produced a destroyed NHS health care system, which (as Noam Chomsky has so astutely identified) is a classic case of stealth privatisation, where you defund something to the point of collapse, look at the numerous failings, let the media go "look! See! Public services don't work!” and then usher in for the private vultures to come and feast on it.
The benefit social security system has ripped to pieces, with the mass majority of people who need benefits to, you know, live, being cruelly stripped off it, leaving them starving and reduced to poverty because of the fanatical determination of the Conservatives to stamp out the minuscule crime of benefit fraud (which counts for something like 3.0% of benefit spending). Disabled people have suffered even worse through the social cleansing programmes, being chucked out of their wheelchairs in order to be shunted back to work, and sometimes actually killing themselves out of despair. For the youth of today, they have seen public education struggle, their EMA cut, and higher tuition fees.
For women, lack of money into the police force they are failing to record 800,000 crimes a year, including one in four sex offences in the UK. Also, 74% of austerity money grabbing has come from women's pockets, with women now being the majority of low-paid workers. Women are left caring for both small children and the elderly as their childcare services are cut. Funding for refuges and rape crisis centres has also been cut.
At local levels, councils have essentially become a pointless club where councillors and local MPs meet to sit around twiddling their funds, as local government money have been so slashed it has left services such as local NHS hospitals in dreadful states, and libraries constantly under threat of closure, and with little to no power left to them.
I could go on. There is a litany of abuses and abominations committed under the guise of a rational "technocrat" way of dealing with the economy. It is of course, not technocratic, but deeply ideological. The right wing have always hated the concept of the state. They've always hated social democracy. They've always hated the idea of helping the poor and protecting the weak. They've always sneered and spat on the concept of a society worthy of being called one, where the poor, the working, women, ethnic and racial minorities, the disabled and the young are treated equally and with fairness and decency. They've harboured these hatreds since the end of WW2, but put on a brave face and pretended to go along with the enormous social and economic changes produced after WW2. Thanks economic crash, it has given the Right the chance to utterly and finally destroy the state, and drag us all back to their utopia of the 1930s reborn. Their decades long plan to get rid of all that “universal suffrage bullshit” (in the words of fanatical Right-winger and hack blogger Paul Staines) is nearly complete.
I feel glad that people like Paul Krugman are around to constantly poke holes and demonstrate the lies and idiocy surrounding right-wing neo-liberal thinking. I only wish more people had listened to him. The three stars is because although very detailed, and containing a vast knowledge of economic catastrophes of roughly the past 30 years, it’s still quite dry. It acts more like a textbook sometimes than a work of political theory (which is probably what it was meant to roughly be :/). But it is still very erudite, and a great educational tool for understanding the mess we're in now.
In conclusion, when reading Krugman's account of the myriad of economic recessions and crashes from the 80s onwards, finally ending in its tragic crescendo with the 2008/09 crash, never before have Marx's words about how under the constant insatiability of capitalism "All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned" seemed so apt. ...more
It shames me to say that the only reason I picked up this book was because of the title. Just the image of Abraham Lincoln running around sReview here
It shames me to say that the only reason I picked up this book was because of the title. Just the image of Abraham Lincoln running around slashing vampires was too irresistible in my mind not buy.
But sadly the rest of the book does not live up to it's awesome title.
First of all, the most annoying thing about this book is the constant switching between first and third person. The first being Abe's journal and the third being Grahame-Smith's Narration. It immensely annoying to be constantly juddering back-and-forth between the two and it's almost completely unnecessary. If he had just stuck to one or the other viewpoint he could of made a much better book.
Also, I have some issues with taste. I mean, did he really need to take one of the most admired figures in history and dumb his down simply as a "vampire hunter". I mean what next? "Mahatma Gandhi: Zombie Slayer", or how about "Martin Luther King: Alien Killer". It just doesn't seem particularly respectful to me. But perhaps that's just me being a pussy. (Shrug)
My other big taste issue is the idea that vampires were responsible for the slave trade. Lines like "slaves began revolting against their vampire captors in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation" make me feel a little uneasy. And I know it's just a work of fiction but to me it just feels like passing the blame. It feels somehow rather wrong to me for him to essentially place the fault of something on someone/thing else outside of humanity's influence. It was our fault, and I think it should always be portrayed as our fault and shown as the disgusting, horrific act of human evil that it was.
But despite it's faults, it is readable. It's has decent plot development that goes along at a steady pace and I found myself rarely bored by what I was reading. The other good thing was the historical bits detailing his life. Having known nothing of Abe Lincoln other then he was the leader of the north in the American Civil War, freed the slaves and wore a top hat it was genuinely interesting reading about his life. However having seen at the back that the author used Wikipedia as one of his sources I wonder how efficient and detailed his accounts were.
On the whole, I probably wouldn't bother reading it. Out of the many good books to read out there in the world I wouldn't recommend this as one. I mean you can if you want, as it's not the worst thing ever committed to paper. But as we have a limited time span here on Earth, don't kick yourself if you skip this one. Even if it does have a kick-ass title. ...more
This is the best novel I have ever read. There's no sarcasm or over-exaggeration in that sentence. This novel truly is the best book IFull review here
This is the best novel I have ever read. There's no sarcasm or over-exaggeration in that sentence. This novel truly is the best book I have ever read.
In general Watchmen (along with perhaps Neil Gaiman's Sandman series and Frank Miller's Batman comics) is credited as completely re-inventing the comics industry and proving once and for all that comics are firmly for adults and certainty not just for children.
I love this book so much. I love the characters. I love the writing. I love the plot. I love the artwork. I love the themes explored. I love this fucking book. This book really is a masterpiece on all accounts.
First of all what's this book about? Well it's a story set in an alternative 1980's in which Nixon is still president, the US won Vietnam and the whole world is staring into the face of nuclear oblivion. In this world costumed heroes are abundant and follows their lives post-Keene act (a bill that outlawed costumed vigilantism).
Oh, and you know when I said heroes above? Yeah, well perhaps "heroes" isn't really the right word to describe these characters. Nearly all the characters are either mentally ill or have some dark side to their personality. So who do we have?
Well starting off there's the Comedian who has little to no regard to morality or human life. There's Dr. Manhattan; the only real "super" hero in the whole book who is an incredibly alienating and cold sociopath who views people as merely a bundle a modules and atoms rather than genuine people.
There's also Night Owl who is a weak and affable man who suffers seems to suffered from impotency. Then there's Silk Spectre who really doesn't want to be a crime-fighter yet was dragged into it by her over-bearing mother. Also there's Ozymandias who has some rather...strange views on how to bring about world peace.
And finally my personal favourite character Rorschach. He's an ultra-right wing, woman-hating psychopath with a demented obsession of bringing about justice who has a warped sense of right or wrong. But whether they be a nut or a loser, all of the characters in Watchmen are incredibly detailed and complex.
But as much I have praised the writing of this novel I must also praise the artwork in it as Dave Gibbons is more than sufficient as the artist in it. After all without him we wouldn't of had Rorschach's distinctive inkblot mask or the clockface ticking to midnight that reappears so many times throughout the novel or the now famous smiley face with a bloodstain in the corner.
That's another fantastic element of this book. It's use of symbology is everywhere and all have their own distinct meanings behind them. One of the joys of this book is going back over and noticing these symbols which are littered everywhere.
I really cannot stress enough how good a book this is. From the sharp, dark and gritty writing to the subtle artistic additions here and there this book is truly the best example of what you would call a masterpiece and genuinely deserves the overused title of genius. Buy it. Buy it now....more
As a hard-core comedy and Stewart Lee fan this book was a delight for me to read and really gave a fascinating insight into the workinFull review here
As a hard-core comedy and Stewart Lee fan this book was a delight for me to read and really gave a fascinating insight into the workings of comedy by the best comedian working in Britain.
This book is a perfect demonstration of how brilliant a comedian Stewart Lee is. Every word has been thought about, pondered, challenged, wrestled with, changed and then accepted. Only to be changed back again. He puts more detail, more passion and more genuine understanding of his art than I think any comedian has living or dead.
There are sections of the book in which there is merely a sentence of the main text. Yet the footnote linking it at the bottom is the size of a paragraph. This just shows the immense care and attention that is put into his comedy.
In a world in which the only kind of British comedy is shallow, apathetic shit comedians like Michael McIntyre and Russell Howard on every other third-rate panel show, we need people like Stewart Lee who can craft comedy in the most intelligent and sublime way possible without the lazy, cheap tactics of the aforementioned comedians.
Some comedians are like demolition people who go at the world with sledgehammer. These people I'd say are comics like Doug Stanhope, Bill Hicks, George Carlin. But Stewart is different. He's more of a surgeon, rather than destroying he more dissects and dismantles. Looking at one ugly organ of the mainstream, analysing and discussing it, throwing it away and then picking up the next organ.
All in then. A very enjoyable, insightful read from one of the best comedians ever to grace this shit hole we call a planet. ...more
There's such alot of good stuff in this book. It acts in a way similar to Who Killed Kennedy? did, in that it gives someThis was stonking good fun. :)
There's such alot of good stuff in this book. It acts in a way similar to Who Killed Kennedy? did, in that it gives some background to events that occurred in season 7, and substantially explores the shadowy C19 organisation that was introduced in that book. And even if it's not Gary Russell's creation, lots of elements he adds to it are inspired. The Pale Man with the scar is a wonderfully nasty character, and visually striking to boot. He's also been enhanced with cyber-technology (in a similar way to Tobias Vaughn, complete even with a scene in which the Pale Man's chest is filled with smoking bullet holes) with gives us some really cool moments of him denting a bottle of glass, and smashing another bottle so hard together that instead of smashing it, he compresses it into tiny little bits. Along with him is the blond man (who is thoroughly repugnant) and the Irish Twins, a deliciously creepy couple, who do everything in perfect unison (as they've been injected with Nestene blood, turning into semi-Autons. Also cool).
As you may have gathered, the idea of a shadowy organisation working behind the scenes, as people referred to as just the "x man" positively oozes X-Files. By no means is this a bad thing, and in fact I think only adds to the appeal of this story to me, and also gives a whole new added depth to the UNIT stories.
There's also features like the Vault, a large secret base underneath the Cheviot Hills, where the blunderings of former stories are used for experiments. Really, this is where the fan boy jizzum starts spilling. Throughout that section, I was like "ooh! WOTAN!" and !ooh! Mars Space Probes!". I love it when Doctor Who manages to wrap up its own continuity into a more organic whole, (something which the 90s books did particularly well), and this book does it incredibly well. It was also one of the reasons I really liked Who Killed Kennedy?, of which this book is quite similar, and it justs makes for a much more satisfying reading experience to have a sense of all the Doctor Who stories being a real, functioning world, with elements from previous stories having effects on later ones (as it would in the real world).
There's also a secondary story of the Sea-Devil/Silurian hybrids. As this review points out, there's no real point for them being Silurians, but I'm more than glad their in there. It makes for a really interesting addition to the story, and Russell anyway does manage to flash out their culture and society much more, making them a far more worthwhile addition than simply a stock monster fill.
Russell also develops the characters much better than they were presented in the show. Season 7 has to be one of the coldest, bleakest and darkest seasons in the show's history (which by no means is a bad thing, as is actually my reason for it being my favourite Jon Pertwee season), and one of the reasons for this is how unpersonal the characters are. We don't really learn anything of either the Brigadear of Liz's lives, so this book is able to really open them up properly.
The Brig's story is tragic in this book. It's heartbreaking to see the slowly crumbling and decaying relationship he has with his wife ...more
Okay folks, I've got it. Possibly the most ground breaking discovery in all of literary criticism. You ready for it? Okay...Sherlock Holmes, was the oOkay folks, I've got it. Possibly the most ground breaking discovery in all of literary criticism. You ready for it? Okay...Sherlock Holmes, was the original Scooby Doo. Now, now, now, here me out. Just think about it, there's the sotry of a sighting of legendary ghost hound, they go to desolate place far away in the middle of nowhere and stay in scary big mansion, there's a local friendly guy who is so nice and charming he could never, ever be a possible suspect, the local friendly guy turns out to be the culprit and ghost turns out to be a fake. Everyone goes home and laughs merrily about the whole affair. See? The signs are obvious, man.
Anyway, this is my first foray into the Sherlock Holmes world, and I generally think it's a good introduction to it. There's Holmes mocking Watson for his oh-so inferior deducting skills, people being amazed at Holmes' deduction skills, Holmes being all mysterious and two-steps ahead of everyone, causal name-dropping of really interesting sounding cases that are never reported. All the good stuff.
The plot itself moves along really well. Unlike many 19th century books, the language and elaborate descriptions doesn't interfere or hamper with the development of the plot, and for that reason it goes along really well. There's never really a dull moment, and your thoughts are always concerned with "what's going to happen next?",which is what you want really from a mystery/crime book.
Other than that, there's not too much to talk about here. The book isn't really lapsed with any deeper themes or messages, so there's not really anything I can get my teeth into. Although really, I wasn't really expecting that, so it's no real disappointment. What this book does do however, is be damn enjoyable Sherlock Holmes novel, which I guess is all that really matters in the end.
So for an introduction to the Holmes canon, I say it's excellent. I intend next to read "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". ...more
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and and Mr. Hyde read. Thoughts:
* First of all starts with very thick, heavy, elaborate writing. At first very hard toThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and and Mr. Hyde read. Thoughts:
* First of all starts with very thick, heavy, elaborate writing. At first very hard to comprehend and frequently felt like a slog to get through.
* In some ways the story doesn't really work nowadays. Pretty much everyone knows that Hyde is Jeyll, so the build up and the speculation surrounding it is kind of lost from the beginning. Oh well.
* Weird way of writing. Pg 35 is a good example. In speech Stevenson put parenthesis. Who the hell talks like that? It's really weird seeing a whole section of text and then "( )" in the middle of it. It doesn't really make sense either, as when you are talking, you don't stop, say the words "open parenthesis" and then "closed parenthesis" when speaking, which is what writing like this implies. Small and petty but particularly odd to me.
* Strangely little action. I don't know why I expected it to have it, but in my mind I imagined like, I dunno, a chase scene or something across smoky Victorian London. But there really isn't. Its mostly just elaborate Victorian dialogue.
* Mostly hugely underwhelming. There honestly isn't really a story. or rather there is one, but it's incredibly small.
* Ending was really bad. Builds until the reveal of Jekyll turning into Hyde, then final chapter is a long-winded, waffling, incoherent, boring, obnoxious infodump that tells us everything that we basically already knew.
* The notes page is very interesting and useful at getting a better understanding of elements of the text).
So all in all, kind of enjoyable, but disappointing.
The Body Snatcher:
* Good, spooky fun, but so short there isn't much substance to comment on.
Ollala: * As of 06/11/13, this is actually shaping out to be the best of the three. I actually think this is far superior to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The mystery is unfolding in a much more elegant way that DJMH, it's foreshadowing and gentle hints at the more sinister side to the faimly are well placed and in general it feels are far more sophisticated and intelligent than DJMH, despite being far less known.
Y'know sometimes buying a book on a whim reaps great benefits. As soon as I purchased this book and started gettingFull review here
Y'know sometimes buying a book on a whim reaps great benefits. As soon as I purchased this book and started getting into it I knew I was going to enjoy it.
As stated above this book is a very dark and grim book that deals with the dark nature of humanity and how in McCarthy's eyes is (or rather was considering this takes place in the 80s) getting worse.
The plot centres around a man named Llewellyn Moss who one day when out deer hunting comes across a scattering of dead bodies and broken cars, most importantly though amongst all the wreckage he finds a satchel full of money. Feeling greedy, he takes it. Generally this was bad move on his part as this means that an unrelenting force of death called Anton Chigurh is hunting him down. Them two in turn are being searched for by the authorities and the ageing Sheriff Bell. So it's essentially a wild goose chase between those three. But to merely call it a "wild goose chase" is a vast understatement.
By far the most interesting character is Anton, one of the most chilling and scarily unpredictable villains in the whole of literature. Anton is from what I've read meant to be more of a symbol than a character. An embodiment of an idea if you like, in this case death. Someone/thing that doesn't necessary have a bias to who he/it kills , but will kill you anyway. An unstoppable killing machine that is bearing down on his victims that cannot and will not be halted. He's truly a character who plays into the darkest recesses of human fear.
We never get any real reason for his killings (which is better, as it makes him far more ambiguous and mysterious), but the explanation we do get is rather weird. It seems that rather than he wanting to kill people, he feels he has to, as if this is the natural course for him regardless of whether he wants to or not. Yeah, it's a twisted way of looking at things to say the least. But it makes him far creepier as a character as a result of that.
But even if he is the most interesting character that doesn't mean the rest aren't, far from it. Even the most incidental character is still full of well-developed characteristics and personality and is still as detailed and interesting as the main ones.
The novel itself is written very oddly. There are no speech marks for dialogue and the sentences lack any kind of punctuation. It makes for very weird reading first time and I wasn't sure if I liked this at first, but I actually really admire the McCarthy decided to say "fuck you" to grammar. It's a fresh approach to writing that hasn't been done before.
Also, the southern dialect is written superbly in this book. It is so fantastically rich and strong you'll find it near impossible not to read occasional words aloud in a southern accent.
I didn't know about Cormac McCarthy before this book. Now I do, and I sure as hell am glad I found him. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future. ...more
+ Dialogue in this book is fantastic. Some really funny and smart lines:
Kipling: "What are you a Doctor of?" The Doctor: "This and that. ThatThoughts:
+ Dialogue in this book is fantastic. Some really funny and smart lines:
Kipling: "What are you a Doctor of?" The Doctor: "This and that. That and this. Mostly that."
The Doctor: He peered at Ross. "Ah, you must be the mad scientist, I assume"".
The Doctor: 'When have I ever let you down?' Sarah: 'Too many times.' The Doctor: 'That was in the past. And we've definitely passed through those times.'
+ Also of note is Peel's characterisation of the Doctor and Sarah Jane, which he gets to a tee. The brilliant chemistry between them two during Baker's early years is captured extremely well in this book, and the humour between them as well.
+ I think the ideas of this book are brilliant. The images of shark-like seals, mer-children, and monstrous hounds make for some great visual imagery for your head, giving it a really unique feel Also, the plot of animal-hybridisation using an alien substance is particularly interesting and disturbing.
+ The additions of Kipling and Conan Doyle are a nice touch. Not really needed, and the story would have worked fine even if they weren't there, but it's good that Peel manages to ground the story to some sense of reality.
- Have to say though, although most of the characters involved are expertly written, some of the characterisation is a tad weak. The villains particular suffer abit from this. Percival Ross falls into the "mad scientists will create a new world for his creations" cliché, and Breckenridge falls into "oh-so polite magnificent bastard" type villain. Although these are small and hardly dent the overall quality of the book, they are slightly disappointing.
+ Period setting is used well, and the book does actually use it to good use. Talk of the progress of industrial technology, as well as using on the tropes of Gothic horror (hound on the moors, which is implied to be the inspiration to Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles).
Overall, this book is a "good yarn" as my dad used to say, but nothing more than that. It's hardly the most intellectual, challenging or ground-breaking Doctor Who book ever written, but it works on it's own as a neat little, exciting romp. ...more
Publisher's summary: Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the momenPublisher's summary: Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of their death. They are the empire's most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war devastating the galaxy. But is the same force that killed them still lurking in the dark? And what are its plans for the people of Earth?
Ten Little Aliens is the first in a series of reprints of old Doctor Who books, done to commemorate Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary. Now if you've already read these books then there really is no point in you getting them, as aside from the new author's introduction, there is nothing new in these. But for someone like me, who completely missed out on the entire BBC books range for Doctor Who, this is a really useful chance for me to read some of these now long out-of-print books, and Ten Little Aliens is one of them that I very much enjoyed.
At first I thought it was odd to choose the First Doctor for this type of book, seemingly with the style and type of the story being completely out of place with this Doctor's era. At the time of William Hartnell being the Doctor, the stories were generally meant to be for families, with the Doctor being the leading "grandfather" figure to guide the stories through for the children. The stories of this period are usually rather charming, quirky, and sometimes a bit crap. They are about flying butterfly people or meeting Richard the Lionheart or becoming really small and meeting giant ants. On the whole, gritty space thrillers in the style of Starship Troopers or Alien aren't at all common in this period. It would seem like this would be better suited to any post-Troughton Doctor really.
But despite that, Cole still pulls it off. Having Ben as the companion does help, as he's the energetic young man needed for a story like this. And really it works fine with the 1st Doctor and this is largely down to how well Cole writes for him. He nails all the mannerisms of Hartnell's Doctor perfectly, and every time he utters a little "Hmm", or a "Dear, dear" and calls people "child" and "sir", I am instantly able to hear his voice in my head, which is a credit to Cole's masterly writing.
The first words that I would use to describe this book straight from the word go would be "dark", "tough and "moody", or similar synonyms of these words. By making the opening of the book seen through Shade's (one of the main characters) eyes is a clever way of conveying the usual exposition that is needed for futuristic books, and at the same time giving us an insight into Shade's world-view, thus making us sympathise with the character more.
It's clear right from the head-off that this book is considerably adult in tone, with Shade being shot right in front of the whole military academy as an example of the cell-replacing suits they wear. Cole manages to conjure a really very nasty image of Earth's future empire, with it being authoritarian, repressive and being almost monomaniacally fuelled by blind hatred of "others". They have headsets in this time, which are used by soldiers in training sessions and your thoughts are capable of being looked at and recorded for training purposes. The idea of anyone managing to read your thoughts is a horrific, and only gives us an insight into how we as a species presumably feel about individual's privacy by this time, adding to the bleak and repressive ideas behind Earth's first Empire.
Cole continues to present us with this vision of a cold, uncaring future throughout the book, and he does this partially through the supporting characters, who are nearly all dicks. Almost every character (Aside from The Doctor, Polly and Ben) are shown to be pricks. They are nearly all shown to be xenophobic, jingoistic, selfish, indifferent, bullying, reactionary asses, often needlessly cruel to one another and indifferent to the suffering of others. One character named Frog was repeatedly raped as a child, and her father slashed her face open one night when she came home late, and the other characters who tell this story merely reply that that's the thing to do to "wayward 14-year olds". Jesus christ.
It makes you really despair sometimes, to think that one day this could just be common viewpoint amongst people. It also makes me despair to think Earth could one day very much have a bloated, grotesque empire in which there's rabid hatred for anything "non-human", and a callous disregard to other planets and the people on them. In which there's a "kill-or-be-kill attitude" in everyone's mind that makes them hostile and unfriendly as a result of it. Although another part of feels that is merely be the next logical step for humanity, judging by people's attitudes already.
Anyway, if you are squeamish, beware. This book is quite graphic. People don't just die, they get their body mangled up. The character of Frog almost get's turned into a Schirr (the villains of this piece who are seen on the original front cover of this book), with huge white bits bulging out of her body like some living creature. The way she tries to deal with it is by stabbing herself repeatedly, making blood squirt out rapidly. Another character called Joiks has his arms and legs ripped from his body and then the remaining torso ripped to pieces a dumped into a massive engine. Things like that add to the bleakness of Cole's universe, as no one can even die nicely. They lived horrible lives and they have horrible deaths. Nothing can ever be peaceful or happy. That's why I like it so damn much.
This book is also quite experimental in nature, with a "pick your own adventure" section towards the end. It's a neat inclusion and a fun thing to actually read, and also quite impressive when you realize how complex it is, and how badly someone like me would have probably screwed it up.
However, I find the ending to be a little lacklustre. We've gone through quite a bit in this story, and seen plenty of graphic, horrific and also incredible things. And then it just ends. They all just sort of joke merrily about their adventure and then they say goodbye. It's such an anti-climax. Nothing particularly dramatic happens, no one saves their own life for the sake of the crew or anything bold like that. It's just "bye" and then that's it. For a book so bleak, ending it like the end of a ThunderCats episode and have everyone laugh their traumatic experiences off, felt slighty out of place. But whatever, in some ways it's calming to know things went alright in the end.
So all in all, a book I like. Dark and grim, with just enough gore in it to be readable, it's the kind of book I like. ...more
Having seen the film of 2001 a decided to read the book to see what is essentially the same story although portrayed in a different waFull review here
Having seen the film of 2001 a decided to read the book to see what is essentially the same story although portrayed in a different way.
So naturally the whole book is rather overshadowed by the question "what's it like compared to the film?" Well the trouble with that question is that film and literature are two very different mediums. Film is the visual art and books are the written art. So I would probably question "Is it better than the film?" And I would have to say...no, it is not.
Alot of people find the film incredibly confusing and annoying (I personally think it's fascinating and very interesting) and therefore they assume the book will explain things more clearly. And it would be unfair to say it doesn't go into more detail than the film, although in my opinion it goes into too much detail.
Arthur C.Clarke was a big science geek and as such tends to explain every single piece of equipment on the ship. I'm all for background detail but there's a limit to how much excitement I can have reading how the spin of the carousel of the Discovery spaceship could be stopped when necessary and that when this happened it's angular movement had to be stored in a fly-wheel and switched back again when the rotation was re-started. After pages and pages of that kind of stuff it goes get a little tedious.
But there is plot interspersed among the technobabble and there it really does hit it's stride. The scenes later in the book with HAL are wonderfully atmospheric and give you a genuine feeling of Dave Bowman's feelings and emotions when he's in a very chilling and disturbing situation.
But then that get's halted constantly for another bit of science-talk. He builds and builds and build the tension and then cuts it of to talk about how scientists have thought that the rings of Saturn are estimated to be 3 million years old. This stopping and starting jolts you and makes you feel like you are starting to get somewhere and then smacked in the face with a physics lesson.
Also, the ending didn't make much more sense in the book. Not because I didn't understand the processes going on but the way it was written was hard to follow. Was he in space? Or on a planet? Or zooming through a tunnel? And then heading to a sun but then seeing things in the sun and then buzzing over again or...something?
So in conclusion. Like Great Gatsby it's not a truly awful book but I felt long sections were very long, boring and tedious and the good bits were too far and few in-between the long essays about astro-physics. ...more
The recurring quote I noticed when I was looking at the review page at the words "the supreme American noveOriginal review (3 stars): Full review here
The recurring quote I noticed when I was looking at the review page at the words "the supreme American novel" or something to that affect. And I can't honestly see why, I my opinion John Steinbeck's work is would be more fitting to that title. For although this isn't a truly awful book, It's not a particularly good one either.
My first and biggest gripe is how much "faffing" about there is. Huge quantities of the book are taken up by the characters simply sitting around normally a table and talking. I mean there's nothing wrong with dialogue but their not even talking about important stuff. If it talking to progress the plot then perhaps I'd be alright with it but it not! They just go on and on about the most boring, banal and trivial stuff. There's even one occasion when the main character list all the people who went to Gatsby's party. Why? What purpose did this have? It's not like that was setting up anything later in the book, so what was the fucking point? And it goes on for a good two pages as well. An utter waste.
The plot takes ages too get into. Well what little actual "plot" there is. The majority of the book nothing particularly important and interesting happens. There's a small bit of friction in the middle-ish of the book where two of the main characters have an argument but then that just dies away. And then finally at the end there's some drama with a car crash but by that time the books practically over.
But It's not all terrible. Fitzgerald may have been shit at plot development but I will give him that certainly had a way with words. Every so often when he's describing a person or a place there are lines here and there that are really beautifully put. Subtle little lines that manage to convey so much about the character and his emotions and feelings in such short sentences. Some writers would have probably rambled on about every minute detail of that character (cough, cough, Herman Merville, cough!) But here Fitzgerald manages to construct wonderful flowing images that register perfectly with your brain.
So all in all, not the great American novel and not really a great novel full stop. I suggest you should pick it up only if you are really interested in essentially completing the "Western canon" of classics.
(EDIT 30/01/14: This review was written 2 years ago. Since then I've grown up abit. Weirdly seeing the Baz Luhrmann film made me think it was the best thing ever, even though I specifically remember not enjoying the book. But I've developed abit more of an appreciation for this book, and am currently re-reading it. I intend to do a new review after I have read it again, and I should be alot more positive. To me, this comes over as the review of a stupid, arrogant child who doesn't know jack and can't understand the subtleties of the book. So with any luck my review shall greatly improve after I've re-read it :).
New Review 13/02/14: You know? This is actually really quite good. So it seems two years and the benefit of some maturity can change a book round. Perhaps one day I'll re-read Brighton Rock...oh god.
Firstly, I would agree with my older review about Fitztgerald's writing, I at least got that right. FItzgerald has one of the most masterly uses of the English language I've ever come across. Beautiful, stunning, descriptions and phrases are used. The whole book has a strangely melodic, flowing quality to it, like a river of words gently and naturally flowing from a waterfall (ooh, look at that, clever simile}. Looking at other writers, like John Steinback or Cormac McCarthy, they have a savage, very blunt way of writing. But Fitzgerald has this wonderfully idiosyncratic way of writing, which I think can only be ascribed to him. For instance, let's look at a small example, in the way Tom Buchanan is described:
"Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body - he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strianed the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body of enormous leverage - a cruel body"
Cruel? Who uses cruel to describe a body? Well, Fitzgerald does. Would most writers think of personifying muscles? I don't think so. But Fitzgerald does, and its the perfect way to describe it. Its an unusual way of describing it, but as a description, we get it instantly. Cruel. Of course its cruel! We know it means
My English lecturer said it was quite poetic, and that its a shame Fitzgerald never wrote any poetry, and I agree. Most of what he writes is very near poetry. ...more
**spoiler alert** Well this was certainly a refreshing change.
A quick look at my favourites list will show that I mostly read dark, heavy and often bl**spoiler alert** Well this was certainly a refreshing change.
A quick look at my favourites list will show that I mostly read dark, heavy and often bleak books. No Country for Old Men, A Clockwork Orange, Watchmen, yeah, cheery books like those. So for me for once it was nice to have a book that was pretty much pure escapism. Normally with my reading choices I've got quite a load of heavy philosophy behind it, with normally some kind of deep, underlining message and theme to it. And as much as I do like that, I was kinda revealing to just have a piece of work that is what it is. A book I can just sit back and enjoy.
So what's the book about then? Well, set in the land of Middle Earth, it is about a Hobbit called Bilbo Baggins who abruptly breaks from his cosy and calm life in Hobbiton after being asked out for an adventure by the wizard Gandalf to kill a dragon that is currently residing on the home the of 13 dwarves he is travelling in. It's a simple premise but a brilliant one.
The thing I think I like most about this book is how quirky and full of life it is. The other LotR books (from what I can gather from the films) often seem heavy-going and plodding, whereas this book nips by at a delightful pace. It is short, in fact almost brutally so. There are literally sections that go something like:
"Gandalf would have stayed, but he had errand somewhere else. But enough about that..."
Literally just like that. This book wastes no time in getting the story told and I admire that. There's a definite air of mystery about this book and I like the fact we are kept in the dark for a lot of the book. So often in books I get
The world created in this interesting and engaging and you genuinely enjoy spending time in it. It was fun meeting Beorn and the three trolls and the Master of the Laketown. It was fun looking at the map at the back and following Bilbo's journey. ...more
Well Notes From Underground left me with a different combination of thoughts and emotions.
Basically, the book is about a bitter, misanthropic recluseWell Notes From Underground left me with a different combination of thoughts and emotions.
Basically, the book is about a bitter, misanthropic recluse that most critics call "The Underground Man" and it follows his rants, raves and rambles about his view on life and the universe and a series of socially awkward events that happen to him.
Firstly, I think I should say that the book is in two parts. And the first part for me is where most of my criticisms lies. In short, he rambles waaaay to much. It's incredibly long-winded, incoherent and to me un-followable most of the time. He jumps around taking about any old shit and half the time after I had read a page I just sat back and thought "Well, what the hell did that mean?!" To me reading this book was a bit like if you're at a pub
The second half however was quite different. Instead of being a series of rambling monologues about what he thinks of the world, it's changed to stories about how the main character ...more
As a big movie buff myself found this book and incredibly useful and interesting book and it is a very satisfying feeling to tick off each individualAs a big movie buff myself found this book and incredibly useful and interesting book and it is a very satisfying feeling to tick off each individual item of the list in the front of the book. Although so far I have only seen I think 24 out of the 1001, so I must get a move on.
Big "things you must see before you die" books are always going to be controversial due to the subjective nature of film. But I think the book does a excellent job balancing the more cult and indie films with the big Hollywood blockbusters. All in all I would say a very useful and valuable book for movie-fans and also for movie novices who want to get into watching more films yet don't know where to start. ...more
Looking at the reviews for this book on Goodreads It seems people really don't like this book and I don't really know why. Mostly it seems because ofLooking at the reviews for this book on Goodreads It seems people really don't like this book and I don't really know why. Mostly it seems because of the book's historical inaccuracy. But to be honest I know fuck all about the technicalities of the holocaust so they mostly just flew by.
This book is quite annoying really, because I didn't loathe an hate it as much as other Goodreads members did but then neither did I love this book ...more
Just finished reading it. First of all I love Alan Moore and his work and have huge respect and admiration of him and deeply love the works of art heJust finished reading it. First of all I love Alan Moore and his work and have huge respect and admiration of him and deeply love the works of art he creates.
However, sadly I felt this book was really very boring in places, especially the mounds of written text it had which in this medium doesn't work.
As book fan finding the numerous references was very enjoyable but overall it seemed quite a long and sometimes very tedious read.
Some good stuff in here, but alot of them are unbelievably dense and penetrating to read. It's almost as if some of the writers were consciously tryinSome good stuff in here, but alot of them are unbelievably dense and penetrating to read. It's almost as if some of the writers were consciously trying to make themselves sound like the worst kind of arty-farty pretentious intellectual, using all manner of unbelievably obtuse and complicated language to make his/her point. Alot of the time you sit there and dribble at what you've just read.