Absolutely excellent. I know The Handmaid's Tale gets more press and praise, but this is a far more realistic and chilling misogynist future. There's...moreAbsolutely excellent. I know The Handmaid's Tale gets more press and praise, but this is a far more realistic and chilling misogynist future. There's really so much meaty stuff, and I'm so far from eloquent, that I'll just say read it and leave it at that. (less)
sobbed through her earlier books, and this is no exception. Set during WWII, with many jewish main characters, Russell nevertheless avoids the obvious...moresobbed through her earlier books, and this is no exception. Set during WWII, with many jewish main characters, Russell nevertheless avoids the obvious tragedies (although there are oblique mentions to the events in other countries) in order to concentrate on hearts, minds, and shattering illusions. She has an obvious love and understanding of her characters, and so even the most horrifying come across as realistic, almost sympathetic. Her plot is complex and interweaves many disparate elements without getting bogged down.(less)
Haraway is crazy like a fox. I'm never sure how much of her writing I should take seriously and how much she just throws out there to wake people's br...moreHaraway is crazy like a fox. I'm never sure how much of her writing I should take seriously and how much she just throws out there to wake people's brains up. Regardless, she has some great ideas and some incredibly stupid ones, but her writing is never mediocre.(less)
Is is the best written book? No. But it is one of the only books that actually examines modern working-class life. I read it all in one sitting and wa...moreIs is the best written book? No. But it is one of the only books that actually examines modern working-class life. I read it all in one sitting and walked about furious, sad and depressed about the future. Good times!(less)
Anthropologists from a future Earth land on an alien planet. The story follows Lixia, one of the anthros, in her exploration of the alien planet and i...moreAnthropologists from a future Earth land on an alien planet. The story follows Lixia, one of the anthros, in her exploration of the alien planet and its denizens. There’s a lot in here about language and how societies develop, but there’s still a lot of adventure and character development. (less)
My favorite story in this collection is "The Little Dirty Girl." The rest range from exciting ("The Experimenter") to chilling ("Nor Custom Stale," a...more My favorite story in this collection is "The Little Dirty Girl." The rest range from exciting ("The Experimenter") to chilling ("Nor Custom Stale," about discovering immortality, and "Come Closer") to cheering ("Mr. Wilde's Second Chance," about Oscar Wilde's time in the afterlife). All are very odd, not least "The Throaways," in which permanence is disgusting. Some are almost classic scifi--"Elf Hill" for instance, a domestic story about reality and overpopulation. Others take a scifi trope and run wild with it, such as time travel ("Old Thoughts, Old Presences"), but do not merely evade cliche--they confound it. OTOP, for instance, uses time travel as a means of exploring a mother/daughter relationship. There were few stories in this collection that I actually felt I understood, but they were wonderful. Russ has always seemed like someone I'd be a little afraid but very glad to know--dry, sarcastic, and very very sharp. (less)
The author can't write very well, and she has nothing insightful to say. Nevertheless, the topic (a slightly sociopolitical look at sororities) is int...moreThe author can't write very well, and she has nothing insightful to say. Nevertheless, the topic (a slightly sociopolitical look at sororities) is interesting enough to make the book readable.(less)
**spoiler alert** My first thought, on starting this book, was that the main character had a fantastic name: Melpomene Murray. The same naming convent...more**spoiler alert** My first thought, on starting this book, was that the main character had a fantastic name: Melpomene Murray. The same naming convention as for asteroids exists for her generation. This is only the first of many differences between generations. In Mel's parents' lifetime, Earth's crumbling infrastructure finally collapsed. mutAIDS, ecological disaster, and countless wars all erupted in the same decade, killing much of Earth's population and leaving the planet almost uninhabitable. Mel's parents and a few thousand others escaped to live on a commercial space colony, The Flying Dutchman. They've raised their children to live in space, but are surprised at just how strange their children are to them.
Mel is a logical, empathic teenager, and I really liked her. When an immigrant from Earth joins her class, she tries to help him integrate. She is dumbfounded by the social changes he brings about, and hurt by her friends' new behavior. Barnes has written a book that captures the awkward stage of coming of age both for humans and new societies. It's a very interesting novel, and if it weren't for the last few chapters (which dribble on to no purpose), I would have rated this far higher. (less)
Squashed between fat books of grammar I found Noblesse Oblige, a set of essays on English colloquialisms and class in the twentieth century. The Hon....moreSquashed between fat books of grammar I found Noblesse Oblige, a set of essays on English colloquialisms and class in the twentieth century. The Hon. Mrs. Peter Rodd (aka Nancy Mitford)'s sharp little essay on "the identifiable characteristics of the English aristocracy" caused a flurry of letters and debate, some of which is published in this volume. Mitford set down a by-no-means comprehensive list of grammar, vocabulary, and modes of thought as Upper-Class or Not Upper-Class. In the 1950s, at least, members of the English nobility avoided euphemism, abbreviations and acronyms, while simultaneously using phrases that only had meaning if you already knew the people or place involved. She is followed by Alan S.C. Ross's turgid essay on "sociological inguistics," which was not worth slogging though, as it basically is just a list of how to pronounce vowels. There is a footnote per sentence, which makes it hard going. Evelyn Waugh apparently felt the need to stick his pointed little nose into the debate, and wrote a thirty-six page letter telling Mitford in the most patronizing language possible that she was a jumped-up pretender and not very smart, to boot. Since Mitford has facts and figures from Burke's and the College of Heralds, whereas Waugh has pithy anecdotes, I can't trust him much. Anyone who refers to a published author repeatedly as "a cutie" or "endearing" for daring to examine the society in which she lives, or who spends AN ENTIRE PAGE reminding his readers that "Nancy"'s father only succeeded to the peerage when she was 12, thus negating all her points because she's so very new to the peerage, is just not someone I can bear. Luckily, Waugh's would-be razor wit is followed by "Strix"'s essay on colloquialisms, slang, and how language shifts over generations and geography. I think zie brings up the best points of all--that gentlemen have "a relish for incongruity": they love to sprinkle their speech with ironic snips of lower-class slang, they call a battle "a party" but a dull party "a disaster," and they play with understatements vs. overstatements. Actual events or people are talked about in an understated way, whereas feelings (petrified, nauseated, firghtful) are overstated. "Strix" also ends with a fantastic paragraph: "All tradition is bequeathed, however distrustfully, to the young. The upper-class young have not been dragooned about the use of words in the way their parents were; and they have ingested a richer, more variegated slice of the marzipan of English usage than reached, in the ordinary way of business, the gizzards of their elders. If they are sensible and civic, they will try to iron out these pregnant but elusive nuances and strive for a clear, classless medium of communication in which all say 'Pardon?' and none say 'What?,' every ball is a dance and every man's wife is 'the' wife. I shall be surprised, and disappointed, if they make the slightest endeavour to impoverish our extraordinary national life by doing anything of the sort."(less)
Ehrenreich and English look at what kind of advice we've been given for the last two hundred years. Although they provide a good deal of social, polit...moreEhrenreich and English look at what kind of advice we've been given for the last two hundred years. Although they provide a good deal of social, political, economic, and general background to the development and evolution of experts, the part I found most fascinating was on the creation of what we consider medical doctors. I hadn't realized how culturally specific, oft-changing, and purposefully created our modern conception of medicine is.
For instance, the cultural ancestors of modern doctors were just dudes who had enough money and class status to go to university and learn classical languages. They never learned anatomy or how to treat illnesses in any evidence-based manner. In fact, to maintain their status as "gentlemen," they didn't touch their patients (instead leaving the dispensing of medicines, bone-setting, childbirth, etc to others) or receive payment for their services (they were instead given "gifts"). But given that their medical knowledge was entirely based in classical literature, they were not particularly helpful. Instead, most people used what we now term folk-medicine (practiced by a healer in their area), which *was* mostly evidence-based and very much in line with modern conceptions of medicine (understandings of anatomy, palpating the lymph nodes, knowing what the patient ate, what their stools looked like, etc). But "regular" doctors had the rich on their side, so when science and the scientific method began to gain credence, they were able to lay claim to science first, while simultaneously suing to have all doctors who didn't go to their specific universities be considered criminals if they practiced medicine. It worked! Oh classism. And thus, for the next hundred years or so, the UK and US were left with doctors who had a very narrow understanding of what to look for to judge health. Mental state, nutrition, environment...all of this fell by the way-side.
Ehrenreich and English also talk a bit about how various credentials came to be and the double-binds created by psychologists for women. And don't think women were martyred saints, either--white, middle and upper class women were instrumental in all sorts of bs movements to "improve" the poor and minority groups. Overall, a good read, with nuggets of biting sarcasm to match the facts and anecdotes.(less)
This book is better as a reminder than as a wake-up call. Wimsatt didn't write a coherent, cohesive argument so much as an anecdotally charged, energe...moreThis book is better as a reminder than as a wake-up call. Wimsatt didn't write a coherent, cohesive argument so much as an anecdotally charged, energetic ramble. That critique mentioned, Wimsatt is clearly a righteous person who implements the most useful forms of self-help and groundswell/grassroots activism and community involvement.
Not even half of Americans have ever been punched in the face, apparently. Craziness!(less)