Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron is Jasper Fforde at his weirdest. It contains a delightfully bizarre and humorous look at a post-apocalyptic...moreShades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron is Jasper Fforde at his weirdest. It contains a delightfully bizarre and humorous look at a post-apocalyptic world hundreds (if not thousands...the timeline is a bit vague) years in the future where a future species of "human" lives in a society structured on ones ability to see color. The people of this world are largely colorblind or have limited monochromatic vision or (at best) dichromatic vision. The better you can see your specific color, the higher your social standing; the shorter the wavelength of your spectrum, the higher your social standing (following the rainbow prism of ROYGBIV, red is the low end and violet is the high end). The system itself is one of thousands upon thousands of often nonsensical rules which all must follow for the good of the collective. Into this world steps a young man named Edward, a Red who likes to ask questions. Sent to an outskirt town, he meets a violent, yet pretty Grey named Jane, stumbles into multiple conspiracies to beat the system and just tries to understand why no one is allowed to make more spoons.
As one would expect from Fforde, the books is extremely humorous and off-the-wall. Some examples: one of the greatest fears of the people in the world is being attacked by swans, spoons serve as valuable underground currency, and sex is referred to as youknow. Language itself is generally quite comical in the book, another example being that the apocalypse is simply referred to as "Something that Happened" (what actually happened, no one knows). Although funny, the humor doesn't all completely work. There were times where I mentally recognized a scene as funny but didn't find myself emotionally laughing about it. On the other hand, one paragraph had me in such stitches my wife had to come in from another room to find out what was going on. As with many works of humor, it can be a bit hit or miss.
The story, plot, and background seem better developed that what is found in the Thursday Next series, which has a much stronger "making up as he goes along" feel to it. Shades of Grey is the first book in what is planned to be at least a trilogy, so hopefully many of the unexplained aspects of the world will eventually be made clear by the end.(less)
I had very mixed reactions to this book. On the one hand, Bacigalupi paints a type of apocalyptic future very different from that of other authors, ta...moreI had very mixed reactions to this book. On the one hand, Bacigalupi paints a type of apocalyptic future very different from that of other authors, tackling subjects such as genetically-modified organsisms (GMOs) and global warming in ways not really seen before. On the other hand, the characters are almost universally dislikable. They are uniformly racist, which becomes frustrating after awhile (although to be fair, its equal opportunity racism since at least four different races are all portrayed as being completely disdainful of every other race), even if it may be sadly realistic. I found it hard to care about a story in which everyone was so unpleasant (even though a few were less so than others). The most sympathetic character by far (at least major character) is the titled "windup girl", but even she failed to really capture me (although she improved quite a bit by the end). I understand the hype about this book and why it has won so many awards, but it's simply not a book I'm likely to have any interest in re-reading in the future. I'm giving it four stars because of the depth of the novelty, rather than because I actually found it entertaining.(less)
Written in the late 70's, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang starts with the impending collapse of civilization due to climate change, war, and disease (...moreWritten in the late 70's, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang starts with the impending collapse of civilization due to climate change, war, and disease (you know, pretty much all the things going on right now), and one large family's attempt to ride out the disaster. When fertility rates drop precipitously, the family turns to the only thing they can to keep humans alive...cloning. And this is where the story really gets interesting.
It's easy to see why this book won so many awards. It's an incredible look at the potential outcomes of a clone society. The biology is not perfect and I could nitpick any number of elements, but these minor issues are nothing relative to the grand vision of the tale. A great read.(less)
An interesting story about a healer in a post-apocalyptic world. The story has a slightly odd mix of modern technology and primitive reversion. Parts...moreAn interesting story about a healer in a post-apocalyptic world. The story has a slightly odd mix of modern technology and primitive reversion. Parts of the story are very good, but some of it seemed a bit meandering. Still, a very solid tale.(less)
This play from 1921 was a big hit at the time of its release but would have fallen into complete obscurity if not for a single thing: it introduced th...moreThis play from 1921 was a big hit at the time of its release but would have fallen into complete obscurity if not for a single thing: it introduced the word "Robot" (although the concept of an artificial man is much older, ranging from works like Frankenstein to the golem of Jewish folklore). The robots in the play are not mechanical, but rather artificially created organic life.
The plot focuses on the people running the robot factory and the eventual robot rebellion. Unfortunately the play is rather mediocre. Perhaps it was big in its time, but it certainly doesn't translate well to modern times, with extremely flat, one-dimensional characters, overt sexism, and stilted dialog. (less)