Amazing. An engaging story, the interplay of ideas, exploration of new ways of thinking (of genetically or otherwise modified humans), the principles...moreAmazing. An engaging story, the interplay of ideas, exploration of new ways of thinking (of genetically or otherwise modified humans), the principles and morals, the way people change.
--Hmm, not as good as I remembered it. I just re-read it, and while it was a good read, I didn't get as much out of it this time. Keeping the rating the same for now; maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.(less)
This is a special edition that combines 'Out of the Silent Planet', 'Perelandra', and 'That Hideous Strength'. And despite the tag "(Paperback)" here...moreThis is a special edition that combines 'Out of the Silent Planet', 'Perelandra', and 'That Hideous Strength'. And despite the tag "(Paperback)" here or the fact it was published by Quality Paperback Bookclub, it's actually hardcover.
I like thick all-in-one books better than thin ones. I took a chance on this trilogy, because I knew the author. These books like the Narnia series are also an allegory, but intended for a more adult audience I think, so it was different. (less)
I got this one to re-read Nightfall story, but found more thought-provoking stories. Since these are old, some of them deal with the atom bombs, the p...moreI got this one to re-read Nightfall story, but found more thought-provoking stories. Since these are old, some of them deal with the atom bombs, the possibility of the atom war destroying the planet, and have the undercurrent of the enmity between the U.S. and Russia. Despite that anachronistic last part (U.S. and Russia aren't enemies anymore), I've enjoyed the stories. I like the way Asimov turns everything around by the end of each story. The stories that made the most impression on me were "Living Space," "Someday," "Profession," "The Gentle Vultures," "The Last Question" along with many more (too hard to choose, and not counting those stories I'd read previously).(less)
This book highlights what I don't like about Stephenson's writing style: too much exposition and jumping back and forth in time (both the different se...moreThis book highlights what I don't like about Stephenson's writing style: too much exposition and jumping back and forth in time (both the different sections and within those sections). Once I got used to it and actually figured out what is what (and when and who), this got pretty interesting. Not much to add afterall...(less)
It takes me longer to read short stories than novels, but sometimes I enjoy them. I figured that I'll enjoy this collection of time-travel stories and...moreIt takes me longer to read short stories than novels, but sometimes I enjoy them. I figured that I'll enjoy this collection of time-travel stories and I have. Particularly those that are the longer ones in here, though some shorter ones were great also. (less)
I'd read two of these novels (Tunnel in the Sky, and Citizen of the Galaxy) previously in my native language, but since I loved them then, I decided t...moreI'd read two of these novels (Tunnel in the Sky, and Citizen of the Galaxy) previously in my native language, but since I loved them then, I decided to purchase this volume and read them again, along with the other one. Heinlein is one of the authors I consider the quintessential sci-fi.(less)
This edition only contains three Foundation novels: Foundation; Foundation and Empire; and Second Foundation. I wish it contained the rest of this, be...moreThis edition only contains three Foundation novels: Foundation; Foundation and Empire; and Second Foundation. I wish it contained the rest of this, because I remember reading more and being surprised at some things later on. To do: find the rest of the series and re-read. (less)
**spoiler alert** I've been meaning to re-read this for a while, but the fact it's being discussed in SciFi and Fantasy Book Club finally prompted me...more**spoiler alert** I've been meaning to re-read this for a while, but the fact it's being discussed in SciFi and Fantasy Book Club finally prompted me to pick it up again.
The story is set in a post-nuclear-war world and also post-technological/scientific world, because when the simple people who saw the destruction of the world and subsequent disastrous fallout caused by the weapons created by the scientists, they had rose up against them and systematically destroyed all of the hated science (men/books). Only the Catholic Church offered the science men refuge, and attempted to preserve the knowledge for the future generations by copying and memorizing any scientific books they could get a hold of.
That was all the prelude. Now the way the book begins is that there is no interest in science in secular culture; the monks still continue their task of copying the old documents, but as much as they try they cannot figure out the meaning of those documents. For example, there's a bit of a funny dialogue regarding a blueprint one of the monks is copying(see below the rest of the review, because it's a very extended quote).
From the start I find it amazing how much is preserved -- the second sentence reads "Never before had Brother Francis actually seen a pilgrim with girded loins, but that this one was the bona fide article he was convinced as soon as he had recovered from the spine-chilling effect of the pilgrim's advent on the far horizon, as a wiggling iota of black caught in a shimmering haze of heat." All those fancy words... I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised since the monks are dealing a lot with words, what with copying all those books. I'm surprised by how much Latin is preserved -- Brother Francis knows it better than the "pre-Deluge English". When he reads "Fallout Survival Shelter", he thinks that the Shelter is harboring the "demon" (or rather several of them, because the sign mentioned the maximum occupancy was 15!) Fallout, rather than a shelter against Fallout.
Eventually, the lay people were finally interested in the knowledge, and it is interesting that again the secular scientists (rather than feeling grateful for the documents preserved by the Church which was willingly offering them for viewing) considered the Church to be the enemy of science to a certain extent (the sentiment went "You were hiding it from us!", and "Your records can't be trusted; we must examine the originals and conduct experiments!") There was also a bit of personal disappointment on the part of the new scientists that they are merely "rediscoverers," not creators.
I haven't gotten to the third part of the book yet. Both of the first two parts were rather poignant stories. As I've been reading the book, it reminded me of some other book I read... I don't recall its name, but there was some organization that was preparing for the worst-case scenario, and preserving knowledge using very outdated methods, but methods that could last a while, even if the Internet fails and there's no electricity, and such. They didn't use paper, because that deteriorates too easily, but something else. And everyone thought they were nuts. But then eventually it paid off, because some disaster did occur and knowledge was lost. I want to figure out what that book was.
In the third part of the book, the humanity has nuclear weapons again. This time they held onto them for two centuries, but now tensions rise. Are we doomed to repeat the history? Here's one perspective:
"Brothers, let us not assume that there is going to be war. Let's remind ourselves that Lucifer has been with us--this time--for nearly two centuries. And was dropped only twice, in sizes smaller than megaton. We all know what could happen, if there's war. The genetic festering is still with us from the last time Man tried to eradicate himself. Back then, in the Saint Leibowtz' time, maybe they didn't know what would happen. Or perhaps they did know, but could not quite believe it until they tried it--like a child who knows what a loaded pistol is supposed to do, but who never pulled a trigger before. They had not yet seen a billion corpses. They had not seen the still-born, the monstrous, the dehumanized, the blind. They had not yet seen the madness and the murder and the blotting out of reason. Then they did it, and then they saw it.
"Now--now the princes, the presidents, the praesidiums, now they know--with dead certainty. They can know it by the children they beget and send to asylums for the deformed. They know it, and they've kept peace. Not Christ's peace, certainly, but peace, until lately--with only two warlike incidents in as many centuries. Now they have the bitter certainty. My sons, they cannot do it again. Only a race of madmen could do it again-- (page 239)
There's an odd character throughout the whole book, who lives through it all, and at this moment sort of indicates that yes, humans are indeed a race of madmen, who are quite capable of doing it again. The question then is why? Here's one possible answer:
The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they seemed to become with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps it was easier for them to see that something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle's eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn. Well, they were going to destroy it again, were they?--this garden Earth, civilized and knowing, to be torn apart again that Man might hope again in wretched darkness. (page 248)
And then a bit on the nature of hope... When these tensions rise up, the Catholic Church plans sending a group of bishops, priests, brothers along with the "Memorabilia" (i.e. scientific documents) on microfilm out to a human colony in Alpha Centauri (and possibly others).
The murmur of chanting came from the church: Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni, ut salvos-- Stir up they might, indeed, O Lord, and come to save us. That breath of prayer would go on and on, as long as there was breath to breathe it. Even if the brethren thought it futile...
But they couldn't know it to be futile. Or could they? If Rome has any hope, why send the starship? Why, if they believed that prayers for peace on earth would ever be answered? Was not the starship an act of despair?... Retrahe me, Satanas, et discede! he thought. The starship is an act of hope. Hope for Man elsewhere, peace somewhere, if not here and now, then someplace: Alpha Centauri's planet maybe, Beta Hydri, or one of the sickly straggling colonies on that planet of What's-its-name in Scorpius.
Hope, and not futility, is sending the ship, thou foul Seductor. It is a weary and dog-tired hope, maybe, a hope that says: Shake the dust off your sandals and go preach Sodom to Gomorrah. But it is hope, or it wouldn't say go at all. It isn't hope for Earth, but hope for the soul and substance of Man somewhere. With Lucifer hanging over, not sending the ship would be an act of presumption, as you, dirtiest one, tempted Our Lord: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from the pinnacle. For the angels will bear thee up. (page 247)
Now that other looong quote!
Brother Jeris, who had joined the apprentice copyroom at the same time as Brother Francis, seemed to enjoy teasing him about the project. "What, pray," he asked, squinting over Francis' shoulder, "is the meaning of 'Transistorized Control System for Unit Six-B,' learned Brother?"
"Clearly, it is the title of the document," said Francis, feeling slightly cross.
"Clearly. But what does it mean?"
"It is the name of the diagram which lies before your eyes, Brother Simpleton. What does 'Jeris' mean?"
"Very little, I'm sure," said Brother Jeris with mock humility. "Forgive my density, please. You have successfully defined the name by pointing to the creature named, which is truly the meaning of the name. But now the creature-diagram itself represents something, does it not? What does the diagram represent?"
"The transistorized control system for unit six-B, obviously."
Jeris laughed. "Quite clear! Eloquent! If the creature is the name, then the name is the creature. 'Equals may be substituted for equals,' or 'The order of an equality is reversible,' but may we proceed to the next axiom? If 'Quantities equal to the same quantity may substitute for each other' is true, then is there not some 'same quantity' which both name and diagram represent? Or is it a closed system?"
Francis reddened. "I would imagine," he said slowly, after pausing to stifle his annoyance, "that the diagram represents an abstract concept, rather than a concrete thing. Perhaps the ancient had a systematic way for depicting a pure thought. It's clearly not a recognizable picture of an object."
"Yes, yes, it's clearlyunrecognizable!" Brother Jeris agreed with a chuckle.
"On the other hand, perhaps it does depict an object, but only in a very formal stylistic way--so that one would need special training or--"
"In my opinion, it's a high abstraction of perhaps transcendental value expressing a thought of the Beatus Leibowitz."
"Bravo! Now what was he thinking about?"
"Why--'Circuit Design,'" said Francis, picking the term out of the block of lettering at the lower right.
"Hmmm, what discipline does that art pertain to, Brother? What is its genus, species, property, and difference? Or is it only an 'accident'?"
Jeris was becoming pretentious in his sarcasm, Francis thought, and decided to meet it with a soft answer. "Well, observe this column of figures, and its heading: 'Electronics Parts Numbers.' There was once, an art or science, called Electronics, which might belong to both Art and Science."
"Uh-huh! Thus settling 'genus' and 'species.' Now as to 'difference,' if I may pursue the line. What was the subject matter of Electronics?"
"That too is written," said Francis, who had searched the Memorabilia from high to low in an attempt to find clues which might make the blueprint slightly more comprehensible--but to very small avail. "The subject matter of Electronics was the electron," he explained.
"So it is written, indeed. I am impressed. I know so little of these things. What, pray, was the 'electron'?"
"Well, there is one fragmentary source which alludes to it as a 'Negative Twist of Nothingness.'"
"What! How did they negate a nothingness? Wouldn't that make it a somethingness?"
"Perhaps the negation applies to 'twist.'"
"Ah! Then we would have an 'Untwisted Nothing,' eh? Have you discovered how to untwist a nothingness?"
"Not yet," Francis admitted.
"Well keep at it, Brother! How clever they must have been, those ancients--to know how to untwist nothing. Keep at it, and you may learn how. Then we'd have the 'electron' in our midst, wouldn't we? What would we do with it? Put it on the altar in the chapel?"
"All right," Francis sighed, "I don't know. But I have a certain faith that the 'electron' existed as one time, although I don't know how it was constructed or what it might have been used for." (page 67ff
This was light reading; I have finished it in one day. I'm still not all clear on the detail how the protagonist bails himself out of prison, and it's...moreThis was light reading; I have finished it in one day. I'm still not all clear on the detail how the protagonist bails himself out of prison, and it's bothering me. So I guess the conclusion isn't all that neat as in The Door Into Summer where the story goes full circle. Still there was a happy ending for the protagonist apparently. I kind of wish I'd finished reading Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid since this book mentions Godel and strange loops, which I only have a basic understanding of.(less)
I usually don't like loose ends, but the open-endedness suits this book perfectly. It's a kind of warning of what to look out for in the future. I lik...moreI usually don't like loose ends, but the open-endedness suits this book perfectly. It's a kind of warning of what to look out for in the future. I like the coined phrase for the mind-control: YGBM (You Gotta Believe Me). Very Interents-like: we have so many abbreviations. I like the imagined future Internet and virtual reality technology.(less)
The book was totally not what I expected based on the title! This book was on sale for about a dollar at the university library, I knew I liked other...moreThe book was totally not what I expected based on the title! This book was on sale for about a dollar at the university library, I knew I liked other novels by Sidney Sheldon, and I was interested in apocalyptic-sort of books which the word "doomsday" in the title evoked. So I got it. I enjoyed the story. The pacing was right, the characters were believable, and I rooted for them. The actual plot idea, however, was rather too simple, so I'm not as satisfied as I might have been.(less)
This is intelligent sci-fi, although there really is only a small bit of sci-fi - accidental time-traveling. It's unusual in that the narrator who is...moreThis is intelligent sci-fi, although there really is only a small bit of sci-fi - accidental time-traveling. It's unusual in that the narrator who is telling the story in more or less current times is a priest, but through some bad luck becomes a pirate in another time. Most of the story is about his adventures as a pirate, at least on the surface. It's really about the morality, how he struggles with what he has to do as a pirate and what is the right thing to do. (less)