What an interesting book. You start out thinking it is just another sci-fi post-apocalyptic what-if story, but then nothing happens. No details about...moreWhat an interesting book. You start out thinking it is just another sci-fi post-apocalyptic what-if story, but then nothing happens. No details about the follies of man that lead to the disaster, no high-octane human adventure, and certainly no anti-hero (or hero for that matter). Just dark, mysterious descriptions of endless ash blanketing everything and a father and son trying to survive just one more day. In a nutshell, I would call it shades of Grapes of Wrath with a dark, sci-fi twist. If you liked this book, I would recommend taking a look at Nevil Shute's "On the Beach". Not as dark or chilling, but makes you wonder how you would spend the last months of human civilization. (less)
The only reason this book gets two stars from me is because they provide actual written music at the end of each chapter to go with the content of the...moreThe only reason this book gets two stars from me is because they provide actual written music at the end of each chapter to go with the content of the chapter. Not that I can read music, but I thought it was a creative touch nonetheless. It was an interesting quick read, but I don't think it merits the attention of real fantasy fans, and it doesn't have the general appeal to net the Harry Potter crowd, so I'm not sure who this book best suits. Obviously not me, but if you are into alternate time dimensions (or the absence of time) and dancing Irish fairies who steal our socks, then this book is for you. (less)
Quick summary: imagine X-men meets Lord of the Flies meets Dawson's Creek and you'll have a good idea of what this book is about. I would go so far as...moreQuick summary: imagine X-men meets Lord of the Flies meets Dawson's Creek and you'll have a good idea of what this book is about. I would go so far as to say the series has potential, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion given the tenuous beginning of a storyline in this first book. Given the length of the book, however, one must wonder if the author was going for "Harry Potter for Teens" or if he just enjoys his own prose. This one eked a third star out of me only because I enjoy science fiction so much. (less)
Oh the fun you can have with time travel. I would say this was a slightly above average sci-fi exploration of the space-time continuum, although I tho...moreOh the fun you can have with time travel. I would say this was a slightly above average sci-fi exploration of the space-time continuum, although I thought it borrowed a little too heavily from H.G. Wells' classic. The periodic regression of civilization and the eventual extinction of life on Earth just didn't strike me as that creative. I would have also like to see more on the inherent paradoxes of time travel instead of the clumsy interpersonal relationships he spends so much time on. I don't read enough modern sci-fi to know where this one ranks relative to others, but I'll make a wild stab at the future myself and predict that people will be reading Wells' "The Time Machine" long after Haldeman goes out of print. If you liked this one, however, I would recommend Robert Sawyer's "Flashforward" for another cool take on seeing into the future. (less)
Matheson’s approach to the end of humanity is undeniably intriguing, although the story is ironically weakened by the appearance of his somewhat unori...moreMatheson’s approach to the end of humanity is undeniably intriguing, although the story is ironically weakened by the appearance of his somewhat unoriginal “vampire” villains. I would have preferred a creature that didn’t adhere so closely to the historical vampire archetype. His intrapsychic discourse is classic, however, as one never tires of watching the inevitable descent into madness that follows the human transition from normal society into eternal solitary confinement. By far the best part of the book was the ending, which is unusual for most books, but especially for a genre that typically peaks once you find out the explanation for the apocalypse. The gutsy ending was really what the story deserved; compare that to the Hollywood ending of the recent movie adaptation and you can see why books will always be the superior medium of storytelling.(less)
“They knew how to live with nature and get along with nature. They didn’t try too hard to be all men and no anim...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
“They knew how to live with nature and get along with nature. They didn’t try too hard to be all men and no animal. That’s the mistake we made when Darwin showed up. We embraced him and Huxley and Freud, all smiles. And then we discovered that Darwin and our religions didn’t mix. Or at least we didn’t think they did. We were fools. We tried to budge Darwin and Huxley and Freud. They wouldn’t move very well. So, like idiots, we tried knocking down religion. “We succeeded pretty well. We lost our faith and went around wondering what life was for. If art was no more than a frustrated outflinging of desire, if religion was no more than self-delusion, what good was life? Faith has always given us answers to all things. But it all went down the drain with Freud and Darwin. We were and still are a lost people.” (p.66).
“I’m burning a way of life, just like that way of life is being burned clean of Earth right now. Forgive me if I talk like a politician. I am, after all, a former state governor, and I was honest and they hated me for it. Life on Earth never settled down to doing anything very good. Science ran too far ahead of us too quickly, and the people got lost in a mechanical wilderness, like children making over pretty things, gadgets, helicopters, rockets; emphasizing the wrong items, emphasizing machines instead of how to run the machines. Wars got bigger and bigger and finally killed Earth. That’s what the silent radio means. That’s what we ran away from.” (p. 179-180). (less)
Tenth book in the wheel of time series (and last published at this date), it begins with Mat continuing to travel away f...more**spoiler alert** My summary:
Tenth book in the wheel of time series (and last published at this date), it begins with Mat continuing to travel away from Ebou Dar with Luca's traveling show. He continues to get closer to Tuon (the daughter of the nine moons) who he knows he will marry. The keep hiding from the Seanchan and head towards Lugard. Renna, one of the Seanchan with them who trains 'adam tries to escape and Mat must have her killed. Dobraine, the lord Rand put in charge of Cairhen is almost murdered, although an Aes Sedai manages to heal him. Rand continues to recuperate after cleansing the male half of the source from the Dark One's taint, and Cadsuane begins to take on her role as his advisor. He meets with Logain and Bashere about the dangers from the Forsaken, the Seanchan, and from Mazraim Taim and the Black Tower. He decides the only way he can manage his other enemies is to make a truce with the Seanchan so he doesn't have to fight them at the same time as the others. Logain tells him about bonding Aes Sedai and Rand tells him to stop doing it. Elayne continues struggling to take over Camelyn and the Lion Throne. She finds out she is going to have twins. She gains the support of a few more houses so she has one rival still for the throne. The Sea Folk have to leave to choose a new mistress of the ships so they make a deal with Elayne about leaving some of them in Camelyn to weave gateways so Camelyn can still get food even though it's under siege. Elayne agrees to send Aes Sedai with them for continued lessons for the Sea Folk who can channel. Perrin keeps searching for Faile. He finds the Aiel camp and figures out that Sevanna has him vastly outnumbered. Faile continues to try and escape from the inside. Perrin visits a town haunted by spirits in order to buy grain for his people. Masema keeps killing some of his men and doing things to keep them from going towards Rand. Egwene is camped outside of Tar Valon with her army, but they can't stop trade coming into the city from the river so they are not sieging Tar Valon very well. A couple of Aes Sedai are killed by saidin so they know a man channeling is behind it. Egwene continues to struggle with the sitters of the hall, but they finally agree that they must make a deal with the Black Tower in order to deal with all of the men channeling. They are still deciding who to send for the embassy when Egwene goes to Tar Valon to turn the chain blocking the river into cuendillar when she is captured by Aes Sedai from Tar Valon. Before this, in the tower, Alviarhin is no longer able to control Elaida because she loses her blackmail leverage. Elaida threatens to prove she is Black Ajah so she calls Mesaana and asks what to do. Mesaana is about to punish her when the tall Mydraal appears and punishes Mesaana and tells Alviarhin to continue her work inside the tower. The search for Black Ajah continues in the tower by the Aes Sedai forcing everyone to use the oath rod to make sure they are not Black. Rand is still unable to hold saidin without getting sick and dizzy, despite having cleaned the source. (less)
**spoiler alert** Ninth book in the wheel of time series, it begins with the Aes Sedai in the white tower forcing one of the Black Ajah to renounce th...more**spoiler alert** Ninth book in the wheel of time series, it begins with the Aes Sedai in the white tower forcing one of the Black Ajah to renounce their oaths and pledge to follow them instead. They also discover the rebel Aes Sedai sent to the tower to convince others to join the rebels. Faile and Morgase are still held captive by Sevanna, although Perrin finds out and begins searching for them. Elayne begins to lay claim to the Lion throne and has to work on getting enough support from the rival houses and the people of Camelyn. Dark friends attempt to kill her, but she is saved by another darkfriend who is then assigned to be captain of her guards. She finds out that an army from the Borderlands is near Camelyn so she goes to them and asks them to come through Camelyn so her people will flock to her for protection. Mat, Thom, and Juilin are stuck in Ebou Dar because the Seanchan control the city. Egwene brings her army to Tar Valon to begin the siege against it. Mat is still recovering from his broken leg, etc., but begins to form a plan for escape. He is asked to take some Aes Sedai with him so they won't be caught by the Seanchan. On the night of the escape they are seen by the Daugher of the Nine Moons who Mat was fortold he would marry. He takes her with him and takes the Aes Sedai and some of the Seanchan who know the secret that leash-holders can channel. Meanwhile, Rand jumps around all over the place so he can lead the Asha'man who tried to kill him into a trap. He gets them to come to Far Madding where no one can channel. While there he kills one of them and Padan Fain kills another (and tries to kill Rand). Before he goes to Far Madding, however, he goes to Camelyn to see Elayne, Aviendhra, and Min. They all bond him at once and then he sleeps with Elayne (because she's the only one he hadn't slept with yet) and she gets pregnant. Then he takes Nynaeve and Lan to Far Madding where they meet up with Cadsuane and other Aes Sedai. After the run in with Padain Fain, Rand and Lan must be rescued from jail. They leave Far Madding and go to Shadar Logath where Rand wants to use the two most powerful san'angreal to cleanse the male side of the source from the Dark One's taint. He operates the male statue and Nynaeve operates the other. While they are working on cleansing the source, all of the forsaken attack them in order to stop what they're doing. Cadsuane, the powerful Seanchan a'dam who was freed, some Aes Sedai, and some loyal Asha'man all work to protect Rand and Nynaeve from the Forsaken. The reincarnation of Lanfear and another couple of forsaken are killed and Rand successfully cleanses the male source.(less)
Anti-war book involving time travel and science fiction in order to illustrate points. It follows the story of Billy Pil...more**spoiler alert** My summary:
Anti-war book involving time travel and science fiction in order to illustrate points. It follows the story of Billy Pilgrim and his adventures during WWII and the rest of his life. The main point of the story seems to be the destructive and absurd effects of war on people. The story begins with Billy talking about how he became "unhinged" in time. In other words, he randomly jumped back and forth between points in his life. The point he goes back to the most often, however, is his experience during the war. He witnessed the bombing of Dresden and consequent fire that resulted in the largest massacre in history. Billy is a very normal person and leads a normal life. He is an optometrist and gets married and has kids. The book details many of his normal life events in random order as he visits that point in time. He is also kidnapped by Aliens and taken to a distant planet where he learns how time works. The aliens (Tralfamadorians) see outside of time so they see a person's whole life everytime they look at them. They keep him on their planet in a zoo with another women from earth. He gets her pregnant but is taken back to earth before the child is born. During the war Billy never carries a weapon because he is an assistant to a chaplain, and he is constantly picked on and berated by other soldiers (Allies and Germans). He sees countless atrocities before and after he is captured by his side and the enemy. The author characterizes all of the characters in the book as absurd in some way or another, but uniquely human. While Billy is in optometry school he goes to a mental institution for a while before he returns and graduates near the top of his class.
He is considered insane later in his life as well after he is in a plane crash and receives a head injury. During this time he begins telling everyone that he is unstuck in time and that he had been abducted by aliens earlier in his life. Incidentally, his wife dies shortly after his plane crash on her way to the hospital to see him. Vonnegut finishes the narrative of how she dies from carbon monoxide poising (caused by a fender bender she has on the way to the hospital) with the infamous phrase "so it goes," which is the same way he finishes every story of calamity and horror throughout the book. Billy Pilgrim ends his story with the most disturbing incident in his life, the bombing of Dresden. Although the characters in the book are diverse and numerous, they all have various quirks that seem to make them just as crazy as him (including many pro-war characters who criticize Billy to no end). Overall an interesting, comical look at human foibles and the mistakes and atrocities committed in time of war.(less)
“I’m not trying to prove anything by the way. I’m a scientist and I know what constitutes proof. But the reason...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
“I’m not trying to prove anything by the way. I’m a scientist and I know what constitutes proof. But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that. I’ll show you something to demonstrate that later. So, the other reason I call myself Wonko the Sane is so that people will think I am a fool. That allows me to say what I see when I see it. You can’t possible be a scientist if you mind people thinking that you are a fool.” (p. 165).(less)