Oco's Reviews > On the Beach

On the Beach by Nevil Shute
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Aug 10, 11

bookshelves: scifi-fantasy

One of the best scifi of all time, ranks right up there with the uber-classics of 1984 and Brave New World. Somewhat dated to read it now, but dang. That was one harsh read, I remember it disturbed my dreams for weeks after reading it (first read back in the seventies).

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message 1: by DL (new)

DL Have you read any of his other books? I read A Town Like Alice a few years ago and it didn't leave me wanting more!

message 2: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Hello! Not sure what possessed me to post this review now, it's not as if I just reread it. But I was thinking about it, and it is in my top 5 impact books of all time, and I wanted to say so.

I have NOT read A Town Like Alice, or any of his other work. Really, I'm more a scifi buff, so I've never been drawn to read more of him. I tend to think that if it isn't a premise that pulls me in, getting past his sparse/dry writing style and somewhat sexist/racist attitudes (forgiving, since these are so old, but still...) would be difficult. He isn't my style of writer, really, just that it worked for this story. The dry understatedness with which he told a story of the extinction of humanity was part of what made it so powerfully disturbing and even creepy. Just. Yeah.

The movie (1959) was pretty intense, too. Managed to capture that mood.

message 3: by DL (new)

DL I was hoping A Town Like Alice was an anomaly. I prefer a faster pace but I'm willing to stick this on my to- read list. Especially since I can get it from the library. Creepy is good once in a while. :)

message 4: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Be interesting to hear your take. Just a warning -- the 'creepy' is a depressing creepy. Not like 'The Shining' or something. More like 'One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest' creepy (why I chose Jack Nicholson movies, I don't know. Maybe he just does awesome creepy). Anyway. Don't read it depressed. I kind of enjoy your company. (heh).

That said, it IS in my top 5, and I'm not a lover of sad stories. There is more to it than depression -- in fact, in some respects, one might say that it tells about the triumph of humanity in the face of the worst. I suspect one could find an awful lot of themes/meanings/metaphors/morals in the story. The other reviews tell it pretty well, some people hate it, some love it.

message 5: by DL (new)

DL I won't get to it for a while. I don't get depressed as long as I stay away from the news so no worries there. :)

message 6: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Dlee wrote: "...as long as I stay away from the news..."

Ooh yeah. :\ I should learn that trick. :)

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Have you read A Canticle for Leibowitz? Another depressing, rather creepy book.

message 8: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Yes! Another of my top SF of all time. I didn't find it nearly as much of a downer as OtB though. But it was brilliant. Hmm.

I'm kind of impressed with how many of the SF classics were single-shots -- i.e., the only SF the author ever wrote. OtB, Canticle, Brave New World, and (I think) 1984.

message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 12, 2011 07:30PM) (new)

My initial response to that is "Thank God they didn't write more!". LOL. I'm so not a fan of post apocalypse/dystopia.

message 10: by Oco (last edited Aug 12, 2011 07:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Yeah, I guess they were all that. But honestly, that probably reflects my tastes as much as anything. I'm a big fan of dystopian future SciFi (when done well). Was going to list Margaret Atwood (Handmaids Tale), but then she went and did Oryx and Crake, so she is solidly in the SF field now.

But really. I'm not depressing in RL. I swear!


message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 12, 2011 07:48PM) (new)

*laughs* I believe you!

My problem with most of dystopian SciFi is the powerlessness and or passivity of the characters. Even when they act, they act without hope of success. Or if they do succeed, they get squashed. I see enough of that in RL, I don't want it in my fiction.

I like it when there is some sense that the imbalance or unfairness has been redressed, i.e. the victims have gotten even. Like in The Gate to Women's Country.

message 12: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco You know, SF dystopia is the ONLY genre that I can abide that in, so I get what you mean. I don't like the downer classics -- well, you know my feelings on Hemingway, e.g. And Faulkner? Pah. There is something in the SF version that is compelling though.

I actually DON'T like it when all ends up fine, or there is an element of total triumph, because I feel preached to, or like it is an obvious moral story. Or even more, I want to tell the author to get a clue. 'Gate to...' I've never felt compelled to read on those grounds. That doesn't mean a whole lot though about absolute worth. More about my tastes. I dislike a lot of UK LeGuin and Heinlein on precisely those grounds, and nobody would argue that their books aren't classic and top-notch.

I also get the sense -- with books that try to paint humans as triumphing over dystopic settings that the author is very very hopeful. I'm not, so much, so that doesn't sit so well with me. No, I don't expect a nuclear holocaust or human extinction or any other of a large array of romantic catastrophic events, however I also have no reason to see a terrifically positive next few 100 years for humanity (as a whole) either. So I get a little impatient with rah-rah authors who think they have an answer on that account.

And also. Not sure where this comes from -- maybe my psych could have a field day with it -- but I dislike overt feminist themes in my scifi. I much prefer a subtle, understated feminism (i.e., strong female characters in the same types of roles that men traditionally occupy). Another reason that LeGuin sometimes annoys me. I dislike being preached to, *especially* when I'm in the choir. Crichton started annoying me that way too. He started using his writing as a soapbox and lost me. Happens a lot.

Okay. Yeah. When I think about society's future, I really AM depressing in RL. And that's not too much SciFi, if anything, it's too much environmental science education.

So I try not to think about it overmuch. Just keep on keeping on and try to do my bit. See message 6 up there. Heh.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Gate to Women's Country is not a happy ending. It's actually kind of an ugly one, although I'll give you the overt feminism. But the feminism in Handmaid's Tale bugged me too. That whole book seemed message-y to me. I apparently have the same amount of minimal tolerance for being preached at as you do. Heh!

LeGuin's 'The Dispossessed' is much too unbelievable. On lots of levels. I struggle with most of her stuff. Heinlein pissed me off *counts on fingers* 30 years ago when I spent one summer reading many of his books and decided that he 1) really disliked and resented women A LOT although he hid it well, and 2) the righteous almost always prevailed (oh come on! I'd think to myself). He did write really good science fiction stories, but once I found the under-text that always seemed to be there I had to stop reading him. So I hear ya. :)

message 14: by Oco (last edited Aug 12, 2011 08:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Yeah. You are right about Handmaids Tale, I think. Somehow I didn't feel preached to. More like we were bitching together. But I'm not sure why. And it was feminist, in a way, but I didn't feel I was having to swallow that females were somehow better than the males (edit: I'm not saying that right -- have to think about what I mean). Plenty of fuckups on both sides, and although the situation itself wasn't totally believable (fine for fiction though) the characters were, to me.

Yeah. You pretty much nailed it with Heinlein. Heh. (LeGuin too, Dispossessed was one of the worst that way, IMO). And I don't know -- Heinlein presented what to me is a dystopic future as utopic and that really bugged me (basically, subscribing to eugenic methods to improve humanity). He just creeps me out.

message 15: by DL (new)

DL I didn't like the women in Women's Country precisely because it made the men out to be such brainless, violent warriors with no grey area to be found. Tepper's book Beauty scared me to death mostly because I can see so many elements of our society in it. Even the apartments: just yesterday, I was looking at a 78 square foot Manhattan apartment that didn't even have it's own toilet. And for better or worse, we have become a consumer society much like Tepper's horrible vision. What I would like to know (and can't get the school board to tell me!) is why almost every book the kids read in school is about dystopia? Surely there must be some more uplifting books out there!

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Dystopia is really popular right now so the school boards have LOTS of books to choose from. :D

My guess is there is this weird mindset right now that says serious literature must reflect unhappiness, alienation and struggle. The corollary to that is that happy, optimistic stuff is fluffy escapist reading for the masses. It's a form of intellectual snobbery.

Women's Country was supposed to be repellent. The obviously exaggerated view of men as violent and driven by physical appetites was parody, a mirror image of the sexism that displays women as weak and seductive, needing male guidance.

Beauty was a really disturbing book. Why were you looking at teeny Manhattan apartments?

message 17: by DL (new)

DL I have family living in Manhattan. My sis in law is still in the apartment that her parents lived in when she was born. Obviously rent controlled. I wanted to see what sort of apartment she would be able to afford if she didn't have the one she does. 78 square feet with no kitchen or bathroom. That thing was a hallway with a door!
I guess I got the right feel from Women's Country without even knowing that that was what I was supposed to be feeling. I just figured that the author didn't like men and it showed.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I like Tepper's early stuff. The Jinian books are enjoyable light fantasy. "After Long Silence" was good SciFi. Somewhere in the early 1990's her writing changed and became a lot more political (feminist, anti-authoritarian, anti-sectarian) and nowhere near as enjoyable.

message 19: by DL (new)

DL I'm still amazed at how much sci-fi technology comes to pass. A few years after I read Women's country, I heard about Norplant. Kind of scary, really.

message 20: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco I really think the reason dystopia is so much more common is because it is more instructive and interesting to examine what can go wrong than what might go perfectly. That is writing for you. There is very little utopian SF out there (or utopian anything) and I'd argue that it is because writing about utopia is dull. Happy, okay. But no conflict, and without conflict, a story is dull.

The conflict could be somewhere else in a utopian future, sure, but then the book isn't classified as utopic, but as something else that centers on the conflict.

Even with escapism, I don't read to hear about happy characters who lead happy lives. I want to see conflict and pain and how it is dealt with.

By the way, dystopian novels do NOT, by any stretch, require sad endings. Not at all. Just the future setting is one in which things have gone wrong, and since this is fiction, where everything is magnified, horribly wrong.

Also, a utopian novel describes a society where all has gone pretty much perfectly. What are the chances of that happening? I suspect if someone tried to write a purely utopian novel where that is the point of the novel, it would 1) be dull and 2) be laughed at as propaganda for whatever group stands to gain from making people believe all is wonderful.

IMO, we are living in the dystopian future of our grandparents. Are there things good? Yeah, but this novel of our age would be classified as dystopic if it talked about the crime, the poverty of nations, the environmental devastation, and so on. And if it didn't, it would be a mystery, a comedy, a romance... that ignored all that. Not a utopia.

Oh. An out of place addition to my thoughts. The Dispossessed is actually as close to a utopian novel as you will find, and even LeGuin needed to introduce conflict (not *quite* perfect). And what was my reaction? I was being preached to. It was LeGuin propaganda, basically. Utopian fiction has had its day though. Back when ***science*** was this awesome all powerful force for good, we did get a fair bit of utopian thinking. You could argue that Karl Marx actually wrote about utopia, though he didn't couch it in fiction. As a society, I think writers feel that utopia is 'childish', that we've moved beyond thinking there is a perfect anything, and more importantly, gone beyond yearning for that perfect society that will make all of our lives easy.

Does that make sense?

There are entire college classes devoted to utopian/dystopian fiction by the way. Lot of meat in the subject of why we have it and how it has been treated throughout the ages.

message 21: by DL (new)

DL What you say does make sense and I actually agree for the most part. (Have your read As Meat Loves Salt? One of the characters tries to start a Utopia and it goes horribly wrong.)I'd say that your books are dystopian but as you say, they don't end poorly and there is some happiness and hope in them. I think that is what is missing in the school's choices; they are overwhelmingly depressing. I read "The Good Doctor" a while ago and was bored out of my mind. I loved it at first, man meets doctor, they fall in love,but then I found myself wanting the conflict. I kept making up fights and outside contrary forces to go along with the happy until I finally just tossed the book aside in disgust. And called myself a hypocrite a time or two.

message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 13, 2011 11:14AM) (new)

Utopian/Dystopian fiction both irritate me. I feel preached to in both cases. I find it interesting that you framed your point in that either/or kind of context, too, because that kind of polarity is something that is currently driving me insane in all sorts of areas, not just literature.

In books I like constructive thought, I like pursuing solutions and I dislike ideologically driven narrative. So both the mindless optimism of utopia or the depressing struggle of dystopia feel artificial to me. Someone said that Libertarianism and Communism both fail because they are utopian. They begin with a premise that human beings will, under the right set of external circumstances, always behave in a rational, ethical fashion. The pragmatist in me snorts and observes that rationality almost never drives human behavior in the long run. So utopias seem, especially in our modern world to be both artificial and unachievable. BUT, by the same token, dystopias are also exaggerated. They reflect the opposite view of humanity. That humans are the victims of their own cleverness, that technology has or will outstrip our ability to think, that self-absorbed greedy elites or a mindless state apparatus will destroy the world and we are all powerless to stop that from happening. History doesn't really support that view either. Institutions collapse, generally humans regroup and build better ones.

So to me the current fascination with dystopian literature reflects the psychology of the times. Westerners feel pessimistic, we feel powerless, like we have lost control of our political apparatus and that corporate kleptocrats are ruining the world for their own gain. We can foresee a future where we have a lot less than we have now: less oil, less money, fewer freedoms, more social unrest, more hunger, permanent damage to the environment. It's a kind of malaise, and I'll admit to being infected with it myself.

My problem is that I think this mindset is unhealthy. Feeling tired and hopeless keeps you from pursuing fixes, it makes you less likely to act, it encourages passivity. Dystopian literature feeds that sense of pointlessness, or so it seems to me.

Wow! Soap box time. Sorry for hijacking your thread, here. *climbs down sheepishly*

ETA: I agree Deb. Conflict is necessary and too much sweetness and happy happy drives me nuts. I only read about 5 chapters of the The Good Doctor and had to quit.

message 23: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco No, I think this is fascinating.

Dystopian novels certainly CAN preach, and many do. Although, in some ways, I'd argue that any writing preaches *something* and precisely when the line gets crossed for any one of us tells us more about our personal value systems more than any real definition of 'preaching'.

For me to truly remember a novel, I need for the author to be giving me some of his/her thoughts on deep subjects, which SOMEONE else is going to call preaching.

So to me the current fascination with dystopian literature reflects the psychology of the times.

No question, and a lot has been written on how writing in general, and SF and dystopic SF in particular reflects our society. E.g., On the Beach is a classic Cold War novel, and needs to be read with that in mind or it just seems trite and uninformed.

I assume by current, you mean since, say, 1950ish? Because I haven't noticed a particular upswing in recent years. The Road got a lot of press (as if he invented the genre.... PLEASE... don't get me started...) and maybe there is a small uptick of 3rd rate copycats on that account, but the sub-genre only seems new to me if you count the last half century (more, actually).

I don't think the mindset is unhealthy. In fact, I think that not examining these questions can be. You may feel tired and hopeless after reading dystopic fiction. I don't. It revs up my thinking box and drives me to figure out wtf is going on and wtf we might do to avoid it.

There was a study I heard about (in the context of pedagogy, actually, trying to figure out how to keep environmental science students from despairing -- i.e., should we withhold the full impact of the bad news? -- it's a real conundrum when teaching the subject), I really should hunt down the reference. Basically, a classroom was polled -- thought the class was on environmental science, though it might have been poly-sci, based on the colleague who was telling me about it. Before the semester got rolling, the class was polled on their views of the future and how motivated they were to act. They were polled again after. Here's the thing: students that felt hopeless, uninvolved, apathetic before the class began, felt overwhelmed and hopeless after the class ended. Students that started the class hopeful and optimistic and ready to help, ended the class...hopeful and stubbornly optimistic, and determined to fix it.

Point is, the reaction is more about the person, not the topic. Dystopic fiction does NOT leave me feeling hopeless, but charged. My first was Brave New World, I read it when I was in 5th grade, and have devoured dystopic fiction ever since. And today my entire life/career (okay, with the exception of m/m writing) is basically dedicated to trying to ensure our future -- not just environmentally, but socially. That isn't coincidence, and I don't think the net for society is unhealthy in my case. Quite the opposite.

message 24: by DL (new)

DL Can you explain what you mean by an either/or context? I think books should have a mix of happy and sad. I don't want to read a book with no nuances. And Kate knows exactly how I feel about books that preach. Even if I agree with whatever mantra the author is going on about, I don't want too much lesson in my books. Then again, I'm trying to think of books I read as a child and most of them had a moral message. What made the difference was just how well that message was hidden in the story. "Dystopian literature feeds that sense of pointlessness". YES! And that is why I wish there was less of it in the school system. How about a nice mystery or a thriller once in a while?

message 25: by DL (new)

DL I've been discussing our talk with my daughter in between posts. She says that there is enough misery in life. Books are supposed to be escapism. If your life isn't so very good and the books you read are about a life that is just as bad or worse, that only re-enforces the thought that there is nothing better and no way out. It causes people to settle for misery. She said it a lot better than I am. Plus she is so animated. When I mentioned the Road she began twitching!

message 26: by Oco (last edited Aug 13, 2011 11:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Dlee,

that may be true for you and your daughter, but it isn't for many of us. And schools are in the business of helping students think, not escape. I'm trying to imagine my school having assigned Nancy Drew (whom I LOVED as a child, so no diss'ing allowed) and I just draw a blank on how that would further my education at all.

There is a self-selection mechanism at work -- those who are motivated by dystopic/'depressing' fiction will read it, those who only get the 'sad/hopeless' message won't. But to say as a blanket statement "Books are supposed to be escapism..." No. Just no. They CAN be, but they aren't 'supposed to be'. A large function of literature has *always* been to examine deeply, to simplify stories and put aspects of life under a magnifying glass to better understand them.

As to the role in classrooms -- I don't have children, so I don't know for sure. I wouldn't support ONLY giving sad/dystopic choices, but those sure should be in the curriculum. They examine important stuff. And if my college students are any indication, they need MORE thinking about deep stuff, not less. American Idol fills their heads more than can possibly be healthy for our society to continue to thrive.

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

@Deb. By either/or I meant making the choice one between dystopia and utopia, because there is a lot of middle ground where the two can be balanced, even in science fiction. It's like saying "The Left" and "The Right" or "Drill, baby, drill" vs. "all electric vehicles". It creates a false choice, because the real choices are wider (and somewhere to the middle and off to the side) than the either/or the question is framed in. Both you and Oco are right that most books, ESPECIALLY science fiction books have a message. It's almost the definition of science fiction that it has to address some kind of human dilemma and explore the response. The sci fi I like best and keep around to reread are books that manage to do this in a way that points to solutions without pushing me down one road or another.

When it comes to choosing literature for kids to read, I think the idea is to torment them as much as possible. Read the 1 and 2 star comments on some of the classics if you are bored some day and you'll hear the tortured screams of kids forced to read stuff they had no ability to understand. I sympathize. I will forever detest "Great Expectations" and "The Great Gatsby." Nice mysteries and thrillers might be too much fun. :)

Speaking of The Road....shudders. That falls into my definition of emotion porn. McCarthy was playing on the reader's feelings of "OMG the tragedy of it. OMG the poor child" wallow, wallow, wallow in feelings of anguish. It's rather poorly written (heresy!) and I thought it was trite.

@Oco. Science Fiction is a recent kind of genre, so if you mean dystopia within a science fiction context, I'd say it probably started post WWII with 1984? But arguably Frankenstein is dystopic, so we could take it back all the way to the beginning of the genre. :)

I can understand responding to dystopias as a challenge to be met, as something that stimulates thought. That's the way I felt when I read 1984 in high school. It is adamantly NOT the way I responded to it when I reread it sometime shortly after the invasion of Iraq. I think idealism is fragile and gets worn down over time. Relying on people to stay stubbornly optimistic and committed in the face of continuous disappointments is kind of utopian. You know, the "inside every cynic is a disappointed idealist" sort of thing.

In that light, I wonder if dystopian literature has a kind of generational appeal?

message 28: by DL (new)

DL I'm not saying No dystopia. I'm saying not All dystopia. There is more out there of value. And happy things can also be a teaching tool. I was just wishing for balance. I'm also not saying that schools should provide escapism but escapism in the books we read for pleasure is a different thing. Sue taught a self esteem class in a really bad school as part of her Girl Scout award. She was with seventh graders who had more knowledge of sadness and what can go wrong in life than any person should have. Sue is saying that perhaps a little hope would be more interesting to those kids than the dystopia they live in every day. One of the books assigned in my son's class was Stranger with My Face, about a girl whose twin astral projected and stole her life. I think Nancy Drew (loved those too)would have been preferable. It has a crime to solve and used proper grammar which is more than I can say about Stranger. Every book has a different message to each individual reader. Sometimes it doesn't even matter what the author intended, it's what the reader takes away in the end anyway. I don't have much one on one contact with kids other than my own but if what I see in passing in the high school is any indication, you are so right. Kids do need deeper thinking. And less materialistic thinking. And I think the schools can't be held totally responsible. It's got to start at home. So, I'm a hypocrite! The sad stories get so much more discussion, the ones we disagree on garner so much more of value and here I sit begging for fluff. :)

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Deb, I think well written books that make you think do NOT have to make you feel upset, angry, sad, or hopeless. Ideas can be explored outside of tragedy and suffering. I completely reject the idea that suffering is the default human condition and it pisses me off when people insist that it is. All fiction books are escapist to one degree or another, and all well written books have some human truth. For instance one can look at Golden Era mysteries. Yes they are formulaic, but they have interesting things to say about how unexpected evil pervades society (the perpetrator is always the most innocuous, unexpected person), how ordinary people strengthen society through their actions (the amateur detective who is determined to find out the truth).

I'm with your daughter on this!

message 30: by Oco (last edited Aug 13, 2011 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco The dichotomy isn't real. In fact, and I'd thought about pointing this out more clearly earlier, the idea of 'utopian' literature is actually a 'pin' to a long spectrum of possibilities, and it is a pin that doesn't exist. An ideal that is there simply to measure against, not actually achieve. There *is* no truly utopian literature, because it is impossible to write. Not just hard. Impossible. Imagine trying to write one. You'll need to decide what constitutes utopia and how you will get there, and no matter what you decide, there are going to be disturbing elements to that. You will also scare the hell out of people who don't agree with your methods and thus to them, the story becomes an extreme dystopia. *ahem* Ayn Rand *cough*. Are you a socialist? A capitalist? Do you want to kill all criminals? Lock them away? Reform them forcibly? Let them do as they will?

Academic discussions often don't even refer to stories in the one way or the other. They call any story that speculates about future society utopian and then examine the spectrum. Utopian stories (in that sense) run the gamut from close to utopian but not quite, to one thing gone horribly wrong and solved, to much gone horribly wrong and the end. More practically, a story is labelled as dystopic scifi when that is the focus of the story. Otherwise it is cyberpunk, or maybe scifi romance, or a space opera or.... And if your central goal is to examine the question of what could go wrong, you aren't going to do it half-assed, you are going to make it horrible and creepy or else nobody will care.

So this frustration with the either/or of dystopia vs. utopia is, in my view, a function of what you (and others) choose to call utopic/dystopic fiction. I.e., there's a tautology in your taking exception to this. In my view. (edit, deleted a comment because it was bullshit).

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll agree the labels aren't helping. And of course they fold together since most "dysopias" are framed in the guise of a functioning "utopia" that is patently false.

Would you agree that dystopia generally refers to people dealing with a dysfunctional futuristic society? Usually one where technology has been abused or where the governing structure has become inhumane, or both?

message 32: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Ugh, just, I'm losing control here, too much coming too fast. But, the topic seems to have shifted a bit to not so much dystopia/ bad into 'all sad tragic all the time bad', which, I'd agree with, but then we aren't talking about dystopic scifi anymore.

Again, all dystopic scifi is not sad/tragic/hopeless. And again, what you two appear to find hopeless, I find motivating.

Also, just to point out that a lot of the classic literature that I had to read as a kid -- yeah, I dislike it now, blech, but I am SO glad I was exposed to it, because I'd never read it as an adult, but they were important, and some of those classics led to reading that feeds me deeply.

message 33: by Oco (last edited Aug 13, 2011 12:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Oh, and though well-written books do not HAVE to make one feel upset, many will, and that can be a good process to work through that. Without some true statistics (instead of anecdotes) of what kids are reading, I don't know how to respond to this. It is entirely possible that if one out of three books have depressing themes, kids will only remember (and parents will only hear about) the depressing ones, because those are the ones that can stay with a person for weeks.

message 34: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Kate Mc. wrote: "I'll agree the labels aren't helping. And of course they fold together since most "dysopias" are framed in the guise of a functioning "utopia" that is patently false.

Would you agree that dystopi..."

Oop. Just read this. Heh. Told you it was going too fast!! :)

Yeah, I think that's a fair description...though I reserve the right to add caveats. Like scifi itself, I think it is difficult/impossible to come up with a definition that will always work on all counts.

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)


Yeah, like if we were all sitting in a room discussing, this wouldn't get out of hand and go six directions at once! Heh heh.

message 36: by DL (new)

DL I guess I didn't make myself very clear from the on-set. It has always been the all sad books that has bothered me in the school. The choices that the school board made just happen to be all dystopia, The Road, City of Ember ect...I wouldn't mind it they would occasionally throw in something a bit more upbeat. And it is a sore spot with me because when I asked, I was told that my lack of a college degree made me incapable of understanding the school's choices. I shouldn't let my personal issues cloud Us!

I must have been an odd child because I loved almost all the books I was "forced" to read in school. All those moldy classics. I loved the language and the different worlds they brought to me. Yes, Kate, I even loved the Hemingway. :)

message 37: by DL (new)

DL Laughing! While I was typing the above, 3 more posts came in. Out of control is right!

And Ocotillo, what I love best about the books (any books) is that we do all see them in different ways and take different things from them. It's wonderful!

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Ahem. It was Oco who hated Hemingway. I just reread 'The Sun Also Rises' and enjoyed it. *looks virtuous*

Admittedly, I take him in small bites. And along the lines of "oh hell no", I don't like 'The Old Man and the Sea'. That one made me so mad, I threw the school copy across the room in study hall.

message 39: by DL (new)

DL Sorry, Kate. I get confused. I don't like Old Man either but the Sun Also Rises was lovely. In a hard bitten sort of way.

I felt like throwing Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies. Ummm. Wow. I think I just identified some personal issues during the course of this chat. Thanks. So to whom do I make the check? :)

message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Hey thanks Oco and Deb. This was fun! :D

Now I have to go be more productive and help DH dismantle his motorcycle. Again! This second childhood thing that men go through is nuts.

message 41: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Haha. I've been off making gumbo (yay!), but laughed at Deb throwing two of my childhood faves across the room. :p

I love the *idea* of Hemingway, but have never been able to actually enjoy reading him. I really appreciate that I had to, however, along with Billy Budd and the Great Gatsby and several other classics that now slip my mind.

Anyway, I get what you are saying, Deb. If all a student reads in school is depressing, they aren't going to think very highly of reading, are they? And we DO need hope. My tragic dystopia choices were always interspersed with fun and levity, even within scifi. I don't remember those as well, frankly, because they didn't leave so much of an impact. But they were there. Bradbury, VanVogt, Harrison Andres Norton, Asimov... I know I read a lot of all of those, just that the stories don't stay around as long.

And may I say that any school that responds with 'you're too uneducated to understand' is not only snotty, but they must not be very good at explaining. Which is sort of scary, if you consider that the role of schools is to explain to the uneducated.

message 42: by Oco (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oco Kate Mc. wrote: "...help DH dismantle his motorcycle..."

Whoot. This sounds like fun. :) Okay, maybe not a second time...

message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Phhhtt! Not so much. I'm mostly the spare set of hands or eyes as needed.

Or sometimes I just lean against the workbench and offer (un)helpful advice. :)

Today he had to reroute some cables and re-adjust the clutch. Left over problems from replacing the transmission last week. By the end of the afternoon I was hearing mutterings like "stupid bike" and "just sell the damn thing." A nice long ride up into the Olympics tomorrow and the boy/bike relationship will be good again. Meanwhile, I'll get several hours of uninterrupted reading time. Win-win.

message 44: by DL (new)

DL On the bright side, at least he can do his own repairs. I swear, every time I bring a car in for an oil change, the mechanic gets to go on a nice vacation.

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

When it comes to the car or the pickup, he's mostly given up working on them. They go to the shop for routine maintenance. Blech. It was so much cheaper when he was willing to play mechanic. :)

The bike needs so much constant attention he's stuck doing it himself, although he keeps saying he's getting to old to be doing this kind of stuff.

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