Fritz Leiber is known for Fantasy, both Swords and Sorcery and Urban Fantasy (a genre he practically invented), but The Wanderer is a mixture of disasFritz Leiber is known for Fantasy, both Swords and Sorcery and Urban Fantasy (a genre he practically invented), but The Wanderer is a mixture of disaster/apocalypse and first contact novel. It is in fact surprisingly 'hard' as far as the science fiction elements are concerned. A new planet, the Wanderer, appears suddenly next to the moon, its gravity causing earthquakes and huge tides which cause considerable destruction on Earth. Leiber follows several groups of people through the story including two who have direct contact with the inhabitants of the Wanderer. It is an interesting novel but it is something of a mixed bag. The disaster scenes are well done, although I think Leiber should have focused on fewer groups stories. There are some characters introduced early in the novel, that seldom get mentioned afterwards, he maybe should have cut those plot threads out altogether. The concept of the aliens was interesting but the inter-species romance was cringe inducing and easily the weakest part of the book. A good but not great book, but interesting nonetheless just for Leiber's take on science fiction....more
He wer talking so many levvils at 1nce I dint all ways know what he meant realy I wisht every thing wud mean jus only 1 thing and keap on meaning it nHe wer talking so many levvils at 1nce I dint all ways know what he meant realy I wisht every thing wud mean jus only 1 thing and keap on meaning it not changing all the time.
I hear you Riddley, I hear you.
Riddley Walker is a classic science fiction novel by Russel Hoban, a post-apocalyptic tale told from the point of view of a 12 year old boy, Riddley Walker. Notorious for being written in a ‘devolved’ style of English (example above), the language immerses the reader in the setting of a ruined England some 2,000 years after an unspecified nuclear apocalypse but it can be a challenge for the reader. I got into the flow of it after a chapter or two, but since the whole narrative is from the POV of Riddley himself, even when I understood the words he was saying, the meaning was quite frequently not clear. So reading Riddley Walker does require some effort from the reader, but fortunately the book is not long and is quite rewarding and thought provoking, being full of allegory, symbolism and layers of meaning. There are a few themes running through the novel. The first concerns the creation of myth. Myth in Riddley's time not surprisingly centers around the apocalypse 2,000 years before: allusions to the ‘1 big 1’ that destroyed the old world, Eusa who was responsible, and behind it all, Mr Clevver. The myths of Riddley’s time are part Christian, part a remembrance of the old world and part the English folk tradition of Punch and Judy puppet shows. Civilization in Riddley’s time has regressed back to the Iron Age, but it is beginning to change. Hunting and gathering are being replace by Agriculture with all that implies (eg the return of property rights). It reflects another theme of the book the fear of technology. Riddley’s people look on the past with wonder, yet much of their myth is based on the fear that ‘cleverness’ was responsible for the catastrophe that left their world in ruins. But there are those who are rediscovering the knowledge of the past such as gunpowder, the ‘1 little 1’ that reader knows will eventually lead once again to the discovery of the ‘1 big 1'. So there is a lot here for the reader to digest and ponder. A very impressive work, and it would seem to be a book right up my alley since I love post-post- apocalyptic stories, where the circumstances of the actual apocalypse is lost in the mists of time. So why not 5 stars? (view spoiler)[It is a strange book though, in that it begins on what seems to be a grand scale. Riddley seems like the kind of epic hero we would expect of in a fantasy hero. He seems to have some mystical connection with animals. He has visions and seems destined for something, well, epic. But as the book proceeds the scale becomes smaller, less grand and more local. The story takes place over only a few days instead of weeks or months. There is a map provided at the beginning with no scale, it seems like this might be far future England but Riddley walks across it twice in the course of a few hours and we realize it is only a very small corner of Kent. And at the end, Riddley’s fate is not to be a hero who changes the course of history but just to be a performer in a new puppet show. Intellectually I know it is a well-crafted story well worth all the plaudits it has received but I can’t deny that it left me just a little disappointed. It’s my fault though, not Hoban’s- I have simply read too much epic fantasy
Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
Published in 1959 Alas, Babylon is one of the earliest novAlas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
Published in 1959 Alas, Babylon is one of the earliest novels to explore a nuclear apocalypse (On the Beach having preceded it by two years). The story takes place in a small town in Florida and describes how the community survives the resulting collapse of society caused by a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union; a war started by tensions over Syria (!) (Good thing nothing like that is going on in the world today- oh boy...).
The story has been described as a cozy catastrophe, I don't know if I would go that far, but it is true that Alas Babylon isn't remotely as bleak and melancholy as On The Beach. It is kind of dry and by the numbers, and suffers from modern readers familiarity with the subject. What was new and thought provoking in 1959 has become cliche almost 60 years later when books, movies and video games with post-apocalyptic stories are everywhere. Still worth a look I would say....more