Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dates and Decisions

Ok, the date on the former post is not quite right... It is when I started working on the review, but today is when I finally completed it. My thoughts on the book in question have been going back and forth quite a bit. At least now I know I'm very glad I finally read it. A dear friend whose like was greatly influenced by Starship Troopers now makes a great deal more sense to me. Wherever you are now in this war we call life, I'm glad to have known you.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Starship Troopers

Firstly, I should disabuse you of the notion that this book suffered an ill-concieved film adaptation by the same name, written by Edward Neumeier, and directed by Paul Verhoeven -- both of RoboCop fame. That movie would more aptly be called "Bugs in Space" -- or as this site puts it at one point, "Paul Verhoeven, Jon Davison, and Ed Neumeier's Twisted Parody of a Book They Claim They Liked But Have Done Everything to Befoul," and had it been, it would have been a decent movie -- sort of; it wasn't -- on either count.

Now, on to the book itself. Starship Troopers is a book that has changed the course of many lives; it is both a compelling story and potent propaganda. However, one must remember that propaganda is not all bad. It was written in a time when patriotism was failing in this country due to seemingly endless political blundering and constant involvement in pointless wars. In as much as Heinlein wrote to convince young men that duty and honor compelled them to render service to the nation that had served them, he also wrote a cutting critique of heavy-handed violence that was all too common in the world he knew. I have put off finishing and posting this review because I was unsure of how I felt about this book, but now I know it is trully for the best. I also feel strongly about placing it on par with such classics as 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and The Giver, that caution us against what could be. However, Heinlein was different in that his account of our future past shows humanity triumphing by way of a renewed sense of duty and dignity.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Infinitive of Go

I finally found myself reading a book I purchased on a whim at McKay's used books in Chattanooga some time ago. I had never heard of John Brunner, let alone the book itself, but the unusual cover art and the somewhat intriguing title -- not to mention the seventy-five cent price -- caught my attention. It is the tale of a somewhat unsuspecting inventor, living in the height of Cold War paranoia who develops a unique mode of transportation called a "Poster." This device allows nearly instantaneous movement of matter between two paired units. Everything seems to be going well until the first human currier to be "posted" to a foreign embassy kills himself immediately after transfer. This sets in motion a chain of events leading to an ending with more than a few similarities to "The Lady, or the Tiger?" by Frank R. Stockton. Once the first chapter or so is out of the way, it becomes a compelling and involving narrative with a few more profound philosophical consequences than were to be found in most short fiction of today -- especially interesting is its rather frank treatment of homosexuality in one of the characters. One thing to note though would be a quick read of some sort of explanation of transfinite numbers -- importantly Aleph-null, Aleph-one, etc.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Neal Stephenson

While I haven't been posting, I have been reading -- nearly everything ever written by Neal Stephenson actually. I even managed to obtain a copy of the reprinting of The Big U. (Admittedly, that is a book described by Stephenson himself as not that good, but I did quite enjoy it -- that for another post though.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell

For my first book review, I think I will start with a piece of classic literature -- not to mention one of my favorite stories. I concede that my experience with this book was colored by my exposure to the story via film and television; I regret not having read this sooner. It is a true exemplar of George Orwell's work. He takes a the idea of a "fairy story" in which a tale is told without moralizing or asking deep questions using extremely flat characters who simply are who they are. It allows him to achieve something so much more powerful in the blunt way in which we see the transitions from "Manor Farm" to "Animal Farm" and finally back to "Manor Farm" as the society of the animals develops into something frightening -- or should I say, something frighteningly familiar? I can only hope this book -- along this 1984 -- to stem the tide of things to come -- even though there are many signs of them happening already....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Library Thing

I recently discovered a web site called Library Thing. It allows one to catalog one's personal book collection in an easy-to-use manner that supports quite a bit of social interaction such as book reccomendations based on user ratings and book review browsing. This has inspired me to try yet another attempt at blogging; this time, however, I have a direct and distinct perpose: to review books I have collected and read and to possible comment on some I have not but have heard about through friends. Hopefully, each post will consist of either a book review or blog/personal library-related news or at least a few reading suggestions. I only hope I can give something usefull the reading community at large. (However, I certainly would not mind making a little money off of my efforts -- this is a capitalist country you know, so please feel free to click through to via the book links in the upper-right hand corner or to make use of the handy-dandy search box.)

What's in a name?

Cave ab homine unius libri!
Beware a man with only one book!