The Bookman is the story of Orphan and his quest to rescue Lucy, his lady love, from the Bookman, who is not a book with legs and arms. In an England ruled by a lizard race (or is it?), the Bookman is a terrorist (maybe) who kills using books that go boom! A conceit I liked. When Lucy becomes a victim, Orphan determines in his rather clumsy way to save her. I actually liked his clumsy way, it made him human.Pardoxically, part of this book's charm is part of its problem. It's fun to see what Tidhar pulls out of his hat and all the references he makes. Fun that is until it feels like he has past the kitchen sink and is heading towards the plumbing. There is too much I'm suppose to find cool and exciting, and instead just find to be ho hum, it's like a director who has become to enamoured of special effects. The pacing, which is overall quick, and the touches of character make up for the over use of "special effects" to a degree, but not quite enough. (Think Star Wars prequels).I also had another problem with this book, though to be fair that problem is leveled at more than at one steampunk, though not all, novel/story. One of the attractions of steampunk is the mixature of technology with Victorian, be they famous, literary, or just Victorian characters. Mrs. Beeton, for instance, has had quite a literary life in steampunk. One wonders what will happen to Julia Child. On one hand, it is intersting to see the re-imgined lives of famous people. Yet some steampunk novels, and this is one, want to have it all. So there is mention of both a Dr. Moreau and H.G. Wells. Verne travels with Nemo. Using both the fictional character and the creator seems like cheat in world building to me. Using one but not the other, as in Anno-Dracula which makes use of the characters from Stoker in a real Victorian London, real in very sense except no Stoker, is okay. And the existence of Sherlock Holmes and his supporting cast makes sense in the steampunk world makes sense. Holmes has transcend fiction, one of the few, if the only, fictional character to do so. Still the combination of fiction and fact becomes too much. There are no real rules. And it would've been fine if Tidhar had explained why it happened, but he shies away from his one chance. But the use of Alder here raises another issue with books that use Sherlock Holmes as character, and, again, not just this one. Why is Adler always Sherlock's lover? Okay she isn't always. But in the story, she marries a man who is good, who she loves and who loves her. She isn't interested in Sherlock Holmes, though he feels something for her. It almost feels like a cheapening of her character by making her Holmes' other. A wish fulfillment that in some way is a Mary Sue, because, Robert Downey Jr aside, would anyone really want to be married to Holmes? (I get the unattainable thing, but really).So an entertaining, though not great, book.
I was expecting this book to bore me to tears. Since the book is a classic, I had to give it a try. Clarke's sophisticated, yet easy to read prose had me riveted! While lacking to some degree in human character development, the plot, descriptions and depth of the story more than compensated. I wish Clarke had expanded on the details about how crime, poverty, class consciousness, religion and menial labor were eradicated.
The book left me feeling moved, vaguely sad, yet hopeful about the future of humanity. I highly recommend it!
David Sumner has a problem: the world as he knows it is about to end. what's a brilliant young man and his equally brilliant family to do? why, bring back members of that extended family, store supplies, circle the wagons, and build a lab which will eventually help the Sumner family to repopulate the earth, of course. sounds like a good plan to me.
there's something about the 70s that I just really dig. many things, actually. besides the wonderfully hideous clothes and the wonderfully not-hideous moustaches and of course all of the brilliant movies, one of the things I like about that decade is the science fiction that came out of it. sci-fi that is confident mankind is headed for cataclysmic change any day now; sci-fi writers that came up with all sorts of ways that mankind can survive or transform or transcend or even just die. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is such a book. one of the very 70s things about this novel is its sweet but not saccharine attachment to nature... if you don't dig nature, you have a lot to learn man. there's a vagueness to that sentiment just as there is a vagueness to what exactly is causing the world to break down. and that vagueness is also pretty 70s. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is not the sort of novel that will spell things out for you. you either dig it or you don't dig it.
Molly of the Miriam Sisters has a problem: she went on an expedition to see what could be found out there, and she came back changed. she doesn't see things the same way. she should probably try to change back; she's making her duplicate sisters uneasy and her community deals with unease in fairly drastic ways. but she doesn't want to change. she's not sure why she is drawing these disturbing images or why she finds such new comfort in nature, in being by herself. but she likes it. she likes being an individual.
and that's another great thing about the 70s, in sci-fi and beyond: that interest in exploring the necessity of both individuality and community. Wilhelm does not paint this after-the-fall society in broad strokes so that the reader can easily hiss at it. there is a nurturing, loving vibe to this future community. people support their siblings automatically. sexuality is nonchalant. it is a community that cares for its citizens. well, in its own way. but of course in the end Wilhelm cherishes individuality and this community is shown to be deeply flawed. if this sounds like the novel may be some kind of didactic screed on individualism, well, it's not. Wilhelm is subtle. she is a lovely writer but she is also fine with making the reader a bit uncomfortable. Molly's "descent" into individuality is eerie and unnerving, haunting, as strange an experience for the reader as it is for this new and vaguely threatening Molly - no longer of the Miriam Sisters.
Mark has a problem: he is not like the lab-bred brothers & sisters, and they don't like that. the clones don't like this natural-born kid. but they need him, they need his skills, they need his bravery, they need his ability to understand nature and to be by himself. unfortunately, they don't actually know they need him and how badly they need individuals like him for their survival as a race. at one point Mark builds a snowman. the young clones don't understand it and they don't really see it - because it is a lone snowman, no lookalike snowmen surrounding it. so they pelt it with snowballs and tear down the monstrous lone thing.
I love how this kid is portrayed as an arrogant little asshole who mercilessly pranks his clone relatives, blithely uncaring of the genuine harm they can and often expressly want to do to him. assholes make the best heroes for me because I can often see myself in them. I like their flaws, their humanity; heroic heroes are often quite tedious in the end. the 70s had no problem with asshole heroes. but although Mark is quite a jerk, he has something his family members don't understand outside of their clone groupings: empathy. jerks who are empathetic know how and where to hit the hardest. and so Mark hits the clones hard, right where it hurts.
great novel! a classic.
When I re-read The Little Mermaid as an adult something about it bugged me. This something bugs me more and more each time I re-read the story. It's not the pain the mermaid feels when she walks; all of Andersen's characters seem to get tortured, the Ugly Duckling was a male and he got frozen in the ice. No, with the mermaid, it's how the prince treats her. She sleeps at the foot his bed, he rests his head on her breast. It's like she's his personal lap girl with whom he has groping benefits.
I can't help wondering if Ekaterina Sedia feels the same way for The Alchemy of Stone is very reminiscent of "The Little Mermaid". Unlike "LM", Mattie, the protagonist, isn't looking for a soul; she's looking for her independence, to be her own person. She is a clockwork girl, which means even so often her gears run down. There is only one key that winds her up. This process makes her feel violated. (In fact, whenever Mattie is opened, it almost feels like a rape. This is a brilliant touch).
Guess who has it and doesn't want to share?
4.5 stars. Fascinating. Funny. Horrifying in parts. The chapters that cover medical animal testing, are especially hard to read. However the author's humor is never crass or at the expensive of another: human or animal.
A couple of quotes from Stiff:
“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.”
“Here is the secret to surviving one of these [airplane] crashes: Be male. In a 1970 Civil Aeromedical institute study of three crashes involving emergency evacuations, the most prominent factor influencing survival was gender (followed closely by proximity to exit). Adult males were by far the most likely to get out alive. Why? Presumably because they pushed everyone else out of the way.”
There are tens of thousands of people, all around you, maybe hundreds of thousands, who at some point have experienced something that they can’t explain. And these people are silent. They are ashamed. They are afraid. They are convinced that they are the only ones, and so they say nothing. That is the real reason the Pax Arcana is so powerful. Rationality is king, and your emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.
This was a fast read, a well-explained but very traditional version of a paranormal world existing besides our own. The characters and their personalities are nothing complex, but the main character is funny and snarky without crossing the line into annoying territory, and his narrative voice made the book a lot of fun. This book doesn't break any mold, but it's still a good one.
In case you've missed it, there is a Science Fiction and Fantasy discussion room up and running.
We're currently the largest and most active discussion room on Booklikes, except for the Official Group. I'm not sure how long that will last with other, fast growing rooms out there.
We're planning a group read of Brian Sanderson's "Mistborn," in November.
See you in the room.
A book that reminds me of home.
I've devoured every book in this series. I've also been fortunate enough to beta read the last two. There are so many parallels between the family it revolves around and mine that every time I pick one of the books up I really, truly feel like I've come home.
Each month I think about what I will read next, okay I think most of the time what I read next but I usually mess up my plans about a 1000 times over. Therefore I make plans in written form to serve as a reminder. I will change things still as that's my nature.
This is what I intend to read in November based on what I already have and what I will borrow from the library.
I want to eat those covers :) YUM.
1. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
3. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
4. Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein
5. Adaptation by Malinda Lo
6. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
7. Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead (SciFi and Fantasy ebook club Nov 15)
8. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
9. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
10. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (nbrc Nov 12)
11. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
12. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
13. Fated by Benedict Jacka
14. Probability Moon by Nancy Kress
15. Carry Me Down by M. J. Hyland
16. Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green
17. The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelidis
18. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (SciFi and Fantasy ebook club)
19. Pleasurable Kingdom by Jonathan Balcombe (Science and Natural History book club)
20. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I'm a few days behind schedule for this challenge, so I figured I'd do a "three-in-one" post. So this post will cover Days 19, 20, and 21. I should be caught up once that's situated.
I'm going to choose four books for Days 19 and 20, and one book for Day 21. Ready, Steady, Go!