Posted by: Andy | June 24, 2005

A pile of book opinions

Not reviews, because I really don’t feel like being that in-depth, just little flashes and my stupid opinions.

Don’t ask me why I post the blogs I do..it’s not like I really have an audience or anything…I’m still going to chalk it up to therapy. I post the things that I would be saying in conversations to people if I had any conversations with people outside my wife (who has heard most of it already) and my co-workers (who I don’t really talk to about very much of interest…(?yet?)). On with the books, in semi-order-of-reading, bear in mind that this is a month or two of reading (I’m not as fast as I used to be!):

New Spring – Robert Jordan – The (first of three???!!! yeesh..get on with the REAL series) Wheel of Time prequel. Not a bad read, very snappy at only 350 pages (compared to 600-1200 or so for the others). I expected it to be rather boring, considering the main character has been “dead” for several novels now. However, there was enough to keep me interested till the end – in fact, the pace really picked up in the last 75 pages or so. Then again, that seems to be the standard for fiction these days – only about 25% has you really plowing through it, racing to see what happens. I’d love to read a book where the whole thing was like that (without resorting to cheap shots like the Da Vinci Code’s cliffhanger at the end of every chapter).

Pandora’s Star – Peter Hamilton – A long one, at 800 or so pages, but very worth reading. His Reality Disfunction series is, without a doubt, the best modern sci-fi I have read to date. I enjoyed those books more than pretty much everything except some Herbert & Dick stories. But back to the topic – Pandora’s Star also stars of very slow, not picking up till the last 300 or so pages. Hamilton frequently hops around between 6 or 8 different plotlines which vary in distance from remotely related to completely sidebar. However, all of these do have a place and build the reader’s (or mine at least) attachment to characters which will come into play much later, as well as helping to set up the massive backdrops he seems to enjoy building (RD series was like this as well). I’m really hating waiting a year or so for the next novel to come out in paper back (hardcover is like next Jan or something, and I don’t buy hardcovers). That one I’ll probably wind up having to read in several sitting sessions at Border’s.

The Dosadi Experiment – Frank Herbert – Another strong tale from Herbert. I always go into his books expecting them to be droll, but really being caught up about halfway through when the complex socio-politics that are his forte really start showing through. Oddly enough, I wound up thinking about the ending from a Dick-??? (Dick-ian, Dick-esque?? anyway you get the picture), psychological disorder type of perspective. This slightly soured the ending for me – I would not suggest reading any PKD temporally local to reading this novel.

Clans of the Alphane Moon – Philip K. Dick
– One of my favorite Dick stories to date. Possibly my favorite. I always wind up absorbing weird pieces of paper sub-realities that come out in my personality or world view at the wierdest times, but rarely do I catch something that I really feel is going to stick, and I found a few of those things here. Like a Herbert novel in that multiple re-reads will yield increasing results.

Dreaming of War – Gore Vidal – I have to throw in some nonfiction every couple of weeks. An quick, enjoyable read. Nothing new here for those of us weaned on internet news (is there any other kind?), but always nice to see someone out there who shares a few opinions with me getting some press.

Pattern Recognition – William Gibson – Not quite what I expected, very few of the standard Gibson staples, but by that I mean that it was not sci-fi, not that the plot didn’t follow a path fairly parallel to several of his other works. It was nice to see the present cast in such a science fictiony kind of way though, makes one feel very modern to be living in such a time. I can see how this one will convert very easily to film, would be pretty tough to fuck it up (although $20 says that yes, of course Hollywood fucks up anything of quality). I enjoyed the read, but it was not a strong book in general. Very run of the mill for Gibson.


The Saratoga Barrier – Frank Herbert
– A real surprise. The beginning was a little tedious, but always interesting. The mild paranoia that Herbert builds up was a treat – this book read more like a mystery than a “sci-fi”. Although it was both really, so I guess that makes sense. One of the more “page-turny” books I’ve read in a while. The ending is pure Herbert, one of his best, up there with the later Dune books. I adore open-ended endings and this one really shines without being cliche. I was left with a *lot* to think about. The big question is, I suppose “Would it be worth it?”.

The World Jones Made – Philip K. Dick – Another winner. Even the strange first paragraph (my wife asked how in the world a book could start like that – completely the opposite of the standard “grab the reader with the first line” line of thinking) is perfectly placed (and makes sense much later).

Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk – Had to read the book, ya know, just because. I wish I’d read it before the movie, because I couldn’t help picturing all the scenes from the movie as they played out in the book. One thing I will say in contrast to the mini-rant a few paragraphs back, is that Hollywood did this one very well. Of course a few plot points were removed or changed (how bitch tits died, where the fat came from, little things like that that didn’t really affect the thrust of the thing), but the theme seemed to come through pretty well. More than any book I’ve read, this book felt like the author was writing a screenplay, it was jarring in that MTV-generation-ADD-no-attention-span kind of way.

The Worlds of Frank Herbert – Frank Herbert (duh…) – A collection of short stories, good way to kill small chunks of time (like shitting…).

The Creature from Jekyll Island – G. Edward Griffin – While the author probably stays up late at night worrying about socialists knocking down his door and raping his daughters, he provides a wealth of valuable information about how the money system actually works. Fucking shocking. I mean, not shocking that people are doing what they are doing, but the fact that it actually “works” is pretty upsetting. Inflation is a tax. Just keep that in mind. Very worth reading if you want to be come even further disillusioned with big business and banking. Cracks me up how he identifies the big money with socialism though…really seems more like fascism to me. Then again, the definitions given at dictionary.com are fairly similar for both. I mean, I can see how they could hide _behind_ a socialist mask – the rich have been claiming that they do things for “the common good” for fucking ever. But thinking those people are actually socialist?…That reeks of judeo-Christian (mostly American Christian) brainwashing to me.

The Game Players of Titan – Philip K. Dick
– Go Phil! You can’t lose can you? I love how some of his novels (the Unteleported Man was a prime example of this) just get all FUCKWEIRD mid-book. What’s good for the brain is good for the…well…that thing that houses the brain.

Welcome to the Monkey House & Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut – Not real impressed with either of these books (the first is a short story collection), in fact I’ve pretty much forgotten what happened in both by now. Except the story about the kid who threw off his “handicaps” in the force-everyone-to-be-equal society…Harrison Bergeron or something like that..but I read that as a kid, and saw some kind of TV adaptation of it as well, so that is pretty much seared into my long term memory.

HUZZAH! Props to Justin for introducing me to ratty-paged, ancient PKD paperback hunting. Truly the sport of champi…………………..geeks.

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