October 2003 Archives
Science Fiction Recommendations
This is based on one of Mary's comments:
"I really liked your recommendation of Ender's Game. It was a fun coming of age story and didn't contain too much crapnobabble (which I think can turn a good plot idea into a bunch of nonsense). Are there other books like this you could recommend?" - Marydell
(Rich, I hope I'm not stepping on your toes by answering a query addressed to you! :-)
Here's a quick list of some SF that I love:
Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper - This isn't hard SF; in fact the science is pretty soft but Piper wrote all his novels allegorically and Little Fuzzy has some connections to race, religion and what makes us intelligent.
Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem - Lethem doesn't write SF. He's a modern lit. kind of author (Motherless Brooklyn was absolutely, stare-at-the-wall-in-a-blank-daze-'cause-it-hits-so-hard brilliant) but Gun is definately SF. It's one of my favorites that I re-read every couple of years.
Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer - This book stopped me cold. It starts off being a straight-forward "the aliens have landed" type of book and ends up being the authors thoughts on death and what happens after. Good stuff.
The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter - A simple, quick read, but it makes you think.
Those are just a few quick SF favs. of mine. If you have a chance, I wouldn't mind knowing what you all think of these books...you know, if you're like me and think they're fantastic, or if you think I'm a complete loon with no grasp of good fiction. :-)
Diamond Age Themes
Looks like this book's discussion is taking a bit of time to get launched, but I'll forge onward.
The Diamond Age is undeniably a science/speculative fiction novel, but one of the exceptional qualities of Stephenson's execution here is that the story's not all whiz-bang and glitz - rare as it might be among the space operas and techno-carnivals out there, I'd argue that Stephenson actually does a fair bit of thematic interplay in the novel.
One of the areas Stephenson touches on in Diamond Age is the question of nature vs. nurture. Nell is (arguably) the main protagonist, but her life is shaped massively by the Primer (and by proxy those who designed and performed it, Hackworth and Miranda). It's probably a safe assumption that had Harv not pinched the book and brought it into Nell's life, Nell would have been condemned to live a life very much along the lines of her mother's, flitting from guy to guy, living the hopeless life of the impoverished thete. "Nurture" from the book makes all the difference.
Still, the question of how much of our lives' choices are dictated by our in-born nature is an open one, and some of the wiser people in my life put the nature/nurture ratio at around 50/50. How exceptional do you think Nell is in her own right, and how much of her becoming a living version of the Primer's Princess Nell is due, as Constable Moore surmises, to her being a "veteran" and having come from a life of danger and privation?
Another set of themes Stephenson presents are the opposing pair of subversion (Finkle-McGraw and Hackworth's efforts) and responsibility (Judge Fang and Dr. X's redirection of those efforts) - the poles of the eternal parental dilemma.
The Mouse Army receives its basic education (and one could say recruitment) through their illict copies of the Primer, but Fiona and Elizabeth, destined for good education in any event, receive Finkle-McGraw's hoped-for gift of subversiveness, of daring and ambition, among other qualities. Nell would at first glance seem to be destined similarly to the Mouse Army, but she winds up being the pivot upon which the book turns.
How true does Stephenson's playing with these themes ring? Are there other thematic observations to be made here?
The Diamond Age
Well, everyone, time to kick off the discussion of this month's book!
I'm coming off a hellacious week and weekend myself, so I'll start the questions off with a slow underhand pitch: how did everyone like The Diamond Age?
Given how little people cared for Noir, I imagine that more "got" TDA, if only because Neal Stephenson is a more accessible writer (and the subject matter is less overtly dystopic) than Jeter was with Noir.
The Diamond Age is one of my personal favorites, both because I like the combination of whimsy and (relatively) hard science Stephenson weaves, and because the worlds he creates are so nicely brought together, from the minutiae of his characters' lives to the massive, tidal shifts in societal development he plays with.
What sort of initial impressions did The Diamond Age engender in you? Did you like the story? Not like it? If you're "not a sci-fi person," did you find the book accessible?
The Metamorphosism Challenge
According to Mig, "NaNoWriMo is for sissies." Sign up for The Metamorphosism Challenge and write not one, but two novels next month. Make a note, though, that writing under hardship conditions is required, but drinking heavily will probably help.
Lost in Translation
I don't know if it's appropiate to talk about films on here, since it's a book blog. But, I can't help it. I am too excited and fascinated with this film (i can't stop thinking about it). I recently saw LOST IN TRANSLATION (finally!) Did anyone happen to see it? What did you guys think?
Book for January
Hello Again everyone,
I've volunteered to host January's book: Norwegian Wood by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
It's a beautifuly written book and I hope you'll all enjoy it. I should point out that I think that there are two translations of the book, so make sure to get the edition that has been translated by Jay Rubin - just so we're all reading the same thing.
Hi everyone. I figured I should follow Ana's lead and introduce myself as I've also just been granted official membership status. Here's a few notes about me.
I'm an American, living in Tochigi Prefecture in Japan. I've been living here for roughly three years or so and continue to find new reasons to stay. The food, the culture, the books.
Although I don't read Japanese very well, I've developed an affection for Japanese authors. I have to resort to the translated versions, but, in particular, I'm a huge fan of both Haruki Murakami and Leiji Matsumoto (he writes manga, but I'm counting him).
Authors from the rest of the world that I enjoy include Mark Twain, Hemmingway, Nabakov, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells.
Of course, I only read those guys every couple of years. When I'm in the bookstore I tend to devour anything by Neil Gaiman, Alan Dean Foster, Robert J. Sawyer, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Letham, and Isaac Adamson.
The list goes on.
I became interested in Bookblog after reading a post on neilgaiman.com (I may be remembering this wrongly so don't shoot) and realizing that I had read many of the books that have been discussed combined with a desire to read several of the books up for discussion in the coming months. I look forward to discussing things with all of you and to hosting a book sometime. Thanks.