I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.
-Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
-Phillip K. Dick

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Genre: Children / Steampunk / Fantasy

An 11 year old girl named Lyra is given a small golden object called an alethiometer that she learns how to use.  This object allows her to ask questions and receive answers.  She discovers who her parents are and what they plan to do in the name of Dust.

Back Cover:
Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side.  But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle – a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears.  And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or lose, this more-than-mortal battle.

I thought this book was amazing.  I think I read it in elementary school but it had been so long I just had to reread it.  This is a work of magnificent eloquence.  Phillip Pullman has done a splendid job of telling a great story with excellent language.  It has great characters, particularly a great lead, Lyra Belacqua or Lyra Silvertongue depending on who you ask.  I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this trilogy, The Subtle Tongue.  I do recommend reading this one if you haven’t yet.  You will not be disappointed.

Favorite Quotes:
“The places here were laid with gold, not silver, and the fourteen seats were not oak benches but mahogany chairs with velvet cushions.” – Phillip Pullman (The Golden Compass)

“The stars are alive, child. Did you know that? Everything out there is alive, and there are grand purposes abroad! The universe is full of intentions, you know. Everything happens for a purpose. Your purpose is to remind me of that.” – Phillip Pullman (The Golden Compass)

“Take the example of tossing a coin: it can come down heads or tails, and we don’t know before it lands which way it’s going to fall.  If it comes down heads, that means that the possibility of its coming down tails has collapsed.  Until that moment the two possibilities were equal.  But on another world, it does come down tails. And when that happens, the two worlds split apart. I’m using the example of tossing a coin to make it clearer. In fact, these possibility collapses happen at the level of elementary particles, but they happen in just the same way: one moment several things are possible, the next moment only one happens, and the rest don’t exist. Except that other worlds have sprung into being, on which they did happen.” – Phillip Pullman (The Golden Compass)

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
Genre: Science Fiction / Space exploration

A ship called the Discovery goes out into space to explore Saturn.  Hal, the computer mind behind the Discovery turns out to be haywire and kills the majority of the crew.  Bowman, the final survivor goes on to explore Japetus and finds himself torpedoing into new solar systems.

This book moves really fast at first.  I think the excitement of the ending is the main purpose of this book and all else is just filler to get up to that point.  I felt like it could have been slowed down and more visually capable at the beginning, though it does get better later on.  It took me a while to get into this book. Then, once I did I discovered how much it’s like realities astronauts.  At that point I started to lose interest.  That of course did not stop me from reading, being the kind of reader who hates to leave any page unturned regardless of becoming bored. 

I was glad near the end that I had stuck with the novel, for the ultimate space travel occurs and rejuvenates my interest in the novel. 

The idea of Hal going haywire and killing the majority of the crew was absolutely superb.   The concepts that Clarke gives us during Bowman’s Journey of Japetus are some of the greatest adventures I’ve read.

I recommend this book to anyone who has yet to read it and enjoys science fiction.  Whether you’ve read and enjoyed H.G. Wells War of the Worlds or something newer like Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I believe you will enjoy this novel.  Stick with it if you do, for it may seem slow and boring, but the coming adventure makes the entire book worth while.

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Genre:  Space / Sci-fi

A group of seven is on a voyage to Hyperion to visit the Time Tombs.  Awaiting them is a devious creature called the Shrike.  Each of their stories is twined together to make up a bigger plot.

Back Cover:
On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike.  There are those who worship it.  There are those who fear it.  And there are those who have vowed to destroy it.  In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all.  On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives.  Each carries a desperate hope-and a terrible secret.  And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

A stunning tour de force filled with transcendent awe and wonder, Hyperion is a masterwork of science fiction that resonates with excitement and invention, the first volume in a remarkable new science fiction epic by the multiple-award-winning author of The Hollow Man.

I liked the majority of the characters stories.  They tied in well together.   I only have two negative things to say about this book…Sometimes I lost interest while reading, that’s probably a (me) problem more than the books problem though.  Also, the story for this felt very incomplete, but that might be due to the fact that there are more books in this series.  At first I was feeling a 3/5, but after completing it I’ll have to go with a 4/5.  That being said I’m unsure if I will read the rest, as I have started too many series!  I need to start finishing some.

Shame on anyone who thinks evil of this.