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review 2018-08-31 16:26
Unhook the Modem: "Neuromancer" by William Gibson
Neuromancer - William Gibson

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts . . . A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.”

In “Neuromancer” by William Gibson

A friend of mine tried to read "Neuromancer" and he really struggled to follow what was going on, he told me. Who was doing what to whom, and were they in the real world or a virtual world? Were the characters alive, dead or artificial? I think there was a section where the protagonist was experiencing things via another person's eyes, adding to his confusion. There were some space Rastafarians and a woman who spoke like Lady Penelope towards the end, whom at least he could tell apart from the others. The book was like a mix of Blade Runner, Tron and The Matrix. For him, I think it might have worked better as a graphic novel. And I said, "WTF?? [...]"




If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2017-12-02 21:02
The Risks of Universal Enfranchisement: "Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Troopers - Robert A. Heinlein
Word of warning. I’m going to discourse both on the book and on the Verhoeven’s movie.
He didn't include them as "grunts" probably because the training was sufficiently hard that most wouldn't have made it. If you read the description of the training it wasn't just 12 weeks square-bashing, it reads far more like Special Forces.
It might also have been because he was paying lip service to a society kind of modelled on 50s America where the ladies were the home-makers and females in the frontline weren't even on the radar.
However, having said that, we have the fabulous line about females in high rank and esteem:
"If the Almighty ever needs a hand to run the universe: hot ship pilot Yvette Deladrier" after Starship commander Deladrier brakes her ship's orbit to recover a lander that has blasted off late and which otherwise would miss rendezvous and all on board would perish. I’ve heard from a lot of my friends saying the movie version is utter shit. I’m not so sure. The thing is, Verhoeven was a master of taking existing texts and subtly pushing them into satire by overdoing Hollywood/MTV filming tropes. The viewer was encouraged to look at the films as broad entertainment and then ask what the actions of the heroes had to do with American culture. He did the same with Joe Eszterhas's scripts for “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls”. “Basic Instinct” is a detective story where the 'hero' is someone who's already gotten away with murder because of his badge, and who shoots another innocent victim before the film is out, while the 'villain' is never actually shown to kill anyone. She's chiefly a suspect because of her sexuality (which is why GLAAD picketed the film) and lack of shame about it. “Showgirls” meanwhile depicts a vision of Las Vegas as a patriarchal dystopia where every woman is judged on her body and literally every male character is a predator of some kind. 
If you're into SF, read on.
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text 2017-04-18 13:34
13th April 2017
Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 - Seamus Heaney

If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way.


Seamus Heaney


Irish poet and Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney (born April 13, 1939) enjoyed both critical acclaim and widespread popularity. By 2008, two-thirds of poetry books sold in the UK were by Heaney.

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review 2016-12-21 23:42
So dropping poetry for a while...
A Hot January: Poems 1996-1999 - Robin Morgan

I apparently am not a poetry person?   Not unless it's epic poetry like The Odyssey that tells a story.   I struggle to enjoy them and then end up feeling as if I'm flawed for not really understanding it enough to get the poems. 


I enjoy them as lovely uses of language - and there was some amazing wordplay here - but nope, not for me.   Gonna stick with comics and young adult books until I get to the end of the year to see if I can make 1K books this year.   (Er, 1K mostly comic issues?)


After that, I want to read more non-fiction and give more poetry books a try.  I do enjoy poetry, but it has to hit me just right.   I've enjoyed short poems, but y'know...

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review 2016-12-04 01:21
"The demolished man" by Alfred Bester
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (1996-07-02) - Alfred Bester

In a world policed by telepaths, Ben Reich plans to commit a crime that hasn't been heard of in 70 years: murder. That's the only option left for Reich, whose company is losing a 10-year death struggle with rival D'Courtney Enterprises. Terrorized in his dreams by The Man With No Face and driven to the edge after D'Courtney refuses a merger offer, Reich murders his rival and bribes a high-ranking telepath to help him cover his tracks. But while police prefect Lincoln Powell knows Reich is guilty, his telepath's knowledge is a far cry from admissible evidence. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



Dear readers, recently I had been thinking about some of the books which I first read when I was somewhere between ages of eight and ten, give or take. A lot of these books stuck with me throughout my youth and pretty much travelled with me where I am here today. I decided that I should attempt to review at least some of them. This sci-fi classic is first is my first try. I know I read it first when I was very young and then I just kept rereading and rereading. When we came to US, I bought this book in the original and was very impressed as to how good the translation was. I also learned that this book was the first ever recipient of the Hugo award for the best novel in 1953.

It is really hard for me to describe what impressed me so much for the first time in the beloved story because I read it so many times by now. I think the description of telepaths, how they were attempting to govern themselves, how they were interacting with “non – telepaths” or “normal” were fun. I know the way Bester describes telepathic conversations is still fun for me to read. I tried to quote those parts of the book, but for some reason it just would not work. I am guessing that the reason was the unusual structure of those conversations does not translate into a good quotation for review – some conversations are written in a circle, some – like another complicated drawing. The whole book is very linguistically creative I guess? One character’s last name is spelled as @kins, another as 1/4maine. There are many more examples like this.

But all of this is just a setting for the story – the main plot line is just what the blurb describes. Ben Reich, charming businessman (not that charming clearly) decides to murder his business rival presumably because that business rival pushed him to the point of no return, overpowered him in many business dealings and then to add insult to the injury refused the offer of the business merger.

So, what’s the solution you ask? Killing of the said rival of course, because for the good reasons. Here I have to interject something. Over the years I not only read many reviews of this book, but I was actively seeking them out because I was interested in what other readers thought about it that much. I could not believe myself when I read one of the reviews and the reader made a comment along the lines that clearly Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” influenced this book.  Because of course it did! I have no idea whether Bester did it consciously or it just happened, but it is there, for everybody to see and I did not connect the dots at all before I saw that review. So I am trying to give the credit where the credit is due.

We have the man who is charming and has a lot of good in him, but who also thinks that he is allowed to kill – for the good reasons (he is not even trying to come up with reasons that are good for the rest of the society, just for him, but this is not a fanfiction of “Crime and Punishment”, this is just the book which seemed to take inspiration from it). And to make things interesting we have the world where telepaths are trying to guard against murders (and other crimes – more or less successfully) and so far they did it successfully for seventy years. But Reich is confident that he would be able to outsmart everybody and win in the fight against society. Have I mentioned that he is having nightmares about “The Man With No Face” and really wants not to see those nightmares anymore?

Blurb talks about it, so this is not a spoiler – Reich successfully commits the murder. Enters Lincoln Powell, Prefect of the Psychotic Division of the Police who is able to read that Reich was a murderer almost right away, but he still needs to collect evidence in admissible form in order to convince the Judge (The role of the judge is played by the Computer actually) that they have strong case to convict Reich. Come to think of it Computer is probably substituting for Grand Jury as well.

The problem is? Powell really likes Reich and wants to try everything he can to convince Reich to surrender and save the better part of him.

If you have not read the book, I really want you to experience the plot twists and don’t want to talk about them. I mean, if you are a SFF reader, I think the chances of you not reading this classic are small, but I still don’t want to take my chances J.

You have to understand guys, I really love this book. I never wrote fanfiction and never plan on doing so in the future, but I spend hours imagining different endings for some of the characters. I read and reread this story in Russian, I took the book with me when I came to live in the USA and then I bought paperback in English and collector’s hardcover and when kindle edition appeared I bought it too. I thought it was creative and fun and influenced so many books which were to come later. I thought that the use of language was often brilliant and the possible redemption story was there too (not that I was completely satisfied with that part).

What I am trying to say is that in this review I am indulging myself and allowing “how I feel about the story” to take larger element of my grade than usual. In some ways the book is of course dated. The 23 century society which is portrayed so creatively in some ways, in others reminds us about US in the 1950s which is not surprising of course. The way female characters are represented was lacking to me. Actually all characters could have used some more depth (the guys were interesting plot pieces for sure, but more depth would not have hurt).

My final grade is A and had the book not been on my favorite rereads mental shelf for years and years, I would have probably given it a B.




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