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review 2018-08-31 20:58
Mythical Agents of Destiny: "Altered Carbon" by Richard K. Morgan
Altered Carbon - Richard K. Morgan


“If they want you, sooner or later they’ll scoop you up off the globe, like specks of interesting dust off a Martian artefact. Cross the gulf between the stars, and they’ll come after you. Go into centuries of storage, and they’ll be there waiting for you, clone-new, when you re-sleeve. They are what we once dreamed of as gods, mythical agents of destiny, as inescapable as Death, that poor old peasant labourer, bent over his scythe, no longer is. Poor Death, no match for the mighty altered carbon technologies of data storage and retrieval arrayed against him. Once we lived in terror of his arrival. Now we flirt outrageously with his sombre dignity, and beings like these won’t even let him in the tradesman’s entrance.”


In “Altered Carbon” by Richard K. Morgan


Cyberpunk, a historic sub-genre that was out of date by the time most people had started using Windows, cool! That said, Gibson was better than ever with the near future Blue Ant trilogy, and Stephenson is off doing whatever caught his attention, before hopefully returning with some more Shaftoes and Waterhice, I mean houses. That said, Gibson's “The Peripheral” offered some fascinating directions, but were too interesting for that hoary old sub-genre title. I've always thought of the Altered Carbon books as SF pulp really and the TV version just confirms it for me.

 

 

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

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review 2018-08-20 11:33
Spiritual Poetry: "Hölderlin - Poemas" by Friedrich Hölderlin
POEMAS - Friedrich Hölderlin,Paulo Quintela


If Hölderlin did it why can’t I do it too? Here it goes:

Yes, we need some good poets
And I think we all know it’s
Something we’re lacking….
My mind I am fracking
But still failing to see
how wishing makes it be.
They fuckitup,
We suckitup.

When I was young, appendectomy was done under local anaesthesia. I was so afraid, I might end up in a situation like that, that I memorised some of Hölderlin's poems in a Portuguese translation by Paulo Quintela, as ways of coping with my fear. I never had an appendectomy as a child, but I still recite in my mind some of those long ago learned Hölderlin's poems when I have to sit in a dentist's chair...

 

 

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

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review 2018-08-15 00:11
Unglücklich das Land, das Helden nötig hat: "Das Leben des Galilei" by Bertold Brecht
Bertold Brecht: Leben des Galilei - Wilhelm Große



"Galilei: Ja, wo ist sie jetzt? Wie kann der Jupiter angeheftet sein, wenn andere Sterne um ihn kreisen? Da ist keine Stütze im Himmel, da ist kein Halt im Weltall! Da ist
eine andere Sonne!
Sagredo: Beruhige dich. Du denkst zu schnell.
Galilei: Was, schnell! Mensch, reg dich auf! Was du siehst, hat noch keiner gesehen. Sie hatten recht!
Sagredo: Wer? Die Kopernikaner?
Galilei: Und der andere! Die ganze Welt war gegen sie, und sie hatten recht. Das ist was für Andrea! Er läuft außer sich zur Tür und ruft hinaus: Frau Sarti! Frau Sarti!
Sagredo: Galilei, du sollst dich beruhigen!
Galilei: Sagredo, du sollst dich aufregen! Frau Sarti!
Sagredo dreht das Fernrohr weg: Willst du aufhören, wie ein Narr herumzubrüllen?
Galilei: Willst du aufhören, wie ein Stockfisch dazustehen, wenn die Wahrheit entdeckt ist?
Sagredo: Ich stehe nicht wie ein Stockfisch, sondern ich zittere, es könnte die Wahrheit sein."


In "Das Leben des Galilei" by Bertold Brecht


I watched this play in 2006 in Lisbon at Teatro Aberto starring Rui Mendes as Galileo. There was a repartee between Galileo and Arturo Ui that I'll never forget.

 

 

 

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

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review 2018-03-28 15:53
Workmanlike Prose: "Rendezvous with Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke
Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke

Ah, yes. Rama. I actually read this with a torch under the blankets in an intense all-nighter back in the day. What I like about this book in retrospect is its complete lack of compromise as a work of SF. Characters? Who the frack needs 'em. Themes? Bah, pointless! All SF needs to be is an unbroken, brilliantly done description of an alien environment. I'm glad things have moved on since, but I'd still happily sit and read a book so single-mindedly in its purpose like this one.

 

In any genre of literature, you definitely have some people whose names tower above everyone else, and their influence could not be denied. However, people who like literature don't just read the so-called greats. Clarke certainly wrote some seminal works of SF, but he probably read many obscure works too, some of which may have influenced him. Readers don't just read the big name writers, but have a much bigger interest in the genre. A writer’s work only makes sense within a tradition and how it is situated along other people's work. It is all interlinked and some of the smaller voices may be bigger than critics acknowledge. For instance Clarke's influences aren't as well-known but what he learned from them is part of his work, so the voices remain powerful, and readers equally value preceding works. That doesn't mean that the big name writers don't deserve their place in history, but as fan of literature, I think sometimes, the bigger contributions are made by lesser known writers. I disagree with the assessment that Clarke left questions unanswered; world-building can get boring at the micro, non-plot-related level. This book was "sensawunda" in triplicate -- for the Ramans always did everything in threes. How about those tripodal cleansing things that whirled about? I'm not disappointed that Clarke had no sequel; when you look at 2001 on the screen, then read Clarke's rejected worlds, you realise that Kubrick was right to end with the “Star Child”. 

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review 2017-11-23 12:11
Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water: "Ubik" by Philip K. Dick
Ubik - Philip K. Dick

"'I am Ubik. Before the universe was I am. I made the suns. I made the worlds. I created the lives and the places they inhabit; I move them here, I put them there. They go as I say, they do as I tell them. I am the word and my name is never spoken, the name which no one knows. I am called Ubik but that is not my name. I am. I shall always be. ‘“

 

In “Ubik” by Philip K. Dick

 

 

This would feel like a meaningless read indeed if it wasn't, in fact, a very FUNNY one, full of a dry humor. In Ubik the characters are taken in such a subjective maze of crumbling reality, unexpected time-travelling and personal doubts, that it becomes a materialization of the absurdity of the human condition, in the form of an exhilarating fiction. If you are not into the humor of Kafka and Borges, it makes perfectly sense that you are not sensible to Dick's one. What makes Ubik a wonderful read still today? Dick didn't nail everything too tightly to the plot. The result may seem a potpourri but his worlds live and breathe. If he were writing now this book would make him a rebel and, given what he was like, would give most editors / publishers gray-hairs. It also begs the question (of others in the genre): Can you really do that?

 

I think the current fascination with Dick seems tied to the fact that most of his most popular books have dystopian or control themes. The other worldliness, or just around the corner-ness, of his stories, make it seem fictional, therefore enjoyable, yet also real and possible. I had been seeing a resurgence in sales of his books a couple of decades ago. This is just a speculative thought, but I wonder: If we had really been reading him for a spooky window into the future, then that means that the "seeds of the future dystopia" already started back then. Nixon had been around in Dick's time, but Reagan and the Republican nasties was their second coming. AI was only just poking its nose into things. 2000 was around the corner. Was Dick one of our clues to the future?

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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