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review 2019-02-10 13:44
Second Variety, Philip K. Dick
Second Variety (Collected Stories: Vol 2) - Philip K. Dick

PKD - one of the most inventive SF authors ever and a prolific writer of novels and short stories. Unfortunately some of these stories have become predictable because since they were written the ideas have been recycled too many times. Others are unintentionally amusing as 1950s gender roles survive unchanged several centuries into the future - but people will say the equivalent about much contemporary SF in 70 years from now, too. Although some of the stories are conventional (e.g. consequences of nuclear war) Dick, like Bradbury, also wrote a different kind of SF from most of his contemporaries. Not interested in pulp adventure stories or stories that turn on some application of science, Dick instead starts to question identity and reality. These themes began in this volume (1950s) and came to dominate later. Of course, this is a new viewpoint on the age-old question of what it is to be human? An angle that also was adopted and developed into a staple SF theme by those who came after.

 

Which is all to say PKD was a pioneer in many ways and I should read more.

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text 2019-02-07 22:07
Reading progress update: I've read 311 out of 395 pages.
Second Variety (Collected Stories: Vol 2) - Philip K. Dick

Imposter: The kind of identity questions that later became the trademark of Alastair Reynolds.

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review 2019-01-26 05:19
Moby Dick
Moby-Dick (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) - Herman Melville

I don’t mean to disrespect this book or anyone who loves it, but for only the second time in my life I find myself thinking that maybe abridging classics isn’t such a terrible practice after all.

 

At least I came out of it with my love of whales intact.

 

Take it away, Ahab!

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

You tell ‘em, you crazy bastard.

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text 2019-01-26 04:00
Reading progress update: I've read 656 out of 752 pages.
Moby-Dick (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) - Herman Melville

The story ends here. The rest is endnotes, a dictionary, and other such appendices. I would like to thank insomnia for helping me finish the last 250-ish pages in two nights. I may not retain much of the contents of those pages, also thanks to you, but whatever. I couldn't have done it without you!

 

In possibly related news, I don't think I could have a bigger headache if I had stove in the Pequod's hull with my own forehead.

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text 2019-01-25 10:47
Reading progress update: I've read 521 out of 752 pages.
Moby-Dick (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) - Herman Melville

So! Ishmael once measured a whale skeleton and didn't want to forget the measurements, so he tattooed them on his arm as "there was no other secure way of preserving such valuable statistics" at the time. I already knew this was in the book. What I didn't know was that, though he went to the extreme of permanently inking these "valuable statistics" in his flesh, he didn't even record the exact measurements because he was saving room on his body for a poem he was composing.

 

This may be the funniest, stupidest, navel-gazing-est thing I've ever read and now I'm intensely curious about this poem that trumps exact whale skeleton measurements.

 

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