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review 2020-05-07 02:09
Dream logic and existentialism
The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin

This certainly made up for "City of Illusions". I admit that the end lost me, but then again, dreams are not supposed to make sense all the way.

 

There is a persistent feeling of urgency about this story. Haber's conceit and grandiosity is apparent soon enough, and the more the book advances, the more anxiety how beholden to Haber Orr is it caused me. It almost tips into impatience about how passive Orr is.

 

And that might be part of how genius the book is. Because for all intents and purposes, Orr is a god. THE god and creator of the world inside those pages. And the story itself shows us what Orr himself puts in words: that an unbalanced god that is not part of his own world and tries to meddle with prejudice ultimately destroys everything.

 

There is much more. A recursiveness that gets reeeeally tangled and confusing at the end. Either a god that dreams himself and more gods into existence (a little help from my friends), or maybe that other dreamers already existed, and even, maybe, that the dreamer was not the one we thought (specially from halfway in). The way we keep coming back to the importance of human connection (the one thing Haber maybe had right, even if he denied it in his own dealings), the fact that "the end justifies the means" implies that there is and end, as if history, or mankind, or the world wouldn't then march on, and as that is not truth, then there are only means.

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review 2020-03-25 07:22
How do you talk to an ocean
Solaris - Stanisław Lem,Steve Cox,Joanna Kilmartin

(but maybe, we should worry more about how the ocean would try to talk to us)

 

It's a very disturbing read from the start, and you can feel the disquiet grip you into the pages immediately, but it's pretty dense and it can get dry.

 

Know what this reminded me off a lot? "Moby Dick". It's those essays, and the way everyone keeps approaching that ocean from a description of the components because the whole is unfathomable. Also quite a bit of "Arrival", and the inherent difficulties of communications.

 

Around the middle, I found that I started to like Snaut because he was saying everything that Kalving wouldn't even admit in his own internal narrative. Snaut was a ruthless bastard that angered Kalvin, but there was this sense that the reason Kalvin got angry all the time was because he was voicing what he did not want to see.

 

I did not expect it to end where it did, though that is likely the fault of my vague memories of the last movie made. There is so much that it leaves you speculating on, the concepts of a god that evolves and a god cradle in that final conversation specially, with Snaut wishing to stay, and that we never see anyone else's visitor but Kalvin's (oh, and the fact that Kalvin is the only one that does not obsessively hide his, the things that says).

 

There a lot more odds and ends that keep running around my mind for such a short novel, so I'll likely be chewing on my book hangover for a while.

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review 2019-08-18 12:09
For science!
Starfarers - Vonda N. McIntyre

I still take the wide range of the cast as the best part of this.

 

If you take the "scientists car-jack a self-sustaining space base and go exploring" plot thing away. Because you can't say that isn't all-around BAMF and likely the main reason why one would land in this series. (Oddly enough, it was not my case, but the fact that it was listed in a Tor article about books with older women in a central part of the plot).

 

And that's a maybe... I still like the fact that is scientists, mostly older, and mostly women characters, that compose the cast on a freaking space heist. For science!

 

Anyway, that comes late in the book. Mostly, we build on the political climate and the personal motivations that lead to that situation, and if you want action packed and get bothered by very flawed characters the book will loose you before then. I felt like shaking most of the people inside those pages more than once, and enjoyed myself immensely.

 

I though there was a lot of unbelievable political naivete in the alien contact expert (wouldn't you have to be good at politics, social studies and what-not for that?) and some stereotyping is going on that makes the whole feel a bit pulpy. But it's good pulp and I'm still wavering between four and five stars.

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review 2019-01-21 01:19
Srong Collection
The Birds & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier

There are six stories in this volume and they all work on that eerie maybe-normal-maybe-fantastical/grothesque/horror line.

 

The Birds is excellent at suspense and the daily made unnerving. And it leaves you there.

 

Monte Veritá reads almost like one of those non-Cthulthu's Lovecraftian tales. I really like the beginning, and the maybe-magical-maybe-mundane and expansive tone. The thing is, though, that much like in Lovecraft's writings, I had issues... I don't know, it was not... It felt like it was written by a man trying to be fair-for-his time but still...

 

The Apple Tree was a perfectly done unreliable narrator. He makes you despise the dead woman, but at the same time, you can read between the lines his own "polite" chauvinism, and so you feel for her. And then the layers peel, and oh my. Another that treads the line between the real and the fantastical for disquiet, and it's a gruesome poison study that you can see coming and still...

 

The Little Photographer ... Well, talking about poison-study. Ennui does not make good councilors. A bit of tragedy with some karma.

 

Kiss Me Again, Stranger was the eerie of prototype modern goths with some sauce.

 

The Old Man is interesting because you don't question it.

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review 2018-10-28 01:45
Competition for survival
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

This one went into and explored many of the points that I thought Chocky would, which is doubly great because creepy kids are disturbing as hell, and because I can give Wyndham props for not repeating himself in hindsight.

 

There are differences with the pop-culture classic movie, as it always happens. Beyond the distillation over our narrator and Zellaby (which I imagine stems from a wish to transfer all the BAMF quality from the seemingly absent minded old man to a younger MC), the big fact is that the mind reading is not part of the original book. There is enough flash and imminent danger with the will thing. The hive mind is the cherry that makes the eerie otherness cake.

 

I loved how things proceed slowly, and this insistence of going about business as usual. When the mothers bring the babies back to town, you immediately go "Oh, fuck", and in their heart of hearts, you know every character kinda does too, but they bury themselves in self denial. And as the book comes closer to the end, you start thinking back to Zellaby's wondering if civilization had not been a bad survival idea.

 

Seriously, for all the old man seemed to everyone as digressing from the current point, he was very much clear-sighted.

 

I loved the sci-fi call backs (and the niggling for none going into the morally ambiguous). Some of the doubts it tries to posit (specially on evolution) are a matter of "science marches on" but I always end up finding the idea of outside influence entertaining. The social commentary (outside the references to sci-fi, that is after all a commentary on society too) was a mixed bag, some insightful, some blithely chauvinistic, and there is what is clearly a lesbian couple never addressed as such, so maaaybe fair for its time.

 

At any rate, I had fun reading it. And that's a good way to wrap up my bingo card and get my reading black-out. Just to wait for the calls now.

 

 

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