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Search tags: thought-provoking
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review 2017-02-23 04:13
Interior world
Silently and Very Fast - Catherynne M. Valente

This was so fucking weird. Gorgeous mind-screw. There is no way to really understand unless you walk the fine edge between paying close attention and just letting it flow. I can't even give a proper summary without diving into spoiler territory.

 

Dream-like and powerful in imagery, heavy on symbol, it draws a lot on traditional narrative devices and gives stark, analytical spins to them, (sometimes to such a violent degree, it becomes surprising or disquieting, and I've done my fair amount of research on the psychology of myth and fairy-tales; that's Valente for you). Monomyth is a concept that comes up a lot. Turing test too, to an ironic (bittersweet, vindictive, awesome) final mention.

 

It's a slow piece, patchwork style and complex. It demands you to think, about what you are reading and about things like the definition of feelings, of love, of being and self, of likeness and difference, of knowledge against imitation, and where the line is drawn. I had to reassess many of them in my mind as I read, and that's really something.

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review 2017-02-13 15:00
2312 Review
2312 - Kim Stanley Robinson

There were many things I loved about 2312. It was filled with imagination and a foretelling of life from the most basic level to the grandest. It had the potential to sweep the reader up and carry them off into a world that was richly detailed in all the right places, and yet left the perfect amount to the imagination. Below are some of my favorite things.

 

Post-Binary Gender. I loved the idea of a society at ease with post-binary gender. How do things change when toxic displays of masculinity and ridiculous femininity are no longer present? When we’re no longer held back by even the simplest expectation that only ‘girls’ can have the babies? Imagine being able to experience being a parent from both sides of the equation. But even better? Imagine being able to be with large groups of people that don’t judge someone because of their gender or lack thereof. For some of us that would be like heaven. I hope that people that fall into that group one day get a chance to experience it.

 

Turning asteroids into terrariums.  The idea fascinates me. There is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.9 million asteroids in the asteroid belt alone that are over a half mile in diameter. It might be a long time before we have the capability to terraform asteroids, but imagine what we can do once we can. Kim Stanley Robinson focuses on the ability to save animals from extinction by breeding them in asteroids. Notice I said “in”. He makes a very good point in 2312 that it would be much easier to hollow out an asteroid and create a protected space than it would be to try to protect people or animals on the outside of one.

 

While I absolutely love the idea of saving endangered species (and yes, being able to experiment with evolution on different ones), my first thought wasn’t about animals. It was about me. I would love to have my own asteroid that I could go to when I needed to get away from people. Wouldn’t you? Even if it was only a half mile in diameter, I would be fine with that. A half mile with no people besides myself is perfectly fine.

 

Terraforming the planets. This one just made me do a happy dance because I love Robinson’s visions. A massive city on Mercury that moves on tracks around the center of the planet so that it’s never directly in the sunlight? While it’s one of those things that really only seems like it would be done just to say you can do it, it sounds so cool!! Or putting the much-needed nitrogen into Mars’ atmosphere by freezing chunks of it on Titan, and booting it to Mars? And his speculation about ways to make Venus livable? I absolutely love this man’s mind.

 

There’s even a huge thread running throughout the book that talks about the evolution of artificial intelligence. That is pretty much a staple of science fiction classics, but the way Robinson puts the pieces in place in 2312 keeps it interesting.  After all, there are good and bad humans, so why not the same for artificial intelligence? Even just the possible development of pseudo-emotions is something to set your mind to chewing on.

 

At the end of 2312 Robinson brings everything together with a timely reminder. That though we may not see the change our actions are making now, decades from now, we will. There will be stumbles, trips, and falls. There will be times when things look hopeless, but as long as we keep pushing forward, things will change. We will enter a new age.

 

In my opinion, if Kim Stanley Robinson would just learn to throttle back on his output per book, there would be no disputing him as the best science fiction writer alive today. Unfortunately, his tendency to try to do a little too much in each book leads to an unfortunate case of bloat which can put the casual reader off.  2312 was a book full of fascinating ideas and breathtaking visualization. But it was easy to lose sight of that. Especially about halfway through the book where things slow to an ungainly crawl. His imagination is wonderful, but I don’t think the man is capable of writing a book with consistent, good pacing.

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/2312-review
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review 2017-02-05 05:58
It brings up some important questions...
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

There's more to this post than JUST the review, but the content ties into why I enjoyed the book. The story itself was sweet and simple, if a bit predictable. I found Treena and Pat, particularly, really irritating and self-centered. Lou was decent but cliché. Will was depressing, but I don't mind a depressing character here and there. I loved the very British humor demonstrated Lou's family, as it helped set the darker tone for the book without making it dark. What I really loved was the thought-provoking questions it brought up for readers, which kept it from being an average 3-star read for me.

 

One of the major questions that this book brings up is at what point does a person whose condition is terminal get to say "no, I cannot keep living like this?" Should we be allowing more people who are able to make coherent decisions decide the conditions under which they want to die? Lou struggles with this question throughout the book, and while she thinks she is firmly against it, in the end she starts to see just how much Will is suffering as a result of other people's determination to dictate to him what he needs in life.

 

I think this is a major moral issue and I can understand where those on each side are coming from, including those in the novel. On one hand, you've got those firmly against it. They love Will, they want him to live because they know that even if he only lives five or ten more years, he'll be surrounded by people who love him and want to help him, even if they don't always understand the best way to do so.

 

On the other hand, there are those who do think that Will (to keep this post from straying away from the topic at hand, which is supposed to be a review of this book) should have the choice of when to end his life. He's miserable in his chair and feels like an alien in his own skin following the accident. People are constantly trying to tell him what he wants to do without stopping to think that he's capable of making those decisions still. Nathan, possibly my favorite character in the book, is one of few people who truly gets it: why should Will be forced to live a life he feels so separated from?

 

While the case can be made that Will is too depressed to really see the opportunities in front of him, it's made clear that the depression came after he worked incredibly hard to improve following the accident. He did everything he could and tried to will into being his ability to recover fully, but his injuries were simply too great.

 

Bodily autonomy is a HUGE thing nowadays, and honestly I think that's something that comes up indirectly in this book. Kudos to Jojo Moyes for bringing it up. Ultimately, we get to decide what happens to our bodies, or that's how it should be. Scientists can't even take organs from a corpse unless the person gave permission while sound-of-mind. For me, this is (not-so-)simply another issue of bodily autonomy. For those with terminal illnesses, those who know with a very high degree of certainty that their condition will result in their death, I think the most loving thing to do would be to let them pick. Counsel and guide them, certainly, and feel free to try to do as Lou did and show them the possibilities in life if they choose to stay with you, but the pain and suffering they're going through must also be taken into consideration. After all, the disabled, the chronically ill, and the terminally ill are every bit as human as the rest of us.

 

You are more than welcome to voice your disagreement or agreement in the comments if you wish. I welcome and enjoy a good discussion on difficult issues such as this.

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review 2017-01-24 15:40
Moles in the city
Moletown - Torben Kuhlmann

I never knew that moles were adorable until I read Moletown by Torben Kuhlmann. (You may remember him from such posts as this one or this one.) I also had no idea that they would work as a perfect stand-in for humans. Kuhlmann once again knocks it right out of the park with this story of urbanization and industrialization. It's a sobering look at the way humanity has taken a seed of an idea which seemed perfectly innocent (or inevitable) and turned it into something suffocating and terrible. Yes, the advent of the modern age has done much to improve the lives of humans but it has also destroyed landscapes and wiped out entire species. Once again, this is a great way to open up a discussion with kids about a topic which they most likely only cover in relation to the atrocities inflicted upon Native Americans (if they even go into detail about that). It's so much more than that and I think it's important that kids start to think beyond their own small worlds. Of course, you have to decide if you think this is age appropriate but I think it would be good for second graders at the very least. 10/10 for awesome illustrations and a really awesome storyline that is sure to get little people (and the adults in their lives) thinking.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-12-15 12:42
The Extraordinary Journey of Vivenne Marshall by Shannon Kirk @ShannonCKirk
The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall - Shannon Kirk

Shannon Kirk’s award winning debut novel, Method 15/33, blew me away…so when I saw The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall was available on Netgalley, I snagged it. Thank you Shannon Kirk and Reputation Books.

 

Such a gorgeous cover and I do hope I am walking on clouds when it’s over.

 

Book Design:  Lisa Abellera

Ebook Design:  Mary C Moore

 

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

Be careful…when you are texting. Your inattention could be the death of you.

 

Vivienne lay hovering on the brink of death, one foot in the land of the living and one foot with the dead.

 

Noah, her dead, dream husband explains it to her. The scene made me think of a Supernatural episode, where Castielle says our Heaven is of our own making.

 

Is there a Heaven? Does our life pass before our eyes?

 

What would it look like? Who would you want there with you?

 

What secrets would be brought to light after your death?

 

And if there is a Heaven…what about Hell?

 

The lovely pics sprinkled throughout are a nice touch and I love it.

 

I am sitting in one of my favorite reading places, my patio and watering the lawn, even as the black clouds roll in, the thunder rumbling, and I am lost in Vivienne’s world, unable to quit reading.

 

Shannon’s descriptive words draw me into this novel from the opening pages, her poetic words bring to life fantasy worlds full of vibrant colors, beauty and love, but the flowery prose becomes onerous for me, having me starting, stopping and rereading, but that is me. I think there are many readers who will LOVE it and get lost in the story too.

 

This Heavenly love story is tragic, yet hopeful and very thought provoking.

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free ARC copy of The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall from Shannon Kirk.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

 

Read more HERE.

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/the-extraordinary-journey-of-vivenne-marshall-by-shannon-kirk-shannonckirk
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