>Solitary Mindgames

>The voyage continues with many new books bought this week, well old books but new to me thanks to used bookstores. Robert’s Books in Lincoln City could very well be the best bookstore I have been in for a long time. A labyrinth of book cases with piles of book precariously balanced on top of other piles with signs saying “please do not rearrange.” So many treasures found including Hothouse by Brian Aldiss, a book I have not read since my teens.

Collecting books has become something of an obsession as has the reading of them. Reveling in barely remembered worlds of my youth. It seems I have been concentrating mainly on books from the 50’s through the early 80’s this is mainly because they seem to be the hardest to track down. J.G. Ballard is almost impossible to find in a store, I am going to have to resort to online purchasing. I will have to address this as my reading is a bit lopsided at the moment and could appear a little obsessed with the past. There is however time for Jeff VanDerMeer and China Mieville who’s books sit on my shelf. I have also had to stop looking at the library website in order to concentrate on reading purchased books.

The list is growing although there is no list.

This book was nowhere near any list I had thought about or written but I can’t resist an apocalyptic tale.

As with all Dickson’s books it seems mans mind overcomes the almost impossible predicament that the human race finds itself in. An adventure that was thoroughly enjoyable, a man in search of his attachment to others, a strange girl who refuses to talk and an affectionate leopard.

Not as enjoyable as Wolf and Iron but still a great way to while away some rainy afternoons.

On to the best read of the week, some of the most beautiful language and the best evocation of an alien landscape with apparently no regard to actual knowledge of what the Martian landscape is truly like.

The Martian Chronicles is a tour de force, it is more about humanity than aliens and has to be one of the most beautifully written books I have read since I started this. The first chapter or story alone should convince anyone reading that science fiction is literature not just a genre. The other stories seem to occupy their own space and time, gentle and yet violent in their content.

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>Arrival In Utopia

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“To Your Scattered Bodies Go”  The Riverworld series is something I have been meaning to read for a long time, such a great concept, all the humans who have ever lived resurrected at the same time and spread along an impossibly long river. So many possible things could happen but then they don’t, a grand concept gets reduced to one man’s voyage. Nothing is really resolved and the voyage goes on, and on, it’s as if Farmer really had not idea what his own plans were, just wander aimlessly until something occurs seems to be the concept.

Plenty of sex, violence and a little shock value with Goering as a major character who seems to at some point redeem himself. Oh well relatively interesting romp but I’m not going to read the other novels..

Clapton was unpredictably exceptional, Clapton truly may be the god of blues guitar, lyrical incentive and enjoyable. Truly a brave move to be the only guitar on stage.

So then on to Starship Troopers, Heinlein’s libertarian manifesto, it’s not racist, it’s not fascist and definitely not Utopian either. It is however a polemic and many of Heinlein’s more extreme ideas regarding the franchise and personal responsibility are not so much as outlined as driven home with a lump hammer.

It was written at the same time as Stranger In A Strange Land but with an angry Heinlein at the typewriter as the USA decided to stop its weapons testing. So it spawned military science fiction created a furor won an award and became probably the worst science fiction movie ever made, and yes I did try to watch it again it truly is horrible. It glorifies the military without glorifying war and makes you think, well anyone with an ounce of intelligence will think the rest will shout hoorah and join up.

As a book however it succeeds, it was Heinlein’s last attempt at Juvenile fiction although the publisher would not accept it, after this book his novels would never be so naive again.

Robert Silverberg’s novella is a story that will linger in your mind long after the 100 or so pages are over. A world of castes that is watching and waiting for the invasion that is predicted. A watcher, flier and changeling journey to Roum were the invasion finally happens.

It’s a sad story of the decadent decline of a society, although at the end there is a sense that salvation can and does happen. The watcher is released of his burden although he seems to have found a new one and the flier is through love allowed to fly in daylight, although even in love there is a sacrifice as her lover is an invader.

On to Vance’s cautionary tale of decadence, sloth and the results of slavery. All is well in the end though as humanity overcomes the opposition of their Mekk slaves and returns them to their own world. Balance is restored, the decadent become guardians of the past and humanity becomes uncomfortable with its laziness.

 

On to the best book of the week, Pierre Boulle’s masterpiece Planet of the Apes or Monkey Planet as it was originally called. This was my favourite book so far, surprisingly the original movie was very close to the book and a classic in it’s own right. Maybe this is one instance of the movie being the equal of the novel.

So the last three stories have really been cautionary tales of what happens when man becomes too reliant on something outside themselves. This is best described in Planet of the Apes when the racial memory is brought to the forefront by the  apes experiments and humanity is shown to just fade back to a savage primeval state. Then there is also the shocking final scene from the book which really equals the famous lady liberty scene in the movie.