2012/01/31

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Format: Paperback
Genre: Science Fiction/dystopia
Year: 1953
Acquired: Library Loan
Challenge: Vintage Sci-Fi Not a Challenge Month
Ranking: Back it up


Summary: Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires...

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning ... along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames... never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.

Then he met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think... and Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do!


My Thoughts: I just finished reading Fahrenheit 451 book this morning. I was not impressed with the ending of this masterpiece. I still cannot believe how Bradbury accomplished writing this book. He wrote the entire novel in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library on a pay typewriter that he rented for a fee of ten cents per half an hour. To me that is craziness, but what is one to do if they do not have a typewriter of this or her own. It was the 1950’s after all.

About the book, I just could not even fathom a world not being able to have access to books. In this world that Montag lived in it was against the law to own or possess a book. Look at what you learn from reading through the pages of people from the past and learning from their mistakes. It is good to know why something is or isn’t true. Bradbury did a wonderful job putting the reading in Montag’s shoes and you could feel so deeply what he was feeling about the world that he was living in. I would recommend that if you did not read this book yet. Just give this one a shot, you will not be sorry.

2012/01/28

Historical Fiction Challenge 2012


The Historical Fiction Challenge is hosted by Historical Tapestry. The rules are as follows:
  • everyone can participate, even those who don’t have a blog (you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish)
  • add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review)
  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,…)
  • During these following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:
  1. Severe Bookaholism: 20 books
  2. Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books
  3. Struggling the Addiction: 10 books
  4. Daring & Curious: 5 books
  5. Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books
My goal is to aim somewhere along the lines of 5-10 books throughout the year for this challenge. I decided to challenge myself a little bit this year. Who knows what I might learn on the way:)

2012/01/27

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

The Mule playing his Psycholyre on a paperback...
Image via Wikipedia
Title: Foundation and Empire
Author: Isaac Asimov
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Hard Science Fiction
Year: 1952
Acquired: Library Loan
Ranking: 2/5

Summary: Led by its founding father, the great psychohistorian Hari Seldon, and taking advantage of its superior science and technology, the Foundation has survived the greed and barbarism of its neighboring warrior-planets. Yet now it must face the Empire—still the mightiest force in the Galaxy even in its death throes. When an ambitious general determined to restore the Empire’s glory turns the vast Imperial fleet toward the Foundation, the only hope for the small planet of scholars and scientists lies in the prophecies of Hari Seldon.
But not even Hari Seldon could have predicted the birth of the extraordinary creature called The Mule—a mutant intelligence with a power greater than a dozen battle fleets…a power that can turn the strongest-willed human into an obedient slave.

My Thoughts: I just feel let down by the first two books of this series. I guess Asimov is not my cup of tea or coffee what have you. I did struggle the grasp Asimov writing style in the first book. So I figured that maybe the second book in the series would be a little better. I was wrong. I came into this series thrilled to FINALLY read the Foundation series.I feel disappointed with many of my friends recommending this series. It took all my being to be able to finish this book. Well maybe it was because it was an audiobook I am not sure what it was for me.

The basic premise for the Foundation series is that a brilliant scientist Hari Seldon has developed the art of psychohistory; he can basically predict the future movements of humanity and the ebbs and flow of history within a reasonable margin for error. He sees that the galaxy will regress to barbarism, but by establishing a foundation of scientists and other intellectuals to work on a world encyclopedia and preserve the knowledge of the current empire, the period of barbarism can be reduced dramatically. Of course, he can't live forever, so he predicts as far ahead as he can, and records holograms of himself to be viewed by future generations so that they can partake in his knowledge and thwart whatever evils will come to them.

If you're like me, this sounds like a really incredibly awesome concept, and it really is. The problem is that it just doesn't work out to be as exciting as it sounds. In the first novel, I liked the idea, but by midway through this, the second, I decided it actually limits the series entirely. To base the series on the idea of the future being predictable, Asimov essentially created a crutch the leads to there being no actual drama whatsoever. If you know the good guys have everything worked out ahead of time, is there ever really any question how things will turn out in the long run? I don't think so. Of course, there are going to be minor problems to create a little bit of conflict, but it seems pretty clear that the good guys are going to pull it out.
Enhanced by Zemanta

2012/01/24

On Tap:This Weeks Reads

It is Tuesday and Wisconsin is having it crazy weather as of late. I wish that it would either snow or not. It has been teasing us Wisconsinites this past "winter." So there is no better weather outside than to be reading, but for me that is most weather..:)I decided to put a post together each week what my plans are that I am reading in that given week.

I am usually reading book and listening to a book at all times.

On tap: the audiobook is: Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
This book is part of a group read that Carl from Stainless Steel Drooping is hosting for the Foundation Trilogy. So far it is pretty good thus far.

My Paperback read is: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I hears that it was a good book, plus it is part of a Vintage Sci-Fi Reading Not A Challenge that a friend of mine (Andrea) is currently hosting. 

The book that is currently on deck is: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss 
I am not that sure why it has taken me this long to read this book..:) 

So what is on your reading agenda this week?
Enhanced by Zemanta

2012/01/20

Foundation Group Read Part II


Hello Everybody.Welcome to Part II of the Foundation Groupread, hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. A big thumbs up for taking on the task of hosting this Group Read. I cannot help the fact while reading this book I did compare it the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I am sure that there were more of you out that did the same and I did.




The answers to some of the question may include spoilers to the book...here is your warning. 











Salvador Hardin was the first character in the book that we got to spend any significant time with. What are your thoughts on the grande finale of his plotting, scheming and maneuvering to get the Foundation through to the next Seldon crisis?

Now talk about a politician through and through. Hardin continued to manipulate events to his favor throughout this section of the reading. With the Foundation that Hardin built with its technologies. You would think that the Four Kingdoms would want to work with Hardin. Instead being in a war with someone that cut vital technologies that you rely one. Just don’t mess with someone that can make you life miserable. We had Seldom in this section as well so it is always great to hard him to bring us back.

What are your thoughts on the way in which control/manipulation to achieve Foundation ends began to shift with The Traders?

I will admit that the The Trader section was a big yawner compared to Hardin chapters. A short tale, set fifty-five years after “The Mayors,” “The Traders” is a tale of how the application of religion to science has effectively become a stagnant policy. After witnessing the fate of the Four Kingdoms, no nearby star systems are will accept Foundation technology. A new force for expansion is revealed, however, through the use of trade.

From the shift from religion to the trading just give one a interesting perspective on how things do change throughout time. Just that is how it used to be done does mean that it way that it use to be. Thus it can change from year to year.


One of the interesting things about Seldon’s psychohistory is how much one man can actually affect it. In Foundation we see characters like Hardin and Mallow as key figures for positioning things just right to work towards Seldon’s later predictions. Do you see this as a contradiction to what Seldon said about psychohistory at the beginning of our story or part of an overall plan? Discuss.

I will admit some of the information was hard to grasp in an audiobook. As much and Hardin and Mallow want the Seldons plan to go accordingly.  I have a feeling that it is not going to happen as smmoth as they think it will go. A monkey wrench somewhere is going to thrown into the mx and askew the smooth sailing.

This has happened throughout history. The interesting part is going to be be how will the Foundation be able to regain after being diverted.



Has your concept/thoughts of what Seldon was trying to do changed at all since the book began?

It has not changed much for me at least. I know he is a genius and I like it when he draws us back in if we get side tracked. One thing that I still waiting for is how his  grand plan is going to eventually unfold.  

Any final thoughts on the story as a whole, its structure, what it did or did not accomplish, how it worked for you, etc?

I am liking what Asimov did in the second half of the book with character development. It seems more rushed in the first part of this book. I liked how he had elaborated more on who and what Hardin in to the Foundation. I could not stop listening to this book. I was either listening to it in the car or at home. I sure wish I could listen to it at work..:) I am excited to be able to read the next two books. Speaking of which the second book in the series is at the library right now.



So are you going to join the group in the next book Foundation and the Empire..it start tomorrow.

2012/01/16

Foundation by Isaac Asimov, Group Read-a-Long Part I


Welcome to Part I of the Foundation Groupread, hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings.


Asimov’s “Foundation” is divided into five parts.  This week’s discussion covers up until midway through Part 3.


The answers to some of the question may include spoilers to the book...here is your warning.









For those reading it for the first time, what expectations did you have and has it held up, or not held up, thus far?

I was not really sure what I was expecting from the Foundation in the group read. I am with Grace and that is being an Asimov virgin. I have heard that he is one of the BIG 3  of high Sci-Fi. I saw that Carl was doing a group read. I thought why not join into this event. I know that I am little behind,  I know that will caught up considering that the reading of the second book is in a week or so.


What are your thoughts about the structure of the novel thus far? (I am referring to the brief glimpses of different parts of the history of the Foundation with big time gaps between events in the novel)


The structure of the novel is that not big of deal to me at least. I am listening to the book is it is not that bad. I like the fact that they go back and forth to the Encyclopedia Galactica. I would have like a more vast introduction to the Foundation and there is a lot of jumping around and such so it sometimes gets hard for one to be in a particular characters shoes. I am getting use to the way that  Asimov structured the novel.

The good thing about this book is that it reminds me Star Wars episode 4. A trilogy that I was basically raised on in which I could probably recite with a drop of a hat.


What are your initial thoughts on the field of psychohistory?


The psychohistorians make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people. It is interesting to see Asimov is unfolding how vast the field is throughout the book thus far. To me that field of not a plausible theory, it has loop hole, but there is a reason why it is considered science fiction. 


What, if anything, is holding your interest thus far, what are you enjoying about Foundation?


I am a HUGE fan of Hari Seldon. He is like Obi-Wan Kenobi (yes another Star Wars reference). He is always there to explain what is currently going on. Hari explains to everyone what is going on in the book.
I like the Time Vault as well. It is just interesting to see how everything is going to unfold when the celebration do take place of the 50th year of the Foundation’s existence.
It is hard to pinpoint all of what I am liking in this book, because it is all great so far throughout this masterpiece. 



You may have covered this in answering the other questions, but if not, what are your thoughts/feelings about the Galactic Empire.  Is it a practical thing to have a galaxy spanning government? Can you imagine such a thing and do  you think it would work?


I do imagine that it could work, but could it really work I have my doubts.I am not that sure if the galactic empire would over long periods of time as Asimov has in the Foundation. There are many factors to consider that being so many people and planets. The government would not be able to be fair and consistent government throughout. 


What are your thoughts on Hardin’s creation of a religious system in which to house scientific ideas and technology while keeping the users of that science and technology in the dark?


I thought Hardin’s invention of a religious system was quite interesting. He gave everybody a set of beliefs to abide by, retaining all the knowledge to the Foundation.  In doing so it’s almost like the rest of the system is going backwards and losing the knowledge they once had as they become more and more reliant upon these beliefs. It is different creation that is for sure.

I hope that everyone is enjoying the read a long. I think I will be caught up by mid to late week..:)



Enhanced by Zemanta

Aquagirl is Sick

I was late getting into the Foundation Group Read hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. Then my lil Aquagirl came down with a bloody wicked cold. With either my wife or I taking care of Aquagirl since Thursday, it has been a long couple of days.

Now later this afternoon, we are going to see if we can get Aquagirl some meds to help the cold out a bit. She sounds worse than Darth Vader with the breathing and she is just congested that is worrisome. I hope that it gets better soon.

Due to these events, I am falling behind on the Foundation that is alright though. I will catch up by the time that we (the group) reads the second book in the trilogy. 

2012/01/09

Audiofiles:The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Title: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Author:


Genre: Science fiction
Length: 13h
Audio publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Read by: Lloyd James
Rating: 4/5

Summary:
It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people—a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic—who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution's ultimate success.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the high points of modern science fiction, a novel bursting with politics, humanity, passion, innovative technical speculation, and a firm belief in the pursuit of human freedom.


My Thoughts:

It took me a while to get use to the Luna speak compared to earthly speak. I couldn't figure out what was going on or why the language was so rough and unpolished and choppy. Eventually, though, I found the rhythm of it and settled in just fine -- I didn't even notice it after a while. It makes sense; Luna started off as a penal colony and has since developed completely separate from Earth. Luna does trim down the language and use as efficient as possible. 


I will say this my favorite "character" in the book was Mike. Yes a super computer was my favorite. I was saddened to see what happened to him in the end of the book. Nobody was quite sure what happened to the super computer he did not respond back to Mannie after revolt was over. 

Throughout the book it was scary to see what knew about anyone and everyone on a drop of a hat. I think that

All in all, though, this is a novel about politics -- a very complex, deep, intellectual and sophisticated look at politics, government, revolution and war. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has a very definite world-view and political philosophy, some of which I agreed with, and some of which I really, really didn't. My agreement (or lack thereof) with the politics espoused in this book didn't seem to have much bearing on my enjoyment of it. This is a book that requires the reader to think. This is something that some books these days are lacking. Look and some of the books that the teens these days are reading like the Twilight Series.

So if you need a book that make you think this you pick. I want to thank Andrea from Little Red Reviewer for recommending this book to me  to read.  

2012/01/06

AudioFiles:The Minority by Philip K. Dick

Minority Report (2002 collection)

Author:
Genre: Science Fiction
Year:1956
Read by:  Keir Dullea
Acquired: Library
Rating: 3/5


Overview of the Book: In the world of The Minority Report, Commissioner John Anderton is the one to thank for the lack of crime. He is the originator of the Precrime System, which uses "precogs"–people with the power to see into the future–to identify criminals before they can do any harm. Unfortunately for Anderton, his precogs perceive him as the next criminal. But Anderton knows he has never contemplated such a thing, and this knowledge proves the precogs are fallible. Now, whichever way he turns, Anderton is doomed–unless he can find the precogs's "minority report"–the dissenting voice that represents his one hope of getting at the truth in time to save himself from his own system.

My Thoughts:  I just watched the movie with my wife over New Years and I was not that sure what to expect. I was hope that there was not a hack job in this case. Considering that we did really enjoyed the movie. Being a short story there was not that much to hack out in the first place, but there was plenty that Spielberg could add to the book if desired. Anyways lets get to book review.

We're set up to think Anderton is the protagonist because he's the one being sought after for a possible murder. But when he finds out that there really is no minority report, that the precogs' reports cancel each other out instead of having a majority report, he still doesn't seem to be remorseful for any of the people that he has put into the internment camps throughout his years in Precrime. When someone suggests to him that Precrime should instead let the accused future muderer know about his/her possible crime to see if he or she changes his or her mind, he's very blaise about it. The only reason the precogs' reports change is because Anderton knows that he's being accused of a future murder to which he believes he won't commit but then after realizing why he might commit murder he changes his mind. 

This short story did not take very long for me to get through. I was a good story, but not great overall.The action packed in this short story is crazy. Dick does shows that even you try to prevent  crime in the future, but there is only so much that you can do. Also this is my first Dick story that I have read.
Enhanced by Zemanta