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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick / Blade Runnner

Title: Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep?

Author: Philip K. Dick

Publisher: Del Ray Books 1968

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 190

Rating:  5 / 5 stars  Movie:  5 / 5

Reading Challenges: Science Fiction; Book 2 Movie: Mount TBR; Fall into Reading; My Years — 1982 (for the movie)

How I Got It: Own it

By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans.

Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn’t want to be identified, they just blended in.

Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.

Book

Another science fiction book that tempted me but with trepidations.  I haven’t had the best luck with previous science fiction, but this one exceeded my expectations.  I immediately connected with the character of Rick and his struggles to be a success in this destroyed world.  This book was very character driven.  I loved the complexity involved.  Plus we get an interesting discussion on humanity and ethics.  The two Rachaels were a nice touch.  Definitely a must read for me.

Favorite quote:

“Empathy, he once had decided, must be limited to herbivores or anyhow omnivores who could depart from a meat diet. Because, ultimatley, the emphatic gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated. As in the fusion with Mercer, everyone ascended together or, when the cycle had come to an end, fell together into the trough of the tomb world. Oddly, it resembled a sort of biological insurance, but double-edged. As long as some creature experienced joy, then the condition for all other creatures included a fragment of joy. However, if any living being suffered, then for all the rest the shadow could not be entirely cast off. A herd animal such as man would acquire a higher survival factor through this; an owl or a cobra would be destroyed.” Page 27

Movie

I love the world building in this movie.  Everything is fantastical, but very lived in and run down.  The look just gets me.  And the special effects are still amazing even 30 years after.  While liberties are taken with the story, it makes sense in the world that Dick created.  The actors are all amazing and just perfect for their roles.  I especially love Sean Young’s Rachael.  She was my favorite character from the book and she’s my favorite character in the movie.  Overall, I just really enjoy this one.  And they got rid of Deckard’s wife, which definitely livened up the pacing.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Title: The Martian Chronicles

Author: Ray Bradbury

Publisher: William Morrow 1950

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 288

Rating:  4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Science Fiction; Mount TBR; Fall Into Reading

How I Got It: J owns it

Bradbury’s Mars is a place of hope, dreams and metaphor-of crystal pillars and fossil seas-where a fine dust settles on the great, empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn -first a trickle, then a torrent, rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars … and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.  Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is a classic work of twentieth-century literature whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time’s passage. Inconnected, chronological stories, a true grandmaster once again enthralls, delights and challenges us with his vision and his heart-starkly and stunningly exposing in brilliant spacelight our strength, our weakness, our folly, and our poignant humanity on a strange and breathtaking world where humanity does not belong.
For the first 20 pages, I was thoroughly confused. I didn’t realize that this was a collection of related short stories.  Once I readjusted my perspective, I found that I really enjoyed these stories.  The reader has to look at Earth and Mars through an alien viewpoint.  We see Mars and its inhabitants as they are.  And then we see how the humans from Earth see Mars.  Such strange little stories.  But if put into a 1950s era mindset, they completely make sense.  Not my favorite science fiction, but a good collection.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Title: Snow Crash

Author: Neal Stephenson

Publisher: Bantam 1992

Genre: Science Fiction (Cyberpunk)

Pages: 440

Rating:   5 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Science Fiction; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: J owns it!

One of Timemagazine’s 100 all-time best English-language novels.Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.
This is one of those books that took me awhile to get into.  The universe building is a bit extensive.  I was confused about how all the pieces of the puzzles and all the characters would eventually come together.  But I shouldn’t have worried.  I was satisfied.  What really got me latched me onto the book was the connections between religion, culture, and technology.  The way the author talks of technology, it is a complete society.  It has a language, it has creation stories and myths, it has characters, it has an evolution.  I loved the scenes between Hiro and the Librarian when they were discussing Sumeria and viruses and the connections to Snow Crash.  Sounds confusing until you read the book and then make all the connections. I went into the book turned off by cyber punk fiction, but I found this great symmetry between it and history and anthropology.  This review has turned into babbling (ha ha Babel!), but I truly did enjoy the novel.  For a better explanation, check out the Wikipedia page.
P.S. A movie version is supposedly in the works, directed by the same director as Attack the Block!

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Title: Starship Troopers

Author: Robert Heinlein

Publisher: Ace Science Fiction 1959

Genre: SciFi

Pages: 264

Rating: 4/5 stars  Movie: 2/5

Reading Challenges:  Scifi; Mount TBR; Book2Movie

How I Got It: I own it!

In one of Robert Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe–and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most frightening enemy.

J’s initial assessment is that I needed to read this before reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  According to him, it’s a political philosophy treatise in disguise.  And I agree completely.  The summary above is really only a tiny part of the book.  Interspersed with stories of boot camp and the war with the Bugs, we get discussions of philosophy.  Throughout the book, I lived for those parts.  At times, I found myself skimming a bit, but then a good paragraph would pop up.  Some of my favorite passages:

“Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain. . . . The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion . . . and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself–ultimate cost for perfect value.”(pg. 93)

“War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government’s decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him…but to make him do what you want to do. Not killing…but controlled and purposeful violence. But it’s not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It’s never a soldier’s business to decide when or where or how—or why—he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and the generals. The statesmen decide why and how much; the generals take it from there and tell us where and when and how. We supply the violence; other people—’older and wiser heads,’ as they say—supply the control. Which is as it should be.” (pg. 63)

Movie version:

So the creators of the movies took about 10 pages of the book and created a whole B style science fiction movie.  It’s not absolutely horrible, but it buries all of the interesting points about morality, citizenship, war and franchisement in crazy action sequences and a love story.  Plus there is really some bad acting throughout this movie.  The leads are just so flat.  I did enjoy Sergeant Zim and Mr. Rasczak, but that’s really about it.  Definitely not a movie that I will ever own.  Thank goodness Netflix had it on instant streaming.  (And the sequels are even worse)

  

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Book Reviews, Movies

 

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Doctor Who: The Forgotten

Title: Doctor Who: The Forgotten

Author: Tony Lee, Pia Guerra, Nick Roche

Publisher: IDW 2009

Genre: Graphic Novel; Scifi

Pages: 144

Rating:  5  / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Graphic Novel; Read Your Name — F; Support Your Local Library

How I Got It: Library loan

Stranded in a strange Museum that’s dedicated to him, and with no TARDIS in sight, The Doctor and Martha must make sense of their surroundings, hindered by one small fact – The Doctor has lost his memories of every one of his previous incarnations! With items relevant to each Doctor in their possession, The Doctor must try to use them to regain his memories before it’s too late, starting with his earliest incarnation’s memories, involving Susan, Barbara, and Ian… but quickly moving on to Zoe and Jamie, and more! This all-new series written by Tony Lee (Starship Troopers) features artist Pia Guerra in her first monthly comic since Y The Last Man.
 
Loving this miniseries…  All the old Doctors make an appearance.  I also love the allusions to storylines from Tennant’s Doctor.  We get a great mix of nostalgia and looking to the future.  I read this over lunch very quickly.  I only wish there was more. 
 

 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Doctor Who: Through Time and Space

Title: Doctor Who: Through Time and Space

Publisher: IDW Publishing 2009

Genre: Graphic Novel

Pages: 152

Rating:   4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Graphic Novel, Support Your Local Library; A to Z – D

How I Got It: Library Loan

Collecting six original stories of the popular sci-fi show, Doctor Who, all featuring the Tenth Doctor, as portrayed by David Tennant. Includes the one-shots The Whispering Gallery, The Time Machination, Autopia, Cold-Blooded Cold War, Just a Theory, and Black Death by a bevy of talented creators, including Ben Templesmith and John Ostrander (Star Wars: Legacy).
 
Such a find!  I was browsing the stacks and found this just sitting there…  My faith in the Omaha Public Library is slowing increasing.  I loved the stories in this volume.  Each one was a stand alone story, but had tidbits of information and allusions to other Doctor stories.  We get little bits here and there.  My favorite had to be “The Whispering Gallery” featuring Martha Jones, an emotion free world, and an emotion feeding demon.  It had the right amount of wonder, suspense, danger, and bravery that I have come to expect from Doctor stories.  I recently discovered that there’s a whole line of these graphic novels along with novels associated with Doctor Who.  How did I not know this?  Unfortunately, the OPL doesn’t have many of them…
 

 

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Title: Stranger in a Strange Land

Author: Robert Heinlein

Publisher: Ace 1991

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 528

Rating:   5 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Science Fiction; A to Z – H; My Years – 1991; Mount TBR

How I Got It: I own it!

One of the greatest science fiction novels ever published, Stranger in a Strange Land’s original manuscript had 50,000 words cut. Now they have been reinstated for this special 30th anniversary trade edition. A Mars-born earthling arrives on this planet for the first time as an adult, and the sensation he creates teaches Earth some unforgettable lessons. “A brilliant mind-bender.”–Kurt Vonnegut.

Overall this book was amazing.  I can see why J and others have been hounding me to read it.  Usually, I can speed through a book, getting lost in the world.  With this one, I found myself having to go back and reread passages to grasp what was transpiring.  Heinlein has overlaid so many stories and so many messages into one book.   There’s passages about religion, philosophy, psychology, science, political science, gender and sex, and many more topics.  I loved the variety of each chapter.  It’s taken me some time to get through it (and I don’t understand it all yet) and really come away with a couple of new perspectives and confirmations on some others.  My only caution to others is that it is a dense book.  I encourage others to read it, but it probably isn’t the best introduction to science fiction and Heinlein.  You might want to start with Have Spacesuit-Will Travel or Ender’s Game.  Either one is a bit lighter on the science and philosophy.

Most thought provoking passage:
“Jubal, are you telling me that I ought not to criticize the administration>  When they’re wrong?  When I know they’re wrong?”  “Nope.  Gadflies such as yourself are utterly necessary.  Nor am I opposed to ‘turning the rascals out’ — it’s usually the soundest rule of politics.  But it’s well to take a look at what new rascals you are going to get before you jump at any chance to turn your present rascals out.  Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race ever tried.  Democracy’s worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents–a depressingly low level, but what else can you expect?  So take a look at Douglas and ponder that, in his ignorance, stupidity, and self-seeking, he much resembles his fellow Americans, including you and me… and that in fact he is a notch or two above the average.  Then take a look at the man who will replace him if his government topples.” (page 232)
  
 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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