Cameron, Eleanor. The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1954.
It all starts with a green ad in the newspaper, “Wanted: A small spaceship about eight feet long, built by a boy, or by two boys between the ages if eight and eleven…” (p 4). David Topman is just that boy. After reading the advertisement he sets out to build a spaceship with his friend, Chuck Masterson. He and Chuck are about to set off on a wild adventure, one that takes them (and a chicken named Mrs. Pennyfeather) to outer space and the satellite called Basidium-X (the x is for the unknown).
This is a great story that entwines science with fantasy and wild imagination. I am particularly partial to why Mrs. Pennyfeather needed to come along as a mascot although I feel bad for her husband, Rooster John and their family…
Reason read: First month, first chapter. Simple as that. Plus, I needed a kids-eye break from the heavy nonfiction I have been reading.
Author fact: Cameron spent some time as a research librarian. Rock on.
Book trivia: This is actually part of a series. Sadly, I won’t be reading any others. They look like fun.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the introduction (p x) but not listed in the index. Technically, according to my own rules I didn’t have to read this one. Eleanor Cameron isn’t listed in the index either.
This list thing is keeping me honest. I strayed from it only because of another list; a list that actually came first. Come to think of it I probably should have posted that list. It has the whole landscape mapped out. But, maybe that’s too boring. I’ll have to modify my lists for next month. Anyway, here’s the pulse check for the end of December…with the other books added in (if it wasn’t confusing enough).
- Abide By Me by Elizabeth Strout (Aug)
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Among the Missing by Dan Chaon (Jun)
- Apollo: the epic journey to the moon by David West Reynolds (Jul)
Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins
- Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton (Feb, although I started this last year)
- Ariel by Sylvia Plath (Sep)
- At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien (Sep)
- Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner (May)
Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
Bellwether by Connie Willis
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengist (May)
- Beyond the Bogota by Gary Leech (May)
Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
Billy by Albert French
- Brass Go-Between by Oliver Bleeck (Feb)
Breakfast with Scot by Michael Drowning Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan
- Burma Chronicles by Guy Delise (Nov)
- Burning the Days by James Salter (Aug)
Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes
- Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd (Apr)
- Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun (Jun)
- Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford (Sep)
Churchill, a life by Martin Gilbert
- Conspiracy and Other Stories by Jaan Kross (Aug)
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
- Deafening by Frances Itani (Oct)
- Death in Verona by Roy Harley Lewis (Jun)
- Diamond Classics by Mike Shannon (Apr)
- Dining with Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope (May)
- Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby (Aug)
- Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope (Mar)
Edward Lear in Albania by Edward Lear
- Fanny by Edmund White (Mar)
- Final Solution by Michael Chabon (Jan)
- Fixer by Joe Sacco (Jul)
- Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco (May)
- Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith (May)
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin (Mar)
Galton Case by Ross MacDonald
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos (Apr)
- Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem (Feb)
- Going Wild by Robert Winkler (Oct)
- Golden Spruce by John Vaillant (Jun)
Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan
- Good-bye Chunk Rice by Craig Thompson (Feb)
- Grand Ambition by Lisa Michaels (Jun)
- Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice (Nov)
- Hole in the Earth by Robert Bausch (Mar)
- House of Morgan by Ron Chernow (Apr)
- House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre (May)
- Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer (Feb)
- Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith (Apr)
- Light Infantry Ball by Hamilton Basso (Sep)
Lives of the Painters, vol 2, 3& 4) by Giorgio Vasari
- Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith (Mar)
- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Jan)
- Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin (Aug)
- Ocean of Words by Ha Jin (Oct)
- Old Friends by Tracy Kidder (Sep)
- Panther Soup by John Grimlette (Nov)
- Points Unknown edited by David Roberts (Jun)
- Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (Jan)
- Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell (Aug)
Rosalind Franklin: Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
- Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell (Apr)
Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff
- Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham (Jul)
- Southpaw by Mark Harris (Oct)
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova
- Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith (Jun)
- Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (Feb)
- Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Jul)
- Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner (Nov)
Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery (Jan)
Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
- What you Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell (Nov)
Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
- Widow for One Year by John Irving (Mar)
- Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (Sep)
Women of the Raj by Margaret MacMillan
- Working Poor by David Shipler (Jul)
Willis, Connie. Bellwether. Read by Kate Reading. Blackstone Audio, 2009.
Funny. Funny. Funny. Sandy Foster is a sociologist working at the research corporation, HiTeck, studying trends in the form of fads. Just how do they start? When we first meet Sandy she is trying to deduce when the fad of hair bobbing first erupted. It’s a conundrum. But, the bigger conundrum is Sandy’s work relationships. While Flip is the most annoying mail clerk known to mankind Sandy finds herself quoting her. While Sandy is practically engaged to a sheep ranger she finds herself drawn to a fad resistant coworker studying chaos theory.
I don’t know what it is about the most recent audio books I have chosen to listen to but I’m on a roll picking humorous ones. The Galton Case by Ross MacDonald was great and so was Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers. Bellwether by Connie Willis is just as good, if not funnier. Listen to it. Seriously. But, make sure you are listening to the version read by Kate Reading. She is hysterical as Flip.
Reason read: Willis was born on the last day of December…
Author fact: If you check out winners of the Nebula award you will see Connie Willis’s name a few times. She’s won it at least five or six times.
Book trivia: The title of the book is really clever. Bellwether refers to the practice of putting a bell on a castrated ram who leads his flock of sheep. This bell ringing allows herders to hear them coming before they see them. So, the phenomenon of bellwether is the creation of an upcoming event or trend.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Connie Willis: Too Good To Miss” (p 246). As an aside, Nancy Pearl says her favorite Willis book is Bellwether.
October 2012 was started out to sea. We landed on Monhegan sandwiched between the bustling start of Trap Day and the slowing end of tourist season. As a nod to the death of summer we readied our psyches to the coming winter. The island had shed its summer greens and stood cloaked in red rust brown and burnt yellow hues. Hiking the trails was at once magical and sobering. It was easy to curl up with a good book every night and read for at least two hours straight (something I never get to do at home unless it’s an off day). And speaking of the books, here they are:
- Persian Boy by Mary Renault ~ a continuation of the series about Alexander the Great. I started this in September to keep the story going.
- Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ~ in honor of Halloween (duh). Probably one of my favorite books of the month. I read this in three days.
- The Outermost House: a year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston ~ in honor of October being Animal Month. The best book for me to read on an island; finished it in three days.
- Lives of the Painters, Vol. 1 by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of October being Art Appreciation month. This was just ridiculous to read. There were a lot of errors according to the translator. I ended up skipping every biography that had a contradiction or error in it.As a result, finished it in two weeks.
- Hackers edited by Jack Dann ~ in honor of October being Computer Awareness month. This was cool to read. I read three stories a night and finished it in four days.
- The Dialect of Sex: the Case For Feminist Revolution by Shulamith Firestone ~ in honor of breast cancer awareness month and strong women everywhere. I didn’t completely finish this, but I got the gist of it.
- The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan ~ in honor of the Amsterdam marathon taking place in October. I read this in four and a half days. Easy and very entertaining!
- The Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd ~in honor of Ackroyd’s birth month. This was short, a little over 200 pages, but I took my time reading it – almost three weeks!
The audio book I chose for October was The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell. This took forever to listen to! I felt like I was constantly plugged into the story. I listened to it on the drive home from Maine, to and from work everyday. even while I was working out, while I cooking. It was a great story, worth every hour between the earphones. Can’t wait to read other Mankell stories!
For LibraryThing’s Early Review program I read Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J. Craughwell. While I thought I would enjoy this book (TJ is one of my favorite past presidents and I’m wild about food) it fell a little flat for me. I stopped reading on page 200. I also started reading Clay by Melissa Harrison. It was refreshing to get a first-time fiction from LibraryThing!
One thing that I failed to mention about October (and this is related to the books) is that I am back to requesting books from other libraries! Yay yay yay! This was halted in June of 2011 because we were switching ILSs and at the time I figured it would be a good opportunity to read what was on my own shelf and in my own library. Now, nearly 17 months later I am back to having hundreds of libraries to order from. Thank gawd!
We ended October with a freak storm people were calling Frankenstorm in honor of being so close to Halloween. Although we prepared like hell we saw little damage, thankfully. My thoughts and prayers go out to those in New Jersey and New York. It’s sad to see my old haunts get battered around so…
Hackers. Dann, Jack and Gardner Dozois, eds. New York: Ace Books, 1996.
Hackers is an eclectic mix of short stories about a techno-subculture called hackers. Most of the stories are written by well known and respected science fiction writers. Each story is prefaced with a short bio about the author and many of them are authors already on my Lust list. The list of stories is as follows:
- “Burning Chrome” by William Gibson
- “Spirit of the Night” by Tom Maddox
- “Blood Sisters” by Greg Egan (probably my favorite since I would have done the same thing had it been my sister.)
- “Rock On” by Pat Cadigan (I didn’t get this one at all.)
- “The Pardoner’s Tale” by Robert Silverberg ~ I liked this one a lot
- “Living Will” by Alexander Jablokov
- “Dogfight” by Michael Swanwick and William Gibson
- “Our Neural Chernobyl” by Bruce Sterling
- “(Learning About) Sex Machine” by Candas Jane Dorsey
- “Conversations With Michael” by Daniel Marcus
- “Gene Wars” by Paul J McAuley
- “Spew” by Neal Stephenson
- “Tangents” by Greg Bear (weird!)
Favorite line: From “Living Will” by Alexander Jablokov, “Gerald set his drink down carefully and put his arm around his friend’s shoulders, something he rarely did. And they sat there in the silent study, two old friends stuck at the wrong end of time” (p 111). This story in particular was very human and very sad.
Reason read: October is Computer month. I have to admit it took me some time to get used to words like cybernetic, fiberoptic and simstim.
Best lines, “That was the summer that I finally managed to hack into a Pentagon computer – just an office supplies purchasing system, but Paula was suitably impressed (and neither of us had ever guessed that paperclips were so expensive)” (p 50).
Author Fact: Since there are a bunch of authors I settled on writing about my favorite
Book Trivia: Even though this was compiled in the mid-90s, most of the stories are highly readable even today. the only element of the anthology that was dated was each introduction that introduced the author as “new” to the scene of science fiction writing.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Cyberspace.Com” (p 69).
October. What I can I say about October besides it is a yin yang of good and bad. Three different friends celebrate their anniversaries in this month so it is a month of love for some. My cousin passed away October 10th last year. A new dark cloud anniversary for some. Kisa and a friend and I head to Monhegan for a week. It will be good to be homehome. In fact I’ll need to post this early in order for it not to be almost two weeks late. What else is October? Halloween. Pumpkins. A return to cozy knee high leggings. Kisa and I are already talking about buying and burning wood. The stove didn’t see much action last year. Here are the books:
- Hackers edited by Jack Dann ~ in honor of October being computers month. Disclaimer ~ I had to place an interlibrary loan on this one so I’m not sure I’ll actually read it in time.
- Persian Boy by Mary Renault ~ a continuation of the Alexander the Great series. Note: I am not reading the third and final book of the trilogy.
- Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper ~ a continuation of the Leatherstocking series. Nope. I’m just saying I’ll read it when I know I won’t. If the preceding book was “attempted” the following book won’t even get a chance. New rule.
- The Outermost House: A year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston ~ in honor of October being animal month
- Dialect of Sex by Shulamith Firestone ~ in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month and strong women (I started this last year and didn’t finish it in time).
- Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of October being art appreciation month.
- And for audio: The Man From Beijing by Swedish author Henning Mankell ~ as a wild card book.
For the Early Review program on LibraryThing I am reading Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee by Thomas Craughwell. I’m pretty excited about this one. Historical cooking with a Founding Father. You can’t go wrong!
Engdahl, Sylvia Louise. Enchantress From the Stars.New York: Atheneum, 1970.
So, the premise for this story is pretty simple at first. It’s a futuristic story about a girl, Elana, who stows away on her father’s spaceship to observe an anthropological mission. This group, the Imperial Exploration Corps studies the “Younglings” on less technologically advanced planets. They also “protect” weaker planets from being exploited by stronger ones. For this particular mission Elana is called into service (once she has been discovered as a stowaway) to trick the natives of an exploited planet into helping themselves fight a “dragon.” The natives think their woodland is being haunted by a tree-eating dragon when really it’s intruding strangers hell bent on taking over their planet by clearing their land. Elana uses psychic powers to argue with her father and help the natives, as well as fight the intruders. The most interesting thing about Enchantress From the Stars is the different points of view. Engdahl switches from the first person perspective of Elana to a third person approach with the natives and the intruders giving the story more depth and interest.
Favorite line: “Two minds that don’t have anything in common in the way of background, and then all of a sudden they have everything in common, because they’ve found that essential, real things are for them the same” (p 121).
Reason read: This is going to be a stretch but I wanted to read something a 14 year old would read in honor of a kid named Matt who, at age 14 in 2006, saved someone’s life.
Author Fact: Engdahl has her own website. It’s a little bland looking and a bit tough to navigate but has some interesting information.
Book Trivia: Enchantress From the Stars has been compared to Star Trek.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Teens” (p 23).
August was a little of this and a little of that. Some people will notice I have made some changes to the book challenge – some changes more noticeable than others. For starters, how I review. I now add a section of why I’m reading the book. For some reason I think it’s important to include that in the review. Next, how I read. I am now adding audio books into the mix. I am allowing myself to add an audio book in “trapped” situations when holding a book and keeping my eyes on the page might be an inconvenience (like flying) or endanger someone (like driving). I’m also making a effort to avoid wasting time on books I don’t care for (like Honore de Balzac). One last change: I am not as stringent about reading something within the month. If I want to start something a little early because it’s right in front of my face then so be it.
What else was August about? August was also the month I lost my dear Cassidy for a week. I spent many a night either in an insomniac state or sitting on the back porch, reading out loud in hopes the sound of my voice would draw my calico to me. The only thing it yielded was more books finished in the month of August. She finally came home one week later.
Anyway, enough of all that. I’ll cry if I continue. Onto the books:
I started the month by reading and rereading Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls by Robert Westphal. This was the first time I read and reviewed a book after meeting the author. I wanted to get it right. I also wanted to make sure I was an honest as possible about the situation. Everything about this review was unusual. For the challenge:
- After You’ve Gone by Alice Adams ~ I read this in three days and learned a valuable lesson about Adams’s work: read it slowly and parse it out. Otherwise it becomes redundant.
- Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin ~ I read this in ten days, tucking myself in a study carrell and reading for an hour everyday.
- Fahrenheit 541 by Ray Bradbury ~ an audio book that only took me nine days to listen to.
- Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum ~ read with Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I took both of these to Maine and had oodles of car-time to finish both.
- We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich ~ this was probably my favorite nonfiction of the challenge. Rich’s Maine humor practically jumped off the page. I read this to Cassidy.
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder ~ I read this in three days, again hiding myself away in a study carrell.
- Ten Hours Until Dawn by Tougis ~ another audio book. I’m glad I listened to this one as opposed to reading it. Many reviewers called it “tedious” and I think by listening to it I avoided that perspective.
- The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson ~ I read this in two days (something I think I thought I was going to get to in June).
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque ~ I read this in honor of World War I ending. I also read it in one night while waiting for Cassidy to come home.
- The Lives of the Saints by Nancy Lemann ~ also read in one night. In honor of New Orleans and the month Hurricane Katrina rolled into town.
- Kristin Lavransdatter: the Cross by Sigrid Undset ~ finally put down the Norwegian trilogy!
For the Early Review Program with LibraryThing:
- The Most Memorable Games in New England Patriots History by Bernard Corbett and Jim Baker. This was supposed to be on my list a year ago. Better late than never.
- Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough by Barbara Keesling. This took me an inordinate amount of time to read. Guess I didn’t want to be seen in public with it.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Read by Christopher Hurt. Blackstone Audio, Inc. 2005
Would someone shoot me if I said I had never read Fahrenheit 451 before? Is that something you shouldn’t admit to anyone, ever? It’s a classic. It’s probably Bradbury’s best known work. I have read I Sing the Body Electric and remember it vividly. But who doesn’t know Fahrenheit 451? I mean, come on! Who doesn’t know it? This girl. I didn’t know Fahrenheit. There. I said it. Let’s move on.
I think it goes without saying Fahrenheit 451 was, and still is, controversial. Banned even. The large misconception about Fahrenheit was that it was a commentary on censorship. Oddly enough, Bradbury’s true message is one shared by 10,000 Maniacs in their song “Candy, Everybody Wants.” Television is dulling the mind. Common courtesy and intelligent conversation is going out the window and vanishing like vapor. In Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury puts the root of all evil in the form of books; books that must be burned upon discovery. This futuristic society employs eight legged mechanical hounds who can sniff out readers and firemen who used to be firefighters but are now fire starters. They are charged with burning the houses suspected of containing books. Guy Montag is one such fire starter. He relishes everything about starting a fire. Like an arsonist he is practically gleeful using the accelerant (kerosene), joyful to be spreading the flames. He loves his job until one day two people change his life. He first meets 17 year old Clarise. Her odd views on the world teach Montag to experience his own life differently. I’m reminded of Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman when she teaches Richard Gere to feel the grass under his feet. But, back to Fahrenheit 451 and Montag. Then he burns the house of an elderly woman. This rebellious elderly recluse refuses to leave her home and her books. As a result Montag burns her alive. They call it “suicide” but her death has a profound “rub” on Montag. The more Montag changes the less he understands the people around him. He begins to remember other book rebels he has met in his career. Mr. Faber is one such person. Faber agrees to help Montag leave the world of firemen and enter the dangerous unknown.
The opening scene to Fahrenheit 451 sets the stage for how bizarre Montag’s world really is. The detailed description of the fire’s destruction at the hands of a fireman is surreal and disorientating. But it is a necessary introduction to the dystopia in which Montag lives. Another tactic of Bradbury is to insert a great deal of repetition. Key words are repeated almost as in a chant. To hear in as an audio book is haunting.
Favorite line, “How strange, strange to want to die so much that you let a man walk around armed and then instead of shutting up and staying alive, you go on yelling at people and making fun of them until you get them mad and then…” (p 116).
Reason read: Bradbury was born in August.
Author Fact: Ray Bradbury died in June at the age of 91. His website is fascinating however I am most excited to learn that Bradbury loved cats! Miow.
Book Trivia: Fahrenheit 451 has influenced millions becoming a radio program, several plays and an adventure game. It should be a movie.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “100 good Reads, Decade By Decade: 1950s” (p 177).
NEW! Heads up! I have decided to add one audio book per month. I am tired of driving to work hearing the same songs day in and day out. I think I will get further in this whole book challenge if I allow myself at least one audio book. I only spend 3 1/3 hours in the car per week so all audio books would have to be kept to a duration under 12-13 hours long in order to hear it within the month. I can’t listen to an abridged version so I think finding the right book each month will be an additional pita (pain in the azz). I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.
So. August. Before books August is about a few trips. I’m all over the place, aren’t I? Maine sometime at the beginning of the month and Denver near the end. I *should* have plenty of time to read/listen to books along the way, though. So here is the list (some of them I’ve actually started reading, as I have admitted earlier AND since I’ve cheated I can add a few more than normal):
- After You’ve Gone by Alice Adams ~ a collection of short stories in honor of Adam’s birth month. I feel really good about adding this one because I didn’t tackle any short stories in June (and June is Short Story month),
- Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin ~ a short(er) story in honor of Baldwin’s birth month,
- Kristin Lavransdatter: the cross by Sigrid Undset ~ finally, finally finishing the series started in June! This has been good but really long and detailed!
- Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum and Wicked by Gregory Maguire to be read together in honor of August being fairytale month.
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey
by Thornton Wilder in honor of the month Peru was recognized as independent from Spain (and because it’s super short!).
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ~ in honor of Bradbury’s birth month. I think I will have to think of something else to add to the audio list since I have a flight to Denver to deal with. I’m choosing Ten Hours Until Dawn: the True Story of Heroism and Tragedy by Michael Tougis ~ in honor of being on the water.
Finishing Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough by Barbara Keesling AND (I have to laugh at this) The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History by Bernard Corbett. Yup. The very book I was expecting exactly one year ago. I’ll still read it! I just got word of a third Early Review book but since I haven’t received it I won’t mention it here…
Finishing up Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls by the hilarious Robert Westphal…and mysterious someone dropped Cats Miscellany by Lesley O’Mara in my mailbox. Maybe I’ll get to that. Maybe I won’t.
Morgan, Richard. Altered Carbon. New York: Random House Digital, Inc., 2003.
I think this is the first book I have read that is considered cyberpunk.
In a world where you can pay off a cab driver with the swipe of your thumb, have psychosurgery to get over trauma, and go to places like Mi’s Wharfwhore Warehouse lives former UN Envoy, Takeshi Lev Kovacs. It is a world that centers on a multi-planetary society hundreds of years into the future. Earth is just one location where the plot takes place. In this futuristic environment human souls and personalities can be digitally stored and reloaded into new bodies after bodily death. The only group to not benefit from this cyber-eternity are Catholics. Since they believe in souls going to either Heaven or Hell after death they wouldn’t have anything to pass onto a new body.
To say that the plot is complicated is an understatement. Laurens Bancroft has seemingly committed suicide. All evidence points to this except Bancroft himself doesn’t believe it. He has a new body and limited memory and thinks he has been murdered. He has hired Takeshi Kovacs to solve his mystery.
This passage sums up the entire story: “You’re a lucky man, Kovacs…One hundred and eighty light years from home, wearing another man’s body on a six-week rental agreement. Freighted in to do a job that the local police wouldn’t touch with a riot prod” (p 45).
Something true, even in this world: “The human body is capable of quite remarkable regeneration if stored correctly” (p 243).
My favorite line in the whole book: “I thought I might die, but I hadn’t expected to be bored to death” (p 1,145).
Most profound sentence: “For a moment something ached in my, something so deep-rooted that I knew to tear it out would be to undo the essence of what held me together” (p 1,410).
This time, reading an e-book was a little more frustrating. There were a few spelling and punctuation mistakes and absolutely no copyright information whatsoever.
Author Fact: Morgan is crazy young, born in 1965.
Book Trivia: Altered Carbon won the Philip K. Dick award for best novel in 2003.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Plots for Plotzing” (p 183).
I can’t help but sing ‘Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” when I think of the month January has been. If you live in any state (besides Hawaii) you know what I am talking about. Even HotTopic-Lanta has gotten some snowfall. They haven’t known what to do with it, but they got it nonetheless! Needless to say the snow has kept me indoors and reading for the month of January! For the record, here are the books:
- Breath, Eyes Memory by Edwidge Danticat ~ in honor of Danticat’s birth month. This was a movie in my head (or else a true-life story). Really, really good!
- Cruddy by Lynda Barry ~ in honor of Barry’s birth month. This was one of the most disturbing books I have read so far. the violence and abuse was over the top.
- King of the World by David Remnick ~ in honor of Muhammad Ali’s birth month. I didn’t know I wanted to know but I’m glad I know.
- I, Robot by Isaac Asimov ~ in honor of Asimov’s birth month. Science fiction, of course. Interesting, but a little redundant in theme.
- Two in the Far North by Margaret Murie ~ in honor of Alaska becoming a state in the month of January. Courage and adventure personified. I enjoyed this book a lot.
- Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army From the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944 -May 7, 1945 by Stephen Ambrose ~ in honor of Ambrose’s birth month. It took me a little to get into this book but I’m glad I read it. It is slowly helping me get over my fear of Hitler and all things Nazi.
- Another Song About the King by Kathryn Stern ~ in honor of Elvis Presley’s birth month being in January. This was a super fast, super fun read.
I was supposed to get an Early Review book but it hasn’t arrived yet. It will go on the February list of books, hopefully.
Asimov, Isaac. I, Robot. New York: Del Rey, 1950
I Robot is a series of science fiction short stories that are linked together by the introduction. Dr. Susan Calvin is being interviewed about her career with U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men, Inc. The short stories are her memories of different cases involving robots. For example, Gloria is an eight year old child who was brought up with a robot as a protector and playmate, until her mother decided the relationship wasn’t “normal” and had the robot sent away. A reoccurring theme in all stories is the “three laws of robotics: #1 – A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. #2 – A robot must obey orders given by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. #3 – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second law.” My favorite story was a catch-22 of the laws. In the story ‘Liar’ a robot named Herbie could read human minds. In following the three laws of robotics he would tell people what they wanted to hear to avoid hurting their feelings. When cornered by the laws Herbie was trapped. He couldn’t answer questions that would lead to hurting the humans and yet he couldn’t avoid answering their questions because that would hurt them as well.
Favorite lines: “‘It’s about time you got the red tape out of your pants and went to work’” (p 65), and “He had once jumped out of the window of a burning house dressed only in shorts and the “Handbook.” In a pinch, he would have skipped the shorts” (p 66).
Author Fact: Asimov has published books in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal system – all but in the 100s (philosophy and psychology). But, here’s the interesting thing: Asimov wrote a forward in a book classified in the 100s so he really has published in all ten of the major categories of the Dewey Decimal system! Other facts about Asimov are he was born on January 2, 1920 and he was a professor of biochemistry at Boston University.
Book Trivia: I, Robot was the inspiration for two movies. One starring Robin Williams (‘Bicentennial Main’) and one of the same name starring Will Smith.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Mechanical Men, Robots, Automatons, and Deep Blue” (p 151). Obviously.
Barry, Max. Jennifer Government. New York: Doubleday, 2003.
Jennifer Government is fast paced and thrilling. Max Barry has everything from corporate greed, kidnapping, the NRA, and of course, murder. Set in the plausible near future there is a level of sexiness to the way Barry writes. He makes his characters move around each other in a cat and mouse manner, always flirting while outsmarting each other. In the center is Jennifer Government. She lives in a world where people take the place of their employment as their last names (Hack Nike and Jennifer Government and Billy NRA to name a few), 911 won’t respond to emergencies unless the capability for payment can be established, and taxes are outlawed. Jennifer could be the next Laura Croft, fighting old demons and new crimes. So, when her daughter is kidnapped things get personal. But, that’s the climax of the story. It all starts with Nike cooking up a marketing scheme to build of street cred for a new line of $2,500 sneakers by committing murder…
Favorite quotes, “but he liked New Zealand, he really did. At first he was apprehensive; it was so far away, tucked down in the bottom of the world like something Australia coughed up” (p 22), and “Companies claimed to be highly responsive, Jennifer thought, but you only had to chase a screaming man through their offices to realize it wasn’t true” (p 285).
Then there is this favorite scene: Hack is trying to tell the police his girlfriend might have killed someone with a toaster. The agent is not listening, arguing with Hack for not having an appointment (p 69-70). It’s an amusing scene but it gets even funnier. Hack finally gets to see a different agent. Hoping to be taken seriously he again tries to report the murder. Only this time the new agent is preoccupied with the capabilities of the toaster. “Can you do bagels in that?” he asks. I can just see the scene played by Nicholas Cage (as Hack) trying desperately to get someone to check on an alleged murder and Steve Martin as the second agent distracted by a bagel-toasting toaster.
I love that there is a Max in Max Barry’s story. It’s a small part, but a highly effective one.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “Plots for Plotzing” (p 183).
Lethem, Jonathan. The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye: stories. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1998.
I like that way Nancy Pearl describes Lethem’s style of writing. Basically she says (in Book Lust) you never get the same book twice. Even within his short stories in The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye you don’t get the same short story twice. Nothing is the same. Even the style of writing is different. Like a box of chocolates with only one candy containing chocolate…
Here’s a list of the short stories:
- The Happy Man ~ a weird sort of deal-with-the-devil story about a man who is dead, but isn’t.
- Vanilla Drunk ~ a story that mentions Michael Jordan over 40 times.
- Light and the Sufferer ~ brothers, an alien, drugs and New York City. What’s not to love?
- Forever, Said the Duck ~ a virtual party where virtually no one is who they say they are.
- Five Fukcs ~ I have no idea how to describe this story. It’s all about getting screwed over…
- The Hardened Criminal ~ a very strange story about a man who ends up in the same prison cell as his father…only his father is built into the cement wall.
- Sleepy People ~ there is a group of people who sleep through anything…including sex.
Because of Lethem’s copyright statement I am not going to quote favorite lines (and yes, I had a few). Just leave it that I liked the entire book (even though I would have liked more description about the Sufferer from “Light and the Sufferer”).
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Jonathan Lethem: Too Good To Miss” (p 145).