Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pardon the last depressing post

Sometimes things don't go well. Sometimes you get a little run down. I am pretty run down today, but spirits are good. Miranda slept all night long (9 to 4:30) so that is good. Yesterday we stopped by the used bookstore in Kent and I was able to pick up my second out of print book there. The first one I picked up (about 2 months ago) was Destination Void by Frank Herbert which takes an interesting look at the creation of synthetic intelligence. The one I picked up yesterday is more of the pulp variety in The Lost King by Margaret Weis (of Dragonlance series fame). I read it years ago and enjoyed it immensely. It tells the tale of young boy and his hidden kingly heritage. It definitely falls in the Fantasy Science Fiction sub-genre as it is more like Star Wars than anything else.

So besides that Miranda spent some time playing with blocks and flipping through pages of a book. So yesterday was a good day.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

andy sez:

Herbert wrote 3 sequels to Destination Void with Bill Ransom (2.5 really, he died partway through the last one and Ransom finished it alone... hence why the last one was the most comprehensible). Of the sci-fi readers I know, I think you'd be the most likely person to enjoy them; I thought they were... OK.

The Jesus Incident
The Lazarus Effect
The Ascention Factor

Reverend0 said...

Probably. I am starting to notice though in my "old age" that my idea of good writing is starting to narrow. There are books that I once liked that I think are more like pulp than major contributions to literature that I once thought they were.

At one point in my life, I am sure I would have thought Friday by R.A.H. would have been mind blowing or maybe his book, Number of the Beast, but I find those to be on the lower end of the spectrum. Base, rambling ravings of the senile. Whereas his award winning work is worthy of bowing down to... Same for Herbert, I would assume.

Anonymous said...

andy sez:

I doubt you'd have thought they were THAT impressive but:

"Base, rambling ravings of the senile."

seems to be too harsh as well. Friday didn't do a lot for me when I read it (10 years ago) and TNOTB actually annoyed me, but I did understand what he was trying to accomplish. TNOTB is a polemic about leadership and how it is a distinct quality that a person has (or doesn't have). Note that the best leader in the group was not the smartest, the strongest, nor the most charming. There was an additional story where the characters jump from fictional world to fictional world and Lararus shows up; that one was incidental. The fact that the book was a study in leadership first and a piece of entertainment second is what contributes to people's (including my own) general negative reaction to it. Clearly, I found more to like than you did.

Have you read Farnham's Freehold yet? This is, by far, the most controversial RAH work with the most obscure meaning. People generally hate it and complain that it's really two books (and it sort of is), that it's depressing (true as well), and that it's racist (false). I think it is brilliant. It does suffer from one problem that most RAH books do not: it is not timeless. That is to say, you pick up SIASL or Starship Troopers today, it doesn't matter that they are decades old, they fit today and you can understand them today without any sort of external interpretation. Farnham's Freehold is a product of the Cold War and to understand it, you need to imagine reading it in the year it was published: in an America with a mortal enemy waiting to destroy it so that the entire world might experience centralized economic planning, the erratication of political dissent, and forced-labor death camps. It was also written in an America that was beginning to spend more of its (ahem) collective time and energy buying Buicks, fridges, and fighting against racial integration of its cities. Modern readers failing to check the copyright date on the book are perplexed as to what the characters stand for and why they behave the way that they do; I don't think that was a problem when it was published. People do fall into the usual trap of taking the morals learned in an RAH story at face value without examining them more carefully, but people are stupid and lazy, what can you do?

Anonymous said...

andy sez:

Is there any way you can change your word verification timer settings? Nearly every time I try to leave a post I have to enter the verification word twice because the original one has timed out. It's really annoying because I'm not a fast typer and I frequently leave long posts.

Reverend0 said...

First off, I can't change the timeout settings on word verification. I tried but it is either on or off and given the last time it was off, I spent 2 hours cleaning up comment spam, I tend to be inclined to leave it on.

I guess senile ramblings is actually bit over-harsh. Mostly used those words for the fact of stringing together those words rather than the content they imply.

I had mostly forgotten about the leadership exploration done in the beginning of the TNOTB but cross universe tale that brought together "old fan favorites" really pissed me off. Felt it detracted from a book that could have been ended well given the chance.

As for Friday, it to me felt like a large collection of minor themes of genetic engineering and personal rights, surviving political instability, corporate power structures and human politics. I am sure there are a few more I missed, but overall there was not a main theme and he felt lost trying to create a story for a female lead in this case. She rambles from one mini-adventure to another without actually confronting the issues. Friday actually reminds me of some feedback you once gave me on my novel which was the inability to work with conflict (technically, I didn't have any) where in this case, Heinlein just fails to confront any of the topics he brings in, and instead has the heroine run away. This warrants more thinking...