Science Fiction

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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I read this when I was a teenager, and it’s one of those books that has always stuck with me. The vivid imagery of a society so addicted to surface pleasure and immediate gratification that they had willingly surrendered the ability to read or even own books . . . it was such a terrifying idea that I couldn’t help but be fascinated by it; the same way you might be fascinated yet repelled by a massive wolf spider that has made it’s way into your bathroom.

Bradbury’s writing is straightforward yet poetic, and I prefer this book over other futuristic dystopian fiction of the same time period because it ends on a hopeful note. I remember that when I finished the book, I felt eager and invigorated, ready to act and change the world for the better. In contrast, when I finished 1984 and Brave New World, I felt drained, exhausted, and hopeless, like it wasn’t even worth trying to prevent the posited futures because we could only fail.

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Bangs & Whimpers: Stories about the End of the World

Bangs & Whimpers: Stories about the End of the WorldBangs & Whimpers: Stories about the End of the World by James Frenkel

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I think I’ve mentioned before that I love short story anthologies, especially by well-established authors in the field. They’re great because I don’t end up spending an entire day reading instead of doing chores and homework and other necessary stuff. Short stories = quickly wrapped up slices of interest that send me back on my way.

Of course, I still love long books, I just often don’t have the time. The difficulty with short story anthologies is finding absolutely brilliant, thought-provoking ones that showcase both up-and-coming and established authors. It can be a bit of a gamble.

Bangs and Whimpers delivers on all fronts. Every time I’ve started to tell someone about this book, intending to tell them about just one short story in particular I think they would find of interest, I find myself saying something like, “Oh, yeah, and there was this other one that explored an end-of-the-world scenario where we planted the seeds to a new creation by . . . “

This book is amazing. Each short story approached the Ending of All Things from a different vantage point and perception. Where one author chose to think that the annihilation of life on earth meant the end of life forever, another author saw a thin thread of hope in the distant future. Where one author wrote with detached omniscience, another wrote in intimate first-person. Each story has a unique style and vision, but they all have one thing in common — they are brilliantly, captivatingly written. This book should not be missed.

A word of warning, though — this book is out of print, not available in e-book, and is extremely hard to find at an affordable price. I happened to stumble across it in my local library, and I’ve been looking for a copy to purchase since. No luck. 😦

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Categories: Fantasy, Reviews, Science Fiction, Short Story Collections | Tags: , | 1 Comment


19841984 by George Orwell

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I’ve heard a lot about 1984 and Brave New World (by Aldous Huxley), and decided to read them.

1984 was well-written. The plot, the characterizations, everything was well-constructed. In fact, it was so well constructed and written that it’s final achievement, a pervading hopelessness and a sort of apathy-induced terror linger long after the final page is finished. It is, without a doubt, one of the most depressing books I have ever read.

I gave it 4 stars because it is well-written and beautifully executed. I would give it 5 stars, if it weren’t for the fact that it is such a depressing piece of literature, leaving one with a sort of desperate futility toward the outcome of power, politics, and the possible future imagined therein.

If you enjoy social commentary in your fiction and relish books that predict chilling futures while featuring unnerving parallels to reality as we know it, then this is the book for you. If, however, you prefer your fiction to be an escape and a pleasure, not a moral or political lesson, then avoid this book at all costs.

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Brave New World

Brave New World Revisited Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

♥ ♥ ♥ – –

This is apparently one of the classics of modern literature, and came very highly recommended.

My personal reaction to it was that the premise was interesting, but the characterization left something to be desired. It isn’t until about the third or fourth chapter that the character most identifiable is introduced, and even then, he’s not concentrated on until much later in the book. The second chapter introduces the other character who’s somewhat fleshed out, but I found him lacking in interest and somewhat repulsive in character.

While the basic plot was intriguing and, considering the time it was written, a fascinating view of the future — the book was a bit of a slog due to the fact that Huxley didn’t write characters I could care about on a personal level. It was a very draining and demoralizing read overall, and I kind of felt like they were so utterly unlikeable that they almost deserved their situation, and then I felt embarrassed and petty for wishing that level of misfortune on someone for being  unlikeable.

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