I like Books

If the Harry Potter Series Had Been the Hermione Granger Series

In authors, Fiction on July 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

Sady Doyle writes a fascinating satirical take on an alternative series to Harry Potter that instead focused on Hermione as the main character.  What I find most interesting is just how successfully it provides a strong feminist critique of the whole Harry Potter series.  I have read much praise and criticism for J. K. Rowling’s acclaimed series, and yet somehow I think that what Ms. Doyle does here is one of the most effect.  What is more, is that that satire does not just prod at the series and the author, but also goes after the audience and its demands and desires.  Entirely worth the read and consideration.  Our stories are of incredible value and importance to our culture and history, but how have our stories kept us trapped in ways of thinking?  I think this piece challenges us to consider that.

Happy 119th J. R. R. Tolkien

In authors, Fiction, General, literature on January 3, 2011 at 10:46 am

Today, January 3rd 2011, would be the 119th birthday of Mr. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.  I think that it is a reasonable argument that there is no greater figure in the history of modern fantasy literature than Mr. Tolkien.  His novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy are a staple of the genre and have contributed greatly to all fantasy that has been written since them.  Indeed. Mr. Tolkien’s vast works of world building, language creation, and mythology has set a high bar for any fantasy writers who have followed in his stead.

This past weekend I finished re-watching Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (the special extended versions) which I had started a week or so back.  I think that the films, as a whole, do a wonderful job at capturing Mr. Tolkien’s world and stories (though there are some lacking aspects in the portrayal of several characters).  All around I think that the movies are a wonderful homage to Mr. Tolkien’s epic. 

However, it is the books that I must really recommend.  I have written before of my love of The Hobbit and how influential it was to my development as an avid reader.  Likewise I have great respect for The Lord of the Rings in all its vastness and genre developing.  I appreciate The Silmarillion and the Unfinished Tales from the perspective of world-making and constructed mythology, though I will say that both are nigh impossible to read as straight novels due to their complex language and utter vastness (I am sure some folks have read them both from cover to cover and I will say good for them, but in my experience, and talking to many other people, these two books remain difficult to swallow as entire works).

Beyond his story creations Mr. Tolkien was an avid linguist who contributed significantly to the Oxford English Dictionary.  He also created fabulous illustrations to accompany his stories.  His works will undoubtedly continue to be remembered for many long years to come.  So happy birthday to you sir, you’ve certainly given us a lot to enjoy.

Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” at 40

In General on October 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

So yeah, this October is the 40th anniversary of the publicaton of Larry Niven’s great science fiction nove3l “Ringworld.”  I learned this by reading this Tor.com blog post.  I won’t repeat everything that was said there because I figure that if you are visiting a book blog like mine here, then there is a pretty good bet that you can read yourself.

I first read “Ringworld” about a year ago and absolutely adored it.  “Ringworld” was the first, and to date only, novel I had read by Larry Niven, though I was familiar with several of his works and contributions to science fiction.  Besides being just an enjoyable read, I think the thing that really got me more than anything about “Ringworld” was the sheer vastness of the titular structure.  It contains the surfce area of three million Earths.  It is almost unfathomable, and yet Mr. Niven handles the vastness well and believably (another science fiction novel that does a lot with vasness of size, though on a significanly smaller magnitude than “Ringworld” is Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendezvous With Rama“).

I highly recommend “Ringworld” to anybody who enjoys some good science fiction.  Personally I would rank it up there with Frank Herberts “Dune,” Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” as one of the best science fiction novels I have ever read (and I have read a ton).  Check it out and enjoy!


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