Tag Archives: space

Dune

I am officially caught up on Doctor Who now! (The reboot starting with 2005, at least. I try not to think about how much old DW I have to catch up on, not to mention Torchwood and the other spin-offs.) This means that I can actually read again! I did somehow find the time to read Dune though, which was made easier simply by the fact that it’s an amazing novel!

Dune is about the House Atreides struggling to survive on the desert planet Arrakis that the Emperor has assigned to them as a dukedom. It’s the harshest, most desolate place to live, but controlling this planet means controlling melange, the spice that not only allows for space travel, but gives life, energy, and a heightened consciousness. There’s treachery involved, and a witch-like order of women, and a prophesied messiah, and giant sandworms, and a lot of hope and despair. It’s a really wonderful read, and I promise it reads quickly.

I started watching the movie on Netflix and I think it’s fun! Horrible graphics, but then again it was 1984. I do love that Patrick Stewart is in it – so young! and Sting! And Trey from Sex & the City! On second thought it’s kind of a terrible movie, but amusing nonetheless. I don’t think it’d make much sense to someone who hasn’t read the book, and even then it’s a bit confusing. All the more reason to read the book!

Starship Troopers

What a great read! I completely disagree with critics who say that this book glorifies war – I think, rather, that it glorifies the soldiers and acknowledges what they suffer through for the sake of country. Now, I haven’t seen the movie, which as I understand interpreted the novel quite differently from the way Heinlein supposedly intended… but the book is really great. I get the impression that if you liked the book, you may not like the movie.

A few things stood out for me:

  • The banality of war: Several times I noticed that Heinlein’s tone shows how desensitized Rico becomes to violence. Very scary!
  • Whoa, he’s Filipino? Kevin & I were talking once about how it’s wonderful that nationality could be just an afterthought – so often race is the most important identifier in literature and I just don’t buy it sometimes. Also, I wonder what he said in Tagalog…?
  • I was very interested in the idea of gaining full citizenship only through volunteering for military service. (I mean interested in the idea, not interested in actually having it implemented in our society!) Although I do wonder how it might work in a place like the United States. Very intriguing concept though.

The Dispossessed

Next in the Educate Myself in Classic SciFi series, I read The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin, at the recommendation of Themba. I was really impressed! It’s about a physicist, Shevek, who comes from the satellite planet Anarres and goes to main planet Urras. Anarres is supposed to be a world of imposed anarchy, or at least a society with no central power. Despite all intentions to keep any group from gaining power over another (or perhaps because of this), society still somehow starts to develop a sort of power imbalance. On Urras, however, Shevek is quite literally imprisoned by the overly capitalist society.

I was particularly interested in the linguistic relativity elements (I guess because I’m a language person), especially the idea that language on Anarres wouldn’t have a possessive form at all because that whole concept isn’t part of the collective mindset. It reminds me of Anthem, of course, and how their language exists exclusively in the collective tense.

However, I can’t help but feel that the book may not mean quite as much to later generations (say, people born in the 1990s onward) because (a) they didn’t grow up with the Soviet Union and there is a very clear parallel to the US-Soviet Union tension on Urras, and (b) the ansible probably doesn’t sound all that amazing to people for whom texting and videochatting are the norm. Just a thought.

Anyway, very highly recommended. If you liked Anthem and/or Stranger in a Strange Land, you’ll like The Dispossessed. Especially you libertarians.

Between Planets

This was a quick, fun read.  It’s a children’s scifi novel by Heinlein about a boy whose citizenship comes into question because his parents are from different planets and he was born in outer space.  When the planets declare war against each other, he is suddenly unwanted either way and furthermore is hunted by authorities everywhere.

While it was fun and easy to read, I was a little annoyed by how political it got so fast.  And obviously Heinlein is well-known for his political doctrines but this seemed a little excessive, especially for a young adult novel.

Stranger in a Strange Land

I actually finished Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein quite quickly – in about three late night reading sessions. Having read it, I strongly urge you to read the complete version – it was originally published with several thousand words cut out as per the publisher’s request – because I really think that it is truly complete the way it is.

Stranger is about this man Michael Valentine Smith who was born and raised in Mars, away from all human contact. When he is brought to Earth, he must cope with this strange planet with not only a different gravity and language, but strange ideas such as jealousy and love.

I understand a bit why hippies seem to love his work (being a teensy bit of a hippie myself) but I have never been able to come to grips with the idea of free love. It’s the one thing that I am most unable to fathom of all the socially liberal tendencies out there. I did, however, truly enjoy the discussion of total emotional and spiritual connections – the idea of “grokking”.

Read this book – there’s a reason why it’s famous!

Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is the titular first of the series. It’s about six-year-old Ender who is recruited to go to Battle School, where only the most intelligent children are sent to learn to fight the buggers. Ender turns out to be amazingly well-equipped to not only succeed, but to exceed expectations at Battle School, and he quickly becomes the top soldier, set to become commander quite soon.

While I’ve always read a lot of praise about this series, I’ve also seen just as many people decry the novel for its violence. I think it’s important, though, to think about our capacity for violence, and more importantly, why we engage in violence and whether we’re actually aware that we’re committing acts of violence. I think Card did well to bring these issues up.

I’ll read the rest of the series once I can actually find them! But for now I’m moving on to other books.

The War of the Worlds

Sorry, since I’ve been on spring break I suppose I should be reading and writing MORE, but the truth is, my boyfriend is spending half of break here at my house & we’re going to his house for the rest of it so I’ve neglected to read and post for a bit. Oh but I bought him his Kindle and it just arrived the other day! So now Guy has a little buddy to play with, Ford Prefect.

Anyway I’ve finished This Side of Paradise (although really, what paradise? Amory Blaine is nearly as depressing as Werther) and moved on to The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (free at Feedbooks). Really excited! I’ve never seen any adaptation (and never plan to, damnit Tom Cruise) but I think mostly everyone is pretty familiar with the whole premise. I’ve only read a few chapters but I’ll post again when I’ve gotten farther in. I’ve always wondered though, if some strange object from outer space landed in some field, I would not be among the people who stick around and try to catch a glimpse. I’d be very, very far away indeed!