Monthly Archives: January 2009

Ringworld

Author: Larry Niven

This here is one of them-thur classics of sci-fi literature. Although written in 1970, it harkens back to the earliest days of science fiction, where men were men, women were things, things were people, and authors considered books mere excuses to explore (admittedly awesome) thought experiments.

Like this one: what if you could build a giant ribbon shaped world, with a radius the same as that of Earth’s orbit. You could get tremendous surface area per mass, and solar power to boot.

The sci-fi elements are pretty sharp – alien races manipulating one another, technological marvels, spaceships, and built planets. The story elements are tepid – one guy goes on this voyage literally because he’s bored. Many plot elements, including all the major turning points, are explained by a woman’s genetic gift of luck – a lazy author’s device, although one that admittedly intrigued me.

Advertisements

The Graveyard Book


Author: Neil Gaiman

Let me preface this review by stating that I would bear Neil Gaiman’s love child. I know that this would require significant experimental surgery and a long talk with my wife, but, in the end, it would be worth it. I came to this conclusion after reading Sandman, and renewed my decision with American Gods, Neverwhere, and Stardust. And his short stories and poems, some of which are amongst the best I’ve read.

But Anansi Boys was a little meh.

And now the Graveyard Book.

I looked forward to this book for months. It seems a return to Gaiman’s simply delivered and richly textured work that runs through Stardust and many of his short stories. Patterned after the Jungle Book, this is the story of a boy named Nobody who is raised by the shades that inhabit a cemetery, a story told in a series of short-story chapters that gradually develop an over-arching plot which only becomes directly referenced in the last chapter.

I expect to love it. To really love it, as I do Sandman. I expected this to be a book that I would re-read yearly.

I expected too much.

It’s good. I should say that, somewhere. It is – the story is charming and imaginative. There isn’t much borrowed mythology, and what is borrowed is creatively massaged to fit the world of the story.

I suspect my disappointment is a result of the fact that this is a book for young readers. That is, while Gaiman avowed that it was written for readers of all ages, the syntax and story are ultimately simple. And I guess there just wasn’t enough world and wonder replace that lost stimulation.

I strongly suspect that my opinion will evolve with additional reading – this just seems the type of book that I have to be in the right mindset to appreciate.  Maybe your mind is already thusly set.