Posts tagged `science fiction`
John Dies at the End John Dies at the End by David Wong
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Year: 2010
Pages: 480

As a young boy, my brother tended to get Cracked magazine rather than Mad magazine; I think it was probably cheaper for essentially the same content (or so it seemed to a young boy). In any case, he (and therefore I) grew up with Cracked. By the time the magazine itself went under, of course, I had stopped paying attention, but at some point in the last few years, I began regularly checking the new, which I find is much funnier than it likely should be.

At the helm of this new digital enterprise (sans Sylvester P. Smythe) is senior editor David Wong, a pseudonym for Jason Pargin. It was really only via this association that I learned about John Dies at the End, Wong/Pargin’s satirical horror novel, recently rescued from an indie publisher by St. Martin’s Griffin. Given my positive associations with the new Cracked, giving John Dies at the End a shot was a no-brainer. Also, it’s being adapted into a movie with Paul Giamatti.

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§7137 · July 15, 2011 · 1 comment · Tags: , , , ,

The Passage The Passage by Justin Cronin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 2010
Pages: 784

I’d never heard of Justin Cronin before picking up The Passage; he’s won awards for previous work, though I’m given to understand that this latest work represents something of a departure for him. It may be new to Cronin, but it’s certainly not (or shouldn’t be) new to most readers, as The Passage is an overly-long pastiche of well-worn horror and sci-fi tropes, with a lot of solemn navel-gazing as filler.

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§7114 · May 28, 2011 · (No comments) · Tags: , , , ,

The Diamond Age The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Year: 1995/2000
Pages: 499

Neal Stephenson novels are always a treat. It would be inaccurate to say they are formulaic, as each one is uniquely and wildly creative; however, they tend to share some characteristics, for better or worse. Last year I read Snow Crash, and prior to that I read his Cryptonomicon, and can’t help but notice, as others have, that though Stephenson expends considerable energy setting up a complicated plot and a tremendous, realistic world in which it occurs, his plot climaxes are so short and unexpected that one isn’t quite sure if it happened or not.

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A Case of Conscience A Case of Conscience by James Blish
Publisher: Del Rey
Year: 1958/2000
Pages: 256

Science fiction has a tendency to ignore religion; this may have stemmed from its early Enlightenment-style emphasis on rationality, or it may have been sheer laziness, since predicting how some of our oldest cultural institutions would fare years into the (often dystopian) future is difficult at best.

There are notable exceptions to this, and the situation has gotten better as the years wind on and the genre refines itself. Writers aren’t always nice to religion, but they’ve generally stopped ignoring it as a force for (or resistance to) change. But even in scifi’s early days, there were some writers who not only included organized religion in their stories, but actually centered the plots on it. Most frequently cited is Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. But just a scant year before Miller published his first and last novel, another titan of the early science fiction scene, James Blish, published A Case of Conscience, whose protagonist(?) is a Jesuit priest.

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§6893 · February 8, 2011 · (No comments) · Tags: , , , , , ,

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
Publisher: Scribner
Year: 2011
Pages: 208

Though I don’t listen to altogether too many comedy albums, I’m a fan of Patton Oswalt, who I think is one of the smarter mainstream comics working today. To the best of my knowledge, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is his first serious attempt at a published book, and while it’s short and somewhat inconsistent, I think it’s shows a great potential for grander works.

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§6317 · January 27, 2011 · (No comments) · Tags: , , , , ,