Archive for December, 2008

Sci-fi Book Meme

Posted in Books / Movies / TV on December 18, 2008 by weirleader

picking up from Half Awake, I figured I’d enjoy continuing this thread.  Of course, it helps that I’m an avid reader and enjoy flaunting it.

From Half Awake:

According to the Science Fiction Book Club, these are the 50 most significant SF & Fantasy Books of the last 50 Years, 1953-2002. Bold the ones you’ve read, strike the ones you hated, italicize the ones you couldn’t get through, asterisks for the ones you loved (more asterisks, more love), exclamation points for the ones you own.

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien!***
  2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov!****
  3. Dune, Frank Herbert!****
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein!
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin!
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson!
  7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke!*
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick!
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley!
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury!**
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe!
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.!*
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov!*
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish!
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett!
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison!
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison!
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester!
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany!
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey!*
  22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card!****
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson!*
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman!
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl!
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling!
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams!
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin!
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley!
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny!
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick!
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement!
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon!
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith!
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke!
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven!*
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien!
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut!
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson!***
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner!
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester!
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein!***
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock!
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks**
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer!

What also struck me about many of the rest of books on the list was that I either a) knew exactly what the cover looked like (i.e., I’ve seen them on the shelf for years and contemplated purchasing them, but had no real reason to commend them) or b) actually own them and just haven’t gotten around to trying them.

edit: just noticed the bit about asterisks…  now added.

V for Vendetta (2006)

Posted in Books / Movies / TV, Sci-Fi on December 11, 2008 by weirleader

For my birthday, I received a copy of the graphic novel ‘V for Vendetta‘.  It’s been on my radar for quite some time, but I just wasn’t sure what to make of it.  Despite a love of comics, superheroes, graphic novels, sci-fi & fantasy, this one was new to me (relatively speaking) and I was cautious in my expectations.  Nevertheless, it got such a nice review by the Girl Detective that I figured it was worth a shot.

Of course, I’m also pretty thrifty and never got around to buying it.  I might’ve borrowed it from the library, but I’ve been pretty busy — which is why it coming as a birthday gift place it in the right place at the right time.  Over the course of a few days I devoured it —  and what a nice treat it was!  It was certainly not the typical saccharine fare I associate with more mainstream comics, but then what I think of as mainstream probably isn’t the mainstream any more.  And, while I enjoy a happy ending as much as the average Hollywood exec hopes that I do, I found the well-balanced darkness embedded in the story to be refreshing.

I found myself continually impressed with the writing and story arc.  There was a great deal of creativity, which is what has always drawn me to the genre (comics/sci-fi/fantasy), in addition to a smattering of well-quoted literature.  And I find it especially impressive how well the author integrated the ‘V’ theme throughout.

But this is not intended to be a review of the graphic novel.  Or, perhaps, it is a review of both the GN and the film.  I just returned to Netflix after a 5- or 6-year hiatus and thought, given the timing, that it would be nice to start off with ‘V for Vendetta’ (especially since I’m currently sans-wife…  I wasn’t sure what she’d think of it).  Boy was that a fun movie!  I went into it extremely skeptical and came out perfectly happy.  The acting was quite good (I was especially impressed with John Hurt‘s rabid performance of Sutler) and while the story didn’t follow the original to the letter it held enough of the right intent and spirit that I felt satisfied.  There were some choices I questioned and a part or two I was sad to find absent but, on the whole, it did what it was intended to do and without a wasted portion.  Purists will, no doubt, question any deviation from the original but I think I can understand the need to a) make it fit the correct time frame, b) bring it in line with the current era (technology, for instance), and c) for a director to place his/her own personal touch on the finished product.

Also, in retrospect, I’m pretty sure my wife would enjoy the film — probably not as much as I, but she’d enjoy it nonetheless.  If you like your superhero movies (and I use that term very loosely here) dark and brooding, give this one a shot!

Now I’ve got to figure out where next to turn my attentions…  there’s such a large world of graphic novels out there!  Perhaps some more Queen & Country?  I’m curious how the upcoming Whiteout will turn out (go, go, go Kate Beckinsale!) — that was a fun read and might very well make a good film.  Here’s to hoping!

ADDED LATER: The Alaskan Librarian just reviewed the GN and made some good points that I had missed by consuming the GN followed by the book (he viewed the film followed by the book).  Namely, the GN fleshed out some important details that do make the story flow better — I, of course, took these for granted since they were fresh in my mind.  On its own, the movie might leave you wondering just how he knew so much about his victims (there was a lot implied, but very little explained) and where things would go after a lot of stuff gets blown up (don’t want to spoil to much!)  😉   Anyhow, it’s probably not a bad idea to consume both book and film to fill in those gaps.