The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Posts Tagged ‘Reading Lists

Saturn’s Children, Third Hugo review

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Saturn's Children Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross

My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book was not for me. I didn’t have a problem with the concepts this book deals with, in fact it is a perfectly logical view of the Singularity, but I couldn’t get too much in to it, and ambivalence towards literature is a sure sign that I better move on. It seemed like the author used too many shortcuts and references to other science fiction to create anything truly original. I can’t say I wouldn’t have liked this book ten or even fifteen years ago, but while I enjoy cheesy movies, I like my books to make me think. Mr. Stross manages to throw in a few interesting ideas about ownership and life that really made me think, but they were too obvious to surprise. The setting did not feel real enough. Reading this book was like walking through a science fiction convention filled with cosplayers whose costumes allude to bad and obscure manga based on the one or two bad Heinlein novels out there. I could not finish the book, so, while it is possible that it gets better beyond the first half of it, I could not immerse myself in a world that verged on the interesting, but missed the mark by millimeters. Having started to read some of the other Hugo Nominees made it impossible for this book to hold my attention. It didn’t measure up, in my opinion, to the rest of the material. Again, some people may enjoy Mr. Stross’s style more than me, and I encourage anyone interested to at least read other reviews, it is not a “bad” book, just very clearly, not the book I like to be reading right now.

View all my reviews.

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Written by Hector

May 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Books that grab you by the ears

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Most of what I read is the result of searching for my next hit of literature, or from recommendations by other readers, but once in a while a book will grab me. There are some books that yell your name very loudly as you pass by them. they pop out of the background and demand that you read them. These book are self confident to the point of indolence. They know that they will become a part of your mind. They will settle in some corner of your brain and set shop conformably. They will get to decide what other books can enter your brain from that point on. They will be the standard by which you will judge everything that will come afterwards, be it a book, person, or experience. These books do not have to be good, but they lodge their way in to your brain forever.

If you want to know a little bit about who you are look for these books. They do not even have to be your favorites, but they did something to define you. Here is my list–feel free to share yours.

1) Swords of Lankhmar

I probably should not have read this book when I did. I was only thirteen when I bought it. The book was definitely not intended for young audiences, but that is why I loved it. I’ve judged every fantasy book I’ve read since by this standard. I am happy to say that not even Tolkien comes close. The only other book that matches the this one is “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel.” I reread it not long ago, and I enjoyed it even more.

2) Karmatron y los Transformables

This was actually a comic book from Mexico. It introduced me to meditation, zen, and what would eventually become a life long search for spiritual meaning. It also helped me to develop a taste for space operas, giant robots, and battleships.

3) Conversations with God

I was very interested in supernatural spirituality during a huge part of my life. I believed in UFOs, channeling, and the paranormal. This book introduced me to the idea of writing a dialog with myself. Although I no longer believe in the supernatural claims within the book, I still use the imaginary dialog tool from time to time when I feel like it.

4) Awakening the Writer Within

This book taught me to write. I got though college thanks to the authors.

5) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

This book came to me when I was trying to figure out what the meaning of life could be without the supernatural to back it up. It helped me to embrace practical psychology as a tool to guide my destiny. It also introduced me to the idea of the “good life” so that my actions actually began to have a much more positive impact on the universe. When I read this my mind was shifting gears between the supernatural and the natural. I truly believe that the naturalistic explanation of the universe eventually superseded the alternative because I found that science worked better than my previously held superstitions. I continue to avidly devour scientific books thanks to this one read.

6) Hardcore Zen

After abandoning my spiritual search, this book reignited it by showing me that it is possible to be spiritual even when you do not believe in the supernatural. It also made me feel okay about my love for giant monsters.

7) Daily Coyote

This book grabbed me by the ears yesterday. It is actually based on a blog. I really don’t think I can do it justice, so look it up and read it. It is a book about love, and about how maybe we are not so alone in the universe after all.

There are many of other great books out there, some better than the ones I mentioned here, but this list includes only those accidental friends I made along the way.

Written by Hector

December 19, 2008 at 2:51 pm

A list of new Fairy Tales

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Fairy Tales are woven in to our lives. They are the unescapable raw materials of our imaginations. No matter how much time goes by, we continue to refer to them to create our fictitious universes. In some cases, we even believe them to be more than stories, and start religions based on them. Of course, their value lays not in their reality, but in their ability to interact with our minds. A good fairy tale does not have to be real to capture our attention. It seems like there is something about them and their characters which begs for retelling. Newer heroic tales like the ones with superheroes have been told almost as often as their older mythological cousins. What matters, however, is that even after they are told and retold, they continue to charm us. The following short list includes some of my favorite retellings of myths and fairy tales. I hope you like it!

1) Fables, by Bill Willingham

What would happen if every single fairy tale character that ever existed had to move to NY in order to escape prosecution at home? This is the question Bill Willingham sets out to answer in his multiple award winning comic book. Here, we meet a likable big bad wolf, and an overwhelmed Snow White, as well as a not so great Prince Charming. This series takes the idea of fairy tales in to a whole new direction. 

2) American Gods and Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

Mr. Gaiman uses both books to explore how belief may give raise to the existence of Gods. The first one is a lot more serious and ambitious in it’s scope, while the second one is a little bit lighter and more amusing. Both are great reads. 

3) The Madness season, by CS Freidman

This is the only original vampire book in existence. I’ve read many, many books about vampires, but noneof them  come even closer to being as cool and surprising as this delightful science fiction tale. Yes, you heard me, not fantasy, but science fiction. Not hard science fiction, but awesome nevertheless. If you want to see the most original, fun, and exiting take on the whole vampire mythos out there check this book out. 

4) Anything Charles De Lint Writes

 His books are filled with beautiful landscapes of urban fantasy where we meet magical creatures from every possible tradition. One minute we are strolling around the woods with Old Man Coyote and Raven, and the next we find out that the mild mannered coffee shop owner that made our espresso is really a Celtic goddess. His stuff helps you to see magic in everything. 

I know that there are more books that would fit this list, but I’m not feeling well, and I need a break, plus, the ones I mention here should keep you busy for a long time. If you have any suggestions feel free to post them in the comments section.

Written by Hector

November 5, 2008 at 7:12 pm