The Lathe of Heaven

November 28, 2017

Just put the Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin down 30 years after reading it for the first time. A short but brilliant work of Science Fiction. She always weaves a masterful tail utilizing a sparse word count creating relatively short but spellbinding books.

As the book commences George Orr, our reluctant hero, is stung out on a cocktail of drugs trying to suppress his dreams because when he dreams effective dreams the World Changes – like goes from mass overcrowding to sparsely populated.

The book, written in 1971, is set in the near future Portland, at a time when Food Wars are in full swing because of over population, mass hunger, and climate change. Clearly Ms. LeGuin was ahead of her time. As an aside this is what draws many of us to Science Fiction that peep into the possible future which often times becomes reality.

At first George’s dreams cause small changes like a different apartment or job. However after he is appended by the drug police and sent to Dr. Haber for evaluation. The good doctor is a sleep specialist has has been developing a machine, The Augmentor to force a person into REM Sleep. The doctor soon realizes George’s dreams change the World. At first in a small way. For example a photo of Mt. Hood disappears off the doctor’s office wall. Soon however the doctor has has George dream larger transformations – like eliminating the overpopulation problem by causing 6 Billion humans to never be born. The doctors dilemma is he can only suggest changes to George and then George implements the change via a dream in his own weird way

Time marches on in our tale and Dr. Haber induces more and more significant modifications to the World and its inhabitants via George’s effective dreams. As the wheel of time turns George becomes more and more reluctant to aid in the doctor’s utopian vision.

As the book nears its climax the moon is inhabitated by Aliens whom soon land on the Earth causing the armies of the World to slaughter millions of their own citizens in a attempt to fight the Aliens which by the way are peace loving souls without any weapons.

The book ends with George working for an Alien in a kitchen store after he has been cured of effective dreaming by the doctor who is now locked up in a looney bin after trying to effective dream himself with the help of his machine.

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Watchmen Book Review

August 6, 2013

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

I read a lot. Books, magazine articles, blogs, etc. I don’t usually blog about something I have read unless I consider it really top shelf.  Therefore, I don’t often update my blog with book reviews. Just a few days ago I authored a blog on “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.”  Now I find myself writing a blog on Watchmen. I really enjoyed Watchmen and will probably read it again in a few years just because it is so different.

Watchmen

Watchmen

Watchmen is a graphic novel. We used to call them comic books, but my how they have changed since I was a kid reading Superman and Spiderman.  Before you pass judgement be forewarned Time  magazine named Watchmen one of the 100 best English language novels since Time started publication in 1923. I picked Watchmen up out of curiosity. How could a comic book, albeit a long, long one, be one of the 100 best English language novels?

The setting for the novel is a dystopian future of 1985.  The setting is mostly the United States although there is an interlude on Mars. Through an awful trick of fate Nixon is still President! If that is not bad enough the cold war is getting very hot and everyone is expecting World War III to break out any day. There are many other differences from what really transpired. For example, with the aid of the superheroes we won the Vietnam War.

The Watchmen are none to “super” super heroes who for the most part don’t really have any super powers. The exception is this blue dude Dr. Manhattan. He got discombobulated in a nuclear accident a few years before our story begins and is not bound by space, time, or laws of physics.  He reminds me of Michael Jordan.

Watchmen begins with the murder of one of their own (The Comedian).  They (primarily Rorschach and Nite Owl)  investigate and uncover a plan which threatens to change the World as we know it. However since this an alternative future the World is not as we know it anyway.

The book is non- linear and the story jumps around in both space and time constantly. There is also another narrative (Tales of the Black Freighter) intertwined with the main plot through the reading of one of the main plots characters.


Foundation Book Review

April 4, 2012

Just finished reading Foundation by Isaac Asimov and published long ago in 1951. Harry Truman was President then and computers less powerful than my iPhone took up a whole building. Although I love Science Fiction I never read anything by him before on purpose.  For some reason I always thought I would not like his books.  I can’t tell you why – maybe it was because he wrote so many books, maybe it was his name, maybe it was because he wrote a commentary on the bible?

I realize now I have been missing out. Foundation is a great work of Science Fiction and I am now hooked on reading the whole series.

The basic plot is a statistician (psychohistory in the book) Hari Seldon determines the galactic empire will disintegrate is a few years.  With the help of the empire he sets up a couple of outposts at the edge of the empire to shorten the “dark ages” after the galactic empire’s disintegration.  The remainder of Foundation tells the story of the first 3 crisis along the road to the 2nd empire.

Salvor Hardin (first mayor of Terminus, one of the outposts) is the hero of the 1st two. Hober Mallow, a trader, is the hero of the third.

After each crisis Hari reappears in a special vault in a form we know as a hologram, a term coined well after the book.

I don’t want to reveal anymore of the Saga.  You need to read the book yourself.  Happy reading!