Maggot Moon

This book is for kids? I beg to differ. This book is for adults. Yes, kids may read it. Will kids “get” it? I am not so sure. Yes, the language is easy to read and easy to grasp. Yes, the font is so huge, you’d think a blind person would be able to read the book. But this book is not just for kids. It’s meant to be read by adults too.

An alternate-reality science-fiction, this book is set in the time of the space race and nations trying to get to the moon. The book was so eerie, I thought it was set on the moon {also thanks to the title that deceived me into thinking so}. It was firmly set on earth but oh, what a dystopian future! The book was writ from the point-of-view of a 15-year-old, who can’t read or write too well but who’s intelligence is to be rivalled. He shows us his world, where ethnic cleansing is the norm, specially with the killing of those “flawed” in some ways. He told us of how people “disappeared” in the middle of the night, including his parents; where food was sparce, television was a banned commodity, a luxury not allowed; and where spies ran underfoot telling on each other, having “detectives” show up and take people away to be “re-educated” or to just become “maggot-meat”. The country was ruled by the likes of a regime analogous to the Nazis (there was no mention of a name except that the country had a black and red flag – very telling of the ideology in power) and whose morality and values, rife with oppression and authorotarian policing.

The book, however, told the story of this kid, who was bullied at school because he had heterochromatia (one blue eye and one brown), who had trouble breathing and who wore short-pants instead of the long-pants, that were a sign of esteem in his school. It was a story of an underdog, who in his own way, stood up and single-handedly brought around a hopeful revolution, bringing down the entire regime. The hero, who was the only solution and the only hope to a desperate people. And he did it not for himself, but to save his friend or his love. It was a heart-wrenching story and the message is as clear as day. You have to be a special kind of stupid, to take this story just at face-value.

Wolf in White Van

I was right. Wolf in White Van was the most boring book I’ve read in a while and it slowed my readin progress to a crawl when I finally started reading it {for the 3rd time}. It was written in reverse and I lost the thread a 3rd of the way into it, all in pursuit of the story. However, the flaw isn’t just in the book itself. I think this book was written more for the enjoyment of the journey rather than the conclusion, and so the fault of disenchantment falls (somewhat) in my lot.

I think I should stop reading all books like they’re suspense thrillers {expecting a mind-boggling end and preparing to be blown away}. It’s really anticlimactic and takes the fun out of the reading since instead of slowing the pace of my reading and absorbing the atmosphere, I speed through it to get to the end.

However, reading the blurb before beginning to read the book, left me thinking this was going to be another sci-fi thriller of sorts. I really thought it was going to be a bit like Ready Player One or something along those lines. It turned out to be a lot less remarkable than that. Ah well, onwards and upwards

Jack Glass – Adam Roberts

It was a good book. Even better than a good book. Most books divided that are into different parts have two plots. One is the more immediate plot with regards to what is happening in that part of the story. The other one is more expansive. It is the plot of the entire story that connects all the different parts of the book and ties them together.

I would give this book 4 stars because there was something, I felt, that was wrong with it. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. However, having thought about it for a while, I think I have it figured out. It was a tad slow and the conclusions of each part were kinda soporific. Otherwise, it was great. It was sci-fi, set in the future sometime, somewhere when the Galaxy is ruled by a bunch of dictators.

Here’s what I loved about it:

The most powerful form of human life seems to be female, which I thought was so refreshing. And it kept this theme going throughout the book. It was really nice how women being the dominant gender was shown to be something that was taken for granted by the people in this book as opposed to how in our society masculinity is assumed to be the more powerful gender.

There are two whodunnits and one story told in a somewhat straightforward manner. Agatha Christie style. And we already know who the murderer is. Well, not exactly but still. What I didn’t like about it was that the three individual stories didn’t have a solid earth-shattering conclusion. By the time each separate story ended, I was like “Meh!”. For a book like this, the last star would have been earned if the conclusions had been a lot more powerful than they were. But the overall plot of the book was really, really good. There was no unnecessary B.S. in the book and even though the author chose to add something I am usually vehemently against, he did it in such a by-the-way fashion that I actually ended up wanting some more of it. Very well done.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Agatha Christie. And, honestly, who doesn’t love Agatha Christie? So I’d recommend it to anyone really. Anyone looking for something different to read.

I think this could be a beginning to a new genre. Agatha Christie/ science fiction mashup. I believe it is unique.

Oh, and did I mention that the cover is absolutely fantabulous!? I have recently grown to love stained glass and this cover just mesmerizes me. I want a copy of this book, just so I can look at it.

Machine of Death

It was an interesting premise. What would happen if you knew how you would die? And no matter what you did, you would still end up dying the way the machine predicted? Ironic this machine may be; wrong, however, it is never.

“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de La Fontaine, Fables

I thought Oogway from Kung Fu Panda said this!? I digress.

This is how the short stories works: a machine takes your blood and tells you how you will die. Pretty straight-forward you’d think? It isn’t. The answers you usually get are ironic, confusing and vague at best. “You’ll die by: potato” could mean you could choke on it, have a million tons of potatoes fall on your head while walking down the street, or be stabbed to death by a man dressed as a potato. Most stories went about finding the most interesting solutions to these ambiguous death sentences (pun totally intended). Other stories focused on sociology and psychology. They focused on either the society as a whole or on the individual and the effect it had on them. Very interesting.

As all anthologies go, some stories were great, some were alright and some were just bad. “Vegetables” by Chris Cox was my favorite. It was totally whacky and twisty and just the sort of story I love. I won’t elaborate since all the stories are shorts and I’d feel like I’m giving away too much by talking about it but if you don’t have the time or the inclination to go read the entire book, take my advice and go read just this one story.

I don’t think I’d take the test if the Machine of Death existed. I like to think I’m a rebel. Although some would argue that taking the test is rebelling. I wonder though (for real) how many people WOULD take the test? Would it really become a sensation like most of the stories claim it’ll be? Or would people avoid it? What effect would it have on our lives besides the mental and emotional aspect? Would people start hiring and firing employees? Would it become a government mandate to have each and every child tested? Would this change the face of our planet? Reading the book though, I don’t think that a lot of people should get interesting deaths. It just isn’t likely that half the world will die such interesting deaths. Most people just die due to heart failure. But I guess there is no way of making organ failure more interesting and glorified and special is there?

Overall the book was great and strangely cohesive. I guess the editor picked the stories most in line with the concept. It would have been interesting to see some stories change it a bit here and there but oh well! It was a tad long for my liking and I found myself skipping pages in the last few stories but it was pretty interesting overall.

Blindsight

I’ll be honest with you. This book was so smart, I have a feeling it rang circles around me and I missed a lot of its genius. This book I’m going to have to read at least twice to extract every chunk of its awesomeness.

This book was brilliant. It was a lesson in neuro-psychology and I could definitely see so much of the information being pulled from cognitive psychology and books like The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. It talked about a lot of the strange unexplained neurological and psychological disorders that we can’t imagine but that exist in real life. This is what real hard science-fiction is and this is what I was looking for after going through a bunch of shitty Young Adult pseudo-science-fiction novels.

It was refreshing. Intelligent and full of mind-numbing information; it’s the type of book that will force you to improve your mind and do your own research and learn something. It had me googling, sticking my nose back into my Cognitive Psychology text book, constantly looking stuff up on Wikipedia. I loved every minute of it. Another thing about this book that I loved was that it made no excuses. It assumed its audience was smart enough to get everything it was talking about and didn’t stop to explain anything. Honestly, when you live in a world in the future, no one is going to stop and explain to you what new technology is. You’re supposed to know it right? It was a great experience. It didn’t explain or wait for anything or anyone. It just whizzed through and expected you to learn and pick up all the tidbits of information it dropped in its wake.

This book dares to make you look at things from a different perspective. Forces you to step out of the comfortable bubble most of us live in and the assumptions we make when we think of “aliens”, it makes you imagine what real alien life will actually be like (something so different we can’t easily even fathom it). Unimaginably indescribable but worth an attempt. Carbon-based? Could be. Breathe oxygen? How bout no? Something so alien, it truly deserves the word. Most people imagine aliens to be in our own image. But, what if they’re not? I sometimes wonder. We are limited by our senses. We only see what we are capable of seeing. What if the world is truly and completely different from what we perceive? What if the way we see things is only limited because of our senses? What if aliens were living on our planet with us, but we couldn’t even sense them because they were so different?

I would recommend it to anyone looking to take a breather from books being churned out in the name of science-fiction but are nothing more than young-adult romance. Honestly, those books are useless. Read this one. Its worth every minute.