What with recent US political events – apocalypse seems to be in the air. Though TBH I have been background pondering these book since well before Trump’s election. Perhaps for too long? So I’ll split this review in two – partly coz it takes me too long to write it up in one go.
For most of my nine-or-so pre-uni-years of reading lots of S&F, I actively avoided anything which would have fallen into the category of `classic scifi’. What did I actually read then? Its v hazy. I think mostly fantasy series – maybe David Eddings and the like? At an average rate of two to four books a week, I probably read 500-1500 fantasy + scifi novels. (I did also read a lot of other novels too – which is partly why the guestimate so uncertain.) Anyway, what bothers me is that when I look at lists of Eddings books now, I have absolutely no idea whether I read them or not. And, perhaps even worse, aside from an Asimov or two, I really cant remember any S&F book that actually did read during that time. Some of the other non scifi I do remember – though few enough of these. And yes, I realise I am rather rambling. But isn’t that just possibly one of the best arguments there is for keeping a personal blog that includes reading notes? (A diary has never sounded much fun –without at least the idea of an audience I lack sufficient motivation to bother.)
Anyway, put me back on my tracks. Where was I going? Ah yes… so earlier this year I started making an effort to read some classic scifi, alongside more recent offerings. Its what one is supposed to know and have read – yeah? A bit by chance, that has resulted in Apocalypse! Book week:
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951)
I sort of hate saying this – but its intensely easy to understand why this one made it onto so many English Class reading lists. I am a new Wyndham fan. Given that everyone in the entire world has read this (xcept me obvs, til now) It seems a bit pointless writing a summary. And see Part II for comparison with Nod and Android. And meantime do read it if you have not. You’ll definitely be better prepared for the coming TrumpOpocalypse if you do.
Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K Dick (1968)
Dick however is a complete nob. And understandably 1960s nob – but read Wyndham if you want to know what a thinking version of a 50-60’s mindset might look like (versus a pure Dick-Nob-Sheep version).
Nod by Adrian Barnes (2015)
Okay this one is uptodate. But also falls bang-square in the Apocalyptic Visions category. Oddly (not oddly?) it is also the one, that one that I had the most issues with. As I was reading this I just couldn’t ever sufficiently shuffle to the side the overwhelming impression that Adrian Barnes has a serious problem with society and cannot really identify with either females or children. This book repulsed me in a way that none of my other reads have this year.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
Just finishing reading this one, as I am scribbling these notes. Its brilliant in many ways, but still… Men. Men! Ray!! Can you not just think of women-folk as people too? At least for stretches of more than 10 minutes at a time? Even in the 1950s we really were people. Honest. Not just figments of your imagination. Or there solely to prop up your egos. Or housewives to be ignored and forgotten. Honestly, really, even in the 1950s we were people who you could ask for an opinion or thoughts – as well as ask to listen to you too.
[End of part 1.]
Teaser Part 2:
So maybe this is the harder part of this multi-book review. In my head I have been cross-comparing these novels/writers as to what I liked and why I really didn’t like. This is hard to get into writing. Firstly coz I don’t have the books with me as I write these notes. And secondly, it’s a bit like an English Class exercise – at which I never especially excelled (twas always rather better with music and computers). Thirdly to make a decent fist of it would take far longer than I currently have. Anyway, enough excuses!