The Player of Games – Review

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

Published in 1988

Pages: 391

Genre: Science fiction

“This is the story of a man who went far away for a long time, just to play a game.”

If one ever wanted to boil down the plot of The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, into a single, succinct sentence, the quote above couldn’t be beat. This book, being the second in the Culture series, follows a player of games into an alien and dangerous empire built upon the structure of an intricate and difficult game. With information being spoon fed to the protagonist, it makes for a compelling story and thriller that builds up to the climax on a planet with a wave of fire that circles the globe. Not all is as it seems when the Culture’s Contact division gets involved, and the player must learn to either win the game or be consumed by it. Continue reading “The Player of Games – Review”

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The Sirens of Titan – Review

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Published in 1959

Pages: 326

Genre: Science fiction

“Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.”

This meaning is most likely less than one would hope after reading through the pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1959 novel, The Sirens of Titan. Taking a peak into the ridiculousness of self-imposed importance on the part of the human race, the novel asks the question: are humans as important as we believe we are, or are we simply a means to an end? The story travels around the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, pointing out the absurd and predestined in a sprawling tale that nearly loses sight of its ultimate goal. Continue reading “The Sirens of Titan – Review”

Fire from Heaven – Review

Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault

Published in 1969

Pages: 370

Genre: Historical fiction

“The child was wakened by the knotting of the snake’s coils about his waist.”

Those familiar with the myth of Heracles will notice its connection to the opening line of Fire from Heaven, by Mary Renault. Hera, jealous of Zeus’s infidelity, sent two snakes in Heracles’ crib in order to kill him. In this tale about the childhood of Alexander the Great, however, the snake is a friendly creature owned by his mother. Connections between the strongest of Greek heroes and Alexander abound in the novel and, as the young prince grows into his glory, the hero becomes a sort of patron god for the young conqueror whose greatness was apparent from childhood. Continue reading “Fire from Heaven – Review”

Mythology – Review

Mythology by Edith Hamilton

Illustrations by Steele Savage

Published in 1942

Pages: 465

Genre: Mythology

“Greek and Roman mythology is quite generally supposed to show us the way the human race thought and felt untold ages ago.”

This sentiment, which begins Mythology by Edith Hamilton, expresses the limited worldview of not only the author, but the book itself. Primarily concerning the Greek and Roman myths and gods, Mythology collects some of the most famous stories in one place. All the greatest hits are here, including Jason and the Golden Fleece, the Judgement of Paris and Fall of Troy, and Oedipus’s folly at trying to escape fate. Mythology also contains lesser myths and the histories of tragic families; the only kind that the Greeks had in their myths. Continue reading “Mythology – Review”

Stupid Fast – Review

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Published in 2011

Pages: 311

Genre: Young adult

“This could be a dark tale!”

Not necessarily what one would expect to be the first line in a book about puberty and running, this is an apt beginning to an increasingly complex story. Stupid Fast, by Geoff Herbach, follows a dorky kid living in Bluffton, Wisconsin who one day wakes to find copious amounts of body hair and a natural ability to run faster than anyone else around. This newfound penchant for speed opens up new worlds for Felton as he tries to outrun his familial problems, discover who he is, and court the pretty piano player who lives in his best friend’s house for the summer. Continue reading “Stupid Fast – Review”

The Drowned World – Review

The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard

Published in 1962

Pages: 175

Genre: Science fiction

“Soon it would be too hot.”

This is a fitting first sentence for a book about the aftermath of intense sun flares. The Drowned World, written in 1962 by J. G. Ballard, answers the question of what life would be like if the jungles and wildlife were allowed to regain their control of the world in the wake of cataclysmic climate change. Following the life of a scientist studying the levels of water and jungle growth, the story looks into the psychological effect such a transformation would take on humans, in addition to the ways in which they would survive. Continue reading “The Drowned World – Review”

The View from the Cheap Seats – Review

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2016

Pages: 522

Genre: Nonfiction, short essays

“I fled, or at least, backed awkwardly away from journalism because I wanted the freedom to make things up.”

Neil Gaiman is a writer who has worked in many types of media; literature, comics, film, and visual arts just to name a few. In his collection of selected nonfiction, The View from the Cheap Seats, he has compiled a mass of personal writing that covers everything from his favorite musicians to how comics and libraries affected him as a writer and human being. For those who have been blessed to visit his Sandman comics, his novels, and seen films based on his writing, this book is a revealing glimpse into the mind of the man who made them all. Continue reading “The View from the Cheap Seats – Review”