Archive for July 2008
i’m too lazy to write a coherent impression of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley so i’ll just copy-paste comments i made on a thread about the book from the Flips Flipping Pages shelfari page.
please read gege’s book review for a better picture of BNW and how the Flippers came to choose it as a Book of the Month (June, actually… I’m really lazy).
as an outsider looking inside, were the citizens of Huxley’s BNW really free? you may say that they have been conditioned biologically to be happy with their work. diseases were a thing of the past. there was no poverty. all this they had FOR A PRICE- they were conditioned and controlled by a central government. WERE THE PEOPLE OF BNW REALLY FREE?
- nope. to be free is to be able to choose options, take different paths that may or may not agree with the greater whole. and to be free is to have the knowledge of this power. no one is completely free, of course–we can’t have those with serial killer tendencies indulge their urges at will now, can we? society will always formulate and implement a check-and- balance for order. in BNW, the very capacity (through biochemical manipulation of the embryo and conditioning) to distinguish control over freedom has been virtually removed.
a participant comments that when reading SF, we tend to look for “corollaries” with present-day technologies. “but I don’t think the value of sci-fi lies in this,” he says. others point out that SF is valued because of its strong visionary quality, its versatility with speculating about science and many aspects of reality.
- another value of sf is in the creative exercise – stories take off from a “what if” supposition. inventing a new history, geography, and set of social customs is, i imagine, an awesome feat because the writer has to make this world real for readers – inserting similarities help but using too much of those defeats the purpose and leaves the visionary scale wanting in breadth and depth.
on the writing in BNW… many picked on the clumsiness of the writing style and crudeness of its literary devices.
- i rather like the quaint, awkward writing – rather like throwing mud in the face of literary conventions, an excellent foil to the controlled, rigid social structure of BNW, a tongue-in-cheek commentary to its conformist philosophy.
maybe, the sum is greater than the flawed parts, as rise (another member) says: maybe in terms of literary merit this applies.
BNW is a dystopia. happiness is achieved at the expense of personal freedom and creativity. people are drugged and conditioned into happiness. books are banned. why?
- the suppression of literary and informative books was for a good cause, according to BNW philosophy, mustapha mond (a character in the book, one of BNW’s leaders) explains. they (leaders) didn’t want people to start thinking for themselves and defying the social order. they also didn’t want people to become unhappy from reading about tragedies and other passionate emotions. they didn’t want people asking for more or asking less.
my favorite character is lenina, the book’s official airhead:
- but i was quite sympathetic to lenina. she was the only one who didn’t seem to have any ulterior motive for defying the world order. she wasn’t ambitious or complex, just wanted to be happy. yet she had a small voice that she listened to eventually. she came to see john, didn’t she? shed tears for him? she listened to love, even if she didn’t know it was love, only that it was taboo. in her airhead way, she achieved what john aims at by self-flagellation–to be noble. maybe, that’s why he hates her as much as he loves her?
sabihin nyo nang baduy ako… corny… mababaw. pero kahit ano pang panglalait ang tanggapin ko, sasabihin ko pa rin ang totoo:
natawa ako sa My Monster Mom na yan! vanity movie man o hindi.
hindi marunong mag-akting si anabelle pero nakakatawa ang mga hirit niya. at si rufa, kahit di na siya mag-akting, ok lang… dahil obvious na exasperated naman siya talaga sa mommy niya in real life.
at grabe. lahat ng sinusuot niya, gusto kong hanapin sa malls para maging akin din.
“ay, namatay sa disney? pinatay siya ni mickey mouse?” – esme (anabelle’s character), upon learning of her brother’s death in america
a delightful read, four stories about the romance between otherworldly beings and mortals.
the fairies here are magical, certainly, but still very human in the way they fall in love, in grieving over lost loves or ecstatic over love’s triumph… we need to have light reads every now and then; else our brain burns out from too much of reading critically acclaimed novels and 700-page tomes about ancient mysteries or volumes on the theories about the universe’s origins.
we so need happy endings interspersed in our reading choices!
my favorite is THE LOVE TALKER by Barbara Samuel… very passionate, about a rogue faery punished for seducing pretty mortal women to death, to fall in love truly with a homely girl. he chose to be mortal so he could be with her forever.
the other stories are THE LORD OF ELPHINDALE by Jo Beverly – shows faery’s ruthless side, THE FAERY BRAID by Karen Harbaugh – an almost-faery defies her fairy stepmother to be with the mortal man she loves, and DANGEROUS GIFTS by Mary Jo Putney – a faery lord manipulates a mortal girl so she will agree to be his wife but ends up with plans in disarray and bested by a faery woman from India.
i’m so hooked on The Repairman Jack / Adversary Cycle series… already have The Tomb, Legacies, Gateway, Harbinger, The Keep, and Nightworld… but i can’t seem to get the books in order. i really would prefer not to skip volumes…
Jack is very likable because most times he’s just your ordinary guy – smart but not diabolically intelligent. in fact, he doesn’t always save the day for everyone; but this makes him more of a ‘real person’ for readers.
in this volume jack has to travel out of his beloved New York City to the Everglades to see his comatose father. he meets anya, one weird old lady, who reminds him eerily of other weird old ladies with dogs. he also meets semelee, a girl living with a bunch of physically odd men (alright, let’s be politically incorrect for the sake of clarity… freaks) out in the swamps.
both anya and semelee think jack is special. and this ‘specialness’ is connected to the two supernatural forces slugging it out with each other since time began. on one side is pure evil, on the other, pure calculation…
but semelee has plans for jack, which she will carry out even it means going through jack’s father.
jack also learns much about his father, who’s not the staid accountant he’s known all his life. just like jack, he has secrets, and it’s time they get to know each other
In the second installment of the Repairman Jack series, Jack’s girlfriend Gia asks him to ‘fix’ the theft of Christmas toys from an AIDS center for kids. The doctor in charge of the center is Alicia Clayton whose dark past has caught up with her, colliding with Jack!
Ever the fix-it guy, but this time out of compassion, Jack helps her solve the riddle of a house she has just inherited, willed to her by her notorious father. Apparently, there is something very important hidden inside it. Her despicable half-brother is in the pay of a mega-rich corporation and is doing everything he could do prevent Alicia from getting full control of the house.
Alicia doesn’t want the house though, she wants it destroyed… It represents so many painful memories, but everyone she enlists for help—legal or not so legal—ends up getting killed!
Will Jack be next?
LEGACIES departs from the horror aspect of THE TOMB. There are no supernatural creatures lurking nor are there ancient legends to act as clues. All we have is a clean sci-fi thriller; but one that builds really well on the urban mercenary-for hire angle. It also succeeds in fleshing Jack up some more.
Though I can’t really buy too much into the idea of an emotionally versatile jack . He can’t be so amiable one second and terrifyingly enraged the next without blemish. Sometimes, the way Jack is put out seems too carefree for him to really be this ruthless urban mercenary.
But F. Paul Wilson does have an uncanny habit of giving his villains and maybe-villains a sympathetic and all-too human face. it makes it really difficult to hate them. the mercenary in the hire of the enemy is crude and a cold-blooded killer yet all his earnings from his jobs go to his senile mother’s medical care. the enemy himself longs to go back to his country to rescue his troublemaker son from jail but stays until he can fulfill what he believes is a sacred duty to his country.
LEGACY’s storyline is just as filled with twists and turns as the previous volume, told in a clean writing style and fast-paced manner. I miss the supernatural elements of the previous book, though, because I prefer paranormal mysteries.
To sum up, Repairman Jack fans won’t be disappointed with LEGACY.
a friend asked me to read The Story of O, which follows the story of a beautiful parisian fashion photographer as she gives up everything, even self-worth, for the man (Rene) she loves. she allows herself to be whipped, debased, mutilated, and used by a succession of men in the name of love.
the book was written by Anne Desclos under the pen name Pauline Réage. it was published in 1954, causing much controversy but claiming many converts. it was adapted for a movie in 1975, but like the book, suffered banishment for a long time…
O is about subjugation and submission apparently. sex is a major part of it but only a part. the relationship demands complete control or surrender, over or of the tiniest details of one’s life—what to wear, who to befriend, what to think.
so I read it, expecting much insight into the S&M relationship, which practitioners claim is liberating. at the very least, i expected to have fun reading it. but on the second page i was already bored. moving on to the following pages was a struggle. i trudged to the finish out of duty, getting nothing but a sense of having read propaganda…
alright, fine, i’d better qualify—the author writes in the intimate mode, as if talking to herself or writing a letter or diary. her character’s name is O, very fitting, if it stands for ‘object’ and accurate if it were a symbol for ‘eye’ as she lets us peek into a forbidden world (forbidden to those who won’t be wiling slaves).
O does not preach, she reveals. the book itself is not so pure though. i have an idea that it has transmogrified into a mouthpiece, a marketing tool for making dramatic lifestyle-changes. but my beef is not with that because as a fiction, The Story of O is terribly wanting.
if the story and writing were exquisite, i would be among the first to applaud unreservedly even if i was appalled by the author’s philosophy. but this book does not deliver the goods—it’s just a long list of cruel sex acts. the writing is very simplistic.
if there were meaningful messages between the lines, they were just lost on me. those who practice S&M say that with complete surrender comes strength. there is a sense of freedom in abrogating responsibility from having given up the power of saying ‘no,’ I gather.
i just think it weak—the philosophy and motivations. there are psychic holes from insecurities or sense of inadequacy in some people that can only be filled by feeding off on others, i believe. on the M side, they seem to rather merge their identity with a master rather than strengthen their own power of self.
how unappetizing! because I’d rather be so powerful, from a strong grasp of self-worth, on my own that I don’t need to impose or be needy to feel strong.
also, very rarely do we find someone who is master of him or herself. who is worthy to be master of anyone in that way? there are those who seem strong but are actually sniveling cowards. i don’t think anyone who is truly strong and powerful will have a need to be a “Master.” and if the point of this book is to give strength to someone one loves by complete surrender, i’d just say O was bamboozled.
were her masters truly strong? near the end the tables turned on rene, who fell in love with Jacqueline, an ambitious model, who was just using him. they wanted jacqueline recruited for sexual slave training but could not by their own persuasiveness or charisma but had to order O to betray her friend.
in my case, ironically, despite my protestation in this book review, complete surrender is the key. but i chose my master wisely for I am completely God’s own.
A musician is recruited into the War of the Oaks, the fight between two opposing faerie races. It relates the struggles of a mortal woman against forces greater than she could ever know and against very human emotions for creatures of the sidhe.
In the end, she reveals a power no immortal is proof against: love, for a friend and for music.
characters are well-drawn: the faeries can mix with humans for they have always had a yearning to experience mortal passion; but they are still fey; and the book is successful enough to let us feel their immortal sadness. the humans, with their powerful creativity, are almost as fey as they are. but no music or art could protect the humans from their own insecurities, which the fey play upon so well….
Ifound this books fascinating, not so much by the characters, but by the dazzling way it allowed us to see a city (Minneapolis) in a different light and in the way it gave it a pulse, a beat, its own urban music.
The idea of a hidden sub-culture is scary but also exciting. it’s city folks’ magical wardrobe into something else, i guess.
Also, it maybe helps us appreciate our daily routine (home, work, social/family life)–the contrast gives the world dark allure and not simply pastel shadows.
Anyway, War for the Oaks is successful because the author or other authors can continue to build upon the world created in this book and create more stories and memorable characters.