Hit and Run Reviews

I am not a reviewer – of anything. I hate reviewing things. I don’t particularly like reading reviews either. If I haven’t read it, the review will give too much away if not by details then by anticipatory means. With a movie that is fine; it is a two hour investment. If someone has assured me some comedy sucks and I go in with low expectations, I may find it wasn’t so bad after all and may even enjoy it. The same cannot be said of books. The investment in time is too much.

And if I have read the book, what do I need to read the review for?

I do understand the need for reviews… I guess.

Except for Doctor Sleep and Oliver Twist, I have been choosing my books from a review site called Science Fiction Ruminations found here. So far his 4.5 – 5.0 reviews have been spot on. I don’t read his (or hers) reviews either, just the ratings. I may go and read some of the reviews for the ones I read. Sometimes the value in that is you may have missed something significant about the book that the reviewer didn’t.

I’ve been on a reading spree since November and am in the middle of book number 8. Here comes some hit and miss reviews! In no particular order…

Oliver Twist: Classic, flawless. One of the best books I have ever read. Like the guy needs a good review…

Doctor Sleep: This is Stephen King’s sequel of sorts to The Shining. As he even admits in the prologue, the man that wrote the sequel is a different man than wrote The Shining. True enough, it is. I liked the pacing and the contact sequences between Danny and the little girl. One fault was I thought it was a little light, the good guys seemed to get through it all and defeat the baddies a little too easily and without too much cost. Almost a fairy-tale ease.

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson: If you’re an alien race coming to take over the Earth – don’t fuck with the English! The medieval English, that is – cuz they’ll kick your ass and take over your empire! See, that’s why I don’t like reviews, what a spoiler that is! Great romp, the epilogue sequence was a little out of place, but the main story was done by then and can be skipped.

Non-Stop by Brain Aldiss: Have to be careful here, easy to spoil the whole thing. It is one of those what you see in the beginning is not what is real stories almost of the Twilight Zone variety. A great science fiction novel and would make one hell of a movie.

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D.G. Compton: This was made into a movie called Death Watch in 1980. It is a gripping book that somewhat foretells the reality television craze and the resultant dehumanization. Sorry, if you don’t know reality television is dehumanizing, think about it. It also contains a redemptive character (unfortunately not done deeply enough) which are my favorite.

The World Inside by Robert Silverberg: What if society structured itself vertically instead of horizontally across the planet? It is the story of humans packed into 1000 story buildings where they live their entire lives without ever leaving the colossal tombs. It is a good story of a tightly controlled society and of a deep, metaphysical, claustrophobia. Unfortunately it was written in the late 60’s and/or early 70’s so there is a lot of sex for sex’s sake. Indeed at times I thought the writer was merely indulging in personal masturbatory material. But hidden in that free-lovin’ sex-fest was a great story. And the ending was beautiful and tragic.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? by Phillip K. Dick: I am a huge Dick fan and this story did not disappoint. I put off reading for so long because the movie was too much in my head for me to separate. There is an excellent, tense, Fredric Brown moment in there sans the Brownian humor. The end delves into Dick’s metaphysics that is entirely missing from the film.

Immortality Inc. by Robert Sheckley: I have always wanted to read Sheckley, but have never got around to it. Only 40 pages in but Sheckley rocks so far. He sort of has the breezy gusto pace of Bester or maybe even Laumer but with a nice bent of humor. I’ll be sure to read more Sheck in the future.

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