Monday, July 22, 2013

Genetically Modified Organics

I am a believer in taking care of myself. I do not expect others to take care of my hardships for me. I do not want to rely on a handout to keep me going. I want to know that my survival will be in my own hands. I married an Eagle Scout (from when it actually meant hard work and surviving in the wilderness).

Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

I look forward to future books in this series. While some parts were horribly cliche and tired, the depth and allusion to that which is not quite right in our own world left a lasting impression. Amazon granted me an early viewing of this introduction to the Heartland Trilogy. I suggest that everyone go pre-order a copy today (it is on sale currently for $3.99; a fantastic price to get introduced to a fabulous series). While you are reading it, pay very close attention to how your life will end up if we do not take agriculture back into our own hands. Science is not God; we were not meant to manipulate genes to our liking.

Cael could be any teenager in any part of the world. His character is basic and his wants are human. His trials of transitioning from youth to man a little stereotypical. That is what makes him such an easy character to connect with and bond throughout the story, though. We all know it and have felt it and therefore can truly relate on the emotional level. Wendig creates the bond early in the story so you are on Cael's and the Heartlanders' side. This could be our own story. 

I was not entirely pleased by the end. The pacing of the book was just right. I managed to read the entire thing on a Saturday camped out on my deck chair drinking in the first sunlight in a month. (There were probably many other yard related items I should have been doing, but this book was just too hard to ignore.) I hated the characters I was supposed to and rooted for the underdogs along with the narrator. Most of the omniscient narrator's focus is on Cael's story, but every now and again he popped into the view of his best mates. I thought it was a little clunky with no appropriate segue between the views, but it didn't hamper the overall experience so much I stopped reading. I also could have lived without the big reveal at the end from one of the crew. It just seemed incredibly misplaced and completely unnecessary (though I feel that way about all token characters that people deem required by PC). 

Even with all the "cons," I would classify this book a success. I am certainly interested to see where the story line goes (and hope it is not completely in the obvious direction) and how the characters all fit together.

Here is to rejoining the fallen angels!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Loving the Alien

I tried the thriller section then the travel section on Netgalley and both were a bust. I logged onto Amazon and took a weekly peek at my wishlist to see if any of the (ever increasing) books on my wishlist had gone on sale. Sure enough Ender's Game was down to $2.99; instant purchase! I married into an LDS family and am friends with an aspiring LDS author. She has already turned me on to Brandon Sanderson, so I felt sure in the recommendation for Orson Scott Card. 

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

What is there to say really when you read a mind-bending book? The absolute beauty of the writing just leaves you speechless. Well, I'll give it my best shot. This is an excellent starting novel to a series that I am certainly interested to keep pursuing. It presents itself quite clearly as a stand alone novel. You will only feel left wanting if you have an insatiable curiosity for what comes next. The plot has a nice conclusion, yet the story is clearly not over. There is a whole universe out there to explore and endless youth beckoning. 

Typically, I am not a fan of the science fiction genre; as I have always been more drawn to unicorns and elves than aliens. Surprisingly I feel Sci-Fi diverges far more from reality than Fantasy ever does. (Perhaps I have completely misunderstood the genre.) Ender Wiggin drew me in from the start. While it is a story of war and personal struggle up in space, I felt the novel really got to the heart of the matter with an epic twist at the end. You connect with the characters and their motivations. You bleed for their sorrows. The addition of an alien race just reconfirms the struggle to understand the human condition instead of detracting into unreality. 
While written by an LDS author, it is not overly heavy in the religious propaganda. Card focuses on the moral dilemmas and human struggle to understand more than ourselves are presented with from the bigger picture. I think that is what I love about the LDS church the most. The overall acceptance that there is more to religion than the doctrine and rites presented at face value, but an understanding deep down inside each of us. Ender struggles to find himself in the face of terrifying circumstances and unreasonable pressures. 
Definitely look forward to this being a movie and a video game. This is definitely a series that holds a lot of promise from the first book. In the junk of pop culture and fly-by-night trends today, we need to focus on the intelligentsia with substance and moral backing to get our feet again.
Here is to a new meaning to children of the corn!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Traversing the travel genre

I enjoy memoirs; getting into the action of another's life and living vicariously for a couple of days is enthralling. It gives you the chance to get outside yourself for awhile without taking the actual risk. While pursuing novels outside the fantasy genre on Netgalley, I stumbled upon the travel section. Ever since living briefly aboard, I have been bitten with wanderlust. Reading the description for I of the Sun piqued my interest so I signed up for the galley. The reading experience promised a different view of Asia then my stereotypical knowledge.

I of the Sun by Richard Arthur

Boy was I disappointed. It was a drug filled haze of mashed up rhyme and incomplete thoughts. I get that the entire time you were in Thailand you rotted your brain, but did you have to rot mine with your writing? We all know there is a seedy underbelly to the Asia we see on Discovery Channel and especially between the fluctuating tourist seasons. The people have to find a way to make money during the low seasons and it's not always going to be good. However, a terrible stream-of-conscious of your obvious bad decisions mixed with your argument for cause-effect versus free will equal disaster. 

The redeeming hope was the promise of philosophical thought provocation and taking the reader into human consciousness. This author is unable to keep his promises. After chopped up chapter segues of timeline history for the "big bang" (which I had horrible issues with the limited presentation of research in the scientific community on that topic) to evolution of the human culture, I came to realize that he hasn't studied any great philosophies and completely wasted his experience overseas. The protagonist seems to have an atheist approach to life and went to Asia for a spiritual journey to only end up drugging it up. In the land of mysticism and beauty, he never connected with the wisdom and clarity that can be found. He was supposedly chasing the sun around Asia, but I certainly never found that connection having only visited three countries. He followed the SangSom and proverbial sun that hallucination created, maybe.

He only made me realize that I never want to go to Thailand on the "backpackers" route or try and find peace outside in the jungle.

Here is to trying out some Mormon Sci-Fi!