July was a pretty good month overall. I attended AVCon (an annual anime and video game event) where I got to play some retro game consoles. I also assembled a long-desired shrine to pop culture and literature and finish a draft for a new novel I started late last year. Now though my time to relax has ended and I’ve once again returned to uni, but not before being able to read as much as I could. I didn’t read as much as I hoped to have, but I still got to finally read an author I’ve been wanting to do so for a long time. So, with no further delays, let’s begin with this month’s Book Talk.
The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
One billion years in the future, the Earth we know it as now has changed significantly. Our oceans have dried up and the world has become a massive desert, with only a single city remaining. This city, Diaspar, sits in the middle of this great worldwide desert, standing as the supposed last city of humanity. For all this time, the people of Diaspar live with very long lives, and under the control of the Great Computer. Within all this, Alvin (the protagonist) becomes interested in what could be beyond his city, which when he discovers it is shocking to both him and Diaspar.
First published in 1956, The City and the Stars is my first introduction to Arthur C. Clarke. I’ve had a trouble reading the other big three sci-fi writers (Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov) in the past. I often found their stories to be very long winded and difficult to read. I wasn’t sure on what to think about Clarke because of this, and after reading this story, I’m still uncertain.
First, the negatives. To me, this story was long winded and difficult to read at first, and I was unable to connect much with Alvin. However, as the story progressed, I found myself liking this story more. This is where the positives begin. The adventure Alvin goes on and what he sees, wow, it certainly blew my expectations, and was quite fun too. It’s in here too that I discovered this story is a great dystopian piece and of the manipulation of history too, similar in some ways to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The City and the Stars was my first Arthur C. Clarke story, and it’ll definitely won’t be my last. Yeah, it was long winded to begin with, but from the midway point, it gets really interesting. If you want a dystopian story unlike others you’ve read before then give this a go.
Water off a Dragon’s Back by KE Fraser
Released in April 2017, this is book two of The Realm of the Lilies series by Adelaide indie author KE Fraser. We once again follow the previous book’s (Through the Fig Tree) protagonists Daniel and Violet as they’re reunited and are now on a quest to establish a new nation.
I’m only halfway through this book as from writing this, so I won’t go into too much detail regarding the plot or my thoughts on it at this moment. I will admit though I’m uncertain on what to say about this book so far. It has so far had more action heavy scenes than the previous entry in the series, but still remains at that same slow pace like the one before. The slow-paced build up worked well in the first book, but not so much in this one. Despite these negative points, it’s still been good, and certainly different to many other contemporary fantasy stories.
I’ll give my full thoughts on this story next Book Talk.
As always, I will keep my descriptions on short stories brief. This is to prevent any possible spoilers from appearing.
I Am the Doorway by Stephen King
From the Night Shift collection, “I am the Doorway” overall for me was a bit of a mixed bag. I really liked the sci-fi aspect of it and the horrible things that were happening to the protagonist, but I found the writing a little difficult to read. I think this reason was due to the story being one of King’s earlier works, (first published in 1971) which I can forgive it for that. Still, it’s an interesting read, give it a go if you want something a little different.
Hunter of Darkness, Hunter of Light by Michael Pryor
From Australis Imaginarium collection, “Hunter of Darkness, Hunter of Light” was by far one of the strangest stories I’ve read. This story follows Paulie and flicks between his childhood and in an apocalyptic-like future. This story contains many themes related to Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, and allergies to modern substances, like artificial materials. I found these together very interesting, but I had a lot of trouble reading this piece. I found it difficult to know what exactly what was happening since it flicked between the childhood and adult parts too frequently. A very odd story with many interesting themes, but unfortunately really wasn’t for me.
She Only Needed to See the Teeth by Leslie J. Anderson
From issue 67 of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, “She Only Needed to See the Teeth” is a very interesting combination of sci-fi with fairy-tale mythology. This is a story set in an apocalyptic near future, where everything links back to Little Red Riding Hood. I found this story to be deeply disturbing with some of the imagery, which I really liked. The writing too was really well done and engaging. A great read, go check it out.