Ready Player One
Do you ever find yourself wanting a book to take longer to read, because you just want it to keep going and going? Would you neglect your children (if you had any) in order to finish the chapter you’re on, and then read “just a little” into the next chapter, hoping they won’t notice? Do you find yourself thinking of who else needs copies of this book, and how you can afford to buy each and every one of them their own personal copy?
Yep. It’s one of those.
Ready Player One is the nerdiest 80s nerd book I’ve ever read. In the first chapter, there’s about a dozen offhand references to things I loved that originated in the 80s, starting with The Breakfast Club and Heathers. At some point, one character says to another “We can dance if we want to. We can leave your friends behind.” There are puzzles to solve that involve being obsessively knowledgeable about things like Quest For the Holy Grail or WarGames.
The whole thing reads like one giant text adventure. There’s crazy Blade Runner technology. There’s a terrible future and a beautiful virtual reality. There’s a quite touching romance, and a tournament that everyone in the world wants to win. A ragtag group of mavericks fighting an evil cabal who wants to destroy the purity of their world.
It’s just a whole damn lot of fun. Stop reading this post and go find it at your local library. Or buy it. It’s definitely a book worth buying. I’m probably going to buy a copy for myself.
Okay, this time around I will read at least two of these three books. I will immediately start reading the first book voted on by anyone, and will read the second a little later when I finish the first. We’re going to do some Kurt Vonnegut this time around.
The Sirens Of Titan
Vote in the comments. Feel free to suggest any book ever, and if I feel like it, I’ll try and get a copy to read. I’ve got a couple of reviews ready to write – one for something incredible I just loved, one for something I couldn’t even finish. And I’m going to try and tell you about the fun stuff I did in September soon too. Vote vote vote!
I love it so much when you pick up a book and it just instantly resonates with the core of your being. When you simply can’t put the book down, and spend hours roaming inside a world drawn for you by a master craftsman, where each page brings new wonders of the universe before you into focus.
I like good books. They make me very happy.
John Wyndham - The Kraken Wakes
The Kraken Wakes
1953, 240 pages
What would humans do if the deepest parts of our oceans were invaded by an intelligent alien species, who made our lives more difficult through a policy of sinking ships that encroach on their territory? Well, if it was the 1950s, the western world would blame the Russians, and the Russians would blame the rest of the world. There would be lots of squabbling about lost shipping routes, lots of fear of an invader you can’t see or even reach. There would be boring parts about working for a new syndicate that was not the BBC, and if the main character’s last name was Watson, there would be a bad and often-repeated Sherlock Holmes joke that the reader grew to dislike almost as much as the narrator. It wasn’t until the sea creatures built tanks and starting attacking the coasts that this book got close to interesting, and it didn’t get to actually interesting until the sea creatures melted the polar ice caps. That was kind of badass.
It’s hard to make a book interesting when it is about the troubles of the shipping industry due to a threat that cannot be seen, or indeed, even fully comprehended. Wyndham almost succeeds. I was expecting more from the author of other books I’ve completely loved, and though this book was good, it wasn’t great. I would place it below The Chrysalids on my Wyndham Awesomeness List, which is something I just made up.
One last thing: the ending was totally weak.
Trouble With Lichen - John Wyndham
Trouble With Lichen
1960, 204 pages
This book was written by the guy who wrote Day of the Triffids, and we should all know what I think of that book by now [it's awesome to the power eleventy billion]. I was expecting something along similar lines – an out of control plant species runs amok, humanity is threatened, and we are forced to face the moral questions that come along with fighting for survival in an increasingly cruel world.
That’s not what Trouble With Lichen is about at all, though I did keep imagining this silent creep of green mossy evil, slowly enveloping humans like a oozy blob, because it’s a funny mental picture.
One of my major complaints regarding classic-era science fiction is the dearth of female characters with responsibilities that go beyond making tea. I was a bit concerned when one of the first characters introduced was a woman named Diana Brackley, who was described as beautiful and well dressed. Bad sign. However, it was soon conveyed that Diana was weird. Extremely intelligent, Diana receives a scholarship to Cambridge and becomes an extremely gifted biochemist. While working at a research facility, she discovers a plant with the power to slow cell growth by a factor of three, effectively cutting the aging process by a factor of three. With no side effects!
Wyndham is great at exploring the moral and social fallout of great change. Most of this book is a dialog between Diana and the owner of the research facility, Francis Saxover, who also independently discovered the life-extending properties of the lichen. I really enjoyed reading Diana Brackley and loved that she was always about four steps ahead of everyone else in the book. The other characters were a little one dimensional, but that’s what happens when a story revolves around the actions of one particular person. Also I’m pretty sure she never made tea.
This book isn’t as good as Day of the Triffids, but nothing is. I liked it more than The Chrysalids, and think it’s a great example of what John Wyndham’s work. I’m going to pass this along to a few people I think would enjoy it.
This was a bookstravaganza book where only one person voted on the books. Cathey suggested I read this with a glass of Wyndham Estates Bin #999 and I think that’s a great idea. Wine + books = win!