• [Rapid Reading & Book Browsing]

    I’m still working on the The Deptford Trilogy. I had just started the second book Manticore in my last book posting and was somewhat hard-pressed to engross myself in the self-wallowing. I did, however, persevere and I’m probably about halfway through the second book, now sitting beside the bathtub.

    The Time Traveler’s Wife (I have trouble typing that without doubling the ell in traveller) is a great title for a book and, for a first book, it’s great. I’ve just finished off the unabridged Audible version and I can highly recommend it. The male/female dual narration is particularly compelling in the audio version. You can, by the way, purchase Audible books through the iTunes Music Store or through Audible on an individual basis. I think, for the most part, it’s cheaper per item to have a subscription if you’re going to regularly purchase audio books. Anyway, I highly encourage others to have a go at The Time Traveler’s Wife, in whatever format. It’s full of interesting ideas, but it’s not too fantastical or so far from reality that it’s hard to get into it.

    On my handheld, I’ve finished the Baen omnibus release of Andre Norton’s The Time Traders and then powered through Larry Niven’s Ringworld Engineers, the sequel to his well-known Ringworld (which I listened to via Audible, too!). The sequel has most of the original characters back visiting the Ringworld, but we don’t spend as much time in descriptive narration of their travels as in exploring some of the underlying physics that shape a world that large. Interesting for the engineers and hardcore sci-fi buffs amongst us, but we can probably live quite happily without it. Both of these books take place in Niven’s “Known Space” universe, populated by sentient plant-like beings, humans, and cat-like warriors.

    Also on my handheld, I’ve made the mistake of starting again on Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. This is a mistake because I always have a problem putting this book down. It kept me up until past three the other night when I had to finally reluctantly put it down because I was too tired to read anymore and I was only 30% through the book. If you haven’t read it before, it’s based around Arthurian legend, heavily interlaced with goddess worship and strong female characters, with the whole story mostly related from the viewpoint of a high priestess of the goddess. Maybe I’m just sucker for a book about mostly male things related mostly from a female point of view (like Anita Diamont’s The Red Tent). There is magic, but it’s mostly in the realm of practical rather fantastic magic, so if you’re not fantasy lover, you still might find the story appealing. I have about 30% left to go on my re-read. There are some sequels to it, written later, but I’ve never tried those. Some of her other books, like The Firebrand (with Cassandra of future prediction fame), are also based on myths/legends and are pretty good reads.

    Finally, from Audible, I’m listening to the unabridged version of Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. I’ve read the book many times before and, of course, seen the movie version. Perhaps if more people read books like this and paid attention to the themes running throughout, they’d have a stronger sense of personal responsibility in a democracy (or any other form of body politic). While you might not agree with some of Heinlein’s ideas, at least it gives you something to think about and fodder to compare your own beliefs and underlying rationale for them. The basic story follows the adventures of a young man, just come of age, who has used his first free, legal choice to enlist in military service. In his society, military service is one of (the only?) way to gain the right to become a voting citizen in the society. The society is currently at peace and many civilians, such as his father, see military service as being a parasite upon the blood of society, serving no useful purpose. Does violence in fact solve issues? What is the difference between a civilian and an enfranchised member of society? What is personal responsibility? All of these themes appear as war and death come to Johnny (our young man) and his companions from school.

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