Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Books I've Read Recently

I saw The Forever War by Joe Haldeman on the paperback shelf at my college library and decided to give it a go.
I really like this book. Okay, some reasons why I like this book:
The author isn't afraid of time dilation. In the vast majority of sci-fi I've read and watched, the author/screenwriter comes up with some reason why time dilation isn't happening, possibly because it makes linear stories that much more difficult if the world Captain Kirk returns to is vastly different than when he left it. So we get wormholes and hyperspace and sometimes just pretending that time is absolute and not affected by light speed travel. At the very least some kindly, if arrogant, alien race will share the secrets of superlight speed travel so the home base will be under the same administration when our heroes return.
But in The Forever War, humanity is fighting an enemy they have never seen. And this is made more complicated by the fact that, while mere months are passing for our main character, he's returning to a different Earth every time he comes home. And while our character gets a happy ending, it turns out the war he's been fighting for over a thousand years was completely unnecessary and a waste of time. Oh, and the dominant human lifeform is essentially a hive mind, with the main character and several other planetfulls of people serving as backup in case something turns out to be wrong with the hive mind/clone group.
I like books that are able to be different from the norm. The world should be allowed to change.

I've read Making Money by Terry Pratchett before, but I have a tendency to read Terry Pratchett books the way some people eat chocolate/breathe.
This book is a sequel to another novel, Going Postal, and continues with the same lovable rascal, Moist von Lipwig. A former shyster/trickster, Moist is getting restless with his government-mandated job of running the Post Office, up to the point where he breaks into his office for fun. So the tyrant Patrician of Ankh Morpork assigns him to cleaning up the Royal Mint and getting the populace to accept the idea that money can be paper and not gold.
I really emphasize with Moist, who, as a reformed criminal, thinks that, as long as he can run away, he won't have to. I feel the same sometimes. As long as the metaphorical door is open you don't have to kick it down.

Most recently finished book is another Terry Pratchett book, Men at Arms. The Night Watch is going through some changes, as "affirmative action" is being implement just before Commander Vimes is due to marry the richest woman in the city. For the first time the men of the watch include a dwarf, a troll, and Angua, who does double duty as both a werewolf and a woman. We also learn about adorable swamp dragons which sound like dangerous pets due to their tendency to explode. We also meet the Gonne, which is more an idea than a mere assemblage of parts, and Corporal Carrot (adopted dwarf), who manages to be very simple in the way Lake Placcid is. We also meet Assassins, and Fools, and the legendary heir to the throne (Carrot) who nevertheless thinks people ought to be able to not depend on royalty to solve their every problem. Oh, and we know he's heir to the throne because he's got the crown-shaped birthmark and sword and he can even stick a sword into and out of stone.

Terry Pratchett has this way of being able to tell a good story while prodding at everything that's silly in humanity through the ages. I highly recommend his books. Really.

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