Posts that have been categorized as: "Elitist Classics"
A timeless classic is a term that should be uttered rarely. Timeless implies you could pick it up today, read it in ten years, and still come away with a new perspective, a new rage at a book that challenges you politically, socially, and spiritually. DUNE, the grandfather of modern science-fantasy, in my opinion, of course, is the black sheep of the pulp Science Fiction family that ran away from a raygun shooting, fish bowl shaped, space helmet wearing universe of tomorrow. Instead, it is a morality play in line with Shakespeare, a political examination of tyranny, prophecy, good intentions, and how a tiny, insignificant planet holds the real-politik resource to create or destroy galactic dynasties with a simple drop of an atomic bomb. Even if its vision of the future is a wrong-way mirror compared to the projections of today, it cannot be overstated how vital, how genre-changing it was to the language, the imagery, and the soul of Science Fiction. DUNE deserves all its accolades both in terms of story, theme, character, and its sprawling, fully realized false future that never came to be.
DUNE, the first in a long series of novels by Frank Herbert, tells the story of humanity millennia in the future. Certain technology is suspect, due to dark atrocities brought about by atomics (atomic bombs and other atomic-powered technology) and robotic uprisings, in the vein of contemporaries like Arthur C. Clarke. The universe is ruled by a galactic emperor who divides planets into the stewardship of noble houses. Within this viper’s nest of nobles clashing against each other, there are monastic orders like the Bene Gesserit, an all female order of psionically gifted matrons manipulating a genetic conspiracy for millennia, who vie for influence and control within the Galactic Padishah Empire.
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Speaks the Nightbird
I recently went back to do a re-read of Robert McCammon’s SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD. Though, I suppose, a “re-listen” is more accurate as I bought the audiobook. It’s been a long time since I read this novel, and with the sixth Matthew Corbett novel, FREEDOM OF THE MASK coming in just a few short months, I wanted to go back to Matthew’s origins as a refresher.
It is incredible how well this novel stands up to multiple reads.
SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD follows a young Matthew Corbett as he participates in the trial of Rachel Howarth, who is accused of murder and witchcraft. Th novel channels the fear, suspicion, and paranoia of the Salem witch trials which occurred just six years before the events of this novel. This is before Matthew’s days as a “problem-solver” that we see in QUEEN OF BEDLAM and beyond, and seeing the near-innocent (in adult matters) attitude and world-view Matthew has in NIGHTBIRD is so interesting.
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Elitist Classics: The Hero and the Crown
With all the popular YA novels out there sporting wishy-washy teenage ‘heroines’, it’s time to introduce you to a classic that does it right. For the kids of my generation there was Robin McKinley’s THE HERO AND THE CROWN, the winner of the 1985 Newbery Medal Award.
Aerin is the only child of the king. The problem? She’s a girl. Since her deceased mother was a foreigner (and it’s whispered she was a witch), and Aerin has inherited her pale skin and red hair, she’s snubbed and ignored. She discovers a book about the dragons that used to threaten Damar, and on her own learns how to make kenet, an ointment that protects the wearer from the effects of fire, and trains herself to fight dragons. When word comes that a local village is being terrorized by a small dragon, Aerin with the kenet and her father’s old war horse, goes to fight it. Unfortunately, it’s not only the smaller dragons who begin to return.
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Goodbye, Terry Pratchett
“Don’t read THE COLOUR OF MAGIC. It’s Pratchett’s worst novel. Start somewhere else.” That’s what people told me. Start somewhere else in the series? Really? The suggestion didn’t sit well with me. It didn’t matter that to me the series wasn’t supposedly sequential. I had to start from the beginning.
THE COLOUR OF MAGIC wasn’t a perfect novel by any means, and to be honest, I could see why people were down on it. The humor, the satire…it was just a bit off. But the potential was easy to see. I was introduced to Rincewind, Twoflower and The Luggage. This was my first glimpse into Ankh-Morpork, and into the Discworld universe.
Elitist Classics: The Crystal Cave
The first book of Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, THE CRYSTAL CAVE, was written in 1970 and continues to be one of the most accessible novelizations of the mythos surrounding the Arthurian legends. Told in first-person PoV as though it were an autobiography, Stewart writes about Merlin’s childhood as he travels across Britain, the people he encounters, and the discovery of his magic–all in her lovely prose with detailed attention to the landscape and era.Read the rest of this review »
Elitist Classics: Swan Song
Believe it or not, a lot of thought goes into our selection of Elitist Classics. Our selection of Classics goes beyond our personal likes and dislikes. The funny thing is how, many times, each member of the EBR crew will say, “This is totally a Classic!”…and none of the others have read it. And by others I usually mean me. Especially in the realms of Science Fiction. The reason? Heck if I know. I think I tend to focus on new releases, and there’s nothing wrong with that.Read the rest of this review »
Elitist Classics: This Immortal
Conrad Nomikos is not what he first appears. On the outside he seems to be in his thirties, walks with a limp, one side of his face is disfigured, and he has a government job working with Earth’s antiquities. Dig a little deeper and you learn that he’s been working that job at least twenty years, he knows the most powerful and influential people on a first-name basis, and he talks about historical events in a more intimate way than most.Read the rest of this review »
Elitist Classics: Startide Rising
Doesn’t that sound exciting? Don’t you want to read that book right now?
OK I jest, but in all honesty if you have a problem with Dolphins crewing a starship and getting stranded on an alien planet than this book isn’t for you.
Elitist Classics: Childhood’s End
Aliens have invaded Earth. At first glance, the Overlords’ motives appear altruistic—they eradicate war, poverty, and sickness—but some men question their motives, and the aliens aren’t exactly forthcoming.
Written in 1953, CHILDHOOD’S END by Arthur C. Clarke shows us the results of an alien-imposed utopia on mankind. With this book Clarke asks a lot of questions—he answers some of them with possible solutions of his own, but leaves others open that are worth exploring. First contact with aliens is a common theme in Science Fiction, from Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS, to Star Trek, and other, more current fiction. Clarke’s version imagines mankind as a small, but still meaningful, part of the universe.Read the rest of this review »
Elitist Classics: Dragonflight
Pern is a planet inhabited by human colonists, whose way of life is affected by the deadly Thread that rains down at intervals from a nearby star. The only way to stop the Thread from reaching land and causing destruction is to burn it en route using genetically engineered telepathic dragons with their dragonriders to guide them.Read the rest of this review »