Category :: Elitist Classics

Review

The Last Unicorn

Posted: October 9, 2018 by mtbikemom in Elitist Classics Meta: Peter S. Beagle, Fantasy
The Last Unicorn

Patrick Rothfuss called this “the best book I’ve ever read.” His love for THE LAST UNICORN explains the tone and texture of his THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS EBR Review, which I loved, and it was Rothfuss’s endorsement that prompted me to get in the Way Back Machine and read this classic. I’m glad I did.
This breezy gem-of-a-book is hard to describe. I find myself at a loss because anything I write will be so inferior to it and I’d like to do THE LAST UNICORN justice. There is poetry on every page. To say I identified with the characters and that they were sympathetic is like saying that a quiet cloud drifting past a shining, amber harvest moon is beautiful. (If you hated that, then skip this; you will not enjoy 1960s era whimsical fantasy.)
There are no cardboard figures, no noble savages, this being near the beginning of the anti-hero era in literature and cinema. The nuance we hope for is present throughout, so even the really-bad bad guy is […]Read the rest of this post »

Review

Dune

Posted: March 23, 2018 by Allan Bishop in Elitist Classics Meta: Frank Herbert, Space Opera
Dune

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 (Amazon), 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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Review

Speaks the Nightbird

Speaks the Nightbird

I recently went back to do a re-read of Robert McCammon’s SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD (Amazon). 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 (Amazon) 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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Review

The Hero and the Crown

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 (Amazon), 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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Review

Goodbye, Terry Pratchett

Posted: March 13, 2015 by Steven in Editorial, Elitist Classics Meta: Terry Pratchett,
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.

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Review

The Crystal Cave

Posted: January 21, 2014 by Vanessa in Elitist Classics Meta: Mary Stewart, Fantasy, Elitist University
The Crystal Cave

The first book of Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, THE CRYSTAL CAVE (Amazon), 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.
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Review

Swan Song

Posted: August 29, 2012 by Steven in Elitist Classics Meta: Robert McCammon, Horror
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.
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Review

This Immortal

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.
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Review

Startide Rising

Startide Rising

DOLPHINS IN SPACE!

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.
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Review

Childhood’s End

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 (Amazon) 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.
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Review

Dragonflight

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.
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Review

Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea

Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea

Perhaps Ursula K. Le Guin‘s most recognizable work, her Earthsea stories are categorized as YA—but are definitely worth reading as adults. The first novel, A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA was published in 1968, and revolves around the wizard Ged and the islands and sea of Earthsea itself. It starts off with Ged leaving home to learn magic at a school. Sound familiar? Le Guin is the reason why it does.
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Review

A Fire Upon the Deep

Posted: October 26, 2011 by Steven in Elitist Classics Meta: Vernor Vinge, Science Fiction
A Fire Upon the Deep

Confession time. I had never read A FIRE UPON THE DEEP (Amazon) until now. Please don’t think less of me. The thing is, and I’ve mentioned this before, I’m not a big SF reader. In general, I think most writers of SF are far more interested in showing how intelligent they are rather than telling a good story. It’s a personal opinion. Every now-and-then I fins an SF novel that I really enjoy, but it just isn’t my thing. That’s why I let my reviewer, Shawn, handle most SF novels that are sent to me.

Anyway, back to my startling revelation. I’m sure tabloids are going crazy somewhere. I happened to mention to a publicist at Tor that I hadn’t read the Vernor Vinge classic, and he freaked out. A week later I had a copy in my PO Box from that same publicist. Likewise my good reviewer, Shawn, was a bit surprised at this glaring hole in my reading background. He had just sent me his review for Vinge’s THE CHILDREN OF THE SKY, and I thought, “Hmm. Maybe I should really read the original. See what all the fuss is about.” After all, A FIRE UPON THE DEEP is considered one of THE classics in SF.
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Review

The Word for World is Forest

Posted: August 24, 2011 by Vanessa in Elitist Classics Meta: Ursula K. Le Guin, Science Fiction
The Word for World is Forest

Before there was Avatar there was Ursula K. Le Guin‘s THE WORD FOR WORLD IS FOREST (Amazon). Written in 1972, and the winner of the 1973 Hugo Award for best novella, Tor decided that the current furor over sustainable ecology would make this novel a timely re-release. At the very least it’s an entertaining comparison to Cameron’s blue-peopled visual extravaganza.
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Review

Little Fuzzy

Little Fuzzy

LITTLE FUZZY (Amazon), the Hugo-nominated novel by H. Beam Piper, has been getting a lot of attention recently since fan favorite author John Scalzi wrote a novel-length, Tor-published piece of fan-fic rebooting the series. Scalzi has said repeatedly that he hoped that his reboot would in turn send attention back to the original works and that people would read those books that Scalzi himself loved.

For me it worked. The book LITTLE FUZZY is available for free from multiple sources online (Amazon Kindle free version) and since I had pre-ordered Scalzi’s book FUZZY NATION (EBR Review), I thought it would be fun to read the original work and have a kind of book double-feature reading experience.
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Review

Asimov’s Foundation

Posted: February 16, 2011 by Vanessa in Elitist Classics Meta: Isaac Asimov, Science Fiction, Elitist University
Asimov’s Foundation

Isaac Asimov was an author of ideas. In the case of his Foundation series, it’s about the possibility of using science to predict the fall of a Galactic Empire far in the future. Hari Seldon is the brainchild behind mathematical sociology, aka psychohistory: predicting the future based on the actions of a large population. Unfortunately, the future is bleak, with a thirty-thousand-year dark age on the horizon. But Hari also predicts that it’s possible to close that gap to only a thousand years by safe-keeping human knowledge using his Foundations.
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Review

Citizen of the Galaxy

Citizen of the Galaxy

Robert A. Heinlein is a god in the science fiction world, and for good reason: he brought literary quality and high scientific standards to a growing genre, as well as attention-grabbing controversy. I’m sure you all know about his classics including STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (Amazon), THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS (Amazon), and STARSHIP TROOPERS (Amazon).

But did you know he also wrote juvenile fiction?
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Review

A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars

First written as a serial in 1911, A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Amazon) was soon after published in novel form in 1917. While the story is more adventure than science fiction, it was this Mars-based pulp that influenced the men and women who would later fuel the SF renaissance of the mid-Twentieth Century–writers like Ray Bradbury, Carl Sagan, and Arthur C. Clarke.
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Review

The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury! He turned 90 on August 22nd (just this past weekend), and what better way than to celebrate one of his classics? A prolific writer of novels, short stories, essays, and other works, Bradbury originally published THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES (Amazon) in 1950. It’s a short story collection about the human colonization of Mars–but it’s not your traditional collection.
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Review

Dracula

Posted: June 23, 2010 by Vanessa in Elitist Classics Meta: Bram Stoker, Horror, University of Fantasy
Dracula

Nick & Steve here in a brief intro. Hopefully you, our faithful readers, are enjoying our Elitist Classics Series. One of our new reviewers, Vanessa, thought it would be a solid idea to occasionally write up a brief review of some of the Classics. We loved the idea, so here is the first one…

***Elitist Classics: DRACULA***

Before there was Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton, before vampires that glitter in sunlight, before even Anne Rice or Brian Lumley, there was Count Dracula.
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