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Armageddons
Armageddons
von Various
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Famine, Pestillence, Death, War, 20. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Armageddons (Taschenbuch)
This is the perfect book for people who see the human race as the Earth's cancer. If you think the human race deserves to be wiped out, you'll be in for a treat.
"Armageddons" is a collection of twelve short stories about the end of the world, imagined by some of science fiction's best known writers. The twelve stories are imaginitive scenarios that describe how the human race could become extinct, whether it be through nuclear war, plague, pollution, or natural disaster.
It's amazing how pessimistic some people can be. You wonder if some of these writers are really telling stories or setting down prophecies.
Anthony Burgess once had something to say about apocalyptic stories. He believed that so-called "warnings" about the end of the world were really just wish-fulfillment. There is a part of us that deperately wants the apocalypse to come. That's why it captures are imaginations so much. Burgess was mainly referring to stories about the third world war. Still, there could be something in what he said.
If you ponder things like the end of the world then "Amageddons" will definitely whet your appetite.


Riddley Walker, Expanded Edition
Riddley Walker, Expanded Edition
von Russell Hoban
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,97

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4.0 von 5 Sternen An Intriguing Puzzle, 20. Mai 2000
This is a story of life in the far future, narrated by a twelve-year-old boy.
Riddley Walker describes events and places in a savage, primitive dialect. In this strange world we gradually perceive what it was that reduced mankind to barbarism: a nuclear war thousands of years ago.
The people in Riddley's tribe have a new religion based on the holocaust of the remote past, and legends about the lost world they look back upon: (boats in the air and picters in the wind, the 1 Big 1 put in barms time back way back.)
The first obvious clue that the book is set in England (now Inland) is the map at the front. The frequent rain is another clue. The parts where the book is most inventive are when Riddley walks through the ruined towns: "Crumbelt birks and broak stoans all a jumbl and a parcht smel unner neath of old berning."
Riddley becomes caught up in a plan to try and get things moving "frontways". That is, to get back all the things that were lost. The secret of achieving this seems to lie in a group of special ingredients: one of these being a bag of yellow stones that two factions are fighting for.
I like to think of "Riddley Walker" as a sort of sequel to Robert Swindells' novel "Brother in the Land." There are certain things that link the two books. "Brother in the Land" was published four years after "Riddley Walker". It was set in England immediately after the nuclear war and was narrated by a boy not much older than Riddley. Even at that time new words were starting to creep into the language. The boy wrote his account in the hope that any descendents reading it would learn from what happened and not start the whole conflict up again. Thousands of years later in Riddley's time, it seems things have not changed. Most of the paople are unable to read anyway. Even if they could, they would have little inkling of what the long-dead narrator was saying.
"Riddley Walker" is a very rewarding book. It's both puzzling and entertaining. Read it more than once and you'll always find new things.


Eternity Road
Eternity Road
von Jack McDevitt
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,00

3.0 von 5 Sternen Took me a while to get through, 29. Januar 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Eternity Road (Taschenbuch)
"Eternity Road" takes place in the far future. People live in a post-apocalypse world and live in awe of the "Roadmakers" - an ancient civilization who were mysteriously wiped out by a plague. Everywhere the remains of Roadmaker society can be found. Crumbling roads and ruined buildings covered in vines.
This sounded like a good story, when I found it in the bookshop. I am a fan of post-apocalypse science fiction. Unfortunately, I got the feeling that I had read this story before. A group of people embarking on a quest, finding ruins, meeting different characters, finding ruins, stopping at different places, finding ruins, getting into danger, finding ruins, performing acts of bravery, finding ruins, love interest between the heroes, and then finding more ruins until they eventually reach their goal.
Maybe the post-apocalypse theme is a bit worn out. Or maybe it's because I've read so many apocalyptic stories that the book didn't seem all that original any more. A much better book in my opinion is "The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham. Another good book is "The White Mountains" by John Christopher. Not forgetting "The Postman" by David Brin. I'm not criticizing the way "Eternity Road" is written, but to me the story did take a while to get going, and I was relieved when I finally finished.
Some time afterward I donated the book to the local library.


Earth Abides
Earth Abides
von George R. Stewart
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen New Beginning, 30. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Earth Abides (Taschenbuch)
"Earth Abides" deals with the collapse of society after a plague has killed nearly everyone in the world. Isherwood (Ish) Williams was in the mountains when this happened, so he was spared the trauma of seeing everyone die around him.
"Earth Abides" is probably one of the more realistic apocalypse books. A plague is tidier and more envionmentally friendly than a nuclear holocaust so the world was quite lucky. The survivors who band together are just ordinary people. No military strategists, scientific experts or specialists. No engineers or architects. They have to cope with life in a world without medical services, police, government, or farmers.
Over the years, 20th century life is slipping away and Ish's tribe can't bring any of it back. Decades later San Francisco is a jungle and Ish is the last of the old race. The new race are illiterate hunters but they are also a more decent people. They treat the animals as equals, they are happier and have none of the hangups that affected 20th century society before the plague. They'll never know how to split the atom, build missiles, or damage the ozone layer.
Because history tends to go round in circles I don't think civilization really died after the plague. It just went to sleep. One day it will come back, maybe in a few centuries. Something new and better. A rejuvinated world, fresh and clean.
"Earth Abides" was a good book. It probably wouldn't work as a movie, though. Not after the criticism that "The Postman" got. But I thought Kevin Bacon would be good as Ish. I'm not sure who would play the other characters.


The Midwich Cuckoos
The Midwich Cuckoos
von John Wyndham
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 17,83

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A group of children with one mind, 18. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Midwich Cuckoos (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Midwich was an ordinary village. Until the Dayout. Everyone in the village was sleeping. Anyone who ventured into the outskirts of the village would mysteriously black out. The next day things were back to normal. But every woman of suitable age was pregnant...
"The Midwich Cuckoos" is a metaphorical title for a book about collective intelligence. The alien children born in the village are identical. Golden eyed, unemotional, endowed with mental powers and superior intelligence. Over the years the Children become a bigger problem. They commit a murder and contol the minds of others. They are cold, ruthless and calculating.
This book has been described as disturbing. When it was first published the idea of children committing murderer was probably quite shocking. These days it seems normal. This is an interesting book but I prefer the apocalyptic scenarios in "The Day of the Triffids" and "The Chrysalids".


Titus Groan (Gormenghast Trilogy)
Titus Groan (Gormenghast Trilogy)
von Mervyn Peake
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,49

4.0 von 5 Sternen Underrated Masterpiece, 16. Dezember 1999
I've read "Titus Groan" twice, just as I've read "Gormenghast" twice. I read them as a reaction to Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". I actually enjoyed Mervyn Peake's story more. The characters are good because they are not cliches, nor are they heroic. I could relate to Steerpike more than Frodo Baggins. (I mean that in a good way.) In "Lord of the Rings" the characters seemed too cute and lovable, bursting into song while they went on a leisurely-paced journey.
In "Titus Groan" the title character is a new-born baby, 77th heir to Castle Gormenghast. In Gormenghast everything revolves around pointless tradition. (In our own world we're obsessed with tradition, what with anniversaries, Easter, Christmas, New Year's Eve, etc.) We don't reach the same excesses they do in Gormenghast, however. I think one of Peake's messages was that "tradition" is another word for "excuse." (In our world people get drunk at celebrations because it's "tradition".) The people of Gormenghast have rather empty lives, and find ways to fill their time with ancient, obscure ritual. They're obliged to follow old values, even though they don't understand them.
Yes, there are a lot of unfamiliar words, but this broadens your vocabulary. The strange names of the characters make them oddly endearing. My favourite characters were Steerpike and Dr Prunesquallor. I like the way Steerpike charms the bitter twins Cora and Clarice, and cynically exploits them for his own plans. It's true that "Titus Groan" is leisurely-paced. But the castle is so fascinating and Peake's writing so descriptive, I felt like I was actually walking through those crumbling corridors. My favourite part is when Steerpike escapes Mr Flay and climbs to freedom, making his way across the "roofscape".
Mervyn Peake is also one of Robert Smith's favourite writers. (Robert Smith from "The Cure", that is.) I think one of Smith's songs might have been about Fuschia actually. On his "Faith" album.
If you haven't read "Titus Groan" and the other books, try them out and see what you think.


Logan's Run
Logan's Run
von George Clayton Johnson
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 18,80

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Running for your life, 16. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Logan's Run (Gebundene Ausgabe)
In the future people live their lives to the full. People can travel to where they want when they want, they can enjoy a range of experiences that would make 20th century people envious.
The only drawback is that you have to give up your life at the age of 21. People who don't wish to do this are called runners. They are hunted down by executors and killed brutally.
Logan is a good citizen. He is one of the people who hunts down the cowardly runners. But now Logan's own time is up. The crystal flower embedded in the palm of his right hand has turned black, and now he has to complete his duty: suicide. Or, to use the euphemism, "Deep Sleep". Logan learns of a place called Sanctuary, where people can live out their natural lives. He teams up with a girl called Jessica, and they embark on a dangerous journey.
This is a fast-paced novel. There is danger at every turn. Logan and Jessica are literally running for their lives, pursued relentlessly by a hunter who will never sway from his task. This novel is a product of its time. The late 1960s was a time of social upheaval, when the young were finding a voice, rebelling against the older generation. The crystal flower that everyone has on them is probably a nod at the psychedelic "flower power" that was prevailing when the book was first published. "Logan's Run" seems to be warning us of the dangers of misplaced idealism, which ultimately leads to fanaticism. In a world filled to capacity the solution to overpopulation is drastic and cruel. The writers are saying we should not surrender ourselves to the lunacy of a conformist regime. It takes courage to go against the flow, something so many people are unwilling to do in a world where minorities are condemned.


The Time Machine (Tor Classics)
The Time Machine (Tor Classics)
von H. G. Wells
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Future Shock, 15. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Time Machine (Tor Classics) (Taschenbuch)
This was the first book I read by HG Wells, at the age of 12. (I saw the film first.) After taking a trip into the future, a Time Traveller returns to the 19th century and tells his colleagues what he saw.
In the distant future there is nothing, not a trace, of our world left. The Time Travller discovers a new society and finds that we have evolved into a puny, ineffectual race called Eloi. At night he discovers the other half of the society, the hideous, carniverous Morlocks. The Eloi live simple lives and play in the sun. They are food for the Morlocks, who live underground, operating machinery. The Time Traveller goes even further into the future, to a depressing world where the sun is dying and monstrous creatures roam the surface.
Getting away from the point for a moment, there was once a "Doctor Who" story called "Timelash". In that story the Doctor travels back in time and meets a young writer called Herbert, who accompanies the Doctor on a journey to the future on another planet. There are monsters called Morlox. At the end of the story the young writer gives the Doctor one of his cards, which has the name HG Wells. The story implied that HG Wells' novel was inspired by the Doctor! But in reality "The Time Machine" paved the way for "Doctor Who", one of my favourite childhood shows. So we owe a lot to Wells.
Time travel looks like a fun thing to do but sometimes it's best if the future is left unknown. Would you want to know your own future and find it's not what you hoped for?


The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds
von H. G. Wells
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 3,60

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A race of aliens with very human characteristics, 10. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The War of the Worlds (Taschenbuch)
Many people who have heard of "The War of the Worlds" may have seen the movie without reading the book. The movie was set in Cold War America, with martians that flew in what looked like greenish manta rays. The book was set in Victorian England, and the martians looked like towering tripods. In both versions however the premise is the same: Earth invaded by a superior alien intelligence. HG Wells wrote about humanity's ego and complacency being crushed by a highly developed lifeform.
"The War of the Worlds" has been interpreted as an allegory of imperialism. Just as the British took over other countries to make them part of the Empire, so too is the Earth being taken over by the Martians. They even bring their own plant life with them, the "Red Weed". The Martians see us as vermin, trying to wipe us out with heat rays and poisonous black gas. Thats's what makes the story so much fun. It is frightening in a cosy sort of way. We read the story in a safe, comfortable room, while the narrator talks of all the death and destruction he sees.
An interesting point that Issac Asimov once brought up was that if alien intelligence did exist, their advanced evolution would also mean they would be emotionally superior to us. They would not act like barbarians, as war is a primitive thing. When people write alien invasion stories, they are really saying something about us. We are destructive and aggressive by nature. Our history has been one long story of conquest, slavery and even genocide. So HG Wells has put a little bit of us into his Martians. Both metaphorically (as imperialists), and literally (as food).


On the Beach
On the Beach
von Nevil Shute
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen This is the way the world ends..., 10. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: On the Beach (Taschenbuch)
"On the Beach" was published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War. Set in the near future (the early 1960's), people in Australia are waiting with dignity for radioactive fallout to kill them. A nuclear war in the northern hemisphere has already destroyed everything there. In a few months the same will happen here.
I read "On the Beach" in 1989. That same year I had seen "The Day After" and "Testament". For some reason I had a morbid fascination with the end of the world, and what might happen after.
"On the Beach" might seem a bit dated now. The consequences of nuclear war have been speculated upon for several years. In 1983 scientists came up with the nuclear winter theory, where all the dust and fallout from the explosions would block out the sun and cause the world to freeze over. It sounds plausible enough. Once the winter was over the ozone layer would be damaged and the planet saturated with ultaviolet light from the sun. Others argue that people would survive somewhere, not everyone would die from radiation.
Whatever the case, "On the Beach" is still a powerful book. It makes you wonder how you would feel, knowing how you were going to die and when. The Australians are fortunate in that they are offered suicide pills for when the pain becomes too much. People aren't so worried about nuclear war any more. But on the news this morning I saw Boris Yeltsin remind Bill Clinton that they still have a nuclear arsenal. This was after Clinton threatened Russia with sanctions if Russian forces attacked Grozny... But we've managed to avoid nuclear war up until now, so there's probably nothing to worry about. Is there?


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