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Beiträge von Michael Battaglia
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Michael Battaglia
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Venus Plus X
Venus Plus X
von Theodore Sturgeon
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen A fine utopia indeed, 26. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Venus Plus X (Taschenbuch)
When this book came out I'm sure it was highly contraversial (or would have been, if science fiction wasn't generally ignored as a "serious" genre) since it basically tried to show that logically there were no differences between the male and female genders and that a race consisting of only one gender might not only succeed but prosper at the same time. And not as a forced totaliarian camp where all freedom and free will are squashed in favor of the "Utopian State" indeed here Sturgeon shows us that with a little love it's quite possible for anything to work and that differences really aren't that important as long as there's love. Coming from anyone else, it would probably come off as trite but Sturgeon has this gift probably because he was utterly sincere. He may not have believed that this utopia would ever come into being, but he believed firmly in the feelings and emotions behind it and that comes through on every page. Be warned, this is no slambang action science fiction book where multiheaded aliens shout heated cliches to slim suited astronauts with laser guns as everyone races around the galaxy. Frankly, not much happens here. Charlie Johns in transported to a future world where humanity as we know it is gone and in its place is a utopia consisting of a single gender, where children are worshipped above all else and harmony and peace are the order of the day. They want Charlie's thoughts on such a utopia and so show him around, most of the book is concerned with showing this world and the prose is some of Sturgeon's most exuburent, crackling with emotion. Sure there are mysteries to be solved and details to puzzle out but for the most part this is Sturgeon showing us a perfect world. And he does it without being sappy or preachy, the closest the book comes to that is one somewhat interesting section where Philos writes a letter to Charlie Johns detailing the lack of differences between guys and gals and why people perceive those differences. Even better, the narrative is interspersed with the life of a normal family, showing us just how totally normal people can have such biases. Even you or I. My favorite part is when the parents take their kids to watch a movie at a drive in and don't want them to see a sex scene, but bring them front and center when the graphically violent Western starts. This book is ignored I think in favor of the more well known "More Than Human" but it doesn't deserve that, it ranks as something that should be at the top of just about everyone's reading list, especially if they want something thought provoking.


The Wheel of Time 08. The Path of Daggers
The Wheel of Time 08. The Path of Daggers
von Robert Jordan
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 7,99

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Caveats abound, 24. Juli 2000
I really like this series and to a much lesser degree, this book but I feel like for every good thing about this book I have to include a "but". But what? The eighth book in what is starting to feel like an endless series, I got this when it came out and didn't read it for two years while working on other books (especially since I wasn't overwhelmed by book seven, where I can't remember a darn thing that happened), alas that meant that I had forgotten most of the minor continuing plotlines (there are lots) and all the minor characters (even more of them). The glossary is absolutely pathetic, the one in the first few books was great, giving you loads of information, it was updated for each book, here you're given a slew of characters (sort of like being a teacup with a firehose aimed at you) with little immediate explanation, it's assumed you'll know everything, I guess. With that out of the way, you dive into the book and it's fairly enjoyable, Jordan has lost none of his gift for writing, his prose is remarkably detailed, sometimes overly so but he really knows how to immerse you in his world, though he skimps on weird details at times (at what point did it start snowing nonstop?). His characters are like friends of the family, after eight books you feel you know them pretty well. Alas that's also part of the problem, little new is being revealed to us here it's the characters just in a new situation which is entertaining but not revelatory. And he tends to harp on the same theme: men versus women. Yes we know that men don't understand women and women don't understand men and that when people fall in love the person they fall in love with both frustrates and exhilerates them. After eight books you think that they would have come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion without reminding us of it every three pages? The plots aren't as well integrated as before, Perrin's is utterly useless for the most part (except towards the end, when stuff starts happening), after a promising start Elayne's peters into nothing (except towards the end again) but Rand's remains as gripping as always, mostly as his fight with insanity is taken up another notch and he edges even closer to losing it. The battle scenes are well done, even if we've been here before, most of the characters don't get involved in the fights anyhow. Jordan keeps little explosions of intrigue to move us along and even when pacing is nonexistent it keeps you reading. The Forsaken are fun as always, even if it is getting annoying that the Dark One keeps resurrecting most of them everytime they get killed (I wonder if Jordan realized he offed too many too fast, the body count was getting high at one point as Rand went on a bit of a rampage). But lesser plots are just confusing, most of the renegade Aiel I couldn't even keep straight without a scorecard and I keep forgetting which Aes Sedai are Black Ajah and which are just plotting and there's just too many chacters with similar names sharing the same scenes. And Mat doesn't even appear (the biggest offense, second only to Min not appearing and Rand not even showing up until we're halfway down). Bottom line after all that: you've made up your mind here without my help. If you're hooked like me you're going to keep reading even if it feels like Jordan fell asleep at the keyboard because there's just enough good stuff to make us think that he can pull a decent ending out of all of this yet. And if you hate it, well you do, nothing wrong with that. For the new reader, start from the beginning, maybe wait until the series is finished. Me, I'll be waiting for book nine, and maybe things'll start happening.


Angry Candy
Angry Candy
von Harlan Ellison
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen Dark yet poignant, 17. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Angry Candy (Taschenbuch)
There are only a few authors who I'll seek out and read short story collections, my preference being full novels. Theodore Sturgeon is one. Harlan Ellison is another. After whetting my appetite with The Essential Ellison, I moved on to this and was kept just as pleased, though not pleased in a happy sense, pleased in a sense that each story picked at some part of my brain, making me confront my ideas about death and life and living and souls, made me look at it from my perspective and his perspective to see why we thought the way we did. These stories seemed to be written in anger, helpless flailing anger, as Ellison writes in the introduction (and hints at emotionally in the haunting closing story "The Function of Dream Sleep"), at the time these were written people who were close to him in his life were dying almost every month (there's a list going down the side of the intro detailing who died when . . . morbid), and that intro is almost worth the price of the book itself, for it sets the tone for all the other stories, heartfelt and emotional, unflinching and passionate. To go by names would be unnecessary, to name favorites would be useless. You have to read them all, experience them and wonder yourself as Ellison dances from genre to genre, from mystery to science fiction, effortlessly, stamping his print on each story, marking it with anger and sadness. He bared his soul in these stories and while it makes for a gripping and sometimes harrowing read, it doesn't make the reading any less necessary. He didn't turn away from his fears and sorrows and you shouldn't turn away from them either.


Bluebeard: A Novel (Delta Fiction)
Bluebeard: A Novel (Delta Fiction)
von Kurt Vonnegut
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,95

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5.0 von 5 Sternen One of his finest, 17. Juli 2000
I've read lots of Vonnegut and frankly I thought this was one of his lesser works. Boy, was I wrong. Here we have Vonnegut at his most focused on a long time, tearing off page after page that will make you laugh and stop and think at the same time. The story is basically the autobiography of an obscure artist character in Breakfast of Champions, but here he turns Rabo into someone you might think is real, so does his humor and pain cascade off the page. He bounces back and forth between his past and his present at his mansion where he just wants to be left alone, in the great Vonnegut tradition (and he doesn't need time travel this time out), comparing and contrasting the worst moments of his life with the best and trying to figure out what it all means. To me, this is one of Vonnegut's most human novels, his sense of satire and wit are still apparent and sharp but the entire story isn't devoted to Vonnegut making some barbed point about us and society as a whole, it's there but there's more time put into having get to know Rabo has someone who might live down the street from us. I devoured this book and found myself satisified, even the long anticipated secret of what lies in the potato barn was well worth the suspense (and it really is), this is the most fun I've had with a Vonnegut book in long time. Probably one of his more obscure works, it deserves to be read along with his other classics. It may not reach those peaks but it comes darn close.


Light in August (Modern Library College Editions Series)
Light in August (Modern Library College Editions Series)
von William Faulkner
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen The South rises, 16. Juli 2000
Nothing is ever simple in a Faulkner book. However plainly the people talk, however straightforward that the situations seem, there are layers and layers of things to dig through to find the ultimate truth, if indeed there is any. I've already read Sound and the Fury and as glorious as that book was, this novel absolutely captivated me. It's Faulkner's way with words, he's not flashy like some contemporary authors, preferring to slowly wind his way into your consciousness with his gift of writing. It's only as you read, maybe as you peruse a passage for the second time do you see the little details that you missed the first time out, the choice of a word here, the flow of a paragraph. And his characters, all beautifully drawn, with flaws and cracks and everything, but even the farthest gone of his lowlives has some pearl of wisdom to impart, his pillars all have dark secrets. In short they're just like his, if we lived in the South at the turn of the century. Faulkner captures it all, weaving his characters together with the skill of a master, no seams showing, everything seeming to happen naturally. Even when the story detours to tell someone's backstory, it seems to come at the perfect moment. If I sound a bit fawning, that's because this book deserves it, nothing puts together the picture of a time better than this, and as an aspiring writer I am in sincere awe of Faulkner's ability to reflect even the more complex of emotions with a word or a sentence. He has to be read to be believed and it definitely must be experienced. Just immerse yourself in a time and place thought long gone, that still lurks in the corners of people's thoughts and the traditions that never die.


The Dreaming Jewels
The Dreaming Jewels
von Theodore Sturgeon
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,99

5.0 von 5 Sternen Moving debut, 10. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Dreaming Jewels (Taschenbuch)
I think that his first novel, although he had written plenty of short stories (and would only add to that number . . . the ten volume series reprinting all his short stories is a godsend, check it out!). The plot isn't so much science fiction as borderline fantasy, Horty is a young man caught doing something disgusting behind the bleachers (you'll probably laugh when you find out what it is, either Sturgeon was making some sort of a joke or people were really different back in the fifties) and his mean stepfather "accidentally" severs three of his fingers (though not the most disgusting finger severing sequence, the second one is far more disturbing), so he runs off and joins the circus. The plot starts to twist and turn at that point and jump ahead, sometimes not to its complete benefit, a lot of things either don't get explained or aren't explained well (the origins of the jewels and what they do does seem to change as the story progresses) but the thing that hooks you in and keeps you reading is Sturgeon's overriding compassion and love for everything and everyone. He can find something sympathetic is just about everyone (the only character that I couldn't like even some small part was Horty's stepfather, I found him mostly pathetic but that was the point), even the dreaded Maneater has some redeeming values. There's a lot of touching scenes, especially as Horty comes to grips with what he might be and the consequences of that. Really it's just a heartwarming novel written by a guy who had a great store of humanity and showed it in his stories. Never dripping with sentiment to the point where you feel like you're overwhelmed with emotion, the book remains compulsive reading and just as essential reading as his other two novels (More Than Human and Venus Plus X), he keeps things brisk and moving. Simply put, he showed right from the start that even in the beginning he was as good as the best. And he only got better from here.


The Female Man (Bluestreak)
The Female Man (Bluestreak)
von Joanna Russ
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 18,49

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Thought provoking, for all genders, 5. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Female Man (Bluestreak) (Taschenbuch)
I'm a guy. Just thought I'd get that out of the way before I write this. I knew this was considered a classic of science fiction before I even found a used copy, but I have to admit that I wasn't looking all that forward to reading it. For one the cover (the old original one on the paperback) is a garish thing, basically a feathered woman putting on another skin. Plus I knew the book was about female issues and specifically issues that came up during movements that started in the seventies, when the book was written. At least it was short, I told myself. I'd get it over with quick. Boy, was I surprised. Not only does this rank among the best books I've ever read, but it gave me a lot to think about. Part of that has to do with Russ' style, she cascades all sorts of chapters together, bouncing back and forth, her prose is excellent, not just femenist rhetoric, she brings up all sorts of points about everything. And her contrast of the different worlds, there's Joanna's world, which is like ours (she's the female trying to be liberated), and Jeannine's world, where the Depression never ended (she's meek and just wants to go along with the group, essentially), then there's Janet's, where men don't exist at all (my favorite scene is where the newspeople ask how she has sex if there are no men and Janet explains to their dismay). There's one other too but that's a surprise. The style is sometimes confusing at first, sometimes you don't know who is narrating or which character is which but after a while it all starts falling together. Russ peppers it with her own observations throughout, my favorite being when she anticipates the reviews the book is going to get (not good ones). Is it angry? Sure but back then she had a lot to be angry about, and she comes across rationally through, her anger is righteous and not of the "all men should die!" type of rage. Like I said, it gives guys and gals lots to ponder and deserves to be wider read. The style may be off putting but the message is clear as anything. You just have to dig a little with thought to figure it out.


The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan
The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan
von Robert Shea
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 18,99

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Not the answer to everything but darn entertaining, 4. Juli 2000
I bought this years ago after a friend swore to me that it was one of the greatest things ever written. The question then remains, after finishing it last night, was it worth the wait and effort? Sure, I found it highly fun, a lot of the stuff was hard to follow at first but once you get into the book (which requires some patience) and just accept everything, the story become much easier to follow and things start falling into place. The plot seems to take a backseat to everything else but it seems to focus on the Illumininati controlling everything for some end that might have to do with the government, Atlantis, or aliens from outer space. Or something. The characters are fun even if they are more than mouthpieces for different ideals (the liberal, the skeptic, etc) and some are too smug for their own good. The hopping around is extremely disconcerting at first and is used at some points to just hide a lack of ideas but there are some parts in here that rank among some of the best stuff I've read, some of it due to the crisscrossing back and forth among the different narratives. I think some people take the book too seriously, I know the authors seem to postulate the answers to the reality behind everything but to me they don't seem to be taking themselves all that seriously and while the story isn't one big joke they do seem to be having some fun here. But like all great books it makes you think at parts, even as you're disgusted, bored, confused or a combination of all three. Fortunately this was packaged as three books because I can't imagine reading these separately at all, the entire novel just blends into itself, with chapers and parts just seeming like convenient divisions to make life a little easier on the reader. After a while you'll find yourself devouring it pages at a time. Highly recommended, and you don't even need psychedelics to enjoy it fully.


Three Novels: The Deep, Engine Summer, and Beasts
Three Novels: The Deep, Engine Summer, and Beasts
von John Crowley
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen All about The Deep, 22. April 2000
Unfortunately, while I have Engine Summer (and Little, Big) I haven't read either yet and I've never even seen The Beasts (though I'd snap it up if I found it, probably), this is the only place on Amazon where I can write about The Deep, Crowley's famous first novel. This is one weird book, let me put it that way and not weird like mindblowingly weird but just . . . weird. I don't know, I can't explain it but the book feels like it takes place in a fever dream, there's this unreal quality about everything. The plot then. Someone has apparently constructed a giant disk in space and attached a long cord to it (so they say) and there are people on the top of the disc and they endlessly fight in this war of succession. To this mess comes a Visitor who doesn't remember why he came here or even who made him and for most of the story he serves as an observer to the events going on. The only problem I had with this was some of the characters are hard to keep straight because they aren't given proper names, you've got "Red Senlen" and "Red Senlen's Son" and Redhand and Old Redhand and Younger Redhand and Learned Redhand and King Little Black and Black Harrah and Young Harrah . . . you can see the problem. That's a fairly minor quibble though, this is a book that deserves to be tracked down and read. Crowley's writing is amazing, especially since this was his first novel, it's entirely poetic without getting long winded, with a few words he paints brilliant pictures. The premise is utterly unique in its presentation (for the record, I believe that the folks on the disc are reenacting the War of the Roses) and the plot winds along nicely, there aren't many "explosions" but you just snake along, caught up in the dream. The ending is also totally unexpected and completely fits in with the tone of the novel. This is one of the few totally satisifying books I had read, I had expected a lot out of this guy because of the reputation I had heard and he blew away everything I expected. And he only got better. My advice then, get everything you can by this guy, it might take some effort but I have a feeling it'll be worth it. Again, the fact that this brilliant author is out of print and many many many lesser lights are kept in print is beyond me. Get the word out and keep his name alive!


Island of the Day Before
Island of the Day Before
von Umberto Eco
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting if confusing history lesson, 17. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Island of the Day Before (Gebundene Ausgabe)
I've got friends who swear by this guy and from their descriptions I got the impression that he was one of those writers who made complicated plots just for the sake of being complicated, dressed it up with erudite language and swirled it all together into a fairly challenging mix. Now, being that I can cite Pynchon and Gaddis as some of my favorite writers, I figured, oh what the heck? Well, after getting this book for fairly cheap, I just gave it a shot and finished it even quicker than I thought and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The plot itself seems fairly simple, guy gets shipwrecked on a ship, writers letters that reveal much about his early life, interacts with a priest stowed away with him, debates all this Philosophical. Needless to say, some of the philosophy can be hard to follow, and I can't even blame the translator for that because he seems to capture most of the inherent poetry in Eco's language, he may not have many "read out loud" passages like Pynchon does but he's certainly more poetic than a lot of what's out there. The historical aspect is interesting, he doesn't really shed anymore light on the time than other writers and his characters don't seem to be more than mouthpieces for the sometimes witty arguments (my favorite remains when Roberto and the priest debate whether the earth revolves around the sun or the other way around) that pepper the book. Of course my complaints would be that not much really happens and so readers not used to almost nonexistent plot devlopement might be turned off, as I said before the characters are a bit flat and frankly maybe I'm too dense but I really can't see the point of what Eco is getting at. He doesn't seem to be parodying historical novels (like John Barth did with the Sot-Weed Factor) and he doesn't seem to be mocking the times and, well, like I said, maybe I'm just too dense. Oh well. It's a more accessible novel than his other works and readers wanting to see what he's all about might want to start here just to get a taste of what he's capable of. But I highly doubt this is his best work. Time will tell though.


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