Edge January 24, 2013Posted by oldboy in : Books, Science Fiction , add a comment
Suzuki Koji has mentioned in past interviews that while he was writing ‘Ring’ he didn’t know where the story was going or how it was going to end. I don’t know if he has the same method of writing with his other works but I certainly got that feeling with ‘Promenade of the Gods’ and here too do I get the feeling that it might have been the case. While it doesn’t fall flat on it’s face like ‘Promenade of the Gods’ it does have an ending where the main character is able to solve ‘Edge’s mysteries due to the discovery of a third nipple.
I admire the passion at which Suzuki writes about this stuff. He throws tons of scientific theories at us from the creation of the universe to quantum theory to mathematical equations and historical disappearances of civilizations. It’s heavy going at times but if you have any interest at all in history, the world and science then this is an interesting read, but not entirely as fun as I hoped. He does go to great lengths to explain things in detail and there’s even a bibliography at the back of the book that has everything he is referencing. I did find a lot of the stuff interesting, in particular Wave functions ability to collapse through Human’s perception of them.
If Star Trek 09 is at one end of the spectrum of science making sense (in that it explains nothing) then Edge is at the opposite end. In fact reading ‘Edge’ explains Star Trek 09 better!
In some ways ‘Edge’ resembles another book of his, ‘Loop’, but ‘Edge’ gets bogged down with characters having long discussions that introduce more and more theories. You get the feeling half way through that you’re being set up for disappointment as you can’t possibly write an ending that will satisfy everything brought up in the book. In a way then it kind of loses focus but in some respects the ending brings us right back to the heart of the story.
Story similarities aside, there are other things that link this with ‘Loop’ and the ‘Ring’ World. Character’s get a citrus/lemon smell before they disappear. Much like we read in Ring where some characters got a similar smell before their death or before having an uneasy feeling of a future event. The connections to ‘Loop’ seem to be that both our main character Sae in ‘Edge’ and Kaoru in ‘Loop’ get the sense that they are being watched by the sky above. There is also a mention of an underground military facility in Arizona which has hundreds super computers linked together. Arizona is located right next to New Mexico and for those who read ‘Loop’ you’ll remember that this story also featured a similar underground facility in New Mexico with computers linked together. The proposed cover design for this by Peter Mendelsund also matched the design of the covers for the Ring books by Chip Kidd. But now the cover has been changed to something less eye grabbing.
I still think Suzuki’s best work is when he writes Horror/SF I hope Vertical decides to translate and publish Suzuki’s newest Novel ‘S’ which is a return to the world of Sadako!
1Q84 Book 3 November 24, 2012Posted by oldboy in : Books , add a comment
I thought that I would be opening this review with “1Q84 is the worst thing since…….”. But no, I’m not going to hammer it.
Having almost given up on reading Book 3 I finally decided to complete the Journey that had started in a coffee shop in Hong Kong a year ago and finish the trilogy.
So, what went RIGHT this time?
The characters. We no longer have a book about self obsessed prigs and we finally have an interesting character getting his own chapters all to himself.
Here we have a character that doesn’t like himself, that feels guilt for his actions and burns himself when he has moments of inner reflection. We have an ugly man that is outside the realms of normal society. A man with a once perfect past; pretty wife, kids, a dog in the back garden. Like Aomame and Tengo he has his own unique talent that defines him. He is a far more sympathetic character compared to Tengo; a man who slept with a married woman and a school girl, and Aomame; a woman who is obsessed with the size of her breasts.
But Aomame and Tengo have changed in Book III. They are people concerned with things beyond themselves. Aomame with her unborn child, Tengo with his Father and the two of them with each other!
Yes ‘1Q84′ finally gives me the story I had been wanting to read the previous 600 pages. A love story of two hearts apart yet still connected and their respective journeys towards one another.
Unfortunately the ippy dippy, fucky wucky , maza/dotha, air chrysalis bullshi*t is still in the story although it takes more of a back seat to the real story of Tengo and Aomame this time. Thankfully Fuka-Eri fuks off pretty early on in the book too and there’s only one real talky scene about the air chrysalis, maza/dotha thing (SERIOUSLY, it’s total garbage and adds fu*k all to the story).
I don’t get WHY Book III is considered the weakest of the series. It’s the least tedious, least repetitive and most captivating book of the series.
I dunno, I finally found a story to enjoy in the end. A love story that is actually touching. It’s still not perfect but it’s restored my view of Murakami.
Favorite Quote: “It’s a distance that can’t be measured.”
“Like the distance that separates one person’s heart from another’s.” Tamaru to Aomame
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets September 14, 2012Posted by oldboy in : Books, Fantasy, Book to Film , add a comment
As with the movie I found the second book to diddle around a bit too much without moving the story of Harry Potter himself forward. It’s fantasy magic mystery, as colourful and inventive as it’s predecessor yet it doesn’t really present anything new. There’s a feeling that we’ve done this before.
There is some nice History tidbits on Hogwarts but nothing as of yet mind blowing in book two. The scenes featuring characters being petrified or ghosts who were previously students and killed is a bit heavy for the younger reader and there’s a definite morbidity even though it keeps the tone light mostly.
The most interesting part that I was looking forward to was Tom Riddle’s diary, reading his diary in the book is a lot more fun than the exposition of it onscreen. The mystery is pretty much straight forward as in most children’s adventure stories but there are some nice twists in it, particularly with Ginny.
The book plays around with the theme of identity. Are we who we are because of where we came from or are we our own person. What defines a person’s life. Harry still being a child has to face this question and worries over it greatly as he starts to feel and hear a connection to something evil that he learns he is related to. More interesting is that at this early stage (even earlier than the movies I think) we discover that Voldermort transferred some of his own powers to Harry on the night he gave him that scar. In the end it’s what Harry and Voldermort do that defines them and it’s interesting to see that Harry having slytherin heritage does not mean he has to embrace it and Voldermort too having a Human mother does not make him sympathetic to muggles but more racist and hypocritical as all racists are. Harry’s worry is always about becoming what he fears but in reality they are two people going in opposite directions.
Favorite Quote: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” - Dumbledore
Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm April 22, 2012Posted by oldboy in : Books, Science Fiction , add a comment
The second and also somewhat surprisingly final book in the Romulan War series of Enterprise Books, the beginnings of which started back in the Novel ‘The Good that Men Do’.
With this book I feel the Prime universe (are we really calling it that?) can be put to bed, for myself at least. I don’t have much interest in the other Novels that continue the stories of The Next Generation, DS9 and Voyager. My main interest in reading these Enterprise Books was to see a key piece of Star Trek History that has always got me giddy ever since it was mentioned in The Original series. For years I have anticipated some form of media showing the War. Unfortunately I think these books don’t do it justice, that stems from the books being based on Enterprise themselves and also the fact that a large scale War like this is better on screen than on paper. As a Movie but preferably as a series which could really flesh it out like DS9 did with the Dominion War Arc.
The Novel just doesn’t go big enough with the depiction of the War. Battles are more like skirmishes, often ship vs ship. All the referenced points are hit such as the attack on Earth, the battle of Cheron etc. These two parts I quite liked and are inventive. The Romulan’s using Earth’s Asteroids against it and the battle within the planet atmosphere of Cheron are nice scenes which are a bit too short. Reduced to one or two chapters. They needed to be fleshed out as did the whole overview of the War.
In my review of ‘Beneath the Raptors Wing’ my complaint was it jumping all over the place too much with too many characters and it was stretched out over the space of a year. Here it stays too much on the Enterprise or Trip Tucker Super Spy and covers 5 years. This is because the series was possibly being considered as a Trilogy. But from the sounds of what the middle book might have been it doesn’t particularly interest me much as it’s more of the same with Trip being a spy and his relationship with T’pol even though we had the 3 previous novels covering the same kind of story. It seems that the publishers had too much faith in this series taking off by the way they only did one year in the first book. They might have been hoping to get 4 more out of it. Seems a bit like careless planning. It’s all based on book sales of course but the layout between the two Romulan war Novels is jarring and while one takes too long to get going the other is racing to wrap things up.
I feel that Michael A Martin just didn’t focus properly on the concept ‘The Romulan War’. He is a good writer but the scope of vision he has for this type of Trek History isn’t big enough, it’s too intimate. I believe a far more satisfying story would have been written by Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens who have written the most epic and detailed Star Trek stories in Novel form. I do believe they could write something that really ties into the beginnings of The Original series about a Federation that rose from the ashes of a devastating War. This wasn’t what we got and ultimately the project was mishandled.
Here was my favorite part of the Novel which is actually a Poem by Martin Niemoller
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
1Q84 Book 2 February 29, 2012Posted by oldboy in : Books , 2 comments
This is Murakami’s ‘The Phantom Menace’. I gave book 1 a bollocking last year and have been struggling to read book two ever since. Three is yet to come. Oh fudge…
I had hoped things would pick up in Book two and that Murakami would start to reign it in a little and he does to some effect. It appears to get on with the story and leave some bullsh*t behind with book one. But by the end of book two I had felt that the story was developed in the first 10 pages and then repeated for the next 290 pages. How many f’ing chapters do you need to spend in a room where a character is going to kill someone? How many times is it needed to be repeated who the “little people” are, who the receiver and perciever is and how the two main characters must “find” each other. Just do it! I know Murakami likes to remind readers where they are in the story and refresh them on what has happened but each chapter is so repetitive that it’s regurgitating the same information in the same fashion. Basically people sitting around in rooms, kitchens, thinking and talking about the same gods damn thing again and again. Murakami even writes a line where the character says he will keep saying the same thing even if it’s 70,000 times. Is that a joke? Did Murakami realize what he was doing? The joke’s on anyone who puts money on the counter for this terrible book.
Characters are still self obsessed and this information has also been repetitively nailed into my brain as they repeat facts about themselves often. Is this how Murakami writes people now? Who can relate to these kind of characters? Aomame is a slapper who is constantly worried about the size of her breasts….well, maybe “some” women can relate to that but these characters are the most boring assholes I have ever read about. Give me Nicholas Sparks and Dan Brown any day over this tripe. Aomame kills people as a part time job yet the most relevant thing about her is how worried she is over the size of her breasts. There is nothing exciting about this woman with a split life. Both sides of her life are equally boring. How can you make a hitwoman so boring? This chick sleeps around at night, kills people and yet….*yawn* where is the appeal. It’s not as if a slapper can’t be appealing in a novel. You got to make the person interesting rather than just someone who can’t keep their knickers on. Take the British TV series ‘The Secret Diary of a Call Girl’ about an upper class Escort working in London. Her friends don’t know that this is her real job and she has to balance her “work” life with it’s dangers and unexpected circumstances with her real life, lunch with friends etc. The character is best summed up with this tantalizing self introduction “The first thing you should know about me is that I’m a whore.” I’m totally sold on that line. Already the character is interesting, self aware and unafraid of herself. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about Aomame’s self description? She has small breasts, a rubber plant, loves some person she knew when she was 7. Oh and by the way, she kills people! Her hidden occupation should be at least near the front, along with her love for Tengo.
Tengo and Fuka-Eri. From the opening pages of book one I guessed that Murakami would write a scene where Tengo sleeps with the underaged school girl Fuka-Eri. This is how predictable his writing has become and I’m wondering if this is just some male fantasy? Again I ask, who is he writing this for? Is it necessary to write such scene? Of course, it is written in a way that Tengo has no control over sleeping with Fuka-Eri. Yeah, sorry Tengo but that won’t hold up in court.
One book left and I really dislike that I bought this. But since I paid for it and am two books in I might aswell get it over and done with. I squeezed in reading three other books while I tried to get through book II. I’ve heard book III is the weakest of the lot. Smeging hell. Murakami was really out of control writing this….
The Lord of the Rings: Book December 21, 2011Posted by oldboy in : Books, Fantasy , 7 comments
It took a while to read but it was well worth it.
The Fellowship of The Ring
I thought The fellowship of the Ring follows pretty closely to what we saw in the movie version although events take much longer to unfold in the book than the movie with the passage of time being many years between the discovery of the power of Bilbo’s ring and Frodo’s journey. The opening pages go into some detail about Hobbit pipe weed, the history behind it which seems a little strange as an introduction to Hobbits and their culture but understandable since Tolkien was an avid pipe smoker.
The book later discusses in great detail the One Ring, it’s history, it’s power on man and others and why it can’t be just hidden or thrown into the deepest sea. It beefs up the importance of the quest. Gollum’s back story is discussed here too giving a fascinating insight into the character. Gollum’s History is sprinkled throughout the movie trilogy, but here, having already been introduced in the Hobbit the character’s back story is filled in by Gandalf to Frodo. There is a defining moment here where Frodo says it’s a pity that Bilbo didn’t kill Gollum, but Gandalf lightly scolds him on this, stating that who is he (Frodo) to decide who lives and who dies for life is not always just and it is through Biblo’s pity on Gollum in the Hobbit that he receives the Ring unlike Gollum who killed for it. This is a defining moment for later in “The Two Towers” does Frodo remember Gandalf’s words and spares Gollum himself which has an even greater impact on the story. The Birth of Gollum is seen to be not just through murder and the weight of the Ring but from himself becoming a trickster and listening in on peoples conversations which he should never hear in the first place, letting the private words of others poison his mind. There is certainly a lesson to be learned.
The Ring itself is far too powerful for anyone. It’s the power more than the evil it possesses that is the danger. Having such great power, can a person control it or would they lose themselves into giving into their worldly desires. The abyss looking into the holder of the Ring so to speak.
The Tom Bombaldi chapter feels a little out of place in the Lord of the Rings and is pretty much a mystery, even to the characters themselves. A bit of a Deus Ex machina in a way. It’s a rather frustrating Chapter to read in the book and I found the character to be a little bit annoying.
As usual Gandalf is coming and going and as with the Hobbit he is off missing much of the time on errands, dealing with other things that need his attention. Gandalf is one of those characters that’s sometimes handy to have around in sticky situations and his absence is truly noticed when the characters no longer have him in their company, this certainly adds to the level of threat without him and I think Gandalf himself knows that the people of middle earth need to stand without his power at times. What he is really trying to do is level the playing field between the people of middle earth and Sauron. But he himself is not infallible. I liked the sense of foreboding he has with mines of Moria and what lies in wait for him. He tries to escape his own destiny but there are powers as great and greater as he. This didn’t come across so much in the movie but here it’s done very subtle.
Favorite Quote: “Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” - Gandalf
The Two Towers
This book is split between Frodo and Sam’s journey and Aragorn’s Journey. Both stories are equally exciting but I’d personally would have preferred interchanging chapters, switching back an forth between characters.
We get a lot more of Saruman, less in league with Sauron and more wanting to take power for himself. But he is utterly fooled by his own making and has fooled himself into thinking he actually ever had a chance against Sauron. The battle of helms deep is rather short compared with the movie and there is more emphasis on the parley with Saurman and his twisted ways.
In the second half of the novel the focus switches to Sam as Frodo becomes more and more distant, not just to Sam but to the readers also. We read less of his inner thoughts and we too start to fee what Sam feels, not knowing what’s going on. At this point things change. Sam becomes the real hero of the story. He perhaps became one of my favorite characters in LOTRs because of his devotion and love to his friend and master Frodo. He is even willing to forget all about the Ring, their quest, and let the world end just for the sake of his friend. To hell with the consequences, he aint leaving Mr. Frodo behind.
Mordor is a hellish place and there is a great sense of burden and doom as Sam and Frodo travel through these lands. It was at around this time as I read these bleak descriptions of the place that the March 11th earthquake in Japan had struck and there seemed to be a resemblance between the dark hopelessness described in these chapters as there was in the atmosphere of life and people that I saw as I lived in Japan in the weeks after the earthquake. Doom hanged in the air. Not only were there constant earth quakes but the threat of Radiation from Fukushima was becoming rapidly apparent. I couldn’t help but associate these things with the images and dread described in Mordor. The thought that this journey to destroy the Ring would really be a one way journey but also no matter how dark things got there was hope inside these characters, in Sam. That’s the beautiful thing about books and the places you read them in. They hold some significance to that time and place you’re in and what you’re going through at that moment. The place and time you are in becomes part of that book.
Favorite Quote: He peered out at that high stony place where all his life had fallen in ruin. ‘If only i could have my wish, my one wish,’ he sighed, ‘to go back and find him!’ Then at last he turned to the road in front and took a few steps: the heaviest and most reluctant he had ever taken. - Sam
The Return of the King
As with the other books the scenes are so detailed and vivid in the mind. What sticks out is the battle of Pellennor fields. The end of the Witch King. Sam and Frodo’s journey flows smoothly on from the two towers andis quite compelling considering their predicament at the end of the Two Towers. It’s the story I looked forward to completing most however The first part with Aragorn, Gandalf and Merri and Pippin is equally exciting and from their perspective there is a bleaker end for them midway through the book until all the characters return to the same page.
The story wraps everything up very well and by the end the Hobbits that return are a few feet taller figuratively and literally speaking. They’re men, back from a war with the proof of it weighing on their shoulders. They finally come into their own as Gandalf and the Elves pass into the undying lands these Hobbits are the next race that grow up to defend themselves from the evils of the world. It’s rather touching and fitting to see Sam get the ending the movie didn’t have time to give him. But as noted already he is such an important character more so than the movies. He is a Ring bearer. He has carried it and he too has his own ending that brings a close to the world he came from.
The appendices at the end are a nice companion piece to the book and might have even deserved a book of their own.
For anyone who has only watched the movies the books go into such detail and explain the backgrounds on events that might have confused viewers. It certainly adds a richer experience to the films and you feel as you are part of something bigger after having read them.
Favorite Quote: There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. - Book VI, The Land of Shadow
1Q84 Book 1 December 9, 2011Posted by oldboy in : Books , add a comment
1Q84 spends the first few hundred pages going absolutely nowhere with our main characters displaying lack of humanity and Murakami writing gratuitous sex scenes. This might be a somewhat accurate portrayal of some Japanese women since the majority of Murakami’s work that I have read features a loose woman. It is nowhere more apparent than it is in 1Q84, where the main female protagonist and her friend Ayumi brag about their whorish encounters. Give.me.a.break. Reading chapter after chapter about a woman’s sexual exploits is not interesting in this regard because it lacks any feeling or empathy towards the act or the people involved. It’s soulless and I know many Murakami fans are going to give me a bollocking over this criticism. I love Murakami to bits but the sex scenes he writes in this book are dull and better placed in some erotica novel.
What’s good sex in fiction? Charles Bukowski. The man writes the reality of sex. The raw nature of it and the pleasant/unpleasantness of the act. His main Character Hank Chinaski is seen from the outside as an alcoholic womanizer but although the character shares many sexual exploits with women it is not self gratifying. There are points where he questions his own morality about what he is doing. There are points where he appreciates the simplest feature or aspect of the woman he is with, there is a beauty to the act in an unbeautiful setting.
Reading Aomames chapters is 1Q84 is like reading the diary of some self obsessed prig. It’s like something out of sex in the city. There are no redeeming virtues. Basically an arrogant character, someone who would probably spend most of their time on facebook talking about themselves if they could. This kind of character isn’t exciting. It’s like people who go to swinger parties or film themselves having sex. They are boring people who want to be interesting.
Tengo isn’t much better either. A man who sleeps with a married woman on weekends. Ass. These characters lack morals. but maybe it might be Murakami’s way of showing society not being liberated but desecrating itself and going down the shit hole. But when we have a number of chapters that deal with lesbian sex, women getting so drunk they don’t remember what they did and who they slept with I have to wonder what is Murakami actually trying to say? He certainly has a knack for social commentary but I personally feel he has lost his way here and is out of touch. He doesn’t get what is the visceral nature of these scenes at all. It’s all “hey do you like sex? me too! lets get sex!” instead of “When I make love I feel…..”. So it lacks anything profound. Near the end of book one there are two pages of discussion in which the characters try to justify why they sleep around but frankly a short 2 page discussion between two characters trying to explain themselves doesn’t cut it with me. While these characters might ultimately be redeemed in later books I just don’t care anymore. Too much time was wasted in book one on actually getting to the real story.
I’m not out to attack Murakami, but I love his writing enough to be this pissed off. It’s shallow and cheap. I’m afraid this book is over-hyped pop culture. In the year this book was released in Japan the number of reported aids and HIV cases was over 1,500 and infection rates are increasing in Japan while decreasing in other countries. Considering he sets his novel in the 1980s and has characters worried about whether or not they had protected sex, you would think the story might just for a second have more of a serious tone and address a topic like that to educate the drunken idiotic youth dribbling over it and instead of relating their sexual promiscuity to it that they might think for a second and actually see another side to that lifestyle.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone November 12, 2011Posted by oldboy in : Books, Fantasy , add a comment
My first Harry Potter book. After watching the series of movies I decided it was finally time to go deeper into this world. Why I have avoided it for this long was because I had believed it to be over hyped and rather than following mass culture I ignored it. Why? I will get to that. I really enjoyed “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone”. Reading it is as addictive as people have said it was. I feel like I have been flung back into my youth, back to my days of primary school when I was a child reading the works of Roald Dahl , Enid Blyton, Jenny Nimmo and other children’s story writers. It grabs the imagination in the same way and fills the mind with wonder. Therein lies my criticism I mentioned earlier. I’ve read stories like this before. Why is it that Harry Potter had such massive main stream success that other stories of a similar nature haven’t? I think part of the reason is that there is an underlying mystery in these books, there is a longer thread in the story that still has to be spun and that’s what has grabbed people’s fascination. Who is Harry Potter? It’s cleverly done. The story is funny and so descriptive in a minimal way that keeps the mind active and helps you to flesh out the setting in your mind easily.
Harry’s story seems a little Darker in the book than the first movie. The opening chapter with the Dursleys shows that Harry has a really shi…. unpleasant life that conjures up thoughts of Oliver Twist. Living in the cupboard, getting punched by his cousin constantly, getting a used sock as a Christmas present. Poor chap. His past is also quite dark for a children’s story unlike others I have read before. It is touching and sad how he sits in front of the Mirror of Erised night after night just to glimpse his family, his greatest desire. At this point of the story I felt a great maturity in the writing and it reminded me of a story in Paul Auster’s novel “Oracle Night” in which a character views a picture of his family through a view-master toy night after night and gets lost to it. Here enters Dumbledore who represent the voice of JK Rowling, telling Harry that “it does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. This was my favorite quote from the first movie too and it’s so darn true. I sympathize more with this Harry than in the movie. He also comes across as a little more braver and honorable than his movie counterpart.It’s impossible not to like Harry when he is a boy who has never had a proper Birthday or Christmas before. I think anyone reading can’t help but feel something happy inside themselves when Harry experiences something with delight for the first time, be it food, presents, friendship. All the things he never had before which others take for granted. There’s some philosophy there about appreciating the simple moments in life I’m sure.
Unlike the movie, having important dates of the 1st year term at Hogwarts such as Halloween and Christmas shown works well in chapter format and is more interesting than it was represented in the movie which tried to do exactly the same instead of mixing it up a little and moving the plot along. I think Rowling did a good job of representing Secondary school life for children as they are reaching that teens stage and can be more vulnerable and cruel. I remember my school people had bottles smashed over their head, so here’s it’s spells and charms instead then!
Things get wrapped up a bit too nicely at the end of the book. A lot of mysteries are explained in part by Dumbledore even though our main characters spent most of the book trying to figure out what was going on for themselves. In the end it had to be “told” to them. Why couldn’t Dumbledore have explained about Harry’s parents earlier. But that moment in particular is a sad moment when Harry knows why his parents died and why he lived. There is much wisdom spilled by Dumbledore. Basically, old wizards like Dumbledore are awesome. I love pretty much everything they say. Dumbledore has some great quotes in The Philosopher’s Stone. One is near the end with his conversation with Harry. “The Truth.” Dumbledor sighed. “It’s a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution”. One mystery is left untold though, as to why exactly Voldemort wanted to kill Harry.
The one thing I thought the movie did better than the book was the very ending. As the students prepare to leave Hogwarts Harry says he isn’t really going Home. Meaning that with the Dursleys isn’t his home, Hogwarts is. Or to mean that after having his eyes open to another world that where he goes back to is no longer home. In the book Harry just plans to have fun using magic on the Dursleys . The movie’s ending is far more poignant.
I want to continue on this journey with Harry. I finished the movie journey and wanting more I have come to the books, the first of which has now made me want to read all of them! I have come a long way from my first impressions of Harry Potter many years back . I openly mocked it. Now I’m devoted to it and long may it reign.
Favorite Quote: “Humans do have a knack for choosing precisely those things which are worst for them” - Professor Albus Dumbledore
Star Trek: Academy: Collision Course October 10, 2011Posted by oldboy in : Books, Science Fiction , add a comment
This is the 10th and possibly final collaboration between William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens on the life on James T Kirk. This time they go back to the beginning of Kirk’s life and Spock’s and explore why they joined Starfleet.
A little background info on this first. Back in 2005 Star Trek was on it’s last legs temporarily and the TV series Enterprise was heading into it’s 4th season which seemed likely to be it’s last in order to gain the syndication number. It’s ratings had been falling and the bolder season 3 had not been enough to save the show. With the end of Enterprise in sight news of William Shatner returning to Star Trek resurfaced. One was as a guest appearance in two episodes of Star Trek Enterprise. There were talks of this happening and Shatner had thrown in the idea of having the NX Enterprise crew find the Mirror Universe Kirk on a prison planet. The other idea proposed by Rick Berman was to have Shatner play Entperise’s famous unseen Chef who was a doppelganger/distant relative of James T Kirk. The time traveling agent Daniels would take this look alike to the future to stand in for the real James Kirk who had been kidnapped. Following this story idea there was silence in the room and talks to Bring Back Kirk later failed. So the story goes.
The other attempt to revive the character was a second prequel series proposed by Shatner. This series would be go back to Kirk’s early days in Starfleet Academy. The idea was ultimately rejected by the network and so it was turned into a book. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. Shatner’s other Kirk Book “The Return” was pitched as a sequel to Star Trek Generations before been turned into a novel.
I’ve always liked the character of James T Kirk and when the character was killed off in Generations I knew it was going to leave a hole in the world of Heroes. Krik is bigger than life. You can’t really imagine him to lose. I don’t think he is a character you can kill off and not have come back. Superman came back, Sherlock Holmes came back, Goku, Jesus, The Doctor, Godzilla, Optimus Prime and even Spock all came back. So I was thrilled to pieces when I read in Star Trek Monthly (UK) back in 95 that the character would Return in book form at least. It had even more meaning to me because it was been written by William Shatner. Who better to give a deep insight into the character than the man who played him. It was also written by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens whom have wrote some of the greatest and most epic Star Trek Novels over the years. I read these James T. Kirk books like a 10 year old would read Harry Potter and got just as excited about each new release.
As for the idea of a prequel of Kirk’s early days in the Academy I was less enthused. The words ‘Starfleet 90210′ stuck in my mind as the idea that some said such a series would be like. It was not until I read the review of the script for “Star Trek The first Adventure” that I began to like the idea and when a new Movie was also announced to explore the early days of Kirk and Spock by JJ Abrams I was doubly excited. This announcement came around the time before William Shatner released Collision Course which would be his own interpretation of how Kirk and Spock met. This book came first.
The story starts with Kirk stealing a Starfleet car to prove a point and bumping into Spock in a seedy underground club. A somewhat strange place to meet but it’s a funny moment none the less. Both Spock and Kirk’s stories lead into each other and they eventually decide to work together to uncover a mystery within Starfleet. At this point Kirk hates what Starfleet stands for and due to personal harrowing experiences he doesn’t believe that it’s as effective in peacekeeping as many do. His past on Tauras IV is where the root of his disgust in Starfleet began. The novel takes a bold step of having child soldiers in this as an analagy of child soldiers in some countries in our world today. It’s not something they could have done on TV I think but as a book they can push the envelope more.
I like the continuity candy in it. The Reeves Stevens always try to tie up the loose ends and plots holes left in Star Trek, the inconsistences and non sensical things. I like their explanation of the Phaser been a combination of the Phase Pistol and Laser. I like how they relate the Romulan - Earth War as the space war to end all Wars and that no such event should happen again.
The reason for Kirk and Spock getting into the academy is interesting. They are both blackmailed into serving with the choice of penal colony or Starfleet service. I don’t have much problem with it. I think Spock is a character who could have come to that decision by himself. Kirk the more rebellious character I can understand getting pushed into it for his own good as in Star Trek 2009. The mentor of Kirk here is a man named Eugene Mallory and he plays a role similar to that of Chris Pike in the 2009 Movie. The movie of course takes a different view of events as to how Kirk and Spock joined but it must be also noted that that movie takes place in an alternate universe/different timeline so neither story conflicts with the other.
The less believable thing about this story was Kirk stealing the Enterprise. This event also happens in the unmade 1991 movie Star Trek The First adventure aka Starfleet Academy aka Star Trek: The Academy years however in this book Kirk is “allowed” to steal it, although Kirk himself doesn’t realize that fact. It’s a little far fetched to let a 16 year old steal a starship and endanger his life to stop smugglers.
The action is a little bit on the lite side. Reeves-Stevens really deliever on their actions scenes but inbetween the opening and ending action scenes it’s a lot more drama playing out. I could imagine this as the first season of the proposed TV series playing out with the ending having Kirk steal the Enterprise. I don’t know if that would work. I think it would work better as a movie and JJ Abrams pretty much used the Academy prequel idea.
So far I’ve reviewed two prequel stories that involved Kirk and Spock meeting for the first time. I’d love to read the Script for the unmade 91 movie “Star Trek The First Adventure”. If anyone out there has a copy, knows where I can find a copy or would like to trade scripts let me know!
Favorite Quote: “He wasn’t a child anymore. He was a man. And nothing would ever be all right, ever.”
Smoke July 29, 2011Posted by oldboy in : Books, DVD/Video/T.V. , add a comment
From the opening scenes of this movie you know you’re gonna see something interesting. It’s a film that grabs your attention very early on with it’s antidote and keeps it throughout, with beautiful, heartbreaking, warm and funny moments. These little moments make the film more about the moments in our life that are unique, that are part of our persona. The film’s story is more than just that, it’s main storyline. I think it’s a film I don’t want to tell people about because if I were recommending it to someone I want them to go into it fresh and savior it for themselves because I’m sure anyone who watches this will take away something different. This is the film that introduced me to the Writer Paul Auster through his onscreen persona Paul Benjamin played by William Hurt.
I was thinking about this Movie today as I finished reading Paul Auster’s “The Red Notebook” and I think the best way I can sum up this movie and Auster’s work in general is that he holds onto the magic of life. In particular, coincidences. How one moment, action, incident in our life can lead us down a path and put us in a situation we would never have imagined ourselves in. Finding a link between ourselves and something else close to us through some other random occurrence and more often then not it’s through something very small. Auster focuses on that which we sometimes take for granted. He appreciates the beauty of chance and doesn’t try to explain it or brush it away. I myself have always liked the idea of six degrees of separation.
What’s more is that Auster doesn’t just tell a story. He tells it good. Thanks to my viewing of “Smoke” I was attracted to discovering more of his works, since discovering this movie a less than a year ago I have read “Oracle Night”, “The New York Trilogy”, “Travels in Scriptorium” and “The Red Notebook”. I am lucky that my own chance occurrence lead me to seeing this film and introduced me to this Author and his work. Often his books have similar themes. Oracle Night is filled with stories of peoples lives and the way the book is written is like a book within a book within a book, reading it feels like going further down a rabbit hole. “The New York Trilogy” consists of three Books linked together but also unrelated, they tell one story but each is differently told with different characters, Auster even writes himself into the book, a similar occurrence happens with “Smoke” as there is a similar character to Auster, the writer Paul Benjamin, and again with the writer in “Oracle Night”. Reading Auster is like sitting down with the man to discuss literary works of past and present. He writes about writing. With “The New York Trilogy” the story is inspired by hard boiled fiction but yet the characters are not real detectives, You could call it anti detective fiction, the main characters usually pretend to be someone else, the mystery is never solved and they are again based on coincidence. Auster notes this again in “the Red Note Book” when in reality he receives a phone call from a stranger asking to speak to one of his characters, having mistakenly called Auster. The event is beyond strange for in Auster’s story his character is called by someone looking to speak to Auster himself!
That’s also part of the joy of reading his Novels, you often find characters from his other stories popping up in the next Novel seemingly unrelated to the previous. It reminds me of Haruki Murakami’s writing which like Auster also deals with similar themes, and has familiar objects and characters that turn up in his books.
If you watch “Smoke” and enjoy it I recommend to seek out Auster’s writing. A lot of the spoken stories in the movie are mentioned in “The New York Trilogy” also. There too is a sequel to “Smoke” called “Blue in the Face”. A comedy that mostly contains scenes deleted from Smoke and many are improvised. It’s not as thought provoking as “Smoke” is so I would separate the two movies for your viewing pleasure.
Favorite Quote: “Bullshit is a real talent, Auggie” - Paul Benjamin