The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories – Review

The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov

Published in 1976

Pages: 211

Genre: Science fiction, short story collection

“Here I am with another collection of science fiction stories, and I sit here and think, with more than a little astonishment, that I have been writing and publishing fiction now for just three-eighths of a century.”

The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories is a short story collection by Isaac Asimov that not only showcases his writing, but gives insight into the background and origin of each story. Asimov is one of the most famous science fiction writers, and it is easy to see why his range and skill with words continue to be celebrated. Since this is a collection of short stories (and the first one I have reviewed on the blog), I will give short descriptions of each story and then my overall impression of the book.

Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

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Blue Like Jazz – Review

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Published in 2003

Pages: 240

Genre: Nonfiction, semi-autobiographical, spirituality

“I once listened to an Indian on television say that God was in the wind and water, and I wondered at how beautiful that was because it meant you could swim in Him or have Him brush your face in a breeze.”

Though the subtitle of Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller, may seem like a bit of an oxymoron, “nonreligious thoughts on Christian theology” is precisely what the book covers. This is a book that does not seek to preach or convert, though it does play to a certain audience; people within or without the church who have reservations about their faith and are looking somewhere other than religious officials for advice fall into this category. Through his ever-present and well-written voice, Miller makes reading the book more like having a casual conversation with a friend than a lofty discussion of Christianity. Continue reading “Blue Like Jazz – Review”

The Divine Comedy – Review

Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy) by Dante Alighieri

Written in 1320, first printed in 1472

Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed Unabridged Translation

Pages: 625

Genre: Narrative poem, Italian literature

“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost.”

Arguably one of the most influential pieces of long-form poetry in the Western world, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is an intimidating and enriching tome. After an introduction that gives historical context about the author and the poem itself, the reader is thrust back into the world of 14th century Italy. This allegorical poem is split into three sections: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso; as Dante climbs through Hell up to Purgatory before his ascension to Heaven, he likewise travels from sin into reconciliation through purgation, and finally redemption in paradise. Continue reading “The Divine Comedy – Review”

On the Subject of Giving, Keeping, Selling, and Buying Books

One of my favorite aspects of being a reader is finding a book that I feel needs to be shared; whether with someone specific or just in general, giving the gift of a story is one of the best gestures that someone can extend. That being said, the question of how to bestow said book upon another person can have different answers. Some people give books as gifts, lend them to friends, decide to keep them on their shelves, or sell them to bookstores. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look into how I approach these actions and some of the reasoning behind it.

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This is technically still one rule…

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Wyrd Sisters – Review

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Published in 1988

Pages: 360

Genre: Fantasy, satire, parody

“The wind howled.”

As befits a tale of witchcraft and regicide, Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett begins on a dark and stormy night. A mysterious baby (well, the circumstances of its origin are mysterious…the baby itself is fairly normal…as far as babies go) is delivered to three witches: Magrat Garlic, Nanny Ogg, and Granny Weatherwax. Taking on Shakespeare and common misconceptions about witches, the novel is ripe with wit and satire to rival the other books in the Discworld series. Continue reading “Wyrd Sisters – Review”

Consider Phlebas – Review

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

Published in 1987

Pages: 514

Genre: Science fiction, space opera

“The ship didn’t even have a name.”

Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks, begins with this nameless vessel on the run in the middle of a galactic war because of what it carries on-board. The cargo, however, is part of the ship itself; this ship with no name is controlled by a sentient, artificial consciousness known as a Mind, and in order for it to survive it must take refuge on the barren wasteland of Schar’s World. The Culture, an inter-galactic conglomerate of many species and races, created this Mind and wants to recover it before their enemies, the tri-pedal Idirans. Loyalties are tested, heavy casualties are sustained, and the question of who can really be good in such an insidious war is asked, but perhaps goes unanswered. Continue reading “Consider Phlebas – Review”

On the Subject of the Discworld Series and Terry Pratchett

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time have probably noticed a pattern of Discworld novels popping up every few reviews, and there is a reason for this. Terry Pratchett has become one of my favorite authors even though I hadn’t even heard of him until four years ago. Perhaps this puts my minimal knowledge of the greater realm of fantasy novels in perspective, but for the others who are ignorant of his existence, Terry Pratchett wrote the Discworld series which totals 41 books and takes place on the Discworld. Though I didn’t realize (or realise) the magic of his prose until relatively recently, his work has come to influence me heavily and I felt compelled to write a piece about how his impact.

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The man himself.

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