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Dog Ear This

ANCILLARY JUSTICE

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Ancillary Justice (2013)

Ann Leckie

            One of the things I like most about science fiction, or at least as “science fiction” exists in my head, is that it really lends itself to commenting on and sometimes even subverting paradigms and social norms. Not all science fiction is interested in subverting anything, of course (Orson Scott Card, you repulsive bigot, I’m looking at you) but the best of it is. Want to say something about conformity? All babies are grown in jars of green liquid! Want to say something about how the technocracy controls the flow of information? Extraterrestrials are beaming subliminal messages in from hidden satellites! Mind control! Dimension X! Robots! Clones! These are all code for little distinct parts of our reality that authors deem worthy of comment. Like everyone knows that zombies mean yuppies and aliens mean communists and so on, right? Comment is really what science fiction, and literature in general, is for, I think.

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sciencefrictions asked:

I legitimately enjoyed The Moon is a Harsh Mistress when I read it early this year. It's an exciting story about revolution on the Moon-- a young man, a sexy tall blonde, and an AI liberate Luna from the Earth's tyrannical reign of essentially slave labor. It is hilarious how much Heinlein hates women, though.

Oh, I read that one in late middle school/early high school and I remember liking it. Maybe I’ll read it again, though SciFi Summer 2014 is gonna start winding down as school approaches, and I have a lot more I want to tackle. Dhalgren, I hear, is especially monstrous and time-consuming. 

I really liked his juvenile/YA books when I was a kid. They really did it for me. They’re all about children who stowaway on rocketships and hitchhike across the stars.

In addition to being a misogynist in his books Heinlein in real life was a big fan of giant sex orgies (but who isn’t), which leads me to believe that he viewed women merely as objects. Woof. 

sciencefrictions asked:

Fun fact: Vernor Vinge coined the term 'Singularity'. Also, while I agree that AFUtD sounds pretty silly when one tries to describe it/is not particularly beautiful, the dogs are a stroke of genius! I read it over Winter break this year, and it served brilliantly as a distraction from the depression that sets in whenever I return to my parents' house. (My older sister is a yuppie, which doesn't help holidays for me.)

Haha, yeah, I did know that. I can’t wait for the singularity. I want to be part robot.

I agree, the dogs were brilliant. I thought they were really creatively, lovingly characterized. While I didn’t love AFUtD, I liked it well enough even if I may have sounded a bit harsh, and books like it are always a welcome distraction.

Ugh, is there any Hell worse than holidays with the fam? Especially if they’re yuppies.

THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU

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The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)

H.G. Wells

            Are we not men?

            Civilization, society, humanity—whatever you want to call it—at times seems little more than a mask we don simply to stay out of trouble. We don’t want to be bothered, we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we adopt a rather arbitrary set of rules and assumptions and play along with the game. Our masks serve to convince the other players at the table that we are in fact human. But underneath the thin veneer of civilization, deep inside us, however well hidden, lurks an animal. It might be difficult to see the animal underneath our mathematics, our religions, our infrastructures, our impressive architecture, and our fine statuary, but he’s there. Take a police officer for example. Picture for yourself a cop: Johnny Law, with sunglasses and a moustache. Johnny Law might appear to be human at any given moment; in the precinct house, at a bar with his fellow officers—he might even have normal, stable relations with his spouse and children—but at the slightest provocation he might snap, unleash the animal, forget the rules, and shoot a homeless person, or beat someone to death.

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DOUBLE STAR

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Double Star (1956)

Robert A. Heinlein

            Whenever I want to get some serious reading done, when I feel the need to hunker down and plow through a book, I get out of the little prison where I am confined as part of a punishment for living under capitalism, and head on over to a public park. I’ve written about my park of choice a few different times here. I have my favorite table, where I like to sit under some trees and look out over couple acres of native flora, usually I’ll bring a PBJ, some fruit, a bottle of cold water. Occasionally I switch it up and go to a different park but if I’m anything it’s a creature of routine. So earlier today I was sitting here in my room and I said to myself: Jeff, today you are going to finish Double Star no matter how much it hurts you. I went to the park and my bench, turned off my phone, and set to the task of mutilating my soul by reading this vile horseshit. When I finished I threw the book down, rested my head in my hands and said very loudly, in a voice like a dying radio: “Jesus H. Fucking Christ Ass Fuck.” A pair of adolescents skateboarding by stopped and stared at me.

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A FIRE UPON THE DEEP

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A Fire Upon the Deep (1992)

Vernor Vinge

            Late last month, as the most unpleasant semester I’ve ever had at community college was winding down, and I found myself struggling to finish a book (The Cannibal by John Hawkes) I realized that I shouldn’t fight so hard with a book I don’t love. Reading is certainly about defeating ignorance and cultivating empathy, yes, but it’s also about enjoyment too. So in much the same way that I refuse to interact with a yuppie outside of a customer/service employee situation I decided that for the moment I don’t need smug, vacuous postmodernism in my life. Additionally, this summer is for me a summer of big projects and big ambitions, and I wanted to bring that over to my book blog as well. To that end I’ve declared this “Science Fiction Summer 2014”, and I’m only going to read sci-fi novels for the next few months. Also, for various reasons I’ve been feeling kinda down on myself and I thought some space adventure might cheer me up. So if you thought this shit was nerdy before, just you fucking wait. 

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not book related.

In honor of Mother’s Day I wrote a bunch of garbage about my personal life/emotion shit because my mother was/is a very cruel human being, and it’s a real drag.

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mahendra-singh asked:

Hilarious Verne review, liked it a lot … but JV's message is not concerned w/society etc, he's all about the individual's drive to domination over reality, about making protective shells against the abyss by using only one's mind … he's pretty trippy. That translation is rubbish, BTW.

Thanks!

Yeah, I got that message, and for the most part I enjoyed the book, but it just wasn’t what I expected and I felt sort of let down. I gather that 20,000 Leagues has a similar message, maybe I’ll read that next.

I read around on the internet and found that the translation I own is almost universally reviled but I only spent fifty cents on the book so I guess you get what you pay for.

THE RETURN

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The Return (2001)

Roberto Bolaño

            I had so many ambitious goals for this spring break. Even made a list of them, a long and thorough list. I was going to be productive and creative, exercise every day, write lots, apply for new jobs, get ahead of my schoolwork, and so on. I was planning to immerse myself in productivity so that I might achieve my life goals, whatever those are, as if whatever I’ve got in my head could be called a goal. Of course none of that happened. Nothing got crossed off. Instead I spent all my time beating off and reading books. Read two different books in one week, each mostly within the span of a single day. A feat I haven’t performed in years. So I guess in that sense it was a productive break, as I was feeding my internal furnace with literature. I’m a locomotive that runs on books. My boilers are heated by combusting words. As an excuse or a pardon I tell myself that I work hard enough regularly, fingers figuratively to the bone, for little to no compensation or acknowledgment and that my vacation, however modest, is sacred and shall not be marred by labor. And for whatever stupid reasons my book blog is pretty important to me so I’m glad I got a lot done on that front.

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belcimer asked:

Great post. Keep writing.

Thank you! I certainly will.

THE SETTING SUN

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The Setting Sun (1947)

Osamu Dazai

            Last year nothing happened

            The year before nothing happened

            And the year before that nothing happened.

            Something about Post-War Japanese literature really does it for me. I am attracted to the unyielding fatalism, the bleak depression, the moodiness, the surreal and erotic exoticisms, the grand artistic gestures, the existential despair and the heartache over a cultural sunset that in the past I’ve found in Mishima and now I’ve found in Osamu Dazai’s masterpiece, The Setting Sun. That these qualities exist in these books probably has something to do with the atomic bomb. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve finished a book in the span of a single day but today I did just that. It’s always such a breathtaking experience when a book enraptures you so much that you couldn’t put it down if you wanted to.

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CEREMONY

Ceremony (1977)

Leslie Marmon Silko

            When it comes to selecting which book I am going to next read I follow a pretty simple guideline: avoid reading books by authors of similar origins more than a couple times in a row. I like to hop around a bit. Sort of how one wouldn’t go to the same restaurant all the time, moving instead from Thai to Italian to Lebanese to Indian to hamburgers, and so on. So Ceremony, by a Native American woman, seemed like just the sort of thing to break out a white male rut. I think the only book written by a woman that I’ve reviewed on this thing was The Piano Teacher and it really stunk. Tried to read a Virginia Woolf book too, and I thought it blew goats. Never finished it. But I liked this book a lot.

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LITTLE CHILDREN

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Little Children (1937)

William Saroyan

            Last summer I took a low level English class for the terminally moronic at the community college that in my mind resembles nothing so much as a minimum-security prison. Because I had to. For my GPA. For my future. The class was very good, very enjoyable, and the professor was a wonderful man. Probably the best professor I’ve ever had at community college. He was a funny, young Armenian from Fresno and he wrote his Master’s thesis on William Saroyan, probably the only writer of note to come from Fresno or anywhere else in the San Joaquin Valley. I was the only person in that class who had ever heard of William Saroyan, and when I mentioned that I was familiar the professor’s eyes lit up so brightly. Read The Human Comedy in high school. Once I went to a used bookstore with my father. I grabbed a Saroyan book off the shelves (I don’t remember the title) and when he paid we all marveled at how much all the books had cost. As it turned out the book I selected, without looking at the price, was a first edition, and cost forty-five dollars. My father made me return it, but I wish I hadn’t. Wasn’t as if my old man ever spent much money on me. I recall most of my classmates that summer were sub-literate Marines, struggling with the English language. The GI Bill or whatever makes them attend school year-round. The teacher really pushed us hard (and the school days are long during summer school, three hours or something) and I got an A. Of course I fucking did. I spent hours and hours on those essays, the best I’ve ever written.

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POST OFFICE

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Post Office (1971)

Charles Bukowski

It began as a mistake.

            I feel like I oughtta be drunk for this one, I oughtta just go get a six pack of High Life and down it, paragraph by paragraph, but I’ve been drinking too much lately and it gets me really bummed sometimes so I ain’t gonna. Charles Bukowski can just really put you in that MOOD, y’know? The mood that makes you want to get drunk and call people who don’t want to talk to you, from a payphone, with your last quarter. Call up an ex-lover and say hey, haven’t seen you in years. Slam the receiver, curse yourself, and walk down the filthy sidewalk with your hands in your pockets. Walk across town in the darkness, arm-in-arm with your regrets. Smoking cigarettes. Kicking empty cans.

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