Books 20 and 21 of 2004 finished!

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Finished a couple of books over the past few nights.

#20: Cruel Miracles by Orson Scott Card. A book of 5 of his short stories, all with what he calls "religious" themes. By that he means dealing with the ultimate issues of life--not organized or established religions. All 5 were interesting. The most greusome and disturbing (though, overall, probably not the best story) was the story called Kingsmeat. In the story, the Shepherd works for the alien King and Queen who have taken over the planet. He is a "harvester" of the "flock." That is, the King and Queen send him out to get what they are hungry for--be it legs, arms, breasts, whatever. The Shepherd does the harvesting painlessly, and does not kill the person he is harvesting from.

Eventually, avengers come and kill the King and Queen, and the Shephard is put on trial. The townspeople are set to kill him on the spot. Then they hear the story from HIS point of view--that he was trying to save his people from complete destruction (which would have happened without his care). It's an interesting story with a twist at the end.

If you like Card's other SF work, you'd probably find his short fiction interesting. And his autobiographical-type notes in the introduction and in the epilogue are as interesting as any of the stories.

#21 The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. I've not seen the movie (starring Howard Keel) which PapaC says is truly terrible. The book is not terrible at all. I don't know that I'd call it SCIENCE fiction at all--there is precious little science seeming stuff in it to me. I'd put it in the genre that is one of my favorites: apocalyptic fiction. The whole point is: "What if the world nearly ended like THIS?"

Yes, there are man-eating type plants, but they aren't the POINT of the books at all. So don't get thrown off by thinking this is some cheesy b-movie plot book. Worth the read. It has been put out in some sort of Science Fiction Masterpiece series--that's how I picked it up at 1/2 Price Books. (That's also where I got The Stars My Destination. I wish I could find a whole list of what they consider the "Masterworks.")


I am glad to see that John Wyndham still has readers. I agree that The Day of the Triffids is an excellent book. He wrote a number of SF novels. The Chrysalids is fascinating and very human, for SF. The Kraken Wakes is a little bit too much like Triffids. The Midwich Cuckoos is good. Consider Her Ways is a good read about a world without men.

For some reason there is little "cult" around Wyndham. Too English, too straight? He was a bit of a male feminist before it was fashionable (not that this appeals to me).

He also wrote short stories, some of which are well worth digging out. They seem to be little-read, so much so that a boy at my school rewrote one and it got published in our school magazine. I was the only one who realised that he had plagiarised Wyndham.

My husbands saw the movie as a small child (shown to him by his uncle). Put it this way, the noise that they make still freak him out.

I forgot to mention Wyndham's "Trouble with Lichen", also quite good, about a woman scientist who discovers a natural chemical that prolongs life.

When you think about how comparatively little Wyndham wrote, his "hit rate" was pretty good. Two of his SF books were made into films: "The Day of the Triffids" and "Midwich Cuckoos" (the latter twice, I believe). I doubt that anyone much reads his last, short novel "Chocky" these days but it had an interesting premise (a boy in mental contact with an alien).

As I said, Wyndham is little-known as a personality. Contrast this with the case of JG Ballard, another Englishman and a rough contemporary (floruit 1960s). Ballard has also had two of his books made into films (Empire of the Sun and Crash). He is much better known. Perhaps this is due to the mainstream success of the non-SF Empire of the Sun.



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on July 7, 2004 2:58 PM.

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