American Chimera – 1.4

American Chimera Cover Small

We brought the egg back to the trailer and kicked all the dogs outta our bedroom. We opened the bottom drawer of our plastic dresser and stuffed it full of clean shirts and underwear, makin’ sure the egg were sittin’ in the plushest place you e’er did see.

Janie’s parents had raised chickens while she grew up, so she knew the thing needed to be warm. We unhooked the meth setup from the propane and drove to town to get a space heater, then stuck it in the room. Even with the dogs outta the room, the heat started makin’ all the shit stink to high heaven, so we cleaned that place up. While our lil’ egg grew in the underwear drawer, Janie and I slept in the livin’ room on the couch.

Well, turns out we didn’t have enough money for another propane tank to cook the meth, so Janie went to town and got a job fixin’ the Bojangles’ robots. I started workin’ for the Mexicans buildin’ a piece of the school down the road, plannin’ just to do it as long as I needed to get a new propane tank, but it weren’t that bad. It felt a bit healthier, too, not to be cookin’ meth or havin’ drug pushers breathin’ down my back. About then’s when we started to backslide on our cookin.’

Every night, Janie and me’d turn the egg. The swelterin’ summer soon turned into a nice, cool fall, and we cranked that space heater up to keep the room nice and cozy. Soon we was conflicted ’bout whether or not to sleep in the bedroom, considerin’ how cold it got outside, but we decided it better to keep it real, real hot in there instead.

One propane tank turned into two, then three, then four. Eventually it got so hard to keep up the gas that I near ’bout considered admittin’ where we was parked and hookin’ into electricity. I moved on with the Mexicans to the next job, and Janie was good enough at her job that they wanted her to become a specialist in the Bojangles’ Biscuit Bots.

At last the egg started hatchin’ in November of ’72. It was the middle of the night when I felt Janie’s lil’ hand shakin’ me to wake up, and I stirred just the slightest amount.

“Y’hear that?” I ’member her askin. I blinked my eyes a couple times, seein’ her eyes sparkle in the dark and the dogs pantin’ in the background.

I listened close for a minute, mostly just hearin’ a dog scratchin’ at the bedroom door and the whir of the space heater in the background. But then, sure ’nuff, I got an earful of the eggshell crackin’ away. My eyes lit up and I scrambled, hands picking myself up from the floor where I was sleepin.’ Some of the carpet came up in my hand, makin’ me fall, but my clever mind followed what Janie asked. “The egg.”

She nodded and helped me up. “C’mon – let’s go watch!”

I shoved the dog out of the way and opened the door behind her. I turned on the overhead lights, disappointed to find most of the bulbs had burnt out and it’d be dim in the room at best. The ceilin’ fan attached started wigglin’ the light every which-a-way, too, since a couple of the blades had been whacked off by my cousin Jim, who’d owned the trailer afore we did.

Janie didn’t pause a lick when she went over to the drawer. She picked up the Coleman lantern and revved it up. “It’s hatchin’!” she cried out. “Brett, lookit! We’re about to have a baby!”

I squeezed her so hard that she prob’ly near ’bout burst. I’d waited and waited for this moment, and finally it was happening. The cracks formed around the egg in a random pattern, much as you would expect from a dragon or a bird.

“I love you, Janie.” I gave her a kiss.

Then a spike poked out of the egg. Janie gasped and sat back. “Brett, what was that?”

More spikes poked out, goop from the egg splurting out everywhere. I heard screaming, just like a child, come from the egg, and my heart began to hurt. “It needs help!” I said.

“No – you cain’t! You never want to help something out of its egg, ever!”

At about that moment, the creature succeeded at pushing enough of the eggshell away that I could see it was a spider the size of a basketball, screechin’ like a newborn and all the black legs wigglin’ crazy.

Janie just put her hands up to her face and screamed. “Get the gun!” I shouted, pushin’ her back.

She froze, though, so I had to scramble out of the room. I fought through the dogs to get out the bedroom door and find the gun stuffed under the couch cushions. A couple of shells popped into the double barrel twelve gauge and I was ready to fight the monster.

I came back into the bedroom to find that Janie’s mood had changed. I pointed the gun at the dresser, but she was in the way. “Janie,” I said, “Janie, get out of the way.”

She turned her head to look at me and kept her fingers in the dresser drawer. “Brett,” she said, “Brett…it’s cryin.’ It’s cryin,’ and I don’t know how to fix it.”

“A shotgun to the head, that’s what! We shoulda known the damn Yanks couldn’t do anything good – this ain’t a dragon, honey, it’s a gol-dern spider!”

The spider’s legs wiggled in the drawer, the egg continued to crack more. I listened to it cry, saw it wasn’t harming Janie in the least. I didn’t understand how Janie brought herself to touch the thing, not at the time, but I heard the same cry she did.

It was a human cry.

“It’s a baby,” Janie said. “It’s…it’s not a dragon, but it’s just a baby…”

I put the gun down to my side. “We cain’t keep a spider, Janie. Spiders eat blood.”

She brushed a finger over the spider, fearless, then used a shirt to wipe away some of the grime from its legs. Though it didn’t seem to know what she was doin,’ it reached up to her. “I don’t know what to do,” she said. “Get it some instant breakfast or somethin.”’ She reached deeper into the drawer, picking up the baby spider and cradling it in her arms. “It’s our baby, Brett.”

And so I did what she asked, goin’ to the kitchen and fixin’ our baby spider a protein shake. That did good ’nuff ’til we went to the vet and got some formula the next day.

Divider

Previous Chapters List Next

American Chimera – 1.3

American Chimera Cover Small

The interrogator lifted a brow. “You kept the contents of the box because you were high and thought you’d found a dragon’s egg.”

Mr. Huffman guffawed and rolled his eyes. “I thought I’d ’splicitly told you we weren’t high.”

She just wrote something down on her notepad. “Sure, Mr. Huffman. I’ll make a note of that. But surely you also understand that the explanation doesn’t ring true – you must realize that we all know now that you hadn’t found a dragon’s egg. What happened when Dani hatched?”

Brett Huffman crossed his arms. “Where’s my chaw? Chaw first, then I’ll tell you.”

“I have all the power here, Mr. Huffman. Finish your story. Tell me how you kept the egg and what you did when Dani hatched.”

He squinted. “Then you’ll let me have a bit of chaw?”

“Without a doubt, Mr. Huffman.”

“And I want some peanuts and Pepsi.” With deep seriousness, he pointed directly at her face. “Copenhagen, Lance, and Pepsi in a glass bottle. Got it?”

The interrogator put her hand to her face, repressing a chuckle. “I understand this is serious to you, Mr. Huffman. Surely you realize there’s no more peanuts in existence, though? I will get you your dip, a Pepsi, and some potato chips if you agree to talk.”

He gave a nod and sat a bit straighter, his back pressed against the back of the chair. “As long as you act in good faith, so will I.”

Divider

Previous Chapters List Next

American Chimera – 1.2

American Chimera Cover Small

It’s a mite hard to remember that time. Me and Janie were cookin’ meth in this scheme to get capital and start one of them marijuana farms, and now that I come to think of it, that sounds like a purty bad idea. We were 26, though, so give us a lil’ slack.

So we was walkin’ down the road, enjoyin’ the summertime and poppin’ the jewelweed pods. I was probably shirtless, and Janie’s calloused feet were tough enough to go barefoot in the gravel. The Southern air filled my lungs with freshness and vigor, and the scent of an afternoon thunderstorm heavy on the horizon.

Janie lifted her head first and turned to look behind us. “Y’hear that?”

Spry, young, and manly, I listened close. The roar of a mighty diesel echoed up the holler. “That shouldn’t be travelin’ on this road. Too twisty turny for a big truck.” I craned my neck and tried to look around the trees that stood in my way, only to gather a little peek of the chrome shinin’ off the bumpers. “Goin’ awful fast, too.”

“Who you think it is?” Janie asked. Her bare feet squished through some of the mud in the ditch as she reached for a nice, juicy pod. It exploded at a touch, seeds flung ever’ which-a-way.

I shrugged. “They wreck, I ain’t helpin’ ’em. Their own stupid fault drivin’ like that.”

I got a little skeered that the truck was barrelin’ too fast down the road. I was only wearin’ a pair of flip flops and some socks with holes in ’em, though, so I followed Janie into the mushy ditch and waited. The truck was just a flyin’ – flyin,’ I tell ya – down that there road. My eyes nearly bugged outta my poor skull when I saw it in its full glory, black paint job dusty from the gravel, the grill like bared teeth ready to gobble us up. The driver honked the horn, not slowin’ despite us bein’ just off the edge of the road.

The truck was as wide as the entire road, so I grabbed Janie and pushed her into the jewelweed. It was soft, save for the briars and some of the ’luminum cans ’neath the weeds, but I layed atop her to protect her beautiful hide.

I heard the truck smooshin’ the gravel, felt a few of the rocks pelt my backside as it went by. The doors on the back of the truck rattled loose, openin’ and closin’ with every bump and pit in the road. Just as the gravel dust kicked up enough that I coughed and had to squint to see through it, something launched from the back of the trailer and rolled down the embankment on the other side of the road.

Janie spat up at me and pushed me ’way as she struggled to get up. “What the hell, Brett? That truck was gonna miss us, you didn’t -”

“Hey, lookit here. Right here.” I pointed to where the gravel had pelted me, a couple spots on my back where blood flowed out like a reg’lar fountain of bravery. “See that? I protected you real good, Janie. Real good.”

She swooned. Her eyes got all big and purty, starin’ at me with love and mushy feelings. “Oh, Brett, my strong and beautiful prince, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Love is like a red, red rose, you’re the best.”

She was skinnier ’n a rail at the time, so I swept her off her feet. “Never fear, dear Janie mine! One day, I’ll get you out of this holler, and we’ll have a real house. A real house with an actual foundation, and we’ll fill it with trophies – eight pointers, even! I certainly won’t get us abducted in the middle of the night and locked up in a desert facility in Massachussets!” I walked her into the road and gently placed her down.

The rumble of the truck’s engine died down in the distance. I half expected the fool driver to get himself – or herself, ahem, knowing you government types – kilt, but I ne’er heard ’bout no wreck later.

“Well, nothin’ for it,” I said to Janie. I held her hand tight and wandered over to the other side of the road. “I saw somethin’ come out the back of that truck. You think it coulda been valuable?”

Janie followed me willingly, then shrugged. “I dunno. Coulda been haulin’ trash.” She poked her head over the brush, helpin’ me look down in the holler.

The bank was already littered with tires and other junk people found worthwhile to toss out but were too lazy to get their butts over to the dump for. Nothin’ moved down in the little holler, save for the tiny creek that dribbled down the hill.

Janie, who’s good at spottin’ stuff, pointed to a wooden box. “That looks new. I ain’t seen a wood box that big afore, I don’t think. And lookit – there’s red paint on the sides.”

I agreed and let go of her hand. “I’mma go check it out.”

“I’mma go with you.”

Now, you gotta ’member this happened back before old man Potter got drunk and ran that school bus off the bank, so there weren’t no rails up yet. Janie and I weren’t high at all, hadn’t smoked even a lick of the wacky weed, so we carefully went down that holler. It was slippery on all them leaves, but we used some roots that stuck out of the hill to scramble down on hands and knees until we made it to the box.

It was a purty big box, but you prob’ly know. You prob’ly packed it. The red paint on the side said, “PROPURTY OF THE US GUVMENT,” and in smaller letters, “DON’T OPIN – TOP SEECRIT.” It coulda said other stuff, but I don’t ’member.

“Wanna open it?” Janie asked.

I was already ahead of her. I whipped out my Case knife from its sheath in my back pocket and started pryin’ some of the loose boards off from their nails. “Ain’t no cell service out here. We ort to make sure it ain’t a bomb gonna blow us all to hell, you know.”

“Would you know what to do if it were a bomb?”

I ripped the board away and tossed it to the side. “Yeah. Save it for when the South rises again or for the zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.” With the locking board gone, it wasn’t hard to pry open the top of the crate. “Don’t be silly, Janie, you know we cain’t trust the Man. This’s gotta be checked.”

The box was filled with foam, so I slashed my knife right through it, careful not to swipe into wires or summat that’d cause it to get radioactive or explode or turn us into Muslims or release anthrax. After the foam I found a layer of hay, so I raised a brow.

Janie, though, she got interested at that. She bent down next to me and stuck her lil’ hand deep into the box, takin’ out the straw. “It’s fragile, that’s for sure,” she mentioned. Eventually her hand hit somethin’ solid, so she pulled the hay out from around the object in the center of the crate and eased it out.

Both of us stared at it, mouths agape, the purtiest thing you e’er did see. For a while we just turned it around, amazed at how beautiful it was. We weren’t high.

The egg was blue, robin’s egg blue, and hefty. It was a big ol’ egg about the size of a basketball, not egg-sized like… like those little diddle eggs you used to get in the store before they slaughtered all the chickens. Little dots of teal speckled the sides. Janie held it up to the sky, the light of the sun shinin’ just enough through the shell that we could see what was inside.

I near ’bout keeled over my heart beat so hard. I could see the shape of wings forming, each of the finger-like spikes that bat wings have curled up inside the little dragon’s egg. Its head curled onto its stomach, and I couldn’t see a tail, but certainly this was a dragon egg.

Janie spoke first. “It’s just like in the movies,” she said, “’Cept I ne’er thought I’d get to be a dragon tamer.”

I realized just how long we took to get to this point, so I stuck my hand in my back pocket and fished around for my lighter. I felt the giant hole in my pocket, so I gave up and reached into Janie’s pocket for her lighter instead. “You ain’t gonna be a dragon tamer if the Yanks find out what you did. Here – put that egg down, it ain’t gonna hatch for a while yet.”

I flicked the top off the lighter – gasoline and fuel hadn’t been banned yet, you know – and lit some of the hay on fire. It started off in a great conflagration, and the foam that had lined the box burned hotter ’n blue blazes.

Janie stood next to me, dragon’s egg still cradled in her arms, not a care in the world about destroyin’ the evidence. “We’re gonna keep it, right?”

“Damn straight,” I answered with a nod. I placed my brawny, thick arm over Janie’s slender, womanly shoulder. “Think about what the guv’ment could do with a dragon. It’d be a waste of our tax dollars to let this thing fall back in them Yanks’ grimy hands.”

“Yes, it would most def’nitely be a waste of the tax dollars that we have definitely paid and not skipped out on even once. We are so glad we’re not high right now,” Janie confirmed.

We watched the blaze until we realized it was getting out of control, then we scrambled up the hill with our dragon egg and went back home before the fire department could get called.

Divider

Previous Chapters List Next

 

American Chimera – 1.1

American Chimera Cover Small

“And you thought this was a good idea why?” The interrogator sat with her legs crossed, tablet and stylus at the ready, waiting for a response. Cameras and microphones hung from the ceiling just behind her, recording anything her organic mind might miss.

A man in a prison jumpsuit slouched even further in his chair, rear end nearly falling off the front edge. A few more hairs graced his chin than the top of his head, but the middle-aged white man scowled and wrinkled his brow all the more anyway. He crossed his arms and managed to jangle the steel cuffs on his wrists in an even more annoying manner than before, making the interrogator wince. “I ain’t tellin’ you nothin.’ Gov’ment ain’t ne’er done nothin’ good for me – not now, not ever.” He leaned to his left and spat on the floor.

The interrogator put her tablet onto the small side table next to her chair, taking care not to disturb the small orchid that sat there. “Mr. Huffman, do you know where you are?”

“Not too good, no.” He took a deep breath. “Some basement ’bove the Mason Dixon line, I’d reckon. Smell of Yankee cowardice gives that away.”

“Well, you’re wrong.” She clicked the screen of the tablet and brought up something other than a notepad, sifting through images that flashed different colors in the dark room until landing on something brown. “This is an image of the facility, Mr. Huffman.”

He took the tablet from her delicate fingers and considered the barren desert landscape for a few seconds. “It’s a wasteland. Prob’ly Massachussets.”

The interrogator refused to take the tablet back when he proffered it, instead leaving her hand hanging just off her knee. “I suppose your guess is…inconsequential. While you may be able to escape this facility, you would be dead long before you could reach either water or another person. Even if you managed to get out, the only thing you could do is return, because no one here is going to risk going after you.” Her fingers twitched and her eyes squinted as she finally leaned forward and plucked the tablet from Mr. Huffman’s grasp. “You won’t leave this place, ever, but you can make it more comfortable. Now tell me – why did you pick up that box?”

He lifted sad, thoughtful eyes. “If I tell you, will I git me some chaw?”

“What?”

“Some chaw.” He mimicked taking something from his pocket and lining his lower lip with it. “You know, chewin’ tabaccy.”

She shook her head with a vigorous no. “This is a government facility, Mr. Huffman, and tobacco is banned throughout most of the country. No, you will not-”

“Then you git nothin’ out of me.”

She squinted and tapped the screen of her tablet. “If that bribe will work, I will put in a request you be blindfolded and taken somewhere to enjoy a bit of tobacco.” She held up the tablet and showed him how easily she could submit the request. “All you have to do is tell me why you and Mrs. Huffman picked up that box, and I will press this little button.”

His hands flexed, his blue eyes twinkled, and his jaw tightened. Mr. Huffman held out as long as he could, but at last his resolve wavered. “I suppose it ain’t no big deal to tell you that. Don’t let Janie or Dani know I squealed, y’hear?”

The interrogator smiled and reopened her notes on the tablet. “Not a word from me, Mr. Huffman. Not a word.”

Divider

Introduction Chapters List Next

 

Introducing American Chimera

Looking for a (free) book that’s completely out of the box?

American Chimera’s first section is being posted here on hrrgorman.wordpress.com starting next week, then serially posted every few days.

However, if you would like to read the entire thing immediately (or save it on your hard drive with the intent to read it but never get around to it), you can download this beautifully formatted PDF file.

American Chimera Cover Small

Summary

It’s 2087, and all’s well.

At least, that’s what everyone thought, until Dani Huffman showed up.

Now the American government’s got to scramble to hide the Chimera they let escape. An interrogator, a scientist, and a small team of soldiers work to find out just how many people know of the monster’s existence.

 

Delve into a Southern Gothic Sci-Fi adventure with American Chimera. Rife with multiple social issues from racism and income inequality to climate change and eugenics, this book melds a dark humor with a unique format to create a story unlike any you’ve read before.

Warning: Does contain violence, imprisonment, and rape.

Favorite Books of 2019

Lucky for me, there’s 5 Mondays this December, which allows an excellent chance to look back at the pile of books (36! Huzzah for me!) I’ve had the privilege to read in 2019!  Here’s a few of my favorites from this year:

Favorite Book On First Read

650Without a doubt, my favorite book this year was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. If you are a fantasy or a history buff, you should read this absolutely exquisite work. It’s so good that I don’t even feel jealous of the author, just ever so grateful I was able to read the book. 100%, totally recommend. If I hadn’t already given away my copy in earnest effort to get someone to read it, I’d give you mine.

Pro tip, though: get an e-book version. The binding on the paperback is a little weird and can make your experience slightly less enjoyable.

If you allow re-reads, I would have to say this book is competitive with Ancillary Justice, which I still think is probably on of the best books I’ve ever read, but perhaps less fun that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Favorite Indie Book

This feels like such a dangerous category to even have! First, let me say that so many of my fellow bloggers have written great books. More so than anything, what I’ve found to be important in finding a great Indie Book is to look at how dedicated the author is to the craft. A good blog/website is HIGHLY indicative of a good book to follow.

51om2i6e0kl

That being said, I think my favorite Indie Book this year was Diane Wallace Peach’s The Melding of Aeris. While many books could boast powerful storylines and well-written prose, what continues to stick out about Aeris is the extraordinarily clever world and detailed magic system. The feel is post-apocalyptic, but it doesn’t go into detail as to why the world is such. I had a lot of fun reading it and would recommend to those looking for a way into the indie book scene.

I feel like if I do runners up, I’d just be listing off a bunch of bloggers’ books!

Favorite Series

One of my goals this year was to read more series, and I’ve read several. However, I’ve got to limit my choice to just one!

And, no doubt in my mind, it was the Robert Remini Andrew Jackson trilogy. This trilogy is a fantastic set of biographical works that incorporates both feelings from back in the day when everyone was racist and ideals from a more modern, critical era. Though Jackson was a lunatic, Remini shows you his charisma, wit, and drive in such a way that he becomes more coherent. I’ve always enjoyed studying Jackson, though, so I’m inevitably a bit biased.

Also I’ve read this series in the past, so I feel like I cheated a bit by choosing them here. A good runner up would be the Imperial Radch trilogy, but I think it suffers from having a weak second entry.

Favorite Classic

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t read too many true classics. For that reason, I’m including somewhat recent science fiction and fantasy classics.

dracula1st

Even so, I’d have to go with Dracula by Bram Stoker. I didn’t go in expecting much from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tension, the depth of character, and creativity with the subject matter. I think it’s a great read for anyone interested in expanding their experience with fantasy and classics. Don’t be afraid of it just because of the Twilight craze!

A Couple I Explicitly Didn’t Like

I don’t want to talk about Indie books I didn’t like. If you want to see me rip Indie books, you’ll have to go to my Reviews Page and find them yourself. Part of this is my belief that Indie Books, if done right, should explore niches traditional publishers are afraid to go down – niches that might not be for every reader.

I was sad that I didn’t like Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I thought the premise looked really cool, and I very much enjoyed some of the short stories she’d published in other places. I thought the book didn’t explain itself well, and I could never root for the main character. It also came off as tone-deaf in a post 2016 world. 100% worst thing I’ve read this year.

Without anything coming close to Trail of Lightning in terms of sheer dislike, I moved on to thinking about disappointments. Though I enjoyed the book by the end, I was disappointed with The Warrior’s Apprentice. After having read two other novels by McMasters-Bujold, I expected more from this book. I also got more from the books following The Warrior’s Apprentice in the series. I think she tried to fit too much in the novel, and it ended up being an overwhelming tapestry of exciting stuff. It was also her first publication, so that inexperience probably didn’t help.

 

 

Book Review: The Alienist

I was flipping through some of the audiobook selections at my library, and I came across a curious book that had a sci-fi sounding title and a –

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD IS THIS A THEODORE ROOSEVELT FANFIC

Renting the shit out of this.

The Book

51jxil0exalThe Aleinist
Author: Caleb Carr
1994
Amazon Link

I hadn’t heard about this book, but I was pretty little when it debuted in ’94 (which means I’m older now, btw).  Regardless, I was looking for sci-fi about aliens and stupid computers thought this was what I meant.  I was disappointed to see it was about the 1800’s.

But then I saw it was supposed to have Theodore Roosevelt as a character.

Y’all know I’m a complete and total sucker for presidents.  I had to read this thing.  I checked that audiobook out, regardless of any regret I may later feel.

Non-Spoiler Review

I really enjoyed this book, though at times it got a bit graphic for my rather tender tastes.  I think what kept me engaged was their interesting techniques, not all of which worked (and some of which I found absolutely ludicrous from a technology perspective).  The main character, John Malone, was really a good perspective to write the book from.

One thing that I found very satisfying was the representation of characters that weren’t white men.  While it was apparent that white men were the power brokers in the world, the agency of boys, women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals was not overlooked.  The character of Sarah, especially, was done so very well.  I think Carr did great with characters from a wide swath of backgrounds, and I think people should read this book for that reason if nothing else.

Also, the historical elements were fantastic.  Sometimes it felt like Carr put things in just to include historical references (for example, the characters ate at Delmonico’s and described the restaurant in detail like 5 times).  They met people like Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and Jake Rhiis. It felt a bit forced at times, but still it added to the overall effect of the book.

Overall, I would recommend, but there are some rough places that aren’t really for the faint of heart (and probably surpassed my own abilities).

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The story was really good.  The main characters used psychology – at least what was available in 1896, with a little help from having an author in 1994, to determine the characteristics of a murderer, find him, and stop him from continuing his spree.  It was deeply complex, intriguing, and full of action.  The emotional twists and turns were astounding.

The only low point in the book was, if you ask me, a bit at the climax. Kreizler, the titular alienist, quit the investigation when his girlfriend was killed by a mob boss.  He then came back at the end, almost deus ex machina, and solved the case.  As well, the mob boss was following him and ended up being important in the final showdown. To me, that final coincidence felt a bit too large, and it ignored a lot of the contributions of Sarah and the Isaacsons.  It wasn’t a bad way to do the climax, but it didn’t quite feel satisfying to me.

Supposedly there are follow up books, and I’m intrigued enough by this one to think they might be worth reading.

Next week:

This is a 5-Monday month, and what timing!  Next week, the 30th, I’ll be making a post describing my reading journey.  And what a journey!  I’m excited to share what may be my most successful reading year in a LONG time.

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is one of those “Classic” books I’ve never read. Most classes in my high school read it, but since I was in the honors’ section, my teacher said, “You all have probably read 451 because you’re smart, so we’re going to do Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Well, guess I showed her! (Though I must admit that teacher is/was brilliant).

The Book

51vsfbzlu2blFahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
1953
Amazon Link

I’ve never really been interested in this book. I know it’s about censorship, and I know the premise is that the book is about a man who burns seditious material for a living. Something about it has just made me never care to read it before.

Also, just as a note, I got a copy from the library and the cover looked terrible. I liked the HBO-film inspired cover they have on Amazon, so that’s what I put here.

Non-Spoiler Review

At least now I understand why this book is so popular among English classes. With an English professor as part of the hero team and with literary and appreciation of artistic talent a major portion of the message, this novel is a fantastic, ego-stroking, self-serving kind of book for anyone who wants to feel good about being an artist.

And that made me mad at most high-school teachers but very proud of mine.

First, I found the premise entirely untenable. A society in which education is limited will not advance, and societies that don’t advance in this day and age will fall behind and be obliterated either by revolution or outside intervention. Even North Korea, which lags behind because of terrible abuses of power, can boast of inventions and efforts to modernize in some (crazy and terrifying) aspects. The society in 451 seems so ridiculous to me.

As well, the female characters were vapid, useless objects. I tell myself, “Oh, that was a product of the times,” but then I look at my review of Twain’s works and realize that he was more reasonable in the 1800’s than Bradbury was in 1953. I also thought Montag’s weird attraction to 16-year old Clarisse a bit… disconcerting.

When I think about the theme of censorship, I find this book a reasonable example of an anti-censorship book. That being said, it was ad absurdum, and I usually don’t like that sort of thing.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The story as a whole was rather plain. It was about a guy who did something illegal, then ran away and found company with others who were like him. There wasn’t much to it, really. I’d never read the book, but I still could predict every single plotline and didn’t care when the next chapter was revealed.

This book should be read almost exclusively for its themes and metaphors. That is where this book shines. That being said, I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m glad I don’t have to read it again.

Oh, another thing: mine had an afterword from Bradbury where he complained about efforts to censor Fahrenheit 451. It was incredibly insensitive and made me question the value of the intent behind 451. I suggest not reading it.

Next week:

I’m very hype to get to The Alienist. I’d never heard of it before this month, and I can’t imagine something with that premise could suck. Tally ho!

Book Review: The Robots of Dawn

Because everything written after this book gets the Robot series involved with Asimov’s weird, canon crossover with the Foundation series (which I love and also do not wish to destroy), this is the last of the Robots books I will be reading and reviewing for at least some time. Strap in for this classic review!

The Book

51p4stbegul._sx301_bo1204203200_The Robots of Dawn
Author: Isaac Asimov
1983
Amazon Link

This book, as well as many of the sequels that I don’t plan on reading, was at my library, so I snagged a copy.  I’ve genuinely enjoyed, at least to some extent, all of the series’ previous installations.

Just so you have a short version of the review, I’ll tell you now that this 4th book in the series was a massive disappointment, but still far from the worst thing I’ve ever read.

Non-Spoiler Review

I was only disappointed in this book because the previous two installations were quite enjoyable.  I would say this one wasn’t awful, but some of the parts fell pretty flat for me.

First, let me admit that I don’t like romance or even romantic subplots.  This is probably one of the reasons I like Asimov’s earlier work – he knew he sucked at romance and avoided it.  Well, when he got older, he also got bolder, and I get the distinct feeling he still sucked at writing romance anyway.  Associated with the romance, as well, were clear and open references to what may be my least favorite book of all time, Stranger in a Strange Land.  Complete with sexual awakening and a hint at ‘teach them real sex and make a sex cult.’

Beyond that, Asimov still does a marvelous job with consistency in his worldbuilding.  The world in which Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun took place was still vivid, vibrant, and present in this installation.  Baley’s agoraphobia (fear of outside, so you don’t have to look it up) was still ever-present.  I relish reading about the Baley character, and I enjoyed learning about the new planet of Aurora.

Still… the final solution to the murder mystery, as well, made me groan.  I’ll talk about that more in the spoilers review, but it was bad.  It made me groan to the point that I almost put the book down with only 6 pages to go.  After I ate supper, however, I was able to come back and gag myself through to the end.

2/5 Discoball Snowcones

2 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The mystery of the book wasn’t done very well, at least in comparison to the earlier works.  Thanks to things like the romantic subplot got in the way, and the lengthened status of the book made the singular offending sentence – the one which Baley’s entire theory hinged on – easy to forget after another 100 pages of reading.  It wasn’t pointed out at the time of the offending interview, either, which made it feel less impressive a stunt.

Still, the part that got me was the very ending, where Baley actually solved the crime, not the one where he satisfied political needs.  In it, he reveals that the murder was committed by a psychic robot.  Wat.  WAT.  This was 7 pages from the end of the 500 page book and you’re going to bring in PSYCHIC ROBOTS now?!  Horse hockey.

Yes, he called back to that one episode in i, Robot wherein there was a legendary, psychic robot, and made it happen.  Simultaneously, he revealed all sorts of what I found to be BS motives, crossovers with his Foundation series and Empire series, and just altogether destroyed the entire book.  I had suspected that particular robot of the crime due to some of the facts, but the way Asimov had Baley solve the problem was so dissatisfying.

Next week:

I’ll be re-reading one of my favorites, The Remains of the Day.  You should stay tuned, and READ THE DAMN BOOK too!

Reading List – December 2019

This year has just flown by!  And, what’s more and just as exciting, I’ve done a great job with my reading schedule!

As a reward, I’m reading ‘Whatever the hell I please’ this month.  So here’s a hodge-podge of stuff, fresh from what I want to do.  🙂

The Robots of Dawn – Isaac Asimov

51p4stbegul._sx301_bo1204203200_If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’ve read all the previous books in Asimov’s Robot series.  You also know that I’ve liked them all, and you know that I’m aware Asimov’s later works kind of go off the rails and start doing crossover-fanfic level of stuff.  Well, I think this entry is where that starts, but I felt like trying anyway.  Screw it.  Let’s see if this one’s as bad as the Foundation series where the crossover fanfic type stuff starts happening.

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

51vsfbzlu2blI’ve never read this sucker before because my high school was weird and we had waivers to avoid reading anything our teachers didn’t want us to read. I think we read The Chocolate War instead, or perhaps Something Wicked This Way Comes. Either way, this book is supposed to have a lot of messages about censorship, writing, and thought. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I think I need to read this in order to be up to par compared to my well-read cohorts.

The Alienist – Caleb Carr

51jxil0exalI thought this one looked pretty legit when I came across it on accident at the library.  And what’s more?  IT HAS THEODORE ROOSEVELT.  One of the few ways you can convince me to read a book faster would be to include Andrew Jackson.  Anyway, this is about solving a series of gruesome murders during the time Roosevelt was police chief of New York.  It seems like it’s pretty diverse, and I’m a bit excited to see where this weird book goes!  I hope it’s like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in some of its qualities!

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell?  I need indie books to read next year, and those slots will be opening before you know it!  Let me know if you have something you’d like me to peruse!

See my old reviews here