OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN MUSIC > Art and Literature, Movies and TV

Now reading

(1/59) > >>

mgriffin:
In my teens and early twenties, I was a big sci-fi and fantasy reader.  I sort of got away from that stuff in college, and got into the "I'm a serious lit major and I don't read that stuff" mindset for a while... but now (triggered by the Lord of the Rings films, I think) I've been enjoying getting back into some of the books I loved when I was younger.

One set of books I bought in the late 70s but never got around to reading, is Ursula LeGuin's "Earthsea" series, starting with "A Wizard of Earthsea."  This last week I've been listening to an unabridged audiobook of "A Wizard of Earthsea" and aside from the annoying presence of Harlan Ellison as the "voice" of this audiobook, I really enjoyed the story and it made me want to explore the rest of the series.

These slim, simple books have more in common with the minimal and poetic fable-like quality of "The Little Prince" than with more epic fantasy series like "The Lord of the Rings." The story is basically about a young boy who discovers he has basic magical powers, and he is befriended by a sort of magical mentor who sees to it that he's enrolled in a school for magicians.  Apparently, J.K. Rowling had read this book... but there is no real similarity to the "Harry Potter" series.  This is more quiet and moody, somber and earthy.  In this book, words have great importance, in particular names.  Knowing the name of an object, its "true" name and not just the name that everyone calls it, has great significance.

This is the first time I've listened to an audiobook and been moved to immediately get out the printed book and actually read it.  Harlan Ellison so overdid it with the overdramatic and silly voices for various characters, that I found myself cringing at times.  Sometimes, an audiobook can be just as enjoyable as reading, but not this time.

Brian Bieniowski:
I'm a big sci-fi and fantasy reader myself (who'd have guessed).  I haven't picked up an Earthsea book since high school, but, back then, I don't recall them making much of an impact on me.  I'd like to try them again, though.  I've enjoyed Le Guin's science fiction novels.

I just finished reading The Golden Compass and I am halfway through the second book in the Philip Pullman series.  I would like to add my name to the list of Harry Potter Haters, and I confess I dismissed the Pullman books as of the same diluted ilk.  I couldn't have been more wrong—these are surprisingly adult and ambitious books, and I can't wait to see the movie now!

jblock:
I've been reading Far Machines, which is a book by Nasa that covers the satellite missions of the 60s and 70s.

I've also been working my way through the collected Tintin by Herge. Not sure if these are comics or graphic novels, but they are a nice light read.

mgriffin:
I'd add, furthering the subject of "college lit majors who are too cool to read sci-fi," that I recall it was "cool" for lit majors to read stuff like Philip K. Dick, Stanislav Lem, J.G. Ballard, and Anthony Burgess, while turning up our noses at Heinlein, Asimov and the like.

Oh, and also... Ursula LeGuin lives right up on Thurman or Upshur in NW Portland, right by where Lena and I run & ride our bikes sometimes.

Brian Bieniowski:

--- Quote from: mgriffin on December 07, 2007, 12:14:16 PM ---I'd add, furthering the subject of "college lit majors who are too cool to read sci-fi," that I recall it was "cool" for lit majors to read stuff like Philip K. Dick, Stanislav Lem, J.G. Ballard, and Anthony Burgess, while turning up our noses at Heinlein, Asimov and the like.
--- End quote ---

SF has gotten more acceptable for lit majors in some colleges, where it's taught alongside the "real" literature.  Interestingly enough, the older masters like Asimov still get passed over for more "respectable" names like PK Dick and Lem.  It's preposterous of course, but I guess it fits the typical college curriculum.  I enjoy Ballard and Lem and Delany and all the rest, but I'd never have become interested in SF if it were not for Asimov and Blish and many of the other old timers.  I find that most of those books are still compulsively readable ... not something I can say about many of the more experimental works by "acceptably hip" SF writers.ß

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version