Arguably Philip K. Dick’s most well known novel today, it’s the perfect place to start reading the classic sci-fi author’s works. It’s a short, fast read, but compact with action, reflection, and mystery.
So, I believe the list for this Tuesday is 2016 debut novels we are looking forward to, but we also included other books we are most looking forward to reading in 2016 when they are released (in addition to the backlog from 2015).
How does one review a piece of classic Russian literature without looking like, well, an idiot? Doubtful that I can avoid that, I’ll first say that I didn’t really enjoy The Idiot as much as I enjoyed Crime and Punishment. If I were to recommend a Dostoevsky book, it would be Crime and Punishment instead of The Idiot. It took me quite a while to make it through this book, while putting it down for another book on multiple occasions. At least I can cross this classic off my list.
When I first opened the book and read that horrid first line, “It was a dark and stormy night…,” I only continued reluctantly. It wasn’t necessarily an opening line to hook me in, considering its comic status as a horribly annoying line. I had to remember that it was a children’s book and not to be so quick to judge. Thankfully, I did continue. I did enjoy the book. Now realizing it is one book in the Time Quintet, I feel I must read the others.
Jules Verne is one of my favorite authors. He was writing steampunk before steampunk was steampunk. He possessed a wild imagination that brought to life the Nautilus and the creatures of the ocean floor.
The story centers on Professor Aronnax as our narrator, guiding us as he is captive abroad the underwater vessel the Nautilus. He, his assistant Conseil, and a harpoonist Ned Land are thrown overboard at the beginning of the story on their hunt for a mysterious giant squid. To their surprise, the giant squid they believe they’ve found is actually a submarine created and lived in by Captain Nemo.
The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories that resurfaced to popularity recently due to the HBO series True Detective. I know this is what piqued my interest in purchasing and devouring the book in just a few short days. The stories have inspired the writings of later writers, including Lovecraft and Stephen King. You can still find writers contributing to the mythology of The King in Yellow.
Firstly, who is the King in Yellow? It refers to a fictional play that Chambers uses in most of his stories. The play is said to drive those who read it mad. The play is central to most of Chamber’s short stories. It features a fictional place called Carcosa, which can be found referenced throughout popular fiction, including True Detective.
Of the stories in the book, my favorite is the first– The Repairer of Reputations. It is told from the point of view of Hildred, a young man who has an accident and suffers from a severe personality change. I enjoy stories told from a point of view of an unreliable character. Hildred believes himself and his new friend Mr. Wilde to be part of a vast conspiracy. Hildred’s friend Louis believes Hildred to still be insane, and humors him for a while. Once the reader begins to realize that Hildred is delusional, other parts of the story told by Hildred become questionable.
I also really enjoyed The Mask, The Yellow Sign, and Demoiselle d’Ys. If you’re a fan of weird fiction from Lovecraft, or Poe, I would recommend reading Chambers. I found this a great starting point before diving into Lovecraft’s complete collection of stories.
I was never really a fan of the movie starring Will Smith to begin with. When it was recommended by several people to read the book, I was hesitant at first. While they seem to share a few similarities, such as Robert Neville living alone as the last man alive, that’s where it ends. They shouldn’t be sharing the same title. After reading I Am Legend, my dislike for the film grew. It’s absolute garbage. The book, on the other hand is brilliant and beautiful written. Although I didn’t anticipate writing a comparative post on the two, it is important to point out some differences that make the movie terrible and the book superior.
I’ll start with our protagonist, Robert. In the movie, he is a man on a mission, perhaps going a bit crazy from being alone for so long. He is against the world, fighting evil, finding a cure to save humanity. And he does in the end. He’s a big hero. In the book, it appears he is fighting evil, finding a cure to save humanity, but as it turns out, he’s just crazy. He’s not our hero. He’s trying to find a cure for the vampire-like creatures who have evolved beyond humanity. He is fighting this evolution. He is resisting change. Instead, he murders them. In the end, you discover he is no hero, but our antagonist.
The movie portrays the creatures more as nocturnal zombies. In the movie, Robert simply seems them as the enemy. At one point he retorts that the social de-evolution is complete in the creatures. I felt as though the movie portrayed the creatures as social–protecting their own and seeking revenge on Robert when he kidnaps them for his experiments to find a cure. They are highly intelligent as well, managing to trap Robert at one point. I think the movie ignored that, a disservice in making the situation completely black and white/good versus evil.
In the book, Robert meets a woman who he believes is a survivor. Due to his loneliness, he easily falls for her, needing companionship. It is revealed that she is undead as well–a spy. This is the point that led me to realize that Robert is truly the enemy, going crazy. The vampires, as they are described in the book, taunt him, yell at him all night. It appears they just want him to join. They have an organized social network and a community. They aren’t necessarily the evil he believes them to be. They may not abide by his particular code of ethics, but to completely demonize them is unfair. Considering we read the story through Robert’s unreliable point of view, it’s fair to consider that they aren’t nearly as evil as he believes them to be.
I really enjoyed this book overall. The one I read included a collection of some of his other stories, which I also highly recommend. Richard Matheson is a brilliant horror storyteller who also wrote some of the stories featured in The Twilight Zone. Many of his other books have more successfully been recreated on the silver screen.
Have you read I Am Legend? What are your thoughts on my interpretation?