John Carter Trailer

Well folks, it's official: John Carter of Mars is coming to the big screen next year! It appears they have finally settled on the title "John Carter" (ugh). Burroughs' epic classic SF series has been turned into a "blockbuster," as I've seen it described. According to Fandango, it cost $250 million to make! Seeing the trailer, I can understand where the money went.

Here's the trailer:

First off, it looks beautifully filmed. For a major SF film to come out looking this great is a serious accomplishment. To contrast, I saw the remake of Clash of the Titans when it came out in theatres last year, and was not thrilled with the special effects and even the acting. The storyline was so warped it barely resembled the original from 1981 (which was fantastic by the way). To make matters worse, they are now making a sequel. *sadface*

Anyway, this movie looks incredible! Not to mention the music that was chosen for the trailer, Peter Gabriel's cover of Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage," one of the most haunting songs ever written. It was perfect for the tone of the trailer. You can compare both versions here. I really enjoy Peter Gabriel, and I love his version of the song (although I always have special places in my heart for originals). I didn't think it was possible, but his version is even more haunting than AF's, although not quite as mind-blowing.

Now, this is a book blog, not a movie blog, so I will say that I loved seeing things in the trailer I recognized from the books, like the fact that John Carter can jump extremely high. They also had a quick shot of his calot, a dog-creature, Woola. He's cuter than I imagined!

My one disappointment so far is Dejah Thoris - I don't buy that she's the most beautiful woman on the planet, because she's far from the most beautiful woman on this planet. Granted, that's a personal opinion.

After seeing the trailer, I'm really excited to see this movie. It's going to be a tough few months' wait until it comes out!

Review: The Black Star Passes

The Black Star PassesThe Black Star Passes by John W. Campbell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Arcot, Morey and Wade discover there IS life on other planets, and with it comes terrible and amazing new technology that will help them save their own planet and eventually the solar system from threat of destruction!

Science fiction as a genre is relatively young, compared to what is available on the bookshelves today. A lot of more recent SF is focused on world-building and technology. But older SF is sometimes even more interesting a read than modern SF because of its lack of technology. Instead, this book relies on science to advance the plot.

In reality, there isn't a lot of plot in this book. Two scientists, in an attempt to foil a pirate of the sky, inadvertently solve the puzzle of space travel. In so doing, they meet the inhabitants of Venus, save one Venerian nation from another, unite the two planets into mutual cooperation for the benefit of both, and then repel an invading fleet from another solar system. Pretty simple, right?

To make up for the lack of story, though, the characters go on and on and on and on and on about how they are making the ships and other technology used to defeat both armies. They thoroughly discuss it to the point where I had no idea what they were talking about. It made a little sense to my scientifically-challenged mind, which was nice, but it did become overwhelming. It wasn't so much of an adventure as a description of how all of these things can be made. I'm curious, though, if the science was correct, or if the author just made it up. I'm an English major, not a physics professor, after all.

I really enjoyed the humor at the beginning of the book, and the sky pirate's (Wade) storyline, but it kind of waned from there. Overall, though, it was a great book, and I am looking forward to reading more of this writer's work. Recommended to all SF lovers, as it is a fantastic example of early SF.

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Filling Up The Bookcases

This week, or maybe it was last weekend, I forget which, I spent a large part of the day reorganizing my books. All the books we had used for the centerpieces at our wedding were still boxed and needed to be put away, and some books I had boxed intending to sell had made their way back onto the bookshelves. So I went through the bookshelves and took down a bunch of books I wanted to get rid of, mainly some old fantasy books that I had bought in eBay lots. When I was a teenager I used to buy big lots of books on eBay to get some exposure to things I wouldn't ordinarily read, but never ended up reading them.

So I cleaned off the shelves, reorganized my mass markets, set up shelves for my favorite authors, put away the books from the tables, and discovered that I have no more room on my shelves for new books. Uh oh...

In other news, we are house hunting. In each house we've looked at, I've tried to plan out which room would be the library. So far, no luck. There isn't a lot in our price range around here that doesn't need a lot of work (to put it nicely - really, most of the houses I've seen have been total dumps or gorgeous but over our budget).

We are also out of space in this apartment for another bookcase. We actually looked around the place, trying to find another spot for one, but unless we turned our open living room and dining room into two "rooms" by putting a bookcase between them, there's just nowhere else for it to go.

I can't wait to have a house...more room for books!

Nobel Prize-Winning Writing

In my last post I talked about how Chris and I did a lot of book shopping while we were in London. One book I picked up was Kaddish for an Unborn Child by Imre Kertész, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002. This is my first foray into Nobel Prize-winning literature. I have to explain, my reasons have to be set out so you understand exactly what drew me to this book, surrounded by other, much larger and more epic books on the table at the front of the shop. No one else was touching it, or even noticing it.

First, I saw the book on the table and noticed its small size. It’s a thin book, only 120 pages, and not quite a trade-size paperback. Books like this attract me because I know that it takes some seriously powerful writing to get a book this size published.

Second, I picked it up and read the back cover to see what exactly this was about.

The first word of this haunting novel is ‘no’. It is how the narrator, a middle-aged Hungarian Jewish writer, answers an acquaintance who asks if he has a child and it is how he answered his, now ex-, wife when she told him she wanted a baby.

The loss, longing, and regret that haunt the years between those two ‘no’s give rise to one of the most eloquent meditations ever written on the Holocaust. As Kertész’s narrator addresses the child he couldn’t bear to bring into the world, he takes readers on a mesmerizing, lyrical journey through his life, from his childhood to Auschwitz to his failed marriage.

What jumped out at me here? It was the “no” that opens the book. It was the mention of the Holocaust. It was that this is the first book I’ve ever seen where a Holocaust survivor meditates on not being able to bring children into this world. What could have possibly been going on in his mind? I needed to know how he came to that decision, and how it affected those around him.

Third, I opened the cover and read the very first word. That “No!” was, indeed, very powerful. It was shouted at the reader, with a giant “N” in the style of most chapter beginnings, and a small “o” following but no less loudly. The “!”, the third character of this tiny novel, left a lingering cry in my mind. I could see the word coming out of someone’s mouth, I could see the desperation and anger and refusal spilling out of the mouth and onto the page. It was literally the one word I needed to read in order to know I wanted to read this book. I read a few more words, I tried to finish the sentence. It was so long. The first entire sentence of the book lasts the entire first page and ends two lines onto the second. Who on earth writes like this? Salman Rushdie. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s stream-of-consciousness. It’s something I studied but could never do myself. This was the work of a master.

Can I tell you? Can I really say how much I love this book and confess how few pages I’ve read? I’m on page 12. I’m writing prematurely primarily to prepare myself for the rest of the book. I have no idea where this will all lead and it’s so exciting.

I can see why he won the Nobel Prize.

Collecting (Hoarding?)

First of all, hello! I'm back from my wedding/honeymoon, and have gotten back into the swing of things at work. I've also started getting back into the reading habit, which is wonderful. We didn't have much energy for reading on the honeymoon, so while I did manage to get through the majority of One More for the Road in the airport, I didn't get much other reading done.

I did, however, come home with about 30 extra pounds of books. 30 pounds? Maybe I'm exaggerating. But we had to get an extra carry-on to carry them all home, and that thing was HEAVY! Between the two of us, we stopped in at least four different bookstores in our travels (I admit, that was something I was seriously looking forward to once we had decided on London) and spent about £100 on books (I had to control myself). Chris found a couple of Thomas the Tank Engine books that he had been looking for, and that made him happy. I ended up buying the most, but it was worth it.

Among my finds were several Wilkie Collins books that I haven't been able to find in bookstores in the States. I bought Armadale and a few others, as well as the British edition of Room, which I have been wanting to read for months.

My biggest problem was putting back all of the British editions of books I already owned. For example, I had to put back several Ray Bradbury books, one of Katharine Kerr's, and several Dan Simmons books. That was my primary excitement about shopping in British bookstores, along with being able to get books I can't here. But I did manage to get one special edition of one of my favorite books: This edition of Hyperion. How awesome is that?! I know, the cover is plain, but you don't see things like this every day.

I guess you could accuse me of being a hoarder, but I prefer the term "collector." This makes my... fourth or fifth copy of Hyperion, which is exciting! Granted, two of the copies are the same mass market paperback, one is just newer because the other is falling apart from all my reads and notes. And now that I have other Collins books, I can actually display them! We will be reorganizing our books in a few weeks and I plan on putting them in the display bookcase with the glass sliding windows. That does mean that some books will get moved out of there, but they were only in there because I had nowhere else to put them.

That reminds me, I need to pick up the books from my parents' house that we used for the centerpieces. Curious to see what they looked like? Here:

Review: Glow by Aubrey Hadley

Glow: Book I, Potency by Aubrey Hadley My rating: 3 of 5 stars NetGalley provided me with a free e-copy of this book to review. 2.5 st...