Tag Archives: book review

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov(Book Review)

Asimov’s second book in the Foundation Series, it was immediately apparent to me what would happen. Perhaps the cover of the book gave it away, and I certainly will not give it up myself, Dear Reader. Suffice it to say that it was well drawn out and the answer doesn’t become clear until you’ve gathered all the pieces; but I still saw it coming from a galaxy away.

The story overall is that of escape and secrecy. Hunting down and stopping the Mule is imperative to the future of the universe. In the series, there is something called the “Seldon Plan” in which the “psychohistorian” Hari Seldon mapped out a course for the rejuvenation of the Second Empire through mathematics. With this plan, he projected that the future could be guided into peace and prosperity. The thousands of years of squalor and barbarism could be avoided. Setting up a Foundation on a small planet in the outer rim, it was filled with scientists and it prevailed for centuries. All who tried to conquer it were met with defeat, even when the Foundation didn’t lift a finger.

However, Seldon’s plan did not include a mutation. A variable in the formula that even the great Seldon overlooked. Maybe not “overlooked”, but got seriously wrong.

Bayta and Toran, the two main protagonists of this story, start their search for any and all information that may lead them to the formidable Mule that the whole galaxy fears. And by chance they are accompanied by the Mule’s Clown, Magnifico. A very sorry and queer creature that doesn’t want anything else more than to be as far away from the Mule as possible. Learning that the Mule is capable of emotional control, they are met by old friends that have been converted to the side of the Mule. Although their mental capacity is untouched, they are converted in to loving pawns of the mutant powers of the Mule.

Throughout their travels they are almost always met with resistance and sometimes even the chance of death. As they travel to different planets in search of information or simply running away from immenent danger, the galaxy seems to fall in to the control of the Mule behind them. Every where they go, The Mule’s men are looking for Magnifico. With not being able to tell who’s side anyone is on, Bayta figures out all the pieces to the puzzle just as their friend, Ebling Mis, is about to tell them the location of the Second Foundation. The only thing in the way of The Mule’s constant expansion of his dynasty. After defeating the Foundation, the weight of his existance is apparent to everyone that thought the Foundation could not be destroyed. In a sense, the destruction of the first was a majour victory. However, with the news that there is a Second Foundation only intices The Mule to further his conquest.

Which will happen in the next book, which I have already read and written about.

My favourite part of the whole book was when all of the psychologists and noblemen from the galaxy gather at the Time Vault where Hari Seldon reveals parts of the Seldon Plan to them and they are all astonished and utterly confused when Seldon’s Hologram explains what should be happening and which obviously is not. Leading everyone to think that Hari Seldon was crazy. At this, I literally chuckled throughout the whole thing, as if I too was sitting there in the futuristic chrome seats of the Time Vault.

So, I continue my journey in this epic series of Asimov, and I have finally collected all of the books, including the prequel that I didn’t even know existed. (Thank Goodness for awesome bookstores with great prices!) Until next time, Dear Reader! Thanks for reading.

Post Scriptum- Any suggestions on awesome Sci-Fi books? I’d love to get more books!

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Book Review)

One of the most romantic books I have ever read. While reading, I couldn’t help but to fall in love with the characters myself. Their strange mannerisms. The way the went about their lives in their own peculiar fashion and how they were constantly entangled within the story. There was no shortage of excitement, anxiety, mystery, and most importantly true love.

Following the main protagonist, Daniel Sempere, I found that his thirst for truth and knowledge, I found myself in a place called “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books”. A labyrinth of books waiting to one day be opened. Not a lot of people know about this place, but Daniel and his father fortunately own and work a book store. So I assumed that they just had the right connections.

Shadow of the Wind, a novel written by Julian Carax(in the story) is being hunted down along with his other works and being destroyed. Burned, shredded, etc. Daniel, with all the courage he can muster, tries to keep the last copy of the book safe from the ominous and mysterious person trying to destroy it and a crooked policeman.

As a bad guy, the policeman fit the mold pretty well. He was as crooked as a witch’s nose and was extremely violent. It seemed to me that he left pools of blood in his wake. Whenever someone in the town talked about him, it was never anything pleasant.

Throughout the story, I can honestly say that it never ceased to catch my attention. Almost as if the author wanted to entice me, writing in such a way that held me in anxious wonder about what could possibly happen on the next page. The writing style itself was key component in my enjoyment of this book. Casual and easy to envision with the right amount of descriptive context.

This read was one that I really enjoyed, and I plan on reading it again in the near future.

Thank You, Dear Reader, for your time.

P.S. I have another book review coming up soon. “Beautiful You” by Chuck Palahniuk.

Timeline By Michael Crichton (Book Review)

We all know Crichton from the Lost World series. But I had no idea that his other books could be so entrancing. I was recommended and loaned this novel by a good friend of mine who really knows my tastes in fiction. And it was a great read to say the least. The main theme, as you can imagine is about traveling through time. The protagonists in this book are students of science and archaeology. After being on a dig site that they have been studying for quite some time, and believe that they know everything about this medieval place stuck in time, they find themselves in a whole new world.

After meeting a capitalist mogul of technology, they traverse space and time itself.

Going back to the time of plague and every day(more like moments) of violence and archaic modes of thinking. The group who is there on a mission to save their professor are captivated and more or less captive to their environment because of a mishap that happens as soon as they go back in time. The means of their travel had been compromised. So, being stuck back in time they are left to their own devices.

The story is told in a very smooth style that is never hard to follow. When reading it, you could put the book down for a couple of days, pick it back up, and be transferred back to the feelings and sentiments of the author as if you had never left. The description of the surroundings and many different environments can be seen with the minds eye in perfect detail as Crichton takes you along this voyage of knights in shining armour and malevolent maidens.

The plot is filled with many twists and turns that are always exciting with down-time few and far between. Once the story gets going, it’s a novel that’s not easy to put down. There’s always a sense of adventure. If you’re into that, this book is something that you’d be able to read on a long train or plane ride.

Thanks, Dear Reader for you time. And I hope that if you pick this book up you’ll love it as much as I did.

Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov (Book Review)

One particular thing about this title that I didn’t realise Asimov did was space adventure. Although it is not like any normal sci-fi novel that I have encountered. I was excited to have found it in the farm library, and thought that it would be something more of an essay.

To my surprise, it was a space adventure. A very algorithmic stellar trip. It was a book that inspired visions of spectacular vessels run on perfectly built scientific computers and motherboards. Harnessing absolutes and whisking passangers to interstellar destinations.

In this novel, it was mostly a guessing game to say the least. Every main character was obsessed with finding the second foundation by means of extensive analysis, expert cross references, or plain madness.

The book did well to not get mundane in the sense that when I picked it up, I only did so about a handful of times before I was finished with it. I, too, was curious to know the location of the master minds of the universe. Those who tread carefully, and wanted only to fulfill a plan made by their founder, Seldon.

Seldon was a mathematical genius and figured out that the universe was based on a set of completely predictible sets of equations. However, it could not account for certain variables such as the antagonist, “The Mule”, who was a mutant if sorts with the ability to alter the brain chemistry of any average man. Having them do his bidding in complete subservience.

The Mule eventually gained partial control of the galaxy and built an empire which would later crumble. (Don’t worry, no spoilers here)

In his legacy, another rose to power threatening the safety of the galaxy, but the second foundation was well equipped to deal with someone lesser than The Mule. Someone who didn’t have his mental powers.

With his wanting to take over the galaxy much like his predecessor, he tries and fails.

A group of men, wanting to unfold the mysteries of the second foundation, have this whole time plotted and schemed to uncover the location so as to rid the galaxy of them once and for all. But, most of the company involved where “handled” by way of changes to their brain’s chemical makeup. Each one was a little different in their own way, which caused them to fall apart. But not the most cunning of them all. The one whome started the group in the first place.

Most of the story involves following a 14 year old girl who was witty and a fast thinker. Her mind was always running and always a step ahead of others. She was the key to most of the findings that occured in this wondefully written book.

As I have stated, I did not expect Asimov to write something such as this. But with the undertones of mathematics, I suppose that was expected. It was a wonderful short novel that can be enjoyed on a long bus or train ride.

Thank you, Dear Reader for your time. I have currently picked up “Timeline” written by Michael Crichton which is, so far, about quantum mechanics. More details after I read it. It’s always nice to have friends that gift you books that they loved to read.

Until next time. Cheers!

“Oh, Brave New World” (Book Review)

I’ve just completed Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World. To be honest, I wasn’t at all surprised with the ending. Which was riddled with sex and violence. I do believe John to have been a Steppenwolf. Completely separate, yet so arguably entrapped within social encounters. Wanting so bad for understanding whilst never once being understood.

As I have stated, the ending was not surprising.

Other then my personal intimations of sentiments I may have felt while I was reading, I begin to try and stack the metaphors and analogies. (As if they could be placed one on top of the other!) Seeing the many similarities between Huxley’s world and my current one. And maybe it was a premonition of some kind, but there is the utmost symmetry between my most recent post and the end of this Book. Perhaps, maybe, I am not the only one who has ever felt this way. Or perhaps, the way that I feel about some things is seen within all the connections that I choose to make.

Finding the synchronicity in life’s ever beating drum.

At any rate, I will say that Brave New World is a testimony of what may happen when a person becomes enlightened and only seeks truth and beauty only to be met with a reality of intolerance and the indoctrination to carry out that intolerance. Treated as some kind of malfunction or defect on the community.

So, no, the end does not surprise me. I don’t want to give to much away.

Most of what is being depicted, is a world of lavish living where everything is automated and “pain is a delusion” (as one Alpha Male said before he was chased away with a whip.) A paradise of drugs and orgies. Beautiful woman and handsome men. Cookie cutter perfect. Like all those nice and neat homes in the suburbs. Trimmed and taut with never a blemish on their fair skin. Until a certain Steppenwolf comes along, The Savage. Even with the birth name of John, it was insisted to call him The Savage. Not only by the people in the story, but also the author himself it seems.

With a lingering connotation of hopelessness I write this. Awkwardly the words find their way out of the labyrinth of my mind, and I thank you Dear Reader for your time. I am starting a new book soon of which contents I am sure to share with you one day. It is Alfred Bester’s novel “The Stars My Destination” Until then, cheers!

Post Scriptum: My favourite part in “Brave New World” was when two characters have a somewhat heated debate over the interpretation of Shakespeare.

To The Point

As I lay myself down for yet another night, I recall the pages of a beautiful book I have just finished. As you might know, Dear Reader, that book was one by none-other than Hermann Hesse: “Strange News From Another Star”.

I wanted to put down some thoughts on this book as it is still fresh in my memory. To put it simply, it was a book of short-stories that involved very different scenarios in which the narrator would recount a type of awakening of the main character after the climax. Or simply end it abruptly without warning.

However, a constant reverberation echoed throughout all these works. All in which rang true to a deeper, cognizant understanding of brevity and the temporal ebb of life.

This was made utterly clear when a story depicts a man who wished to become a mountain and was granted that wish. And at first, he outlived his parents and then his friends. And his friends parents and brothers and sisters. Eventually, outliving generation after generation. His story becoming a myth. His fate as a crumbling mountain sealed by the forgetfulness, through time, of his people’s own ancestry.

And although it took centuries for this man who became a mountain to crumble, his story only took me a few minutes to read. Striking home nonetheless.

This book was definitely worth the read, and I honestly probably picked it up about 5-6 Times before finishing it, it was that captivating! Thank You, Dear Reader, for your time.

Strange News From Another Star

Is the name of a book I have discovered whilst looking through a closet. It’s a lovely collection of short stories by Hermann Hesse written in 1919. Hesse has been one of my favourite linguists since I learned about him all those years ago.

The main story for which the book is named, invokes images of the pain of discovery. The suffering of a people an entire people, and the loneliness and solitude of death is all wrapped up in those few pages. Breaking tradition because of tragedy, the hero embarks on a quest for beauty, only to find the ugly.

It does not deter him from attaining the knowledge of all the things, the “worse” things that happen on that mad star. Where war is accepted, and no one takes accountability for it.
It was a beautiful story. The others were quick poems, it seems, of the disillusionment of time that captivates the human brain.

Well, that is it for now, Dear Reader. If you ever come across this book, I recommend it to you.