Saturday, May 30, 2009

Midwich Cuckoos, by John Wyndham

This is probably the last Wyndham novel I'll read in quite some time, in fact I had not expected to read it this soon at all. When I returned the last batch of books to the library I had my eye on a few others to borrow from the list in my cell phone. But I stopped by the Wyndham section and happened upon this, and thought "what the hell?"

It was a decent book, a lot more humor than I expected for a story of murderous children. I'm not sure I've ever seen either of the movies based on the story (Village of the Damned) but will probably watch the original soon. Anyway a quick read, not nearly as good as the three apocalyptic novels from the Omnibus, but fun all the same.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham

And thus ends my reading of the John Wyndham Omnibus.  I loved all three novels, but The Chrysalids was by far the one that held my attention strongest.  The ending wasn't great, but also not a total surprise, as none of the other two novels ended on a very down-note.  So to have it end so happily for the main characters (albeit at the loss of almost everyone else in the book) wasn't a total surprise.  For all his apocalyptic writing, the guy was clearly an optimist.
The first two books (Triffids & Kraken) were about the coming of the apocalypse, but Chrysalids is different as it is years (thousands?) after the apocalypse.  This fact alone makes the drama so very different in Chrysalids as compared to the earlier two novels.  No longer is the protagonist trying to forestall the doomsday scenario, or even just barely survive it.  Instead we have a world rebuilding after some cataclysmic event. 
I won't bother summarizing the plot, numerous sites do that better than I could.  I'm just surprised at how much I enjoyed each of these novels.  I thought Triffids would be a somewhat silly book, instead it lead to the discovery of three fantastic works.  Hell you can even read it online if you can stand e-texts.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Kracken Wakes, By John Wyndham

I went to the library recently and returned Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids. I had enjoyed that book and a quick Google search directed me to two other apocalyptic novels by Wyndham I might want to read: The Kraken Wakes & The Chrysalids. When I went into the library I couldn't find either book alone, but I found an Omnibus. I should have looked more carefully the first time I was there, the Omnibus had all three apocalyptic novels in it, so I read them in the order published therein. As mentioned before, I had already read the first (Triffids) so I read Kraken next.

I really enjoyed Triffids, but I might have liked Kraken better. Part of it is the relationship to our modern-day scourge of global warming. Another part is the way so many people speak in terms of absolutes about what they know, when they really know nothing. It's one of those constants in life I guess, politicians are always blow hards, know-it-all neighbors, etc. And there was something fun about reading Kraken at the beach, since the book is so water-based.

Interested to see what happens in the final book of the Omnibus.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Godwulf Manuscript (first Spenser book), by Robert B. Parker

That's right, after finishing Will Thomas's Some Danger Involved I picked up The Godwulf Manuscript from the small take-one-leave-one library at our beach condo. We took an extra day off and had 5 days & 4 nights at the beach. It was very nice, spent a lot of time reading on the beach or on the sunny balcony. The Godwulf Manuscript is the first in the Spenser series, also the first of these I'd ever read. My only knowledge of Spenser came from the 1980's Robert Urich TV show Spenser for Hire. I'd never really liked the show, although perhaps I need to give it another shot as I didn't read much back then.

I liked this first book, a smart-assed Boston PI, who loves his food, women, and beer. A short & easy read with a fairly straight forward mystery. I'm not sure I'll bother trying to read many of these books, but I'll probably run through a couple more and see how I feel after that.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Some Danger Involved, by Will Thomas

I keep a list of books I want to read in my cell phone. I pick these books ideas up from various sources which I never note. So I'm not sure where I came up with this Will Thomas book, but I'm glad I did. Thomas is a librarian, so I was already partial to him, but this book is very fun. A bad-ass Sherlock type character who has his own version of Watson detailing his detective work. This first story (there are now others) is more entertaining and hard to put down, I finished it early on Saturday while at the beach and sure wished I'd had the next one in line ready to go for my next read. Assuming DC public has them, I'll keep reading this series.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham

  • Title: The Day of the Triffids
  • Author: John Wyndham
  • Borrowed from MLK Library
  • Started: 5/16/09
  • Finished: 5/17/09
I wrote a misleading statement in my last post on The Detective. I said next up The Day of the Triffids when in fact I had already finished the book. As I've mentioned before I am a fan of post-apocalyptic novels, so I finally read Triffids. I wasn't disappointed.
I was surprised that it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that the Triffids actually became a serious threat. But I was taking the title of the book too literally, it wasn't one day that the Triffids ruled, rather the Triffids eventually had their day to reign.

The book actually ends on an a somewhat positive note, you can see a future and possibly an end to the Triffid nightmare. There were other times when things looked good though, and quickly went to hell.

I imagine that anyone like me who loves this genre imagines that should some horrible catastrophe happen on earth, we'd be one of the lucky ones to survive. Cause man, it would suck to be one of the 95 percent who don't.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Detective, by Roderick Thorp

  • Title: The Detective
  • Author: Roderick Thorp
  • Purchased from Abe Books a long time ago
  • Started: 5/2/09
  • Finished: 5/8/09

Too early to say I'm back, but just maybe. This is now the second novel I've read this year. I've had this book for a long time though, it's a huge detective novel. If it has any claim to fame certainly the size of the book is a part of it.

I won't lie though, there are only two reasons I bought this books: 1, there is a Sinatra movie based on the book, and I wanted to read it before I rented the move; 2, the sequel to this book, titled "Nothing Lasts Forever" is the book the movie Die Hard is based on... I love Die Hard.

So I bought Nothing Lasts Forever just today, my library only had one copy and it's missing. Damn book was expensive, barely any used holdings anywhere (it's out of print), cheapest copy I could find still set me back $20.

So about The Detective: I started this book several times over the last year, but finally it stuck. read it reasonably quickly for a big book. It jumps around the time line a lot but wraps everything up pretty neatly at the end (as neatly as possible anyway). Lots of sexual hangups in the book, but it was interesting enough to keep me up most nights trying to get closer to the end.

Up next is The Day Of The Triffids... I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic novels.