The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

4 out of 5

Be careful what you wish for.  A parliament sends a prince to win an
elven princess’s hand in marriage but are disappointed when he
succeeds. It’s interesting to see a tale of disillusionment that is subtle
instead of being satire and grimdark in fantasy as would be written nowadays.

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Journey to the Center of the Earth Jules Verne

3 out of 5

This classic scifi is a family story that couldn’t be written today. Either the Uncle who drags his reluctant nephew on a dangerous expedition would be guilty of child endangerment or the nephew would old enough to stand his ground and say “no.”
I get the impression he’s no longer a minor, but not quite independent because of his culture’s norms. The Journey is interesting and has creative imagery but the world inside the Earth is not so impressive when we know there would only be a magma core thanks to modern science. Though Jules Verne impresses me with his inventativeness.

 

Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

3 out of 5

This book is more about concept than character. A teenage boy becomes a settler on Jupiter and needs to learn the skills it takes to survive. The setting and the technology is more developed than his character which is more about what it takes to survive in such extreme conditions than having a developed identity in and of itself. Lovers of hard sci-fi will love it while other readers may wish the boy had more of a story and personality of his own.

Book Review: George Lucas, A Life by Brian Jay Jones

4 out of 5

George seems to be a talented visual storyteller. He knows how to craft engaging images, but is almost lost when he has to create a movie that requires a plot
and not just pretty images. He works best when he’s got people to collaborate with and fill in his gaps as long as he takes their advice. This became less common when he got older and more established thus the interesting but less engaging Star Wars prequels. Being able to assemble and overlook creative teams is a good skillset but is not one that most artists can emulate. I didn’t find what I wanted from this book, but it was interesting to get this glimpse into his work methods, and his fans may want to read this to satisfy their curiosity.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson

3 out of 5

Lisbeth is accused of murder, and takes it too casually throughout most of a long book.She feels untouchable because of her intelligence and her recently acquired wealth, and spends most of her time waiting things out. Thanks to her hubris that she ends up paying for it when she’s gravely injured by the end of the book. It feels like I’m supposed to feel sorry for her, but I think she should’ve kept on top of things and not let it get so far. I would’ve rated it lower if she didn’t become more proactive at the end.

The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells

4 out of 5

This must’ve been the earliest examples of hard sci-fi. H.G. Wells did the best he could with what information we had. Though we now know the moon is uninhabited and the race he came up for it is unrealistic. He did do a good job illustrating the culture shock and intricacies of socializing with an alien culture. The protagonist goes for what seems like a simple travel adventure experience and then is overwhelmed at the thought of being the representative of his planet to an alien culture. Ethnocentrism is shown when he thinks Europeans “improved” the New World, and voices agreement withe the concept of “The White Men’s Burden.” This makes it is comical when
he is flustered by a culture he considers superior to his own. It’s like reading the travelogue of an ethical space tourist.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

4 stars

You’ve got to give H.G. Wells for inventing science fiction. There was more tolerance
for infodumps in his age because of greater attention spans and the fact that Wells had
to educate his audience on the scientific concepts that underlied his fiction.
The Time Traveller becomes the Eloi’s champion against the Morlocks both of which
are products of human devolution. Lovecraft would’ve had the Time Traveller horrified
by this glimpse future and scarred by it. I like the fact the Time Traveller is an
intrepid soul. He comes back to tell is story as a warning and then goes back to
travelling when his story isn’t believed and supposedly tries to proactively create a more hopeful possibility for mankind.