The Starcatcher series tells the tale of Peter Pan before he was Peter Pan. These books (we just started the third in the four-book series) are so well written, I can't understand why they aren't better known than many other similar but less well written series for kids (I won't name any names).
They are the kind of books both kids and adults can really enjoy and get into. They are packed with suspense and laughs. The characters are extremely engaging and believable. The stories are fantasy and nevertheless are so convincingly set out that you find yourself completely immersed in them.
The second book in this series is just as enjoyable as the first was. I highly, highly recommend the Starcatcher series for great family listening.
This beautifully-told and well-researched book tells the tale of the Bataan Death march, the events leading up to it, and the events that followed it. Primarily it is the tale of Ben Steele of Montana. But it also tells the stories of many others in varying amounts of detail. Interestingly, the book has a secondary focus on Masaharu Homma, the Japanese general who was in charge of the Japanese troops responsible for the Death March.
Ben Steele's story is terrible for all the reasons you would imagine, plus a few more. General Homma's story is also surprisingly tragic. And while Ben Steele's story is painful because of the physical and mental suffering he experienced at the hands of Japanese soldiers (though, let’s face it, soldiers of all nationalities act inhumanely toward their enemies and nearby civilians with depressing regularity) General Homma's story is no less poignant.
He is made a scapegoat and punished for the sake of expediency, politicking, and possibly even personal revenge. This left me feeling hollow as it capped off the tragedy of the Death March with one more unjust act visited on a man who was far less deserving of punishment than others who were never punished. When confronted with a tragedy, the desire in some for quick retribution leads them to betray the higher principles they are supposed to be fighting in defence of.
On a final note, I was surprised that by the end of this book my opinion of US General Douglas MacArthur had dropped considerably. The book did not cast any aspersions on him. To me, though, the facts suggested a man much more keenly interested in his power and legacy than in anyone or anything else.
PS: The picture on the cover is actually of Ben Steele in captivity
When I started reading this I had forgotten this was a book intended for younger readers (it was part of Robert Heinlein’s “Juveniles Series”). I can’t pretend to know whether kids these days would still like this sort of sci fi tale, but I’d imagine that they would.
The focus of the book is not interstellar action and derring do, although there is a bit of action towards the end. The book is partly about relationships, primarily twin sibling relationships. It's also about man’s efforts to explore and discover his world/universe.
The ending was somewhat more profound than I had expected it to be. Also interesting, the plot also brings the twin paradox to life.
I recommend this book if you are interested in vintage sci fi or, perhaps, the themes of discovery and sibling relationships.
[Spoiler alert: ] The book is a product of its time, and ends with the main character marrying his great-grandniece. That, I'd suggest, is a bit icky by today’s standards.
I think I bought this book because it was on somebody’s must-read science fiction list. I’m not sure I’d included it on a must-read sci-fi list, but in fairness it was entertaining. It was the author’s first published book, and that might explain some of the issues I had with the story.
The story is an action-packed romp on a dark and grimy world set in a future following man’s triumphant expansion into the stars but after the collapse of man's initial, successful interplanetary society. There’s lots of intrigue and other cloak and dagger stuff. I was puzzled by the way the main character, an athletic monk acolyte quickly learns to be a super effective combatant, though. That might have been accounted for by the explanation of the main character’s special nature at the end of story. If so, though, that was never made explicit.
Anyway, I liked the overall philosophical thrust of the story. But it had a few too many dramatic rescues and easily-flummoxed bad guys for my taste. That said, I think the story would definitely appeal to a younger (male, sci-fi fan) reader.
The story is one of the most refreshingly original and unique ones I can remember having read in recent years. [*Mild spoiler alert*] It tells is the tale of an alien policeman that, in pursuing a criminal of his kind, winds up inhabiting the body of a boy on earth. He carries on the pursuit of the criminal while occupying this host. The setting is earth (Hawaii, or some other Pacific island perhaps), not outer space. The time is the recent past, not some distant future. The main characters are a normal boy and two parasites locked in a death struggle.
The story really works. I loved it. My son heard some of it, and decided he absolutely had to hear it too. Once he got a copy, he started listening immediately.
And the narrator was excellent.
Interestingly this book was, I was shocked to discover at the end of the book, originally published in 1949! You’d never have guessed. While reading it, and based on the style of the cover art, I assumed it was published in the 1970s, plus or minus a decade. Timelessness? Check!
I highly recommend this unique story to lovers of sci fi and perhaps lovers of biology-inspired sci fi more particularly.
PS: I found myself thinking it was likely this novel was the inspiration for the episode of Futurama in which, after eating a truck-stop egg salad sandwich, Fry’s body is infested with worms that heal his wounds and keep improving his mind and health ... until he kicks them out.
This is a collection of short stories revolving around a central character, a robot psychologist who is about to retire. She reminisces to a reporter and the stories represent the events she is telling the reporter about, although as told by a narrator other than the psychologist. All of the stories turn on the Three Rules of Robotics, which I’m sure another review or two have spelled out elsewhere.
This book in the first in the series and although I have not read the others (yet), I can tell you the story in the Will Smith movie is not found in this book or any of the others. Characters, situations, and ideas from this book do appear in that movie, but the idea of a violent robot uprising runs contrary to the theme in this book of robots not generally being able to harm humans. Though, the final story in this book suggests robots may be able to subtly manipulate mankind to their mutual benefit.
The stories are mostly clever and fun. The dialogue, the ways the characters interact, and the underlying “science”, now seem quaint of course. But younger readers will still enjoy this sci-fi classic if they suspend the part of their mind struggling with that and just enjoy the stories themselves.
I recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of vintage sci fi.
As others have noted, there are parts of these stories that are very beautifully written. I rushed through the book, though, and missed some of the finer points. My loss. On the other hand, perhaps some of the points were too subtle for me to catch. I wonder it it’d become more clear to me if I saw the movie...
In any case, the descriptions the author provides of life in small-town Montana and working in the woods with the US Forest Service in the early twentieth century were very interesting. And the fact these details were worked into the stories was neat.
I bought this classic book (in paper format) many years ago to read to my kids. I started reading it to them twice, but never got far before giving up. To be honest, I wondered what the fuss was about. But then I never got past the first quarter or so of the book.
The nice thing about audible books is, unlike a regular book, it's easier to keep reading than it is to stop. So, I decided to give this book a second chance yesterday when Audible put it on sale. I bought it and listened from start to finish. Wow, I'm sure glad I did.
The story is very original. It tells the tale of a space-travelling child who meets an air-travelling adult. The final three quarters of the book sets out a profound and poignant view of life and does so in such a way that you can never quite decide whether it's aimed at children or adults.
The story is very touching and thought-provoking and a good use of two hours of your life (or your kids’ lives). Highly recommended.
This book moved me in the way the movie “Saving Pvt. Ryan” did (especially that movie’s initial D-Day scene). There are countless war movies and books, but these are the only two I am familiar with that were capable of bringing home the horror of war. My father fought in WWII and never told war stories or even talked about combat other than in vague ways. In his view war was a senseless “meat grinder”. I never felt I knew what he was getting at until after I'd seen Saving Pvt. Ryan and read “All Quiet on the Western Front”.
All Quiet is written by a WWI combat veteran and tells tells the story of Paul Baumer who, along with his classmates is encouraged to join the war with a great deal of patriotic talk by those who, by virtue of their age or position, need never fight themselves. Paul soon discovers that, as U.S. Gen. Sherman said:
"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell."
"There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell."
I finished this book thinking, for mankind to evolve, wars should simply be banned (or, as suggested by Paul and his comrades, turned into life-and-death tournaments between the world leaders and generals who declare them).
The narrator is perfect and really does the material justice. And the writing itself is beautiful. Unreservedly recommended. A+
I don’t usually read crime or suspense novels, but I read this one because of its author’s reputation and the reputation of the novel itself. I’m glad I did. Nothing impresses me more than when an author can really surprise you. And Ira Levin really delivers in this suspense classic. That’s all I’ll say about surprises.
One of the reasons I usually don’t enjoy suspense novels is because they are, obviously, designed to make you tense. And, if you can’t keep reading, say because you have to go to work, then you remain in suspense. This book did keep me in suspense, but it was a fun ride, so no regrets.
I recommend this book, especially if you are a crime/suspense fan and would like to read an early example of top notch suspense writing.
A fun read. It takes a realistic-feeling approach to the physics of war in space. The politics as well. The characters are refreshingly down-to-earth (no apologies, pun-haters), instead of someone's fantasy of what a cool and macho space warrior should be like.
It's really an amazing book if you take into account that it was written in the 1970s. Until I finished reading it and checked, I had assumed it was written later.
Final note: at double speed, which is how I often listen to fiction, the narrator sounded like Peter Parker from the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. Funny. I kept waiting to hear him say, 'Wallopping web-snappers!'
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