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$17.13 $14.97 list($25.95)
41. Spin
$17.79 list($26.95)
42. Straken (High Druid of Shannara,
$10.17 $7.58 list($14.95)
43. Altered Carbon
$17.79 list($26.95)
44. Settling Accounts: Drive to the
$17.16 list($26.00)
45. At All Costs (The Honor Harrington)
$9.74 $8.70 list($12.99)
46. Clone Strike Booster Pack (Star
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47. Star Wars: Visionaries (Star Wars
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48. Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul
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49. A Canticle for Leibowitz (Bantam
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50. Ringworld's Children
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51. Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book 1)
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52. Dark Force Rising (Star Wars:
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53. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom
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54. Romance at the Edge: In Other
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55. Old Man's War
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56. Timeline
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57. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
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58. Stranger in a Strange Land
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59. Do Androids Dream of Electric
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60. A Clockwork Orange (Norton Paperback

41. Spin
by Robert Charles Wilson
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765309386
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Tor Books
Sales Rank: 6629
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.

The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk--a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world's artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they'd been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside--more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in ourfuture.

Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who's forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.

Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans...and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth's probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun--and report back on what they find.

Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.
... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Extravagant ideas, quiet tone
The first major SF novel from a major publisher in 2005 that I have seen is Robert Charles Wilson's _Spin_. Wilson is one of my favorite current writers. His recent novels have all been quite striking, and all are based on quite extravagant SF ideas, yet are markedly quiet in tone, and markedly character-based.

Beth Meacham recently complained in Locus that SF seems to consist largely of two sorts of books: very mainstream-style books with one modest SFnal idea; or very wildly SFnal books that demand from the reader an intimate knowledge of the field's tropes. Robert Sawyer vs. Charles Stross, one might suggest. _Spin_, I think, is a counter-example. It is based on a truly audacious central idea, and the idea is quite cleverly extrapolated -- its implications are nicely explored. Yet the heart of the book is an extended look at one man's lifelong friendship/love affair with his boyhood neighbors, a pair of twins, brother and sister; set in a near future not too terribly different from today.

The book alternates sections set, the titles tell us, very far in the future (4 billion A. D.), with near future sections. The narrator is Tyler Dupree, who is undergoing some sort of drastic medical treatment while on the run from U. S. officials. While mentally unbalanced by the treatment he compulsively writes down his memories of his life to date, beginning with the onset of what came to be called "the Spin". One night when Tyler is 12, and his twin friends Jason and Diane are 13, the stars suddenly disappear. Earth is somehow enshrouded -- satellites crash, the Moon is invisible, the Sun still shines but oddly changed. It soon becomes clear that a barrier, eventually called "the Spin", is affecting time oddly -- time outside it passes much more rapidly than on Earth. Space vehicles can be launched and pass through the barrier -- they seem to return instantly, but they observe time passing outside it, and they observe, for instance, the Solar System continuing to evolve, such that after some decades, the Sun will have changed so as to make Earth uninhabitable. Thus, people of Tyler's generation grow up in the knowledge that likely the world will soon end.

Tyler's mother works for Jason and Diane's father as a maid. E. D. Lawton is a powerful defense contractor who is smart enough to be in place to react quickly to the Spin -- for example by setting up a network of aerostats to replace the now defunct GPS satellites. His wife Carol is a former doctor, now an alcoholic. Tyler falls in love with Diane from an early age, but a combination of factors keep them apart. (Tyler's shyness, a perceived class or financial status difference, E. D.'s hostility.)

The three children react differently to the Spin. Jason, to some extent following in his father's footsteps, is desperate to understand it, and perhaps to fix it. Diane is afraid of it, and drifts into a cult which treats the Spin as an harbinger of the Christian End Times. Tyler stays close to Jason, and mostly tries to live a semblance of an ordinary life, becoming a doctor himself. Eventually Jason hires him to work at Perihelion, a corporation cum government agency working to investigate Spin-related phenomena.

The book very successfully combines an involving small-scale story (the story of Tyler's relationship with the Lawton twins, and of the entire world in the shadow of apocalypse) with a fascinating large-scale SF story (the story of the Spin, its origin and the results of some decades of dealing with it). The first story is satisfying enough, but ultimately it is the extrapolations of the effects of the temporal disconnect between Earth and the rest of the universe that are most compelling. Wilson uses this as a way to look at "deep time" through the eyes of contemporary humans. As only a few years pass on Earth while millions of years pass outside the Spin barrier, it is possible to do really long-duration experiments. Some of these have downright cool effects -- I won't detail these here -- I'll leave the surprises to the novel. But Wilson does not cheat the reader -- we do learn pretty much what's going on with the Spin, and why. And it's neat stuff. Definitely a contender for the major SF awards.

5-0 out of 5 stars Your average excellent Robert Charles Wilson novel
I managed to snag an advanced copy of this novel last week, which I finished in about a day and a half reading during lunch breaks, bathroom breaks and the hours before bedtime. As per usual, Wilson does an excellent job of keeping me up at night.

For those who are familiar with Robert Charles Wilson's work, "Spin" should come as no surprise. Most of his novels feature a conflicted protagonist who is caught up in storms of intrigue and extraordinary circumstances. Wilson's stories typically focus 70% on the characters and 30% on the science. His characters walk away from these experiences utterly changed, for better or for worse. Their arcs aren't always pleasant but usually realistic. You could easily put yourself into their shoes.

"Spin" is no exception.

As the previous reviewer pointed out, Wilson's one weakness is his endings. The endings are usually a rush to tie together loose ends, explain away anything that wasn't properly explained before. "Blind Lake" fell into this trap. "The Chronoliths" did not. Thankfully, "Spin" falls into the latter catagory.

5-0 out of 5 stars Completely engrossing
The time is, if not right now, the reasonably near future. Tyler Dupree is the twelve-year-old son of the housekeeper for a major aerospace industrialist. His best friends are the industrialists' twin children, Diane and Jason Lawton. One evening, when the kids are illicitly outside during an adult party at the Big House, the stars and the moon disappear. All satellite communication, and everything dependent on it, is lost. The sun rises in the morning-but, as scientists subsequently learn, it's not the real sun. Earth has been encased in a membrane, and time on Earth has been dramatically slowed: a minute on Earth, inside the membrane, is a century or more outside. One of the things the membrane is doing is filtering and regulating the sunlight, so Earth continues to experience normal day and night, and seasons.
This phenomenon quickly acquires the popular name "the Spin." The Lawtons' father, E.D., quickly capitalizes on one piece of the disruption caused by it by promoting aerostats as a replacement for the lost satellites. And he grooms his genius son Jason to become the world's greatest expert on the Spin.
The cultural effects of the Spin are more disruptive, at least in the short term. As it becomes clear that the Spin is not any sort of natural phenomenon, there are only two ways of explaining it: either it's a technological phenomenon created by unknown alien beings (the "Hypotheticals"), or it represents the direct action of God. As it becomes clear that the slowing of time on Earth will result in Earth being out of the habitable zone of the sun in fifty or sixty years, the notion that Earth's inhabitants are now living in the End Times becomes obvious and logical. While E.D. continues to do what he has always done (wheel, deal, seize economic and political advantage, emotionally abuse his family) Jason becomes obsessed with understanding the Spin scientifically, Diane joins an ecstatic, hedonistic religious cult called the New Kingdom, and Tyler just tries to get on with his life, going to medical school and becoming a doctor. That's not so easy; Tyler has always been the emotional stabilizer for the more volatile Lawton twins, and they both keep calling on him to fill that role. While Diane moves through the world of End Times religious cults, Jason uses his father's business and political ambitions to build a government agency dedicated to understanding the Spin and, once the Spin membrane is found to be permeable to spacecraft in both directions (but not to signals of any kind), to terraforming Mars to preserve the human race. This works fairly well, until two things happen: it becomes clear to the public that success with the Mars project is not going to save the lives of more than trivial numbers of people on Earth, and the Spin membrane starts flickering, an apparent prelude to breaking down entirely as aging Sol, now reaching the end of its life, expands.
This is a beautifully written, completely engrossing book. I've occasionally complained that Wilson's books don't have entirely satisfactory endings; this one does. Highly recommended.
... Read more


42. Straken (High Druid of Shannara, Book 3)
by Terry Brooks
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345451120
Catlog: Book (2005-09-06)
Publisher: Del Rey
Sales Rank: 2161
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43. Altered Carbon
by RICHARD MORGAN
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 0345457684
Catlog: Book (2003-03-04)
Publisher: Del Rey
Sales Rank: 1692
Average Customer Review: 4.35 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning. . . .
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Reviews (84)

3-0 out of 5 stars Would have been a great book, except...
WORDS OF WARNING - This book has extreme violence, profanity and especially x-rated (triple x is more accurate) sex scenes. Beware if you are a reader who is opposed to such material.

STORY: As Publisher's Weekly states - "While the Vatican is trying to make resleeving (at least of Catholics) illegal, centuries-old aristocrat Laurens Bancroft brings Takeshi Kovacs (an Envoy, a specially trained soldier used to being resleeved and trained to soak up clues from new environments) to Earth, where Kovacs is resleeved into a cop's body to investigate Bancroft's first mysterious, stack-damaging death. To solve the case, Kovacs must destroy his former Envoy enemies; outwit Bancroft's seductive, wily wife; dabble in United Nations politics; trust an AI that projects itself in the form of Jimi Hendrix; and deal with his growing physical and emotional attachment to Kristin Ortega, the police lieutenant who used to love the body he's been given."

MY FEEDBACK:
1) SETTING - Morgan creates a gritty, dark future Earth that is easily imagined and believed through his descriptions. The expected melding of technology into everyday life which reaps rewards and consequences on society is expected of a cyberpunk story and is well delivered here.

2) CHARACTERS
a) The Protagonist - Takeshi Kovacs is just the kind of hard nosed, don't give a care, use force whenever possible type of detective. You can't but like this character for his brashness and his intelligence.
b) The other characters were ok. Very few pages were spent on the cast but focused more on Kovacs and the mystery he was trying to resolve. I almost didn't feel a threat from the antagonists because Takeshi at times didn't care either. He was just going to ride out the torture or find himself Real Death and so his attitude didn't make me fear his enemies too much. Some charactes like Ortega were left with a single four-letter word vocabulary which didn't add to the characterization but detracted from it.

3) PLOT - As mentioned above the content is extreme even though "some" of the content "seems" appropriate within such a setting. I stopped reading Stephen King at one point because his stories seemed to focus more on shock value instead of a good story. For example, the level of detail in which this author takes the two or so love scenes I felt were totally unecessary and if I wanted to read xxx-rated erotica then I would do so instead of finding it by accident in a cyberpunk novel.
With any mystery novel all the clues should be available to the reader. As with any mystery the detective explains how he discovers this or that. In this novel when Kovacs reveals how he pieces things together he even tells one of the characters, "Intuition, mostly..." Yes, this is one of the character's strengths and it is established that this is one of his strengths early on...but...the LEAPS of intuition on a few of the clues are just that, Leaps that the reader just has to take in faith because the reader would never have figured some of them out for him/herself.

OVERALL: I was gripped by the mystery and the setting. I would have given the book a higher rating if the secondary characters were fleshed out more and not made so one-dimensional. Also, if the author had been more skilled at letting a person's imagination deal with some of the content vs. giving us every, visual and tactile detail. It makes you wonder why books don't have a rating system to warn readers like movies have in warning viewers. I really want to ready more of Takeshi Kovacs as a character. Unfortunately, I'm gonna have to pass and pickup more of the classic pieces of cyberpunk, sci-fi, and fantasy that deal with a solid story, characters, and maybe social commentary instead of shock value.

4-0 out of 5 stars Too much of a re-sleeve.
For 'the-well-read-man' there is nothing new in this book, most of it being derived from Iain M Banks': Use of Weapons, Against a Dark Background, and Look to Windward; a smattering of William Gibson's: Neuromancer; and some of K. W. Jeter's work - probably Noir. A great deal of the book is concerned with scenes of gratuitous violence, containing just enough material to maintain a thread to the overall narrative.

The plot is a basic Raymond Chandleresque romp, which serves to imbue the characters with some motivation...

Richard Morgan's prose is unusually good for a British author, comparable to the better US writers such as K. W. Jeter, and devoid of the flowery and redundant elements that mars many of his contemporaries. It's unfortunate that the logical elements of this book aren't as well considered. The most obvious failing was Reileen Kawahara not figuring on the virus she supplied to Takeshi Kovacs being turned on herself, as it subsequently, and conveniently was.

There was too little background to the history of the cortical-stack, robbing the story of useful technical details, which would have been more insightful than the Catholic church coming in for some stick - yet again. Another failing was any substantial insight as to why being un-sleeved for a length of judicial-time was of consequence, since the impression was given that unless you were being tortured / interrogated in virtual, you were more or less unconscious for the period. The only significant aspect to any punishment being that you would probably end up in someone else's body or a synthetic of dubious quality.

Alternate Carbon is a reasonable book. But is too derivative for 2003. More effort could have been made to make it a more plausibly coherent and interesting read, at least, and with more interesting and convincing nomenclature and associated technology for the twenty-sixth century.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Dirty SF/Noir-esque Post-Modern Fun ...
but not a work of genius. I enjoyed it a lot though, if only because I liked saying "TAK-shi Ko-vach" to myself everytime the hero comlained about someone mispronouncing his name.
I also enjoyed the steampunk frisson that I always get from reading a novel set in the future US in which everyone employs 21st century British locutions.
Like I said, lots of fun, although those inclined to nitpick probably won't enjoy quite it as much.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a gem of a novel
What a wonderful little book this turned out to be! Morgan starts off with the 'mind as information' idea that is so liked by modern SF authors, and spins it into a clever and surprising detective novel that hits all the right buttons.

Yeah, the SF concepts are cool, but what's really nice about this novel is the pulp detective novel it contains. In that regard, SF and Noir perfectly complement each other and prevent the novel from ever devolving into something derivative. The SF concepts are good, but as fuel material for a detective story, they allow Morgan to give a 'classical' detective narrative in an entirely new light, in a world populated by 300 year-old megalomaniacs and where your body is just one form of very expensive suit.

The fact the novel played out like a very classic detective story is one of the reasons I found it so endearing: there were moments, throughout the books, when I just KNEW what was gonna happen, but like seeing a remastered version of your favorite classic, that's a good thing: it was still entirely worthwhile.

Altogether, what truly makes 'Altered Carbon' memorable is not the SF, though it is amazing, and not the detective story, though it is an absolute delight to read: it's the perfect balancing act between the two, a mix of genres I have rarely seen executed so well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intruiging and fresh approach to Sci-Fi
I inherited this book from a friend of mine who moved to England, and I must say, I wish I'd read it earlier. At first, the levels of violence were a bit of a turn-off (I'm not keen on massive gun-laden stories), but the society inside this Sci-Fi novel is just so interesting and well-crafted, I forgave the violence to enjoy it.

In this future world, everyone is implanted at birth with a "stack," a chip in the back of neck that keeps your memory and personality on file. If you're murdered, and the stack survives, you're "re-sleeved" into another body (synthetic or not) to testify at your trial. Die of old age? Buy a new sleeve, if you can afford it. The amount of "fallout" in this society due to this technology was astounding, and plausible, and done extremely well by Morgan.

At it's heart, this story is a murder mystery, and a story of revenge: someone kills a centuries old "Meth," (Methuselah), who, dutifully backed up every eight hours, comes back, but with no real idea of what happened in those eight hours to lead to his murder, and quite curious about it, and that Meth hires our hero to figure things out. Our hero of the tale is actually a criminal serving time in a virtual jail (his body is, of course, given to someone who needs it more), and he is beamed to earth from his own colony when the Meth hires him. Wearing someone else's body (which has a fallout of its own), the narrator of the tale tries to figure out who would try to kill a man who'd lived centuries, and why...

Between religious and spiritual reasons, hatreds, rivalries, and plain-old-jealousies, there are no shortages of potential murderers, and the tale spins wonderfully. I highly suggest it.

'Nathan ... Read more


44. Settling Accounts: Drive to the East (Turtledove, Harry. Settling Accounts, 2,)
by HARRY TURTLEDOVE
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
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Asin: 0345457242
Catlog: Book (2005-08-09)
Publisher: Del Rey
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45. At All Costs (The Honor Harrington)
by David Weber
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416509119
Catlog: Book (2005-11-01)
Publisher: Baen
Sales Rank: 2214
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Book Description

What price victory? The war with the Republic of Haven has resumed . . . disastrously for the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Admiral Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Steadholder and Duchess Harrington, the single victorious Allied commander of the opening phase of the new war, has been recalled from the Sidemore System to command Eighth Fleet. Everyone knows Eighth Fleet is the Alliance's primary offensive command, which makes it the natural assignment for the woman the media calls "the Salamander." But what most of the public DOESN'T know is that not only are the Star Kingdom and its Allies badly outnumbered by the Republic's new fleet, but that the odds are going to get steadily worse. Eighth Fleet's job is to somehow prevent those odds from crushing the Alliance before the Star Kingdom can regain its strategic balance. It's a job which won't be done cheaply. Honor Harrington must meet her formidable responsibilities with inferior forces even as she copes with tumultuous changes in her personal and public life. The alternative to victory is total defeat, yet this time the COST of victory will be agonizingly high.

... Read more

46. Clone Strike Booster Pack (Star Wars Miniatures)
by Wizards of the Coast
list price: $12.99
our price: $9.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786934794
Catlog: Book (2004-11-30)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Sales Rank: 71212
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Book Description

Contains randomized Star Wars miniatures from the Clone Wars era, including a preview figure from the upcoming Episode III movie.
The Clone Strike Booster Pack contains a randomized selection of figures designed to expand any collection of Star Wars miniatures. The miniatures in this product are randomized and playable right out of the box. Composed of the same randomized figures found in the Clone Strike Entry Pack, the Clone Strike Booster Pack set showcases creatures and characters from the Clone Wars era of the Star Wars timeline. It includes figures from Episodes I and II of the Star Wars films and even contains a sneak preview character from Episode III. The Booster Pack also contains very rare figures that cannot be obtained in the Starter Packs.
Booster pack components:
" 7 randomized miniatures with statistics cards
" Very rare, rare, common, and uncommon miniatures
... Read more

47. Star Wars: Visionaries (Star Wars (Dark Horse))
by Not Available
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1593073119
Catlog: Book (2005-04-02)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Sales Rank: 181353
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Book Description

They've been responsible for some of hte most dazzling and awe-inspiring visuals ever put to film, and now the concept artists behind the Star Wars prequels are bringing their considerable talents to comics.Just in time for Star Wars: Episode III, the wildly gifted mind of the Lucasfilm art department and visual effects powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic come together to tell their own Star Wars tales in this compilation of short stories.Given free reign to explore any and every aspect of the Star Wars universe, each artist offers a new twist or a deeper view into that galaxy far, far away.Nowhere else will you find a more pure or more different look at George Lucas' enduring creation than through the eyes of the Star Wars: Visionaries. ... Read more


48. Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul
by Douglas Adams
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671742515
Catlog: Book (1991-02-15)
Publisher: Pocket
Sales Rank: 4616
Average Customer Review: 4.34 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When a passenger check-in desk at London's Heathrow Airport disappears in a ball of orange flame, the explosion is deemed an act of God. But which god, wonders holistic detective Dirk Gently? What god would be hanging around Heathrow trying to catch the 3:37 to Oslo? And what has this to do with Dirk's latest--and late-- client, found only this morning with his head revolving atop the hit record "Hot Potato"? Amid the hostile attentions of a stray eagle and the trauma of a very dirty refrigerator, super-sleuth Dirk Gently will once again solve the mysteries of the universe... ... Read more

Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazingly captivating read.
This was the first book I read by Douglas Adams, after hearing about his famous Hitchhiker's Guide and only being able to find this one at my local library. The story onfolds as Heathrow Airport explodes just adding to our protagonist Kate Schechter's ridiculously bad luck. She then goes on a search trying to find the tall burly Norwegian man she just met before the explosion. Meanwhile, Dirk Gently; our private investigator begins to investigate the case of the exploding airport. The story keeps unfolding until we are immersed by the Norse Gods whose power and notoriety has diminished in the modern world. This book kept me interested through out the whole story. It also got me hooked on Adams's other novels.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not as good as the first
I came away from this book with the feeling that it was a bit of a comedown after the first Dirk Gently book. It didn't quite deliver the same laugh-out-loud hilarity and intelligent, complex plot as the first one.

Having said that, though, you still can't go very wrong by buying this book. I love all of Douglas Adams' works (yes, even the oft-maligned "Mostly Harmless"), so for me a four-star review just means that it wasn't quite as enjoyable as many of his other books. But it's still a good read, no question about it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Douglas Adams
A check-in counter at London's Heathrow Airport spontaneously explodes in a ball of flame, and is ruled by the authorities as "an act of God." As it turns out, the explosion was an act of *a* god---Thor, the God Of Thunder, trying to catch a plane to Oslo, Norway. But why would an almighty god be trying to catch a plane flight in the first place? Enter holistic detective Dirk Gently to solve the mystery....The second and, sadly, final "Dirk Gently" book written by the late, great Douglas Adams, "The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul" is a hysterically funny book, and a major improvement over the decent but unspectacular first book, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency," which certainly had it's funny moments, but was too long (and long-winded) and confusing. This time around, Adams' writing is a LOT sharper & funnier, and he keeps the book excellently paced. And the character of Dirk Gently really grows here---he's much more concise and focused, and he doesn't ramble on and on about his philosophical views & methods of detective work as he did in the first book. "Long Dark Tea Time" contains many outrageously funny scenes---Dirk's dilemma with his old refridgerator, and his surprising encounter with a young boy watching TV are both particularly memorable---and great characters, too, not only Dirk Gently but also the spunky American girl Kate Schechter, Thor the hot-headed God Of Thunder, and the vile creature named Toe Rag. The story is clever, moves along nicely, and, if I haven't made it clear enough, is very, very funny.I'm saddened that Douglas Adams never got around to writing a third "Dirk Gently" book, as I would've loved to have read further adventures of this most oddball of detectives. But at least Adams wrote a pair of them, and "The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul" is a fabulously hilarious book that can proudly sit right alongside Adams' very best "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" books, in particular volumes 1, 2 and 4. "The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul" is classic Douglas Adams all the way.

3-0 out of 5 stars Lesser Adams work -title more describes his career
The title "The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul" comes from a line used to describe the bored and immortal Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged from his novel Life, The Universe, And Everything, who had entered "the long dark teatime of the soul." However, it may also be an accurate reflection of what Adams had entered re his writing career.

Kate Schechter is on her way to Oslo, but that never happens. First, she runs into a tall, angry Norwegian-looking person whom she helps out at the check-in counter at Heathrow Airport. Second, said check-in counter explodes, sending her to the hospital. The papers label the incident an act of God, resulting in several injuries and the disappearance of the apathetic check-in counter clerk who angered the Nord. She recovers, but something leads her to Woodhouse, a hospital for very unusual patients, including a one-eyed old man whose name is Mr. Odwin, has a tiny demonic-looking assistant named Toe Rag, and a certain temperamental son with a hammer named Mjolnir.

So where does Dirk Gently come in this? In his usual "fundamental interconnectedness in all things" way, of course. He wakes up hours after he was supposed to meet his client, who's terrified of a green-eyed giant with a scythe. He arrives at the client's house, only to find the police there, his client's head rotating in the middle of a 33 and 1/3 single "Hot Potato" record that keeps skipping. He goes through a series of misfortunes and incidents, including breaking his nose and being attacked by an eagle.

The premise, and it may require a few re-readings to fully get what's going on, is interesting enough, but not as the ones he explored in his Hitchhiker novels and the previous Dirk Gently novel. They seem to be a series of disconnected ideas that don't click together. Dirk Gently's quirky, eccentric character works as long there's a more straight-laced foil to respond to his ramblings. Here, there is no Richard MacDuff to help out.

Consider those who respond to him. Sally Mills, the nurse whose coffee he steals, isn't too put out by his personality. Kate Schechter, on the other hand, gives him a flea in his ear after he tail-ends her car, but she's more independent-minded than MacDuff, and there's only one segment in the book where she interracts with him.

Some ideas that could be funny or further elaborated include an I Ching calculator, which can add up to 4, but any answer above it equals "a suffusion of yellow." One that works is his theory of finding his way after being lost in traffic, and that's to follow a car that seems to know where it's going, the premise being that somehow, he'll end up where he needs to be.

As for his writing, Adams' description of Gently's fridge, which hasn't been opened for three months, is something: "the fridge no longer merely stood there in the corner of the kitchen, it actually lurked." And the fridge war between he and his housekeeper is a beaut in writing. There are actually some good writing moments, but other than that...

People interested in Adams should, as the chorus to "Hot Potato" goes, "don't pick it up, pick it up, pick it up" and maybe only after they've read Dirk Gently. Getting into it does require a high degree of patience, so only for the most diehard fans. Overall a bit disappointing, like his other work Mostly Harmless.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Gods are alive and kicking
Why would the Norse God Thor be hanging around Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport trying to catch the 15.37 to Oslo? That is exactly the question Dirk Gently, a special kind of detective who uses his spiritual insight for his investigations, needs to get answered as fast as possible. Somehow the exploding Heathrow Airport ticket counter seems to be connected to Dirk's latest -and late- client, found only this morning with his head quite independently revolving atop the hit record "Hot Potato". It is time to get his holistic view on the world in practice, because the hostile attentions of a stray eagle and the murderous dirty refrigerator make the life of our intergalactic sleuth less attractive than he is used to.

When reviewing any book written by Douglas Adams, you are immediately forced -by some unseen intergalactic force- to compare it to the Hitchhiker's Guide series. No need in trying to resist this urge, so here it goes: The Gently books are probably not as hilarious as the Hitchhikers Guide series, yet they are still very funny. Voila!

Now that that has been cleared, it is time to formulate some useful comments. Be warned! When you decide to read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul know that you will have to immediately reread it once you turn the last page. The storyline is so complex and mind bogglingly absurd that you will conclude more than once that Douglas must have been completely stoned while writing this novel. But don't panic! In the end everything comes together in an apotheosis of pure grandeur. The denouement is so perplexing that you can only continue by rereading the complete novel.
The jokes and gags are not the strongest point of the book, but the absurd situations and the entertaining storyline compensates this easily.
Since The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul is the sequel to Dirk Gently and the Holistic Detective Agency, I guess it is recommendable to start with the first novel, although I did not do this and still had some great fun. ... Read more


49. A Canticle for Leibowitz (Bantam Spectra Book)
by Walter M. Miller Jr.
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553379267
Catlog: Book (1997-09-02)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 11804
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Walter M. Miller's acclaimed SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz opens with the accidental excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled by the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: "Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma." To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred shopping list penned by an obscure, 20th-century engineer is a symbol of hope from the distant past, from before the Simplification, the fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and ignorance.As 1984 cautioned against Stalinism, so 1959's A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the threat and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over some six or seven hundred years, the funny but bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and religious implications of the cyclical rise and fall of civilization, questioning whether humanity can hope for more than repeating its own history. Divided into three sections--Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), and Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will Be Done)--Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and Latin, exploring the fascinating, seemingly capricious process of how and why a person is canonized. --Paul Hughes ... Read more

Reviews (163)

5-0 out of 5 stars An epic of post-apocalyptic fiction
This is one of the best post-apocalyptic novels I have ever read. Even though the novel spans over a thousand years, there are constants: a monastery, Latin and the Roman Catholic Church.

The premise of the novel is that at some point in the 20th century, there was a nuclear war that almost destroyed humanity. Those who survived turned their fury on the scientists they thought were responsible for unleashing nuclear weapons on the world. Soon, the mob began to attack the educated, the literate, all those thought to be associated with the scientists. The collective knowledge of all humanity would have perished except for the efforts of Leibowitz, a man who tried to preserve fragments of knowledge amidst an almost overwhelming climate of fanatic anti-intellectualism.

Centuries later, a monastic order, which legend says was founded by Leibowitz, holds the world's knowledge, by copying books and memorizing texts until the world was ready for it. At one point, a monk discovers a 20th century nuclear fall out bunker and attempts to understand its contents. It is interesting to note that he finds "pre-Deluge" English difficult and he thinks that "Fallout" is a beast or monster, instead of a side effect from nuclear weaponry.

The next section takes place several centuries after the first. There is something of a recovery under way, some primitive electrical devices are created and there is a drive to revive learning outside the Church. Also, the warring factions of the former United States are slowly being conquered to form a single whole. As the secular centers of learning gain strength, the old rivalry between the educated clergy and the educated secular man resumes again.

The last part takes place around 3750 A.D., almost two thousand years from the present. At this point, the world has been united into a few factions (Asia and North America-Europe), nuclear weapons have been developed and advanced space travel is available. The monastery continues to exist, although some new buildings have been added and now the monks are engaged in science. Then, there is a mysterious explosion somewhere in the Pacific. It triggers a second global war, but this time the Church was prepared. Over a generation before this, the Church prepared a contingency plan. In the event of nuclear war, the Church would send enough priests, bishops etc.. to reestablish the Church elsewhere, even though Earth perishes.

Now you know something about the book, you might ask, "Why did you like it?" As am I something of a history buff, I found it fascinating that the Roman Catholic Church preserved knowledge single-handedly in the novel somewhat similarly to the fall of the Roman Empire (in reality, the Arabs and the Byzantines played a major part in preserving the heritage of Greco-Roman civilization). The novel took religion seriously; indeed monks are the stars of this novel, yet the novel never becomes preachy. There were great scenes in the book too; an Abbot (the ruler of a monastery) mediates on whether humanity is doomed to destroy Earth using nuclear weapons, rebuild and do it all over again, a secular scholar and an Abbot argue in a matter reminiscent of the current evolution-creation debate. The epic scale of the book which spans almost two thousand years is executed remarkably well, although it is jarring to end section and begin the next knowing all the characters you got to know have long since died.

The only drawback to the novel, for me, was that the monks often use Latin, in their chants, letters etc... and well, I just don't know Latin. Sometimes, it is translated but more often than not, it is simply left. The effect is to remind the reader that the Church is as a nearly eternal organization; century in, century out, everything is the same. Yet, not all is the same.

I thoroughly enjoyed the novel; a very satisfying read overall.

5-0 out of 5 stars I need a 10-star rating for this book.
There's no point in even trying to describe A Canticle for Leibowitz. It's pure Genius-with-a-capital-G. If you're literate and don't need all the whiz-bang crap that usually populates sci fi (I don't even think I would consider this sci fi, it's so... WAY beyond the norm); that is, if you can think independently, Read This Book. Don't worry about all the latin... he doesn't translate most of it but you can imply meaning from context.
So... I can't describe it, but here are some reasons why I consider Canticle pure Genius.

Canticle :
1. Offers an entirely classical and yet revolutionary reading of history.
2. Is a darn good story.
3. Is purely intellectual, working to excite thought and reason and possibility rather than visual senses or innovations.
4. Gives credit to Christianity for preserving literacy over the centuries, a fact that is usually overlooked.
5. Respects religion; most sci fi novels either disdain religious people, lampoon them, or write them off as annoying or dangerous quacks. This one treats them with the respect they deserve.
6. Is, perhaps, an incredible act of penance by the author (read the "about the author" when you finish).
7. Addresses all the serious questions in life: suicide, war, pacifism, what the role of religion in society is... the list is endless.
8. Is the epitome of intertextuality. It doesn't mention any specific works (though the Inferno is quoted), but it draws heavily (purposefully) from world and biblical history... not only so that it may enlighten us about the current text (the arrow usually goes that way), but rather to prompt us to view PREVIOUS texts in a totally different way.
9. Asks the question: Why do we mistrust our historical sources so much?
10. Hasn't dated itself a day since it was written in 1959. Not a day.
11. Contains thoughts so terrible and yet beautiful it made me cry.

So read it. Or abandon hope, ye who enter here.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Work
A Canticle for Leibowitz is not a novel. Rather, it is 3 linked novellas concerning the Order of Saint Leibowitz. Each of these novellas have different focuses and at first glance, would seem to have little to do with the other novellas. However, when you get down to thinking about it, they are actually pieces of a united work.

The first novella, Fiat Homo, is squarely about the Abbey of Saint Leibowitz and begins with the discovery of the Sacred Shopping List. It is the story of how the brothers seek to have Leibowitz officially recognized as a saint.

The second novella, Fiat Lux, is an espionage thriller dealing with the diabolical plans of the Emperor of Texarkana for continental domination. The third novella, Fiat Voluntas Tua, deals with the Second Nuclear Age as the nations that arose from the ashes of the First Nuclear Age and the nuclear war that ended that age, grapple with both nuclear weapons and the knowledge that a previous civilization died from those weapons.

As you can see, the 3 novellas deal with diverse subjects, but it is the way that Miller weaves his stories that the 3 become one.

A Canticle For Leibowitz is a most intriguing and well executed book and should be required reading in classrooms today.

4-0 out of 5 stars unique and wonderful
Well, amazing. So many novels in this general genre completely discount the power, much less the existence, of faith and ritual in human culture, or else they deride it. This novel shows the monastic community at its core as a genuine and human place, most of its inhabitants at least trying to achieve meaning and goodness in a world suffering the aftermath of disaster. There are shadows here of the Christian monks protecting European culture in the early Middle Ages ... the struggle with the meaning of suffering, the skepticism of easy "miracles," and the odd play of faith and distrust in technology in the context of a tenacious Judeo-Christian culture, are examples of some of the issues that enrich this story. Enjoy!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Miller's highly personal struggle with religion and science
Walter Miller's only major novel is not simply a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel but also a multi-layered meditation on the conflict between knowledge and morality. Six hundred years after a nuclear holocaust, an abbey of Catholic monks survives during a new Dark Ages and preserves the little that remains of the world's scientific knowledge. The monks also seek evidence concerning the existence of Leibowitz, their alleged founder (who, the reader soon realizes, is a Jewish scientist who appears to have been part of the nuclear industrial complex of the 1960s). The second part fast-forwards another six hundred years, to the onset of a new Renaissance; a final section again skips yet another six hundred years, to the dawn of a second Space Age--complete, once again, with nuclear weapons.

The only character who appears in all three sections is the Wandering Jew--borrowed from the anti-Semitic legend of a man who mocked Jesus on the way to the crucifixion and who was condemned to a vagrant life on earth until Judgment Day. Miller resurrects this European slander and sanitizes him as a curmudgeonly hermit, a voice of reason in a desert wilderness, an observer to humankind's repeated stupidities, a friend to the monks and abbots, the ghost of Leibowitz (perhaps)--and even the voice of Miller himself.

Throughout "Canticle," Miller's search for religious faith clashes with his respect for scientific rationalism. For Miller, Lucifer is not a fallen angel but technological discovery unencumbered by a moral compass; "Lucifer is fallen" becomes the code phrase the future Church uses to indicate the imminent threat of a second nuclear holocaust. The ability of humankind to abuse learning for evil purposes, to continually expel itself from the Garden of Eden, perplexes and haunts the author: "The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they seemed to become with it, and with themselves as well."

Some readers might be turned off by the book's religious undercurrent, but that would be to mistake fiction for a sermon. The work is certainly infused with the author's Catholicism, but its philosophy is far too ambiguous to be read like a homily. This is no "Battleship Earth." Instead, it is Miller's highly personal act of atonement; he acknowledged later in life that his fictional monastery was first subconsciously, then purposefully modeled on the ancient Benedictine Monastery at Monte Cassino, which, as a World War II pilot, he bombed to smithereens. (An historical aside: most of the major Greco-Roman scientific and mathematic texts were preserved for posterity by Arabic scholars--not by medieval Christian monks. But this is fiction, and it's not clear whether Miller is trying to replicate Church history as it was or as he felt it should have been.)

In many ways, Miller's Catholicism is as conflicted in the book as it was in his own life. He changed religious beliefs several times; in the 1980s, he immersed himself in Buddhist texts. Throughout "Canticle," you can see Miller wrestling with his spiritual beliefs and with his own demons, and in the final chapters, Miller includes an extended debate over whether suicide and euthanasia (and, tangentially, abortion) are ever viable options, even to avoid the worst forms of pain and certain death. Although he seems to side with Catholic views on these issues, Miller himself committed suicide in 1997.

Rather than distracting the reader with religious and philosophical musings, however, "A Canticle for Leibowitz" is enriched by them. It's not only a compelling, well-written story, it's an allegorical tale that might encourage readers to struggle with their own beliefs and demons. ... Read more


50. Ringworld's Children
by Larry Niven
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765341026
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Tor Books
Sales Rank: 32135
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Welcome to a world like no other.

The Ringworld: a landmark engineering achievement, a flat band 3 million times the surface area of Earth, encircling a distant star.Home to trillions of inhabitants, not all of which are human, and host to amazing technological wonders, the Ringworld is unique in all of the universe.

Explorere Louis Wu, an Earth-born human who was part of the first expedition to Ringworld, becomes enmeshed in interplanetary and interspecies intrigue as war, and a powerful new weapon, threaten to tear the Ringworld apart forever.Now, the future of Ringworld lies in the actions of its children: Tunesmith, the Ghould protector; Acolyte, the exiled son of Speaker-to-Animals, and Wembleth, a strange Ringworld native with a mysterious past.All must play a dangerous in order to save Ringworld's population, and the stability of Ringworld itself.

Blending awe-inspiring science with non-stop action and fun, Ringworld's Children, the fourth installment of the multiple award-winning saga, is the perfect introduction for readers new to this New York Times bestselling series, and long-time fans of Larry Niven's Ringworld.
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Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Suspension Bridge With No End Points
Larry Niven reported that engineering students have determined that the Ringworld mathematically is a suspension bridge with no end points. I don't have the math skills to confirm the claim, but I can confirm that enjoyable as the Ringworld series has been, sometimes when reading this fourth Ringworld book I felt like more than one kind of end point was being suspended.

This is the story of how Louis Wu's hand-picked successor to the Ringworld "throne" preserves the Ringworld from the threat of annihilation by human cops, kzinti warcats and other folk we thought we had learned to like. The ARM agents here, for example, aren't upset when their antimatter tools blast a Manhattan-sized hole in the floor of the Ringworld, jeopardizing the lives of the Ringworld's 30 trillion inhabitants. The ARMs we meet note they can still learn a lot studying the deserted, desiccated shell if that happens. It doesn't, of course, but Larry, you've sure come a long ways in your attitude towards cops since the days of Gil the Arm.

Like Robert Heinlein in his last half dozen books, Niven has also taken to recycling old ideas from earlier books, even ideas his characters rejected then, and using them in "Children":

- Ship-eating monsters in hyperspace, rejected as a possibility in "Borderland of Sol," may turn out to be real. (Beowulf Schaeffer was right and Carlos Wu was wrong? Who'd have thought it?) So Puppeteers are right to fear hyperspace.

- Teela Brown's fabulous luck, discredited in "Ringworld Engineers," may be a matter of lucky genes after all.

- The anti-matter solar system in "Neutron Star" turns out to still be around.

- The "Longshot," the experimental advanced ship from "Neutron Star" and "Ringworld" turns out to still be around.

- Schizophrenic cops, an idea from the one original story in "Crashlander," appear again. (Larry, what is it about you and cops?)

- Carlos Wu's fabulous autodoc, also from "Crashlander" or maybe from "Ringworld Engineers," continues to play a starring role.

There are half a dozen other references from earlier works that I saw, and likely a lot more that I missed.

Niven's strong suit has always been ideas and the extrapolation of ideas, combined with good plotting. He's never been a strong character author, and he has the annoying habit of paying more attention to the scenery than to character development. That's an ongoing problem with this short novel, too. And an unusually large number of characters are abandoned by the author, having served there immediate function to the plot. (Larry, what was the purpose of having Louis Wu and his motely crew meet the Giraffe People? And that's Larry's pun, not mine.)

And spare me any more rishathra jokes. Please.

Niven continues to do one thing consistently well: Protectors, the folk who probably built the Ringworld, are mostly superintelligent, in addition to having some other skills. How can a writer of normal intelligence, writing to a reader of normal intelligence, portray believably a superintelligent being? It takes more than one technique. Niven uses several effectively, perhaps more effectively than he has done in the last two Ringworld books. It's the best and most effective aspect of this novel.

The motivation of Protectors is less well, or at least less consistently, developed. You knew - come one, admit it - that the Ringworld would have a surviving original Pak Protector. But how is that Proserpina is still alive? And why did Bram - the former occupant of the Ringworld "throne," killed at the end of that book, let the Ringworld deteriorate to its present sad condition?

Still and all, this is an entertaining yarn. Niven ends it ambiguously, with the Ringworld safer, if not safe, and enough satisfying new ideas to give a reader something to chew on. There's enough trickiness, plots-within-plots and general scheming to keep a reader guessing. And only Louis Wu and Nessus have the means to return to the Ringworld.

I'd expected this to be the story where Louis Wu meets Carlos Wu, who is almost certainly his father (see: "Crashlander") but that didn't happen. Stay tuned.

Is this a classic Niven story? Nope. But it's something of a return to form after disappointments likes "The Burning City." Strongly recommended for "Ringworld" fans. This is not the book for newcomers to Niven's universe; start with "Ringworld" the novel. If you're not a science fiction fan, you should probably skip this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars A pleasant coda, but not a classic addition to the series...
Ringworld's Children is a pleasant revisit to our old friend Louis Wu and his motley crew, still bopping around the Ringworld. Like many others, I looked forward to the chance to see what new and interesting scrapes Larry Niven would get him into this time and seized the book at first opportunity.

Overall it was a pleasant diversion and a nice read. The ring is really fascinating as a place and here Niven makes it the most realistic its ever been. I don't mean the "additions" to make it more scientifically accurate, but rather the way he treats the slow degradation over the aeons and the way that various people have evolved to fit their world.

Alas... this book is too short and doesn't really contain new ideas. It does bring a lot of old Known Space ideas together in one place and the logical interplay of things like the anti-matter star system, super auto-doc, QII hyperdrive, and the ring itself is kind of fun. On the other hand, there are lots of elements (the Fringe War in particular) that are just there on the page, rather lifeless. The hyperspace monster thing (more-or-less a throwaway in any case) didn't amuse me (except: Beowulf Shaeffer was right and Carlos Wu was wrong in "Borderland of Sol", who'da thunk it?) for more than a second. In fact it rather annoyed me. I hope Niven has something interesting to do with the beasties in some future story.

I still like Niven's clear, affectation-free prose. This book doesn't rise to the level of the original and I'd much rather have had something heftier with some more interesting new ideas, but...

Sour grapes aside, Niven's "playspace" still has amazing flexibility. Rather than "down in flames", this book seems to open up various possible additional storylines in the future. I hope that Louis Wu does, in fact, live forever. (Secretly I'm pining for him to meet "dad" for a shared adventure.)

Wait for this one in paperback, my friends, but you'll want to read it nonetheless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised
After Ringworld Throne I had low expectations for this new Ringworld novel.

In preperation I re-read the first 3 books, and they were still fresh in my mind when I picked up Ringworld's Children.

I personally did not like Ringworld Throne anywhere near as much. I found the Ringworld natives generic and boring and hard to keep track of. Often I found myself not really caring what happened to them. Near the end of the book things started to pick up, and it does answer some important questions (while posing new ones). So even if just to learn what happens next it's worth it to fight your way through Ringworld Throne.

Ringworld's Children goes a long way to fixing those problems.

This time around the focus is back on Louis Wu, where it should be. As a result the book is far less schitzophrenic and a lot easier to understand (is it just me or was anyone else completely confused by Bram's origin story in Ringworld Throne?).

A big Known Space fan (I have read almost all the stories, with the exception of the new short story included in the Crashlander collection) I really appreciated all the nods to previous books.

Carlos Wu, the antimatter solar system, Nuetron Star, Protector and other stories are all tied together in this.

It really does feel like Niven is wrapping things up, and when you see what happens at the end you'll understand it's pretty hard to top in terms of sheer scale.

The book was a fun read. I thought the pacing was good. *Some* of the concepts introduced seemed somewhat forced, or not explored in enough detail. Like the extra convolutions to Teela's story. But they never really affected my enjoyment of the story.

However something that bother me is Niven's ongoing habit of adding new slang whenever he writes a new story in a series.

He did it in Engineers and in Throne, but it wasn't quite as intrusive as "LE" is. This whole "Legal Entity" thing came out of nowhere. No one said it in the other stories, even in Ringworld Throne which takes place the same year as Ringworld's Children.

Similarly the term the Fringe War has no basis. No one used that term in Ringworld Throne, yet even as he's stepping out of the autodoc, not having spoken to anyone since the end of Throne, Louis contemplates the "Fringe War".

For obvious reasons he needed to give a name to the growing conflict in the Ringworld solar system, but there are more elegant ways he could have introduced us to the term. Like how about Tunesmith uses it the first time he speaks with Louis after emerging from the autodoc and Louis asks him what it means.

But that small gripe is not enough to ruin the book for me. The only other problem I had is the length. The story is relatively short. I'm not sure how short because my copies of the other Ringworld stories are paperback, but it feels shorter than the others, and it's dissapointing because when it really gets moving you don't want it to end.

I might actually give it 3.5 stars if I had the choice, I'm not sure though. Somewhere in that range, 3.5-4 out of 5.

Some might want to wait for the paperback though. And you should re-read Ringworld Throne at the very least, but re-reading all 3 would be best.

2-0 out of 5 stars Book was WAY too lean!
I was disappointed with this book. I've been reading SF (and Mr. Niven) since the late 1970s and I loved his earlier Known Space works but I found it difficult to read this novel.

In a nutshell, this wasn't a book as much as it was an "outline of a book". I would have been SO much happier if Niven had filled his pages with more descriptions (much more description)... like, in every scene of the book! So many times I had to re-read a paragraph to "guess" what was going on or who was speaking. I realize there are a lot of characters in the story but that's no excuse.

I liked the ideas in the book but ideas, alone, don't make for a good read.

Sorry, Mr. Niven. I love your work but this one stunk.

5-0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!
I read a lot of books (1 - 2 a week!), and the Ring World Series draws you into itself in such a way....well, at one point I was reading outside and without thinking looked at the horizon and for about a second I was almost dismayed(!), because I didn't see the Arch (of the ringworld) stretching before me, then (of course) my logic caught my instincts and I laughed at myself.

But just the fact that my instincts were fooled into thinking I'd see the Arch instead of the horizon of the Earth!

Definetly an AWSOME book. I hope Larry is working on the next in the Ring World Series! (Also I hope he is getting royalties from HALO.)

P.S. - Ringworld has a cult following of scientists, intellectuals, and rich-men. Don't be suprised if in 10-15 years we see an "Arch" being built in space nearby. ... Read more


51. Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book 1)
by Frank Herbert
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441172717
Catlog: Book (1996-02-01)
Publisher: ACE Charter
Sales Rank: 2488
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The all-time science fiction masterpiece...now in a special hardcover edition.

"Unique...I know nothing comparable to it except Lord of the Rings."--Arthur C. Clarke

Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud'dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family--and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction. Frank Herbert's death in 1986 was a tragic loss, yet the astounding legacy of his visionary fiction will live forever.
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Reviews (840)

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Base of the Pillar"
WARNING: There may be spoilers in this review if you actually haven't read this book yet. Go read it. Now.

Strangely enough, it took me a few attempts to read the entire text of Dune, and I am usually not one to leave books unfinished. My first attempts failed because some of my false impressions about the book were fueled by the first third of the story. Though Herbert launches into the story without giving much thought to the nuances of the universe he has created, the story in the beginning is very concrete and easy to absorb. However, when Paul casts his lot with the Fremen, the plot becomes increaslingly abstract and the writing gradually loses control. I was one who had difficulty understanding the limits of Paul's prescient awareness, the changing goals of the tribe, and the marvelously confusing effects of the Water of Life. But the "real" part of the book is a mere prelude, the Fremen, led by Usul (Maud'Dib), hold the real meaning of this book. How Herbert creates such an intricate world I cannot begin to guess. Arrakis is an incredible creation, rife with fascinating characters and political intrigue, but secretly controlled by a complex and beautiful religious movement seeking to remake the planet. The setting in itself is reason to read this book, but Herbert's real strength lies in his characters. Maud'Dib's transformation from naive youth to messiah is the caliber of character development that we are not likely to find in modern science fiction. And the conclusion, though abrupt, is a massive redirection of the story, in tune with the epic scale of the book. If you haven't read it yet, it isn't quite too late. With the prequels coming out, now would be a good time to start.

5-0 out of 5 stars A cult classic that set a standard for epic Science Fiction
If you haven't read this because you were put off by the "cult" status of Dune, don't be. I delayed reading it for years because I usually avoid cult classics and overhyped books. But the moment I started reading Dune, I was captivated.

This book creates an entire world and society (what I love best about sci-fi, when done really well.) And this book has an epic struggle of Good and Evil. The bad guys are really BAD. The good guys are complex, heroic and vulnerable at times. There are plots, sub-plots and counter-plots.

Some fascinating concepts are introducted in Dune; an order of women who control breeding of superior human beings and influence politics--the Bene Gesserit, the Mentats, human savants who replaced computers when computers were banned from the universe for their "dehumanizing" effect. And the Fremen, a desert people who are fiercer than the trained killer army of the Padishah Emperor.

This is the most exciting science fiction book I ever read, and is one of my favorite books of all times. If you haven't read it, you are in for a treat. Dune is complicated at times, but always worthwhile.

2-0 out of 5 stars This is NOT Lord of the Rings
Comparing this 500 page sleeping pill to Lord of the Rings is like comparing a Rolls Royce Phantom II to a 1975 Pinto. Dune has some good ideas and in some parts the story really pick up, but over all this book is not as interesting, the characters are not as deep, and the writting style not as polished as Tolken's work.

Paul Atreides is not as interesting as Frodo, or even Luke Skywalker. Jessica reminds me of Jan Brady or a 1970s coffee commercial where the character is always talking to themselves about the things around them. Gurney, I must admit reminded me of Sam, but only a little. Whether you like this book or not, Dune cannot hold a candle to LOTR.

I must admit Dune has its interesting moments, but not enough for a good review. The reader will find himself or herself saying over and over again, "No, not another sand worm!" The writting style is deplorable. Herbert's prose is some of the worst I have ever read. Unlike Hawthorne, Dickens, and Melville, Herbert sentence structure is choppy, uneven, and cumbersome.

I made it through this book, but I must admit, it did not hold my interest and I did breeze over a few pages. This book stinks!

I give it a B plus for over all creativity.
C minus for the story develpment
D minus for style.
D plus for Character development
F for the micro-font this edition is printed in

I know I am going to get tared and feathered for this review!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Sci-Fi Trilogy Ever Conceived
The Dune Trilogy, written by award winning author Frank Herbert, is a spellbounding trilogy that captures the hearts of billions. At first glance, Dune seems no more than another tale of fueds and conspiracies, but after reading the book through, it is a complex, deep story that will keep you from putting the book down. The Dune Chronicals is by far one of the most compelling pieces of writting in modern literature and is science-fiction's answer J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings'. Dune is a grand story and should never be without the rest of the Dune Trilogy that ties it's concept together. I myself am looking forward to the conclusion of the Dune Chronicals in Brian Herbert's 'Hunters of Dune' and 'Sandworms of Dune'.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspired me to write an essay on it
Dune is one of the deepest science fiction books of its time, you'd never really guess that it was written about 50 years ago. It tells of a boy named Paul who is destined to become the religious leader of the Fremen, the native dwellers of Arrakis. The politics and religious aspect in Dune are very well balanced and the characters are quite realistic for a sci-fi. If you're into sci-fi or not, you really should read this book. ... Read more


52. Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Vol. 2)
by TIMOTHY ZAHN
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553560719
Catlog: Book (1993-02-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 23833
Average Customer Review: 4.51 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Empire is dying; but like a dog near death, the Empire is at its most dangerous, ready to lash out with nothing to lose. Grand Admiral Thrawn may have found just the firepower needed to take a bite out of the New Republic: some two hundred Dreadnaught heavy cruisers, lost to hyperspace in the days of the Old Republic. Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca may be up against more than they bargained for, but it`s not the first time the odds have been stacked against them! ... Read more

Reviews (92)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Trilogy just gets better and better
Dark Force Rising is the second book in Tim Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy. OUr heroes, on the run from assasins after Leia's unborn twins, as well as Luke and Leia themselves, run through the book at a frantic pace. Leia decides that the best place to hide is amongst the enemy, so along with Chewbacca she embarks on a quest to the world of Honogar, the homeworld of the Empire's best assasins. Luke after spending time with the insane Dark Jedi C'Boath is off on a mission to rescue smuggler chief Talon Karrde from Grand Admiral Thrawn's personal Star Destroyer with the help of Mara Jade, who wants to kill him once the rescue is complete. Han Solo finds himself swept off to a secret meeting with a soldier who may or may not help the fragile New Republic against the victorious Empire and Thrawn. Added to this is a frantic race to discover the location of the Katana Fleet or Dark Force. A mysterious fleet of warships designed after the Clone Wars that could tip the victory in the laps of those who find it first. Add in political intrigue, an Alliance commander accused of treason and clones and you have one heck of a good novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Middle Section To The Thrawn Trillogy
Cases may be made, and not without justification, that Dark Force Rising suffers a bit from being the middle book in the trilogy. Maybe so, but that certainly doesn't stop it from being a very excellent book, with more than its share of merits.

Picking up right after Heir, Dark Force Rising takes what Zahn started with in the previous book and begins to build on his ideas. Leia visits the Noghri homeworld, Luke sets out to encounter C'boath and we are given an explination to many of the oblique refrences Grand Admiral Thrawn made about his master plan in Heir.

Very simply, Zahn blows away all other Star Wars authors in terms of his characterization of the majors players in the story. Thrawn is such a great opponent because he has a great deal of deapth (he is not just 'evil' like many other villians of the Star Wars Univese). He became my favorite Star Wars character almost right away. Karrde's gentleman smuggler quality makes him very different from other fringe characters in the universe. And who can ignore Mara Jade? Her bitter, cynical nature is a wonderful counter to the excessive optimism displayed by many Star Wars characters.

The only fault I have with Zahn is that he makes other Star Wars literature seem weak for comparison. Oh well, not everybody can be the best (though, we could afford to ban a few folks from writing Star Wars). Overall (if, somehow, you haven't figured it out by now) I highly reccomend this. After you read Heir To The Empire, of course.

5-0 out of 5 stars the series that revived the Star Wars empire [no spoilers]
"Dark Force Rising" is the second novel in The Thrawn Trilogy approximately five years following "Return of the Jedi". The originality and creativity in the series is deep, filled with strange creatures and compelling heroes and villains.

Grand Admiral Thrawn is an ingenious, calculating and efficient villain, someone the New Republic should fear. The patient approach Grand Admiral Thrawn employs by building a formidable force with the Empire to challenge the New Republic is clever. While Star Wars hasn't been overly political, politics play a part in the developments and brings more depth to an otherwise action oriented plot. The author wisely invested sufficient time developing character and cultural histories to tie nicely with the existing history thereby enriching an already compelling genre.

I highly recommend this series above all others to any fan of the Star Wars universe.

Thank you.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Adventure Continues. . .
In Dark Force Rising, Timothy Zahn continues the spectacular story he began in Heir to the Empire, while upping both the intrigue and action of the incredible story arc.

The stakes are higher than ever. Grand Admiral Thrawn's first puch against the New Republic was unsuccessful, but the victory wasn't nearly one-sided. Treachery and political infighting threatens to tear the government apart. As Han and Lando fight to clear Admiral Ackbar's name of treason, Leia races to an alien planet to try to bring a dangerous and proud alien race into the fight against the Empire. Luke, feeling the call of Joruus C'baoth, the mad Jedi master, must team up with Mara Jade once again, to free her employer and comrade from Thrawn's own ship.

The threads of the plot, while becoming more numerous and complex, never get tangled. Zahn juggles the huge cast of characters with talent that few have ever shown in the series. The action is larger, the characters are more complex, creating tension on both sides of the war. The clashing between Joruus C'baoth and his uneasy ally, Thrawn, becomes more apparent, and threatens to disrupt the Empire's plans, and C'baoth himself makse a move to corrupt Luke, Leia, and her unborn children for his own twisted desires.

This is one of the rare sequels that doesn't suffer from sequelitis. True, you really have to have read the first book to understand what's going on, but the book has a definite beginning and end, and more than enough excitement and interesting characters to fill the 400 plus pages. But, aside from the quality, which is exceptional, this is just a plain fun read. Like the first novel in the Thrawn Trilogy, this captures the essence of the Star Wars mythos, while building on its wonderful history and story.

If you're looking for a fantastic literary saga in the Star Wars universe, you can't do better than the Trawn Trilogy, and the second book proves that Zahn's writing and grasp of the SW universe just keeps getting better and better.

5-0 out of 5 stars An absolutely PERFECT sequel to Heir to the Empire
Timothy Zahn's incredible 'Heir To The Empire' remains one of the 3 greatest Star Wars novels written (the other 2 would be the immediate sequels, of course) and 'Dark Force Rising' picks up shortly after, with a slightly misleading title. When you are dealing with anything that has the Star Wars name on the front, when you read 'Dark Force' what comes to YOUR mind? Well my opinion had something to do with the Dark Jedi that was introduced in 'Heir' but you may as well drop that idea right up front. The fabled Dark Force is a fleet of Dreadnaught ships with a Dark Coloring that were all networked together (or in this case, Slave Rigged) to one ship called the Katana, and one day (as the story goes) the Katana's crew goes nuts and trips them all into Hyperspace and instantly an entire fleet of ships disappear, never to be seen from again. As events from 'DFR' pick up, smuggler Talon Karrde apparently believes that he knows exactly where the Katana Fleet is located, and since the Alliance AND the Empire are in desperate need of new ships, finding the Dark Force suddenly becomes Priority #1. Who will get to the ships first, and also, does either the Empire OR the Alliance have enough men to crew the fleet if and when the ships are found in the first place?

We delve deeper into the corrupted mind of the cloned dark Jedi, Joruus and what plans Grand Admiral Thrawn has for him and we see a little more of what his grand scheme is for defeating the Rebels. The depth of character development in 'Dark Force Rising' is more apparent and we get into the mind of Thrawn even more. Zahn's evil creation marks him as an even greater 3-dimensional character than either Vader or the Emperor ever was on the big screen. More depth. More ambition, and most of all, more brains. Where Vader & the Emperor ruled by fear, Thrawn rules by simply making the best decisions based on solid research and the brilliant deductions from the mind of the only alien Palpatine ever allowed to rise in major rank within the confines of the Empire. Zahn never gives us too much info too quickly, always leaving some detail out of the picture until just the right moment when he opens the curtain of your mind and reveals a little more of what we have in store for the last book, 'The Last Command'. Just as the bombshell was dropped at the end of 'The Empire Strikes Back' with the revelation from Vader that he is Luke's Father, Zahn leaves us hanging at the end of 'Dark Force Rising' with quite a nailbiter of an ending, too.

Once again, I can find nothing wrong with this 2nd installment in this trilogy. I have yet to read ANY Star Wars novels that are as well drawn out and all-out entertaining as this series was and is--with the possible exception of the 'Hand of Thrawn' duo that Zahn wrote several years later (although still excellent, they were not as good as his original trilogy). 'The Last Command' is simply put a grand ending to this incredibly well told series of books. Many have wondered how well these 3 books would've turned out had they been put up on the big screen...well, if they could've done it, my personal opinion is if they would have closely followed the novels, they would most certainly have been MUCH better than Episode's I & II have turned out to be. Run out and buy this series if you haven't yet. Absolutely the best of the best in the Star Wars Universe in print, and they simply should NOT be missed. Bravo, Mr. Zahn. ... Read more


53. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
by TERRY BROOKS
list price: $7.50
our price: $6.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345434110
Catlog: Book (2000-02-29)
Publisher: Del Rey
Sales Rank: 35732
Average Customer Review: 4.03 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Terry Brooks's novel, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, is being released with four distinctive covers--each featuring a different character from the film. This special collector's pack gives you a full set of four books with one copy of each of the four different covers. Each embossed front cover features a different Episode 1 character: Anakin Skywalker, Queen Amidala, Darth Maul, or Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Available May 3)

**Please note: the content of each book is the same, but the covers are different. ... Read more

Reviews (402)

3-0 out of 5 stars Read it for the backstory you won't get in the film
I usually stay away from Star Wars books in general. For me, if it's not by Lucas, it's doesn't exist in the Star Wars universe. After seeing TPM multiple times, however, I was so hungry for more about the characters, I had to pick up the book. For that reason alone I give it three stars. If you are at all interested (like I am) in more detail on the history of the Sith, in Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's father/son relationship, in Padme's growing bond with Anakin, then you'll appreciate much of this book. However, if you're looking to read a well written sci-fi book, or to re-create the visual spectacle of TPM, go elsewhere. The dialogue is OK (actually, some of it is better than the film), in terms of describing the "feel" of the film, there are Internet fan-fic writers with a better sense for detail. Brooks fails at interpreting many of the scenes that made the movie appealing. The final lightsaber battle especially lacked punch compared to the intensity of the film. Get it only if you're an obsessive SW fan in desperate need of a fix, and even then, beware. You'll likely be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
I loved this book. Personally, I've seen the movie 3 times already (due to change to higher number soon). The 2nd time I saw the movie, I went and brought the book. It was worth every cent. Now, I was introduced to Star Wars when I was four. My grandmother had it at her house and I thought it was scary as anything. My brother got it for his 7th birthday (when I was nine) and we watched all of them straight through and I finally understood the plot. Then I was hooked. My dad started to let me read the Star Wars books. I enjoyed most of them (save some Kevin J. Anderson books). Until this day, my favorite SW book is "Jedi Under Seige", surprisingly by Kevin J. Anderson/Rebecca Moesta. When the new movie came out, my friend and I skipped school to see it. For those of you who haven't seen it, get off the internet, get your shoes on, and haul your butt to the nearest threater showing Episode One. The book, in my opinion is just as good as the movie, which was killer. Terry Brooks is a talented writer (unlike some. I'm not mentioning any names, Ms. J. V. Jones. And Mr. Kevin J. Anderson (Adult Star Wars)) and keeps strictly to a plot line. He doesn't give away any secrets about the movie until they're supposed to be given (Sound familiar, Ms. P. C. Wrede?).The one problem I had was that the battles could have been more descriptive. As an unpublished novelist, I'll say firsthand that battles ARE hard to do, but when you're doing Star Wars, blood and gore, and lightsabers, and ships, and big explosions work. Thank you and have a nice day.

3-0 out of 5 stars kind of boring
Author Terry Brooks was given the task to write the book adaptation of the first Star Wars prequel movie: "The Phantom Menace". The novel is based on the screenplay by George Lucas. As with any other book there are good things and bad things about this novel. In this case, the good and the bad are the same thing: Terry Brooks must stay close to George Lucas's screenplay. This is good because Brooks must stay close to what the movie would end up being. This is bad because the screenplay wasn't very good.

The story is obviously the same as the movie (though fleshed out a little bit more). Two Jedi are sent to negotiate with the Trade Federation over the Federation's blockade of Naboo. The Neimoidians, under the power of Darth Sidious, try to kill the Jedi (Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi). The Jedi escape and travel down to Naboo where they end up rescuing Queen Amidala and a few select Nubians. To hide from the Trade Federation they land on the planet Tatooine where they meet a boy named Anakin Skywalker. Their ship is damaged and to get the parts they need Anakin helps them win something called a podrace, which Anakin is a driver in (the only human who is able to do so). Qui-Gon believes this boy is strong in the Force and is the one mentioned in a prophecy about a boy who will bring balance to the Force. The novel has two primary focuses: the time spend on Tatooine with Anakin and freeing the Naboo from the Trade Federation.

There are some things that this novel does very well. The opening of the novel is different from the movie in that we see Anakin in the podrace where he is wrecked by Sebulba (alluded to in the film). We see how Anakin is able to race the pod so well and this is the hint of how he is able to use the Force even without knowing what it is. Because we have more of Anakin's thoughts, we see his actions in a different light. We also get to see more of the Sith and their origins (though I prefer "Shadow Hunter" for that). Darth Maul does not come off very well in this novel. He is still an excellent fighter, but he doesn't get to speak or think here. The two Jedi come off the strongest as we get to see more interaction between the two and with more explanation of their relationship.

There are also some things that do not work very well. While Anakin is better explained as the potential child of prophecy, he is still not very interesting as a character. Also, both Darth Maul and Padme Amidala are given short shrift in characterization. Worse, I was bored throughout the novel. Sure, I knew the story so there were no surprises, but I can re-read a book or watch a movie a second or fifth time and still be entertained. With this novel I felt that I was just dragging myself along and the only benefit was that I did already know the story so I could skim at times. I have long been a fan of Terry Brooks and his Shannara novels, but this one was rather weak.

3-0 out of 5 stars "Clouded This Boy's Future Remains..."
Terry Brook's most famous contribution to bookstores is his "Shannara" series, which I personally found a bit too close to the Tolkien formula to find particularly interesting, much preferring his more original "Running With the Demon" saga. But in novelizing George Lucas's screenplay "The Phantom Menace", Brooks has found the perfect arena to instigate his clear, graceful style of writing.

It seems pointless in relating the plot, since I can't imagine anyone reading this book who isn't a Star Wars fan and hasn't already seen the movie (perhaps several times), but just in case, "The Phantom Menace" begins the Star Wars saga against a backdrop of political manouvering. The planet of Naboo has been invaded by the greedy Trade Federation, but Queen Amidala is able to reach the Republic and its Senate under the protection of two Jedi: Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to seek aid for her home planet. On route to the Republic's base in Coruscant however, the company must make a stop on the desert-planet Tatooine, where they meet with Anakin Skywalker, a young slave with enigmatic origins, the makings of a great Jedi, and an uncertain future. This fateful meeting sows the seeds of all that is to pass...

As mentioned, Terry Brook's style is perfect in order to present the sometimes-complicated subject matter clearly and concisely. Whilst watching the movie for the first time I was often confused at the fast-paced unfolding of events that occured, but on reading Brook's narrative the screenplay became clearer. Likewise, his depictions of the characters are very true to what unfolded on the screen and we can finally get a look inside their heads and see what truly makes them tick. This is especially true of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and Brook's commentary on their opposition concerning their interpretations of the Force: Qui-Gon is more attuned to the "living-Force" that stresses the importance of each individual, whilst Obi-Wan holds to the "unifying-Force", that tends to look at the bigger picture. It is the two Jedi that benefit the most from Brook's narrative and thus come across as the main protagonists. Unfortunately, Anakin does not fare quite as well, with many similar sections of character insight devoted to boyhood dreaming, and Brooks seemed so determined to keep Amidala's true identity a secret that we never get inside her head at all.

Throughout, Brooks takes the opportunity to add little scenes that weren't on the big screen: either intended and deleted scenes, or from the author's own imagination, it doesn't matter, as they serve to flesh out the story a bit more and slow the pace. Thus the story opens with Anakin in the desert and continues adding little scenes of his life before he meets Qui-Gon (otherwise the reader would not have come across him until chapter nine). One particularly evocative scene that bears more weight after watching Episode II involves Anakin helping an injured Tuskan raider. Recalling Anakin's later involvement with this species in the following movie leads me to believe that Brooks may have had knowledge Lucas's entire story, and so it pays to watch out for other bits of foreshadowing that Brooks sprinkles throughout, such as: Anakin's dream of Padme leading an army, Yoda's doubt at Obi-Wan's ability to properly train Anakin, and a secret smile on a politician that hints he may have a secret adjenda going on *cough*Palpatine*cough*.

Brook's descriptions of scenery, machinery and characters are beautifully done, and since only example can convince you, take a read of: Qui-Gon - "a tall, powerfully built man with prominent, leonine features. His beard and mustache were close cropped and his hair was worn long and tied back." Or of the Jedi Council room: "The room was circular and domed, supported by graceful pillars spaced between broad windows open to the city and the light." See what I mean? It is all very brief, but clearly and simply told. The only weak areas are the action sequences, but whether it's Lucas Jedi matches or Rowling Quidditch games, such things will always be more exciting to watch than to read, and I must confess I skipped over the pages concerning the Pod-Race.

Though it's hardly essential reading, Terry Brook's adaptation is an excellent literary version of the movie, that keeps in the spirit of the Star Wars saga, whilst adding little touches of its own. If you were confused by some of the drama on the screen, this will sort you out, and for veterans there's enough originality to keep you interested: the history of the Sith, the background of the main characters and a look into the workings of the Force that suggest it is more complex than simply a Light and Dark Side.

4-0 out of 5 stars Go beyond the film with Episode I's novelization......
Every saga, proclaims the tag line for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, has a beginning, and every Star Wars movie has a novelization. Following in the footsteps of Alan Dean Foster, Donald F. Glut and James Kahn is acclaimed fantasy writer Terry Brooks (The Sword of Shannara, among 14 novels), who adapted George Lucas' original screenplay into novel format.

Although the Star Wars novels all stick to the basics of their source material, their authors are often able to tack on extra material to set up the situation shortly before the true beginning of the movie. In Brooks' The Phantom Menace, for instance, the first two chapters give the reader more details of young Anakin Skywalker's life in the weeks prior to his fateful meeting with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Brooks describes, for instance, the incident when Anakin's archrival, Sebulba the Dug, intentionally flashes young Skywalker's Podracer with his vents and nearly kills the boy in the resulting crash. Afterward, Anakin, his best friend Kittster Banai, and the young Rodian Wald encounter an old spacer in the town of Mos Espa. The grizzled veteran amazes the youngsters with his tales of flying fighters and starships, and of missions involving Jedi Knights. Anakin, even at the age of nine, decides that he will not settle for the life of a slave on Tatooine.

"[He] thought about what it would be like to be out there, flying battle cruisers and fighters, traveling to far worlds and strange places. He didn't care what Wald said, he wouldn't be a slave all his life. Just as he wouldn't always be a boy. He would find a way to leave Tatooine. He would find a way to take his mother with him. His dreams whirled through his head as he watched the stars, a kaleidoscope of bright images. He imagined how it would be. He saw it clearly in his mind, and it made him smile.

"One day, he thought, seeing the old spacer's face in the darkness before him, the wry smile and strange gray eyes, I'll do everything you've done. Everything.

"He took a deep breath and held it.

"I'll even fly with Jedi Knights.

"Slowly he exhaled, the promise sealed."

From the third chapter on, Brooks follows the plot of Lucas' screenplay, starting from the failed attempt by Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate an end to the greedy Trade Federation's blockade of Naboo. Despite their reputation for cowardice in the face of a strong challenge, something -- or someone -- is enabling the Neimoidian leaders of the Federation to stand up against the Galactic Republic's attempts to tax the trade routes. Using a fleet of battleships, the Trade Federation's viceroy, Nute Gunray, threatens to interdict all shipping to the small backwater planet of Naboo, home planet of both Queen Amidala and its representative in the Senate, the unassuming man named Palpatine.

Confident that turmoil in the Senate will hinder any response by Supreme Chancellor Valorum and knowing they have the support of a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious, the Neimoidians attempt to dispose of the two Jedi ambassadors and boldly invade Naboo. Their goal: to capture the teenaged Amidala and force her to sign a treaty that legalizes Federation control of her planet. Even when the Jedi escape to the planet surface, Gunray and his henchmen don't fret much...until Amidala's cruiser -- with Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Jar Jar Binks, the Queen, and a small group of handmaidens and security personnel aboard -- runs past the Trade Federation blockade.

But the cruiser's hyperdrive is damaged during the daring breakout, and the escapees must head to the nearest system not under Trade Federation control. The only one within range is the desert world of Tatooine, a rough-and-tumble planet controlled by the vile Hutts. There, the Republic has no presence and scum and villains live side by side with moisture farmers, jawas, and the nomadic and violent Tusken Raiders.

The Phantom Menace fills in some of the blanks in the Star Wars backstory, answering such questions as:

What were the roots of Anakin Skywalker's anger?

How did Artoo Detoo and See Threepio meet?

How did Jedi Knights serve as guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic?

How did Palpatine rise from sectoral Senator to Supreme Chancellor?

Star Wars fans know, of course, the future fate of the major characters of The Phantom Menace and the changes to come in the galaxy. Palpatine will someday be the Emperor, Obi-Wan Kenobi will end up on Tatooine as one of the last surviving members of the Jedi Order, keeping an eye on Anakin's future son Luke. Anakin Skywalker, of course, is destined to become the Sith Lord named Darth Vader, and young Queen Amidala will grow up to be Anakin's wife and mother of his two children. Yet Brooks focuses on this transitional time in Anakin's life, when he's still a child with good instincts and big dreams, dropping subtle hints here and there that foreshadow the events that will turn a heroic Jedi into one of the most iconic villains in movie history. ... Read more


54. Romance at the Edge: In Other Worlds
by Angela Knight, Camille Anthony, MaryJanice Davidson
list price: $12.99
our price: $10.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1596320915
Catlog: Book (2005-03)
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Sales Rank: 5521
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars All three stories are reprints
All three of these stories are reprints.They have all been previously published as e-books by Loose-id.They are good stories.

I enjoyed Anglea Knights "Stranded" best.Of course, i'm a big AK fan and enjoy almost all her work.

MaryJanice Davidson's "Beggarman, Thief" was lighthearted fun.

Camille Anthony's "Light on Her Feet" is actually a sequel to "Swept off Her Feet" published by Elloras Cave.I think the story makes a lot more sense if you have read the first book.

While I enjoyed all these stories, I, in fact, own all of them as e-books.I was very disappointed that nowhere was there any warning that these stories have been previously published.

So...if you haven't already read them, and you like your alpha males, you will probably enjoy these stories.

4-0 out of 5 stars Romance at the Edge
Summary - Beggarman, Thief by MaryJanice Davidson:He's human - Barely.She's a thief, and rumor has it she's insane.She tries to take something that's his, so he'll take her.For three days. After all, a deal's a deal.

Comment - I really like MaryJanice Davidson's books & I was so happy when Beggarman, Thief became available in print format (I don't like reading e-books).It's a great story & I hated to see it end.


Summary - Stranded by Angela Knight:Hawke, a Dominant soldier, demands repayment for rescuing Alex from certain death at the jaws of a giant saurian.Alex secretly craves domination.Now she has to submit to Hawke...or else.

Comment - I was happily surprised by the Angela Knight story.Her stories are usually hit or miss with me - I either like it or hate it.I enjoyed Stranded a lot.


Summary - Light on Her Toes by Camille Anthony:Dohsan wants D'ari, and D'ari wants Dohsan. One must submit, but neither wants to.It's the age old battle between the sexes, with a heated alien twist.Publisher's Note: For the convenience of our readers, Light on her Toes contains a glossary at the end of the book.

Comment - Light on her Toes was a total miss for me.I couldn't get pass the alien words.

5-0 out of 5 stars just short of perfection
This was the first thing I've read by Camille Anthony.While I was put off, at first, by the use of so much alien language, my biggest complaint is that it left me wanting more.I definately plan to find more of her writing.As for Angela Knight's story, I think it should come with a warning...If you're offended by BDSM: this is NOT the story for you.If, like me, you read Ann Rice's Sleeping Beauty Series until the covers wore out, you will LOVE this one. Seriously, I took away a star for the alien jargon in Ms. Anthony's story and still gave the book 5 because I gave Angela Knight's 6. WOW. I don't have much to say about Mary Janice Davidson's story. It was typical for her:sweet & hilarious.I actually thought, while reading it, "if this woman wrote a math text book, I'd read it". My only complaint about her story is that I read it at work & my coworker kept giving me looks because I was giggling so much.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Spectacular Groupof Writers
If you like hot, steamy stories set in the future, be sure to pick up this anthology. Knight and Davidson are well-known to many print readers for their ability to weave sensual tales and they don't disappoint in Romance at the Edge. Camille Anthony may be a newcomer to some, but she has been wowing the ebook community for sometime, and this tale is no different.
For a fun, sexy, over the top and out of this world story, do yourself a favor and pick up Romance at the Edge. You'll thank yourself in the morning. ... Read more


55. Old Man's War
by John Scalzi
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765309408
Catlog: Book (2005-01-01)
Publisher: Tor Books
Sales Rank: 2944
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What's known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve your time at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine-and what he will become is far stranger.
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Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars If the law professors liked it, then I should check it out
I haven't read science fiction since the 1970s, when I was a kid enraptured with the original Star Wars film.But I saw that 2 eminent professors, whom I read several times a week--Glenn Reynolds (Tenn) and Steven Bainbridge (UCLA)--both loved this book.

It was great.I started reading on my morning and evening commutes, and had to finish it before falling asleep that same day.A great mix of a survival tale, with epic plot tension, intriguing physics extrapolation, emotional realism, witty dialogue, and humor.There was a bit of a contrivance in the last third of the story, but I don't want to lob up a spoiler.

I heard a sequel is in the works, and I'm really looking forward to what happens next to John Perry.

4-0 out of 5 stars entertaining story, less than scintillating style
Overall, a good read with an interesting plot, good ideas, and lots of bug-eyed monsters in the best space opera tradition.The sole negative thing I would observe is that the writing style was average at best, with the zippy juvenile dialog among the protagonist and his friends being the most annoying feature.This was definitely outweighed by the entertainment value of the narrative, however.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good first person account of future war
It's quite simple, this book is very similar in theme to "Starship Troopers" and "The Forever War". Anyone who enjoys those books will enjoy this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Old Man's War
I first read Robert A. Heinlein more than 50 years ago.If you had told me this was an undiscovered Heinlein manuscript from his best years, updated by a modern editor, I would have believed it.I can give a science fiction book no higher praise.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superior SF
Its perhaps strange but a number of the review's of this book compare it to two other successful science fiction books Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlien and the Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

Heinlien was a navy officer who did some equipment design and a lot of Starship Troopers has a feeling of the early Pacific War. A fight againsta relentless and determined enemy who did not play by the rules. Most of the book is in fact about troop training and the sorts of virtues which Heinlien saw as important. Unquestioning obedience, patriotism and a rejection of what might be called liberal squeamishness. This training creates a sort of superior more realistic man who it is argued should be the only ones who have access to the political process. Halderman wrote a book that on the face of it seemed to be a response to Starship Troopers and won the Hugo award. Its plot is long since common knowledge so there is no real surprise in giving it away. Broadly in Halderman's book a interstellar war which goes on for thousands of years was started by a mistake and there was no real basis for it in the first place. The training which occurs is often grotesque poorly thought out and simply irrelevant to actual military operations.

In the past Heinlen's book has been seen as some sort of right wing manifesto and Halderman's a satirical response. Probably they just reflect the historical periods in which they were written. Heinlen's in a period in which western democratic values were under threat and Halderman's when there were question marks about whether the Vietnamese war was such a good idea.

This book does not really seem to have much of a political agenda after all. One of the minor characters who represents a conservative mid west figure is portrayed in a hostile manner but there appear not big themes.

Rather the book is an adventure and an exploration of what happens if we were to get a second try at youth with the wisdom and experience of old age under our belt. The test of course of a science fiction book is whether it is fun to read. This book is and you can read it in an afternoon. In addition the joy of the book is not simply the revelation of a plot or a certain universe. The author is highly intelligent and his observation of things and characters has a depth which, is unusual in a lot of science fiction and marks the better products of the genre.

... Read more


56. Timeline
by MICHAEL CRICHTON
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345417623
Catlog: Book (2000-10-24)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 9393
Average Customer Review: 3.59 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Read by Stephen Lang
Four Cassettes, 6 Hours

Michael Crichton's new novel opens on the threshold of the twenty-first century. It is a world of exploding advances on the frontiers of technology. Information moves instantly between two points, without wires or networks. Computers are built from single molecules. Any moment of the past can be actualized -- and a group of historians can enter, literally, life in fourteenth-century
feudal France.

Imagine the risks of such a journey.


Not since Jurassic Park has Michael Crichton given us such a magnificent adventure. Here, he combines a science of the future -- the emerging field of quantum technology -- with the complex realities of the medieval past. In a heart-stopping narrative, Timeline carries us into a realm of unexpected suspense and danger, overturning our most basic ideas of what is possible.
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Reviews (1668)

2-0 out of 5 stars Crichton lays another egg
Having been an avid reader of Crichton ever since Andromeda Strain, always hoping for another of that quality, always forlorn, I must say that of his several literary failures this is Crichton's worst. The pseudo-time-travel framework works (or doesn't work) as a mere device to arrive at a 14th-century Perils of Pauline, with all sorts of ad hoc dangers strung together and avoided by ad hoc tricks in a linear plot (if you can call it that) that lacks tension. The main characters are stereotypical, neither likeable nor damnable, lacking color and credibility. The failure of the quantum-mechanics transport machinery and its Rube Goldberg repair become a flimsy sub-plot, hardly contributing to the story, and the ultimate fates of the entrepreneur and of the medievalist, if not inevitable, are less than satisfying. Doniger is not evil enough to make his end one you can really feel is well-deserved, nor is Marek's character sufficiently wrought to lend joy to his decision and its consequence. The "countdown" device utterly fails to lend dramatic tension. The problem was, halfway through the book I could no longer care whether the adventurers got back to the present or not: If they run out of time and get stuck in the hundred years' war, so what?

4-0 out of 5 stars Overall a fun read
This was a very easy read for me, after reading Great Expectations and Les Miserbles I needed something easy and extremely entertaining, this fit the bill perfectly. There is no thinking involved in this novel and like other reviewers have said it seems there was never any suspence you always felt like the charecters were always going to get out in the nick of time, Overall a fun read

4-0 out of 5 stars Way Better than the Movie
Don't see the movie, but read the book- not a big crichton fan either, but liked this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great literature? No. Highly entertaining? Yes.
I was especially eager to read Timeline because I had just returned from the Perigord, the region in France where most of the action in Crichton's time-travel book takes place. I had toured the grim castles and fortified towns he describes, and canoed down the exact stretch of the Dordogne that's at the heart of the book. I found that Chrichton was able to bring the medieval period vividly to life, far better than I'd been able to do as I toured the area. As usual, Crichton provides enough of a believable scientific basis for his story to allow an easy suspension of disbelief. I was even more impressed by the amount of research he did to be able to paint such a clear and convincing picture of the area in the mid 14th century. OK, his characters do get into one scrape after another, and help manages to arrive just in the nick of time. But the book still kept me turning the pages late into the night. Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation; and Medical Firsts: From Hippocrates to the Human Genome.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced and Highly Entertaining
Time travel is one of the most compelling sci-fi topics in Hollywood. Michael Crichton, a highly successful writer, took a more modern look at time travel. The premise of the story is based on the research done by theoretical physicists who speculate that there may be an infinite number of universes containing every alternative event that can exist across all time frames. By accessing these universes one could literally step into a past event. In the story a mythical company, ITC, is doing experimentation in three dimensional teletransportation. When they tried to send an object to a distant location it turned out that it wound up in the past-to be precise: 1357 in a place called Castlegard.

Robert Doniger, the CEO of ITC, saw an opportunity to make a ton of money. He wasn't really interested in the past but in the present. By knowing everything about Castelgard and the battle about to be fought there he could bring this knowledge to the present to create a life-like replica of the castle and village. He brought in archeologists and historians to rebuild the site without letting them know what was really up. When they began asking too many questions they were used as guinea pigs and were hurled back in time-or to another universe to be specific and suddenly were confronted with an alien culture that they were ill-equipped to handle.

The book is outstanding, keeping the reader constantly on edge as our heroes get themselves into and out of one jam after another, while trying to rescue the professor who wanted to know too much for his own good. Meanwhile, Doniger had little concern for his historians, considering them quite expendable so long as the press doesn't ask too many questions. He was such a despicable character one can almost guess he'll get his in the end.

If you saw the movie you don't truly know the story. The movie changed many important details to make it more entertaining for movie-goers, but I found the movie pretty silly and not terribly exciting. The book, however, is terrific! ... Read more


57. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 25th Anniversary Edition
by DOUGLAS ADAMS
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400052920
Catlog: Book (2004-08-03)
Publisher: Harmony
Sales Rank: 33788
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58. Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A. Heinlein
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441790348
Catlog: Book (1995-08-01)
Publisher: ACE Charter
Sales Rank: 4574
Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Stranger in a Strange Land, winner of the 1962 Hugo Award, is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of, the first manned mission to Mars.Michael is raised by Martians, and he arrives on Earth as a true innocent: he has never seen a woman and has no knowledge of Earth's cultures or religions.But he brings turmoil with him, as he is the legal heir to an enormous financial empire, not to mention de facto owner of the planet Mars.With the irascible popular author Jubal Harshaw to protect him, Michael explores human morality and the meanings of love.He founds his own church, preaching free love and disseminating the psychic talents taught him by the Martians.Ultimately, he confronts the fate reserved for all messiahs.

The impact of Stranger in a Strange Land was considerable, leading many children of the 60's to set up households based on Michael's water-brother nests.Heinlein loved to pontificate through the mouths of his characters, so modern readers must be willing to overlook the occasional sour note ("Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault.").That aside, Stranger in a Strange Land is one of the master's best entertainments, provocative as he always loved to be.Can you grok it? --Brooks Peck ... Read more

Reviews (454)

4-0 out of 5 stars Prophetic in a very curious way!
When I first read "Stranger..." over thirty years ago in junior high school, I enjoyed it, though perhaps no more than many of the other Sci-Fi books I was reading at the time. It was good, but a bit overdone, I thought; I preferred a good shoot-em-up like "Starship Troopers" or "Glory Road". What do 14 year olds know?

Some years ago a new edition was released that was reportedly a restored manuscript, closer to what Heinlein had intended, so I bought a copy and promptly put it aside for ten years. Eventually I picked it up which cleaning house and started to read it again. Much better the second time, as I could better appreciate Heinlein's parodies and critiques, and his shots at government and institutions.

But midway though I was struck by a number of Heinlein's plot elements. World governments... black helicopers... martians.... I suddenly realized that all the contemporary paranoid theories, all the modern conspiracies, all were, in fact, drawn from this book! I couldn't believe it. I was laughing so hard, I was crying.

All these very serious people watching "X Files" and swearing up and down that it's all true- do they know they're repeating stories from a 40 year old SciFi book?

I think Heinlein would have been proud.

4-0 out of 5 stars A facinating view into history
One of science fictions often overlooked values is the mirror it offers into not the future but the past. Looking at how authors write the future tells us a great deal, perhaps more, about the time that they lived then the time they are trying to create. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" is a case in point. Ostensively about the 21st century it offers a facinating view into the 1960's, the era in which it was first published. The fact many tarred it as scandolous at its first appearence while at the same time the book was widely read gives us powerful insights into the counter culture revolution and the radical changes in values that we feel down to this very day. Moreover, "Stranger" opened the way for serious science fiction as social comentary, a debt for which all current writers in the genre owe Heinlein mightily.

Using as his voice Michael, the sole survivor of a mars mission on which he was born, Heinlein presents powerful if somewhat data critiques of western culture, from art, to religion, to sex, to government. Raised by martians, Michael is a stranger to earth's culture and therefore an outsider. Readers with an interest in Heinlein's evolution would enjoy comparing Michael with the author's other favorite voice, the undying Lazurus Long of Methusalah's Children as well as all his later works. The difference in tone is striking, as is the fact that the ultimate cynic and the ultimate innocent come to almost all of the same conclusions, though the former has a better sense of humor.

Readers may choose between two versions of the book, the one released in 1961 and a longer (an additional 50,000+) words that was released much later. Heinlein cut the material at his editors request and in my opinion the editor was right as the longer version drags and interfers with what is already ocassionally a slow story. Still, for those who like Heinlein this work cannot be missed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stranger in A Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein is the story of a human, Valentine Michale smith, who was born and on raised on mars, and now on earth must come to understand the human race.

This is a wonderful classic that I cannot say enough good things about. It is captivating and quite exceptional. Full of philosophical, spiritual, social and religious ideas that are not only mind boggling but eye opening in many ways. This wonderful piece of literature delves deep into why humans act the way they do, and how society as a whole sees the world it has created.

I have very little complaints about this novel. I found some exceptionally sexist views in this book which were unsettling to me but not surprising for a book written in 1962. That is actually my only major complaint, and the passages in which this viewpoint seeps through are so short and so sparse that it did not detour me from reading the book. Oddly enough Heinlein seems to contradict himself in these viewpoints, he writes female characters that are Strong and would make any feminist proud, and then turns around and has them say something that contradicts that very character.

So overall this book was truly wonderful. Something I would suggest anyone and everyone read, simply because of the ideas expressed within it alone, if not for the wonderful writing and compelling story. (By the end of this book you will find need to incorporate the word "grok" into your daily vocabulary.)

1-0 out of 5 stars I finished it, but....
I just finished The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (pretty good overall), and went to SIASL because it had been recommended it to me before.

Besides the good anti-gov't lines (mostly quips), there's not much to recommend the book. I'm glad I read it to say I read it, but I'm not ever going to read it again. Why?

1. Jubal. Supposed to come across as a wise, lovable old coot, but I found him annoying and I don't ever want to meet such a pompous person. He ruled every situation, and I don't think he deserved to. I can't stomach him again.
2. Free love. Against human nature. People will, in general, get jealous and get hurt.
3. Polylogism - the Martians have superior logic. Um, there can't be different logics. See Wittgenstein.
4. Anti-religion but all religions lead to the truth? I certainly don't buy that. The scenes in heaven...wow, I don't know what to say.
5. Characters overall. I didn't like any of them. I didn't care about any of them, and I hated how snappy the dialogue was. People don't talk like that ALL the time. I guess most of Heinlein's dialogue is like that, but it was a major flaw in this book.

I'm a woman but I didn't mind the sexist stuff. It wasn't all that bad. "Terrifyingly homophobic"? I thought it was rather pro-homosexual, as much as it could be, as Mike talked a bit about how wonderful the bipolarity of man and woman was. Homosexual sex doesn't really fit into that view.

My least favorite Heinlein book. Read Moon or Starship Troopers and skip this book if you can.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fabulous read
Heinlein is amazing and this book is on my list of favorites forever. I recommend it to non-sci fi fans as well as sci fi lovers. It questions things we're taught to accept and makes you examine your beliefs. Highly recommend. ... Read more


59. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by PHILIP K. DICK
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345404475
Catlog: Book (1996-05-28)
Publisher: Del Rey
Sales Rank: 2467
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"The most consistently brilliant science fiction writer in the world."
--John Brunner
THE INSPIRATION FOR BLADERUNNER. . .
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time.
By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . .
They even built humans.
Emigrees to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in.
Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.
"[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from."
--Paul Williams
Rolling Stone
... Read more

Reviews (159)

5-0 out of 5 stars Timeless SF
Though much science fiction of yesteryear is now dated and reads blandly, SF visionary Philip K. Dick was well ahead of his time and his best works, including this masterpiece, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This book works on two levels. On the one hand, it is an exciting, fast-paced, and highly entertaining SF action adventure. This facet of the novel was, of course, captured in the movie Blade Runner. However, it also has a deeper, below the surface, entirely different meaning to it. In this book, Dick asks us what it means to be human. If you read this book and dig below the surface to the core themes, you may find that the answer may be a lot different than you think. Whatever level you take the book on, it is a masterpiece-enjoyable, entertaining, and yet literary and profound. Even the seemingly wacky title is perfect. Read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Seen the movie? You'd better read the book too!
This 1967 novel inspired the classic movie _Blade Runner_, and it remains Dick's most popular book because of that association. But because the movie altered so much of the original, the book has a vibrant life away from it...and it's an incredible achievement.

Bounty hunter Rick Deckard (married in the book version) goes on the search for the Nexus-6 androids loose on a nearly abandoned Earth where wildlife has come close to extinction. Dick explains the background much more thoroughly than the movie, and places special emphasis on the absence of genuine animals on Earth; Deckard's desire to possess a real animal instead of a robot copy becomes the focal point of his struggle to define his own humanity. John Isidore, a mentally deficient "chickenhead" who falls in with the androids (never called 'replicants' as in the film), is the other symbolic half of this confrontation with what it means to be human; the movie would change him into William Sanderson's diseased inventor. Throughout, Dick uses his piquant humor and dead-on satire to enthrall the reader.

A classic SF novel, no arguing about it, and it lead to a classic, if extremely different, SF film. A fascinating read. Even if you claim to dislike science fiction, you need to pick this one up. It may change your opinion of the whole genre. (And make you want to read more Philip K. Dick --there's a lot more great stuff out there!)

4-0 out of 5 stars Inspired, Anxiety-Ridden Sci-Fi
After being an ardent Blade Runner fan for years, I decided to explore it's roots in Philip K. Dick's book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". The movie and the book had less in common than I'd expected, particularly with the character development. Unlike Blade Runner, there is nothing at all redeeming about the personalities of the replicants/ "andys" in this book, which has an even more chilling effect. There are, however, plenty of interesting ideas here, and depicting "authentic" animals as the ultimate status symbol is definitely intriguing. What interested me the most, were the marital issues between Deckard and his wife Iran. The love scene between Rachel and Deckard here is curiously shallow, adding to the isolated tone of the book.

Philip K. Dick is a good writer, effectively permeating the book with an unrelenting anxiety and cruel irony. PKD's ideas came to fruition in Blade Runner, but this is the blueprint, and therefore an absolute must for Blade Runner enthusiasts.

4-0 out of 5 stars Apocalyptic dreaming towards a futuristic day
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? is another classic science fiction novel that I only just got around to reading. And once again, I find myself wishing that I'd gotten around to reading it earlier. It was also my introduction to the writings of Philip K. Dick, and I also wish I had started exploring his output before now. This novel demonstrates what science fiction can do at its best. It tells an absorbing, thrilling story, but it also works on other levels.

The book's protagonist is named Rick Deckard, and he's a police officer in a post-apocalyptic future whose job is to track down and destroy rouge androids. Although this is clearly a science fiction work, I felt a strong flavor of noir creeping throughout the sections dealing with Deckard's career. The trappings of the fantastic are present, but they're presented in a clearly thriller-type way. Deckard may be a cop from the future, yet he owes a lot of his characterization to the hardboiled, fictional detectives who came before him. This makes him an extremely entertaining character, as well as an immediately sympathetic one.

As has been noted, this novel is doing a little more than just telling another adventure story (although it does a great job at that). While the themes of alienation and isolation and what it means to be a conscious, reasoning entity are well-developed and much discussed by readers, several other metaphors are also lurking beneath the surface. This is a book very much influenced by its time (it was published 1968), but pieces of it seem almost timeless (the war which nearly destroys the world is caused by a right-wing policy group wielding too much influence at the Pentagon; boy, does that sound familiar). The psychological testing done on the subjects to determine their identity (either human or robot) reminded me strongly of the infamous McCarthy hearings.

I was very impressed by the actual writing itself in this novel. Dick's prose is very strong. Science fiction writers often enjoy building up a new world/universe at the expense of characterization or plot, but that isn't the case here. He excels at painting a bleak future, taking the attitudes of today and projecting them into a world with few people and fewer animals. But he doesn't let this overwhelm the book. It's a hard balance to maintain, yet he manages it well. His satire is exactly what it should be: both hilarious and cuttingly accurate.

Philip K. Dick is a writer that I've heard a lot of good things about, and I'm looking forward to diving deeper into his back catalog. DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? impressed me in both its straightforward narrative and in the deeper topics that it touches on. The "social commentary" aspect of the novel, which can be painful in books by lesser authors, is actually one of the book's best features. There are a few sloppy points (the mechanical capabilities of the androids are a bit vaguely defined, and once or twice characters talk to themselves for no reason other than to convey plot-points to the audience), but overall I was a very happy reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars Humor and humanity
This novel, first published in 1968, was the basis for Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner (1982), which despite its striking, evocative visuals, plucks elements of the novel out of their context, making them somewhat less intelligible and less radical than in the original. Additionally, Dick's humor and his metaphysics are missing from the movie. The reader of the book is continually challenged to evaluate how human the androids are and how mechanical the humans are. The androids are not mere machines like most of the simulacra in Dick's other novels: they are artificial people made from organic materials; they have free will and emotions like fear and love. Physically and behaviorally they are indistinguishable from real people. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter whose job it is to hunt down and kill escaped androids. His life is thoroughly programmed; but in the course of the novel he starts to wake up to his buried human nature and capacity for empathy and understanding. This novel is the place to look for a serious analysis of the question of what it means to be human; you get only the tip of the iceberg of that issue in the movie. The book is one of Dick's best. ... Read more


60. A Clockwork Orange (Norton Paperback Fiction)
by Anthony Burgess
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393312836
Catlog: Book (1986-11)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 1667
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Anthony Burgess reads chapters of his novel A Clockwork Orange with hair-raising drive and energy. Although it is a fantasy set in an Orwellian future, this is anything but a bedtime story." -The New York Times

Told by the central character, Alex, this brilliant, hilarious, and disturbing novel creates an alarming futuristic vision of violence, high technology, and authoritarianism.Anthony Burgess' 1963 classic stands alongside Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World as a classic of twentieth century post-industrial alienation, often shocking us into a thoughtful exploration of the meaning of free will and the conflict between good and evil.In this recording, the author's voice lends an intoxicating lyrical dimension to the language he has so masterfully crafted.

"I do not know of any other writer who has done as much with language as Mr. Burgess has done [in A Clockwork Orange]." -William S. Burroughs

Recognized as one of the literary geniuses of our time, Anthony Burgess produced thirty-two novels, a volume of verse, sixteen works of nonfiction, and two plays.Originally a composer, his creative output also included countless musical compositions, including symphonies, operas, and jazz.The author's musicality is evident in the lyrical and dramatic reading he gives in this recording.Anthony Burgess died in 1993.
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Reviews (479)

5-0 out of 5 stars Seeing beyond the violence
First of all,'A Clockwork Orange'is a very violent book. The book reached notoriety largely through the Stanley Kubrivk film of the smae name, which was banned for its extreme violence and copycat crimes. However, there is more to the the book than this. Burgess has created a surreal and terrifying futuristic world, in which gangs of teenagers roam the streets, leaving havoc and mayhem in their wake. These horror teens speak their own language, nadsat, which has strong elements of Russian. The fact that the book is written from the first person, and it is written in this slang, makes it quite difficlut to read as a lot of meanings have to be worked out from the context. There is horrific violence, including rape, but behind this are strong and fascinating messages about human nature: whether it is better to be bad by choice or good by default, and the risk of humans becoming machine-like. There is also some fascinating writing about classical music.

All in all, highly reccomended but not for the faint of heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE BEST BOOK I'VE READ TO DATE!
When I first began reading "A Clockwork Orange", I found it difficult and frustrating to read. The language Mr. Burgess has created is annoying at first. But after a while you don't even think about what words like "rasoodocks, rot, govereeting...etc." mean. It becomes second nature. When I finally understood these words, I found the book impossible to put down. I loved the style that Burgess wrote this masterpiece. He does not write it like a man in his fifties; he writes like the fifteen, and seventeen year old character that is Alex. The story is distorted in the way that any story would be told throught the eyes of an immature teenage "droog." Finally, the much debated final chapter. I would not dream of giving it away, but I will say that the story may suffer depending on how you percieve the Alex of this chapter. Personally, I could go either way, But it does seem more satisfying without that final chapter. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMEND this FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC Novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Conciseness makes the book great
This is Burgess's most famous novel, largely to the controversial treatment of it by Kubrick. As with most famous novels, there is the danger of disappointment because they are so hyped up. This was the case with me, until I was about halfway through. Then, because it was sufficiently different from the movie, I realised that it was good beyond the hype. And overall, it is the fact that Burgess has condensed quite a lot of ideas onto about 150 easy pages that makes this book a great read. If it was much longer (like so many other thematic books of novels-of-ideas) it would lose its tolchok...

Speaking of tolchoks, this would be the most challenging part of the novel - nadsat. The narrator is Alex, a juvenile delinquent living in a somewhat not-too-distant-and-certainly-dystopian future, where Britain is quite close to being a police state and where crime is such that the "delinquencies" of little Alex involve rape, murder and other examples of ultra-violence. Furthermore, the teens in this future speak nadsat, a slang peppered with Russian expressions. The first page should be quite a shock to those who don't know Russian (and if like me you do know it, there's the feature of figuring out what Russian word the Anglicised string of letters is meant to symbolise). Anyhow, you can think of it as a cloze passage and in a few pages, you should be fluent. If not, there are excellent resources on the internet, such as Wikipedia's nadsat entry. As for the purpose of this deliberate difficulty, it's actually worthwhile in highlighting the superficial and brutal subculture Alex lives in.

The novel is divided into three parts. Part 1 is Alex and his friends running amok and basically doing what they like. Part 2 is Alex in prison, and the famous Ludovico's "rehabilitation" technique. Part 3 is Alex back in the world, with a difference.

The book is seen to explore free-will and the choice to do good and evil. As such, we climb into the head of someone who would most likely be described as a sociopath in conventional terms. He commits acts of violence simply because this is what he genuinely enjoys. And to go against the stereotype of the low-IQ bum, Alex is considerably intelligent and has a true passion for classical music. This sets up the background of a world-gone-mad. Then, Alex is treated with a technique that physically conditions him to be unable to do harm to anyone. Of course, the prison chaplain is against this but according to the Minister of the Interior, at least it will help in the seemingly-hopeless fight against violence.

Alex immediately becomes front-page material and a political pawn from all sides of the spectrum. Burgess examines the nature of our society, where politics and public perception are at the heart of every issue, and where both sides can become involved in dirty and partisan tactics. Also, the inconsistencies of the way society brings people up, incarcerates, punishes and attempts to rehabilitate criminals is a major idea.

The good thing is that it is unclear to me what moral lesson Burgess was actually attempting to espouse. He really lets the reader draw their own conclusions, more so than most writers. Finally, some of the early editions cut the last chapter, making the novel more edgy and dark (this is the case in the film). The last chapter (part 3, chapter 7) is an actual resolution. People have argued whether it makes the novel better or not. I think it does make it better because it casts irony on the tortuous attempts to rehabilitate Alex. But try to get an edition with the last chapter so you can see what Burgess intended originally.

Because it seems that somehow, violence is still with us *just a bit*, and the Clockwork opens up the recesses of evil and not-so-evil and its such a concise read makes it a great novel of the 20th century, and more original than many other dystopias.

4-0 out of 5 stars Anti-heroine Alex makes Holden Caufield look angelic
Alex is the narrator of Burgess' coming-of-age novel, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE - the story's protagonist, so to speak. Some of my acquaintances have compared THE CATCHER IN THE RYE to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I prefer the latter over the former. However, Alex and Holden are indeed troublemakers. To what extent? audiences may ask.

I say Alex makes Holden look like an absolute angel.

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE was published far before my time. However, upon my research via google, I found out that during its 1962 publication, it stirred up quite a bit of controversy. That in itself was enough to lure me back to Borders - that and the many, many positive reviews.

I paid the $14.00 and flopped down on my king-sized bed. And, as I began to read, I was stunned. Malchicks? Britva? Chepooka? Devotchka? WTF? As prior mentioned, I was stunned. For a teen girl with a large vocabulary, this didn't make any sense. So I logged back on to the world of google and found that some of the publications had glossaries.

Mine did not. :-P

So I found a Nadsat glossary and it deciphered every single one of those confusing little terms for me, as clear as anything. By the time page 20 came around, I'm pleased to say that I was practically fluent in it. Well, almost. :) The language Burgess uses, if anything, adds to the overall mood of the story and pulls the reader in all the more.

I don't know if others have observed this, but I do find, often times, whereas controversy is concerned, humor is always weaved into the situation, one way or another. This isn't always the case, yet it often is when books are concerned. I was pleased to find that Burgess used the sharp, witty, and satirical humor that I adore.

15 year-old Alex and his droogies (a.k.a. friends) are a troublesome bunch. Many are appalled and disturbed by Alex, the paradigm of a troublemaker who often, and most times, goes a little too far. Some readers hate him and find him to have a heart of ice. I was not disturbed by the content and paid more attention to the utter brilliance and humor of it all, I suppose.

Alex, a juvenile delinquent, and his droogies activities include rape, killing, playing the sickest of sick jokes, and beatings to points of severe damage. But the government intervenes to "reform" this bad boy. And this is where much of the satirical humor comes in. He soon becomes a tame model child but he's also lost all ways to defend himself.

Can he stay tame or will he revert back to wild-child status?

It was a genuine treat to read Burgess' introduction and the extra 21st chapter, first removed from the 1962 publication, was the ideal conclusion, more so than how the original text ended. I'd recommend this version over the edited one. The central character and the masterfully crafted language makes this a newly discovered favorite for me, an avid reader. I hope readers and non-readers can both rejoice over the brilliance that is A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

5-0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece!
I got this book at some cheap used book section; simply because it was cheap and I remember seeing the film as a kid but I didn't really remember it that well. The William Burroughs recommendation on the back of my edition didn't harm either.
A bit shallow start but I wasn't expecting a thing and that propably helped alot. As I started reading I went, after a few unknown - to me - russian looking words "what the hell is this?" But the brilliant black humor came right on the first page and that's how I got to know a book that I can read anytime with the same pleasure (if not more) as the first time.
By far the best book I've ever read - and I've read ALOT of books that have similar elements but the wordplay is so special that no book comes close. It's got everything in it, this neat little novella: black humor, satire, insane violence, a new language and even some prophetic statements.
If you like this one I recommend "the wanting seed." It's also by Anthony Burgess. That one is a futuristic dystopian novel/la. With the same humor. ... Read more


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