Friday, November 23, 2001

Rebels: The Conquered

by Daffyd ab Hugh

Guess what? I bought another Star Trek book at the Friends of the Library sale. (YAWN) I know, I know. I should know better. But this one had caught my eye before and I decided to risk 50 cents. Rebels is a trilogy featuring characters from the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The story is not complete, so be prepared to get all three novels, unless, like me, you decide not to finish the story. Anyway, one of the appeals of the TV series for me was the planet of Bajor. It was a planet that was poor, recovering from alien oppression and had a deep religious aspect to their culture. I was eager to see how that society worked and how they played off of the clean, comfortable and secular Federation. The series never really developed that, and seemed to focus more on the standard space opera shenanigans that we've all come to know and love. The Conquered plays out much the same. You get a couple of glimpses of Bajoran life and culture, but the bulk of the book is the Federation guys running into trouble on another strange, new world. Oh well. I should probably try to find a good book on a real culture and not try to get my anthropology fix from a science fiction book. Anyway, in a pinch, Rebels:The Conquered will serve as waiting room material, assuming you've already read the other offerings.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, November 14, 2001

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Vol. I

edited by Ivan Morris

This wasn't quite what I expected. You see, what happened was that my wife has been reading up on Chinese culture. One of the books she's read mentioned certain, ah, positions that were supposedly well known in the older Chinese culture. So well known, that they weren't listed out or described, but only casually mentioned by name. Of course, lacking descriptions, names like "The Lotus" or "Shaking the Horse's Hoof" tend to pique one's curiosity. Anyway, I've done a few limited searches on the Internet with no success. It seems the Kama Sutra is the only ancient sex manual out there. Anyway, my wife had heard that erotic tomes in China were called "pillow books" so when I did a search at the library, I found this volume. Well, a thousand years ago in Japan, pillow books were volumes one kept by the pillow and wrote in at the end of the day. Pretty much like a diary. And this book is a translation of a thousand year old Japanese pillow book. But even if the lover in me was disappointed, the historian was delighted. Sei Shonagon was a lady in waiting at the Imperial Court and her pillow book is full of anecdotes and observations of her life. The lady herself was rather haughty for my tastes, but it was fascinating to see her life through her eyes. I would heartily recommend that you check it out, even if it won't lead to any hoof shaking.

(P.S. I also managed to peruse Vol II after I wrote this, but it didn't rate a separate review. Try to find the edition that's in a single volume if you want to read this one.)

LibraryThing link


Monday, November 05, 2001

The Year of the Quiet Sun

by Wilson Tucker

What a ride this one was! This is a novel that was highly regarded in it's day (1970). However it's a future dystopia -- a tale in which features a future time that is very bleak. In this case, members of a time travel project in 1978 travel forward in time first to 1980 then to the turn of the century. Since I have lived through all of those time periods, I can tell you that Mr. Tucker didn't get anything predicted right. For some reason he figured that the attitudes of the late sixties counter culture towards nudity and marijuana would catch on while those on racial equality and the war in Vietnam wouldn't. But even as I was laughing at the details I was engrossed in the story and characters, trying to puzzle out what was happening and eagerly seeing what happened next. And the end, I totally missed a little detail which was hinted at and was surprised when it was revealed. This is definitely one of the great time travel novels that have been written, and hence is going on my shelf.

LibraryThing link


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