Saturday, December 29, 2001

Animating Culture

by Eric Smoodin

Warning! This is a book from a university press (Rutgers University Press, to be specific) about cartoons. So you know the author is going to take the subject way too seriously. I didn't realize what I bought when I grabbed it off the table at the Library sale, but I quickly realized what I had done. But I enjoyed reading the book anyway. Despite the academics, this book contains a lot of historical info. It's by no means a comprehensive survey of film animation, but rather covers a few areas of the genre from the 30s and 40s, concentrating mostly on Disney. In addition to just viewing the cartoons and interviewing the folks involved, Mr. Smoodin also accessed files from the State Department, IRS, FBI and the Library of Congress. It gave a unique twist to the history presented. This one makes for great waiting room material.

LibraryThing link


Thursday, December 20, 2001


by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Who would've thought that William Shatner could write? (Or at least hire good ghost writers to flesh out his ideas?) Shatner, if you don't know, is the actor who played Captain Kirk in Star Trek. He's written a few Trek novels of which this is the third. It was a good read, even if it does violate one of my pet peeves of resurrecting a dead character (before Judgment Day, that is). In this one a lethal virus is plaguing the plant life throughout the United Federation of Planets. Kirk, Captain Picard and their respective crews get caught up in the investigation and save the day. (I know it's bad form to reveal the ending, but do you really think that any Star Trek story is going to end in failure?) This book isn't perfect. Besides the above transgression I mentioned, this one makes connections between old episodes of the series that are hard to swallow. It also is pretty predictable with some of the "surprises" it tries to pull. But the plot is well crafted and kept my interest to the end. If you're looking for some science fictional brain candy, check it out.

LibraryThing link

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 10, 2001

Lies Across America

by James W. Loewen

This one's essentially a sequel to Loewen's earlier work Lies My Teacher Told Me, and like all sequels it's somewhat inferior. However, Lies My Teacher Told Me was a great book so this one is worth checking out even if you have read the first. The theme of these two tomes is that when we Americans remember our history, we tend to be biased. We hype the things that make us feel good and ignore, if not lie about, our failures, sins and weaknesses. Loewen gives a number of examples of this and then tells the "true" story, warts and all. (I enclose true in quotes because although I believe there is such a thing as truth, I don't believe that it is something one can possess. Loewen is as capable of error and bias as the rest of us.) In Lies My Teacher Told Me he looks at American History text books to show what garbage we're trying to feed our high school students. In Lies Across America, he looks at the garbage some of our historic sites push to the general public. In all he reviews 95 sites from coast to coast. Some he dissects thouroughly, others he uses as an example of errors that are repeated in a number of monuments. All are written in a rather entertaining style, and all contain material that is thought provoking. (well, all but can figure out which one it is.) If you're like me, reading this book will make you never trust an expert again. (WARNING: This book is not suitable for members of the United Daughters of the Confedracy. Mr. Loewen does not appreciate your efforts.)

LibraryThing link

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 01, 2001

There Will Be Time

by Poul Anderson

At last, a time travel story that comes up for a practical use for time travel besides setting up a bureaucracy to protect "history as we know it." (Not that I don't enjoy tales like that...) Of course, you have to wait until the end of the book to find out what it is, but that's no problem. There Will Be Time is an excellent tale concerning a man who has the ability to project himself through time and how he manages to use this talent. Well, it's more than that. We see his moral development as he interacts with the people he meets in past, present and future. In one sense, history is immutable for him, so the author is free to explore how a time traveler would shape the future rather than getting fixated on the past. All in all, it's a great novel. Even if it wasn't in a collection along with another keeper, The Year of the Quiet Sun, I would put this one on my shelf.

LibraryThing link


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]