Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Man in the High Castle

by Philip K. Dick

I picked this up at an airport bookstore in a last minute scramble to fetch some reading material. It was one of those "classics" of its genre--in this case alternate history--that I've been meaning to read but never quite managed to pick up. It's set in 1962 America, a post war nation occupied by its Japanese and German conquerers. It probably has a lot of insights into one's personal and national identity. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get it. I was killing time on the flight home after a nice vacation, and was devouring the book like junk food. Oh, well. I suppose I should hang onto it just in case I want to try again.

You should check it out, too.
LibraryThing link

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Valentine Pontifex

by Robert Silverberg

In Lord Valentine's Castle, Valentine, the Coronal of Majipoor, faced a long, hard road to regain his usurped throne. In this sequel, Valentine now finds himself facing some unpleasant duties of his office. One is the threat of war with the native race of Shapeshifters. A Shapeshifter plot is causing havoc in the far reaches of Majipoor and threatening the well being of the realm. Must Valentine, a man of peace, shed blood to save his people? The other duty is that of tradition. It has always been that upon the death of the Pontifex, the Coronal of Majipoor would leave the Castle Mount and take his predecessor's place in the depths of Labyrinth. The Pontifex Tyeveras is ancient, kept alive by machines. With a word, Valentine can release Tyeveras and continue the cycle of things. But he is reluctant to so quickly abandon the world of light and take his role below. Like most sequels, Valentine Pontifex is not as good as the original, but it is a great read.

It's even worth checking out.
LibraryThing link

Labels: ,

Friday, August 07, 2009

Franklin Pierce

by Roy Franklin Nichols

Way back when, I read the book Star-Spangled Men, a book about the worst Presidents in American history. It was that book that inspired me to embark on my presidential biography reading list. Anyway, I forget if that book had pegged Franklin Pierce as the worst president ever, or if he was merely one of the contenders for the distinction. Either way, his reputation was somewhat lacking. Heck, even in this book, Mr. Nichols--someone who is sympathetic to the 14th president--has to admit that he made some significant mistakes. This biography takes the stand that Franklin Pierce was a principaled man who had the misfortune to make the wrong political decisions. He appealed to his countrymen's sense of fair play, only to learn that they, for the most part, weren't interested in playing fair.

As for the book itself, the 1930's style adds a slight challenge to reading it, but it does flow rather smoothly. It does seem to be written for the scholar, as Mr. Nichols habitually refers to people by their last names after their initial introduction. Or maybe he was just expecting the reader to pay close attention to what they were reading. If that was the case, I, like Franklin Pierce, fell a bit short.

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

Labels: ,

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

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]