Flash reviews — January ’10 (Happy New Year to all!)


Hello my fellow sf fans! Just in case anyone was wondering, I’m still alive and kicking. You may have noticed I haven’t posted anything in a couple of months. Actually, I haven’t been online much, and haven’t even been reading much lately. There are several reasons for this, but I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details of my life. All that matters is that I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things now. Never fear, I still have a couple of shelves of books awaiting my attentions, and I just came from the bookstore with more. I’ll get some full reviews going again soon. For now, let me just quickly dispose of a couple of items from a few months back:

Title: The Dark Light-Years
Author: Brian Aldiss
Year: 1964
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
This book starts with a premise that I generally admire — that communication with alien species will likely be far more difficult than anyone imagines. The mindset and cultural foundations of the Utod are so utterly alien that humanity can’t bridge the gap; after all, the Utod wallow in their own excrement and consider it one of the good things in life. However, Aldiss does very little to explore or develop the premise in any interesting way, and the story and characters fall completely flat.

Title: Planet of the Apes
Author: Pierre Boulle
Year: 1963
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
After seeing the movie so many times, I thought I’d check out the source and see how they compare. I have to say the book is better, though perhaps not by a wide margin. One of the central points — that humanity is not as distinct from the other animals as most would like to think — is made more clearly in the book (especially in the stock exchange scene). The movie focused more on the other main theme, that of another species taking over after humanity destroys itself. Both forms of this classic story have their strengths, and I’d recommend the book to anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure.

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4 responses to “Flash reviews — January ’10 (Happy New Year to all!)

  1. I was always tempted to pick up “Planet of the Apes” but never did. Your review has moved it up on my wish list.

  2. I suspect that Aldiss just fell in love with the idea of wallowing in crap, tried to use it as a metaphor for something, and then forgot what he was lampooning. It certainly isn’t evident in that book , easily the weakest from a very fertile period of Brian’s writing life.
    The Boulle book is very good, and the translation is even decent. I remember reading it in the original French in college and thinking how well-done the word choices were.
    Just found your blog via the search function…I’m a fellow sf nut. Will be back to read more:)

  3. You should read some Lem, L-K. He deals a lot with interspecies communication issues.

  4. Omph, yeah that came across a lot in His Master’s Voice. But I have yet to read Solaris, which I suppose would be one of the prime examples of that theme.

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