Reviews

I can believe (Neil Gaiman – American Gods)

Dear Bloggers

The following is an extract from American Gods (Neil Gaiman).

It’s one of the best monologues I’ve read…

Neil Gaiman - American Gods

Neil Gaiman – American Gods

I can believe things that are true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen โ€“ I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in Drive-In Movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like Martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian Shaman. I believe that Mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in the box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in empty godless universe of casual chaos, background noise and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what is going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no-one but a moron would trust the legal system. I believe that life is a game, life is a cruel joke and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

Have you ever had a look at a retarded person? Life is slower for them, simple objects fascinate them. We may see a spinning top, glance at it once, and then carrying on with the rest of the day as per usual. Someone whoโ€™s IQ is below 80 may look at the spinning colors in it, the way it twirls, and the sharp edges catch the light. Youโ€™d stare at it for a few long minutes before, your mind could grasp it all. If this makes sense to you, then youโ€™ll probably come closer to understanding the mind of Charlie Gordon.

ย 

Heโ€™s a simple fellow who works in a bakery. He has willingness to impress those around him, often with a warm smile. He is clumsy, doesnโ€™t always understand humor, and is fascinated with the pictures in comic books.

ย 

He is sent to a research lab where Dr Strauss and Dr Nemur tell Charlie Gordon that they have a plan to increase Charlieโ€™s intelligence for good (and make him a normal person). They show him a small white rat called Algernon. Each day they make him run through a maze. They give Algernon a reward if he gets right, they continue to change the layout of the maze.ย  They done a little surgery on his brain so he continues to learn each and every layout.

ย 

The two doctors show Charlie their success with Algernon and convince him that he should try the surgery. He accepts. Everyday he is told to write progress reports. Little diary entries to explain what bothers him, what he is going through, and just about anything that comes to mind.

ย Image

Soon the doctors notice a steady improvement in Mr. Gordonโ€™s intelligence level, and soon his mind starts to break out of the fog of stupidity. His emotions also develop and he finds a better job (instead of fetching and carrying things at the bakery), and meets a woman who is obsessed with ballroom dancing and painting.

ย 

Itโ€™s not all smooth sailing for Charlie. The people who he once knew, start to resent him for his sharp mind. His life-long love interest (Alice), who used to teach him to read doesnโ€™t feel ready to a relationship with him. He researches and monitors Algernonโ€™s progress with the surgery, and realizes something is wrong. Could his increased intelligence only be temporary?

ย 

This book is narrated entirely in the first person which really helps you get into the layers of Gordonโ€™s psyche. I found it very simply written, and yet an intensely moving book. Although not all of us have had a low I.Q. we can all identify with the themes of loss, abuse, love and pathos.

ย 

This book I stumbled across by pure chance at a book sale. What I found interesting is it was classified as Science Fiction (SF). I assume something which is SF-based to have space ships, humans attacking aliens, and laser-powered guns. The publisher Victor Gollancz came out with a SF Masterworks series, and this book is one of them.

ย 

For those who are hesitant of reading SF, this is far more closely related to the real world, and the struggles we have inside ourselves. It did win the Hugo and Nebula awards, which are helluva prestigious if youโ€™re a SF writer. So go and read this book, I was pleasantly surprised and deeply moved.

ย 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
Reviews, Technology

The Father of Cyberpunk

I’m sure there are many authors to who I could give this honour, although there is one who does stand out in my mind. That man is William Gibson. I say this because I’m currently reading The Neuromancer, but also since the Matrix is really designed and thought up back in the 80’s. Most people believed in the Matrix after they saw Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss strutting around in leathers with attitude and really big guns. The whole idea of civilizations-fighting-machines-because-they-themselves-are-unconscious is not a new idea. If you look at Science Fiction, its a pretty common thread that most geeks were following, while everyone else went about being normal (i.e. holding down jobs, having kids, and feeling grown up in general).

gibson_william

William Gibson

What is cyberpunk?

It is an Armageddon genre. Most of the time is about the end of the world dawning on us. There are two common elements that separate it out. The first is Aritificial Intelligence. We’re a culture that is developing faster, than we can control and sometimes understand. You can go ahead and put technology in the same category. The machines have developed faster than humans, and this now brings me to the second theme in cyberpunk…Races and War.

What the End-of-the-World is really about is the termination of human life. There are many scenarios and theories as to how this will happen. Cyberpunk is about the human race fighting to survive and the conflict between us the enemy. Its a recipe for disaster as you can imagine… For a writer its a marvellous opportunity to create a whole new storyline and characters.

Back to the Book

Case has found a cure for the Matrix. It’s a very confusing read at first, because you’re thrown into an alien world with extreme technology and fast action. The more you read though, you start to identify with the characters. It’s a landmark in modern literature. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves science fiction and fantasy. Below I have included a more detailed review from geocities.com

neuromancer_book

Link: —>http://www.geocities.com/nelle_1_2000/neuromancer_review

The main character is Case, a washed-up cyber cowboy who’s expertise is jacking into computer systems and stealing whatever his employer wants. However, along the way, he gets too greedy and steals some for himself. When his employer finds out, his neural functioning is purposely damaged so that he can’t work at the same level again. The book opens when he is down and out, addicted to drugs, and scraping by with whatever job he can find. A strange character named Armitage offers him a job with the additional bribe of being repaired so that he can jack into systems again. However, it comes with a cost that literally forces Case to do what Armitage says, or die. He is teamed with a bodyguard-cum-partner in Molly, herself enhanced with computer electronics and weaponry. What follows is a wild ride through a future dominated by computers, biotechnology, and a dark, over-riding gloom. If you’ve ever seen the movie Blade Runner – that’s the feeling this story evokes.

This book can be enjoyed strictly as an edge of the seat thriller, but there is more to it if you care to look. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to an artificial intelligence that rivals the humans who created it. We also get a look at the damage done to humans by technology run amok. The issues raised are what we face today: the ethics of combining technology with human biology, our growing reliance on computers, the development of artificial intelligence, our growing reliance on technology to communicate, and the growing lack of human one on one connection.

PhilosopherPoet

Standard