People have been telling me for years that I should read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I was always hesitant though, 1. because I am not a huge science fiction fan, and 2. because Orson Scott Card is a disgusting bigot. Which made me wonder, would knowing that I disagree with his beliefs cloud my judgement if I read his novel?
My initial thought was yes, of course I would be unable to enjoy literature (albeit supposedly good literature) because it was written by a person with such an opposing world view. After all, I enjoy literature more from authors I appreciate as human beings. Before meeting Scott Westerfeld I was a huge fan of his work. After meeting him and learning what a down to earth, nice person he is, I found myself loving his work even more. Surely reading a book from someone I loathe would make me dislike their book.
So I figured, why not give it a shot, why not read Ender’s Game and see what all the fuss is about? With all this milling about my head I decided to learn a little bit more about Card. I wish I hadn’t opened Pandora’s box, because it definitely swayed my opinion before I began reading. The fist thing I learned is that Card was raised as a radical Mormon and that he opposes gay marriage and believes in Intelligent Design and thinks Charles Darwin is a phony.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genre: young adult, fiction, war, dystopia, heartbreaking evil
Rating: 5 out of 5
Summary: Suzanne Collins is going to break your heart, sew it back together, then rip it out of your chest and stomp on it. That’s all you need to know.
The world is on fire right now. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya. WISCONSIN, for Potter’s sake. There are people all over the world protesting actions that they deem unjust. Watching people (for the most part) peacefully demand that they be heard, that they deserve something better than what has been given, has been amazing. Of course, there are the gut-wrenching scenes that come with the revolutions: Dictators firing on protesters; museums getting looted; women being assaulted in unstable times. Obviously, this is an extremely simplistic summary of our current situation. But my point is that revolution seems to be catching.
This led me to thinking about Mockingjay, the final book of The Hunger Games trilogy. It explores the themes of revolution and war in extremely human terms. However, this post isn’t going to be a very thorough review, more of a “random musing” on war and its place in fiction. SO – there are going to be massive SPOILERS in this post. Meaning I plan on speaking freely about what happens. But seriously, why haven’t you read these books yet? Go forth and get them, devour them, and come back to discuss!!
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Summary: In a world divided into countries of Clankers and Darwinists, Alek is the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. When his parents are assassinated, it sparks a powder keg (how many times did you hear that in high school?) and launches Europe into WWI. His most loyal followers sneak Alek away to protect him from those who hunt him.
Meanwhile, Deryn, whose father raised her for flight, disguises herself as a boy called Dylan Sharp and starts a promising military career aboard the biggest airbeast in the British fleet – the Leviathan. When the airbeast is sent on a special mission to the Ottoman Empire, she is thrust into the heart of the war….and of course her destiny and Alek’s will become intertwined along the way.
So….how do I explain this? Well, before I read this book I can’t say I really knew what “steampunk” meant. I believed it to involve big gears and machinery and such and I knew you could dress steampunk and knew what that looked like… But now I have been on wikipedia to actually find out and of course, wikipedia only tells me true facts – “Steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain —that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy.”
This book is STEAMPUNK and it is really neat.
I’ll start with the Clankers – these are the countries that I would probably call the “axis powers” although maybe you’re only supposed to use that if you’re talking about WWII. Regardless – the main players that concern us in the book would be Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire. They have incredible war machines that certainly have not and do not exist. What we become most familiar with in the story are “walkers.” These are basically like enormous tanks with engine rooms and large guns, but instead of treads they have legs. Hence the name. Enormous metal contraptions that can walk upright on two legs or have as many as eight. Later on in Behemoth we even see walkers made to the shape of animals – enormous elephants (or elephantines here) and scorpions for example. Everything is metal and steam and hard edges.