The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Readings for April 2014

Reading continues.

Micro by Michael Crichton

There was a time in life when I was devouring everything by Michael Crichton I could get my hands on. As time went by my tastes have changed. And with the passing of Crichton, there were not more opportunities to read his work anyway. Except that his estate had arranged for posthumous releases of works in progress. The first was Pirate Latitudes, which I found to be decidedly half-baked.

This new offering, Micro, is co-authored by Richard Preston, so it has a more finished feel to it. And it is a vintage Crichton story-line: corporate use of bleeding-edge technology leads to mayhem. I will warn the reader that the premise of this book is essentially "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" in an action/adventure format. I would recommend this for any die-hard Crichton fans out there.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

I really loved Ender's Game, so I've had its sequel Speaker for the Dead queued up for quite some time. I also studiously avoided seeing the film adaptation of the former. Orson Scott Card once again came through with a very thought-provoking tale, well-executed in the science fiction genre.

Card's fiction seems to always address religion, though in this novel it is a major theme. You have the Catholic colony on a lonely planet reacting to the intrusion of the Speaker, who is a sort of "priest" for a new "humanist religion." The Speaker is of course Ender, who through relativistic spaceflight is still running around thousands of years after his xenocide. Ender gets the opportunity for a chance at redemption, as it were, because for the first time since the buggers, humanity has discovered a new sentient species.

I have only read three Card novels, but they have all stuck with me. He is an excellent story teller, and he does not let his genre get in the way. Rather he uses science fiction to create the alternate realities in which tough questions can be addressed. In other words, he is very much like LeGuin, and I love him for it. Recommended.

Periodicals

  • Harper's April 2014
  • Tin House 58
  • Harper's May 2014

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