Supposedly, Jules Verne is, in France, considered a “travel and adventure” writer, and is considered one of the great French authors, along with Zola, Hugo, and Dumas. Although I don’t consider him one of the greatest authors I’ve read, I have no doubt that Jules Verne is a great author, and well deserving of his “classic” status. The splendor of his writing may have been lost in translation.
His novels are amazingly inventive creations, a mix of science and fantasy. I am not generally interested in science fiction, but Jules Verne I can read and enjoy. Many name him the father of science fiction, and I definitely can see him as an influence on later writers. In general, I really like Jules Verne’s books because they feel like classics “light.” The stories are simply fun, and the prose is not challenging to read for the most part (although some of his book gets science heavy in parts). As for the science fiction aspects of some of his novels, they truly do make for a fun adventure!
A Journey to the Center of the Earth (originally published 1864 in French) was our book for this month’s book club, and we all enjoyed it, though few of us considered it a favorite classic. (more…)
In Kindred by Octavia Butler (1979), a modern black woman’s ancestors haunt her, calling her back to them for assistance. Dana comes to terms with her own family’s history and comes to understand firsthand just what her predecessors dealt with. Kindred is not a pleasant story. After all, it deals with slavery and the question of what makes freedom. Yet, Dana was an honorable woman, and I felt her struggle as she came to terms with her family’s past.
I have never watched a “train-wreck” reality show. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a reality show, unless you count the cooking shows like Iron Chef America. I have no desire to watch reality shows (beyond learning to cook, that is), and I don’t understand the appeal.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, depicts how in the futuristic world of Panem, which emerged from the ashes of a war-torn North America, the government produces a televised reality show in which 24 teenagers kill each other. The purpose of the Hunger Games is to illustrate how the government provides everything for the populace and that without the government’s wise support, anarchy and personal battle will reign over the land. People in the far-off districts depend on the Capitol for support. The Hunger Games illustrate what would happen if people rebelled against authority: chaos and murder.
Yet, The Hunger Games is not about savagery or murder. It is about defiance. Katniss volunteers herself, eager to save the life of her twelve-year-old sister Prim, whose name has been selected from the lottery. And from the beginning of the games until the end, Katniss hates the games, hates the Capitol’s philosophies, and hates the forced murdering game she is a part of. In that sense, she is a hero. (more…)
After reading both Crime and Punishment and The Three Musketeers this month, I really needed something quick and easy, engaging, and yet unique to catch my attention and give myself a break from the excellent but long masterworks my mind has been wrestling for the past three or four weeks.
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares was a perfect book for such a time. Although I read the novella quickly and enjoyed it simply as a fantasy story, it has depth that I suspect would benefit from more serious reading and study. (more…)
During the first two weeks of March, I read three lighter genre classic authors. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring took me to the fantastic Middle Earth, Georgette Heyer’s The Talisman Ring was an amusing foray into romantic historical fiction (albeit an unrealistic one), and Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was an incredibly convincing science fiction novel that visited not space, as modern science fiction does, but the unknown seas of the nineteenth century.