August 23, 2011

Why Science Fiction has Ruined Me

Recently, a friend posted a link to a chart. This chart outlined the apparent year that classic sci-fi took place, in comparison to what year it really is. For instance, Back to the Future took place in 2015. That's 4 years from now. Does anyone really think we will have hover-skateboards and flying cars and all that other crazy stuff in 4 years? No. Of course not.

Disneyland was build in 1955, and it had an area of the park devoted to the future. "Tomorrowland" was supposed to represent the way the world would be with the contribution of science, and over 50 years later, we still don't have all the doodads and gadgets imagined back then.

Is it because the technology hasn't developed? Sure. But the big question is WHY hasn't technology advanced as quickly as we'd hoped? Is it because we aren't smart enough? I don't think so.

I think technology hasn't developed as much as was dreamed in the past, because the writers and dreamers of the past never imagined how EXPENSIVE technological development would be.

Think about it. How many science fiction books have you read where money gets in the way? How much would an enterprise like Jurassic Park cost in todays world? Could we do it? Maybe. But it would probably take the entire GDP of a midsize country to get it done.

Why haven't we started colonizing the moon? Cost.

Why don't we have thriving underwater communities? Cost.

Why don't we have electric cars, smooth roads, and a way to travel cross-country in an hour or less? Cost.

Now, I'm not trying to make some economical-political statement. That's not how I roll, and I realize these issues are a lot more complicated than a simple dollar sign. What I am saying, is that being a lover of science fiction has made it impossible not to look at the world today and wish things could be a little different.

Because I know how innovative we can be. I know how creative our scientists and engineers truly are. And I know why most of them stick to doodling on napkins.

August 21, 2011

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Roc
Primary Language: English
Source: Purchased

The Blurb (

Beware Spoilers for the entire Dresden series!

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...

The last scene of Changes was Harry Dresden being shot, falling off a boat, and seeing a white light. When you're reading an ongoing series like this one, you expect a certain level of cliffhanger at the end of the book. You do NOT expect your much loved protagonist to die. So, I was convinced the entire scene was a red herring, and that the next book would open with Harry alive and well.

Boy was I wrong. Harry was very, very dead. And his spirit was sent back as a ghost. It was interesting seeing Harry Dresden, kick-ass wizard, running around with no muscle and no magic. We've always known he was a smart guy, but he's never been in a situation where he was forced to think through his options before running in, guns blazing.

Harry was forced to confront his relationships, and see how much his actions had effected those he loved most. Especially poor Molly. I think her coping with Harry's death was the most heart-wrenching in the book.

Honestly, I was more fascinated by the interpersonal relationships and personal revelations than I was in the mystery. So what if the Corpsetaker was trying to stage a comeback? Who cares about who or what the Fomor are? I know future installments will have a lot to say on the matter. But this book was about Harry. We learned more about his life before we met him in Storm Front.

Because memories turned out to be the source of his ghostly power, we readers had the opportunity to experience many important life experiences Harry has had but not explained. And this leads me to the biggest fear I have after finishing Ghost Story: Harry used his memories to power his spells and fight the big fight. There was no evidence of him regaining those memories in the end. So when Mab brought him back to his body in the end, how much of himself does he remember? I hope he still remembers everything. I really do. But I wonder...

August 19, 2011

Reading Round-up

I've done a lot of reading lately, and I haven't been keeping up with the whole "Review every book I read" thing. So, here is a quick round-up of everything I've read in the last couple of months that I haven't reviewed:

The Vampire Diaries By LJ Smith

I borrowed the first 5 installments of The Vampire Diaries from a friend sometime last year. There are a couple of people I know that love the series, in fact. So I borrowed what I could, thinking I would read them and love them as well. Unfortunately, that's not how things turned out. I read the first one, and wasn't impressed. I found the characters annoying and Elena completely unbelievable. But, my friends loved the books, so I kept reading. I read all 5 (I know there's 7 out now, but I only have 5) and really just wasn't all that impressed. I found the story to be one-dimensional and predictable. However, I firmly believe in reading what's popular, just to know what people are talking about, so I'm glad I read them. And, since I've had these books on my shelf for over a year, that's 5 more down on my Off the Shelf Challenge. Only 6 more to go!

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Considering HP7.2 came out this summer, I decided to reread the series prior to seeing the movie. I'm glad I did, considering I'd only read The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows once each. I love these stories. I love how the writing level matures as the characters do. I love how intricate the story is. I love how not everyone comes through in one piece, but we still get a happy ending. It's not perfect. People we love are dead, but life goes on and the survivors make the best out of what they have. There's a reason the Harry Potter franchise is one of the most successful in history, and it's not because it has magic wands. It's because the characters are so very, very real.

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

I freaking love Brent Weeks. I really do. I've met him, and he is friendly and funny and sarcastic (and he has cute freckles*). The best thing about Brent Weeks? He tells a great story. I read the Night Angel Trilogy a few years ago, and something made me pick up The Way of Shadows recently for a reread. I love how Weeks gives all of his characters so many flaws. They are by turns arrogant, ignorant, oblivious, vengeful, hateful, ambivalent and naive, and still manage to show love, honor, faith, and selflessness when the situation calls for it. There are very few stories out there whose main characters not only aren't perfect, but aren't completely good. They get dirty. They make mistakes. And friends and family get hurt because of it. I love reading a story that makes me want to strangle and hug the protagonist in the same chapter.

*I don't really have a crush on Brent Weeks. Not really. I just wanted to see if he's watching… ;-)