please comment!

As a solitary housecat, I am new to reading and trying to understand human literature. These are my immediate thoughts as I read the books on my humans' shelves. I hope you will share your own thoughts on reading, literature, science fiction, art, etc.

Please do be respectful of others.

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Hugo Awards

I'm excited to say that nominations for the 2013 Hugo Awards have been posted, and the packet has been realeased by the World Science Fiction Convention

I have a lot of reading to do! I will do my best to post brief comments here as I am able. The humans fail to recognize my need for computer time, but I will try to trick them into leaving a machine on for me while they are at work. Keep your human fingers crossed for me. 

I hope to see you all at LoneStarCon3. I'm registered - are you?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A cat's review of From the Earth to the Moon

Jules Verne is a pioneer of the sci-fi genre, and for that reason alone, any of his books are worth the read. Furthermore, the novel, and writing style in general, have changed significantly in the ~150 years since this book's publication, and therefore he gets a bit of leniency.

However, as a modern reader, I have to acknowledge that the writing is classic science fiction tedium. The style is dry. It's a bit repetitive.

And yet, one cares! I had to finish the book, because I had to know what fate would bring the characters, and I wasn't disappointed. Still, the tension I felt was very much as an outsider. I was not immersed in this book so much as I was fascinated by it.

While I said the writing style was a bit dry, it also exhibited some dry humor. Verne subtly expresses his impression of Americans. Apparently, the rest of the world has always been a bit befuddled by the American Love of Guns.

In From the Earth to the Moon, Verne describes the members of a gun club being depressed after a global peace accord. Their president comes up with a brilliant challenge for the club - let's see if we can shoot a projectile to the moon!

The club takes up the task with vim. They consult with astronomers on the best time to reach the moon. They fund the construction of a new telescope that will allow them to watch their projectile arrive at the moon. They calculate the velocity needed to reach the moon, and all the requirements to reach the desired velocity and trajectory. Then, they set about building a giant columbiad.

Their self-assuredness and determination are admirable, and yet I worried. They seemed foolhardy, too casual. In this way, Verne's writing was a distinct success. It caused me anxiety. While they are hypothesizing that there may be life on the far side of the moon, or that there may be an atmosphere hiding on the distant face, I was yelling at the characters "no, no, no, you guys! Don't do it - there is no air up there!"

Originally they were simply going to shoot a round shot at the moon, but eventually the Gun Club was persuaded to send people in a casing we would call "bullet-shaped". This ratcheted up my anxiety. Now, as a 21st century reader, I knew they were on a crash course with tragedy. Surely, Verne knew this. Surely, I wasn't going to be disappointed by an author failing to carry through and coming up with some mamby-pamby happy ending...

Still, when I could see there were only short paragraphs left, I was stressed. How is Verne going to wrap this up? He didn't put a radio in the casing (because they didn't exist at that time), so how would we know the travelers' fate? The point of view does not follow the travelers.

So, I knew we were heading for tragedy, but still, the ending surprised me. It’s a short book that I definitely recommend.

I understand that there is a sequel, and **spoiler alert** I have heard that in it, reentry is somehow engineered. I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed. I would have preferred to simply have it end in a tragedy - one which forces me to continue devising plans to get out of.

Title: De la terre à la lune, Translated to English as From the Earth to the Moon
Author: Jules Verne
Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
Edition: 3rd Printing, September 1966
First Publication: 1865