Posts tagged ‘Novel’

November 26, 2013

The Sirens of Titan

sirens of titan

The Sirens of Titan‘ is a 1959 book by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. His second novel, it involves issues of free will, omniscience, and the overall purpose of human history. Much of the story revolves around a Martian invasion of Earth. The protagonist is Malachi Constant, the richest man in 22nd-century America. He possesses extraordinary luck that he attributes to divine favor which he has used to build upon his father’s fortune. 

He becomes the centerpoint of a journey that takes him from Earth to Mars in preparation for an interplanetary war, to Mercury with another Martian survivor of that war, back to Earth to be pilloried as a sign of Man’s displeasure with his arrogance, and finally to Titan where he again meets the man ostensibly responsible for the turn of events that have befallen him, Winston Niles Rumfoord.

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August 2, 2013

Primary Colors

jack stanton

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics’ is a 1996 roman à clef, a work of fiction that purports to describe real life characters and events — namely, Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992. It has been compared to two other novels about American politics; Robert Penn Warren’s ‘All the King’s Men’ (1946) and ‘O: A Presidential Novel’ (2011). The book was originally published by an anonymous author, who was later found to be columnist Joe Klein. Klein completed a sequel of sorts, ‘The Running Mate’ in 2000, focusing on the ‘Primary Colors’ character of Charlie Martin.

An early reviewer opined that the author wished to remain unknown because ‘Anonymity makes truthfulness much easier.’ Later commentators called the publishing of the book under an anonymous identity an effective marketing strategy that produced more publicity for the book, and thus more sales, without calling into question the author’s actual inside knowledge.

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July 1, 2013

A Deepness in the Sky

vinge

A Deepness in the Sky‘ is a novel by mathematician and science fiction author Vernor Vinge. Published in 1999, the novel is a loose prequel (set twenty thousand years earlier) to his 1992 novel ‘A Fire Upon the Deep’ (set thousands of years into the future). The title is coined by one of the story’s main characters in a debate, in a reference to the hibernating habits of his species and to the vastness of space.

The plot begins with the discovery of an intelligent alien species on a planet orbiting an anomalous star, dubbed ‘On/Off’ because for 215 of every 250 years it is dormant, releasing almost no energy. During this period, the planet freezes and its fauna go into hibernation.

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March 29, 2013

Superfolks

Superfolks is a 1977 novel by Robert Mayer, which satirizes the superhero and comic book genres, and was aimed at a more adult audience than those genres typically attracted. Superfolks examines comic book conventions and clichés from a more serious, ‘literary’ perspective.

The novel was influential on many writers of superhero comic books in the 1980s and 1990s, notably Alan Moore and Kurt Busiek. Although the book’s pop culture references clearly date it to the 1970s, its influence on the deconstruction of the superhero genre is still felt through Moore’s ‘Watchmen,’ ‘Marvelman,’ and ‘Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?’

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March 23, 2013

The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar is American writer and poet Sylvia Plath’s only novel, which was originally published under the pseudonym ‘Victoria Lucas’ in 1963. The novel is semi-autobiographical with the names of places and people changed.

The book is often regarded as a roman à clef (real events disguised as fiction), with the protagonist’s descent into mental illness paralleling Plath’s own experiences with what may have been clinical depression. Plath committed suicide a month after its first UK publication. The novel was published under her name for the first time in 1967 and was not published in the United States until 1971, pursuant to the wishes of Plath’s mother and her husband Ted Hughes.

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January 9, 2013

Neuromancer

sprawl

Neuromancer‘ is a 1984 novel by William Gibson, a seminal work in the cyberpunk genre and winner of the science-fiction ‘triple crown’ — the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. It was Gibson’s first novel and the beginning of the ‘Sprawl’ trilogy (which takes place in a near-future world dominated by corporations and ubiquitous technology, after a limited World War III).

The novel tells the story of a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to work on a dangerous hack. ‘Neuromancer’ is considered the archetypal cyberpunk work. Gibson himself coined the term ‘cyberspace’ in his novelette ‘Burning Chrome,’ published in 1982 by ‘Omni’ magazine.

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July 23, 2012

Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice by John Van Hamersveld

Inherent Vice is a novel by Thomas Pynchon, originally published in 2009. The term ‘inherent vice’ as a legal phrase refers to a ‘hidden defect (or the very nature) of a good or property which of itself is the cause of (or contributes to) its deterioration, damage, or wastage. Such characteristics or defects make the item an unacceptable risk to a carrier or insurer. If the characteristic or defect is not visible, and if the carrier or the insurer has not been warned of it, neither of them may be liable for any claim arising solely out of the inherent vice.’ The phrase appears often in William Gaddis’ ‘The Recognitions,’ a novel that influenced American post-modern literature and Pynchon. Gaddis’ novel uses the term to refer to defects in works of art.

In a generally favorable review, Michiko Kakutani of ‘The New York Times’ called it ‘Pynchon Lite,’ describing it as ‘a simple shaggy-dog detective story that pits likable dopers against the Los Angeles Police Department and its ‘countersubversive’ agents, a novel in which paranoia is less a political or metaphysical state than a byproduct of smoking too much weed.’

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July 23, 2012

The Recognitions

william gaddis

The Recognitions,’ published in 1955, is American author William Gaddis’s first novel.

The novel was poorly received initially, but Gaddis’s reputation grew, and the novel received belated fame as a masterpiece of American literature.

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June 10, 2012

A Fire Upon the Deep

Vernor Vinge

A Fire Upon the Deep is a 1992 science fiction novel by Vernor Vinge. It is a space opera involving superhuman intelligences, aliens, faster-than-light warfare, love, betrayal, genocide, and a galactic Usenet (an early Internet discussion system).

The story is set in Vinge’s ‘Zones of Thought’ in which the results of technological singularities (the achievement of greater-than-human intelligence) are spread out in a predicable pattern: In the ‘Unthinking Depths’ near the core of the galaxy, no intelligence is possible; in the ‘Slow Zone,’ where Earth is, general relativity applies (i.e. faster-than-light travel is impossible); the ‘Beyond’ allows faster-than-light travel and antigravity, and in the ‘Transcend,’ mysterious god-like entities roam the cosmos. Thus, as you head out of the Milky Way, you see the same progression of advancing technologies in other galaxies.

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June 4, 2012

The Family Trade

celtic knot by thomas herron

The Family Trade is the first book of a British writer of science fiction and fantasy writer Charles Stross’ alternate history series ‘The Merchant Princes.’

The first novel introduces us to journalist Miriam Beckstein, who finds herself in a parallel world in which her extended family holds power.

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May 11, 2012

Jennifer Government

jennifer government

Jennifer Government is a 2003 novel written by Max Barry, set in a dystopian alternate reality in which most nations (now controlled by the United States) are dominated by for-profit corporate entities while the government’s political power is extremely limited. Some readers consider it similar in satiric intent to Orwell’s ‘1984,’ but of a world with too little political power as opposed to too much.

Consequently, some readers see the novel as a criticism of libertarianism. Many readers also see it as a criticism of globalization, although Barry claims he is not an anti-globalizationist.

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May 9, 2012

American Gods

Jinn by Michael Dialynas

American Gods is a 2001 novel by Neil Gaiman. The novel is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on a mysterious and taciturn protagonist, Shadow. Several of the themes touched upon in the book were previously glimpsed in Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ graphic novels. The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. Immigrants to the United States brought with them dwarves, elves, leprechauns, and other spirits and gods.

However, the power of these mythological beings has diminished as people’s beliefs wane. New gods have arisen, reflecting America’s obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among others. In addition to the numerous figures from real-world myths, a few characters from ‘The Sandman’ and its spinoffs make brief cameos in the book. Other mythological characters featured in the novel are not divine, but are legendary or folk heroes, such as Johnny Appleseed. Shadow himself is implied to be Baldr (the Norse god of sun and light, son of Odin)

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