Books Read and To Read before 'Ascension'...
30 7.9 0244. Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
Written by Arthur C. Clarke
A classic sci-fi story from the mind of "2001" writer Clarke. Released during the early 50s' at the height of the international race between the US and Soviet space programs, many thinkers and writers around the world during this era were seriously pondering the implications of what this might mean should the programs make good on their promise of sending mankind to the moon before the century is up. Clarke himself states in the opening preface that his belief (as well as everyone else's belief) at the time was that if you were to ask him if you ever thought man would first land on the moon as early as 1969, he'd say you must be crazy! -The result being that Clarke has written a highly speculative hypotheses of what may be likely to happen should mankind ever be faced with a scenario of contact by higher intelligences, presented on such a grand scale and dry and stiff and such a reverse way than the previous "War of the Worlds" method. -I think Clarke's parabol may be unique and refreshing, if not a little naive, but read for yourself and you'll find that the man is a visionary ahead of his time and paints a eerily convincing outline of the much rumored public speculations regarding 2012 - Ascension Date! If only he knew-
Set at an 'unspecified' date in the early new millennium, this story begins much the same as in the fashion of "Independence Day" mixed with "the Day the Earth Stood Still", and I also believe may be the inspiration for the popular anime series "Crest of the Stars". With no central character, and multiple locations and focus, the story jumps around from location to location over a period of a hundred years give or take. At the height of the Cold War between the American and Soviet factions, it's proposed that the ETs arrival is in response to the serious implications of nuclear threat. One day their large ships seem to appear over metropolitan cities all over the globe, just at a time man is about ready to set out what it achieved to do in landing on the Moon, something even more awe-inspiring occurs. They call them the Overlords. They're purpose and mission is kept rather tight lipped and mysterious, along with the concealment of their true appearance. It's been highly speculated that this book has been the true inspiration and blueprint for the cult phenomenon mini-series and tv remake series "V". It really is almost the exact same thing except that show took more subversive liberties where as this story is more in the tradition of books by Erich von Daniken concerning a more diplomatic and 'romantic' approach to such an epic concept, were it to really happen.
At first, little contact is made between Earth and the Overlords, like the opening moments of "District 9". Broadcasts are made on behalf of the Overlords representative Karellen, who we get the persistent notion that he's not the highest in rank of their species, but no information is given as to who might be the Overlords' superiors? -Finally, a representative of Earth is brought in, in the form of a man named Stormgren, who ventures to and from from the ships to pass messages and diplomatic relations between Earth and the Overlords. Stormgren and Karellen's relationship is truly the most endearing one of the story as the two individuals exchange numerous tongue and cheek witty banter amongst each other whenever they get together and each man is trying to probe the other for further information. Both are aware they're doing is and know each other knows, and are quite relaxed about it. Karellen knows it's only natural Earthlings be 'curious' about their new found masters. Storgren has quite a great deal of respect for his Supervisor friend - but that won't last long as time passes and Stormgren is forced into retirement from his job. -Others around the globe aren't so trusting and friendly of the Overlords' presence as the Overlords make numerous controversial dictations and laws paranoia becomes fevered as various domestic terror groups arise. In one instance Stormgren is even taken hostage by one known as the Freedom League, and despite his opposition to the leaders ideals, if he too is pushed to pursue his own curiosity at the layer of deliberate secrecy and deception at the hands of the Overlords, even if he has to take matters into his own hands. Just what are they hiding?
The story jumps ahead to the triangle between English aristocrat George Greggson and his African wife Jean and conflicted brother-in-law Jan. It has now been quite a long time since the Overlords' arrival. They have shared inspired knowledge and technology with mankind while continuing to uphold and level of superiority amongst the humans. Human beings now live a life of relaxed comfort in the indulgence of such and abundance of technology. Like the humans from "Wall-E". But the overall plot begins to pick up at the events of Rupert Boyce's dinner party in which the social elite attend which George and his wife and brother-in-law are all present. One of the Overlords, Rashaverak, also shockingly happens to be attending the festivities in and unrelated matter to a certain party game that happens to take place at the end. Although the word is never spoke, it resembles the activity of using a Ouija Board, in which the party guests attempt to access intelligences from hidden realms and ask them foolish questions. It's all quite cut and dry until someone asks the rather serious question of where the Overlords' homeworld is. What they get in response are coordinates and this brings to the surface the attention of the Overlords.
From that point on the Greggson family is under heavy secret surveillance and the birth of their son Jeffrey plays an integral part to the true purpose of the Overlords' mission. Little by little, privileged details of information are revealed as we learn the Overlords true appearance to be quite large in stature and resemble the appearance of traditional accounts of mankind's impression of the Devil. The Overlords don't seem as concerned with the fact that humanity has this information so much as where did it come from in the first place? -And just so you know, the spoilers, I wouldn't be mentioning all this if I didn't think it was relevant to a much LARGER picture in the end. --Clarke does an immaculate job of describing the spot on science of psychic phenomena as well as the speculated theories about where mankind may be heading in the coming Golden Age at the end of the Mayan Calendar. And this was at a time before it was being more publicly discussed in the books by such Ancient Astronauts authors as Graham Hancock, David Wilcock and David Icke. It begs the question then where is Clarke getting his information?
The true story behind this book is that Stanley Kubrick originally wanted to adapt this story to the Big Screen and then considered Clarke's book "the Sentinel" before finally settling on a join 'original' production between Kubrick and Clarke on "2001: A Space Odyssey". -While although I don't quite agree with Clarke's naive romanticized approach to a proposed ET/human encounter in the future, I do get the point Clarke was trying to drive home. There's a cause and effect for everything, and the overall ending is quite poignant and harrowing, nature can be quite cruel but progress can't be prevented, and shouldn't be regretted. The presentation of Clarke's overall Universal Mind message is true awe-inspiring. But before I give this book too high a praise I should warn other readers out there who are like me, this book is quite dated, has certain questionable aspects to it's logic and I found the overall pace to be rather dry and stiff. There was a lot of emphasis on social etiquette and not enough scientific intrigue as say a minimalist story like "2001". Modern readers may have a hard time getting into the rhythm. But I promise you the effort will be worth it, as the ending may very well cause you to contemplate your own role in the Universe, and what your purpose may be?...
89 8 0239. Dune - Frank Herbert
Am in the middle of reading...
Am up to Chapter 2!
17 8.4 0237. The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton
108 7.9 0236. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
Written by Arthur C. Clarke
It is here that Clarke shows he is the premier intellectual mind of the science fiction genre. What would go on to become the greatest movie of all time, no doubt would turn out to be the most mind-expanding novel you will ever read. Clarke sure doesn't disappoint. Although I can tell where the movie and novel separate from one another, it's really just minor differences. Things that were in the movie that weren't in the book, things that were in the book that weren't in the movie. But the end result is one of the most creative, thought-provoking, and genre-bending space epics ever put to paper, that ends where it begins and begins where it ends. -Readers should note that it's inevitable that the book should somewhat differ between the movie cause as Kubrick and Clarke had been looking for a project to do together for some time now, changing projects a couple times from two of Clarke's earlier works before finally settling on something 'completely original'! Kubrick brought Clarke on board for a project that he described as wanting to be the first good science fiction movie, the novel and movie were virtually written and shot at the same time, with Clark trying to keep up to Kubrick and vice-versa. The overall result, for those of whom (and I know you're out there, I used to be one of you-) who may have found themselves 'lost' by Kubrick's film, it does fill in some of the gaps concerning the information and meaning behind some of the movie's most INFAMOUS scenes. It was strange for me to see such iconic scenes being translated into written word.
The beginning starts with a sound argument for the Ancient Astronauts Theory, concerning a Pleistocene primitive ape-man in Northern Africa named Moon-Watcher. That's interesting, the movie never named the main character. As the ape-men live stagnant primitive lives, times are harsh, but the primitives thinking nothing of hardship, they have no prior understanding of it. Their lack of aggressiveness makes their survival instincts nearly non-existent which makes them easy prey for predators such as a leopard which is constantly hunting their clansmen. They have no sense of past or present so they feel no need to start a war with neighboring species such as the pigs and lizards and other edible creatures they are surrounded by. This is also evident in a strange scene in which Moon-Watcher's father is killed and he doesn't register any sort of emotion cause he does not recognize this term 'father' we're all familiar with? The clan is even spineless to attempt to defend their watering hole from more aggressive, stronger rival clans, they feel no need to fight cause they already expect the outcome. --Things change the moment a strange black monolith, measuring 1x4x9 in dimensions, seems to appear outside their cave out of nowhere one morning. Even though possible credit could be linked to mysterious noises Moon-Watcher heard in the middle of the night before that morning? Where did it come from? Why is it here? Who built it? -None of these questions register on the minds of these simple creatures as they seem rather 'unconcerned' with it's presence as long if it doesn't act as any added source of food supply.
But soon enough everything starts to change as the monolith begins to pulsate a 'coordinated' series of high-frequency vibrations, causing the consciousness of the ape-men and women to alter, and they dance rhythmically to it. The monolith appears to be manipulated by Higher intelligences and seems to select out certain individuals and put them through a series of 'tests'. Certain 'gifts' are given to the dawn of mankind and the Fall from Eden scenario is played out beautifully in this anti-religion anti-Darwinian interpretation. Man learns to kill to get what they want, they learn to keep written record. And from there 3 million years worth of human history play out all the while the strange black monolith having vanished mysterious nearly as fast as when it arrived. --Flash forward to the modern space program in 2001, man has now established colonies on the surface of the Moon and more advanced forms of space travel have been realized and met. Dr. Heywood Floyd is brought in as a specialist to consult on a highly classified sensitive matter concerning a recent discovery on the Moon. When Heywood finally arrives there he is shocked to discover what the team refer to as TMA-1 (Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-One) as the very same black slender, smoothy polished monolith that we first saw in the first part of the book. Here it is buried under layers of rock and sand on the surface of the Moon. Before the team has a chance to truly investigate it, the Sun rises on the horizon of the Moon and TMA-1 begins pulsating a large disruptive vibratory beam out into space.
Flash forward to two years later. A highly prepped space flight on route to the outer orbit of Saturn, has astronauts on board the space shuttle Discovery, consisting of David Bowman, Frank Poole and several other trained astronauts in cryostasis. Together they are kept company with the ship's seemingly friendly but potentially threatening super-computer, the Hal-9000. Hal represents the peak of man's ultimate obsession with advanced technology and artificial intelligence, as well as our ever increasing over-dependence of it. To make something artificial more human, is to run the risk of giving that creation human emotions. But there are no human emotions more destructive that 'lies'. In the movie this was supposed to be Kubrick's artistic expression of the argument that it is not so much the weapon (the black monolith/Hal-9000) that we as humans should be so frightened of but more likely the corrupt minds of those who might use those weapons for harm? To give man ultimate freedom of past and future is to give man ultimate freedom to act as his own downfall (threat of nuclear capabilities/extreme paranoia). -It is at this point after Hal malfunctions and Bowman is forced to fight for his life that Bowman learns of the ship's true purpose and eventually ends with his inevitable arrival in orbit as a satellite around the Moon of Saturn, Where much to Bowman's shock he discovers a much larger TMA-2 black monolith, just floating there in space, where he eventually investigated as goes through a psychedelic trip into a Higher dimension by entering hyperspace through a star-gate. Where Clarke goes to elaborate and intricate details to describe everything Bowman experiences and is thinking as he witnesses sights no man could ever even dream were possible or even begin to think were real. Eventually arriving at being born into a new advanced form of consciousness at the hands of whatever intelligent beings were guiding him, and being reborn "a star-child". Where Bowman subsequently is his birth, old age, and death, all in one instance. Truly a remarkable piece of work!
Just about everything you could wish to understand about human origins and Higher dimensional frequencies and the existence of no time, is all in Clarke's masterpiece vision. Truly a man ahead of his time. I will say I have a few minor grievances about the book that are almost too minuet to make any difference. Unlike the movie I felt Hal in this book had somewhat more human characteristics than the film. The "open the pod bay doors" scene is gone. And there isn't as much of a sense of loss in this book as there was in the movie as to the disappearance of the monolith. But those are just small potatoes. Fans of the movie will must undoubtedly note (which the author himself explains the reason for) that in the book the destination is the outer orbit of Saturn where as in the movie Kubrick was forced to relocate to Jupiter. Too bad, anyone who reads David Icke's book will be aware of the esoteric connection concerning the planet Saturn. I found myself intrigued by the epiphany Bowman makes when he realizes Saturn's rings are speculated to be as old as 3 million years (around the same time the monolith appeared on Earth???)...
1 9 0235. Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of ... - Erich von Daniken
Written by Erich von Daniken
The book that 'started it all...although the Ancient Astronauts Theory had been around the block for quite a while by now author/scholar Erich von Daniken was really the one that brought the subject to the public's awareness. Here we have von Daniken doing months if not years worth of research and private visitations to some of the great primitive wonders of the ancient world, looking at it through wide open, fresh new eyes and intellect? -Now before I get started I must stress, that while though I am quite interested in this particular subject, absorbing all the knowledge I can on it, this particular book is not exactly one of my favorites. That can hardly be the author's fault though since I wasn't even 'alive' when this book first got published and have read all the material on the Ancient Aliens subject out of continuitive order. What I mean by that is that for me personally, this book seems somewhat...obsolete? -However "Fingerprints of the Gods" would never have been 'possible if it were not for von Daniken's groundbreaking 'blueprint'.
It's been reported that much like "Pulp Fiction" in the 90s', as soon as "Chariots of the Gods?" caught fire, the literary world was BOMBARDED by von Daniken clones and wannabes, trying to cash in on the craze. Most devoted fans feel except for certain authors those releases lacked the particular intellect and passion that von Daniken carries with his particular research? --Although I can sort of agree with some of von Daniken's critics' reviews, from what I hear (you should note that the author himself admits to some of own errors and faux pas in the opening introduction of the RE-release when it comes to the 'type' of critique I'm alluding to?) It does constitute for a lot of "let's take his word for it" postulating. von Daniken throws around a lot of facts and scientific jargon (like I've seen so many other Ancient Aliens writers do) where as Hancock's books always seem to take the reader on an 'adventure'. However, upon completing this classic epic I can certainly see what raised the public's eyebrow in the first place?
Evidence be damned, von Daniken does present in intelligent and well-indisputable manner convincing hypotheses for the origins of mankind and poke intentional curiosity at the Forbidden Truth behind ancient religious mythology. Although not quite as thick as some of the other books I've read y'all will be surprised just what's IN the book in it's entirety? -von Daniken makes a pretty good case of it though as he looks at the Ancient Alien question from more of a romanticized perspective involving curiosity and awe, with the intent of trying to alter the public's current perceptive of the outlook of UFOs and alien intelligence. And from what I'm told, it was successful, "Chariots of the Gods?" sold out on bookshelves everywhere, the bombardment of denouncement from critics all around the world at the time only made it more popular, "the oldest trick in the book?"
Covering a wide range of subjects von Daniken takes us from the mysterious Nazca Lines of the Peruvian desert to the subject of telepathy and quantum physics. The one that really surprised me was the inclusion of the case of Edgar Cayce, the man who supposedly received startling reality altering information from Higher Intelligences while in a coma? It's a great book, a lil' dated now since it was von Daniken's first on the subject, but for anyone looking to get into the study of Ancient Aliens, I recommend this as a good start...
70 8.2 0233. Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Am in the middle of reading...
498 8.3 0232. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time! So reads the very first words into this story that EXPLODES into our subconscious upon first reading them. Considered one of the all time great, mainly because it's so masterly written time traveling if not science fiction stories EVER released into circulation, it's quite plain to see how this book came to become a beloved favorite of readers for generations. I just 'knew' right away from reading those words (given the circumstances of my own dilemma in life-) that I was immediately gonna resonate with this story's narrative. And believe me, did this book not disappoint!
Now don't get me wrong, there are some critical issues I have to point out which I'll get to in a moment. First, let's just talking about the groundbreakingness of this project, this was 'truly' refreshing for the time and unlike anything anybody had ever written?! -One downer that I had about the opening chapter is that it was quite 'slow' and to some extent confusing to read? But wait, does that actually help beat home the story's symbolism? There's almost a certain 'breaking the fourth wall' aspect to the direction in which the author inserts himself into the 'seemingly' fictional story by claiming in the end "That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.", further blurring the lines between historical fact and fiction. Was there a Billy Pilgrim? Did he really travel through time? How does the author know all this? Is it in actuality perhaps that Kurt Vonnegurt is Billy Pilgrim? -All this along side the opening chapter's strange poetic printing (almost seeing as if of the hands of a different author?) as if representing the 'truth' is more 'illogical' than fantasy?
The central story revolves around Billy Pilgrim. The protagonist who's personal story is told 'unconventionally' (GROUNDBREAKING for the time-) in direct defiance to the traditional narrative of 'beginning to end', and instead - viewing things all at once and out of whack. Three separate periods of impressionable Billy's life are shown happening in contrast to each other. One, when Billy is young as a low-rank officer of the American military during WWII, captured as a POWs along side his platoon mates; two, when Billy is married and a father in the 1960s' dealing with a stale marriage and spirited children, whom can't relate to their father's past experiences; and three, in a public zoo on the surface of another planet, whose inhabitants abduct him and indoctrinate him in Higher learning, study him as the prime example of his species, and teach him how to over come the constraining prison of linear time space. It's debatable amongst die hard fans, whether or not the aliens - from the planet Tralfamadore - the Tralfamadorians, whom exist in the 4th dimension, and thus see all time happening at once the way one would look at a row of mountain tops, one top represents one point in your life, the other another, and so on ect., had anything to do with Billy's time traveling abilities or not. Billy claims they were there before he went to Tralfamadore? He has come 'unstuck' in time! --As a result Billy's personal experiences are ENTIRELY out of whack, from what I can gather, he is 'given' the information to fulfill the moment when he comes to it, he never for once, is at a loss for what to 'do' in a moment. And this has gotta seem quick bizarre and difficult to navigate for one who has yet to experience such a thing. We get peculiar instances like Billy coping with the loss of his wife after recovering in the hospital from the surviving of a plane crash, before the book even introduces us to Billy's wife. Leaving us to be just as 'lost' as the character for a point of reference in which to feel any sense of grief?
Written and published during a time of great social strife and confusion I'm sure added as a great source of inspiration for bringing this classic story to light. This book was released during the Summer of Love at the end of the revolutionary 60s', a decade that blossomed an entire encyclopedia of radical change in thought and perception, changing the way we live our lives, proceed into the future, getting out of our limited fixed parameters of rigid linear reality. Very symbolic. -The author himself, as an unhelpable added irony his own ethnicity of being born half-German half-American, writing a story about captured Americans in WWII, taken from his own personal experiences I'm sure, and then bring back from it all an anti-war message saying there's nothing really of any value to learn from war?
The book works as sort of an allegory toward the difficulty in learning to 'move on' after a war filled with such atrocities that sickens to know mankind is capable of such things, while all the while dealing with a radicalized youth generation that patronizes the necessary steps such men took in bringing about an end to it, only for a NEW one to start up in the form of "Vietnam". --I must say, I was a lil' 'displeased' with the book's overall stance on the discussion of 'fixed' time structure. If you take the 'multi-verse' theory in stride, there's ALWAYS a way out?! --But I enjoyed the story none the less. Vonnegut has spent his hard time and effort in calibrating a complex and unorthodox story that begins where it ends, where events are told the outcomes far in advance, where characters grieve over loved ones they've never met yet, so it goes. And at the core of it all it's a story about grief, outrage, confusion, clarity, fate, escape, love, death, birth, life, unity, loneliness, acceptance, and forgiveness, among other things.
Having seen the film and read the book out of respective order, I can certainly see some of the differences between the two that and NOW understand some of the personal touches made by the director/writer team and why they were put in. In the film Kilgore Trout never makes his appearance, and the Tralfadorians and their space ship are never actually seen. The subject matter in the book is quite 'mature' considering the times in which it was released, graphic depictions of sex and violence, gore and bodily functions, foul language unaccustomed to the literary world at the time. And the quasi father/son relationship between Billy Pilgrim and old Edgar Derby is significantly muted in the book. Reducing him down to a poor man who meets his end by way of a firing squat on the charge of stealing a tea pot from the chard remains of a burned down city.
So it goes...
192 7.6 0230. Watership Down - Richard Adams_VI
Written by Richard Adams
One of the all-time 'classics', I first became acquainted with this franchise by watching the 1978 movie. And now all these years later I finally have a chance to read the infamous book which would later go on to work as source material for the conception of TV's "Lost". What an immaculately written masterpiece by Adams, that transverses it's subject matter and speaks volumes towards the importance of community, co-creation, psychic phenomena, the dangers of 'hive-mind' mentality, and the harsh coexistence between modern necessities and nature and how one is just as vital to the other as vice versa. -Adams originally conceived the idea as a story or series of stories he used to tell his daughters on car rides, but was later coerced by the two little negotiators to put his ideas down on paper. The concept was passed around and rejected 13 times from publishers before Rex Collings or Penguin Books finally accepted it. Taking an awful risk as he expressed to his associate "I've just taken on a novel about rabbits, one of them with extra-sensory perception. Do you think I'm mad?"
The story revolves around a group of young rabbits along the English country side - one of which an unconventional co-main protagonist in every way, is named Fiver, and has the gift of ESP, which he uses one day to foretell a coming danger to the current residence of him and his big brother Hazel, of impending doom to Sandleford warren. Adams derives most of his understanding of rabbit ethology from his inspiration "the Private Life of the Rabbit" by British naturalist Ronald Lockley, of which numerous passages are made reference to throughout the book to set the tone of the chapters. So Adams is sure to get every minute detail of rabbit behavior to be authentic for the sake of the reader being able to lose themselves into the sub-culture of another species. Taking certain liberties of course by opting to create an entirely originally conceived set of languages for not only the rabbits by numerous other animal species as well. They even have their own mythology in the form of a God like character known as Frith - "for Frith's sake!" As well as a recurring character in storytelling sequences known as El-ahrairah, who is a cunning trickster which Adams has stated in interviews that he really resembles more a 'Robin Hood' archetype than anything Biblical - but if you ask me, I feel I detect a little bit of 'Moses' in there concerning the love and sacrifice of his people. --When Fiver and Hazel opt to bring the details of Fiver's vision before the Chief Rabbit of Owsla (their form of a sort of military/government council) they are rather 'predictably' brushed off. Fortunately though, for the sake of progression of the plot, not all rabbits are convinced Fiver's 'gift' should be dismissed. A rugged member of the Owsla named Bigwig opts to believe Fiver and together him and Hazel in secret coerce other rabbits of the same feeling to make a sudden departure. With nothing but Fiver's 'gut-instinct' to tell them where to go they flee Sandleford warren in the dead of night when their plans are discovered and for seemingly the first time in rabbit history a group of inspired rabbits are forced to stray 'unnaturally' far from home, equipped with nothing but their wits and Fiver's 'gift' to navigate their direction and protect themselves against rivaling threats such as domestic canines, foxes (homba), cats (pfeffa), birds of prey, and of course 'man'. Along the way their faith and determination is put to the ultimate test having to overcome such distractions and setbacks such as harsh weather patterns, encountering a warren of cultists, and battling one under a fascist dictatorial regime in General Woundwart's 'Efrafra'.
Now considered classic literature, this book doesn't disappoint to live up to it's controversial reputation of graphic nature involving animals being shot, eaten, scratched, mauled, starved, poisoned, and asphyxiated. Not to mention it's disturbing mythology full with a rabbit interpretation of Greek mythology Underworld and a Satan like character simply known as the Black Rabbit of Inlé. What I found the most eye-opening was how much for me - the book seemed to correlate with the much-popular today Ancient Astronaut Theory, and the rabbits' creation story that seems to closely resemble the material one will find in Hwee-Yong Jang's "the Gaia Project" as well as many other modern reads. Adams stated on the book that he deliberately attempted to use the rabbits' stories to lay claim such as Graham Hancock writes about, that perhaps all mythological stories of ancient cultures, all derive from a common source? Right there as plain as day, we have a story that reads that in the beginning, there was no violence, there was even no real separation from species to the other. All species on the Earth lived in direct harmony with one another, until Frith - impatient with El-ahrairah's behavior - opts to change the ecosystem of all living things "...He gave out that he would hold a great meeting and that at that meeting he would give a present to every animal and bird, to make each one different from the rest. And all the creatures set out to go to the meeting-place. But they all arrived at different times, because Frith made sure that it would happen so. And when the blackbird came, he gave him his beautiful song, and when the cow came, he gave her sharp horns and the strength to be afraid of no other creature. And so in their turn came the fox and the stoat and the weasel. And to each of them Frith gave the cunning and the fierceness and the desire to hunt and slay and eat the children of El-ahrairah. And so they went away from Frith full of nothing but hunger to kill the rabbits... ..."No, I cannot," said El-ahrairah, "I am busy. The fox and the weasel are coming. If you want to bless me you can bless my bottom, for it is sticking out of the hole."... ..."Very, I will bless your bottom as it sticks out of the hole. Bottom, be strength and warning and speed for ever and save the life of your master. Be it so!" And as he spoke, El-ahrairah's tail grew shining white and flashed like a star: and his back legs grew long and powerful and he thumped the hillside until the very beetles feel off the grass-stems. He came out of the hill and tore across the hill faster than any creature in the world..."
This is a work of pure-genius on the part of author Adams and I would consider it 'essential reading' for everyone like myself out there. Despite some confusion over learning to understand the dialogue and language, this is actually a very easy book to follow and I guarantee most everyone will breeze through it no problem. It's very well scouted out in terms of time discrepancies amongst the correlating events of the story and never slips up once, and every chapter seems to add to the underlining goal of the story and keeps on the rising action. I found it to be a masterpiece...
4 8 0229. The 12th Planet (Book I of The Earth Chronic... - Zecharia Sitchin
Am in the middle of reading...
Am up to Chapter 3!
37 7.6 0228. The Shining - Stephen King
Am in the middle of reading...
Am up to Chapter 12!
68 8.3 0226. The Neverending Story - Michael Ende
Written by Michael Ende
Having grown up with the franchise in visual format such as two or three movies and a tv series, I must admit that until now I had yet to visit the original source by which the phenomenon sprang forth from in 1979. And I got to say I was ultimately curious, having there been a "NeverEnding Story" sequel, when there was indeed only one book, and every adaptation I have seen of the book, seems to be somewhat different in form of basic plot - the first movie was the only version that seemed to involve the Nothing in it. -What I found was not only the greatest 'breaking the fourth wall' children's' story ever written but ended up affecting me so profoundly my jaw nearly hit the floor in how much I found my own personal life situation entangled into the subject of the book. It's nothing short of shocking! Having been deduced to being classified an avant-garde children's fantasy tale, having never read the book myself I found myself perplexed as to why the 1984 movie treatment of the book - which sue me, I liked! - has been so heavily dismissed by most movie fans to the point of being nearly buried if not for 80s' nostalgics' fond memories. Now that I've read the original - I see the reason why. -I'll leave my points of interest in the astronomical differences between the book and film treatment to those who wanna check out my movie review here. What I will say is that what I found is truly to be one of, if not the most esoteric/metaphysical fiction stories I have ever read in me entire life! It truly transcends that young adult generation demographic that the book was originally entitled for and it's for that reason that I feel this book can't be heavily promoted enough - especially in the wake of more stuffy, over-hyped fantasy fiction such as "the Hobbit".
The story actually 'begins' in the middle of the book believe it or not, the first twelve chapters are unknowingly a prologue that comprised the entire length of the film treatment. There are two parallels occurring throughout the duration of the book that are overlapping in more ways than one. The opening pages we read about a plain, unattractive, flawed 10-year-old boy who wanders into a book store one day before school, after being chased by some meddling bullies who harass him 'physically and verbally' every day, only to bump into the cranky store-owner who ends up harassing him 'psychologically'. Already I have the staunching suspicion that writer Ende is more than just a clever witty writer in the subliminal way he includes puzzling symbolism and philosophies that leads one to suspect his material may be coming from a source other than simply the ink of his pen? The bookstore owner's name is revealed to be Carl Conrad Coreander, likewise the boy introduces himself as Bastian Balthazar Bux, 3 and 3 make the number "33", considered amongst Pythagorists to be a sacred number, a perfect number. -As the story continues Bastian is subconsciously driven to commit theft in stealing a book from the store, elegantly embroidered with a symbol of a jewel which exists within the book that he's stolen. He locks himself inside the attic of his school, risking a visit from the police if not a lecture from the school principal for playing hookie, if not a stern lecture or unimagined punishment from his absent father, still distraught over the death of his wife to play any pivotal role in his son's life. Everything that I'm saying plays a key role in the analysis of the narrative by the end of the story, and it's truly quite ingenious - but I'll try not to give too much away. --When Bastian starts to read the opening chapters of the book he comes to find himself strangely immersed in the subject matter of the story. The fantasy world of Fantastica (pronounced phant-asia) are destitute due to a mysterious new threat known as the Nothing, that endangers the lives of all the inhabitants there. The Nothing itself is indescribable and I can see how it would have been a bitch to translate into visual media, it's often described in the book as an empty void that grows like a cancerous tumor in Fatastica, pulling everyone and everything into it. With the ruler of Fantastica, the Childlike Empress powerless to do anything, due to an unknown illness that no one in Fantastica can provide a cure for. Which is a 'trick' that the reading audience is made unaware of until all becomes clear later on, when Bastian's role in the affairs of Fantastica turn to be too integral that it's too late to turn back.
The Empress sends her messenger Cairon on an important task to deliver her most sacred object AURYN (pronounced orin) to a young boy of a clan of hunters known as the Greenskins, the boy named Atreyu, only so he can be sent on a unspecified Great Quest himself, with nothing to guide him and no details as to what he's supposed to do and nothing to protect himself other than what he takes with him. The name Atreyu itself actually a derivative of ancient Sanskrit folklore being an alternative to Atreya ("receptacle of glory; descendant of Atri" - Atri meaning "who devours; overcomes; progresses; prosperous and glorified.") -Atreyu is given AURYN (which is often referred to in the book as "the Glory"-) and told that only he can find the cure to the Empress' illness and that to do it he will have to abstain from using AURYN's power, and allow it to make all the navigational decisions from here on out. The gem, happens to be shaped exactly like the symbol on the book that Bastian's reading that's on the book that WE'RE reading right now. Little by little Atreyu has to overcome obstacles and suffer personal losses such as the death of his faithful horse Artax in the Swamps of Sadness, only to be given an alternative companion in the form of Falkor the Luckdragon when he saves him from terrible fate at the hands of Ygramul the Many. (It's around here I began to notice a whole bunch of "Lord of the Rings" comparisons in the literature and perhaps that's why the book is often overlooked by die-hard Ringers? - I mean the spider in this book is even the same gender as the one in LOTR.) Each step of the way Atreyu is helped in the the next phase of his quest but it always seems to come at a price or should I say - a risk, to procure it. Unaware to Atreyu what lies beyond his mode of thinking actually turns out to be his saving grace again and again as Bastian's bleed-through into the Fantastican world actually helps Atreyu out in particular sticky situations. --Moving along, we go from Ygramul to the Southern Oracle, where the narrative gets even more trippy at the feat of the Three Magic Gates, in which each phase involves a gate that Atreyu must pass through with seemingly nothing behind them? Each phase is more esoteric in philosophy than the next with the two Giant Sphinxes where Atreyu loses his fear, to the Magic Mirror Gate where Atreyu sees Bastian reading the story as Bastian is reading him looking at him? ...yeah, you get the picture. And Atreyu ends up losing his memory and almost abandons the task at the No Key Gate if not for Bastian's intervention. There Uyulala, who turns out to be a bodiless voice, sends him on his next task, to find a new name for the Childlike Empress which he only finds out later can only come from a human outside of the world of Fantastica. By the time Atreyu finally arrives at the Ivory Tower to deliver the disappointing news to the Childlike Empress he is shocked to learn that everything that has happened to Atreyu thus far was not only known, but has been planned out well in advance, all for the result of Atreyu's accomplishment in the success of bringing Bastian straight to her. It was in this chapter and the next one which I really found my head EXPLODING with plot revelations and symbolism and truly sets the tone for the whole underlining message of the book once you understand the metaphysical concepts that Michael Ende was reaching for in his story!
[SPOILER ALERT]The Childlike Empress represents God, where as the inhabitants of Fantastica often refer to her as the Golden-eyed Commander of Wishes, in which every single inhabitant of Fantastica owe their very existence to her, and thus they all look up to her, whether good or bad, knowing full well that it is her who keeps Fantastica together. Yet, she's often described as having all the power in the world yet she never once makes any attempt to exercise her power. The point is, she needs to get Bastian to do it for her. To use her power is to corrupt her very existence, and in his eyes she valued all inhabitants of Fantastica equally, good or bad, and thus cannot show favoritism. -The symbolism of AURYN is that it represents 'intuition', or if you will Atreyu's connection with God, as the Empress tells Atreyu at one point that as long as he was wearing AURYN on his quest she herself was always 'with him', guiding him from beyond his five senses. So I guess you could translate as saying AURYN acts something like faith when worn. But it gets even deeper in the next chapter. -When Bastian proves to be too much of a coward to go to Fantastica and do what he knows deep down has to be done, the Empress forces her hand by showing Bastian the illusory nature of his own existence, which works as his own conductor behind the curtain moment for Bastian. Where the Empress goes to meet the Old Man of Wandering Mountain who is the exact opposite to the Empress' existence and thus warns her that the two of them are not supposed to meet but she makes an exception and ensnares Bastian in a trap to bring him to Fantastica when it's revealed that the Old Man is the author and thus architect of that which is the NeverEnding Story, in which everything he writes down - happens. The Empress ensnares Bastian in an infinite time loop by starting the book all over again thus showing why it was Bastian found himself driven to Coreander's bookstore that morning when it's narrated in the opening pages of the book that Bastian wasn't quite sure what prompted him to come into the store, he was just sort of lead there? -The same thing with stealing the book. --Here's the eureka moment, the NeverEnding Story is 'US', is life. Bastian needed a generic kind of fantasy character to relate to on order to be drawn to Fantastica, just like we the reader needed a generic kind of fantasy character that we could relate to to be drawn outside our OWN reality into the NeverEnding Story.
The second half of the book is where the subject matter begins to get darker and seems to be all about the nature of 'power' and how noble intentions can be corruptible, in which this is where Bastian transforms to become one of the most infamous anti-heroes literature as ever seen, never has there been an instance of the main hero and villain of a story having a single co-existence before. Bastian is brought into the book itself - seemingly transported to another world. Most may translate this as being interpretive symbolism of going 'out-of-body' instead, as I found the whole book to have definite altered states paraphernalia riddled throughout, people with green skin, purple buffaloes, multicolored desert, Grograman the Many-Colored Death, mirrors within mirrors, I believe I even read a passage where the argument is brought up where reality itself seems to be made up of a complex series of reflections? -Bastian meets the Childlike Empress when Fantastica is seemingly destroyed and Bastian is seemingly given the Empress' power through AURYN, to which he reads and misinterprets the inscription written on it DO AS YOU WISH. With unlimited access to creative power Bastian makes himself into the hero of Fantastica and is basically encouraged to take on a role as a leader, patriarch to the newer re-formed world. Only to find that the more he tries to do good, the more it blows up in his face to the point of driving him to become an megalomaniacal empirical dictator, who is helping his friends one minute, then cursing them and trying to kill them the next. But once again - it all boils down to the NeverEnding Story and how the Empress - renamed Moon Child, was aware of what Bastian was going to do before he did it, but allowed it to happen anyways on order for him to come to the conclusion on his own what it means to have her power. There's parts where the message of the book is so blunt it's almost merciless toward the reader. -But something that's unfairly been labeled a children's book since the release of the movie, I found this book to be rather deep and found there to be so much symbolism embedded in the material, that I had a hard time figuring out where to begin explaining? -There's an abundant obsession with cycles, and balance, good and evil, light and dark. The emblem of AURYN itself is of two snakes biting each other's tails in an endless circle, one light one dark, representing karmic death and rebirth, yin and yang, male and female, good and evil, could possible also represent kundalini practice, the snakes going up and down the spine, or the double helix DNA which human beings consist of. Grograman is the tragic figure of a character that is left all to himself except for the one visit bestowed upon him by the creator of Fantastica Bastian, his fate - to die every night and be resurrected in the morning, just like Dame Eyola's existence, but somehow Grograman sees pride in his existence in that his role serves a purpose, to give life to the Night Forest Perelin, only to incinerate it back into desert under the intense heat of his body, never able to leave the desert as he is the desert, therefore is forced to take it with him wherever he goes. --The overall moral of the story, don't hate on me but truth be told I was just reading another review of the book online before writing this so I may be ripping this from another source, hope the author doesn't mind. By enforcing his will upon the inhabitants of Fantastica Bastian does more harm than good cause there is no such thing as incorruptible power, true inspiration and good will doesn't come from political leaders and tyrants who pull the strings from behind the scenes, it comes from the personal interactions in the course of your life in the community. True wishes come from deep down and gradually float to the surface as is mentioned in the book, Bastian allowed himself to get distracted with the egoic pursuit of trying to be everyone's hero when he should have inspired more to elevate the others around him to his level instead. It's a fascinating read, I 'HIGHLY' recommend it!
The thing I found the most unsettling is the inclusion of Gmork, who to me seemed to represent the including of Secret Societies and outside sinister forces into the mix! I don't know if anyone else got that. The discussion he has with Atreyu about the Nothing and what becomes of Fantasticans when leaping into it was so surreal, it's truly one of the highlights of the book. --What you're left with is a 'breaking the fourth wall' parable about the deceptive illusory nature of reality. Michael Ende might as well have been speaking directly about spirituality. The obsession with numbers 33, and also there's an abundance of "7", seven magical powers the Empress has, a seven holder candelabrum found in the attic with Bastian, Falkor tells Atreyu after returning from speaking with Uyulala that he had been gone from seven days and seven nights. And the obsession with death and rebirth, the book itself beginning and ending - all fixed, after Bastian there will be another Nothing, another chosen one to come to Fantastica to give Moon Child her new name, and everything must be allowed to repeat itself, the new readers must learns the same lessons for themselves. With the symbolism of the Empress' name perhaps being representative of reincarnation and infinity. We are all born with 'identities' that we are given here in the three-dimensional plane but in reality we are all one infinite void of pure cosmic existence, that is simply temporarily having an 'experience' as Bastian Bux or Atreyu, ect. We need the new name, new identity, on order to 'perfect' our existence, through hard-earned lessons. I hope I haven't spoiled the book for all of you who haven't read it, but I figured it's been out for quite a while, I'm just simply saying what's on my mind when I read it, this book truly helped me out when I needed the push the most and integrated itself with my pursuit of time travel, but that's another story and shall be told at another time...
108 7.5 0220. The Talisman - Peter Straub,Stephen King
Written by Stephen King and Peter Straub
One of my favorite books I've ever read and one of the first I ever completed all on my own without being assigned by my English teacher. A mind-bending adventure that has remained a fav and held a special spot in the hearts of fans for quite some time now. It's been a while since I read this, I'm a lil' uncertain how the collaboration of King and Straub came to be? -It's like 1998 when me and my friends and brother were scratching our heads as to how Korn and Ice Cube came to be associated with one another. With the exception of Cube and Rammstein, the rest of the Family Values round-up made sense, it's just those 'very odd' connections that we as fans found very peculiar?
Seeing as they are both fiction writers who's work pays compliment to one another I'm sure it's not much of a stretch to assume such an idealic collaboration? -This particular novel is a refreshing one, with an interesting story that people should really revisit when they get a chance. It involves an adolescent boy who travels between dimensional worlds through 'special liquor'. When his mother's life is threatened, young Jack Sawyer jumps back and forth between a mystery world - where everything seems to be out of a surreal lucid dream. He finds that everything has a 'parallel' in the alternate universe, except for himself, a gimmick similar to that of the movie "Mirrormask". There's some interesting discussions and propositions uttered in the course of the book about how everything in our world - may have been 'influenced' over millennia by 'things' uncovered in the 'other universe', just a hop, skip and a jump away from the 'Ultraterrestrial Theory'.
Jack's adventure becomes every more daring towards the end as Jack start breaking the rules by bringing 'creatures' from their world into ours, the only thing that can reverse the effects of the 'crossover' is by possessing the magical "Talisman" which is like a large pearl orb. And believe me, you have to read the description for yourself to see just how MIND-BLOWING and relevant to today's world, the authors' description of just what the Talisman can DO? This refreshing to see just how on the pulse King is on esoteric practice - I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with Straub's previous work?
A side note: Steven Spielberg purchased the movie rights to this book a long time ago in the 90s' and debate has been speculated over the net ever since the IMDB really began to take off. There's been CONSTANT scripts written up and passed around Hollywood for this book to be turned into a movie but most die hard fans have been dreading the release of the film after several rewrites of the script have been 'leaked' to the public. And I'm inclined to conquer with their reaction as after reading this nearly 800 page fantasy adventure epic, I really developed a personal 'sweet spot' for this book. -It seems every year there's a NEW director/writer pairing that gets assigned to the project that crumbles apart during pre-production, it seems the story is doomed to never leap off the pages into live action. I'm not heart-broken...
485 8.2 0217. IT - Stephen King
Am in the middle of reading...
Am up to Chapter 3!
1 10 0216. Voor een verloren soldaat (Grote ABC) (Dutch...
Written by Rudi van Dantzig
van Dantzig publishes his most CONTROVERSIAL memoirs with names obviously altered for reasons that will become clear if one reads the book, and the whole world erupts, and the book has been treated as an enigma ever since! -The story revolves around young Jeroen Boman and his coming of age/coming out story at the age of 11 or 12. As a sickly pale Amsterdam native during Nazi occupation WWII, Jeroen's parents ship the boy off to the Friesland countryland to be taken in by foster parents. Young Jeroen's privileged life is forever altered being exposed to hard physical labor in farmlife by his Friesland family, eventually leading up to a chance encounter between him and a rugged Canadian soldier named Walt who turns out to desire him sexually.
Many people have speculated exhaustively over the contents of the book to the point the memoirs has made van Dantzig more famous than his work in the world of ballet has! -Many people may be turned away right from the start and certainly this book may not seem to fit the criteria parallel to the above and below on this list, thus this entry may seem a lil' out of place. But for anyone wondering I simply place this book on my list cause it's very EXQUISITELY written, it's actually one of the better written books I've ever read. I had the chance to read it a few years ago and haven't been able to get it out of my mind ever since. In a way it slightly fuels my interest in the Ancient Astronauts Theory as the whole catch of the story is the fact that so many questions will remain 'unanswered' for this young man, who was probably quite elderly by the time Mr. van Dantzig chose to finally release this information. You have to understand in terms of contrast between the book and the movie adaptation, the filmmakers took certain liberties the 'stretch' the content to an extent. One of the aspects was to romanticize the relationship between Jeroen and Walt, where as in the book it's really more open to debate.
In the book, Jeroen doesn't speak a single word of English, can only make out the various moronic attempts on the part of Walt trying to communicate with him like a monkey - "Jerome, okay?" "listen. Is good, is..." -You get the idea. As a result Jeroen can only make speculations towards the 'terrifying' experiences that occur between him and the man who takes advantage of him and will ultimately be his first love. Was Walt a predator, probably? Was was gay, evidence points to this? Was Walt aware what he was doing was wrong, how could he not be - but then again, we weren't there? Was 'Jeroen' aware Walt was doing something wrong, well from the sounds of it seems as if he developed Stockholm Syn. with Walt? -But the most 'important' question that forever haunts Jeroen more than any other, where did Walt go?
Love it or hate it, I felt it was worth the props, I found it epic, tragic, romantic(sorta?), well written, and had me agonizing over the fact that none of us will ever really know the true answers surrounding this case? A literary masterpiece...
2 9 0214. Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra... - Anodea Judith
Am in the middle of reading...
Am up to Part 2!
4 7.5 0212. Communion: A True Story - Whitley Strieber
Have begun reading, review rending...
Am up to Chapter 3!
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