Archive for February, 2016

TREASON

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Book Reviews

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Treason by Orson Scott Card

275 pages

Treason is an ancient prison planet. Long ago the galactic republic banished all the families who were leaders of the rebellion to this God forsaken world. Left without technology and only their minds. This is a world with limited hard metals and 2 moons. Each family has for hundreds of years fought for what little iron they could come across. They spend their lives trading to the “ambassador”, an off world visitor for iron in exchange for things of value that could be offered. Each family hopes to acquire enough iron to eventually build a starship and so end their exile.

After many generations on this world the planet eventually is divided into 62 different regions or countries, each controlled by a different family, and each family having a different skill set or role. Our main character, Lanik Mueller is from the nation of Meuller and heir to the throne of that nation. He is from a family of geneticist and is a radical regenerative. This is a genetic trait that cause him to spontaneously grow limbs, and body parts of both genders. He must have regular surgery to remove these parts. His family and most of those within his country also have the ability to heal quickly and regenerate making them nearly impossible to kill. As a radical regenerative however, his traits go beyond the speed healing and hard to kill. He has no control over his ability to grow limbs and parts and because of this he would be condemned to the pens where radical regenerative are harvested for their body parts to be sold to off worlders for iron. His father has no choice but to banish him by means of a futile mission to discover how the Nkumai have obtained so much iron.

His radical regenerative traits are discovered when he starts to grow breasts, uterus, ovaries and other parts, additional legs, arms, etc… These new breasts of his allow him to pose as lady lark and impersonate being an emissary from the nation of Bird in order to infiltrate the Nkumai. This however is just the beginning of what will become an adventure of self discovery beyond anything he could have ever imagined.

Through his adventures he learns the secrets of the most powerful families of Treason. From the land of Ku Kuei  he learns the secret to controlling the flow of time. From the Schwartz he learns how to manipulate and control the physical elements of the world and how to obtain energy from the sun rather than food. Here he is cured from his radical regenerative nature. He soon discovers the Illuders, those who can pose as anyone, from anywhere and manipulate your thoughts and mind. They use illusions and deception to gain power and control over the world. Lanik must confront them in order to save his world from their dangerous control.

This is story of self discovery for Lanik. He must confront the truths that have shattered his world view and learn to re-shape his world view to a new reality of what he thought was not ever possible. That those who are oppressing them are not from off world whom the families or nations trade with to obtain iron but rather those hiding in plain view, manipulating and controlling the affairs through illusion and deceit.

Lanik has been portrayed as the hero in this story. When reading it however I cannot help but wonder if he is truly a hero faced with a difficult decision or a monster and terror that no one can possibly understand. Is he deluded into thinking his own beliefs are true, or he is really the good guy. The Illuders are certainly controlling the nations, however there is nothing in the story that would suggest that they are truly evil. Lanik however destroys and entire nation from whence the Illuders came from, believing that it was the only way to save his world. Was the death of so many innocents truly essential? Were the Illuders evil and bent on harm and destruction? You will have to decide that for yourself when you read this book.

Some have criticized Card for Laniks seeming obsession with his new-found breasts. He seems to become, for a while anyway, obsessed with his new-found womanly features and can’t keep his hands off of himself. It certainly puts a new spin on the idea of transgender-ism. Card has never been one to shy away from controversial themes. But let’s be honest, how many men, if you were to wake up with a new set of very feminine breasts, would be able to keep you hands off them? Lanik must deal with this new reality and like most men, he can’t help himself in such a scenario.

I did find some underlying racist idealism in this book as well, specifically with the black Nkumai people who lived in the trees. The people of this world had some derogatory views of them and placing their culture in the trees living like monkey defecating over the end of tree limbs certainly does nothing to help these underlying racist tones.  Whether these ideals are or were Cards own views or not I do not know, however it was not subtle within the story line at all. I expect this may be offensive to some, for myself, I do not take offense as Card has written on many controversial topics within his writing which are not necessarily his views. I find it to be a component of the story designed for that very purpose to be controversial. That is what makes a writer good, shock value within the story to get people talking about it.

This story however I felt could use more development. Lanik visited many different nations over the course of many years. Each nation he went to he learned more about his world and himself. Each one of these nations and the events that took place within them,  could have very easily been a separate book in and of itself. With 60 + different nations it would certainly make for an interesting series of books exploring the different aspects of humanity. There is so much that Card could have done with this. It would have been a great series of books rather than a single volume.

This is one of Cards earlier works and that shows within the writing in that the story had so much more potential. I have to say however that I really enjoyed this read. Card has a reputation for exploring issues of the psyche and philosophy and he does that well with this book. I would give this book 6/10 book worms

WYRMS

Posted: February 16, 2016 in Book Reviews

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Wyrms by Orson Scott Card

Patience is the seventh, seventh, seventh daughter of the starship captain, the first human ever to set foot on her world of Imakulata. She is the rightful heir to the throne of Imakulata and a trained assassin and diplomat. The 343rd generation daughter. Her father, Peace, The heptarch before her is now servant to the usurper of this throne.

Upon her fathers death Patience learns the truth about her destiny to take back her throne, however she feels the call to the great unwrym who needs her to carry his children for the perfect human race. She is the mother of “kristos” the savior of the world. The call is one she cannot resist and must heed, his pull on her mind is beyond resistance. She must resist him and kill him to succeed and protect the human race and their final destiny for unwyrm is the ultimate of evil incarnate.

The mindstones: This is a stone that is implanted into the mind of a person or Gebling that contains all the memories and knowledge of all those who came before. With that knowledge, Patience can accomplish all that her destiny demands of her.

The Cranning call. This phenomenon caused all the wisest and brightest of the world to head to cranning, the mountain city and home of the great Unwyrm. It is there that all the knowledge and wisest learning of man was taken from the great wise ones of the world. Patience feels the cranning call as well. It is powerful and virtually impossible to resist.

Ruin and Reck, the 2 Gebling companions who together make the Gebling kings, join Paitence to help her in her journey to destroy the great unwyrm. At the final confrontation however, Patience, for a time at least, gives in to the overpowering urges she has to mate with him.

One of my favorite things about Orson Scott Cards writings is his ability to use science fiction to not tell science fictions stories. This story is no different. Within this story there are plenty of references to theological symbolism both in the names of the characters but in the mind stones, the coming of kristos(another name for christ) numerous reference to mankind’s savior in connection with kristos, the seventh, seventh, seventh daughter. The first human the starship captain. And even the impregnation of Patience by an entity thought of as God who had been alive for the past 7,000 years. Much of this story revolves around the number 7 specifically. Patience becomes the heptarch (another reference to the number 7) and rules over mankind and all life while ushering in a reign of peace, cooperation and prosperity after 7,000 years. Orson Scott Cards religious influence is heavily evident in his writing.

I have to say however, that after reading this book I am pretty sure the creators of Futurama got some inspiration from these books. The culture and society which has developed has found a way to keep ones head alive in a jar.

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Wyrms had its fair share of references to talking heads preserved in jars. For this story it was a great way to preserve the history and knowledge of past generations. The talking heads were incapable of lying and could only speak truth. Much of patience knowledge came as a result her conversation with her deceased fathers head after it was place in a jar to keep it alive.

Overall I can say that I really enjoyed this book. I really like the theology and religious themes that helped to drive this story. As a christian they certainly resonated with me throughout the book. I find that it is part of what makes the story enjoyable.

I would give this book 8/10 book worms.

 

MAGIC STREET

Posted: February 8, 2016 in Book Reviews

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Magic Street by Orson Scott Card

391 pages

Modern day L.A. in what would otherwise be an average, middle class African-American neighbourhood that is however anything but normal or average.

A university professor named Byron is on his way home from work and picks up what appears to be a stray homeless man, who becomes known as bag man,  who somehow knows that his wife is pregnant. This pregnancy however is anything but normal. Pregnant, full term and birth in the space of an hour and his wife does not remember anything. A baby is born only to be abandoned by bag man by a drainage pipe.

Soon found by Ceese, one of the community kids and raised in a local home of a single woman, Miz Smitchzer, he becomes known as Mack Street.

Strange things start happening as wishes come true in the most gruesome and evil ways. A girl who wants to be a fish wakes up trapped in her fathers water-bed. In another case a girl who has only one wish, to be wanted by boys, soon finds herself being gang raped. An old widow who’s only wish is to be with her husband again, wakes up in her husbands coffin.

This is an urban fantasy set as a merger between william Shakespeare’s A Mid Summers Night Dream and modern-day L.A. Fairy land is secretly hidden behind a hidden house that only Mack can see or access. Two fairies show up seeking to fight the evil that is Oberon from destroying the world, but first Mack must learn to control and accept his powers of “cold dreams” in which he sees the dreams of others before they come true.

Mack is a child of everyone and no one. He does not fit in anywhere and yet is welcome everywhere. He is an odd child but is nothing but good, helpful, loveable. A friend to all and yet not really part of any family as he belongs to everyone in the community.

I loved the final battle at the end of the book and how Oberon is imagined as a giant dragon slug who shows up in the real world of L.A. as a helcopter Mack is hanging from. Just tryinig to imagine a helcopter that is also a giant flying dragon slug you can’t help but lauph at such a preposterous idea. But then again, you also have a invisble house with a path to fairy land gaurded by a black panther that only allows Mack in.

This book has some very creative writing merging the two worlds of william Shakespeare and modern-day America. I Really liked how Orson Scott Card merged the idea that what we wish for, and how we get that wish is not always how we imagined it to be. The idea of careful what you wish for is a warning that should not go unheeded in this book.

Creative story telling with some what I would described as weird and unusual characters mixed with some humor was an effective mesh of fantasy and modern fiction. The bag man and surprise baby followed by kidnapping and discarding of new-born Mack street was certainly a way to peek my interesting in this book. And of course YoYo wanting him killed and trying in vain to make that happen, only to find out she needed him in the end.

Overall not a complicated story but a fun and entertaining read.

As usual Orson Scott Card is imaginative and humorous in his story telling. As for recommending this one, you would not regret reading it but I am pritty nuetral on reccommending it.

I give this book 6/10 book worms