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Tag Archives: Time travel

11.22.63 – Stephen King

In 2011, Jake Epping, an English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, sets out on an insane – and insanely possible – mission to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

Leaving behind a world of computers and mobile phones, he goes back in time to a time of big American cars and diners, of Lindy Hopping, the sound of Elvis and the taste of root beer,

In this haunting world Jake falls in love with Sadie, a beautiful high school librarian.  And, as the ominous date of 11.22.63 approaches, he encounters a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald.

This sizeable novel from the wordy wordsmith himself, Mr King has so much of everything in it.  The inexactness of that statement is accurate as the number of little details is vast, and as such I read this book with a huge amount of appreciation.

I avoided this book for a long time because, for me a time travel story and King just didn’t seem to gel together in my mind but once I started reading, I thought it worked really well.  The element of ‘how would I exploit the past if I could time travel’ is explored = and takes the focus off of the main plot, which itself flows logically and languidly (a good thing) according to the rules set out.

When all else fails, give up and go to the library

Jake is often just as focussed on the smaller picture as much as his larger mission, and it is fascinating to get caught up in, as does he. There is the usual whole heap of nostalgia which the author always excels at, allowing the reader to feel like they miss that time and place, despite many not having lived through it.  There is a brief cameo from some of the characters of IT, as well as a couple of Dark Tower references, which is pleasing to those knowledgeable but won’t make any difference to those not familiar with the particular works. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on 27/09/2018 in Fiction, Sci-Fi

 

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The Singularity Wheel – Michael S. Fedison

A quick mention to avoid the blurb if you haven’t read the first book The Eye-Dancers, it is best to start there, if you carry on you may pick up minor spoilers that could potentially ruin the full enjoyment of your reading experience.

Five years ago, Monica Tisdale, the “ghost girl,” invaded their dreams and led them through the void. Now she is back, more desperate and more powerful than ever.

For Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski, the intervening five years have seen them advance to the cusp of their senior year in high school. They have girlfriend troubles, job stresses, future careers to consider. They don’t have the time, or the inclination, to be whisked away to Monica’s world again.

But when Monica calls on them to leap into the abyss and bridge the gap between dimensions, she will not take no for an answer. She has tapped into the deepest pools of her mysterious powers, leading to consequences as unforeseen as they are disastrous. For Monica, the multiverse, the concept of a limitless number of parallel selves and parallel worlds, has become all too real. And all too terrifying.

Through it all, she knows that Mitchell and his friends are the only ones who can save her.

If she doesn’t kill them first.

This cover is one of the most eye-catching of the year, that I have come across to date. Everything from the font, to the space spade symbol is really classy, not that a book should be judged by its cover.  It’s been all change in the intervening five years since the children returned home, and having grown into teenagers with all the associated problems, this new story takes on a more mature aspect.  As you would expect with more grown up protagonists, the peril stakes have also risen, which is always a good thing.

After a few chapters, reminding us of the characters and bringing them up to date with their lives, the story really gets going.  This time around there is less detail focussing on the world which is to be expected to avoid repetition, although the reader still feels that nostalgic, comfortable connection. I do like those little details, and exploring the town of Colbyville was one of the highlights of The Eye-Dancers, for me. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 31/05/2018 in Children's Literature, Fiction

 

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Moondial – Helen Cresswell

Minty has heard stories of strange happenings in the big house across the road from her Aunt’s cottage.  And when she walks through the gates, the lodge-keeper knows it is Minty who holds the key to the mysteries.  She only has to discover the secret power of the moondial, and she will be ready to carry out the dangerous mission that awaits her…

As a child I must have watched the television show half a dozen times so having been given the book by my parents a couple of Christmases ago, I have made sure to hold onto it.  Having read through the story twice so far and thoroughly loving it both times, it surely deserves more attention, especially for the younger generations.

The Nostalgia factor aside, the book itself holds up remarkably well.  It’s a beautifully told story, full of haunting set pieces (one of which was quite sinister and sent a bit of a shiver up my spine, which is a rare thing to happen), and it positively oozes charm and a sense of adventure and discovery.

Things gets going quickly and thickly layers on a sense of the secrets waiting to be discovered.  The prologue starts off this trend by setting up the reader with that feeling of solitariness and an encouragement to visualise the described surroundings.  Once involved with the imagining, the vulnerability and aloneness of the night are very effective in the scene setting. It’s a simple step to immerse one’s self in the atmosphere of the book after that.

This is a great read for all ages, a wonderful story of place and time, of ages, and the feel of history set in physical stone, and how that is an echo both forwards and backwards in time to our age.  The contemplation and interpretation of ornamental garden decorations has never been so interesting and has surely inspired the imagination of many a writer.  The part it plays within the story is both puzzling and charming.  Without giving any spoilers out ,the story itself manages to take in several strands both of present and past, and weave them in such a way as to give them equal time although the pressing story of the present isn’t as interesting. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 19/05/2018 in Children's Literature

 

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Travel, Embryos and Brandy

Being curiously relaxed about undertaking such a long journey is certainly not the typical British state when just about to go about a holiday.  Most of the time it takes us a day or two to get over the stress of travelling but such was my whimsical mood that I started to ponder (in Leicester, no less) why nobody really talks about or even notices weathervanes anymore.  It seems strange when so many are created in such an arty way.

The view from my adopted home, with a special cameo from my drying towel.

Even the prominent display of the book The Crash Detectives (replete with an aeroplane and separate flaming wing falling off on the cover) in the expectedly poor excuse for an airport bookshop couldn’t dampen my ‘enthusiasm’ for a 14 hour flight.  My mind was well and truly blown to experience Philippine Airlines, who board the passengers at the back first, we were all seated in about ten minutes, much more efficient and professional than the other way…Delta Airlines I’m looking at you.

Planes are always interesting, the mishmash of emotions you see people going through; those going on holiday, coming back from holiday, the grind of work trips, the back packers off for months at a time.  Each one has a fascinating story to tell no doubt, not that anybody was particularly willing to talk with the length of the flight and I had my book my book to read so priorities… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 26/05/2017 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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Boston Books Too

It feels good to round-up yet another book haul, two of which I have already read due to my recharged batteries and also because I find it hard to sleep before 2am, when I can sleep at night that is.

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The Ghosts We Know is a graphic novel which I found really interesting but you’ll have to wait for a review to find out why, it will be added to some reading lists though hopefully.  Why I Read and A Magnificent Farce are two books that come from my favourite shelves in any bookshop, the books about books section., nothing is going to get the readers back in like a book reiterating why a person loves to read. Such bliss will be saved for a rain day…if I can avoid temptation.

Hellenica is a collection of essays on Greek poetry, philosophy, history and religion and has a fantastically almost brand new feel to it and bringing up the rear in this photos pleasures was a book that will force me to read another book beforehand.  The Tangled Chain is a study on the structures and anomalies of the medical/scientific/philosophy work The Anatomy of melancholy.  Sometimes I need a push myself to the more challenging works and if buying another book helps it’s a bonus. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 05/07/2016 in Boston, Lists/Ephemera

 

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Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes

NEOHitlerBerlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman.

People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. But the Führer has another programme with even greater ambition – to set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.

The premise seems fairly amusing and from that alone possibly worth a decent read, although mainly I was wondering if it would be just a novelty exercise and/or fall into the poor taste trap.  Books like this need to have an underlying message, something they wish to achieve and although this book had some interesting points, it was on the whole forgettable.

It will come as a relief to know that the story has no real explanation for Hitler’s predicament which is still better than the one in that stone cold classic film of the time travel genre, Hot Tub Time Machine.  The story does at least move on in a pacy way without this obstacle and soon gets into its stride.

There is the standard amusement in the form of our narrator being constantly perplexed with modern life and seeing the world through his eyes is interesting up to a point, with all the big chain stores, the internet and different nationalities now inhabiting Berlin and so forth.  Sadly the jokes lose their impact and quite quickly become repetitive and predictable.

Vermes does well to avoid any sympathy one may have for Hitler’s loss of wife and his closest allies which is a relief, as there is a danger in humanising the dictator so that he becomes almost a lovable old grandfather type set in his ways, which just happen to be racist and disagreeable to the modern sensibilities.  Luckily all the characters are two-dimensional and although there is occasion when the story does sail close to the wind, it never becomes particularly offensive unless you are one of the new fangled PC crew that get offended by everything, which I am sure you are not. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 02/03/2016 in Fiction, Humour

 

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Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut

SH%Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller – these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world’s great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

The blurb doesn’t give much away but how to describe this book, it’s been a challenge for this reviewer but I persevered after much thought and have scraped the surface in a bid to whet your appetite…

Upon starting to read the story I hoped it wouldn’t be another Catcher in the Rye, a book I loathed and found extremely overrated.  I can imagine this book splits readers’ opinions as well, with its often repetitive phrases and cynical outlook.

I feared reading this book, as it is a big hit with students and so for that unreasonable reason alone I have avoided it but having read the reasons why people keep trying to ban it  – and finding them all laughable – I succumbed to its prose.  People seem afraid of good literature and messages contrary to their own but why censor something (with simplistic argument) when you could talk about like reasonable adults?  Probably because the would be ban mongers are not those sort of people.

As far as conflict books go, this is up there with the razor-sharp satire of the magnificent Catch 22 as anti-war material.  I find it interesting that the US has some of the best anti-war literature of the 20th century, widely read all around the world yet still finds itself mired in conflicts around the world, it’s a case study begging to be written methinks.

Billy Pilgrim is an awkward and pathetic protagonist whose not always likeable but is extremely fascinating, there are strong hints to him having a psychological disorder suffered after witnessing the aftermath of the Dresden bombings. However that would be to over simplify a man whose can move through time and lives his life in a different order, real or imagined, his attempt to cope with life and just stagger through passively,  powerlessly accepting his fate should endear him to everybody as we’ve all been there at sometime or another.  Billy is at once likeable and unlikable and trying to quantify the life of the man from the jigsaw pieces is endlessly fascinating and is perhaps best looked at through our own actions. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 06/05/2015 in Fiction, Sci-Fi

 

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