No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! Instead, after nearly 5 years of living in this disease ridden country, I finally got the flu. And it kicked my ass all the way back to elementary school. The "I-want-my-mommy, snuggling-with-stuffed-animals, needing-ice lollies-for-my-throat" kinda feeling. Not cool. I repeat, NOT....COOL! But I'm slowly getting better and since I just got my copy of The Wheel of Time Book 12 in the mail, I'm going to drown in Rand-land.
Anyone who's ever met me and had more that a 20 second conversation with me about life knows that I LOOOOOOVE the Wheel of Time series, and it really kinda pushed me into my love of fantasy. Since I started reading this when I was 14, this is my Harry Potter, my Holy Grail of Fantasy. ( Sorry Harry, still love ya!) Unfortunately, the author Robert Jordan passed away before he could complete it. But how is there a new book, you ask? Brandon Sanderson stepped into the most awesome shoes ever, and wrote this book. So I will let you know just how awesome it is. :-)
So I've been reading a lot of news online and even the occasionally old-fashioned newspaper (gasp!) and overwhelmingly the news about the Class of 2009 has been bleak. And the mood of us graduates has been even more bleak, and understandably so, for most of us, our loan grace periods have expired and bills are due, we've been kicked off parents/schools health insurance plans. And overall getting rejected over and over from jobs sucks the self esteem right out of you.
I started my job search in what I thought was a timely fashion, aka September 2008 for a graduation date of May 2009. As of yet I don't have a full time job and that seems to be the resounding theme for everyone. You know the job market is tough when you are begging Starbucks to call you back (and they won't. Apparently a $200,000 degree in International Relations does not qualify a person to work as a barista at Starbucks. Who knew? )
Most of what we get fed everyday, in between episodes of Maury's "Who's the father?" episodes and Grey's Anatomy are images of how bleak things are for the youth. The media has branded us as lost. How are we supposed to get up and face the job market when the news persists in calling us the "Lost Generation"? I'm not lost! I'm right here! Just because only 19% of the graduating class of 2009 have full time jobs doesn't mean that the rest of us went into a black hole. We are still here, waiting to move out of limbo and get started on the real business of being a 20-something college graduate WITH a job. We still have hope and we are far from lost. So there!
SO.... let's talk about the end of the world. What a dramatic opening. I chose Margaret Atwood's book because a friend of mine recommended her other novel "the Handmaid's Tale" to me and I enjoyed it. This book however was a particularly difficult slog. It is written from the perspective of Snowman, one of the last humans on Earth (as far as he knows). All that is left are the genetically altered creations of his childhood best friend, Crake. Some of these creatures are the snat (snake and rat combination) and the wolvogs (cuddly little dogs with vicious wolf tendencies).
Now my first pet peeve with this book is that Oryx doesn't play a really crucial role in the whole plot line. She just serves as a stand in character against which Snowman can play out his fantasies. Whereas we get to know him in obsessive detail, she remains somewhat of an enigma. I would say that this book is like that insufferable Tom Hanks movie where he talks to a beat up volleyball for 75 minutes. Yea, that was awful and in some ways this book was too. I guess my problem is that this guy whines on and on about how apathetic he was, and how regular, and how un-special as compared to Oryx and Crake, and it left me wondering why do I want to listen to this self-proclaimed "normal" person talk for the entire book.
Having said all of that, there are some cool sci-fiesque, end-of-the-world ideas in the book that I enjoyed. For example, Crake talks about how civilization can never be rebuilt if it collapses. And his reasoning is that the discovery of metal and its uses was crucial to the development of the civilized world. I mean, where would we be without the axe? But in this reality, because all of the surface metals have been used already, in the next civilization cycle no one will be able to invent these handy tools. That really struck me because in all the end of time science fiction that I've read in my lifetime, no one has really come forward with such a simple deterrent to the actual end of civilization forever.
At the end of the day, I understand the point of the book, ie. the increasing emphasis on the material and general human dissatisfaction with their lot in life but I couldn't really get behind her on the way it was put across.
You know how people always say science is absolutely correct, right up until someone proves it wrong? Well I feel like that is perhaps the truest reflection of life as we know it. The fact that science is so concrete and yet mysterious can activate the imagination of a writer like nothing else. FYI in case you haven't noticed, I am a huge science fiction fan. And one of the reasons that I love it so much is that great science fiction can approaches philosophy. Despite, or perhaps because of the outlandish settings, good sci-fi can make the reader examine their own life and ask certain unanswerable questions.
The boyfriend asked me today what were my favorite books and why, and I had to think about it. Here are some of the ones that I've come up with:
1. Ray Bradbury - "I sing the body electric and other stories":
This one is not so much a well-read favorite. Instead it is the first book (or rather, collection of short-stories) that I remember reading that truly horrified me, especially "Night Call, Collect." This was a story about a man that got left behind on Mars because of an atomic war on Earth and decides to pass the time recording phone calls to his future self. These calls would ring at an appropriate time in the future and he could talk to himself to pass the time while he waits to be rescued. Of course by the time he gets to be eighty years old, he knows now that no one will be coming for him. Its a haunting story, especially for an only child like myself, I think. It drew attention to the undeniable feeling of loneliness, even though you are surrounded by all these voices. And I also think of it as a metaphor for the different parts of you that constantly argue with one another about right choices. That is just my personal interpretation of it, but I could be wrong. But now looking back on it I love it especially because it evoked such an intense emotion from me. Good writing should always make you feel :-)
2. David Weber - On Basilisk Station
This is a space opera aka battles in space, in which the main character is a woman and she is the new captain of her ship. Of course, stuff happens, sexism and discrimination ensues and she finds herself put in the position of battling to save the "Federation". This one is pretty much greatness if only because you get to see Honor Harrington kick some ass outnumbered by crazy bigger, better equipped ships. Its kind of awesome in my opinion.
Anyway, thats just 2 of the ones that I can think of while I procrastinate doing work but I'll post more as i think of them.
Look out for my book review for the Cannonball Read! It kicks off this week and I'm already a couple pages into Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake", so be prepared!