miércoles, 8 de marzo de 2023

Moonraker by Ian Fleming

(I know there could be some mistakes in this review. I’m trying to improve my English, thanks)

Having seen all the movies, this is my first James Bond novel and I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it was the reading. I started with Moonraker because it is the highest rated in the series. 

To begin I must say that the book is very different from the movie. In this regard, contrary to many opinions, I liked Roger Moore's film (it might have something to do with the fact that it was science fiction ;-).

First paperback edition UK (1961)
About the book, I check that Ian Fleming knew how to set a spy novel, or more specifically a spy fiction novel or “Spy-Fi”. For example, the technical descriptions are good, specifically in the case of the missile that gives its name to the novel (more similar to a World War II V2 than a current rocket); although today they are somewhat outdated, they complement the novel well and currently give it a touch "retro" which I find delightful.

On the other hand, I was very intrigued by the treatment of women in the 007 novels. Well, no surprise here, the man commands and disposes, in accordance with the prevailing ideas of the time (the novel was published in 1955). However, it should be noted that the heroine, Miss Gala Brand, actively participates in the plot and, by the way, she resists the charms of James Bond (but because she is engaged to another man). More peculiar is the author description -in the mouth of James Bond- of the women who work as MI5 secretaries, destined to be "spinsters", since a love relationship is incompatible with the necessary discretion in their work, which is not the case with the men.

No surprise either with 007's main adversary, Hugo Drax, as evil as you would expect.

On the recent controversy (see link below) that it is planned to correct the James Bond novels, particularly for some racist aspects, I prefer to read them as they were written, with their original doses of racism, colonialism and machismo. They were simply other times, in which there were acceptable things that now -fortunately- they are not. In other words, what was tolerated 70 years ago is not accepted today, and some that is currently being accepted in our time it will not be so in 70 years from now (if the planet holds out, of course). On the other hand, about the disclaimer by the editors: This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace, I find it correct and the explanation could even be expanded further highlighting these undesirable aspects of the novel, but I not agree with correcting the original work. After all, I think that it should be the reader himself (or herself) who should criticize and judge whether these aspects of the novel are appropriate or not.

lunes, 27 de febrero de 2023

Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Too bad I don't have enough time to comment properly this novel. Suffice it to say that it is good science fiction and that I am happy to know that, with so many first novels currently being published (nothing against new authors, of course, all of them are very welcome), established writers like Alastair Reynolds are still contributing with their talented works to the science fiction genre.

Eversion is a standalone novel. About the plot: It starts out as a classic voyage of exploration in the arctic and ends up turning into something more fantastic and at the same time more sinister. Recommended. 

La nau de Pau Planas

Feia temps que li anava al darrere: una obra guanyadora del premi literari gironí Just M. Casero i que alhora sigui ciència-ficció penso jo que té el seu mèrit. Així que finalment m'he acostat a la meva biblioteca de capçalera, tot i què me n'adono que també està disponible en suport electrònic. 

Novel·la curta, bona lectura. El protagonista explica les seves reflexions en mig d'un viatge espacial cap a un destí promès, el planeta Xeix. La vida a la nau aparenta ser força idíl·lica, sobretot si es compara - segons es va sabent, al llarg de la narració se'ns va presentant els diversos tripulants- amb la que deixen enrere al planeta Terra, on tenen una vida bastant de "M"...

M'ha agradat. Comprovo que el Pau Planas té més llibres publicats, li seguiré la pista doncs. 

jueves, 2 de febrero de 2023

La glàndula d'Ícar d'Anna Starobínets

El llibre conté set relats i cadascun recrea un petit univers, un univers amb la signatura de l`autora.

La temàtica de per sí es variada. Al relat que dona nom al llibre es planteja una situació en la que es contraposa el què s’espera dels homes en societat versus la seva identitat podríem dir que genètica. A City aborda l’estil de vida amb el què sovint ens imposen els mass media (resumint: el somni americà) en contrast amb una indigesta realitat. Amb el relat El pigall parla d’una possible invasió extraterrestre i a El paràsit d’una mena de mutant (bé, podria ser un mutant però és més weird que això) i del fanatisme religiós. La frontera va d’escapades en el temps. A Pastures delicioses, sobre el tràfic no ja d'òrgans sinó de cossos sencers. El darrer relat, Tranx, el més llarg, de la influència dels estris amb pantalla als infants.

Cadascun d'aquests relats s'allunya del quotidià per mostrar-nos el que és radicalment estrany, però alhora ens convida a reflexionar si el que nosaltres anomenem normalitat també pot considerar extraordinari, o bé rar i angoixant; o fins i tot inacceptable, si ens parem a pensar, ja que l’autora mostra un punt crític amb la nostra societat tecnològica.

No sabria classificar els gèneres que toca l’autora, té parts de weird i de realisme màgic, i alhora components de ciència ficció i distopia. Al substrat de cada relat, però, s’hi troben les nostres pors més quotidianes: la mare que tota sola s’ha de fer càrrec dels fills, el veure's superat per les noves tecnologies, l’envelliment o bé la pèrdua d'identitat, entre d’altres.

En conjunt, tots els relats els considero molt bons, si bé alguns estan més ben resolts que d’altres, potser per la intenció de d'experimentar de l'escriptora. Això sí, cal tenir present que l’Anna Starobínets no fa gaires concessions als lectors/es: es una lectura sovint incòmoda, però alhora molt gratificant.

jueves, 5 de enero de 2023

Celestial by M. D. Lachlan

(I know there could be some mistakes in this review. I’m trying to improve my English, thanks)

A peculiar reading, with a taste of New Wave but adapted to current times. I started reading this book because a known author recommended it. So I started without even having read the synopsis and I must confess that my expectation was one and the reading experience has been quite different. When I started reading I thought it was a hard alternative history novel about the Space Race between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, Ian Sales style, and I found a very different story; although some aspect that Mr. Sales develops in The Apollo Quartet stories (highly recommended by the way) is also present here but... my lips are sealed.

I must say that the development has been a bit long for me and maybe some of the situations created by the characters could have been shortened. So most of the book is like a lysergic trip that lasts a little too long… So along the way I have had time to think about… a flawed novel? But not really. An excessive plot pretentiousness? In the end, I verify that neither is the case.

The novel deals about a mysterious discovery on the Moon, but this is actually an excuse for an introspective journey of humanity itself, and particularly of the astronauts and cosmonauts involved in this situation. Recalling a time in my life when I enjoyed meditation - although my knowledge of the subject remains superficial - the novel makes sense and its main premise I think is well-thought-out.

In summary, in my opinion what the author proposes is difficult to achieve, but I believe that he comes out successful with the proposal.

domingo, 1 de enero de 2023

The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by Koren Shadmi

(I know there could be some mistakes in this review. I’m trying to improve my English, thanks)

Lately I've been interested in historical and biographical comics and this is a good example of what I like: a biography of the creator of the cult series Twilight Zone.

Contrary to the first thing that one might think, this is not a story with fantastic overtones, but rather focuses on the purely biographical aspect of Rod Serling, his beginnings long before he was known as the legendary television creator for which he is remembered today: from his hard period as a paratrooper assigned to the Philippines in World War II until his difficult and long escalation on the radio and later in the new medium of television, until he managed to position himself as the media star thanks to this series... even though nothing lasts forever.

I think it is an excellent choice by the author that the drawings are in black and white, as was the television of his time, as well as his austere but also impressive when necessary style. As I have commented before, the script focuses on the purely biographical (in this aspect I understand that it is well documented) and for this reason it does not stop captivating the reader throughout all the reading.