December 29th, 2003

Relax!  Grab a Book!

More on Movies and the Books They're Based upon

I just found out about two movies that will be coming out in the next year. First is an adaptation of I, Robot starring Will Smith. As it has been about 15-20 years since I read this, a refresher is in order. The other is Troy, starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Pitt and based on The Iliad. Since it has only been about 3 years since I read the Fagles' translation, I won't have to re-read this one.

Correction: After reading an online description of the book, I'm not sure I've read I, Robot. I've read most of the Foundation books (all but one, I think) and a great deal more Asimov, but somehow the Robot series seems to have eluded me.
Relax!  Grab a Book!

Essential Sci-Fi/Fantasy

After my previous blog, I've been doing some thinking about sci-fi/fantasy novels. When I was a kid, this was my preferred genre. But in high school and college my reading tended more towards the classics of literature (you know, dead white men, for the most part), and I realize I have forgotten most of what I knew of the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

I'm thinking I might like to rediscover this genre. And since several of you are far more voracious readers than I am and are more intimately familiar with this genre, I am soliciting your help. Let's try to put together a list of essential science fiction and fantasy reading (some of which I've read but wouldn't mind re-reading). I'll start, but please fill in any ommissions and feel free to let me know if anything listed should be excluded. Here goes, in completely random fashion:

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Now, as you go through this list and think of things to add or cut, keep in mind that I like books that make one think, that explore important themes, not just entertaining fluff. I'm really looking for the pillars of sci-fi and fantasy, the sort of books which could stand on their own outside the genre if need be. Your thoughts?
You know I'm sexy!


I just wanted to share with you a couple of brief passsages from the book I'm currently reading, Why I Am a Catholic by acclaimed historian Garry Wills. In these passages he discusses how the Gospels painstakingly create a very real and very human character in Peter.

'His fourth-century cultists, as we shall see, tried to make him the new Moses. But the Gospels make him less a Moses than Mister Magoo. A man of action, he invariably takes the wrong action. In the garden where Jesus is arrested, he is not only inept but ridiculous. With armed soldiers collaring his leader, he attacks a nearby servant -- in the ear. As a journalist I know would say, this does not show an instinct for the jugular but an instinct for the capillary. It is as if Peter said, "I am so mad at you that I am going to shoot your dog -- in the paw." Pure Dostoevski.'

'He likes to offer his leader suggestions, even to contradict him. When he tells Jesus not to wash his feet and Jesus insists anyway, he says, "Okay, then, not only my feet but my head and hands, too" (Jn 13.8). He luckily stops short of ordering a shave and a manicure.'

'The Gospels seem to have created their only realistic figure just to place unrealistic demands on him. The least provident of the disciples is made a provider for the others. Or was Jesus teasing Peter when he called him "Rocky," naming him ab opposito, as when one calls a not-so-bright person Einstein?'