I had a pleasant surprise yesterday on my Kindle. I had pre-ordered Felicia Day’s book “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir” some months ago because I really admire her, I enjoy her work and she gave me enough reasons to give her credit. It was the first time I pre-ordered something in my entire life!
I always prefer to wait the “hype” to cool down before I buy something. I am the kind of person that prefers to buy (and read) a whole trilogy already fully published instead of consuming it as it is released.
But anyway, I am not regretting anything, I just want to say that I am really happy with this new book on my “to-read-right-now” list 🙂
I am currently reading two books, so I will find some room to read Felicia’s memoir this month, because all the reviews are awesome.
Well, I am a Kindle owner since December 2012. When I acquired my first Kindle I had to literally “import” it from Amazon, since they weren’t available in my country back then. And, needless to say, I could have bought two (maybe three) Kindles with the amount of money I’ve spent to get it legally here in Brazil (you know, lots of taxes…).
My first Kindle was the 6″ fourth-generation one, without touchscreen. Since then, I started reading every single day. That resulted in a total of 30 books read in one year (2013). That was a major milestone for me!
Reasons why I started “devouring” books:
Extreme Portability: A new world opened up for me! I could then read anywhere I went, during my bus rides, waiting at bus stops, waiting in lines… and I could read two, three, four books simultaneously. I could make notes and highlight passages of the books without feeling guilty about it! I don’t know if reading a lot can be called an addiction, but even if it is, I think it’s a good addiction 🙂
Online access/digital content: I started having access to a huge library of titles, old and new. I joined online bookclubs (I’m a huge fan of Goodreads) and I have discovered many interesting authors and series.
Less than one year after the purchase of my first Kindle (August 2013 to be precise) I felt I needed an upgrade: I needed the new shinny touchscreen Kindle that could tell me how much time I would take to finish that chapter and that whole book. Oh, and also the built-in light seemed a great advantage.
So, today I am a happy owner of a Kindle Paperwhite and I’ve completely forgot about paper books. And that leads me to my latest “donation haul” composed of paper books. I decided that all those books I had resting on my bookshelf were lonely and abandoned. So why not give them a chance to be read a thousand more times?
There is a project in my city where people can donate books so that they are available for others inside the city’s bus terminals. The idea is to let books and magazines available to be read while waiting for the public transport, on the bus or during the course of the trip. The objective of the project is the “democratization of culture”. So that was the perfect place for my lonely paper books!
And, also, that helped my “decluttering project” that is currently in (very slow) progress.
So I’ve donated 35 books so far. It was not that easy, because there is sentimental value on some of them, I can’t deny that. But I simply let go and thought that others will have the chance to enjoy them 🙂
Among them are George R.R Martin’s series of a Song of Ice and Fire (book 1 to 4), Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End”, the Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy (“The girl with the dragon tattoo”, “The girl who played with fire” and “The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest”, Anne Rice’s “Interview with the vampire”, “The Vampire Lestat” and “Merrick”, Stephen King’s “The Stand”, Isaac Asimov’s “The Caves of Steel”, “Robot Stories” and “Foundation” and others…
Here are some images of my donation haul:
Although I enjoy paper books, I don’t feel like I need to own the physical aspect of them. I don’t need to have a beautiful bookshelf full of books at my house.
I believe that the digital content today is a paradigm shift. We don’t know how long it will last, but we have now new ways of producing and distributing content, and I, personally have not bought a physical book in 2 years.
“In a world policed by telepaths, Ben Reich plans to commit a crime that hasn’t been heard of in 70 years: murder. That’s the only option left for Reich, whose company is losing a 10-year death struggle with rival D’Courtney Enterprises. Terrorized in his dreams by The Man With No Face and driven to the edge after D’Courtney refuses a merger offer, Reich murders his rival and bribes a high-ranking telepath to help him cover his tracks. But while police prefect Lincoln Powell knows Reich is guilty, his telepath’s knowledge is a far cry from admissible evidence.”
First of all, this book a science fiction classic written in 1953 AND won the first Hugo Award!! You know, Hugo Awards happens annually for the best science fiction or fantasy books, so it is rather important for the genre.
Why I enjoy some “old-fashioned” sci-fi?
Well, all of these classic sci-fis have what I would call the “retro-futuristic” view of things. If you lived in the 50’s, how would you imagine the far future? Well, reading authors from the past can give us a hint. And I think it is fun to analyze the visions of these retro-futures and ask myself if they are still acceptable today or how clever they are.
This book, “The Demolished Man”, is somewhat timeless for me.
The future in question (the 22nd century) is a world in which some human beings developed telepathic powers, called peepers. And these peepers are part of the society exercising their roles normally and working as secretaries, psychologists, investigators and so on. The structure is like this:
“First, the background, Mr. Reich: There are approximately one hundred thousand (100,000) 3rd Class Espers in the Esper Guild. An Esper 3 can peep the conscious level of a mind — can discover what a subject is thinking at the moment of thought. A 3rd is the lowest class of telepath. Most of Monarch’s security positions are held by 3rds.” –Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man, pg. 13, loc. 189-192
“Next, there are approximately ten thousand 2nd Class Espers in the Guild,” the Personnel Chief continued frostily. “They are experts like myself who can penetrate beneath the conscious level of the mind to the preconscious. Most 2nds are in the professional class… physicians, lawyers, engineers, educators, economists, architects and so on.” –Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man, pg. 13, loc. 194-197
“Finally there are less than a thousand 1st Class Espers in the Guild. The 1sts are capable of deep peeping, through the conscious and preconscious layers down to the unconscious… the lowest levels of the mind. Primordial basic desires and so forth. These, of course, hold premium positions. –Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man, pg. 14, loc. 200-202
The plot of the book revolves around a mysterious murder case with a disappearance, involving powerful industrialists of the society. The case is so fantastic that it is known as the first premeditated murder in 70 years. The work of the peepers has avoided these kinds of crimes, until then…
The curious thing is that the main mystery is not who committed the crime, but how, and how to gather enough evidence to prove it. I am not sure whom I would name as the main character, because the narrative starts with one point of view and changes a lot throughout the book. Well, there is the guy leading the investigations, Mr. Lincoln Powell, who has telepathic powers and is after the main suspect, Mr. Ben Reich. It is like a game of cat and mouse, since Ben Reich is very influential and uses all sorts of alibis and support from others to evade the investigation. Reich does his best to escape from the major punishment that can be inflicted in him: Demolition!
And Demolition is very scary indeed:
“When a man is demolished at Kingston Hospital, his entire psyche is destroyed. The series of osmotic injections begins with the topmost strata of cortical synapses and slowly works down, switching off every circuit, extinguishing every memory, destroying every particle of the pattern that has been built up since birth. And as the pattern is erased, each particle discharges its portion of energy, turning the entire body into a shuddering maelstrom of dissociation.” –Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man, pg. 230, loc. 3512-3515
Looking from this perspective, it is a crime thriller set in a distant future in which we have populated other planets of the solar system, we have super-fast (and efficient) space travel but the morals and motivations of the society are still the same.
Some descriptions clearly date the book, as computers humming, and tapes, and almost nonexistent portable devices (less than I would expect of an advanced future). Sometimes I was intrigued by the characters’ weird behaviors, games (and hobbies), but, hey, it is the future, who knows?
Overall, it is a very curious read, and I was awed at the passages in which we are immersed inside the characters minds with the “telepathic” action (although sometimes I got a little confused…).
The author writing style was a bit unusual to me, but it is creative, in a crazy and delightful sense.
And some final word about the existence of telepathy in the future :
“The world will be a wonderful place when everyone’s a peeper and everyone’s adjusted… But until then, be greatful you’re blind.” –Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man, pg. 225, loc. 3443-3444
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2001)
Print Length: 512 pages
Read from August 07 to 20, 2013
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars
This was an unexpected book for me! When I read the book description, I confess I was not so excited about it:
“A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril returns to the noble household he once served as page and is named secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it must ultimately lead him to the place he most fears: the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies who once placed him in chains now occupy lofty positions.
But it is more than the traitorous intrigues of villains that threaten Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle here, for a sinister curse hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion. And only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge — an act that will mark him as a tool of the miraculous . . . and trap him in a lethal maze of demonic paradox.”
However, I was not disappointed! It is a very elegantly written tale, and the world building is amazing! I thought it had a slow start at the beginning. At 30% of the book I was feeling nothing was going to happen, the pace was slower than I would have enjoyed. The main character, Cazaril, is presented as a broken man, escaped from slavery, and returned to his Kingdom (Royacy) searching for shelter. At these introductory chapters, I wrongly suspected there would be no magic or fantastic events in the story.
The author slowly builds the characters and unravels the magical and religious background of the kingdom of Chalion. After it is clear that there is a dark curse going on and that Cazaril is the “hero” who takes action to solve the mystery (and gets deeply involved with it), the pace of the book increases greatly. From this point forward, I could not let the book down. I ended up loving Cazaril’s integrity, objectivity and sarcastic observations, and could not help but keep my fingers crossed for him. I really enjoyed the writing style of the book. It is classy but not over the top. The dialogues are great too, and the characters feel real and authentic.
All I can say without being “spoilery” is that it was a very pleasant read and I loved the ending, even though it may sound foreseeable for some. It is a great fantasy novel, very well balanced and with the right amount of magic in it. There is a sequel of this book called “Paladin of Souls”, which is now on my “to-read” list.
This book may be a good one for beginners in the fantasy genre, because it is light and neat even having elements like dark magic.
Oh, this author is also known for the science fiction series “Vorkosigan Saga” (which I never read) and that got my attention now.