The OF Blog: Blog Review Challenge review of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, plus another list and other matters

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blog Review Challenge review of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, plus another list and other matters

Bryce/Seak of Seak's Stamp of Approval recently posted a short review of Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 classic, Childhood's End.  In it, he raises a key point around which Clarke's novel revolves:  what value is freedom, when peace and security are achieved despite human agency? 

I read this novel several years ago and was of two minds about it.  While the premise was interesting, I found Clarke's prose to be rather pedestrian, which served to weaken the impact of the story's final pages, since I had so little emotional or cognitive attachment to what was transpiring.  Others doubtless will politely disagree.

My own pre-1960 review will be up later today, I hope.  I'll be tackling Alexandre Dumas' Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (after not having read it in any form for a dozen years, I read it for the first time in French a few weeks ago) and its structure.

Two things of interest for readers here.  First off, there is an interactive thread/poll active now at Westeros for readers to nominate up to 20 works of fiction (ranked in three tiers of 4-8-8 authors) that will then be tabulated shortly for a "Westeros 100" of works of speculative fiction.  For the curious, here is what I submitted there:

Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciónes

Gabriel García Márquez, OHYS

J.G. Ballard, The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Part Two:

Jeff VanderMeer, City of Saints and Madmen

Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed

M. John Harrison, Viriconium (omnibus)

China Miéville, The Scar

Vladmir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Thomas Ligotti, Teatro Grottesco

Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun (series)

Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast novels

Third Set:

Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist

Robert Holdstock, Mythago Wood

Octavia Butler, Lilith's Brood (omnibus)

Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman

Frank Herbert, Dune

Edward Whittemore, Jerusalem Quartet (series)

Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

And finally, I see hell hath no fury like mis-entitled George R.R. Martin (ex)fans.  There's an excerpt of Martin's SOIAF-related novella, "The Mystery Knight" in the upcoming Warriors anthology (which I've read and enjoyed, with a review in the near future) over at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist.  There are dozens of anonymous posters complaining about this and that in regards to the author, his health, his appearance, his professionalism, and perhaps even presumed affinities for certain barnyard animals for all I know.  Such people amuse me, before they irritate me.  I always find myself wishing that I knew where these people work, so I could demand that they work 24/7 for me (if they are in a service industry) and then rate them for every second that they are not fully engaged in their presumed tasks.  Of course, such things are just silly passing thoughts, but hey, one can dream, especially considering that my own job isn't the sort that's going to inspire a gung-ho mentality the entire 9 hours a day that I'm on the clock.

Anyways, enough of this for now. Have some readings to do.  Alternating between reading the past year's worth of Fantasy & Science Fiction issues that I've received for BAF4 purposes, re-reading Italo Calvino and Sergio Toppi in Italian, and studying elements of Koine Greek. Oh, and working out again, now that my wrist isn't so stiff and sore anymore.  Lost some needed pounds the past 10 days and am well on my way to being in the shape that I was when I was 18 in a year's time.  Don't know if I'll be dunking basketballs again, though.  Some things don't quite heal up, no matter how well in shape one might be...


Chad Hull said...

I was just talking about fan involvement yesterday, though with a different series in mind. As far as GRRM goes, I think Neil Gaiman said it best, 'He's not your bitch.'

Unknown said...

I get a warm feeling inside whenever I see The Scar get the nod over Perdido Street Station. Excellent choices, Larry.

The other half got Lud-in-the-Mist for her Christmas and I'm trying very hard not to read it before she's had the chance.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Yeah, some people never outgrow the kindergarten and tantrum stage. :)

Now, let's hope IE behaves today and lets me open the Westeros forums.

Bryce L. said...

Thanks Larry!

Regarding GRRM, I just don't get why it's still such a big thing for people. We got the point, he's taking a while; longer than some, not as long as others have. Now, why does someone have to bring it up every time GRRM is mentioned?

Gabriele Campbell said...

I've taken the Hotlist off my links. I'm afraid I left with a flounce which I didn't really intend, but the comments that include hints at sexual actions really angered me to a point I lost it a bit. Blame it on my conservative upbringing to find those things untterly inacceptable.

And it's not that Pat doesn't know that some people would prefer him to moderate comments.

Anonymous said...

Why Koine Greek? Attic is way more elegant.

Lsrry said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I do agree with the Gaiman comment to an extent, but I'm also going to look at from the vantage point of my day job (teaching): if others could walk a mile in my shoes, they wouldn't be as bitchy toward certain others during that mile.


Hope she gets to it soon, for your sake!


I honestly don't think Pat knows enough about how to turn on/off the features, based on what he's said before. Do agree that he's a bit too negligent at times, but I don't think it's a malicious intent from him. I just tend to shut out those who hide behind the Anon label for the reasons you noted.


I'm going to be learning both, as I just ordered a grammar of Attic Greek. The Koine was just so I could say that I read the New Testament in its original language. Thought it might be easier than the older Attic, but I certainly would love to be able to read Aristophanes in the original.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Larry, it's one mouse click in the Settings, and lots of people could walk Pat through that if he wanted to change comment policies. I admit I've overreacted earlier. Never post when mad, lol. I give Pat the benefit of doubt during his absence - he may have deleted a few comments else - but he really should rethink his lenient comment policy after this latest desaster (which wasn't the first of that sort).

I disabled anonymous comments several months ago after a troll left his half gnawed bones. :)

Lsrry said...

Well, it seems he's seen the light on that and Holy Mother, did he ever get a spam/troll attack! Some people just fail at the game of Life, I see.

Elfy said...

It's kind of off topic, but I don't know why Pat didn't disable comments entirely on that particular issue from the get go. He admitted in his first post on it that he anticipated the sort of storm that happened (this was prior to the spam bomb), it made me wonder if he thought that may happen why not take steps to prevent it in the first place.

Lsrry said...

Hindsight is 20/20, unfortunately. I sometimes post things that I expect might get some flak, but I've been surprised on a few occasions just how much talk was generated by my comments. I suspect the same holds true for Pat and what happened there. Of course, I doubt any expectations of grief would have included some morons making pedophile references, but such is the strange, sick world in which we live, I suppose...

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