MicroReviews: Gravity’s Rainbow, Artemis Fowl, Parable of the Sower

Yes, as you can see, I’ve been reading both the highbrow and the low. A little of everything for the win!

To start: Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow is a pretty fun read. A large mix of history, science, the occult, and Pynchon’s very odd brain, this one took me a bit longer to read through than usual due to its near-800 page length. An interesting jaunt through Europe and elsewhere set largely in the culmination and aftermath of WW2, laced with original songs, intricate descriptions, silly stories, myriad external references, and obscenity to rival Team America, it’s easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. Recommended, but only if you have a strong stomach and aren’t easily offended.

Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower is an interesting dystopian story that seems a bit like the anti-Anthem (Ayn Rand) to me. Lauren Olamina is a girl gifted with quite a bit of foresight, paranoia, and a special talent which is also an Achilles’ heel of sorts, and she copes with the destruction of her family and everything she’s known. In the course, she comes up with something of a new philosophy/religion aimed at a more communal and earth-friendly existence. Interesting read, pretty violent at points. I’d read other novels by this author, to be sure.

And finally, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl and its sequels are fun reads aimed at kids. They read a bit like tame versions of ground trodden by Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton (less sex and violence), with more science fiction thrown in. Still amusing if you can get past the technological implausibilities (tracing an MPEG through analysis of radioactive properties??) and focus on the characters. I won’t read them again, but it wasn’t an utter waste of time. Evil child geniuses with a touch of conscience are fun!

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