Showing posts with label nostalgia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nostalgia. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Greatest girl characters | The Atlantic, Tor, and myself

I came across this post by Jen Doll at The Atlantic about the greatest girl characters of young adult literature through (my number one stop for procrastination when writing papers...), where Mari Ness criticized The Atlantic's article, pointing out the fact that the majority of books on the list aren't even technically designated for a young adult audience. But setting aside the technical problems Ness is so troubled by (which truly are worth considering), the premise of the list is deeply flawed.

Doll's article is built on the premise that Katniss (of The Hunger Games fame) may be a revolutionary character in American film, but not in literature. It's a noble (if altogether warped) premise, but the execution is clumsy at best. What I'm bothered by is the fact that Doll's list is almost exclusively comprised of very old characters, with only The Book Thief as a remotely modern book. Not that these choices are necessarily void because they're old, but this is certainly not the list that I would ever come up with.

At Tor, meanwhile, Ness unsurprisingly comes up with a different list entirely and opens the floor up to nominations. As I read through the list (and subsequent comments), I was struck by how different the two approaches are. Half of Doll's heroines live in a society of young women who seem forced to exceed society's expectations, while the other half are simply well-characterized girls. It's all very reality-grounded. Ness' choices and the majority of the choices listed in comments, meanwhile, predictably lean in the direction of fantasy. Many comments name one of my personal favorite characters Lyra Belacqua (of His Dark Materials), and Ness specifically addresses another unacceptable omission in the form of Hermione Granger, who despite not being the main character of Harry Potter is definitely a main enough character to justify appearing on any list of this kind.

These omissions - among many others - make Doll's original list very puzzling. While I don't deny that these are remarkable characters, these young women share very little with Katniss, who sparked the whole debate. Beverly Cleary's Ramona is a wonderful little girl, but she is no way the predecessor to Katniss. The whole matter is quite frankly bizarre.

I have my own lists of great characters (girls or boys). I've already discussed Leslie Burke, and I can certainly discuss Hermione or Lyra for hours at an end. And I have to admit that I was thrilled to see one commenter add Antimony Carver of Gunnerkrigg Court to the list, though she's only one of many wonderful girls in the story. Others: Ella from Ella Enchanted, Cimorene of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, obviously Meg from A Wrinkle in Time (thankfully included in Doll's original list), Coraline from Coraline, Tamar from Someone to Run With (my own addition), and many, many, many others. This seems like a field worth delving into further.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

SAFL #8-10: A few classics

When I think of potential Science and Fantasy Literature candidates, there are a few that are so clearly classics - cornerstones - of the genre. These are books I'm nervous to go into too much depth about in part because they've been done by people much more qualified than myself, but also because it's been so long since I've read them that sometimes the finer details escape me.

But the fact that each of these classics managed to completely blow me away is not something I've forgotten.

SAFL #8: On the sci-fi end, we've got Ursula K. Le Guin's stupendous The Left Hand of Darkness. This is a book that challenged my typical understanding of sci-fi. A book so wonderfully written, so fully complete and so diverse, The Left Hand of Darkness cannot fail to surprise and enchant readers. Le Guin is an excellent storyteller, creating realistic and interesting characters, raising fascinating social questions and preferring a more subtle, quiet form of writing to the bombastic style that characterizes many pulp sci-fi books. A classic in its genre, and a wonderful work of literature overall.

SAFL #9: On the fantasy end, I find myself returning to some of those old-school kids classics. In this case, the book is Michael Ende's wondrous The Neverending Story. The first book I ever properly summarized and reviewed in my then-new review notebook, it was also one of few books that managed to keep its status in my memory years later. A rich, fantastic book, The Neverending Story is as much about the magic of literature and stories as it is about its main characters. This is one I'll often return to in bits and pieces (by opening a random page and reading short passages) and one that will likely never leave my memory for long. A beautiful, magical story.

SAFL #10: Finally, we have a book that can certainly be counted as one of the high-water marks of science fiction... but one that I sometimes think blurs the lines between sci-fi and fantasy. Frank Herbert's Dune is intelligent, fascinating and shines in its focus on world-building. While it comes from an earlier age of sci-fi, it never feels trite, instead remaining as interesting and entertaining to readers today as it must have been years ago.  Dune is a book partially marred by disappointing sequels and by its occasionally dry style, but it creates one of the finest worlds in science fiction, strong central characters, and an incredibly well-written, good story.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Links for the weekend

From an excellent guest post by Sharon T Rose over at Drying Ink about the relevance of science fiction:
Science fiction in all it incarnations steps outside of the usual and presents us with a fresh look at some things that are actually quite familiar to most of us. Star Trek is a classic example: all the issues and conflicts in the far-flung future make-believe were actually very relevant to the modern human audience. Class battles, racism, government, love and/or lust, culture clash, inequality ... those are all issues that you and I deal with in our everyday lives.
On another end of the genre scale, a case for the classics by the ever-thoughtful Amanda of Dead White Guys (hat tip Entomology of a Bookworm):
[Classic] authors spent a great deal of time addressing the evils they saw in society. Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo attacked society’s treatment of the poor. Tolstoy’s meditations on serfdom speak to economic inequality in modern society. Dostoevsky addresses political oppression. Jane Austen and the Brontes all critique society’s treatment of women.
Finally, Biblioklept has a wonderful write-up about one of my all-time favorite books (A Wrinkle in Time, discussed here and here) in honor of the fiftieth anniversary edition:
Wrinkle endures also because of its handling of complex themes of conformity, idealism, faith, and science. It’s a book that challenges a youngish audience to read in new ways.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Victory!, or, A Story of Remembrance

My memory isn't perfect. There are many books I read as a kid that I don't fully remember, and then there are those I remember vividly but can't quite recall their names. I often find myself browsing book sites and bookstores and libraries and stumbling upon a kids book that will raise a red flag: "Yeah, I read that one!" This is particularly common when I browse Goodreads, as I attempt to map out my history of reading.

But for the past few years, there has been one book I've been unable to recall (or rather two - book plus sequel). I've tried in vain to remember the book's name, but there was nothing there. I remembered only a few small pieces: boy named Will, a girl escapes from a castle (in winter), something with a rabbit, the girl becomes the focus of the sequel, widowed with a dead baby, the sequel is a crusade, and that these were good medieval books. I've tried a couple of times in the past to locate these books, but always unsuccessfully. Book lists typically called up the same results again and again. I gradually gave up, even as my desire to find (and re-read) the books grew and grew.

And then... this morning.

I was hanging out on Goodreads, finding all sorts of old historical fiction books from my childhood and it struck me - internet search engines are much better these days. Why not run another search? "medieval historical fiction kids" - let;s try. But though I found other lost treasures, the so-desired set remained elusive. So I tossed in two other keywords - "widowed" and "crusades". Option number two: Medieval YA. Search for widow, and...


The Winter Hare and Peregrine, without a doubt. And now I can't wait to get my hands on these books to find out how they'll hold next to my memories of them...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Earthsea early thoughts

A few months ago, when the idea of reading Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea cycle seemed distant and unrealistic, I came across a colleague reading the books. Flipping through a few pages, I noted the fairytale-like writing - it felt like Le Guin was sitting next to me and telling me a story in the most simple and straight-forward fashion. At the time, I concluded that the Earthsea books must be the kind that were best read in childhood. Despite loving Le Guin's writing and wondrous imagination, I felt that I had missed my opportunity.

This past Thursday, an old, clearly read copy of the Earthsea Quartet (the first four books, through Tehanu) was given to me as a stepping stone into the wider world of fantasy. On Friday I began to read, and by Saturday afternoon, I had completed the first two books and was ready to start the third.

The weird and wonderful thing about this specific edition of the Earthsea books is that it's a compilation. Normally, I dislike reading sequels one after the other (to avoid the stories blending), but with the Earthsea books, the time periods jump so drastically between books that there was no problem. I finished A Wizard of Earthsea, ate lunch, and immediately began to read The Tombs of Atuan. A few hours later I was done... and itching to read more.

My original assessment stands - I probably would have loved the Earthsea books as a kid. And yet even now as a relatively young adult, I'm completely into the story, appreciative of the characters, and enthralled by Le Guin's method of presenting it. I'm eager to find out what happens, excited and entertained. Yes, there's something childish, or child-geared to the writing, but this doesn't detract from my adult-mind appreciation.  It's just good storytelling.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It ended, but it will never end

I've been reading too many blog posts and articles recently about Harry Potter. And seeing the giant posters everywhere. "It all ends" - this is the claim the final movie posters are trying to sell, this is Rowling's own point, this is the feeling going 'round Harry Potter fans' minds. Except mine.

Because guys, Harry Potter ended in 2007.

Back when the movies first started coming out, it felt almost premature. I remember wondering how they could be making movies of a series that wasn't even complete yet (the same feeling I get, by the way, when thinking about A Song of Ice and Fire). It felt rushed, it felt passionate, it felt... exciting. There was an excitement because I wanted to see how it lived up to my expectations. I wanted to see the actors and the sets and the exciting scenes (as well as the cool stuff, like the characters figuring things out for themselves).

But they were separate. Though the movies became a thing I cared about, I never let them take over my reading experience. I continued to imagine the characters as I had before, never for a moment thinking of them as the actors. These were two worlds I cared about that were tied together at their core, but split so clearly in my head.

"It's the end of the franchise," people tell me, but I'm unconvinced. I recently read the first few pages of Harry Potter to my young cousin and it looks as though I might even convince him to read further. Though he has grown up in a world that has always had Harry Potter - though he is clearly not of my own generation, that which was completely enchanted and won over by the whole phenomenon - he wants to read the books because they tell a good story. That will never end.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A poetry story

A lovely 'Even Hoshen' edition
Czesław Miłosz and I "met" in late spring of 2006. The days were warm and sunny, the atmosphere carefree and happy. The school year was coming to a close. Our end-of-the-year English unit was poetry, as was our summarizing final project and exam (more details here). I was impressed enough with Miłosz writing to give him the front-centre spot in the project, and enough to remember his name. And yet.
And yet it took me an additional five years to read further Miłosz poems, this time in another language. When an article in the Ha'aretz Book Review (partial English representation here) mentioned a newly published translation of a collection of Miłosz poems, I immediately took note. During the National Book Week, I visited the booth of this publisher (small, independent and almost entirely unknown... sadly). I picked up the book was struck by the beauty of the edition. This was not a simple publication. I could discuss the publishers at length (at a later time), but suffice to say that the edition is positively lovely - heavy paper, a distinct blue font, and specially drawn images scattered throughout the book. A book for a true bibliophile. And Miłosz lover.

I did not immediately dive into It (as the collection is called in this edition). I took my time, occasionally reading a poem here and there. One evening, I sat down to read a few poems before bed. One left a particularly strong impression. "Meaning":

When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add up,
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams.

(translation Robert Hass)

It's a poem that can impact a reader in two languages (or possibly more). This is why I return to Miłosz, why I do like some poetry. I'm not a huge poetry reader, but poems like this - poems that move a reader enough to read them again and again and again without the words growing old - are the reason I will continue to seek out new poets. And return to the talented ones.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Breaking the habit?

The Stacks
Let's be proud for a moment: I haven't purchased any books since late November. Folks, I think this is a record. I decided to cut back on the book-buying in December when I found myself staring at far too many books I'd bought over the last few years that have languished on my shelves without a care in the world. I have reached the "to-be-read stacks" breaking point. About time.

Here's the thing: most new books that get hyped and sell well have short-term success. I don't mean that they're bad books, nor do I mean that they aren't successful. Most, though, just aren't worthy of particular mention a few years down the line. By stocking up on current hits, I'm not allowing time to tell me just how "eternal" and "classic" these books really are.

The "oldies"
This doesn't mean one shouldn't acquire any new, contemporary books. I still want to read the newbies... I just don't want to forget the oldies while I'm at it. I don't understand how one can hoard books to a point where they own multiple books by an author without having read anything by said author. I own several unread books by favorite authors (or classics I know I'll eventually force myself to read, regardless my opinion of the author...) but they're authors I've already realized I like and will want to keep coming back to no matter what.

I have always managed to keep my stacks under triple digits, but of late I've been straying dangerously close (and am way over if eBooks count... which they don't!). I didn't buy all of the books for no reason - continuously hoarding will only mean that at some point I'll entirely forsake books that I truly wanted to read. So now I visit books that have long been on the shelves - I'm currently reading The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov and am finding that it's actually rather good (and not at all what I expected). I finally got around to reading Solzhenitsyn and completing anything by Thomas Mann. I'm making headway in the stacks (with a few library stops along the way) and the conclusion is simple: while new books may be flashy, I have plenty at home to keep me busy for a while. No reason to go book buying within the next two years.

Okay. Maybe more like two months. But for now, I'm doing okay.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A few words about Borders

Standing at the top of the stairs
Despite the fact that my own Borders will not, in fact, be shutting down (list found via A Reader's Respite), I face the news of 200 Borders stores closed down with a heavy heart. I have a long, personal history with Borders that begins rather early in my reading childhood. My local Borders was divided pretty well for my childish mentality. The bottom floor was boring (though I later grew to appreciate history, science and music). The top floor, meanwhile, was awesome. In one corner, children's. In the other, sci-fi and fantasy. Between the two, grown-up literature. On the other side of the floor (where across and under the staircase I could stare for hours at the buyers below), the teen section glimmered, right next to comics.

It was always easy to drift over to whatever shelf I wanted that week. As I grew older, I switched sides more and more, first relocating clearly to the teen section and as I grew even older, drifting back over to the "grown-up" sections, browsing books with the best of them. The booksellers were tolerant and kind, always helpful when I came with questions and always understanding that a kid sprawled on the floor reading probably shouldn't be bothered.

It was more than that, though. These things could apply to any bookstore, and do in fact to a few others I've frequented. But there was something nonetheless unique. It was, without a doubt, our local hang-out as early teens. Borders was were my friends and I would go to hang out.

I think about other bookstores I've been to. My semi-local B&N always felt cold and rushed and seemed like it wanted people to leave as soon as they'd arrive. The local indie was awkwardly organized, crowded and a bit far. The second-hand bookstore was clumsy, tiny and cramped (though perfect for other kinds of book-shopping). Borders, on the other hand, was airy and welcoming, the glass doors showing me a lively world of readers. It was filled with books (and good books too), unlike B&N offering me obscure titles scattered among the popular. I'd see indie publishers. I'd find unexpected books. And I appreciated every minute of it.

Even though my "own" Borders doesn't seem to be shutting down yet, I find myself thinking that if it ultimately does close down, the world will be losing more than just a competitor to B&N and Amazon. It was also be losing a store that, perhaps at a great cost to the smaller stores around it, was forever encouraging young readers to blossom and expand, even if only in one small region.

I, at least, will miss that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

3. The Giver - Choices

"But I’ve never been a writer of fairy tales. And if I’ve learned anything through that river of memories, it is that we can’t live in a walled world, in an “only us, only now” world where we are all the same and feel safe. We would have to sacrifice too much. The richness of color and diversity would disappear feelings for other humans would no longer be necessary. Choices would be obsolete."
-From Lois Lowry's Newbery Acceptance Speech

The Giver is the kind of book that I actually read as a kid, as a slightly older kid and as an adult, where the level of admiration for the book did not once diminish. The thing is, The Giver is clearly a kid book. Simplistically written and plotted, it's meant for a child reader. This does not mean, however, that adult readers cannot appreciate and enjoy it.

The Giver is not the first in its genre. In a sense, the dystopia it presents is fairly tame (when compared to some of the more recent, overwrought examples...), but starkly important when one realizes that the matter of choice, of individualism and free thought are all ideas that we - and the generations after us - will need to maintain. It's a story about growing up, about a world that at first seems almost identical to our own and gradually shifts as the reader realizes the differences.

This is dystopian literature in the true sense of the word - to almost every member of Jonas' society it is a utopia. To Jonas and The Giver it isn't. It's a book that inspires thought, continues to speak to readers across the generations, and one that deserves its status as one of the greatest works of children's fiction (or science fiction, or dystopian fiction...) to have been published.
"The man that I named The Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing.

It is very risky.

But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom.
Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things."
-From Lois Lowry's Newbery Acceptance Speech

Friday, January 28, 2011

1. Time Quartet - Good vs. Evil

The Time Quartet
I originally didn't want to include too many young adult books in this list of powerhouse science and fantasy literature books (SAFL) but I inevitably find myself turning to young adult classics, and specifically Madeleine L'Engle when times are tough. Or when I need to name excellent science fiction. To make sure you get your bang for your buck (these books are short), I'll refer to the whole Time Quartet (ignoring the fifth wheel An Acceptable Time, which fits neither mood nor quality of the other books...).

I have a long and close relationship with these books, one that no matter how many years go by, I'll always be able to rely on. This is a series that I was absolutely obsessed with in 4th grade (and a bit of 5th). One of my best friends and I would sit for hours and hours, pretending we were the characters and could bend time and space as they could. I recall during one history unit, we needed to create characters and write a background story for them. We decided to be Murry twins Dennys (him) and Sandy (me), getting so into our characters that on a class field-trip (several days away from home), my family sent me a letter signed with all the character names in place of themselves.

The first lesson
This introduction doesn't do much justice to these books. The fact is that they're strange and confusing at times, and to pretend that these books didn't deeply impact the way I viewed the world would be completely wrong of me. Like the picture included here (and discussed at length here), every page of A Wrinkle in Time held some fantastic truth for me to hold close. The Time Quartet isn't like the Wikipedia description. It doesn't ever feel like there's religious subtext (I honestly have no idea where they pull this stuff out of...), nor are they books that necessarily promote, well, evil. In fact, the three books that make up the original Time Trilogy (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet) all come down to one very simple premise: good vs. evil. Guess who wins.

There's an odd book out here, and it's Many Waters. Though taking place chronologically before A Swiftly Tilting Planet, it focuses on two characters who until that point got very little screen time - Murry twins Sandy and Dennys. It's a book that focuses more on fate and love as a grand, dramatic statement rather than a simple battle of "good vs. evil". Hints appear (good angels versus bad), but it's a very different story and wonderfully fresh in that sense. Reading it third in the quartet worked well for me... it showed me something completely different.

Any reader who seeks quality science fiction or fantasy needs to look no further than L'Engle's wonderful series. Though adults may not be as heavily influenced by these books as I was as a child, the Time Quartet is a cornerstone in science fiction for younger and older readers alike.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Still important

Still powerful, three years later
It seems like a very long time ago, but almost two years ago I wrote up a short post about Thirteen Reasons Why, following a NYT article on the book. It's a book that significantly affected me when I first read it in 2007 (oh so long ago), one that I have tried to give to many young (and not-so-young) readers I know. As pretentious as it may be to quote myself, this still stands:
"It's a book for boys and girls alike, teens and adults, readers and non-readers. Even as some don't appreciate it as I do, I think what's special about Asher's novel is that you leave it with a new understanding for a lot of things that you may never have thought of before."
Since writing these words, I've read many many many reviews and write-ups about Thirteen Reasons Why. A lot of readers felt much as I did. Many, though, did not. There were readers who disliked the "blame game" angle of the book (also mentioned in my original post), readers who felt that the writing was sensationalist and unrealistic, readers who did not connect with the characters... and so on and so on.

A few weeks ago, I reclaimed Thirteen Reasons Why after having lent it out for about a year and a half (it sadly returned unread, though). My first move was to crack open the book from the beginning and read it straight through. Even though I knew the story from start to finish, remembered most of the individual stories and was more critical of the writing style than I had been the first time around (when I was of an age better suited to read the book), I found that I was still very affected by Thirteen Reasons Why.

I don't know why I expected to be disappointed by Thirteen Reasons Why, but I did. And so I'm glad I was disappointed by my lack of disappointment, that is pleased with how the book is still excellent and important in all the ways I remember.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

When an era is not a year

Last year I mentioned my increasing boredom with end-of-the-year lists. I mentioned my main dislike of them. I did not mention an additional unease I have with them: what exactly is a reading year?

Despite my online presence, reading for me is something entirely personal. It's marked by personal events, is dependent on personal emotions, and happens when I personally have the time for it. Our lives aren't dictated as much by years as we'd like to think, they're dictated by personal occasions and eras: when I had that job, when I went on that vacation, when I took that course, when this major change in my life happened...These time periods can be as short as a few days, or as long as several years.

I was reminded of this last year, when I was surprised to discover that my first book of 2009 had been The Master and Margarita. Until that point, when I'd tried to summarize my year, I'd been naming completely other favorites - and yet The Master and Margarita quickly turned into one of my all-time favorites. It was just read in a different time period so I kept missing it. The same applies to this year as well. The books I read during Sci-Fi Month (and in the weeks after) don't belong to this year - they belong to the era before February (and started in December 2009). Just like there is one book that belongs to the February era. And then dozens belong to the March through October era. And then the post-November era.

I couldn't give a top-ten list of the year. Or top five. Or even just top 1. Every small era that officially existed in 2010 (some rolled over from 2009, some will continue to 2011) is its own "year". The reader I was at that time was completely different, goals were set, reached and reset, and my reactions to some of these books were entirely altered by the personal settings I may have been in.

So I'm not looking forward to my 2011 "reading year". That does not exist. I'm eager to continue with my "Post-November" reading era, because so far it's had one spectacular book, two wonderful books and a few pleasant ones. I am not certain when this particular reading mood will shift, but I'm confident that 2011 (for all its worth) will contain some interesting reading eras.

*Happy 2011!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Before I revisit those mountains...

Did I hate or like this one?
In sixth grade, my class was told that for our sci-fi/fantasy unit, we would be reading John Christopher's (and I now discover that's a pen name...) "classic" - The White Mountains.

This voracious reader, well versed at the time in young adult appropriate sci-fi and fantasy books, was outraged. "What is this book?" I complained to the teacher. "There are so many amazing sci-fi and fantasy books out there, they have to pick this tacky, stupid looking book?" She sighed and nodded in agreement. "Yes, I really don't understand why we study this."

Retrospect tells me that my teacher probably disliked the book in part because I can't recall a single female character in it (so even if there were girls, fact is that I don't remember them!). A forgivable sin (to a degree...), but when teaching a class split half girls half boys, it really doesn't make sense to read a book like this. Then again, my complaints stemmed from an entirely different realm. I wanted to read books like The Giver again (I'd already read it at a different school the year before and had seen the impact it had on the class), or A Wrinkle in Time and books along those lines. What was this ancient book being thrust upon me? (Ancient being, of course, entirely in comparison to all my 10-11 years of life. Then again: 1967 publication year. Come on, guys.)

I remember a lot more from this book than I should. I remember some joke about "Jean-Paul" sounding like "Beanpole", evil tripods, steel caps... But I remember hating the book. Or at least saying I hated it. And then promptly reading the two sequels.

Here's where it starts to get fuzzy. Why would I read not one, but two sequels if I actively didn't like the book? I'm lead to believe that I probably liked the book reasonably enough (or was intrigued by the premise, or wanted to be friends with one of the characters - who knows), otherwise I wouldn't have bothered with sequels. It's strange though, the tricks memory can play on you. I look at the cover of The White Mountains (and subsequent sequels) and feel queasy. A hint at an ultimate disappointment? No, I remember being riveted at the end of the third book (by one particular, entirely spoiler-filled scene). Nausea due to the hideous covers? Hmm...

I'm looking forward to revisiting The White Mountains (and sequels). The fact is that I barely remember anything from them (some flashes here and there), so it's like coming anew. Maybe I'll see what my teacher couldn't as to why we read this over other sci-fi books (though I doubt it...). Maybe I'll find a great sci-fi classic. Or maybe I'll realize that I hated this book for good reason. We'll see.