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Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Clifford D. Simak’s “Time is the Simplest Thing”

Thursday, December 18th, 2008
The Clifford D. Simak book, "Time is the Simplest Thing"

Time is the Simplest Thing

There’s a huge market out there for “golden age” science fiction from the ’50s and ’60s. One book that falls into this category is Clifford D. Simak’s Time is the Simplest Thing.

Simak’s tale probably falls into the category of soft science fiction or science-fantasy by today’s standards. That’s because it deals with telepathy.

The Story of “Time is the Simplest Thing”

Shep Blaine works for an organization called Fishhook which uses machines to catapult a person’s consciousness into the outer reaches of space to discover new knowledge and technologies that can better humanity while also extending the money and power hungry monopoly’s reign.

But Blaine’s life changes forever when he encounters an alien presence that melds its mind with his so that he’s not quite human nor quite alien, but rather a hybrid of the two. Heeding a warning from a former colleague that had a similar experience, Blaine fleas Fishook and goes on the lamb.

The action in this book is non-stop. The pace speeds away, never leaving one bored, and one can easily imagine a lot of the action on the silver screen (although, of course, certain aspects would have to be updated for the modern age since the book was written in the 1960s).

Blaine is an interesting character, since he flees for primarily selfish motives but ends up by the end of the book working toward bettering the place of non-Fishhook telepaths in the world, as they are the victims of irrational fear and prejudice.

Simak’s Novel as Allegory for Civil Rights Era

I can’t help but wonder if the entire book is on some level an allegory for the civil rights movement of African-Americans in the 1960s. It’s not a perfect allegory, but there’s enough parallels to make me think that perhaps Simak was trying to spread a message of tolerance to a world that desperately needed that message at the time.

I suppose it’s a message that we still need to this day. There’s intolerance all around, and while in the United States I think that prejudice certainly hasn’t reached the heights it had during the times of the civil rights movement, other parts of the world are just as bad. So this book can serve not only as an entertaining read, but as a beacon of hope to a world that still is not quite perfect when it comes to treating everyone humanely.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the prequel to the original trilogy of Star Wars and was the first movie made after episodes IV,V,VI. I have read a few other Star Wars books and have seen all of the movies. This book is by far my favorite book of them all. T

Book Jacket of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace

Book Jacket of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace

he best part about this book is that it includes a lot of extra parts of the story of young Anakin Skywalker’s childhood and how he became Watto the junk dealer’s slave along with his mother.

Desert Sand Planet of Tatooine

The story starts out in the desert lands of the sand planet of Tatooine. The beginning is also part that is not featured in the motion picture, which is the story of how Anakin and his mother end up in the hands of Gardulla the Hutt and are lost to Watto the junk dealer through gambling.

The story of young Anakin is an adventurous and exciting one. The Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and his young Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to the Viceroy of the Trade Federation by the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic to negotiate a treaty to end the trade route blockade of the planet of Naboo which leads the two Jedi to the planet of Naboo to protect the Naboo people’s Queen Amidala. The Jedi adventures on Naboo lead them to meet the Gungan, Jar Jar Binks who takes them to the city of Ootah Gunga, an underwater paradise. When the leader of the Gungans, Boss Nass denies them help for them to save the Naboo people they are sent on an adventure through the abyss under the water where they encounter several monstrous creatures and are nearly swallowed whole.

Luckily they escape the abyss with their lives and arrive to the city of Theed, the capital of Naboo where they meet with Queen Amidala and her people. They are captured by the Trade Federation droids and are on their way to see Viceroy Nute Gunray of the Trade Federation but somehow get out of captivity and find a ship to escape the planet. The trade blockade is dead in front of them once the reach space but through the Jedi’ keen sense of the force, they launch into hyperspace with perfect timing to blast right past the blockade. They end up getting caught in the middle of the galaxy without any power and their hyperdrive damaged and need to find a planet to land where they can repair their ship and get back to the Jedi Temple on the planet of Coruscant.

Repairing the Ship

The only near planet that lacks the presence of the Trade Federation is the sand world of Tatooine where they have a run in with the young Anakin Skywalker while they’re at Watto’s junk shop searching for the necessary parts to repair their ship. After having issues negotiating with Watto for the parts, Qui-Gon Jinn along with Jar Jar Binks, the Queen’s handmaiden, Padme and the Astro-droid R2-D2 leave his shop. While roaming through the city of Mos Eisley the Jedi and his friends get caught in the midst of a sandstorm when they run into Anakin on his way home and Anakin offers them his house to stay while they wait out the storm.

While at home with Anakin and his mother, the Jedi is trying to find out a way to get the needed parts for his ship when Anakin suggests betting on Anakin in the Boonta Eve podrace the following day. Once they work it out with Watto, convincing him that the pod was the Jedi’s and that he would let Anakin use it in the race, Watto negotiates the deal that if Anakin wins Qui-Gon gets the parts he needs and Watto gets the earnings and if Anakin loses then Watto gets Qui-Gon’s ship.

Instantly agreeing, Watto makes the bets. The night before the race Qui-Gon talks to Anakin and finds out that Anakin’s midi-chlorian count is higher than any Jedi in the history of the order. Having the sense that Anakin could be the Jedi that is said to be the chosen one who will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the force, Qui-Gon looks to make a bet for Anakin’s freedom. On the day of the race before it started, Qui-Gon approached Watto and discussed the freedom of Anakin and convinced Watto to make the bet, knowing that Anakin would win the race because he was destined to become a Jedi.

After the Pod Race Win

After the exciting pod race win for Anakin that alomost costed him his life, Qui-Gon talked to Watto and worked out the winnings. Afterwards, Qui-Gon went by the shop to get his parts for his ship and then went and got the no-longer slave boy named Anakin Skywalker. Once they got to their ship and had the parts for the ship replaced and were ready to leave, they were attacked by the Dark Lord of the Sith known as Darth Maul, who was sent to assassinate the Queen. Just barely escaping the clutches of the Sith Lord, they were in space on their way to Coruscant to the Jedi Temple and to the senate to inform them about the Trade Federation’s blockade of Naboo.

Once on Coruscant, the Jedi Council refused to bring Anakin into Jedi training because he was to old, the Queen informed the Republic Senate of the Trade Federation’s actions on Naboo. The Queen made the decision to return to Naboo to be with her people who were suffering at the hands of the Trade Federation. Once on Naboo the Trade Federation took the Queen captive, the two Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi encountered the Sith Lord Darth Maul again and were engaged in an intense lightsaber action with the Dark Lord. The intense fight went on and on until Obi-Wan was trapped by a containment field and Qui-Gon was taking on Darth Maul alone. Making a swift move with his red double-bladed lightsaber, Qui-Gon was killed.

As soon as the containment field was down Obi-Wan ran into another intense fight with Darth Maul which ended in the death of the Sith Lord. Before Qui-Gon died he made Obi-Wan promise to train Anakin in the Jedi way. When Obi-Wan saved the Queen and went back to the Jedi temple he carried out his promise, letting the council know that even if they denied the boy training, Obi-Wan wasn’t going to break his promise to the fallen Jedi named Qui-Gon Jinn. After the entire Jedi Council along with the Queen and members of the Senate left the ritualistic Jedi funeral of Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin was sent with Obi-Wan to begin his Padawan training and become a great Jedi Knight…

Ted Dekker – “Skin”

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Ted Dekker has been writing some of the most compelling Christian fiction since C.S. Lewis (well, maybe since Frank Peretti, depending on your personal taste) for quite a while now.

“Skin” is Dekker’s first book to make the New York Times bestseller’s list. It’s certainly his most secular book, but still chalk full of spiritual themes.

The book takes place in the small town Summerville which has been the target of a serial killer that identifies himself as “Red.” It comes down to a few people to save the town from the killer: Wendy, an emotionally damaged woman that escaped from an abusive cult; Colt, a local cop; brother and sister Nicole and Carey; and Jerry, a professional video game player that only cares about himself.

They find that stopping is Red is harder than they anticipated, though, because Red doesn’t quite seem human; his reflexes and speed don’t seem human, and they’re at a loss trying to figure out how to stop him. What’s even worse, Red seems to merely be play a game with them, while they are struggling just to stay alive.

Dekker’s somewhat well-known for crafting twist endings that will leave one breathless. Not as well-known as M. Night Shyamalan, maybe, but he definitely packs his books full of twists and turns. And, unlike Shyamalan, who seems to craft some his movies seemingly with the aim of fooling people at the end, Dekker appears rather to want to tell an amazing story that just happens to leave you gasping for breath at the end.

That being said, I think that the twist at the end of this book blows every other Dekker ending out of the water. Skin is a great addition to the growing library by this talented Christian fiction author.