The Motivational Power of a Library Notice

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I’ve been dragging my feet pretty hard on reading lately but am trying to jump back in. Amazing how something like a library notice can help motivate me to finally pick up that Judy Blume book I’ve been ignoring for the past few weeks. I’ve hit my renewal max on this one, so I either have to return it unread or burn through it in the next two days. I think I can do it.

Forever is only 209 pages long and recent experience has taught me that I can definitely read that much in two days, given the right motivation.

So far I’m just under 30 pages in and there’s something reminiscent of Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women here. Methinks a young woman is about to discover herself through sexual experimentation and exploration. I’m in!

Lots for me to connect with already. For example, Katherine, the main character, describes an ex-boyfriend, Tommy Aronson, who dumped her because she wouldn’t have sex with him. I was transported back to a similar youthful experience wherein a boy broke up with me because he didn’t feel we were “connecting in the right way”. Mmmhmmm. Gee, I wonder what he meant by that? Although he wasn’t as direct as Katherine’s Tommy Boy, I’m fairly confident in my reading of my cowboy’s farewell words; I think I know exactly which parts of us he didn’t think were “connecting in the right way” if you know what I mean…

In other news, I’m still working on Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies which is getting…weird…to say the least.

Jane Eyre is at a standstill. It might join Watership Down in a side-pile of “I need to read you but you’re so just not doing it for me” list books. I haven’t given up yet though. I know it seems like I have, but I haven’t. I really want to read Wide Sargasso Sea. 

More updates to come, stay tuned!

 

New Pretty Town Sounds Fun

 

"Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld - book coverIn his series, Uglies, Scott Westerfeld introduces readers to Tally Youngblood, a young heroine (I mean, I’m assuming that she’ll turn out to be a heroine, giving her the benefit of the doubt here by upgrading her from ‘protagonist’ to ‘heroine’) who is about to turn sixteen. In her weird and messed up society, turning sixteen marks a rite of passage in a young person’s life. At this point, they undergo extensive plastic surgery to correct all of their natural “ugly” features, surgically replacing them with idealized ones. Whose ideals, you ask? I’m not entirely sure. Apparently, it doesn’t matter because humans are biologically wired to respond to a “certain kind of beauty”:

There was a certain kind of beauty, a prettiness that everyone could see. Big eyes and full lips like a kid’s; smooth, clear skin; symmetrical features; and a thousand other little clues. (Westerfeld 16)

I mean, that does sound like Beyonce and I do have a biological response to her soooo

BUT LET’S BE SERIOUS. This is a load of crap. There is no “certain kind of beauty” that everyone biologically responds to. I would buy that everyone is socially conditioned to respond to “a certain kind of beauty,” but even then my use of “everyone” is flat and problematic so…

OKAY BUT THIS IS A PIECE OF FICTION, CATHERINE. You know, “fiction,” as in not real.

Right. Fine. I was just saying.

So in this FICTIONAL world, after you turn sixteen and undergo this transformation, you become what’s known as a “Pretty”. Before that, in all of your natural glory, you would be an “Ugly.” The Pretties live in New Pretty Town and the Uglies live in Uglyville.

Uglyville sounds like a police-state ghetto, whereas NPT sounds like what would happen if you turned an entire town into a VR night club. There are fireworks, parties, sex and alcohol everywhere. Everything appears to be free. Pretties appear to have zero responsibilities. Party robots patrol the town to encourage people to party harder. Everything is rigged so that people can’t hurt themselves or each other. All the fun with none of the consequences. God I am so worried for everyone in this town.

I gotta say, Westerfeld, I hope that your lack of creativity on the nouns in this book is an indication of greater effort spent on the story’s formal elements because *holy lord dyin’* these are bad:

  • Tally Youngblood is primarily defined in the beginning of the book as too young to be a pretty
  • Society is divided between attractive people called Pretties and unattractive people called Uglies
  • Pretties live in New Pretty Town and Uglies live in Uglyville

It’s as if he put these names in as place-keepers until he finished writing the rest of the book and then, once finished, he thought “Aw, screw it, good enough, let’s get this puppy published already”. That’s purely conjecture, of course (Does anyone know if this happened for real? Because I would 100% believe it)

In terms of plot, I’m only four chapters in, so not much has happened. I’ve met Tally who wants to be a pretty so bad it hurts. Not because she wants to be “pretty” per say (she does, though) but because she wants to be reunited with Peris, her BFF. She wants to be pretty for him. I think I know where this is going.

SO. Peris is three months older than Tally and has already been mutated into this “pretty” thing. Tally sneaks over to New Pretty Town, where Uglies aren’t allowed to go, and finds Peris—she had to talk to him, you guys. REASONS—and he promptly tells her to GTFO of there and to only come back when she’s pretty like he is: “I want to see you pretty” (18), he tells her.

I don’t know about the rest of you but this sounds a lot like high school.

Whilst attempting to escape NPT (she’s being chased at this point because she’s been discovered as an intruder), Tally meets Shay, fellow soon-to-be-pretty trespasser and they manage to get back to Uglyville without being caught. They bond over their ostracism and estrangement from newly-Pretty friends and Shay teaches Tally how to ride a hoverboard.

That’s it, you’re caught up.

Now it’s time for everyone’s favourite: PREDICTIONS!

  1. Tally will not become a Pretty
  2. She will try to ‘save’ Peris from being a Pretty, she will try to get him to see her inner beauty and understand that “beauty is not just skin deep” but he’s too far gone. She has to leave him behind.
  3. I’m betting this whole “Uglies” and “Pretties” thing is the result of a reproduction crisis of some kind, a la Children of Men
  4. Shay and Tally fall in love (this probably won’t happen but the text is PRIMED for it so I’m putting it out there)
  5. Tally gets arrested for something, meets “Uglies” who think that this whole Ugly vs. Pretties system is a bunch of BS
    • Shay is already one of the leaders of this underground resistance. That’s what she was really doing there that night.
  6. Tally starts/joins a rebellion against the Pretties/Uglies system

That’s all for now! Coffee beckons.

The “Dust Land” Series aka Hunger Games aka Abstinence Fiction

Image result for raging star dust lands

As per my Goodreads review – these books are so very problematic. They are essentially an abstinence pamphlet disguised as a YA trilogy. How so? Well, it turns out that the only thing more dangerous than giant eyeless, clawed desert worms is female desire. Who knew?

I’ve read the first two books in the series and of all the deaths which have occurred so far (wich is a lot) all but two of them result from female desire. The two exceptions are the protagonist’s parents who die in childbirth (which, actually, is kind of related to female desire and sexuality) and in an attempt to protect their children from kidnappers.

From the moment Saba leaves home, it seems all deaths and bad decisions are the result of her being tempted/blinded/seduced/distracted by sexuality/romance/love/desire. Sure, give her some fire and the girl can last a full night in a Dune-esque desert with hordes of giant sandworms with claws attacking her, but put an older & shirtless man in front of her and she’s defenceless against him.

I’ve decided to walk away from this series after the first two books. I started Book 3, Raging Star, but I’m not going to continue reading it. The second book ended on a note that suggested that the whole thing is going to come down to a jealous boy whose feelings were hurt by romantic rejection and that the fate of the world rests in this boy’s ability to deal with said rejection (hint: he’s not). Either that, or the fate of the world rests in Saba’s ability to resist giving in to her sexual desires (just don’t sleep with the bad man, Saba, and everything will be okay! or – Just don’t make Tommo jealous, Saba, and everything will be okay!). After that, I found I had simply lost the motivation to keep reading.

The other side-reason why I’m walking away is because, to be honest, thank you but I’ve already read The Hunger Games so I don’t need to read it again. I can draw a straight line between characters and key plot points between these two series. Except I loved The Hunger Games.

Ultimately, Young’s books show flashes of technical writing skill and style. This is a shame because otherwise her ability as a writer is buried by a distracting dialect which distracts from the plot.

I’ll see what Female Rebellion has to say about these books and then move on. I’ve got Judy Bloom on deck and just picked up Uglies from the library. Then there’s the List too, which is being very patient with me…

Anyhoo – off to work!

image source: Goodreads

I missed it

I’ve ditched…no halted?…no…strayed…yes, strayed from Jane Eyre in favour of Jim Butcher’s Captain’s Fury (Book 4 of the Codex Alera series) and Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur’s book of poetry.

I know, I know.

I said I wouldn’t.

I know, I know.

I already did when I read Interview with the Vampire, and Anatomy of a Girl Gang, and Hag-Seed.

I know, I know.

I’m still working on Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction and if I’m going to diverge from the List AND my “On Deck” lists AGAIN don’t I want to prioritize the primary texts discussed therein?

I know, I know.

But.

I missed it.

I missed that feeling of being hungry for a book. I missed day-dreaming about “what’s next?” and being entirely distracted by a plot. I missed nodding “yes” and saying “uh huh” feigning attention in a conversation while secretly all I’m actually doing is thinking about the book and waiting for the next break in whatever-it-is that is demanding my attention so that I can escape back into that world.

And I’m not hungry for Jane.

I wanted to be absorbed, and so that’s what I’m chasing right now. That’s why I picked up the next book in Butcher’s “Alera” series. They are long, but they’re easy to read and they’re fun and they pull me in.

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Fun Fact: I read online somewhere that the “Alera” series was born out of a bet for Butcher to write a story based on Roman legions and Pokemon. Crazy, right? There is no way that’s true, right? That’s what I thought, too. But, as it turns out, IT IS TRUE! Isn’t that so much nuts stuff? I found an interview Butcher did with Fantasy Literature.com where he confirms the whole thing! (You can read it here).

To those of you out there thinking “Ummm, yeah, Cat…we already knew that…this news is like…eight years old…keep up, GAWD” Well, you would be right, but this is still new to me and therefore it is exciting to me and this is my blog so THERE.

Image result for i have the microphone adam sandler

I’m still listening to Jane in the car sometimes just so I can say that I’m still making some progress there. And, admittedly, to get me closer to Wide Sargasso Sea a little bit faster.

I’ve also picked up Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, because it’s been on my shelf since Christmas and it lends itself better to short, fragmented reading sessions, such as over lunch or five minutes in the morning.

So. Yes. I’m straying. Again. And I don’t care because I missed it, and the List will still be there waiting for me after I get my fix.

 

Image credits:
Captain’s Fury cover: Goodreads
The Wedding Singer: TuneCore Canada

Brad Pitt messes with my creativity

I saw the film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire way back when and fell in love with it. Since, it’s always been one of my favourite movies, and Brad Pitt stole my heart.

Image result for interview with the vampireTom Cruise freaked me out a bit – oh, how little I knew then how he would grow to freak me out even more…and Kirsten Dunst performed perhaps her best on-screen role of her entire career. I might be biased. But she was so good!

Image result for interview with the vampire claudia

The result is that, now, some thirteen-ish years later, I finally have read Anne Rice’s book, which inspired it all. Louis’ voice, in my mind, was exactly that slow, smooth, detached drawl that Pitt uses in the film, and that was wonderful. It was like having Brad Pitt in my brain for a few days, reading me a story about vampires and the human condition.

Point being: I wasn’t able to separate my film viewing experience from my book reading experience. Do you remember my post about Troilus and CressidaWhy do you do this to me, Brad? Let my imagination go, and run free! Are you so possessive that once you’ve inhabited a character in my mind, nobody else can? Damn you!

It’s interesting that in the film *spoilers* Lestat does not return until the very end, and he’s the one who seeks out the reporter. In the book, Lestat reappears at the Theatre des vampires. He’s the one that gives them up, rather than Santiago figuring it out on his own. The novel also ends with the reporter heading out to find Lestat, rather than the latter dropping out of the sky into his red convertible as he’s driving at highway speeds.

Also, Armand and Louis run off together in the text, whereas in the film Louis goes on the road solo after Kirsten’s death (I think I’m remembering that right – can someone corroborate this?).

Lastly, the film puts a lot of emphasis on Louis’ refusal/grappling with feeding off humans. At one point, Lestat finds him after he’s spent weeks in the gutter, feeding solely on rats and vermin because Louis can’t stand the guilt from taking human lives. Once he learns that he can live off animal blood he’s like “WELP. It’s an animal-based diet for me from now on!” but this doesn’t happen in the book at all. His foray into animal-based eating is brief, and he quickly returns to feeding off of humans. He doesn’t enjoy it, he complains about it a lot, but he does it.

All told, the book was pretty good. Brad Pitt Louis is a fairly self-indulgent and philosophical narrator who muses and moans more than he tells a story. But the story he does tell is pretty good. Surprisingly, the first book does not make me want to read Prince Lestat, the second installment in Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series. I know they are canonical to the vampire genre, which I do love, but at this point, I simply have too many other books tempting me, of whose quality I am more certain.

Speaking of which, I finished The Tempest last night, so there’s a blog coming for that. Stay tuned! For now I’m off to mark and write papers.

Image Sources
Claudia (Kirsten): Media Giphy
Lestat (Tom) and Louis (Brad): The Clinton Street Theatre

Jeremy Bentham was on to something, but Gaia takes it too far: considering individuality vs.superorganisms in “Foundation and Earth” (also spoilers)

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DONE! I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it feels to be able to put this series to bed and move on with my life.

I’m happy to have read the series, if for no other reason than I can now say that I did. It feels like an accomplishment, and like it gives me more credibility as an accomplished science-fiction reader. Though, I am admittedly still in my infancy in that genre.

Asimov and I disagree on many fundamental concepts on which his opinions were expressed throughout the series. Most notably, his views on women, sexuality, and gender relations, though there were others as well. This made the series a challenging one for me to read – I had to labour (yes, labour) to put aside my objections and offense so that I could read the books. This was near-impossible for me at the start, but by book 7 I had improved enough to be able to focus on plot. It also helped that books 6 (Foundation’s Edge) and 7 (Foundation and Earth) benefited from some improvements to the treatment of female characters.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!

Furthermore, I liked this book because I love being right, and it is rare that my predictions are correct (remember my Anna Karenina predictions – they were way off!). After reading Forward the Foundation I predicted that Daneel would be back, and I was right! Go me!

giphy

Recap:

So – ready for the spoilers? Okay – here we go. It turns out that Earth was radioactive this whole time, just like everyone kept saying it was. I assumed this would be as a result of nuclear war on the planet, because I think we can all agree that seems to be an inevitability of our times. However, it’s attributed to a fight between Spacers and Settlers, and their hatred of Earth. So, kind of nuclear war? But not really…to be  honest those details from the book – the WWWWWH of Earth becoming radioactive – are fuzzy.

I’m in a satisfying state of post-book-completion-haze right now. Pray, have mercy!

Fun fact: Trevize hilariously contracts a deadly STI whilst visiting a planet of topless women. HA! Suck it, Trevize. That’ll learn ya.

Trevize & Co. find Earth, and since it is uninhabitable, they figure the moon is the next most likely location of its ‘secret.’ They land on the moon, find Daneel, Trev determines his gut decision in favour of Galaxia was right all along, and Daneel mind-melds with a toddler. THE END.

Slightly more insightful thoughts:

An overarching theme of Foundation and Earth is the question of whether it’s better to be an individual, or one part of a larger inter-connected whole (aka Gaia, aka superorganism). The entire plot, in fact, is driven by Trevize’s desperate search for Earth to find support for his decision in favour of Gaia for the future of humanity.

Ultimately, the novel determines achieving Galaxia, in other words becoming a superorganism, is better for the well-being of humanity. But is this right? Free-will is such a fundamental belief in so many world cultures, it is difficult to envision parting from it. In fact, the necessity of giving up so much of my own free-will and self-determination to a higher power is one of the big reasons why I struggled so much with religion when I was younger.

The concept of utilitarianism seems relevant to this discussion as well – is it really the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people that matters? If it is, is it right to sacrifice personal happiness for the common good – even if that means giving up our individuality?

ARYA

Well, I couldn’t do it. Arya Stark and Trevize both have me beat there. I might be able to do it if I was able to maintain my individuality, while still participating in the ‘greater whole’ – but to completely sacrifice people’s ability to have dominion over themselves, to make their own decisions…I just can’t get behind that plan.

SIDE BAR: In Googling utilitarianism, because I couldn’t remember anything about it, the internet informed me of Spock’s “needs of the many” quote. I learned something new about Star Trek today. So, that’s pretty exciting.

 

Final thoughts: I still think I should have read iRobot instead.

Modern Family gif credit: giphy.com: http://giphy.com/gifs/modern-family-julie-bowen-i-told-you-so-3o85xpZcINGzBPDI0U
Game of Thrones photo credit: http://www.vulture.com/2016/05/arya-lessons-faceless-men-game-of-thrones.html

 

 

Foundation’s Edge (aka remind me again why I didn’t read iRobot?)

Well, that’s done. Only one left to go! Huzzah!

The Foundation-fatigue is palpable.

I have also developed a healthy suspicion that anyone around me could be a robot.

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A picture of a robot with Jimmy Fallon. Ask, and the Internet will provide. Thank you, Internet ❤

That’s what happens when you read six books and they all reference how robots are secretly ruling the galaxy, manipulating humans for our own good. They are the mechanical non-human humanitarian overlords of the Galaxy!

Here is how I imagine a conversation between two robots would go:

“Check it out, Daneel, they think they have free-will, so adorable!”

“I know – I just helped this one prevent a galactic war. They think they did it themselves. So quaint, these humans!”

“If only they knew the truth.”

“Shush, don’t ruin this for them. They’re so cute when they think they’re in control.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Look at this one: ‘oohh I made a decision.'”

“HA! Yeah – sure you did, little guy, sure you did. So clueless!”

“Hey – did you hear the one about the Eternals?”

“Yeah! Hilarious, right?!”

lol.

ANYWHOO.

Foundation’s Edge was okay. I’d rank it as tied with Forward the Foundation. My favourite book in the series is still Foundation, which is the first one.

On the bright side I have become so accustomed to the sexism and stereotyping in Asimov’s Foundation novels that they no longer get a rise out of me. I let them just sliiiiiide right by me. Like a ship Jumping through hyperspace. BOOM SPACE REFERENCE!

I now turn my eyes to Foundation and Earth. Then I will be done, and it will be marvellous.

PEACE OUT!

 

 

A House in the Sky

Before you begin to judge me for straying yet again from the List after I just said that I would return to it as soon as I finished Asimov’s Foundation series, hear me out.

I had to.DSC_0011

…I did!

Okay, listen. When a region recommends a book to its entire community, it behoves me to pay attention. This is what the Waterloo Region does with their One Book, One Community program. Their 2016 pick is A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett.

One would think there would be no copies left in the library – the whole region is trynna read this thing! There would be waiting lists for the waiting lists, right? Right! EXCEPT there happened to be ONE copy at the Express Checkout desk the exact moment I looked it up, and an exceptionally nice library angel willing to guard it until I got there. Coincidence? Not likely. This was kismet.

So you see, I really had no choice, I had to read it.

So I did.

I blew through this book in a matter of days, which was undoubtedly assisted by the fact that I’ve been sick and therefore relegated to the couch and bed with nothing else to do in my spare time but read. I consumed this book, and was consumed by it.

A House in the Sky is Amanda Lindhout’s story of her 460-day kidnapping in Somalia. In the book, she provides context for her readers with details of her childhood in Alberta and how she came to develop a deep sense of wanderlust. In her early twenties, an adult who was no longer tethered to parents, she began to travel the world in a way that would make even the well-travelled amongst us jealous. Adopting a lifestyle which enabled her to set off for months at a time, Amanda travelled to over 46 countries, returning to Canada only to refill her bank account. Once financing was in place, she was off again. Her approach to travelling reminded me of the television series Departures, except Scott and Justin had a cameraman and a filming budget, and Amanda had only her waitressing savings.

Amanda’s wanderlust evolved into an aspiration to become a photojournalist, which landed her in war zones for gigs. In 2008, she travelled to Somalia with her friend Nigel to try to get photos they could sell, and it is there they were kidnapped and held for ransom for 15 months.

Amanda’s retelling of her time spent in captivity is hard to envision. Not because it’s poorly written, but because it’s traumatic. While reading the book, I kept thinking to myself how amazing it was not only that she survived, but also that she continues to survive, every day since she was freed. I kept reminding myself “This is real. This really happened. She actually lived through this and people actually did this to her.”

I was also struck by the strength it must have taken to relive those 15 months, in each horrific detail, in order to write this book.

What will I take away from reading this book?

I think I will take with me the strength of the inner self. I am astounded by Amanda’s ability to survive her kidnapping, and even more so by her attitude and perspective on, well, everything. That little voice inside her head is what kept Amanda going so strong for so long – we all have that little voice, but it’s hard to listen to it sometimes.

On days when I was really struggling…the voice posed questions. It said, In this exact moment, are you okay? The answer, in that exact moment, was steadying: Yes, right now I am still okay.

– Lindhout & Corbett, A House in the Sky, p.294

I need to make that voice of mine an ally, instead of always arguing with it, and find my own strength, so I know it’s there when I need it.

 

 

Forward the Foundation (all the spoilers are in here)

*spoilers – if you don’t want to know who dies, don’t read this post*

Forward the F76679oundation is my favourite book the series so far, after Foundation itself. Despite being the second book in the series chronologically, it is obvious that it was the last book Asimov wrote. I say this because there is a distinct improvement in the portrayal, and representation, of female characters in this book compared to the others I’ve read in the series.

I do find refuge in knowing that I am not alone in calling out Asimov’s misrepresentation of women in his Foundation series. I thought I might be, for when discussing the books and my opinions with my husband, who had also read the series, he didn’t share my views regarding the treatment of women in the books. He was surprised that the treatment of women and the dynamic between Dors and Seldon seemed to be my focus. He also pointed to the fact that Asimov assigned a female character as Seldon’s protector (Dors) as evidence that Asimov was not, in fact, sexist.

You know what? That’s true. Asimov could have easily made Seldon’s bodyguard a man and worked in Dors some other way. But Dors wasn’t a woman, was she? She was a robot. And Bayta and Arcadia were Controlled by male psychohistorians. And Raschelle’s only weakness was her womanhood.

We had different interpretations – which is fine, that happens – but to me the sexism and stereotyping were so blatant and persistent throughout the series, it struck me as odd that I would be the only one to see it. It seemed so apparent to me that I thought that in order to deny its existence one would have to be choosing not to see it; turning a blind-eye, diminishing or dismissing it.

Then I reconsidered: perhaps it is possible that the sexist treatment of women in Asimov’s novels stands out more to women because we, as readers, are more aware of them. Our experiences have shaped us to recognize inequalities (especially those against women) when we see them. I think this can be said about any group who has been discriminated against – members of that group are more aware of the inequalities which create obstacles in their lives, and more likely to call them out. Men have not had the same experiences as women in terms of gender-based stereotypes. Does this make them less aware of the inequalities which surround them? Is this one of those  “till it happens to you” situations?

Turning to the interwebs to see what others thought about Asimov’s Foundation series specifically within the context of the treatment of women, I was relieved to find many others shared my interpretation. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy being right? There is a great post here which echoes my sentiments (and has much better writing!), and a pretty good and balanced discussion thread on Goodreads here. If you’re interested.

There is an argument that the books should be treated as products of their time; written in the 1950s, could one really expect the treatment of women to be any different? And to that I say yes. First, other sci-fi authors from the era managed to envision egalitarian or at least gender-equal worlds. Second, considering the author identified as a feminist and was writing a futuristic novel about the evolution of society? HELL YES.

Like I said, Forward does offer some improvements – for example, two of the four parts in the book have female title-characters (Dors Venabili and Wanda Seldon) and Wanda is credited with revolutionizing and saving psychohistory. It is nice to see this kind of progression and improvement in Asimov’s writing. I would hope it comes as a result of the evolution of his own personal views, however after reading multiple accounts of how he was known for sexual harassment in the workplace (click here, here, and here), I’m not going to get my hopes too high. Interesting that Asimov considered himself a feminist…

There are some really interesting stories and ideas presented in Asimov’s Foundation series, if you can get past his issues with female characters. Obviously, psychohistory sounds hella cool. As I’ve mentioned, I believe this to be the future application, and evolution, of actuarial science. Also, the sociology of Trantor is in itself a fascinating study, as is the concept of the causes of the fall of empire and the conditions and processes by which society rebuilds. Then there’s robots, mentalics, the representation of religion and the supernatural…this is some really interesting stuff, you guys!

OKAY. BACK TO THE BOOK – Forward the Foundation. 

The book was good. It provides closure to the story lines of some my more beloved characters from Prelude, before they disappear entirely in Foundation. We say goodbye to Daneel (though I’m willing to bet he shows up again later), Dors, Cleon, and Raych (NOOOOO).

I loved Raych from the start. The little gavroche just melted my heart. I’m glad that Asimov made him a prominent character in both Prelude and Forward, providing readers the opportunity to see him grow in to an adult and find out how his story ends. Isn’t closure a wonderful thing?

I would like to know, however, where this whole mind-meld ability of Wanda’s and others comes from. That was never explained…was it a natural evolution in humans? A mutation? If it’s a natural evolution, then it is logical that it would continue to occur throughout the galaxy, and not be isolated to the Second Foundation. In this case, the Second Foundationers should be able to account for the inevitability of the Mule, or another like him, in their psychohistory calculations.

Question: Where are the aliens and other races? Twenty-five million planets and everyone is human?

Only two left!