In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

15 October, 2009

Book Review: Have Space Suit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

Teenager, Kip Russel has been longing to travel to the moon. Faced with the option of becoming a soldier (to be stationed at the moon base), an engineer (which requires getting accepted to a good college), or as a tourist (as part of the newly opened space travel industry). Kip's father has been pushing Kip to increase the coursework that he takes to get him ready for life in college. But Kip has not heard back from any of the schools that he has applied to. So when a slogan contest is announced with a first place prize of a trip to the moon, Kip jumps at the chance to win.

Kip ties for third place in the slogan contest and wins a genuine space suit. He names the suit Oscar, and spends the next few months restoring Oscar to space travel condition. When he does not recieve a scholarship, and is faced with working to support his way through college at the less than stellar local college Kip needs to face reality about how he can save up some money to pay for school. He finally decides that he will have to sell Oscar to help pay for his first year in college.

While taking Oscar out for one last walk, Kip answers a call for help over the space channel on his suit's radio. A space ship lands, closely followed by a second, and Kip finds himself journying out of New Jersey into space as a prisnor of the "Wormface". Wormface is a species of alien that had been hiding on the moon looking to take over Earth for their own evil purposes.

Kip and his companions, PeeWee (a twelve year old girl) , and the alien entity known as the Mother Thing travel from the moon to Pluto to try and stop Wormface's evil plans. The mother thing calls her Vegan companions, who capture the Wormface. Kip and PeeWee find themselves in an interstellar courtroom representing Earth in an interstellar courtroom. The fate of the Earth's future is balanced on the two young humans as they represent the planet to the alien judges.

This version of Have Space Suit Will Travel was the Full Cast Audio recording. I love the productions put out by Full Cast Audio. They are like listening to the radio plays. The recording features multiple cast members, music between the chapters, and the melodious bird song voice of the Mother thing and her fellow Vegans. Originally written in 1959, Have Space Suit Will Travel is on of Robert Heinlein's two books written for young readers. It stands the passage of time well, and I was transprted to a relm where space travel is possible.

01 October, 2009

Book Review: Anatham by Neil Stephenson

Fraa Erasmus is a young Avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar. The concent is a sanctuary for academics. Where mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers are able to come up with their theories while being protected from the secular world by stone towers and walls. The cities and governments around the concent have changed through the ages, and always the avout have been able to survive. However, as Fraa Erasmus and his fellow academics prepare for the upcoming rite of Apert, where the cloistered academics may leave the walls of the concent for the first time in ten years, he finds his heart torn. Erasmus is faced with seeing the family he was taken from as a young boy, and is challenged to remain a part of the academic life he has grown into.

However, unknown to Erasmus and the other members of the Concent, there are things happening outside in the secuelar world that will change the Concent and the life Erasmus knows so well. Suddenly the secuelar world calls for the help of the academics, and Erasmus and many other academics are called forth from the Concents all over the world. For there has been a sighting of a ship orbiting the planet, and it is not known if these newcomers are friends or foes. But will the academics be able to solve this problem that they are faced with? Or will they not be able to keep their world from being destroyed by an unknown race?

I've been a fan of Neal Stephenson's books since I first read Snowcrash many many years ago. However, I had a hard time with this book. It wasn't the focus on hard science rather than computers. It wasn't the fact he went from the more cyberpunk plot to a fantastical world of monastaries and cloistered academics. It had a little to do with all the alternate words used for names of places and items and events.

The biggest hindrance that I had with the book was all the length to the build-up of the setting. It felt like when the plot finally started to turn to the events driving the story that it was almost an afterthought

Once events actually started happening, I really enjoyed the book. But it seemed drawn out and overly lengthy. Also, I "read" the audio version of the book. This is a multi-cast recording, this recording also features a cameo by the author and original music inspired by the story. Unabridged, it was almost 38 hours long.

I believe that Neil Stephenson is a very gifted author, and look forwards to his future works. But I was a little dissapointed with this one.