I reed buks

June 18, 2009 at 11:44 AM | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment

I finished “Universe” by Robert Heinlein last night. It’s a short story about people living on a spaceship and they think it’s the entire universe because they don’t know there’s an “outside.” And also they might be kind of stupid. It’s older than, but similar to, The Matrix, but like a Matrix that doesn’t care. It felt like he just got bored and stopped the story. I know short stories often end like that, but you can’t help but think if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have been short stories. And they’d be better. There wasn’t much backstory on why the mission ended and everyone forgot about it, which is disappointing. There’s a bit of philosphy, sure, but not enough, and nobody reading is in suspense that it’s a spaceship on a trip and not the whole universe, so there are no twists or surprises.

Do I suck at book reviews? Yes.

“Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell is much better. It’s the story “The Thing” is based on. And I mean John Carpenter’s movie, because he did a faithful adaptation of the themes of the story. The 50s movie was just a stupid monster movie where James Arness gets out of some ice, walks away, they say he’s a plant, then they electrocute him. Virtually nothing like the story. They do actually call the alien “The Thing” in the story, which is fantastic. The main characters are the same as Carpenter’s film. There is actually violence and gore, just not quite as imaginative. In the text, the thing has three red eyes and blue, crawly, wormlike hair. The kennel scene, Blair figuring the thing out and going crazy, and Macready’s test are all from the story. The ending is a bit, “bwah?” But there are some interesting details not in the movie. This is a rare case where the movie is possibly better than the book, but I’d call them equally good. At least neither sucks.

These are from an anthology, but I don’t know which story I’m going to read next. I’ve already read “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. As I recall, The Time Traveler (that’s his name) travels through time. The end. No, actually I believe the Eloi live in tree houses (like the remake movie, but not really), and there’s some creepy underground Morlock stuff in the dark. And he burns down a museum because he’s a dumbass. Nothing special. Now I guess I’d say the movie was better there. Some of the ideas in the remake are interesting (not the Orlando Jones hologram). But I’m partial to the videogame (which doesn’t work in Windows XP, wah).

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