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Bits

Bits’s book reviews

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4
This is an interesting read (I almost wrote screed :-).

Most of the prose is written in first person plural, which makes for lyrical and quaint sentence constructions that sound nearly biblical in their peculiarity. The character(s) are likable and admirable. The plot is mostly pleasant and predictably standard science fiction: misunderstood hero rises above circumstances to find love and truth.

The biggest flaw in the book is the philosophical false dilemma presented in the last two chapters. Rand describes two possible human societies: one based on grey socialistic uniformity and the other of prismatic individuality. The book would have been more interesting if there had been more options that were presented, and in a more nuanced way.
03/02/2009
This is a very funny and interesting play. It starts slowly and with too many characters, but the plot develops rapidly. With the exception of a brief bit of philosophy on the proper role of women in society, it would still work with modern audiences.
02/26/2009
I somehow got the impression that this book was written as a serial, because with each chapter the plot got more sordid and another character (or two) were added. By the end, the suspects, motives and red herrings were piling up pretty deeply. On the down side, the pace was slow and the main characters were unlikeable. On the plus side, it was an interesting look at rural English life of the early 20th century, and the mystery was a good one. I, for one, did not guess the murderer.
10/24/2008
First, who is Cornelia Van Gorder? She was not a character in this book. There are about twenty characters, but not one is a Cornelia nor a Van Gorder.

Second, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and many have names that are too similar for me. Mrs Curtis, Mrs Conway and Mrs Carter? I never figured out who was who. Sullivan and Simon and Stuart also threw me for a loop. Then there were the descriptions: the lady with the bronze hair and the one with the dark hair? Were either of these a Curtis or a Conway? I still don't know.

Still, the main characters were entertaining and kept my interest even as the plot became more convoluted and improbable.
10/12/2008
At times, this novel approaches the scope and depth of a Great Work. For example, I found myself reflecting on Dickens' Tale of Two Cities at least once or twice. The themes of Rinehart's book are also of courage and sacrifice. But in the end, this is a simply a very good novel that provides a first hand description of the first world war, the American perspective and the devastation of Europe.
09/29/2008
This pair of essays represent a fascinating glimpse of the gender rights rhetoric of the early twentieth century. Rambling, by turns patronizing, sexist, admiring and reverential, the authors reflect on many topics from suffrage to fashion. A quick read that is both humorous and thought-provoking.
09/28/2008
There are faint humorous foreshadowings of the Stainless-Steel Rat in this short story. The ending does feel a little abrupt, mostly because the story and the protagonist are so much fun.
09/26/2008
Yes, "societics" bears a striking resemblance to "psychohistory", but there the similarity between Harrison and Asimov ends. K-factor is a tightly written, plot driven, short story in which science plays a small role. The ending may surprise you.
09/26/2008
This is an adventure novel of the H Rider Haggard and Doc Savage tradition -- where the men are burly and masculine and the women are pale and dangerous. Pardon the sexism and the racism of the time and it can be an entertaining, if very light read. The writing style is quite different from the Nero Wolfe stories, with very little of the humor of the popular detective series.
09/21/2008