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Showing posts from July, 2012

In Brief: Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone

Beautiful book even despite the relentless depravity depicted in the desperate lives of drug smugglers set against a bleak, gritty backdrop during the waning years of the Vietnam War.  So many hard drugs got smuggled out of the Sixties. Too bad peace and love couldn't have been smuggled out of the decade too.

Published in 1974, winner of the National Book Award, DogSoldiers made a nice dark bookend to the fractured dreams of Woodstock's generation.  It's a black denouement to dashed hippie ideals, a twisted paean to the power of heroin and hash, covert-ops and coverups.  But Dog Soldiers is not dated.  Nearly forty years out, its sordid story still resonates.  For as long as lies, lust, disillusionment, addiction, exploitation, small-time dope dealer's schemes, greed, murder, betrayal, embezzlement, military corruption and law enforcement hubris, remain en vogue in the shadier realms of our already wrecked humanity, so will DogSoldiers remain universally relevant.  Th…

Destination: Void by Frank Herbert

At the age of fourteen, Destination: Void (the revised edition published in 1978) was mystifying to me -- at least that's the way I'd of probably described it then.  I knew as much about computers or artificial intelligence as whatever I'd seen in either the "cutting-edge" computer flick of the time, War Games (1983), or in the older, but what still seems cutting-edge to me even today, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The second time I read Destination: Void, soon after The Matrix (1999) had come out, I thought Herbert was ahead of his time (especially considering the original version was published in 1966) as so much of what I saw on the screen in The Matrix seemed so familiar from the world Frank Herbert built in Destination: Void; namely, the physical connections he made between hi-tech, futuristic computer gadgetry and human flesh.  Herbert's novel inhabited a cold detached world where expendable clones explored space in a rigged experiment, "Project C…

The Book of Fantasy, edited by Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina Ocampo & Adolfo Bioy Casares

Fantasy as it became widely known and commercialized during the second half of the 20th Century, on the derivative heels of Tolkien -- with its abundant swords and sorcerers, redundant quests and ubiquitous good v. evil schlock -- does not exist among the refined stories of The Book of Fantasy.
Rather, fantasies of a more ancient order in fiction, focused on the uncanny, macabre, or sometimes just plain weird, haunt the peculiar pages of this supernaturally redolent anthology.  Like "The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973," by Tor Åge Bringsværd, a bizarre tale about an ultra-obsessed man -- a veritable hoarder of facts -- who filled his home for years with stacks of news clippings to the rafters, all of them published on September 1st, 1973.  For the remainder of his life, as the man considered only that day and nothing but that day, his future and his past, beyond that day, ceased to exist.

The anthology was edited by three Argentinian luminaries, Jorge LuisBo…