Tag Archives: classics

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Even though there were passages and descriptions that are overly lengthy, as a whole, the story moves at an effective and at times breathless pace. Highly affecting! I am so impressed with how it set up so many prototypes, from physical descriptions to potential advanced technologies, for modern alien/alien invasion stories. A real classic!

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The Great Gatsby

greatgatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald
Read by Anthony Heald
Finally read (listened) to this classic and totally understood why its fame and popularity have held up for almost a century. The tragic love story is laid out so well, subtly at first, then with more and more clarity and force until the readers cannot but detest almost all of the players between the covers, and couldn’t help but pitying Gatsby. It is interesting to me how the “glamor” part of the book is so short and so hollow and yet that’s the imagery most associated with the title. And Nick Carraway definitely is not the naive youngster but an observant, empathetic, and gentle soul whose involvement in all the affairs is not due to his infatuation with wealth and power but due to his willingness to treat others with decency. Perhaps that IS a form of naiveté — but there is a nobility to it and you don’t want him to lose it.

I find it slightly unsettling how Fitzgerald strays from the confine of a first person view point many times to describe in details both factual and emotional events that Carraway (the first person narrator) could have never directly observed. I imagine this shifting of limited first person POV and an omniscient narrative passages is greatly discussed in classrooms around the country. I wonder if anyone writing novels today can get away with this inconsistency?

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duneby Frank Herbert

I was much more impressed with the book during the reading of the book than after having finished it — largely due to my expectations of having something transcendent, something heart-felt, something truly world shattering that the journey might have led to than what actually transpires at the end.  I definitely liked the world building, the presentation of technology and training of various warrior/assassin types, and the drawing upon non-Euro-centric traditions in constructing the beliefs and social structures within the world of Dune.  (And the Sand Worms… are such cool Desert Dragons!)

With such a rich and realized world, in the end, the book is just a fairly standard story of a hero that’s born with amazing abilities who cannot escape the paths set up for him and who walks all the way to the end as destined and even though losing a few precious things along the way, there seems to be little to no effect on his person. Much of the plot is propelled and explained away with mysticism and basic political maneuvering. At a certain point, I muttered, “Paul’s better not succeeded in accomplishing this as he has planned…” — but, as always, he did. He managed to achieve all that he set out to do, from outwitting enemies, to changing the ways of a tradition, to earning back trust easily from his old pals. Yes, he did lose a son in the whole process — but his reaction? They would be able to create more heirs and the heirs will inherit the world.

The volume ends as the two generations of concubines having a short exchange where Paul’s mother assures Chani (his true love but not the proper empress) that even though they would never have the title during their lifetime, they will be remembered in history as “Wives”!! Woop-dee-doo! What an achievement!

Granted, it was created in early 1960s and perhaps Herbert was not trying to question science or future worlds as harshly as we might these days — I still couldn’t help but putting a 2013 lens on it.

I know I will not be reading the sequels any time soon.   I searched and read some book summaries of the two sequels — it seems that the question of lineage and political power play are even more centralized in the next two books. Definitely not too exciting for me!


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A Study in Scarlet

sherlock-_-a-study-in-scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
I never got to read this original story that has inspired so many other renditions. I loved “A Study in Emerald,” a short story by Neil Gaiman in the collection Fragile Things and thoroughly enjoyed the BBC Sherlock episode entitled “A Study in Pink.” So pleased to report that this is indeed a fascinating mystery. Now I think I’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes tales: short and long. Happy about it.

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The Time Machine

The Time Machineby H.G. Wells

This is the first time I actually read this classic science fiction. As a forerunner of this genre, it does not feel stale or naive. It does not attempt to dazzle the reader with gadgets or worldbuilding, but simply tells a solid and thoughtful tale. And it is such a short and quick read, too.

View all my goodreads reviews >>

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