Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Book review: THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas


THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1844) by Alexandre Dumas.

I listened through this novel as a free Public Domain audiobook (see librivox.org). It was originally released as a magazine serial in French.

NOTE: The English translation I listened to may have been slightly "bowdlerized" by British publishers, who were uneasy with the French author's relaxed attitude about sex.

You see, while Charles Dickens and other British writers entertained Victorian readers with novels about chaste characters who never even dreamed about doing anything below the belt, Dumas's heroes had mistresses, drank hard, cursed and casually killed people in duels.

The novel's main protagonist, the reckless young swordsman D'Artagnan, can be read as a kind of 17th-Century James Bond. He takes on a secret mission, seduces a woman, is himself seduced by an evil female spy, and foils a plot to disgrace the Queen of France.

What elevates this story above simplistic pulp adventure is Dumas's sense of irony, and a certain cold-blooded cynicism. The heroes are really a bunch of self-serving womanizers and bruisers, who ultimately fail to make any change to the corrupt society they live in.

The famous phrase "One for all and all for one" does occur in the novel - once. The camaraderie of D'Artagnan and his three musketeer friends does feel genuine.

Entertaining, sometimes outdated, definitely "problematic" - but interesting, especially if you're into "gritty" fantasy literature and historical fiction.

#bookstagram #bookreview #alexandredumas #thethreemusketeers #classics #literature #booksuggestion #book #novel #novels

Friday, August 09, 2019

Möt mig på Bokmässan i höst!

 
På Bokmässan i höst kommer jag att stå i monter A01:52 för att sälja och signera min nya bok REX OMEGA (utgiven på TiraTiger Förlag).
 
Detta är en lättläst, underhållande, lätt satirisk thriller där kungen av Sverige är huvudpersonen - läs mer om den HÄR.

På söndagen kl.10 ska jag medverka på Fantastikscenen på mässan (i Fantastikgränden), för att presentera REX OMEGA.

Vi ses på mässan! :-)


Monday, August 05, 2019

Book review: THE ELEMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SECRET SOCIETIES

THE ELEMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SECRET SOCIETIES (2006) by John Michael Greer.

I'm a skeptic and I don't believe the world is being run by secret societies. (Seriously, does it look like anyone is in charge of things?)

There's a lot of history on offer in this book, and sorting the facts from fiction. One thing I learned was that many secret societies functioned as insurance funds during those times when public social security was weak or absent. Or that secret societies exist in African countries and Native American tribes.

Still, l wonder: What is it that Western secret societies, you know, *actually do* today? (Apart from social networking and frat parties for grownups?) Sad to say, this book answers lots of questions except that one.

What's commendable about this encyclopedia: it takes a firm stance against disinformation, paranoia and bigotry.
Various conspiracy theories are listed and debunked. (More recent ones, such as "Q Anon," are missing.) Curiously, though, the book does promote the "Shakespeare didn't write his plays" hypothesis.

Anyhow, this book makes a great source of inspiration for fiction writers. If you want to learn more about secret socities, or you want to try your hand at writing conspiracy thrillers, or you're just curious, this is an entertaining introduction.


(Caveat: the author is himself a Freemason. Is he REALLY telling us everything...? ;-))

See also my review of Umberto Eco's FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, elsewhere on this blog (or in my Instagram feed).

 #bookreview #bookreviews #johnmichaelgreer #theelementencyclopediaofsecretsocieties #conspiracy #conspiracies #secretsociety #secretsocieties #freemasons #illuminati #bohemiangrove #masons #bavarianilluminati #aleistercrowley #masons #occultism #theosophy #hermeticism #anthroposophy

Monday, July 22, 2019

Book review: A SCANNER DARKLY

A SCANNER DARKLY (1977) by Philip K. Dick

This novel comes with an author's afterword that makes a few things clear:


1) The characters and settings are based on Dick's own experience living in California during the hippie/counter-culture era;


2) He lost a lot of friends to drug abuse.

Thus, A SCANNER DARKLY is more than a typical ("typical" meaning very weird) Dick novel about shifting realities, paranoia and questions about human identity.

It is also a fictionalized account about the dying days of the drug-addled hippie era. Lives are wasted, minds disintegrate, addiction destroys the bonds and community between humans. It's a sad story, despite the dark humor and compassion.

Since the story is so grounded in lived-in reality, the science fiction elements feel almost unnecessary. No "sense of wonder," no moments of "conceptual breakthrough" are available here - only the bleak insight that drug addiction ruins everything.

Recommended, but kind of a bitter pill to swallow. (The movie version is very good.)

#bookreview #bookreviews #bookcovers #books #literature #philipkdick #ascannerdarkly #drugs #drugabuse #counterculture #sciencefiction #scifi

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Book reviews: DAMNED and DOOMED by Chuck Palahniuk

(FOOTNOTE: These reviews previously appeared in my Instagram feed.)


1. DAMNED (2011) by Chuck Palahniuk

What the hell is it about "Hell" that has attracted so many poets, writers and artists for thousands of years? (Dante, Hieronymus Bosch, Sartre to name a very few...)
Perhaps it's misanthropy, or guilt, or a mix of both - I don't know...

Anyhow... In the black comedy DAMNED, Palahniuk throws a teenage girl into Hell. She's forced to work in a telemarketing call center to torment the living.
(Well OF COURSE telemarketing is based in Hell. No sane person would argue with that.) Our heroine eventually decides that Hell isn't nice (she's right) and starts a rebellion against Satan.

The novel ends with "To Be Continued..." and there's a sequel, DOOMED, which is reviewed below.

I think this book is obscene, tasteless and thoroughly unsuitable for anyone under the age of 15. It also made me laugh a lot. Perhaps I have bad taste. Also, the plucky heroine and her band of rebels are sympathetic characters - especially the British punk rocker.




2. DOOMED (2013) by Chuck Palahniuk.

At the risk of spoiling the plot: DOOMED is what Neil Gaiman's GOOD OMENS would've read like if it were written by Chuck Palahniuk (the author of FIGHT CLUB).

This is a sequel to the novel DAMNED (which has been reviewed elsewhere in this feed).

The protagonist, who died and went to Hell in the previous book, is now back on Earth as a ghost. She must stop the nefarious plot of Satan... but of course it's not quite that clear-cut and simplistic. Things get weird, confused and icky.

I laughed out loud several times while reading DOOMED. I also squirmed as many times. You have to be aware that Palahniuk almost always tries to make the reader both laugh and feel very uncomfortable.

DOOMED won't make much sense unless you've read DAMNED first. And it's definitely not for everyone. Recommended for Palahniuk fans... and people who haven't forgotten what satire really means in these strange times.







#chuckpalahniuk #damned #doomed #bookstagram #fantasy #horror #satire #bookreview #bookreviews #bookbloggers #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammer #books #book #literature #novels #novel #hell #satan #damnation #afterlife


Friday, July 05, 2019

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Recension av REX OMEGA på Instagram

Bokbloggaren i_min_bokhylla har postat en väldigt positiv recension av min nya roman REX OMEGA.

Läs recensionen HÄR.

REX OMEGA finns på biblioteket och i de flesta nätbokhandlar.

Book review: THE LEGION OF TIME by Jack Williamson


THE LEGION OF TIME (1938 magazine serial; first book publication in 1952) by Jack Williamson.

This is the kind of pulp-magazine sci-fi that inspired today's blockbuster movies: Fast-paced adventure with nonstop action, flat characters, a dash of romance, imaginative settings, plus one "Big Idea" as the motor of the plot.

The plot could be summarized as "The Magnificent Seven in a time machine." The idea of a legion fighting across time has cropped up in pop culture now and then, but THE LEGION OF TIME is the granddaddy of them all - it originally appeared as a 1930s magazine serial in ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION.

Author Jack Williamson used the (then) fresh and unexplored theme of quantum mechanics, and came up with a truly original plot: There are two competing alternate futures, fighting each other by trying to alter the past. This being pulp fiction, one future is Good and the other one Evil.

The "good" future gathers a crack team of scientists and soldiers from the past,
with the American protagonist as its leader - the "legion" of the title - to help find the "hinge point" in history that determines which future will come true...

It's a fantastic idea, but it's squeezed into a pulp serial that was obviously written very quickly. The book contains far too much fighting at the expense of plot, character development and depth.

Though Williamson had talent, this short novel will seem overly simplistic to modern readers - like a very violent YA book, with outdated gender roles and crude ethnic stereotyping.

I recommend THE LEGION OF TIME for three reasons. One: It's got a great idea that could have been used better. Two: aspiring writers should study it to learn what works and what doesn't work today.

And the third reason: THE LEGION OF TIME is an escapist adventure and it does "carry the reader away" by its sheer momentum... and "Sense of Wonder."


I think there ought to be more escapist adventure fiction for present-day readers, and perhaps this book could teach young writers how to create such stories.

#bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookblogger #pulpfic #scifi #sciencefiction #jackwilliamson #thelegionoftime