Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

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Like many people, I’ve seen the movie a few times, but had never read the book before.

Up until the final chapters, this book reads like the movie. The only real difference is the age of the girl (I cannot remember her name in the movie to know if they changed that as well) and her being given some of Tim’s (the boy) actions. I think this was a good change because it gave us a second strong female character. Lex, in the book, is like 7 years old and for the most part she acts like a 7 year old, which is a good choice. She’s a strong 7 year old, but still a 7 year old.

Where the movie ends, this book continues and there are distinct differences from the direction the movie went. I think I prefer the book in this, but I don’t remember how sympathetic I felt towards Hammond at the end of the movie, but he definitely learned his lesson by the conclusion of this book. And I think many readers will walk away with a more ethical approach to scientific advancement after reading Jurassic Park.

When it comes to Malcolm’s ethical preaching, I agree in the most general terms that we as humans should never seek to play God. BUT, whereas Malcolm seems to think that all scientific study is for the advancement of human ego, I think that study is inherently for good of humanity not just the prestige of the scientist. Take this conclusion Malcolm gives near the end of the story: “Let’s be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven’t got the power to destroy the planet–or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves.” Add to it this part of a lecture I heard in college where the professor listed a dozen or so animals and plants that have gone extinct recently and the potential cures to disease that died with them. There is a distinct line when it comes to ethics and science and I think that “do no harm” is a good rule of thumb because for every harm we cause to the environment, we have had the potential to harm ourselves. We need to see things much more broadly than the “thintelligence” that Malcolm coined and we do have to admit the potential consequences of all of our actions and admit that there are dozens more that we could never dream of. But to stop all scientific advancement simply because it has a possibility of causing harm is also dangerous.

I consider myself an environmentalist. But I do not automatically oppose mining for natural resources or even pipelines for transporting them. But I approach these issues with a very specific set of questions. First and foremost is “What will you do WHEN said pipeline leaks?” Oil and gas companies and the governments that support them like to talk about “ifs” and “maybes” even though all the evidence points towards “whens” and “definitelys”. The Alaskan pipeline has been leaking since the day it was built. Offshore drilling platforms do blow up. We do everyone a disservice when we pretend that we can play God because then we’re not allowed to plan for the inevitabilities (anyone who does plan is laughed at for being paranoid).

Anyway, there were a few specific items within Jurassic Park that made me giggle or roll my eyes. The first giggle was the description of a CD-Rom as a laser disk run by a computer. I think that folks just a few years younger than me will read this and think “what the hell is a laser disk?!?”. ‘Course, I’m one of the few people my age who has actually met a real floppy disk (the one about 5 inches across that really did flop when you waved it). I eye-rolled every time someone “clicked off the radio”. Uh…that means the radio would no longer be able to send and receive transmissions because it’s OFF! Physically off–no juice flowing from the batteries, OFF. I was in a search and rescue group in college and learning how to use the radios was one of our lessons, jargon included. In our organization (a conference of 2 dozen groups across the state and surrounding states), we used the term “clear” to indicate that we were done with the conversation and were putting our radio away. “Out” meant we were going to turn our radio completely OFF. When we worked with law enforcement, we’d have to remember that they’d use “out” with a different meaning so base wouldn’t panic. Anyone who’s used a radio before knows that you don’t turn your radio off during an exercise. You’d turn the volume down to get relative silence, but you’d still keep it loud enough to hear when someone needs you. And with as often as you’ll read about the hiss of the radio being heard, you know that it was a writer error to say that they were turning their radios off.

There is one last poignant conversation within Jurassic Park that bares mentioning. When Wu and Hammond discuss the nature of the park and whether or not the dinosaurs are real and if they really “re-created the past”. One of the classes I took in college was on the history of museums and we discussed to what extent these creations were creations vs. reality. Colonial Williamsburg is an excellent example. I believe that just about every building there was built during the 20th century to try to re-create what it looked like during the 1700s. But, it can at best be nothing more than a snapshot. In fact, the way the park is run, the “date” that it on any given day changes depending on what the overall plan for the season is. One day they may be showing a world preparing for Revolution. On another, it’ll be acting as the national capital after the war. On another, it’s life under British rule. But in all cases, it’s constructed to be entertainment. The restaurants cater to modern tastes. The actors perform on schedule. Sure, they hold slave auctions, but only on proscribed days (this would be historically accurate), but true slavery would have been on display every day during the real days of Williamsburg in the real 1700s. Back then, you’d see slaves getting slapped in the streets probably daily. Now, you’d only see that during a scheduled event. “Attention guests: at 3pm please come to the main square to see William Turner get beat for dropping the gravy on the carpet in the Governor’s Palace”. Actually…change guests to citizens and under certain circumstances that announcement would also have been historically accurate.

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The Amaranth Enchantment

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To start with, The Amaranth Enchantment is a retelling of Cinderella. You should understand this and then throw everything you think you know about this story based on this information out the window! I shall refrain from telling any spoilers, but on p. 244 of this edition, Lucinda does something so un-Cinderella-like, I burst out laughing. This is the girl who wants the prince, but she sure as Hell doesn’t NEED the prince!

The quote on the front of this edition is “Thoroughly surprising and satisfying….Enjoy” –Kathi Appelt. This is accurate 100%. I kept trying to predict what would happen, but then I kept being wrong, which is refreshing in a fairy tale.  Ms. Berry writes an excellent fairy tale and I look forward to reading more of her works.

Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Well, I’m going to start this review off with a minor spoiler alert: it ends more or less on a cliffhanger and the next book won’t be published until Aug. 2016. Boo. BUT, this is still a fantastic read for anyone who likes fantasy romances. Though, when it comes to this series, I really recommend starting from the beginning because even though every book stands alone, the characters intermingle amongst themselves and there’s a lot of subtle stuff that you’d miss out on if you read them out of order. Like the major squeal that escaped me within the first 5 chapters or so, hahaha!!! I’ll stop there because that’d be a MAJOR Spoiler! But I assume all fan-girls (and fan-guys) have already read this one, so I’m not very worried.

Anywho. Bad-ass dragons. Amazon warriors. The usual stuff for a Dark-Hunter novel. I’ll admit that these books get to the point that they’re really formulaic, but the stories themselves are so nuanced to keep things interesting. For instance this book explains the invention of the entire Were-Hunter species, which we fan-girls have been dying to learn for like 15 books!

One of the reasons I like the Were-Hunter stories (which is a subsection of the Dark-Hunters Universe) is because there are two types of “Weres”–those who are humans who can shift into animals (Arcadians) and those who are animals that can shift into humans (Katagarians). One of the running themes tackles the issue of who the “real animals” are and the answer isn’t necessarily the obvious one. In previous books we’ve been told/shown that they’ve been hunting each other for centuries because of some endless civil war. In this book, we learn what started it all.

Like I said, this book ends with me whining for more even more than I do usually with this series. I miss the days when I was 15 books behind the author and could order a new one every week! But actually, for anyone looking to get hooked on this series, there are about 6 additional books hinted at within this one (which one HUGE one, if I do say so myself).

Find it here on Amazon! Yes, that’s an affiliate link, haha.

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Instinct (Chronicles of Nick)

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Being a teen is never easy…

Zombies, demons, vampires, shapeshifters-another day in the life of sixteen-year-old Nick Gautier-and those are just his friends. But now that he’s accepted the demon that lives inside him, he must learn to control it and temper the very emotions that threaten the lives of everyone he cares for. Something that’s hard to do while trying to stay off the menus of those who want his head on a platter. And no one wants him more than the dark gods who created his race. Now that they know where he is, they will stop at nothing to reclaim him. And without knowing it, Nick has just embraced the one person he should never have trusted. The one person who will hand him over to his enemies to get back the life they lost.

Nick has finally accepted his fate, now he must learn to defy his destiny, and the dark, deadly forces that will stop at nothing to destroy everyone he loves so that they can again return to the world of man and own it, in the next Chronicles of Nick novel, Instinct, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Another epic installment! Can’t wait for the next book!

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The Dresden Files

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“For Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name.”

 
 

Love, love, love this series! Seriously, if you love sci-fi and/or fantasy or just a good murder mystery with a splash of magic, this is the series for you!