Saturday, February 21, 2009

The first sentence is not actually a question.

I really like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I somehow got the idea in my head that Philip K Dick's writing would be dense and inaccessible. Not true. In fact, I find there are lots of times and places in which it may be inappropriate to read a book - on the job, while driving, while walking, when someone is talking to me, when I am visiting family, when I have a sinus headache so awful that my eyes hurt - in which I want to read the book, appropriateness-be-damned.

This is a good discovery, because at times I've worried that reading 149 novels would feel a lot like doing homework. I hope this is the trend, and that many of them are very enjoyable and few or none of them remind me of book reports.

Guilty admission, which may seriously damage my geek cred; I found the movie Blade Runner kind of boring near the end. So far, the book is much more interesting. I am sure some ritual hazing will occur at the next DragonCon once word of this gets out. Probably I'll be dragged out into the Marriott lobby and a crowd of gamers will pelt 20-sided dice at me.


Testing an app that lets me update lots of things at once. Ignore this boring post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It begins.

This weekend, I started reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I've now officially started reading from the list.

I bought this novel a couple of months ago before the list was published, before I'd thought to take on a huge list of novels to read. I had a gift card to Barnes and Noble, and I was trying to decide between this and Dune by Frank L Herbert. I read the first chapter of Electric Sheep, and went with that.

As anyone who would take the time to read this blog probably knows, these are both sci-fi novels that have well known sci-fi films attributed to them. I've seen both films, and I often like to read the book that a film I watched is based upon. As you may have also noticed if you have checked out the list that I have committed to read, Dune is also on the list. So despite my decision that day in the bookstore, I will read it as well, eventually.

As for the title of the film (which is also the title on the cover of my little paperback - the actual title is in parentheses in small print under the words Blade Runner), I can understand why they changed it. Blade Runner sounds like an exciting sci-fi/action film that Harrison Ford would star in, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? sounds like a movie that Michel Gondry would direct. I suspect, however, that the words "blade" and "runner" are not going to appear adjacent to one another at any time in this novel.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The ones I've already read: A Clockwork Orange

I read this when I was around 22 or 23. I can't remember if I read it because I'd seen the movie, or because I wanted to see the movie. It seems most likely that I saw the movie first.

I recommend the book over the film. And I like the film very much. It is the Stanley Kubrick film that I enjoy watching the most. Specifically, my other top Kubrick films - Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket -I often watch because they are meaningful to art, and film, and some Big World Thing. They are good films, but they are big and meaningful and take a bit of commitment to watch in full.

But Clockwork Orange, I just plain like (draw what assumptions you like). I like the white, mod world that Alex inhabits. I like the droog fashion. I like Malcolm McDowell's smirking, vicious Alex. It's a fun movie, although I don't think Kubrick intended it to be fun. I'm not the only one who delights in it: a brief Internet search turns up Clockwork Orange t-shirts, posters, and even a really expensive (but quite lovely) Clockwork Orange Ludwig Van bust. At sci fi conventions and Halloween parties, you can see attractive young ladies in Clockwork Orange costumes.

See, fun. It's not just me!

Which is the difference with the book. In writing this, I tried to explain this difference a few ways, and all of them came out making the book sound boring by comparison, which is not the case. When it comes down to it, I think the movie is punk. Punk criticizes without offering a solution. Punk is entertaining, but also chaotic, anarchistic. So the film is fun to watch, but I don't want to live in Alex's world. I can only handle his existence as a caricature of my world.

The book is more classic. Although Alex's world in the book is just as chaotic, Anthony Burgess put very specific structure around it. It has 3 parts, with 7 chapters each. And the book does, eventually, come to a resolution, unlike the film. The problem of Alex - that he can only be a consciousless menace or a defenseless victim - is resolved in the book. As much as I enjoy the punk version of the story, I feel more satisfied at the resolution of the classic telling.

For that reason, the book makes me feel a little less guilty about liking it.

If you decide to read it, make sure it includes the 21st chapter. The film leaves out the final chapter, and many American printings of the book do as well.