Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pyramids finished; War of the Worlds finished; Dragon*Con visited; Haunting of Hill House started

I've gotten behind on my blogging due to costuming, Dragon*Con, and life in general. So here's a quick review bringing this up to speed.

I finished yet another Discworld novel, although finished much more slowly due to my heavy costuming regiment.
In Pyramids, Terry Pratchett takes on a very ancient culture in order to poke a little fun at ancient cultures in general. Pteppic is the son of the king of Djelibeybi (ancient meaning: child of Djel), and is sent to the assassin's school in Ankh-Morpork. While there he picks up many modern habits, and becomes better known as Teppic. When his father dies he has to return home and figure out how to be king, while also trying to figure out how to live in a country that hasn't changed for thousands of years.

As usual, Terry Pratchett pokes fun at many things that we romanticize and seldom question. In this story, the foolishness of preserving tradition is called out for examination, as we learn that Djelibeybi is bankrupt as a result of spending so much money on pyramids for deceased royalty. Because this is the Discworld we are able to see into the lives of dead people, and we learn that the Djelibeybi belief that death is when you really start living is incorrect, and Teppic's dead father is just hanging around near his own dead body and rethinking his beliefs.

It was good with several laugh out loud moments, which is about what I expect from any Discworld novel. Terry Pratchett just keeps adding to the number of novels I need to finish with this list as the Discworld catalog continues to grow, but they are always fun to read and I look forward to getting to some of the more modern entries in the series.
I also took an unusually long amount of time to finish H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds. Partly this is because I picked it up from the library prior to Dragon*Con, which meant that I didn't even get started on it until after the con. Partly, this is because it was boring. Yes, it's a very short book but it is really dull. It's written as a first person account of the invasion of Victorian England by martians, and it describes every small event in detail.

Part of the problem here is that I am not familiar with the British countryside. It's clear that the details were meant to allow readers to envision the path of the martians across the land. Partly, the problem is that the descriptions of the martians and their technology have been so frequently used in sci fi that they are now outdated.

At any rate, it felt like work to sit down and read it for a while. The story is completely predictable if you've ever seen one of the movie adaptations (I've seen the 1953 film) or heard the Orson Wells radio drama (which might be the best way to consume this story).
Next up: it's October, so it's time for a horror story. My choice this year is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I'll also be putting up my review of Dragon*Con soon.