My Review of Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E Butler on SF Mistressworks

Shannon:

SF Mistressworks has kindly republished my review of Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler. Go check it out!

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

lillith Lilith’s Brood (Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago), Octavia E Butler (1989)
Review by Shannon Turlington

Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis novels were first compiled into one volume in 1989, but that compilation is now out of print. As with Seed to Harvest, Grand Central Publishing has reissued the compilation in an attractive trade paperback to capture new readers. And I’m glad they did, because I probably wouldn’t have read these books otherwise.

When I finished Lilith’s Brood, I actually wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not, but I thought about it a great deal, which I think is a sign of a book worth reading. The underlying theme disturbed me, partly because I didn’t find much hope in it, partly because I found myself agreeing with the series’ assessment: that humankind is fated by our own biology to destroy ourselves.

Lilith’s Brood includes three novels: Dawn, Adulthood Rites

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My review of The Children of Men by PD James on SF Mistressworks

SF Mistressworks has graciously reposted my review of The Children of Men by P.D. James. I hope you will go read it and support this terrific blog reviewing science fiction written by women.

Room 237…

I watched Room 237 last night on Netflix instant streaming and highly recommend it. It is a documentary that presents several theories on what is really going on in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. But wait! It is so much more than a geek-out about The Shining. (Although, to be fair, the film will be more enjoyable if you’ve seen The Shining, and read it, and seen all of Kubrick’s other movies.)

The brilliance of Room 237 is that, even though it’s a documentary, the people being interviewed are never shown in that classic talking-head documentary style. Instead, film clips constantly play as they explain their pet Shining theories, most of the clips from the film, the bulk of the rest from other Stanley Kubrick movies, and some from other films. These clips serve as a constant commentary on the voiceovers, so that Room 237 becomes more about how people become obsessed with films (or books or other works of art), fueling their obsession with every possible piece of evidence, however slight. My favorite part in the film is when the guy is explaining his theory of how Stanley Kubrick helped fake the Moon Landing, and points to Danny’s Apollo 11 sweater in a scene in The Shining as his aha! moment.

I actually have a theory on The Shining myself, but mine isn’t as far-out as the ones presented in Room 237 (or maybe it is, and I just think it’s normal). I think that Kubrick, as an artist, challenged himself to make films that were not only in a particular genre, but that transcended the genre and perhaps even defined it. He did this with 2001: A Space Odyssey in the science fiction genre, and with The Shining, he was trying to make the horror movie. Many of the clues and inconsistencies pointed out in Room 237 were probably deliberate, as Kubrick was an exacting director, but they aren’t signs of some uber meta-theory. Rather, Kubrick was trying to subtly unsettle his audience, have them feeling constantly off-kilter in small and large ways, in an attempt to truly horrify them, rather than just scare or shock them. This is why The Shining actually gets more disturbing the more you watch it, as you start to pick up on these subtle inconsistencies. The Shining is a movie about a place where the rules of reality no longer apply, and the rules of movie-making don’t apply in the film, and the inference is that maybe none of us can trust what we think is real. Now, that’s terrifying.

The Shining Movie Poster

Speaking of Stanley Kubrick, I read this essay yesterday too, and it made definitely me want to watch Eyes Wide Shut again. That film has a lot of parallels to The Shining, doesn’t it? I feel another theory coming on…

My Little Free Library project…

I’m going to be sponsoring a Little Free Library in our neighborhood. “Take a book, return a book.” I enjoy looking at the pictures of all the little free libraries people have built. Here’s one repurposing a pay phone booth, which is extinct now, of course.

Littel Free Library in a pay phone

It would be nice to build the equivalent of a Little Free Library using e-books, but giving the restrictions placed upon them by publishers, that doesn’t seem likely. Fortunately, paper books will be with us for a long time. Just because I have and enjoy a Kindle doesn’t stop me from buying paper books. My urge to share books, as well as to support community meeting places like our local bookstore, also keeps me buying them.

My Review of The Kids Will Be Fine by Daisy Waugh

The Kids Will Be Fine CoverI’ve added a new book to the virtual library. This one is a humorous, commonsense reaction to the bizarre world of modern parenting. Here’s my review.

My review of Into the Forest by Jean Hegland on SF Mistressworks

Shannon:

My review of the apocalyptic novel Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, posted on SF Mistressworks.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

intotheforest Into the Forest, Jean Hegland (1996)
Review by Shannon Turlington

“People have been around for at least 100,000 years. And how long have we had electricity?”
“Well, Edison invented the incandescent lamp in 1879.”
“See? All this,” and she swung her arm to encircle the rooms of the only house I’d ever know, “was only a fugue state.” She pointed to the blackness framed by the open door. “Our real lives are out there.”

Two teenage daughters become stranded in their rural California home at the edge of a large, wild forest after the unexplained collapse of society and the accidental death of their father; gradually, the girls accept the reality of their situation and learn how to survive off the forest, which is the only resource they have in abundance.

This book revealed itself slowly, and it took me quite a while to really understand what it was all…

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Ah, nostalgia! Revisiting childhood reads…

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been revisiting favorite authors from my childhood, just rereading one or two of their best novels. I read a lot of mysteries back then, but I’ve fallen off in my mystery reading since. First, I reread some Agatha Christies: And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery. She was one of my favorite authors back then, and if I hadn’t read all of her books, I came pretty close. I think it’s becoming obvious that I did little other than read as a child. Well, I was that kind of kid.

My most recent reread was Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane. Such an excellent book, and so much more rewarding to read now. Christie’s books are like bonbons, delicious and worth gobbling, but Sayers presents a more satisfying entree that needs to be savored.

Next, I’m thinking about revisiting Josephine Tey and P.D. James. Also, perhaps Martha Grimes and Ruth Rendell. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about all of these terrific ladies who wrote/write detective novels.