Science Fiction and Wheel of Time Review

I put up another series of lists!

This time they are all about my love of science fiction books. The first list I added is courtesy of Librarything, which is a wonderful site where I keep track of books, and talk to other community readers about their love of books. One of the groups I am a part of on Librarything is a science fiction group. They have compiled a wonderful list of science fiction books which members of the group agreed were some of their favorites. That list can be found here. I also added NPR’s great science fiction list. This list has been shortened by NPR to a list of winners, but I hate leaving out nominees just because people didn’t vote for them.

Also, I thought I would give a review of the science fiction series I am reading right now: The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan.

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When I picked up the first book in the series, entitled The Eye of the World, it was more from desperation than anything else. I was without a car, without a computer, and the only book I had to read was completely about my unending, terrible thesis. I have to admit, I looked at the cover of the book and chuckled to myself. It’s a man in full warrior garb riding a white horse in front of a full moon. Come on.

However, if anyone could capture an audience with just a few pages, it would be Robert Jordan. His prose is both full and flawless. You go through a thousand words without even thinking about anything, even turning the pages. Although the world Jordan creates is simple (the maps are very linear), the actual descriptions of each environment are complex and rich with colors, sounds, and smells.

The characters in the Wheel of Time series started a bit archetypal. The main character, a boy named Rand, is in the throes of his teenage years, is attached to his rural home, is shy and afraid and only mediocre with a sword. As he makes his journeys, he grows into a more confident leader, as any main character should, and does anything to protect the girl. A Warder (or warrior), strong, stoic, quiet, and the bad guy: power to rule the Earth.

However, to me, some of the peripheral characters are much more interesting and inspiring. Mat and Perrin, friends of Rand, are complete opposites, one encompassing mischief and sweet naiveté, the other logical and slowly working through an alien universe. The powerful Aes Sedai, Moraine, who has magical powers which are used for evil in ancient lore, but which are constantly used to save our main characters. And, my personal favorite, the strong and stubborn Wisdom (woman tribe healer, you could say), named Nynaeve, who wants to look after her village members, but has never experienced much herself.

All in all, the first in the series (not the prequel which was written later) is successful. I have a good time reading it, I can’t completely guess what is going to happen next, and, as I reach the end, I know I will pick up the second in the series.

If anyone has any books they would like me to read and review, or if I’ve already read something and you want an opinion, let me know! I love talking about books, and since it isn’t part of my job, I do it for fun 🙂 Have a good day readers.

 

UPDATE: After reading ten books in this series, I realize that this review does not even scratch the surface of how amazingly complex these books are. The first couple of books in the series are an innocent account of young people venturing forth into a complicated world. As they become more accustomed to their lives outside of their small village, they realize they all have a destiny much greater than their old lives. Most of them have integral parts to play in the ending of the world, especially Rand, who is fated to die at the hands of the Dark One. (This is not a spoiler- they say it all throughout the books).

There are multiple cultures, with people who have diverse styles, ways of speaking, and customs. There are interwoven threads of dozens of stories, and there is no omnipresent narrator, meaning that the characters are on their own, struggling to find their way through numerous problems. Although I have read some reviews that complain about the romantic relationships in the series, I think they aren’t taking into account the anthropological perspective (of course I say this.). Every culture has a different concept of love and a “normal” relationship with a life partner, and I think this series encompasses the difficulty of living life no matter where you are from. Around the sixth book there are so many plots and subplots, that I think a lot of people stop reading at this point. I would encourage whoever is reading this series to stick it out. Things start to fall into place, and everyone’s place in the story starts to become clear. If you start getting confused about the characters, I would recommend look at the Wheel of Time wiki, which I now know exists.

The only thing that hasn’t changed: Nynaeve is still my favorite character!

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Man Booker Prize

I have updated my Book Lists to have some Man Booker Prize lists! Keep an eye on the longlist section because it will be updated as I get more information on the nominees.

Pulitzer Prize Lists

I have added some new pages onto the blog!

You all know I love lists…so my book list page has a bunch of lists about the books I’ve read. If you click on the book review tab you can see some of the books I’m reading and what I’ve written about them (these are usually past posts). Or, if you want some award winning lists I have added some of the Pulitzer prize lists so that you can see what you’ve read! These are also under the book list tab on the menu.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

Week of June 23rd

I did put up a points update. This week, though, I’ve been visiting my grandmother in Charlottesville, VA and really didn’t do much except go to fancy dinners with my family and shop around with my mom for Israel stuff. I did a lot of reading in the car trips there and back, but still haven’t finished anything.

Also the boy and I are starting our own YA fiction series; I think we are going for a sci-fi genre. Finding the time to write creatively is going to be a struggle, especially since I am leaving the country for three weeks and he works about 90 hours a week. And once August rolls around, I will be slammed with schoolwork, projects, and just trying to survive. I think balance in life can be hard, and, speaking personally, I have a tough time knowing whether I like being busy or being lazy. When I’m lazy, I crave challenge. And when I’m incredibly busy, I crave an hour surfing the internet, watching television, or reading for fun.

It’s no secret that The Sunny Drug Corporation is sort of a description of my personality. I struggle with being happy on a regular basis, so I create goals to feel as if I am constantly achieving something. My therapist (yeah I’m admitting that) tells me that my goals are unachievable and I need to concentrate on the little goals. I think my points system is helping me do that. Instead of wanting to lose fifty pounds in like three weeks, I’m just working on exercising for an hour.

And sometimes I don’t like to admit my true goals. For example, I’d like to be classier (but with my cursing mouth I don’t know how possible that is). And I’d like to make more money. The last one I definitely don’t like to admit out loud, because it goes against my true beliefs. I don’t think we should rely on money for happiness. I don’t think money should be the ultimate indicator of success. But……being able to pay my bills and get a little something extra now and again would be great.

I’m going to find another way to make money, be classier, and honestly….just be happy.

Wash, then Dry

Points earned lately = +1 for making buttermilk pancakes. And, literally, that’s it. I’ve kind of forgotten that working all day has it’s downside in that I don’t really have time to read or write, and exercising afterwards might make me suicidal. And working on the weekends is the toughest of all because you know everyone else is at the beach, and the irresistible urge to take down your Facebook profile creeps in, like it did that time you were in the hospital for Halloween. 

But, you know, work is work. You get paid for it. And no matter how much I want to frolic with the animals, read about magic, and explore places in the Triangle, I want a washer and dryer more. (I’ve taken to wearing my clothes about eighteen times. The laundromat is a scary, scary place where I live; the university constantly emails police reports about psychopaths hiding behind washers, waiting to mug those who come in alone or with knock-off brand-named products. Trust me, that is a LOT of people in Greenville.)

So, I sit in wait. For the day when I can feel like real people again. For the day my clothes are clean, my house is organized, and the big pile of laundry doesn’t come alive and talk to me in my nightmares.

Israel, Fantasy, Billy Budd, and Native Americans in NC

My total “goal points” still only equal 2 considering that instead of eating healthy food last night, I came to Raleigh to see my bestest friends and drank a shit ton of beer (the added point is for not watching any TV yesterday). Also ate something that was basically “bread with sauce” and can be considered the greatest invention in history. And, no, I will not retroactively add points for things I did last week (although I seriously considered it); I will be good, and honest, and um…I dunno…just not a shithead. Continue reading for more literary thoughts below: 

On a more productive note, I am spending my day reading, mostly because I don’t have a car now that someone has taken it to work…. and because I don’t have any money to go anywhere, anyway. My research at the Office of State Archaeology got pushed forward until tomorrow, so there’s no work for me to do today except read. 

I’ve been trying to brush up on my history of Israel before I visit the country, so the first priority is this:

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Which I have to admit is really wonderful book. It is easy to read, and starts at the beginning of the Zionist movement, meaning it encompasses almost all of Israel’s tumultuous history. My favorite part (of course) is that the book mentions key archaeological sites, and how they relate to the political climate of Israel through the centuries. I am still in the beginning stages of Palestine’s growth, but am steadily moving through the 1920s.

The second book I am reading is about the occupation of Native Americans in North Carolina. It is a famous book in my field of Southeastern Archaeology; mostly because it encompasses a long temporal range and, yet still is able to make the movement of people through North Carolina fascinating and easy to understand. This book is particularly for my thesis, but if anyone is native to North Carolina, it is a great way to start learning about its prehistory, and the archaeology associated with the state.

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So now for the fun stuff. I think I might have mentioned that as an undergraduate, I majored in English before I majored in Anthropology. I always wanted to be a creative writer (don’t judge me on these blogs- these are casual, assholes). I still creatively write, but if I am being honest with myself, what I really do is just…read.

As most English majors know, being snobby about literature is required as part of the curriculum. They beat it into you that only the studied, recognized authors are the ones that matter, and even as a halfway-independently-thinking adult, it is still hard to break the pattern of only reading classics. To be fair, I have always just enjoyed the classics more. Even as a kid, I read classics before the popular stuff. There are a couple of reasons for this. As a kid (and today), I am a morose. I am cynical. The depressing plots are the most interesting, and, dishearteningly, the most philosophically relatable. For example, I am now reading some of Herman Melville’s short stories, the most notable of which is Billy Budd.

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When Herman Melville wrote Billy Budd, he wasn’t just writing about the sailors on the ocean to stick with a theme. He was really writing about isolation, about being misunderstood and misconstrued and, eventually, forgotten. Melville had a good reason to be writing about this stuff, guys. I mean, he was basically booed from the stage for everything he wrote. Yes, even Moby Dick, that wonderful whale tale. He was constantly being criticized for his writing, and I think some of his friends were even getting sick of his brooding, sullen characters.

Who can’t relate to being poor Melville? Haven’t your friends cut you off for being brooding, sullen, and mad about your greatness going unrecognized? Okay, well maybe yours haven’t, but that’s just because you haven’t hit your mid-twenties yet. Don’t worry, it will come.

So, the last book I’m reading is kind of by accident. My friend lives in a house with roommates, and they have kindly furnished his room for him. In this room lives a tiny little bookshelf full of obscure science fiction and fantasy. I have recently been caught up in the genre entitled “Obscure Science Fiction and Fantasy” and was immediately excited about this find.

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Apparently, they have the whole series just sitting there, waiting for me to read it. Which I am certainly doing. The writing is phenomenal. And I don’t mean in a genre-y sort of way. This guy can write. His descriptions are rich and interesting, and I find myself finishing chapters without even thinking once about the time. Science fiction/fantasy is one of those genres that gets a lot of flack from the surrounding literary community, and as I grow older, I am constantly wondering why. Once I finish this series (which I think is like eleven books), I will definitely give a more in-depth review.

If anyone has any books they want to recommend, and I mean ANY! I am always up for something new. Feel free to post any in the comments.

Catching Up

Just noticed my little point system:

Taryn’s Productivity Point System

One Point For…
Every Hour of Creative Writing
Every Hour of Exercise
Every Hour of Visual Artwork (Including Photography)
Every Book Completed
Every Day of Only 1 Hour of Television
Every New Recipe Cooked

Five Points For…
Every Finished Short Story + 1 Revision
Every Finished Visual Art Piece
Big School Project Completed
Every Day without a Negative Thought
Every Thing I Build for the House
Cultivating a Garden
Every Dinner Party Thrown (notice the key word here- dinner)

Ten Points For…
Every Story Sent in For Contest or Publication
Every Overall A in a Class
Every Craft I sell on Etsy
Every Month I exercise every single day

Lose One Point For…

Every Day I Judge Someone Negatively
Every Day I Judge Myself Negatively

Awesome! I am going to restart this; especially since I got all As this semester, and I have been cooking every night. I have also been walking six miles a day and practicing yoga. Not that that has been helping me lose weight, but that’s ok. Still makes me feel like I’m doing something. I also am making a pegboard where I can organize my art supplies! That counts as building something for my house, right? Here are pictures to prove it:

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Threw a Town Creek picture in there for good measure. I am going to start my point system today!

Yoga = +1 point

Total Points = 1 points 

When I get to fifty points, I guess I’m going to buy something to do with sims…..bam!