Posts Tagged ‘post-apocalypse’

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A Canticle for Leibowitz

March 5, 2013

A Canticle for LeibowitzIt is not common for a novel to make me feel emotional. This novel is one of them. It makes me sad, as well as optimistic, pondering upon the fate of our human species. So special, yet so stubborn.

The story spans for millennia. It is divided into three parts, each forward the timeline about 600 years. It begins from the aftermath of a global nuclear war (a.k.a. the Flame Deluge) that destroyed all technological advance, leaving humankind to survive with medieval technology and scraps of advance knowledge, waiting to be awaken.

Spanning for such a long period, there are no characters for you to follow from the beginning to the end, except for one mysterious character that seems to be always there. But he is acting as a watcher, instead of the main character. There is only one thing that is common in the story line: the Order of Saint Leibowitz, an order of secluded monks vowed to keep the record of “ancient technology”, hence the title.

The tension in this book is heavy. You can see the tension between the progressive vs conservative, religious vs secular, peace maker vs military, militant vs opportunist. It is this kind of tension that makes this novel very interesting. And also seeing that our human nature does not really change, no matter what technological level we are currently in.

This novel also carries the same tone as The Foundation Trilogy: a small group of humankind, dedicated to preserve human civilization at all cost. I love the trilogy, of course. It feels like we are actually reading a real history. It makes you really respects the Arabs who translated the ancient Greek, the Renaissance movement who brought the Greek and Romans text back to Europe, the monks who kept the records and diligently copying them without understanding them. They are the true hero or our human civilization. Salute!

Finally, I will put this novel in the throne of the best post-apocalyptic science-fiction, side-by-side with World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. A 5 star!

Note: The heavy doses of Latin might hinder some readers to enjoy this novel. There are also a lot of references to the Catholic faith. Uncle google is always helpful of course.

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The Windup Girl

February 26, 2013

The Windup GirlThe setting is Bangkok, the capital of the Thai Kingdom, one of not so many surviving countries from the apocalypse. The sea level is rising, crops were destroyed by genetically modified plant disease and pest. And Thai survived because of the visionary leadership of Her Royalty. The story is told from four POV: an undercover company agent sent to Thailand to uncover the secret of Thailand reserve of gene, a Malaysian Chinese refugee who left his country because of religious riots, a Thai environmental police enforcer, and finally a windup girl, a genetically modified human.

I think I want to explain a little bit about the word “windup”. “Windup” is an action that you do when you turn the spring to power a clock, like the key that you turn for a windup toys. Windup girl is a nickname because of the movement she made, which is like a windup toys, a tick-tock movement. They are created that way.

The detail in this novel is very engaging. The writer’s imagination of the post-peak-oil world is very vivid. Coal and gas are extremely rare. The only form of energy that you can depend on is muscle power. The author shows you the world from the POV characters slowly, without giving you too much information dump. The story is told in a very personal way, not from a bird eye view. So you will have to create your own picture of the world, then finally you realize the kind of world they are living in.

The plot is quite complex, you have lots of intrigue, one character played against another character. There are no real protagonist and antagonist. Everyone is for their own agenda and survival. And all of their fate is tangled in the middle of this creature, the windup girl. Finally, what this novel all about, is survival. We all fight to survive, in our own way, in our own term.

I am also impressed by the usage of many language in this book. You have Thais, Chinese, even Malay. The author used the word: kopi, nasi goreng, and rambutan. Actually rambutan has a very important plot point is this novel. The author is really doing his homework .

Finally, this novel is important because it is a front runner of a new apocalyptic and dystopian theme. We are going to see more sci-fi novels in this theme in the future. The nuclear war scare are pretty much behind us. Now we have environmental problem, energy crisis, terrorism, maybe an impending religious war, at least in small scale. It is beautifully (or scarily) captured by the author.

There is one thing that I love most about this novel: the political statement of the writer. In this novel, the Thai government violated the international law of intellectual right to the people. Go to hell with the patent law, if they keep people poor and dying, because they do not have enough money to access genetically enhance crops or medicine.

Final verdict: a strong 4 star. I am still not drag into the story. Lack the final zest

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World War Z

November 20, 2012

This is not your common zombie book, it is not your common book! It is written like a mock documentary, which is recording the survivor of War War Z, hence the title: The Oral History of World War Z.

The zombie (and war against zombie) is viewed from several genuine angle. Some interviewee plays key role in World War Z itself, while some are just victims or just spectators.

Since it is written as an interview, it is quite personal. You might sympathize some characters, while loathe others.

The genius of the writer lies within his way in describing many aspects of the war from personal views of the interviewee. From this piece and bits, we can start to construct the whole event of the war.

What makes it truly remarkable is the fact that this book is not about zombie after all! Zombie war is just a pretext of the greater issue: human ignorance, greed, heroism, global warming, and international politics. We can see this book as a satire of our real and present world!

Final verdict: only one word. Wow! Mr. Brooks must have done a very intensive research to come out with this book. Everything looks so real, the international politics, war tactics, mass behavior, everything.

This is one book that really effects me. It makes me think again about the future of mankind, for better or worst. Can we really survive as a species, given our trait of ignorance?

Verdict: 5/5