Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Pan Books - October 12, 1979
180 pages

Arthur Dent is a completely unremarkable human that is living in a completely unremarkable town on a completely unremarkable Thursday. He wakes up to find that his house is about to be demolished for a bypass. Naturally, Arthur lies down in front of the bulldozers so that they can't go anywhere. Soon his friend Ford Prefect comes and invites him for a drink, hypnotizing the man in charge of demolition to take Arthur's place. Ford then calmly explains to them that he is an alien stranded on Earth in his quest to update The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an early form of the ebook. Earth is about to be destroyed by a race called the Vogons, and just before they disintegrate, Arthur and Ford hitch a ride on the ship.

Ah, yet another short novel. At least this one comes at the beginning of a series, so it will add up to be longer in the long run. And I assure you that I will be reading the next books of the series. This cult phenomenon deserves a widespread audience. In one of my favorite parts of the novel, (spoiler alert! This is the turning point of the book, so don't read unless you really don't care!)Marvin the paranoid android, a chronically depressed robot, kills a ship by telling it about his world views. The ship kills itself in utter depression.(spoiler end) This work is wholly clever and imaginative.

Grade: A

The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate

The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate by Scott Nash
Candlewick - September 25, 2012
368 pages

Captain Blue Jay is the captain of the Jolly Robin and leader of a band of fearsome pirates who fly in an airship across Thrushland, pillaging. Captain Blue Jay has always had an affinity for eggs, and when he captures one that hatches into a Brantas goose, a species long believed to have magical powers and even be a god. Blue Jay can use this to his advantage when he faces off against the treacherous crow Teach and his brother Bellamy.

My chief complaint with this novel is how short it is. It's not just the 368 pages; the font is large, there is great spacing between them and frequent pictures. If this had been longer, it could have been thrilling. However, I'm going to have to label it as merely "above average". While I have to disagree with the use of crows as antagonists, I'm pleased with the choice of having a blue jay antihero, and of course I can't disagree with the use of anthro at all in any work, from short story to novel. Not to mention, as much as it shortened the page length, the pictures were stunning.

Grade: B+


Fenrir by M.D. Lachlan
Pyr - January 1, 2011
441 pages

Let me give you the basic setup, i.e. what the book is for the first twenty pages or so before Lachlan just rips everything established to shreds. The Vikings are in Paris and they're setting fire to everything. They say that they want the Count's sister so that they can marry her to their ruler Helgi. The Count doesn't know what to do, so he calls Jehan of St. Germain, a blind and crippled confessor, to help him. Meanwhile, his sister Aelis is running away because Munin and Hugin are after her. Then there's the Easterner Leshii, who happens to be hanging out with a man named Chakhlyk (I don't remember, it's something crazy like that). Chakhlyk also happens to be a werewolf. Then there's the Viking chieftain Ofaeti.

I'm just going to get this out of the way: Chakhlyk = Sindre. This is never explained in the book. First he's called Chakhlyk by Leshii, then Aelis calls him the wolfman, and then all of a sudden (without him telling her his name, mind you) she starts thinking that he's called Sindre. It took me a few chapters to realize he was Chakhlyk/the wolfman. That was part of the overarching problem with the book: it's trying to be mysterious and just ends up being confusing. The last chapter has LITERALLY NOTHING to do with the rest of the book. This is the second book in a trilogy and I was told that you could understand this just fine without the first book. Something tells me even with the first book I wouldn't know what was going on. The one saving grace was that it was only 441 pages instead of double that.

Grade: D