Review: Imperium by Ryszard Kapuściński

“I thought about the terrible uselessness of suffering. Love leaves behind its creation-the next generation coming into the world; the continuation of humanity. But suffering? Such a great part of human experience, the most difficult and painful, passes leaving no trace. If one were to collect the energy of suffering emitted by the millions of people here [Magadan, Russia] and transform it into the power of creation, one could turn our planet into a flowering garden. But what would remain?”
~Ryszard Kapuściński, Imperium

Plot summary

“Now, in Imperium, Kapuściński gives us a work of equal emotional force and evocative power: a personal, brilliantly detailed exploration of the almost unfathomably complex Soviet empire in our time.

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Review: Omon Ra by Victor Pelevin

“…but since I realised that peace and freedom were unattainable on earth, my spirit aspired aloft, and everything that my chosen path required ceased to conflict with my conscience, because my conscience was calling me out into space, and was not much interested in what was happening on earth.”
~Victor Pelevin, Omon Ra

Plot summary

“Victor Pelevin’s novel Omon Ra has been widely praised for its poetry and its wickedness, a novel in line with the great works of Gogol and Bulgakov: ‘full of the ridiculous and the sublime,’ says The Observer [London].

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Review: The Human Factor by Graham Greene

“He opened the book at random, or so he believed, but a book is like a sandy path which keeps the indent of footsteps.”
~Graham Greene, The Human Factor

Plot summary

“Maurice Castle is a high-level operative in the British secret service during the Cold War. He is deeply in love with his African wife, who escaped apartheid South Africa with the help of his communist friend. Despite his misgivings, Castle decides to act as a double agent, passing information to the Soviets to help his in-laws in South Africa.

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Review: Gateway by Frederik Pohl

“Anyway, that’s what life is, just one learning experience after another, and when you’re through with all the learning experiences you graduate and what you get for a diploma is, you die.”
~Frederik Pohl, Gateway

Plot summary

“Gateway opened on all the wealth of the Universe… and on reaches of unimaginable horror. When prospector Bob Broadhead went out to Gateway on the Heechee spacecraft, he decided he would know which was the right mission to make him his fortune.

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Review: Crash by J.G. Ballard

“The long triangular grooves on the car had been formed within the death of an unknown creature, its vanished identity abstracted in terms of the geometry of this vehicle. How much more mysterious would be our own deaths, and those of the famous and powerful?”
~J.G. Ballard, Crash

Plot summary

“In this hallucinatory novel, the car provides the hellish tableau in which Vaughan, a ‘TV scientist’ turned ‘nightmare angel of the highways,’ experiments with erotic atrocities among auto crash victims, each more sinister than the last.

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Review: His Master’s Voice by Stanisław Lem

“And yet we knew, for a certainty, that when first emissaries of Earth went walking among the planets, Earth’s other sons would be dreaming not about such expeditions but about a piece of bread.”
~Stanisław Lem, His Master’s Voice

Plot summary

“A pulsating stream of neutrino radiation from a source with the power of a sun has been detected on earth and a team of scientists assembled to study and decode the mysterious message.

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Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

“You mean old books?”
“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”
“How could there have been stories about space travel before -”
“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”
~Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Plot summary

“By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies have built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They’ve even built humans.

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