Please… send help…

April 8, 2010

I am currently trying to get through Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but I am having a hard time considering how sexist it is and the fact that he really, REALLY wants me to be a libertarian. And I am just not feeling it. I don’t mind books that are political in nature (see my review of Iron Council below) as long as the views aren’t set up in a “So, main character, tell me exactly what your political views are for three pages” manner.

I had to throw the book away after reading a line praising the main character’s “mature male drive.” He’s a good candidate for a leader because he is what, full of magic semen? Ughhhhhhhhghhghg.

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Illustration from Through the Looking Glass by John Tenniel

There is so much to say about Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and most of it has already been said in much smarter people than me. But I’ve committed myself to writing critically about everything I read from now on, so suffer these few thoughts on a very tired subject.

Dodgson (Carroll was a penname) wrote Alice in Wonderland for a real girl named Alice Liddell, who was the daughter of a colleague at Oxford. So all the while he was writing this story for her, he was aware of the fact that she would soon grow up, and her personality would change. Dodgson adored children, perhaps even idealized them, and both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are permeated with a sense of the inevitable loss of Alice’s childhood.

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I went into this book knowing I was going to enjoy it. China Miéville is one of my favorite science fiction/fantasy writers working today. How to describe his writing? He classifies himself as part of the “new weird” movement, which itself is rather nebulous but refers to the early 20th century dark fantasy horror of H. P. Lovecraft. Miéville has certainly taken quite a few pages from Lovecraft’s books, but fortunately has forsaken the ones containing Lovecraft’s misogyny and deep-seated disgust and fear of racial impurity. In fact, Miéville’s politics are one of the things that keep me coming back to his work. Miéville is a professed socialist, and his works betray a deep awareness of contemporary social issues as he reworks them into his world of Bas Lag.

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