Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet is the first book in C.S. Lewis’s Space or Cosmic Trilogy.  Lewis is best known for the Narnia series and his work in apologetics.  Now, I never got into the Narnia books growing up and have seen the live action movies but even so my first real introduction to Lewis came in college when I read the play Shadowlands, which is about the romance of Joy Gresham and Jack. I’ve read some of his apologetic works but not much else, so when I saw C.S. Lewis on a list of Great Science Fiction book I knew that I should get around to read it. Spoilers to follow, so please read with caution.

According to a biographer the book series came out of a conversation Lewis and his friend J.R.R. Tolkien had about the state of contemporary fantasy. They agreed that Lewis would write a space-travel story, and Tolkien would write a time-travel one. Lewis books came out and a fragment of a fourth eventually followed, while Tolkien’s time-travel story didn’t go far as only a rough draft exist which sort of linked the current world to that of Middle Earth. It sounds interesting and is found in The Lost Road and Other Writings.

Out of the Silent Planet is a book about space travel. We follow a brilliant philogist (linguist), Dr. Elwin Ransom, who get tricked into traveling to the planet Malacandra by Dr. Weston and Devine. Weston and Devine kidnap Ransom and bring him to Malacandra so as to give Ransom to the sorns as a sacrifice. When they land Ransom hearing their plan decides when they land to run off and escape his fate. Ransom runs off and gets lost on this strange world. He eventually befriends another species the hross, who Ransom learns about the planet as well as the language. The inhabitants of Malacandra (sorns, hross, pfifltrigg) also learn from Ransom about Earth or Thulcandra, the silent planet. Ransom is eventually summoned to see Oyarsa the ruler of Malacandra or Mars and his travel companions end up here as well.  The book has a wonderful ending, but you are going to have to read to find out what happens.

It is interesting to read about the wonders of the landscape of Mars as thought of in 1938. If you want a lesser know science fiction novel it is a great thing to pick up. There are some religious elements but it is not overly religious like the Narnia books. It is a quick and easy read, sure there are some words in Old Solar Language but there were quickly defined in English.

Stone Tables

Stone Tables is a novel by Orson Scott Card about Moses. I first heard about the book from reading the books in the Women of Genesis series, which Card profiles the life of one of the Matriarchs in Genesis (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah). We often times put Moses and other Biblical figures on a pedestal but Card’s book does a great job at making them feel real by fleshing out the character. If you are a fan of Orson Scott Card’s other works you might be interested in checking this out. The first Card book I read was Ender’s Game and his writing has grown on me over the years. Moses seems like the one Bible character that we can all identify with as he struggles throughout his life, he isn’t that great with word but he overcomes this to help lead the Israelites out of Egypt. It would be interesting in Card eventually got to Zipporah but then it would just be women of the Bible series. The book itself isn’t preachy about become Mormon or anything but it provides a nice Christian overtones throughout. If you are looking for a new book to read Stone Tables might be a good selection.

Star Wars News

A new Trailer for Rogue One has been released. We will be seeing the capturing of the plans to the original Death Star so it’s somewhat like the old PC game Dark Forces. If you haven’t played it before best to play it on the PC, and I’m sure there are legal ways to play it still. I played it growing up and it was one of those games that I play through several times. Only four months to wait for the movie to come out.

There are also rumors that in the Han Solo anthology film is going to have Lando Calrissian in it and Donald Driver is in running for the part. Perhaps we will see that game of Sabacc where Han won the Falcon from Lando and other elements from The Han Solo Trilogy of book and incorporate them in  the Han Solo movie. Kind of like what they’ve done with introducing Thrawn into the Canon with him appearing in season three of Rebels.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

For my birthday my sister got me a unique gift a trilogy of books which are Star Wars written in the style of Shakespeare. The plays were written by Ian Doescher and they offer a unique look at the world of Star Wars. Ian Doescher has written both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy, I’ve only read the Originals but I first heard about this work from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s podcast, where Ian was interviewed.  I am a huge Star Wars fan and have a deep admiration of Shakespeare as well so these were a wonderful thing for me to read. Once I finished reading I found on Youtube that people have put on production based on the the scripts. These are pretty amazing to watch and it looks like it works well on stage as well.

 

Goosebumps (2015)

Growing up the Goosebumps book series along with the television series that followed were big things. So I was a little excited when I heard they were making a Goosebumps movie it was something that I wanted to see eventually. It’s on Netflix right now so take your time and watch it. Spoilers to follow.

Now this is a unique story as it takes all the Goosebumps monsters and brings them together in one story.  The story begins with Zach and his mother, Gale, moving from New York City to Madison, Delaware. While moving in Zach meets their neighbors Hannah and ‘Mr. Shivers’ (Jack Black). Hannah and Zach become fast friends but her father doesn’t approve and tells Zach to stay away. One day Zach hears some screaming next door and calls the police to investigate. Zach calls his new friend from school Champ to help investigate and they stumble upon a bookcase containing Goosebumps manuscripts that are all locked up. Zach opens one and out comes the monster, The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Hannah finds them and tries to get the monster back in the book before her dad gets home but the monster escapes and eventually Mr. Shivers comes and saves the day recapturing the Abominable Snowman. On the way back home it is revealed that Mr. Shivers is really R.L. Stine. After they bring the book back it turns out that another book was opened and out came Slappy the Dummy, who decides that he is sick of sitting on a shelf and burns his manuscript takes the rest of them with him and unleashes all of them on the town. That’s only the first half of the film.

I though it was a fun film and it gives a nod to just about every Goosebumps book if your a long time fan it’s a decent film to watch. Jack Black does a great job and it seems like all of his films have been enjoyable. If you read or watched anything Goosebumps this is a nostalgia fest, pointing out things from the books.

Brideshead Revisited

I have been working on reading this book for awhile now. It is Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece which is considered by many to be one of the greatest book in the world. Waugh himself at one time called this his magnum opus, but after re-reading it he reconsidered and  Waugh was appalled with what he wrote. In the revised edition of the book in the preface he explains how he came to write the book.

Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is the written in three parts. We begin with a prologue in the 40s with Charles Ryder telling us how he is in the army and has just arrived at a new camp which he used to know Brideshead Castle. The story then moves back in time as Charles reminisces about how he once knew the people who lived here notably Sebastian Flyte. Charles met Sebastian back in 1923 while he was at Hertford College and Sebastian was at Christ Church both at Oxford. Charles lived on the first floor of his dormitory and one evening Sebastian was wandering around drunk and staggering around and  threw up  into Charles’s room. After this Charles and Sebastian became fast friends, eventually Sebastian brings Charles to his house Brideshead Castle, while none of his family is there. From here Charles eventually meets the rest of the Flyte family, Lord and Lady Marchmain, Bridey, Julia and Cordelia. They are a deeply Catholic family who are flawed individuals and Charles is agnostic.

In the second book Sebastian has become a all out drunk, Julia has found a beau in Rex Mottram and there is talk about how to marry Julia he needs to become Catholic but things don’t go as expected. Charles has all but blocked out the Marchmain’s as he lives in France and only reunites with them as he learns that Lady Marchmain is dying and goes to find Sebastian. The third book skips a decade so it’s about 1936, Charles has married (Celia) and has had two children but it rather unhappy with his life saying that the last time he was truly happy was back when Sebastian and the Marchmain’s were in his life. He has been out of the country over in Latin America trying to rekindle his spark for architecture art it seems to as critics are all clamoring for Charles saying that these are amazing. Charles runs into Julia and as it turns out they are both in loveless marriages (Celia and Rex).  There is a cool bit with King Lear too. Lord Marchmain remarries and is reinvigorated in the faith, Celia and Charles as well as Julia and Rex get divorced. There is the will they won’t they between Julia and Charles but it end with Julia realizing that it would be a sinful marriage since they both are already married, just like Rex was earlier on.  In the end we go back to the framing story with Charles in the army at Brideshead. Charles is “homeless, childless, middle-aged and loveless” but he goes and visits the chapel at Brideshead, a place he hadn’t gone before, it is here that he comes to the realization that everything is there for a purpose. There is a glimmer of hope for everyone no matter how far we fall, look at Sebastian who ends up at a monastery where he lives in and out of the world with people who care about him, God is there offering us a hand. It was a nice book to finish during Lent.

The Beautiful and Damned

I have been struggling through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second book. It’s not as well known as Gatsby or a This Side of Paradise but it is a decent book. It feels very much like a sequel to This Side of Paradise with the dialogue scenes written like plays and sections within chapters within books. They are both composed of three sections each called a book. As James West III notes this is most likely Fitzgerald reusing things that people like from This Side of Paradise.

It’s about a sort of writer Anthony Patch and his life. Anthony comes from wealthy family and when he marries he is expected to come into his inheritance from his Grandfather. He is very much like Amory Blaine from This Side of Paradise, although Patch is a Harvard man.  In the first book we read about how Patch isn’t sure what to do with his life he and his friends Dick Carmel and Maury Noble are also writers. Anthony falls for a flapper character Gloria Gilbert, who happens to be  Dick Carmel’s cousin and Anthony thinks that he loves her. The second book begins with their wedding, but as the wedding approaches Dick’s book is published and is a big hit. Gloria and Anthony get married and they both discover that the other isn’t what they hoped them to be. Then the drinking begins and boy do they drink.  In the final book it take Anthony to War, he begins in South Carolina where he has an affair with Dot Raycroft and is shipped off to Germany. When Anthony returns things get worse, they never inherited any money so they are dead broke and Patch gets put on trial where Dot shows up and confesses her love for Anthony.  It get a bit crazier from there as well.

Many have said that the characters of Anthony and Gloria are the closest related to that of Scott and Zelda, but as he told his daughter Scottie “We had a much better time then Anthony and Gloria.”  It’s a good read but a very difficult one to get though as so much of the book is people sitting around talking about what to do and worst of all nothing really happens.

Salinger books coming soon?

Back in 2013 there was some talk with the release of Salinger by Shane Salerno that there would be some new books supposedly from the vault. According to reports there were instructions ‘authorizing a specific timetable’ (starting between 2015 and 2020) for the release of unpublished work. However there was no specific dates listed so who knows when they will be coming out. I think we all expected the five books to be released once a year from 2015-20, but with 2015 quickly coming to an end with no real word about a new Salinger in the news it looks like the wait continues. I am really looking forward to these new books as I’ve got all the other books and Franny and Zooey is one of my all time favorites.  They were going to be on my Christmas list but that’s out of the question now. So we can only hope that 2016 will bring us a new Salinger book and it won’t be as horrible as I’ve heard Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchmen, the early draft of Mockingbird that everyone was clamoring for this past summer.  If only we could have gotten something more akin to the fictional film “Kill Mo’ Mockingbird: Boo Radley Loose in the ‘Hood” which Opus lamented in Outland.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week we are back in Ordinary Time and continue our tour in the Old Testament, our first reading comes from the first Book of Kings. In the Hebrew Bible it is a part of the Neviim (prophets) and is a single book. The book covers about 500 years in the history of Israel/Judah from the death of David to the Babylonian captivity. We hear today about the prophet Elijah. He was entering a city and encountered a widow collecting sticks. He asked for a small cup of water, when she left he called for a bit of bread as well. The widow called told Elijah that she didn’t have any bread baked and only a handful of flour in a jar and a little bit of oil in a jug, she was collecting the stick to make a small fire so that she could make a little something for herself and son, saying that after they eat it they will die. Elijah tells her to make a little cake for him before making something for herself. For the Lord had said that her jar and jug would not go empty until the Lord send rain upon the earth. So the widow did this and her flour and oil supply lasted for a full year. This is a story about putting our trust in the Lord who will provide for us and also in the giving to other will do amazing things as the widow make Elijah’s cake before her own, and her flour and oil remained full for a year.

In the second reading we hear from the letter to the Hebrews again it about Jesus being the High Priest and how he takes away the sins of the World. Finally we reach the Gospel where we hear from Mark, this is an interesting story this week as Jesus talks money and the “fakeness” of some scribes. Jesus begins by berating the scribes who act holier than thou, since they are simply putting on an act and “they will receive very severe condemnation.” The subject then turn to money and Jesus notices a rich man and a poor widow both going to the treasury and giving some money. The rich man put in lots of money but the poor widow can only put in a couple cents. Jesus gathers the disciples together and says that it was the widow who has put more money in because the money that she gave was from her livelihood rather than that of the rich who gave from their surplus. Who are we more like the rich man or the poor widow? That’s a big question for the week. The general idea with the readings this week was giving and how to do it. It is apropos that as we are nearing two special days that celebrate giving, Veterans/Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving. On Veterans Day we celebrate those who have gone the extra mile and served the nation in most of the rest of the world November 11 is Remembrance Day where we remember the live of those who gave it all for us to live in the world that we live in today. On Thanksgiving we gather together and celebrate family and give thanks for all that we have.

Lesser Known…

This week we is Banned Book week, If you’ve got the chance pick up  something that’s been banned at some point and read it. I’m sure we’ve all already ready something that had banned in the past. So this week make some noise about banning book by saying how it’s asinine that books get banned because they offend some people since books are meant for all people, and if you are offended by a book don’t read it. This is also Tolkien week as the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo are on September 22nd.

International Day of Peace is on September 21 is a UN created event but it is something that we should make a bigger deal about. As Elvis Costello asks us “What’s so funny about Peace, Love and Understanding?” These are things we all want for the world but we don’t do anything to get closer to this perfect world that we all hope for.

Our Lady of Walsingham
This is a Marian apparition in England, and it a title given to Mary who appeared in Walsingham to a a devout noblewoman Richeldis de Faverches, in 1061. It is of big importance in England that even after the suppression of Catholic things in England in the 20th century saw the resurgence of this ancient pilgrimage. This is important to Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Our Lady of Walsingham is the name of the Personal Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans who wanted to join the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Our Lady is also the name of the  primary church for the American Ordinariate (Chair of St. Peter).