Monday, July 09, 2007

more quick reviews

"Children of Dune," the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries. Not bad. The series sports an international cast, but the heavy accents sometimes get in the way, as do the costumes, which are only slightly less wigged-out than those appearing in the 1980s David Lynch film. The series also contains some gleeful overacting, but that was more of a guilty pleasure than a problem for me. The special effects were at times astounding for a TV miniseries, especially the wide shots of Arrakeen, capital of the planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. Also of note: almost everyone who dies is killed by a dagger.

A Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins. Rough prose, but great heart. Jenkins repeatedly tells the reader he's not a writer, and the editor was kind enough to allow Jenkins's rough edges to show. But through that prose shines a simplicity of spirit I found inspiring, especially as I now plan my own walk (more on this later). My buddy Mike gave me this book; I read most of it on the plane and finished it about two days after arriving in Seoul. Perhaps Jenkins is a better writer than he admits.

The Axis of Evil World Tour, by Scott Fisher. I've briefly met Scott and know he's a stand-up guy (I doubt he remembers me; I was at his Thanksgiving party as a guest of someone else two years ago). I enjoyed his book immensely, especially the section on Iran. Scott speaks fluent Korean and was part of the same 2002 North Korea group tour my buddy Tom went on (Tom wrote a series of long articles about his NK trip for the Korea Times). AWET is a compendium of three distinct travelogues-- the first recounts the NK trip; the second is a brief memoir of a short, government-related stint in Iraq; the third and largest section is all about Scott's "package tour" of Iran. The contrast between NK and Iranian society is especially striking. FYI, one of Scott's websites, One Stop Korea, is on my sidebar.

The Integral Trees, by Larry Niven. This was one of many sci-fi novels I had shipped to me this time around. Niven essentially turns his "ringworld" concept inside-out: inhabitants of "the Smoke Ring" (a torus of gas whirling rapidly around a dying neutron star) enjoy an earthlike atmosphere and even live in trees... but everything that lives in the Smoke Ring is basically floating or flying, because there is no ground! Gravitational force is minimal; most of the life in the Smoke Ring has adapted to freefall... including the humans who were deposited there over five hundred years earlier. The novel was more fun this time around than when I last read it, which must have been years ago-- perhaps late high school or early college. I'm reading The Smoke Ring right now; that's the sequel.

By the way, that's one thing I've long dreamt about: if ever there was a dude who was born to play the half-Asian Louis Wu (the hero of Niven's classic Ringworld), it is I. If someone knows about casting calls for the part of Louis Wu (especially if this is for a movie version of the novel), let me know! I'll slim down and do whatever else it takes to nab the part.

The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. Better than the movie, by far, with a "happier" ending than what you see in the movie. Much of the novel is devoted to the young Father Karras's loss of faith. Suffice it to say that Karras dies in the book as he does in the movie, but he dies content. Well... as content as can be, given the circumstances.


No comments: