Sunday, October 23, 2016

Short rounds: explosives and Martians




Tonight I finally gave up on Hayduke Lives!, the sequel to Edward Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang. The plot only arrives four-fifths of the way into the book, having been preceded by lots of stream-of-consciousness rambling, pointless arguments, and enough breast fixation to embarrass even a frat brother.  There's more bosom-gazing here than in a supermarket romance novel, making me wonder if Abbey was yanking his readers' chains. I like Abbey, but not enough to make it the last forty pages. I signed on for manhunts and rants, gosh-darn it!



Another quick comment: while I was waiting for my flight to take me to Texas and New Mexico back in late September (a month ago this very day), I started reading Out of the Silent Planet. I thought a story about a man whose country walk was interrupted by an unexpected trip to Mars might be apropos for a plane ride.  There are some maliciously ambitious scientists, see, performing an experiment, and while doing a favor for an old lady and trying to find her son, Dr. Ransom happens upon them and is abducted. He wakes up to find himself on a ship, and later on a bizarre planet full of creatures who seem terrifyingly weird, but prove to be peaceful and rational company -- much more so than the men who abducted Ransom.   The book's most interesting point is the metaphysics of its world, I suppose, as Lewis infuses science fiction with medieval cosmology. The planets are not merely  islands of matter in an ocean of nothingness, but part of a heavenly plane where ethereal creatures known as Oy√©resu rule. Earth is an anomaly, its presiding Oyarsa having rebelled against the heavenly higher-ups.  Having read the third book in the 'space trilogy' already, I know the cosmology gets even more interesting, with the Oyarsa of other planets being the basis of the Greek gods.  A medievalist like Lewis definitely brings the unexpected to the table when he tries his hand at science fiction.



2 comments:

  1. the Lewis trilogy is terrific. i read it long ago and a lot of it still sticks... it was only many years later that i found out it had a lot to do with Christianity... i read the Monkey Wrench Gang but not the sequel... sounds like i didn't miss too much...

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  2. I liked the weirdness of a modern King Arthur in "That Hideous Strength". It seems like the books can appreciated by themselves.

    As far as missing anything, definitely not. I'm going to switch back to Ed's nonfiction for a while..

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