Tag Archive | future

Book Review: Dragongirl

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

 

I think what I love most about dragon myths is that regardless of whether these mythical beasts are portrayed as good or evil, they are still amazing to me. After all, what’s not amazing about a giant reptilian creature with wings that can breath fire? It’s something that could never exist in our reality, and yet they might as well be real given how much they appear in our literature, our movies and our imaginations.

I’m not sure where my own fondness for these ancient legends comes from, but it feels like something that has always been there. That’s why when I first got my hands on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, I knew I would be hooked for good.

The first book in the original series was published all the way back in 1968, gradually giving birth to dozens of stories which took us to every intricate part of the universe McCaffrey had envisioned. The interesting thing is that I started reading the books after I played a video game that was based on the series. Admittedly, the game was nothing to write home about. It was made for the Dreamcast, and even though it had a lot of potential, the game just wasn’t as great as it could have been. That being said, I really loved it. Not for it’s graphics, or it’s dialogue, or even it’s gameplay. No, I loved it because it painted a beautiful image of the bond between humans and dragons that I’d always wished to see if dragon’s ever did turn out to be real… I guess not all childhood dreams come true, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming them.

When I discovered that the game was based on a series of books, I immediately purchased the first three and fell in love. My first surprise came when I learned that they aren’t actually classified as fantasy, but science fiction! I understood why as I began reading them. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pern universe, here is my simplified summary of it from one of my previous blog posts:

“Basically, it’s a story set in a future where most forms of advanced technology no longer exist, reminiscent of a more medieval time period where the people are governed by lords, the lands are divided into different Holds and Weyr’s, and of course there are dragonriders – hence the title – which is really all the allure you need to get into it.

Humans have colonized a planet called Pern, located in the Rukbat system, and which is under the constant threat of Thread, which is some kind of space spore given off by the another planet called the Red Star every fifty years or so. The only means they have of defending themselves during the Threadfalls, as they call it, are their dragons, an indigenous species on the planet along with fire lizards and other native and non-native organisms, who are able to produce a phosphine gas from the consumption of firestones, which is not only very flammable, but also very potent against Thread.”

 

Anne McCaffrey created a version of our future where dragons are not only a reality, but they are also the key to our very survival as a species. She had such an incredible vision, and even though she sadly passed away in 2011, I was surprised when I found out that Pern’s legacy had been passed on to her son, who has carried on the series to this day.

Dragongirl is the third book to be published with Todd McCaffrey as the sole author, and even though I didn’t read the sequels, it was written so well that it took me very little time to figure out what was going on, what had taken place prior, and the direction in which Todd is looking to take the stories. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey:

*Note: As is the case with most book reviews, there is the possibility of spoilers. I will try my best to keep it spoiler free though.*

51W+hRyELmL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Review: Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey

stars-4

If you can’t decide whether you’re in the mood for science fiction, fantasy, or romance, then you definitely want to read this book. With plenty of time travelling, epic battles between Dragon and Thread, complex love triangles and a group of memorable and loveable characters, Dragongirl is a beautiful addition to Anne McCaffrey’s legacy.

Dragongirl continues the story of Fiona, a young Weyrwoman who has travelled back to the present time after helping a group of dragons reach maturity in order to continue the long and arduous battle against the deadly Thread that continues to threaten their survival on Pern. She sought to bring hope to the hopeless, and even though most welcomed her with smiles and open arms, the hearts of some were not so easily won over.

It also didn’t help that many of the dragon’s were succumbing to a mysterious illness for which there didn’t appear to be any cure. Needless to say that things were not looking so good, and after the disaster that befall Telgar Weyr, it seemed that all hope was lost to the citizens of Pern.

A very interesting aspect of this book is the relationship that Todd McCaffrey created between Fiona, a seventeen year old Weyrwoman who is very much driven by her emotions, and Lorana, a much older and wiser former Weyrwoman and the protagonist from Dragonsblood, who suffered a great personal loss, and who has not only the ability to hear other people’s dragons, but somehow Fiona’s thoughts as well. This connection they share is both a blessing and a curse, and it makes for a very unique character dynamic between the two.

This book also explores the effects that travelling Between [aka travelling though both space and time] can have on both dragons and their riders. Time travelling, as a concept, is always a tricky thing to deal with in writing, because there are so many different variables and strains of logic that you have to take into account. For instance, if you travel to a certain point in the future and witness someone’s death, can you do something in the past that will prevent it from happening? It also addresses the issue of what kind of physical affects it can have, and how often you can travel to certain points in time.

Admittedly, it took a bit of getting used to for me. Despite his knowledge of the Pern universe and its history, and his ability to give a crucial role to every character in the story, Todd’s writing style is visibly different than his mother’s, and I feel like he has a bit more to learn about story development and pacing. Overall, though, I was very leased with his work, and I look forward to seeing what other stories he’s able to come up with in the future.

What do you look for in a good science fiction story? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on my blog’s Facebook page, and until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd

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The Things Books Teach Us That We Should Already Know

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.”BookNerd

Greetings Fellow BookNerds,
I’m sure each and every one of you have had at least one person in your life tell you that you should get your nose out of the books and go out and spend more time in the real world. Of course, books just like anything else should be enjoyed in moderation, much like Halloween candy and video games – these examples were inspired by the bag of fuzzy peaches sitting on the desk to my left and the Game Grumps YouTube video playing in the background as I write this – otherwise you grow sick of them. Not that I can ever see myself growing sick of reading… or eating fuzzy peaches, for that matter, but there is a greater point to all of this.
The people who tell us that we spend too much time reading are more likely than not in need of a good book themselves, because more often than not, you can learn a hell of a lot more about the world you live in by means of science fiction and fantasy tales than you can from what the real world has to say. Before you start jumping to conclusions, I am not in any way insinuating that the world is full of nothing but lies… that’s not to say that it isn’t, but I do not share that particular opinion… well, not entirely anyway. So many things do lie to us on a daily basis, but where there are lies, there are also truths to be found. That’s right, I can be deep 🙂
When I was studying journalism in school, one of the most important lessons that the professors drilled into our brains is that nothing is ever black and white. The world is more than just a line which separates the right and the wrong, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. It is more like…a Megagon. No, I did not make that word up, but if you must, go ahead and take a second to look it up to quell your uncertainty…. satisfied? Okay, moving on. So basically, when we figure that we’ve seen every possible side of something, we’re surprised to find that there was another one, and there are always going to be more sides than what we can see with the naked eye.
That’s where books come in. They see things that we should have already been able to see, but for one reason or another we didn’t. I feel like the main reason for this is because our imaginations are not bound by the body’s limitations. The mind has the capacity to see so much more than what our eyes ever could, but only if we’re willing to put it to work.
There are books that have been around for decades that we can still learn so much from, which I think is why we still study them in school. Even if the terminology may be outdated, or they refer to places that haven’t existed for a long time, there is still a wisdom tucked away in their pages that we can learn so much from, even things that, honestly, we should already know. 
The value of human life, for instance. Human history is plagued with violence and death, as if that was the only way to settle differences. Even now, in a time when we are more than capable of talking things out and coming to a mutual understanding, we still resort to mass genocides to get our messages across. Honestly, I think our world leaders could benefit from taking a moment to crack open a good children’s book and re-educate themselves about some of the more effective ways to make nice, like ‘treating others the way you want to be treated’. I’m sure they all learned this as children, but I guess they forgot.
Books are such a precious and valuable resource, which is why it breaks my heart to see fewer and fewer children interested in reading, and more and more libraries being shut down, their books discarded like unwanted garbage. They say civilization is always advancing, but if you ask me, we’ve taken quite a few steps back in our progress in the past decade alone.
Books help us to not only avoid repeating our past mistakes, but they also act as a window into what the future could potentially hold based on the actions we take today. They are our teachers and our reminders, and we would be lost without them.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue, so feel free to post in the comments below or on my blogs facebook page via the link in the sidebar, and as always, keep reading!
BookNerd    

 

Thoughts From a Train: What Will Become of Books and Newspapers?

nerdfighters rules Hello Fellow BookNerds!

Greetings fellow fans of the literary world!

I would like to apologize for my absence for the past couple of days; I found myself to be neck deep in boxes and piles upon piles of other paraphernalia. You don’ really realize just how much stuff you have until you try and pack it away. I don’t care what people say; I think it’s possible to have too much stuff ^_^

Anyway, to make up for the brief lull in my blogging schedule, I thought I would spend a little time talking about an issue which continues to be brought up again and again, and which I’m sure each and every one of you has wondered about at least once…

At this moment, as you are reading this, you are on you computer, your tablet or some other electronic device with an internet connection. From the moment you turned it on, I bet it took you less than five minutes to log onto the internet, open up a search engine and stumble upon this blog. Five minutes. There are times where I still find it difficult to accept the ease with which people can find what they’re looking for, and they don’t even have to leave the comfort of their couch to do it. Heck, people can build an entire career and earn a fairly handsome salary without having to set foot outside their homes, or interact with customers or clients face to face! Almost everything can be accomplished online, and that includes reading.

I can still remember the day when I got my first library card. It stands out rather vividly in my mind, mostly due to the embarrassment I felt after realizing that I wrote my name wrong – I would like to state for the record that I was quite young at the time, and still relatively new to the world of writing – but it also made me feel grown up. That card was my responsibility, belonging only to me, and giving me the power to borrow as many books as I pleased. The excitement and joy of kn0wing that I could visit the library any time I wanted and fill my mind with the thousands of stories contained within the thousands of books they had to offer … It was a day I shall never forget. Another day I will never forget is the day I set my eyes on an e-reader for the first time.

It looked so strange, like something out of a science fiction novel. Yes, how ironic it would have been if said person had actually been reading a science fiction novel at the time, but alas that was not the case. All irony aside though, I just couldn’t come to grips with this revelation right away; I mean, how could people possibly enjoy having this cold, rectangular mass of circuits sitting in their hands when the world is already filled with these tastefully bound and artfully decorated books that people poured their souls into? Keep in mind that this was the old me who was, shall we say, not overly fond of the direction to which humanity was headed in a technological sense? It took me years before I got my first cell phone, and that was only out of necessity.

The new me, however, has adopted a view which neither contradicts nor coincides with the whole “skynet will take over our computers and enslave the human race” mindset. I won’t deny that the advancements we have made and continue to make in the field of robotics sends shocks of anxiety through my nervous system when I dwell on it for too long, but that does not cloud my eyes to all of the benefits that have come from this. However, I also don’t have blinders on when considering how much technology is and has been taking away, which is where we arrive at the big question on everyone’s minds: is there room in a digital world for old relics like paper bound books and glossy page newspapers?

After I saw that person with their e-reader, pressing a button to turn to the next page of what I am sure was an amazing book, I swore to myself that I would never succumb to the temptations to purchase one myself. Today, I still don’t own one, but that promise I made back then was to a person who was still unwilling to accept that the world was changing, along with everything in it. I will never give up my bookshelf, and I will continue to get up early every morning to pick up the newspaper from the end of the driveway, but I will not deny myself  the potential pleasure that comes from something that people put a lot of hard work into making. Technological innovations, after all, stem from the idea of a single person, ideas which would not be made possible without the human’s unique ability to imagine how things could be. This same kind of imagination is what gave birth to memorable characters like Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes.

It is quite possible that the books and newspapers we have become so used to seeing over time may fall into disuse, but I can’t see them disappearing altogether. Many relics of our past have been seen to pop up time and time again, and in some cases they are just as popular today as they were back then. It can’t be helped; we are a race of beings prone to feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality, and no matter how much we try to distance ourselves from the past, we can’t help but take a few souvenirs from those times with us.

This is my predication: so long as there are people, there will be books to be read and newspapers to be perused. Now if alien races come and take over the planet, then my prediction may be proven false, but this prediction is not based upon the insight gleaned from fiction; these are the thoughts of your average university student who has seen her fair share of fads live and die, and then continue to live again. As Bob Dylan would say, things they are a changin’ , but change does not have to mean an entire overhaul of everything we do.

This is the opinion of only one BookNerd, though. I would love to hear what the rest of you think. Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd