Simon's recommended books

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Posted by Siberman (1st Mar 2004, 14:27)

Originally published in Wyrmtongue March 2004.

Fortunately for everyone, I promised to review books by more than one author. Consequently I'm not going to treat you to reviews of my 4 favourite books, because reading about The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales, would be a little bit one dimensional. Happily, there now follow reviews of 4 books, and only one of them is slightly Tolkein related.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Written by the master of Armageddon, John Wyndham, this story follows the experiences of one man after 99% of the human race has been blinded by some mysterious celestial event, and the Triffids, genetically engineered, man-eating plants have escaped from the farms on which they were bred. Written in the first person, normally meaning instant doom, this is a fantastic book, with a well constructed plot and some interesting characters. It contains many insights into the human species, with much that is relevant to today's society. This is a true classic and one of the key stones of science fiction.

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

This is a post-apocalyptic story, focusing on a group of children living in a society where a modified form of Christianity is dominant and the population is paranoid about mutations. Following the children as they grow up and realise that they have telepathic powers and what society will do if they are discovered, this is another story that is still relevant today, talking about racism, and genetic superiority, as well as religious dogmatism and family values. There is also a prevailing theme of evolution and that refusing to change ultimately leads to extinction, a theme that appears in many of his stories.

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

According to the Catholic Herald, His Dark Materials is "A million times more worthy of the bonfire than Harry Potter", this book is worth reading for that reason alone. Set in a universe where the church is the dominant force, the story follows Lyra as she sets out (unknowingly) to fight for love against the church and a being known as 'the Authority', the first Angel who posed as God, this is a remarkable piece of fantasy writing, which puts across some interesting concepts about the nature of heaven and responsibility, and there is a good deal about the differences between intentions, appearances and actions. Along with the other books recommended, this is another book that can be read either as a simple story, or as a treatise on society.

The Soddit by A.R.R.R. Roberts. (Adam Roberts)

Having banned myself from reviewing books by J.R.R Tolkein, I could not resist reviewing this excellent parody of The Hobbit. Obviously, being a parody, all of the events in the Hobbit happen here in the Soddit, although always with a different slant, and different motivation. There is something in it for everyone, whether it be the 'riddles in the dark' substitute (Gollum is replaced by Sollum, a philosopher), the use of the ThingTM, a plot device with a mind of its own, or simply the alternative characterisation. Adam Roberts is clearly a knowledgeable fellow (well he is an english lecturer), and continuously makes comments making fun of his own writing. Anyway I'd have to say that this is a thoroughly enjoyable parody for anyone who either enjoyed the hobbit, or who thought that Tolkein was overly pompous.

About item:

- His Dark Materials 1: Northern Lights
- His Dark Materials 2: The Subtle Knife
- His Dark Materials 3: The Amber Spyglass
- The Chrysalids
- The Day Of The Triffids
- The Soddit

Related items:

- The Lord Of The Rings

About author:

- Pullman, Philip
- Wyndham, John
- Roberts, Adam

Related authors:

- Tolkien, J R R

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