Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
29 July 2013
For as long as I can remember, I have loved science fiction and fantasy stories — at least as far back as junior high school. During my teen years I devoured science fiction books by authors like Larry Niven, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and others. In addition, there was the delight of visual science fiction, like Lost In Space, Star Trek and Star Wars.
Of course, science fiction is just a subgenre of fantasy literature. In the fantasy realm, I read and reread the monumental Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings series. In my adult years I have read the books from both these series, as well as other fantasy books, to my kids.
Do you ever wonder why fantasy literature has such a widespread appeal to the human race? For many people it is a form of escapism from the boring, mundane affairs of this life. On a deeper level, I wonder if it's not because God has made mankind for something more, something better, something way beyond this humdrum existence. Perhaps fantasy literature somehow stirs and entices our hidden inner caterpillar with visions of what it could be like to be a butterfly one day. I truly think that the power and appeal of fantasy go much deeper than merely trying to avoid an unpleasant reality.
For a few years now, when I go on my daily 20 to 30 minute neighborhood walk, I usually listen to an audio book. It took me quite a while to make my way through classics like the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Les Misérables, War and Peace, and others. I've also been discovering "potential classics" by more recent authors like Nathan Lowell and Orson Scott Card.
Audible.com, a major producer and distributor of audio books. The resulting synergy has allowed Amazon to offer a unique and appealing deal: for many of the Audible books for sale, if you already own the Kindle version of the book, you can get the audio book version for a substantial discount — without having to pay for a monthly subscription.
I've been taking advantage of these marvelous discounts — audio books tend to be fairly expensive — to build up my audio library with books by favorite authors like C.S. Lewis, Joel Rosenberg and Orson Scott Card. I've also been amassing quite a collection of Isaac Asimov books, which I have been enjoying immensely. Somehow I didn't seem to discover his acclaimed writings during my teenage science fiction years.
After reading Orson Scott Card's well-known Ender's Game and then listening to the sequel, Speaker For the Dead — and greatly enjoying both — I was eager for more. So I decided to give his 2010-released Pathfinder a try. I have to say that this is one of the most interesting and compelling books I have read (or listened to!) in quite a while!
Besides being an exciting and intriguing story, it's very nice that there is no bad language, no sexual immorality, and very little violence. Just good old fantasy / science fiction adventure, with a small dose of virtuous morality from the author's Mormon connections. It's such a pity that I will finish the book tomorrow, but at least I'll be able to immediately continue with the sequal, Ruins, released last year. From what I understand, there will be a least one more book in the series — I sure hope so!
16 February 2014 Update for Ruins:
I finished listening to the audiobook of Ruins about six months ago, but I've been neglecting the updating of this article, mostly because I was VERY disappointed with it. Pathfinder was so excellent that I was hoping for and expecting more of the same. What a letdown! Some of the reviews I read on Amazon put my disappointment into words:
For more great science fiction, don’t miss my article on the Starfleet Corps of Engineers.
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