After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6, because unlike every other installment in the Langdon series, Origin did not sit well.
The payoff was not enough this time.
The character that became a modern-day Sherlock Holmes in Angels and Demons, Robert Langdon, is the linchpin of Dan Brown’s series that surround the professor with symbols, mysteries, murders, and two thrills, of the hunt or quest and the mortal danger held therein, and of the epic knowledge that comes out when the many secrets are revealed at the stories’ end.
I love the works of Dan Brown.
Rarely has education through entertainment been as intriguing, as puzzling, as revelatory as when The Holy Grail is besieged in The Da Vinci Code, or when myriad lives come so close to extinction in Inferno (Dante would have loved it).
And the character of Langdon drives the story in every book in the series, just as Holmes and Watson do in many of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales.
But that comparison reveals the biggest issue I had with Origin: the supporting cast were not even close to on par with Langdon or his previous comrades and nemeses.
Please comment and change my mind here; I love Dan Brown’s work and want to change my mind.
Langdon’s royalty alienating female sidekick takes a backseat early on in the story to an AI.
Let me repeat that for emphasis: an artificial intelligence created by a forty-year-old genius (Musk, meets Jobs, meets Gates, meets Einstein?) who is intriguing but . . .
MAJOR **SPOILER ALERT** to opening chapters to follow.
. . . the character I was most invested in is killed to open the thriller. And an AI steps in to take his place and to largely supplant the female protagonist and the (at that point) clueless professor.
And yes, the book is thrilling, the suspense, the arc of grandiose mystery and conspiracy, they are all there.
The Fibonacci Sequence is also INCREDIBLY interesting!
So, you had me from the cover – I LOVE IT – and then you lost me while Langdon and his dame run from the murder scene for their lives guided by IBM’s Watson.
Maybe it is the decade or more of research into AI and being surrounded by quite a few people at times that are far more knowledgeable of the subject than I, some of them write semi-autonomous code to get robots to behave certain ways, that spoiled this novel for me.
Maybe it was having reread the classic Neuromancer by William Gibson shortly before I picked up Origin that put such a bad taste in my mouth, because the godfather of cyberpunk’s AI in the 1980’s was a lot more convincing and all-around interesting than Brown’s.
AI is mind blowing, in and of itself, and world changing, and it just felt all too happy to me as that luke-warm character became the fulcrum, even over Langdon, for periods of time.
Robert Langdon’s character should not take a backseat to anyone except his Moriarty or his Irene Adler, because Sherlock would be drawn and quartered before he let Lestrade become the focal point of the game.
The writing was as good or better than it has ever been for Brown.
And he has a tall task every time he continues the series: to match or outdo his previous Langdon stories.
But Dan Brown has pulled off the nearly impossible feat four times before! From Angels and Demons and on he did it . . . until now.
I expect a grandiose differentiating installment when or if Robert Langdon graces us in a sixth novel.
“After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6” was written by R.J. Huneke
Book Review: Timeline By Michael Crichton 5/5 Stars; leave it to Crichton to revitalize the past with such a vigorous and entertaining novel and a possible prescience for the infinite possibilities of science.
Timeline carries the reader into a realm of unexpected suspense and danger, often altering our most fundamental ideas of what is truly possible.
This magnificent adventure combines a science of the future – the emerging field of quantum technology – with the complex realities of the medieval past.
Timeline Will Now Be Discussed With Mild SPOILERS (the ending is not discussed)**
Michael Crichton’s Timeline opens on the threshold of the twenty-first century. It is a world – our present, mind you – exploding in advances of technology.
A daring tech company has succeeded in creating a quantum computer. With the near-instantaneous computing commutation and revolutionary massive data banks, the company has managed the long-awaited sci-fi dream of “copying” an entire person.
Not only that, but they also managed to manipulate and enlarge quantum foam particles. Combing these two remarkable feats they are able to send a person through a wormhole in space between two quantum foam particles – much like a fax machine.
The quantum world is an interesting place, one that scientists still don’t fully understand today. It can behave very differently than the physical world we know. Crichton explores this new frontier and includes many interesting footnotes for curious readers to follow up with.
Crichton dared to imagine a possibility of quantum foam wormholes connecting to a plethora of universes where different time periods all exist simultaneously.
This remarkable adventure is not technically time travel, but rather the ability to travel to a nearly identical past.
ITC’s CEO Robert Doniger, inventor of this quantum technology, believes people of the twentieth century will grow bored of current entertainment and crave anything that isn’t controlled by corporations. He argues people will turn to the past for rare and desirable experiences of authenticity.
Therefore, the future is in the past. And he plans to sell these authentic trips to the past, like tycoon John Hammond’s Jurassic Park or Walt Disney’s Disneyland.
ITC has been steadily buying up property around the world and funding archeological digs to learn more about possible “time travel” locations.
We meet our university protagonists at a dig in France. When pressed about funding, ITC allows Professor Edward Johnson to explore his exact dig in fourteenth century France using their quantum technology.
When the professor doesn’t return, only a group of his graduate students are his best chance of survival. This group has been given the chance of a lifetime: not just to study the past, but to enter it. However, they may find themselves fighting for their own survival – six hundred years ago during the Hundred Years War.
Crichton remains a master of narrative drive and cleverness; there’s never a dull moment.
Excitement runs high during the rescue attempt and higher still as Crichton invests his story with terrific period detail: castles, sword-play, jousts, sudden death and bold knights-in-shining-armor.
There is also strong suspense as Crichton cuts between past and present, where the time-travel machine has broken: Will the heroes survive and make it back?
Best of all, the medieval setting is highly accurate and described well.
This alone makes the book a worthwhile read, especially for those who are unfamiliar or only somewhat familiar with the Middle Ages.
Crichton effectively addresses some common misconceptions about medieval life. He presents the reader with a vivid picture that is at times much more attractive, and at other times much more frightening and repellent, than that is generally presented to us in popular fiction and film.
Crichton truly managed to bring the Middle Ages to life.
Timeline was made into a feature-length, theatrical-release movie, directed by Richard Donner and starring Paul Walker, Frances O’Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly and David Thewlis.
But if you want to see it, you will have to look back into your past to do it.
“Book Review: Timeline By Michael Crichton 5/5 Stars” was written by Peter Maisano.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In an Arizona desert, a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world, archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened up to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival — six hundred years ago.
Mass Market Paperback, 489 pages
Published June 2000 by Arrow Books (first published November 16th 1999)
For Readers Who Struggled: The Catcher in the Rye Book Review of J.D. Salinger’s classic.
This review is aimed for readers who struggled to understand this novel.
I hope you can see my perspective and that maybe you will give this novel another try so that you can appreciate the genius and insight this book has to offer. You don’t have to love it, but I hope you will grow to respect it.
Many of us have read this classic during high school: WARNING! there will be sufficient SPOILERS.
J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. It has been frequently challenged in court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality.
This book rises above controversy and debate, and that is part of what makes it such an interesting read.
The Catcher in the Rye certainly isn’t for everyone, but I find it a compelling and exciting read.
It has a hearty dose of realism mixed with some humor that is contrasted with moments of depression and emotional pain.
Despite being written in 1951, many teenagers today are still able to relate to the various themes presented throughout the novel. Teenagers can often relate because of the complex themes of rebellion, identity, and independence.
This modern classic falls into a coming-of age-genre and a good one at that.
Personally, I find the main character absolutely intriguing. I find it fascinating to get inside the head of the strange, rebellious Holden Caulfield.
The book begins with Holden directly addressing you, the reader. He begins to retell the events over a three-day period from the previous December.
His story starts at Pencey Prep, a prestigious boarding school filled with, what Holden calls, “phonies.” Although Holden tries to “play it off cool,” the reader can tell, early on, that he his quite lazy and completely clueless about his direction in life.
Holden is on a destructive path carrying his guilt, pain and loss, as it leads him in no direction.
Throughout his escapade in New York, he seeks meaning, help, and guidance, yet avoids these needs with indulgences and distractions – just trying to feel something other than pain.
He seeks out his teacher’s console because he needs to talk to someone who isn’t a phonie – he wants someone that will truly listen and provide guidance. He is in pain and feels hopelessly lost – even if he doesn’t admit this to himself.
There is no scheduled outline designed by the writer. Nothing advancing the plot: no rising action, conflict, or resolution – in the traditional sense. This is a broken teenager’s story of the chaotic last couple of days before he was admitted into the hospital.
The story erupts when all of his repressed emotions finally burst to the surface and crash his whole world down. All his acts of rebellion only are masking the pain of his grief.
The entire book is essentially one long flashback.
He is retelling the events he experienced prior to being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. After reading the last page of this story, think back on what you have read with this new perspective you have just gained.
Imagine you are a patient in the hospital with Holden. This story is the conversation you two are having. He is telling you why he is here – what led up to this point of you sitting next to him.
And just as his personal story is getting more and more difficult to tell, he stops abruptly, shifts the blame to you “not wanting to bore you with his story” in order to defend himself from sharing any more of his personal sorrow.
To me, Salinger’s speech is so important. When you’re depressed and can’t get out of your own way, you can’t think; you get stuck on thoughts.
This is why Holden is constantly repeating and often contradicting himself. He can’t make sense of anything.
He is so guilt stricken from the death of his brother. It is always on his mind. He constantly comes back to it because he hasn’t gotten over it. It bothers him that the world has moved on – that his family has moved on.
He’s stuck in a loop of survivor’s guilt. His life stopped when his brother died and he isn’t willing to move on. Holden has been lost for some time.
What I think readers miss most about this story is that, although Holden is the protagonist of this story, he is not a character you should idolize. In fact, the opposite is true.
Holden’s character is meant to personify the “lost soul.”
We may all be able to identify with a piece of him and if you do you should recognize that you, like Holden, need help – hopefully before you lose your way completely and fall down the rabbit hole.
He personifies the struggle most teens face when they begin to enter the adult world. You need to be able to sort out the “phonies,” call the bullshit, start to tackle your own inner demons, seek help, and find your own way.
To each their own; we all have our own demons.
Maybe it’s my psychology background that makes me want to psychoanalyze Holden, so keep in mind this is my perspective – what I see in Holden. At the very least I hope you can try to see that point of view.
One of the greatest insights this novel has to offer is in the mind of Holden Caulfield – the mind of our mentally wounded.
“For Readers Who Struggled: The Catcher in the Rye Book Review” was written by Peter Maisano.
The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950’s and 60’s it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.
Paperback, First Back Bay Paperback Edition (US/CAN), 277 pages
Published January 30th 2001 by Back Bay Books (first published July 16th 1951)\
“The Golden Man” by Philip K. Dick explores mutants hunted in a long short story, or short novella, from 1954, long before Stan Lee’s X-Men emerged!
It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where atomic radiation has produced mutated human beings.
A government task force has been created to hunt down these mutants.
SPOILER WARNING for “The Golden Man” an 11,600-word science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick and published in the April 1954 issue of If magazine.
Mutants are either neutered or killed, depending on the strength of their abilities, so that they cannot harm humanity.
But the one mutant still at large is the elusive Golden Man who is always a step ahead because of his ability to see the future.
PKD explored a future where the next step in evolution may very well leave humans behind.
He explored the idea of the next superior being as neither a benevolent leader-type, nor a malicious genocidal dictator-type, but rather a Magneto-like being that would set a course of natural selection that would replace humanity in favor of a new mutant race.
Evolution itself, after all, is a natural process with no malicious intent behind it. Human beings simply would not be able to compete.
The comparison between the X-Men nemesis, Magneto and his mindset, cannot be ignored here, though PKD preceded Magneto’s invention by close to a decade.
This practical perspective is rather interesting and refreshing.
Superheroes, essentially mutants, have dominated popular culture for quite some time. Heroes, like the Justice League of DC comics, have helped lead humanity where villains, like Magneto of X-Men, are more interested in leaving humanity behind.
“The Golden Man” alludes to a more plausible Darwinian approach that seems to encroach on Magneto’s thoughts and arguments, at times, but stands alone in its insightful approach to the mutants in the story.
This novella was the inspiration for the movie Next with Nicolas Cage.
Ironically, similar to that of iRobot, the studio borrowed just one small concept from the entire story in its adaptation.
Surprisingly, the only similar parallel these two works share is the elusiveness of both characters when avoiding arrest.
Hollywood certainly had a fun time showing off this skill with Cage during the casino chase.
Although Nicholas Cage has the similar ability to see into the future, he certainly does not have the Golden Man’s secondary traits and his philosophy that make him so extraordinary. If you are a fan of film adaptations (as I am) you may find this interesting.
“The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick Explores Mutants Hunted” was written by Peter Maisano.
Chuck Palahniuk: THE INVENTION OF SOUND loudly grips readers in the author’s newest thrilling and genre-defying resonation.
What a premise: A father’s decades-long search for his missing daughter. A young woman about to engineer the perfect scream.
The most dangerous secret Hollywood has ever kept.
It is difficult to describe the complex, yet beautifully scripted story of revenge or redemption, of murder or madness that ensues in the land of Hollywood’s darkest alleys and brightest-lit red carpet premieres in Chuck Palahniuk’s newest novel The Invention Of Sound.
The story is woven together out of many tangled and disjointed threads and unreliable points of view that collectively form as impactful and gutting a tale as Fight Club, Diary, or any of the great stories from Chuck Palahniuk.
This book will floor you and/or make you pass out (likely smiling).
That much is conveyed by the cover’s spattered watermelon.
Once you smash the watermelon, you cannot remake the sound of splatter, or piece back together the fragile fruit once held within.
Once the entire story of The Invention Of Sound is told you cannot unknow or forget the frightening ‘trade knowledge’ and mayhem that sounds so thunderously.
Here is the story synopsis, and the book review continues below:
Original Title: The Invention of Sound
ISBN 1538718006 (ISBN13: 9781538718001)
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 8th 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
Gates Foster lost his daughter, Lucy, seventeen years ago. He’s never stopped searching. Suddenly, a shocking new development provides Foster with his first major lead in over a decade, and he may finally be on the verge of discovering the awful truth.
Meanwhile, Mitzi Ives has carved out a space among the Foley artists creating the immersive sounds giving Hollywood films their authenticity. Using the same secret techniques as her father before her, she’s become an industry-leading expert in the sound of violence and horror, creating screams so bone-chilling, they may as well be real.
Soon Foster and Ives find themselves on a collision course that threatens to expose the violence hidden beneath Hollywood’s glamorous façade. A grim and disturbing reflection on the commodification of suffering and the dangerous power of art, THE INVENTION OF SOUND is Chuck Palahniuk at the peak of his literary powers—his most suspenseful, most daring, and most genre-defying work yet.
The following TFF Book review of Chuck Palahniuk’s The Invention Of Sound is Spoiler-free*****.
Few books can grab a reader like this one does, and that grip is at times painful as the pages fly.
The Invention Of Sound is utterly riveting, from start to finish.
One could easily read The Invention Of Sound in a couple of long sittings.
The suspense, perverse humor, pervasion fun for fun-sake (or was it?), and the churlish attitudes and deeds of most of the main characters – from Mitzi’s cult-like obsession to a craft she loves and hates, just as she seems to love and hate herself, to the masochistic lengths a father goes to searching for a daughter gone for nearly two decades (and you cringe just reading of his process) – make for some of the most memorable characters and scenes south of the HOLLYWOOD sign in the Hollywood Hills.
For those squeamish of violence and gore, or equally as unnerving, the life of aging actors, be warned, Mr. Palahniuk pulls no punches and crosses new bounds.
The interwoven twists and mysteries grow clearer and hazier as each additional page goes bye.
And with a wallop the ending does not disappoint as it screams oh so delightfully.
“Chuck Palahniuk: THE INVENTION OF SOUND Loudly Grips Readers” was written by was written by R.J. Huneke.