CCLaP Fridays: On Being Human: the Culture

Today in Karl Wolff’s CCLaP essay series “On Being Human,” it’s ‘The Culture’ novels by Iain Banks, in which humans, aliens, and machines all live in a post-scarcity utopia. Banks’s novels follow eccentrics and troublemakers in a society where humans can switch gender, become aliens, and even become machines. Continue reading CCLaP Fridays: On Being Human: the Culture

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A Confession by Leo Tolstoy

Near the end of his life, Count Leo Tolstoy wrote two lengthy essays on the topic of religion.  Hesperus Press includes these two essays, “A Confession” (1879 – 1882) and “What is Religion, and What Does its Essence Consist of?” (1902).  The edition includes a foreword by novelist and Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore with an introduction by famed Tolstoy translator Tony Briggs. Tolstoy would revisit the religious theme in “Father Sergius” (written in 1890, published in 1898), an excruciatingly introspective tale of sensual temptation, religious duty, and personal mutilation.  With “A Confession” and “What is Religion?”, Tolstoy works within … Continue reading A Confession by Leo Tolstoy

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Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part I

“In place of a hermeneutrics we need an erotics of art.” – “Against Interpretation” [1964], Susan Sontag Challenges and Non-Responses The job of the critic is, by turns, tastemaker, evangelist, and champion.  The best critics harness the powers of intellection and enthusiasm to inform his or her readership on a work’s merits.  If a work receives more merits than demerits, than, in a roughly mathematical fashion, the creator obtains a “good review.”  This reviewer finds works with “mixed reviews” or polarizing reactions (see Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones) most attractive, since “mixed reviews” are not sure things.  A tiny element … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part I

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Mechanicum (The Horus Heresy, Book 9) by Graham McNeill

The Horus Heresy series continues in Graham McNeill’s epic Mechanicum.  Graham McNeill is one of the Black Library’s “dream team” writers.  The other members of the trio include the hyper-prolific Dan Abnett and Ben Counter.  The trio wrote the first three novels of the Horus Heresy series. The first three novels functioned like a self-contained trilogy, chronicling the Warmaster Horus and his descent into heresy and madness.  James Swallow’s Flight of the Eisenstein (Book 4) was a taut thriller with crisp writing and wonderfully orchestrated space battles.  Since then, the Horus Heresy has had its ups (Legion by Dan Abnett) … Continue reading Mechanicum (The Horus Heresy, Book 9) by Graham McNeill

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Battle for the Abyss (The Horus Heresy, Book 8) by Ben Counter

Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter begins with the construction of the gigantic battleship, the Furious Abyss, within the hollow center of Thule, a moon of Saturn.  The Mechanicum construct the ship using the ancient technologies they preserve.  Unbeknownst to the Emperor, the Mechanicum build the massive warship for the Word Bearer Traitor Legion.  Those familiar with the Cylon basestars of Battlestar Galactica will recognize the Furious Abyss.  Heavily armed and holding a contingent of fighters, the Furious Abyss is an intimidating force.  Unlike the sleek basestars, the Furious Abyss resembles a giant battlestar with Chartres Cathedral sitting on … Continue reading Battle for the Abyss (The Horus Heresy, Book 8) by Ben Counter

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Book Review: Descent of Angels (The Horus Heresy, Book 6) by Mitchel Scanlon

The Horus Heresy series continues in its sixth installment, Descent of Angels, written by Mitchel Scanlon. The series makes a major reversal with this series. Scanlon has written previous novels for the Black Library, but his work involves the Warhammer brand, the epic fantasy sister ‘verse to the space fantasy of Warhammer 40K. Unlike previous volumes, the action occurs on one planet under circumstances one could label “low-tech.” Descent of Angels begins with an original story, telling the tale of how humanity settled on the planet Caliban.  The settlers became separated from the rest of humanity because of warp storms … Continue reading Book Review: Descent of Angels (The Horus Heresy, Book 6) by Mitchel Scanlon

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Flight of the Eisenstein (Horus Heresy, Book 4) by James Swallow

In the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, the Horus Heresy represents a monumental event. A galaxy-spanning civil war led by the Warmaster Horus, sundered and nearly destroyed the Imperium of Man 10,000 years ago. Horus, formerly primarch of the Luna Wolves, was appointed by the Emperor to command all Imperial forces. Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow, is the fourth book in the series, following Horus Rising by Dan Abnett, False Gods by Graham McNeill, and Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter. To read the complete review, click here. Continue reading Flight of the Eisenstein (Horus Heresy, Book 4) by James Swallow

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