Just a teenager addicted to reading anything and everything, but particularly history. I am here as part of the exodus from Goodreads' increasing censorship. I am not yet sure if I am going to leave Goodreads completely, but this is plan B.

Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner - Paul M. Sammon

     Blade Runner is my favorite movie. The first time I watched it, I was awestruck. Although it is over thirty years old by now, the atmosphere and setting left me bewildered. I was so blown away by the environment within the film that I did not understand much of either the story or the symbolism. However, I knew that I liked it. It confused me, but it was one of the most interesting and unique films I had seen. Since then, I have watched it over multiple times, and have come to understand many aspects of Blade Runner that had confused me originally. Even after re-watching it multiple times, however, I was still amazed by it. So when I heard about this book, I decided that I had to read it.
     This book goes into all of the aspects of the making of Blade Runner, with all of its significant events and developments recorded, often in the form of interviews with the many people involved in the film-making process. This book also goes beyond just the development of the theater release of the film, and goes into the story behind the Workprint as well as the Director's Cut. Sadly, it does not cover the Final Cut, which was released many years after this book was written. The only other section of the book that I consider lacking is the chapter on the soundtrack, and that is mainly because Vangelis did not want to be interviewed for this book. Besides these few flaws, this book should be required reading for any Blade Runner fan.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein

     I was somewhat let down by this novel. I still really enjoyed it, but I was expecting it to be exceptional, which it was not. My main complaint is the writing style; it is written in a lunar dialect, which sounds bizarrely lacking (I have no better way to explain it). This writing style really annoyed me, and it certainly prevents me from rating this book five stars. However, the story itself is interesting and well-developed, as is the setting in which it takes place in. As far as science-fiction goes, this is a fairly believable story, and the political and economic situation behind the revolution is realistic, resembling a futuristic mercantilism. Overall, a realistic and enjoyable read.

Philosophy and Human Values -

     This course is called Philosophy and Human Values, and while it certainly has much to do with these two, it also deals with much more. It also dives into politics, modern society, and the future, and shows Rick Roderick's unique views on these many topics. Throughout much of this course he delves into aspects of modern culture (particularly American) so often that I would consider it a critique of modern society as much as it is a history of philosophy and values. His viewpoints often come out as extremely pessimistic, often seeming to point towards a totalitarian world devoid of human meaning. It is a shame Rick Roderick died so young, as it would be very interesting to hear his views today.

A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis - Sigmund Freud

     I had a goal when I started this book. Whenever I mentioned Freud to anyone, including those who had never read him, I seemed to get a pretty common response: "Oh, you mean the sex-obsessed psychologist?" My goal was to read this book, and then to explain that his "sex-obsession" did not exist, was blown out of proportion, etc. However, having finished this book, all I can say is that his critics were right. He was sex-obsessed. However, even though he traces way top many psychological problems and dream symbols back to sex, I think one of his main themes is correct. Sex plays a much larger role in human society than most people would like to admit. Having said that though, the extreme to which he takes this is ridiculous. In dreams, for example, he thinks that everything has a double meaning- and of course, that double meaning is sexual. According to Freud, everything from flying, to having your teeth pulled, to something as simple as an orange all have  a sexual meaning behind them. Enough of this though. This is most of the book, so if what I have just described sounds really bizarre or silly, you probably should not bother reading this.
     Even with his sex-obsession, I still found Freud quite interesting. Although many of his views have since been proven to be pseudo-scientific and just plain ridiculous, many of his ideas have also continued on to influence psychology. So, if you have any interest in the history of psychology, this book is probably quite important. Before I finish this review, I have one last note to make on this book. It is not really a book, and is actually a script for a series of lectures given by Freud as an introduction to his theories. So, in closing, even with how bizarre and crazy this book is much of the time, it is an important work of one of the giants of modern psychology, and should be read for its author's major influence on the future development of psychology.

Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank

     When I saw this book, I decided I just had to read it. I mean, who wouldn't want to read a story about surviving the nuclear apocalypse in a small town in Florida, particularly when you live in a small town in Florida? When I first got this book, I did not expect that much. However, as I started reading, I realized that it was actually quite good. Good characters, good setting, a realistic feel- Yep, I have a new fiction book in my top favorites. It offers a fairly believable story of post-apocalyptic survival, illustrating the horror and destruction that would be caused by a nuclear war. As nicely summarized by a character in the story, the invention of the nuclear bomb made all classical views on war void. The main portion of the novel focuses on a small community's attempt to survive the aftermath of nuclear war, and how drastically people and society are affected by the destruction. I am going to leave it at that, because this is a pretty good book, and if you like science-fiction or post-apocalyptic stories, this should definitely be on your to-read list.

Second Variety - Philip K. Dick

     A very good short story by Philip K. Dick. For being so short, it has some very interesting twists and turns in the plot. It explores themes that are common to many PKD stories, including what makes a human (i.e Blade Runner), and humanity's creations turning against their makers. A very enjoyable read.

Candide, Zadig, and Selected Stories - Voltaire

     This book is a collection of some of Voltaire's fictional stories, in which he criticizes many commonly held views in his day. Religion, philosophy, and politics were all attacked, as nothing was sacred from Voltaire's semi-comedic criticism. The criticisms he makes of his contemporary society are usually very good, although, unfortunately, he does not take them far enough. Among many flaws, the two that mainly stick out are his ethnic stereotypes and sexism. This is not in and of itself surprising, but I had hoped for more from one of the leading figures of the Enlightenment. Oh well. It could have been a lot worse, and compared to many others of his day, his views were quite modern and humane. Overall an interesting read, and of important historical value.

The Center of the World

Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World -

     This is a history of the struggle for the Mediterranean, spanning the lives of many different generals, emperors, and sultans, but always spearheaded by the two great powers dominant in the area at the time: Spain and the Ottoman Empire. Hapsburg Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, led by men such as Charles V and Philip II, drew resources from their massive realm extending from Austria to Mexico and South America for the purposes of creating galleys and recruiting men to fight in their war for the "Center of the World". The Ottomans, under men such as Suleiman the Magnificent and Selim II, not to mention the many pashas who often held practical control in all but name, may not have had the resources of  the New World at their disposal, but their vast Old World domains which stretched across North Africa, the Middle East, and Arabia provided the money and manpower required for the Ottoman war machine. In the middle were the many states of Italy, always backing the Hapsburg (well, except for Venice; they were always playing both sides, hoping to get a better deal from one or the other). Significant events in this book include the sieges of Rhodes, Malta, and Cyprus; the many large and small raids conducted by both sides, sometimes as official operations but often led only by crusading pirates; and a few sea battles, most significantly that of Lepanto.
    This is a very good work of history. Not only does it provide you with a good view of the backroom politics of all these political and military struggles, but it provides good history of the operations themselves. It not only offers a good view of the military strategy of the many battles, but also a good perspective of the men on the ground, drawing heavily from personal memoirs and recollections of the priests, soldiers, and civilians involved in the sad and bloody struggles. I would heavily recommend this to anyone who likes Ottoman or Spanish history in particular, and also to anyone who likes history at all. It was amazingly written, and can almost make you forget that you are reading a history book in certain places, as it is so full of action and personal accounts.

Letters from a Stoic

Moral Letters to Lucilius - Letters from a Stoic - Lucius Annaeus Seneca,  Richard M. Gummere

     "Greetings from Seneca to his friend Lucillius." Thus begins every letter of this impressive collection. The letters, although often times repetitive, offer a priceless look in Ancient Rome. The noise of the theaters, the roar of the crowds, and the chaotic and crowded streets of the Roman Empire are all described in detail. They are also (and thus their namesake) a collection of Stoic morals and philosophy, as Seneca tries to teach his friend Lucillius (who apparently was  something of an Epicurean) how to live the Stoic life. Knowledge about Stoicism is extremely important for studying Roman history, and some scholars even consider it the unofficial religion of many Romans until the time that Christianity was embraced. How to treat your spouse, your friends, how to eat, how to be content and self controlled no matter how rich or poor you are, and how to abandon the fear of death (and in extension, about everything else) are just some of the topics covered by Seneca the Younger. However, there are some things which most modern readers will consider unusual. His stance on suicide, slavery, and the way he labels certain people "feminine" (with a negative connotation) will be disagreed with by many people. Despite these flaws, these letters are priceless for anyone studying Ancient Rome, Stoic philosophy, or just philosophy in general. Very highly recommended.

Another Masterpiece

The Promise - Chaim Potok

     Well, Chaim Potok has done it again. Not only has he given me another book to add to my favorites list, but he is now one of my favorite authors. In fact, this may even be better than The Chosen- That is, if it is possible to be better than a masterpiece.
     The book itself was amazing. The characters, the atmosphere, everything. It is such a simple writing style, yet it is beautiful and full of emotion. I am not going to review this book in depth (there are at least hundreds of other reviews for this book; I am sure that if you want to read an in depth review you can find one), so suffice it to say that it is exceptional. The themes are mostly just a continuation from The Chosen, with one major addition: The ability for people to both love and hate someone at the same time, and the affects that that can have on human relationships.

A Slight Disappointment

The Canary Trainer: From the Memoirs of John H. Watson - Nicholas Meyer

    Ah, Sherlock Holmes non-canonical fiction. There is a lot of it out there. I have wanted to try reading some eventually, and have finally gotten to doing so with this book. What I really wanted to read was The Seven-Percent Solution, but sadly, my library does not carry it. So, I checked out this book instead.
    The book starts out with Holmes in retirement on his bee farm, with Watson showing up and pressing for more details about Holmes' doings during his lost years, e.g. the years after the Reichenbach Falls incident. To make it confusing, in Meyer's stories, the Reichenbach Fall never happened, and was instead a cover story for Sherlock Holmes as he visited Sigmund Freud to help recover from his cocaine addiction. However, this is not a review of The Seven-Percent Solution (which, as I have said, I have yet to read), so let me get back to the story. During his time off from being the world's greatest detective, Holmes has decided to do a little sightseeing and makes his way to Paris. While there, he ends up taking a job with an orchestra (violin, remember?) at a place with a lot of dark legends surrounding it, particularly involving the "Ghost". While working at this theater, he runs into *shock* Irene Adler, who blackmails him into protecting another one of the female leads at the theater, as Adler fears that her life is in danger. As I do not plan to spoil the story for the people reading my review, suffice it to say that stuff happens, people die, the case is solved, and everyone lives happily ever after. Interestingly enough, from what I have heard this story is Phantom of the Opera with Sherlock Holmes mixed in, but I cannot tell you whether this is true or not as I have not read Phantom of the Opera.
    The story itself is not bad. The writing is decent, the plot is decent, and so, overall, the book is mostly decent. However, in the respect that it is supposed to be a Sherlock Holmes story, it is kind of disappointing. Holmes is not the genius that he is in Doyle's novels, and his character just seems a little off. I also feel as if he never really even solved the mystery in the book, and it is more like the case resolved itself with a little input by Holmes. Overall, I cannot say I recommend it. I heard that Meyer's other Holmes stories were much better than this one, and so I am willing to give them a try before I make a judgement on Meyer's Holmes stories in general. In closing, I have one last positive thing to say about this book: the way Meyer references His Last Bow in this book's ending is pretty awesome.

Goodreads... What have you done?

The Great Goodreads Censorship Debacle - G.R. McGoodreader

     Well, Goodreads has done it. They have deleted G.R. McGoodreader's masterpiece of literature, The Great Goodreads Censorship Debate. Not only that, but they have deleted all of the reviews that users wrote for it. Thankfully, I saved mine, and I am going to re-post it here (This was my actual review; it appears that some people found it funny before Goodreads pulled it down):

     {This review has been removed by the cyber police *cough* Goodreads administrators for violating one or more of the following: "You agree not to post User Content that contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable.” Now, we know what you are thinking. This could be nearly any negative review, but do not worry. It is only selectively enforced. Have a good day! -Goodreads Administrators}

The Chosen

The Chosen - Chaim Potok The Chosen is probably one of my favorite books. It is set in the aftermath of World War II, showing the reaction of American Jewry to the Holocaust and the movement to create a secular Jewish state. However, the main thing that will make me remember this book is the friendship between Reuven and Danny. They come from different worlds, and each one is trying to find balance between the old and new, the secular and the religious. I am not going to say too much on this story; there are about two thousand other reviews that you could look through if you really wanted to see the plot summarized. All I will say is read it. We all could use a friendship like the one between Reuven and Danny. Sadly, though, many (including myself) do not have one.
Orwell: The Lost Writings - George Orwell I am in the recovering stages of an Orwell craze. It is not really a permanent recovery, however, and the only reason why I am stopping right now is that I have read all of my library's books by George Orwell. I think there may be another book or two about Nineteen Eighty-Four written by other authors, but I am only interested in books by Orwell himself or biographies about him. So, until I get a hold of more of Orwell's books, I am on a temporary hiatus.
Now, onto the book itself. It is not a book as Nineteen Eighty-Four or even A Collection of Essays are. Instead, it is a collection of some of Orwell's surviving work from his days working for the BBC Eastern Service's Indian Section. A little over a sixth of the book is taken up by the Introduction, in which the editor explains how Orwell's time in the BBC helped to influence and create his views, leading eventually to the writing of the two novels that he is most remembered for, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Censorship, suppression, and propaganda all helped him to shape the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, with all of its ministries and government media control. After the Introduction comes Part 1 of the book. This is composed of scripts, short stories, and interviews written and/or adapted by George Orwell for the Indian Section's radio broadcasts. Part 2 of the book is composed of letters, post cards, and telegrams pertaining to the Indian Section's broadcasts, most of them written by Orwell, but a few in response to him, from men such as E.M. Forster and T.S. Eliot. After all of this, the appendixes take up the final twenty pages of the book, talking about government censorship, showing an example of Orwell's personal notes pertaining to his broadcasts, Axis propaganda, and the government's attempt at completely banning certain people from the BBC, such as Kingsley Martin.
My personal thoughts on this book are mixed; I started reading this expecting something along the lines of A Collection of Essays, and I was quickly disappointed. However, the glimpse into news censorship and of Orwell's job was quite interesting, and not something that I had read about in any of his books. And there are certain stories and essays in which Orwell speaks his mind like in his Collection, but there are not that many of these. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I will only recommend this to an extreme George Orwell fan. If you have just read Nineteen Eighty-Four or Animal Farm and are hoping for more casual reading by Orwell, do not get this. If you want something like that, you should probably go for something like A Collection of Essays or Homage to Catalonia.
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre - H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, Robert Bloch Ah yes, H.P. Lovecraft. Whenever I would look up famous horror stories, his name would always be near the top. Many games and stories referenced and borrowed from his works. I had been planning to read his works for a while, but I just had not gotten the chance. Now that I finally have, it was quite an enjoyable change from my usual reading of history (Still love history, it's just nice to read something else once in a while). This book is a collection of 16 of H.P. Lovecraft's stories, ranging from 7 pages with the shortest story to 56 pages with the longest. The stories were very good overall. They were not as scary as I had hoped for them to be, but I am not sure if the author meant for them to be entirely terrifying. Then again, maybe I just do not scare easily. When Lovecraft writes, he does not scare you with the details. Instead, he tries to scare you with the lack of them, a technique which works quite well. He does not tell you everything, and often has his characters leave things unexplained, as the details are, according to the narrators in most of these stories, too terrible for the reader to hear. Overall, his stories are not utterly terrifying, but instead leave you with a somewhat uneasy feeling of impending danger that is impossible for humanity to stop. My five favorite stories in this book are (in order): The Colour Out of Space, The Shadow Over Insmouth, Pickman's Model, which is probably the most disturbing story in the collection, The Call of Cthulhu, and The Silver Key, which has some interesting personal opinions and feelings of the author mixed in. I have two main criticisms of this collection, one of which has to do with Lovecraft personally and the other with his characterization. First, and most significant, is his racism. You can detect his superiority complex throughout many of his stories. Just read his cat's name in his first story... And that is not the end of it. Second, his characters are always passing out at everything. I mean really. I could understand getting scared at seeing something from out of your dreams, but passing out? I do not think so. Even with these flaws however (particularly the first one), the stories are still worth reading. They are enjoyable for horror fans and his work has greatly shaped the horror genre ever since it became popular.
Utopia - Thomas More, Paul Turner First off, Utopia is no place. This title perfectly fits the book, as their was no country (and still is not) that existed that was anything like the one in this book. There were some that had certain elements in common with Utopia, particularly the Incas (who redistributed food stored in public warehouses and did not use money), but More had never even heard of the Incan state. Many of the ideas in this book are outdated (More's apparent sexism) or just plain ridiculous (a modern world without some form of currency). However, despite all of these major flaws, I enjoyed the book. One reason is that I must thank it for basically creating the utopian/dystopian genre of fiction, without which there would have been no 1984. But mainly, it has to do with the political and social ideas espoused in this book. Such "modern" concepts as religious diversity, rights for the poor, an overall anti-war stance (not entirely, however), opposition to most forms of capital punishment, and, despite More's overall sexism, certain rights for women which they did not have at the time. Even with all this however, there are many ideas in this which are extremely outdated or just plain do not work. Unless you are an ultra-communist, you will most likely have major problems with much of this book (as I do). However, do not read it as some communist propaganda piece, as I do not really think that even More held many of these ideas as realistically attainable. It should be read as a criticism of the social and political life of the time and his attempt to illustrate what his dream world would be like. I think what he meant for his work was that people would read his book, see the flaws that he was pointing out, and attempt to fix them, not by creating an impossible Utopia, but by using what is in humanity's power to improve the lives of others.

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