Blake’s Book Bag

Blake Bouza// COntributing Writer 

 

Welcome back to The Settler’s book review. I am going to besorting what you should be reading from what you could be reading – because I care.

 

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson

 

In early 21st century Thailand, Scott is an ex-patriate slacker. Then, one day, he inadvertently witnesses an impossible event: the violent appearance of a 200-foot stone pillar in the forested interior. And the inscription chiseled into it commemorates a military victory–sixteen years in the future.

Shortly afterward, another, larger pillar arrives in the center of Bangkok-obliterating the city and killing thousands. Over the next several years, human society is transformed by these mysterious arrivals from, seemingly, our own near future. Who is the warlord “Kuin” whose victories they note?

(from goodreads.com)

 

The Review:

I wanted to love this book so much. The premise has one of the most interesting science fiction ideas I have ever heard of. An egotistical warlord sending monuments of himself back through time to commemorate his victories? Sign me up.

Unfortunately, the execution of this premise left a lot to be desired.

Seemingly more by random circumstance than by fate, Scott runs into his old college professor, Sue Chopra, after the first Chronolith touches down. Sue Chopra gets put in charge of finding a way to avoid this future fate, and Scott, a coder, gets invited to be on the team. The logic to having a cause-and-effect coder on the team seems reasonable, but Scott never really does anything.

Sue is probably my favorite character in the whole book, a gay scientist who basically believes she is the time period’s savior and may or may not be a megalomaniac because of it.

I wish we had seen the story told from her point-of-view.

What could have been a very interesting military/science novel was instead turned into an unrealistic family drama. Which can be a very effective vessel with which to tell a larger story – but none of it was believable.

Now that is not to say I did not enjoy some elements of the story. It was more the peripheral things about it I enjoyed, the social aspects the Chronoliths bring with it, specifically the generational psychology and the effect the Chronoliths have on the average person.

The book also depicts a believable future despite the speculative premise. Water shortages, new bills that are passed to combat the economic collapse in America after Asia is thrown into turmoil. Little things that are mentioned in passing that lend to the greater story.

So on the grander scale, it is an interesting story if a bit dry. It is not the best character story I have ever read, and it did not need to be – but it left a lot to be desired.

2 out of 5 stars.

Blake’s Books

By Blake Bouza

Welcome back to The Settler’s book review. I am here to sift what you could be reading from what you should be reading, because I care.

If Ocean’s Eleven and Lord of the Rings had a baby, it would be Mistborn: The Final Empire.

A lot of people have read this one over the years, but with the first book in the sequel trilogy coming out in a couple of weeks, I thought it would be nice to revisit the first book of the Mistborn trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson has a wonderful talent to move the story along at a nice clip without making you seem lost in the world he has created for us. He drops info about the world and the intricate magic system as we go, keeping us on a need-to-know basis without being infuriating. It does not overwhelm the reader while managing to keep an air of mystery about the story, but without nagging enough to overpower the other story elements.

These are – overthrowing the god-emperor of the Final Empire, the Lord Ruler—a self-professed Sliver of Infinity. He is kind of a jerk.

He is suppressed every other religion that does not celebrate him and he keeps a firm hand on the slaves of his society, the skaa. He is immortal, having lived for over a thousand years since the time he was named the Hero of Ages, and instead of saving the world – he misshaped it and made it his own.

The story picks up from the point of view of a street-urchin girl named Vin, who is rescued by a man named Kelsier. Kelsier is gathering a thieving crew and proposing the ultimate heist: overthrowing the Lord Ruler and stealing his stash of precious metals.

The thing that gives Kelsier the confidence that they can do this? This is where the magic system comes into play.

That’s all I’m going to say of the plot for fear of giving anything away, but let me tell you – it is a wild ride. Sanderson does a few things at once here. He puts a spin on classic fantasy storytelling elements (for example, the hero becoming the dark lord), and weaves in themes about hope, religion, and revolution flawlessly into the fabric of the story. You will find yourself caring about every character as we follow Vin as she gets to know everyone on the thieving crew.

From the outset, Sanderson set a fun tone for the story and he rolls with it. The turns and twists are unforeseen. When I thought I knew where the story was heading, it thumbed its nose at me and dove right into the next twist.

You will have to re-read sentences to be sure you read them right, and there will be a lot of OH MY GOD DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?

And you know, I honestly cannot say enough good things about this novel, so just do yourself a favor and read it – and the rest of the trilogy.

A well-deserved 5/5 Stars

 

Movie night to feature Marvel film

Contributing Writer Anthony Davidson

 

The first logical question that a student asks when they hear about Movie Night: “What is it?”

According to Tabitha Sherrell of the Student Life and Diversity Office: “It is a community event.  You do not have to be a student to come and view the movie.  It roughly starts at dusk, approximately 7:30 or whenever the sun goes down that day. You can bring your blankets and your lawn chairs, and there will be concessions available. I know one of our student clubs will be providing popcorn.”

That said, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend and enjoy the movie.  The movie is free because the college’s Student Government Association (SGA) has its own “blow-up screen.”

Movie Night allows students to bring their friends and families out to enjoy a free movie and have some fun, and non-students get the chance to watch a movie and enjoy an autumn night.  “If you are a student with your own children, this would be a perfect opportunity to bring your kids on campus and enjoy some time with them,” said Sherrell.

The next logical question: “How many students know about Movie Night?”

On a survey of students, the Settler found that 4 in 5 students asked did not know about the event. Advertisement of the event is strongly encouraged by Faculty and Staff.

This free showing takes place on the Volunteer State Community College quad, in the middle of Warf Sciences, Thigpen Library, Wood Campus Center, and the Pickle Fieldhouse.

This year’s showing will be Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron on Sept. 18, 2015.

For students who haven’t kept up with the series and related films, the movie stars Scarlet Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Spader as the voice of the AI, Ultron.  The movie follows the storyline of the Marvel comic book series. The film is rated PG-13, due to language and thematic violence.

The  viewing is scheduled to be played on the quad, however, if the weather should not permit, it will be shown in the  carpeted dining room of Wood Campus Center.

Concessions will be sold and the proceeds from concessions will benefit the school’s clubs and programs.  The Settler does not currently have a list of specific concessions, but concessions will be available at the event.

Blake’s Books

Blake’s Books

 

By Blake Bouza// Contributing Writer

 

Welcome back to the Settler’s book review. My name is Blake and I will be sifting through the myriad of books that are released to bring you the best of what you could be reading.

 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labor, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

(from Goodreads.com)

 

I am so impressed with this work of fiction. Pierce Brown never tells us more than we need to know – giving us a lean, sinewy, sledgehammer-to-the-face kind of novel that manages to both be brutal and poetic, as illustrated by the novel’s own integration of both futuristic technology that is actually plausible with barbaric living and fighting.

By cutting away the fat, so to speak, Brown immerses us in three separate yet cohesive casts of society. The low Reds underground, the hoity-toity upscale lifestyle of the Golds in their Emerald City, and the brutal landscape of the Institute where the Houses compete to be on top.

I understand the comparisons that have likened this book to a cross between The Hunger Games and A Game of Thrones. Honestly, it is what got me to pick up the book.

Red Rising does have elements of those two books, yes, but it is so uniquely its own work that the similarities are shallow at best. Here we have an epic that stands alongside with The Odyssey and The Iliad. Only this time the gods are Proctors of the Institute and the fool humans doing their bidding are the students trying to keep the reputation of their House. The book takes a number of sharp turns as we follow Darrow twist the system against the Institute.

Definitely a trilogy you should begin. The second book, Golden Son, came out earlier this year and is even better than the first in my opinion. The third book, Morning Star (religious symbolism anyone?), comes out this January. Now is the perfect time to pick this one up.

5/5 Stars

Upcoming Book Adaptations to Check Out

By Blake Bouza// Contributing Writer 

 

This year (and the last five) has seemed completely saturated with book-to-screen adaptations. They’ve either fallen short of the original source material (HELLO ENDER’S GAME) or fully taken on a life of their own. (The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones stand out – maybe the secret is having the word “game” in the title).

So to save yourself further disappointment, let’s start with some upcoming adaptations that’ll totally be worth your time both on the page and in the broken theater chair. You can trust me on this because, well, this is in the paper. (And I read all these.)

 

#1: The Martian by Andy Weir

If you’re a two semester remedial math student like me, you may be put off by the amount of math in the first chapter. Don’t let that stop you. This book is tremendous in its scope and its pacing, dealing with an astronaut stranded on Mars and Earth’s efforts to rescue him. The entire time reading I felt like I was sitting at home glued to my TV, waiting to see if Mark Watney could be brought back alive. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about this one flopping. With a cast consisting of Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain and the picture being directed/produced by Ridley Scott, we have a lot to look forward to on October 2nd.

 

#2: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Blake, you say, how ridiculous. Why ever would you put a Hunger Games book on this list? Who hasn’t read these books or seen these movies? Well, you’re out there. The good thing about the Hunger Games movie franchise is that they adapt the books shockingly well – no need to pick up the first two books if you’ve seen the movies. If you can’t wait until November to find out what happens with Katniss and Peeta – you’ll blow through this in a day.

 

#3 In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

So this book is based on the true story that inspired Moby Dick. You never knew you could be so interested in whaling, but this book invests you in the hole craft of hunting whales. This is nonfiction that reads like a fast-paced novel, and that’s just how I like it. Trigger warning: CANNIBALISM. It’s a graphic book, both emotionally and physically, but amazing in its telling the story of these men and their battle for survival. Absolutely remarkable. The movie stars Chris Hemsworth and comes out December 11th!

So there you go – give these ones a try, and if you like them, maybe we’ll talk more books sometime soon.