The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard ★★☆☆☆ DNF@55%

completestoriesofjgballard (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard
Series: ———-
Author: Jerry Ballard
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 1199/DNF@55%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A massive collection of short stories by the author Jerry Ballard. Mainly from the 60’s and 70’s, Ballard’s stories one and all revolved around broken characters; broken mentally, broken physically, broken emotionally, broken psychologically, broken in any way you can imagine. The world is dystopian, hope has been removed and the inexorable pessimistic fate for humanity cannot be thwarted.

 

My Thoughts:

Ballard was a qualified writer, ie, he knew his craft and did it well. However, his style and subject matter destroyed any positives for me in that aspect. In the over 600 pages I read I would have expected SOME variety in the stories but nope, uniform brokenness was what Ballard thought and what he wrote. By the time I’d decided to DNF this, I wasn’t even depressed, I was simply bored. I imagine I felt like what an art connoisseur would have felt like if Edvard Munch had only painted Scream style paintings.

At the 25% mark I was raging inside. The brokenness of the characters really had gotten to me and I was sick that Ballard could write such people over and over and over. Every man was a coward in one way or another, every woman a harpy or drone. Then like I said earlier, I just got bored. You can only read the same type of character and story so many times before it stops having an impact.

Originally, this book was published in 2 separate volumes and honestly, I think that was the correct choice. This 1 volume was just too big. Maybe if you wanted to slowly read a story here and there every day or week and you could set this down whenever you wanted, you’d not get bored. I still would have gotten bored though and there was no way I was going to spend a prolonged time period with this author’s outlook. One week of reading it every day, approximately 100 pages a day (anywhere from 4-10 stories), was enough.

Ballard also hasn’t aged well. The wonders of psychology would solve all the problems, but of course with Ballard that was misused so it would create all the problems. In one story psychologists had been outlawed by a right-wing world order and the main character had gone to jail for trying to help someone in an underground psychology session. I don’t see Ballard becoming an enduring author. To the dustbins of history with him I say!

Finally, I couldn’t help but compare this massive collection to the volumes of short stories by Asimov that I read back in ’16. That was also a 2 volume collection, Volume One and Volume Two and together they about equaled the same number of pages as this. Their tone however, was much more positive and upbeat, which allowed the more negative stories in that collection to be more of a savory contrast, like sweet and sour chicken. Ballard was just sour chicken. That is only yummy if you’re a sick, sick individual.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Time Thieves ★★★☆☆

timethieves (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Time Thieves
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 146
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

Peter Mullion wakes up sitting in his car in his garage and can’t remember a thing about how he got there. He knows he went to his cabin to work on it, but that is it. When his wife comes home and sees him, she tells him he’s been missing for 3 weeks! Peter sets out to investigate just what happened to him.

Unfortunately, he’s having trouble counting or keeping track of time or even where he is. He loses his way one day in his office building and when he comes to his wife tells him he’s been missing again, for several days. Peter sees the same man watching him, at a restaurant, at home, wherever he turns, there he is. Peter and his wife Delia head up to the mountain cabin to see if that holds any clues. They find the cabin painted, which means Peter was there. However, upon further examination, it appears that the painting was done less than a day ago, not weeks ago like it should have. Peter’s paranoia isn’t so misplaced after all.

One night Peter begins hearing voices and he realizes he can hear other people’s thoughts. Peter ends up in communication with an alien being, who has been spying on him using its robot servants. Peter flees, honing his mental skills. During a cat and mouse game, he destroys the minds of the robots. Now he just has to deal with the aliens.

The aliens mentally kidnap his wife and tell Peter that they accidentally killed him 3 weeks ago. They rebuilt him but due to them not being familiar with human biology, accidentally gave him telepathy. They say Humanity isn’t ready for that and they just want to take that ability away from Peter. No harm, no violence, just remove a mistake that they made. Peter refuses and tells them every single human is alone and that they shouldn’t be. Peter kills the aliens, who are pacifists at heart and he and Delia go off to live a happy life, spreading telepathy to all and sundry like corn kernels to chickens.

 

My Thoughts:

First, that cover has ZERO to do with this story. There is no sexy woman with a ray gun, Peter doesn’t dress up like a ninja and crouch on a mountain and the UFO is only talked about. It’s actually parked inside a mountain for the whole book.

The title only makes sense if you consider the aliens to have stolen time from Peter when he went missing those several times. They can’t actually manipulate time. I kept waiting for that right up until almost the end of the book.

The tension was pretty high for most of the book and I liked that. Koontz kept me edgy and wondering just what was going to happen.

My issues came down to the fact that Peter killed the aliens because they were going to take something back that had been given by mistake. His life was not in danger, his wife’s life was not in danger but Peter had something and he wasn’t going to give it up. The justification given is because of how much Peter loves Delia, but that just rang false. He was an adult who knew enough about how Humanity would use such a gift and he was even told that it would spread but he chose to keep it anyway. It almost felt like Koontz was writing about a modern Adam and Eve, but ones that weren’t deceived into eating the forbidden fruit but ones who willfully chose to take and eat such a fruit. Even “love” can be corrupted and that is really applicable in this day and age with every idiot bleating about “love” all the time but having no concrete concept of what Love actually is.

My kindle had this at about 140 pages. I think the paperback runs around 100, so either way, it was a short little novel bordering on the novella. I wasn’t expecting a mind blowing experience and I wasn’t disappointed. On the other hand, I wasn’t disappointed. Glad I read this but don’t plan on ever reading it again.

I am thinking of adding an author’s name as a tag to any series of books that don’t have a series associating them together. I’ve been doing that with Dickens and I’m going to start now with Koontz. I will have to decide if I want to start that with every book or not. The problem with NOT doing it for every author is then remembering which authors I AM doing it for. But if I do it for every author then my tag cloud is going to grow humongously, even more ridiculous than it already is. Do any of you have any thoughts or opinions or anecdotes or experience to shed some light on this issue?

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Death Wish ★★★★★

deathwish (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Death Wish
Series: ———-
Author: Brian Garfield
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Paul Benjamin is a successful accountant in New York City. One afternoon his wife and married daughter are attacked in Paul’s apartment and savagely beaten. His wife dies and his daughter ends up in a sanitarium, insane for all intents and purposes.

Paul has always been a good guy. He’s done charity work for prison reform, contributes to causes left and right and thinks that if he obeys the rules that Society will protect him. With the attack on his family this delusion is ripped away and Paul must confront what living in a big city really means.

As he mulls these thoughts over, he begins to change. He realizes he has been afraid and he is now going to stop being afraid. But how does one stop being afraid? By taking responsibility for ones self is the conclusion Paul comes to.

On a business trip to the Mid-West Paul has a one night stand with some stranger at his hotel. When she leaves he realizes how empty his life is. How empty those hoodlums have made his life. He buys a small calibre pistol at a fishing shop and takes it back to New York with him hidden in his carry on baggage.

Paul begins roaming the city at night, exposing himself to danger so as to kill the perpetrators of violence and crime. After several kills the papers pick up on the fact that there is a vigilante on the loose. The book ends with Paul having just shot 4 teenagers who were throwing 50lb rocks onto a train to kill people inside and a cop seeing him. The cop raises his hat and deliberately turns his back and Paul walks home.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness, another fantastic book for this year. Definitely gets the “Best Book of the Year” tag.

So, this review might be long and rambly, please bear with me or just skip it. Either way, it’s all good.

I had heard about this through the 1974 film starring Charles Bronson. Knowing the type of movie Bronson usually starred in, I never got around to watching it. Then in 2018 a remake with Bruce Willis was made and it eventually came to Amazon Prime. I watched the reboot, as I really like Willis. That led me to watching the original with Bronson and then to hunting down the book. I plan on talking about the movies in a Versus post later this month. Death Wish vs Death Wish vs Death Wish!

Based on the synopsis and the movies, I was expecting a book about a vigilante getting his revenge. A soft, pasty, weakminded fool seeing reality for the first time in his life and going all gung-ho to the other extreme. What I got was a psychological book that impressed me over and over and over. Paul never finds the hoodlums who killed his wife and he never expects to. What I read was the mind of a man pushed beyond its self-imposed limits. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t always easy to read about but it was good.

I’ve always considered Crime & Punishment to be THE book on what a criminal mind goes through after a murder. Death Wish is entering the same territory in my mind but from the other end. What does a man go through when he truly realizes how broken, destructive and unsafe his world is? This book shows the answer to that.

Given the fact that I already agree with most of the statements made in this book (see my Quote post from the other day) it is no surprise that I liked this. The only part I struggled with was Paul taking the role of Executioner into his own hands, not lightly, but so determinedly. I believe that every human has the God given right to defend themselves. I believe that laws like the Stand Your Ground laws are essential to a free society. However, when defense of Self moves into the defense of Society then I cannot blindly accept or promote it. But neither do I blindly negate it. Evil, and people who commit acts of Evil ARE evil, must be resisted not only by the dutifully elected officials of Law and Order but by every conscientious citizen as well. The flip side of the Right to Self-defense is the Responsibility of Self-defense. This book was written in 1972 and is pretty dated but the battle that Paul goes through in his mind is as relevant today as it was then.

I don’t know what someone who is in staunch opposition to the right of self-defense would make of this book. I don’t think it would change their mind. It is not meant to however. This was a book written to all of those people who sit on the fence and think they are safe because “of the police” or that “it couldn’t happen here in Safe Safe Happy Funland.” Brian Garfield also NEVER ridicules those who think like Paul at the beginning of the book. I really appreciated that.

I would love to unreservedly recommend this book but honestly, I can’t. For me, it was the right book at the right time. People can have their minds changed and responsibility can grow from even the stinkiest compost heap.

To end, this was not an action/adventure novel of revenge and over the top violence. This was the story of a man finally growing up.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Aliases, Avatars and the Fracturing of the Psyche

9ae2a49082cbf9a1a22fcb2a48ffb7c2

This subject is one that I think about at least once a month.  Being introspective, I tend to look inward a lot and discuss with myself if what I’m doing/thinking/saying is adversely affecting myself or changing myself in ways that I don’t like. Basically, am I living a lie with this Bookstooge moniker?

Thankfully, the answer is an emphatic “No!”. If you were to meet me in real life, while I would be different than your expectations, you could still recognize me from how I act and talk here.

Bookstooge is an identity. He is not a whole personality but neither is he a deliberately skewed persona that I don when I go online.  Bookstooge doesn’t care if indie authors rant at him, threaten him or call him nasty names. When a rabid fan of some book he hates comes over and tells him, in excruciating detail, about why he is wrong, he just gets a bit angry and a bit of non-review post material. In a day or two, that’s all gone and Bookstooge is right back to writing reviews and posts and whatever crap fills his head. He is a coping mechanism for dealing with the internet and the phracktards who inhabit it.

***** 8 Years Prior*****

I joined Goodreads in 2007, and became active in 2009. I used my full name, kept my profile photo updated to within a year and listed what State I lived in and lots of other factual data.

In ’12 and ’13 I had the beginnings of my war with the Indies.  Things ran the gamut from general name calling to such items as being told to stick my hand in a blender [so as to not write any more reviews] or threatened with a general beating.  So when I left GR in late ’13 because of their silent censoring issue, I decided that I needed something to buffer me. And thus was born Bookstooge. Of course, it only took about 2 weeks for “Bookstooge” to get splattered upon by the “Stop the Good Reads Bullies” folks but that was more a badge of honor than anything.

Funny thing is, “Bookstooge” is now more known that “I” ever was. How’s that for irony?

***** End Flashback*****

Does this mean that I am on the path to becoming a character in my own movie, ie, “Split” by Shyamalan? I do have the bald look already, so there’s that:

split-2-ending-scary-unbreakable-2

But heeeeey, it’s MEEEEE we’re talking about. I’m pretty bloody stable, and don’t you forget it! *all up in your face with my shiny bald head*

But honestly, I’m not crazy. I know I’m not crazy and you know I’m not crazy. My Bookstooge part of me is just another part. I act differently in my Monday evening church men’s group than I do in services on Saturday. Or put me in a crowd and whammo, suddenly you don’t see a side of me that you’ve never seen before [ie, I sidle up to a wall and do my best to hold it up]. Does this mean my psyche is shattered into a billion pieces? Mrs Bookstooge just informed me that mine IS shattered, but into a TRILLION pieces. So there you go, The End.

Ha. Thank goodness for funny wives.

Thank goodness it doesn’t mean that. What it does mean is that people are the most complex thing on this earth. It is a constant reminder to me that when I interact with each and every one of you, that I don’t have the full story, not by far. I don’t know what motivations lie behind your comments, your posts. Sometimes, you probably don’t even know, so how in samhill am I supposed to? So I need to exhibit patience when I don’t want to. I need to show restraint when I just want to type it all out.

To wrap this venerschnittzlefrauzen up, since I know who I am, Who I am grounded in and am stable, these wonderings each month tend to be a good reminder to treat you all with a bit more “whatever” that you may need at the moment.

Of course, if you’re just bullshitting me, I’ll bury you 😉

manure21Buried!!

 

bookstooge

Death Note: Light Up the New World (Movie) (Nippon TV 2016)

dnbddvdOk, well, that was crap. Spoilers, but you’ll thank me if it saves you from wasting time on this.

Basic premise is that Light Yagami had a secret kid, L had his dna mixed with some other kid and the King of the Shinagami allows up to 6 Death Notes into the world. Of course, the actual story follows a Police Officer, Riyuzaki who is L’s successor (and pretty much called “L’s Successor” for the whole movie. It was beyond annoying) and Shien, a punk in white skinny jeans [skinny jeans. If you have a pair, you don’t wear. That’s my motto and I’ll gladly offend anyone who thinks otherwise] who is a follower of the original Kira.

 

All 3 are involved in trying to get all 6 Death Notes and stuff happens. It made no sense to me. One of the Death Note holders goes on a killing spree in downtown Tokyo, just walking along and writing down peoples names so they die. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Thankfully, she doesn’t last long.

A grown up Misa Amane makes an appearance and I have to say, she’s a beautiful woman. Much more attractive than the skinny little kid she was in Death Note: The Last Name.  Sadly, she isn’t any smarter. Speaking of smarter, don’t get me going on the 3 main male characters. Bunch of reactive, knee-jerk dip sticks. We get some more Shinagami but they’re one scene wonders for the most part.

It ends with everyone but the Police Officer dying and the 6 Death Notes scattered or destroyed. And the police officer? He was the Kira successor all along, he just forgot for most of the movie because he gave up the Death Note. It was not cohesively coherent and it left me feeling befuddled and angry that I’d wasted 2 1/4hrs of my precious time.

I liked the Netflix version of Death Note more than this sequel. With this movie, I am officially movie’d out and Death Note’d out.

m-deathnoteShien, Misa Amane, Mr Po-Po and “L’s Successor”

 

  1. Death Note Netflix 2017
  2. Death Note Vizmedia 2006
  3. Death Note: The Last Name Vizmedia 2006

 

Death Note: The Last Name (Movie) (Viz Media 2006)

deathnote2Whooooo. This starts right off from the first Death NoteI suspect that Part I and Part II were all filmed as one movie and then split up for times’ sake. Both are between 130-140 minutes and since the director is NOT Peter Jackson, he doesn’t get one 4 1/2 hr movie.

There will be small spoilers, but nothing that I consider huge. Because Death Note has some seriously huge spoiler material, that is for sure. It makes it rather hard to discuss with someone who hasn’t seen it. Kind of like The Sixth Sense. The twist at the end impacts everything that came before. There isn’t that same twist, but some things just as big do occur.

 

The rivaly between Light and L starts to intensify. L begins to attend the same college as Light and Misa Amane begins dating Light. Misa is another Kira, after being saved from a stalker by a shinigami named Rem. Misa realizes she isn’t as smart as the original Kira but wants to help out. When she finds out that Kira is Light, she gives her cooperation on the terms that Light will be her boyfriend.

Shit gets real when Kira II begins killing people on live tv who oppose Kira. Mostly innocent police officers who happen to be on the scene. This ramps up the feelings on the Kira Task Force and L begins authorizing highly illegal activity, such as the kidnapping of Misa Amane on suspicion of being Kira II.

It is still all a game to Light and he plays with peoples’ lives like pieces on a chessboard. Just like in the manga.

There are some really cool twists and turns, involving multiple Death Notes, multiple Shinigami, memories, Eyes of the Shinigami and continued move and counter-move by both Light and L. While some of the specifics are not exactly like the manga, they are exactly like the manga in spirit.

Now, I’d read the manga twice before watching this or Part I, so I’m not sure how that affected my viewpoint. It would be interesting to get someone’s perspective who hasn’t read the manga, but only watched the Netflix Death NoteCough,BookCupidity,Cough.

The whole storyline with Near and Melo gets cut out, but honestly, that would require at least another 2 movies, so it isn’t a surprise it isn’t included. This movie wraps up the storyline and shows the ending of the Death Note manga like it was intended. My only other quibble is that Light doesn’t have bleached blonde hair tips. I know that is an odd thing, but that is ONE detail that the Netflix version got right that I was happy about.

To end this ramble, I enjoyed these Death Note movies immensely. I don’t know how well someone who isn’t already familiar with the franchise would enjoy them, but they do a MUCH better job of portraying Death Note than that Netflix bastardization did.

deathnote2-2The main cast of Death Note: The Last Name. I’m not even going to say how many of them die.

 

I’m including my thoughts on the Death Note manga below from when I reviewed them in ’14. Just be aware, they’re as spoilery as anything, as is my tendency.

 

  1. Death Note Vol. 1-3
  2. Death Note Vol. 4-6
  3. Death Note Vol. 7-9
  4. Death Note Vol. 10-12

Death Note (Movie) (Viz Media 2006)

deathnote (Custom)This live-action version of Death Note is part I. Parts I & II [titled Death Note: The Last Name] were released concurrently in 2006 by Viz Media here in the United States. It was originally produced and released in either Japan or Korea. [Korea produces live action adaptations of popular anime by the metric ton]

Anyway. Unlike the Netflix Death Note, this starts out with mysterious killings happening all over the world and the world calling the killer Kira and an avatar of Justice.

 

We then jump back in time and are introduced to Light Yagami, college student who has just passed the bar, is popular and good at sports. He’s the top of his class and his girlfriend is another bar examinee. They both want to eventually be police officers. Light becomes disillusioned with the justice system of Japan when he hacks into the police data base and uncovers a list of criminals who have gone free and will never be prosecuted. He goes to a bar to find out if this is true or not and comes across a child killer who got off. He runs off into the rain and throws his law book away. THAT is when he finds the Death Note and begins his cleansing of the criminal element around the world.

The police are trying to determine if this is some sort of plague when they are informed by the mysterious “L” that these deaths are not natural and are caused by an individual. L vows to bring this killer to justice and thus begins the game of wits between Light/Kira and L.

Now THIS is a much more faithful adaptation of the manga. First, Light is a freaking genius. He reads the rules of the notebook, knows how to use them, experiments to find the limits and generally shows what a heartless killer he really is. Second, the rules that Light uses are written out on the screen for the viewer to see, as he is using it. It explains what is going on. Third, Light narrates his reasoning, his logic behind his moves. Fourthly, Light maneuvers circumstances to maximize his use of the Death Note. Which leads right back to Number One.

L only plays a small part in this first movie. More of an introduction as Kira’s opponent than anything. He’s a weirdo and it’s not obvious at all if he’s actually a good guy.

Misa Misa is introduced in the last 10 minutes of the film as well. It is not apparent from her introduction what part she’ll play. Of course, if you’ve read the manga, you know 😀

The movie moves forward very dramatically. After the dramatics, Light ends up asking his father, the head of the Kira Task Force, to join said Task Force. L intercedes on his behalf. The movie ends with L eating from a bag of consomme flavored chips. The exact same kind that Light used to cover his killings while under observation.

Light knows that L knows that Light is Kira. But knowing is one thing. Proving is quite another. Let the battle of the brains begin in the second chapter, The Last Name. 

 

9625d4_7e4daafc00334b089afce91c9b88cc0fCast of Characters from Death Note, Part I. Three of them are dead by the end of the movie. You’ll have to guess which three.