The last of the Foundation books, how sad! The journey of the Foundation series, both the original and the prelude books is perhaps the greatest sci-fi series I’ve read. This final installment was in many ways a lot like the first book. It was a series of short stories taking place over a span of time. While the original was about the foundation, this followed the foundation’s designer, Hari Seldon. It is a great book for fans of the series and a suitable conclusion, but if you haven’t read all the other Foundation books, go do that before picking up this final chapter. Asimov may be dead, but he laid the foundation for science fiction, and maybe even a second foundation.
I bought Paradise Earth Vol 1: Day Zero at a book fair from the author. On the surface, the book looks to be a traditional surviving the holocaust book, but as you read further in the book you find that the book is actually far deeper and less predictable than it first appears. Paradise Earth is less about the end of days than it is about the Jehovah’s Witness and the inner workings of the cult. Sounds like a weird bridge to cross, right? It works though. Mathenia is able to draw you into the setting of the Hall and make the end of days seem not just expected, but late in its arrival. Mathenia has no love for the sect, but you can tell that he has a passionate affection for many of the members within and those that have been cast out.
While Mathenia develops the story of the end, the story of the past creeps in, and rings of regret, self-doubt, and personal morality over authoritative morality. With that said, as I finished the book I was left feeling that it wasn’t quite what I had been hoping for, yet as the book simmered in my mind, I found that it was perhaps better than I had hoped for and reached me on a deeper level.
I struggle with who to recommend this book to, as I am an atheist and enjoyed it, I wonder what those who hold faith in any religion would think of it, as I believe the morals of the story can be tilted to show the corruption and evil in all religions, but I must say, Mathernia’s protagonist doesn’t reject God in any way, just the organization of the Witnesses.
Bill Bryson, as I’ve said before, is possibly my favorite living author. He is the living embodiment of the Great American Humorist. He is the modern day Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, or Kurt Vonnegut, and his writings walk that line between absurdity and mundane, and we come to find that the only real absurd thing about him is that he writes the things we all think in our heads but don’t realize anybody else thinks them.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is a fun glimpse into his upbringing in Iowa during the 50’s and 60’s. His family, which has been mentioned in his previous books, is here explored in wonderful, horrible detail, and you learn to love the boy that became the author, the friendships he garnered through his life, the town that cultivated him, and even the crazy but brilliant family. And throughout this heartwarming tale of childhood reflection and self-discovery Bryson weaves the tail of his superhero imaginary alter ego to explain how he handled the situations in his mind after they had in fact already taken place with horrible outcomes. I have my own superhero alter ego from my childhood: the Slob-o-Tron, the fighter of cleanliness and order everywhere.
Bryson is a master that should be held in the same regard as the likes of Heller, Vonnegut, and Barry. Well done, sir, and thank you for sharing.