Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books, Music

Book Review Tuesday (1/28/20)-Stranger in a Strange Land

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Happy Tuesday, earthlings!

After Ray Bradbury opened my eyes to the vast world that is older sci-fi, I began receiving more and more similar recommendations on Goodreads. This one, in particular, caught my eye–mostly because of the beautiful cover art, not gonna lie, but what I found inside its pages was so much more. Though dense at times, and not without its flaws, but an incredible feat of literature nonetheless.

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Stranger in a Strange Land

Valentine Michael Smith is a newcomer to planet Earth, the famed Man from Mars that has recently captured the public imagination. Curious–and a bit afraid–of what this strange planet has in store for him, he ventures out into the vast world, with the help of  Jill, the nurse who broke him out of the hospital. The more Valentine learns, the more he realizes how different he truly is–though he looks like a human on the outside, he possesses powers far beyond human ability. Powers that could put his life–and the lives of those he holds dear–in jeopardy.

 

WHEW. Man, what a unique book!

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The further you read, the more you realize the level of care that Heinlein put into this piece. Every detail, from the political ramifications of Valentine’s existence, to his native Martian customs, is so wonderfully complex. Of course, that did lend itself to an impressive amount of info-dumping, which made reading some portions of the book a bit of a headache, but hey, at least the guy’s taking the time to think all of this out.

Even almost 60 years on, much of the book still holds up. Definitely not all of it–we’ve still got a heady dose of problematic sexism and such peppered in, but hey, I wouldn’t exactly expect a white guy in the early sixties to be the wokest author on the market, not by a long shot. Not that this makes it okay, but I wasn’t exactly expecting a feminist work from this. But other than that, the writing, the lovely imagery, and the startlingly realistic public backlash to the very existence of the Man from Mars speaks to many of our issues regarding xenophobia today. Even the absolutely scathing commentary on organized religion found within the pages–I mean, the main branch of Christianity that’s evolved in this future world sounds like a religious version of a high school assembly–doesn’t seem far off from what could evolve in the near future.

And beyond that, I’ve always empathized with alien characters. I’ve felt like something of an outsider my whole life, and part of me felt such pain for poor Valentine. Mostly in the first half of the book, at any rate, but nonetheless.

All in all, a solid four and a half stars for me. 

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Before I go, here’s a fun fact: according to John O’Connell’s Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie’s Lifethere was almost an adaptation of Stranger in a Strange Land in the early seventies, with David Bowie as Valentine Michael Smith. And by Bowie, I mean ZIGGY ERA BOWIE.

ZIGGY ERA.

I WOULD’VE WATCHED THE EVER-LOVING HECK OUTTA THAT, LET ME TELL YOU…

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aaaAAAaAAAaAAAAaaAAAAAAAA

 

Today’s song:

4:49–4:54: TURN YOUR VOLUME DOWN A BIT JUST A WORD OF ADVICE

 

That just about wraps up this post! Have a lovely rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Music

On Bowie

(NOTE-The reason I’m posting this a year later is because I never ended up doing on close to the actual date. I admit, I was kind of flustered.)

Sure, yeah, it’s been a year.

But somehow, it feels  like yesterday.

David Bowie, for me at least, was one of the saddest deaths in 2016. He just meant so much to me and was a pretty big part of my life. Of course, it’s pretty obvious that I wasn’t born in the 70’s or 80’s, but even so, I grew up with him. In fact, one of my first memories (I consider it to be around my second memory) involved David Bowie.

All I know about it are these things:

-I was in the car

-My whole family was with me

-“Kooks” was playing

I remember listening to “Kooks” a lot when I was little. Though it isn’t one of his most famous songs, it is definitely high up on my “Nostalgic Childhood Songs” list. And that’s just the beginning. I’ve heard so many Bowie songs in my life, and a huge number of them have some sort of sentimental value for me. For instance, I remember having a phase when I was about eight where all I wanted to hear was “Changes”. My dad also showed me live videos of David Bowie performing it, and I always enjoyed it. I remember when I was nine, when my family stayed in Mexico for three weeks, going to sleep and listening to “Space Oddity” on my brother’s iPod (then hearing another version on the car ride from the airport). I remember hearing “Blackstar” in the car for the first time. I was really weirded out at the time, and the fact that it was nighttime enhanced that. There are so many more, but…

….now we come to January 11, 2016.

It was destined to be like any other drab Monday. I got in the car, and I waited for my brother and dad to follow. They did, and then my dad broke the news.

I remember a feeling of total speechlessness and shock. I don’t recall if I said anything or not, but then we pulled out of the garage, and my dad turned on “Lazarus”. We listened to David Bowie the whole ride to school.

At school, my best friend and I, who share a love of Bowie, made a memorial on a whiteboard. It was shaped like a tombstone, and it read:

R.I.P. David Bowie

There was never a better king of the universe.

{We signed our names here}

Then, we wrote “WHY” a bunch of times around the tombstone. Sadly the memorial was later erased for a math class. *hisssssss*

I’ve hinted multiple times this year that I couldn’t get over it. I doubt I ever will. But I will always remember him. We all will. He changed the world in such a wonderful way, and gave us the beauty of his heart, mind, and soul in music. One thing’s for sure, though…

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I hope you’re having a wonderful time far above the world, Starman. Goodnight.