Archive for June, 2011

‘Commitment Hour’ by James Alan Gardner

June 21, 2011

I didn’t know anything about James Alan Gardner when I obtained this book. Intermittently, looking at the nondescript cover, I thought it was a crime novel, but it is science fiction. Not expecting anything, I was pleasantly surprised. (Is that possible??) This is a nice novel about a village where adolescents change their sex every year until they are twenty, when they have to Commit to one permanent sex: male, female — or both. It’s both funny and gripping. I’d like to some day read Gardner’s first novel, Expendable (no connection to the movie The Expendables, I think). Oh, and I see in Wikipedia there are quite a few more novels. Nice to know.

“Der Knochenmann” von Wolf Haas

June 20, 2011

Wieder ein schöner, witziger Krimi von Wolf Haas. Der Knochenmann ist (wie Komm, süßer Tod und Silentium!) verfilmt worden, aber der (ebenfalls gute) Film ist recht weit von der Vorlage entfernt; das eine zu kennen macht also das andere nicht im geringsten reizlos. Außerdem haben der Film und das Buch ja auch ganz unterschiedliche Reize. Ein besonderer Reiz bei Haas’ Brenner-Krimis ist der Tonfall des Ich-Erzählers. Der erinnert mich an Helge Schneider: Die Sprache ist zwar eine völlig andere, aber beide sind sozusagen kunstvoll kunstlos, gezielt holprig und fehlerhaft, wodurch der spezielle Reiz erst entsteht.

Man sollte denken, “Wolf Haas” ist ein Pseudonym, aber davon erwähnt wenigstens Wikipedia nichts. Vielleicht hatten einfach seine Eltern Humor. — Außer diesem Roman habe ich noch Komm, süßer Tod, Wie die Tiere, Auferstehung der Toten und Ausgebremst (kein Brenner-Krimi) gelesen. Den Letzteren fand ich nicht so prickelnd.

‘Gather, Darkness!’ by Fritz Leiber

June 20, 2011

In the far future, after a nuclear war and resulting Dark Ages, there are two opposing camps: the Hierarchy, a church-like organization that dominates and exploits the commoners, and the Witchcraft, who want to overthrow the regime of the Hierarchy by means of black magic. The main protagonist is Brother Jarles, a member of the First (and lowest) Circle of the Hierarchy. He rebels against the oppression of the commoners and is thereupon invited to join the ranks of the Witchcraft. At the point where he decides to accept that invitation he is captured and brainwashed by the Hierarchy.

Who knows, maybe this novel was part of L. Ron Hubbard’s inspiration to found Scientology? — This science fiction novel has aged quite well, considering it was published in 1943. What seems a little naive is the optimism (though tempered by doubts), at the end, after the Witchcraft’s revolution has succeeded, about the benevolence of the new rulers and about a durable improvement of the commoners’ lot having been achieved. — A nice little novel, not overwhelming, but also not bad at all.