Ron’s #23: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I have attempted to read this several times over the past ten years, and I finally made it through. Science fiction has never been one of my interests, so please take this review with that in mind.

Ender Wiggin is a prodigy who is recruited from Earth into an elite battle school for children to find the next battle commander who will lead them to victory against the alien “Buggers.” As a 10-year-old, he is younger then the other children, and is isolated. The adults pulls on the strings in Ender’s life like marionette operators to cause the desired results. I’ll stop the story there in case you do know about the semi-surprise ending. Someone told me about the ending, but it really did not matter.

Overall, it was a mildly interesting story and a good quick read. My main problem from early in the novel is that they had all these little kids arguing and discussing military philosophy as though they were college professors. It all felt so forced and phony. I never could buy that Ender is a child. This is also true with his older siblings, Peter and Valentine. There is a completely ridiculous sub-plot about the two of them assuming false identities and writing a revolutionary doctrine that changed the course of the war. Silly.

I’m probably alone in my opinions, as I know that this is a much-loved book in the sci-fi genre. Sorry to offend anyone, but it just isn’t that good.

JRF's #19 - The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The 5th installment of the John Carter of Mars series, The Chessmen of Mars follows John Carter and Dejah Thoris' daughter Tara into adventure, romance, and the bizarre.  Tara Carter inherited her mothers beauty and her fathers tenacity.  Yet being the sheltered daughter of the planets most powerful and famous couple has left her character unproven and her judgement lacking.  When a temper tantrum ends with her getting lost in an unknown corner of Mars and subsequently captured by subterranean humanoids with detachable heads and telekinetic powers, its up to Prince Gahan of Gathol, her rejected suitor, to find and rescue her.

Sci fi action, adventure and second favorite book in the series so far.

JRF's #14 - Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Book 4 of Burroughs' 11 volume Barsoom series focuses on the adventures of Thuvia, princess of Ptarth and third most beautiful woman on Mars and Carthoris,  the son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris.  If that last sentence was unintelligible to you I recommend you skip this review and start with the first book in the series - A Princess of Mars.  

For the three of you that are still with me, this story is what you have come to expect from one of the masters of pulp fiction.  Romance, adventure, chivalry, sci-fi, treachery, and bloody sword fights.  Like the other books, it is interesting to see how ideas and technologies that were all the rage at the time of writing (like communism, flight, Theosophy) worked their way into the plot.  If you like this series or genre, book four will not disappoint.

JRF's #7 - The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

This is the Temple of Doom of the John Carter series.  Dark, creepy, adventurous and awesome.

Picking up ten years after A Princess of Mars ended, John Carter is finally transported back to Barsoom (Mars), eager to be reunited to his beloved princess, Dejah Thoris.  Yet when he wakes up he is in a dark corner of Barsoom that he has no knowledge of.  He soon finds that he must battle his way out of the very center of the holiest city on Mars, the headquarters of the diabolical cannibalistic false deity that holds the planet under her spell.

Action packed and ending with a heart-wrenching cliff hanger, this book makes for an entertaining read.


I'm not one to try to read too deep into these kind of books but at many times I wondered if Burrows was making a subtle attack on religion in general through this book.  A Princess of Mars seemed to be critiquing communism at times, an ideaology which was gaining a lot of traction at the time of its writing.  I could see the theme of exposing false mythologies and traditions in The Gods of Mars as Burroughs way of commenting on the modernization of his era.  Again, these are only my conjectures.





Ron’s #14: Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams

I’ve slowly been working my way through the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series over this past school year. Science-fiction is not a genre I typically like, but this series seems to be written for readers like me. It focuses more on humor and ridiculousness than it does on the fantastic nature of futuristic events. The main story of the stolen Heart of Gold ship and Arthur Dent’s reluctant traveling through time and space is not nearly as interesting and enjoyable as Adams’s small side notes and descriptions. In this book, the pieces are weightier than the whole.

Here are a few tidbits:

“He just won an award at the Annual Ursa Minor Alpha Recreational Illusions Institute Awards ceremony [for]..the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word ‘Belgium’ in a Serious Screenplay. It’s very prestigious.”

“…pausing at a bar on the way back for a quick glass of perspective and soda.”

“It’s all right,” she said in a voice that would have calmed the Big Bang down.

Life, the Universe, and Everything was a quick read and a good distraction, but I was impatient for its end. I’m sure I’ll finish the series, but it may be a little while before I get to it. I know that these books are beloved by many, and I want to understand why. If you have an answer, please let me know.