Archive for the 'Fantasy' Category

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

This is about the “trilogy,” not just the book. However, UTA is short one of the five* books in the series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The full “trilogy” includes Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy (PR6051.D3352 .H5 2004), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (not available here), Life, the universe, and everything (PR 6051 .D3352 L5 1982 ), So long, and thanks for all the fish (PR 6051 .D3352 S6 1985), and Mostly harmless (PR 6051 .D3352 M7 1992). 

 One word… whimsical.

Why do I love thee, HGG?
I love thy whimsy.
Three times three.

(Or should that be nine times six?)

Arthur then comments, “I’ve always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe.”

If this statement scares you, steer clear of this series. If it sounds rather fun to explore strange new worlds with characters named Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, and Slartibartfast, strap in and take off.

*Apparently, Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer and Adams’ widow, Jane Belson, have written a sixth book for the series called And Another Thing…, but it’s not included here as I haven’t yet read it. Also, UTA Library doesn’t have it.

All Hallows’ Eve, by Charles Williams

Central Books: PZ3.W67144 Al4

As is always the case whenever I have just read a Charles Williams novel, I finished All Hallows’ Eve for the nth time and felt the need to share it with someone.

Williams’ writing is obscure enough that encountering someone who has read his work is a delight. When I meet someone who adores his work, I have found a kindred spirit. T.S. Eliot, who wrote the introduction to this novel, similarly admired Charles Williams—both the writer and the man.

Williams was a member of the Inklings—the group of Oxford writers, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, who regularly met to read and comment upon one anothers’ work. Despite this connection, his work is more akin to Chesterton’s or George MacDonald’s, set in the real world yet surrealistic in atmosphere. While immersed in his novels, I am awed by the immensity of eternity and, paradoxically, the significance of a single soul.

All Hallows’ Eve, though published in 1945 and set after WW2 ended, was written before the war ended and so was set in the near future. Our protagonist, Lester Furnival, has led a rather sheltered existence, spending little time thinking of others. But events unfold that stretch her, that afford her the opportunity to right some old wrongs and become a new person, or it might be more apt to say she becomes more like herself.

As with all of Williams’s novels, Hallows’ protagonist is an otherwise ordinary person who must face a dark power, typically someone seeking power over the material world, and often the metaphysical world, as well. A theme throughout all the novels is the redemptive power of love; it is the sanctity of love—not strength or power—that ultimately defeats evil.

In addition to All Hallows’ Eve, Williams wrote six other novels, four of which can be found at Central: War in Heaven (PR6045.I5 W37 1999), Many Dimensions (PR6045.I5 M3 1993), Shadows of Ecstasy (PR 6045 .I5 S48 1950), and Descent into Hell (PR 6045 .I5 D38 1949), The Place of The Lion (not in the collection), and The Greater Trumps (not in the collection). The UTA collection also contains many other Williams works, including poetry, literary criticism, and theology.

(Originally published in Connections, April 2006)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

Central: PZ 7 .R79835 Half 2005

This recommendation is not directed towards Harry Potter fans. This is for those who have so far resisted Hurricane Harry during his sweep across the world.

The Potter universe wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but I think there are some holdouts who may enjoy it, may even love it, but who are averse to fantasy books, or kid lit, or any action that resembles jumping on the latest bandwagon.

My target here is people who love mysteries, or code-breaking, or puzzles, or problem-solving of any kind. The problem-solving pleasure will greatly diminish once book seven appears, so now is the time to join the fun and start hunting for clues.

Harry Potter dominated my July reading. I re-read the earlier books before keeping my long-awaited date with the Half Blood Prince (HBP), because Rowling loves to drop clues (and red herrings). I wanted to be ready. Now that I’ve finished all six books in a row and started to formulate some hypotheses about what’s going on, and what’s going to happen, darned if I don’t feel like I need to re-read them all, armed with the wealth of information provided in HBP.

I was a late-comer to the series, not starting them until four books had appeared. My literary pretensions intact, I resisted the lure of a fashionable series lacking substance. The first book confirmed my expectation that the series was lacking in great prose, pleasant but fluffy, and I expected to read no further.

My father-in-law pressed the next two books upon me, insisting that I must read them, and by the end of book three, I did indeed feel that I must immediately begin four. I have been hooked ever since. Enhancing the enjoyment are the long waits between books, which build anticipation and allow time to meditate upon possibilities.

If you’ve only read the first book or only seen the movies, I recommend reading at least the first three books before deciding whether you really like them. In fact, (sacrilege!) skip up and start with book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. You can always go back and read the earlier ones later, if you wish. And I suspect you will wish.

The Central library contains all five previous books in the series. In order, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (PZ7.R79835 Har 1998), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (PZ7.R7968 Har 1999), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PZ7.R79835 Ham 1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (PZ7.R79835 Har 2000), and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (PZ 7 .R79835 Halx 2003).

(Originally published in Connections, August 2005)