The Magician King by Lev Grossman [10/10]

The Magician King by Lev Grossman is exactly what I hoped it would be. This is a fast-paced magical adventure book with fully developed characters working together to solve a complex existential problem. This book has all the big magical battles which the first book did not. If you got into this series looking for full-apotheosis mode magical American teenager warriors, this book delivers.

You can get the audiobook for free here.

The Magician King by Lev GrossmanI give this book a 10/10. Truly an enjoyable read which I will come back to, again and again.

I love the show, so I decided to read The Magicians… [No Spoilers]

I say this as a scifi fan and a fantasy fan, but the show is great. The characters are interesting. The plot continues to build and get more exciting. Recently I’ve found myself trying to think back to previous arcs and glean some idea of what is coming next. Reading the books seemed like an obvious next step. I was surprised by what I liked most about the book. You can use this link to get the audiobook for free.

The Magicians

Just like the show, the book has interesting characters and great storytelling. The production quality of the audiobook was really high, which definitely helps make it a better experience.

The show is a much condensed version of the more in-depth book series. This is pretty common. Some characters were combined together or eliminated entirely. Many plotlines were shrunk down or eliminated.

But what really impressed me was the way the author writes. Obviously this can’t really come through in the show. For example;

“Are you kidding? That guy was a mystery wrapped in an enigma and crudely stapled to a ticking fucking time bomb. He was either going to hit somebody or start a blog.”

The author uses a lot of contemporary teen vernacular and slang, but it never feels forced. This makes the writing feel at once accessible and crafty. It’s hard to explain. I found myself laughing or judging or feeling what the author wanted me to feel. This is uncommon for me as a reader. I tend to read with a certain emotional stoicism. This author does a good job of getting under my skin.

One of my favorite things about the way these stories are written is that the settings of the scenes are often very banal. These aren’t people who are generally on crazy adventures. They’re just doing the normal things people do most of the time. The characters also talk about normal language being similar to magic. The words we speak on a daily basis have great power to heal, to harm, to destroy, to change the world around us.

Basically, this book makes me think magically about everyday life. Too often we are caught up in our lives and unattentive to the impact of our words and deeds. We all have the magical power to give joy and comfort and happiness to those whose paths we cross. We should!

Review: Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve

Infernal Devices is book three in the Hungry Cities Chronicles. The first book was set in Europe and the sky. The second book was set on the polar ice cap. This third book is set at sea. It’s an exciting adventure which is still very sociological. We explore themes of power and oppression dynamics with lots of action and explosions.

Check out my reviews of Mortal Engines and Predator’s Gold!

Infernal Devices By Philip Reeve

Homo Deus by Yuval Harari

Yuval’s previous book, Sapiens, covers the history of humanity. This book, Homo Deus, covers the future of humanity. His next book after this covers today.

Homo Deus was an interesting look at many of the forces which are shaping the world. Starting at the beginning is the right way to think about the future. Sapiens really dives into the cognitive, agricultural, and industrial revolutions. This book looks at the future from that historical perspective. What has changed, and what does it mean? What is therefore likely to happen moving forward?

Homo Deus by Yuval Harari

In particular, I found his perspective on what he calls “Dataism” fascinating. I think this is the right lens through which to view the modern world, and the right way to think about what is coming next. This concept promises to unite all the various disparate sciences under a single universal paradigm which also extends to nearly every part of humanity, as well as all our technology and the rest of the universe around us.

It’s a very exciting read!

Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve

Predator’s Gold was an amazing sequel to Mortal Engines.I hope they continue the film franchise, because this book gets into even more interesting sociological perspectives on potential dystopian futures. We see a deeper dive into issues of classism and nepotism within social darwinism, and we also touch on the reality that people will always cheat systems; that social darwinism becomes a competition to see who can cheat, not who has the most merit. The idea of natural meritocratic orders are thoroughly and effectively criticised.

Predator's Gold

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes science fiction, or anyone interested in sociology and futurism. This is a proud and worthy addition to the ideological lexicon of the cyberpunk genre!

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Mortal Engines is the first book in a series which has long been on my radar. After seeing the movie, I decided to check out the books. It was an instant favorite. I think of this book as a very sociological form of cyberpunk.

I would define cyberpunk as literature which contains technology being used in unintended ways in the pursuit of power. This book is essentially entirely that theme, and set in a distant future dystopia. The characters remember the “sixty minute war” a thousand years ago where the ancients destroyed themselves. Those ancients are our contemporary near-future.

The book also has many sociological themes. It attacks head-on social and “municipal” darwinism and its many inherent flaws. I understand that this argument is expanded in the following books in the series. I can’t wait to read them!

 

Sapiens By Yuval Harari

This book covers big history from the big bang to today, with an emphasis on our species, and the other species of humans who we originally coexisted with. The book covers theories about what happened to our cousins, as well as what happened to every ecosystem we moved into.

The book goes on to talk about the rise of cultures and civilizations, why they evolved the way they did, and why there is no going back.

You can use this link to get the book for free if you don’t already have an Audible account.

Big Takeaways

  • We have changed a lot in our short history, and there is no going back.
  • Most of the issues we are preoccupied with are pointless and transient.
  • Syncretism: All the cultures and religions of today are a blend of many previous ones as well as of their competing religions and cultures..

When We Rise By Cleve Jones

I found this book inspiring for many reasons. I know many of the people and places in the story, so it has been intense to see so many of my friends’ roles in the story of gay liberation. It’s also interesting to see so many of the problems from before the movement still present today; especially the way young people often consider or attempt suicide if they feel isolated. The emphasis on community building is just as urgent and important today as it was decades ago when we started.

It’s also inspiring to see how many unbelievable disasters our community has faced and survived and overcome. From willful genocide at the hands of conservative governments who did nothing to fight AIDS, to the constant random threat of murder at the hands of homophobes, to Loma Prieta.

I was also very impressed with the way he included many visceral details of gay life which outsiders may find surprising or unbelievable. Cruising is a deeply intrinsic part of being gay, but not often talked about outside gay culture. He includes many stories from french graveyards to train rides.

It’s a great book which young political non-heterosexual should read!

You can use this link to get the book for free if you don’t already have Audible.