#BookReview: Chimera by Michael McBride

Human Hubris Leads To Disaster. This is a creature feature tale combined with a disaster tale, with a unique and fairly inventive creature combining with a massive blizzard in the Arctic Circle to create one hell of a ride. McBride uses a dual timeline approach to show us how the creature came to be and just how one scientist in particular had their noble goals turn out so horrifically, along with showing the “now” of having to rescue any possible survivors once the creature runs on its inevitable (due to the genre) rampage. McBride actually teases some even more horrific creatures, but the focus is completely on the titular Chimera. While not in any way a political book (similar to the greats of the genre in that regard), in showing yet another way that altruism and hubris can in fact lead to disaster, this book actually makes some solid points about caution and even corporate and government interests – and back-room dealings – in the areas at hand. But again, these are more minor points in the tale, more throw-away commentary that fleshes out minor characters than truly central to the actual story. Truly a story that fires on all cylinders and offers much for anyone that is remotely a fan of science fiction in general or creature features in particular. Very much recommended.

This review of Chimera by Michael McBride was originally written on September 26, 2021.

#BookReview: The Rise Of Light by Olivia Hawker

Complicated Yet Beautiful. Hawker has a way of painting pictures with words that are utterly beautiful, and yet also utterly ugly at the same time. Ultimately, this book reads like a more evocative, more painting quality version of the somewhat similar story David Duchovny created in Truly Like Lightning, even as it seems that both authors were working on these works for quite a number of years. Particularly in their showing of the worse sides of Mormon life, complete with overbearing and hypocritical fathers, this reads almost like as much an attack on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as the character study that it is. And yet, again, the way Hawker executes it here is utterly beautiful in its prose and storytelling. Hawker sucks you in, weaving these plot threads near and around each other before bringing them all together to grand effect. Ultimately the biggest quibble with this entire effort isn’t Hawker’s writing, but the actual description of the book – which leads one to believe certain aspects arguably happen sooner than they do. Indeed, Linda becoming “privy to a secret Aran and Tamsin share that could dismantle everything everyone holds dear” happens quite late (later than 80%, maybe even closer to the 90% mark), though again, the actual execution here is quite solid and indeed allows the book to end in surprising ways that were only very subtly hinted at much earlier. Even Aran and Lucy getting together to begin with seems to happen much later in the tale than the description seems to indicate, though that relationship *is* particularly well developed. Ultimately this is a book that Mormons likely won’t like, people with various misconceptions about Mormonism will probably tout, but one that tells a remarkable tale in the end. Recommended.

This review of The Rise Of Light by Olivia Hawker was originally written on May 21, 2021.

#BookReview: The Art of Political Storytelling by Phillip Seargeant

DJT == AOC. Yes, that is actually a point Seargeant makes in this book – and no, it isn’t for the reasons some of my fellow Libertarians/ Anarchists like to point out. (Which are accurate in their own way, but I digress.) No, here the point Seargeant makes is that both of these seemingly diametrically opposed candidates have actually embraced the same narrative archetype to tell their stories. Overall, the book is an excellent examination of just how storytelling – and in particular, a few of the classic archetypal stories/ heroic journeys – has completely reshaped at least American and British politics of the last few years. Reason seemingly no longer matters so much as narrative, so it is important to know these narratives, how they are structured, and how these structures play into political messaging in order to more effectively play both offense and defense in the political arena. Masterful work that makes a few missteps here and there when it deviates from its central premise at times, and thus the reduction of one star. Still much recommended.

This review of The Art of Political Storytelling by Phillip Seargeant was originally written on May 14, 2020.