Archive for the ‘Lathe of Heaven’ Category


Turtle Power

February 12, 2011

First things, first: I finished the book.

While reading the last quarter of the book, I couldn’t help but notice that turtle-like, elbow talking aliens played a, shall we say, featured role. And maybe it’s just me, but I thought it was a sort of unwritten rule of this blog that when turtles (or metaphysical turtle-like beings) play a featured role are we not at least marginally obligated to make at least a passing reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

I was waiting for you to say something like:

Jon: Boy, didn’t you think E’nememen Asfah was a literary antecedent to TMNT’s Raphael?
Justin: Please, E’nememen Asfah had the whimsicality of Michaelangelo, while demonstrating the pragmaticism of Donatello, and the deep spirituality of Splinter.
Jon: Splinter wasn’t a turtle, he was a rat.
Justin: Cowabunga!

Well, I couldn’t help but notice that your last few posts had failed make any mention at all to everyone’s favorite heros on a halfshell. Well consider that wrong, righted.

Actually, what really struck me about this book was that even though it’s 40 years old, a futuristic, dystopian novel written today could use many of these same elements. (Although, I can’t help but think that the internet and computers, in general, might play a larger role.) But the issues like climate change, population worries, etc. could be used almost wholesale.

In any case, I liked the book, but I am ready for something new. A change of pace, if you will, and I can’t help but think that if nothing else Emily Bronte’s Villette will be a change of pace from this alternate reality, alien-infested sci-fi romp.




Two Can Play At That Game

February 5, 2011

The Seven Samurai, eh? Oooo, someone is watching important movies, and making them relevant to this 1970s sci-fi classic. Well, Jonny, just like chess, checkers, Battleship, or Connect Four: Two can play at that game!

Why just the other night, after I slipped on leather slippers, tamped down the tobacco in my pipe, exchanged my tweed sportscoat with leathered elbows for my smoking jacket, and poured myself a snifter of brandy (now who’s cultured?), I popped a classic foreign film on DVD and couldn’t help but notice some startling parallels to Ursula K. LeGuin’s startling vision for the future!

Okay, so almost none of that is true. I mean I did watch a movie, but I was in a t-shirt and jeans, drinking Diet Coke, and I might have been watching Despicable Me (it was either that or The Last Song) and I didn’t so much “see parallels” as think: “Boy, I bet Heather LeLache and Orr would have loved to have that Gru’s shrink ray. That would have made short work of those Moon Aliens!”

Then I thought: “Ha! Short work-shrink ray! That’s hilarious! I didn’t even do that on purpose. I am writing that down. It’s going on the blog.”

And so it is.

Okay, so one game we can’t both play, is the “I Finished the Book Game.” It, like solitaire, sudoku, or the jumble must only be played by one. I’m working on it, though, and I am hoping to (maybe) finish Lathe this weekend. And now that you’ve enticed me some Bronte, well, just try and stop me.

There’s just one more thing that needs saying:

You sunk my battleship. (Sorry, can’t mention Battleship and not say it.)



The Dream Is Over

February 3, 2011

That’s right twinner…consider this book finished!  Let me tell you…those volcanoes, they emitted some fire.  I won’t go into detail…mostly because I’m so confused about what exactly happened. I hope you’ll have some insight about what exactly happened.  Help me.

To celebrate the end of the novel here’s a photo of Mount Hood:

Ah…makes me want to listen to some Beatles and talk to aliens about kitchenware.

Which reminds me of my favorite quotation from the book it came right near the end…

E’nememen Asfah stood immense in greenish armor, holding an egg whisk.

Also I’ve decided the next title on our reading odyssey…I’ve decided I want to get my Bronte on– let’s read some Villette.


P.S.  The image comes from misternaxal via Flickr.  CC.


The Code of the Samurai

February 1, 2011

**Spoiler Alert!** (I’ll just start every post that way from now on…I don’t want any surprises ruined for you.  Oh no mustn’t do that.  You know what’s another way to keep me from spoiling the story for you?  You actually picking up the book and reading a bit of the story every now and again.  That’s right Justin J. you’ve been served! (N.B.: I’m breaking dancing in my living room)).

I spent this afternoon watching Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai…this fact is important for two reasons…1.)  It’s gotten me thinking about the Code of the Samurai and 2.)  It shows how amazingly cultured I am–Day off from work?  I’ll spend it watching a 3-and-a-half-hour long Japanese movie from the 1950s. (Pretty cultured.  I’m sorry I mistyped that…pretty AND cultured).

What does the Code of the Samurai have to do with Lathe of Heaven…nothing that I can see.  But Chapter Nine is a bit of dud.  Sure one character’s dead (maybe!–vague: your welcome).  I guess Orr does finally act (a little) by murmuring defiantly “‘Volcanoes emit fire.'” (at the end of a discussion with another character–once again vague–I don’t want to tell you who this character is that you may deduce the now missing character–I’m doing a lot of planning just for you, twin brother).  Way to end that fight with a cryptic non sequitur, Orr!

This saying is officially going to be my “go to” in arguments.  When I can’t justify leaving my dishes on the counter right above dish washer, instead of actually putting them in the dishwasher (I’ve tried, “I like to do all my bending at once”–it didn’t work)….I will now murmur with vehemence as I loudly clang each dish and glass into the plastic trays “Volcanoes emit fire.  Volcanoes emit fire.”

So my guess for the penultimate chapter is this…some volcanoes are going to emit some fire.

Wait!  I just got the meaning on another level…volcanoes often sit dormant for long periods of time (not unlike our Orr) until they unleash fiery destruction.  So maybe Orr is going to cause some mayhem…The Day the Milquetoast Went Sour!

See I was distracted by a very literal interpretation, because right before Orr murmurs this there’s some poetic waxing aboutt Mt. St. Helen’s.  (Is it Mt. St. Helens or Mt. St. Helen’s?–I’m too lazy to fact check)..or at least it gets mentioned.

See how useful this blog is for working out my thinking process!

****Spoiler Alert*******



The Fine Art of the Spoiler Alert

January 29, 2011

First of all, Twin Brother, perish the thought that I have lost interest in either a) this book and b) our blog-based conversation or c) all of the above. Because, of course I have lost interest only in d) none of the above.

Admittedly, I am not quite as far as you, but after getting through my Chapter 3 malaise of nothing really happening–and picking up a few other books that stole away my attention–I got back into the book, and you are correct things do pick up. The introduction of Lelache was like a well timed teaspoon of flour (or cornstarch–choose your own thickening agent) into a watery soup and really helped to thicken the plot.

(I was using a soup metaphor there. While it was mostly a tete-a-tete between Haber and Orr we were dealing with a bland consomme, but now with the introduction of Lelache we’ve got thick hearty stew! Sorry, I might be a little hungry as I write (for stew!) is that showing in this post?)

I feel like this is a topic we’ve discussed before, but as a reader who is perpetually behind you in books (until I speed past you at the end to finish before you) I think in a refresher in the basics of the “Spoiler Alert” works might be useful.

In your previous post you let tell of a rather significant plot point and follow it with the warning “Spoiler Alert.” That would be like me saying:

Rosebud’s a sled **Spoiler Alert**


The entire 7th season of Dallas was a nightmare that Pamela was having–**Spoiler Alert**

For a “Spoiler Alert” to be effective it should come prior to relating the event. So for example:

**Spoiler Alert** This is blog post is finished **Spoiler Alert**




Alien: Reimagined

January 26, 2011

I imagine it must be hard when an author gets to that part in their sci-fi book when they have to come up with a description of an alien being.  How do you not sound derivative from the classical conception of the alien as the “little green man” (I’m looking at you, Great Gazoo!–who, by the way, was voiced by Harvey Korman!  I had no idea).  Le Guin takes the novel (ha ha…novel!), and I think brave, approach of making her alien an elbow talker:

It stood quite still, near Haber’s desk.  Very slowly it raised its left arm, pointing at him a metallic, nozzled instrument. … A flat, toneless voice came out of the elbow joint, “Do not do to others what you wish others not to do to you.”

Unexpected, right?  But it’s awkward that the alien bungled the Golden Rule.  If you’re going to invade a planet [peaceably–spoiler alert!] then you should probably at least do some research on their Golden Rule. As that sage of anti-dandruff shampoo, Head and Shoulders, so aptly put it, “You Never Get A Second Chance to Make A First Impression”



Well twin brother I’m getting into the final stretch of this book…I’m hoping to be done by the end of month (or at least early February). I have an idea for the next book!

Are you still reading this book? Are you still enjoying conversing with me via blog?

Until next time,


Stuff Happens

January 20, 2011

Oh you want some action huh?  Just wait until Chapter 7.  In Chapter 7 you can’t stop the action.

1st piece of action in Chapter 7:  We find out what year this story takes place.  It’s 2002.  My question, if it’s really 2002 where’s the Internet (plot holes!).

2nd piece of action in Chapter 7:  The world ends.  Or rather Orr tells us that the world actually ended in 1998 and the only “reality” they know now is a dream.  Once again this does not take into account the Internet.  Would someone please explain the Internet to me…I find it all very confusing.

But I didn’t really find any of that compelling.  What I want to talk about is Orr talking.

First though I should apologize for my lax posting recently.  I just got over a French disease of the soul. (Ba dump bum bing!  That’s kind of an inside joke between me and Heather Lalache–you had to be there).  Actually I was reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen for another book club, and well that book is very, very long (and I procrastinated).

But excuses aside….let’s move onto the way Orr talks.   Let me quote a piece of Orr-ian dialogue:

I’m all right.  It’s just mumble mumble get sleepy.

Here’s another:

Mumble mumble Sunday.

Now my question is are these “mumble mumble”s supposed to denote Orr mumbling?  Or is he saying aloud the words “mumble mumble” each time?  In my experience when people mumble it rarely sounds like “mumble mumble” (It sounds more like “mmmrrrsmmigg”) and yet these “mumble mumble”s are definitely found within the quotation marks–so they are not stage directions but actual quotations.  Which then leads to the next question of whether Orr has a very onomatopoetic mumble or does he just say “mumble mumble” when he wants to play his hand close to the chest?

That’s what I’ve been puzzling over.  What I’m not puzzling over is what Heather Lelache’s last name means in French…it’s coward (she tells us)…so I wonder how that will play into the story.

I had a dream the other night that every time I tried to talk a ball of Silly Puddy or Play-doh came out of my mouth instead of words.  When I woke up I sure was happy that my dreams don’t alter reality.  Because that would have been gross.  It was pretty gross in the dream.

Off for more reading!

Until next time,