Monday, June 10, 2013

Words Devoured: The Curiosity

When I started reading The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan, it was slow-going for me. I stuck to my guns, though, and really enjoyed it quite a bit. It offers some interesting science ideas, and poses some head-scratching questions as well.

The chapters of the novel are point-of-view, featuring three characters (at first): Kate Philo, a biologist; Daniel Dixon, a reporter; and Erastus Carthage, an incredibly rich man who backs a scientific endeavor.

This endeavor involved reanimating life found flash frozen in icebergs. On one expedition, a human being is found inside of one. This human was a judge from 1908 named Jeremiah Rice (who also happens to be the fourth point-of-view character).

Rice is brought back to life, though it is unknown how to keep him alive. His metabolism is in overdrive and he is capable of just burning out. With opposition from Carthage, Kate seems to fall for him, so a love story develops as well.

The ideas behind the science are more realistic/believable than, say, Jurassic Park. They make you think about what modern science is capable of. Could we reanimate someone who has been frozen (the novel speaks of a freezing process that is different than cryonics)?

Then that leads to the question (though I don't believe in God) should we play "God" and reanimate people, or should the dead stay dead? The question of the ethics is raised by protesters in the novel.

Kiernan handles the science well, and the character development, too.

Jeremiah is an intriguing character, because he comes from a time long before our own. Seeing him "catch up" on years of history is great, if heartbreaking.

Seeing his relationship with Kate, Dixon, Carthage (and the others) sets him into contrast with them. His ideals are quaint, and make for fresh storytelling.

I really enjoyed The Curiosity, and am glad I stuck with it. No matter how slow-going it seemed, it picked up and moved along at a rather good clip. I definitely recommend it!

Words Devoured: Shot All to Hell

A couple months ago I finished reading Shot All to Hell, by Mark Lee Gardner. Here's what I thought:

I chose this book because the synopsis seemed really interesting. It was more interesting than the synopsis lead me to believe. To be honest, the synopsis did draw me in, but then I thought to myself, "This is going to be bland..." as history-based books are wont to be. I was wrong. (Please note I did not judge the book by it's cover!)

This book covers what leads up to, and the aftermath of, the last bank robbery committed by Jesse James and his gang. The James Gang were responsible for quite a few robberies, and netted themselves some good spoils. Sometimes they didn't net so much...

Gardner gathered the facts, and represented them well, even giving them somewhat of a "story" kind of spin in parts. Some of it was story, really, when it features the wives of some of the people robbed, wondering what happened to their families. I am sure accounts were taken from them, but it still lends itself to being a story.

I knew little of the James gang before reading this, and little of where Jesse and his brother began. Gardner shed some light on those two, and the other members of the gang that committed the last robbery. The members of his gang (aside from his brother, Frank) I knew nothing about. Learning about them, and their backgrounds, were just as interesting as learning more about the Jameses.

Gardner tells the tale well, even getting information from the residents of Northfield, Minnesota (where the robbery took place). Seeing how some of the residents acted to what happened in their town was quite interesting. People actually stepped up, and helped to keep some of James' gang at bay.

I would definitely love to pick up an actual biography of Jesse James, after reading Shot all to Hell! I think you guys might enjoy it, as well!