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Koolveld

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I'm a guy who likes science fiction, and sometimes a classic.

To like, or not to like Luke Perry. That is the question.

La nuit des rapaces - Hermann Huppen

I always liked the post-apocalyptic tv series 'Jeremiah', that featured Luke Perry. Since no new seasons were made, I decided to read the first of the comic books that it was loosely based on.

 

How does the world turn into a post-apocalyptic nightmare? According to Hermann, comic book artist from Belgium, that's easy: You start a race war in the USA, let it get out of hand, and the United States will use tactical bombers to nuke it's own population. No wonder the tv series swapped that for a deadly viral plague that killed everyone except children.

 

Meet Jeremiah, a young guy from an agricultural settlement who also has a good sense of what's right and wrong. But, being a young guy, he stays out too late and can't get back to the settlement in time, so he has to stay outside, for the night at least. On the road he meets Kurdy: a dude (yes the comic uses 1970's Belgian language lol) who doesn't take life too seriously, thieving a bit when it suits him. He and Jeremiah join up on the road to another settlement. At first, Jeremiah is really annoyed by Kurdy, but during complications it turns out that Kurdy is streetwise, knows how to handle weapons, and is a good friend to have.

 

When they arrive at the settlement, it's much more of a hell hole than the quiet place where Jeremiah grew up. The place is ruled by the twisted slave trader "Fat Eye". Fat Eye cares more about his pet eagles than for the people of his town. Needless to say, Jeremiah and Kurdy take on this bastard and hope to liberate the town.

 

 

 

It's a solid comic that creates a world with potential.

But I can only give it 3 stars out of 5. Because it didn't really draw me into this world, not like the tv series did. The other comic books may be better, I don't know. But I can very much recommend the tv series Jeremiah ! Made by the great J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5 series, Spider-Man and Superman comics), starring Luke Perry as Jeremiah and Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Kurdy. Go watch it :)

 

Jeremiah and Kurdy

 

In Memoriam: Hans Jansen

Hans Jansen


It seems most scientists are in love with their field of expertise. But I like it when an expert has contrary opinions. -- Hans Jansen, scholar of the Arabic world, language and its Islamic culture, was such a contrary person. He passed away last week (1942 – 2015). While I know just a little of his writing, I feel it would be right to consider his death, or putting it more positively, to consider his work.

English book on Muhammad.


Jansen graduated from Leiden University. He worked as a translator for the Red Cross during a humanitarian mission in Iraq, taught at university, and also wrote for the general public. Recently he served in the European Parliament. While Jansen must have liked the Arabic language, he did not like Islam. He explained why the texts of Islam teach bad things, by quoting the texts themselves.

Quran translation in Dutch

Professor Jansen was not 'blindly in love' with the subject of his studies. To me, his criticism seemed more like healthy scepticism. That's why I purchased the version of the Quran with annotations by Hans Jansen and his collegue Asad Jaber. And I can say: Mr. Jansen thank you for educating me and the public.

A sad tale from Java

Saidjah en Adinda - Thom Hoffman, Multatuli

Multatuli's best known book is Max Havelaar, about the abuses of Dutch colonial rule in the East Indies in the 19th century. Since I prefer to avoid literature that will depress me, I was happy when I found an other audiobook by Multatuli, called Saïdjah en Adinda. But I was mistaken, because this tale was taken from a chapter of that same Max Havelaar book. This short tale about love and life in the Dutch East Indies is well told but ultimately a depressing story.

 

The girl Adinda gives Melati flowers (jasmine sambac) to the boy Saïdjah.

The girl Adinda gives melati flowers to the boy Saïdjah. They love each other from a young age. - Notes about the Indonesian words explain: the melati flower (jasmine sambac) plays, like for us the rose, a large role in ballads, folklore and legends. - Photograph by Jun's World @ Flickr

(show spoiler)

 

It's funny, on the one hand I think disseminating ideas in the form of prose is more effective than distributing leaflets or manifesto's. But on the other hand there must be large groups of people who do not want to hear heartbreaking abuse stories. Especially not when the book is a complaint against the government that those same readers are responsible for. Anyway,I must respect authors who manage to turn their writing skills into a (reasonably) effective voice of protest. Conclusion: Depressing. But it's nice to know that Multatuli is a good writer.For this tale: 3,5 out of 5 stars

Indiana Jones and the Jesus Video

Das Jesus Video - Andreas Eschbach

A review of Das Jesus Video - (It is available in many translations but as far as I know there's no English version.)

Das Jesus Video is about an Indiana Jones-like young guy and his girlfriend who find convincing evidence that someone travelled in time and may have recorded an actual video of Jesus. It's the first book out of 2. Writer Andreas Eschbach apparently loves creating elaborate characters like for example a cold blooded Vatican secret-service priest and a wonderfully predatory business tycoon. He does it very well and that's one of the things that make this book fun and addictive to read. This is not a time travel book but a thriller. It doesn't have a 'big happy ending' but I liked how it was done. Das Jesus Video is a fun and light read. A good 3,75 out of 5 score!

Time Travelling to Jesus. Seriously.

Der Jesus-Deal: Thriller - Andreas Eschbach

A review of Der Jesus-Deal. (You should check if a translation is available in your language, it's a recent book. AFAIK there is no English version.)

Der Jesus-Deal is a time travel story. And it's the sequel of the earlier book Das Jesus Video. This second book contains spoilers about the first book. The translation I read had a different title that translates as "The Armageddon Conspiracy". That's what the plot is about and it's done in a way that is both entertaining and interesting. It's immediately clear that the protagonist is a very religious evangelical Christian. Andreas Eschbach starts every chapter by quoting real Christian books with texts like "Oh Jesus I love love luvvv you!". That may be annoying to readers who are religious themselves. But I think it's more important that the characters are well chosen: The honest Christian young man is the right person to tell this story. The second protagonist is the business man from Jesus Video, who has changed his life, and it also features Stephen 'Indiana Jones' Foxx.

 

This book uses entertainment as a form and style, but in my opinion it should be regarded as a novel that has something to say. A good 3,75 out of 5 score!

Rossum's Universal Robots

R.U.R. - Karel Čapek, Paul Selver, Nigel Playfair

I just listened to an audio drama of R.U.R., Rossum's Universal Robots. It's a short stage play from 1920 and it popularized the word 'robot'. It's a story about a group of people who run a factory that produces many billions of robots, over the years, and things get a little out of control. The previous reviewer is correct that it has some pulp elements, also the ending was not really surprising to me. But I shouldn't judge the ending as seeming unoriginal because this story *was* the original, or one of the first.

 

Cheap robot labour is a comment on the working classes etc., very relevant in 1920 and also today. - Just before R.U.R. I had listened to a debate about genetic engineering. The proponent of it said that he would stimulate the use of genetic engineering, not only by companies, but also by students as a matter of 'play' and experimentation. In other words: Scientists and business will go ahead and meddle with living organisms, no matter what. From that perspective R.U.R. is also relevant today.

 

^Here the robots still behave pleasantly.....

 

The audio drama can be found on Librivox.org. It's not the best one ever but it's very cool that people make this for free. I should mention that one of the characters is an anti-Semitic stereotype. In my opinion the rest of the play has aged well. 3,5/5

Deep time and human nature

House of Suns - Alastair Reynolds

House of Suns already has plenty of reviews. I agree the most with the review from William'sBookBlog. Compared to other sci fi, this novel is set in the distant future. For me that makes it harder to identify with that setting, but a story in such a distant future does have its own charms. And it's also compensated by the fact that it's a rather good story.

 

While it's not a 5-star masterpiece, the book did contain a lot of good stuff: a good story, sci fi concepts that made me think and smile, plausible astronomical settings and characters that are good enough. I liked it more than Revelation Space and will give it a score of 4+ out of 5.

 

 

An illegal immigrant Forest Gump

Fisch aus Gold - J.M.G. Le Clézio, Uli Wittmann

Poisson d'Or / Fisch aus Gold I thought, was a rags to riches story, but it turned out to be a more grim illegal immigrant version of Forest Gump. In this book the protagonist Laïla tells her life story as a 1st person narrative: From when she was kidnapped as a young child in Morocco, snatched away from her parents permanently. All the way up to when she's around 20, when -- I won't spoil it, let's just say things end on a positive note!

 

The title refers to a poem about a golden fish that should watch out for predators, it's a metaphor for Laïla who has to deal with quite a lot of predatory people - sadly. So it's neither as funny as Forest Gump nor mixed with historic moments. But this book also tells the life story of an innocent person, with the occasional tear-jerker moment. Fortunately it's not too sad or depressive.

 

The book is well-written and easy to read, and keeps the reader interested most of the time. The blurb of this book seemed a bit pretentious "This book is about blah blah, the most political Le Clézio has written". But after finishing it I must admit that it made me think about things, which is good I suppose. A good 4+ out of 5 score! PS. The writer's fan club has a useful list of available translations.

Slower than light starships

Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds

I won't repeat what others already said, but let me just say that I agree the most with AudioBookJunkie's review. If you want to read something from Reynolds there are probably better books to start with. Nevertheless I really liked the convincing sci fi world that he creates in this novel, so I'll probably read more of his work.Score 3 /5

Mensendier: een cultuurgeschiedenis

Mensendier Verbonden sinds de zesde dag: een cultuurgeschiedenis - Amanda Kluveld

In Mensendier vertelt Amanda Kluveld de hele historische relatie tussen mensen en dieren. Zo te zien is het geschreven voor een algemeen publiek dat zich hiervoor interesseert. Het is een goed boek omdat veel uiteenlopende onderwerpen aan bod komen. Ook is het een gedegen boek omdat alles met referenties wordt onderbouwd. Behalve feiten bevat het boek af en toe ook Kluveld´s mening en een enkele grappige anekdote, maar het is dus geen vermaak of docudrama.

 

Het sterkste vind ik de paragrafen over stierenvechten: Na uitleg daarover geeft Kluveld vervolgens aan dat bij stierenvechten, ondanks alles, het leven en de dood van het dier toch nog significantie heeft, het doet ertoe. Zij contrasteert dat met de bio-industrie waarbij het leven van dieren ontdaan is van elke betekenis, het dier heeft alleen economische waarde. Goed boek 4/5

 

ENGLISH: This Dutch (only) book is about the entire history of the relationship between humans and animals, up to 2009. The list of citations and references is rather good.

The Good That Men Do (Star Trek)

The Good That Men Do - Michael A. Martin, Andy Mangels

Reviewer TheBiblioSanctum is right, this novel rights the wrongs of the series ending. 50% of this book is about Trip going on a mission, which is quite an exciting read. 40% is about Archer and Shran helping friends who are in trouble, I didn´t care for that part. The remaining 10% is about pre-Federation politics and about Trip and T´Pol as characters. It´s that last part that makes this novel worth reading. Score: 2,5 /5

A TNG alien story

The Children of Hamlin - Carmen Carter

This stand-alone story is set in the 1st season of Star Trek The Next Generation: The ship and crew are sent on a mission to negotiate with a very alien species. The author describes it very well. - I bought an omnibus edition, the other stories being The Ghostship (bad!) and The Peacekeepers (very slow). But I enjoyed reading The Children of Hamlin

'The Carpenters' get in trouble

In the Tall Grass - Stephen King, Joe Hill

Warning: it's shocking. This very short story, about a brother and sister who remind me of The Carpenters, drew me in. It's a good read. Recommended for fans of horror and the weird type of fiction that King does sometimes.