Top Ten Books, Part Two
Welcome back. Its a pleasure to see you again as we continue my countdown for favorite books. From here its a fictional world and those who've read my other posts, I'm sure you'll be able to guess who the top dog will be, but it might surprise you. So lets carry on with,,,
No. 5 Enders Game
Written by Orson Scott Card, 1985.
In the future, humanity has come together in a fragile alliance to hold off the threat of alien invaders. The threat of the Formics, more commonly called the Buggers, has done what no end of earthly wars has managed, it has brought peace. There has been a price: religious freedom is a memory and families are limited to two children. And every child tests to see if they can become leaders in the International Fleet, the mighty armada that stands between our fragile planet and the dealy Buggers.
Originally a novella that Card expanded, this story is of a young Third named Andrew "Ender" Wiggen who turns out to have a unique leadership skill that the International Fleet wants to develop. So Ender is taken from home and family to the Battle School, an orbiting dormitory for the training of potential officers, where he learns leadership, strategy, strength and sorrow. But he knows that when the Buggers come, he'll be ready.
The starting point of a great series, Ender's Game is a must read.
No. 4 Neverwhere
Written by Neil Gaiman, 1996.
Originally written as a 6 part television series for the BBC, it tells about Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman who stumbles upon an injured young lady, Door, who has a unique ability, to open a door anywhere. When Richard stops to help her, much to the consternation of his fiance, he finds himself drawn into a world that runs parallel to out own beneath the streets of London. No longer able to be seen or heard by his former friends and colleagues, he learns that the only way to help himself is to help Door find out who killed her parents.
It's the people who really make the story, the lady Door, the Marquis de Carabas, the assassins Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar and of course the esteemed Hunter. Character's out of your darkest nightmares doing battle over an angel. While at times the dialogue is a little too "television" for my taste, overall the story, the characters, the sparks of humor and wit make up for it. While the story certainly is concluded well, it would be nice to see a sequel, I'm curious to learn what happens next. And that's the mark of a great story.
No. 3 A Dirty Job
Written by Christopher Moore, 2006.
What is a "beta-male"? How do you raise a baby who can kill with the word "kitty"? How exactly do souls move to their next life? What are the karmic implications of shagging a monk? These and so many other vexing life questions are answered in "A Dirty Job", an absurdist tale about death and the netherworlds.
When Charlie Asher's wife dies, Charlie finds himself in deep despair, trying to run his second-hand goods shop, raise his infant daughter, and control his lesbian sister. When he starts seeing objects glowing red and hearing strange voices from the sewers, he figures he's losing his mind. No,no, it turns out he's just become a minion of Death, maybe more than a minion! And when the forces of darkness begin to rise and threaten the city of San Francisco, Charlie is there, sword cane in hand, and an army of reanimated, 6" creations at his back, to fight on the side of light.
One thing that stays with me is the Beta-male idea that Moore developed for the story. Every guy who is not an alpha male will recognize and feel better knowing that he's not alone, someone else understands.
No. 2 The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy
Written by Douglas Adams, 1978.
Another title originally written as a series for the BBC, this is truly a classic of science fiction and humor. It's hard to think of anyone who could spin the universe in quite the same way that Adams did, may he reset in peace. The original is certainly the best, a fun rollicking romp through the galaxy. My mother introduced me to it in the late 80's and I have read it again a thousand times. It has been adapted, or twisted, to a variety of media versions, from the radio show to the big screen, computer games to comics. And while the spirit is there, you can't beat the book.
From the moment Arthur sits in front of the large yellow bulldozer to the flight from Magrathea, his one long panicked run makes a great story. How many of us learned our most important life lesson from this book? Never hitch a ride with Vogon's. No, not that one -- Don't Panic. Great advice.
And No. 1 Hogfather
Written by Terry Pratchett, 1996.
Alright, you knew it would be a Pratchett novel, the only question was which. And I have to admit, I could have done 8 of 10 as Pratchett stories. I tried to restrain myself. But this novel has stuck with me. Is it Death taking a break and filling the role of the jolly fat man? Is it Susan questioning her role in life? Is it the oh-god of hangovers? Yes, all the above.
The quick outline: Someone has hired the Assassins Guild to eliminate the Hogfather, the Discworld version of Santa Claus. When Death finds out, he knows he has to intervene or all humanity will be lost, so he steps out of his black robes and into the red, and instead of riding out to deliver death, he goes forth to deliver gifts. HO, HO, HO! But even Death can't do it all himself, so he makes a quick stop at his granddaughters house to set her on the trail of the Hogfather. While Death is playing Santa to the kids at the Maul, Susan is off visiting the Tooth Fairy, looking for answers.
One of the more thoughtful, metaphysical stories to come out of the Disc, Hogfather examines the role that dreams and stories play in making humans more than what we might normally be, to be as Pratchett puts it the "place where the fallen angel meets the rising ape." He looks at the way we define ourselves by the folktales and legends of our culture and society. And still manages to be a hilarious read.
Thank you for coming
Well, there you have it, my top ten favorite books. I look forward to hearing from you about your favorites, and objections or additions you might suggest and of course I'm always open to new books to read, so please, leave your ideas and thanks again for reading.