Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some. / Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It was first published in 1985. It’s a terrifying, truly dystopian book. The United States of America no longer exists. It has been replaced by the Republic of Gilead. This has been achieved through a nuclear destruction. And in Gilead, they follow the bible… or their own version of it.

The narrator of the book is Offred. She’s a Handmaid and her only function is to breed. This is achieved by something called ‘The Ceremony’ … Welcome to the patriarchal society of Gilead. Women are no longer free. They have no jobs, they cannot leave their houses, they cannot choose what to wear and they cannot read or write. among many other forbidden things. To put it simply, they have no rights. And if they rebel, they will either be hanged at the wall as an example for others or sent to deal with the aftermath of nuclear destruction.

“There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.” / Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

I first read Handmaid’s Tale over 10 years ago out of a recommendation from my teacher. I’m ashamed to say I did not like it or understand it very well back then. I think it was largely due to the translation (In Finland, the title translates as ‘Your Slavestress).  Well, blessed be  Hulu’s tv adaptation and the end of 2nd season that finally inspired me to dive back into this book.

Arwood’s novel is horrifyingly amazing.  It toys with many interesting ideas. Nuclear accident or weaponized nuclear power will always be a threat and then combining that with a religion gone wrong. You have some excellent ingredients for a dystopian there. Creepiness was on its own level. It was a matter of small things that could very well happen tomorrow. Freezing all the bank accounts with letter F on them. Saying women can’t go to work or own property. Moreover, it’s also spooky how Offred describes these things as something weird and absurd. She jokes about doing a jobbie and can’t imagine things like paper money anymore.  I think Handmaid’s Tale acts as a warning, of how easily things could go wrong especially if you don’t pick a side and let things slide. Personally, I did not enjoy the vagueness and the open ending so that cuts one star out of my rating.
4/5 stars

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” 
/Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

How-To Read Handmaid’s Tale

1. If you’ve watched it then you really ought to have read it by now. If not, go read it now.
2.  It’s kind of vague and I know it will bother some readers because it bothers me. We don’t learn how Gilead was created, we don’t know who our main character is, we only get the smallest glimpse of Offred’s life.
3. Not a lot of suspense, mainly just observations. Think of it as a biography that was only partly uncovered.
4. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Have you read this? Thoughts? Do you watch the show?

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

 

“Maybe there was once a human who looked like you, and somewhere along the line you killed him and took his place. And your superiors don’t know.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by  Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968. The novel takes place in  a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. Post-apocalyptic because life has been damaged by nuclear World War Terminus. The plot follows a bounty hunter Rick Deckard whose job is to “retire” (read: kill) Nexus 6 model androids who have escaped from the outer colonies and try to pass as humans. There’s also subplot that focuses on John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids our fugitive androids.

“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I’ve long been a fan of Philip K. Dick. I think it all started when I was a kid and my dad brought me a paperback called The Man in  the High Caste. My dad is huge fan of history and probably thought it would be interesting read. It was and so was Do Androids… Author has very fascinating thoughts and he is very deep with them. We can see this already in the title. You can go with androids. Or you can go a step further and ask if they dream…if they dream of electric sheep? The novel beautifully explores topics like: What is real, what is fake what makes us human? In book, the androids are said to possess no sense of empathy. It’s not quite true, is it?  And if to forget about androids, there are other interesting topics to explore too: How UN always makes super clever decisions,  nuclear war: hasn’t yet happened but it could?

 

“You have to be with other people, he thought. In order to live at all. I mean before they came here I could stand it… But now it has changed. You can’t go back, he thought. You can’t go from people to nonpeople.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

4/5 stars

How- To Read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
1. Read it in English.
I first read this in Finnish and they had translated the title as ‘Bounty Hunter’. Not fun. Many other translators apparently thought the title  was too difficult to translate…In Swedish: Dreams of Androids, Dutch: Electric Nightmares, Italian: Then Hunter of Androids? I can imagine how they translated everything else.
2.
A must read for PKD fans and for those who love science fiction :)
3. Cult classic thing. You know how it is with those.
4. Many interesting adaptations, for example: 1982 film Blade Runner and its 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.

Have you read this? Thoughts? What makes you so sure you’re human?
This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

“You mean old books?”
“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”
“How could there have been stories about space travel before –”
“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Pictures: Black sheep from PixabayDo androids dream of electric sheep? | by Bill McIntyre ,do androids dream of electric sheep? | by cdrummbks

How-To Travel Through Time

“Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

The Time Machine is a science fiction novel (or a long short-story?)  by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 and it has become a classic. In the book, the narrator introduces us to inventor and scientist whom the reader will know only by as Time Traveller. It’s impolite to call him anything different. In The Time Machine, our Time Traveller travels far into the future, into year 801, 701. There he learns that humanity has evolved when he meets Eloi. Eloi are described as naiive and small post-humans with large eyes and small ears and mouths.

Time Traveller soon learns that sweet Eloi do not inhabit this new world alone. There are also Morlocks who are quite different from the other human species.

“The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

The Time Machine is epic. H.G. Wells was a pioneer and this is one of the cornerstones of all science fiction works that came after…and especially dystopian genre? I like this novel a lot. I think Wells was one of the first ones to tackle the question of what the world would look like 800 000 years in the future. There is already a gap between people so what if after many millennia our world would look like this? Who would become Eloi and who would become Morlocks? I like Wells’ style, he’s whimsical and yet his language is beautiful and descriptions are rich. What did make me drop one star from the rating was the pessimism. I like to think that there is some hope for humanity. I want to read about people who push above everything, whereas here it just got more and more hopeless.

 

4/5 stars

How- To Read The Time Machine
1. 
Just 118 pages! The perfect read if you’re having a busy phase in your life! Whimsical and beautiful style of writing ought to keep you entertained. You can get the book at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/35
2. 
Essential read for all science fiction fans and I think this is great piece of work even if you don’t like the genre too much.
3. Plenty of good, entertaining and very different kinds of adaptations.

Have you read this? Thoughts? This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

How-To Be A Good Fireman

Fahrenheit 451: the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

 I have wanted to review this book on my blog for quite some time but it meant that I would have to come back to it once more. Fahrenheit 451 causes very mixed feelings in me. I hate it because it’s so twisted that in this dystopian, the  job of the firemen is to burn books. Burn books. Because they are forbidden as they are the source of discord and unhappiness.

Yes, and at same time I love F451. Yes, they burn the books but why do they burn them. What is the message it delivers. Do we have any hope left in the world we live in now?

When I first read this novel, I lived in my happy-pink-book-reading-bubble where I did not check what is the book all about on internet and was too young to hear of these great classics in school…which was good. I had just discovered the whole sci-fi genre and I  thought Fahrenheit 451 would be something closer to Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles or ‘The Illustrated Man’, maybe in some sense, I even expected something more similar to the style of Philip K. Dick. It wasn’t.

“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.”  ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I’d give this book 9/10

How-To Read Fahrenheit 451

1. It’s so very short. Reading this novel will hardly take you any time at all.  Like less than 200 pages and yet this book makes you feel much more and express yourself  much more than so many other (longer) books.
2. Maybe you’ll think twice when you have a conflict whether to read a book or to watch tv after reading F451.
3. Not suitable for pyromans.
4. How Western civilization is enslaved by the media, drugs and conformity… is this is so far from reality?
5. Oh, did I mention that they burn books? Because they supposedly make folks unhappy?  It’s heart-breaking. I do not recommend this book for bookishly over sensitive bookworms.

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Post Scriptum
No books were harmed in making this blog post.

Buy Fahrenheit 451: A Novel on Amazon