Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ender's Game

Third, they called him. In a world where it was illegal to have more than two children, the term was as equally embarrassing as it was derogatory. Maybe Ender Wiggin was a special exception but, exception or not, his peers were not about to let him forget what he was.

Ender, however, was unconcerned.  As long as that monitor remained nestled in the back of his neck, he had nothing to fear from them.

Inserting monitors into children had become a common practice since the second “Bugger” invasion. When the insect-like aliens invaded the first time, humanity had just barely won; the second time, it was literally won by a happy accident, a brilliant general being in the right place at the right time.

Happy accidents do not happen twice, so the International Fleet started the Battle School. The more promising children of the monitor trials would go on to the school as young as six years old to be trained as future captains and generals.

Ender does have nothing to fear, until they remove the monitor and inform him that he’s been accepted at the School. To the officials at the School, he is more than promising; one could have as many well trained captains and generals as they liked, but in order to win a war against a higher-intelligence alien species, one would need an Alexander the Great. That’s just what Ender has the potential to be.

There’s only one problem: Ender may have the intelligence to keep the most well-educated adults on their toes, but when all’s said and done, he's still just a small child, and a very sensitive one at that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hattie Big Sky

Here's a quick review I did of Hattie Big Sky recently. A slightly edited version will be appearing in I&F on December 1st.

Orphanages, adoption, and unsavory situations; stories about orphans are practically the stuff literature is made of. Or, at least, they own a decent portion of it, so that even the average non-reader knows a few. From Grimm to Dickens, we have the pattern laid out and our expectations ready for how the plot will work; the drama should start about the time the orphan’s adopted by someone abusive or a heartless relative and resolved by either escape of the victim or conversion of the perpetrators. Sixteen year-old Hattie Inez Brooks, however, is already beyond all that, leaving her unpleasant relative behind when a previously unknown uncle bequeaths her a 320-acre claim in Montana.

That is to say, he bequeaths her an unproven 320-acre claim in Montana.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Chronicles of Prydain

So, to start this off, here's a review of Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain that I wrote for I&F a little over a year ago:

A boy with no heritage who dreams of being a hero and goes on adventures; it’s a storyline that’s used, particularly in the fantasy genre, ad nauseam. Throw in a loquacious princess, a tactless bard whose harp strings snap every time he “colors” the truth, and an ape-like creature who refers to himself in the third-person, and there will be, perhaps, a little more interest. Unfortunately for the Chronicles of Prydain, there is truly very little from its exterior alone that would attract readers in this day and age when children/teen fantasy is an industry all its own.
The Chronicles, for the most part, lack a central plotline that connect all five of the books together other than the hero Taran’s journey from boyhood to manhood. Indeed, the tale of how the pig-keeper became the hero is a simple one at heart. Unlike other, more recent fantasy,

First Post!

As the Curt Jester once said, "And I said let there be blog, and there was blog and it was good."

Welcome to And a Sweet Sound it Made.

Let me state right off the bat that this is not an online journal, and that the purpose of this blog is for me to have a place to put all those book, movie, and music reviews and commentary that I've been wanting to write but never had the excuse to. That said, I hope you enjoy what you find here and come back as often as I post. Ideally, that would be once a week, but there's a big difference between ideals and actual practice, so we'll see what happens.

Once again, I hope you like what you find; and if you do, remember, I consider comments to be the best compliments you can give me!