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Culture

Journal: The Player of Games – Chapter 1

I’ve decided to take on Iain M. Banks classic series The culture. The series which follows the post-state society called the Culture, where minds and machines live in harmony, and sickness is defeted. In The Player of Games we are introduced to this world through the eyes of a player of Games named Gurgeh.

The world Banks has created is at first glance very different from our own. Humans have genetically enhanced themselves to rid them of sickness and death. They’ve created drug-glandes with which they can change their brain chemistry after their needs. A person may change body if they are badly injured and they may change sex multiple times durring their lifetime.

The author has made the well weighted decision to let us meet this very different world through Gurgeh, a simple and classic man, who has never changed sex, is heterosexual and doesn’t like to travel. He has a small villa close to a fjord. He is a character we can recognise and sympathise with, in a world so different from ours.

The main character is as far as this chapter goes a friendly face, that might remind you of a relative in their forties, questioning their place in the world. We meet his insecurities and will to find new challenges. As he’s at an age of 300 he has mastered most classic games there is to master. Of course there are people better than him, but few who are so good at so many games as he is. But we feel with him, the will to face novelty which brings the feeling of stamping in one place.

Even though he is of quite an old age, he has never had any longer relationships and we get to observe Gurgeh trying to searching for love in a younger woman, who doesn’t reciprocate his love. There is an aura of loneliness around him, which brings you into the book in a very immersive way.

To conclude

I believe that Banks did a great job of building up the first chapter of the book. His strange world may seem to much or to different to our own to understand, but by giving us Gurgeh, a simple man with relatable problems, we find ourself captured by the beauty of the Culture. We are eased in to this story, and I can’t wait to see how the next chapter pans out.

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Culture

[Journal] Chapter 12 to 35 | The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy

 Photo CC by-sa 3.0  Julian Hammer  via Wikimedia Commons
Photo CC by-sa 3.0 Julian Hammer via Wikimedia Commons

The main thing I noticed whiles my continued reading was the fact that Zaphod seemed way more intelligent in this chapter and seemed to be a good person. It’s weird. It seems at first glance like he is dumb and totally clownish. But the farther into the book I get the more respect I get for him. He isn’t a good person in the quite normal hero or everyday hero way but more in a kind of double-nature kind of way. Sometimes he’s a good person and sometimes his absolutely not.

This part of the book got very exciting so I read it all in one or two day. That’s why I might miss a lot of stuff and I make such a broad summarizing of everything.

So to start of with they find this fascination planet at which an old people live that make planets. This in it self is a weird and exciting idea. I like how when they are about to enter the atmosphere and get shot at by the planets self-defence system. To flee from the nuclear warheads heading there way they activate the improbability drive and the missiles gets turned into a whale and a plant-pot. The plant-pot with a flower in apparently can thin and thought to itself as it tumbled towards the ground “not this again!” if I remember correctly. This is followed up by some funny question about why plants would thing in such a way.

I like this part. It makes me smile a lot. Personally I think the reason the flower would think in such a way is cause plants sometime falls from the window and breaks. The question is how a newly created plant would know this… Can even plants think??? I don’t think so but then again I’m not a biologist it could very well be that plants can in some way interpret and analyse the world but it seems kind of weird to think about cause they haven’t got any brains… or are we just dumb and haven’t found them jet??? There are so many weird and thoughtful questions you can ask about this book and it’s way of twisting the world. If a plant could talk and think in a way we could understand, what would it say???

Like you might understand the idea of talking plants kind of fascinates me currently. It’s just such a bizarre thought to think that it kinda gets stuck in my head. Personally I like flowers they are beautiful. Sometimes when I was younger I would stand and breath on them. If they could think and smell did the flower got disgusted by my bad breath… Yeah I could think about this all day so let’s move on.

The whale also had some funny thoughts but you have too read that entire conversation to be able to discuss it and it’s quite long so let’s talk about another subject. The idea that humans would only be the third most intelligent species on earth. The book claims that earth was created as an experiment by some twelve dimensional creatures that in our dimension take the form of mice and are super intelligent. The idea is that mice are experimenting on humans to see if they can figure out the mining of life, the universe and everything or rather why the answer is 42.

This concept scared me a lot when I was younger and saw the movie. It still weird me out a bit, but I also find it fascination how the book frames this perspective. Sometimes I really want to know how Douglas Adams thought all of this out, but at the sometime I don’t cause then I have to think about the questions and my thoughts about this weird world that Douglas provides. A lot of the time I can draw parallels between the book and real life and I thing I’ve found one in this part of the book as well.

I think this part is meant to make us question testing on mice. We do a lot of inhuman things to animals without thinking about them and when you see things from this uncomfortably angle that the author provides it makes you question if it really is right to abuse animals and the world in the way we do. On the hole I think that’s the lesson the book tries to teach. “Be careful of the world you have cause it’s the only one you’ll ever have.” and “don’t waist you life, you have one chance and then it’s gone.” That’s what I get out of this. And I also think he wanted to question things and think weird. (That last one isn’t very well established as a lesson of the book but I really like to think that’s what Douglas wanted to encourage his readers to do.)

All and all I loved the book. If you like quirky and weird things read it! It puts the world in a weird place and twists stuff in a cool, interesting and thoughtful way. It’s my second most favorite sci-fi book or my most favorite one. It depends on what aspects you look at. It’s absolutely interesting and funny but sometimes it seems a bit rushed. But if you can get past that and want a fun and enjoyable sci-fi book I can’t do anything less then recommend it.

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Culture

[Journal] Chapter 9 to 11 | The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy

 Photo CC by-sa 2.0  Barbara Abate  via Wikimedia Commons
Photo CC by-sa 2.0 Barbara Abate via Wikimedia Commons

So chapter nine starts with Arthur and Ford getting rescued by a mysteriys ship. From the begining they find themselfs on a sidewalk. But this disappears and they find themselves on a beach. The reason for all of this weariness is something the book calls the infinite improbability drive. A way of traveling space by using the improbability of different things. The majority of chapter nine and ten is trying too explain Arthur and Fords experience with the infinite improbability drive and how it was invented.

The drive apparently makes some kind of hole in the universe thorough which it can travel and it breaks down the different aspects of reality and exists in multiple existences at once if I understand it right. This means that many improbable things will happen. I think this way of travelling sounds interesting. Instead of teleportation which breaks down your body and recreates it this makes holes in existence and travels through them like tunnels. In my head it sounds way safer and efficient. It is also a nice way to get around the hole “if you push a person in to a teleportation device did you kill them?” debate which is interesting but complicated and a bit scary.

Throughout chapter eleven we find out more about the ship and especially about Marvin a robot which have some major depression problems. I personally think his main problem is not haveing complex enough problems too solve. I base this on the fact that he seemed to mainly be complaining about his tasks being boring. I also liked the fact that the doors had feelings. I just couldn’t stop myself from laughing when they mentioned that the doors was very happy about opening for you. When someone passed through they showed emotions of excitement and the feeling of doing a good job. I don’t know why but I just find that funny.

We also learn more about Trillian and Zaphod Beeblebrox. Trillian seems to be the more intelligent person this far and Zaphod like the earlier descriptions in the book seems more like a big clown. i don’t really know if i like Zaphod. He seems a bit non-serious and it irritates me a bit. I just can’t wrap my head around his personality. It’s way to spastic and it gives me an unsettling feeling. Like he is evil or has some great big plan of taking over the world. I know this probably isn’t the case but his lack of understanding of other lifes worth makes it hard for me to take him seriously.

To summarize these chapters where interesting out of many perspectives. One of the most obvious once is the cool travelling technique which would make it possible to travel great distances in no time. Another perspective is the character development. We see Trillian as a more thoughtful and understanding person and Arthur as a bit more adventurous person when we was fiddling with the control panel. I find that these chapters have been some of the most impressive chapters these far and think I’ll remember them by there technical aspect the most. Especially the doors.

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Culture

[Journal] Chapter 5 to 8 | The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy

 Photo CC0  Ammit  via Wikimedia Commons
Photo CC0 Ammit via Wikimedia Commons

So this chapter starts with a more personal introduction to Vogon Jeltz and the Vogons overall. When I read about them I get a felling of recognition. It’s seems to me like Douglas Adams was hinting on problems with humanity. In the book he talks about the Vogons as a people who without any ecological thinking at all. A group of aliens who abuse the resources they have at hand until they can leave the planet an move to another.

The similarity goes on as they are described as rather bureaucratic and the foundation of the political system. Now we humans haven’t learnt to travel around the universe jet but I do see some kind of link here as well of how humanity dictates earth like it owned the place (which we kinda do as well…). Whiles I’d say that the most memorable thing of the first four chapters are how unimportant humanity is I’d say that the most memorable thing out of chapter five is how inhuman humans can be (at least that’s what I believe Mr.Adams is hinting at).

Chapter five continues with a bit more talk about the Vogons and how they like to get angry but for me this is mostly just entertainment. There are some things you could dive deep into and analyse but I think the next really interesting thing the book gives us is the Babel fish. A fish which feeds on brain wave energy and translates it to understandable sound that anyone can understand. This makes it possible to understand all language talked in the universe.

I find this idea very interesting and fascinating idea. Though the book also says that the Bable fish has lead to more and bloodier wars than any other creature in existence. Something which might very well be a possible outcome of endless understanding of all languages, but in my head I can’t really understand this to 100%. If everyone understands everyone wouldn’t you realise that saying some things could start a war? Then again it is a fictional book so you can’t over analyse it to much.

The book also continues with the hole earth is pointless thing by literally describing earth as that in the encyclopedia “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I like this continues teasing about how small and unimportant we are. Even with our atomic bombs and everything in big scream of things we aren’t that powerful neither important. You could blow up earth and Pluto would still circulate the sun and the book makes this a bit too clear. It takes it from being a kind of catastrophe and makes it nearly a bit funny. It’s hard to explain, but the calm atmosphere in the book kind of drives this point a bit further.

Now when it comes to poetry the book makes it very clear that some characters haven’t got the same lovable intention with poetry that maybe we more normally see in society. A good example is Vogon Jeltz the commander of the ship which uses his bad poetry as a torturing technique. I really like the humorous part of what Adams have written here cause most of us have heard or read bad poesy at one point and just shaken our heads and sometime it can be really painful to hear a bad song or read a badly written book. You kinda laugh at there despair and you kinda feel bad about it’s just so over the top that you just can’t stop yourself.

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Culture

[Journal] Chapter 1 to 4 | The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy

 Photo CC0  nclm  via Wikimedia Commons
Photo CC0 nclm via Wikimedia Commons

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams is the first of six Comedic Science Fiction novels in the book series going under the same name (commonly referred to as the Hitchhiker’s Guide, The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy or The Trilogy in Six parts). The book was first released in 1979 and follows the main character Arthur Dent on his journey through the universe. The book has become a staple of hte sci-fi community and is a must for all sci-fi fans.

In the first four chapters we get introduced to the main cast of the book. Here we have Ford Prefext an alien who first came to earth to write about it for a an encyclopedia named “Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy.” We also learn about Zaphod Beeblebrox. A weird alien who happens to be president over the Galaxy. Last but not least we get a fast introduction of Trillian an Earthling just like Arthur who follows Zephod around the Galaxy.

I find it fascinating how calmly the book talks about all the events in the first four chapters. A line we hear all the time in the book is “Don’t Panic” and it follows that advice to the extreme. I find that even if the characters sometimes get upset and starts screaming the atmosphere stays the same. It’s part of what makes the book so fun. It feels a little bit like “The earth gets destroyed? Just another day at work.”

It’s no secret that the earth get’s obliterated in the first couple chapters. Douglas Adams does a fantastic job of conveying just how small and unimportant we humans are for the rest of galaxy. So unimportant that we can be destroyed and killed to create a bypass through the galaxy. Of all end of the worlds histories I’ve heard about this one seems the most likely to me.

We also learn Zaphod and his ship “the Heart of Gold.” We don’t really get to know his full intentions but we learn quite a bit about the governance of the Galaxy. For example we learn that the president is just a mascot to distract the people from the real politics and leaders of the Galaxy. We also learn that Zaphod Beeblebrox is especially good at this. He is a real clown and that’s just what they want out of him.

To summarize these four chapters I’d say that they give an interesting perspective on our existence and on how small and unimportant we are. It throws you straight into the action and the destruction of earth and you start too wonder what’s going to happen next. The language used can sometimes be a bit challenging but that’s mostly because of all the new names on the Aline lifeforms you hear about. If I had to pick a favorite part of the book this far I’d say that it’s the part in chapter three when we learn about towels and why they are a must for all hitchhiker’s.

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Culture

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

When I started reading this book I saw potential and the book was in some way a lot better then the second one. It starts and gets on point rather fast and from there it just delivers. I’d say that this one whiles more exiting took one of the problem from the last book and made it worse. I’m talking about the problem with the weird character progression. Some of it is understandable but sometimes I just dropped the book on my bedside table and left it there. The characters just wasn’t holding up.

Besides this the story was very good up to halfway through the book when it just started lacking. Yes things happened but the writer could have done a much better job. Like I said in the last review. The author should have taken a bit of a break too figure out what he wanted out of the book. It didn’t feel like he knew where he was going and the plots rained down here and there. Don’t get me wrong the book was very exciting but it was like watching a transformers movie, cool effects but lacking story substance. So if you want to read the book don’t have to high expectations specially not for the second part.

When you get closer to the end the book really highers it’s speed. It’s exciting and well written. You just can’t wait to know how the book ends. But be warned there are some cringed worthy moments in there as well and when you get to the ending things turn around. Not ’cause they needed to but just to turn the plot upside down and astonishing enough, just a couple moments later Tomas is siting there like nothing happened.

I’m not only disappointed at the ending. The ending destroyed the entire series. It felt like it was all for nothing and I have a really hard time saying anything positive about this series after reading the ending. No, the author should have thought this through one more time before putting his pen to the paper. I just hope the movie won’t be as bad as this last book. It was a story with so much potential but it lead nowhere.

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Culture

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trails is the second book in the Maze Runner series and it does not disappoint. The first book in the series was a fast paste, semi advanced book that took the breath right out of your chest. You couldn’t wait to turn the page and find out what was going on. This book has a similar story but it’s written in another way. It throws all these little hints at you but delivers the answers by spoon, like if it was feeding a little baby. It’s intense but slow… very slow.

It’s nearly to slow to be enjoyed. I actually put away the book for a couple of days after reading a couple of chapter, then picked it up just to repeat. I understand why the book has to be slow. It fits the setting and gives the feeling of just who bad things get for the characters, but the author might have over done it a little bit.

The book picks up where it left you and throws you back and forth and can sometimes make you wonder what happened to the characters. Sometimes I felt like I missed a book in the series. Specially the main character, Tomas acted in weird way from time to time and it felt like the author tried way too much too get you to feel bad for him.

If I had to rate this book I would give it a 7/10p cause it’s good and makes you want to continue, but it wasn’t as good as the first one. The author should have waited a bit before continuing the story. It felt like he didn’t really know where he was going with this book. But it has the potential to look good in the movie adaptation if they plan it right.

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Culture

North Sea Texas

To start of I like to say that North Sea Texas has become my all time favourite film. It’s an awesome and well written story about two boys who fall in love and the problems they meet.
Pim is a young guy who’s just turning fifteen years old and he’s got a romantic relationship with his friend Gino who’s just about to turn 18. The movie follows Pim’s life and shows it’s ups and downs. The problems rise when Gino starts going do a city called De Panne close to the north sea cost of Belgium. Gino starts going there more often and Pim’s trust in Gino is tested.

The story is complicated and can go from a happy to sad in nearly no time. It’s deep and shows the struggle of Pim losing everything he ever has had. He goes from one bad situation to one good to two bad situations. At the end of the film Pim has turned 18 years old so the movie spans nearly 3 and a half years worth of stories and it does it in a magical and capturing way. I can’t do more then recommend it to everyone who loves a good drama/love story.