Monday, September 21, 2015

Paul Kingsnorth's: The Wake, A Working Glossary

As I read Paul Kingsnorth's: The Wake, a post-apocalyptic novel that takes place around a thousand years ago, I have found myself creating a glossary for the Kingsnorth's shadow tongue. His language mirrors Old English in a modern, updated manner, and uses many variations of words that one would have found during the novel's era. While much of the language begins to flow as you read it, a list of terms can help. Thus, this what I have so far (updates will flow):

  • Beornan: Burning People (the invaders)
  • Bodigs: Bodies
  • Brocs: Badgers 
  • Cenep: Neck
  • Cepan: Keeping 
  • Circe: Church
  • Cyng: King
  • Deoful: Devil
  • Eages: Eyes
  • Efry: Every
  • Folc: Folk
  • Freondscipe: Friendship 
  • Fugol: Bird 
  • Geburs: Landless Peasant Farmers 
  • Gerefa: Sheriff
  • Holt: Countryside
  • Ingenga: Foreigners
  • Lytle: Little
  • Oxgangs: 20 acres 
  • Preosts: Preists 
  • Regn: Rain
  • Sceolde: Should
  • Scramsax: Knife
  • Seolfor: Silver
  • Thegn: Thing 
  • Thrall: Viking era slave
  • Wealsc: pre-anglo Brits
  • Weodmonth: weed month (July)
  • Wyrmfleoge: Dragonfly 
  • Wyrst: Worst

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets: A Book Review

In the third book of Orson Scott Card’s Shadow Saga, Shadow Puppets, a cycle of espionage and deception runs rampant on the Earth as humanity continues to engage in regional wars in the wake of the Formic destruction. Thus, in this science fiction turned James Bond narrative, I found myself clamoring for the philosophy of man Card played out when discussing the viability of the piggies in Xenocide. Unfortunately, while Card creates a semi-entertaining novel, this piece fails to live up to both the critical and intellectual level one would expect. While it does fixate on the minds of teenagers, characters prone to the irrational, Shadow Puppets lacks full intellectual mettle. Instead, the text is full of inexplicable decisions, contrived plot points, and an Amazon River like path that meanders to and fro.

As the novel starts, Achilles, the psychopath and enemy of both Bean and the Peter Wiggin is rescued from a Chinese transport and put into the employ of the Hegemon. Why? Only Card knows, for this inexplicable plot point serves as the catalyst for ever event for the remainder of the Shadow Saga. Thus Bean flees with Petra, prompting the two to fall in love. This build up to love is unsubstantiated and lacking in detail—it happens and the reader takes the face in stride lest they stop reading the novel. Bean and Petra argue over having children, get married, opt for in-vitro fertilization in order to avoid passing on Bean’s genetic condition, and then of course, they fall into a web of evil created by Achilles.

On the other side of the word, Asia and the Middle East tumble into war, wars led or planned by battle school graduates. These wars turn society on end, and begin marching toward the planet’s ultimate need of a Hegemon and the removal of the battle school graduates from earthbound society. But this plot will not playout yet—there is still another book to sell. In the end and to no one’s surprise, Achilles is murdered at the hands of Bean, taking the reader right back to where they began, but with a little more war, a marriage, and the search for babies. While not Card’s best work, the pages turn, the saga goes on, and Bean is almost free to travel the galaxy and wait for a cure for his incurable condition.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Orson Scott Card's Shadow of the Hegemon: A Book Review

Shadow of the Hegemon picks up on earth not long after the events of both Ender’s Shadow and Ender’s Game have come to a conclusion. This text follows Bean as he quests to find a place in this new world, but more specifically as he quests to better his arch nemesis Achilles, who has escaped from a mental institution and enamored world power Russia, and save his battle school comrades from the villain’s clutches before Achilles can take over the world. Further, Bean feels the constant pursuit of father time, for his life will end at only twenty or so years as his genetic anomaly takes over.

Playing out like a game of risk, the novel starts with a literal bang as Bean’s vacation home is bombed, and transforms into Bean’s almost inexplicable devotion to Petra, the only member of Ender’s jeesh to remain in Achilles’ clutches after escape attempts and releases. Unlink the other stories of the series, the novel is more of a spy novel, tackling espionage and world domination within the power vacuum the defeat of the Formics has created. Here world powers, no longer fearing for humanity’s existence, spring out on to the world’s stage, claiming battle school graduates as their strategists and seeking to renew age old struggles. At the outside, we see Peter Wiggin, who makes the moves to become the center of world power by occupying a position with none and seeking to establish the job’s relevance. To this plot line, that of rise of Peter, one almost wants more, to see the cogs and gears, to see what the one remaining Wiggin child can do.

While the novel’s pages turn, like the two books that will follow in the series, the story plays out for too long. There is only so much internal moaning and groaning of Bean that one needs. He is talented, interesting, and soon to be a giant, but the what happens after the war for humanity story is more political football than science fiction fodder. That is not to say that one cannot garner pleasure, but that Orson Scott Card could have condensed this tale and returned to chasing the stars, to settling the future.