Reviews by Evelyn C. Leeper

Reviews by Evelyn C. Leeper

All reviews copyright 1984-2017 Evelyn C. Leeper.

TWENTY THIRTY by Albert Brooks:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 04/27/2012]

Geoff Ryman's Mundane Manifesto (described in the 12/30/11 issue of the MT VOID) calls on science fiction writers to eschew impossibilities such as interstellar empires, time travel, etc., and replace these with:

TWENTY THIRTY by Albert Brooks (ISBN 978-0-312-58372-9) should warm the cockles of Ryman's heart. The problem is that it does focus on what is possible, indeed probable. And what is this? Well, the United States has dug itself into an even deeper debt hole. Because senior citizens are living longer, they are draining the resources of their children (and everyone else). The health care situation has gotten even worse, and if your health insurance lapses, even the simplest procedure can cost you a fortune. And then Los Angeles is hit by a 9.1 earthquake.

The only problem is that this scenario, while possible and even likely in many aspects, pretty much destroys "the awakening bedazzlement and wonder that awaits us as we contemplate the beauties of this Earth and its people and what will happen to them in time." Or as someone asks in the (much overlooked) film SLEEP DEALER, "Is our future a thing of the past?"

However, as a science fiction novel, this is one of the best I have read recently. Depressing as hell, but good. Will it make the Hugo ballot? I figure it has about as much chance as the proverbial snowball.

(Coincidentally, right after I finished TWENTY THIRTY, I ran across an article, "The War Against Youth" by Stephen Marche (at aA HREF=, which covers a lot of the issues Brooks is writing about.)

To order Twenty Thirty from, click here.

THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2012 by David Brooks:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 09/08/2017]

THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2012 edited by David Brooks (ISBN 978-0-547-84009-3) starts off with an essay on why Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance", promoted for well over a hundred years, is full of bad advice and to blame for much of what is wrong with the country today. The rest are equally thought-provoking, interesting, and in general worth reading.

To order The Best American Essays 2012 from, click here.

PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 06/20/2008]

PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks (ISBN-13 978-0-670-01821-5, ISBN-10 0-670-01821-X) is a novel about the Sarajevo Haggadah. Brooks uses a style that I identify with James Michener's book THE SOURCE (also about Jewish history). This style involves discovering a lot of objects connected with the central focus of the novel (in Brooks, the Haggadah, in Michener, an archaeological dig), and then giving the history of each one. In both novels, the description the main characters in the framing story give is occasionally incorrect. One difference is that Brooks focuses on the women in the history, at times to the detriment of verisimilitude. I had a particular interest in this, since we have been to Sarajevo and have a facsimile copy of the Haggadah, but neither of these are pre-requisites. (Looking at a copy of the illustrations on-line might be helpful, though.)

To order People of the Book from, click here.

YEAR OF WONDERS by Geraldine Brooks:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 12/21/2007]

Our book discussion group chose YEAR OF WONDERS by Geraldine Brooks (ISBN-13 978-0-142-00143-1, ISBN-10 0-142-00143-0) for this month's discussion. The book is about a plague village in England that voluntarily seals itself off from the outside world in an attempt to prevent the spread of the plague. This is based on an actual village that did this, and many characters are based on actual people. (But not all--the end note discusses some specific fabrications.) In my opinion, the book is a little too much "female empowerment"--there are long sections about the old wise woman midwife with her herbal cures, etc. I haven't read DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis in a long time, but that is the obvious comparison, and I think the Willis is better.

To order Year of Wonders from, click here.

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