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What I read in 2002







12 *Sophie's Choice William Styron 12/22 626 I was so depressed after reading this novel. By far, THE most literary & heart-breakingly beautiful novel I've read since 1993. 

What choice did Sophie have to make? It is not revealed until page 590. What would I have done if I had been Sophie?

The dark side of the human being is so very vividly portrayed.  

11 *The Matarese Countdown Robert Ludlum 11/06 566 Intriguing. Imaginative. Maybe a touch too much. Too many weak links for me to accept. For example, they found out that a house was completely covered with bugs, and they talked about it loudly and clearly IN the house, and Ludlum expected readers to expect whoever had installed the bugs didn't know about it.
10 *Fantastic Voyage II Isaac Asimov 10/17/02 385 OK. But I wasn't very impressed. His writing sounded a bit too cliché. Also his trying to fuse his idealism into the book toward the end irritated me a bit, though.
9 *The Jesus Factor Edwin Corley 10/1/02 318 Very interesting assumption: the atomic bomb does not work when it drops from a plane, and every nation is spending millions to develop to make it work while covering the fact. Makes one think.
8 *The Rainmaker John Grisham 8/12/02 598 2nd reading due to the course. Felt quite different from the 1st reading. Too many coincidences and too-good-to-be-true plot. Highly unlikely event. Still we were able to learn a lot about the judicial system in the U.S.
7 *Shogun James Clavell 7/19/02 1152 2nd reading for the spring semester course I taught. A masterpiece!
6 *Forrest Gump Winston Groom 7/17/02 248 2nd reading for the summer course I taught. Still very heart-warming story. The movie was so different from the Novel! I don't think it justified the book at all. If I had been the author, I wouldn't have approved the movie version.
5 *The Dosadi Experiment Frank Herbert 4/20/02 343 OK. Had a passage which is so accurate for  today:

We are plagued by a corrupt polity which promotes unlawful and/or immoral behavior. Public interest has no practical significance in everyday behavior among the ruling factions. The real problems of our world are not being confronted by those in power. In the guise of public service, they use whatever comes to hand for personal gain. They are insane with and for power. (p.175)

The attack by those who want to die--this is the attack against which you cannot prepare a perfect defense. (p.203)

4 *The Robots of Dawn Isaac Asimov 04/02/02 398

A while since I read Asimov. Big twists and expected unexpected typical of Asimov. But still very interesting read. His 'Three Laws of Robotics' is very simple yet very thorough and, to my understanding, is a superb example of elegant logic. 

First Law: A robot may not injure human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 

Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by a human being, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 

Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Now I can see how his robot series is related with the Foundation series: R. Daneel Olivaw and 'psychohistory' are all introduced in this robot series, thus providing some groundwork for Foundation series. 

"... if a conclusion is not poetically balanced, it cannot be scientifically true." (p. 108)

3 *The Ascension Factor Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom 03/05/02 359 Well…This conclusion of the trilogy was not as impressive as the first two: too far-fetched!

"But we went up there and got them (hyb tanks) down. And we got them down without any help from anyone or anything inside of them. That's what will raise us up out of our misery--our genius, our tenacity, ourselves. Flattery's just another spoiled brat looking for a handout. You talk about ascension, Momma. We are the ascension factor and thanks to Ship, we will rise up one day to greet the dawn and we will keep on rising ... that right, little girl?" (p.338, Beatrice's grandfather. italics not mine, but bold mine to emphasize the title of the book)

2 *The Lazarus Effect Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom 02/17/02 393 I can't say I understand this 100%, but it was expected since it was Frank Herbert. I was just overwhelmed by the authors' imagination. Their view on the future of mankind is so different and so unique, more in line with Kurt Vonnegut's view. I'm on to the third book!
1 *The Jesus Incident Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom 01/20/02 416 It's been quite a while since I read Frank Herbert. Difficult as typical of him. Sometimes his too-direct an analogy bothers me a bit. But overall, very good reading. His way of putting things into a different perspective is just amazing. His view on the future of human beings and his way of  putting things into a different perspective are just amazing: very imaginative and yet very scientific. 

The Chaplain/Psychiatrist the authors introduce in the novel is very interesting. It reminds me of Asimov's PsychoHistorians in his Foundation series. It seems psychology is at the core. (Asimov wrote his Foundation in 1951, 28years before this novel was written.) The authors must have a very keen insight toward the language as well as can be seen at the usage of "WorShip." Great read.

Now that I have started, I am stuck: I have to finish this new trilogy.