Thursday, May 26, 2005

Series Everyone Should Read At Least Once

  1. Dune Chronicles - Frank Herbert. And I DO mean FRANK Herbert. Not his not-quite-as-talented son, Brian. There are six books in the Dune Chronicles. The First is simply Dune, and if you can get past all the fake histories and quotes it's pretty cool. There are mind-reading Witches, Fat Scabby Barons, First Love, Giant Worms and many mentions of the word "Womb" which may or may not appeal to you. The other books are, in order, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse:Dune. The last 3 books in particular I love because they are so mind-numbingly brilliant. For example, the timeline: The first 3 books take place within a span of Fifty to Seventy years. Then when you jump into book 4 the story picks up some Ten Thousand years in the future. That one in particular makes me wish my head would explode it's so complex. But then you get into Heretics and realize that yet another Ten thousand or so years have passed. Herbert passed away before he could really get started on what was supposed to be the seventh and rumor has it, last installment of the Dune Chronicles. Since then his aforementioned son has been writing prequels to the his Father's work. They're readable, but lack the wonderful layers of Religion, Intrigue, Philosophy and action of the Originals.

  2. Harry Potter J.K. Rowling. Everyone with eyeballs has been inundated with a constant barrage of Harry Potter commercials, merchandise, movies, and 40-year olds dressed up in Robes at the Movie premiers. (Scary). And yes, the movies are great, the movies rock, We love the movies. But seriously consider reading the books. What I love Rowlings in-progress opus is the writing and the story develop as the characters age. The first installment, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone, reads like a kiddy book. Because Harry is a kid. With every book, Harry grows up a little more, and the story gets a little bit darker, a little bit moodier, a bit more dangerous. Stephen King is a self-proclaimed lover of the series, and said he reads them because they're well written "and just fun." If you've been living in a cave for the last 7 or so years the other Books in the Harry Potter series are Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix. Better read them all now because Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes out July 16th.

  3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy - Douglas Adams. I can not say enough about this series. It's smart, hilarious, and always just a little bit English. I love these books from Cover to cover! I love that there is a whole planet inhabited by a "Hyperintelligent Shade Of Blue", that there is a Restaurant at The End of The Universe, where the cow comes to your table and says "What part of me will you be having tonight? I've got a lovely Flank!" Not to mention manic depressive robots, guys with 2 heads, Babel fish, living mattresses, dolphins, mice, and improbability drives. The other books in the series are The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, The Universe, and Everything, So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless.

  4. The Books Of The Art Clive Barker. "The Art" here being the ability to manipulate Time and Space, the ultimate Goal of two Very flawed men in The Great And Secret Show - The First Book of The Art. It starts off with the Jaffe and Fletcher, two trying to attain The art, or at least the secret to the art, and progresses there to being disembodied and astrally impregnating four teenage girls. Yeah, you read that right. Barker writing is always so lusty and disturbing, but it's his heroes that stand out. My favorite being Tesla Bombeck, who also plays a major role in Everville, the second Book of the Art. Barker's premise is that there is a whole world behind the world we live in, and it's a place that's holy and sacred and very dangerous. There is an Ocean called Quiddity, some very evil things called the Iad, a guy who lives in a time loop in Trinity, NM moments before the bomb dropped. Only with Barker can Armageddon start in the Dead Letter Office in Omaha, and a lake that never existed fall from the sky. "Succinctly put," says Barker, "it's about Hollywood, sex, and Armageddon."

  5. The Dark Tower - Stephen King. If you're wondering, yes it is based on Browning's "Childe Roland to The Dark Tower Came". King started this Epic and totally Frigging Awesome series in 1978, as a collection of short stories which would later be bound as a novel titled The Gunslinger. The first books starts off with one of the most memorable and badass first lines of all time. "The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed". That's all it took to reel me in. Hook, line, and sinker. The story follows Roland, a kind of knight, the last heir to the throne of Eld (King's version of King Arthur) trying to hunt down the wizard who knows the way to The Dark Tower. Kings mythology surrounding the Tower itself is based on the idea that reality is layered, that behind one World (or Reality or Dimension, whatever you prefer) there lies many, many others. The Dark tower is the linchpin that holds all realities in place. Roland comes to the aid of Jake, a young boy who died in our world but awoke to find himself alone in Roland's. I don't want to give too much away but Jake gets the most brutal bible lesson ever. Roland finally does catch up with the Man in Black, and they have a conversation that lasts for many years (I can't quite recall the number, I think someone once said Ten and someone else said a hundred, but don't take my word for it). Book 2, titled The Drawing of The Three starts off right where the first book left off, with Roland aged many years after only one night, his course set for the Tower. He "draws" from our world Eddie Dean, a young man with a monkey on his back, and Susannah Holmes, a beautiful wheelchair bound woman with an alter ego more dangerous than Roland bargained for, Detta Walker. In Book 3, The Waste Lands, the band of Gunslingers find themselves in the ruins of Lud, a crumbling city not very different from New York, and on board Blaine the Mono, a psychotic train which takes them over land too poisoned to cross. Book 4, Wizard and Glass is Roland's much-anticipated backstory, which gives readers a chance to see Young Roland and his doomed love with the beautiful Ranch girl Susan Delgado. It's this story that gives the clearest insight into Roland, who is not always a lovable (or even likeable) character. It would be too much for me to delve into the other three books, but trust me when I say that The Dark Tower series is King's truest and most poingnant work, and a not-small obsession of mine since the day I picked it up.