Book Review: Glass Lands (2016)

By John S. Ryan
Reviewed by Brian R. Wright
Moon is a Harsh Mistress meets Time Enough for Love and then some

Review first posted March 24, 2017.

First of all, I’m not the ideal candidate for reviewing such an amazing accomplishment as Glass Lands. Indeed, as I sit here having just climbed off the exhilarating 475-page Book 1 roller coaster ride from first-time novelist John Ryan, my mind is drawn into the Grand Editing era of the great Max Perkins at Scribners publishers of New York in the 1920s and 1930s.[1]  Perkins was top banana not only because of cleaning up his celebrated authors’ prose, but because Perkins knew the whole field of serious fiction at the time. What Ryan’s book needs more than anything is a reviewer/editor of Perkins’ stature, working full time as such for a leading general fiction publisher or for an iconic science fiction magazine like Analog. Such an individual would have the depth of field to render a proper reading and comprehensive, positive account.

Alas, like Popeye, I only yam what I yam…which yam not a literary man of stature, so I confess to feeling a bit inadequate to the task of reviewing so auspicious a work as Glass Lands. Fortunately it takes no literary master critic to see what a groundbreaker we’re dealing with here. First, let me give you a sense of the story: Continue reading

Movie Review: The Lives of Others (2006)

Chilling reminder of the essence of Eastern Bloc tyranny 10/10

Lives_of_Others“A great socialist once said, writers
are engineers of the soul.”

The Lives of Others (Leben der Anderen, Das) won last year’s (2006) Oscar for best foreign-language film. Deservedly so, and I regret I have only just this week have managed to view the DVD.

It is set in Berlin, East Germany (GDR) roughly five years before the collapse of The Wall, a period when few ordinary residents of that glorious communist paradise imagined they would ever be free of its soul-deadening, omnipresent yoke.

An aspiring Stasi (East German secret police) true believer in the supremely ordered perfection of this grandiose yet drab insane asylum, Herr Hauptmann Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) wants to do the right thing.  Wiesler is a poor imitation of Andre Taganov in Ayn Rand’s We the Living: he believes in his heart socialism can work. By rooting out defectors, enablers of defectors, and sundry critics of the ideal society, he’s doing “the Lord’s business”—the lord of regimented collectivism. Continue reading