Among the recent arrivals in our graphic novel collection is a book for the Trekkie. Star Trek, the Next Generation: Hive is written by Brannon Braga, one of the writers and producers of the Next Gen series, so you know you’re in for a good story. He’s well-versed in the Star Trek universe and knows what he’s talking about.
Hive brings back one of the best and most persistent of the Star Trek villains: the Borg. Beginning in the 29th century, the universe has been totally assimilated by the Borg, and in command of it all is Locutus, formerly Captain Jean-Luc Picard. But Locutus isn’t happy (can a Borg even be happy?), and with all life now consumed by the Borg, things aren’t as fun as they used to be. As Locutus says, “We are without purpose.” Seeking to make things right, Locutus will have to change the past, about 500 years past to be exact. The story shifts back and forth between the 25th and 29th centuries, as Locutus/Picard seeks to save humanity and wipe out the Borg once and for all. Will he do it?
I’m not ashamed to admit I am a Trekkie, not a costume-wearing, philosophizing Trekkie, but I am a Trekkie. Star Trek has been a part of my life since I was six-years-old, watching the original series in reruns, and later, Star Trek: the Next Generation in high school. I never really got into the later series, but for fans of Star Trek Voyager, there is a familiar face in this graphic novel that people will recognize, one with a pivotal role that fits in nicely with the mythology of that series. It certainly answers a question or two at least. I’ll leave it to you, readers, to figure it out.
Whether you’re a Star Trek fan or not, I think you’ll find this an entertaining read, with a clever storyline and great illustrations. Check it out.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess
A couple of days ago a wonderful E.P. Foster library patron posed an interesting question. “What is your favorite food related children’s book?” I would have to dig way back into my cranial pantry to figure this one out, then I remembered what was growing in garden and no, I do grow plants other than garlic. Blueberries, “Blueberries for Sal!”, I love blueberries and the book is a Caldecott winner, a pure delight to read. Immediately, I remembered the Greek yogurt housed in the refrigerator and the need to pair the blueberries with the yogurt and consume them. That’s what I did, yum! So, the question the “Dish” poses is, “What is your favorite food related children’s book?” It’s tough at first to think of one, but one will come to you, because we all know reading is so delicious. Please post your favorites in the comment boxes. ***** David’s Dish
Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!
If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking.
THE POLITICS OF WAR: Absurdity and Economy
Two novels about the displacement of war with political or economic motivation are THE SAND PEBBLES by Richard McKenna and CATCH 22, by Joseph Heller. One is a political portrait of early 20th Century gunship diplomacy in Indo China. The other is a farce about the absurdity of the Military Industrial Complex. Both are negative political commentaries about US interests abroad.
Each of these novels was made into equally fine movies that were well received. But apart from their entertainment value, there are some interesting and serious points made about the socio-economic situation of the early and middle 20th Century. I will review The Sand Pebbles first and later in the month return to review Catch 22.
THE SAND PEBBLES by Richard McKenna
Set in China on the eve of revolution in the 1920s, this novel tells the story of a U.S. Navy gunboat and her dedicated crew of the "Sand Pebbles." “ The San Pablo” is the actual name of the vessel, which was given over to the nickname “Sand Pebbles” by the crew. There are two interesting metaphors to be derived from these two names. The first is the idea of a boat with a Spanish name cruising the waters of the Yanktze River in China under the US flag. This symbolizes both a sense of world wide diplomacy as well as Nation Building . The nickname reflects an attitude of insignificance on the part of the Captain, who is brooding for naval action with a left over Spanish American War vessel.
There is civil unrest in China, a result of several dominant foreign countries trying to bully the fragile nation into an alliance. War Lords are fighting each other, while a Nationalist Army has been created to stave off foreign interests and designs on China. This has the American Captain on edge and ready for a fight.
The novel describes a life of boredom and then sudden battle action based on a desire to engage an inocuous threat, but the chief conflict is between the traditional western ideas which saw China in racist and imperialist terms and emerging nationalism.
The protagonist, engine mechanic Jake Holman, is new to the boat and begins to teach his Chinese workers – he refuses to call them “coolies”– to master the ship’s machinery by understanding it, not just “monkey see, monkey do.” But this infuriates the Chief Cooley who feels his honor has been exsponged by the attitude of the Machinist Mate taking over.
Holman is not well received by most of the crew as well, because of his compassion for the coolies who are treated like slaves by the rest. But they serve the ship well, being allowed to sleep aboard the vessel and given left over food scraps.
An incident involving British gunboats leads to the Captain ordering the crew not to fire on, or return fire from the Chinese, to avoid diplomatic incidents. He is not happy with those orders and wants to engage the Chinese. But, The San Pablo is stuck in port at Changsha for the winter due to low water levels. It must deal with increasingly hostile crowds surrounding it in numerous smaller boats. The Captain fears a possible mutiny. Frenchy (the only friend of Holman) has saved a Chinese woman, Maily from prostitution by paying her debts. He marries her and sneaks off the ship regularly, after shore leave has been revoked.But he dies of hypothermia one night. Holman searches for him and finds Maily sitting stunned by Frenchy's corpse. The Chinese nationalists burst in, beat up Holman, and drag Maily away.
Holman returns to the ship. The next day, several Chinese float out to the San Pablo in small boats and demand the "murderer" Holman be turned over to them. Apparently, the nationalists killed Maily and blamed Holman, trying to provoke an incident. Holman informs the Captain what really happened. When the Chinese demand for Holman is refused, they blockade the San Pablo. The American crew fears for their safety and demand that Holman surrender to the Chinese against the Captain's orders. Order is not restored until the Captain fires across the bow of one of the Chinese junks.
When spring arrives, the ship is ordered back to the coast but the captain defies those orders and steams up the Yanktze to rescue a Christian Mission which has been blockaded by the Nationalists. It is directed under false pretense by the ambitious captain. A boom of junks tied together with heavy rope await the vessel .On board are several Nationalist soldiers. A fire fight breaks out and a battle ensues. The blockade is broken and the ship steams on toward the mission at China Light. The captain knows that the missionary will refuse his help but he insists.
The climax is a depiction of false pride in a captain who is single minded in his quest for glory and patriotic inertia. The crew pays for it with the loss of several soldiers and the missionary, himself, who is fired upon by the Nationalists, even though he waves a document renouncing his British Citizenship and all citizenships. Even Holman is killed not understanding the deeper ramifications of the action at China Light.
“What happened?” he asks plaintively, nursing his fatal wound.”What the hell happened?” he states again as he lays next to his mortally wounded captain. The collateral damage in this final metaphorical scene is a toll taken out of unneccessary political pride. It depicts the wrecklessness of Imperial Nations over others.
Resident Philosopher Doug Taylor
You are invited to Oak View Library’s Book-to-Action series of discussions to be held during the month of July, featuring the book, A Place at the Table: The Crisis of 49 Million Hungry Americans and How to Solve It edited by Peter Pringle.
This book is a companion to the 2012 nationally released documentary of the same title, which shed light on the fact that nearly 50 million Americans and one in four children - don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Registration is limited, so please call 805-649-1523 or visit the Oak View Library to sign-up, pick up a copy of the book, and get reading. The discussions/viewings will take place on Thursday evenings from 6-7pm on July 11, 18, and 25.
Become a Road Scholar with Jill Swaim
Elderhostel-Road Scholar is a learning, travel adventure organization created to inspire adults to explore their world.
The Road Scholar learning adventures engage expert instructors, provide extraordinary access, and stimulate
discourse and friendship among people for whom learning is the adventure of a lifetime.
Jill Swaim, Road Scholar Ambassador, will discuss the history, name change, and purpose of this not-for-profit organization and share stories of Road Scholar adventures.
Sisters in Crime - everyone loves a mystery - four authors discuss "Who dunit?"
- Dr. Joan Blacher, psychotherapist and author of the mysteries, Murder Canyon and Lethal Lake
- Sheila Lowe, forensic handwriting expert whose fictional character, Claudia Rose, testifies in cases where her handwriting analysis skills are put to the test
- Paul D. Marks, former script doctor and author of the award winning noir thriller, White Heat
- Sally Carpenter, whose book The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper was a Eureka! Award finalist for best first novel
The mystery is solved at Avenue Library, 606 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura.
Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury
451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which books burn. This is the physics of heat and entropy. And this is a tale of censorship and defiance. “The system was simple”, Bradbury begins his story. “Books were for burning along with the houses in which they were hidden”.
Burning books is the central premise upon which the story unfolds. Guy Montag is a firefighter. However, in this day and age, firefighting has taken on a whole different meaning. Guy is charged with the socio-political responsibility of burning books wherever they may be found. There are still all the lights and sirens that we associate with being a firefighter — they even have a pole to slide down on — but now, when the fire engine pulls up outside your door, it is met with trepidation not relief. Whereas water used to be the fluid of salvation, kerosene has become the liquid of suppression. Guy goes about his duties with the typical verve that a firefighter must have and he never thinks twice about lighting a match to save people from themselves. That is, until a new neighbor moves in next door to him.
“Have you ever read any of the books that you burn?” The neighbor asks him. “Of course not,” he returns. “Books are illegal”. But such begins a change in the man. One that causes him to question what he is doing. It infuriates his boss and worries his wife who persists that he watch “the people in the wall” referring to huge television screens placed into the wall. Of course, the shows on television are antiseptic and shallow. They are meant to be, because keeping the flock ignorant means that you can control their minds and behavior. It is quite Orwellian.
Media consumption is an underlying theme and it smacks of the silly mindlessness of so many TV programs today. What better way to control information than by not allowing it to disseminate freely. Instead, give the people what they want, harmless, shallow mindlessness. Part of what makes this story seem real is that Bradbury has connected his story with our current media trends.
Nothing is ever mentioned about the totalitarian government that has decreed these laws about books. It is simply “understood”. This is because Bradbury doesn’t want his characters striking back at the Regime politically. He wants them making self discovery choices that transcend the socio-political turmoil that this society reflects. Choices that cause Guy Montag to find a secret society of people who choose a book and then memorize it, taking on the name of the title as their own to preserve the book from the fiery Gates of Hell.
This is the way you fight the Unseen Monster, with defiance. The Regime IS the true “monster from the Id” in Bradbury’s book. And like the creature in Forbidden Planet, it is illusory and unnatural. It can be defeated, but not in any conventional way. Both situations in these books are confrontational. They must supply a moral paradigm. And they became that way because of the misuse of science.
Resident Philosopher - Doug Taylor