Danny Boyle’s Sunshine: “Every time I shut my eyes… it’s always the same.”

This past Sunday I watched Danny Boyle’s Sunshine for about the tenth time.Continue reading “Danny Boyle’s Sunshine: “Every time I shut my eyes… it’s always the same.””

Examples of Social Commentary in Science Fiction

So I can’t really get the events of Frankenstein out of my head and it is still giving me much to ponder, not in and of itself, but how science fiction is such a major and important conduit for social commentary. If I had studied sociology instead of archaeology at university, I would like to have written a dissertation on how science fiction is the most effective medium for raising awareness of, or commentating on, social issues.Continue reading “Examples of Social Commentary in Science Fiction”

Book Review: Web by John Wyndham

‘Web’ is a surprisingly pleasing addition to the career of John Wyndham. Published ten years after his death, it follows similar themes to several of his better known works.

After an episode of PTSD, our protagonist purchases an island in the south Pacific in order to create a utopia and get away from the strains of the western world. This is a very short book (140 pages) and a good 40+ at the beginning is taken up with a short history of the island, the first arrivals in the early 19th century, its annexation into the British Empire then onward to both world wars and its change of ownership during that time all the while the locals amuse themselves with the rare arrivals of the white man.

But it is in the aftermath of WWII that the story really begins to take shape. This was a period of testing nuclear weapons and an attempt is made to move the locals from the island and to another where they wouldn’t be in the path of the fallout.

Years later our group arrives on their utopia to discover that something isn’t quite right. There are spiders all over the island and they are evolving. Far from being a utopia, the humans become trapped by the freak of evolution.

The metaphor of humans no longer being the pinnacle of evolution is one used several times by Wyndham and it doesn’t feel tired or overused here, it is just presented in a different way in light of the era in which Wyndham was living in which he wrote it. It comes to a sudden end but felt that it could have should have been longer. The ending itself is not typical of Wyndham.

4/5

Book Review: The Maya by Michael D. Coe

The Maya

I always like to have a factual book on the go at the same time as a fiction and though books like this are generally often more work than pleasure, I must say that this was a pleasurable read as an introduction to a subject I previously knew very little about.

Quite possibly the most comprehensive book written on The Maya to date. It reads well both for a general audience and for scholarly readers. I bought this on recommendation of one of my University lecturers in preparation for my honeymoon to Mexico because I had not studied Meso-America either as part of my academic studies nor for pleasure.

Coe has constructed a volume rich in illustration, description, plenty of maps, explanations that are easy on the eye and covering the sum total of Maya history from the earliest settlers to the European conquest. He uses a backdrop that we from a European heritage would understand by putting it in context of world events. It also looks at modern ideals of the Maya and how their culture permeates today.

This is a superb introduction for any student of Maya history and Archaeology written by one of its foremost scholars

4.5/5