Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Hobbit

 J. R. R. Tolkien didn't just write The Lord of the Rings. He also wrote The Hobbit, another tale of Middle Earth.  The Hobbit is a much lighter story than Tolkien's famous epic. It is sometimes titled There and Back Again, and that's exactly what it is: it's a story about a hobbit who goes on a journey. This, in itself, is unusual, because hobbits are stay-at-home folk, who don't care for adventures (which tend to make meal times irregular). Bilbo Baggins goes on an adventure with thirteen dwarves and a wizard; he is the Burglar. They plan to reclaim the ancient treasure under the Lonely Mountain, the dwarves' rightful heritage, taken from them by Smaug, a fearsome dragon. Did you know that there is a two part movie adaptation planned? The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is set to release on December 14, 2012. If you want to read the book before the movie, you can buy it here

The October Game

Have you ever read Ray Bradbury's The October Game? It won't take you long to read, but it may take a while to forget. This story is very short, but very disturbing. It is Halloween, and the Wilder family is having a party. But the Wilders aren't your happiest family: Louise never wanted children, but Mich wanted a son. What they get is Marion, a quiet daughter who resembles her mother. Mich and Louise are not on speaking terms with each other, and only want to hurt each other. In a horrifying twist, a fun Halloween game played in a dark basement becomes much too real for comfort.

Does Atlas Still Shrug?

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is definitely one of my favorite books. It's one of those books you can't stop reading. I like Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. It isn't perfect though. Nothing's ever perfect, is it? Her characters are interesting. Her protagonists are motivated by achievement. Her antagonists are motivated by power and profit. It is ironic that Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart are called greedy and selfish, while James Taggart and his bureaucratic cronies twist laws to rob business. The government essentially becomes a system of forcing the hard workers, the greatest producers, to work "for the good of society". Laws are passed to freeze the economy. The scary thing is the realism - how soon can we expect this kind of choking governmental control in America?
P.S. If you enjoyed Atlas Shrugged, there is an annual essay contest by the Ayn Rand Institute for 12th graders, undergraduate, and graduate students. The book is available here