|What do you mean I'm almost out of shelf space again? I just got this one!|
I should mention that I am a huge fan of physical books and deciding to get an e-reader was a hard decision for me. I love the feel of books, the smell, the physical presence of a stack of books. Maybe I'm an unapologetic biblophile but there's a certain substance to physical books that e-readers just sort of lack for me. However the benefits of significantly decreased space and the decreased costs of books make a very good economic decision for me at this time. What really sold me on it, though, was the availability of out-of-copyright books for free. Granted for them to be out of copyright they're generally over a hundred years old but there are plenty of books I look forward to reading for free with this feature. (If you're more a fan of the Nook than the Kindle, Barnes and Noble also has out of copyright books available for free.)
Among these out-of-copyright books are the works of Jules Verne and HG Wells, gentlemen I like to refer to as the grandfathers of science fiction. While the books that they wrote were not called science fiction at the tie, they definitely are precursors to the genre as it exists today and in some cases are excellent steampunk adventures. (Although maybe the fact that they were written during the Age of Steam excludes them from being steampunk but that's a debate for a different day.) Anyway I shall be bringing reviews of their books, and other novels, to the Arsenal in a new feature I call Raiding the Stacks.
Just for future reference any book that I'm going to review for Raiding the Stacks first must be out of copyright and available through Amazon, if only for the technical reason I need to be able to get a copy of it for my Kindle. The other requirement I'm going to place is that it has to sort of fit in with the Arsenal's theme of awesome manliness and gentleman adventurers, or the genre of fantasy/sci-fi. While I certainly could go read Pride and Prejudice because it's out of copyright and available I sure as hell am not going to read it. Yes, yes, all you Mr. Darcy fangirls can yell at me all you want but I think you're in the wrong place. THIS IS A PLACE FOR AWESOME THINGS! NOT CRITIQUES OF ROMANCE NOVELS! NO WE MUST HAVE ADVENTURES! So you take your Jane Austen books and...read them somewhere else. Yeah. I showed you. What was I doing? Oh, right, Raiding the Stacks. I might also look at some books like Dracula, The Three Musketeers and Les Miserables because I'm interested in reading those books and they too are free. Granted with Les Mis if I get stuck I'm probably going to put it down, say at least I tried, and go enjoy the musical. And man, is that a manly musical.
As a final point I should say that a lot of these books, mostly written by white men in the 1800's or earlier, very casually make racist and sexist remarks. As a citizen of the 21st century I recognize that all forms of discrimination are wrong. (Except against robots. And elves. Hate those guys.) So I will recognize and admit that racist and sexist remarks will come up from time to time in these books as a product of their authors and the time period. Most of these remarks though are casual bigotry and fit in with the assumptions of the time period so I will not condemn a book because its author didn't know any better. That being said, if the purpose of a work is entirely to promote a bigoted standpoint, such as The Birth of a Nation, then I'm going to condemn it on those grounds. A significant number of books, even from when bigotry was cool, don't have that agenda so I'm probably not going to bring it up. Again, bigotry is wrong and uncool and I accept that people in the olden days did that, but I'm not going to condemn them on that point unless they're attempting to actively spread their bigotry through their work.
Anyway, next week I shall be looking at Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne which, while it doesn't have any sci-fi elements does have one man racing around the world on a bet simply to prove he can.