Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

The Mimsy Top Twenty

Jerry Stratton, June 13, 2009

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The Best of Omni Science Fiction No. 21981; 143 pagesBuy it!
I always enjoyed Omni, but, unlike its sister publication, I enjoyed it for its photos more than for the stories. It’s best, however, was not too bad, at least from 1978-1980. (Read more…)
A Canticle for Leibowitz1959; 368 pagesBuy it!
“Canticle” is unquestionably the best story of mankind’s demise since revelation itself. Miller traverses a thousand years beyond the apocalypse, the “Flame Deluge”, as seen through the eyes of a small order of monks in the southwest desert of the United States. (Read more…)
To Kill a Mockingbird1961; 288 pagesBuy it!
I don’t think you can fully enjoy any Southern civil rights work without having read “To Kill a Mockingbird.” All such works are written in the shadow of Harper Lee. (Read more…)
Up the Walls of the World1978; 311 pagesBuy it!
James Tiptree, Jr. writes an amazing novel about completely alien races—and avoids cliches that we don’t even always recognize as cliches. (Read more…)
Animal Farm1945; 144 pagesBuy it!
Animal Farm is billed as “a provocative novel”, but that just underestimates our ability to be completely blind when faced with uncomfortable ideas. (Read more…)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas1971; 224 pagesBuy it!
Perhaps the purest of Thompson’s searches for the American Dream because it is untainted by politics; or perhaps the most pointless for the same reason, as politics have tainted the American Dream since the Adams anti-sedition acts almost as soon as the country was born. (Read more…)
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub1973; 200 pagesBuy it!
Hidden beneath the Rocky Mountains, a long-lost civilization worthy of anything from Edgar Rice Burroughs toils in its paranoid mission to fight the communist anti-building. (Read more…)
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings1955; 1,680 pagesBuy it!
The best fantasy books I have ever read. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit...” I found the animated movie to be marvelous as well. And the new movies by Peter Jackson are awesome! Great, great stuff. (Read more…)
Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution2007; 348 pagesBuy it!
David and Theresa Welsh wrote some of the first great software for the TRS-80, and knew a lot of the other people who were also writing great software. In Priming the Pump, they talk about the history of personal computers and the first non-kit mass-market personal computer, the TRS-80 Model I. (Read more…)
The Queen’s Gambit1983; 243 pagesBuy it!
This is an astonishing novel. Astonishing in that it makes chess thrilling; astonishing in that, in a sense, it takes Camus’s very unlikable Stranger and makes her likable. (Read more…)
The Case for Democracy2004; 321 pagesBuy it!
When did America forget that it’s America? (Read more…)
Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do1993; 692 pagesBuy it!
Peter McWilliams died in defense of freedom: this book, an incredibly well-written and well-researched book about “the absurdity of consensual crimes in a free society” was probably his death warrant. (Read more…)
Idiots, Imbeciles, and Morons2000; 556 pagesBuy it!
A unique story about a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown--working in a day home for the developmentally challenged. (Read more…)
M. Butterfly1988; 100 pagesBuy it!
Perhaps the best social satire play I’ve read since “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “M. Butterfly” has a lot to say about race and gender in a very small space. (Read more…)
Never Come Morning1942; 336 pagesBuy it!
Nelson Algren’s Never Come Morning goes beyond being a story about Chicago corruption. This is a story of the corruption of the soul of the poorest poor in the land where, when opportunity knocks, you spit out your teeth and a stream of blood follows. (Read more…)
New Grub Street1891; 576 pagesBuy it!
New Grub Street is a fascinating novel about the early days of modern literary publishing. Part satire, part drama, it could easily be transported, issues intact, from its 19th century to our 21st century. (Read more…)
Of Mice and Men1937; 107 pagesBuy it!
From time to time you still hear talk of the coming of the “Great American Novel”. If there has ever been a great American writer, in my mind Steinbeck is it, and if he is, the great Novel with a capital N is “Of Mice and Men”. (Read more…)
Peter Pan1911; 176 pagesBuy it!
Of all of the famous children’s stories coming from English authors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, “Peter Pan” is the most clearly aimed at adults. (Read more…)
The Abolitionists1974; 298 pagesBuy it!
This is a fascinating look at how a tiny minority came to affect the course of a nation. The abolitionist movement was vocal, idealistic, principled, and their arguments irrefutable. But ultimately, nobody cared. (Read more…)
The Berlin Stories1935; 207 pagesBuy it!
“The Berlin Stories” is often categorized as “gay fiction”, but that categorization is as much for the author as for the stories, if not much more so. In England at the time “The Berlin Stories” were published, being gay was still illegal. So it’s all oblique and at angles in his stories. (Read more…)
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