I believe Wolfbane (1957), a novel by Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth,had an enormous impact on the creation of The Matrix film by the Wachowskis. Perhaps this didn’t happen directly and I’m not saying that the Wachowskis are hacks. All great ideas are built on others. Regardless, there are so many vivid images in the Pohl and Kornbluth novel that come to life in much the same way as the Wachowskis movie that I have to call it out. I plan to write more about that in the future but in my most recent reading of this novel, something else occurred to me. There is a strong connection between Wolfbane and the television show Sense8. Here is a line from the Wolfbane wikipedia page in the plot summary of the novel:
“… eight minds joined together to facilitate more complex tasks than a single human Component could manage.”
Could you summarize Sense8 any better than that? Who are the creators of Sense8? Yep, the Wachowskis. Again, not a knock on them but an opportunity to lift up a great novel that has outsized influence when compared to its popularity.
Jack of Shadows (1971) by the much celebrated Roger Zelazny has an epic geographic and metaphysical scope but many of my favorite moments occur early in the novel before Jack discovers his world remaking ambitions. His intensely personal journey through The Dung Pits of Glyve is the highlight as Jack’s desperation, hunger, exhaustion and hatred direct his actions. These actions provide incredible insight to Jack’s character and rationale to what he’s becoming. At this point the story is much like a classic sword and sorcery tale, blade in hand, challenging mysterious forces, consumed with revenge and pining for his fair maiden. But that arc changes rapidly as Jack’s power increases. He becomes less mortal and more evil incarnate. When Jack is no longer the shadowy thief I fell in love with in the first few chapters, I find myself wishing for his turn back to himself. I find myself wanting at least one full novel of Jack the Thief. Then perhaps a novel of revenge as Jack the Avenger, a storyline which this book flies through. Then Jack the Annihilator with more about Jack’s love for Evene (Latin for “to come to pass”) as the final book of the trilogy. Am I asking too much? Yeah, well I’ll take what I can get. In Jack of Shadows the ending is beautiful and worth a bit of toil through the chapters of grand darkness. Rating: 757
Amber – Nine Princes in Amber, The Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn; The Hand of Oberon; The Courts of Chaos, Trumps of Doom, Blood of Amber
Battlestar Galactica – #4 The Young Warriors; #5 Galactica Discovers Earth; #6 The Living Legend; #7 War of the Gods; #8 Greetings from Earth; #9 Experiment in Terra; #11 The Nightmare Machine; #12 “Die Chameleon!”; #13 Apollo’s War; #14 Surrender the Galactica!
Conan – (Ace) #1 Conan; #2 Conan of Cimmeria; #3 Conan the Freebooter; #4 Conan the Wanderer; #5 Conan the Adventurer; #11 Conan of Aquilonia; #12 Conan of the Isles; Conan: The Flame Knife; (Bantam) #5 Conan and the Spider God; (Tor) Conan the Invincible; Conan the Defender; Conan the Unconquered; Conan at the Demon’s Gate
Dark Conspiracy – (The Fiddleback Trilogy) Evil Ascending; A Gathering Evil; Evil Triumphant
Darksword – #1 Forging the Darksword; #2 Doom of the Darksword; #3 Triumph of the Darksword; Legacy of the Darksword
Doctor Who – #1 The Day of the Daleks; #2 The Doomsday Weapon; #3 The Dinosaur Invasion; #4 The Genesis of the Daleks; #5 The Revenge of the Cybermen; #6 The Loch Ness Monster; #7 The Talons of Weng-Chiang; #8 The Masque of Mandragora; #9 The Android Invasion; #10 The Seeds of Doom; #35 The Invasion of Time; #37 The Keeper of Traken; #41 Logopolis; #53 The Robots of Death; #56 The Sontaran Experiment; #59 The Stones of Blood; (BBC) The Face-Eater
Dragonlance – (Chronicles) #2 Dragons of Winter Night; #3 Dragons of Spring Dawning; #4 Dragons of Summer Flame (Legends) #1 Time of the Twins; #2 War of the Twins; #3 Test of the Twins; (Tales) #1 The Magic of Krynn; #3 Love and War
Forgotten Realms – (The Icewind Dale Trilogy) #1 The Crystal Shard; #2 Streams of Silver
Haakon – #1 The Golden Ax; #2 The Viking’s Revenge; #3 Haakon’s Iron Hand
Incarnations of Immortality – #1 On a Pale Horse; #2 Bearing an Hourglass; #3 With a Tangled Skein; #4 Wielding a Red Sword
Star Wars – (Trilogy) #1 Heir to the Empire; #2 Dark Force Rising; #3 The Last Command; (The Hand of Thrawn) #1 Specter of the Past