Sunday, September 01, 2013

Ender's Game & Ender's Shadow

Title: Ender's Game
Original Title: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher:  Tor Books (1986)
ISBN: 9780812533552
Pages:  368 pages
Original Published Date: 1985
Awards: Hugo Award for Best Novel (1986), Nebula Award for Best Novel (1985)

Title: Ender's Shadow
Original Title: Ender's Shadow
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher:  Tor Books (2000)
ISBN: 9780812575712
Pages:  469 pages
Original Published Date: 1999
Awards: ALA Alex Award (2000), ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2000)

Welcome to Ender's universe

These two books are not necessary a sequel/prequel. They are first to their own series, The Ender's Saga and The Shadow Saga which follow two amazing children soldier, Andrew Wiggins and Bean (aka Julian Delphiki) in their quest of surviving childhood while saving the earth in the year of 2170-ish. These books are just happened to be in the same universe, and later in the story, in the same Battleschool and the same battlefield when this two boys cross paths. It said that they was a companion books. It was really interesting to see the same events but entirely from two different point of views, and how both boys had their own opinion of each other, sometimes loathing sometimes longing for one another attentions.


In Ender's Game we first introduce to the earth in not-so-distance future. Human has master the interplanetary spaceflight when they found The Formics, an insectoid alien force, had been scouting the earth to made it its nest. Putting aside all political problem, the three major force of the earth, i.e Hegemon, Polemarch, and Strategos decide to fight together, and so in the second invader war, a spaceflight captain name Mazer Rackham succesfully defeat all enemy ships. To prevent the worse of these wars, all genius children from around the world has been taken asked to join International Flight (IF) organisation where they can be educated to be the best soldier that could be.

Here come Andrew (Ender) Wiggins. He was the third child (there is limitation of 2 children on each family) that was specially permitted because his brother and sister was slightly off marks of being selected to join Battleschool. They both off the charge strategic geniuses, but he was too aggresive (a chaming sociopath, reminds me of Dexter, really) while she was too submisive, so hopefully, the third one would be spot on. And he was, except for one thing, he scared to death of his eldest brother, which made The IF questioning his fighting will. But when Ender decide to face Stinson, the bully of his class, just to made his future peace, IF put off the hesitation and quickly hasten him to the orbit.

“...Kicking him in the groin, kicking him repeatedly in the face and body when he was down—it sounds like you really enjoyed it.”
“I didn’t,” Ender whispered.
“Then why did you do it?”
“He had his gang there.”
“So? This excuses anything?”
“Tell me why you kept on kicking him. You had already won.”
“Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too. So they’d leave me alone.”

From the the first moment in the Battleschool, Ender was made to be alienated. One reason was because of his always almost perfect test mark -although he was the youngest cadet- the other was because The Commander of the School thought it was the best way to bring all he's got. Once he stay long enough to made some friends, it was time for him to be promoted to the higher class. Always like that until he was 9 when he was choosen to join the Salamander Army, lead by a punk name Bonzo Madrid. Not knowing -or rather not wanting to know- Ender's best strategic brain, he sent him to be a motionless bait in the school war game. Ender responded by having his own extra practices which attracted much attentions from many of students and teachers.


Around this time, there is a new launchy name Bean. In Ender's Shadow, we followed his past life as a street kid in Rotterdam, where he survived hunger and bullying with the help of a girl called Poke. When Poke was killed in order to protect him, he was found by Sister Carlotta -- she's like IF scouting agents, recruiting kids from everywhere to be tested and, if sufficient enough, to be sent to join IF-- who was totally amazed by his intelligent mind and perfect memory. When she wanted to sent Bean to the orbit, IF denied it of his age. Bean was 4 year young. So Sister Carlotta took him under his wing for another year and teach him everything she knows (but with Bean's mind, a year of well fed and studying was like 5 years in school, or in Sister Carlotta's case, a seminary, where he studied not just math and english, but also French, Latin, history, biology, physics, etc,  etc, including memorize all the Bible passage she recite). In this time, Bean origin became more and more interesting to her. So when Bean finally enter the Battleschool, Sister Carlotta gone for a mission of finding Bean parents and his birth process.

Bean, more or less, has the same treatment as Ender's. The different was, Bean was always alone, so loneliness doesn't had any impact to him. It became his weapon. From the first day, his habbit from the street life made him wondering around, finding out his surround environtments, measuring the social strata, lurking for each and every strength and weakness of everyone, students and teachers, knowing his way out of every situation given. Not that the teachers did not knowing about his extraculiculer activity, but because he absolutely avoiding any psyco-analisys tools, they thought it was as good as one. Bean also get promoted as quickly -if not quicker- as Ender was. So when it's Ender time to have his own Army, Bean more than ready to choose 40 of the best underrated young student, including himself, to join in.

Dragon Army

When two giants colided, who's gonna cursed inside. Well, in this particular case, no one, except some ego got bruised in the process. I really like this part of the story. I mean I read EG, then ES, but then I read them both simultaneously just in these chapters, to see how Ender's and Bean's mind assess each other while they were -most of the time- totally wrong towards one another. Bean always thought that Ender, just like everybody else, took him just as a cute little boy, making silly remarks of his size. But Ender actually just after 10 minutes with his soldier, had picked up Bean as the  smartest of them all, and try to make everybody else respect him for this and this only. Ender though Bean being the smartest sometimes questioning his decisions. But Bean, more just than that, had suspected the teachers playing the whole another game with Ender, that they put more and more pressure and try to broke him at his limits.

Ender's POV
He woke up feeling good, jogged on out to take his shower, and did not notice the piece of paper on his floor until he came back and started dressing in his uniform. He only saw the paper because it moved in the wind as he snapped out the uniform to put it on. He picked up the paper and read it.


0700, said the paper, and it was already 0630. Some of his boys might already be heading for breakfast. Ender tossed his uniform aside, grabbed his flash suit, and in a moment stood in the doorway of his army’s barracks.
“Gentlemen, I hope you learned something yesterday, because today we’re doing it again.”
It took a moment for them to realize that he meant a battle, not a practice. It had to be a mistake, they said. Nobody ever had battles two days in a row.
He handed the paper to Fly Molo, the leader of A toon, who immediately shouted “Flash suits” and started changing clothes.
“Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” demanded Hot Soup. Hot had a way of asking Ender questions that nobody else dared ask.
“I thought you needed the shower,” Ender said. “Yesterday Rabbit Army claimed we only won because the stink knocked them out.”
The soldiers who heard him laughed.
“Didn’t find the paper till you got back from the showers, right?” Ender looked for the source of the voice. It was Bean, already in his flash suit, looking insolent. Time to repay old humiliations, is that it, Bean?
“Of course,” Ender said, contemptuously. “I’m not as close to the floor as you are.”
More laughter. Bean flushed with anger.
Bean's POV
Everybody expected to have at least a week to strut around and brag about their perfect won-lost record. Instead, the next morning at 0630, Wiggin appeared in the barracks, again brandishing battle orders. “Gentlemen, I hope you learned something yesterday, because today we’re going to do it again.”
All were surprised, and some were angry—it wasn’t fair, they weren’t ready. Wiggin just handed the orders to Fly Molo, who had just been heading out for breakfast. “Flash suits!” cried Fly, who clearly thought it was a cool thing to be the first army ever to fight two in a row like this.
But Hot Soup, the leader of D toon, had another attitude. “Why didn’t you tell us earlier?”
“I thought you needed the shower,” said Wiggin. “Yesterday Rabbit Army claimed we only won because the stink knocked them out.”
Everybody within earshot laughed. But Bean was not amused. He knew that the paper hadn’t been there first thing, when Wiggin woke up. The teachers planted it late. “Didn’t find the paper till you got back from the showers, right?”
Wiggin gave him a blank look. “Of course. I’m not as close to the floor as you.”
The contempt in his voice struck Bean like a blow. Only then did he realize that Wiggin had taken his question as a criticism—that Wiggin had been inattentive and hadn’t noticed the orders. So now there was one more mark against Bean in Wiggin’s mental dossier. It’s not as if Wiggin didn’t have him tagged as a coward. Maybe Crazy Tom told Wiggin about how Bean contributed to the victory yesterday, and maybe not. It wouldn’t change what Wiggin had seen with his own eyes

I also loved to see while Ender was busy tried to train his Army to the definite win, Bean was busy watching Ender's back -- from the teachers hidden agenda, the Salamander's Army and its leader's minions, even from the questioning remarks came from within the Army himself. Ender as a Commander did not waste time to explained everything he did to them, so more than once it may seems that he did a foolish moved, but Bean as a unexceptional strategist himself see through these moved and did just that.

But most of all, I loved when they finally admitted that they need each other. Ender asked Bean to be his special weapon toon leader and gain his trust to command the entire Army, and Bean at the end realize that he was the only one as close as a friend could be in the lonely Ender's universe.
He understood what this feeling was, welling up in him, filling his throat, making tears stand out in his eyes, making his face burn, forcing a gasp, a silent sob. He bit on his lip, trying to let pain force the emotion away. It didn’t help. Ender was gone.
Now that he knew what the feeling was, he could control it. He lay down on the bunk and went into the relaxing routine until the need to cry had passed. Ender had taken his hand to say good-bye. Ender had said, “I hope he recognizes what you’re worth.” Bean didn’t really have anything left to prove. He’d do his best with Rabbit Army because maybe at some point in the future, when Ender was at the bridge of the flagship of the human fleet, Bean might have some role to play, some way to help. Some stunt that Ender might need him to pull to dazzle the Buggers. So he’d please the teachers, impress the hell out of them, so that they would keep opening doors for him, until one day a door would open and his friend Ender would be on the other side of it, and he could be in Ender’s army once again.

A year after

Ender trained solely with Mazer Rackham himself. He knew now his future duty, half of the secret IF held so deeply, that only a handful of people knew the truth. Bean trained with a bunch of the Army Commanders from school. With his wit only he managed to find out the other half of the secret IF held so deeply. So now IF put their best effort that the two never meet, not until they gained the success with their more-than-hundred-years-old plan. But that day coming rather sooner than later. The Third Invation was finally came. So ready or not, Ender had to face his destiny, and Bean had to do what he did best, watching Ender's back while he's facing the ultimate enemy. And maybe more.


Oh but this storyline does not cover half of it. There are more, like the story of Locke and Demosthenes, the political strategist on earth that turns out to be the Wiggins siblings. I like to read how Peter analize the world's power alliance just by reading pieces of news in the internet (and how their father eagerly praise Locke writting in newspaper not knowing it was Peter's, lol). Peter Wiggins gave the phrase "reading between the line" the whole new meaning.
And Sister Carlotta investigation bringing issues like human life, eugenetics, DNA alterations, humanity and faith to the test. I was really-really-really glad it turn out to be a happy ending for Bean (for now at least). In the Battleschool, it's fun to read how Ender playing _God and Bean playing ^Graff in the system and how the students and teachers reacted to them. Furthermore, in IF organization, the morale dilema of pushing over intelligent kids soldier to their limit, and then tried to protect them all with just a sheet of umbrella of ignorance was interesting. Always sapid to watch Graff, Anderson and Dimak quarreling about Ender and Bean.

Lastly, the story ended with one remaining question. Do we ready to extinguishing an entire race just because our own human race MIGHT be in danger. Where is humanity and compassion and affection and unprejudice and all that fancy words stand against all this. Andrew Wiggins end up looking for the answer for more than a lifetime journeys, but how about us.

This is a trully epic story, or rather an episode of bigger epic story. Ender's Saga will continue for three more books and three side-story books while Ender's shadow have five more. And I planned to read them all.


Ps: I could only think that Orson Scott Card is the only person who could write about solitude and loneliness through out a series of books so beautifuly. I first noticed it in Stonefather, a novela in The Wizard anthology, and ever since, I always struck by his writing. A little melancholic maybe, but not full by sadness or tears. It's more about self contentment. People just had to do what they had to, and do it their best.

And I admire him for that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Eon - Eona

Title: Eon: Lahirnya Sang Punggawa Naga
Original Title: The Two Pearls of Wisdom
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher:  Mizan Fantasy (2012)
ISBN: 9789794336724
Pages: 577 pages
Original Published Date: 2008
Awards:  Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel & Nominee for Young Adult Novel (2008), ALA Best Book for Young Adults (2009)

Title: Eona: Punggawa Naga Terakhir
Original Title: The Necklace of the Gods
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher:  Mizan Fantasy (2012)
ISBN: 9789794336731
Pages: 672 pages
Original Published Date: 2011
Awards: ALA Teens' Top Ten Nominee (2012), Norma K. Hemming Award Nominee (2012)

Kedua buku ini benar-benar memuaskan sebagai bacaan YA Fantasy. Penceritaan yang mengalir dan penuh adegan laga, intrik politik dan kekuasaan, karakter-karakter kuat yang tidak hitam-putih -- dengan beban, ambisi dan keraguannya masing-masing -- semua dibalut dalam budaya dan mitologi oriental yang kental. Dan para pecinta makhluk bernama Naga, di sini bukan hanya menemukan satu, dua atau tiga Naga, tetapi ada Duabelas, iya 12 Naga sekaligus, yang masing-masing melambangkan siklus tahunan yang sering kita sebut Shio. Awalnya sedikit aneh sih, menyebut Naga Tikus, Naga Ayam atau Naga Anjing. Maksudku, Naga ya Naga, Tikus ya Tikus. Tapi dengan meminggirkan pikiran aneh itu, ceritanya sangat asyik dinikmati. Petualangan bocah kasim pincang bernama Eon, yang sebenarnya cewek bernama Eona, yang menjadi Punggawa Naga Kembar, lalu terjebak dalam perebutan tahta antara Sang Putra Mahkota Kygo dan pamannya, High Lord Sethon, serta kebimbangannya untuk memegang kekuatan Naga secara murni seperti yang ditawarkan Punggawa Naga Tikus, Lord Ido, atau menyerahkan kesetiaannya pada seorang Kaisar yang baru. Tentu saja kisah ini tidak lengkap tanpa adanya cinta segitiga yang terjalin diantara masa-masa pergolakan tersebut.



Kisah diawali di tahun Naga Tikus, saat siklus tahunan berputar. Punggawa Naga Tikus, Lord Ido, akan memegang tampuk kekuasaan di Dewan Naga, dan Sang Naga Tikus akan memilih seorang kandidat untuk menjadi muridnya. Eon, adalah salah satu kandidat ini. Harapan satu-satunya dari seorang Master yang telah jatuh miskin dan sakit-sakitan. Sayangnya, meskipun Naga Tikus cukup tertarik pada dirinya, akhirnya Sang Naga memilih seorang kandidat yang lain. Tapi kekecewaan Eon berubah menjadi ketakjuban karena ternyata ia malah membangkitkan Sang Naga Kembar yang telah menghilang seratus tahun lamanya.

Sementara Eon masih belum sadar atas status barunya ini, intrik istana sudah melingkupinya. Sang Kaisar dengan cepat memasukkan Eon dalam perlindungannya dengan harapan mampu mengimbangi timbangan kekuasaan antara dirinya melawan saudara tirinya, High Lord Seton-seorang Jendral yang memegang kekuatan militer kerajaan- yang dibantu oleh Lord Ido. Masalahnya, Eon bukan saja belum tahu cara mengendalikan kekuatan Naganya, kontrak penyatuannya dengan sang Naga bahkan belum lengkap, karena Eon belum mengetahui nama Naga Kembar yang baru bangkit tersebut. Sang Naga adalah pemegang kebajikan kebenaran, sedangkan seluruh keberadaan Eon adalah kebohongan besar.

Keadaan ini menjadi semakin rumit saat Lord Ido mengetahui rahasia Eon sebagai seorang gadis, yang ternyata merupakan kunci dari sebuah manuskrip hitam yang memegang rahasia kekuatan mutlak Naga-Naga. Belum lagi Eon mampu memecahkan masalah ini, timbangan kekuasaan yang beberapa waktu stagnan, kembali bergolak dengan wafatnya sang Kaisar. Lord Sethon dengan cepat menggunakan tentaranya menguasai Ibukota dan Istana, memaksa Pangeran Mahkota Kygo melarikan diri. Waktunya Eon untuk memilih, pilihan yang akan menentukan nasib seluruh kerajaan.


Eona - dulu Eon - telah memutuskan bergabung dengan pasukan pemberontak. Para Punggawa Naga dan murid-muridnya semua telah tewas, kecuali Lord Ido -yang disiksa di penjara- dan Dillon, muridnya yang menghilang sambil membawa manuskrip hitam. Agar Eona dapat sepenuhnya memahami kekuatan Naga, ia membutuhkan Ido untuk mengajarinya, sehingga -dengan bantuan Kygo- Ido berhasil dibebaskan dan bersedia menjadi guru Eona dan mendukung pasukan Kygo. Namun di balik itu Ido memiliki agendanya sendiri. Kekuatan mutlak. Kesetiaannya bukanlah pada Sethon maupun Kygo, tapi pada pengendalian kekuatan 12 Naga sekaligus yang rahasianya disimpan dalam manuskrip hitam yang dibawa Dillon.
Sementara pertempuran pamungkas Kygo dan Sethon semakin mendekat, Eona sekali lagi dihadapkan pada pilihan-pilihan sulit. Pengkhianatan dan cinta segitiga leluhurnya seabad lalu, seakan-akan hadir kembali saat ini antara dirinya, Kygo dan Ido. Bukan itu saja, manuskrip berikat mutiara peninggalan leluhurnya juga membuka rahasia lebih dalam tentang kekuatan sesungguhnya dan keselamatan para Naga. Pilihan yang diambil Eona mungkin mengharuskannya mengorbankan nyawa Kygo....


Yang paling kusukai dari kedua buku ini (terutama di buku keduanya) adalah kemampuan pengarangnya untuk menciptakan karakter-karakter yang bukan saja sangat manusiawi tapi juga bertindak 'sangat dewasa'. Tidak bodoh-tak berpikir tak bertanggung jawab-pokoknya aku cinta padamu kan kulakukan semuanya untukmu. Tidak pula menjengkelkan, sangat ambisius sampe gak punya hati. Pada Kygo dan Eona, Kygo sebagai calon Kaisar pemegang kekuasaan tertinggi sebuah kerajaan, tidak serta merta percaya mati pada Eona. Saat ia membuat Eona harus membuktikan bahwa Eona tidak memiliki kuasa pengendalian atas dirinya seperti pada Ryko atau Ido, itu moment kritis yang benar-benar bagus. Sangat menyakitkan, tak mengenakkan, tapi benar-benar perlu. Demikian pula Eona. Rahasia kekuatan mutlak para Naga yang dipelajarinya dari Ido tetap dipegang rapat-rapat dari Kygo. Bagaimanapun Kygo sedang berperang, dan kekuatan mutlak dapat membuat siapapun gelap mata. Walaupun demikian, mereka berdua sama-sama sadar akan akibat dari ketidakpercayaan ini terhadap hubungan mereka dan memikulnya walau menyakitkan. Tanggung jawab terhadap kerajaan versus keinginan pribadi. Dan sepanjang buku, jalinan romansa yang bisa dibilang berdasar pada ke(tidak)percayaan ini sangat menarik untuk dinikmati. Belum lagi ditambah ada sosok Ido di tengah keduanya. Kharismatik, pengendali Naga Tikus yang sangat mumpuni dan ambisius (baca: sexy bad boy antihero ;) ). Haus kekuasaan dan tidak ragu-ragu bertindak. Meski begitu, ia juga mampu mengorbankan satu-satunya kesempatan melarikan diri dari penjara Sethon demi menyelamatkan Eona. Apa motif sesungguhnya, sampai akhir hanya dapat diduga-duga.

Jalinan cinta lainnya, antara Ryko si Pengawal Bayangan dengan Lady Dela, juga amat sangat-sangat-sangat tidak biasa, melewati batas-batas adat, status sosial, gender, fisik, kehidupan dan entah apa lagi, membuat saya hanya dapat berkata, "yeah beibi, luve is everywhere. let them be." Karakter Lady Dela ini benar-benar mengagumkan. Seorang contraire yang cerdas, cerdik, cantik dan sanggup menerima kehidupan dengan segala jungkir baliknya nasib dengan tetap tersenyum, namun teguh pada apa yang diyakininya. Eona sangat beruntung Kaisar lama membuat Lady Dela sebagai pembimbingnya. (what is contraire you asked? just read...)

Karakter-karakter yang lain juga lumayan kompleks. Bangsawan Brannon, Guru Eona dengan nasib yang sedikit menyedihkan. Dengan kemiskinan dan kondisi fisiknya yang tergerogoti, dan demi ambisi menjadi master seorang punggawa Naga, ia mampu menyakiti Eona seperti itu. Tapi jika tidak terjadi demikian, apakah Eona dapat menjadi kandidat punggawa Naga? Ditambah lagi penyesalan seumur hidupnya yang hanya bisa diutarakan pada Chart. Menyedihkan. Sama menyedihkannya dengan Rilla, pelayannya yang setia, ibu tunggal dari seorang cacat, yang membuatnya terikat selamanya pada kebaikan hati tuannya. Lalu ada pula Tozay, si nelayan yang ternyata adalah Jendral para pemberontak. Yuso, pengawal kepercayaan Kygo yang pada akhirnya harus memilih antara Tuannya atau nyawa putranya. Dillon, murid punggawa naga yang awalnya sangat bersahabat namun akhirnya mabuk kekuasaan. Dan tentu saja High Lord Sethon. Pangeran tertua, kakak dari Kaisar lama, namun tak berhak menjadi Kaisar karena terlahir dari seorang selir.

Meskipun demikian, beberapa tokoh tampak terlupakan. Tokoh yang paling tidak tergali, tentu saja Vida, putri Tozay. Di awal buku 2 dikisahkan bahwa tunangannya terbunuh saat desa nelayan diserang para Naga yang mencari Eona, dan oleh karenanya ia benar-benar tidak suka pada Eona. Tapi di tengah-tengah, tiba-tiba saja ia menjadi pendukung setia Eona. Tidak dijelaskan sedikitpun perubahan sikap ini kenapa atau untuk apa. Lah, kalo gitu mending dari awal gak usah dipanjang-panjangkan kisah hidupnya. Ada juga ibu Eona (aduh sapa ya namanya, sampe lupa). Munculnya hanya sekilas, tidak penting dan tidak ada kelanjutan ceritanya sedikitpun, tapi keberadaannya disebut-sebut dari awal cerita. Hmm.....


Edisi terjemahan bahasa Indonesia terbitan Mizan Fantasi ini enak dibaca. Beberapa istilah diterjemahkan bebas tapi lumayan pas. Punggawa Naga ternyata berasal dari kata Dragoneye sedangkan Naga Kembar berasal dari Mirror Dragon (coba kalo diterjemahkan jadi Matanaga dan Naga Cermin, kan aneh sekali jadinya!). Typo tidak terdeteksi (kalaupun ada pasti kelewatan karena serunya pengkisahan) ;)

Ilustrasi covernya kereeeeen. Naganya OK dan Eona tergambarkan baddass sekali (jadi teringat Milla Jovovich di Ultraviolet). Sebenarnya cover-cover inilah yang pertama kali membuatku tertarik membacanya, tapi kalau disesuaikan dengan setting dalam ceritanya yang lebih ke kostum klasik tertutup kok jadinya kurang sesuai ya....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Mystery of the Yellow Room

Title: Mystery of Yellow Room
Original Title: Le mystère de la chambre jaune
Author: Gaston Leroux
Publisher:  VisiMedia Pustaka (2013)
ISBN: 9789790651869
Pages: 327 pages
Original Published Date: 1907

Cuplikan dari sinopsis:
Joseph Rouletabille, wartawan muda yang juga detektif amatir bersaing dengan Frederick Larsan, seorang detektif profesional dalam mengungkap sebuah misteri kejahatan yang terjadi di sebuah ruangan tertutup, "kamar kuning". Mademoiselle Stangerson - anak tunggal Profesor Stangerson, seorang ilmuwan terkenal - nyaris terbunuh di kamar itu. 

Bagaimana kejahatan dapat terjadi di tempat yang tidak bisa dimasuki oleh orang lain? Bagaimana pelaku bisa keluar dari ruang tertutup? Apa motif di balik tindakan pelaku? Siapa pelakunya? Bagaimana pula Roulletible membongkar kasus tersebut dengan begitu mencengangkan?

Jika di Inggris ada Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dan di Amerika ada Edgar Allan Poe, di Prancis ada Gaston Leroux yang tak kalah piawai merangkai cerita detektif. Mystery of Yellow Room ini adalah karya monumentalnya!

Di antara novel-novel crime fiction klasik terbitan Visimedia bbrp waktu belakangan ini --Lupin, Raffles, Lecoq, Dupin, Father Brown, Notting Hill-- kisah Leroux yang satu ini sukses jadi favorit saya. Misterinya rumit, kelokan-kelokannya alurnya cukup unik, sedangkan penyelesaiannya sangat memuaskan.

Kisah diawali dengan pemberitaan nyaris terbunuhnya Mmle. Stangerson di dalam sebuah kamar yang terkunci rapat dan dengan jendela-jendela berteralis di sebuah pavilliun di daerah terpencil. Senjata yang digunakan ditemukan di dalam kamar berikut jejak tangan berdarah si penyerang, namun penjahatnya sendiri raib tak berbekas. Korban yang kemudian sadar menutup mulut rapat-rapat tentang siapa dan bagaimana hal ini terjadi. Tunangan Mmle. Stangerson, M. Robert Darzac, tampaknya mengetahui siapa si penyerang dan motif kebungkamannya, namun ia lebih memilih ikut menutup mulut (walaupun kemudian terancam hukuman mati karena dituduh sebagai si penyerang) daripada mengkhianati kepercayaan wanita tersebut.

Joseph Roulletible, wartawan investigasi, dan M. Jean Sainclair, pengacara yang mengenal M. Darzac, berusaha menyelidiki fakta-fakta yang sebenarnya, meskipun semakin banyak bukti-bukti yang dibawa Detektif Polisi Frederick Larsan yang menuding M. Darzac sebagai pelakunya.

Misteri kemudian menjadi semakin memusingkan karena si pelaku bahkan mampu menghilang dari kepungan Detektif Larsan, Roulletible dan si Penjaga Rumah di sebuah koridor tertutup di Chateau du Glandier, rumah M. Stangerson.

Saat Mmle. Stangerson kembali hampir tewas tertusuk dan M. Darzac ditahan sebagai pembunuh, Roulletible memilih pergi Amerika, ke awal kisah yang sesungguhnya, hanya berbekal potongan percakapan yang pernah didengarnya serta kepercayaannya pada M. Darzac, dan berharap kemampuan intuitif dan berpikir logisnya mampu menghindarkan kisah cinta Mmle. Stangerson dan M. Darzac pada akhir yang tragis.


Wow! Itulah kesan pertama saat saya membaca penjelasan Roulletible tentang kejahatan ruang tertutup yang terjadi di awal kisah. Kesan keduanya adalah.... "ooo gitu to, harusnya aku juga tau itu!" karena seperti kisah-kisah penyelidikan Poirot, semua fakta-fakta penting telah dijabarkan dengan halus tapi lengkap di sepanjang alur cerita. Bahkan peta lokasi cerita dan bagan ruangan beserta letak jendela-jendela dan pintu-pintunya juga disertakan di dalamnya. Pembaca boleh merasa ditantang untuk ikut memecahkan kasus ini, yaitu bagaimana tindak kejahatan di ruang tertutup itu dapat dilakukan, meskipun masalah motif disimpan rapat-rapat, dan baru diberikan di bab paling akhir dari novel.

Sedangkan untuk misteri pengejaran di koridor rumah Chateau du Glandier, saya sedikit kurang terkejut --malah sebenarnya menjadi petunjuk utama siapa si pelaku si*l*n ini sebenarnya, sebelumnya saya sama sekali tidak punya gambaran-- karena seingat saya salah satu novel Agatha Christie pernah memakai trik yang sama persis. (saya lupa judulnya, kasus mrs. marple, kejadiannya di rumah besar tempat perawatan atau semacamnya)

Endingnya dibuat sangat dramatis, dengan penyelesaian yang tak terduga-duga (saya membayangkan Pak Hakim dan para polisi Paris itu kalang kabut mengejar si pelaku sesungguhnya sekaligus maaaakaaan ati sekalee dengan tindakan Roulletible yang.... yah demikianlah. he3x). Sedangkan untuk sosok Roulletible sendiri, sangat dimanusiawikan dengan memperlihatkan keadaannya yang tertidur pulas kelelahan, saat M. Sinclair sedang mengomel panjang lebar.


Oh iya, jika saya merasa bahwa banyak kemiripan tipe penceritaan misteri ala Gaston Leroux ini dengan novel-novel AC, ternyata memang demikian adanya. Dari endorsment di sampul belakang buku ini dituliskan:
Novel ini menakjubkan Agatha Christie dan mengilhaminya untuk menulis novel sejenis, hingga dia menjadi novelis perempuan dengan genre detektif paling terkenal seantero dunia.
Jadi ya gak heran kalau memang sejenis dan setipe. Hanya saja beberapa tokoh-tokoh utama AC seperti Poirot sedikit lebih pasif dan lebih suka duduk dan berpikir, mengurutkan fakta-fakta dan mengurainya satu-persatu dan mengirim orang lain (Japp, Battle, Hasting) untuk untuk mengumpulkan fakta-fakta di lapangan,  Roulletible juga memerlukan "duduk diam dan bepikir" namun ia juga "seaktif anjing pelacak" dalam mengumpulkan barang bukti dan fakta di lapangan.

Dan juga, kalau Poirot bentuk kepalanya bulat telur, kepala Roulletible berbentuk bulat peluru. #apaansih #gapentingbanget :p :p :p

M. Leroux sendiri mungkin lebih dikenal pembaca dari kisah historik-tragis Phantom of the Opera. Namun sebenarnya, ia juga sangat terkenal sebagai pengarang kisah-kisah misteri dan detektif. Misteri di kamar kuning ini kerap dianggap salah satu kisah kejahatan ruang tertutup terbaik sepanjang masa, dan karier Roulletible dalam dunia fiksi berkelanjutan hingga delapan novel (semoga VisiMedia tertarik untuk menerbitkan kisah-kisah selanjutnya).


Edisi Bahasa Indonesia dari VisiMedia ini translasinya enak dibaca. Typo hanya terbaca satu buah (h.302 sehinga --> sehingga). Terbitan ini menyertakan pula denah dan bagan seperti yang saya sebut di atas, tapi tampaknya asli dari jaman menulis masih memakai mesin ketik, jadi bagannya (h. 56 dan 163) juga masih sangat seadanya dan terputus-putus. Denah hal 163 juga salah menulis keterangan (Frederic Kamar Larsan --> Kamar Frederic Larsan). Hal lain, di beberapa halaman, ada tempelan ilustrasi, sebagian berupa clip art (gak masalah), sebagian lagi berupa foto hitam putih. Nah, format tulisan warna hitam
di latar belakang gambar greyish tone (seperti di h. 42 dan 198) ini jadinya agak sulit dibaca. Usul: kalau boleh lebih baik kalau dihilangkan saja.

Covernya, saya suka. Warna kuningnya sangat menyolok, apalagi dengan tulisan berwarna merah. Ilustrasinya (jendela plus beberapa serangga dan laba-laba?) meskipun tidak ada hubungannya dengan cerita,tapi tetap berkesan misterius. Judul, dari GoodReads dan Google, title asli edisi bahasa inggris yang saya lihat berbunyi The Mystery of the Yellow Room, Namun di sini hanya dituliskan Mystery of Yellow Room. Tidak salah sih, cuman agak aneh aja. (what yellow room? which one?)
ETapi kenapa ya judulnya (di cover dan di halaman KDT) harus ditulis seperti ini: MysTerY < -- alay jablay sekalee #galau

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Title: Noblesse
Original Title: 노블레스 Noblesse
Author:  Son Jae Ho (Story), Lee Gwang Su (Illustrator)
Publisher: Naver
ISBN Season 1 Boxset: 9788901130118 (Chapter 1-92 --- 820 pages)
ISBN Season 2 Boxset: 9788901139173 (Chapter 93-154 --- 600 pages)
Season 3 Chapter 155-199
Season 4 Chapter 200-238
Season 5 Chapter 239-258
Season 6 Chapter 259 - (?)

Current Publication: Season 6, Chapter 291 (12/08/2013)
Original Published Date: Free Weekly Webtoon from (2010 - now)

Noblesse (노블레스) is an online manhwa written by Son Jae Ho and illustrated by Lee Gwang Su. It is a story about a powerful Noblesse, Cadis Etrama Di Raizel, who slept for 820 years and woke up one day in South Korea in an abandoned building. With the help of his faithful servant Frankenstein he enrolls in Ye Ran high school where he befriends Ikhan,Shinwoo and Yuna. The series follows the group's often dangerous adventures against a secret organization while uncovering Rai's past.

This is the first webtoon I ever read, and unexpectedly addictive. Really like the colorful graphics and how the illustration go back and forward between full color and greyish tones to set the mood of the story. I like the simple graphic lines. And I also (suprisedly!) like the simple rectangle-landscape-format panellings. The story itself was started a little slow in season 1, but then picked up pace. The endings (season 1-5) were always good and promised to have a lot of steam for the next season to come.


Season 1 (Awakening/Human World/Union)

In this first installment, we meet Cadis Etrama di Raizel - or Rai as the girls would called him-, a noblesse that found himself awaken after slumbering for 820 years. While wondering this new modern world he encounters his faithful servant, Frankenstein - now a principal in an elite private high school in Seoul - and thus befriend with some -not so- regular highschooller, Shinwoo the extraordinare jog, Ikhan the hacker, and Yoonah the pretty. In the mean time, a secret organization called The Union sent some of their men to retrieve Rai casket, not knowing what it trully been held. This organization was the same one that entagled with noblesse fate centuries ago and for a looooong time has been experimenting to make enhanced super humans. When some of these experiments broke loose and threaten human lives, Rai dan Frankenstein must stood up and protect the civilization as their noblesse oblige, eventhough that would mean to uncover their own secrets peaceful live.

Like I said before, this manhwa was reeaaaaaaly addictive since the first panel. The side stories of how Rai adjust himself to new technology (cellphone, videogame, automatic door,etc) was amusing, and that Rai and ramen stuff was really-really-really ludicrous, awkwardly-silly but funny, made me lol everytime, so were those manuals Frankenstein wrote for him. (he despreatly need manual for food other that ramen!!). But then again, the main story about him, his past and present life, and the organization was equally exciting. Above them all, the red string of all the characters here was about trust, friendship and loyalty that goes beyond indiscrimination of what you are or how strong you are, but more about who you really are (and Rai was the symbol of it) and I think this is the most advantageous point compares to the other seinen manga/manhwa out there.

btw: This season does not explain what is Noble/Noblesse aniway? Frank truly hasn't elaborated it clearly.... secretive, hasn't he?


Season 2 (Visitor/DA-5/Dr.Aris)

Second season, more nobelesse visitor came lurking at Rai and Frank and more enhanced men from the organization came after them. Again, the ending -especially for Takeo and Tao- was very nice, the same with M-21 in the previous season. The repetition of mind-erasing process to the 'innocent humans' was a little boring, at this point of the story, I wonder how many times more do they have to endure that kind process if they keep around the noblesse.


Season 3 (Nobility/Lukedonia/Static)

In this third season, Rai and Frank must go to Lukedonia and confront their past and clear Rai's name of conduct of betrayal that have been done by the Five Clan Leaders. Eventhough Frankenstein clearly said that only him would go with Ray, but of course who could stop Takeo 'n friend from infiltrating their plane. Little do they know, Frank actually plans to blew it up and jump down with his Master. Like that wasn't enough, Rai's Mansion now is considered forbad and guarded by special forces.

The plot was totally absorbing, made me hold my breath again and again. No repetitives ideas like in the previous season 2, a lot facts and backgrounds were given, the story was progressing rapidly, a bunch of interesting new characters, the fight scenes were awesome(!!!!) and of course, -like always- a very nice ending. The end speech by the late Lord, about humanity, how human became human because they are always changing, moving forward..., not static like the noblesse, was very moving. Almost made me overlooked my desire to become noblesse myself. #eeaahh
If something were lacking, that was the usual ice breaker: the witty-silly conversation and Rai's calmed ignorance face-expressions, which in this season didn't have much due to the seriousness of the story line.

Notes 1: Ooohhh... so now we knew what 'Noblesse' mean. Fascinating.
Notes 2: Wait..., if he -the peacock, that is- was human, how... who....what did.... oh whatever! He's immensely amazing anyway. *blushing* ^^V
Note 3: I read the last few chapters twice, but I still do not understand what happened when the old Lord died. Who betrayed who and why and how? Annoying cliff-hanger!!


Season 4 (KSA/Cerberus/Elders)

So Rai and all RK-5 (btw, luuuuuuuv when Rai's blushing coz Frank tell him about the RKs and what RK means) back on our known earth after dipsy-daisy on Lukedonia. While the union's problem still at lenght, another threat came from the country instead. Two KSA agent lurking at school tried to scouting potential future agents. Even if Principal Lee aka Frankenstein aka The Peacock ^_^ try his best to protect the kids, he ends up jeopardizing all of them when the agents turns out to be enhanced humans. The danger became more hazardious when 12th elder sent his personnal bodyguards -Cerberus- to investigates the death of Dr. Aris and the rest of DA-5. So began the battle between the RKs, KSA agents and, 12th elder and 13th elder....

Not bad, but compared with 3rd season, I liked #3 more. But here opens more secrets about the treachery within the noble clan leaders long time ago, the one that made Rai disappeard for 820 years.


Season 5

Whoaa... Best. Season. Yet!!!

***spoiler*** [eventhough through reading it my heart can't stop pounding and fear that writer-nim will have the heart to make another "Dumbledore's death moments". TG it was a happy ending - if u know what I mean.]

The story progress quite quickly, an now the enemy now have faces and open agenda to coup with. Great development with the RKs (plus bonus how Tao manipulate Rael to help them fight *ROTFL - I think Tao hang around Frankenstein too much, slyness is contageous - ROTFL* ). Love Rajak and Rael and Karias (when he call the Lord Noonim, epic response :D) Love the KSA agents Ahn and Na's characters. Love the fighting scenes. Love the ending. Do NOT love the waiting for season 6!

For all the RKs characters, I always had soft spot for M-21. I thought he was the most complex personnel, and in this season, his relationship with everybody was tested by the appareance of M-24. I felt so sorry for him and really-really-really despise Dr. Crombel for it.
I wish you the best ajusshi -- no Oppa, I'll call you Oppa. ^_^

I wonder what happened to Rai and Frankenstein long-long-long time ago. How could he be so loyal to him... well, I know -despite his ignorance face- Rai is a very good person with a verrrryy big heart and unbelieveable power, but to have someone like Frankenstein unwavered for hundreeedssss of years must had a lot more in its foundation. Hope writer-nim will elaborate more in the next season.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fahrenheit 451

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Original Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Publisher: Elex Media Komputindo (2013)
ISBN: 9786020213200
Pages: 248 pages
Original Published Date: 1953
Award: Hugo Award for Best Novel (1954), Prometheus Hall of Fame Award (1984), National Book Award for Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (2000)

Saat membaca kisah ini, entah mengapa pikiran saya teringat pada sebuah kutipan dari novel Inkheart, bahwa sebuah buku memang selayaknya berat, karena ia memuat sebuah dunia di dalamnya. Dalam kisah ini, mungkin bukan sebuah dunia yang tertulis di dalamnya, namun sebuah peringatan, pernyataan sikap dan ajakan intelektual untuk berpikir tentang dunia kita sendiri.

Dalam dunia distopia Bradbury ini, kita dikenalkan pada seorang Guy Montag, si pemadam kebakaran fireman. Agak rancu juga jadinya mentranslasikan kata ini ya??!?, karena tugas seorang fireman di jaman tersebut bukanlah memadamkan api, melainkan menyulut api yang membakar buku-buku. Tidak masalah jika rumah, ataupun si pemilik rumah/buku-buku, ikut terbakar. Buku adalah benda terlarang. Pemilik buku adalah pelanggar hukum berat.

Sejarah pembakaran buku diawali dengan penyensoran satu dua paragraf dalam buku ini oleh kelompok tertentu dan paragraf lain dari buku itu oleh kelompok yang lain. Kemudian meningkat pada pelarangan satu dua buku karena 'mendorong' orang-orang untuk berpikir, namun juga memiliki fanatisme berlebih dan bertindak anarkis. Lalu demi sebuah ide kedamaian, maka kemudian seluruh warga diseragamkan dengan cara dijejali dengan arus informasi yang sama, praktis, dangkal dan tanpa henti. Otak dikondisikan untuk merasa cerdas dengan adanya banjir informasi namun pada saat yang sama tidak sempat berproses sama sekali (jika dikisahkan Montag terbayang-bayang iklan sebuah pasta gigi, saat ini saya selalu teringat jargon iklan Pucuk... Pucuk... :p). Sementara itu buku-buku dilarang dan dibakar (hal 69-76). Buku membuat orang berpikir, bermimpi dan berimajinasi, memiliki ambisi dan opini. Buku seperti sebuah pistol, sedangkan ide dan kata-katanya adalah peluru dan mesiu.

Karenanya, sama seperti kehidupan modern yang kita jalani sekarang, yang memungkinkan untuk mendapatkan segala jenis informasi - instan - semudah menghidupkan telepon genggam, seberapa banyakah waktu kita untuk melakukan tiga hal ini (hal 101-104);
- mempertanyakan kualitas informasi tersebut dan memperhatikan tekstur yang dibawanya, menyerap detail kehidupan yang dibawa dalam setiap celah pori-porinya, kesan yang tidak tertulis, romantisme dan keindahan, sekaligus sarkasme dan kegetiran yang hanya dapat terasakan.
- mendapatkan waktu luang yang cukup untuk mencernanya -- memikirkan, bukan saja betul atau tidaknya informasi tersebut, tapi juga benar/salahnya dipandang dari dasar moralitas yang kita miliki.
- hak untuk melakukan tindakan berdasarkan interaksi tersebut.

Melaui tokoh Clarisse, Montag si fireman mulai mempertanyakan dasar-dasar folosofi kehidupan (Apakah kau bahagia?). Melalui tokoh Beatty dan Faber yang bertolak-belakang, ia mempelajari sejarahnya. Dan melalui tokoh Granger, Montag mulai berpikir. Cogito ergo sum.

Sebuah distopia yang benar-benar mengusik, karena dalam kisah ini, bukan kondisi fisik yang terbelenggu, namun kemampuan orang untuk berpikir yang dinihilkan.


Edisi bahasa Indonesia yang saya baca ini terjemahannya bagus dan enak dibaca, termasuk idiom, istilah dan sebagainya (yaah..., kecuali bagian "pemadam kebakaran" di atas tadi ya). Ada beberapa bagian *seingat saya* yang diterjemahkan bebas dengan sedikit eufinisme, tapi tetap terasa sangat pas (misalnya kutipan di bawah ini). Salut.

The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.
Para penulis yang baik seringkali menyentuh kehidupan. Mereka yang biasa-biasa saja hanya menyentuhnya sesekali. Sedangkan yang buruk justru mengacak-acak dan meninggalkannya untuk lalat. (hal 102)

Selain itu di akhir buku ada beberapa halaman percakapan dengan Ray Bradbury. Bagian ini sama menariknya dengan isi buku itu sendiri. Seperti mengintip dapur ide sang pengarang, dan mendapatkan beberapa penjelasan lebih lanjut mengenai ide dan karakter tiap-tiap pelaku novel ini.


Buku kedua Mr. Bradbury yang saya baca setelah sebelumnya menikmati jalinan cerpennya di Ilustrated Man.