Book review #5

Being forced to stay at home due to battalion leaves and a leg injury has given me more than enough time to read like nobody’s business.

1. The Langoliers by Stephen King

This is a novella published in King’s book Four Past Midnight. It is about an airplane flying from Los Angeles to Boston that enters a time rift, vaporising all passengers except those who were sleeping. When the sleepers wake up due to a blind girl’s wails, they are shocked to see what has happened. The fear is increased as a pilot who takes over the controls is unable to maintain radio contact with anyone. A decision is made to land at Bangor Airport  in Maine and they land safely. What disturbs them is the lifelessness of the place, and how the air feels dead. Matches cannot light, sound is muffled, and food tastes bland. This is compounded by the girl’s observation of a chewing sound in the east. Conflict and desperation ensues as the passengers try to find a way out. They are able to fly off the airplane after siphoning fuel off another one, but see with their own eyes what ‘the langoliers’ are: hundreds of black balls that eat up everything , leaving nothingness in its wake. It is later conjectured that the langoliers are the guardians of the past and since the past is gone, everything becomes meaningless, for example taste and sound. Thus they literally eat up the past. In the air they find the time rip that they flew through, and are about to fly through it when it is realised they have to be asleep for them to survive the journey in one piece. They are forced to sleep due to lowered cabin pressure and return to LA. Despite seeing LA deserted like Bangor, the air sounds right and food taste proper. They find out that they have landed a few hours in the future and this is confirmed when passengers and sounds slowly appear. Though two children notice them appearing out of nowhere, they are happy to be back in reality and leave for ‘fresh air’.

The thought that occured to me was that it could be the fate of MH370. A time rip, landing into the past/future? It seems very probable now. Apparently it was predicted in the Koran that the plane would land in the future [I don’t know whether this is true], but anything is possible…

2. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

This was the second book about Scientology I had read after Jenna Miscavige Hill’s Beyond Belief. The latter is about Jenna’s life in the Sea Org from young, while Wright’s book provides readers about the origins of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. He then moves to Scientology’s influence on Hollywood and list people like John Travolta, Paul Haggis and of course Tom Cruise. Wright also interviewed former members of Scientology, and the picture he paints is one full of inhumane treatment [i.e. the RPF], abuse and stalking of members who leave the church. He also includes lessons learnt in Scientology and its various values, while touching on its current leader David Miscavige. Through this book, Wright hopes to make us more aware of Scientology other than it being Tom Cruise’s religion, and to remove the sense of mystery surrounding it and its teachings. Such exclusive interviews with former members are a treasure trove of information, and the church’s repeated denials that such events happened serve only to discredit itself. I have no idea whether the self-help techniques listed by Hubbard really worked, but given the millions of adherents worldwide, it must be something.