Ready Player One

Hey! Nice of you to stop by. I’ll give a short review of this surprisingly concise book.

ready-player-one-book-coverWarning: Spoilers. Also warning: if you aren’t a gamer, and aren’t interested in gamer culture, you might not get a lot out of this book. On the other hand, even if you aren’t, I see a lot of value in this book due to the way the technology is portrayed. That being said, this is fun literature that brought a lot of nostalgia and gamer humor to my reading, which initially pulled me in and kept me interested throughout.

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Personal Update: Books

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This is the most flattering pic of my ugly mug I can find from the past month. Me, throwing back a few beers at the family reunion. Note the eyes have that faraway look one might get after, say, imbibing a brewski or two.

Good afternoon/evening to those intrepid voyagers who find interest in my words. I’ve been writing in this for a while, and I like to periodically update on what I’m actually doing IRL, instead of positing opinions or rambling on about whatever topic I find important.

I’m ABSOLUTELY STOKED about all most of the happenings in my life and I’m running into a lot of great moments I want to share with whoever wants to listen. (Spoken like a true extrovert, I guess?)

So, here it is.

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Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

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I’d like to think everyone’s talking about this book. It’s probably not the case, but from the writing sphere of this world, this book is a very, very important read. It’s short, sweet, and most avid readers can finish it in, oh, two hours. If you read slow, like me, it’ll take you around four. With breaks to run to Facebook and quote random bits. Because it’s awesome.

Patrick Rothfuss is known for his hugely popular Kingkiller Chronicle, which follows the great gypsy bard/mage Kvothe as he brazenly fights through childhood trauma, homeless street-urchining, magical college, girls, royalty, and (hopefully) the Chandrian blue-flame demons with his own style of cleverness and stupidity, in turn. The books are brilliant.

But this isn’t that story. Continue reading

Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians Cover Art

The Magicians Cover Art (and it looks like, the audiobook cover art)

The Magicians is a novel about what-ifs, about magic and its consequences when poorly wielded, and what I’d argue every single reader has ever wished at one point in his life to do: escape reality and go somewhere else. In this case, it’s a place somewhere in New York, called Brakebills, and it’s a school of magic. Fun. Yes, there will be spoilers. Continue reading

Studying the Greats

I always wonder what most people see a “great writer” to be. I’m always walking around, thinking about it, whether anyone else would find my authorly loves paralleled. I know authorly isn’t a word. I like to create them, from time to time, because sometimes the language doesn’t include my thought. Insert Inuit names for snow here.

I’d divide my favorite authors into two categories: modern and classic. By “classic,” of course, I mean they stand the test of time, and the author is not currently alive. Since I’ve seen so many readers posting their fav 15 on Facebook, with the blithe expectation that a “good” friend will pass it on, I’ve decided to do something similar here, although nobody’s expected to extend the “chain” past me.

If, by some chance, you do, link it to me so I can go check your preferences out. I’d love to see an overall consensus.

Classic:
1 Edgar Allan Poe (The Telltale Heart, The Raven, etc)
2 H. P. Lovecraft (The Color out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness, Thanatopsis)
3 Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote)
4 Dante (Inferno)
5 Milton (Paradise Lost)
6 Andre Dumas (3 Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo)
7 Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
8 T.S. Eliot (Four Quartets)
9 Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)
10 Washington Irving (Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip van Winkle)
11 Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden)
12 Ovid (Metamorphoses)
13 Jung (Archetypes, Liber Novus)
14 Mark Twain (Letters from Earth, Autobiography)
15 J. R. R. Tolkien (Penthouse Letters. Just kidding)

Modern:
1 Dan Simmons (Drood, Carrion Comfort, Hyperion)
2 Stephen King (The Shining, Dark Tower series)
3 Mark Z. Danielewski (House of Leaves)
4 Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game series)
5 Greg Bear (Legacy)
6 Peter Watts (Starfish series)
7 Toni Morrison (Sula, Jazz, Beloved)
8 Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind)
9 Susan Mitchell (Erotikon)
10 Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
11 Stephen Baxter (Evolution)
12 Guy Gavriel Kay (The Last Light of the Sun)
13 Thomas Moore (Dark Nights of the Soul)
14 Charles de Lint (Moonheart)
15 Dean Koontz (Frankenstein series, Phantoms)

 

What are YOUR favorites?

(I recommend reading any single author I have listed, although please recognize my penchant for horror, fantasy, supernatural.)

Hyperion by Dan Simmons and more

After reading Drood by Mr. Simmons, I had to step back to the beginning of his career (well, almost to the beginning). The second book he published (that I know of) is essentially a Chaucer-esque collection of short-story characterizations of seven “pilgrims” on their way to meet a “living deity” by the name of Shrike. It’s set in a distant future, where over 130 planets have been colonized and adapted for independent ideologies, connected by a web of information, telecommunication, and “farcasting,” and filled with intricacies all the hardcore scifi lovers salivate over.

I don’t get emotional easy, especially while reading a novel, particularly a scifi novel, but this man made it happen. Delving into the complexities of immortality in concern with evolution, living long enough to have seen Old Earth die and still not be able to finish a poetic masterpiece, to falling in love with an replicant man owned by an AI, to understanding the complexities of the “Ultimate Intelligence,” Simmons basically placed a scifi shotgun in my face and, with a smile, he blew my mind. I cried a little when, because of his existing in faster-than-light travel, a man watches his lover turn old and die in the span of ten months. It was sad because he cared very little for her until she died, and she held such a power he would never hope to understand.

Okay. So maybe he didn’t blow my mind so dramatically, per se, but he definitely inspired me. It’s an old, old book. I’m sure everyone’s heard of it. I don’t think it’s even in print anymore. It’s the first in a pair of novels, and first in a four-novel cycle, surrounding the violence of a new era in future mankind.

I recommend reading it. He’s great with personalization, and great with the imagination.

The very same day my wife finished Drood. She said she wouldn’t give me the book back: I had a hardcover copy, and she wanted to keep the paperback for later reading. Great.

I purchased The Terror, also by Simmons. I have to be honest–and I’ve never said this about a writer before–this guy’s my quintessential writer. He does all the things I want to do, writes  a powerful historical fiction I get lost in, and isn’t afraid to take risks in his writing. He is who I want to be when I grow up, as a writer.

It almost disillusions me how such a great man is such an impressive writer; what do I have to offer except parlor tricks?

Review: Shadow Moon, by George Lucas and Chris Claremont

This thing was written in ’98. It’s fourteen years old and out of print. It’s brilliant.

Yes, this was written by the owner of Lucasfilm and Star Wars, and Chris Claremont, before now, was an X-Men storywriter and graphic novelist. Neither were novel writers.

This book is the first in a trilogy.

Overview:

A long time ago (95? 94?) George Lucas wrote Willow, a story of a “halfling” saving a girl who is prophecized to save the world. He survives. She survives. This series continues where the movie ends.

Willow gives up his name and separates himself from the world. The night after he saves the princess, the city where the princess lives is destroyed, along with five other major areas of the world. Absolutely decimated. Willow, now Thorn, gives up his life to travel the world and learn all about magic and being a sorcerer.

He becomes incredibly powerful, able to talk to the elements while surviving attacks and natural disasters to ultimately become a grizzled, roguish character wizard nobody trusts. Thirteen years later, on the princess’s birthday, he is called upon, again, to save her.

This is high fantasy at its best: all the standard tropes of an epic quest, a mishmash of archetypes, and an enemy impossible to beat. And it involves Magic. Good magic. This is where Claremont’s experience writing X-Men comes into play: the understanding, the detail, the dedicated focus he put into writing these characters is incredible. Thorn sees the center of the universe, has his mind expanded to encompass the chaotic thinking of an ancient “Demon,” and intricately describes surviving a hurricane. There is even a battle between Thorn and the enemy in solid stone–not saying it hasn’t been done, but never as well.

The enemy is thorough, mighty, and terrifying. The enemy isn’t one-sided, one dimensional, and simply “evil.” The enemy, while unapologetic, has good reason for what he’s doing. He’s personal, intimate with the characters, convincing.

Of all the Tolkien clones I’ve ever read (aka high fantasy with “halflings,” “elves,” and “trolls” by any other name), this is easily the best. Forget Terry Brooks (always, always forget Brooks). Forget Robert Jordan (just kidding. Don’t forget him). I’d almost say forget Tolkien, but then I’d be turned to stone. Forget any other epic quest you’ve read–including King’s Dark Tower (different genres, I guess, but nonetheless). This does it. This quest is worth reading. Twice.

5 of 5. I found nothing remiss in characterization, plot, development, setting, themes, conflict. Maybe the “dialect” some of the boatpeople use is a little grating, but I’m grasping for straw here. People you care about die. People transcend and melt your mind while they do. The danger is real. I felt like the kid from The Neverending Story under the covers during a stormy night.

Please, if you like high fantasy, read this novel. LOTR series is 1 on my favorites list, this Shadow series is 2.

I need a cigarette.

~x