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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Books: Morgenstern, Mieville, Jung, Cline, Enright

Or… New Classic? (Exhibit A)

jung-redbook-5

The books I’ll be looking at are:
Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus,
China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station,
Carl Jung’s Red Book (There are cheaper versions out there; this one is full-size),
Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One,
Anne Enright’s The Gathering.
As a note: I have only finished Night Circus and The Gathering.

Another aspect in a writer’s dedication to improve on his (since I’m referring to myself) writing ability is the importance of reading. I’ll be the first to say that between my bouts of college, I didn’t read much. When I was younger, I simply wrote what I wanted to read. I went on grand adventures, and for some reason all my characters started to sound the same: little me’s running around doing me things as magical people, as witches, as generals, as parents, orphans. You get the drift. Before that, in grade school and high school and college try 1, I read voraciously.

I have to force myself to read now. I don’t like the writing styles of a lot of writers, I don’t enjoy the shortsightedness of storytelling arcs, I have to force myself to read a lot of recommended reading. Nothing against anyone, but I don’t pleasure read. I don’t know if I can ever go back to it either. But I’m trying.

So! I have a short list of books I’m reading, books I’ve finished reading over the past semester/year, and I want to talk about them. If you’re interested, please come along.

#amreading #amwriting Continue reading

The Great Hunt, Leviathan Wakes, and Six-Gun Tarot

Twainlineup

I’ve been reading a lot more of late. Having begun Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Leviathan Wakes (Now A Major Syfy TV Series, The Expanse), The Six-Gun Tarot and the second of the Wheel of Time Series, The Great Hunt, I’ve had ample opportunity to cross check the writing styles.

For me, great writing stands alone. Back when Tolkien’s LOTR novels were being made into movies, there was an outpouring of novels with the phrase “Like Middle Earth but better!” on the backs, or “Greatest fantasy adventure since Tolkien!” The spinoff books–some very successful–all playing off the idea of his works (Like Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara series and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series) had the same feel of Tolkien, only light. In fact, I’d call them Tolkien Lite. As a disrespectful term.

Now I see “Think Game of Thrones with Bocci Ball!” or “John Doe, and his family, has a coolness factor so high, it’s like Harry Potter had John McClane as a father, AND THEY WERE ALL LANNISTERS!” While this isn’t exactly what I’m reading on the back of boring old fantasy novels, I’m not being hyperbolic. I did see a similar phrase somewhere.

These people, while possibly successful, are not great writers. You can’t take a powerful writer and say, “This writer is JUST LIKE another writer, ONLY BETTER,” and get any respect. If ever I get picked up by a big publisher, and they say anything of the sort on the back of my work, I will straight-up drop the publisher. One of the books I’ll discuss today is touted as a Martin Lite, even though he’s nothing of the sort.

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

The-Slow-Regard-of-Silent-Things-Destacada

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

Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Quite a mouthful of a title. I know.

Given this isn’t on Amazon.com or whatever, I’m going to give my straight-up opinion, writer-style, on this piece.

Any writer worth his salt (and ladies, too. Just keeping it consistent) will be able to read which parts of a story is the writer’s personal experience, and which parts are made up. I’ve been doing it for years, whether it’s a novel, a play, or a movie (usually Indie). The difference between a novel that’s easily forgotten and one that turns into a “Classic” is one where the line between real and made-up blur together seamlessly.

Fantasy stories are some of the hardest-hit in this department, because 1) it’s inundated with every Anime obsessor, deviantartist, and RPer trying to make a name for themselves by writing 30k word fanfic movie-books, and 2) selling fantasy as real is so much harder than selling someone living on the beach with coconuts for shoes.

Fantasy classics are few and far-between. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings comes to mind, where no self-respecting AnimRPartist would spend so much time developing the world behind the characters. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is another solid example, along with most anything Anne Rice pre-evangelism (Memnoch the Devil, anyone? Her magnum opus and outpour of painful rage at her husband’s untimely death). Those books have a dedication to them. A possible timelessness–where the writer had more than a story to tell; he had a world to tell. Unfortunately I don’t include Gaiman or Pratchett (though I could the latter) because they don’t resonate so strongly with me anymore. Pratchett’s work is some of the greatest satire I’ve ever read, and Gaiman’s American Gods nearly destroyed me 1/3 of the way through. But they are easily forgotten.

Which brings me to the book review: The Name of the Wind. The first in a series, this debut novel showed up in 2007.

The story spins around the young years of a living legend, Kvothe (Kothe. Took me nearly half the book to say it properly in my head, even though he used a different spelling at first. Awesome, Chris. You idiot.), who took on the mantle of many names because they benefited his societal growth. He goes into detail about how he was a travelling high-born gypsy, how he lived on the streets of a city, how he managed to get into magic university. Simple fantasy story. Simple and straightforward and NO.

It isn’t. I don’t know what spurned this man forward in his writing, but Rothfuss writes a story that’s impossible to put down. He tells stories of stories, collects religious/historical references, divines the workings of sympathy (a kind of magic) (Oh So Love It) and how NOT EASY it is. Like running a marathon, for one. Or powerlifting 400 pounds. (Spoiler: he learns to split his mind in two and play games with himself). The world is fleshed and perfect, even in the limited view Rothfuss presents. The working of society is perfect, and the brilliance of the main character barely outruns the brilliance of everything else.

There’s so much of Rothfuss in this story it’s incredible. There’s so much NEW danger in it it’s also incredible, and by NEW danger I mean there aren’t elves or trolls or goblins. Instead, Fae people roam the world, misunderstood as demons (think Dragon Age II’s Fenris or Salvatore’s Drizzt Do’Urden), and regular, human people are dangerous enough to warrant dedication. I don’t remember the last time I devoured a book with such intensity. Sometime in high school, I think. Probably The Hobbit. Maybe Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

Will this novel become a classic? I’m not sure, but the man writes like a storyteller. Every character is a piece of Rothfuss. Some of the scenery feels a little contrived, not to mention every other sentence contains a passive verb (surprisingly hard to ignore, now that I’m more experienced). You can only “had listened” so many times before you go, “Damn it, man! He’s still listeneding!”

I give it five thumbs up. I’ll read the second in the series, and the third, and Mr. Rothfuss might have a reader-for-life in me. Last time THAT happened was Dan Simmons, and the time before that? Lovecraft. And that’s about it. I hoped Robin Hobb would do it, but after her first trilogy she petered out to sellout land–or, more like, uninterested land.

Home run with this piece of sexy. I also hear the second book is out. I’m too poor to own it, so it might be a bit before I comment on it. My advice: if you’re a burgeoning High Fantasy writer with a love for worldbuilding and a good story arc, read teh F out of this. That is all.