Monthly Archives: July 2013

Books

I love to read. Fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, general fiction, thrillers, or anything that catches my eye. The problem being that I’m something of an introvert and I don’t really have friends in the real world. This means that my book recommendations usually come via online reviews or just randomly picking one off the shelf. Yes, I still prefer a real book to a Kindle or a Nook. Don’t get me wrong, having an Ebook library on my laptop is awesome, but I don’t use it nearly enough to justify spending $40-$200 on an eReader tablet.

As I usually go for the Top 100 lists of a genre for online stuff it means I get to pick from the ‘cream of the crop’ as I’ve been led to believe. Buying into such hype I recently plunked down some of my hard earned Amazon bucks to purchase The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I wrote a review about it once I was done. To sum up, it was good. Nothing groundbreaking or amazing like I had been led to believe.

This led me to realize that a lot of the recommendations, especially those ‘Top 100’ lists out there aren’t really that good. Sure, at the time there might have been some interesting technique or twist, but that was 20+ years ago in some cases. Writers have assimilated your tactics to enhance and better them.

In high school we had to read The Once and Future King. To this day I still groan when I see something to do with King Arthur. IT WAS THAT BORING. I’ve heard Mists of Avalon is good -from my wife, not a faceless online source- but I can’t bring myself to pick it up.

I’m beginning to think that these ‘Top’ books that everyone loves are just kind of a status thing. Obviously, if you don’t like the book, you just didn’t get it.

No, I got it and I didn’t like it.

Case in point: The Game of Thrones By George RR Martin.

With the success of the TV Show on HBO everyone is going out to read the books. Well, everyone who knows that it was a book and wants more. About 8 years ago my friend recommended the book to me. At the time he was the DM to an RPG group I was in and some of his cool ideas were inspired (read:copied) from the series. Not to mention he just found a Game of Thrones source book and wanted to start a campaign with it. He lent me his copy of the book and I started reading.

Have you seen these books? I’m not just talking about the hardcovers but the paperbacks are as thick as a phone book. I set my shoulders and started reading. And reading. And reading. I slogged through a good 200 pages before I just tossed my hands up and gave the book back. When I told him my reason for giving it back was that it was ‘boring’ he balked at me and told me if I got to the second book it was all about a war.

I didn’t care.

The daughter who wanted to be a fighter and the princess who married the barbarian were the only two characters I cared about. Other than that, meh.

Yes, I only thought The Name of the Wind was good and I found The Game of Thrones boring. Tamora Pierce The Song of the Lioness is good for an entrance to fantasy, William Gibson really delivers in his Sprawl series, and The Riverworld series is worth reading if you overlook some dated concepts. Roger Zelazny made me believe in Amber. I found Robin Hobb’s Fitz to be an interesting character, but the story elements were so ‘classic’ that it was a paint-by-numbers affair. John Scalzi has yet to disappoint me, but I’ve only read Redshirts and Old Man’s War. Larry Niven I find long winded and I’m not really enchanted by Terry Goodkind.

There you have it.

I wouldn’t mind going back and rereading some of the books I didn’t care for when I was younger. A bit of perspective might enhance them.

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Perdido Street Station By China Mieville

This book did not do it for me. After all the hype and recommendations, it really fell flat. I don’t think it would have been nearly as bad if I hadn’t experienced the audio-book, but them’s the breaks.

It was an interesting, somewhat bleak start to the book, but then there was something about having sex with a bug-lady and I had to turn it off. So, yeah, that’s like the first chapter? I didn’t make it through it. Even as the bug-loving was nearing an end I didn’t like the main character and found his inner-workings to be rather pointless.

I’ll give it another go, in book form, if I find it in the bargain bin, but for now.

My Verdict: Skip.

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Scythe Does Matter by Gina X. Grant

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Image from:
https://bookwormdream.blogspot.com

I read the first 50 pages the day it came out and then I got distracted. Work, life, illness, you know the usual stuff the world throws around.

Today I finished the last 127 pages in a little over two hours.

It was a quick and fun read with characters I’ve grown attached to.

In the first book the main character Kristy was just getting into the grove when the book ended. In the sequel she is all in and ready to do.

I highly recommend this book as well as the previous one. My only complaint is that it isn’t long enough. I would have gladly slogged through another hundred pages or more.
The third book can’t get here fast enough.

My Verdict: Buy it, enjoy, and join me in counting the days for the third one.

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Resurrecting the Undead

 

I spend a lot of time thinking about writing a zombie book; something that takes into account the pop culture as well as making something new. Not so much reinventing the wheel as giving it a good scrub down and patching the punctures. Hopefully, I won’t get hit in the head by the air-hose this time.

The main reason I don’t just pound out a few hundred thousand words and call it good is that the market is rather flooded. Zombies are everywhere; there is practically an entire sub-genre just for them. Not to mention all the variants that there are. Recently, I was able to catch a showing of World War Z. It was a lot better than I was expecting and it made zombies scary again. Once they ditched the family aspect of the story it really got intense.

So the riddle becomes how to make it good.

The best speculative fiction comes from the seed of fact, regardless of genre. Having even a small point of science to grow from gives the idea roots. Granted, there comes a time where you shuck the real world and pop the idea into a nice boiling pot of fictional goodness. The result is a richly flavored soup that didn’t come out of a can.

I’m a little hungry.

Lately, the focus has been to look at the living in the stories instead of the undead, which is sound advice… for some. It requires characters that are actually worth the time. The downfall I’ve found with The Walking Dead (comic) is that I just don’t care about the characters. Every time the characters run into another group it just happens to go horribly. It may start out good, but it always ALWAYS ends up bad. After about the second time the backstabbing and betrayal just didn’t matter anymore. Even the show, which isn’t so CRAZY PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, I didn’t feel invested. Hell, the one character I was rooting for was doomed from the get-go.

Shane, he was the hero of the show, then Rick just blunders in and everything changes. He keeps his best friends’ wife and child alive, he keeps a camp running, and then Rick shows up and people start dropping like flies.

Sorry, tangent.

I’ve kind of lost my train of thought.

Man this bug bite is really itchy.

Hungry. Itchy.

Food.

Tasty.

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Disjointed

I wrote around 250 words today. It was a pretty cool scene that popped into my head. The tone was perfect for a project I’m working on, and even though I changed the ending a little, things went really well.

The only problem (a small one at that) is that the scene isn’t connected to anything just yet. I’ve got the character still in the first chapter and this scene is still tens of thousands of words off.

Oh well, I’ll take it.

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Home with the ick

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This is my character, Grinder, as in meat-grinder, in microhero form.

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This is his original version. I think it’s a big upgrade.

I thought him up while trying to figure out a Ninja Turtles fan fiction. The storyline was something before they encounter The Foot and have some early adventures dealing with a gang of local thugs who are terrorizing a group of homeless people the Turtles have befriended. Kind of a homeless village under a bridge where they trade stuff.

It was a build up to introduce Grinder, who was being fed unruly members of the village, and then the leader of the gang as well. Now that I put it down it kind of sounds like an RPG adventure. I was working into something I had labeled the “Mutant Dawn” where mutants were popping up all over the place at an alarming rate and there was actually about a year where the brothers split up and go on solo adventures.

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Usually any one of these guys I make has something of a story attached to it. The top is normal version. the middle row is when they’re on solo adventures, and the bottom is when they come back together.

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I’ve also done a version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Monkeys. Considering how often the old stories had dimensional travel they were bound to show up someday.

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And the obligatory Rule 63 versions, but I’m still not happy with those heads.

This is just a peek at what I do when I’m bored. Right now I’m sick with some stomach flu that won’t leave me alone and I just felt like sharing. Enjoy.

 

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Geek Pride… right

I haven’t done much writing lately, on this blog or otherwise. I’ve started a new job and I’ve been working pretty steady for the past four weeks. When times like these happen and my creativity is nil I usually pump out microheroes just to keep my mind from going numb.

Microheroes are cool little pixel art dolls that I like to make and I have since about 2002. Mostly superheroes and sometimes attached to various unwritten fan fiction in my head.

This makes me realize a few things:

  1. I would love to write some fan fiction.
  2. I am way too self-critical to actually write any
  3. I grew up when ‘geek’ wasn’t a good word.

These days it’s all about embracing your inner geek or letting your geek flag fly, but that wasn’t how it was when I grew up. When I was younger I had to hide that I liked comics even from my best friends. Videogames were okay, mostly, but had to have some sort of sport attached to it just to make sure you were still doing it right.

In high school I sometimes snuck into the chess club to play some games (read: get soundly trounced) and talk Star Trek vs Star Wars or how awesome the latest X-Men cartoon was. There are a lot of ways that I’m still a closet geek. My wife is awesome, she embraces my interests and encourages my loves, but my high school survival instinct is still pretty strong. Especially when my job feels like I’m back in drama central. I still remember coming back from summer break to excitedly tell my best friend that I found a Charles Xavier action figure on my trip to Seattle to have him shrug his shoulders and roll his eyes, apparently, he had ‘grown up’ while I was away. We didn’t hang out much after that, he was more into sports and that bug never bit me.

My fandom was born when the heroes in a half-shell hit just right when I was younger to create a lifelong fan and I love the mutants dearly. I can tell you without checking IMDB or Youtube, that the first word spoken in a film by a ninja turtle is ‘Damn’ which is said by Raph when he sees April take his weapon. Technically, it could be Mikey saying ‘Woah’ but I don’t count that as a word. Thanks to the digital age I’ve been able to catch up on the original run (that’s some crazy stuff) as well as the newest releases and catch up on the shows. I seriously had a geek-squee when I realized that the sword Karia is trying to get Leo to steal in her debut episode belongs to Usagi Yojimbo. I’ve passed my love onto the next generation and right now my toddler loves The Next Mutation, mainly due to Venus, but it’s still painful to watch; which we did three times yesterday.

My dream job would be writing scripts for the new TMNT comic out by IDW. I have plots, threaded with storylines of classic turtle lore from the shows as well as comics, but every time I try to write one of these down that voice acts up. Do I really want to put this online? What if someone I know were to read it? I’m not a kid anymore, is fan fiction kosher?

Star Wars was my second love in geekdom, my Uncle Bob and Aunt Vicki gave me all three movies as a going away present when we moved and I watched them until they had to be fixed with scotch tape, but Star Trek was a close third. The Next Generation was on every day after school and I Lt. Warf was the coolest. I never hated Wesley Crusher, he was the big brother I dreamed of having. Seeing Wil Wheaton as a pillar of the geek world makes me very proud in an imaginary family sort of way. If this ever gets to the eyes of Wil Wheaton, I must apologize, in my games of make believe I saved the day a lot while you were working the controls in engineering and thought I was a pretty cool little brother. Yeah, that sounds creepier than I thought it would. Oh well, the Borg weren’t going to defeat themselves.

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