Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mostly A Bunch of Book-Related Nonsense. Plus: Gorillas!

It's almost the end of the year! Run! Run for your lives!!!!!

Oh, sorry... false alarm...

OK, so, where to start?

So I ripped the Christmas play to my computer and uploaded it to my Viddler account, but it's all wonky! The colors are stripped out (except for the blues) and the video picture is reversed, like I'm watching it in the mirror... extremely weird. None of the other videos In my Viddler archive are having any similar issues. I wrote the tech support, and they were great... they think it's a Flash-related problem, and their team is "working on it". In the interim, he said to save it as a higher resolution, and upload it again.

Sorry for the delay! I know all 2 of you want to watch some of it, so you can ask yourselves what all the hype was about, and then mock me behind my back. I don't want to rob you of your chance! Be patient, it shall happen!

While you wait, check out this Gorilla video... it's pretty cool... apologies for the dude with the glasses doing the talking intro... he's kind of a d-bag. The action starts at about the 1 minute mark.

That guy... has nerves of steel. Do you realize how completely I'd lose bladder control if I was in a similar situation? Sheesh! I've read The Murders in the Rue Morgue! I know how strong those primates are!

Yes, I know the Poe story featured an orangutan, not a gorilla... still. *shudder* That silverback could have popped that dude's head off like a bottlecap if it had wanted to!

Did you know that The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) is considered the first ever Detective Story? Yep, good ol' Edgar Poe pioneered the genre... he's also credited with co-pioneering the Science Fiction genre, too. Not bad, for someone as goofy-looking as he was! Reminds me of an Abraham Lincoln quote I read recently. It was during a debate when he was running for President (I don't recall against whom), but his opponent accused Lincoln of being two-faced. Lincoln said, "If I had two faces, do you think I'd choose to wear this one?"

See, he knew how goofy-looking he was, see? Get it? See, like, get it? See?

OK, fine. Here's another one, but from Winston Churchill this time...


So I finished reading Theft of Swords, by Michael Sullivan. All in all, it was a fun, though not especially deep, tale, very family-friendly (if you will). No swearing or adult stuff at all. The action was fun, the pace swift, and the main characters likable. Theft of Swords featured two main characters, named Royce and Hadrian. Royce is a thief, and is supposed to be a dark, dangerous, cold-blooded character. I say "supposed to be" because more often than not, he is kind and helps people out. Ultimately, he's a good guy, though his reputation that precedes him is infamous and villainous. He doesn't really display much to back that rep up, as far as viciousness and/or killer behavior. Still, he's enjoyable. And his partner is Hadrian, who is a peerless swordsman, and master of various forms of swordplay that most have not even heard of, much less been able to learn.

The two take jobs for (and against) nobles, ranging from thefts of valuables (in seemingly-impossible places) to escort missions, to beast-slaying, to rescue missions. As I said, the pace is swift, the action satisfying, and the "feel" of the writing positive. I suggest reading the tale if you like to keep things light and fun.

Theft of Swords is actually the first two volumes of the Riyria Chronicles (no idea how to properly pronounce that word, lol). There are two more volumes that complete the series. I'll definitely pick them up with a portion of my Christmas dough and see how it continues.

Not much of a traditional book review, sorry.

I went with brother-in-law Johnny and his son Jacob to see the new Mission Impossible movie, the day before Christmas. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it. Again, for light, fun fare that doesn't demand any heavy thinking. It had some great action scenes, some funny dialog, and was self-aware in a few places, sort of giving a wink and a nod to the audience, so we knew it didn't take itself too seriously. Yes, a lot of the stunts were outrageous and there were at least two occasions where I almost injured my eyes rolling them too suddenly, but all in all, it was fun. I don't get to the theater too often, so it's nice when I can leave and feel it was worth the time/money investment.

Saw some great previews, including this one... Act of Valor

Nicely-made trailer, methinks.

So, as some of you know, my addiction the past half-year or so has been to download free book sample chapters onto my Kindle app (for my iPad) so I can sample new books/authors... those I like, I add to a list; those I don't, I delete. I've gathered quite a list of worthwhile fantasy books I plan on getting/reading at some point in the future. It occurred to me today that such info might be of interest to a fellow reader or two out there, so I'm going to post a list here...

Fantasy Books On My Radar

  • The Etched City, by KJ Bishop
  • The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
  • Farlander, by Col Buchanon
  • Among Thieves, by Douglas Hulick
  • Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Thief-Taker's Apprentice, by Stephen Daes
  • Acacia, by David Anthony Durham
  • Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence
  • Tome of the Undergates, by Sam Sykes
  • The Ten Thousand, by Paul Kearney
  • The Whitefire Crossing, by Courtney Schafer
  • Knights of Dark Renown, by David Gemmell
  • Escaping Destiny, by Jeffrey Pierce
  • The Desert of Souls, by Howard Andrew Jones

I don't think you would go wrong with any of those titles. I've read the samples for all, and the writing is very solid in every case. Those last two are especially interesting to me. Escaping Destiny is truly unlike anything I've read before. Plus, the premise of Desert of Souls is extremely intriguing, and rife with possibility. I love an author who can quickly, effectively set the stage for an exciting adventure. Well done.

Speaking of great writing, I read the sample of a book by China Mieville called Perdido Street Station that is a marvel to read, crammed full of the coolest words, most-delicious descriptive language and tastiest sentence structure (to me, anyway). It's too bad the story itself is so gross and unappealing, I'd certainly recommend it here. I can give you an example, though...

The speaker is arriving in a big, dingy city, by boat on a disgusting river. That's all you need know...

The river twists and turns to face the city. It looms suddenly, massive, stamped on the landscape. Its light wells up around the surrounds, the rock hills, like bruise-blood. Its dirty towers glow. I am debased. I am compelled to worship this extraordinary presence that has silted itself into existence at the conjunction of two rivers. It is a vast pollutant, a stench, a klaxon sounding. Fat chimneys retch dirt into the sky even now in the deep night. It is not the current which pulls us but the city itself, its weight sucks us in. Faint shouts, here and there the calls of beasts, the obscene clash and pounding from the factories as huge machines rut. Railways trace urban anatomy like protruding veins. Red brick and dark walls, squat churches like troglodytic things, ragged awnings flickering, cobbled mazes in the old town, culs-de-sac, sewers riddling the earth like secular sepulchres, a new landscape of wasteground, crushed stone, libraries fat with forgotten volumes, old hospitals, towerblocks, ships and metal claws that lift cargoes from the water.

What do you think? You like it, or does it strike you as overdone? I think it's terrific. Again, too bad the story itself is such a downer. He uses other great words and phrases, like effluents, morbific, detumescing and pamphleteers... far too many others to mention here. And that's just in the first two chapters.

If I can stomach the story, I'll try to read more. I made it part-way into The City and The City before giving up on that as well (it's another Mieville book).

Hmm... I know I had other stuff to talk about. I really should keep a list of these things... my memory is failing me in my old age...

Well, I suppose I'll stop for now. I'm sure the other stuff I wanted to say will come to me later tonight, as I try to sleep...

I'll be back, fear not.

Dave the Goof


The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

The published author cartoon is true, but an author can only survive if he or she always has ideas to turn into books. Then one ending up in the bargain bin doesn't seem so painful.

David Wagner said...

I'm glad I got confirmation on the validity of the truth of the comic, from a published author! It was a theory to me, up to that point. Someday I'll be a published author... someday...

Rory, I have to admit, I'm curious about your new secret project... you sound so enthusiastic about it. Hope you spill the beans on it soon...

Anonymous said...

Being one of the two, I will patiently wait for the Christmas video - remember, I vote to insert the lost eight minute monologue:)

LOVED the gorilla clip. One Saturday, I was sewing a costume, and spent eight hours watching the story of Koko and his kitten. Fascinating.

I'm boycotting your Fantasy reviews :) Being a type A personality, it's frustrating that Fantasy novels are never complete in and of themselves. When you find a gem that is complete, please let me know. I hate loose ends.

I enjoyed the other Mission Impossible, and received movie tickets for Christmas from work - thanks for the review.

While I love rich text, I don't like to plow through reads that pretentiously beef up colorful, complex verbiage so every sentence is like spelunking the chapter cliff. And it's not because I can't understand "Big Words" or don't enjoy imagery :). At times it just feels forced.

Beth A. the Prehistoric Cave Dweller

Michelle said...

I was just thinking of taking the kids back to the zoo to see the gorillas. After watching the video, I couldn't help but wonder if that wasn't the "gorilla" version of taking the kids to the zoo.... :)

Rebecca said...

Loved the clip about the gorillas...what an amazing (and dangerous) experience. My most memorable experience with gorillas was when a mom gorilla reached under herself and flung her poop at us. Guess we were staring at her baby too hard.

Thanks for the new fantasy list. Need something good to read. I've been reading manuscripts for WAY too long now.

Have a great New Year!

David Wagner said...

Beth: Spelunking the chapter cliff, eh? Nice! You should try your hand at novel-writing... I bet you'd be good at it...

Michelle: You may be right! O_O

Rebecca: Dangerous is a good word for it. I'd say he was one false move away from turning that video into a snuff piece... At least there was no gorilla feces involved!

Let me know if you read any of those titles, and if you like them or not. Write a review or two, eh!

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

Rory, I have to admit, I'm curious about your new secret project... you sound so enthusiastic about it. Hope you spill the beans on it soon...

I can't yet. There's a lot of interviews I need to secure, a research trip I need to make to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills (That is if recent events don't prevent me from doing so, though because of them, I would welcome not being able to), and more notes I need to take while watching the other two movies in the series that I'm writing about.

I'll reveal little by little on my blog, but still remain relatively vague. Once I've written two chapters and can begin pitching to publishers and agents (If I want to try for the big publishers, I apparently need one), I'll spill it all.