Friday, January 18, 2013
Throwing it at the Wall, Seeing What Sticks
Greetings, fellow travelers!
It is I, Dave the Lumbering, Snaggletoothed Nerd, coming to you live from my reinforced underground bunker/rumpus room/entertainment hub (aka "The Seat of the Scornful", aka "The Dave Cave"), with another coffee-induced (-enhanced?) blast of verbal nonsense.
Man, how was that for an awkward intro?
I feel like this is how that intro went...
Yeah, that's about right, I'd say...
So my last three reads can be summarized thusly: One really good book, one great book, and one awesomely great book.
The sequel to one of my favorite reads from last year, the dark and gritty fantasy tale Prince of Thorns, this book follows the travails of the Honorous King Jorg, as he fights various overwhelming forces to retain his tenuous grasp on the throne he took from his uncle, as revenge for killing his mother and brother (and almost young Jorg as well). The tale takes place on Earth in the far future, so it is an interesting mix of fantasy and sci-fi, as Jorg finds ways to take advantage of long-gone "ancient" technologies, combined with his magical abilities, to help even the odds against those bent on destroying him.
The only real problem I had with the tale was its disjointed telling. It bounces back and forth between the current events, and events from four years earlier, and then also events that took place during a time in which his memory had a big blank gap... It's hard to keep track of what is happening when. Anyway, the writing itself and the dialog are well done and easy to read. Took me a good two-plus weeks to finish this one, but ultimately I enjoyed it. (4 out of 5 stars)
This one had a lot of hype surrounding it last year, and it turns out it was for good reason. I tore through this book in about 24 hours or so. It is Cline's first book, and hopefully not his last.
In the future, the world is in rough shape due to a combination of energy crisis, financial crisis and environmental crisis. Lucky for everyone, a computer whiz that grew up in the 1980's had invented a virtual world called OASIS, where people can log in with full VR gear and live in a better world, sort of like the Matrix, only cooler. Well, this inventor of the OASIS was a recluse, and rich beyond imagining... and when he died, he announced a game... hidden inside OASIS were three keys to three gates... if you could find the keys, solve the challenges to open the gates, and solve the challenges inside the gates, the ultimate reward was all of his dough - to the tune of 260 Billion dollars. It's open to everyone, and all you need to do is solve the first riddle, and then begin your search of the thousands of planets and worlds scattered throughout OASIS.
Yes, this formula has been done before (dirt-poor kid with super-smarts somehow manages to win the impossible contest and win wild riches), but this story is especially cool for folks my age, since all of the challenges and riddles and puzzles have to do with the 1980s - the movies, games and music mostly -- so it was a very fun adventure combined with a trip down memory lane for me. I read it very quickly, all the way through to its very satisfying conclusion. (4.5 out of 5 stars)
Last year I read a book called I Know Not, by indy author James Daniel Ross that impressed me greatly, even though the book was rife with typos and grammatical quirks. I liked it so much I re-read it at the very beginning of this year. Typos-shmypos... the guy wrote a great story. Well, he recently released a new book called The Last Dragoon, and from the first chapter I was blown away.
The premise is extremely cool, lemme see if I can summarize it in one sentence: A necromancer is attacking the Ivy City from within, by raising the dead in the catacombs beneath the city and using them as an army... but in doing so he has also raised a long-dead hero who is determined to stop him. I don't know how that strikes you, but please take my word for it - this is an amazing tale, non-stop action, redemption, and ironically it has a moving love story at its heart. It's told from the perspective of Matthias Reinhart, the last Dragoon, sworn by his order to protect and serve the King with his life. His love for the king's daughter leads him to die in scandal - and his resurrection gives him a chance at redemption (and then some). I won't spoil anymore of the story. Let me just say that this little-known author has broken into the top ten of my favorite fantasy authors, right up there with the big names. He tells a heck of a story. I Know Not was not a fluke - I think this guy's going to be big. Be forewarned if you track this one down - because the necromancer involved is quite creative, some of the scenes cross over into the "horror" genre for a bit. (5 out of 5 stars)
[EDIT: OK, confession time. I wrote the mini-review of The Last Dragoon before completely finishing it. I was so caught up in the ride that I assumed it would stay consistent throughout. Well, it wavers a bit toward the end, and crosses into melodrama and becomes occasionally redundant as certain story elements are reused to accomplish similar things. I still really enjoy both the story and the premise greatly, but the story does suffer a bit from the lack of variety in the final quarter. Still highly recommended 4.25/5 stars)
Man, I didn't really intend to let mini-book reviews take over the post tonight, but there it is. That's what happens when you blog as the wind moves you...
I guess I could post a cooking video...
Perfect! Steak anyone?
Other than reading and tinkering around in Minecraft, not much to report. I still haven't forgotten about the potentially really awesome news I hinted at a month or two ago. In fact, great developments afoot. I may have an announcement soon.
Hmm.... maybe a Funny Picture or two, and then I'm out...
First, a pic that combined three of my favorite things: movies, computers and puns...
Come on, that's awesome... wish I'd thought of that one...
Next, a dog takes a self-portrait for his Facebook profile...
And finally, a Smart Car owner paints his car to look like a toy Playmobil kiddie car...
That's probably what it feels like to ride in one to begin with...
OK, I'm out for now.
Oh, wait! I forgot to mention, I got an email update from the makers of that competitive eating documentary I was filmed for back in the day. The film is near-finished, and has been submitted to several film festivals. I'll apparently be getting to see it very soon. *fingers crossed*
Adios for now,
Dave the Meanderthal