Books

Video: TEDTalk: Storytelling

by on Jan.30, 2012, under Art, Articles, Books, Comics, Computers, Culture, Information Technology, Other, Technology, Visual Media

This one is only four minutes long and it is well worth watching.

I do wish he had manage to work in comics but there are plenty of other storytelling formats he glossed over so I can’t claim discrimination. I can point out that when he uses the word book here, he is talking about the physical medium, a set of bound pages, and not necessarily a novel, or story. What I love is the multimedia approach to his particular story. The presentation wasn’t about an iPad. It was about how stories can be so much more than words, or performances, or images, or sound, etc. It can be all of those things. This is the kind of story I can’t wait for. In the mean time I’d settle for eBook readers which allow me to organize the text the way I want (including replicating a book if I want).

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Book Watch: Ready Player One

by on Jan.25, 2012, under Book Watch, Books, Culture, Reviews

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An amazing combination of adventure and intrigue slathered heavily with 80s pop culture and video game references, Ready Player one is a must read book for fans of video games of any age, as well as the movies and music of the 1980s.

Ready Player One is set is a dystopian future where most of humanity has retreated into a virtual reality world called The Oasis. When the world’s eccentric creator dies, he wills his fortune, and The Oasis, to the first person to find his easter egg hidden somewhere in the virtual world. The creator was well-known for being obsessed with video games and eighties pop culture and the clues he left suggested that knowing such things would make the egg easier to find but after years of searching, nobody had even found a definite clue. Enter our teenage protagonist, a poor child of The Oasis, who dedicated his life to studying the egg and through a small amount of luck, begins the hero’s journey to discover the secrets of The Oasis.

Evil corporations, intrigue, drama, romance, adventure, and tons of eights pop culture references, this book is a must read for any self-styled geek. I listened to the audio book version which had the extra bonus of being read by Wil Wheaton who adds a significant amount of inflection and emotion into the story. Overall I really enjoyed the book. I listened to it over the holidays including listening to it while falling asleep.

I highly recommend this book.

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Book Watch: Mr. Monster and I Don’t Want to Kill You

by on Jan.10, 2012, under Book Watch, Books, Reviews

Mr. Monster (John Cleaver, #2)Mr. Monster by Dan Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second in a trilogy, Mr. Monster exceeds its predecessor in many ways.

Picking up almost immediately where the first book left off, our protagonist is attempting to come to terms that he has unleashed a monster inside himself by killing off a demon. Which is when the murders start happening again and John Cleaver struggles with his inner self, Mr. Monster, over if, or how, he should hunt and kill this new serial killer in town.

My biggest problem with the last book was the introspective rationalization parts where the hero argues with himself over what he should do. In this book I found I had no problems with these parts and I think it is because the clash between the protagonist’s urges seems far more prominent. One area that the story did not excel at for me when compared to the first book was sickening/horrifying me. There was one scene in the first book towards the end that this novel just failed to replicate, although the story did manage to make me worry and feel for the protagonist (or those around him). I was just never intensely horrified.

Again, if you’re fascinated by sociopaths, serial killers, and don’t mind a bit of the supernatural, then I do suggest you read this book.

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I Don't Want to Kill You (John Cleaver, #3)I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this was my favorite of the John Cleaver series. It changes up the formula somewhat and we see more character growth overall. The finale has some rather sickening parts that was very reminiscent of the first book for me which helped me enjoy the book more.

I Don’t Want to Kill You is the third book in the John Cleaver series about a young man who deals with a growing urge to become a serial killer by hunting and killing supernatural begins that are killing off people in his home town. The third book picks up almost right where the second leaves off and changes up the formula enough to be new and interesting.

I’d recommend this book for fans of the series and people who like antiheroes or serial killers.

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Weird Words: Specie

by on Dec.02, 2011, under Articles, Books, Weird Words, Writing

Specie

Noun

  • Money, especially in the form of coins made from precious metal, that has an intrinsic value; coinage.

Used in a sentence:

  • He was amazed that these aliens would use something as precious as platinum as specie and as their lowest value coin no less!

SourceWiktionary

Commentary:

Specie is actually really close to the word species and they both have the same root word in Latin. When used in Latin it means type or kind, however English has the extra meaning of referring to coinage that has actual intrinsic value and I felt that the meaning alone made it worthy of being a weird word. Okay not myself, per say, but one of my writing group, Marie. Marie has no particular webpage to link to, so in an effort to continue The Singularity’s tradition of somewhat selling out, let me promote Marie’s soon to be spectacular book that hasn’t even finished being written yet and has no title! Okay yes that was a bit of a failure as well but I’ll keep you all updated!

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Book Watch: I Am Not A Serial Killer

by on Oct.31, 2011, under Book Watch, Books

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, #1)I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listen to Dan Wells’ writing advice on his podcast Writing Excuses regularly and went a head and decided to listen to his novel by audio book. Because I had been listening to Dan for so long, I already had a few minor spoilers regarding the plot of the story which likely affected my reading of it. I am happy to say I enjoyed the story and would even recommend it to fans of psychological horror. There were a few aspects that kept me from loving it however.

My personal problem with the novel was there were times when I was not that interested in the main character’s welfare. The story has a lot of introspective moments which sometimes fell flat for me, although I am not sure why. There was, however, one particular scene at the start of the climax of the story that really got to me. It gave me chills, which is what a good horror novel should do.

If you’re fascinated by sociopaths, serial killers, and don’t mind a bit of the supernatural, then I do suggest you read this book.

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Article: “You mean space ships aren’t real?”

by on Oct.19, 2011, under Articles, Books, Comics, Culture, Science, Science Future

Sandra Tayler is the other half of the pair that make up the family Tayler. If that name is familiar it’s because I like Schlock Mercenary, a serial comic online written and drawn by Howard Tayler, the man who is famous (to me) for s stating that “You’re so talented.” is really an underhanded insult, and post links to the comic on this blog.

Sandra wrote a short but sweet article for Locus, a Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine that I would like to share.

Sandra Tayler–The Non-Fictional Sense of Wonder [Locus Magazine]

In the articles I write for Escape Pod I try to link modern science with science fiction. Sandra has pointed out I think yet another possible link between the people who pushed us so far out into the stars and what they read as children. I remember reading various novels about colonies on Mars as a child. I agree with Sandra that it is both thrilling that one needs to no longer look in the fiction section of the library to find inspiring stories about our exploration of space but sad that entertainment media out there that help to inspire young people to purse a career in space are fewer than they once were.

I suppose there is always Schlock Mercenary?

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Everything Else I Learned from D&D

by on Sep.26, 2011, under Articles, Books, Entertainment, Gaming, News, Roleplaying Games, Writing

Shelly Mazzanoble is an author. She is most well-known, by me, for her regular articles, Confessions of a Full-Time Wizard, on the Dungeons & Dragons website. She also wrote the book, Confessions of a Confessions of a Part Time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the D&D game.
Shelly’s style of humor is self-deprecating and absurd in a combination that keeps one smiling, if not out right laughing. Mix in a healthy dose of humor and a keen capability of explaining the odd world of Dungeons and Dragons to even the most layman of reader, and her book will keep you reading.
Would be authors will find this excerpt particularly amusing:

Maybe other authors aren’t as involved in the publication of their books because they don’t spend eight hours a day with the people who create them. I’d walk past the desk of Matt, the art director, and see the book’s cover on his screen.

“Do you think my name should be bigger?” I asked.

“Sure,” he agreed. “Totally.”

When the galley was routed for approval, I saw my name was bigger. And misspelled.

“There’s no extra e in Shelly!” I yelled when I saw him working out with his trainer in the gym. “You know that!”

“Oops,” he smiled. “My bad.”

(Never mind the second galley routed with Michele and the third with Mouthy Mazzanoble. That’ll learn me. Not.)

My poor editor is one of my dearest friends. At least she was. Editing this beast nearly sent her into early labor. I’m terrified her son is going to grow up having a nervous twitch whenever I’m around.

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My Fantasy Football Team for the SPFL.

by on Sep.14, 2011, under Books, Comics, Entertainment, Gaming, Novels, Video Games

So as per my post yesterday, showing off Dan Well’s fantasy football team, I’ve decided to draft my own team in similar style. Afterall if there is only one team in the SPFL (Speculative Fiction Football League) (I would have claimed FFL but I suspect the NFL already has that as their acronym for fantasy football, right?) then Dan’s team would automatically win and we can’t have that, right?

So to be fair, I’ll be picking in a similar style to Dan Well’s choices and I will also not be able to pick any of the choices he has made.

Coach
So according to the snippets of football movies and televisions shows I’ve seen, the Coach is the guy who gets pissed off a lot on the side lines while their team sucks and then ultimately gets liquids poured on them when the team manages to come together and win, despite all the odds. I also think they plan the maneuvers the team does on the field, because I remember scenes of coaches pointing at Xs and Os a lot. So I need someone who is a master of strategy, and for flavor, I want someone who stays cool under pressure. First person that comes to mind is The Riddler but having my coach get beat up at half time by some lunatic in a bat costume (who isn’t a mascot!) would be bad press. There is, of course, Original Universe Spock, whose logic would likely benefit the team heavily but I suspect his cool demeanor would work against his ability to motivate the rest of the team. So ultimately my choice is going to have to come from Shikimaru from Naruto. Sure he is a little young to be a coach, but he is a master strategist. Additionally his usually lazy demeanor would keep him from getting overly heated when his team was losing while still motivating him and his ability to control shadows would keep this team from sneaking up behind him to pour liquids over his head.

Quarterback
So as Dan put it, the QB need to throw stuff and be a good field leader. I’ll translate good field leader into is good with tactics. Well the first choice is Waka from Final Fantasy X. Afterall he played in his world’s version of football called Blitz Ball, and his primary combat weapon is throwing a blitz ball at enemies. However I think he might be lacking in the tactics part, since his team kinda sucked until Tidus came along. Another good thrower would be Donkey Kong but I suspect his tactics would be to just throw passes or run the ball himself, which is tactically sound but not always preferable. I don’t want a QB who is predictable. So I will have to go with Link from Legend of Zelda: A link to the Past. Link is a weapon’s expert, well-known for his ability to throw both boomerangs, bombs, rocks, bushes, and even clay pots. In addition the man has saved the kingdom of Hyrule (and various other principalities) from evil multiple times over without a team or coaching, which would suggest excellent tactical capabilities.

(continue reading…)

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Video: Harry Potter: How It Should Have Ended

by on Sep.13, 2011, under Books, Entertainment, Novels, Videos, Visual Media

I love that line. “Honey Badgers take what they want.”

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Book Watch: Bakuman

by on Sep.06, 2011, under Art, Book Watch, Books, Entertainment

Bakuman, Vol. 1Bakuman, Vol. 1-6 by Tsugumi Ohba

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Date Started: Sept 1st, 2011
Date Ended: Sept 6th, 2011

I caught the first few chapters of this manga in Shonen Jump, and was rather hooked from the beginning. It balances a slow-paced drama and romance with insider technical knowledge of how manga is produced in Japan and remains interesting despite a premise that does not lend itself easily to being described. Since it is a manga about manga, they don’t go into a lot of detail regarding the fictional manga being created but instead focus on interactions between the fictional manga’s creators, friends, and colleagues.

Mostly what I find inspiring about the series is the idea of two people pursing their dream job, regardless of the consequences. The series is still being published in America.

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