Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Blogger Hop November 30th - December 6th: There Are 26 Spacetime Dimensions in Bosonic String Theory

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books has restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another. The hop is currently traveling about the blogosphere and is being hosted by Angler's Rest. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them. A complete explanation of the history and the rules of the Hop can be found here.

This week Jen asks: Apart from being readers, many of us collect books on a specific subject or by a particular author. What books or which author do you collect?

This is actually two questions for me, so I'm going to give two answers. One for the type of books I collect, and one for what authors I collect.

As to the first, what type of books do I collect, that should be pretty easy to figure out: science fiction and fantasy books. But I'm a little more selective than that. My main focus is to collect all of the major award winning and award nominated science fiction and fantasy books, plus books that have won or been nominated for a few other lesser awards. Specifically, I collect books that have won or been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, the Campbell Award, the Clarke Award, the Prometheus Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the International Fantasy Award, and the the World Fantasy Award. But this isn't limited to novels. I also collect compilations of short fiction that include award winning and nominated short stories, novellas, and novelette, nonfiction books related to the science fiction and fantasy fields that have won or been nominated for awards, and science fiction and fantasy movies and television shows, that have won or been nominated for awards. At this point I have a substantial portion of books (and other media) that meet these criteria, but as most of these the awards are handed out annually, I am always playing catch up.

As to the second, the list of authors whose books I collect is moderately long, but there are a few that I am somewhat more serious about than the others. My first science fiction love was Andre Norton, and I have been working for quite a while to collect all of her books. The trouble is, she was a very prolific author and a decent number of her books are out of print, so even though I have more than a hundred books by her, I still have many more to find and acquire. I also collect books by Isaac Asimov, but just like with Norton the trouble is that he was a prolific author. In Asimov's case, he was an extraordinarily prolific author, and trying to complete my collection of his works is even more difficult. I used to collect books by Robert A. Heinlein, but I believe that I have every title he ever published, so I don't collect him any more, rather I have collected Heinlein's works. I have several other authors that I am working to collect all of the fiction they have written: Catherina Asaro, Ursula K. LeGuin, C.J. Cherryh, Poul Anderson, and several others. My book collection is likely to never be finished. But the point of collecting is to always be hunting, so a "completed" book collection is, in my opinion, kind of sad.

Go to subsequent Book Blogger Hop: There Are 27 Bones in the Human Hand

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Follow Friday - There Are 86 Metals on the Periodic Table of Elements


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Novel Reveries and Oh! Paper Pages.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Activity! Who is your to-die-for book crush? What do you think they look like? Add an image to make us all happy.

Questions like these remind me how far outside of the mainstream of book bloggers I truly am. In short, until I saw this question, I never really thought about any characters in a book as a "to-die-for book crush". I suppose I could go with the obvious option and pick Eowyn of The Lord of the Rings as my book crush.

Eowyn confronts the Witch-King
After all, Eowyn was probably the first female character in a book that I really noticed and even remotely considered in a semi-romantic way. On the other hand, I was about ten at the time I first read The Lord of the Rings, so I'm not even sure if that qualifies as a crush. But I've always loved Eowyn, who refused to accept the fate that her gender relegated her to, but instead disguised herself as Dernhelm and rode with the Rohirrim host to the Battle of Pelennor fields. Who, when all others deserted Theoden and fled in fear from the Witch-King, stood her ground and became the fulfillment of a 1,500 year old prophecy, although she was grievously wounded in the process, having her arm broken and being struck down by the "black breath". The only down point in her story is that once she became romantically involved with Faramir she had to give up her shield-maiden status and settle down to the life of domesticity she had spent the previous portions of the book fleeing. In effect, at the end of the book Eowyn gives up much of what had made her an interesting character. So even though I am a big fan of Eowyn, I don't think she's the right choice.

Eilonwy with her Bauble
A more magical choice, and probably a more interesting one, would be Eilonwy, from Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. We first meet Eilonwy in The Book of Three (read review), where she has been made a ward of the evil Queen Achren who is in league with Arawn of Annuvin, the main villain of the series. And it is here where she begins to shine. It is Eilonwy who rescues Taran, and inadvertently rescues Fflewddur Fflam. It is Eilonwy, and not Taran, who recovers the sword Dyrnwyn. It is Eilowny who convinced King Eiddileg to help her and her companions. Unfortunately, after this promising beginning, Eilonwy more or less morphs into a headstrong but fairly standard fantasy princess who serves as a damsel in distress and a supporting character for the hero. She tags along with Taran in The Black Cauldron (read review) but doesn't have much impact on the story. She is kidnapped in The Castle of Llyr (read review), and has to give up her magical inheritance in order to defeat the villain. She doesn't appear much in Taran Wanderer (read review), and in The High King (read review) her primary contribution to the war against Arawn is to sew a banner for Taran. In the end, Eilonwy must surrender all of her magical abilities in order to stay with Taran. Once again, much of what made Eilonwy an interesting character is leached out of her, and at the end, she can't even remain as a practitioner of the magical arts, but like Eowyn, must give up those things that make her unique and take up a life of domesticity in order to wind up as a suitable partner for her chosen man. And so, like Eowyn, I think I have to pass on Eilonwy as my chosen crush.

Raederle meets Morgon with
the skull of Farr in her hand

So who can I choose? How about Raederle from Patricia McKillip's Riddle of the Stars trilogy. Raederle is the Princess of An, and her father King Mathom had promised her hand in marriage to any man who could win a riddle game against the cursed ghost of King Peven of Aum. Despite being offered as a prize in a riddle-game, Raederle is a powerful woman, and becomes determined to aid her promised husband Morgon. In Heir of Sea and Fire she embarks on a quest to find Morgon and rescue him from the evil wizard Gisteslwchlohm. Through this book and the next, Harpist in the Wind, Raederle takes an active role in the story, first gaining power and understanding, and then using them to help defeat the antagonists. In the end, while she doesn't end up as the land ruler of the entire region, she doesn't have to give up her hard-won powers and surrender her own identity to gain the love and respect of the man she desires. So, for being a feisty and independent woman who will fight for causes she loves, and for refusing to give up herself to be subsumed into someone else's identity, Raederle is my book crush.

Go to previous Follow Friday: NGC 85 Is a Galaxy in Andromeda

Follow Friday     Home

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review - Shave the Whales by Scott Adams


Short review: Dilbert at home isn't as funny as Dilbert at work. But it is still funnier than most other comic strips.

Haiku
Dilbert goes on dates
Dogbert makes fun of Dilbert
Some workplace humor

Full review: Shave the Whales is the fourth collection of Dilbert comic strips. Dilbert is now known as a vicious satire of the modern office environment, but the early years of the strip were more heavily focused on the personal problems of Dilbert as a nerdish engineer trying to meet women and navigate a social environment for which he was temperamentally unsuited.

This collection is drawn from that earlier era, so the biting office humor is not nearly as prevalent as it would become later. Most of the now-familiar denizen's of Diblert's workplace are noticeably absent, and as a result the Dilbert character must carry most of the comedic weight by himself with little more than an assist from Dogbert. To provide a little bit of help, Adams introduces the pathetic Ratbert to the mix, and in the handful of office oriented strips we get the first iteration of a Wally-like character, although the character isn't actually named and it isn't quite Wally.

This remains a very funny collection though, as flashes of the satire that would come to the forefront later show up, and the strips featuring Dilbert's attempts to get dates are viciously funny as well. Though not as exceptional as the strip would later become, this is a great collection nonetheless.

Previous book in the series: Dogbert's Clues for the Clueless
Subsequent book in the series: Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy!

Scott Adams     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Monday, November 26, 2012

Musical Monday - Chiron Beta Prime by Jonathan Coulton (with Paul & Storm)


Now that it is after Thanksgiving, it is permissible to begin anticipating Christmas. But, as usual, I don't really see the holiday the same way many other people do. In my opinion, The Nightmare Before Christmas is the greatest Christmas movie ever made, and no Holiday season is complete without an ode to the joys of living in exile on an asteroid while being watched over by armed robot overlords. I mean guards. I mean protectors. Simply put, Jonathan Coulton's song is one of my favorite season appropriate songs.

In addition, Jon Coulton is such a fun performer. In this rendition, as he does at all of his live shows, he brings an audience member on stage to provide the "Message Redacted" line late in the song. Often (although not in this video), the audience member also voices the "keyboard solo" in the middle of the song. But the best part of this video is when Colton forgets one of the lines of the song. His response? To ask the audience when the line is. Because he knows that they will know, and will be more than happy to bring him up to speed. So sit back, enjoy your Soylent Green pie while inhaling the delectable fumes of the ammonia scented snow while being good so Robo Santa doesn't kill you, and listen to the delightful saga of the Andersons as they ring in Christmas with some holiday cheer.

Note: Here's an alternative version of the song. It is still Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm performing, but it is at a different venue with a different audience member sharing the stage with them. her name is Alyssa, and she steals the show with her personality onstage. The video quality isn't that great though, which is why I didn't pick the clip for the Musical Monday selection.

Previous Musical Monday: King Kong by Tripod
Subsequent Musical Monday: Kidnap the Sandy Claws by Lock, Shock, and Barrel

Christmas Songs     Musical Monday Playlists

Jonathan Coulton     Paul & Storm     Musical Monday     Home

Friday, November 23, 2012

Biased Opinion - A Rant About Holiday Posts

At the outset, I will say that I do appreciate the irony that is inherent in what I am about to write. I also know that it will make me seem fairly curmudgeonly. It is also, more or less, an explanation of why I don't normally do holiday posts.

I really don't like Thanksgiving posts. Rather, I really don't like special holiday posts no matter what holiday they celebrate. Whenever I sit down at my computer and head to my favorite blog, or web comic, or other website and punch in the address, and then feel the let down of yet another post that says "Happy Thanksgiving", usually accompanied by a cute picture. And why is it a let down? Because on most holidays I am already inundated by holiday related messages and yet one more seems redundant and almost pointless. If I wanted a Thanksgiving Day message, or a Halloween message, or a Christmas message I could find a thousand places to get one of those. But when I go to a webcomic about weregeeks, or stick figure fantasy adventurers, or a website about role-playing games, or a book blog, I'm usually looking to get away from the hubbub of the holiday.

But my objection to holiday posts isn't just that I am looking for something non-holiday related. It is that when someone puts up a holiday post it seems like they are just mailing in their material for the day. It seems like an almost perfunctory decision to put up a post saying "Merry Christmas!" or 'Happy Fourth of July!" or whatever holiday is being mentioned in the post or strip for that day. It requires no real thought on the part of the creator, and is more or less just a placeholder until the next "real" entry or update is put out there.

As a result, because it seems to me that holiday posts are so boringly routine, and because they seem almost lazy in a way, I dislike them, and I rarely post them.

Biased Opinions     Home

Monday, November 19, 2012

Musical Monday - King Kong by Tripod


I fear for the new Hobbit trilogy, the first installment of which is due to hit theaters in the middle of next month. Why, I hear you ask. Well, I was watching Peter Jackson's King Kong again recently and as the members of Tripod observe, it is tediously slow and overlong. The movie takes forever to get started, meanders a bit, then wanders some more, and then finally gets going. And even then it stalls with overly long and boring "action" sequences that drag on forever. Before Jackson's King Kong I would not have thought that a sequence involving a herd of stampeding Diplodocuses chased by Velociraptors would be dull, but Jackson made that scene play out for so long that it became an exercise in boredom. And who would have thought that a fight between a giant ape and three Tyrannosaurus Rex's could be so long and so very, very dull? From the bug fight to Kong's rampage through New York, every sequence simply took about three or four times as long as it should have.

The Hobbit is a fairly tightly written novel at 320 quick-paced pages. The story moves at a rapid clip, from Bilbo's recruitment, to the trolls, to the more or less friendly elves of Rivendell, to the Misty Mountains with its nefarious inhabitants, to Beorn, to Mirkwood and its spiders and less than friendly elves, to Laketown, the Lonely Mountain, and Smaug, and finally to the Battle of Five Armies. But Jackson has taken this straightforward story and bloated it up to three full-length movies. And that has me worried. How many extended sequences of tedium will be incorporated into the story? How much time will be dedicated to monotonous sequences of CGI dwarves fighting CGI trolls and goblins? How self-indulgently long will the sequences involving animated spiders and eagles be? And so on. Jackson has a track record of taking source material and padding it out until it becomes a beautiful, boring mess. I hope that doesn't happen with The Hobbit, but I fear that it will.

Previous Musical Monday: The Way Too Early Christmas Song by Paul & Storm
Subsequent Musical Monday: Chiron Beta Prime by Jonathan Coulton (with Paul & Storm)

Tripod     Musical Monday     Home

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Blogger Hop November 16th - November 22nd: A Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Must Be at Least 25 Years Old

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books has restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another. The hop is currently traveling about the blogosphere and is being hosted by Butterfly-o-Meter Books. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them. A complete explanation of the history and the rules of the Hop can be found here.

This week Jen asks: The bookish gods are giving you free hand, you can pick any one character (book, TV series/movie, play etc) and inject them into a different novel of your choice. Which character and series would you mix’n'match?

I think I would like to drop Hari Seldon, from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series into the universe inhabited by Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry. Both men live in the waning days of an interstellar empire, although Flandry's is threatened by alien powers, while Seldon's appears to be the undisputed master of the entire galaxy. Both men know that the end of their empire is coming. Both have a plan for dealing with the coming collapse.

But both characters have very different views on what those plans should be. Flandry fights heroically for his Emperor. Not because he thinks he can avert the coming fall - he is reconciled to the idea that his nation is doomed - but rather so that he can delay the inevitable until after his own death. Seldon, on the other hand, comes up with an entirely new branch of mathematics, which he calls psychohistory, to try to figure out a way to shorten the duration of the coming anarchy. Flandry's motivations are inherently selfish, looking for a way to make sure he does not have to personally live in the turmoil of a collapsed society. Seldon is essentially altruistic, looking for a way to ensure that future generations will suffer less.

However, the reason I would want to see Seldon in Anderson's books is not because Flandry and Seldon are such different characters, but rather because the two authors were so very different. Anderson was very libertarian in his outlook, and his writing reflects that. Asimov was much more of a believer in central planning and control, at least as far as his writing in the Foundation series goes. And Hari Seldon, as the author of a method to statistically predict the future behavior of large groups of people, and the architect of a plan to manage the entire galaxy for several thousand years, is pretty much the ultimate central planner. So dropping him into Anderson's fiction would be like mixing oil and water. Or rather, like throwing a match into a big pool of kerosene. Which means, of course, that the result would be sure to be entertaining.

Go to previous Book Blogger Hop: A Tesseract Is Made Up of Twenty-Four Squares

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Follow Friday - NGC 85 Is a Galaxy in Andromeda


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Reach for the Stars...and the Books and Bookworm8921.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?

This question is a little bit difficult because so many of the movies I like have already been turned into novels, even the novels that started as movies like Alien, Outland, Clash of the Titans, Star Wars, and Dragonslayer (and so many of them seem to have been written by Alan Dean Foster). Even my favorite television shows like Babylon 5 and Star Trek have been made into novels. In some cases dozens of novels.

But one series that I think would benefit from a series of novels: Farscape. If we could have a set of novels to tell the entire story of the fifth season that was truncated into the two-part miniseries The Peacekeeper Wars, I would be a very happy man.

Go to previous Follow Friday: Eighty Four Is a Town in Pennsylvania

Follow Friday     Home

Notice - Repair Work Underway

Some people who read this blog might have noticed that posting has been a little light the last week or so. And by "light" I mean "almost nonexistent".

There is a reason for this other than I am simply not bothering to post anything. The reason is this: a few days ago I noticed that several of the images I had attached to blog posts were vanishing. As in, they were transforming from images to broken non-images. I have no idea why this happened, or if it will happen again in the future. The images in question were all uploaded to the Blogger server, and so they should be sitting digitally with the rest of my blog content. The HTML code for the images is still sitting in the blog page. The image just isn't there any more.

There appears to be no pattern regarding the missing images. Some are on recent posts. Some are on old posts. Some are book covers. Some are not. So this means I have to go back and fix all those broken images by re-uploading the image, and then fix all of the other instances of that image on the blog that link to the original uploaded images. And then I have to go back and check all of the blog pages to make sure none of them have broken images that I don't know about. And with more than nine hundred posts on the blog, that will take some time.

I've been considering moving from Blogger to Word Press for this blog. Blogger is easy to use, but I think I'm beginning to strain its capabilities. I can't move just yet, as I don't have some things in place that I need to have in place to make the switch, but I'm aiming at moving sometime shortly after the start of 2013. In the meantime, I just have to patch things together with the internet equivalent of spackle and duct tape and hope things don't fall apart.

Home

Friday, November 9, 2012

Follow Friday - Eighty Four Is a Town in Pennsylvania


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Ramblings of a Coffee Addict and Paranormal Romance.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Do you mind books with similar ideas to other books? Similar concepts, backgrounds, retellings or pulled-to-publish fanfic?

To a certain extent, no. Because to a certain extent, very few story ideas are actually new. Dickens rehashed ideas from earlier stories. Twain rehashed ideas from earlier stories. Shakespeare rehashed ideas from earlier stories. I'm sure if we could ask him, we'd find that Homer rehashed ideas from earlier stories. All writers borrow from the past to a certain extent, and genre writers probably do so even more than most. Certain tropes of genre fiction are simply accepted, and as a result, they get reused time and time again by writers. Does the fact that Babylon 5 borrows from The Demolished Man bother me? Is the fact that Green Lantern borrows from the Lensman series problematic? No, not in the least. Because even though they borrow from their inspirational sources, the storytelling is done well enough, and there is enough difference in the execution to make the later works enjoyable to read.

But there is a tipping point where "borrowing" become "copying", and where "inspiration" becomes "plagiarism". For me, that point is best exemplified by Dennis L. McKiernan's Iron Tower trilogy, which is so derivative of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings that while I was reading it I spent my time wondering why I didn't just go and read Tolkien's books instead. While many fantasy writers borrow elements from Tolkien, and from the sources that inspired Tolkien, once your book becomes too much like a rehash of its predecessors, then there's just no reason to read it.

Go to subsequent Follow Friday: NGC 85 Is a Galaxy in Andromeda

Follow Friday     Home

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review - It's Obvious You Won't Survive by Your Wits Alone by Scott Adams


Short review: Dilbert is a hopeless nerd of an engineer who copes with his soul sucking job, pointy-headed boss, completely dead social life, and Dogbert.

Haiku
Pointy headed boss,
Soul sucking job, and Dogbert
Travails of Dilbert

Full review: Dilbert is the cubicle dwelling everyman engineer who stands in for everyone who ever had to deal with a boss who doesn't understand what they actually do, had to sit through endless meetings about teamwork and quality, or screwed up a date by wearing a short-sleeved polyester dress shirt and talking about computer code. As usual, Scott Adams' sharp, biting satirical look at the life of the nerdy and their working environment is funny and frequently bitterly sad because it is often true.

(On a side note, I just watched the Babylon 5 episode Moments in Transition, in which Adams appears in a bit role as, well essentially himself, and wants to hire Garibaldi to find his cat and his dog who are trying to take over the universe. Dilbert says that becoming one with his computer is Nerdvana. I disagree. Watching Adams on Babylon 5 is).

As usual, Adams manages to mix bizarre material, such as Bob the dinosaur, Ratbert the lab rat, and Dogbert, the dog who wants to rule the world, with even more bizarre material such as pointy-haired bosses and the inanity of the corporate world. Only a strip like Dilbert could demonstrate the idiocy of things like "Rivers and Trees" Management courses and "Quality" office slogans by juxtaposing them with a megalomanaical dog giving common sense lessons and starting a clues for the clueless newsletter. (One of my favorites is a strip when Dogbert makes people apply for a license to have children, and finds them woefully unqualified; almost as funny are the strips where Dogbert offers his own unique brand of marriage counseling). It is a truly sad commentary on modern life that the material involving bizarre animals such as a lazy beaver, or robots with attitude issues (constructed by the garbage-man no less), seem less surreal than the realistic depictions of the working world.

As always, Adams hits the ball out the park with almost every strip. From Dilbert musing on the meaning of life while Dogbert insults him, to Dilbert's adventures in being rejected on dates, to the almost random insanity that flows from Dilbert's alternatively clueless and evil boss, every strip is brutally funny, and painfully honest. This is yet another excellent installment in the Dilbert lexicon, and one that anyone who has ever worked in a cubicle will almost certainly enjoy. Those of you born to lives of silver-spoon wealth and the fast track to upper management (for example, the very tall with executive hair) can safely skip this book. The rest of us should consider it required reading.

Previous book in the series: Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy!
Subsequent book in the series: Still Pumped from Using the Mouse

Scott Adams     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Monday, November 5, 2012

Musical Monday - The Way Too Early Christmas Song by Paul & Storm


Every year it seems to get earlier. First the Christmas marketing season crept past Thanksgiving. Now it has swamped Halloween. Before too long Back to School sales will come accompanied by a reminder that you should buy the little tykes stocking stuffers. Eventually Santa Claus will be dressed up in a red, white, and blue star-spangled hat for the 4th of July, and the Easter Bunny will be replaced by a team of reindeer. I don't advocate the song's chosen response of kicking a mall Santa in his North Pole and Decking him in the Halls as he drops, but the Christmas marketing creep is getting ridiculous.

Rebel. Ignore Christmas until after Thanksgiving. And ignore "Black Friday", which is a retailer created frenzy that has no meaning for consumers to begin with. The only reason that the Christmas marketing creep is happening is because people respond to it. If it annoys you like it annoys me, the best thing you can do to make it go away is to ignore it. Retailers are trying to get you to pay attention and buy stuff for Christmas. So if you don't, they'll frantically try harder for a while, but eventually they will give up.

Note: As a bonus, the last portion of this video is an excerpt of the holiday song Christmas Is Interesting by Jonathan Coulton which is sort of a walk through a memory lane made up of a collection of jumbled Christmas stories.

Previous Musical Monday: Rock You Like a Hurricane by The Scorpions
Subsequent Musical Monday: King Kong by Tripod

Christmas Songs     Musical Monday Playlists

Paul & Storm     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, November 4, 2012

2012 World Fantasy Award Nominees

Location: World Fantasy Convention, Toronto, Ontario.

Comments: Despite the fact that his Song of Ice and Fire series, buoyed by the accompanying HBO television series, was well on its way to dominating the popular media, George R.R. Martin didn't win the World Fantasy Best Novel award for A Dance with Dragons. Instead, the award went to the quirky alternate history Osama that imagined a variant Earth on which Osama bin Laden was not a vicious terrorist, but was rather a character in dime store thrillers. This seems to be something of a pattern for the World Fantasy Awards - note that Stephen King, despite being the most popular author in the United States, was also left standing on the outside looking in this year - and despite King's obvious commercial success he has won precious few World Fantasy Awards over the course of his career. For the most part, it seems that popular authors don't win this award. At least not until very late in their careers, when they win the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Best Novel

Winner:
Osama by Lavie Tidhar

Other Nominees:
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Among Others by Jo Walton
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman

Best Novella

Winner:
A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong by K.J. Parker

Other Nominees:
Alice Through the Plastic Sheet by Robert Shearman
Near Zennor by Elizabeth Hand (reviewed in Errantry: Strange Stories)
Rose Street Attractors by Lucius Shepard
Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

Best Short Fiction

Winner:
The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

Other Nominees:
The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu
A Journey of Only Two Paces by Tim Powers
X for Demetrious by Steve Duffy
Younger Women by Karen Joy Fowler

Best Anthology

Winner:
The Weird edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer

Other Nominees:
Blood and Other Cravings edited by Ellen Datlow
A Book of Horrors edited by Stephen Jones
Gutshot edited by Conrad Williams
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer

Best Collection

Winner:
The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim Powers

Other Nominees:
After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen F. McHugh
Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa L. Hannett
Mrs. Midnight and Other Stories by Reggie Oliver
Two Worlds and In Between by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan

Lifetime Achievement

Winner:
George R.R. Martin
Alan Garner

Other Nominees:
None

Best Artist

Winner:
John Coulthart

Other Nominees:
Julie Dillon
Jon Foster
Kathleen Jennings
John Picacio

Special Award, Professional

Winner:
Eric Lane

Other Nominees:
John Joseph Adams
Jo Fletcher
Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi
Jeff VanderMeer and S.J. Chambers

Special Award, Non-Professional

Winner:
Raymond Russell and Rosalie Parker

Other Nominees:
Kate Baker, Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, and Sean Wallace
Cat Rambo
Charles Tan
Mark Valentine

Go to previous year's nominees: 2011
Go to subsequent year's nominees: 2013

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Book Blogger Hop November 2nd - November 8th: A Tesseract Is Made Up of Twenty-Four Squares

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books has restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another. The hop is currently traveling about the blogosphere and is being hosted by The Fake Steph. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them. A complete explanation of the history and the rules of the Hop can be found here.

This week Jen asks: Is there a book that has been languishing on your TBR pile even though you spent months anticipating its release?

When people ask me how many books I have in my to-be-read pile, I have to suppress a laugh. Because my mount to-be-read might actually qualify as a mountain. I collect books. I collect lots of books. And while I have every intention of reading every single one of them, I collect books at a faster pace than I can read them, meaning that I have nearly six thousand unread books piled around my abode. Yes, you read that right, nearly six thousand. Stacked up, they might actually be a mountain. And, as one might guess, this means that there are several books that have been patiently waiting to be read for quite some time. I'll get to them as fast as I can, but there are only so many hours in the day.

But the second part of the question is where I seem to separate from most other book bloggers. While I have some idea about what books are recently out, and what books are "hot", and so on, I generally have no idea what is due out in the future, and certainly don't have any release dates marked on the calendar. And although I keep track of several genre awards, and make sure to add their nominees and winners to my list of books to get, I don't hungrily snap up new releases. Or even know what new releases are on their way to the market.

So yes, I have a lot of books languishing in my to-be-read pile. But no, I didn't spend months or weeks anticipating their release.


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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Follow Friday - On Old Televisions 83 Was the Highest UHF Channel


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Fiction Predictions and Love, Literature, Art, and Reason.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What is a deal breaker for you in a book? For example, do you abhor love triangles? Or can’t deal with bad editing?

Bad editing. I can read almost any story, about almost anything, but if it is badly edited, I struggle to get through it. Mostly because my brain starts trying to edit the book inside my head as I go, and then I am pulled out of the story as I try to figure out what in the world the author meant, and what would be the best way to clean up a sentence to make that meaning come across.

As a side note, I will say that bad editing is what makes me shy away from self-published books. Not all self-published books are badly edited, but bad editing (or in some cases, no editing) is so prevalent in self-published works that one has to be careful when choosing them. While I can usually expect that a traditionally published book will have at least competent editing, the same does not hold true for self-published works, and my most frequent criticism of self-published books that I have reviewed has been their lousy editing.

Go to subsequent Follow Friday: Eighty Four Is a Town in Pennsylvania

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