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Friday, April 22, 2011

An Open Letter to the Tolkien Estate

Dear Tolkien Estate,

Dude, I really love your father’s work, and understand why you want to be sure that people do not unjustly infringe upon it. It is, after all, one of the more influential works of fiction of the 20th century, and has provided me (and many others) with a great deal of enjoyment, comfort, and introspection.

J.R.R. himself seems to have been a decent fellow. He told the Nazi’s where they could go stick it, which gives him major points in my book. He generally seems to have believed in the power of stories, the importance of courage, that it is good to go out in the woods sometimes, and a number of other things which I also hold to be valuable.

In deference to that legacy, could you consider, perhaps, NOT BEING ASS-HATS?

I mean, seriously dude, it’s a kid’s summer camp in Calgary. I don’t think their using the name “Rivendell” is going to terribly impact your bottom line (if anything, it might help it).

Besides, it’s hard enough to get kids out into the woods these days without you shutting down summer camps.

Just sayin’

Friday, April 15, 2011

On Shelves

I don’t specifically follow Booking Through Thursday, especially since Lizard writes about it, and I can just steal it from her if I like it. This week’s is actually pretty interesting.

My wife will attest to my love of (obsession with) bookshelves. When we first moved in together, she was baffled not only by my concerns about where we would put our shelves, but how it could possibly take so long to unpack books (answer: I organize them.). The second move, she at least understood why it was taking me so long, though she still thought I was ridiculous.

I come by my love of books honestly. Both of my parents are book lovers, though my father is more the “own and shelve” type, while my mother is the “weekly trips to the library” sort. I’ve tended towards owning, though in recent years, borrowing and e-books have also become an attractive option. With some of my recent experiments/readings on minimalism, I’ve been starting to think more selectively about what is on my shelves.

Part of this is the knowledge that what is on my shelves does say something about me. I enjoy having the big honkin’ 50th Anniversary Edition of Lord of the Rings sitting there because Tolkien’s work has been a huge influence on my reading habits and thoughts (among other things). My book shelves are unquestionably a means by which I declare my identity.

At the same time, there are books that I read that I don’t necessarily feel the need to display. The random murder mystery read because some suggested it, yet another random fantasy novel (YARFN?), or the cheap martial arts book that I picked up because I thought it might be interesting, but actually turned out to be crap. Those are books I don’t necessarily need or even want on display.

I want the books on my shelves to be ones that I love; that speak to me, or something about me. They should be books I enjoy returning to, in part or in whole, on a regular basis. Those books deserve my shelf space.

Where I find value in e-books are those books I’m not sure I’d return to, or wouldn’t necessarily want to make shelf space for. At this point, my guideline has become “if I’d buy it in mass market paper back, I’ll buy it on my Kindle.”

Will bookshelves disappear? I don’t know. I sure hope not…I like my shelves. I’ll certainly do my part to keep them around.

Cartomancy: Book Two of The Age of Discovery

Cartomancy: Book Two of The Age of Discovery
Michael A. Stackpole

Damn you Michael Stackpole. Damn you to hell.

I have written before about this, but, for those who missed it; many years ago, I attended a short lecture by Michael Stackpole on writing, and writing speculative fiction (that’s the cool term for sci-fi/fantasy these days, right) in particular. It was valuable, and probably would have been more valuable if I was a little older and a little better focused, but such is life.

One of the most explicit things I remember from that lecture is that Stackpole described one of his recurring nightmares as being “stuck in an airport where the bookstore only stocks the second book in a trilogy.” His advice was that each book in a series should be reasonably self-contained, so that a reader could comfortably pick up a book and start reading without feeling as though something was lacking.

And here I am, reading the second book of his Age of Discovery series, Cartomancy.
Let me say, straight up, that there is a lot to recommend Cartomancy. If you enjoyed a Secret Atlas, Cartomancy takes many of the events from that book and revs them into high gear. Unlike some authors, Stackpole doesn’t introduce too many new characters here (and finally eliminates one that I really found repulsive, and saw little point to), but rather, keeps on with ones he’s already established, building on the plot threads that were present at the end of a Secret Atlas. The pacing of Cartomancy felt like it was much faster, though I think I may be taking that impression more from the latter half of the book. The first half is still some build up, and Stackpole does a fine job of refreshing the reader on critical points and ideas, to the point where, yes, you probably could pick this book up and read it without having read a Secret Atlas.

So why the damnation?

Because while the book is a great read, it’s definitely not self-contained. In fact, it ends on a cliffhanger that, while not quite as bad as “Frodo was alive but taken by the enemy” it’s pretty close. If I was in the airport, I would be mighty pissed to discover that they didn’t have a copy of a New World close on hand.

Which, I guess, is a pretty strong recommendation for this book, and the series thus far. A New World will be going onto my Kindle DX ASAP.

Fantasy fans, give this one a look.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do Not Want

Long story short; I'm in the process of trying to purge a bunch of stuff from my bookshelves. Yes, I'm aware of things like donation centers and those will eventually be on the list. However, before I start donating things to people I don't know, I figured I would offer them up to people I DO know. Or at least, sort of know. I don't know everyone who reads this thing.

So here's the deal. I don't want this stuff. If you would find some value in it, let me know. If you live locally, we can arrange a hand-off. If you live not locally, I may ask you to help with shipping costs, depending on what it is/how much it costs to ship. All I ask is if you take this is that you take it to read and enjoy, not to sell if off.

Here's the list. Things that are starred/have a link are books I've reviewed . If you have concerns about the relative condition or whatever, ask me.

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Trade Paperback)
*A Feast for Crows (Hard Cover)
Breaking Ships (ARC)
Chicken Soup for the Volunteers Soul
Clash of Kings
Crossing the Line (ARC)
Dead Witch Walking (ARC)
Devils Armor
Eagle of the Ninth*
Experience and Education
Eyes of G-D
Gardens of the Moon
Going Ballistic: Circular Strength Training for Boxing*
Growing Up Poor: A Literary Anthology (Trade Paperback)
Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country (Trade Paperback)
How to Start a Business in Massachusetts (Trade Paperback)
In Northern Twilight
Karate & Judo Exercise (Bruce Tegner)
Lord of Snow and Ashes
My American Journey (Colin Powell)*
Only Yesterday: An Informal History Of The 1920s
Paula: A Memoir (Trade Paperback)
Secret Atlas
Ship of Magic (Somehow, I read this without reviewing it. I'll put one up soon)
Shutter Island
South: The Endurance Expedition
Star Wars: Vector Prime
Storm of Swords
The Glorious Cause: A Novel of the American Revolution (Hard Cover)
Through Violet Eyes (ARC)
Trigger (Arthur C. Clarke/Michael Kube-Mcdowell)
Uprooted (Trade Paperback)
Wayfarer Redemption
Web of the Witch World
Weekly Bookkeeping Ledger (Blank)
Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Volume I
Writing For an Endangered World

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Your Favorite Kid's Book Says About You

From Flavorwire, by way of Lizard.

No Hobbit. And I didn't think Ender's Game was a "kid's book".  Of the list there, the Book of Three is actually probably my tops from when I was a child.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Sure, your job sucks now, but you’re not about to sweat it. As soon as you pay your dues, you’re going to shoot right to the top of the company.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Forbes on Smaug's Horde

Apparently, Smaug's horde was worth about $8.6 billion.

This is assuming that Smaug conforms to the standards outlined by Dungeons and Dragons. Which is somewhat questionable, but I guess they had to start from somewhere.

Yes, I thought of that. Worse, it took me about ten seconds to think of. Make of that what you will.

Locus Mag Announces 2011 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductees

Story here