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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Books Into TV

Leila shared this one: what science fiction or fantasy series would translate well into television? There are a lot of good suggestions there already. Though I'm torn on Earthsea. It's a wonderful series, but I'm not convinced it would translate outside of the pages of the book. Particularly the Farthest Shore, but maybe that's just my memories of it. The suggestion of the Prydain Chronicles is brilliant.

Not really SF/F, but I'd love to see Lawhead's King Raven series done as a weekly show. And frankly, a well-done Conan show, based on REH's actual stories, could be really excellent. A Solomon Kane show would work too.

Oh, and Zahn's Conqueror's Trilogy. It'd be super SFX heavy, but I can dream.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Dealbreakers

Stolen from Lizard.

I had to think about this one a bit. There are whole genres I just don't bother reading (romance, chick lit, most modern political screeds), but those don't seem fair to count, since I won't even try picking them up. In terms of things I will consider...

1. Unsympathetic characters; if I cannot find something about the characters to like, I will not read the book. If I want to read about hateful people doing things I don't care about, I can read a newspaper.

2. Ultra long series. Doubly so if it's unfinished. With the exception of Glenn Cooks Black Company series, I have no interest in reading fifteen books just to get to the damn point. And Cook's series is broken into manageable chunks.

3. Shock gore/violence. I don't mind violence in my reading, even extreme violence. I do mind when I feel like it has no point other than to be shocking. Again, I have a newspaper, and friends in the law enforcement industry. If I want shocking acts of violence, I won't read a book for it.

That's about all I can think of, really. I'm pretty open minded that way.

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Because it is so cool.

Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the head's up.

Drills: Training for Sudden Violence

I was traveling all weekend, which meant I wasn't home when my new copy of Facing Violence arrived. So I contented myself with re-reading Drills: Training for Sudden Violence instead.

I'm now getting deep into Facing Violence, but I haven't hit the drill section of that book, so I don't know how much overlap exists between the two. It hardly matters. The Drill Book is worth getting, especially at the stupidly cheap price that Rory charges for it.

The title is actually slightly misleading. Well...perhaps that's unfair. The title is not misleading. But the book contains a bunch of things that people won't expect. There, of course, lots of physical drills; Rory starts with the one-step, which is the foundational drill he tends to build everything off of, and a whole bunch of variations. If you have done one of his seminars,  you will have experienced some or all of these. In point of fact, having seen the drills in action will enhance the value of this book (though that almost goes without saying), but a reasonably intelligent instructor/advanced practitioner should be able to make sense of most of the material here on their own. Brand new students might have trouble, but I'm not sure that those are the people this book is targeted at.

The reason I stay the title might be considered misleading is that there is a whole of stuff in here that,on the surface, has very little to do with violence. It actually has a lot do with it, but it's big picture, "how do you view/understand/value the world" kind of stuff, not "how do you eye-gouge a mugger" kind of stuff. The latter is what most people expect. The former is, in my opinion, infinitely more useful. Rory's version of the bucket list (and the follow up exercises) are gold for any human being, regardless of their interest in self-defense training. Seriously. Every person on the planet should do those exercises. (And do them right. Don't skip ahead. I did not, and I am glad I did it the right way).

More and more, I am becoming convinced that self-defense training has very little to do with martial arts, and a lot to do with just understanding how to live life. Martial arts are fun and dandy, but there's a huge disconnect. Frankly, it's rather liberating, in both directions.

Anyway. I'm rambling now, and this will detour into non-review territory, so let me sum up.

If you are self-defense instructor or student, buy this book. If you are a human being, it may still hold value (especially at less than $10). If you are meat popsicle, it may be lacking.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Locus Award Winners Announced

At Locus, duh.

Amazon tells me...

That my copy of Facing Violence, Rory Miller's new book, is on it's way. Apparently it is somewhere in Pennsylvania right now.

Did a re-read of Meditations on Violence over the last couple of days. It is still a very good book (duh). Lot of useful ideas. And I realized that Rory articulates something in it that I've been trying to think of a way to articulate for months now. Which is kinda cool, but also kinda embarrassing.

Also realized that I keep meaning to review Rory's drill manual, and never got to it. I need to. Whoops.

Lotta thoughts in my head. Maybe I'll have time to get 'em out soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

As Long As I'm Lamenting

Is a Conan movie that is remotely faithful to REH's stories too damn much to ask?

(Note: Most recent trailer for the new movie says, "yes, it is"

Booking the Movies

Lizard shares some interesting thoughts on making books into movies, and really failed attempts to do the same. I have to admit that the idea of an American Gods mini-series is pretty awesome, if it were done right (though I would fear it wouldn't be).

She steals two questions from Booking Through Thursday, both of which I realized I had...odd...answers too.

If you could see one book turned into the perfect movie–one that would capture everything you love, the characters, the look, the feel, the story–what book would you choose?

At the risk of calling down the geek wrath of the Interwebs, my answer is

The Lord of the Rings.

Yeah, I know. Peter Jackson made those movies. They were amazing, blah, blah. I will grant that Fellowship of the Ring is a pretty good movie, and as near to perfect as I would require of any LOTR movie. Two Towers, however, was so awful that not only did I hate it, but I nearly skipped Return of the King because of it. Return of the King turned out to be a good movie, but it missed out on what I consider some really key parts of the series. I'm sorry, but when you take out the Scouring of the Shire, you lose a lot. And yes, I know the movie was super long, but the question was about a movie that would capture everything you love, and Jackson's movies do not do that for me. I want MY version of the LOTR on-screen. (It will never happen, but I wants it, precious)

And–the reverse of last week’s question. Name one book that you hope never, ever, ever gets made into a movie (no matter how good that movie might be).

Unfortunately, my first answer to this question already happened. At some point the past A Wizard of Earthsea was transformed into a movie, a travesty so awful that LeGuin publicly denounced the whole project. (Here's a tip movie people: if the author of the work you're adapting tells you you're fucking it up, you probably are fucking it up.)

I have a hard time with this one, because I generally don't want to see books turned into movies. In the spirit of my earlier answers, however, I will say neither Children of Hurin nor Lavinia should ever been made into movies. They'd fuck up Children of Hurin and somehow try to make it cheerful, and I can only imagine how badly Lavinia would be screwed up. Undead Virgil would probably come and give Lavinia superpowers or something.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Star Wars Day!

May the Fourth Be With You!

In honor of Star Wars day, I'm taking a moment to recommend Timothy Zahn's many and varied Star Wars books, but particularly his original Thrawn trilogy. Zahn is one of the few Star Wars authors who really seems to have captured the pacing, tone, and characterization that made the original trilogy so wonderful. Honestly, I wish they had gotten him to take care of the prequel trilogy...the hints we get of his vision of the clone wars is WAY more interesting that the version we got in the films.

Check them out!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Violence, A Biography

An interesting little interview with Russell Jacoby. The book sounds interesting too.

One of the things that we talk about in the PDR program is how violence can often come from people we know. The looming stranger in the dark seems scary in principle, but the reality is sometimes worse.

Anyone out there read this one?

Better Book Titles

Another find thanks to Lizard.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A New World (Age of Discovery, Part III)

I will say this for Michael Stackpole; he is the first author in years who has managed to get me to read two books in a series consecutively. Lately I’ve been in the habit of reading a book, putting the series aside for a while, coming back to it, and so on. Even with Lawhead’s King Raven trilogy, which was also awesome, I felt inclined to take a break between the second and third books (albeit a short one). Granted, Stackpole pulled a dirty trick by ending Cartomancy on a huge cliffhanger, but still…it was a pretty captivating series anyway.

A New World picks up on the action more or less where Cartomancy left off, and follows Cartomancy’s pattern of upping the ante from there. Stackpole slowly ramps up the trilogy over the course of three books, from being a story about essentially human political conflicts and adventures in the first book to a story about nations, gods, and the nature of reality and perception by the third book. The build up happens naturally enough so that it doesn’t feel odd or awkward, but when I stop to reflect on it, it’s actually a pretty dramatic shift.

While the action may be taking place on grander scales by the third book, it is still (mostly) focused around the same group of characters. With the exception of a single minor character, whose sole role in the trilogy seems to have been to kill someone else, the other major characters all have purposes and roles to play in the story. Some of them are a bit predictable, but they’re all pretty fun. There is a “big twist” about a couple of the characters and their influence on the world that I called somewhere in the first book, but some of the other twists and turns actually kind of surprised me.

If I have a complaint about this book, it’s that the ending seems to come up awfully fast, and feels a bit rushed (to the point where a couple of characters have a conversation about how they can end something as quickly as possible). While I wouldn’t have wanted the series to drag out into a fourth book, a few extra pages wouldn’t have hurt it.

But overall, this is a really excellent, fun series. Stackpole does some very interesting stuff with his world and his characters, particularly with his ideas about skill, magic, perception, reality, and how all of those things interact. Fans of the Matrix (or geeks who remember Mage: The Ascension fondly) definitely will enjoy it, but it is really worthwhile for any fantasy fan. Check this one out.