Sunday, December 30, 2018

Putting the Hype to the Test: Ready Player One, David Weber, and Jim Butcher

Geekdom is awash in hype.  But how much of geek/nerd culture lives up to the hype?

Several months ago I decided I should try to read some really popular stuff in the SF/F world to see what the hype is about.  Many years ago this is how I discovered Harry Potter, which shows that sometimes books really do live up to the hype.  Once in awhile the results are just terrible.  My experience of Ready Player One comes to mind (more on the book and the movie below).  Other times stuff is not for me, but I can see why other people like it.  This was the result when I read David Weber's first Honor Harrington book a few months ago (see my review below).  And occasionally something isn't my favorite, but it's hard to deny it's a lot of fun, as with Jim Butcher's famed Dresden Files (more below).

Friday, December 28, 2018

Random Thoughts, Part 2

Made at:

Back in "Random Thoughts, Part 1" I listed some of the random thoughts I decided to start writing down several months ago.  Alas, we have come to "Random Thoughts, Part 2," in which I continue this project.  I've saved some of my longer thoughts for this part, so get ready.  And read to the end for a surprise announcement.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Journeys in the Metafictional Multiverse: The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower VII by Stephen King

The Dark Tower series is a journey like no other.  And The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower VII is the destination as the final* volume in the series (*Not exactly the final book: King added volume 4.5 in 2012).  One of the strongest threads running through the series is a tension between being fixated on the goal (Roland) and enjoying the journey itself (Oy, and as we come to learn but could have guessed earlier, King himself).  I'm definitely an "it's about the journey not the destination" kind of person, but I have to say I loved this destination, probably precisely because I wasn't fixated on it.  As the Buddha figured out thousands of years ago, sometimes the best way to get something is to stop wanting it so much.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Random Thoughts, Part 1

Made at:

I have a lot of random thoughts.  Walking down the street, in the shower, doing the dishes, watching a movie, standing in line at Taco Bell, waiting to fall asleep, clearing the cobwebs from my mind in the morning...  There's really no telling when a random thought will strike.  I guess that's what makes them random.  Several months ago I started writing some of them down, not always right away and sometimes with a little editing.  But I thought it might be interesting project to keep a record of some of my random thoughts and to subject the internet to a handful of them.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mortal Engines and Liking What You Know Isn't Good

A small city being pursued by London in Mortal Engines

I have a strange habit of occasionally liking movies I know aren’t very good.  I have defended Jupiter Ascending.  I was one of about four people who liked The Dark Tower movie.  For reasons I don't entirely understand, I've watched all nine Hellraiser films.

I went into Mortal Engines with few expectations.  I knew Peter Jackson had something to do with it, it was based on a book I had never heard of, and from the trailer I knew it featured cool-looking giant cities on wheels in a post-apocalyptic world (seriously, go watch the trailer!).

While I can't say it was a good movie, I was entertained.  It was one of those movies I enjoyed a lot while I watching it, but I liked it less as the movie went on and as I thought more about it later.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Towering Paradoxes of Self-Reference: Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower VI by Stephen King

Song of Susannah, the sixth installment of Stephen King's sprawling Dark Tower saga, may be my favorite so far in this series.  Now I see why philosophical types love these books so much.  I particularly love the towering paradoxes of self-reference (pun intended, of course).  More on that in a bit.

Oddly, Song of Susannah seems to be a lot of people's least favorite (judging by a non-scientific sample of online reviews).  Is there a lot of linear movement toward the ka-tet's goal of reaching the Dark Tower?  Not really, although some really important things happen.  Is there a lot of what might look to some people like self-indulgent postmodern wankery?  Sure, but I think that's a surface-level reaction -- the line between wankery and brilliance can be thin, but I think King is on the side of brilliance if you catch a glimpse of what he's doing.