River of Blue Fire is another sci-fi/fantasy beast. Two books into the Otherland series and nearly 1,500 pages total.
The things I enjoyed about the fRiver of Blue Fire is another sci-fi/fantasy beast. Two books into the Otherland series and nearly 1,500 pages total.
The things I enjoyed about the first book are still fun in book 2, particularly the continuing intrigue of the Dread story line, and the fun of the VR worlds in the Otherland network. Williams presents us with I believe 11 new virtual worlds that the characters stumble through, seeking escape from the system, and answers to the mystery of the Otherland network and the Grail Brotherhood. There are so many clever ideas here that fully capture my imagination. It's easy to get swept up in the fun of these sim worlds.
This book did drag a bit for me in spots, compared to book 1. I found the sections dealing with Olga, Ramsey, Christabel, and Mr. Sellers to be particularly tedious, though I know that those plot lines will build to something as Williams continues to weave his threads together. Also found myself wishing that the mystery woman puzzle would play out a little faster.
Still, a good read, especially on the strength of all of that world building Williams does.
I have finally read Macbeth. I have obliterated another shameful entry on my English Major Blind Spot list. And why did I take so long?
The catalyst thI have finally read Macbeth. I have obliterated another shameful entry on my English Major Blind Spot list. And why did I take so long?
The catalyst that first got me thinking about returning to Shakespeare after a long post-college pause was a verse in "Take a Break" from Hamilton:
My dearest Angelica, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day" I trust you'll understand the reference to another Scottish tragedy Without my having to name the play. They think me Macbeth, ambition is my folly, I'm a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive pain. Madison is Banquo, Jefferson's Macduff, And Birnam Wood is Congress on its way to Dunsinane.
And I didn't get it. And it killed me a little.
So I downloaded the Shakespeare Pro app for my iPad and got to it, reading 2-3 scenes a day. And it was difficult at first...lots of looking up the terminology, which the app made a lot easier than reading a text, but that got better as I got reacquainted and my confidence grew that I was getting it. I went from reading the scene summary first to make sure I understood the meaning as I read, to instead reading it afterwards to just make sure I wasn't missing anything.
I really enjoyed it, on multiple levels. First, as with all major cultural works, I take a deep satisfaction from learning the touch points that get referenced elsewhere in pop culture, so that's just a given part of the enjoyment.
It was also really nice to return to reading something that really challenges me, and stretches me. I read a lot of poetry as a teenager, and maybe 8 of Shakespeare's plays, and the word play and style in those kinds of works makes me appreciate that the world of language is so much larger and more interesting than what we gather in the day to day. It hits me deep in the same way I can feel when I'm outdoors on a really beautiful day, and I just feel completely fulfilled and entirely in tune with the present. Soul "food."
And finally the story itself is just compelling--the prophecy, the scheming, the intrigue of the King's court. It's impossible for me not to map this onto the world of Game of Thrones, and that also deepened my appreciation for it.
It's all just further confirmation of an opinion I formed way back in my 9th grade English class...the "classics" are considered such with good reason.
Another in a handful of books loaned to me by a coworker. After having a mixed experience with A Death in the Family, I wondered if I might be in forAnother in a handful of books loaned to me by a coworker. After having a mixed experience with A Death in the Family, I wondered if I might be in for more of the same with Long Halloween, but that wasn't the case at all. I read it over the course of a couple sittings, and I was definitely more at home with this version of the Batman, stubble and all. No surprise to see that Christopher Nolan based the feel of his Batman world off of this book...I can hear Christian Bale's voice growling here and there, as some of the lines in the book seemed to be nearly copied in the movies.
While I did have a little bit of a difficult time keeping track of which crime boss is which, and which gangster belongs with them over the course of the reading, it didn't diminish my fun. It's a great tour through a bunch of the different Batman villains (shoutout to the Mad Hatter!) and a fun whodunit along the way. Plus I love the artwork, particularly the cover art, and I appreciated the inclusion of the bonus materials at the end of the book explaining the process for developing them. ...more
My coworker loaned me a handful of comic trade paperbacks, and this was the first one I went for. I've read a few Batman books (The Dark Knight, KilleMy coworker loaned me a handful of comic trade paperbacks, and this was the first one I went for. I've read a few Batman books (The Dark Knight, Killer Joke, Year One) but hadn't read anything featuring Robin that I could recall. Little hesitant on that score, as what I have caught of the whole Batman and Robin duo hasn't interested me much. I prefer my Batman dark and brooding.
These comics also really predate my interest, as I didn't really read anything back in the 80s when the Death in the Family series was written, so the whole bright primary colors type look feels a little jarring at first. Can't say I cared for the "Who's my Mommy?" plot device, or the coincidence of major characters all happening to end up in the same spot, but did get a kick out of the Joker plot line in this series.
Then A Lonely Place of Dying (woof on that title) helped fill out the rest of of Robin blindspot, introducing the difference between Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake. Can't say I cared for this story as much, though, and find the whole Two Face obsessed with setting up two-related heists a bit tiresome.
It rates an "I liked it" based on the Joker plot line in the first series and for helping me understand a bit more of the Batman lore, along with the particularly helpful Afterword from Marv Wolfman....more
I read Otherland for the first time maybe 10 years ago, and loaned it to a friend to read earlier this summer. A couple months ago, when I was chattinI read Otherland for the first time maybe 10 years ago, and loaned it to a friend to read earlier this summer. A couple months ago, when I was chatting about it with him, and listening to how much fun he was having with it, as he was preparing to move onto the second book in the series, I thought it would be fun to re-read it so I could freshen up on the details when we talked about it.
The story is set in what feels like a not too distant future (even less distant the more news that Sony has been making with the announcement of a more consumer-friendly VR mask) where VR is the way the world interacts with the internet. So rather than browsing sites for videos or games for entertainment, you are part of the entertainment (taking Bradbury's vision in Fahrenheit 451 of taking part in teleplays on wallscreens to the next level). Rather than searching for articles in a list, you're interacting with the information in three dimensional space. And the fanciest tech is full-immersion rigs that mute your senses of the real world, and can impersonate the textures and feelings of the VR world.
And with that VR world to play with, Williams truly has the chance to craft wildly different, and well-imagined worlds, that our real life characters delve into, meeting other people (are the people they meet real, or NPC-like "Puppets?") who they can then end up connecting with (for good or ill) in the real world, but the danger in the virtual world feels every bit as real (to the characters and to the readers) as it does IRL.
It's just a great read, and I'm glad I reread it. Renie and !Xabbu (yes, I spelled that correctly) are great characters, and I love the way their relationship develops across the book. Ditto for Orlando and Fredericks. The mystery of Paul Jonas is compelling. The chase of the skinny and fat man characters is creepy. Jongleur and Dread are great villains, each in their own way.
As in my review of The Passage, this is another big book (780 pages) that reads fast, and I can't wait to get into the next book in the series....more
So after reading the Mote in God's Eye earlier this year, when I was looking for a faster read after slogging through Jonathan Strange and Mr. NorrellSo after reading the Mote in God's Eye earlier this year, when I was looking for a faster read after slogging through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, turning to another Niven classic felt like the right choice.
I should say that I found my attention waning here and there during the groups travels across the Ringworld, which might just come down to listening to chunks of this while working in the yard and getting distracted, not the story itself.
The book was frequently funny, and I really enjoyed the Guardians-of-the-Galaxy vibe of the team that Nessus assembled, with each character or species bringing a different personality to the action (the Kzin were the most fun by far). Speaking of Nessus, I also really enjoyed the story of the way the Puppeteers had interacted with the other species and ditto for the history of Ringworld itself. There's some fun ideas there, but it would be spoiler-y to get too specific. Also worth noting that I enjoyed the different examples of sci fi tech Niven put into the book, including the different types of instantaneous transportation, the descriptions of the spacecraft, and the weaponry.
The only other thing for me to mention is the gender/sexual politics of the book. It definitely felt like a book written amidst the sexual revolution, with some scenes feeling like they could be completely interchangeable with the Jane Fonda sci fi film Barbarella (sleeping plate scene by page 43) and the puppeteer's tasp, in particular). Curiously though, and in stark contrast to the characters I've been enjoying in The Passage and Otherland, the female characters in this book are rather retrograde from an empowerment standpoint. Teela is more or less an object that needs protection (from the world, from danger, from disappointment) and then there's the Kzin females, who are only good for breeding, and are sub-sapient. Feels like it was written with the perspective of someone who enjoyed all the sex of the sexual revolution without paying much attention to the empowerment that came along with it.
If you can get past that, there's a lot of fun to be had here....more
When I found out that The City of Mirrors, book 3 in The Passage series had been released, I was eager to reread the first two books. I remembered thaWhen I found out that The City of Mirrors, book 3 in The Passage series had been released, I was eager to reread the first two books. I remembered that I had really enjoyed them, but didn't remember many of the details, and I wanted to have those fresh for when I read the conclusion of the trilogy.
Man I love this book. It is epic in scope, filled with complex, interesting, heartbreaking, badass characters in an apocalyptic setting. I think of it like mashup of 28 Days Later, The Road, The Shining, and the Magnificent Seven. It fully captured my imagination, is wonderfully paced, and well written too. One of those books that is really really hard to put down once you're into it. It's long, clocking in at 766 pages, but it just doesn't feel like it. I contrast it to Game of Thrones, which is 60 pages longer. Both are epic, covering a ton of ground, but it took me 200 pages to get into Game of Thrones, and only kept at it because of the recommendation of a friend. This book had me hooked in the first 50 pages.
I really don't want to give any specifics at all, because the book takes such fantastic turns. Just do yourself a favor and pick it up!