Meta: A term used to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.
Overall this is a fun book to read. Scalzi takes a single premMeta: A term used to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.
Overall this is a fun book to read. Scalzi takes a single premise from the Star Trek TV shows about the extras always wearing red shirts and also being the ones who tend to die on the away missions, and then he expands that into a real plot. The main characters are not the higher level officers of the Starship "Intrepid" but rather the redshirts themselves. They understand their sucky and likely short futures as redshirts and how they approach that dilemma is the main plot of the novel. I can’t divulge much more without spoiling the fun of experiencing the plot twists for yourself. Yes, it’s a humorous science fiction novel, it’s clever, and it’s a fairly quick read…but it also has a few poignant moments that examine some rather soul-searching ideas on the nature of who we are. It is most definitely meta fiction, and involves time travel, and as many paradoxical plot threads as can possibly be crammed into a single book...but therein lies the humor.
I was good through the first three-fourths of the book, through the entire main story, but I was less enthused by the three codas at the end. The main story does tend to be dialog-heavy with very little description of anything. This is my first Scalzi novel so that may just be his style. I suspect not though since one of the codas is not that way at all. Regardless, this does tend to keep the story moving rapidly.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 due to some flat-out laugh-out-loud-moments. ...more
I've long wanted to try a JA Konrath novel, especially one of his Jack Daniel's mysteries and this short story seemed the perfect opportunity to samplI've long wanted to try a JA Konrath novel, especially one of his Jack Daniel's mysteries and this short story seemed the perfect opportunity to sample his style. This is a locked room mystery which I found to be clever and fun and an easy introduction to the characters. I understand from the author's website that his novels and short stories can be read in any order and so readers should not fear diving in anywhere. I will certainly be revisiting Police Lieutenant "Jack" Daniels very soon....more
The author of this novel, William E. Butterworth, is far better known by his nom de plume, “W.E.B. Griffin” the man behind numerous best sellers thatThe author of this novel, William E. Butterworth, is far better known by his nom de plume, “W.E.B. Griffin” the man behind numerous best sellers that I’ve enjoyed, including the “Brotherhood of War” series and “The Corps” series and at least four more series. But don’t expect the same sort of novel in this book for it is humor that rules the day and not his normal tale of spies, military life, or the police force.
I am not normally a reader who enjoys humorous plots so the fact that I enjoyed this one as much as I did is really saying something. The novel begins in 1975 with an attempt by a bunch of hoity-toity wives of prominent citizens of Muddiebay, Mississippi planning a hunting trip to Scotland as a distraction for their real purpose of going shopping in London. But most of the book, fortunately, is really told in several lengthy flashbacks to the 1940’s and early ‘50s and is about the life of Philip “Phil” W. Williams III. Phil enlists in the Army at the age of 16, and his uncanny ability with firearms drives his unbelievable story as he moves quickly through several layers of the espionage service and allowing him to collect outrageous stories of sexual escapades of senior military and civilian personnel. He would later use these stories to become a best-selling author and join the super-rich. So, in the end, this is neither a novel of “Love or War” as it states on the cover but rather a novel more akin to Forest Gump and an incredible capacity to be great at anything you try and be in the right place at the right time.
The author remarks in the preface that this novel is not autobiographical but there are certainly a number of thinly disguised elements to the story to know that it very likely is, just to an exaggerated degree. A quick perusal of Wikipedia will demonstrate a number of parallels here including his early Army career, his first wife being a ballet dancer, his children and their later occupations, etc. Other prominent people also make cameo appearances, albeit with altered names, such as Tom Clancy and Ronald Reagan. The humor is often slapstick even silly but there are a lot of clever incidents, carefully arranged that are quite funny. There are also, strangely, a number of anachronisms sprinkled throughout, not the least of which is an internet search using Google in 1975. This must be by design since there are so many of them but it certainly didn’t add anything to the humor and comes across instead as simply sloppy editing. But by far the most annoying thing was the use of the words “Expletive Deleted” substituted for any actual foul language in the dialog. It is used over and over and over again and sometimes four or five times in a single sentence. It really didn’t work as humor and just became obnoxious.
Bottom line: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy humorous writing a lot but not without reservations. To the author: while it seems likely you had a ball writing this book, I recommend you stick to your more traditional novels. ...more
I don't read a lot of humor books but I do remember reading Dave Barry's column when it was syndicated in my college newspaper and I thought he was aI don't read a lot of humor books but I do remember reading Dave Barry's column when it was syndicated in my college newspaper and I thought he was a pretty witty guy. After reading this book I still think he's a witty guy. He also keeps his humor clean most of the time which seems to be a rarity these days.
I've never been to Japan but Dave paints a pretty realistic picture of his three week long visit. Even though this was published in 1992 it does not seem at all dated. Observations about Japan's industrial efficiencies, cultural differences, etc. are just as relevant today. This was a quick read but served as a welcome break between other reading....more
Bravo to the author of this clever work, Ian Doescher. I am no Shakespearean scholar (despite having actually read the complete works of the bard) , bBravo to the author of this clever work, Ian Doescher. I am no Shakespearean scholar (despite having actually read the complete works of the bard) , but to write the story of Star Wars, A New Hope, in the style of Shakespeare is an awesome concept.
3,076 lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter verse, broken into 5 Acts, results in an accurate re-telling of the Star Wars story. At first glance, one might think this to be a quirky comedy of a book. But nay! 'Tis a serious work and should be studied in classrooms across this great nation. It was fun to read the characters' lines and visualize a stage play production. But even more fun were the asides. R2-D2 beeps and whirrs through his dialogue but in an aside we get to see what he is really thinking.
AJ Jacobs is a funny fellow. He takes basic ideas and concepts and wonders about what it would be like to live his life that way. Ideas such as, “WhatAJ Jacobs is a funny fellow. He takes basic ideas and concepts and wonders about what it would be like to live his life that way. Ideas such as, “What would it be like to try to live up to the stature and rules of George Washington?” or “What would it be like to outsource the major pain-in-the-butt tasks of my life the way American corporations do?” or “What would it be like to be a famous actor and walk the red carpet at the Oscars?” or “What would it be like to be a beautiful single female?” But Mr. Jacobs doesn’t stop at just wondering about it. He actually does it.
In this book Mr. Jacobs, an “editor-at-large” for Esquire magazine, actually spends an entire month “living” life according to that particular idea. Some are more straight-forward than others but all lead to humorous consequences. The humor is on the surface, but underneath there is always a subtle commentary on how we behave as human beings. The chapter on “Radical Honesty” whereby Mr. Jacobs spends an entire month being 100% honest (yes, dear, that dress does make you look fat) is funny but also eye opening as to just how many white lies we tell all the time. And the chapter on “Rational Thinking” is fascinating as we watch him struggle to behave and make decisions the way Mr. Spock would…for an entire month.
As other reviewers have noted, Mr. Jacob’s wife, who has to put up with him and is one of the best sports in history, finally gets some satisfaction due to a month of having her every whim satisfied by her husband. She also gets to write a couple of pages herself, correcting the record so to speak.
As a devotee of Winnie-the-Pooh, philosopher extraordinaire, I had to pick this one up. I expected the Pooh parts to be “Pooh-like” and that turned ouAs a devotee of Winnie-the-Pooh, philosopher extraordinaire, I had to pick this one up. I expected the Pooh parts to be “Pooh-like” and that turned out to be the case. The author does a great job at writing Pooh (and Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyor, etc.) in their AA Milne voices and includes a fair amount of flashbacks right from the original stories to illustrate his management points. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book has some honestly good management advice.
The advice is of the very basic variety but, really, that’s the best kind. Basically it covers 6 major themes on what makes a good manager. As Pooh would say, ‘It covers the How’s, not just the What’s. And the How’s are harder.’
I could see this book being on the shelf of both the 21 year old part-time employee with JC Penney’s who is bucking for a promotion into the management ranks someday as well as on the shelf of a Fortune 500 CEO. Simple, straightforward management concepts are tried and true and Pooh Bear makes a great way to get the points across.
I read the comic strip 'For Better or For Worse' from near the time of its very beginning, all the way through to the end of its story line...and wasI read the comic strip 'For Better or For Worse' from near the time of its very beginning, all the way through to the end of its story line...and was quite disappointed when Lynn Johnston announced her retirement and, consequently the end of the main story line. It's one of the few strips that allowed the characters to age and so it was like living with a real family for all of that time. This book includes strips from throughout that time, covering most of the major story plot lines, including all of the leading edge/controversial ones. Major sections are separated by candid narratives from Lynn's relatives as well as herself, describing the impact of her success on their real family. One note of caution though for those that have not read the strip before. These narratives are presented before the actual story line so act as spoilers. I would read each of these sections after the material itself.
It was great fun to go back and re-live the story of the Patterson family and all of their friends. I wish it was still an active strip (not re-runs) just so I could see what happens to all of them....more
I'm not normally a fan of humorous fantasy and after reading this collection...I maintain my stance. There are some good stories here, and some that aI'm not normally a fan of humorous fantasy and after reading this collection...I maintain my stance. There are some good stories here, and some that are definitely humorous, but somehow I felt like I was wasting my time while I could have been reading other stuff.
The premise of this book and its sequel collections is, of course, the ludicrous idea of female fantasy warriors performing their deeds of daring do in nothing but chainmail bikinis. Okay, it's a good launching pad for funny take-offs on that concept. The best stories of the lot are by the big names of the genre, including Roger Zalazny, Elizabeth Moon, and Lawrence Watt-Evans. They were very enjoyable. I also like the last one in the collection (mostly) even though it poked fun at my own D&D role playing past.
I've read two books now in this series, both acquired free of charge, but doubt I'll return for more. ...more
Since I am in a generous mood today, I'm giving this book two stars. Really...more like 1.5. I came close on several occassions to abandoning it all tSince I am in a generous mood today, I'm giving this book two stars. Really...more like 1.5. I came close on several occassions to abandoning it all together but it was so short that I kept plowing through. Sort of like watching a train wreck...just can't not watch it.
I would recommend this book only to the following types of readers:
1) Only those that have read A Game of Thrones will have any chance at all of finding some sort of enjoyment here. If you haven't read the source material, you will be totally lost. At the very least you will need to have seen the first season of the HBO series.
2) Those that just can't appreciate quality humorous writing. If you have problems absorbing well done satire or even old-fashioned straight comedy, you may want to dip your toe in to this mess. There is no quality humor here. Plenty of lame, insulting, sophomoric humor and lots of easy-to-come-up with jokes. But no good humor.
3) Those that like potty humor. Most of this book can be classified as the most basic potty humor out there. Why come up with witty prose when it's so much easier and faster to talk about body parts, noises, and aromas.
4) Those that prefer sarcasm to satire. Now, I can appreciate when somebody is roasting something that is near and dear to me. I don't take offence easily. But this book is utterly insulting to the source material, George R R Martin, and many many other icons of modern culture. Not just the fantasy genre or geekdom but everything from popular music to home schooling.
5) Those readers who prefer lots of repetition of material because they can't understand basic concepts. This book repeats phrases over and over, sometimes whole paragraphs under the guise of humor. But I suspect it's a lame attempt to fill out some pages to try to keep it from being sold as a novella. Quite a few pages only have a couple of sentences on them for the same reason.
So if you fit into any of the above categories, this may be a good find for you. But I do recommend you borrow it from the library rather than spend even 99 cents on it. For everybody else, I would steer clear of this one....more
I'm not usually big on humorous fantasy-style books but this one really hit a home run for me. Even though there were a lot of characters I thought thI'm not usually big on humorous fantasy-style books but this one really hit a home run for me. Even though there were a lot of characters I thought the authors did a good job of reminding us of who's who and successfully bringing the plot along. The humor ranged from biting satire to subtle wit to downright knee-slapping laugh-out-loud one-liners.
This is a definite must-read for fans of Pratchett, Gaiman or those that like the Hitchhiker books by Douglas Adams. I was fortunate to listen to this one via audio book, as read by the great Marvin Jarvis whose voice talent is unparalleled. Even if you've already read this once, then I still suggest you try it this way as Mr Jarvis brings an extra dimension to the experience....more
Another clever novel from Jasper Fforde. This is the first of the "Nursery Crimes" series, wherein Detective Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary wAnother clever novel from Jasper Fforde. This is the first of the "Nursery Crimes" series, wherein Detective Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary work diligently to solve murders. I confess to being a bit worried when I began reading this novel, having been a long-time fan of the author's "Thursday Next" series. I guess, given the subject matter, the cover blurbs, and the cover art, that I was afraid this would be aimed more at the YA crowd and might be somehow dumbed down a bit. Happily this is not at all the case and Mr Fforde demonstrates his incredible wit and cleverness on every page. The humor is sophistiated and charming while the mystery to be solved is complicated and engaging. I'm very happy to have overcome my pre-conceived expectations and taken the plunge....more
It's been a few years since I read the first three "Thursday Next" books. I'm so glad I've gotten back to them now, and especially this one as it seemIt's been a few years since I read the first three "Thursday Next" books. I'm so glad I've gotten back to them now, and especially this one as it seems to connect a lot of the plot threads from previous books. Normally, humorous fiction isn't really my cup of tea but these books are so cleverly written that you just want to keep on reading a little bit more. It won't be nearly so long before I plunge into the next one in the series!...more