Category Archives: The Four Eyed Monster

Books. Book reviews, recommendations, thoughts, just-reads, must-reads, etc.

The Rookie

Great Robot Overlords, but I love teh interwebnets.

At the moment, I’m listening to a couple of podiobooks (free audio books in podcast form),  Brave Men Run, by Matthew Wayne Selznick and The Rookie, by Scott Sigler.   They’re both excellent so far and I highly recommend them.

But that’s not what I’m writing about tonight.

What I wanted to write about was the novel (sorry) way that Scott Sigler is promoting his book.  The Rookie is a far-future science fiction story and it’s also a football story.  Yeah.  The story revolves around a young quarterback named Quentin Barnes, who has just been drafted into the equivalent of the major league, called the Galactic Football League in the story.

Again, the story itself is not the point tonight.  Mr. Sigler has built a seperate web page for the GFL and updates it with new stats after each chapter has been uploaded or aired, for lack of a better term.   The site has news stories as well as mascos, logos, and images from each of the teams in the GFL.  He has also had a full line of professional football style  merchandise created for the main team in the story.   As if the above weren’t enough, the author has held post game interviews in Second Life with his avatar guised as the protaganist and Mr. Sigler playing the role for the duration of the meet-up.

All of this strikes me as using the internet’s fullest potential to market a property and I think it’s fantastic that this author is using these tools and opportunities to find new ways to promote himself and his work.  This is the kind of thing that makes my little geek heart gush in so many ways; this is what I hope more authors take upon themselves to do.  This is what I want to do, just as soon as I get my book written.

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Currently Reading

  • The Ships of Air: Book 2 of The Fall of Ile-Rien by Martha Wells
  • The Tyranny of the Night: Book 1 of the Instrumentalities of the Night by Glen Cook
  • Furies of Calderon: Book 1 of the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher
  • The Essential Hemmingway by Ernest Hemmingway
  • The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem
  • The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin
  • The Areas of My Expertiese by John Hodgman
  • Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis

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Astonishing X-Men

Just a quick post today as I have to go plan my wife’s birthday.

I picked up the first trade collection of Astonishing X-Men, with art by John Cassaday, and story by Joss Whedon, and I’ll tell you, it’s been the most fun I’ve had reading a super-hero comic in years.

Not that I have ever had anything against super-hero comics; I usually read the more literary comics, like Sandman and  Strangers in Paradise, over the Batman and Superman variety.  In fact, it’s probably been ten years or so since I picked up any super-hero books and that’s going to change if there are others as good as this one.

The art is amazing.  Cassaday has a gift for making the characters look real, while still keeping to a definite style of comic art.  Add to that Joss Whedon’s writing, and well, if you like Buffy or Firefly, you know Whedon’s writing.

And I really like where the story takes us.  It’s a re-launch of the X-men universe with a small team of X-men:  Kitty Pryde, Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast, and Emma Frost.  I really like the mix of old and new X-men; something that is reflected in their costumes, with Wolverine in his traditional yellow, and Cyclops in the black leather similar to the movies.

I’ve already ordered the next in the series and am checking for my Amazon box daily.  Go read it.  Now.

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Travels with Charley

I have been meaning to write more about Travels With Charley ever since I finished reading it.

It has been a very long time since I have found a book so quotable, or so beautiful. Steinbeck’s descriptions are poignant and real without being over-the-top or cliche. More than that, however, are his observations on American culture; it is interesting to see what has changed in the forty years since the book was written and what has not.

For example, Steinbeck is enamoured of RVs and trailer parks. He calls them a modern marvel and goes on at length about the freedom that they offer a man. In the course of the book, Steinbeck often stops to chat with trailer park residents, extolling their virtues and naming them the modern representations of Americans insatiable wanderlust.

Another example: Television is robbing America of its regional accents and dialects, turning American English into a flat, banal, homogeny of English devoid of charm and quirk. If he thought this forty some odd years ago, what would he think today?

For me, though, the single most important passage in the book is this: “I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found”. That sentence sums up the novel better than any tagline could. This book is about the willingness to be lost; the desire to find somewhere new and the hope that there will always be somewhere just a little more unique, just around the corner.

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Another Quick Book Post

Last night I finally got my copy of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City: Local Heroes and it was definitely worth the wait. 

This series of graphic novels is a brilliant post-modern look at superheroes and how interactions with ordinary citizens might happen were they real.  This book is a collection of un-related stories all set in Astro City and, as usual, the stories are poignant and real, focusing on human interactions and relationships, even while the setting is exploding into the realm of the fantastic.

Hopefully we won’t have to wait quite so long for the next installment, but, no matter how long it takes, I’ll be looking forward to it.

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Current Reads

I haven’t done a reading post in a while and I still have to go put in today’s studying, so here is a quick list of what is presently on my radar:

Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maraten Troost
– Troost’s first book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals was enormously funny and easy and entertaining to read, so when I saw this on the booklist, I immediately ordered it. So far, I’m about fifty pages in, this travelogue does not dissappoint. Troost and his wife take a job offer to live and work in the South Pacific nations of Vanuatu and Fiji and have a baby along the way. The author is one of the best kinds of travel authors, one who can take any situation and make it enjoyable, not to mention redeeming in some cases. In addition, he writes in a very conversational manner, like a friend telling you about the crazy time he had while en route to somewhere else.

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck – This is the same John Steinbeck who wrote Of Mice and Men and Cannery Row. That Steinbeck. Everytime I open one of his books, I am reminded just how much I love reading his words. As a friend put it, he can make the dust on the ground seem interesting. And in this book, a travelogue, he does just that. In the foreward, Steinbeck says that he wrote the book in an effort to rediscover America and Americans. He had just beenwriting from memory, rather than first-hand experience and he wanted to change that. This is a beautiful book, one that I am enjoying so much that I am pacing myself and reading deliberately slowly so as to savor the writing and pacing as much as possible.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell (Audiobook) by Susannah Clarke – I put this into the iPod this morning as a break from my usual run of news and podcasts and within minutes, I was completely hooked on this story. I am now an hour in and have found myself driving a longer, slower route, just to give myself more time to listen. I have no idea where the story is going or how it is going to get there, but I am certainly enjoying the ride.

And that’s it, at least for now. A modest three books – a little off my norm for the number being read at any given time, but I cite studying and a slightly heavier than usual workload as the reasons for the slowdown. I’ll certainly keep you posted as more books join the rotation.

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Starship Troopers

I spent the afternoon reading Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, a book I had never gotten around to reading even though I have been a Heinlein fan for many years. Now, I am also a fan of the 1997 movie, Starship Troopers. I even like the animated Starship Troopers.

I just had not, until today, realized how very, very different they were.

The movie is very campy and a lot of fun in that so-bad-its-good sort of way. Lots of psuedo-patriotic, psuedo-political doctrine and lots of blood and guts. Good watch, if you have a large bucket of popcorn and no expectations.

The tv show is fun and a good adventure. It’s one of those great cartoons that is suitable for older kids and adults alike. Good story, good characterization, good animation. No politics or philosophy what-so-ever.

The book, on the other hand, is all politics and philosophy. I was a bit surprised but still went through the book very quickly. The politics are very…radical and conservative at the same time. Reading through the book, one gets the idea that Heinlein really believed that public flogging and spanking children was the best, if not only deterent to a life of degeneracy and violence. Additionally, the book seems to be saying that military service should be the only way one should be allowed to vote.

The book was shocking to me, and I knew what to expect, but, still, it’s something to think about.

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