Sunday, December 31, 2006
Santa was pretty good to me this year, I got plenty of NY Yankee stuff to fill my Yankee room, a healthy dose of books to add to the physical “to-read” pile, a nice handful of CDs and plenty of goodies from Mrs. O’ Stuff.
As for the Scarlet Knights, a most decisive victory in the inaugural Texas Bowl.
Anyway, 2006 came to a close with much fanfare throughout the world and much relaxation in the O’ Stuff household. It was a nice relaxing evening with Mrs. O’ Stuff as we both realized, by flipping between the various annoying New Years’ specials, just how out of touch I am with today’s “popular” music. Mr. O’ Stuff and I finished off the pre-Christmas week by catching Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert – it was a blast. Part laser-show, part 80s hard rock/metal, it was truly a great experience.
On the whole, I read 71 books this year, most of which were pretty good with a few stinkers peppered in the mix. So, since most FSF pundits and bloggers worth their salt are doing it, I will present the books I enjoyed the most in 2006, regardless of the book’s year of release. Unlike other bloggers (and every other noodnick who posted a best of 2006 list, yes I’m looking at you amazon with your best of 2006 list posted in October/November!) thus far, I’ve waited until 2006.
Without further ado…
Nailing down my favorite book for 2006 is tough, and would probably vary from day to day as a number of books impressed me, moved me, and made me want not want to finish the book in question.
Without a doubt, the biggest debut of the year was probably Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora – and with good reason. It was easily the most fun I had reading any book this year, and probably the most fun I’ve had reading a debut novel. Though not an absolutely perfect novel, it came pretty close to delivering exactly what I want – fun, adventure, humor, and magic.
Another debut that really impressed me was David Louis Edelman’s Infoquake published by Pyr. What Lynch did for my fantasy reading taste-buds, Edleman did for my Science Fiction reading taste-buds. A believable protagonist in an all-too plausible extrapolated future with a Big Idea and backed by a future history was a lot of fun to read. Check out my review from earlier in the year.
Though not a debut, Sean Williams's The Crooked Letter made its US debut after receiving much acclaim in the author’s native Australia. This was another beautiful Pyr book; Williams blended elements from all the speculative fiction branches to create a stew of the fantastic and horrific. The second book, The Blood Debt, published in October and while different in some respects, it was a fantastic continuation of the over-reaching saga.
I would also be remiss if I neglected Chris Roberson’s genre-bending pulp novel, Paragaea. Part SF, part fantasy, part physics, and part pirate novel, Roberson pulled off a nice trick in this one. I’d love to read more about these people and the strange and familiar world.
I’ve been reading more anthologies and short story collections in recent years, and I was lucky enough to get a copy of Mike Resnick’s New Dreams for Old. I’ve heard and read of Resnick’s reputation, with all the awards he’s both won and for which he’d been nominated. This book showed me why.
In terms of older books I discovered this year, the top might have been Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, the first in his Dresden Files sequence. I’ve already read the second book this year, Fool Moon, and I don’t plan on stopping there. Like Lynch, Butcher throws in equal parts humor, magic and adventure in this mix of mystery and magic.
Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps initially published last year, was a very solid YA tale. To say Westerfeld has fun with traditional Vampire myth and legend is an understatement, luckily all of that fun translated to the page. The same can be said for Charlie Huston’s Already Dead, a mix of the Vampire myth and the detective novel. Westerfeld’s is aimed at the YA set, while Huston’s is definitely an adult tale, but both are equally enjoyable.
I also caught up with John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War sequence, enjoying both quite a bit. It is no surprise Mr. Scalzi won the Campbell award.
Back to the short stories, I finally read Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors, and if anything, realized how many of the stories I’d read elsewhere and how much I enjoyed them again.
I also really enjoyed Caitlin Sweet’s debut novel from a couple years back, the lyrical and at times tragic, A Telling of Stars. This was published in Canada in 2004.
Of course it wasn’t all good stuff. Three books stood out as major disappointments, or rather books I really didn’t enjoy. James Luceno’s Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader was bad novel that could have been so much more. Scott Smith’s The Ruins was aptly named; the characters were terribly drawn, the plot was razor thin and the overall story was poorly executed. Lastly, C.J. Cherryh’s Downbelow Station came highly recommended but left me rather bored.
2007 looks promising, too with a lot of the authors I enjoyed in 2006 publishing more in the coming year.
This blog still sputters on in 2007 though hopefully I can get back to posting as much as I did before this past summer.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I have to admit, the 50-degree weather here in New Jersey makes it difficult to feel like Christmas outside. However, it is and has officially been Christmastime for a while now, if for no other reason than the presence of Harpoon Winter Warmer on the shelves of fine liquor stores. Beer flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg says Christmas to me much in the same way as decorating the tree with my wife and the traditional Christmas Eve pierogis. With this being the second Christmas in the new house, we found a great tree farm where we will be buying our trees for the next thirty years.
I posted my review of John Scalzi’s newest novel, The Android’s Dream today. I liked this one quite a bit, though there were a couple of slow spots in the early part of the novel. The venerable Hobbit posted his review of Peter Watts’s buzz-generating novel Blindsight, which I just discovered is being offered for free by Watts under a Creative Commons license.
Other books I’ve finished recently include the second Dresden File, Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher, which was very entertaining. I don't know if I'll catch up as much as I'd like before the ScFi Channel series starts, though. I also finished China Miévelle’s newst novel, a magical YA fantasy called Un Lun Dun (review to come as the book’s publication draws closer), and the conclusion to Martin Sketchley’s Structure series, The Liberty Gun (review forthcoming). I also finished up the Fables OGN 1001 Nights of Snowfall; a great addition to the already classic-in-the making series from the pen of Bill Willingham under DC’s Vertigo imprint, Fables.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Big Sean Williams postings on SFFWorld yesterday; my review of his most recent (US) book, The Blood Debt. This is the second in the Books of the Cataclysm series and I'm loving it; check out my review to get some of my more detailed thoughts.
Sean was also kind enough to take some time and participate in an e-mail interview with me. Really good stuff in there, which has me looking forward to the remaining Books of the Cataclysm and his upcoming Space Opera Astropolis.
In non-review books, I finished Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors. I enjoyed just about all the stories; with everything I read by him, Gaiman climbs up the list of my favorite writers.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Never, in my 15+ year association with Rutgers as an undergraduate and alumnus did I expect the football team to be ranked in the top 20, to be undefeated, or to defeat a top 10 team. Well, I suppose I know what the Red Sox fans were feeling in 2004 when their team won after so many years of not winning.
By no means is the season over. Now, it gets interesting. The football program has respect, something its been lacking ever since it went Division 1. Right now, I'm just enjoying the win and all the talk on ESPN and the radio about the Scarlet Knights.
The school has always had a nice academic reputation, but this is nice, too.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Yesterday I posted my review of Justina Robson's Mappa Mundi.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Anyway, I posted up my review of Wayne Batson's The Final Storm a couple of days ago right here.
The frontpage of SFFWorld has also been changed up quite a bit, so check out the interview with Neil Gaiman at the top of the page and a solid review of Jeff VanderMer's latest, Shriek: An Afterword.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Saturday, driving home, I hit a deer with my car. Or rather, the young deer ran into my car. In the area of NJ where I live, I see about one dead deer on the side of the road for every couple of miles I drive. One could say I live out in the country. In fact, when I first moved into the house last year a deer was hit right outside my house (not by me). I was woken by the gunshot which put the poor creature out of its misery. Between where I live now and where my In-Laws live, I've been avoiding deer on the roads for a while, I've become relatively skilled at spotting them. However, this little guy came out of nowhere and with the hour being dusk, it was even more difficult to see the road and my surroundings. I pulled over to check the car and glance back at the deer, the deer struggled for a minute or so, got up and bounded away. The car is driveable and Mrs. Blog o' Stuff and I are fine, just a little shaken and stirred.
Sunday, the Yankees lost to the Tigers. Considering the tall goofball who pitched on Sunday, and the whiny prima-donna who pitched on Saturday, I'm not too suprised. The Yankees loss is another rant, which I don't care to go into at the moment.
Monday, I had some plumbing issues in the house and had to have Roto Rooter come out today. Getting ready for work today, I lost a contact. Luckily, I had a spare set. Getting into the car, I spilled coffee all over my seat.
So while on the whole, life is generally "OK," I still (as I told my wife) would like to, if they were a perseon, take the past 7 days outside in the back yard and beat it about the face with a large frying pan.
I joined the revolution today and signed up with MySpace. What I'll do with it, is probably minimal.
Last and not least, I posted a couple of reviews in the past week:
The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven - a little bit epic fantasy, a little bit horror, and a little disappointing.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor - A retelling of Alice in Wonderland vis a vis Gregory Maguire's Wicked.
The venerable Hobbit of SFFWorld posted his review of Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts, making me want the book even more.
The new seasons of Lost and Battlestar Galactica are doing exactly what they did last season - leaving me wanting more.
Latest sign of the apocalypse: Mr. T. has reality Show.
Enough ranting for now.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Hornswaggled from the Hornswaggler himself… The 10 Unread books mem
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher – I really enjoyed Storm Front and with the TV show upcoming, I want to get into this soon.
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman – I feel I should read this before I get Fragile Things.
Son of the Witch by Gregory Maguire – I loved Wicked, got this about a year ago, but haven’t gotten to it yet.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – I never got around to reading Elantris, so I figured this might be a good starting point for the new author.
Innocents Aboard by Gene Wolfe – really, is there a defendable excuse for having an unread Gene Wolfe book on my shelf? I didn’t think there was.
The Hidden Stars by Madeline Howard – Ms. Howard has a forum at SFFWorld and I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, shame on me.
The Chosen by Ricardo Pinto – Gary Wassner spoke very highly of this book as have others.
Tales of the White Wolf edited by Karl Edward Wagner – a collection of short stories about Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone. With writers like Tad Williams and Neil Gaiman, I couldn’t pass this up in the used bookstore.
A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo – SFFWorld forum member Ouroboros goes on quite a bit about this book and series. I saw it in the local used bookshop and figured I’d give it a try.
The Last Coin by James P. Blaylock – this one has been on the shelf for at least a year, and I’ve heard wonderful things about Blaylock.
I’m sure most people who read my blog already know this, but it is worth mentioning: Clarkesworld Magazine launched yesterday. Good luck to Neil and Nick.
Last but not least, the latest installment of Greenhorn made me smile very broadly.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Despite the kerfuffle last week, I’m still writing book reviews. The most recent of which is the review I published ast night, Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks. What was most frustrating about the book was how much I wanted to like it. As my review points out, there were too many negatives about the book for me to really enjoy it. I didn't mention it in the review, but I often wonder how he comes up with some of the names for his characters.
Monday, September 18, 2006
It seems a review I wrote a few months back has instigated something of a stir. This is the type of shitstorm that hits the Intraweb every couple of months; and Gabe is as good as, or maybe better than most at instigating good debate and discussion. However, this time I find it particularly odd, since I've watched some of these things from the 'sidelines' of the Intraweb and not been involved. Gabe brings up some fair points, I suppose, and some things I've been considering over the past few months as my review output has been increasing. With Emerald City closing down and the validity of on-line reviews continually in question, Gabe's essay / critique / rant comes at an interesting time, especially since he singles me out early in his rant. The point I probably agree with the most is that I could have expounded further on one of my initial points in the review. However, I think the remainder of my review is fairly strong (if not explicitly a criticism piece) - it gives a feel for the book and a good indication, via comparisons of other writers/books, if somebody might enjoy the book. After all when I read reviews; that is, the gist of what I am looking for in a review is the answer to this question - is the book worth my time? In essence, I felt I delivered on what I look for when perusing book reviews of a book I'm interested in reading.
From my vantage point, criticisms can tend to be long winded and stray too far from the question I want answered. This isn't intended as a slight on lengthier criticism, despite what I just said. Gabe, more often than not, has a lot of interesting things to say, that's why I often read his rants/criticisms. Very often, though, if the review/critique is too long, I zone out and lose interest. Thus I try to keep my reviews between 500 and 1200 words. This is not to say that reviews can't or shouldn't include some form of criticism. After all, I want to know why the book is worthy or unworthy of my time and critical examination is healthy.
I always want the quality of my reviews to be top notch, of course. I also know some of my reviews are stronger than others, such things are only natural. What Gabe says about reviewers and critics is fodder for debate, which is always good. I don't consider myself a critic under Gabe's definition in his various pieces over the past couple of days. While I received my BA in English (what can you do with that?) and wrote my fair share of essays and rudimentary criticisms, I never read much on critical theory - literary and/or sf. So if I were to start spouting some theories and what not in my review, I would sound hollow to myself, if nobody else. Does that make me any less qualified to be reviewing books for a fairly large genre community/Web site? Am I just a fan with an opinion and an outlet to voice my opinion? I suppose that's a bit part of what I am, as a reviewer for SFFWorld.
I'm not going to lie and say I don't enjoy getting the free books, because I do. But that's just part of the package. What I find gratifying is when my review encourages somebody to pick up the book I reviewed and that person get as much enjoyment out of the book as I did. Or conversely, if I helped somebody avoid a book that I thought was sub-par. However, I feel I should try to read and review every book I receive from publishers, though it doesn’t always happen. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I feel it is something of an unwritten contract between the publisher/publicist and me.
So part of this, I think boils down to the difference between critcisim and reviews. Where does one drift into another? Is a review in Publishers Weekly or the New York Times Book Review any more valid than a review I publish at SFFWorld or a review that appears at SciFiWeekly? Ultimately, I don't know, I can only say from my perspective - no. The current genre reviewer for NYT BR caused something of a stir when his first couple of pieces were published. Response ranged from outrage to "hey, at least genre stuff is still being looked at in the NYT."
Will I try to improve my reviews? Of course, I want to improve over time. Do I think the review in question over at Gabe’s journal is one of my lesser reviews? No, I really don’t, nor do I feel it is my strongest. As a piece of criticism, it perhaps falls short.
All that said, I bear no ill-will towards Gabe, he’s been an online pal for a while now. I don't think I've said all I can say on the subject, since it is something of an ongoing dialogue. Comments?
Monday, September 11, 2006
I was at the Arts Center again this past Friday for the Godsmack/Rob Zombie/Shinedown concert, which was great. Despite the funky acoustics at the arena, Godsmack still sounded great.
Since my last post, I've published a couple of reviews and interviews at SFFWorld. My interview with Scott Westerfeld, and review of The Last Days went up last week and last night I published my review of the terrific new collection from Mike Resnick, New Dreams for Old.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
The Lies of Lock Lamora was a great, entertaining, balls against the wall story. Its no wonder the book has been optioned by Hollywood, Mr. Lynch writes with a very cinematic style. Few people have as good a pen for dialogue as him, except maybe Matthew Stover. For a book that isn’t explicitly comedy, it has some of the best one-liners in any genre or book.
I loved the alternating chapters, between Lock’s “now” and his youth with Chains. It is a good technique to shuffle the reader’s perceptions about the characters with each past revelation. It also worked to build the tension enough at the end of each chapter with the slight shift in tone from past to present.
The book reminded me in parts of Steven Brust, Goodfellas, Matthew Stover and the film Snatch. This works great for me since I love Brust and Stover’s writing and count Goodfellas as one of my top 10 favorite films.
Besides, how can you NOT like a book that’s got a quote for the crazy old closer from the Phillies, Mitch Williams?
I’ve a strong feeling* The Lies of Lock Lamora is just the tip of Lynch’s iceberg. This is a very good thing indeed.
*well duh, the second book comes out next year and just about everybody who reads in the genre knows about the project 7 books in the series, not to mention the three novellas.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The future history only begs for MORE background, to the Reawakening to the Three Jesuses to the typical lunar colonies, he has it all mapped out and Infoquake is only the tip of the iceberg. Edleman has a fascinating background and timeline mapped out at http://www.infoquake.net.
I hope most of my reviews are fair, though I know a share of them tend to be enthusiastic. I hope my earlier praise of some novels doesn't lessen my enthusiasim for Infoquake. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Pyr is publishing some great books, but this might be the book that puts them over the top in terms of US genre publishing.
The last book I read when it first came out (I know that is something of a qualifier) that had me this enthusiastic was Greg Keyes' The Briar King.
I also posted my review of Wayne Thomas Batson's fine young adult fantasy Rise of the Wyrm Lord.
I need to see thos motherfucking snakes!
Boston Massacer 2006 - Holy Crap! I expected the Yankees to win three, but a sweep. That was very nice.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
of what he believes to be reality.
But, there is, unseen by most, an underworld,
a place that is just as real,
but not as brightly lit.....
Some of the episodes were kind of cheesy, and I don't know how they would all hold up today, but I liked them well enough back then. I'm surprised it took this long for SciFi to pick up the series.
I’ve seen this on the blogs/LJs and The Hornswaggler tagged me, so here goes.
1. One book that changed your life?
One? Only one? Don’t know if I can narrow it down all that much. A lot of books changed me in discreet ways I have only noticed years later.
2. One book you have read more than once?
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub – I traveled with Jack to the Territories about once a year in high school and was heartbroken each time I read of Wolf’s fate. I’ve read many books multiple times, but this was the first book I probably read more than once.
3. One book you would want on a desert island?
“How to Survive on a Desert Island and Not Go Apeshit” Oh, a real book? Maybe some kind of survival guide I suppose.
4. One book that made you laugh?
Probably the most recent book to give me the most laughter was Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys.
5. One book that made you cry?
Old Yeller when I was twelve.
6. One book you wish had been written?
Respect: How a Young Man from New Jersey Made It
7. One book you wish had never had been written?
I don’t know, maybe Mein Kampf?
8. One book you are currently reading?
Infoquake by David Louis Edleman during lunch breaks at work and The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 23rd Edition edited by Gardner Dozois at home.
9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.
10. Now tag five people.
I'm so late to this meme, I think most people have already done it. If you haven't I'm tagging you. YES, YOU!
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
As serendipity or coincidence would have it, when I stopped by the local Borders for Locus yesterday, I was surprised to see they had the SF Cliche issue of Subterranean magazine guest edited by Mr. Scalzi. I'll be diving into the magazine tomorrow.
It is hot as balls in New Jersey. My pool is in the middle of my back yard and as a result, is under the shade of no tree. Today, the pool water was up in the 90s. I might have a shipment of ice delivered to drop in this weekend.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Of course, some people will disagree with me on the film, but Kevin knows his movies aren't for everyone. I happened to hear the O&A show when he and Siegel had it out and thought it was pretty funny.
In book news, I just posted my review of Greg Keyes' The Blood Knight. As I said in an earlier post, I loved this book. Every page. I just didn't want it to end.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Over the weekend, Mrs. Blog o' Stuff and I had some family over my house to barbeque and hang out poolside. I decided to try and do a backflip off my diving board. I can pull off front flips very easily. However, considering my size and less than graceful self, I didn't think I would be able to do it. When I pulled it off, I surprised myself more than anybody else.
That is all.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I spent the majority of Sunday outside enjoying the glorious heat. I worked on the yard for about half the day and barbequed and stayed in my pool the other half of the day. Speaking of the heat, anyone in the NJ/NY area can attest to the ridiculous taglines the local news channels tease us with during the evening - "How to stay alive in the the most oppressive heatwave of the season, tonight at 11!"
Back to the pirate story and watching the rest of Eureka.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
This does present a problem though. For as many books as I’ve read and enjoyed, there are as many, maybe more that I want to read. Just from this past year or so alone, I wanted to get to Abraham’s A Shadow in Summer, Hartwell’s Space Opera Renaissance, Keck’s In the Eye of Heaven, Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin, Sean Williams/Shane Dix’s Geodesica duology, John C. Wright’s Orphans of Chaos, Cory Doctrow’s Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves to Town, etc.
Add to that all the classics I want to revisit (or read for the first time, embarrassingly), like Dune, Starship Troopers, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ringworld, Stand on Zanzibar, 1984, Clark Ashton Smith, The Land of Laughs, Snow Crash, The Dying Earth, etc.
This doesn’t even include all the short fiction I want to read in the anthologies and magazines. I can barely trim down my own to read pile before wanting to add to it.
That was the long of it. The short of it is – there is just too much out there I want to read.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Speaking of the All-Star game, this coverge is awful. Twice when they announcers broke away from covering the game to go to either a mic'd up manager or a reporter on the 'sidelines,' exciting things happened in the game. Focus was taken away from the game on the field when great things happened - Vlad Guerrero's homer and Alfonso Soriano getting thrown out at home. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Fox is one of THE worst things to happen to baseball in the past 10 or fifteen years.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
I posted my review of Martin Sketchley's The Destiny Mask earlier in the week. I thought it was good, but not as good as the first book in the trilogy.
One year ago (8th) we closed on our house and moved in on the 9th. It has been a very interesting and crazy year, to say the least.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
John Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades and Greg Keyes' The Blood Knight. I think, outside of George R.R. Martin, Keyes is writing the best Epic Fantasy saga on the shelves right now. I've been looking forward to this one since I finished The Charnel Prince almost two years ago.
As for John's book, I really enjoyed Old Man's War when it was the discussion book back in May at SFFWorld's Science Fiction forum.
Thank God and Mother Nature the weather finally broke today. After the soggiest week I can remember, we actually had a full day of sun here in Central New Jersey. Mrs. Blog o' Stuff and I were finally able to get some outdoor projects around the house closer to completion.
The next county over really did get hit bad with floods and water damage. Towns were flooded for a majority of the week and Main Street in New Hope, PA (a relatively popular day trip for Jersyians) was completely underwater with some businesses ruined.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
This year we celebrated by seeing the aforementioned X-Men III before I cooked a batch of my world famous chile, one of Mrs. Blog o' Stuff's favorites. On the whole, it was a relatively relaxing day, despite the rains. She got me an official Martin Brodeur jersey, something I've been wanting for a while. Not too surprsing, since Mrs. B is responsible for all of my sports jerseys. I got her, well actually us, tickets to go see Spamalot. It was a toss up between that and seeing the hilarous Stephen Lynch in The Wedding Singer. The British humour won in the end, but we do need to see Lynch on stage again.
Today, we went to see Superman Returns. I had heard so many mixed things about the film, I wasn't sure what to expect. I liked it quite a bit, despite some misgivings, including the suit. I bought Routh as Clark Kent much more than Superman. I was never a fan of the Lois Lane character, and Bosworth was effective, I guess. I liked the story, I thougt Superman's pure power and his powers were displayed very effectively. Spacey nailed Luthor. On the whole, I was entertained and on the edge of my seat in the right scenes. The movie does bode well for the future of the franchise, as long as Routh packs on about 25 pounds of muscle.
Back to the fiction and forums.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Finally, I caught the new X-Men movie over the weekend. I went in with very low expectations, based on what others have said, but still hoping to be entertained. I thought it was entertaining, but I did have problems with it, especially the characters who didn't quite make it to the credits. I know movies and comics are different mediums, but when there is such an established universe and set of characters, I see no real reason to mess with what has worked before.
This blog really is becoming something of a wasteland, no? Perhaps I should take it out in the backyard to shoot it and put it out of its misery. Ah, at least I have all my links here, which is what I've been using it for lately.
A new job will do that (especially when a lot of the posting prior to this new job were done during work hours at the previous job). I have been focusing on writing fiction, I finished a short story last week and started another one very recently. I haven't jumped back into a full-length novel yet, though. I want to work on some more stories first.
Enough rambling, back to the fiction.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
I ordered the tickets yesterday and they should be coming over the e-mail soon - Godsmack with Rob Zombie and Shinedown. I don't think I could as for a better combo for hard rock. I've seen all three bands perform and they are all great live acts.
I started a short story and a novel in the past week. They are completely unrelated to each other. However, they both are fighting for my creative attention at the moment. I know I should focus on one, but they aren't letting me do that.
Monday, June 12, 2006
On the writing front, I started something today. I had a pretty vivid dream that felt like a story, so as soon as I woke up, I wrote what I remembered. I've got a lot of thoughts floating around on it right now, but I like them. However, I want to name these folks right. I don't want them to have hokey sounding names, but I also don't want to have a sorcerer with a bland name like Fred. Then again, Fred the Sorcerer could be a nice little comedic fantasy.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I also know the story continues in another novel, but I don't want to start that until I give the first book another re-read. I realized fairly early on in writing Devil I wanted to tell a story about these characters and the worlds they visit in more than one book.
Besides, I've got a couple of other unfinished novels I want to complete, perhaps one by the end of the year. I'm also going to work out some short stories I've been mentally throwing around for a while. All I know at this point is that I have a number of stories I need to tell.
The Sopranos ended with a family scene, like most of their season-ending episodes end. I wasn't too thrilled with this half of the last season. Sure there were some interesting points along the way, but I found myself more annoyed than entertained.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Now to the History of Metal - of the four episodes on this thing, the first two are probably the best. These two episodes (rightly so) spend a great deal of time on Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Maiden. Sabbath and Maiden are probably two of my favorite bands, metal or not. The third episode was mostly about the glam rock scene in LA and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal while the fourth episode spent collectively, about 15 minutes on the big four as they are sometimes known: Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Metallica. On the other hand, about 15 minutes was dedicated to Marilyn Manson, who is controversial, but not explicitly Metal and will not be as remembered as, at the very least, Metallica. Barely any mention of Pantera, the band many (including myself) feel helped to keep metal alive during the grunge years/early 90s, barely any mention of some of the current crop of metal bands. I find a little odd that the big four get only a glancing mention, especially when Geezer Butler of Sabbath states: "Thank God for Metallica" and they spend half of an episode on hair bands like Poison and a quarter of an episode on Marilyn Manson.
What do they close out the four parter with? A reunion show of Twisted Sister. Yes they were an important band, and were big 20 years ago. However, they aren't exactly where Metal is now, and where it is going with bands like Trivium, Shadows Fall, Hatebreed, In Flames, Lacuna Coil, Killswitch Engage, or even progressive metal like Dream Theater and Stratovarious.
Enough ranting about Metal. Today, I posted my latest review, Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling by D.M. Corninsh.
This blog has been on stutter steps lately, the new job is really taking up my time. That and finishing up the novel I started writing in November. I told myself when I knew I wouldn’t finish it for NaNoWriMo 2005, I wanted to have it finished by this summer. It really looks like that will happen. Once I feel satisfied with the ending, I save it, print it, and keep away from it for a few months.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Well, that was two hours of intriguing television, especially the last five minutes. At first I thougt, "Convienent, they kill off a couple of characters, divide the camp, so naturally another plane will crash." However, the reveal that Pen (Desmond's girlfried) was funding the search for presumably Desmond throws another layer into the story. It also kill the theory I've seen that the rest of the world is gone. I also thought he guy on the phone with Pen looked a lot like Jack.
I didn't expect Pen to be on the other line, I thought it would have been one of the Others. I also thought the statue foot was an intriguing addition, too. Could the Others be the lost civilization of Atlantis? It would play on the word of Lost. At first, I thought Pen's was Hanso, it looked like the guy in the shadows of the Hanso commercial. (I keep wanting to call him S.R. Hadden from Sagan's Contact). However, I'd be willing to bet the two, or their respective companies, are connected.
I really hope Desmond isn't dead after just returning, although I think Echo and Locke are done.
Was Kelvin (Clancy Brown) sent to the hatch by the Others?
"Henry Gale" to Michael - "We are the good guys."
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I'll not even mentioned what happened to the NJ Devils after they swept the Rangers.
Lost ends its season next week. The season had its ups and downs, but I still have enjoyed it more than anything else on TV.
The summer movie season is officially open, although I have no desire to see Cruise's latest. The only films that really interest me are the comic-book related films: X-Men: The Last Stand, Superman Returns and Clerks II. This wonderful looking gem not withstanding.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Point being, go out and buy a book with good stories for a good cause.
I am VERY happy with Godsmack’s new album, IV.
A Meme from Andrew Wheeler:
1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet and current street name)
2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (grandfather/grandmother on your dad's side, your favorite candy)
3. YOUR "FLY GIRL/GUY" NAME: (first initial of first name, first two or three letters of your last name)
4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite animal, favorite color)
5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
(Sounds more like a romance-writer, no?)
6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (first 3 letters of your last name, last 3 letters of mother's maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet's name)
7. JEDI NAME: (middle name spelled backwards, your mom's maiden name spelled backwards) Dlorah Aicronid
(Like Andrew, I used her mom's maiden name, just to foil identity thieves with way too much time on their hands.)
8. PORN STAR NAME: (middle name, street you grew up on)
9. SUPERHERO NAME: ("The", your favorite color, the automobile you drive)
The Black Alero
Saturday, May 06, 2006
The Crooked Letter is a very interesting book and I am taking my time with it, enjoying every dark step of the way Mr. Williams guides me. It isn't a pleasant journey for the characters, but for the reader, that's another story. I'll keep the remainder of my thoughts to myself until I finish the book and post my review. Let's put it this way, I like this book enough that I want to pick up more of his books. I've heard great things about his Space Operas with Shane Dix.
I finished Kit Reed's The Baby Merchant earlier in the week and was surprised by how much I liked it. I only say that because I didn't know what to expect from Ms. Reed, but I was satisfied when I finished it. Review and interview with Kit Reed to come soon.
Because I like free good fiction as much as the next guy, I figured I'd drop a note about the venerable The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Apparently, they are giving away one copy of the July issue, which has a Matt Hughes story in it, as well as a new Terry Bisson story. I've been enjoying Hughes Archonate stories in the magazine, and I've been meaning to get a subscription to the magazine again. I had one two addresses ago, but never renewed. Must change that soon.
Not much else to report right now, work at the new job is crazy-busy, which is a good thing. The days go by much faster.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Tomorrow at 6 A.M., the Virus returns to New York City and Philadelphia.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Friday was the last day at the old job and I start tomorrow at the new place. I've got mixed feelings, of course. I'm both excited and anxious about starting at the new place, I know I've made the right move. On the other hand, I'll miss the people I worked with at the old place; well, most of them anyway. The commute is a bit longer, but the better pay and potential for moving up at the new place very much outweigh the extra three or four miles I'll be driving.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The book started in November as part of my NaNoWriMo experiment, but it was a story idea I’ve had for quite some time. Since November, I’ve been writing and plugging away on a pretty daily basis, between five to seven days a week. One thing I’ve discovered is that the days where I don’t think I’ll have much to write end up being some of the more productive sessions.
So the question remains, now that I’ve hit the 100K mark, where will it end? To be honest and optomistic, I feel I’m coming close to finishing this thing. I didn’t expect it would be quite this long when I started, the tale definitely grew in the telling. This storyline, which I thought I could flesh out in one novel, has grown into what I can now see as a duology, a number of plot points grew as I was writing. I see the end in sight on this book and I’m looking forward to giving it the first once-over when I finish it.
One thing I’ve found to be good background as I write, at least when I’m on the desktop in the “office” at home is the Music Choice channel, specifically the Heavy Metal station/channel. They play probably the best mix of metal available in my area, mainly because the well-known WSOU doesn’t come in too well at my house.
Keeping with the Metal theme, I acquired a couple of really solid albums recently, Trivium’s Ascendancy and Of One Blood from Shadows Fall. I also happened to hear Trivium’s cover of Master of Puppets, which is one of the better cover songs I’ve heard. I’ve heard a lot of good stuff on Music Choice, music I wouldn’t and likely will never hear on any of the local radio stations. I first heard Shadows Fall on Music Choice and have since become a fan of the band and really enjoyed seeing them at Ozzfest last year. I've also been visiting some Heavy Metal Web sites and forums lately (http://www.allmetalforums.com/forums, http://www.thegauntlet.com/forums/, and http://www.metal-rules.com) to find out more about the artists I've been hearing on Music Choice.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
In good reading news, I finished up V for Vendetta recently, and I only wish I discovered this brilliant SF work earlier. The response the film has been pretty polarize, with people seeming to either love it or hate it. I don’t know that I’ll get the chance to see it in theaters, but I do at least want to see it when it comes to DVD. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago when I stopped by Kevin Smith’s comic shop, which is always a fun place to visit when in downtown Red Bank.
This is my last week at the current job. On the 24th, I’ll be switching companies, where I’ll essentially be doing the same thing, but for better money and a much better opportunity to advance and move up. I don’t know how much blogging I’ll be doing once next week begins.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Some nice news from Gary and Gabe, I think this will be great for both of them.
I posted my not-so-positive review of The New Wave of Speculative Fiction – The What If Factor edited by Sean Wright.
As much as I was pained during my reading of Savage Messiah, Hal Duncan’s Vellum is having the opposite effect on me. So far, the book is living up to all the hype it received last year when the UK published the book first..
Lastly, via Hornswoggler, battle of the midget Kisses. We all knew it was inevitable.
Friday, April 07, 2006
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I finished up Newcomb's Savage Messiah a couple of days ago, thank God. Ouch, and double-ouch, my review will be posted next week. I'll be starting up Caitlin Sweet's A Telling of Stars, which is the May book at SFFWorld's Fantasy Book Club and the next book for review, Vellum by Hal Duncan. I'll also probably begin dipping into the Elemental anthology edited by Steve Savile and Alethia Kontis as well. In addition, I picked up a month's worth of backlogged comics yesterday, so I've got plenty of reading to do, although I may pick up the newest Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction if I see it at the bookstore. This month's issue has stories by Gene Wolfe, M. Rickert and Matthew Hughes. I've read enjoyed all three writers in the past.
I thought Lost was pretty good on Wednesday night, considering they finally explained why Hurley hasn't trimmed down. As soon as I saw Dave, two films came to mind: A Beautiful Mind and Identity. I'm not completely convinced that the explanation Dave offered isn't true. Time will tell, but at least the show seems to have hit its pace once again.
Another almost paint-by-numbers Smallville, but as with the previous episode, I thought the elements touching upon the seasonal story-arc were stronger than the episode-specific storyline. I really think that's what is keeping me tuning in every week.
Peter David will be scripting the comic-ization of King's Dark Tower. On one hand, I am happy for Peter, and I think he is the right guy for the job. On the other, Marvel has backpeddled a bit from STEPHEN KING IS COMING TO MARVEL to Robin Furth handling some of the chores, to King being the "Executive Editor and Creative Director"of the thing. I can almost guarantee the final product will be what King wants it to be and bringing in a seasoned, proven comic writer of David's high-caliber may be the right way to go. I see this as King admitting he may not be the right person to actually script the book. However, King has penned a decent number of screenplays and I don't imagine there is much of a difference between the two. Then again, many people have seen what happens when King puts on a different creative hat and directs. Regardless, I'll be buying this next year.
Lastly, because I am addicted to Wikipedia, and I love a meme as much as the next blogger/LJer, I pulled this one is from Gabe. If he thought he was scifi, he should check these out. Go to Wikipedia and look up your birth day (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births and one death in your journal, including the year.
Three Neat Facts
1811 - Tecumseh's War: The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought near present-day Battle Ground, Indiana , United States
1932 - Buck Rogers in the 25th Century airs on radio for the first time
1996 - NASA launches the Mars Global Surveyor
1927- Hiroshi Yamauchi, Japanese computer game executive, Ex Nintendo President
1867 - Maria Sklodowska-Curie, Polish-born chemist and physicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics and in chemistry (d. 1934)
1980 - Steve McQueen, American actor (b. 1930)
Monday, April 03, 2006
Lost another good episode, but I think the Locke backstory episodes are always solid, even though in the present of the story I've been annoyed by him lately. The conclusion of the episode was one of the better ones of the entire series.
South Park standard stuff from them, good in spots, but still under the shadow of Darth Chef.
Smallville was its decent formulaic self. I wasn't paying too much attention to the story itself, but the elements for the greater story line of the season were good - particularly the 'return' of Braniac and Lex's continued scheming. This was what, the 87th time Clark and Lana ended their romance?
Dr. Who is still waiting on the TiVO, but I've really enjoyed the first three episodes, hopefully SciFi will bring the older episodes into some kind of viewing rotation.
Sopranos was probably the best episode of the season last night. With Tony talking, concious, and part of the family again, things were back on track. I'll be surprised if Paulie makes it to the end of this season.
The Devils have starting winning again and baseball has officially started, so it is a good time for sports in my life right now.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The Baseball Draft went pretty well this past weekend, the early rounds worked out just as I hoped they would. I was able to pick up the run-producing machines of Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, so I got my Yankees out of the way early and picked up a lot of runs, doubles/triples, and some stolen bases in the deal. With four keepers per team, the first round of the draft was actually like the fifth round. I'm pretty satisfied with my team, plus or minus a couple of guys, so we shall see what the season holds for my team, the Voodoo Tribe.
Friday, March 24, 2006
On the other hand, South Park was brilliant. I don't think they could have handled the Isaac Hayes situation any better. On one hand they dug even deeper at the Scientologists, and on the other, they really did a nice tribute to Chef. The soundboard quality of Chef's lines was probably the funniest aspect of the episode, aside from the final fate of Chef.
Best of luck to Jim Rigney (aka Robert Jordan) and his treatment. I haven't been a fan of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time for a while, although I admit to enjoying the series when I first graduated college. In recent years, I haven't paid much attention to the storyline, and try to keep my distance from the books. However, say what you will about the books, there's still a person behind the story and output . I wish the man well on his road to treating what looks like a rare and difficult disease.
Lastly, and randomly, here's the mix of music I've been listening to at work:
- Ozzfest Summer Sampler 2005 (Some nice metal from Trivium, Soilwork, In Flames and Bruce Dickinson)
- Avenue Q Original Broadway Cast Recording
- Rob Zombie, The Sinister Urge
- Bon Jovi, Bounce
- Rage Against the Machine, Renegades
- Dream Theater, assorted songs
- Nativity in Black, A Tribute to Black Sabbath
- Lacuna Coil, Comalies (with some Savatage and Avenged Sevenfold thrown on the end of the burned CD)
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The fantasy baseball draft is approaching - this Sunday I will be drafting the 2006 roster for the Voodoo Tribe. As I mentioned about a month ago, I am keeping four players from the 2005 roster, Ichiro, Brad Lidge, Mark Buerhle, and Cliff Lee. I've been strategizing with my baseball guru pal for about a month now and things look pretty interesting. The most fun is usually the draft day itself, so I'm looking forward to that.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
The current writing project isn't my first attempt, but right now, I know it is my strongest attempt at telling a novel-length story. I've been a lot more consistent with my writing schedule, writing at least five days a week, and very often seven days a week. Is all of it my best work? I don't know, I don't have enough distance yet to judge the quality, but more often than not when I finish my writing for the morning or night, the day seems a lot better. However, when I refer to something, which occurred at an earlier point in my story, I do read some of what I wrote a month or a week ago and a big smile grows on my face. I have the sense that, yes, I have something of a clue about this writing thing.
Another strange thing about funneling your creative energies into fiction writing is how the brain must be continually "on." Writer's jobs never finish once the computer is turned off, and I know that statement is no schematic for wheel reinvention. I'm a person who goes to the gym three, mostly four days a week. What do you think I do between reps and sets? Work out plot points of my novel, or I hone the dialogue I want my characters to use, of course. For some reason, exerting physical energy also allows me to focus my mental and creative energy. This writing, it is really a continual thing.
Take for example this past week. I've been mulling over a plot hurdle for a while now, trying to figure out exactly why a put a character in certain place. I knew the motivation, I had a pretty clear idea of the end result of his visit to this place, and I was trying to work out the specifics of some of the intermediary points. After doing a set of bicep curls, or some other exercise, it came to me. I laid out, perhaps subconsciously, reasons earlier in the story that would logically funnel into later portions of the narrative.
It was at that point I felt like "Yeah, maybe I DO have a good idea of this writing thing." I'm sure the other people doing their workouts in my area were wondering why a huge grin suddenly appeared on my unshaven face, but I wasn't going to tell them. Writing is a personal thing. Besides, they can find out when I publish the book.
Monday, March 13, 2006
My interview with Keith Brooke and review of his novel, Genetopia, are now posted for your reading pleasure. Keith is a vet at this inter-web-sf-genre thingy and he had a lot of very good things to say in our interview.
So, after a ridiculous hiatus, The Sopranos returned last night. I thought the beginning muddled and confusing, but the show settled in pretty nicely after that. I saw one part of the ending coming from the start of the episode, but was surprised about the other portion of the ending. I'll have to watch my TiVO'd Family Guy tonight.
That is all for now.
Friday, March 10, 2006
I counted up the votes for SFFWorld's Favorite book of 2005 and the winner is R. Scott Bakker's The Warrior-Prophet.
Neil Gaiman's Stardust film receives an impressive cast: Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Clare Danes. I liked the book alot, really like DeNiro and liked most of the films I've seen with Michelle Pfeiffer.
I'm sure most of the people who read this thing have seen the big hub-bub and controversy the new idiot Science Fiction reviewer for the New York Times has caused. My take - I wouldn't be too surprised if what he said was calculated to ilicit the reaction we are seeing across SF spheres.
I've just rediscovered Steve Savile's Web site and blog. Steve hangs out at SFFWorld's forums, with a forum of his own. This looks like a big year for him, publication-wise, with a vampire trilogy set in the popular Warhammer 40,000 series with Inheritance.
Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology co-edited with Alethea Kontis, is publishing in May. I've got an advanced copy, and it looks very impressive.
Monday, March 06, 2006
I think the writer of the film, Kurt Wimmer, must have read Orwell's 1984 every year of his life, because there are a lot of parallels. The premis is that after a third World War, society has crawled up from the wreckage into a totalitarian state. Bale's character is a policeman, who tracks down and elimates people for the offensive of showing and having emotions. Not exactly the most original plot but I really think the execution was spot on. However, Bale's character kicks a little bit more ass* than Wilson Smith ever did in Orwell's Oceania. Between this and Batman Begins, I think Bale might have it in his contracts that he has to kick ass all the time. Granted he can never kick as much as ass-kicking as Chuck Norris, but to say he handles himself pretty well is an understatement. Anyway, I'm something of a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories, and I do think the story was pretty strong, the SFX and future world interesting looking and as I said, a lot of good fight scenes, particulalry when Bale's character was having what looked like a sword fight with Robert the Bruce. The fight was choreographed like a sword-duel, but the characters were using pistols, it made for something interesting I haven't seen much of before. I'd like to see some kind of special edition DVD of this thing.
This movie should have received more attention than it did when it was in theaters, considering the familiar faces in the cast - Sean Bean, William Fichtner, Taye Diggs, and Emily Watson. Granted they are not all huge stars, but they are all recognizable.
*of course by a little bit more I mean not just a can of whoop-ass, but an entire brewery's worth.
I posted my review of Judas Unchained today, while I liked it a lot, I thought the pace slowed down a bit too much from Pandora's Star. On the whole, these two books are extremely impressive.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Click the above banner to read the excerpt we are hosting on SFFWorld.com. Jeff VanderMeer is an amazing writer and this is the definitive edition of what many consider to be one of the most important and imaginative fantasies in the past ten years. But most of the poeple reading my blog already know that.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I am hoping to get to the book myself very shortly as I've had it on my shelf since November of last year, when the classy-looking US version at left was published by Bantam Spectra.
In Science Fiction during March, we are discussing The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I liked the book quite a lot when I first read it years ago in college and a good bit of it still sticks with me today.