Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Chaos & Clarkesworld Books

Work has been extremely busy, as is often the case just before a holiday. Life has been busy with family and friend-related engagements every weekend in between work on the new house.

In the midst of all this chaos, I'm thankful for great books like John Marco's newest, The Sword of Angels, to take me away and still engage my thoughts and stimulate my imagination. I finished it up a couple of days ago and I'm finalizing my review, which will be posted in a couple of days. As my sidebar indicates, I'm smack-dab in the middle of the thoughtful and cool collection edited by Gardner Dozois, Galileo's Children.

I've mentioned before the great online FSF bookstore, Clarkesworld Books, run by Neil Clarke. He has a wonderful selection of 'Zines, signed books, used books and small press books you just can't find in Barnes and Noble or Borders. Every so often, Neil runs a contest and the one he's starting up is pretty cool. Tobias Buckell, a writer whose short stories I've enjoyed will see his debut novel, Crystal Rain, publish with Tor (not that you would know from perusing Tor's Web site) in January/February of 2006. If you preorder a signed copy, you win a chance to be a character in one of his future novels. Again, as I've said, Neil is a fellow NJ-guy, so I always try to support the locals, especially when the product/services offered are superior to the big competition. Regardless of whether or not you are going to get Buckell's novel, Clarkesworld offers a plentitude of books.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I'm Pure...

Although I don't completely agree with everything the writer, Rick Remender, says about science fiction, he has a pretty interesting looking comic book series coming out in October from Image Comics, entitled Fear Agent. Comic Book Resources speaks to him here, artists Tony Moore and Cory Walker.

I also expanded on my post about Gary's 3rd GemQuest novel and posted it as an official SFFWorld review..

Got this one from Scott

Pure Geek
47 % Nerd, 73% Geek, 26% Dork
For The Record: A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia. A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one. A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions. You scored better than half in Geek, earning you the title of: Pure Geek. It's not that you're a school junkie, like the nerd, and you don't really stand out in a crowd, like the dork, you just have some interests that aren't quite mainstream. Perhaps it's anime, perhaps it's computers, perhaps it's bottlecaps, perhaps it's all of those and more. Your interests take you to events and gatherings that are filled with people you find unusual and beyond-the-pale, but you don't quite consider yourself "of that crowd." Instead, you consider yourself to be fairly normal. Which, you are. Congratulations!

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 27% on nerdiness

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 92% on geekosity

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 29% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

Monday, August 22, 2005

Fall Readings, Viewings, & Listenings

There are quite a bit of good things coming out this fall, in terms of books, movies and music. I figured I'd give a rundown of some things I'm looking forward to distracting me from reality...

September will see the release of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys and Son of a Witch, Gregory Maguire's sequel to the wonderful Wicked. Robert Buettner's second novel, Orphan's Destiny will be publishing as well. I really enjoyed his debut, Orphanage, which reminded me of Ender's Game. Joss Whedon's Serenity hits the big screen in September, as does Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean's MirrorMask. Disturbed's new album, Ten Thousand Fists, hits shelves at the end of September. Mrs. Blog o' Stuff will probably be pleased that Bon Jovi's new album, Have a Nice Day, comes out in September too. DC publishes an Absolute edition of the year-long Hush storyline from 2003.

In October, the NHL resumes play and BantamSpectra publishesa re-issue of M. John Harrison's seminal Viriconium, something I've been wanting to read for a long time. Alexander Irvine's new novel, In the Narrows, comes out in October, too. Mrs. Blog 'o Stuff will be pleased again since the new, as of yet untitled, Lemony Snicket book comes out in October. Batman Begins comes to DVD on October 18th, and DC is publishing Watchmen: The Absolute Edition in October, as well. DC's huge "earth-shattering-mega-super-duper-balls-out-for-glory" crossover kicks off - Infinite Crisis. In music, Shinedown's second album, Us and Them comes out October 4th. Their first album, Leave a Whisper, is amazing and the songs I've heard from this one are very good. I wasn't sure what to make of the cast of Elizabethtown, but once I discovered Cameron Crow was helming it, I mentally added to the list. Two sequels will probably wait until cable, though: Saw II and The Legend of Zorro. Also in October, Robert Jordan's 11th Wheel of Time novel, Knife of Dreams, publishes. The last WOT book I read was probably Winter's Heart. I will likely eventually finish out the series, but that is becoming a lower and lower reading priority with each passing day.

November, of course, is when George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows comes out. Stephen Erikson's third Malazan novel, Memories of Ice, comes to the US in November, too. Some little indepent film about a guy who gets burned and starts wearing black armor comes out on DVD in November. The film Zathura looks interesting if only because Jon Favreau is directing it. The fourth Potter movie comes out in November, too.

I've likely forgotten at least a book or two, a movie and some other stuff, but these are the ones that piqued my interest the most.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

GemQuest 3

I finished up The Shards, Gary's third GemQuest novel yesterday. Over the course of the three books, Gary's skills as a writer are catching up to his skills as a storyteller. While on the surface the saga is your typical "good guys rally to thwart the destructive plans of the evil overlord," there is more to it than that, and Gary's skills as a storyteller proves it. Part of the fun of that trope is seeing how many ways it can be spun, and in Gary's case, I like what he is doing.

Colton, the evil overlord, while not seen very much, is handled very well both in the scenes he is featured, as well as the scenes when other characters try to understand the nature of his "evil." There were a couple of instances where a copyedit would have helped, but on the whole, I like where the series is going, that is to say, there are a few different directions it could go. I also liked some of the new creatures and monsters introduced and fleshed out in The Shards, I'm seeing hints of a couple of different myths here. Suffice it to say, I'm looking forward to where Gary takes the story in the next volume, Revenge of the Elves.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Shaman's Crossing - review posted

Much partying Saturday night at my friend's wedding. I was feeling much better Sunday morning than I thought I was going to feel.

I just posted my official review of Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb. Easily one of the best books I've read of this year's releases. Until next time..

Friday, August 12, 2005

A contest with thrones and swords can only be seen with the aid of a Shaman's Conjurings

Just in case anybody reading this blog is living under a rock, George R. R. Martin has a new book in that little, mediocre (he types with a laugh) A Song of Ice and Fire saga coming out in November entitled A Feast for Crows. To celebrate and promote the release, his US Publisher, BantamSpectra is running an online contest entitled A Quest of Thrones, where you can win cool stuff, like copies of the book, a signed bookplate, etc. Even cooler, from my perspective, is that SFFWorld is one of the participant Web sites. On one hand, I can't join the Quest since I'm so heavily involved with SFFWorld, but on the other, I'm thrilled our Web site is partaking in, arguably, the release of the most anticpated fantay novel of the year (or maybe last couple of years). This should kick up the traffic and improve the visibility of one of the genre's largest and best on-line Web sites/communities, which is of course SFFWorld. So go register for this thing right now!

Here's something really cool, you can bid for a chance to be in your favorite writer's next work. Direct links to specific author auctions:

Neil Gaiman
Michael Chabon
Stephen King
Lemony Snicket
Peter Straub

All the proceeds will go to the First Amendment Project, orgainized by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon who was inspired directly by Neil Gaiman's auctioning the right to name a boat in his forthcoming Anansi Boys. When Gaiman did the Anansi Boys auction, it wound up raising over $3000 for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, so I would expect these auctions would be far out of my price range.

I just received an advance of John Marco's Sword of Angels. This thing is a beast of a book at over 900 pages, and I mean that as a compliment. I really enjoy John's writing and storytelling, so having this much of it under a nice shiny cover will be good. Once I finish Gary's third GemQuest book, The Shards, I'll move on to John's book, followed up with a review and an e-mail interview for SFFWorld. I finished Robin Hobb's wonderful Shaman's Crossing two nights ago and was completely entranced. I'll not spill anything until my review is written and posted, and I'm hoping to conduct an e-mail interview with her as well. I'm really looking forward to the second novel in the Soldier Son Trilogy Forest Mage, hopefully in about a year.

Of course all of the above are distractions from the frustations of real life, which constantly throws spit balls at you, decieves you into thinking you've turned a good corner for once, and leaves you complacent with everything else.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


$2.47 a friggn' gallon! Gas prices escalate as it is being put into your car. This is goddamned ridiculous. Instead of worrying about baseball players on steriods, or what people listen to on the radio and in their homes, the government should do something that has a DIRECT IMPACT on people EVERY DAY. I'm no economics guy, but there has got to be something the government can do about this, especially if they feel the need to increase their grasp on our personal freedoms and put their hands in professional sports.

That is all for today, I just needed to rant.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Long Weekend and Awards

The impending doom of bills to come seems to mount after buying a house, I'm learning. This past weekend was a long, entertaining weekend. Saturday night into Sunday morning was a bachelor party, I didn't pull up to my driveway until 5AM. It has been a long time since I pulled one of those. Slept for a few hours before going to the NY Renaissance Festival on Sunday with Mrs. Blog o' Stuff my brother-in-law and friend. I had a good time, ate some good food and I was sleep walking for the latter parts of it, since I barely had 3 hours sleep.

This coming weekend is the wedding of the groom for the aforementioned bachelor party, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Less than 2 months until the NHL season begins, and there have been a flurry of interesting moves. Khabibulin, unfortunately, signs with Chicago, Forsberg signs with the Flyers and my Devils haven't done much. It will be interesting and fun to see how things play out with the rule changes and new faces on new teams.

The Hugo Awards were given out this past weekend, and the book I felt to be the most over-rated novel in some time walked away with the Award for best novel. I really thought China Miéville's Iron Council would get the nod. I only read two of the novels on the ballot, so I can't judge either Iron Council, which I enjoyed, if less so than his other novels, and Clarke's against the others. However, a good deal of buzz had been surrounding Ian MacDonald's River of Gods, and I thought perhaps, it would have won. I'll find out about that book early next year as Pyr brings the book to US readers.

In November, it will be interesting to see if Clarke goes two for two in the genre awards. Once again, she is up against China Miéville, with three different works on the list: Stephen R. Donaldson's The Runes of the Earth, Sean Stewart's Perfect Circle and Gene Wolfe's The Wizard Knight. Of the remaining three (or four) I've only read The Wizard Knight, and since reading it early in the year, it is still probably the best thing I've read this year. While I love Donaldson, I haven't tackled the new Covenant book for a couple of reasons. I re-read the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant last year and while I enjoyed them, something about them didn't hold up over time. I think it was a case of the wrong book at the wrong time, but I really do want to see what Donaldson has in store for the Land. I've seen very mixed things about the book. The only book I read by Stewart was Galveston, again earlier this year, and I absolutely loved it. I've seen people say Perfect Circle is an even stronger novel. Stewart won the World Fantasy for Galveston, so I wouldn't be surprised if he gets it again. Aside from Clarke, I think I'd be satisfied with any of these wining the award, though Wolfe is whom I am rooting for.

In telling my brother-in-law about the bachelor party, he referred to me a better name for said event. He heard this from comedian Adam Corolla, and it is pretty funny: a Penis Funeral. I will leave on that note.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Rob Burns Easily

A week ago was the hottest day of the year and I was at Ozzfest. Even though I lathered SPF 45 sunblock on my face, I still came home with my face looking like a Macintosh Apple. At one point, I was walking past the concession stands and I felt something large fall on my toe. Thinking nothing of it, I continued for scant seconds when I realized it was the head of a kid who had passed out.

As for the concert itself, the second stage was pretty good, what I saw of it. It was too damn hot and there were too many shirtless guys for me to want to get closer. Killswitch Engage was pretty good, but the headliner of the 2nd stage, Rob Zombie was flat out awesome, the guy is a great performer.

On the main stage, Black Label Society was awesome, and Shadows Fall was phenominal. After being in the hot, oppressive sun for over 8 hours, I was just about done and tired as hell. Then Iron Maiden hit the stage and I was rejuvinated. This was the 3rd time I've seen them and they were just as great as each previous concert. The most recent song they played was The Trooper. I love their older stuff, but I still would have liked to have heard something from Seventh Son or maybe Fear of the Dark. Lastly, of course, Black Sabbath hit the stage. Ozzy looked alot more spry than I thought he would, but by the end of their set, his voice was going and he was beginning to look more and more like Emperor Palpatine. They of course played Iron Man, and War Pigs. I was really happy to hear Fairies Wear Boots and Sympton of the Universe, but the best was the song Black Sabbath.

Overall, it was a good, if very long day. I don't know that I'd do the whole day of Ozzfest again, unless Godsmack is one of the top bands.

An ARC of Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing arrived yesterday, one of the books I've been most looking forward to this year. I rank her Farseer/Liveship/Tawny Man saga in my upper echelon of fantasy sequences, so I'm really interested to see what she does in a completely new world. I'll be getting to it ina day or two, since I'm almost done with The Blackgod, the second part of Greg Keyes' Chosen of the Changeling duology. I've liked the story thus far, Greg plays with a bunch of different myths in the story and the world he's created is rich, interesting and peopled with fairly believable characters. Actually, I think where he's grown the most since the Changeling books is in his characterizations. I don't think these two books are on the same level as his unique Age of Unreason saga, or his superb Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, but they are still quite enjoyable.

On to Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone Saga - the next volume, The Blood Knight, is publishing April 2006. Not quite 2 years since The Charnel Prince, though about the same amount of tie between The Briar King and The Charnel Prince. I was hoping to see the book this October, but I'd rather Greg take the time than rush. Stephen Youll recently posted the cover art on his Web site.

In comics, I've been following Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers mega-saga (with the exception of Klarion). The art on The Shining Knight is handled by Simone Bianchi and is really beautiful and visually stunning, he plays with darkness and shadows really well. There's something about this story that reminds me a bit of Moorcocks Hawkmoon.

I've mentioned before how much I'm enjoying Busiek's take on Conan. The most recent issue featured a small back-up drawn by Bruce Timm (co-architect of DC Comics' animated universe). I have to say this - get Bruce Timm on a Conan animated series NOW. I wasn't sure how I'd like an animated style/interpretation of Conan, but I really shouldn't be suprised that Timm did a great job with it.