Thursday, March 31, 2005

GemQuest & Clarkesworld

Finished up Gary Wassner's first novel Gemequest: The Twins the other day. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect and I entered reading the book with some trepidation, Gary and I are forum moderators at SFFWorld and I'd consider him a friend based upon that alone. I wanted to enjoy the book, but I also didn't want to like it just because Gary is a friend. His publisher, Windstorm Creative is a small relatively new publisher, or at least one I'm not to familiar with. All that said, by book's end, Gary had me hooked into his story and the world he created.

While I enjoyed the book, it isn't without it's faults. Some occaisionally repeated words and phrases cropped up, and times, some passages in general were a overly wordy. Gary's style is almost lyrical, and as I became more entrenched in the world he created, things either became less wordy and evened out, or I simply became more acustomed to the style. The occasional wordiness is perhaps the only negative about the book, so I figured I'd get that out of the way first.

The blurb/TV Guide version of the book is this: The Lalas, sentient trees who have acted as protectors to the land and the people, are dying. The dark wizard Colton wants to hasten the death of all the Lalas, which will further him towards his goal of disollution. In order to see his goal, Colton must kill the prophesized saviour, the heir to the kingdom which he destroys in the beginning of the novel. While this is a familiar formula to most fantasy readers, its in what Gary does with this theme, adding different flavors and his own voice that make the story work. I think writers, fantasy writers in particular, walk a pretty fine line between dumping too much information about the world they created and balancing that with providing a truly immersive reading experience. One good way Gary showed his world was through the characters and their reactions and feelings about the world. By the end of The Twins I felt I knew the world pretty well, but there were still more things I wanted to discover. The world of GemQuest is both familiar and fresh, that's why I like Epic Fantasy so much, I think. I enjoy some of the familiar trappings of the genre and style, but I also like seeing a new flavor thrown in, a new twist on things - something Gary has been able to do.

Though the early parts were a bit slow, about halfway through, things really picked up for me and I became wrapped up in the plight of these people and fully immersed in the world. Gary did some really interesting things in the book, some things I haven't come across in reading alot of the fantasy I've read. One of the greater strengths of the story is how Gary managed to craft a story in the tradition of the genre, specifically the quest and struggle against Dark Lord, that both honors the tradition and forges something fresh and entertaining. I think he did a nice job with the characters and found it particularly interesting that by novel's end, one of the titular Twins, while on stage for many scenes, was still unconcious. Some characters come across more genuinely than others. Tomas is quite intriguing and I'm looking forward to being the fly on the wall when he meets his twin, Davmiran. While Baladar fits the Gandalf role in some respects, I like that he doesn't quite have all the answers. Baladar is trying to bring all these people together, but he certainly doesn't know everything and is playing within rules he doesn't completely know. I think Cairn fits the Gandalf role in some respects, too, but I think he is much more than that, as well. I'm getting good sense of how important Tomas may be through Cairn's eyes. Thus far, Colton seems like the typical almost faceless, Dark Overlord, I'm hoping more is revealed about Colton in later volumes. Gary conveyed a good sense of connectivity between the people and the trees and the importance of the trees to the land itself.

Despite a bit of deus ex machina towards the ending of The Twins, the price the defenders of Pardatha was quite high. At one point, I was almost expecting Gary to somehow return the characters to the status quo, a lesser writer may have indulged in the happier ending. I think Gary took the proper fork in the road there, not that writers should indulge in shaking up the status quo just for hell of it. If it serves the story, then fine. Here it did.

To sum it all up, while a bit flawed as most debut novels are, GemQuest: The Twins was an enjoyable reading experience and I'm looking forward to reading more about these characters and the world they inhabit.

Goddamned is South Park fast. Last night's entertaining episode managed to bring the newly released PSP, Lord of the Rings, and the Schiavo case together into one story. Of course it was irreverent, but like many of their more politically flavored episodes, it was pretty good and showed important issues in a different light.

Because my local Barnes & Noble sucks, I figured I'd place an order at Clarkesworld Books, which happens to be in my state of residence, the order arrived yesterda: The Risen Empire & The Killing of Worlds (together they make up a whole novel: Succession) by Scott Westerfeld, published by Tor. Over at SFFWorld, The Risen Empire is our Science Fiction Book Club selection for April. Westerfeld's two books are actually one book split into two, something Tor is on is doing with more frequency. Jacqueline Carey, Gene Wolfe, Charles Stross and John C. Wright are four authors who's books have been split in the same manner by Tor. This isn't an old rant by any means and in his Agony Column, Rick Kleffel covered this trend much more concisely in one of his recent posts.

I also received Black Gate magazine. Subtitled Adventures in Fantasy Literature, publisher John O'Neill puts together a good looking magazine, packed with good stories. I've been very happy with the two issues I have (5 & 6), and I may even pick up some back issues. Problem is, I always have a tough time finding the magazine at any of the 10 Barnes and Nobles & Borders near my home or work. The magazine has a rather erratic publishing schedule, too. I will probably pick up some back issues through Clarkesworld Books, which I'm learning is a great store.

Newsarama's got a decent interview up with Scott Allie, Dark Horse Comics editor for Conan. Also on Newsarama is a press release about Devil's Due plans to produce comic adaptation of R.A. Salvatore's Dark Elf Trilogy the Forgotton Realms story which tells of Drizzt Do’Urden's origins and how he left the Underdark. The only Drizzt story I've read was The Icewind Dale Trilogy, which I enjoyed.

Book Meme

Here's the latest meme making the rounds on the blogosphere, I pulled this incarnation from The Johnny Bacardi Show:

- Bold those you have read
- Italicize those you started, but didn't finish
- Add three books after the last one

001. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
002. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
003. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
004. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
005. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
006. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
007. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
008. 1984, George Orwell
009. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
010. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
011. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
012. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
013. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
014. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
015. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
016. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
017. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
018. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
019. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
020. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
021. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
022. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, JK Rowling
023. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
024. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
025. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
026. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
027. Middlemarch, George Eliot
028. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
029. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
030. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
031. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
032. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
033. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
034. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
035. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
036. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
037. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
038. Persuasion, Jane Austen
039. Dune, Frank Herbert
040. Emma, Jane Austen
041. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
042. Watership Down, Richard Adams
043. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
044. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
045. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
046. Animal Farm, George Orwell
047. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
048. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
049. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
050. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
051. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
052. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
053. The Stand, Stephen King
054. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
055. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
056. The BFG, Roald Dahl
057. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
058. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
059. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
060. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
061. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
062. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
063. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
064. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
065. Mort, Terry Pratchett
066. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
067. The Magus, John Fowles
068. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
069. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
070. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
071. Perfume, Patrick Susskind
072. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
073. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
074. Matilda, Roald Dahl
075. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
076. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
077. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
078. Ulysses, James Joyce
079. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
080. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
081. The Twits, Roald Dahl
082. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
083. Holes, Louis Sachar
084. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
085. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
086. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
087. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
088. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
089. Magician, Raymond E Feist
090. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
091. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
092. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
093. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
094. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
095. Katherine, Anya Seton
096. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
097. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
098. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
099. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker

137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle

200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
201. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
202. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
203. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
204. The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
205. Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
206. Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
207. Winter's Heart, Robert Jordan
208. A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
209. Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
210. A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan

211. As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
212. Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
213. The Married Man, Edmund White
214. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
215. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
216. Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
217. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
218. Equus, Peter Shaffer
219. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
220. Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
221. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
222. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
223. Anthem, Ayn Rand
224. The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
225. Tartuffe, Moliere
226. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
227. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
228. The Trial, Franz Kafka
229. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
230. Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
231. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
232. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
233. Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
234. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
235. A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
236. ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
237. Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
238. Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
240. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
241. Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
242. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
242. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
243. Summerland, Michael Chabon
244. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
245. Candide, Voltaire
246. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
247. Ringworld, Larry Niven
248. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
249. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
250. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle

251. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
252. The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
253. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
254. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
255. The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
256. Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
257. Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
258. The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
259. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
260. Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
261. Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
261. Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
263. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
264. A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
265. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
267. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
268. Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
269. Witch of Black Bird Pond, Joyce Friedland
270. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
271. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt Bleh.
272. The Cay, Theodore Taylor
273. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
274. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Jester
275. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
276. The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
277. The Bone Setter's Daughter, Amy Tan
278. Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
279. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
280. American Gods, Neil Gaiman

281. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
282. The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
283. Haunted, Judith St. George
284. Singularity, William Sleator
285. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
286. Different Seasons, Stephen King
287. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
288. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
289. The Bookman's Wake, John Dunning
290. The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
291. Illusions, Richard Bach
292. Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
293. Magic's Promise, Mercedes Lackey
294. Magic's Price, Mercedes Lackey
295. The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
296. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
297. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
298. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
299. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
300. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
301. The Cider House Rules, John Irving
302. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
303. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
304. The Lion's Game, Nelson Demille
305. The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
306. Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
307. Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
308. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
309. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
310. Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
311. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
312. War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
313. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
314. The Giver, Lois Lowry
315. The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
316. Xenogenesis (or Lilith's Brood), Octavia Butler (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago)
317. A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
318. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
319. The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
320. Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
321. The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
322. Beowulf, Anonymous
323. The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
324. Deerskin, Robin McKinley
325. Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
326. Passage, Connie Willis
327. Otherland, Tad Williams
328. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay

329. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
330. Beloved, Toni Morrison
331. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
332. The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
333. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
334. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
335. The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
336. Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
337. The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
338. The Genesis Code, John Case
339. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
340. Paradise Lost, John Milton
341. Phantom, Susan Kay
342. The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
343. Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
344: The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
345: Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
346: The Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela Service
347: The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
348. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
349. The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
350. At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime O'Neill
351. Othello, by William Shakespeare
352. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas
353. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
354. Sati, Christopher Pike
355. The Divine Comedy, Dante
356. The Apology, Plato
357. The Small Rain, Madeline L'Engle
358. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
359. 5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
360. The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
361. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
362. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
363. Our Town, Thorton Wilder
364. Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
335. The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
336. The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
337. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
338. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
339. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
340. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
341. Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
342. The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
343. Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
344. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
345. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
346. Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
347. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
348. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
349. The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
350. Time for bed by David Baddiel
351. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
352. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
353. The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
354. Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
355. Jhereg by Steven Brust
356. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
357. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
358. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
359. Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
360. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
361. Neuromancer, William Gibson
362. The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
363. A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
364. The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
365. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
366. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

367. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
368. A Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
369. Ivanhoe, Walter Scott
370. The God Boy, Ian Cross
371. The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie R. King
372. Finn Family Moomintroll, Tove Jansson
373. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
374. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick
375. Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb
376. number9dream, David Mitchell
377. A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
378. Five Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris
379. Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler
380. Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman
381. Dance On My Grave, Aidan Chambers
382. Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Leguin
383. Hyperion, Dan Simmons
384. Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
385. Checkmate, Dorothy Dunnett
386. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
387. A Clash of Kings, George RR Martin
388. The Egyptian, Mika Waltari
389. Moab Is My Washpot, Stephen Fry
390. Contact, Carl Sagan
391. Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock

392. Feersum Endjinn, Iain M. Banks
393. The Golden, Lucius Shepard
394. Decamerone, Boccaccio
395. Birdy, William Wharton
396. The Red Tent, Anita Diaman
397. The Foundation, Isaac Asimov
398. Il Principe, Machiavelli
399. Post Office, Charles Bukowski
400. Macht und Rebel, Abu Rasul
401. Grass, Sheri S. Tepper
402. The Long Walk, Richard Bachman
403. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman

404. The Joy Of Work, Scott Adams
405. Romeo, Elise Title
406. The Ninth Gate, Arturo Perez-Reverte
407. Memnoch the Devil, Anne Rice
408. Dead Famous, Ben Elton
409. Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley
410. Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol
411. Look to Windward, Iain M. Banks
412. The Colossus of Maroussi, Henry Miller
413. Branded, Alissa Quart
414. The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
415. Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac
416. White teeth, Zadie Smith
417. Under the bell jar, Sylvia Plath
418. The little prince of Belleville, Calixthe Beyala
419. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
420. A King Lear of the Steppes, Ivan Turgenev
421. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
422. Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Peter Kropotkin
423. Hija de la Fortuna, Isabel Allende
424. Retrato en Sepia, Isabel Allende
425. Villette, Charlotte Brontë
426. Steppenwolf, Herman Hesse
427. Ubik, Philip K. Dick
428. Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
429. Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
430. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
431. Nausea, Jean Paul Sartre
432. The Island of the Day Before, Umberto Eco
433. The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq
434. The Angel Of The West Window, Gustav Meyrink
435. A Farewell To Arms, Ernest Hemingway
436. Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
437. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
438. In the Eyes of Mr. Fury, Philip Ridley
439. Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks
440. Into the Forest, Jean Hegland
441. Middlesex -Jeffrey Eugenides
442. The Giving Tree -Shel Silverstein
443. Go Ask Alice -Anonymous
444. Waiting For Godot, Samuel Becket
445. Blankets, Craig Thompson
446. The Girls' Guide To Hunting And Fishing, Melissa Banks
447. Voice of the Fire, Alan Moore
448. The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler
449. Coraline, Neil Gaiman
450. The Circus of Dr. Lao, Charles G. Finney
451. Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins
452. John Lennon: The Lost Weekend, by May Pang and Henry Edwards
453. Heroes Die, Matthew Woodring Stover
454. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams
455. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Monday, March 28, 2005

KILLER Chocolate Rabbits

I hope everyone who celebrates Easter enjoyed their Easter and has their fill of Chocolate Bunnies.

I posted a new review to SFFWorld today, Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden. Good stuff there, the pages kept turning and I really identified with the protagonist(s). It ut me in the mind of Graham Joyce's Dark Sister and Tooth Fairy. I've said before that BantamSpectra is publishing some good stuff these days, and it bears repeating.

I watched The Grudge yesterday on my cable on-demand service, and while it was OK, I'm glad I didn't pay money to see this in the theaters. There was good sense of discomfort throughout the film, but there were too many things left unexplained and/or things that were merely coincidental. There is room for a sequel, and since the movie made some good money, I think, they will probably do a sequel.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Watching absolutely


I need to have this. I have the single issues, but I was planning on the trade to re-read the story for about the 8th time. This new edition sounds amazing and well worth the $100, it is being recolored and contains rarely seen supplemental material with scripts and out-of-print. I recently saw the slipcased DC Graphitti edition selling for about $300. No doubt this new edition will sell well especially considering the film is under production.

I have mixed feelings about the forthcoming film. Hollywood's track record for adapting Alan Moore's work is underwhelming, at best. I've said it on message boards before, so I will say it here: The only way to do this thing justice is to turn it into an HBO limited/mini series, film each issue as an episode, make it 12 episodes.

One of the greatest television shows of all time may finally be getting the proper DVD treatment: The Muppets.

Watched Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real last night on the Animal Planet, and for the most part, I thought it was well done. Like most of these Animal Planet specials (Walking with Dinosaurs, The Future is Wild), they repeated a good amount of the information and scenes throughout the show. For Example, after each commercial break, they recapped what they showed for the previous 10 minutes or so before they jumped to commercial. The special effects are always good on these things, and as in the specials I mention above, I enjoyed how they wove a story around the "science" of the creatures. Patrick Stewart's narration was spot-on.

I watched it thinking it would be 2 hours, it really wasn't. At the 1:30 mark, they started a behind the scenes of how they made the special. It seems everything these days has to have a behind the scenes or "how they did that." This really bothered Mrs. Blog o' Stuff, and she made a good point - the behind the scenes stuff really removed the enjoyable suspension of disbelief from the show. When you are watching the special, the creators make everything seem as if it was genuine - they put it together with the mindset that Dragons, were in fact, real. The "How they did that" threw whole spirit right out the window and ran counter to the spirit of the actual special. Like I said, I was more annoyed by the fact that I felt cheated out of 2 hours of the special.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


OzzFest 2005






I need to be there, even though I've seen Maiden twice. I really want to see Shadows Fall and BLS, too. What I've heard from Killswitch Engage is pretty good, too.

The worst kept secret in Comics-to film, Joss Whedon is doing Wonder Woman, lucky bastard.

South Park was saved by SLAYER last night. To quote Cartman, "Sweeet!" This show is still consistently entertaining and no matter how gross and disgusting it's been, Trey and Matt can get lower, as was evidenced by last week's episode.

For those of you in the NJ/NY area, rumors have Ron and Fez going to XM to join Opie and Anthony, to get the band back together. As if I needed another reason to get XM.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

DC FarScape

As a blogger who occasionally blogs about comics, I would be somewhat remiss if I didn't mention that DC Comics recently let us know what they will be publishing in June.

Aside from what I'd normally pick up from the Bat-Books, the ongoing 7 Soldiers, Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, the other standouts, for me are probably: Albion by Alan Moore, Astro City: The Dark Age by Kurt Busiek, and maybe Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. I still need to pick up Astro City: Local Heroes, but I don't think it's been released in softcover yet, though I do have two of the other volumes in HC. I've also bee thinking of picking trying Books of Magick: Life During Wartime, with the first collection selling for a nice $9.95.

I may jump back into JSA with issue #73, which is being billed as a follow-up to last years fun Black Reign saga, now being released as a TPB. Right after Black Reign, though, it seems as if Johns lost some steam so I dropped the title.

I may wait until the trade of Neverhwhere is published, but then again, I've read the novel and have the DVD of the BBC miniseries, so the completist in me may force me to pick up the single issues.

I've been getting a chance to watch my DVDs of FarScape Season 1. I started watching in the middle of the first season, so I didn't realize how many 1st season episodes I missed, and a couple of really important ones. Each episode reinforces to me how great the writing was on this show and how much planning the creators did from the very beginning. A lot of stuff that happened and seemed somewhat tangential at the time, was followed up on in the later seasons and episodes. I also forgot what a dick D'Argo was that first season, up until the middle of the season, he was pretty harsh on John. The chemistry between John and Aeryn was there from the start, Rygel was ascerbic and cranky from the beginning, too. John has yet to meet Scorpius, though.

Monday, March 14, 2005

New week, new review and a new FSF imprint

I finished up Mike Stackpole's A Secret Atlas and posted the review to SFFWorld yesterday. I enjoyed the book much more than I expected I would and I'm looking forward to getting the second in the series, Cartomancy, later this year. Not groundbreaking-reinvention Fantasy, but entertaining fantasy nonetheless, and sometimes, that's what is most important - to be able to open up the pages and simply enjoy the book.

Intentional or not, Grant Morrison's Shining Knight, part of the Seven Soldiers Über-story he's in the midst of publishing, gave me a very Moorcock/Hawkmoon-ish feel and of course I mean that in a good way. Stupid me; however, I forgot to pick up the #0 issue of Seven Soldiers a couple of weeks ago, but luckily the comic shop still had some in stock when I dropped by last Thursday. Beautiful art by J.H. Williams and a nice set up for the imposing dark threat to humanity the Soldiers will save us from, or will they?

The Fonz - A shaman? An interesting post on Lou Anders's new blog. Lou Anders is the Editorial Director of PYR books, a new FSF imprint with an interesting looking list of books publishing this year: a reprint of Star of Gypsies by Robert Silverberg, the opening novel to an intriguing-looking Space Opera - Paradox by John Meaney and a nice handful of other interesting books. Meany's book has already received a couple of favorable reviews. For some reason, maybe it's just the cover, the premise and scope of Paradox reminds me a bit of Peter F. Hamilton's great Epic Fallen Dragon. I'll be keeping an eye on them and the books they'll be publishing.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Sports 'n Books

I Bowled pretty well night last night, about 15 pins higher than my average. Unfortunatley, it seems the better I do, the worse the team does. The remainder of the season will see us fighting NOT to finish in the bottom of the basement.

So it's official, Suzyn Waldman is the new Yankee radio announcer. I wasn't a big fan of Charley Steiner as a Yankee annoucer - he was long-winded and far too dramatic. This was odd, because I loved him on ESPN, particularly the commercials they threw him into, like "Bobby the new Pool Boy for Melrose Place" or "Y2K Preparation" when he tied his tie around his head. But Waldman is out and out awful. Her voice is not pleasant to listen to and she often gets players names wrong, and she's been working with the Yankee organization for a few years now. She must have incriminating pictures of the Boss.

I know Michael Kay has really moved up in his career as the Yankees TV play by play announcer, and he has been putting together solid sports talk on his great ESPN Radio show, a wonderful alternative to Mush Mouth and Fatman, but there was some great chemistry between Kay and John Sterling. At least Tim McCarver is no longer announcing the Yankee games, except for the occasional weekly game on Fox.

My local Barnes and Noble is shit, I swear. The majority of the time I go in there looking for a specific book, I walk out empty handed, despite having a couple of "back ups" to get. They often don't carry what I'm looking for. I wanted to pick up Scott Westerfeld's The Risen Empire. They had the follow-up, The Killing of Worlds, but not the first. I know shelf life of books is shrinking with the increase of e-commerce, as well as a bunch of other factors, but it is mindblowingly stupid not to have both books in the duology on the shelf. I was going to get E.E. Knight's Tale of the Thunderbolt, after really enjoying his first two books. There were plenty in stock of that, which is good, Knight is a solid writer who will hopefully see his readership grow. And I asked if they had pal Gary's re-release of the first three books in his Gemquest saga, now published by Windstorm Creative. I was hoping to pick up the most recent issue of both Locus and Black Gate, and of course they weren't in stock. So, out of the 5 items I was hoping to find, only one was in the store. You'd think I would have learned by now if I want a good selection I should head down to the B&N in Princeton, where I have purchased both Locus and Black Gate in the past. The B&N in Princeton also stocks almost twice as much Fantasy and Science Fiction, with some of the Gollancz and Orbit imports, a respectable selection from the smaller presses (Meisha Merlin and Wildside) and a greater selection of Graphic Novels.

Enough ranting, I'm playing poker tonight and having a nice steak dinner tomorrow night, and finishing Michael Stackpole's A Secret Atlas, which I'm enjoying a bit more than I expected, so the weekend should be enjoyable.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Gaiman & Jordan

September 20th. ‘Nuff said. (via Neil's blog). I'll be re-reading American Gods just before this one publishes.

Not new news, but well…Robert Jordan’s New Spring is being adapted as a comic book (ComicBookResources, Newsarama). In all honesty, I think the Wheel of Time could work as an ongoing comic book series, and maybe even better than prose. I’ve read the books up to Winter’s Heart and while they are bloated, overlong, wordy, contain a minutia of detail, and extra-long, there are some things of interest in the series. I've since abandond the series for books/series that are actually edited and have an end in sight. I’ll probably catch up with the series once/if Jordan publishes the final book, and I may even pick up the comics. I like Mike Miller’s art, at least from seeing his previous his art on Martin’s The Hedge Knight and the samples at ComicBookResources and Newsarama look pretty good.

I’d always enjoyed the fantasy genre and like many, Jordan’s series pulled me back into reading fantasy when I graduated college many moons ago. For lack of a better term, I’d consider WOT my gatekeeper drug. I still have decent memories about the series and the early books, but re-reading The Eye of the World a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed revisiting the Two Rivers, but it didn’t compare to the likes of Matt Stover, Tad Williams, Greg Keyes, John Marco, James Barclay, Robin Hobb and most of the other authors on my sidebar. Like I said, Jordan’s world is incredibly imagined, richly (or rather almost too) detailed, and will always have a special spot in my reading world because The Wheel of Time kind of brought me back into reading fantasy just after graduating college. At least he isn’t as heavy handed, unoriginal and repetitive as NoGoodkind.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Posted a review of Lisa Tuttle's The Mysteries today. I really enjoyed this novel, it wasn't too wordy (ahem), and I think I now have read the novel she wrote with George R. R. Martin - Windhaven. Up next is Mike Stackpole's A Secret Atlas. I've read a couple of his Star Wars novels and I really enjoyed Talion: Revenat. About 100 pages in and I like it so far, interesting world and good characters.

I liked Battlestar Galactica for the first couple of episodes, but after a while, the slow moving storytelling began to literally put me sleep. It's a shame because the actors for the most part are doing pretty well, the look of the show is good, too. I also missed it the past two weeks so my care for the show and what happens continues to slip. Maybe part of me is comparing it too much to FarScape, a show few, if any Science Fiction shows will measure against greatly.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Another gripping episode of Lost last night, revealing some unexpected things about Hurley. He seemed like a bit of a loner throughout most of the show, but Charlie was flat-out a dick to him. I think by the end of the show Sayid and Jack had more respect for Hurley, they say him as more than the happy-go lucky fat guy. Charlie still saw him as an oddball and didn’t take him seriously. That’s a shame since I think Charlie’s character has been developing rather well.

So we now know Hurley is cursed and for once he actually showed some anger and frustration. I guess the big question, since each episode raises more questions than answers, is this: was Hurley a patient or worker at the Mental Hospital? I wasn’t surprised to see those numbers on what I can only assume was the metal-box Locke and Boone came across. I guess we have to wait until May to see what happens next.

Via Franklin, - Grant Morrison is Evil!


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Busy & Snowy

Quite a busy recent few days, work has been very hectic with three pretty big projects needing to go out the door on the same day. Oh yeah, it also snowed, too. I commute to and from work on the hell road that is I-287, and the past two days, with all the snow, were two of the easiest commutes I’ve had in the past year. Of course the snow has resulted in many, many more potholes, but I’ve become more familiar where they are in relation to mile-markers and Interchanges and can avoid them pretty well.

How was Wicked? Well, I have two responses. As a musical, it was very good. The story was told very effectively through song and the sets must have cost a fortune. There were some interesting things that played on the characters of the film of the Wizard of Oz, and an interesting take on what we know as the “real” story in the film. The first act was a bit slow, but it ended on a spectacular note. Shoshana Bean, the woman who portrayed Elphaba (aka the Wicked Witch of the West) has a powerful, astounding voice, and should have received top billing. In the novel Elphaba is hands down, the lead character. In the play, Glinda, the Good Witch gets top billing.

However, as an adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked, it was not nearly as successful. One of the reasons I enjoyed the novel so much and why it succeeded is that Maguire didn’t change the story of the Wizard of Oz. I haven’t read the original novels by Baum so I’m going by the movie, which everyone in the world has seen. Maguire structured the novel around the events of the original story and provided background and details that were not present. The story in the novel Wicked, despite portraying Elphaba in a less villainous light, still was true to the spirit of Baum’s story. The musical however, changed a few key characters and scenes, and made the story more about Galinda/Glinda, the Good Witch. In the novel, she was an important character, but not the major player she was in the musical. I was buying some of the changes and thought they were clever, up until the end, which disappointed me. I guess it worked in the context of an alternate version of the film but as an adaptation of the novel Wicked, it was a betrayal. There were nice nods to the novel Wicked, but in the context of the musical, they made little connection since those things the play referenced in the book really didn’t make it to the stage in a manner that was important to the overall story the musical told. For example, in the novel there is a big to-do about the Clock of the Time Dragon. The physical Clock of the Time Dragon was a huge set piece on the stage. It looked pretty impressive and probably cost a fortune, but was referenced, once, maybe twice throughout the course of the musical and wasn't anything other than set dressing.

So, did I enjoy the musical? Yes, quite a bit but I think I would have enjoyed it much more had I not read the novel, and more so, if I hadn’t enjoyed the novel so thoroughly and so recently before experiencing the musical/play.

I guess this, in part is why endings can be so important. I think the last time the ending of a story felt like such a betrayal of what led up to the ending was when I read Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. The closing scenes flew in the face of everything the protagonist did, how she acted, and what she said until that point.

Over the weekend, I picked up the first trade of Mike Carey’s Lucifer. I’ve been seeing good things about it for some time, so I figured what the Hell. Ba-dum-bum. Seriously folks, I thought it pretty good, but not a series I will run out and collect right away. There are other series I would rather finish and/or sample. I need to finish out my Y, Fables and Starman trades, Moore’s Swamp Thing and more Grant Morrison. I’ve also been intending to get into Ellis’ Planetary, too.

Seems like I wasn’t the only one who was thinking the most recent issue of Fantastic Four was Waid/Ringo’s last. One more to go, which is a good thing.

I am really excited about Lost tonight, as it looks like we will finally see the back-story of Hurley.

New SFSite on-line, with the Readers’ choice for best SF&F Books of 2004. I guess I’m a pretty good sample reader for this list since I read 7 out of the top 10 and would rank 5 or 6 of those in the list. Can’t remember the exact list I sent as my votes, but I know I didn’t list Susanna Clarke’s good, yet over-rated Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

SFFWorld’s Fantasy Book of the Month: Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I bought it and just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. In the midst of a couple of review books for SFFWorld.
Our Science Fiction Book of the Month: Natural History by Justina Robson.