Book Foo

May. 23rd, 2009 02:08 pm
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
Apparently it's a Banksapalooza!

Finished: The State of the Art, by Iain M. Banks (short story collection)

Thoughts in the cut, not especially spoilery.
Read more... )

Apparently Paul Cornell (Doctor Who writer and writer of the excellent but now cancelled Captain Britain and MI13 comic) did a radio adaptation of the title story. I might have to track it down just to see what he did with it.

Started and Finished: Feersum Endjinn, by Iain M. Banks.
Started: Inversions, by Iain M. Banks

Minor plot-outline related spoilers beyond the cuts, but nothing extensive. Read more... )
Those of you who've read some Banks may have noticed a particular tendency of his. He likes to construct elaborate, creative methods of execution and/or torture. For those of you who wonder if this is reflective of a certain sadistic streak of Banks himself may find their best evidence here. Read more... )

Finished: The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
Started: Against a Dark Background, by Iain M. Banks

Again, plot-outline-style spoilers behind cut. Short version: Bored at times, maybe a bit overlong, but some interesting ideas. Not my favorite of his, but worth a read if you like his other stuff.
Read more... )
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
For me, that is.

So I was walking to work, about 6am, nearly there, and then what to my wandering eye did appear? A milkcrate on the curb with stuff in it. Now, normally I don't pay such things that much attention, but I glance over as I'm about to pass and I notice there's books inside it. And, I recognize one of the names on the books, it's Iain M. Banks. Now, this is fairly unusual for me, because normally when I find stuff on the curb people are getting rid of, a) it's very rarely books, and b) when it is, it's very rarely SF.

So I start looking through the box, and my excitement grows as I realize, hey, there are a lot of books in there by Iain M. Banks. Hell, it's practically his entire output of SF save for his newest one, and a few of his non-SF (which he writes without the M. initial). There were a few other non-Banks books but they were either not SF or were SF I already owned (To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis, Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven). Still, I wound up taking the following:

Against a Dark Background
Feersum Endjinn
Inversions
The Algebraist
The State of the Art

(For those wondering if maybe it wasn't intended to be given away, the box and books were still there hours later when I left work, so I have to assume it wasn't meant for keeps. And my rule is, if it's by the curb and nobody's around, it's free. That's how I got that new car.)
newnumber6: (chase)
Let's start with Battlestar Galactica. I've come up with a theory about what's going on, and, since it will be spoilery for the newest eps, and theoretically if correct, might (but probably not) spoil upcoming stuff. Some of you may have heard some of this before.

Read more... )

On to cartoons. Over the weekend, I watched several (mostly because my net was down sunday morning but I had them already).

Wolverine and the X-Men, ep 14. Another Wolverine centered episode. Some interesting choices, and a smile now and then, but as always, I don't much care when he's the focus. Introduction of an expected character, too.

Hulk vs. Thor. This actually seemed more like an episode of a hypothetical, lost, Thor series than a true crossover. (minimal spoilers) Read more... )

And, Hulk vs. Wolverine. This one is supposedly a prequel to the Wolverine and the X-Men series. I'm not 100% sure it works (a few potential continuity blips). But really, it's only okay. (Some minor spoilers, characters that appear). Read more... ) If you do watch this, be sure to watch past the end of the credits.

And, the first Book Foo of 2009!

Finished: Wild Cards, Vol 6: Ace in the Hole, edited by George R. R. Martin (reread)
Started: Wild Cards, Vol 7: Dead Man's Hand, by George R. R. Martin and John J. Miller (reread)

Some brief comments on AitH behind the cut, some spoilers.
Read more... )
On to the last WC I'll probably be rereading (unless I happen to stumble across the next volume I haven't read, but that's unlikely)

Finished: Ilium, by Dan Simmons (reread)
Started: Olympos, by Dan Simmons (reread)

Minor spoilers (mostly back of the book stuff) in a few brief comments behind the cut. Read more... )

Oh, and an interesting trivia note you might not be aware of. Today, US President George W. Bush left office and President Barack Obama officially became the 44th President. "Former President George W. Bush"... that has a nice ring to it somehow.

Oh, and Marvel released its April Solicitations. Some quick thoughts:

Man, I know he's got a movie out, but 10 Wolverine books this month? That's just crazy.

Looks like the rumors of a new old-school New Mutants ongoing series is pretty much fact, because they're releasing "New Mutants Saga #1", one of those prose-recap-lets-get-you-up-to-speed-on-past-continuity-for-cheap issues that they often do right before a relaunch with some history. I might have to try that out, despite my lack of interest in mutant titles.

And really, the only surprise? A relaunched Exiles series, written by Jeff Parker. He's behind the First Class comics, and since I always liked Exiles basic idea, just couldn't stand to read it under certain authors, I might actually pick it up. The cast leaves a little to be desired, but in Exiles they can change quickly.

End of Ultimate Spider-Man... probably just for a relaunch. But really, the Ultimate universe died for me the day they assigned any of it to LOEB.

A new major event effecting every other title starting in the regular Spider-Man books? Please, I've had enough of your events. Unless it a) repowers mutants, or b) reverts the crap of BND, I'm not interested and am plugging my ears with my fingers and shouting la-la-la. (Okay, there's a c... adds oldschool New Universe characters to the MU proper. But that's like a million to one shot).

Dark Reign: The Cabal? Eegads, that means in my imaginary Runaways fanon universe I toy with from time to time I can't use the Cabal as the name of the new villain group that wants to take over the Pride's territory! Damn you Marvel for messing up with my imaginary runs. I suppose I'll have to ignore you!

Moore's last issue on Runaways, hope they announce a new creative team, and a good creative team, soon. Maybe Jeff Parker might be an idea, he seems capable of multiple titles and I've liked what I've seen of him short term in Scans of hisbooks.
newnumber6: (chase)
First, a happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] liabrown and [livejournal.com profile] izzat!!

Secondly, even though I don't celebrate New Years, I hope all of you have a happy one.

No comics today, even if they were delivered nothing was interesting. This has been a year that's killed most of my interest.

Work was okay.

And, getting it just under the wire, my final book foo of 2008.

Finished: Forever Peace, by Joe Haldeman (reread)
Started: To be announced. Haven't decided yet. Will probably be a reread, though.

Thoughts on FP behind the cut. Spoilery a bit in terms of feelings and tone, but not really in terms of plot elements (except basic back-of-the-book type description). Short version: Pretty good on a mixed read, but starts better than it ends up, and YMMV a lot.
Read more... )

And to close up, here is my 2008 Reading List! Cut for your sanity (includes some links to the full text of the books, made available online by the authors)! These are listed more or less in order of reading (any two books next to each other may or may not have been read in the proper order, but with rare exceptions any book on the list was read earlier than a book two numbers down. Not that anybody cares).

1. The Paradox of the Sets, by Brian Stableford
Read more... )
59. Forever Peace, by Joe Haldeman (reread)

Wow, 59 books. And I wasn't even really trying for the '50 books in a year', and pretty much (with the exception of a few books read online) just reading while walking, at work waiting for it to start, or in the laundry room. Not bad if I do say so myself. Interestingly, I didn't realize that I discovered Karl Schroeder and read through most of the Culture books all in this year. Also read a lot of books involving, in one way or another, the concept of the Singularity.

Book Foo

Jul. 10th, 2008 06:50 pm
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
Finished: Camouflage, by Joe Haldeman (Nebula Award Winner)
Started: Probability Moon, by Nancy Kress

Thoughts behind cut, not especially spoilery but depends on tolerance. Short version: Mildly liked it.
Read more... )
Finished: Lady of Mazes, by Karl Schroeder
Started: A Meeting At Corvallis, by S.M. Stirling

Detailed thoughts behind the cut, not terribly spoilery beyond plot thumbnail. Short version: Really enjoyed it.
Read more... )

And, stolen from [livejournal.com profile] angelophile, reports on a guest star on next season's Sarah Jane Adventures... and I think I might have to download an ep. Photo here (spoilers, obviously)
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
I normally post some kind of April Fools thing, even just in-jokes among subgroups of friends. But I'm skipping it this year because I haven't though of anything. Really. Disbelieve me at your peril.

After a discussion with [livejournal.com profile] locker_monster, I was reminded of the old Fox show Vr5, and so I went to download some of it to see how much of it, if any, holds up. And it's surprising how many people I'm familiar with from elsewhere passed in it. I'd already known that Anthony Stewart Head (Giles from Buffy) plays a major role after the first few episodes, but not only is Robert Picardo (Doc from Voyager, Woolsey from Stargate) in the first episode, but so is Adam Baldwin (Firefly's Jane). Not to mention Louise Fletcher (Kai Winn from DS9) playing the mom, and David McCallum (Man From UNCLE among many other roles) as the father, and a couple other more minor appearances.

For those of you who are unaware of the show (which will no doubt be a lot of you, it only aired like 9 episodes on FOX), it's about a woman who discovers that by hooking an active phone line up to her modem while she's wearing her VR equipment, she can sort of enter a 'virtual reality' state which is hyperrealistic, but very dream-like and based on the subconscious of her and the person she's connected to. They typically don't remember any of the encounter, but she does, and sometimes things she does to them can have effects on their subconscious. There's also a complicated conspiracy-esque backstory involving her family, her father and twin sister who (supposedly) died in a car accident when she was young, and her mother who has been catatonic since (but who she can reach in Vr5). Okay, the tech underpinnings of it are laughable (although part of that's intentional as later in the series it's made clear that there's a lot more going on than you find out at first glance). On rewatching... yeah, it's more than a little cheesy at places, but I still enjoyed the first couple eps (haven't got the rest yet), and the way it's filmed and such. It's no Firefly or anything, but might be worth a look if you haven't seen it and are into weird stuff. It's torrentable.

And some book foo...
Finished: Otherland, Vol 2: River of Blue Fire by Tad Williams

No detailed thoughts on this, since it's part of a series. Still generally enjoying it and will finish up.
Started and Finished: Singularity Sky, by Charles Stross
Some thoughts behind cut, concept spoilers but that's about it.
Read more... )

Started: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling

Also
Finished: Use of Weapons, by Iain M. Banks
Started: Look to Windward, by Iain M. Banks

Liked Use of Weapons, not as much as Excession, but still enjoyable, and the non-linear
storytelling actually worked well - sometimes it annoys me. The major reveal I had sort of guessed early on (but I kept going back and forth on whether I actually believed it was going to happen or was just speculating wildly), but still entertaining. Continuing onto the Culture for one more book, then I'll be taking a break and moving on to something else for a while.

BSG and Doctor Who new this weekend, so there's that to look forward to.

Writingwise, I haven't edited as much as I'd like, but I'm trying to finish up soon. Been a little distracted by a 'silly project' (that is, one which has no hope of ever getting published), which you might oneday see if I finish (it's somewhat WIDWish). Anyway, new writing cycle starts this week.

There, I told you no April Fools pranks. Unless I've cleverly hidden one, I suppose. But I haven't. Promise.
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
So, I watched Stargate: Ark of Truth. Thoughts behind cut, some spoilers.
Read more... )

That wraps up most of what I watch for the next little while, until BSG starts and Doctor Who shortly after that. Lost's still ongoing for a couple more weeks. It's been better than last year, since they've decided on a course to actually finish up the series. Up and down. The Desmond ep was the best so far this year I think.

Watching Serenity on Space now.

Book Foo:
Finished: Excession, by Iain M. Banks
Started: Use of Weapons, by Iain M. Banks

Thoughts on Excession (and a quote from it) behind the cut, non-spoilery. Generally liked it.
Read more... )

Finished: Reflex, by Steven Gould (sequel to Jumper) (reread)
Still reading: Otherland, Vol 2: River of Blue Fire by Tad Williams

Brief thoughts on Reflex behind the cut. Not really spoilery.
Read more... )

Haven't been writing very much, have been trying to do some editing, but have been in a real funk lately and haven't felt much like doing _anything_. Oddly enough I've had some decent ideas for writing, just when it comes right down to it I have trouble forcing myself to. Still hoping my depression tapers off before the end of March like it often does. Oh well, keep trying, the only way to go.

Huh?

Mar. 14th, 2008 05:19 am
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
Weird short story idea my mind woke up working on furiously. Can't remember having the idea, just working on it, maybe dreamed it and woke up to work on it, maybe thought of it and sort of drifted in and out of dream. Probably unsalvagable in any event, but writing it down just in case.

The cast of Corner Gas in the middle of a technological singularity.
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
Just a little thought experiment.

Premise 1: Multiple Universes exist from every possibility. This is like you see in SF shows all the time - for every choice (either personal or right down to particle interactions), the universe branches out into two (or more) possibilities, creating a new timeline for every possible choice.

Premise 2: Identity (for people) is a combination of two one-way operators (was and will be) which are continuous from any moment X to and moment Y in the future for will be, or past for was, where the state of the object in the earlier (or later) moment is directly dependant on the earlier moment. That is, I was me at 5 if the state of me now is a result of a continuous set of changes from me at 5 until now, in my universe. I will be me at +5years if the state of the character 5 years from now in any one universe is a result of a continuous set of changes over 5 years in that particular universe. This allows there to 'will be' multiple mes at +5 years, but they cannot claim to have identity to each other, because although they share a was connection, they don't share a will be .

Premise 3: There is no afterlife of a supernatural nature.

Under premise 2, it is theoretically possible that there is a non-supernatural afterlife (after death, some advanced entity is able to look back in time to the moment of death and register the mental states, and recreate it), but we will not consider it at first to simplify matters.

Premise 4: Life is awareness
That is, you have to have some level of present or future awareness of your condition to be considered alive. If you've been braindead and in a coma with no awareness for 30 years and then die, technically, for the purposes of the argument, you've been dead 30 years. If you're in a coma with no awareness for 30 years, wake up, and die 5 minutes later, you were alive the whole time. What counts as a level of awareness we can leave somewhat vague. It may well include reduce mental states, dreamlike comas, or extreme brain damage that leaves you functional, or it may exclude those after a point. It doesn't strictly matter which one you choose, so long as you're consistent about it. (Where necessary, we will use 'technical survival' or 'technical life' to talk about moments where the body is alive but there is no awareness)

Arguement: Take a suicidal person. Let's call him Gil Read more... )
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
This week I got one book:

Astonishing X-Men #24 (okay but this last arc's not worth the waiting)

Full reviews as usual at my comic reviews site for anyone interested.

Work was a pain. Late, and due to renovations it's a more annoying job even though the load's lighter.

Almost took the subway home (from the comic shop, anyway), due more to lateness than any tiredness, but I decided to press on. I'll need the fitness if I ever go on the long walk. Speaking of walking, did help me develop some ideas... unfortunately, they're mostly ideas for the story I'm editing now. Which is good in one level, since the story involves rapid technological progress and I was needing to add more tech stuff to the background, but I worry the story might already be getting too bloated as it is. Maybe the story's beyond my capabilities to tell well at this point, but oh well. And of course, it's a problem because that story's in the editing stage, and since tomorrow is the start of another writing cycle I need either completely new stuff to work on, or new ideas for older stuff, and I didn't get much of those. Ah well.

Also on the walk home, I wanted to check the time, and I saw a phone booth, which usually displays it. Except when I got there, it said, "Please hang up receiver". So I did. And then it immediately changed to "Please pick up receiver." No. Just because I do you a favour, doesn't mean I'm your little puppetmonkey. Make up your mind. Anyway, then it put the time up.

On other fronts, I'm still enjoying the Sarah Connor Chronicles quite a bit. It's going in directions I don't expect, which is often a good thing (though I still hope it goes in a couple directions I expect). And bonus points for a mention of the Singularity.

And, I suppose I should mention something about Heath Ledger. I'm not a particular fan of his -- by which I don't mean that I had any dislike for him whatsoever, just that I haven't _seen_ a whole lot he's been in. The only real connection I had to him, aside from looking forward to his role as the Joker, was that I used him as the character model/actor for Scuzz on XET. So it does hit me a _little_ more than any other actor that I don't have a particular connection to, so it was something of a shock. I think I actually said "Holy crap" when I heard it on the news. And of course, mostly, it's a tragedy for his family. Must be hard for them, especially with him being fairly young (he's actually younger than me, though I wouldn't have guessed), and him having a young daughter. I wish the best for them in the times ahead.
newnumber6: (chase)
Since I forgot earlier, a Happy Channukah to anyone on my flist that celebrates it.

Happened to be watching an episode of Threshold on TV. You know, that show from a few years back, only lasted one season, about alien invasion of Earth and the government bringing into action it's pre-emptively designed plan just in case something like that happened? Such a mixed bag, I loved the general idea of the government's contingency plan for alien contact being brought into force, and some of the cast was great, but I didn't much care for the main plot, which seemed rather generic. I really kinda wish there'd be another series that dealt a little more seriously with mankind's first contact with aliens. Not necessarily as an "OMG they're invading, we must stop", but say the discovery of some ship, the attempts at contact. I know that sounds relatively boring for a series, but I think the secret there would to have it almost be as a sideline, the plot being about the characters. A bit like LOST, actually - in LOST, yes, there's a big Mystery about the Island, but that crawls along almost at a snail's pace, and instead we're dealing mostly with the interactions among a bunch of characters, and their backstories, etc, and the more day to day issues of surviving on the island. I'd like to see a similar approach, where it'd almost be like, say, The West Wing, except that instead of political maneuvering on the sidelines, there's the dealing with the alien stuff as it comes up (I suppose you could do a similar idea with the Singularity, which would be cool to see too). Which reminds me of my earlier wish that the last season of the West Wing dealt with first contact with an alien race. Or I'd love it if, when 24 finally goes off the air, the last season Jack Bauer deals with an alien invasion. That would be awesome. Because really, by that point, what do they have to lose? It's the last season. Might as well make it fun!

In other news, my copy of Delta Green: Eyes Only arrived today, so yay. Once I finish it I might even, just for the sake of fun, do a sort of retroactive XET Diaries post about what (if any) plot ideas I might have had/used based on it if the game was still around today.

And is it a bad idea to torture a robot while it simulates screaming in pain? (the debate's mostly in the comments).

Book Foo

Oct. 16th, 2007 10:31 pm
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
Finished: Blindsight, by Peter Watts
Started: Slow River, by Nicola Griffith (Nebula Winner)

Thoughts on Blindsight behind the cut. Mostly non-spoilery, but there may be a few bits in there, mostly for the general concept.
Read more... )

The book's also one of very few I read that I can actually just post a link directly to it, since the author made it available online. This was in fact the only way I heard of it. It was BoingBoinged and I was bored so I read the first chapter and it hooked me enough to want to buy the book to read the rest (since I don't care for reading online long term). So, anyway, if at all interested, here's a link to the complete text of Blindsight by Peter Watts
Blindsight of course was up for a Hugo this year, but lost out to Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge, which I've also read. Of course, it would be crass to turn it into a game of "which should have won". So, let's be crass! Read more... ) Of course, I haven't read any of the other nominees (but Glasshouse is on my short list to read)

Just started Slow River, but haven't got far enough into it to form any preliminary opinion.
newnumber6: (otp)
The Meme: Comment on this post. I will choose seven interests from your profile and you will explain what they mean and why you are interested in them. Post this along with your answers in your own journal so that others can play along.

[livejournal.com profile] donna_c_punk asked me for these:
ai rights: Think I've talked about it a fair bit. I know it's probably silly to think about, since we're really nowhere near it. But one day we probably will have artificial intelligence of some sort. And I am passionately committed to the idea that AIs should have rights. A lot of people seem unreasonably insistent on the idea that machines can't "really" think, and even if they seem to it's just an illusion and they shouldn't be given any rights. My standard response is that I can't be certain that _you_ really think and that it's not just an illusion, but I give you the benefit of the doubt because, if I'm wrong, I've hgiven rights to something that doesn't need them, but if I didn't and I was wrong, I'd have deprived something deserving of rights, and that's not a mistake I'm prepared to make. Also, I'm interested in this theme in fiction a lot, both writing and reading/watching (I root for the Cylons sometimes).
alternate history: One of many fictional themes I enjoy, that of alternate history, the "What if something happened differently...?" Mostly I like it when the alternate world is encountered by people from ours (or one close to ours), rather than just straight-faced alternate history, but I like the latter too. It's one of the things that drew me to Sliders, even though they quickly abandoned the _cool_ uses of the concept, and used it lamely. I was just remarking online recently how I kinda wish they'd do another 'exploring alternate reality' show, but perhaps one where it's not a "lost and trying to find our way home", so you could go more in depth to some of the different realities, and have a home base.
nebula awards: These are the awards given to SF novels, novella, short stories, etc, by the Science Fiction Writers and Editors of America. Mostly it's in my interests because I'm on a quest to read every Hugo or Nebula winning novel (7 or 8 more to go on Nebulas, 1 Hugo). But also, as a writer, I'd like to win one someday. Oh, I know I almost certainly never will, but we've all gotta have dreams.
neverwhere: This was my first exposure to Neil Gaiman (well, to his work at least - I'd seen him dozens of times on a Canadian television show called Prisoners of Gravity)... and although I recognize some of his other works is technically better, Neverwhere remains my favorite. I even went and downloaded the BBC miniseries version of it (which came first). It wasn't as good, but it was fun as well to get some visuals for it. I guess I like the idea of a sort of fantastic world existing in parallel to our own, but that most people don't know, and the idea by walking a specific path in a specific way, you might wind up somewhere you otherwise wouldn't.
racmx: This is an abbreviation for rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks, a USENET group. I used to hang out on it a fair bit, but then my net provider got rid of USENET access, and so my only way there is through Googlegroups now. I hate the interface, so I don't hang out there much, and really should remove the interest, but I'll keep it there out of nostalgia a while longer. A bit sad that USENET is slowly dying.
vernor vinge: Science Fiction author, writer of A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, and recent Hugo Winner Rainbows End. One of my favorite authors, does really good with big ideas and cool aliens, and of course is one of the creators/popularizors of the concept of the technological singularity - an event (like true AI or intelligence expansion) that is such a fundamental shift that it's impossible to accurately predict what things'll be like afterwards (because the AIs who run things, or we, will be so much more intelligent), which is a cool SF concept I enjoy.
y: the last man: Comic book by Brian K. Vaughan, creator of Runaways, in which a plague (or something) wipes out every mammal on Earth with a Y chromosone (that is, all males), except for two: 20something slacker Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey. So he goes on a series of quests within quests in this world where all the men are now gone, and the women are carrying on as best they can knowing that they're pretty much the last generation. I'm reading it in trades, and am still a little behind, but I enjoy it. I wouldn't call it one of my absolute favorite comics, but it's right now the only non-superhero one I read, and the only "closed" plotline one (that is, there is a beginning, middle, and end to the plot intended, over the course of 60 issues, rather than being an ongoing series forever), so I figured it merited a spot on my lists.

So, there we go.
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
So, finally my net is back up, too. For the last few irritating days, while it would be incorrect to say I had no net, it was functionally true. Every page I hit, I had approximately a 10% chance every refresh of it loading, and even then, most of the images, etc, each had their own 10% chance. So annoying. I'm really starting to think that the net has become a prosthetic to my mind, because I feel so lessened without it. Want to know something, just look it up, instantly... oh, I can't. Woe is me.

Anyway, moving on. New Comic Day today (delayed a day due to Labour Day)! This week I got one book:

New Warriors #4 (pretty good).

Full reviews up as usual at my comic reviews site for anyone interested.

Pretty hot day out today.

Oh, and, I'll do some Book Foo too...

Finished: Accelerando, by Charles Stross
Started: Pandora's Star, by Peter F. Hamilton

Thoughts on Accelerando behind the cut (not terribly spoilery, but some minor plot elements talked about). Overall, really enjoyed it.

I often find finishing a book feels like finishing a meal. Some you don't feel it so much.. it's just fuel, even if you enjoyed it. But some are like this, they touched on and satisfied a craving inside you may not have even know you had, and so where after you're done you feel the need to sit back and savor, and think, "Mmmmmm, Accelerando."
Read more... )

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