Tuesday, April 27, 2010

See, here's something like an active blog

Why struggle for personal random topics when I have plenty of thoughts about my one of my favorite subjects? Introducing the best science fiction and fantasy... thebestsff. It's my new blog and can be found here. More likely to be written in as evidenced by the 4 posts in the last two weeks. CRAZY.

Introductory essay regarding my thoughts about the whole the new blog thing, found here.

"That'll do, pig. That'll do."
The Boss (as played by James Cromwell) (1940 - ).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

No wait, I'm not dead afterall.

I really would like to blog more often, but whenever I come up with something good, I forget about it by the time I actually get around to have 30 minutes of un-spoken for time.

Hence the 3 posts in 2009. That's some pretty terrible stats right there, friends and neighbors. So maybe things will change in 2010? Informed sources say probably not. Although good intentions suggest otherwise. On the other hand, you know what they can make with good intentions? Asphalt. Road paving material, from what I hear.

Anyway, stay tuned. Things may just turn up daisies yet.

"Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them." Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954).

P.S. In case ambition fails me once again, I have signed up for a Twitter account (that I have not yet used, except for once to enter a stupid contest and once to conjugate the new verb) which shall allow me to make on-the-spot-140-characters-or-less-micro-blogs. This will probably be more likely, since it will be hard for me to forget the subject at hand, in the time it takes for me to remove my phone from my pocket. I dopped the ball on this one though. Someone already took my nom de plume. So find me here with an added "b".

Thursday, March 26, 2009

LibraryThing Early Reviewers: The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay

The Little Sleep is one of the most enjoyable and refreshing crime noir / mystery / private eye novels I've read in years. The story focuses in on one Mark Genevich, a South Boston ("southie") PI with one very large problem. He is a narcoleptic... falling asleep at the most inappropriate of time and even hallucinating on occasion. The Little SleepWhen a minor local celebrity comes in and hires Mark to track down the meaning of some scandalous photos, Mark's world is turn upside down and he quickly learns that the past does not always stay dead.

Genevich is an amazingly "real guy" sort of guy. It's wonderful to read about a detective who is not all... "I have a 210 I.Q. and am knowledgeable about everything from classical architecture to medieval literature to particle accelerators. Please pass the rutabagas." Mark is human to a fault and it constantly proving it.

Tremblay's writing is also constantly intriguing. The pace of the novel, once set, rarely lets up and in any other time of my life, would have read this book in two days flat. Also, his anthropomorphic descriptions are always making me chuckle. As exemplified in the following passage, when Mark walks into his office after it has been ransacked:

"My flat screen computer monitor is not quite flat anymore and is on the floor, where my client chair used to be. That chair is huddled in the corner of the room, licking it's wounds. It saw everything and is traumatized. It'll never be the same."(pg.101-2 arc.)

That's just one small example in a book filled with everyday imagery that is brought to life through the author's unique writing. I sincerely hope that we will see more of Paul Trembly's work soon.

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." Abraham Lincoln (in a book review of his own) (1809-1865)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

LibraryThing Early Reviewers: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Patient Zero is a non-stop, don't let go, intense combination of cutting edge science (fiction... for now) and the hack and slash you'd expect from a top notch horror/thriller. Featuring former Boston PD detective Joe Ledger and his new team recruited into a super secret task force by a super secret branch of the military on a world wide hunt for bio-terrorists and their undead plague.

This book was extremely well done. From the start, the science was engaging and mostly believable, even to a biology major. I love the zombie "genre" as much as the next guy, but it was refreshing to have it treated to somewhat realistic observations and plausibilities.

The characterization was quite well done also. While it's almost inevitable these days for any "action heroes" to be typified, Ledger and his team pull of the trick of being intelligent and believable at the same time they're kicking ass. Only one of the characters (a female scientist/terrorist) came off as grossly overwritten and stereotypical.

I was indeed disappointed to see this book end (even if it did take me over a month to finish, mea culpa, LT; I blame school) and will be anxiously awaiting a new Ledger novel, which I believe is already in the works.

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." Abraham Lincoln (in a book review of his own) (1809-1865)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

LibraryThing Early Reviewers: The Mystic Art Of Erasing All Signs Of Death by Charlie Huston

A fantastic and refreshing noir mystery from Huston, The Mystic Arts Of Erasing All Signs Of Death is the first novel that I have read in a couple of months, where I just don't want to put it down. Neither work, nor pending university finals stopped me from reading this one.

The main character, Web, is not your typical protagonist. After quitting his job teaching and slumming around for a year, his ever patient friend and roommate has finally convinced Web to get a job; working for a crime scene cleanup service. And that's when Web's life gets interesting.

As the story progresses, the reader uncovers the back story behind the Web's personality issues and the reason for his being such a tool to everyone he knows. It's not easy to like the guy, but one does develop some sympathy over time.

Huston writes with such realism that I have not really ever encountered. His character's speech is just so... human. Sentences trail off when the character is at a loss of words. Sentence fragments pepper the narrative when complete thoughts are obviously unneeded. People act like real people (for the most part). My one beef with his writing is the lack of quotation marks, the classical indication for when someone is speaking. Huston only uses a "-" mark to detonate speech. That and the complete lack of "he said", "Gabe muttered", or "So Pin bellowed", to demonstrate who is talking. During conversations, I often found myself going back an re-reading a passage to figure out who is speaking, having to rely on action cues to figure it out. Not so easy when I first started this novel, but as I worked my way through, I became more used to it.

All in all, this a wonderfully quick and entertaining story, filled with intensely evocative scenes and brilliant (if graphic) imagery. I will most definitely be looking to read more of Huston's work soon. (8/10)

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." Abraham Lincoln (in a book review of his own) (1809-1865)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Anticipation, Perchance To Dream

I think my geekiness may have finally over-run me. I have just realized what I really want to get for Christmas... Attending Membership to WorldCon; ergo the right to attend Anticipation 2009 in Montréal, Canada.

WorldCon is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society where writers, artists, and fans throughout the world meet up for the ultimate geek fest. And being a member for the year also gives one the right to vote for that year's Hugo winners. The Hugo's are one of the two most prestigious awards in the science fiction kingdom, the other being the Nebula's, which are only voted on by active writers in the field. Anticipation is the name of this year's convention the 67th annual, in Quebec (it's named anew each year).

So for five glorious days, filled with readings, panels, discussions, criticisms and lots of parties (not to mention all the hilarious uberfans costumed to the nines), I could geek out to my little heart's delight. This year's guest of honor is the esteemed Neil Gaiman, notable for his works in the lauded Sandman comics, and the novels Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), Neverwhere, and the recently made into movie Stardust. While his works lean more towards fantasy than SF, it would still be super cool to meet him. Another notable guest is the editor guest of honor, David G. Hartwell, while being primarily known as Senior Editor at Tor/Forge (a wonderful imprint for the genre) and for his editing skills on the long running yearly anthology Year's Best SF, he is also the editor for two of the greatest stand alone anthologies ever published: The World Treasury Of Science Fiction and The Hard SF Reniassance. The short story is severely underrated in today's SF market and it would be wonderful to meet him as well. Another notable guest is the master of ceremonies, Julie Czerneda, a biologist by education and writer (among many others) of the Species Imperative trilogy. She has also written books for educators using science fiction to teach science in the classroom. Extremely cool, if you must ask me.

On top of the scheduled guests and hosts of honor, there are always tons of other fantastic contributors to the community giving talks, attending conferences, etc... Last year, to name just a few: Stephen Baxter (oh, heck, I really hope he's there this year), Charles Stross (yup, the same wish), Nancy Kress (an amazing writer), Robert J. Sawyer (he almost certainly will be there, being a local), Robert Silverberg (truly a living legend and author of the very first SF book I ever read at age 12) and others. Being able to hear any of these and many others would be a dream come true. However, since these attendees are not announced yet, it is like a SF lottery, where everyone wins. Every year is filled with unexpected surprises and there are so many people I would love to see/meet/hear.

So now the question remains, who can I take with me? From what I hear of conventions, they are overwhelming to say the least and I will definitely need a buddy to hang with. But I'm pretty sure the only others that I chat with that are as geeky as me, are the folks I only know online, though my LibraryThing acquaintances to my BookMooch buddies. Hmmm... will have to think on that one for a while. And of course the attending financial (lodging, food, gas) and educational (I will be in school in August) concerns will need to be addressed as well.

Anyway, here's to hoping! It would be so friging great?

"Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?" - Kelvin Throop III (fictional).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Welcome To The SocioPolitical Soapbox

A wise man once told me to never let my blog define myself. Taking that advice to heart, I now introduce to you, yet another category of blog postings to this supposed science and book blog of mine: The SocioPolitical Soapbox.

As a citizen of the global wide intrawebs, it is my right, nay... my duty to spout my opinions as I see fit, demanding that they be heard and understood as FACT! **

So, on that note, I feel the need to inform you of why we must save the "Big Three" auto manufactures from their worthless selves.

Now to be fair, I am not a socialist (yet), and I truly believe that the free market should dictate the rise and fall of the businesses of our great nation. Foibles or brilliance aside however, in this case, I am firmly recommending a government "bailout" of GM, Chrysler & Ford, in one form or another. In what manner this should occur (purchase of stock, direct loans, etc...) I feel no need to suggest. Certainly some restrictions should be put in place, but I am NOT a economist, nor do I desire to be one either. Numbers and dollars do not interest me in the slightest. Leave that to the "professionals". On the other hand, I am a blue collar citizen of our nation and I know that if these three companies were to fail, it would have disastrous consequences for the American people, not to mention the world at large (as our economy so directly impacts the rest of the nations).

First off, I'm not defending the douche-baggery management of these companies. Clearly, they were idiots. A blind man could have seen the change in markets, what with oil prices and green activism abounding, the fall in demand of the SUV's they so marketed down our throats was inevitable. What I am defending though, is the stability of our country as a whole. Some estimates place a full 10% of our nations workforce in the hands of these employers. It's not just the U.A.W. that is at risk of loosing work, it encompasses a whole host of other businesses and employees across the country. From steel manufactures, to parts suppliers, to silicon valley tech-ies, to miners, to dealership sales peoples, to glass manufactures, to the plastics industry, to mechanics... to heck, even the $7 car wash and $35 quickie lube joints. The fact of the matter is, the big three are the largest consumers of steel and plastics and electronics in the nation. For them to fail, would be a catastrophe.

So write your senators, plead your congressmen, tug on your governor's sleeve and say "Hey! What the heck are you going to do to save these dolts?!? Spank them later, but throw them a bone now. We all need it."

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." - Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

**I beg that you recognize the sarcasm of this paragraph. I know that it is hard without vocal cues, but if you can't... please direct your browser elsewhere.