Posts Tagged ‘Books’

I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin and decided to do a bit of an experiment. You see, people have been recommending that I read the books, or at the very least watch the show on HBO for a while now. I normally like sci-fi and I find that I have to be in a certain mood for a Fantasy novel of any length, let alone an epic series where each book is 800+ pages. (I’ve never been one to balk at length, it’s just that it’s a commitment that is sometimes difficult to make before you know if you’ll even like it or not.) Anyway, I started the novels, then had a thought. I’ve read enough of the first book to get a handle on the plot, so I’ll watch the first episode of the HBO show and see how I like it. See if it’s true to the book (always a huge deal for me) and maybe it will help me solidify the characters in my mind. If I can put a face to a name, then I can tell Arya apart from Sansa more easily. Or so I thought.

Well, it turned out that I had read just enough so that the show didn’t have any spoilers for me. I read another hundred pages or so and watched episode two. Rinse, repeat. Great.

But then I got to thinking. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. A few weeks before, I watched the beginning of “Treasure Island” (1991 version) with my son because we were reading the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson yarn for bedtime and I thought it might interest him to see how what we had just read looked like in “real life.”

But now, for the rest of the book, Jim Hawkins will look like a young Christian Bale to my son. And Long John Silver can’t look like anything other than a crusty Charlton Heston. treasure-island7

And the same is true for me now. Danaerys  Stormborn will always appear in my minds eye as Emilia Clarke ( yes, there are worse fates.) Ned Stark is Sean Bean. Etc. That’s when I had a terrifying thought:

We are letting our imagination wither and die like an atrophied muscle.

Our kids watch cartoons about other fictional kids going out to their backyard and having adventures where they imagine that they are astronauts, cowboys, wizards… But my kids aren’t doing any of that! THEY ARE SITTING INSIDE, WATCHING A TV SHOW ABOUT KIDS WHO HAVE IMAGINATION! (I’m lookin’ at you Backyardigans!)



How do we fix this?

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All right, I’m not a spokesperson for Stihl, but they come close to my point. We need to get our kids (and ourselves) outside more often. We need to sit under a tree and dream. We need to create. No matter what you think your talent is or isn’t, you can create something.   If you’re good with your hands, make something. If you’re “too out of shape/ too fat/too clumsy/ etc.” that’s not stopping you from writing an amazing story or composing a beautiful song, making a stunning piece of jewelry or woodwork. The author of the books I’m reading now doesn’t have what most people would call an athletic build (see below), but he has created an amazingly detailed epic book series. No excuses. Go from a consumer of culture to a creator of it.

Everyone dies

Everyone dies

Terence McKenna had a thought along similar lines:

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”

― Terence McKenna

Turn off your smartphone, turn off the music, stop doing things just because they will make a #clevertwitterhashtag or Facebook post later that will def impress your “friends” or “followers.” Live Life. Rediscover your passion and be amazing at it.



2010 was another great year in my reading life. I would have to say that my top favorite books this year were:

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

This book was integral to our getting a real handle on our finances, getting on a budget, becoming debt free, amassing six months worth of expenses in an emergency fund, and starting to build wealth.

The “In Death” police procedural mysteries by J. D. Robb.

These near-future, gritty, sexy mysteries really grabbed me this year and I have now read more than half of her 30+ books. The characters are great and the interplay between all their relationships kept me intrigued enough to keep picking up the next one in the series. I especially like the audio books because Susan Erickson does such a great job acting all the different characters with distinct and entertaining voices.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett.

I don’t normally read a lot of pure fantasy with magic and things, but this was some awesome, hardcore demon slaying goodness. I also really like how we followed three characters from very early ages up through adulthood. This is a great book. A mysterious world with captivating characters pull the reader along on an incredible journey through years of their lives. It was hard to put this one down until I was done. I could see this being a great video game or movie in a few years.

After that, there were so many others and I enjoyed almost all of them. The books on Afghanistan were very interesting and also a few of the survival type books, both fiction and non-fiction. (more…)

Yes, it’s true.

I recently found out just how true this was a few weeks ago when I was listening to an audiobook. I have been steadily listening to this series ( In Death by J.D. Robb) over the last year, but at first, I didn’t listen to them in order. So I heard the newest five, some in the middle, and then decided to start at the beginning. Now I am working my way up chronologically, but I have knowledge about the later series such as character motivations, who plays a significant role, etc.

I had originally requested the second book in the series from my library and mistakenly hit the button for the Abridged version. I then ripped it to my personal library so I could listen to it on my iPod while I worked. But then, I discovered my error and requested the longer Unabridged version and copied it also. When I went  to listen to it at work, I listened to the first disc of the Abridged version first. Then, realizing that I must have left the old track on the iPod, I just started over again and heard the Unabridged version. Having listened to the two albums back to back, the differences were clear…and disturbing.

Yes, some of what they cut out was descriptive fluff. When the protagonist drove across town in NYC, it was taken care of in the Abridged version with a sentence, where the original version had a nice paragraph or two of prose.

But there were at least two other scenes that were cut in the Abridged version that have a HUGE impact throughout the rest of the series. I couldn’t believe it when I heard what had been missing.

The first scene was when the protagonist’s husband makes a huge personal sacrifice and decides to sell all of his semi-legal and illegal business ventures. Since she is a cop and has a rigid sense of justice, he knew she wouldn’t approve, and it may tarnish her public reputation later if it came out that he still dealt in underhanded business. This choice is referred back to numerous times later in the series. Was it even mentioned in the Abridged version? No.

The second scene that they cut out is when the main character meets someone else, who pops up from time to time throughout the series. He is totally cut from the Abridged version. True, he isn’t a main character, or even a secondary character, but he is definitely a character, if you know what I mean. He is a bouncer at a bar that is the backdrop to many meetings later in the series. And if you listened/ read the Abridged version, you totally missed out on their first meeting.

So to sum up, Abridged books = terrible crap. NEVER read them.

It’s a little late this year, partially because I’ve been reading other good books, but here it is! My 2009 reading list…with reviews!


Zoe’s Tale

John Scalzi is a master of clever dialogue. He has just the right amount of snarky humor and sarcastic wit to satisfy my particular taste. I read this one with my wife which made it special as she was once a sixteen year old girl. Somehow it didn’t seem right for me to read the parts about how a certain boy was sooo cute. I think Scalzi did a great job of retelling a story from a different point of view. Nice work John.

Bloodcast 1                         1-10-09                                                                   Scott Sigler

I liked it. Sigler has as good a grasp of short stories as he does with novels.

Crystal Rain

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. The world building is fantastic. You really get plunged into a whole new culture, I like how it kept changing, revealing more and more of the past as you read. I know most books do that, but this stood out. I will definitely finish the series.

Contagious: A Novel

Awesome. This sequel is even better than Infected. After listening to the first six podcasts, I gave in and had to read the rest. I couldn’t hold back. I read the rest in one sitting. That’s over 300 pages in one go. Yeah, it’s that good. There are many parts not for the squeamish or weak stomached, but come on…it IS Scott Sigler. Very well written with masterful plot points and timing. Read it now, or succumb to the Crawlers!

Ragamuffin (Sci Fi Essential Books)

Tobias has done it again. This book, which is a sequel to Crystal Rain, went above and beyond my expectations for what the story would do next. He expanded the universe out much farther than I thought and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was cool to see all his new characters and how they tied in to the established ones. They story moves along at a brisk pace and sucks you in to the plight of humanity. Excellent 2nd novel.

Secrets of Successful Writing: Inside Tips from a Writing Expert

A great little book filled with easy tips. I read it in an evening. I will use the suggestions more for re-writing though.

The Art of War: New Translation

It’s surprising how many truths this text still contains. I wonder if Bush read this before invading Iraq? Probably not.

Multiple Streams of Income: How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth!

This book was just what I wanted. Like other books, it included various strategies on how to build wealth, but unlike other ones, went in depth into each one. Having said that, the writing isn’t great and a few of the chapters are co-authored which is confusing when he refers to the author in the third person. All in all though, a very good book with different ways to choose how to become wealthy.

Nocturnal: A Novel

This is a great monster/mob story with an incredible plot, unforgettable characters, and lots of nasty violence. Based in the author’s home city, the tale keeps the reader up at night, trying to consume as much as possible before sleeping.

America                                                 3-6-09                                Jon Stewart & The Daily Show

Hilarious, sad, and true-ish.

Sly Mongoose                                        3-13-09                                                Tobias S. Buckell

This was a fun one. Who doesn’t like space zombies and floating cities? A fairly quick read with a lot of adventure. Pretty cool.

The Steel Remains                                3-24-09                                              Richard K. Morgan

Hmmm. It was a really well crafted story. The plot moved along fast and the separate character swirled in towards each other with increasing intensity. I liked Morgan’s anti-hero as always except for one thing. I could have done without the explicit gay sex scenes. Sometimes it’s best to leave the details out, but I guess that’s what people mean when they say his writing is “gritty.” I love the way he writes in general, but I think I like his sci-fi more than this. Having said that though, I WILL read the next two books in this trilogy. It’s a good sword slicing adventure.

Ficciones                                              4-4-09                                                 Jorge Luis Borges

Wow. Crazy stuff. Very creative. Borges has a totally unique writing style. I’m so glad to have been exposed to his writing. I see his influence in other things now.

Infoquake                                              4-6-09                                            David Louis Edelman

Great read. Very quick pace and intriguing story. The future technology of this world is very cool. I want to live there. Plus, I never thought a plot based mainly on business, marketing, etc. could be so interesting. Definitely reading the next one in the series.

MultiReal                                               4-20-09                                           David Louis Edelman

David Louis Edelman continues to improve his financial cyberpunkish series. This answered many questions that were left at the end of the first book but asks just as many. The plot stays tight as a conspiracy unfolds. Very good. I can’t wait for the third one. The world he’d created is vibrant and alive. I enjoy my time there almost as much as following the story. This is a good read, but I would recommend reading “Infoquake” first.

Sun of Suns                                          4-26-09                                                  Karl Schroeder

Very cool world building with a good plot that spirals towards a nail-biting ending. Kind of like steam-punk without the steam if that makes any sense. No it probably doesn’t. You’ll see when you read it, which you should do, cause it’s good.

Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star 2            4-26-09                                                          Cain Kuga

Cowbot Bebop remains suave and awesome.

Queen of Candesce                              5-2-09                                                    Karl Schroeder

Another great yarn taking place in a spectacular world. I loved all the political intrigue and twisted plotlines. Venera Fanning is an interesting character indeed.

Snow                                                    5-4-09                                                         Morgan Luthi

Very young adult-ish. The way the characters were drawn did not fit the story. Meh.

Rurouni Kenshin 6                                 5-5-09                                                 Nobuhiro Watsuki

Sweet Samurai manga action.

A Random Walk down Wall Street   5-7-09                                          Burton G. Malkiel

Just too outmoded for today’s economy. Plus the main premise of the book is that anything you pick has an equal chance of making money in the market. Basically monkeys could invest as well as someone on Wall street.

Pirate Sun                                            5-12-09                                                  Karl Schroeder

The third installment of the Virga series was just as enjoyable as the first. The varied scenes are each spectacular and vivid. New main characters for each book also give it a fresh feel. Nice work Karl.

Prophets                                              5-24-09                                                S. Andrew Swann

A very cool take on far future human civilization. I thought the focus on religion was intriguing. Especially the character’s take on it when they themselves were created by humans (genetically engineered animal/human hybrids) I look forward to the rest of the series.

Altered Carbon                                     5-28-09                                              Richard K. Morgan

This is the second read through for me. I love this book. Morgan’s ideas are so well developed. Sometimes he just brushes off a whole type of tech with a one liner and I’m sitting there wanting to know more. His plot is great and the characters are gritty real. Still one of my favorites after all these years.

Future Imperfect                                    6-6-09                                                David D. Friedman

This was a great summation of most current tech that will affect us in the next 50 years. The prudent sci-fi writer would take notes while reading this as it is filled with hundreds of cool ideas. The one downside is that it was written by an economist and is sometimes rather dry and legalistic. But it more than makes up for it in scope. Great read!

The Mirrored Heavens                            6-17-09                                                  David J. Williams

While the ideas in this book are cool, and the future history is scary because it still could become true, I just could not get into this one. Maybe it was the author’s style, or the tense it was written in. It is chock a block with action though. The plot switches between four points of view and it does so rapidly and constantly. Somewhat annoying. I doubt I will read anything by this author again. Just personal taste.

The Green Year                                                6-18-09                                                        Jodi Helmer

A good simple book with tons of suggestions on how to live a greener life. We do 192 of them already. It might have been more but some didn’t apply to our family, like buying pet food in bulk. No pets.

How to Learn Golf                                  6-27-09                                                       Harry Hurt III

This offers a good overview of the different styles that are practiced for all aspects of golf. From putting, to swings, on course emotional management to which instructor you should choose. Pretty good overall. But the purpose is not to teach you golf, but how you should learn it. It focuses on helping you pick a style that works for you.

Nickel & Dimed                                     6-29-09                                             Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara presents this compelling social commentary as a gripping description of someone trying to beat the odds. Every page, you hope that she will make enough to pay her rent. Her writing is insightful and authentic. I was transported back in time to my own days as a server when she described all her hardships waitressing in Florida. Even though this was written nearly a decade ago, it remains a powerful book, full of evidence that many middle class people refuse to see. If you have ever wondered how someone working minimum wage in America lives, read this book.

The Caryatids                                           7-3-09                                           Bruce Stirling

Pretty cool. I think that it is set a little too close to he present for some of the societal changes that he describes, but you never know. I loved the ending in a way I didn’t expect.

How to write Sci-fi/ fantasy                      7- 11-09                                             Orson Scott Card

This is a great book. Very well written and brimming with good advice from a writer who’s been there before. I found the chapters on the business end of writing particularly helpful. Maybe because my novel is already written, so world-building advice is already too late. I might even venture to say that this is a must-read, for an aspiring sci-fi/ fantasy writer.

Catch-22                                              7-20-09                                                     Joseph Heller

I like his style, but I could not get into this book. There was nothing to drag me along besides the oddness of the characters. Maybe someday I will continue, but for now, there are too many good new books out there for me to spend time on a “classic” that is mediocre, in my opinion.

Norse Code                                          7-25-09                                               Greg Van Eekhout

This was a very cool idea that kept me turning the pages. I love Norse mythology and found that Greg hit all the right notes in this urban fantasy with Asgard and Home Depots. If you have any interest in Vikings, you should read this book.

Rotten Rejections                                8-5-09                                                      Andre Bernard

This little book serves as great solace to aspiring writers everywhere. It includes rejections for books that have since become classics of the English language. No one is spared. Dickens, Whitman, Joyce, etc.

You’re not fooling anyone when you take your laptop to the coffee shop   8-6-09           John Scalzi

I just can’t say anything bad about John Scalzi, or his writing. This book is a great collection of posts from his blog about the writing life. His voice comes through clearly in the writing and is easy (and dare I say fun) to read. he makes good logical points about many issues that aspiring or professional writers face. Well done John, and thanks for the advice.

Freakonomics                                          8-6-09                          Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

This was an interesting view on wildly varying topics. I thought it only a tinge racist though. I know it has “data” to back up the theory that babies with black-sounding names (DeShawn) are not as successful in life as babies with white-sounding (William) names are, but still. All in all though, a fascinating read that will spark many conversations.

The Complete book of insults                 8-6-09                                                      Nancy McPhee

A cool list of insults throughout history. I had to get out my notebook and write down some of my favorite words like: druggles, lob-dotterols, palsied poltroon, etc. 

Mind over Ship                                      8-15-09                                                    David Marusek

This had some really cool ideas in it but was tough to get into. Once I did though, it was hard to put down. It’s got a great plot, very complex, and good characters. I haven’t read the first book and actually didn’t know there was one until the end. Maybe that’s why the author didn’t explain as many off the terms he uses. All in all though, pretty good.

Little Brother                                         8-18-09                                                Corey Doctorow

Little Brother is a dangerous book. Stop reading this and go read that instead. Right now! I can see why this was nominated for Best Novel of ’09. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Forget that it’s YA. This book rocks. But if you want to be seen as a responsible adult (say, if you’re a teacher) NEVER recommend it to your students or teens. It is subversive and smart and cool. It should be standard reading for any teen who uses a computer. Great book. I finished it in two days, and inspired to do ll this fun research now. A must for any hacker or tech geek. You’ve been warned.

Anathem                                                            9-9-09                                                  Neal Stephenson

Despite its intimidating heft, I took the plunge and read Stephenson’s latest masterpiece. Wow! The story takes place on Arbre, an Earthlike planet, but not Earth itself. This allows Neal to make pointed social commentary on many things that also bug me, but since it’s not Earth, no one can take offense. He’s not complaining about CEOs jabbering away on their cell phones in cars. He’s complaining about “extras” jabbering on their “jeejahs” in “fetches.” That is just the tiniest smidgeon of what makes this book so cool. The astronomy, math, philosophy, and other ideas he uses are all explained easily and the reader only learns what is needed for the story.
The story itself takes place on a grand scale. I had no idea it would end up like it did. I also love the sense of history. One gets the feeling that Earth would be like this, if only we had the Avout keeping better records the whole time. The characters are great too. His worldbuilding is astounding. Get past how long the text is and give it a try. It will be the most challenging, and satisfying thing you read in a long time.

The Book of Coffee and Tea                9-10-09                                   Joel Schapira

This was a fascinating and well written look into all aspects of coffee and tea. I really enjoyed all the cool behind the scenes stories of how coffee was spread across the globe. This book has also had a consequence of making me into a coffee snob though, so watch out. I enjoy it much more and know which kinds to look for. A great read for any coffee/ tea enthusiast.

The Edge of Evolution                             9-12-09                                         Micheal J. Behe

This was a good book that offers scientific proof that evolution can only account for so much advancement in this vast world we live in. It is very technical though. Maybe that’s why I stopped halfway through. I got the main point early.

The Huffinton Post’s complete guide to blogging             9-22-09                the editors of HuffPost

Great book for someone new to blogging. It has many nice tips for the veteran blogger as well. My only complaint is that the second half of the book extols the virtues and accomplishments of The Huffington Post.

The House of Suns                                9-28-09                                               Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds takes normal sci-fi conventions and flips them on their head. Oh! A normal story takes place in the span of a few hundred years? Try six million! I love that Reynolds was an astrophysicist so that his science is hard and true…for the most part. At least plausible. This was a great story and had some great characters. I still like Chasm City better, but not by much.

The Graveyard Book                              9-29-09                                                        Neil Gaiman

A very fun book to read on a dreary day. I loved the odd story, and all the little English slang that you don’t find in American books. Like most YA fiction, it only took me an evening and a day to read. The characters were pretty well developed for being a young adult book. I’m looking forward to the further adventures of Bod, if there are any more to come.

The Road                                             10-11-09                                             Cormac McCarthy

The Road is beautiful in its desolate prose, ugly in its lack of punctuation, and compelling in its tale of human survival against all odds. A haunting book that leaves nightmares as a consolation, and dessicated corpses as comfortable decoration. Those who cannot imagine feasting on human flesh out of pure desperation, will find this book squeamish at best. Excuse me while I go stock up on canned goods…

Snoopy’s guide to the writing life            10-15-09                                                Barnaby Conrad

This book was interesting in that it has short essays by famous authors about writing, but I have read many other books on writing that were far better.

Green                                                  10-23-09                                                           Jay Lake

Pretty interesting book. Slow in some parts, very fast in others. Jay’s writing style is very easy to get into though, and Green is a cool character that makes you want to see how everything turns out with her. The world Lake invents is crazy. I’m kind of looking forward to a sequel. It’s also fairly smexy, in a classy way.

Start & Run a Real Home-based Business         10-24-09      Dan Furman

This was a well-written (it better be since he’s a professional business writer) book dealing with the pitfalls and best practices of running a home business. Very useful, practical info.

The Areas of my Expertise    10-27-09                                      John Hodgman

This book was funny, but not as funny as I thought it would be. I like John Hodgman in his appearances on The Daily Show, & thought I knew his quirky humor, but there were only a few times that I really laughed out loud.

Bitter Angels                                         11- 15-09                                                 C. L. Anderson

I didn’t finish this. It was overdue and I just didn’t care enough to renew it. The plot didn’t draw me in and I couldn’t relate to any of the characters. Blah.

Dumbheart                                                 11-25-09                                                Darby Conley

Another great Get fuzzy collection. I laughed out loud many times reading this, even in public. Bucky still loves monkeys, Satchel battles for animal rights, and Rob just deals with the maelstrom of chaos.

The Zombie Survival guide                      12-12-09                                                      Max Brooks

A very thorough guide for what to do when the zombie apocalypse happens. This is a good guide for any big disaster, but adding undead ghouls to the mix makes it even more fun. I loved reading this and now have quite a large shopping list for zombie killing supplies.

501 things to do if you dare                    12-25-09                                                     Ben Malisow

A cool list of dangerous stuff to try. I immediately got out a pen and started checking off things I’ve already done. I think I’m over 150 at least.

I think overall, I most enjoyed discovering the “Jump 225” (infoquake) series, the “Virga” (Sun of Suns) series, and Toby Buckell’s books. Other notable books were Ficiones, Nickled & Dimed, Freakonomics, Little Brother, and the Zombie Survival Guide  .

Making money in a down economy:

This is a short list of ways to make a little extra money for you and your family.

1)      Become a scrap peddler. Now, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. All I mean is, look around your house, basement, and garage for any scrap metal that might be lying around. Then find a metal recycling place that accepts individual drop offs and take it down there. You give them rusty metal, they give you cash. I did this a few weeks ago and made $60. Of course, most of that was from the furnace that I ripped out two years ago and has been sitting in my garage ever since. The price for scrap metal at the time was $128/ ton. So I figure that I had around 900 pounds of steel and cast iron to get rid of. I took me two trips in my little Subaru, but I did it. If you’re really serious about being a scrapper, get a pick up truck and troll the neighborhoods on trash night. Get a friend to help you lift all those washing machines and bed frames into the back and share in the profits.

2)      Sell stuff on Ebay/ Craigslist. Look around your house for anything that you haven’t used in a few years but might be of use to someone else. I found my old GPS in my office. I hadn’t used it in years, and actually preferred my map and compass, even when I was hiking a lot. So I put it on Ebay and made $80. Easy as pie.

3)      Sell books/ video games to local used bookstores/ video game shops. Take stock of your shelves and see what you can bear to part with. There are some PS2 games that I really enjoyed, but might not ever play again. Ex: Prince of Persia. A great game with lots of involved environmental puzzle solving. But I don’t think I will spend another few weekends working through the same traps and pitfalls that were so frustrating the first time. On the other hand, if a game is easy to pick up and play again, like SSX Tricky (snowboarding), that may be one I keep.

4)      Mow lawns, rake leaves. I know, you’re not twelve anymore, but this still remains a viable option if you really need the cash.

I just read a very eloquent and thoughtful letter from a librarian to a patron asking that the children’s book “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen be banned. I feel strongly about reading, freedom of speech, and even gay marriage, so this was a good read for me. The librarian, Jamie Larue, basically states that he will not pull the book from the shelves because of free speech (but the letter is so much more than that). He also makes an important point that if parents feel that a certain issue is wrong, or sensitive to the values they are trying to instill in their children, don’t read that book to them. It’s as simple as that.

This is like parents that get upset when their children start swearing or getting violent from just having played 17 hours of any Grand Theft Auto video game. How can they be upset when they bought it for them, silently endorsing the game by their purchase of it.

So while I may not agree with gay marriage for religious reasons, I certainly agree with the library’s decision to stock this book. Comments?

Chapter 7. (more…)

Chapter 3. Seven years ago (more…)

Chapter 2 of my novel Downfall

Posted: February 23, 2009 in Books, sci-fi, writing
Tags: , , ,

Chapter 2. Two months ago. (more…)

Listen to Scott Sigler. He writes some of the best stuff out there now. And he is very approachable/ available with a big online presence. He started out inventing the Podcast Only novel, but now he has books in print with a new one (Contagious) coming out December 30th. All of his stuff is really fast paced, gripping, violent, and pretty frickin awesome. You can get the podcasts for free on his site, but you should buy his books too. I have reviews of his stuff in other posts but I recommend you just read/ listen to them.


I just got my signed copies of four John Scalzi novels in the mail yesterday. Woo hoo.


Who is John Scalzi? Only one of the best sci-fi writers out there today. And he’s a great guy. His blog is always fascinating The Whatever . Anyway for the holidays, he is offering to sign his books for free. All you have to do is buy them from his local bookstore and they will ship them out. Here’s what he says:

“And thus I get to do two nice things at one time: Make my readers happy, and help out a local independent bookseller who has been very good to me as a local author. Everybody wins.”

Details can be found on his blog right here:on-the-getting-of-signed-personalized-book-from-me-for-the-holidays

So drop by and pick up his books signed by the man himself. He even inscribed them to me personally. Very cool. A great gift for any sci-fi nut.


Speaker for the Dead 1-1-08 Orson Scott Card

I wasn’t sure how Card could do better than Ender’s Game so I had lower expectations for this book. Well, it exceeded them. I was drawn into the story and the world he created was very unique.

Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars 1-4-08 Patrick Lencioni

Quote-leftI liked it. A very quick read. I finished it in two days. I found myself thinking about how the executive team would respond to Jude’s presentation even when I was home. Something not most business books do. Pat Lencioni has always had good insights and this book is no different. I can’t wait to implement his ideas.

Xenocide 1-21-08 Orson Scott Card

Old Man’s War 1-23-08 John Scalzi

This was my first Scalzi book and I loved it. I have since read nearly everything of his I can get my hands on. The premise for the book is supremely interesting and he had a fresh take on the whole universe and aliens thing that I haven’t seen. And I read a lot of sci-fi. His ideas were very cool and made me mad that I didn’t think of them first. I loved this book and am very happy that I will soon have an autographed copy courtesy of the Man himself.

One other thing about Scalzi: He is an interesting guy, but more importantly, he has a big web presence and is very approachable. I have communicated with him on facebook and his blog He’s a great guy with cool ideas. Buy his books.

The Ghost Brigades 1-30-08 John Scalzi

Great sequel, but it would be a good stand alone as well. Makes me want to be part of that future world with all the fun new technology that Scalzi describes in detail but is simple to grasp. Very cool. In the words of Scott Evil from Austin Powers, ” I wish I was never artificially created in a lab!” Presents interesting ethical questions; even more so than the last one.

Foundation’s Edge 2-12-08 Isaac Asimov

I had read the original trilogy years ago and saw this in a used book store so I picked it up. I liked the story but it wasn’t as good as the originals.

Freedom’s Landing 2-16-08 Anne McCaffrey

Freedom’s Choice 2-21-08 Anne McCaffrey

Freedom’s Challenge 2-28-08 Anne McCaffrey

Freedom’s Ransom 3-5-08 Anne McCaffrey

The Last Colony 3-11-08 John Scalzi

Another great addition to the Old Man’s War universe. I enjoy stories about colonists and this one didn’t let me down. It had a great plot that really moved in unexpected directions.

Agent to the Stars 3-13-08 John Scalzi

This was Scalzi’s first novel. Or as he says, his practice novel. The story centers around an agent in Hollywood and his difficulty when a special client contacts him. Very funny.

Matter 3-27-08 Iain M. Banks

I was very excited to read the next best thing by Mr. Banks. The thing is, I was not horribly impressed. I love the author though, (I even named my son after him) but this book just didn’t grab like the others did.

The Android’s Dream 3-30-08 John Scalzi

I wasn’t sure about reading a book by Scalzi that wasn’t set in the Old Man’s War universe but it blew me away. The humor alone was worth it. You know when you start a book by assassinating a major political figure by farting them to death, that it’s going to be great.

Dragon’s Fire 4-15-08 Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey

Pushing Ice 5-4-08 Alastair Reynolds

Quote-leftThis was an interesting one for sure. The way Alastair writes, you really get a sense of time and the inner working of all the relationships aboard a crew of 160. I thought it was pretty good. Easy to get into. The story was just close enough to home for the reader to identify with people right away unlike some other sci-fi that is so far out there, it takes a while to become engaged in the characters struggles.

The Sagan Diary 5-6-08 John Scalzi

Quote-leftAn interesting short story and a good summation of a life that has been lived to the fullest. Not quite typical Scalzi writing but it was still good. I liked how he fit aspects of past stories in with Jane’s memories.

Infected 5-14-08 Scott Sigler

Very hard to pull away from. It has a lightning quick pace that doesn’t let up throughout the whole novel. Very bloody; but also very good.

Chasm City 6-1-08 Alastair Reynolds

Quote-leftI think this one was the best I’ve read so far. A stupendously complex plot weaves in and out of a world Reynolds has crafted with care from the ground up. Or should I say from the Mulch to the Canopy. I loved how it tied in with the rest of his Revelation Space universe and while some of the other books may be more dense in hard sci-fi gear, Chasm City more than makes up for it in character history. Awesome read.

Century Rain 6-18-08 Alastair Reynolds

This was a cool story about an “alternate” universe that is set in the early 1940’s Paris, and…outer space. Pretty cool idea.

The Carbon Buster’s Home Energy Handbook 7-3-08 Godo Stoyke

The Prefect Alastair Renolds

I thought this was a very good tie-in to the Revalation Space universe. It tied in on so many levels, from the Tokamak in Pushing Ice to the Eighty. Seeing the Glitter Band in all it’s glory was good too. The plot moved along well and kept me interested throughout the book. Not a good book for your first Reynolds read because there is so much from past books that it really takes some previous history to appreciate all the intricate stories.

God in the Alley 7-16-08 Greg Paul

Quote-leftthis is a great read for anyone working in social work, or going to a church for that matter! I feel like it re-ignited my mercy a little bit which takes some doing. Very thought provoking.

The Execution Channel 7-29-08 Ken MacLeod

A scary take on the near future in which the world is rocked by terrorist attacks in Scotland and England. The various espionage agencies scramble to try and understand just what happened as a family is caught in the crossfire. Fast paced and gripping, packed with techno mis-information and ulterior motives. One of Ken’s better novels.

Tomorrow’s Table: Organic farming, Genetics, & the future of food. 8-21-08 Pamela C. Ronald & Raoul W. Adamchak

“Tomorrow’s Table” Organic farming, genetics, and the future of food. By Pamela C. Ronald and Raoul W. Adamchak. They are a husband and wife where she is a geneticist and he is and organic farmer. They try and reconcile the two disciplines and provide a lot of useful information. I found it very informative with simple explanations for problems. If you are interested in this subject, check it out.

Serenity: Those Left Behind 8-28-08 Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad

A fun little graphic novel.

Galactic North 8-28-08 Alastair Reynolds

This is a great collection of short stories and novellas for anyone who enjoys the Revelation Space universe. Reynolds is just so good at connecting all aspects of his stories together from Pushing Ice to Chasm City. I liked it a lot.

The Consumer’s guide to effective environmental choices 9-24-08 Michael Brower

This provides practical advice on what you can do to help th environment. It was actually very encouraging because we already do all of the “priority actions” that they recommend.

Earthcore 9-24-08 Scott Sigler

General Siglerissimo does it again! This was my first time listening to this podcast only novel and he did a great job. The pacing and accents were great. It took a little while to get started but once it did, it was hard to put down. I usually read just before bed but this got me too fired up and I had to tear myself away so I could sleep.

The 4-hour Workweek 10-16-08 Timothy Ferriss

Accelerando 10-23-08 Charles Stross

Quote-leftThis starts out as a cool little cyberpunk story but changes to a totally different medium of huge space opera later. I didn’t like the changes and the tedious explanations of sentient financial instruments and obtuse business plans. Stross’s ideas about the singularity and posthumans are cool but I think he takes it too far. I’m can’t say exactly why I didn’t like this one so much but it may be my first and last Stross book.

Ancestor 11-22-08 Scott Sigler

Another great podcast novel from General Siglerisimo. I found this story easier to get into than Earthcore and the pace just never let up. His characters are great and he really makes you feel as if you are right there. I loved it and am starting his next story tonight!

21 11-24-08 Patrick O’Brian

The Rookie                      12-7-08                   Scott Sigler

“The Rookie” by Scott Sigler is awesome. It’s about football 700 years in the future. I wasn’t sure if I would like it because I was never really interested in football, but surprisingly, I did. A Lot. For people who like football but have never tried sci-fi, or sci-fi readers who were never jocks; it provides hour of entertainment. A great story combined with the ongoing excitement of professional sports really moves the story along. This is one of my favorite Sigler stories, partly because there is essentially no slow beginning. Some of his novels take a little while to get into, but this one just throws you right into the action. The only downside is that there is a lot of swearing.

2007 reading list, with reviews!

Posted: November 19, 2008 in Books
Tags: , ,

2007…………………………………………………………… 42 !

Good debt, Bad debt Jon Hanson

“Good debt, Bad debt” by Jon Hanson. Very good book about money management. He wrote it when he was on his death-bed. Basically, don’t go into debt unless it will pay off for you later. Ex. Debt for a school loan which will allow you to get an $80,000 a year job. Good debt. Country club membership and a brand new Mercedes AMG. Bad debt.

The Diamond Age (or A young ladies illustrated primer.) Neal Stephenson

Quote-left“The Diamond Age’ by Neal Stephenson. Cool book. Set a few hundred years in the future, this goes in depth into different ways people set up new ways to cope with civilization. Some people thought that since our current model didn’t work, they needed to look farther back and copied the Victorians. So these Neo-Victorians are a big influential clan in the Hong Kong area. But mostly the book is about a guttersnipe who happens upon this wonderful book and what happens when she is raised by it. Basically, a wealthy Lord commissioned this book from a skilled nanotechnologist who programed it to raise young neo-victorian girls with a certain counter-cultural bent. The old Lord wanted to corrupt his granddaughter just a little bit. You know, tell her fairy tales where people actually die. And how to sword fight and so on. So she won’t just be a normal girl but a self-empowered young woman who knows about the way the world works more than naive compatriots. Very cool book. Also, this one challenged my vocabulary. The author used alot of words I didn’t know. Words like vituperative and insouciantly. Fungible and demesne.

The Pirates! In an adventure with Ahab Gideon Defoe

The Pirates! In an adventure with Communists Gideon Defoe

Snow Crash Neal Stephenson

Quote-left“Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. An awesome cyberpunk novel. I would say, better than Neuromancer. The main character’s name is Hiro Protagonist. How cool is that. He’s a hacker who doesn’t believe in guns so he uses a samurai sword instead. Remember, when you’re surrounded by millions of zombies, swords don’t run out of ammo! This is a crazy look into the nearer future when America is one big commercial strip mall controlled by powerful franchises. The Mafia has a lucrative pizza delivery business and if the pizza is late, the mob Boss will personally Kill the driver. A must for any cyberpunk fan

The Volunteer Revolution Bill Hybels

Quote-left“The Volunteer Revolution” by Bill Hybels. I had to read this one for work but it’s a great tool for churches or organizations who want to get the most out of their volunteers. It is Christian centered but would apply to any situation. How to interest, motivate, and keep effective volunteers.

Millennium Ben Bova

How to Buy the Home You Want (For the best price in any market) Terry Eilers

A very comprehensive guide to buying a house.

1000 Best Homebuying Secrets Michael Flynn

This book is also a great asset when buying a house. I made a really big list of stuff to ask my real estate agent that helped out a lot.

The Iraq Study Group Report (The Way Forward –- A New Approach) James A. Baker & Lee H. Hamilton

The Algebraist Iain M. Banks

The Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K. Le Guin

Mortgages 101 David Reed

The Mortgage Answer Book John Talamo

A Survival Guide for Buying a Home Sid Davis

Use of Weapons Iain M. Banks

Rendezvous with Rama Arthur C. Clarke

Good to Great Jim Collins

Good to Great and the Social Sectors Jim Collins

Ringworld 6-11-07 Larry Niven

Rama II 6-28-07 Gentry Lee & Arthur C. Clarke

Cryptonomicon 7-16-07 Neal Stephenson

Count Zero 7-20-07 William Gibson

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows 7-23-07 J K Rowling

Th1rte3n 8-3-07 Richard K. Morgan

Another great Richard K. Morgan book! It’s got all the hip, dark atmosphere, gritty realism, and high body count of his former books but is very different as well. An interesting view of the near future for the USA. It got into politics a little bit but not as much as a Ken MacLeod book does. Carl Marsalis is a cool departure from Takeshi. I liked the martial art developed for low gravity situations.

Mona Lisa Overdrive 8-16-07 William Gibson

The Engines of God 8-24-07 Jack McDevitt

Between Planets 8-26-07 Robert A. Heinlein

Assignment in Eternity 9-1-07 Robert A. Heinlein

Variable Star 9-6-07 Spider Robinson & Robert A. Heinlein

Friday 9-11-07 Robert A. Heinlein

Natural Vision Improvement 10-1-07 Janet Goodrich

Revelation Space 10-2-07 Alastair Reynolds

Eyerobics 10-4-07 Marilyn Roy

Redemption Ark Alastair Reynolds

Absolution Gap Alastair Reynolds

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days Alastair Reynolds

Starship Troopers Robert A Heinlein

Lucifer’s Hammer Larry Niven

Quote-leftSlow start, slow middle, good ending. I thought he really captured people reactions to the end of civilization well. Scary idea. Makes me want to stock up. Glad I’m in-land and live on a hill near water.

The Home Energy Diet: How to Save Money By Making Your House Energy-smart Paul Scheckel

New Father’s Panic Book G. Williams

Ender’s Game 12-28-07 Orson Scott Card

I was happy to find a book that was hard to put down. The whole idea of the plot and putting 6 year olds through Military Academy was really interesting and captivated me. On to the second one in the series!

2006………………………………………………… 33

The Darwin Awards 3

Rurouni Kenshin vol. 2 Nobuhiro Watsuki

Rurouni Kenshin vol. 3 Nobuhiro Watsuki

Rurouni Kenshin vol. 4 Nobuhiro Watsuki

Excession Iain M. Banks

Eye to Windward Iain M. Banks

Song of Stone Iain Banks

The Skies of Pern Anne McCafferey

The Kingdom of the Cults Walter Martin

Ai Yori Aoshi vol. 1 Kou Fumizuki

Consider Phlebas Iain M. Banks

The Player of Games Iain M. Banks

Complicity Iain Banks

Inversions Iain M. Banks

The First 90 Days of Marriage Eric & Leslie Ludy

Dragonsblood Todd McCaffrey

Dragonholder: The Life & Dreams (so far) of Anne McCaffrey Todd McCaffrey

The Cassini Division Ken McCloud

The Sky Road Ken McCloud

Overthrow Stephen Kinzer

“Overthrow” by Stephen Kinzer is about America’s century of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq. This book was pretty cool. It’s kind of like a secret version of history that you don’t learn in school. Now I know why South America doesn’t like us. Or the Philipines. Or IRAN! We started it!

The Lotus Caves John Christopher

Green with Envy Shira Boss

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind T. Harv Eker

The Automatic Millionaire David Bach

“The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach is all about setting up your accounts and things so that you accumulate wealth…automatically! Basically set up a 401 k early and contribute at least 10 % of your income for as long as you can. Second, buy a house, don’t rent. You will never get rich renting. Also don’t use credit cards. That’s about it.

Selected Stories of Phillip K. Dick Phillip K. Dick

Neuromancer William Gibson

“Neuromancer” by William Gibson is like the father of all cyberpunk novels. A cool trip for today even though it was written quite a while ago in current sci-fi terms.

The Dance of Molecules Ted Sargent

“The Dance of Molecules” by Ted Sargent is all about the current and future of Nanotechnology. A really cool book that gives you hope of what humanity can and will accomplish in the future fields of medicine, the environment, and communication. Very interesting but sometimes very technical and slow.

Against a Dark Background Iain M. Banks

“Against a Dark Background” by Iain M. Banks is another one of his sprawling space sagas although this doesn’t take place in the universe of “The Culture.” Still a very cool book with lots of varied landscapes and worlds. I love anything by this author. Strangely enough though, I really don’t like his regular fiction he writes under Iain Banks. No M.

Crunchy Cons Rod Dreher

“Crunchy Cons” by Rod Dreher. This is about the neo conservative movement in America. Crunchy means “earthy.” This was a thought provoking book. He went through different sections like food, housing, religion, education, etc and how conservatives feel about each issue. For example, he would rather have an older house with good quality construction in an established neighborhood than a new, fast built, huge, McMansion in a new subdivision.Or how he would rather eat hormone free, vegetarian-fed beef than whatever comes wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.

The State of the Art Iain M. Banks

“The State of the Art” by Iain M. Banks. Short stories from one of the masters. It includes the story where the Culture comes into Contact (he he, get it? No? Just read one of his Culture based books.) with planet Earth.

Feersum Enjinn Iain M. Banks

“Feersum Enjinn” by Iain M. Banks. This takes place in a huge Castle. It’s so big that there’s one character who lives in the pupil of the eyeball of one of the Gargoyles on the Wall. This is about as close to cyberpunk as Banks gets. Still a good story with vivid imagery and crazy concepts of time perception in regards to cyberspace vs. reality.

Learning the World Ken MacLeod

“Learning the World” by Ken MacLeod. This is about a colony ship who realizes that the system they are approaching to colonize is already inhabited and how they deal with the situation. The planet-bond civilization is humanoid but developed from bats so they have leathery wings and fly around and perch upside down to sleep. The plot builds very well. This is one of Ken’s least political books I’ve read and I have to say I liked it alot.

The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists Gideon Defoe

“The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists” by Gideon Defoe. This author is a genius! These books are hilarious! Anyone who has the slightest affection for pirates needs to read these books. All his main characters don’t have names. They are just, The Pirate Captain. or The Pirate with Gout. or The Pirate with a Red Scarf. One pirate dies of scurvy because he only eats the lime Skittles instead of real limes. So they are not entirely historically accurate but still great swashbuckling fun.

2005 reading list

Posted: November 19, 2008 in Books, writing
Tags: , ,


The Ionian Mission Patrick O’Brian

Treason’s Harbour Patrick O’Brian

The Far Side of the World Patrick O’Brian

The Reverse of the Medal Patrick O’Brian

The Letter of Marque Patrick O’Brian

The Thirteen Gun Salute Patrick O’Brian

The Nutmeg of Consolation Patrick O’Brian

The Truelove ( Clarissa Oakes ) Patrick O’Brian

The Wine Dark Sea Patrick O’Brian

The Commodore Patrick O’Brian

The Yellow Admiral Patrick O’Brian

The Hundred Days Patrick O’Brian

Blue At the Mizzen Patrick O’Brian

Broken Angels Richard K. Morgan

The Vinland Sagas Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Palson

Veniss Underground Jeff Vandermeer

Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince J K Rowling

Market Forces Richard K. Morgan

The Giver Lois Lowry

The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman

Living The Martial Way Forrest E Morgan

Fall of the Phantom Lord Andrew Toddhunter

Cowboy Bebop Yutaka Nanten

Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star Cain Kuga

Alichino Kouyu Shurei

Rurouni Kenshin Nobuhiro Watsuki

Woken Furies Richard K. Morgan

A Guide for the Groom Carley Roney