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  • Shingro 5:06 am on April 14, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books, , ,   

    Quick Dash!

    Ghost Trick? That game is *very awesome* Miss Kamiiiiiiliiiaaa…! T^T
    If you own an iOS device you have no excuse not to download the first two chapters (they’re totally free) and little more excuse not to nab the rest of this quality gem for $10. Wonderful game.

    Tera open beta starts next week, if you make an account you can drop the code TERABETA into their redeem a code feature to start pulling down the client (25 gigs in proper MMO fashion) Legend has it Tera is by the numbers in everything but has really good action-based combat. dunno much else, will hopefully have the time to get in there and give it a look-see when I’m less on fire x___X

    Legend of Grimrock is out and every bit as much Dungeon Master as you might expect, definitely not the worst 10 dollars I spent.

    I’m glad the Mass Effect thing is pretty much over as everyone’s sick of talking about it, but I’m worried that the industry and gamers at large were too hard on what was probably the most polite protest this country at least has ever seen. Whatever you think of their request, I think everyone can get behind protesting with children’s charity and cupcakes. Looking back I’m really sad they didn’t get much credit for being wonderful people about the whole thing.

    Quick book note: These are all in audio book form ’cause I’ve got a job where I can burn 8 hours of book per day, so I chew through books ridiculously fast, and since I’m also doing other things these didn’t have to pass super high quality tests, and they’re not particularly meaningful (except the first one,) just reasonable entertainment. So your millage may vary (except the first one, I’ll back his work forever.)
    It’s probably impossible to find since I got it on cassette from a truck stop ages ago but Unicorn Variation and Angel Dark Angel read by Rene Auberjonois (Odo from DS9 hilariously) is a wonderful performance of two amazing short stories. in fact more of Rodger Zelazney’s work is kindof amazing if you like strange somewhat surreal stuff. I could recommend anything he’s ever written without qualm.

    Another decent sci fi one to get perhaps might be The Lost Fleet series by John G. Henry under the pen name Jack Campbell, it’s a bit military but it’s a pretty good ‘long retreat’ story that has an interesting premise, It sort of examines the problems of a legend come back to save the day, particularly when that guy is Just A Dude. I can’t summarize well, so just poke at the first paragraph of the wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Fleet . It’s a bit military for my tastes normally, but pretty good all told

    if you want it a bit more fast and loose there’s always the Honor Harrington series or if you don’t mind a weird quasi-indictment of the church the Safehold series by the same author (David Weber.) If nautical stuff irritates you, beware these books, guy has a serious love of all that business and it clearly shows.

    Lastly there’s always the Harry Dresden books, yeah, it’s ‘wizard in the modern world’ and fairly bubblegum poppy but there’s 12 of them, and the reader is really good, between all that there’s no real reason for you to be bored in your car. =P

    FAR too much for a quick note but I’ll probably forgive me so long as I get my portfolio finished in time -___-

  • unmanneddrone 12:56 pm on April 13, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books,   

    @mjpilon I hear you on the podcast front, have become a voracious podcast listener over the last couple of years, but always had a thing for radio. Audiobooks, also. I did Ready Player One via audiobook, made for rather pleasant listening on my way to work.

    Also, took @beige up on his Mielville recommendation. Embassytown is now ready to go.

  • mjpilon 3:31 am on April 13, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    All this book talk has made me realize how much I don’t read for fun anymore. My schooling and current professional situation has turned reading into more of a chord for me. Physical Therapy material is quite dry and long to process it turns out :p

    I used to read a new book almost every month but now I’m lucky if I get through a book every 6 months. I received a Kindle for Christmas and none of the 3 books I got with it have been finished yet (and that includes Ready Player One). My commute is by car now (roughly 30 minutes) so while my reading time fell off while my podcast time increased. Any reading time I have is spent on “shorter form” stuff like my RSS feeds and some magazine publications. I’m hoping that using my Kindle to read my sub to the Blizzard (a great long-form soccer magazine for anyone interested) will get me more and more back to my old reading habits.

    @angryjedi I have downloaded Saturday Morning RPG and I’m quite eager to try it. However, like pretty much all the games you recommend that I download, I haven’t gotten around to it :p

  • rampantbicycle 3:54 pm on April 12, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books,   

    @bowlisimo I am strange. I freely acknowledge this. There’s something about my brain that seems to operate in a very messy, lots-of-things-going-on way. Ask my high school biology teacher, who firmly believed I was sitting there in the back of the class screwing around and not learning a damned thing until I took the AP exam and was one of only two students that year to achieve a 4 or better.

    I don’t quite read a book a day, but I do tend to work on several books at the same time rather than sequentially, unless one happens to really engage me in which case I will chew through it with the combined fury of Johnny 5 and a wood chipper. I devoured Erin Bow’s Plain Kate, which won last year’s TD Award (it’s a Canada thing). Young adult novel, yes, but I am in the camp that doesn’t give a damn if I am reading things that are “age appropriate” or not. The young adult space often cares a lot more about telling a good story than the adult fiction space does, and a lot of the people working in it feel more free to experiment and try interesting things. Plain Kate was really good – a fairly dark fantasy with a villain who is both interestingly sympathetic and prone to doing horrific things. Also, some positively searing treatments of grief. The author had recently experienced a death. It shows.

    I finished it in well under 12 hours, even with a work day in the middle, and promptly pushed it on Mark. I don’t think he regrets letting me do it. 🙂

    Actual game talk: Enjoying Xenoblade very much. Oh, story-laden adventures with piles of character-based stuff to do, how I love thee. I don’t even care that there’s grinding to do.

    It’s very “classical” feeling somehow, Xenoblade. You have your Ancient Tech, you have your Organic/Inorganic Conflict, you have your Absolutely Not Elves, No Really, you have your Callow Youths and your People In Totally Implausible And Hilarious Clothes. (I admit it, I love the increasingly ridonkulous outfits. My healer is currently running around in some sort of bikini-and-hot-pants-with-feathers ensemble.) I have not yet had the Nuclear Stand-In Superweapon make an appearance, but am guessing it’s in there. A couple of instances of “What the Hell, Hero?” but so far nothing like the sheer levels of party stupidity we saw in Dragon Quest VIII (which was a fine game, but good lord did I want to smack those people upside the head the third or fourth time they let the MacGuffin fall into The Wrong Hands.)

    I find I feel weirdly affectionate toward the title, foibles and all. It’s trope-tacular, but that’s just fine.

    And I am positively dying to get my hands on a copy of Ni No Kuni. Level 5 + Studio Ghibli? YES PLEASE. Preferably immediately. The only things I might await with more slavering delight are a new Thief game or Persona 5. Or, you know, some goddamn resolution on the Gabriel Knight business, which may or may not ever happen.

  • bowlisimo 3:09 pm on April 12, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books, Jenova Chen   

    @rampantbicycle You’re exceptional. Do you read a book a day like Teddy Roosevelt? I don’t know how you do it. You really read while standing in line? It’s hard for me to understand because I tend to seclude myself when reading or I don’t get wholly immersed (the quality of comprehension goes down too). So walking and reading like Belle is right out. To quote The Last Samurai, “Too many mind.”

    @everyone Here’s a well written Eurogamer interview with Jenova Chen. He comes across as a game design sensei.

  • unmanneddrone 2:21 pm on April 12, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books,   

    @impynickers Great list, sir.

    You know, it was the great @feenwager that deposited a modern day picaresque cyberpunk epic upon us with Ready Player One. Especially interesting for the way it returned to the digital remnants of the era that birthed classical cyberpunk. So kudos to Feen for that.

  • unmanneddrone 4:18 am on April 12, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books, , ,   

    @bowlisimo My reading practices have drastically reduced over the last couple of years for the usual familial and work reasons. Frenzetta has taken far too long to get through, but that’s just the state of affairs. I weep quietly.

    Gonna go ahead and throw down my speculative fiction/cyberpunk shortlist, which won’t include the obvious choices – for interest’s sake. Will list three titles per medium.


    • Dreamweb
    • Uplink
    • Chaos Overlords


    • eXistenZ
    • One Point 0 (released in the US as Paranoia 1.0)
    • La jetée


    • Schismatrix – Bruce Sterling
    • Vurt – Jeff Noon
    • When Gravity Fails – George Alec Effinger



    • Gridlock – Trace
    • Autechre – Incunabula
    • Richard Devine – Asect:Dsect

    Honourable mentions: Charlie Jade (TV series), Harsh Realm (TV series, axed after 8 episodes), Judge Dredd (comic series).

  • impynickers 9:25 pm on April 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @redswirl I will keep that in mind. After reading the Last Wish last year I gained an appreciation for the attention to detail in the the Witcher games toward the original stories. The CG intro to Witcher: Enhanced Edition is as if it ripped even the finest details from the short story it was based off of. Both a credit to CDProjekt and Sapkowski for creating such descriptive work able to be recreated to such effectiveness.
    I enjoyed the writing style, and of course the tone of the Witcher universe is always compelling. I will likely check out Blood of Elves.

  • RedSwirl 8:57 pm on April 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books,   

    If you guys till haven’t started reading any of the Witcher books, the eBook version of Blood of Elves is $3 just about everywhere eBooks are sold.

  • rampantbicycle 8:42 pm on April 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @bowlisimo How do I read so much? I do it constantly.

    No, seriously. On transit. In line at the grocery store. Wherever. I often find it hard to go to sleep or really feel awake without reading something first. I do not leave the house without reading material. There is a really good reason that when I went to see this with my family way back when they were all staring at me by the end of that number.

    Me: What?

    Then I got to look sheepish when they laughed at me.

    There’s, um, also a reason that Mark occasionally leaves the house in the morning with that song in his head. I know when I hear it that I must have been egregious with the reading multitasking.

    On the upside, that’s also the reason that I do things like bring home The Drops of God so Mark can recommend it to all of you. 😉 (It’s pretty great! I also really like it, though it makes me wish I had thousands of dollars to blow on wine.)

    Not everything I read is classy. Some is distinctly UN-classy. Some is the sort of stuff where I turn a page, jump a little, and hold it close to the vest so as not to alarm other subway passengers. (I’m looking at you, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Love ya, but you’re graphic as hell.)

  • bowlisimo 7:52 pm on April 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books, , ,   

    I would live inside the Journey soundtrack if I could. It just makes me want to go walk somewhere. Get that Austin Wintory guy some money.

    Yeah, not much going on lately, though your high brow book chat (that I mostly scrolled past, sorry) really made me want to finish The Count of Monte Cristo. I guess it’s as good a time as any, since I’m not really feeling like video games at the moment. I keep threatening to finish God of War, or start RE4, but… meh. And Fez is XBL only *fart noise*. I don’t really get the hype around that game either, Beige.

    How do you guys read so much anyway? Do you have a set reading time? I find my natural state is to not be reading. Don’t get me wrong, books are enjoyable, and I can get deeply immersed, but it takes a bit of work to get going. I guess you could say for me, reading has a high “activation energy” if you want to think about it in 8th grade chemistry terms.

  • unmanneddrone 1:44 pm on April 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books, , ,   

    @impynickers A great post, and always glad to know you’re on call! The most recent Gibson I read was Spook Country, a very restrained book comparatively speaking. For me, it evoked the axed but interesting AMC series Rubicon. A slow burn, but rewarding. But yes, get on that Burning Chrome short story compendium! Outside of Red Star, Winter Orbit, I loved The Gernsback Continuum…but as these are such tight morsels, I shall say no more.

    I’m actually quite intrigued to read Idoru again, just to contrast where we are now with manufactured celebrity and what Gibson saw back in ’96…right on the cusp of the Asian Financial Crisis. Would love to see him go back and experiment with his roots, just to see what he’d play with socially and culturally – whether we’d see Japan still as this hyper-stylised future-berg of neon, overestimated multiculturalism and fibre optics, or if Silicon Valley, South Korea, China or India would play as bigger part as ol’ Nippon did.

    Just to anchor this, how about a shortlist or primer clutch of cyberpunk across the different mediums for us to share? It’d be interesting to read what folks would put as defining or crucially pivotal in speculative fiction appreciation and ‘literacy’, as it were.

  • impynickers 8:47 pm on April 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @unmanneddrone right you are.

    I like the early Gibson and Stephenson for what they are. They used science fiction somewhat differently than other people did, and were a little more grounded using our current reality as a point of departure (or rather the 1980’s/90’s reality). Many of these stories while steeped in techno geek paradigms keep some of the sensibilities from the pulp science fiction wierdness that Philip K. Dick so popularized. More importantly though they carve their own path. One of the awesome things about Philip K. Dick was not that he was predicting the future, but the entire future he created revolved around a number of eccentric conditions that may never possibly exist. His main character conflicts are something that could only happen in a Dick novel, but at once can be seen as a distorted mirror for aspects of our own strange trivialities. This is why I love PKD, but cyberpunk I enjoy in a completely different way. Like in a comic book geek way, as opposed to a 19th century literature way. I can like both.
    Cyberpunk is still a distorted mirror for our own world and socio political attitudes, but I like how it draws a more direct comparison to urban life with a futuristic noir twist. It does basically strip technology of its technicality so it can be cool, or rather easy to digest. Much like say an Iphone does. You don’t have to know every detail about what a Microsoft is. Just how it fits in with the story.

    The main source of disconnect is typically how loveably creative many aspects of these worlds are in comparison to our less interesting reality. Super Computer Hackers/Pizza delivery ninja’s etc.
    Stephenson and his ‘Wasn’t that cool?’ attitude (I love that by the way) actually doesn’t get very deep under my skin. Maybe it was just the way I approached his novels. I was probably looking for something a little more extreme after already palleting Gibson, and Snow Crash was that book.

    Of Stephenson I have actually only read Snow Crash and Anathem. So I guess I have a very spotty insight into his career at his earliest and latest. Anathem was an interesting departure, and really shows off how Stephenson’s themes have evolved. He creates a very rich world with really indepth dynamics, and a lot of higher minded stuff that makes you think. I enjoyed it overall. Many of his other books sound really fascinating, but they are on that other pile of shame.

    Of Gibson I have read most of his stuff up to and including Pattern Recognition, and just havent gotten around to his newer stuff. (I am interested in his short stories now thx UMD) Speculative fiction for Gibson pretty well flows out of him. I wont say every book is a diamond, but he does create interesting worlds if nothing else consistently. I like the new direction he took things with Pattern Recognition. Using our present circumstances to ask those lofty questions about the nature of technology and human experience. The philosophical subtext in cyberpunk worlds is something I have always been drawn to, use of the same devices in our world apparently works just as well. Awesome.

    In terms of Shadowrun, I have never actually read any books or played the Pen and Paper game. I have only played and loved the SNES game, but the universe seems very appropriate and relevant to my interests. Merging fantasy and cyberpunk seems like a win.

    I gotta say that I have been reading a lot of non-fiction books lately. Mostly centered around Sociological themes. ‘Here Comes Everybody’ by Clay Shirky I definitely recommend. It gives you the opportunity to understand the way people organize around technologies, and how society as a whole reforms in unprecedented directions. Fascinating. If you don’t want to read the book, try youtubing some of his talks. Cool stuff. I have read other books lately, but non really worth mentioning.

  • unmanneddrone 7:36 am on April 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @cgrajko I reckon Snow Crash will be the ticket for lighter fare. A non-taxing and rather vibrant way to cool your literary heels! It’s hard to be totally dismissive of the Sprawl era fiction, and you’re spot on about it being in some sort of awkward middle period. Still, throwing it in with thematically related 80s cinema and stuff like Shadowrun and it all feels like a gorgeous slice of comfort food. I rewatched Verhoven’s Robocop recently, and while that’s relatively low-key cyberpunk, it still captures that savvy interpretation of media, social and corporate progression the the movement so voraciously embraced. It’d be interesting to hear @impynickers in on this little cyberpunk discussion…from what I understand, the man loves his cyberpunk.

    Crazy stuff on the Shadowrun retcon! You know, I think I’d miss that original interpretation somewhat, despite certain misgivings of the genre pillars. The old Shadowrun novels definitely had that indulgent neo-noir flavour that would feel a little diluted when updated to a more accommodating technological plateau.

    But looking forward to your thoughts once your lighter fiction adventure gets underway.

    Embassytown has been placed on the list, thanks to @beige. Once I get Frenzetta out of the way, I’ll see where I am and slot it into the rotation.

    EDIT: Speaking of highly-spoken/recommended fiction met with personal ambivalence, I simply could not take to Iain M. Banks! Found Consider Phlebas a bit of a fluffy nothing at the end of the day, which speaks more to mindset, most likely. Patrick Tilley set the bar high for fun-filled sci-fi hijinx years back with the Amtrak Wars series…treasured guilty pleasure, possibly.

    EDIT II: And I may as well offer up once more the Dead Things trilogy. It’d be nice to see what learned folk think of the damn thing, as I’ve been living in a vacuum and am lacking another perspective on Calder’s effort. My initial first read a decade ago was shadowed by shaky confidence in my ability to plumb the composition, dogged slightly with thoughts of “Like, I know I like this, but I know I’m not getting all of this”. The second time around, it was head-first into the craziness and I swam with my mouth wide open, so to speak. Might well be up your alley, Calin! It’s a weird blend of cyberpunk, and there’s some very interesting gender politics and perceptions weaved into the mix.

  • ckim 6:02 pm on April 9, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @rampantbicycle The description you offer of reading Stephenson is startlingly similar to how I felt when I read Altered Carbon. Maybe it’s because I was gifted the book by a former student who was a Morgan devotee and would stay after class to talk him up, but I was underwhelmed. It felt like the novel was written to justify a few of the cooler scenes and cooler ideas. I’m not opposed to reading novels that are like this, and I will likely try out some Stephenson in the not too distant future, but I’m glad that you’re warning me.

    Another one of those “look how damn smart I am books” is House of Leaves. It’s dense and wonderful, but it oozes that “look at me, I went to graduate school (and have read theory, gasp!)” smugness that I find alternately charming and insufferable. In a way, I can sympathize, because I know what it is like to carry around knowledge that you can’t really share with people outside of professional conferences and graduate seminars, but I also don’t need my footnotes to have citations to an obscure essay that Borges wrote and was never translated. I think this is true of everyone who has taken the time to accumulate knowledge in a very specific area. (I think all of us at the Squad know a thing or two about this, heh… Like @bluesforbuddha always says, there are some things we won’t be bringing up at Thanksgiving dinner because people will look at us like we’re maniacs.)

    @unmanneddrone I appreciate the synopsis of Stephenson’s stuff. Based on what you’re saying, I may work my way up to Cryptonomicon, as I would definitely prefer something on the lighter end of the spectrum. Nanotech Dickens sounds right up my alley right now, actually, so I may start with that. I’m sure I can acquire Snow Crash with relative ease as well, and I’m looking forward to reading something that smacks of Neuromancer with a bit more characterization, which is what I got from your description.

    Gibson is an interesting case study in what people look for when they read, I think. I know a lot of people think that the Sprawl Trilogy is dated (and they’re right, it definitely feels like speculative fiction from long enough ago that we realize it’s wrong and not long enough ago to be charmingly wrong), but I cannot get over the way that guy uses language and how well that poetic, sensory-mindfuck stream of consciousness style describes the matrix. It’s some of the best, weirdest writing that takes everything I like about the Beat writers and omits all the stuff I hate while adding a million things I didn’t realize I was missing in my life and worldview. (Incidentally, the Shadowrun universe, which took more than a bit from the Sprawl Trilogy, was also forced to update some of the world-building stuff with 3rd and 4th ed, because no one foresaw wireless networks back in the 80’s when they were making the game.)

  • unmanneddrone 2:13 pm on April 9, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @rampantbicycle Yeah, that’s possibly the best description of Stephenson. “Wasn’t that cool!?” – spot on. Although, I did find Anathem kind of interesting. Took a while, and in the end was a bit wanky. Gibson, if we’re to talk about the pop icons of the movement, even in the heyday never felt like he was plying his world-building and techno-motifs for ‘cool factor’. It was just a celebration of speculation and scrutiny, however often it misfired (or failed to go off – see Gibson’s reflection on how Neuromancer missed the advent of the cell phone and his subsequent encroaching fatigue with guesswork/growing comfortability with contemporary fiction).

    But hey, if only the internet grew inwards and upwards like the 80s and 90s foretold, instead of subtly outwards. We’d all be enjoying that wacky interpretation of cyberspace we see in Summer Wars or something.

  • rampantbicycle 1:46 pm on April 9, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @cgrajko I would be interested in adding Homo Ludens to my List of Things I Will Someday Read Given Infinite Time. 🙂

    Also, yes, I know very well what is involved when you invoke Russian authors generally, and mid 18th-19th century Russian authors in particular. There are certain…commitments one must make. (I learned my lesson about this not with the Russians, but with Victor Hugo. One summer, a mid-high-school me decided – God knows why – that it would be a fine idea to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables back-to-back. And, being the sort who is fussy about trying to track down the originals of things, I hauled home the unabridged versions of both works. While there was much in both that was solid and worthwhile, it was the only time I have ever regretted this preference of mine for unabridged books, and left me with a desire to hunt down the spirit of Victor Hugo, if only so that I could throttle him a bit and tell him that life just does not suck that much. So I guess I have him to thank for showing me I am not really as melancholic deep down as all that. 😉 And I STILL grumble about that damn chapter regarding the Battle of Waterloo.)

    I have a somewhat mixed relationship with Neal Stephenson. I have read both Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, in that order. Both of them are okay, but I did not fall madly in love with either, largely because it felt to me as though Stephenson was constantly looking over my shoulder as I read, pointing out something that had just happened and whispering gravelly-voiced into my ear “Wasn’t that cool?” And, often, it was, but it left me with an intense desire to whack my imaginary backseat reader and say “Will you shut up already? I’m trying to read your damn book!” Stephenson is undoubtedly smart, and there are things in both books that are clever, but so far I’ve found the experience of reading his work somewhat frustrating because he seems to me to be always doing that: tugging at my sleeve and asking “Wasn’t that cool?” I believe I am in the minority in finding this irritating, though, so by all means give it a go.

    This weekend’s reading: Joseph T. Hallinan’s Why We Make Mistakes – interesting, though I have read much of the science elsewhere. However, it’s a good overview of the lore of error, and a generally pleasing little read if you are the sort of person who likes to read about why terrible things can happen because someone labels the bottles for one drug in light blue and another in dark blue, or why poorly designed control panels cause planes to crash. I also got distracted by Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which book clubs everywhere have discussed in more volume than I need to here, but now I can actually respond semi-intelligently if asked about it. The main attraction is the unusual “voice” of the main character, who is autistic; I have no idea how authentic it is as a representation of the autistic experience, but it’s interesting to be picking up on elements of the larger story that the main character is less capable than I of understanding unaided.

    Oh, yes, and I’ve started I Believe in Yesterday as well, the saga of one British man’s adventures in the world of historical re-enactors. So far he’s had an uninspiring experience with some people running an “Iron Age” settlement – not very well. Next up: He looks for a Roman legion to join. Should be amusing.

  • unmanneddrone 5:04 am on April 9, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @cgrajko If you’ll permit me to throw my two cents down on Stephenson…if you’re in the mood for ultra-dense techno geekery, Cryptonomicon is your book. It’s perhaps the best of the dot.com era post-Cyberpunk books that deal with a far more restrained notion of what the Internet and things like the open source software movement are/were than the earlier stuff by Gibson and Stephenson himself (outside of guilty pleasure-factors, both Neuromancer and Snow Crash have dated horribly, though Snow Crash remains the more popcorn fun read of the two). It’s pretty heavy-going, though…but nothing at all net and program-savvy readers can’t revel in.

    The Diamond Age is a good read…kinda like Nanotech Dickens, if that works for you.

    I’ve never found Stephenson’s cyberpunk/post-cyberpunk work as enthralling as Gibson’s stuff, but he’s got a far better eye for characterisation. As much as Case is the original decker badarse, he’s fairly thin when set against the riotous Hiro Protagonist of Snow Crash. I dunno. Gibson has gotten better, I’ll admit, as Pattern Recognition is a modern day classic…though I’ve always found Burning Chrome and his other short stories the best of the man. His collab with the incredible Bruce Sterling in Red Star, Winter Orbit had a profound impact on me.

    Here’s that very short story! The Internet is awesome.

  • ckim 4:02 am on April 9, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @rampantbicycle It’s awesome to hear about what you’ve been reading, My only familiarity with the concept of “play” (aside from the crazy-ass way Derrida uses “play”) comes from this book, which is really old and almost certainly outdated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_Ludens_%28book%29. Oh, I also read a sociological ethnography in which the researcher discusses various social factors involved in tabletop roleplaying. It was pretty fascinating, though I believe it was written in the mid 80’s, so it’s not exactly groundbreaking research at this point. I could dig up a citation for you (or anyone else who’s interested).

    The Master and Margarita is very much a novel you have to be in the mood for, so I would say that “almost” reading it is the way to go until you know you’re in the mood for it. Again, if you’ve read other late 19th century early 20th century Russian authors, you know what you’re getting yourself in to and you know that it’s the kind of thing you have to be willing to devote effort and hours to. It’s rewarding, but you have to put the time in, and it’s not posible to always be in the mood for something like that. I also like to alternate between something heavy and something light. I am thinking I will come off of Bulgakov with something a bit more “fun”. I’ve never read any Neal Stephenson, and I got a couple of his books when I got some Amazon gift cards a while back. Since his stuff seems to be in the wheelhouse of the folks here, I figured I’d ask if anyone’s read his stuff and if you’d recommend it or not. I have The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon. Has anyone read any of those, and, if so, are they worth checking out? I got them because they were compared favorably with Gibson’s cyberpunk stuff. Does Stephenson have the same sort of beat style as Gibson, or is the comparison mostly in terms of world building and plot? (I wish I could get some of the Shadowrun novels as ebooks. I love that world, and I need something to get me through the lack of a group to play the pen and paper game with.) Though, I’m sure I can get the paperbacks for the price of a sandwich these days, so maybe I should try to go that route.

  • unmanneddrone 11:20 pm on April 5, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @rampantbicycle Thanks for those recommendations!

  • rampantbicycle 3:15 pm on April 5, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @cgrajko Someone mentioned books!

    I effing love the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. Love it. If you are not listening and even vaguely like the stories, you now no longer have any excuse. Go.

    Nobody at all will be surprised to know I am a voracious (and relatively omnivorous) reader.

    I am on one of my cyclical nonfiction kicks right now. I just finished Stuart Brown’s Play, which presents a fairly good case, IMO, for why we should all give ourselves permission to goof off more often. Especially those of us who are either chronologically or philosophically “adult.” Lots of people feel a big pressure to “be serious” once they reach a certain point in their lives, despite the fact that doing so is actually terribly bad for you on a number of levels. It stifles innovation and, moreover, makes you bored, contributing to a larger-scale loss of interest in things.

    Brown is a big proponent of physical play, and while he doesn’t exactly relegate electronic games to “chopped liver” status it’s interesting to hear his concerns about varieties of play that don’t take advantage of physical closeness with other humans or face to face interaction. (He does acknowledge that reading books or writing stories or other sedentary-but-creative activities absolutely count as “play.” So I guess those of you who make fan modules or build stuff in Minecraft get the thumbs-up.)

    Next in the queue: Joseph Hallinan’s Why We Make Mistakes. Well, that or The Tigress of Forli, featuring Caterina Sforza. Some of you may remember her from her appearance in a certain popular franchise.

    I’m also waiting for the library to dig up the next Nero Wolfe book for me. I have a weakness for detective novels as “brain candy” reading, and I find Archie charming as a narrator. Just a little noir-ish, just a little cozy. Good times.

    The Master and Margarita is one of those I have repeatedly almost read; I’m curious about it, but it and I never seem to be in the same place when I’m in the mood, if that makes sense. Glad to hear it’s being well received by persons whose opinions I respect. 😉

    And a second “amen” to the joy of free old books on e-readers. (Or new books, if you’ve got an e-reading capable device and a library card.) One of my most frequently used apps on my iPad is the Overdrive app. It is ugly. It is clunky. It also lets me carry around (counts) seven library books at the same time, and I can return them when I’m finished whether the library’s open or not.

    @unmanneddrone Woo hoo! New Squad mix!

    Also, if you enjoy stories of true adventure in extreme locales, I have two recommendations. Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers is excellent, and other Squaddies may have heard me recommend it before. It’s still good: American divers discover the wreck of a U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, where it has absolutely no business being. What ensues is a combination of character study of the divers and adventure tale of deep wreck-diving, a horrendously dangerous activity that I’m glad someone has written about in this compelling way so that I don’t necessarily have to go get myself possibly-killed to share in the experience in some way. 😉

    For those who prefer their extreme adventure with a more geological spin, James Tabor’s Blind Descent is also pretty darned great. Follow along as two groups of explorers place their bets and go looking for the world’s deepest “supercave.” Again, horrendously dangerous, but an entertaining read.

    …I’d better stop, or I’ll be at this all day…

  • unmanneddrone 2:19 am on April 5, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books,   

    Hello there, fellows. Do you know what time it is? Oh yes. Time to pull back the satin cloth and put forth another Squad Music Mix submission process!

    Music To Game By

    Submit two tracks via THIS FORM, supply links if you feel the need, send me MP3s IN ADDITION to your form submission with the appropriate details via email at unmanneddrone ( a t ) gmail (d o t) com IF tracks are really obscure.

    With this, the second user-submitted theme to rock the block, let us plumb the depths of our own custom gaming soundtracks. Relive those memories of fine music/game combinations and offer up the very best of the very best, for the very best. And yes, if you simply want to throw in game OST favourites, then shine on, my crazy diamonds.

    In the words of an overly zealous Alpha 3 announcer, GO FOR BROKE and/or TRIUMPH OR DIE.

    @cgrajko Magnificent to read your present literary diet. I have this idea to add another character to the Recorderbot squad character pantheon based on a stylised version of one C. Grajko, a beat poet known simply as Supreme Acadeem. “Dropping [sic] clerihews”.

    One novel I always return to is Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh. It’s an interesting novel, especially as it was the first book after The Satanic Verses controversy and speaks rather forlornly to a sense of isolation. I nabbed it during my backpacking adventures in India, wanting to add flavour to my stay in Mumbai and Cochin…both featured as settings within the book. An utterly intoxicating read when the pages speak of your very surroundings, so I forged a special relationship with the book in that respect. That, and I do love Rushdie’s spry and playful cadence particularly in dialogue.

    Currently reading Richard Calder’s Frenzetta. I’ll always recommend this strange baroque science-fiction/fantasy writer, and this novel is no different, though I wouldn’t put it on the level of his Dead Things trilogy just yet. A good comparison would be along the lines of Gene Wolfe in terms of composition, but always semi-elegiac and unapologetically perverse. That said, you’re guaranteed a picaresque romp.

    Also reading Geoffrey Blainey’s Mines in the Spinifex, which is a terrific account of the Mt. Isa mining operations from their inception. The main reason I love Blainey’s work is that he has an eye for detail. His first book, The Peaks of Lyell, was another historical mining operation account and was a fascinating depiction of the mining frontier in the wilds of Western Tasmania from the 1890s onwards.

    @redswir1 Check out John Keegan as well, if you haven’t already. His Barbarossa: Invasion of Russia 1941 title would be a great addition to Beevor’s Stalingrad tome, if you’re not already burnt out on the Eastern Front carnage.

  • RedSwirl 2:03 am on April 5, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @cgrajko I haven’t met anyone else who’s decided to stick with iBooks, but I guess that’s where I’m going. I’ll still compare prices with Kindle and all the other eBook reader stores for which I have the iOS app (the Kobo app has achievements), but for the most part they’re even. I just think iBooks looks better in terms of formatting.

    Right now I’m in the middle of Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. Reading this feels like the book version of those British WWII documentaries that are always on the Military Channel, completely with old British guy narration in my head. I’ve already made it to the parts that I played in Call of Duty 2, but not the parts I saw in the movie Enemy At the Gates (yes I know that was fictionalized).

    I’m trying to get through it relatively quick though so I can get on Escape From Camp 14. If you haven’t heard of it yet, check out this harrowing story of a guy who was freaking born inside a North Korean gulag and how he escaped. The messed up part was that I didn’t even know this was an upcoming book until I read the whole news story which ended with the words “this was an excerpt from the upcoming book”.

  • ckim 10:16 pm on April 4, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @redswir1 I’ve been meaning to post about books for a while, and since it’s a slow day at work I can finally do so.

    Lately, I’ve been splitting my time between books on my Kindle and “physical” books. I’m also at the point where it doesn’t make a ton of sense to keep buying physical books unless that’s the only format the book I want is available in. I’m not going to get rid of my book collection or anything, but it’s nice to carry around hundreds of books and be able to read/reference something at a moment’s notice. In particular, I can find most 19th century novels as free ebooks, because they’re out of copyright, which works out super well for me because that’s the time period I study (with a preference for late 19th century British lit for anyone who cares). I believe I have everything that the Brontes wrote, and if I want to get super nerdy about it, I can grab the original editions which have their names listed as Currer, Ellis, and Acton (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne for those who were unaware they originally published under pseudonyms). And, if I ever need to cite something for a paper, I can very easily check the book out from the library. It’s basically changed the way I think about collecting literature.

    At any rate, my rant about how awesome public domain stuff is aside, I’ve been reading a lot of Lovecraft on my Kindle (again, public domain badassness). Due in large part to the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, which I believe I’ve posted about before, I have been interested in reading through all of his stories again. I have read most of them in various collections over the years, but I downloaded a collection of all of the public domain stuff released chronologically, so I’ve been reading them in the order they were written. And, since the podcast covers the majority of his stories, I’ve had a source of analysis and discussion to enjoy after I finish one of the stories. Another nice thing about reading short fiction is that I can finish most of his stories during my lunch break and then listen to the podcast while I work. This obviously doesn’t work with some of the longer stuff like The Shadow Over Insmouth or Call of Cthulhu, but a lot of his stories are shorter than I remember them being.

    I also have a lot of other “last” novels sitting around waiting to be read. I don’t know about everyone else, but when I enjoy an author, I tend to read everything I can by them. This usually leads to my binging on their stuff and, in a last ditch effort to preserve that feeling, keep one of their novels unread “for later.” For instance, I’ve read all of Nabokov’s novels except for The Original of Laura, which was only released a couple of years ago. I have read all of Vonnegut’s books except for Sirens of Titan. I have read all of Woolf’s novels except for The Waves. I’ve read all of Baldwin’s novels except for Just Above My Head. I know I can always reread stuff that I’ve read, (and, in the case of Lolita, I have done that numerous times), but it’s comforting to know I’ve set something aside for a rainy day. This probably makes me look like one of the main lunatics on the board, but I was curious if anyone else did this.

    In addition to the Lovecraft stuff, I’m also reading The Master and Margarita, and it is every bit as fascinating as I thought it would be. It’s largely an allegory for Stalin-era Russia, and it is epic in scope and theme in the way that (only?) Russian literature can be. It scratches the same itch as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, and all the rest, and I would honestly say the book belongs in the same breath as Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina.

  • RedSwirl 8:01 pm on April 2, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    So… books anyone?

  • impynickers 6:34 pm on December 10, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: books,   

    @AngryJedi I can confirm that Mask of the Betrayer is quite good. I really enjoyed it.

    What I been playing? Still back and forth between Skyrim and Ultima VII. Skyrim for when I am at home on my beast machine, Ultima VII when I out with my Netbook. Starbucks Ultima is good Ultima, I will admit.

    Also for some literary goodness I have been reading: Here comes everybody by Clay Shirky.
    A fine chin scratchy book for the Sociologically curious.

  • feenwager 10:38 pm on July 22, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    I’m finishing up a book called The Magicians, which I think would be up the alley of most of you cats. It’s by Lev Grossman, check it out.

  • impynickers 3:44 am on June 3, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    I have extremely particular trends in my reading. My non-fiction reading is lately in Philosophy, Sociology, or media/culture. Fiction reading for me is a rare treat. Recently read Neal Stephenson’s ‘Anathem’, and quite dug it. As well for some wildly indecipherable reason I have taken to reading Andrzej Sapkowski’s ‘The Last Wish’ *wink wink*. Good stuff.

  • unmanneddrone 12:53 pm on June 2, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: books,   

    @RedSwirl Since you’re an ARMA man and have a penchant for Clancy franchises, may I suggest Ralph Peters’ Red Army? I shan’t say much more than you won’t get a more terrifyingly detailed soldier’s perspective of a fictional late Cold War era conventional invasion of Europe by the Soviet Union. Devoid of politics and from the perspective of the Soviet forces themselves. Peters is classed by many as “the thinking man’s Clancy”, so that might bode well for piquing interest. It’s a terrific read, but only those with an interest in combined arms and modern armour need apply.

    Of course, the impact is lessened somewhat by reading it post-Cold War, but still very much a glorious, if highly improbable, “what if” scenario. Think of it as the novel precursor to World in Conflict.

    Also, folks, just for practice, is everyone okay on UK2 server for Frozen Synapse? Stats across all servers are now cumulative, so there’s no starting from scratch. Looking forward to some coffee break games over the weekend.

  • bowlisimo 5:09 am on June 2, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @redswirl Great to hear. Nothing wrong with slow reading, btw. I liken it to walking through the woods slowly, taking everything in. Especially with dialogue, you can really read it like it’s being spoken. Not sure if speed readers do that or if they’re just taking in pure information.

    Not really the biggest non-fiction reader, but I’ve always found history to be a near limitless font of amazing stories. Just need to find the right writer/historian/chronicler. I put down The Conquest of New Spain a month or so ago. Took kind of a gamble on it, though I knew I was interested in the time period, and was rewarded with one of the most incredible/insane/ballsy stories I’ve ever read, told matter-of-factly from a soldier’s POV, but very vivid.

    Anyway, other than the nautical classics I’ve been diving into and the random sci-fi/fantasy/contemporary novels here and there, I haven’t really been reading as much as I should. For expert advice I point thee toward Lynette (RampantBicycle), Beige’s wife. As far as I understand, she’s had an intimate relationship with books since the womb.

  • unmanneddrone 4:02 am on June 2, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @RedSwirl Good on you, sir. Nothing really beats a good read. So, do you want more non-fiction tales in the style of Bowden, or simply anything with a good pace that isn’t particularly dense? Give us a tentative list of likes/guidelines to adhere to and I’m sure some hearty recommendations will arise.

  • RedSwirl 2:44 am on June 2, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    Okay guys. After much contemplation and deliberation I finally found the perfect medium over Memorial Day vacation through which to engage in this thing that I feel embarrassingly childish for not finding the time to penetrate:

    I read a book.

    Like, a chapter book without pictures or anything. Just words. And I enjoyed it quite a bit. I went over this a long time ago with you guys, but for some reason I just hadn’t been able to get into literature in general. The excuses I gave were being a painfully slow reader, having trouble keeping up with characters and setting descriptions, and in general just not having the patience for anything over a couple hundred pages, if that. That probably just meant though that I hadn’t actually found anything that interested me enough for me to want to read it.

    I know a lot of you guys are about fantasy literature but I am still utterly unconvinced that it’s for me. Every time I look at the section at Borders or something I just find a sea of covers (please don’t bring up the pun) indistinguishable from one another. I tried reading an iBooks sample of Game of Thrones but had to push myself through it. I’ll wait for the series to hit Netflix or something.

    The item that broke the ice for me: the Kindle version of Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden on my iPad.

    I don’t know if nonfiction is inherently an easier read, but this is literally the first page-turner I’ve encountered. Ever. Maybe it’s also the fact that nearly my entire eventual “to buy” list of books consists of historical war literature. My father’s former occupation along with his shelves of, well, war books, might have something to do with that.

    Suggestions? Encouragement?

  • cptcarnage 5:40 pm on November 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , books   

    I’d be game for a book club.

    Also @zegolf pretty much forget Vanishing Point, @angryjedi has it pinned. I haven’t given up hope yet though.

  • RedSwirl 5:02 pm on November 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    No. Noooooo! Not books!

    The best I have been able to do since the last time we discussed this issue is formulate a list of books that I intend to read. Someday. After I get an iPad through which I might be more likely to read books once they are constantly within arm’s reach. And after I’m no longer unemployed. Again.

    Incidentally why not consider Badass: The Book. http://www.amazon.com/Badass-Relentless-Onslaught-Gunfighters-Commanders/dp/0061749443

  • zegolf 4:26 pm on November 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , books, Iamasap   

    Consider me in for the book reading. I’m hoping to pick up a Nook Color for Christmas, so this will be a great first purchase. Are there rules to this, or is it a bloody free-for-all? I’m cool with either.

    Also, I picked up a copy of NFS:HP, so watch your Autolog walls. Or don’t, because I’m miserable at it.

    Also, I didn’t get the chance to do so, but with the whole Thanksgiving thing, I just wanted to say that I’m Thankful for Pete putting this together and for all of the great reading/conversations/fire stoking that you’ve all allowed me to enjoy. It’s nice that, in this era of mindless dribble on the internet, there’s still a great place to come and read insightful conversation on a bunch of 1’s and 0’s in video game form.

    So thank you, all of you.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get this dust out of my eyes…

  • bowlisimo 3:39 pm on November 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    @unmanneddrone I’m with you on paper tomes (tangent time!). It’s a tactile and a comfort thing. I don’t like reading more than a few pages off an electronic device if I can help it (even with e-ink). The fact that you need power or you can’t read, bugs me, and I also tend to beat the shit out of my books, so yeah.

    I seem to be in the minority on that last point. My friend thinks that it takes great skill to read a book and keep it pristine, however I disagree and feel like a book hasn’t really been read until it has been creased, frayed, and generally worn the hell out. I’ll be damned if Moby Dick wasn’t falling apart at the seems when I was done with it. I accidentally left 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea out in the rain, but there was something awesome about continuing to read its warped and bloated carcass.

  • RocGaude 10:29 pm on July 24, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    Listen to @feenwager, Life Expectancy is a sweet read. It’s about guy who’s born into the world with an omen that he would experience 5 horrible days (each with a definitive date) during his life. Hilarity and horror ensues. You can find it for $7 or so. Read it.

    Another great but quick read is Linchpin by Seth Godin. Imagine a “call to arms” for creatives in this post-industrial age. Good food for the brain and a firm smack to the ego for some.

    Haven’t read any good comics lately. Can’t wait for the next Locke & Key (graphic novel) which should be dropping soon. If you haven’t read that yet, you’re wasting your time.

  • unmanneddrone 1:18 pm on July 24, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    I might throw my two cents into the mix and recommend Richard Calder’s “Dead” trilogy. A brilliant, avant garde post-cyberpunk opus of sorts. It’s a messy, dank yet seductive and vivid narrative…kinda hard to explain, but Calder’s writing style is this intoxicating hyper-baroque. My favourite is the third in the trilogy, “Dead Things” and I’ve read it a number of times just to soak up the flow and nuance. The story itself is a tough one to describe, but beguiling IF you can hack the prose. It might take a couple of reads, but I highly recommend sticking with Calder’s stuff.

    The caveat really is only the density of his stuff, but it’s skillfully and poetically arranged. Big thumbs up.

  • feenwager 12:35 pm on July 24, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    Everyone asking about books: read Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. I promise you’ll enjoy it. You’ll even learn the origins of my xbl name.

    Back me up, Roc.

  • Jeff Grubb 7:31 am on July 24, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    I will get on Scott Pilgrim…

    I saw Extra Lives in the window of the local book shop yesterday and almost went in for it.

    Also, I’m using Aldiko on my Android phone to read EPub ebooks. I suggest it to anyone who has an Android device, although I haven’t tried the new Nook app.

  • scribl 7:02 am on July 24, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    Name of the Wind was goddamn fantastic. It’s the first book in a trilogy though, and they’re only expecting the next one in 2011, I think.

    Have you read Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives yet? I’m halfway through it. His writing is a bit heavy-handed, but he does a great job of elucidating the love/hate relationship he has with games—a sentiment I totally empathize with.

    Scott Pilgrim? Finish #6 yet? If you haven’t read any of it, get on that shit.

    Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon is a fantastically pulpy murder-mystery, set in a hard-science future where brains are backed up on discs, making eternal life a very real proposition (but only for the ultra rich).

    Otherwise, I could start recommending classics. Heinlein, Asimov, Vonnegut…

  • Jeff Grubb 6:33 am on July 24, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: books   

    I’m almost finished with the second book in the Millennium Trilogy – The Girl Who Played with Fire. I’m gonna read the third one after this, and then I’m thinking about reading Glenn Beck’s “fictional” thriller The Overton Window simply to see who delusional it is.

    Anyone have any other suggestions for reading?

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