James Rollins: Where do you get your ideas from?

James has a bunch of videos on Youtube. So if you haven’t had the chance to see him in person you can check out his Q&A videos.

The second video is James’ reason he started writing story and the ventriloquist doll story. The later story is hilarious.

Advertisements

Book Review: Beneath the Dark Ice by Greig Beck

Beneath the Dark IceBeneath the Dark Ice by Greig Beck
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beneath the Dark Ice was on my Amazon recommendations list for ages. Clearly it ticked a lot of boxes for my likes and being written by a fellow Aussie was another big tick. Needless to say, when I was in a bookstore that hadn’t been swallowed by a bank, I bought a copy.

For anyone who has read James Rollins’ Subterranean, or drowned themselves in HP Lovecraft at any stage in their life, you will see some similar ideas in this techno-thriller. Mix a super soldier and his team, his long time enemy, a band of scientists and a world beneath ours and you have the makings of a fine thriller. I always enjoy playing, “guess who dies next” in these sorts of novels.

So why only 3 stars? Well, I’m not a fan of exposition. Sorry, let me rephrase: you know how everyone loved Steig Larson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Well I hated it; because I didn’t need the first 50 pages of the book to describe flowers, home renovations and nautical exploits. Greig’s book is fast paced and doesn’t flounder in blocks of boring detail like Larson, but he does use a style of exposition in his writing that I don’t enjoy. Nothing wrong with the story, or the style, just that whilst I enjoyed the story, the style just didn’t do it for me.

This was Greig’s first book, so I expect his work will be ‘tighter’* in the subsequent books (which are rated higher on Goodreads). His super soldier, Alex Hunter, is definitely setup for another adventure. How Greig will top the story in this novel I don’t know though.

View all my reviews

*tighter – this is reviewer talk for “I have no idea how to write a book but writers seem to get better at it somehow, I’m assuming magic”.

Book review: Sahara – Clive Cussler

SaharaSahara by Clive Cussler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure of what to think with this book. I’ve read a few Clive Cussler novels, most recently The Chase, but this was my first Dirk Pitt adventure. Before I go any further I should say I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I had just finished The Chase when I was in a bookstore that was having a receivership sale. For e-book fans, a bookstore is a place where the good trees go to die. I was browsing the remaining stock and picked up Sahara, knowing I would enjoy it. Even the movie was able to rise above Matthew McConaughey’s terrible acting – thanks in large part to Steve Zahn’s terrific turn as Giordino.

Reasonably fast paced (remembering that the last few books I’ve read were by Matthew Reilly and Andy McDermott) and with a couple of plots, Sahara is an entertaining read. The doubts I have are two fold: pushing the envelope of human endurance and the generational gap. The first point is that Dirk and Al are dragged through hell and back, most of the time running on fumes. For anyone who has really pushed themselves you know how long it takes to recover from that sort of ordeal. The second point is that Cussler’s take on the world is ‘old school’. He has some quaint things to say about women, despite their strength and indomitable presence in the story. Oh, and I can’t be an Aussie without mentioning the fact that no-one in Australia drinks Fosters beer. The only time I have seen it on sale is when I have been overseas.

Either way, Cussler’s novels are always entertaining.

View all my reviews

In honor of the Xmas season

Things that are difficult to say when you’re drunk:
Cinnamon
Indubitably
Innovative
Preliminary
Proliferation

Things that are VERY difficult to say when you’re drunk:
British Constitution
Loquacious Transubstantiate
Passive-aggressive Disorder
Specificity

Things that are downright IMPOSSIBLE to say when you’re drunk:
Thanks, but I don’t want to have sex.
Nope, no more alcohol for me.
Sorry, but you’re not really my type.
Good evening officer, isn’t it lovely out tonight?
Oh, I just couldn’t. No one wants to hear me sing.
You’re right, I can’t jump over that table.

Bah, humbug

It is the season to be jolly, apparently. The jolliest people are, of course, retailers, who are doing their impersonations of Scrooge McDuck swimming. The rest of us are just happy to have some time off work and an excuse to eat until our arteries congeal and drink until the tile floor looks comfy.

Don’t get me wrong, Xmas is a lovely time of year, but I have some issues with it.

1) It’s Xmas not Christmas.
This celebration stopped being about Christ’s birthday when shops started advertising how many shopping days there were left before Xmas. I’m glad we have the holiday but lets stop pretending it is a religious holiday. To the 16% of Australian’s (check your country stats here) who actually attend church, feel free to ignore this point. And yes I’m aware of the irony here.

2) Xmas cards.
I understand the idea of sending correspondence to family and friends and given the “holiday season” it only seems logical to catch up with people. But I’m under 40, so I have Facebook, Twitter, Email, Linkedin, mobile phones, and know how to use them. Sending cards feels like people the world over are taking a vow of technophobia in order to contract hand cramps and level a rain forest.

3) Xmas lights.
I think the goal of Xmas lights, if I am understanding them correctly, is blind people in the space station orbiting Earth. In the day and age of climate change, when we really should be cutting down on energy usage, we decide to set up a whole lot of lights to blind people. It has become a competition between neighbours and streets to see who can have the most gaudy display of flashing eyesores. The winner is usually the person or street who wake up to the electricity bill in January realising they need a second job and to sell a kidney.

4) Caroling.
Why is it that people only remember for the other eleven months of the year that they can’t sing?
Which also brings me to:

5) Xmas songs.
I’m not talking about the traditional carols here, I’m talking about the saccharine odes to love and presents that bombard the airwaves from every pop singer/group the world has to offer. These “artists” were barely tolerable in small doses as it was, but the competition to have the highest selling drink coaster means you can’t even go near a TV or radio for fear of diabetes and the desire to hug a puppy.

6) The celebrity biography.
Speaking of stocking stuffers, every Xmas there must be more celebrity biographies bought for Dads the world over than any other time of year. In fact, it is safe to say that the book reading statistics are built on this Xmas tradition of buying a book no-one wants to read for people who don’t read in the first place. Is it really a surprise that so few people read when the only book they start each year is about the mundane life of somebody with decent hand-eye coordination or a backstabbing politician proposing to tell all, but really just relating the party political line of events. I’d prefer the socks.

With that said, Merry Xmas everyone!

Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket.

Social media

In internet terms I’m somewhat of a noob. I was late to Facebook, I held out on joining message boards and forums, I even had a personal campaign to avoid the vapidness of Twitter. Now, of course, I am happy to admit that I was wrong. Social media is awesome.

There are some down sides of course. I’m not a huge fan of the salespeople posing as real people on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and the various forums I frequent. There are only so many times per day that I need to be told that my penis is not big enough, that I could be making money on Twitter by being a douche, or that someone I’ve never conversed with has a book for sale.

What I love about social media is the friends I’ve made, the great conversations I’ve had and all the catching up I’ve managed to do with friends I don’t get to see regularly. I have just joined Linkedin and discovered a friend of mine has two start up companies (check them out: http://www.cockjox.com/ http://tidyclub.com/). How would I have found that out between now and the next time we catch up for a beer?

Anyway, you can join me on the links below. We can chat, I’ll be funny, quote some science and talk books.

Email mePhotobucket