Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Fantasy”

That isn’t literature too

Paradox - another word for idiocy

I recently reblogged an article from The Conversation about how awesome the Harry Potter books are, but how snobby (some?) literary people are about them. The vitriol and chastisement of the Harry Potter books reminds me of a time when I too was not on the Potter bandwagon. Oh how wrong I was.

Stupid kid’s books. It’s just The Worst Witch with a Chosen One narrative. That’s not literature!

And once again we come to my favourite book chest thumping topic. How worthy is Harry Potter and how wrong have the snobby people been about it?

I think it is worth addressing a few of the arguments that are levelled at JK Rowling and genre fiction in general. Let’s use Rowling as a stand in for all genre authors. Because all genre authors are just as successful and beloved…

Mostly the arguments revolve around Rowling not having the correct goals in her writing. Of course, these supposed goals are rather arbitrary and change depending upon who is deciding what Rowling’s goals should be. Because apparently writing an entertaining book series that sells hundreds of millions of copies, has devoted fans, promotes laudable social principles, and got some kids reading books who wouldn’t have otherwise isn’t enough for some people. They also tend to expect the world from the Harry Potter books, something that I’ll delve into further below.

Take for example this piece by Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian:

Do I need to explain why that is such second-rate writing?

If I do, then that means you’re one of the many adults who don’t have a problem with the retreat into infantilism that your willing immersion in the Potter books represents. It doesn’t make you a bad or silly person. But if you have the patience to read it without noticing how plodding it is, then you are self-evidently someone on whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost. Source.

Ugh. I’ve got two words for you, Nicholas Lezard, and they are what your mum should have said to your dad on that fateful day.

There is so much to unpack in that small quote. Lezard starts by insulting fans of the books, then says he isn’t insulting them, then insults them again. Someone who could write a paragraph such as this is self-evidently someone upon whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost. He’s insulting the use of speech identifier verbs whilst failing to understand the audience and style being utilised. If you expect YA to be using the same style as the Man-Booker winners you’re gonna have a bad time.

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But why insult fans, young and old, of the series? Why insult Rowling? Although she is probably insulated from such lowly criticism in her gold-lined money castle. He didn’t like something, he can critique it, but he is forgetting that a literary critique stands on argument, not insulting people for disagreeing with him.

This speaks poorly of Lezard and other such critics. In a previous post I discussed literary people defending Fort Literature from the invading Lesser Works. But this is Lezard leading a charge against the peaceful village inhabited by the Lesser Works. He has marked himself the despotic bigoted scourge of Fiction Land, seeking to crush all those who would dare be different from him.

Other critics of Harry Potter have argued that the series didn’t do enough to change the world. This piece comes from the unsupported opinions at The New York Times:

But in keeping with the intricately plotted novels themselves, the truth about Harry Potter and reading is not quite so straightforward a success story. Indeed, as the series draws to a much-lamented close, U.S. statistics show that the percentage of youngsters who read for fun continues to drop significantly as children get older, at almost exactly the same rate as before Harry Potter came along. Source.

Of course, the problem with this argument is that it requires one series by one author to change the lives of all kids worldwide… The article itself cites the series as having sold 325 million copies worldwide in the decade since the first book’s release (a third of that in the USA alone). Out of the 1.9 billion kids and 7 billion people in the world that means only 17% of kids, or 4.6% of people have bought a Harry Potter book (because nobody ever bought the whole series, or two copies of one of the books, or saw a copy in a library). To put that 325 million copies for the entire series in perspective, roughly 175 million people paid to see A film in the cinema that was tenuously about cars. A similar number paid to see the final Harry Potter film. Let’s face it: reading isn’t that popular.

Let’s break this amazing phenomenon down a bit further. There have been several studies that have looked at readers, particularly kids, and how many of them have read the books.

Percentage of kids reading each Harry Potter book

Source

This is a small survey of children (N = 233) looking at Harry Potter fans, but is consistent with other studies and with a Waterstones reader survey the researchers used to validate the small study. You can see that most kids had read the first book, but that quickly dropped off as the series continued. The studies showed that only 25-35% of kids had read all 7 books in the series, with the average fan reading 3.98 books in the series.

Another thing to note is that studies have also found that 46% and 49% had read a Harry Potter book. Or to put it another way, over 50% of kids hadn’t read any Harry Potter books, and many had only tried one (usually the first one). The most popular book series of all time still isn’t read by a majority of people.

But what about JK Rowling’s influence on reading?

This study was of only 650 kids, but it does illustrate that particularly amongst secondary school kids that they were inspired to read. More books, more difficult books, and more fiction – and if someone can point out the difference between non-fiction and fiction I’d much appreciate it.

Another study of a similar size found supporting results:

Many, though not all, of our enthusiasts consider the Potter books a major contributor to both their self-identification as readers and their wider literacy development. Perhaps the most striking change they reported was the confidence and motivation to try more challenging books or more books in general. Thus, the Potter books—particularly the thicker ones—acted as a “Portkey” or “gateway,” transporting readers into the world of more mature fiction. Source.

The increasing complexity and length of the books was cited in both studies as giving people confidence to grow as readers. But it was also noted that one of the reasons given for not reading all of the books in the series was also the increasing complexity and length. In other words you can’t please everyone, especially not kids. Unless you have ice-cream. And the kids aren’t lactose intolerant.

So the problem isn’t that the books are second-rate, nor that they aren’t encouraging people (kids are people too) to read. The problem is that even the most popular book series ever is going to have a limited impact. Rowling has managed to connect with a huge audience – for a book – which has had positive impacts on readers, such that they are more likely to go out and read more books, even the more complex books that keep the literary snobs in a job.

It is a big ask to expect one book series to have improved literacy rates. At the risk of labouring the point – any further – most people don’t read, and most people who do read won’t have read Harry Potter. The problem isn’t Rowling failing to inspire people enough. It isn’t that she wasn’t a good enough writer. The problem is that people love to make lazy attacks on genre fiction. They don’t want to admit that reading is not that popular and that what we have been doing is probably not encouraging new readers. At least Rowling was on the right track.

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Book Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse, #13)Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did you hear the one about the Vampire, the Were, the Shifter, and the Barmaid?

In this final Sookie Stackhouse novel, Sookie discovers she has many enemies. One group decide to frame her for murder. Another group decide to just murder her. Another decides to steal her boyfriend. Her friends have other ideas about letting any of that happen without a fight.

I haven’t been closely following Charlaine Harris’ series. I’ve enjoyed all the instalments I’ve read so far, and Dead Ever After was no exception. Although, I was surprised to discover this was the final novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series.* This felt like any other instalment in the series to me.

Apparently fans of the series were annoyed with the less than satisfactory ending. A lot of one star reviews have been thrown at this book. One thing seems clear, Sookie didn’t end up with the right guy. Apparently. So if you are an invested fan, this book will probably be used to heat your home in winter. For the less invested fans, this will be regarded as a solid instalment to the series.

*Yes, I can see the tagline on the bottom of the cover. Kinda hard to read when it is thumbnail sized though.

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Harry Potter is 20 – Infographic

Did you realise the first Harry Potter novel was released 20 years ago? Did you feel really old just now?

Check out this really cool Infographic on the series, and revisit the differences between the books and the movies: Sorcerer’s Chamber of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix , Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows.

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Via Cartridge Save.

As Harry Potter turns 20, let’s focus on reading pleasure rather than literary merit

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Platform 9 and ¾, the portal to Harry Potter’s magical world, at Kings Cross in London.
Harry Potter image from http://www.shutterstock.com

Di Dickenson, Western Sydney University

It’s 20 years on June 26 since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first in the seven-book series. The Philosopher’s Stone has sold more than 450 million copies and been translated into 79 languages; the series has inspired a movie franchise, a dedicated fan website, and spinoff stories.

Goodreads

I recall the long periods of frustration and excited anticipation as my son and I waited for each new instalment of the series. This experience of waiting is one we share with other fans who read it progressively across the ten years between the publication of the first and last Potter novel. It is not an experience contemporary readers can recreate.

The Harry Potter series has been celebrated for encouraging children to read, condemned as a commercial rather than a literary success and had its status as literature challenged. Rowling’s writing was described as “basic”, “awkward”, “clumsy” and “flat”. A Guardian article in 2007, just prior to the release of the final book in the series, was particularly scathing, calling her style “toxic”.

My own focus is on the pleasure of reading. I’m more interested in the enjoyment children experience reading Harry Potter, including the appeal of the stories. What was it about the story that engaged so many?

Before the books were a commercial success and highly marketed, children learnt about them from their peers. A community of Harry Potter readers and fans developed and grew as it became a commercial success. Like other fans, children gained cultural capital from the depth of their knowledge of the series.

My own son, on the autism spectrum, adored Harry Potter. He had me read each book in the series in order again (and again) while we waited for the next book to be released. And once we finished the new book, we would start the series again from the beginning. I knew those early books really well.

‘Toxic’ writing?

Assessing the series’ literary merit is not straightforward. In the context of concern about falling literacy rates, the Harry Potter series was initially widely celebrated for encouraging children – especially boys – to read. The books, particularly the early ones, won numerous awards and honours, including the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize three years in a row, and were shortlisted for the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 1998.

The seven books of the Harry Potter series, released from 1997 to 2007.
Alan Edwardes/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Criticism of the literary merit of the books, both scholarly and popular, appeared to coincide with the growing commercial and popular success of the series. Rowling was criticised for overuse of capital letters and exclamation marks, her use of speech or dialogue tags (which identify who is speaking) and her use of adverbs to provide specific information (for example, “said the boy miserably”).

The criticism was particularly prolific around the UK’s first conference on Harry Potter held at the prestigious University of St Andrews, Scotland in 2012. The focus of commentary seemed to be on the conference’s positioning of Harry Potter as a work of “literature” worthy of scholarly attention. As one article said of J.K. Rowling, she “may be a great storyteller, but she’s no Shakespeare”.

Even the most scathing of reviews of Rowling’s writing generally compliment her storytelling ability. This is often used to account for the popularity of the series, particularly with children. However, this has then been presented as further proof of Rowling’s failings as an author. It is as though the capacity to tell a compelling story can be completely divorced from the way a story is told.

Daniel Radcliffe in his first outing as Harry Potter in the Philosopher’s Stone, 2001.
Warner Brothers

Writing for kids

The assessment of the literary merits of a text is highly subjective. Children’s literature in particular may fare badly when assessed using adult measures of quality and according to adult tastes. Many children’s books, including picture books, pop-up books, flap books and multimedia texts are not amenable to conventional forms of literary analysis.

Books for younger children may seem simple and conventional when judged against adult standards. The use of speech tags in younger children’s books, for example, is frequently used to clarify who is talking for less experienced readers. The literary value of a children’s book is often closely tied to adults’ perception of a book’s educational value rather than the pleasure children may gain from reading or engaging with the book. For example, Rowling’s writing was criticised for not “stretching children” or teaching children “anything new about words”.

Many of the criticisms of Rowling’s writing are similar to those levelled at another popular children’s author, Enid Blyton. Like Rowling, Blyton’s writing has described by one commentator as “poison” for its “limited vocabulary”, “colourless” and “undemanding language”. Although children are overwhelmingly encouraged to read, it would appear that many adults view with suspicion books that are too popular with children.

There have been many defences of the literary merits of Harry Potter which extend beyond mere analysis of Rowling’s prose. The sheer volume of scholarly work that has been produced on the series and continues to be produced, even ten years after publication of the final book, attests to the richness and depth of the series.

The ConversationA focus on children’s reading pleasure rather than on literary merit shifts the focus of research to a different set of questions. I will not pretend to know why Harry Potter appealed so strongly to my son but I suspect its familiarity, predictability and repetition were factors. These qualities are unlikely to score high by adult standards of literary merit but are a feature of children’s series fiction.

Di Dickenson, Director of Academic Program BA, School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

More Books You Haven’t Read

I have written previously (here, here) about how people like to pretend they have read something they haven’t. To summarise my take on this phenomenon: Stop it!

People claim to have read books (1, 2, 3, 4) and watched movies they haven’t in order to appear more intelligent. From the new list that I will discuss below, you have to question who they are trying to impress by claiming to have read Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson.

Impressing people is what this is all about. We all have an inability to admit we like (or dislike) stuff because others may have a subjectively different taste and ridicule us. We even come up with the fake term “guilty pleasure” to describe something we like but are ashamed of for some reason. There shouldn’t be guilty pleasures, only pleasures… unless that pleasure is illegal or immoral or both – such as the movies of Uwe Bole.

This new list of lied about books comes from a poll of 2,000 UK adults. In it 41% of respondents admitted they fibbed about what, and how much, they read. This was part of The Reading Agency‘s look at reading habits. It found that 67% of respondents would like to read more, but 48% claimed they were too busy to read… but caught the game on the TV and did you see those new cat videos? Another interesting point was that 35% said they struggle to find a book they really like, and 26% want recommendations from someone they know. I.e. reviews are important.

As you will see from the list, most of these books have been turned into movies. That was probably why people lied. They wanted to impress people in a discussion but couldn’t just admit that they had only watched the movie. Hint: us readers can tell you haven’t read the book.

 Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

1. James Bond novels by Ian Fleming

I can’t claim to have read many of the James Bond novels – one, I’m pretty sure I’ve only read one. But I have watched most of the movies at least once. For my own part, the reason I haven’t read more of the books is partly lack of interest, and partly making time to catch up on older novels. There are a lot of influential authors and novels I’m yet to have a chance to read. Plus I’ve heard that the books have far fewer explosions.

 The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Admittedly I read the novel after the first movie came out – or possibly only finished it after the first movie came out. I’ve covered this book recently as part of my Book vs Movie discussions (1, 2, 3). I don’t think you can blame people for watching the movies instead of reading the book. The book is long, waffly, and at times difficult to parse. The movies are only long and awesome.

 

3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I’ve only read six of the seven Narnia novels. I read this series when I was young and pretty much lost interest before reading The Last Battle. The first two novels (chronological, not published) are well worth reading, but I can understand people not bothering to read the rest. I can also understand people having watched the movies and decided not to read the books. The movies are only okay, which is generally not enough to encourage most people to read books.

4. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

Apparently The DaVinci Code is one of the most read books of all time…. if you just go by book sales. I have a love-hate relationship with Dan Brown’s Artefact McGuffin Adventures. While I have read two of Brown’s novels, I actually prefer other authors who write superior Artefact McGuffin Adventures. Can’t really blame people for watching Tom Hanks run around historical places instead of reading about Robert Langdon.

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I can honestly say I haven’t read this book, nor been interested in doing so, despite the paperback being on our shelves. The movies didn’t exactly inspire me either. The main reason I haven’t tackled it is that my wife only thought it was okay and similar to Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

6. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

I didn’t even realise the movie was based on a book until relatively recently. I’m sure most people will have seen the movie and assumed the book is pretty similar.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Another book I haven’t read and one I’m not really interested in reading – nor the rest of the series for that matter. I’m not sure why anyone would claim to have read this book when they haven’t, unless they want to say “Oh, the books are so much darker” when the movie is being discussed.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

8. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Another novel that is on our shelves thanks to my wife. The impression I have of the main character is that I would probably not enjoy this, especially since I try to be out of the room when people are watching the movies.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Ugh. I read part of this book before shredding it and using the remains to create a nest for a family of rats. Even the Wikipedia synopsis of the novel bores me to tears. Any “thriller” that starts with ten pages of descriptions of flowers, followed by a few more pages discussing home renovations had better make them giant mutated flowers with Uzis that are renovating the home with explosives. If only people would stop talking about this book so that people would stop talking about it as though it was good.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

10. The Godfather by Mario Puzo

I bought The Godfather from a bargain bin next to a pile of remaindered books. The only reason I decided to buy and read it was that the movie was/is a classic. It is probably fair to say that most people only ever considered reading this because of the movie, so it is no surprise that people inflate that from considering to have read.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

I have neither read this book nor watched the film. My entire understanding of this book comes from Thug Notes. That’s enough for me.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This book certainly isn’t for everyone. When I reviewed it I called it literary crime fiction, which puts it between genre fiction that people like reading, and award-winning stuff people only pretend to like reading.* That means it could attract people from both audiences, or annoy both audiences – yes, I am assuming that those two audiences are disparate entities that share nothing in common. So I could see why some people would claim to have read this novel, what with the awards, and praise, and movie forcing them to either admit something about their reading habits or to make some facile excuse for not having read it yet.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

13. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This book has the dubious honour of being a novel I was only aware existed as a result of it appearing on these lists of books people claim to have read but haven’t. Maybe this book doesn’t actually exist but is inserted into these reading lists as an internal check for the survey of readers. Let’s see who notices that this book is fictional fiction.

As you can see, it is easy to admit which books you have and haven’t read. Some books you may not want to read. Some you may not have had a chance to read yet. Some you might only be aware of due to the movie adaptation. The main thing is to acknowledge the truth so that entertaining books are promoted (review books, but do it the right way), rather than dreck that people haven’t read but assume is entertaining. And if you want to continue to lie about books you’ve read, here is a summary of some classic novels:

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*Yes, that is me being snobby. Yes, I am meant to be against that judgmental stuff. Yes, I am a hypocrite at times.

Book review: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4)Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vampire ghosts: the undead undead?

A few weeks earlier, Mercy killed one vampire too many, and now Marsilia and her vampire seethe have found out. Out of the blue pops her old out-of-state college friend with a ghost problem that she hopes Mercy can help with. What convenient timing.

It is refreshing to read a fantasy series that doesn’t get bogged down in world building waffle. Aside from being written as though they are standalone novels – whilst being a continuing adventure – there isn’t any fat on this lean series. And as the series has progressed it hasn’t fallen into a rut, nor become formulaic. I’m already halfway through the next in the series and enjoying each Mercy Thompson outing as much as the first.

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Book Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wouldn’t make much of a supervillain. My weakness is chocolate. And quality whiskey. And a beautiful guitar. And a great novel. And…. this would make a long list of things to kill me with.

Steelheart is the first book in the Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson. David was only a child when the Epics (supervillains) appeared. He also has a secret: he saw the greatest of the Epics bleed. The supposedly invincible and invulnerable Steelheart is now the Dictator of Newcago and David wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Steelheart.

After enjoying the Mistborn series I have been trying other Sanderson book series, expecting more great novels from him. I struck out with The Way of Kings, which could best be described as using 100 words when 10 would suffice, but Steelheart promises an exciting series.

Leaving aside the (acknowledged) improbable superpowers and raised middle finger to physics, the novel manages to be engaging and intriguing. In this David versus Goliaths tale there is plenty of suspense and fear that the heroes may not triumph. The series is intended as a Young Adult adventure, but YA is the new A must read, so don’t be put off by that.

Can’t wait to read the rest of the series and see how the handwavium works.

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What are some great mind-blowing books for a fiction fantasy lover?

There are so many great fantasy fiction novels out there, I’m just going to list a few of my favourites.

Deepak Chopra: Quantum Healing

Let’s face it, Chopra has been a bestselling fantasy author for decades now, so I could have named any of his books. He never fails to churn out the most epic of fictional nonsense, but Quantum Healing has to be his most mind-boggling work.

Various: Climate Change: The Facts

Okay, I’m cheating a bit here, as this treads into science fiction territory, but as a work of fantasy, it also holds its own. This collection of short stories is by a who’s who of fantasy authors on the theme of an alternate reality where climate change isn’t real.

Jeffrey Smith: Seeds of Deception

From everyone’s favourite flying yogi comes his groundbreaking fantasy novel about conspiracies, genetics, food, and how to ignore several fields of science and scientists by shouting la-la-la-la. Also qualifies as a comedy due to being so laughable.

Stephanie Messenger: Melanie’s Marvelous (sic) Measles

An homage to Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine, this piece of fantasy is notable for being written as though the author were a child who never learnt English. Such an amazing piece that is sure to have you queueing for the iron lung.

This post originally appeared on Quora.

Book Review: Hell’s Super by Mark Cain

Hell's Super (Circles In Hell, #1)Hell’s Super by Mark Cain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hell is being surrounded by famous people, apparently.

Hell’s Super follows Steve Minion, the only non-famous person in hell as far as I can tell, as he tries to fix all the problems that come up in hell. Whether it be replacing a broken light bulb on the sign leading into hell (Abandon all hope ye who enter here), or stopping a civil uprising, Steve is tasked with fixing the problem because he sucks at fixing things: it’s hell, it’s his punishment. His sidekick is Orson Welles and he is dating Florence Nightingale: enough said.

I picked up Mark Cain’s Hell’s Super as it promised to be a novel in the vein of Terry Pratchett or Good Omens: some satire, some straight laughs, some silly fun. It had those elements but for me it rarely rose above mildly entertaining. Having recently re-read Good Omens, a book Hell’s Super is compared to in the back cover blurb, I can safely say that the Pratchett and Gaiman novel is not being knocked off the Best Novel of All Time podium any time soon. Too much of the humour and plot relies on utilising famous people and irony (especially in the punishments) to be classed as Pratchett-esque satire and humour. It also didn’t help that the plot twists were obvious given the setting.

That said, this is an entertaining novel with enough humour to amuse. I think the comparisons drawn to Good Omens, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams in the blurb set up too-high an expectation for me. Knowing that, you may enjoy it more as a result.

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Book Review: Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3)Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

There are some big advantages to coming to a series late, like being able to read the entire series back-to-back rather than wait those long painful months until the next exciting instalment. I guess that makes me a “binge” reader.

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series is classic fantasy in just about every respect. Normally I’d give a brief overview of the book, but I’m doing this review for the entire trilogy. And as this is a fantasy series I don’t really have the space for a brief overview of a trilogy. Don’t ask me to write that much, not today, Lord-Ruler not today. Oh okay. [spoiler] The story follows Vin from street thief, to powerful warrior, to god. [/spoiler] H’uh, did that easily, didn’t I?

Mistborn: The Final Empire was first published 9 years ago in 2006, with The Well of Ascension following in 2007, and then The Hero of Ages in 2008; so I’m only a few years behind the times. But this gives me a decided advantage over the people who were hooked on this series back in ’06. As I mentioned above, I read this series back to back, something I rarely do but something that well written fantasy series inspire me to do.

I really enjoyed the series but couldn’t quite bring myself to give this 5 stars. There is a lot to like about the world Sanderson has created – the metal burning being the basis of magic skills being pretty cool – and there were several characters I enjoyed following – notably Vin and Sazed. The first book suffers a little from Sanderson’s pedantic world-building, the second book is tightly written, enjoyable, but felt like it had a false ending before the actual finish, then the final book really delivered on the series. So I’m giving the Mistborn series 4.5 stars and recommending reading the trilogy back to back.

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Book Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My mother bought me The Great Zoo of China for Christmas, which makes her the best mother in the world. Well, unless your mother bought you a copy as well, in which case the title of best mother in the world would have to be shared.

CJ is a herpetologist specialising in large animals like crocodiles, and being a Matthew Reilly novel, she also specialises in avoiding dying every page or two. She is recruited by National Geographic to take a press junket trip to a new zoo in China. The Chinese government have developed an amazing new zoo that is set to wow the world, assuming their main attractions don’t try to escape and eat everyone. What could go wrong during the promotion junket for a zoo filled with dragons?

Yep. Dinosaurs, sorry, Dragons.

I’ve seen some reviews that suggest Matt’s novel is just a rip off of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. I agree completely. I also like to ignore that Jurassic Park is a rip off of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, which is in turn a rip off of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, or possibly Off On A Comet – if you want to count dragons as dinosaurs. Because every idea is 100% original and comments complaining about rip-offs don’t primarily show the complainer’s ignorance.

Ignoring that point – because who cares? – Matt’s latest novel is all of the elements we’ve come to love from him. The story is fast paced, life and death, adventurous fun. I really enjoyed The Great Zoo of China: enough said.

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Is fiction actually fiction?

There has been an interesting duo of videos by PBS’ Ideas Chanel. Mike discusses some interesting concepts surrounding fiction, like the fact that fiction is as much real as it is made-up and vice versa. Worth a watch.


The two videos cover a lot of ground, but one of the more important points I’d like to highlight is the idea that we can’t have fiction without reality. We need something to anchor our ideas and make-believe, shared experiences that allow us to understand and accept these fictions. There are plenty of examples of this, but one of the cooler examples is looking at depictions of the future at various stages throughout history. Compare what sci-fi movies of the 50s thought computers would look like now to what they actually look like, and you see a 1950s computer. Our imaginations actually suck a lot more than we think.

But here’s an idea about our inability to imagine the future: what if our imaginations don’t actually suck, but instead we ignore the outlandish imaginings that are actually more likely in favour of stuff we already know? Think about it. Or don’t, I’m not your boss.

12 Extremely Disappointing Facts For Geeks

Stolen from BuzzFeed.

1. The Twilight series has sold more than the Wheel of Time series, the Dark Tower series, the Song of Fire and Ice series, and the His Dark Materials series COMBINED.

TA: Not to mention how crappy the Twilight films were.

The Twilight series has sold more than the Wheel of Time series, the Dark Tower series, the Song of Fire and Ice series, and the His Dark Materials series COMBINED.

2. Star Wars: Episode I has made more money than Star Wars: Episode IV.

TA: Lucas can’t direct or write, just comes up with good ideas. The first series was saved by Harrison Ford.

Star Wars: Episode I has made more money than Star Wars: Episode IV .

3. Firefly lasted one season, and had terrible ratings. The Big Bang Theory is in its sixth season, and has incredible ratings.

TA: Firefly and Serenity are the best. Period. I can’t watch TBBT as it is just one great big stereotype. Although, Mayim Bialik, who plays Sheldon’s girlfriend, is actually a real life neuroscientist with a proper PhD.

Firefly lasted one season, and had terrible ratings. The Big Bang Theory is in its sixth season, and has incredible ratings.

4. The Matrix is the worst-performing film of the trilogy.

TA: The sequels should have been great, but someone took the brain dead approach to screenplays.

The Matrix is the worst-performing film of the trilogy.

5. The Resident Evil movies have made far, far more money than the Resident Evil video games.

TA: One reason – Milla Jovovich.

The Resident Evil movies have made far, far more money than the Resident Evil video games.

Image by http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Resident_Evil http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/series/ResidentEvil.php

6. The original Indiana Jones movies did worse in their combined opening weekends than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

TA: Biggest shark jump in history.

The original Indiana Jones movies did worse in their combined opening weekends than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull .

7. The movie Doom made more than the video gameThe Ultimate Doom in the U.S.

TA: I played a lot of Doom as a teen. I loved FPS. The movie, meh.

The movie Doom made more than the video game The Ultimate Doom in the U.S.

8. The 2001 Planet of the Apes starring Marky Mark made far more than all the original films combined.

TA: I didn’t like any of the films.

The 2001 Planet of the Apes starring Marky Mark made far more than all the original films combined.

9. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the sixth highest-grossing film of all time.

TA: Fuck Michael Bay and Fuck Shia LeBeouf.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the sixth highest-grossing film of all time.

10. 2006’s Superman Returns is the best-performing Superman film.

TA: All the Superman movies have been kinda meh.

2006's Superman Returns is the best-performing Superman film.

11. Super Mario 3 is the third most popular video game of all time. Nintendogs is second.

 TA: showing my age here, but the only Super Mario games I ever really played were Donkey Kong and Super Mario Land (Gameboy). 

Super Mario 3 is the third most popular video game of all time. Nintendogs is second.

12. M. Night Shyamalan’s films have made more money than Joss Whedon’s films.

TA: Joss could direct a movie of Summer Glau and Nathan Fillion making toast and it would be fantastic.

M. Night Shyamalan's films have made more money than Joss Whedon's films.

Ignorance hurts puppies

I really do wonder about my fellow humans sometimes.

Let’s hope this was just a troll.

Book Review: Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel, #3)Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know that feeling you get when you’ve just finished reading a really good book? The joy, the sorrow, the need for the bathroom because you couldn’t stop reading for the final 100 pages. Well this book wasn’t one of those, it was three of them: the Night Angel series by Brent Weeks.

I read this series back to back, buying the second two on my Kindle immediately after finishing the first (a curse on the publishers who decided to charge a ridiculous price for them). It was a good thing too, since each book was about double the size of the thrillers and crime novels that make up the majority of my reading, no way I’d feel comfortable killing that many trees. There are many advantages to long books and to series. Long books can be more entertaining, a series can give you more value for reading. But the disadvantage is that authors who write long books often try to pack a lot of filler into the books. The thing that I liked about each book in this series, and the series as a whole, was the lack of filler.

So, if you haven’t read the adventures of Kylar Stern – the Night Angel – I suggest you start with the first book, The Way of Shadows.

View all my reviews

Talking Spec-Fic with Rex Jameson

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Today we have a special guest on the site. My friend Rex is an author, science nerd and has as many degrees as I have, so you can see why we get along so well. Last year Rex released his first novel, Lucifer’s Odyssey, which I recommend for any speculative fiction and fantasy fans, and this year has released the sequel, The Goblin Rebellion (which is free for the next couple of days).

Tyson: Rex, you’ve had a busy 6 months. You have released your first novel, gotten married, released two novellas, completed a PhD and released your second novel. The obvious question I have for you is, what are you currently reading?

Rex: Unfortunately, most of my reading material has been non-fiction recently. I work in real-time, embedded systems and am involved in several interesting projects involving spacecraft, mobile devices and very soon remote-controlled drones. I’ve also been giving job talks for professor positions and finishing up my dissertation (March).

T: So boring stuff is working with real spacecraft? You just killed the dream of every boy under the age of 12.

R: Oh, I wouldn’t say it’s boring at all. I’m extremely excited about my work, and I plan on doing much more of it!

T: What about fiction?

R: The next fiction books on my list are a couple of indie author works: Moses Siregar’s “The Black God’s War” and Jennifer Rainey’s “These Hellish Happenings.” I’m also REALLY wanting to read George R. R. Martin’s epic series. It feels like I’m running into people reading a Dance of Dragons at every airport I enter, but I’ve heard stories about weeks-long splurges on his books, and I’m trying to avoid it until I’m able to really get into it.

T: Jennifer’s book is on my to-read list, which is still 6 or more months long. I found the first three Game of Thrones e-books on sale and snapped them up. Whenever I read a book or series that has taken the world by storm I am always underwhelmed. I call it the DaVinci Effect.

R: A well-chosen descriptor.

T: Thanks. How much Christian hate mail have you received so far after Lucifer’s Odyssey?

R: I wouldn’t say it’s Christian hate mail. I’ve received some sporadic messaging that I would characterize as worried. Part of being a Christian is discipleship, and some people take that very seriously. A novel that spans trillions of light years in distance and involves creatures living hundreds of millions and even billions of years does appear to conflict with strict belief in the 6,000-10,000 year old creation story.

But I honestly find it odd that this rift between modern scientific discovery and Christianity even exists. It would have been quite easy to update Christianity to account for the fossil records in a way that doesn’t involve saying “but those are all from Noah’s flood” (which is quite ludicrous) and in modifying man’s role in the universe once we realized just how massive the known universe is. Instead, many in America tend to look at science’s findings as one of God’s tests: a challenge that God has handed down to test the tenacity of their belief that every word in the Bible is in fact directly from God and thus infallible. And this kind of stubbornness to adapt to facts and findings has retarded our growth as a species since Galileo. I’ve heard from some that this voluntary impediment is in fact reasonable and expected because Eve shouldn’t have eaten from the knowledge tree to begin with…

Anyway, yes I’ve gotten some mail, but I understood I would be getting it. Most of it has been cordial, but religious figures are a touchy subject, even if they are presented in a fantastic and fictitious light in the series. The series is not intended to bash Christian beliefs by any means. It’s more of a modern retelling of the origin story with the vastness of the universe and time taken into account. I also love string theory and the concept of multiverses, time-dilation, chaos theory, and other hobbies of mine, and the only way to properly have fun with them was to set them in an expansive series of universes.

T: I like that yourself and David McAfee have both been listed on a review of your book. Apparently you’ve created a genre for Christians to get riled up about.

R: Yeah, pseudo-biblical fiction. With the way it’s defined, most fantasy could be placed in there. I’m pretty sure any book with a savior child character who is promised by prophecy in a religious tome could fall into this genre, should a comparison be wanted. Belgarion in David Edding’s Belgariad series might fall into this comparison, even though it’s unrelated to Christianity, just because a savior child is promised to the Earth and rescues the world from evil. It’s probably an appropriate descriptor for my first series, though I’d disagree with the anti-Christian characteristic for reasons stated in the comment section of that article.

T: Interestingly the entire “young Earth” thing is just one section of six views on Christian religious interpretation. Most sects are fine with science. Of course I’ve received enough death threats to understand fundamentalists are the strange cousin of any societal group, we’re all embarrassed by them.

R: The Young Earth group may be one of six Christian interpretations, but it’s hardly the minority in America. My only issue with the group is that they’ve latched onto the debates that atheists and theists have concerning the origin of the universe (i.e., Big Bang versus Creationism), and are using issues with the current perceived expansion rate of the universe as proof that the entire scientific movement is a house of cards.

For example, the fossil record is now in some way dependent on the Big Bang and collapsing expansion theory, tectonic plates are now somehow linked to weathermen not getting the weather right all the time, evolution is now directly linked to asteroids carrying microbes being the real originator of life, or climate change is suspect because it doesn’t make sense that matter can come into existence from nothing. I’ve seen all of these claims in arguments from Young Earth creationists. Even though none of these are dependent upon each other, it’s become a science versus creationism argument where all science can now be suspect simply because a Young Earth creationist is unwilling to investigate or learn about an entire branch of science–since someone has convinced them that all science is wrong and evil and counter to God’s intentions for mankind.

The result is a sustained rise of fear and ignorance, and that is a huge impediment on progress. And ultimately, I believe the continued pressure of this movement on education is causing less emphasis on math and science in American schools and is directly hindering our economy and ability to produce quality researchers, which are required for innovation and technological growth. After all, environment has a lot to do with educational responses of children. If parents don’t value math and science and look upon them negatively, children are likely to have the same feelings.

T: Can we expect to see Lucifer square off against his noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

R: I don’t think that would be much of a fair fight. Yes, FSM has wing-like structures that might help propel him through space, but FSM’s wings appear quite squishy and obviously delicious. Lucifer appears to be made of stronger stuff in the series, and I doubt he’s anywhere near as tasty. Therefore he has fewer natural predators, a sword, the ability to open a channel to near-infinite reserves of energy in a big-bang-like state, and wings made of a nearly indestructible material–while the demons or angels are alive and their soul is present. In contrast, I’ve never seen FSM with a sword. I’ve seen him falling for the “pull my finger” routine (which shows obvious gullibility) but never wielding a scary weapon.

I’ll admit I could be underestimating his ability to smother someone with special sauce or noodly goodness.

T: You also forget his noodliness has pirates on his side. Actually: Flying Spagehetti Monster, Lucifer, Pirates, Christian outrage; add ninjas and zombies to the mix and you have the next Da Vinci Code!!

R: Heh! If only it were that easy, we could all be rich!

T: You classified Odyssey as speculative fiction, I would have called it fantasy: Wheel of Time, spec fic or fantasy?

R: In my defense, I have categorized the work as epic fantasy and space opera. I haven’t read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time past the first book. I recently thought about picking it up during the holidays, but then I saw the reviews for New Spring and decided against it (at least for now). I read Derek Prior’s “Cadman’s Gambit”, instead, and I’m happy I did. It’s a complicated story but good. It’s also speculative fiction/fantasy, btw.

T: I started the first in the Wheel of Time series, moved onto the Night Angel series by Brent Weeks. Fantasy always seems to be code for “I didn’t want to grab my street map for exposition”, unless it has elves or dragons in it. Apparently having a proper imagination precludes classification in other genres.
Game of Thrones, ditto, spec fic or fantasy?

R: Fantasy. I’ve seen a couple of the HBO episodes but haven’t started the book series out of fear of missing my dissertation and paper deadlines. That being said, it will be mine–oh, yes!

T: Thesis deadlines are highly over-rated. They only apply to the postgrad student and not anyone else in the chain. I still haven’t received my certificate. Actually, there is an idea for an epic thriller: “Two postgrad students (Rex and Tyson) fight the hard slog of science, peer review and the ruthless administration building to finally graduate. But will it be too late to enter the real world?”

R: Honestly, my adviser doesn’t seem like he’s in much of a hurry to get me out the door, but I’m chomping at the bit to have my own lab, target my own research grants, and teach my own classes. So, that’s really the only reason I’m pushing so hard to finish my dissertation. The job I want requires final paperwork and the funny robes, and I’m getting feedback and interest from great universities and faculty that I’d love to work with.

T: Funny robes and extra acronyms attached to your name is always handy, especially when you are arguing with the anti-science brigade.
So you’re sticking with your classification for Lucifer’s Odyssey? You could sucker a few unwitting literary fiction readers.

R: The classification of Lucifer’s Odyssey as speculative fiction comes from the fact that readers debate about whether Roger Zelazny’s Amber Series was “classic science fiction”, “fantasy”, or the much more recent “speculative fiction.” I had read some commentary on the Kindleboards from readers, and many of them seemed less offended by the label “speculative fiction” than choosing one of the categories with stricter modern interpretations of genre boundaries.

Lucifer’s Odyssey is more fantasy than science fiction, and the majority of my work will probably be more fantasy than science fiction. I chalk this up to my line of work. When you look to escape your current situation, you often go to the opposite extreme of what you do every day. Since my job has me looking at problems in satellites, rc drones, and mobile phones in mission critical systems, my writing escapes tend to be more fantastical rather than technical. I have some ideas for thrillers and pure fantasy, but I’m putting them on the back-burner until I at least finish “Shadows of our Fathers”, the third book in the Primal Patterns series.

T: I hear you there. I’m writing thrillers where the main characters get to shoot a lot of people. Shooting someone for making up their opinion on the spot, to argue with the person who has just spent the last few years researching the topic, isn’t widely accepted in society.

R: Well, I’ve noticed people are far more willing to read a book about shooting random people than a derelict homeless man dropping f-bombs when the devil kills his friend. Maybe your idea could work.

T: Are you living proof that being an author attracts the ladies, since you got married after publishing Odyssey?

R: Hah! Hardly!

Although Lucifer’s Odyssey was published last year, it started as a short story several years ago. The original story was from the perspective of Michael and involved the bar scene, the interrogation, and the escape and burial of Azazel (which was taken out completely during editing), but in a much more primitive form. And quite frankly it was terrible. Even after several rewrites, it was bad.

I met my wife while the story was forgotten in a folder on my hard drive. So, resuscitating it and redrafting it a few times resulted in far more eyerolls from her than attraction. Still, she’s awesome and incredibly supportive. It takes a special kind of person to love someone who has a job that sends them frequently abroad and often spends a considerable amount of time at a computer writing stories or developing software when they’re in the room with you. She’s a rock star and a wonderful person!

My wife pointed out that the reason I was having trouble writing any of my stories was that they were all depressing and dark. Now they are shooty and dark, so it is amazing what our partners can bring to our writing.

Actually, the novelette “Elves and Goblins: Perspectives of a Father’s Rebellion” is totally dark and shooty. Maybe one day we could collaborate on a thriller or something. Might be fun.

T: Well, we already have an idea for the plot. Although submitting a thesis at gun point and combating peer review in a death match scenario may only appeal to scientists.
I’m going to put in a spoiler alert here: at the end of your first novel Jesus ended up somewhat shorter. Doesn’t that leave the next book without a decent bad guy? Because if the sequel is Lucifer dealing with his feelings about the loss of his cat to cancer, I might not promote it.

R: Here’s an even bigger spoiler: I have no plans for putting Jesus into the series, and there’s a framework for seven books–though I only plan on doing three books in the Primal Patterns before moving on to something else for a while. That could change if readers demand it, but I think a foray into more standard fare might be something that would appeal to new readers. Contemporary urban epic fantasy like the Winter Phenomenon series I had planned or maybe expansion of one of my short stories.

T: We had a conversation about how wonderful editors are a few months ago. How do you think your editor could improve something written by the average monkey at a typewriter?

R: I’m afraid I won’t name names, but the bane of most unedited first work is head-jumping and bad dialogue. I’ve noticed many new fantasy or science fiction authors tend to do pretty well with action sequences. I say many and not most. Most self-published work is still bad, and I think all work should be edited in some way by neutral parties in your genre. The only exception to this are trained professionals or people who know how to remove themselves from the work and become neutral parties in the genre.

Another thing that an editor does for an author is give some peace-of-mind to the fiction writing process on subsequent books. When I was writing Lucifer’s Odyssey, I had a lot of self doubts about whether or not I could tell a story this complex. I’m not sure the answer is ‘yes’ yet, but from the reviews, I don’t think I’ve done a terrible job either.

A couple of readers have noted that the tone can be jarring, and after asking one of them, I was told that the tendency of Sariel to inject humor into serious situations was the type of tonal change that seemed unusual. My editor once made a suggestion on one of these, and I did tell him that I would rather Sariel remain that way because sarcasm and fraternal humor is basically how he’d gotten through life as a youngest child, a seemingly destiny-less position, in the most important family in all of Chaos. His tone changes quite a bit in the second book, but that core is still there. He’s lived for millions of years, and he still has his daredevil instincts and a frightening tendency to play with his food, even if it might kill him.

Now, I’m coming to this in a roundabout way, but I do have a point. An editor is only as useful as you let him or her be. If they make suggestions and you buck them, you better have a good reason for it, and you better be prepared to face the music when readers who want that type of sanitized feel pick up your book.

Similarly, if you didn’t expect backlash but you find it, as a self-published author you have the ability to change it. I recently removed almost all of the cursing from both “Lucifer’s Odyssey” and “Angels and Demons: Perspectives of a Violent Afterlife” because of a handful of complaints (out of thousands of readers). Why? I made a trade off.

I believe that in the real setting, the characters would have cursed, but I know that many more conservative readers would have used the cursing as an easy excuse to not read the book and allow themselves to enjoy the story. I also knew I wanted to give the book away for free for short periods of time, and from experience, I know that this particular type of reader picks up free stories without looking at the summary or the warnings, and they are more likely to leave a 1-star review. Is this my fault? No, but such a 1-star review given within days of a book’s release (especially if it’s the only one) can kill a book’s potential quickly. After re-reading the story without the cursing I felt that the compromise was worth doing.

So I think it’s important to mention that listening to your editor is vital, but so is listening to your readers. Yes, some readers are going to be wrong, and you have to understand that there’s always a vocal minority that believes their opinion is right no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary. But often, readers can be a part of the long-term editing process–the neutral genre voice that guides writing into the next book and the one after that. And that’s worth listening to!

T: Thanks to Rex for taking time out of his hectic day. Spec-fic fans should check out Rex’s writing. See my review of his first novel here.

Book Review: The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel, #1)The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I tried to like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, tried but couldn’t help but feel the story was being dragged out far too much. This series, by Brent Weeks, had called to me from the bookstore shelves. Every other book in the fantasy section had all black and red covers, usually with a dragon or girl, or girl riding a dragon. This promised what I had looked for in The Wheel of Time series.

So did it deliver? No. It gave me something else completely, which I enjoyed more.

With a fantasy I was expecting elves: nope. From the cover art I was expecting ninjas: not really. From the blurb I was expecting a Karate Kid story line: thankfully not.

This was a very enjoyable, whilst dark, fantasy novel that had me hooked from about page 10. Normally my reaction to finishing a book is to think about how much I liked or disliked it. In rare instances I immediately jump online and order more books by the author (Lee Child, Matt Hilton, Robert Crais, Matthew Reilly: noticing a pattern there?). The only question now is, do I read the rest of the series right now, or space it out between a few other novels?

Expect reviews of the rest of the series soon…

View all my reviews

Combating Writer’s Block: Advice by Genre

There is no worse disease for a writer than writer’s block. I’d also say that writer’s block is terrible for readers too, uninspired prose is what we expect from policy and political people, not our entertainment. I’m a fan of Stephen King’s writing advice: set a daily word goal and stay at it until you reach the goal. There is something about daily writing and forcing yourself to write that seems to make things flow.

But Tyson, I hear you say, I’m stuck with no ideas for what to write next. Luckily I was procrastinating whilst writing the other day and came up with a definitive fail safe for each major genre. Any additions are welcome in the comments.

Thriller Writers
When writer’s block strikes kill someone or blow something up.

Crime Writers
When writer’s block strikes describe the main character getting drunk and wallowing in self pity.

Mystery Writers
When writer’s block strikes introduce a red herring.

Romance Writers
When writer’s block strikes introduce new character with rock hard abs.

Literature Writers
When writer’s block strikes describe a tree in intimate detail.

Fantasy Writers
When writer’s block strikes have a talking dragon appear, or have the characters go on a long walk somewhere.

Sci-fi Writers
When writer’s block strikes cut and paste physics article from Wikipedia into your novel.

Horror Writers
When writer’s block strikes cut and paste autopsy reports into your novel.

Paranormal Writers
If you already have vampires, ghosts and werewolves in your novel, introduce ninjas and pirates as characters.

If you are really stuck after all of these ideas, then there is no novel in existence that can’t/couldn’t be improved by the addition of pirates and/or ninjas.

Book Review: Lucifer’s Odyssey – Rex Jameson

Some people love reading their friend’s books, others loath it. I can understand some people’s reticence in reading a friend’s work; what if the book sucks? I’ve found that the best way to have friends who are writers is to choose them on the strength of their writing. That way you can’t be disappointed by their subsequent books. Plus, free books!

Rex is much like me: a nerd. As a result it isn’t particularly surprising that Rex has come up with a very interesting melding of speculative fiction, fantasy and sci-fi (the sci-fi element could actually be described as part of the fantasy element, from a certain point of view). This novel reminded me at times of some of Heinlein’s work. Earlier in the book I was especially reminded of Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice.

Now I have an annoying habit. My friends and family will attest to the fact that I inadvertently spoil movies, TV shows and books by giving away key aspects of what is about to happen. My brother recently complained about me spoiling The Wire for him when I mentioned Stringer Bell dies. So I’m not going to go into too many details about the Odyssey of the title, whether there is more to the initial story of betrayal and conspiracy, whether Jehovah was the messiah or just a naughty boy who is b……. Almost. The plot builds upon itself as the book continues and keeps you involved with the layers of the Odyssey. Suffice to say you will be rooting for Lucifer as he pulls his swords to go Conan on……. Almost did it again.

I’m hoping to have a bit of chat with Rex in the near future, so stay tuned for a future guest blog post.

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