psi_star_psi: (Default)
I've been a little busy. I finished the "His Dark Materials" trilogy last month. This is the series that starts out with The Golden Compass, which was filmed a few years back. Now that I've read the books, I'm ready to see the movie.

I enjoyed the series very much. Coming of age, eschatology, allusions to serious literature, and armored polar bears. This has everything you might want. Unless you're Catholic, of course.

Wow. I'd heard that the books were a bit harsh on Roman Catholicism. I finished off the first one and thought, "OK, that didn't turn out too well for the Catholic Church, but hey, no worse than they get in the press most days." Then I read the next two books. The author was only getting warmed up in the first book. Someone got his knuckles rapped by a nun too many times or something. Let's just say that the clergy is not really on the side of the heroes in this series.

But if that's not off-putting for you, then I expect you'd enjoy this series. It's mighty keen.
psi_star_psi: (Default)
The Order of the Stick: Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tails [Oxford comma, that's what I'm talkin' about, Yo!]

I previously discussed The Order of the Stick online webcomic about D&D stick figures. This book has nothing to do with the online webcomic. It turns out that for the last couple of years for which Dragon magazine existed, Rich Burlew drew a single page variant of OOTS featuring the protagonist PCs, otherwise unrelated to the continuity of the online strip. With only two years of strips, there wasn't enough material to collect together into a stand-alone book, so he made up a bunch of other stuff also outside of the main plotline's continuity and slapped it all together into this book. Thus, this is OOTS book number D.

The Dragon strips are supplemented with a few extra strips that didn't have a chance to run due to the magazine's cancellation. Julio Scoundrel and the Curse of the Mummy Queen relates an amusing tale from the history of a minor character in the online story. The OOTS battle their D&D 4th Edition selves in another sequence. Finally, several classic stories are fractured when retold and portrayed by the OOTS.

Nothing here is required to follow the main storyline. It's all just bonus funny for completists. Like me. Two stick thumbs up.
psi_star_psi: (KBZ)
This is my first full weekend off from work since Labor Day, so I enjoyed spending time with the kids and Jen. I have polished off various entertainments in the past month or so, though.

White Knight
I'm rather behind on the Dresden Files, so I figured I ought to fit in at least one to try and catch up. If you don't read the Dresden Files, you should. If you do, you're probably way ahead of me. This is around #10, and I think it's up to #14-15.

A Distant Soil, Vols. 1-3
Picked up from the used bookstore. Of course, there are four volumes. (Last one is on order from Amazon.) Brother and sister psis bust out of the government institution in which they were held, meet aliens, an Arthurian knight, and other assorted weirdos, battle to Save The Earth (and Galaxy). Originally started ~25 years, so everyone is sporting '80s hair. Very good stuff.

Star Trek
I finally saw the movie from two years ago. I liked it. If you haven't seen it by now, what is wrong with you?!? (OK, kids are an acceptable excuse.)

Cowboys and Aliens
[ profile] aelfie and I went on a date to the movie theater and watched this film. Very silly, just what we were looking for.

Jak II
PS2 game I've been working on for probably seven years. I had a long hiatus where I was stuck on a racing section. Ike is playing the original Jak and Daxter now, which is a good E-rated platformer. This second game is a GTA3-type sandbox game. It is not a kid's game. I'm on to Jak III, now, and I picked up the fourth game at Fry's last night, just to be ready.

What if a bunch of the Marvel superheroes were reimagined as running around in Elizabethan England and the rest of Europe? Wouldn't that be totally rad? "Ha, yes, vaguely amusing," I imagine you smirking. Now what if I followed that statement with two words -- Neil Gaiman? "---" Yeah, that wiped the smirk right off your face, didn't it? If you like Marvel or Gaiman or just cool graphic novels, read this.
psi_star_psi: (CG-UbG)
The Pinball Effect by James Burke -- It's like reading a Hypertext document in inconvenient book form!

If you recognize the name James Burke, then you probably already know all you need to about this book. He's the guy who did Connections (1,2,3,...) The Day the Universe Changed, After the Warming, and probably other stuff I missed. He's probably the second-best science explainer I've encountered (close but second to Asimov). I've always enjoyed his work.

This book must have been on my To Read stack for a while. It's 15 years old. Writing a book now with this sort of hyper-linking would be absurd, but in the mid-90s I could imagine it not yet seeming silly. Burke bounces around the "web of history" tracing various scientific developments, cultural changes, and philosophical viewpoints to see how they are all tangled up in a Timey-Wimey ball. When a particular point is a node with multiple connections, he provides margin notations to link to the other times that node is mentioned. The "How to read this book" opening sections suggests that one might follow the links to modify the way the story is presented. A "Choose Your Own History of Science" book, but without the multiple outcomes of CYOA books.

I blandly followed the linear presentation of the material. It was great even without the flexibility of path. Some of the elements I recognized from Connections, some from other science knowledge, some pieces of history I knew, and many other items were fresh to me. The book provided a pleasant review of the history of science without it being a simple linear listing. Since I read Asimov's simple linear listing two years ago, Burke provides a complementary approach to the topic.


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May 2016



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