Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Review: Imager by L.E. Modesitt, J

432 pp.

Available on Amazon
L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is a writer I go through phases of liking a lot to not liking him at all. My liking of him can change from one end of a series to another or from one end of a book to another. As a writer his world building is meticulous and detailed, though occasionally his cultures are thinly veiled excuses to get a Point of some kind across. His magic usually has a good bit of science in it, and vice versa. He tends to be the kind of writer who will write the main character’s entire life story before we get to the part where there is a story beyond, “and then so and so went to school where he learned a lot of stuff that is important and then this happened and he dated so and so.” (This can occasionally be extremely annoying.) He is a writer who never, ever writes about *stew, though he does not tend to go into the rhapsodic detail Steven Brust does when discussing food.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: Timeless by Gail Carriger

386 pp.
Timeless is the final book in the Parasol Protectorate series. Our Heroine has been living in one of the closets of Lord Akeldama’s home so she can be close to her daughter. (If you will recall, Akeldama is supposed to be the primary caregiver, so a certain amount of subterfuge is required.) She needs to be close to her daughter because Prudence does not actually possess the quality she is named for and has the distressing habit of being wild, reckless and nearly uncontrollable. (A toddler with the ability to become whatever supernatural person she touches is especially difficult to handle if you are say, a vampire, especially if you are a vampire who is now mortal because the kid stole your powers.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Episode Ten “Phantom Score”--Recap

The episode begins with a strange young woman with a curiously blank expression and a slightly monotone way of speaking. There is a young man playing the piano. The young man tells her that they are going to the park later and the young woman questions the purpose of going to the park. The young man explains that he wants her to experience the world and be happy. The young woman however does not seem to understand "happiness." Then we go to credits.

In the next scene after credits, we find Huey and Dalian at the park. Huey is attempting to play a violin that is extremely out of tune. Dalian is less than pleased; not even the bun she is eating can possibly cheer her up. Finally driven distraction by Huey attempting to play a clearly broken violin, she shouts at him and throws a plate. Huey scolds Dalian, and then notes that the violin he is using is supposed to be well made. Dalian appears to believe that the fault lies in the player, not the instrument. They are interrupted by the young woman from the opening scene and her companion.

The young woman's name is "Christabel Sistine" and the young man is "Dallaglio Hayward."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reading Homestuck Part Seventeen: ==> Jade: Feed the dog and Ignore the Jerk!

From here to here.

The end of the intermission leads to an [S] command titled Midnight Crew: Act 1031. We go to an animated sequence that reveals a purple city. It is a story of jazz and rival gangs in a city that never sleeps. The titular gang is made up of four individuals, Diamonds Droog, Clubs Deuce, Hearts Boxcars, and Spades Slick. (Please note that these guys appear to be of the same species as WV.)  

Jade kills some time watching gangsters be gangsters then contacts Dave. She may or may not be teasing him about being “so cool.” (I tend to lean toward “teasing.” I do not think Jade necessarily takes his claims of cool seriously, though she may think of him as cool in a dorky-cool kind of way.) They chat about the package that Jade sent John. Jade mentions it will get lost, and then found again, when John really needs it. Dave is extremely nonplused! He has absolutely no pluses, when it comes to Jade and her predictions. She ends the conversation.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reading: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs Part Six

Chapter Fifteen: Sola Tells Me Her Story

(Even though we do not really see much evidence of friendship or rapport between these two characters, so we really have no idea of why Sola is offering it.)

John wakes up to discover that he has successfully defeated his opponent. The women of his household tend to his wounds, and we realize that John is only remotely complimentary concerning Green Martians if something they do directly benefits him. (In other words, his narrative states that Green Martian women are extremely skilled as far as medicine is concerned. Of course, he does not bother to show his appreciation for the efforts of the women in his household.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bring me the head of Shirley Bogart

So! I have a deep and sincere loathing for the Great Illustrated Classics line of books. Just the merest glimpse of one of these "adapted" works makes me go ballistic. Especially in regards to the Time Machine adaptation by Shirley Bogart.

This is because of the extra chapter inserted into the book. And by extra chapter I do not mean Wells' "Grey Man" story. I mean she basically inserted an extra chapter that is basically fanfic. Chapter thirteen features another attempt by the Time Traveler to use the machine where he goes to a time that is well after his own but well before Weena's time. (if I recall correctly.) He is confronted by an advanced Things to Come type society that is not happy with his little time travel adventures. He manages to escape and he ends up going back to his own time and the book ends more or less as it does in the original. 

Now, I have no objection to fanfic! I love fanfic, read it and on occasion write it. What I do not love is the thing where ten-year-old-me went half-crazy trying to find this chapter in real, actual, non-bowdlerized editions of the Time Machine. Because of course, the chapter does not exist in real, non bowdlerized editions BECAUSE IT  WASN'T WRITTEN BY WELLS IT WAS WRITTEN BY SHIRLEY "POINTLESS FANFIC" BOGART. 

And it really was pointless to the story. As near as I can figure, Bogart was attempting to add in something a little more optimistic because frankly, TM is a depressing horror-show. (And this is why you should read it.) Adding in "Blah blah we know about time travel there have been other time travelers blah blah illegal blah," was pointless and kind of moronic if she added it so it would be "less scary" for the presumably younger reader. (Because it actually made it more depressing. If you can't figure out why, think about it.)  

In my case, it was not "less scary" it was "more annoying." Ten-year-old me was much less able to handle divergences from canon. (Current me finds the book annoying mostly on a "you added something that didn't need to be added you cow," level.)

Moribito Episode Fifteen “Premature Death”--Review

We open this episode with the Emperor presenting his son Sagum with a sword. This is something of a rite of passage and a sign of increased duties and responsibility. After Sagum accepts the sword, the scene shifts to Shuga, who is still trapped in the secret archive. Since there is not a great deal he can do at this point, he is continuing to study. (Shuga is obviously a dedicated researcher. I would be too busy worrying about the air running out in that sealed chamber or something.)

The scene shifts to Balsa and company, where Torogai is furiously grinding away at something with a mortar and pestle. Tanda scolds his teacher for working so hard but Torogai expresses the opinion that it is important to push yourself if you want to get anything done. Then she sends Chagum off on an errand to pick fruit. This errand is a ruse so she can share some important information that she does not want Chagum to hear. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review: The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip

329 pp.
The Bards of Bone Plain combines ancient magic, music and archaeology into a slow, meandering story about the search for magic that turns out to have been there the entire time. The primary storyline involves a search for a place that may only exist in metaphor and legend, a princess who is more interested in archaeology digs than in parties, and an archaeologist and his rocky relationship with his son. The secondary storyline is about Nairn, a legendary bard who failed some kind of mystical test, and is cursed with the loss of his music and immortality.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Manga Review: Kamisama Kiss Volume Two, Julietta Suzuki

In volume two of Kamisama Kiss, Nanami is bored out of her mind and has no interest in going back to school. She quickly changes her tune about school when she discovers that Kurama, a popular singer will be attending classes there. Tomoe however is less than pleased at the idea of Nanami going somewhere without protection of some kind. He eventually relents on the condition that Nanami wear a silly hat. (To hide the “tochigami mark” on her forehead from anything that might see it and attack her.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reading Homestuck Part Sixteen: ==> Jade: Play a Silly Flute Refrain

From here to here.

Just before Act Three, we see that John’s Nanna left him a message inside the gigantic joke book. The message is pretty much a continuation of the spiel already given him by Nannasprite. She explains some of the backstory and gives the game titles and functions of each of the player characters. There will be a Witch of Space, a Seer of Light, a Knight of Time and a Heir of Breath. She also states that all four of them will “Ascend.”

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Episode Nine “Book of Twilight”--Recap

This episode uses an older art style that is vaguely reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki's work. (The costume designs some of the other characters in this episode reminds me very strongly of Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind.) We see a barren and desolate landscape that looks like nothing on Earth. Huey and Dalian turn up, walking toward a fortress. They appear to be on some sort of important mission. When they reach the fortress they find it in ruins. Dalian looks extremely sad, and Huey notes that the world is falling apart. Then we go to the opening credits.

When we get back from credits, we are introduced to an old woman who is currently complaining about her apprentice and granddaughter, Ira. Ira meanwhile, is heading off to town on an errand. While visiting an elderly man named Mr. Salut, we get some back story on Ira. She apparently has a crush on a young merchant named Tito, whose caravan is due to arrive in town soon. As the old man is teasing her about her crush, she catches sight of Dalian and Huey, who have been wandering around the town.

The next scene is Ira dispensing medicinal herbs to a young soldier.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Book Review: Con and Conjure by Lisa Shearin

322 pp.
In Con and Conjure, Raine’s family decides to help her stop the powerful political figures calling for her death and for war against the goblins by running a con that will cause the politicians to go bankrupt. Since her family is the Elven Mafia they have the ability and wherewithal to do it. Unfortunately, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The plan is completely disrupted thanks to the goblins gearing up for an invasion and assassins going after the exiled younger brother of the king of the goblins. (Said younger brother would like there not to be a war which means he is facing assassins from both the elven and the goblin sides of the conflict.) Other complications include one of the assassins being Raine’s ex-fiancĂ© and someone attempting to steal the Saghred.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Reading: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs Part Five

Chapter Twelve: A Prisoner With Power

Lorquas Ptomel wants to have a nice little chat with John about his plans to escape with Dejah Thoris. He is very reasonable and points out that John has a lot of prestige despite being a prisoner, and that John’s plans of escape are not very honorable! Lorquas mentions that there is some indication that John is a heretic, and this is another reason why John needs to chill on his escape plans. Lorquas also points out that John’s behavior is making the politics of this particular tribe very murky and problematic and John needs to stop causing problems. Lorquas also states that Dejah Thoris is a very important prisoner and absolutely needs to be transported to the big Thark shindig where she will be torn to bits or worse. He then finishes up with a speech that Tharks are honorable and justice-seeking beings and that Dejah’s lecture is completely untrue.