Books in 2010, #6

#6. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Ah, time travel. It can be a tricky beast, asking lots of questions, undoing major events, moving a pebble a fraction to the left and starting a tsunami in a neighboring country. Heavy stuff. It can also be fun and funny, as most Pratchett books are, and Night Watch is a phenomenal read for a number of reasons. The first? Samuel Vimes. Of all the Discworld books, my favorite is the standalone Small Gods. That will never change; I’ve read it at least five times, and love Om in turtle form. After that, I will always want a City Watch book before Rincewind, Death, or the Witches. Carrot Ironfoundersson, Angua von Überwald, Corporal Nobbs, and, of course, Vimes—these are some of the best characters Pratchett has to offer, and their policing is always logical and thought out instead of the usual “kick down the door and go in guns a-blazing.” The second reason? Every scene is full of tension. Every. Scene. See, while chasing after a criminal, Vimes get transported back in time and assumes a new identity since a young Sam Vimes already exists at this point. And yes, he will have to teach himself everything he (already?) knows. Oh, and there’s a revolt to stop, too. The third? For once, there’s a villain here who actually comes across as villainous, totally nutters. Every time Vimes and Carcer met, I brought the book closer to my face, not wanting to miss a single word.

This isn’t Pratchett’s first poke at spacetime continuum (hello, Thief of Time!), but he he’s stronger here, more funny and enlightening, giving us a look at younger versions of characters we’ve come to care about, such as Dibbler and Havelock Vetinari. His stance on the butterfly effect is much the same as LOST’s, in that whatever happened, happened. There’s still plenty of room for speculation though. And it all comes together in the end, very satisfying, and I lovingly recommend Night Watch, but only if you have a general understanding of the world and its characters.

Next up for me Pratchett-wise is…Making Money. Now, I was never crazy about the character Moist in Going Postal despite loving the whole post office plot so we’ll see how this one turns out. Maybe Vimes will pop up for a scene or two? Can you tell how much I love Vimesy?

Isn't life strange?

It's been an interesting day for me. Stuff has been unfolding over its many hours, and I've done the usual of trudging through it without a single frown. But the frown's there, I promise; you just can't see it from your ivory towers. Alas, it's stuff I can't really talk about on a public form. I wish, I wish I could, but I know I'd only end up upsetting people and digging the ditch an inch or so deeper. Maybe you can piece something together using the tags I've selected below. Puzzle powers unite or something.

Er, yeah.

LOST was good. So was Tara's tweet about her mug. That made me smile. I have to hold onto these things lest I fall down, teeth to stone, feet to the back of the head. Now to escape to Ferelden, now to hide.

Kill Yourself Over Tuna

Attention! Attention! All sandwich shops! You’re going to want to stock up on tuna for the next several Fridays until Lent is over. It is going to be a popular item. That is all.

Also, I walked by the Quiznos today and saw the same girl working so I guess she didn’t end it after all. The weight upon my soul has lifted…

So here I am above palm trees
So straight and tall
You are smaller, getting smaller
But I still see you

- “Goodbye Sky Harbor” by Jimmy Eat World


Pre-Cana Marriage Classes and the Awkward Questions

For those that don’t know (and that’s probably many considering the whopping two paragraphs on Wikipedia), Pre-Cana is a number of courses that allow a couple to get married in the Catholic church. Sometimes the classes can stretch over three weekends, but Tara and I knocked it out in one big gulp last Saturday. It was…all right. A little awkward at times (see above), and my biggest gripe with the whole deal was that the instructors already assumed you and your future spouse fought and had many deep, problematic issues to work out from the get-go. That’s not the case with Tara and I. I’m peanut butter, she’s chocolate; we complement each other greatly, and nothing can stop us. But then when you tell them this, it’s still something negative because it’s not good to not fight ever…or some silliness like that. To each his own, I guess.

But yeah, we survived eight hours of Pre-Cana and even got to have mass in the chapel we’re getting married in. It was nice. My head didn’t explode there.

I believe in you even through the tears and the laughter
I believe in you even though we be apart
I believe in you even on the morning after

- “I Believe In You” by Bob Dylan


Oh no, someone spiked the bowl of time punch!

Look, I know in our field it's pretty standard (and 97.8% easy) to make fun of the covers Baen Books puts out. They are gaudy and silly and glaringly offensive to graphic designers young and old, as well as a slew of other things. Unfortunately (or maybe in PR's eyes fortunately), they stand out on bookshelves like giant hairy moles, and on my recent voyage to Barnes & Noble a certain hardcover book called out to me from the NEWLY RELEASED section, saying "Pick me up! Please? Pick me up! Up! I'm dying here. Please?"

Everyone, meet Time Spike by Eric Flint and Marilyn Kosmatka:


Oh boy.

Okay, let's play a game. Without looking up the plot synopsis, tell me in the comments section below what Time Spike is all about. Bonus points if you name the dino.

Shopping to the max

I've had some gift cards burning a hole in my wallet since Christmas and decided to spend some of my nice, sunny day! First stop was Target, where everyone else in the world seemed to have the same idea as me. Shop, shop, shop, yell at children in public. Well, I only did the first three items. Anyways, wasn't sure exactly what I wanted so I headed towards the DVDs wherein I got this:


That's right! Two seasons of LOST for the price of one season! Plus discounted with a gift card. Total damage I had to actually pay: $10.00. I couldn't pass up such a deal, and now I can definitely hook semisuite right from the beginning. Plus, I've never seen any of the extras and behind-the-scenes stuff that's cool.

Then a trip to Barnes & Noble. Avoiding the entire center table dedicated to all things Twilight, I made my way to the science fiction/fantasy shelves where I picked up Making Money by Terry Pratchett and Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Both are drastically different books, but that's how I roll read. I wasn't a huge fan of Moist as a character in Going Postal, but it's more Pratchett. Never a bad thing. I also picked up Smile by Raina Telgemeier, a fun-looking new graphic novel, but found it in the children section, which I kind of thought was odd. Oh well.

So yeah, shopping was a success. Normally I just give up after 30 minutes of not finding anything.

Okay, back to work. Those Clarkesworld stories won't slush themselves, and those Supertown comics won't draw themselves. If only, right?

Percy Jackson and The Lightning Doodie

It was bad. Other words to describe the experience include: abominable, atrocious, awful, contemptible, criminal, dire, disgraceful, disgusting, execrable, heinous, loathsome, low, malodorous, mean, obnoxious, peccant, putrid, rancid, rank, reprehensible, repulsive, rotten, sad, scandalous, shameful, sickening, stinking, terrible, unfavorable, vile, villainous, wicked, wretched, and wrong. Really, any of those will work. Also, doodie.

If you’ve read the book, I suggest you stay far, far away. If you haven’t read the book, let me spoil one part for you in the hopes that you’ll understand I’m doing it for your own good and to save you money and time and brain cells: you will, in all seriousness, witness teenage kids tripping on drug cookies while a satyr line-dances to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”


(Special thanks to Panlexicon for this entry.)

‘Cause I am due for a miracle
I’m waiting for a sign
I’ll stare straight into the sun
And I won’t close my eyes
Till I understand or go blind

- “Stare at the Sun” by Thrice


Books in 2010, #5

#5. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The powerful Titan Kronos is on the march with his army, and Olympus is in serious danger. It’s a war none too different from the ol’ days when the Greek gods fought Kronos and took him apart. Alas, things are looking much bleaker for Poseidon and company since some comrades have now shown their true colors, but thankfully they have some nimble-witted demigods on their side.

The Last Olympian opens to action fast and does not let up until it is all over. This, I loved. The pacing is the best of the series so far, and you really feel the tension and struggle building over each chapter. Side characters come to the forefront, and I honestly thought I knew how it would all go down, y’know, in typical YA fantasy form, with the Young Jedi’s master sacrificing himself and Harry finding the power to truly destroy He Who Should Not Be Named from within. But Riordan actually managed to surprise me, with in itself is surprising when the series revolves around a rather obvious yet-to-happen prophecy.

However, he still can’t write his way out of a paper bag when it comes to love, but there’s so much else going on here that emotions of the heart hardly matter when hellhounds are on the hunt and gods are unsure. There’s also, again, a heavy reliance on Percy’s dreams to either move the plot forward or fill in the gaps. After five books of this, I’m pretty dreamed out. Lastly, there was no need to imply that The Beatles were demigods; it’s like that scene in Men in Black when the computer monitors are showing a bunch of aliens across the galaxy and we some familiar faces in the mix. Just silly for silly's sake, and that's funny considering how silly Percy is in his battle-ready quotes, but whatever. I just didn't like it.

But yeah. There are some really fun action sequences, as well as a couple of red herrings that for those that love to geek over Greek will warm their hearts even if they ultimately don’t add much to the plot. The majority of loose ends are tied up neatly, and the death toll still leaves Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as king of the hill. Lastly, The Last Olympian ends with the hint of more. Truthfully, I think it’s done enough. Percy Jackson has come of age, stopped Bowser, and saved the princess. No other castle needed. That’s all, folks.

The only bad thing about all of this? I will now have to find another YA series to get hooked on.

SIDENOTE: semisuite and I are planning to check out The Lightning Thief, the movie which is based on the first book. Save for the part where Percy Jackson is twelve, not seventeen. And other things. Also, don’t you love when trailers spoil big plot points? Yes, we’re worried overall, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll be okay. Keep your fingers crossed for that one.

Okay, let's get twittery

Wow, I wish I could use this like an actual journal, but I'm no longer that interested in writing at length about my life so much. Thank heavens for Twitter then. Seriously, I'm much livelier when it comes to 140 character updates. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I like to talk about coffee, LOST, Supertown, slushing, and politics videogames. But for those not in the know already, here's a sample selection of some of the wit, humor, and pure genius that I spew on there daily:

  • What has two thumbs and garlic breath? THIS GUY.
  • Hey, radio station? Saying it's time to "experience the rock" and then playing "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum is not how you do it.
  • If you're about to get snowed in, don't buy bread and water. Get a new videogame. You'll have more fun that way.
  • @clarkesworld slush is like that IHOP commercial where the guy eats some pancakes, and they grow back right before his eyes.
  • Between my beard and re-emerging love for flannel, I'm totally turning into a real woodsman.

...and so much more!

As of this post, I have 290 followers. Don't know how many of them are Britney Spears sexbots or whatever, but hey...that's only 10 away from 300. Math is fun.
Right, anyways...I PROPOSE A CONTEST. Be my 300th follower (or closest to real 300th follower if a robot gets there first), and I'll do a little drawing for you. Of whatever you want. A goblin riding a unicorn with lasers coming out of its eyes while it reigns pain down upon a victim of your choosing? Sure. Whatever helps you sleep at night, my friend. Or, y'know, it could be like a new Twitter avatar or something. Your choice.

Okay, follow me: Pabba on Twitter. And tell your friends!