Tag Archives: Books


John Scalzi @ Prairie Lights

Tonight, John Scalzi made a stop at the Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, IA for his book tour to promote The Last Colony. Michelle & I got there wicked early1 and chatted with a couple of store employees briefly. Fortunately, they were cool with me bringing in my own copy of The Android’s Dream to get it signed. *whew*

Then while we were looking around the shelves near the area for the reading, they said we could go ahead and purchase a copy of The Last Colony while we were waiting so we wouldn’t have to wait in line later. Schweet. Then I noticed they had copies of The Sagan Diary. I was most pleased by this as I was a bit strapped for cash when the pre-orders were announced for it on Mr. Scalzi’s blog and I’d heard the complete print run had sold out. Naturally, I grabbed one of the 3 copies they had left. 😀 Then we went into the coffee shop3 and grabbed a drink. I had their cafe mocha, while Michelle had a brewed butterscotch toffee coffee, which she promptly ruined by using soy milk for a creamer and adding sugar to it. Then we went back over to the reading area and found Mr. Scalzi had arrived. He was chatting with the few members of the audience4 and with the various members of the staff.
As Mr. Scalzi’s visit happened to be part of the Live from Prairie Lights. This is a local radio program that is recorded live and then later played back on a local radio station, as well as the UofI‘s school/public access TV channel. So he also spent some time talking to the host of the program prepping for the show.

Then just before the show began, he addressed the audience letting us know he’d start off by reading the first chapter of The Last Colony, go into a Q&A session and then he’d be happy to pose for photos. Naturally, that’s when I decided to snap a quick shot. Heh. I also took a couple of photos later, but they weren’t as amusing as this one so they’ll remain offline for now. The reading and Q&A were quite fun to listen to. Not being a writer, I didn’t join in and ask any questions (plus my caffeine buzz was wearing off). After the recording was over, Mr. Scalzi kindly offered to sign any books people had. I quickly stepped into line with my brand-new copy of The Last Colony — specifically purchased at Prairie Lights this very evening to support them, since they brought Mr. Scalzi in for us — and my slightly dog-earred copy of The Android’s Dream.

Side note: Yes, I realize this entry is rather disjumbled. This is partly explained by me having a caffeine-crash headache, partly by me staying up till 1AMish to write it and partly by me just not being a writer.
Side note 2: The quickie post following this will explain part of why the heck I’m still up writing this.

1 Mostly due to somebody’s lead foot2.
2 Said lead foot was not a Men’s size 13.
3 In his opinion on coffee, Mr. Scalzi is quite wrong. Coffee (especially good coffee) does not taste like ass.
4 Around this time, Michelle mentioned to him The Android’s Dream was her favorite book and he said it was his as well.

Review: The Android’s Dream

The Android's Dream

The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi
My Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book is a delightfully wacky tale of one man’s fight to keep a very special sheep alive. In the process, our hero will have to fight off various aliens and a few treacherous villainous humans. Scattered throughout The Android’s Dream are numerous one liners. Each one of these taken by itself and outside the context of the story are funny, but put together and in context they’re hysterical. LOL is a common abbreviation used online that stands for “Laugh Out Loud”. These days it is mostly used to indicate somebody found something else amusing and does not actually mean any truly laughed outside of their own head. I bring this up as I repeatedly found myself laughing out loud while reading The Android’s Dream. Below are a few of my favorite lines from the book:

  • Jesus, forgive me, he thought. I really shouldn’t have eaten that panda.
  • “No more shoes in advance for anyone,” he said.
  • “Today people have tried to kill me, the police are looking for me, and I’ve just discovered every Easter of my childhood, I ate one of my relatives with mint jelly. I’m just fine.”
  • “I don’t know … You’d have to ask the sheep.”
  • It drives physicists mad and every few years on e will snap and begin raving that sentient beings should nae fuck with that which they ken nae unnderstan’
  • If my little review here fails to entirely convince you to rush out and find a copy of this book to read, then try Bookgasm’s review

    50 most significant sci-fi/fantasy novels

    This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you’ve read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

    1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien*
    2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
    3. Dune, Frank Herbert
    4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein*
    5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
    6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
    7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
    8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
    9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
    10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
    11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
    12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
    13. Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
    14. Children Of The Atom, Wilmar Shiras
    15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
    16. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
    17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
    18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
    19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
    20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
    21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
    22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card*
    23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson* This is really three books that they’ve lumped altogether and I don’t see any combined version for sale on Amazon. The individual books are: Lord Foul’s Bane (Book 1), The Illearth War (Book 2) and The Power That Preserves (Book 3).
    24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
    25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
    26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
    27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams*
    28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
    29. Interview With The Vampire, Anne Rice
    30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
    31. Little, Big, John Crowley
    32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
    33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
    34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
    35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
    36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
    37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
    38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
    39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
    40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
    41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
    42. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
    43. Snow Crash., Neal Stephenson
    44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
    45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
    46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein*
    47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
    48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
    49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
    50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

    Review: Valley of the Soul

    Valley of the Soul

    Valley of the Soul
    My rating: 5 out of 5.

    My first introduction to the world of Faldorrah came about 2 years ago. AWelkin knew the author and had an early copy of the first book, Ghosts in the Snow. My wife and I were over at AWelkin’s house for a visit, planning to watch some anime. However my wife picked up Ghosts in the Snow and was lost to us for the evening, as she wouldn’t put down the book for anything. I got my chance to read the book later that weekend and was hooked myself. That first book in this series combined elements I really enjoyed from a variety of genres into one book and it was fantastic. Then last year, Threads of Malice, the sequel was released. It was a good read, I found the second book to be too dark disturbing for my tastes. At the end of this month, the third book will finally be released. But having “connections” helps, as AWelkin was kind enough to provide me with an advanced reader’s copy. Fortunately, I’ll have to give it back and go out to buy my own copy.

    Yes, you heard me right. I am quite happy to return this free copy so I can go out to buy my own copy. No, I’ve not lost my mind or been replaced by one of the pod people. While I tend to keep a grip on my spending money; this book is definitely worth buying to support the author. This third book in the series is probably Ms. Jones best work yet.

    This time around Dubric is out of the castle investigating some gruesome1 animal killings. All of the characters who survived the Threads of Malice are still around but have definitely been psychologically scarred by their experiences. It’s really good nice…. Hmm, it’s horrible the sorts of things these characters have been put through but it’s great that Ms. Jones continues to build on her previous work, rather than just ignoring how her characters would react after living through something like that.

    While Dubric is out in the field, he almost gets his first ghost of this book. I say almost because it’s just the head, the rest of the ghost’s body is missing. This is something new and disturbing for Dubric. The reason behind the ghosts showing up in parts2 was a surprise but one that fits nicely into the world Ms. Jones has created. In a sense there are multiple villains in this book and Ms. Jones kept me guessing throughout the book. Basically, if you like Ms. Jones’s other works (particularly her first book) then I’d highly recommend you pick this one up as well.

    1 Not nearly so gruesome as the 2nd book in this series, but still rather unpleasant.
    2 If you think revealing that there will be multiple ghosts in this book is some kind of spoiler, than you must be completely unfamiliar with Ms. Jones’s work.

    Are you a hoopy frood, like me?

    Towel Day Self Portait

    If so, you better have your towel with you today! As today, is Towel Day.

    For those not familiar, Douglas Adams was one of the funniest writers of our time. He wrote a wonderful series of radio plays which were converted in a a series of books and a TV show and later into a really awful movie. This was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In this, Mr. Adams wrote:

    A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical
    value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

    More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

    After Mr. Adams’s death some lunatics decided to create Towel Day as a tribute to his genius. I only heard about it this year (about a week ago to be more precise) and decided to join in on the fun. And the fact that I’m telecommuting to work today had absolutely nothing to do with that decision. *grin*

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