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Archive for October, 2008

bookrev: The Spine of the World by R. A. Salvatore

Book XII in the Legend of Drizzt

I obviously can’t keep up, not with my son or with Bob Salvatore. My son is reading this The Spine of the World by R. A. Salvatoreseries way ahead of me and Salvatore keeps writing more in the series. Oy!

For once, the series leaves Drizzt behind, and focuses on Wulfgar’s troubles, his drinking and depression spawned from being the prisoner of the demo Urtuu. For a time he is a bouncer in a dive of a bar and becomes friend of the thief rouge Morik (whom dark elves under Jarlaxle’s control have told him to watch over Wulfgar). But he is seen by mates of the ship Sea Sprite, and that eventually leads Captain Deudermont to him. And pirates are stalking Deurdermont; this eventually implicated Wulfgar and Morik into a plot to kill the captain, and they are tortured and only released from the city of Luskan after Deudermont intervenes. Along the way one of the denizens of the bar who has eyes for Wulfgar’s part-time lady Delly steals his warhammer Aegis-fang, thus defining the depths to which Wulgar has plunged. (more…)

My review of The Host at SF Signal

My review of Stephenie Meyer’s non-YA novel, The Host, has just been posted at SF Signal. Click the link, and comment there if you like. My synopsis (in the wonderful SF Signal style):

REVIEW SUMMARY: More a romance fantasy than science fiction, the bestselling author of the young adult Twilight vampire/werewolf series puts a slightly original romantic angle on the highly unoriginal sci-fi vehicle of a parasite taking over human hosts.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A kinder, gentler version of a Stargate Goa’uld, (millions of them) take over Earth forcing human survivors into hiding. One of the more experienced parasites can hear the memory of the body she is inhabiting, empathizes with it and in listening to it creates a love triangle (or maybe quadrangle?) in a hidden human settlement.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Well written; believable characters; quick read.
CONS: Unoriginal parasitic invasion of Earth; no science in the “other species” they have conquered.
BOTTOM LINE: For Stargate fans who want to read about a world where the parasites actually won (and are “nice”), or for Romance fans who like a like a little bit of fantasy and don’t mind the lack of science fact in their aliens. Definitely for Meyer’s army of Twilight fans. For the rest: it is a “beach read”.

bookrev: Anathem by Neal Stephenson

I devoured Cryptonomicon and the million page (!) Baroque Cycle by Mr. Stephenson. Anathem by Neal StephensonThus I found the length and complexity of his latest, Anathem, enjoyable and challenging;  my only LARGE complaint concerning Anathem is that I wished it was longer than its 950+ pages, so that the ending could have been less forced and more satisfying.

As with these other tomes, Anathem not only tells a story, but mixes in page long thoughts or dialogs on particular subjects as different as the many worlds theory and quantum mechanics (in Anathem), the clink of a chain on a bicycle, hacking into someone’s system by intercepting the waves broadcast from their monitor, the intricacies of eating Cap’n Crunch (all from Cryptonomicon) or the discoveries of Newton, alchemy and the modern financial system (The Baroque Cycle). Some readers may believe these take away from the story, as one has difficulty believing that even people stuck in a secluded environment such as the “avout” in this novel have been would talk in this type of detail and dialog. Stephenson must have decided this was getting “too much” for some readers, as he removes three ‘dialogs’ from the main novel and puts them at the end as “calcas” (i.e., educational mathematical and philosophical proofs as educational dialogs); all are enjoyable, and should be read as part of the main course of the novel where they are referred to. (more…)

movrev: Reign of Fire

What movie combines Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt, Batman and King Leonidas of Sparta? Only 2002′s Reign of Firedragon fighting flick, Reign of Fire, starring Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale and Gerard Butler.

Granted, for true sci-fi fans, the premise of the movie is a little shaky. Excavators in London awaken a hibernating fire-spitting dragon, who smokes all of the workers except young Quinn (who grows up to be Batman, a neat trick). The dragon proliferates his species in exponential fashion; the world leaders try to nuke ‘em, but the dragons and the bombs take the world back to slightly before the stone age.

In 2020, Quinn is now leading a colony of sorts, trying to not be made extinct by dragons. King Leonidas is his best friend (yet another neat trick). (more…)

Sage Rosenfels in Playing for Pizza by John Grisham

Image by Brett Coomer of the Houston ChronicleIn Grisham’s excellent book Playing for Pizza, Rick Dockery is a 3rd string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns who comes into the game with a 17 point lead and only a few minutes remaining.

In the Houston Texans not-so-excellent game yesterday against the Indianapolis Colts, Sage Rosenfels, the 2nd string quarterback for the Texans, played a terrific game through three-and-a-half quarters, posting the Texans to a 17 point lead.

In Playing for Pizza, Dockery throws three intereptions in eleven minutes and the Browns lose the game.

In Houston, Rosenfels fumbles twice and throws an interception in the last 3:54, and the Texans  remain winless losing 31-27.

In Playing for Pizza, Dockery ends up in the Italian Football League, “playing for pizza” with the Parma Panthers.

In Houston, we’ll just have to wait and see where Sage ends up. A great game up until the last 4 minutes. Maybe he can play Dockery in the movie version…

Komen Run: the old man does 5K under 25 minutes

For the 2nd year in a row, we did the Susan Komen Race for the Cure, a 5K run or walk or Josh at Komensleep-in (depending on your disposition). My son and I ran, raised money and had a generally good though hectic time (he needed to be back at the high school for a band contest very soon after the race was over).

img00056.jpgThe race was once again in downtown Houston. Several buildings still had plywood or plastic sheets covering the windows. But it was a blue sky day, low temps for Houston, excellent running conditions. The release of the birds for those that had lost their fight with the cancer was right before the race, a moving piece to contemplate why we were there. It made my son and I both think about the conditions, so soon after Hurricane Ike.

My brother (Mr. “Boston Marathoner”) had been ed-u-ma-cating me on interval training and also on the mental aspects of running. He noticed from my times that I was running the first half faster than the second, and suggested that I start slow and finish strong. This helped in my training, so I employed it in the Komen run, with the help of my trusty nike+iPod gadget (which I cannot recommend enough as a training aide).

I put together a mix of songs that would (in theory) start me out at a normal (read: non-aggressive in typical Larry fashion) pace and would pick up halfway through.

The mix:
- Feel Good Time by Pink: nice and slow, so I would not overrun myself.
- Time Stand Still by Rush; building up, but still slow enough. Great lyrics, I was singing and running.
- Papercut by Linkin Park; a song from my son, got my pumped for the rest of the race.
- Jailhouse Rock by ZZ Top (live!); excellent beat, got me moving faster.
- Beat It (Fallout Boy with Jon Meyer); made me smile, since this is another track I got from my son but he didn’t know it was a Michael Jackson remix. That almost turned him from the song, but it’s an excellent running song.
- 3′s and 7′s (Queens of the Stone Age); from a Lance Armstrong interval training mix, the beat moves your feat on the faster intervals.
- Kickstart My Heart (Motley Crue live); it is hard not to sprint when this one comes on. As with last year, the end of the race goes under an overpass on Allen Parkway, so you are coming up a hill at the end of the race (after training in flat Houston!). This song pushed me through the hill.
- Cult of Personality (Living Color); got me over the finish line.

Depending on my iPod or the Komen race clock, I was either just over 25 or just under. Close enough for my goals, I had been finishing my training runs around 25:30. My son, who stayed out the night before playing in the band at the football game, did well too.

Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

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