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Showing posts from January, 2016

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 3

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Sometimes the first steps are the hardest, and that certainly seems to describe Frodo's dilemma.  Now that the conclusion has been drawn that he must take the ring away from the Shire, he drags his feet in making plans and preparations.  After several weeks Gandalf pushes Frodo to make solid plans, with an agreed on leaving date on his 50th birthday, several months away.  Turns out I made a mistake in chapter two, I read it as his 50th birthday had passed, not that it was still approaching.  While Gandalf accepts the date, he is quite adamant that Frodo and Samwise leave no later than September 22nd.  Taking care to not cause gossip is important, but they are now running against the clock.

Of course, it's not just a matter of leaving, but having a place to go, and to where else but Rivendell?  Now there's a location both Frodo and Sam can look forward to visiting, and one that serves Gandalf's purposes well.  I think it's particularly interesting that Gandalf comme…

The Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 2

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Bilbo's leaving has ripples within the Shire far beyond a year's worth of gossip and bother.

Among other things, along with Frodo's behavior following Bilbo's leaving, there's pretty much a permanent black mark on that branch of of the Baggins family.  Bilbo dismisses the expected disturbance as a matter of gossip for "a year and a day," but people talk about it so long that it morphs into the Legend of Mad Baggins, confabulating his adventures into an urban legend about a hobbit who disappears in a flash of light only to return with treasure.  Outside the realm of urban legend, the general consensus is that Bilbo finally went completely off the rails, came to some sort of unfortunate end after running off, and that Gandalf is all generally to blame.  Not that they are entirely wrong, Gandalf is generally to blame, and the ring did mess with Bilbo's mental state.

Frodo steps right up into Bilbo's shoes as the local eccentric rather than settling d…

Arisia 2016

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Like always, Arisia was chaotic and awesome.  For the past few years I've attended primarily in the capacity of staff which takes up a good chunk of my time, and this year we had to truncate our attendance due to work on Friday and Monday.  I also took part in three panels this year over the two days we were in attendance, so fun times.  Next year we're going out early Friday and coming back Monday evening... it really does make a difference.

I only had a brief time in which to check out the art-show, after the auction closed Sunday night.  The one frustration I've regularly had with Arisia is the hours things are open.  I'm used to late opening vendor rooms, but usually hand-in-hand with a vendor room opening at 10am or later, is that it stays open until maybe 8 or 9 (or later).  Maybe the few fandom conventions that I'm used to are the exception to the rule.  I was excited that the vendor room was open later than normal, which meant until 7PM instead of 6.  Progr…

The Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 1

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Our return to the Shire is filled with expectation and exultation.  September 22nd approaches, the 111th birthday of one Bilbo Baggins, and the 33rd birthday of his favorite nephew (and heir), Frodo Baggins.

Coming fresh from reading The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring starts on a very familiar note.  The Shire is a small, familiar, community; the type of community where everyone knows everybody else's business.  We get a fanciful and happy setting, one where someone going on an unexpected journey sixty years ago is still one of the most outrageous things gossiped about.

"Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the Shire for sixty years, ever since his remarkable disappearance and unexpected return." Like the rumors of his death, the rumors of Bilbo's wealth were greatly exaggerated.  Though our Mr. Baggins is certainly well off, it has been clearly stated that Bilbo came back from his adventure with the two small chests rather than enou…

Arisia Bound!

Actually, I'm here, settling in, but I'll be spending the next few days out and about, or otherwise occupied, so there'll largely be radio silence.

I'll try to get my write up for Chapter 1 of The Fellowship of the Rings done in time, but I probably won't.

Meanwhile, if you're about, here's where you're guaranteed to find me.

[Book Review] Empty Zone Vol.1: Conversations with the Dead

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Empty Zone Vol. 1: Conversations with the Dead / Jason Shawn Alexander (Powell's Books)

Empty Zone gives is a gritty cyber-punk future set 80 years after a world-wide blackout.  Corinne White is a relic from days when people trusted networks and remote storage for data, literally built to seek out and siphon off those digital secrets as a tool in a corporate espionage war.

Now she lives on the fringes of society, a data-courier and black-market specialist.  There are no others like her anymore.  Just the ghosts and memories, which end up as more than faintly remembered artifacts when they are the remnants of people who consumed information, even if their bodies have rotted away and forgotten them.


This graphic novel is dark, haunting, mournful, and gorgeous.  The artwork is evocative and layered, perfectly matching the story.

Corinne herself is deadly, depressive, and determined.  Her reality is warped by the changes in her physiology, the trauma of her past, her past actions, and …

[Book Review] Carter & Lovecraft

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Carter & Lovecraft / Jonathan L. Howard (Powell's Books)

Daniel Carter was just another homicide cop, until things shifted in his life when they apprehended a serial killer obsessed with discovering accessing alternative realities, and who was using amateur brain surgery on young boys to further his studies.  Life as a P.I. didn't turn out to be glamorous, but it helps him escape a strangeness that won't leave him alone.

At least, that was the plan, and that's what he keeps telling himself.

But an unexpected inheritance, then an unexplained murder, keep bringing him back into something he'd rather not face or discover.  Resignation isn't really an option this time around.


I'm left feeling a bit unsure of how I feel about this book.  I was really excited about it when I first found it, and it definitely has a solid premise.  In the end, there's a certain eeriness that it never hits, and a certain amount where I feel like the book is just leading the…

Favorite graphic novel films

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I've done my fair share of ripping apart film adaptations over the years, even in cases of films I enjoyed, when the changes pushed on irreconcilable.  Most recent examples of this can be seen in my recaps of The Hobbit as I do a chapter by chapter read-through, paired with the movies.  Combine that with a tendency to be highly critical of details, well, it's easy for me to give the impression of hating something I actually like.

For a change I wanted to highlight some graphic novel/comic book movies (I'm sidestepping TV shows for the time being) that are near and dear to my heart for various reasons.  On a side note, I'm really hoping that Deadpool becomes a member of this list.

Tank Girl
There are so many ways that the movie is nothing like the books, but I just don't care.  If anything, they took a gloriously anarchy of events and shoved the idea and setting into a plot-line, without really caring how nonsensical it ended up.  The movie feels like it belongs with…

The Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Prologue

Wherein we learn that hobbits had rather much to do out and about in the early days of Middle Earth.

The prologue gives us a very compressed socio-political history of the Hobbits and of the Shire itself, as well as reinforcing the link of Bilbo and Frodo to the greater story arc itself.  Of particular interest is the prologue's addressing of the contradicting stories of Bilbo, Gollum, and the Riddle Game, and in light of Tolkien's revisions to The Hobbit after writing The Lord of the Rings, it makes sense.  It's a rather clever way of handling it, attributing it to the ring's influence and Bilbo as an unreliable narrator, rather than pretending the different version never existed.

The prologue as it is, also stands a bit as a spoiler for what's to come.  If we're coming into this from The Hobbit we know of Bilbo, Thorin, and Gandalf.  We have no clue yet who Frodo, Samwise, Peregrin, Meriadoc, or many others are, but we know that they play important roles, and…

[Book Review] Taking the Lead

Taking the Lead(Secrets of a Rock Star) / Cecilia Tan

Ricki Hamilton is celebrity royalty, heiress to a billion-dollar legacy between her grandfather's mansion and his media company... and to running the private dungeon in the family home.  Fortunately she has her sister to help her face the challenges that arise, as they transition from being an associates grandchildren to being the ones in charge.  They're no stranger to paparazzi and media sensationalism, between their family's media productions, their wealth, her grandfather's parties, the death of Ricki & Gwen's mother, and their father's alcoholism, there is more than enough for the news hounds.  Ricki believes the only way to counter it is present herself to the world as an "ice queen," with any hint of passion or sexuality that could be used to discredit her.  Then a rock star with a bad-boy/playboy stage image tumbles into her life and (literally) carries her off.  Axel Hawke can't ge…

[Book Review] Revisionary

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Revisionary (Magic ex Libris) / Jim C. Hines (Powell's Books)

A year ago Issac revealed the existence of magic to the world, dreaming of the freedom to use magic to make the world a better place.  But the revelation left many people scared and confused, and others hungry for the power it offered.  Even the Porter-run New Millennium is at risk of falling victim to power-games by the government officials.  A dream to heal the world is stymied by politics and legislation, while other's push for projects with tactical and military potential.  Meanwhile increasing threats to the magical population has some pushing back, which may be exactly what the powers that be want.  As a Porter, Issac is no stranger to fighting against misuse of magic, but with a threat so much bigger than he, does he have the wit and resources to protect what really matters?

Issac and his friends are facing a real and present danger, one that they don't all expect to survive.


All of the Magic ex Libris boo…

Virtual Speculation 2016 Picks

Going forward into year 3!  Trying out a book club community page over at BookLikes, as well as book chatting with good friends.  I'd be totally down to do video chat book discussions again if various interested parties had compatible free time.

I haven't read anything on this list yet (well, I just started Lock In the other day, but it was already on the list beforehand).  Some of these are selected from new releases, some of them I discovered by reading Women in Science Fiction, and several are suggestions from friends.  I haven't even read anything by most of the authors here, but everything I've been reading has me excited to change that.  On average we have some distinctly quicker reads than previous, with some YA, novellas, and short novels thrown into the mix.

February: Lock In / John Scalzi
March: Midnight Robber / Nalo Hopkinson
April: Shadowshaper / Daniel Jose Older
May: Boy, Snow, Bird / Helen Oyeyemi
June: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever / James Tiptree, Jr (Ali…

[Book Review] The Subs Club & Pain Slut (The Subs Club)

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Disclaimer: This is a review of two erotic novellas about people who get off on what some readers may consider rather horrible things being done to them in consensual situations.

The books in this series portrays kink in a manner that you are not likely to have encountered in popular erotic romance (Fifty Shades of Grey, Bared to You, etc).  Depending on your general stance, you'll end up either shocked or thrilled at the kink play within.


The Subs Club series follows a group of four men still mourning the loss of their friend due to carelessness during an edge-play scene at a BDSM club over a year ago.  These are the stories of them reconciling their loss, developing relationships, growth, and hot and heavy sexy times.


The Subs Club (Subs Club #1) / J. A. Rock

It's hard to cope with the pain of what should have been an easily avoided death, even harder when people tend to respond with "that's the risk you run."  Seeing the dom responsible for Hal's death welc…

[Book Review] Unbound

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Unbound (Magic ex Libris) / Jim C. Hines (Powell's Books)

Now available in paperback.

The wake of a a magical attack has left Isaac Vainio locked away from his magic for his own protection surrounded by the wake of the damage done to his hometown.  The attack itself has been wiped from the memories of the residents, and the existence of the Porters and magic still a closely guarded secret.  Or is until a letter revealing magic, the Porters, and the existence of the Porter archives to the world appears in A Dance with Dragons.  Even more pressing to Isaac is his once-student Jeneta, now possessed by a woman locked-away in a magical prison for a thousand years and working to tear apart the Porters and the world itself.  Isaac knows he can't give up, but even if he can get his magic back will he be able to do enough?


One thing I really liked about this book is really getting to know other characters more.  The cast of characters hasn't expanded greatly, but we get more time wi…

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 19

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After the monsters have been faced, the battles won, the treasure earned, comes the time to return home.


Our Mr. Baggins is not the hobbit he was when he set out on his journey.  While he'll never be an Istari, in many ways Bilbo and Gandalf now journey as equals.  These last steps are ones of reflection and revelation, where Bilbo recalls events of their travel and Gandalf shares details of his own quests.

On May 1st we return to Rivendell, greeted with a lovely song that demonstrates that these elves know exactly what happened... and perhaps that they knew it was going to happen?  It is here that Gandalf tells of the council of wizards and the cooperative effort in driving away the Necromancer.  Thanks to their efforts the Mirkwood has a chance to return to it's former glory as the Greenwood, but the Necromancer is not yet banished from the world.

"Yet even that place could not long delay him now, and he thought always of his own home."

The last road is still a lon…

Link Smorgasbord, December 2015

Download 30 bewildering gigabytes of music cassettes from the experimental 1980s underground
Very neat collection up on the Internet Archive.

Penguin Random House announces new e-Book terms for libraries
The big news is the ebook licenses no longer expire instead of expiring after a year.  The prices have also come down to a cap of $65 per title in the US.

What is Error 451?
The idea is that ISPs display information when a URL is blocked for legal reasons, including the whys of those legal reasons.

US Budget Bill Passes With CISA Surveillance Intact
Apparently the answer to a bill that has generated incredible outrage and failed multiple times is to shove it into a huge omnibus bill and hope no one notices?
Additional reading: CISA Surveillance Bill Hidden Inside Last Night's Budget Bill

Marco Rubio and Other Senators Move To Block Municipal Broadband
This is pretty messed up, especially considering how many places a city light program is their only likelihood of getting reasonable i…

[Book Review] The Speed of Dark

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The Speed of Dark / Elizabeth Moon (Powell's Books)

Lou Arrendale is a brilliant man, with a regular job and hobbies.  He also happens to be the last of a generation left behind of medical advances used to treat neurological deviations pre-birth.  The world around him sees his diagnosis before they see the man or the mind that he possesses, and the company he works for sees the cost of "special accommodations" before the benefit of the skills of Lou's department.  An experimental procedure has "cured" autism in apes, and Lou's work is pressuring his department to take part in the trial treatments.  Now Lou needs to decide what it would me to be neurotypical, and what it means for who he is.

I find this book both incredible and deeply upsetting to read.  The fact that it's told from a non-neurotypical point of view really makes it stand out.

The book's investigation on the concept of normal and identity is why I selected it as the December Virtual…

Things did get better

I began 2015 with the statement "It has to get better eventually."

And you know what?  Things did get better in bits and pieces.

Depression, mourning, and nightmares are still an ongoing issue, but to some extent those will always be ongoing issues.  The pain of loss doesn't seem to lessen, just gets walled off.  My depression has been more laced with mania, which in some ways is an improvement since I've found a handful of creative outlets that help me channel the energy (of course, not being able to stop the overflow of ideas at 3AM isn't necessarily a good thing).

Work-wise I had ups and downs.  The first half of the year involved a lot of temping at fantastic libraries, a short stint at a human-services agency where I was hired as one thing but unknowingly needed to be another, an unfortunate turning down of a second interview for a part-time job because I had started what was meant to be a permanent full-time position, and finally landing a permanent part-ti…