Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Flash review of Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls

Just realized that I have not posted my quick video post (flash review) of the most recent book about Golden Dawn--Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community. So here it is.

[Full disclosure: One of the commentaries in the book was written by me; but considering that the royalties from the writers are going to the Golden Dawn Legal Defense Fund, I do not profit if you buy a copy of the book. And as I noted in my review, if you do not like the existence of the Golden Dawn Legal Defense Fund, just don't buy the book.]

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lilith--A Snake in the Grass (Jack L. Chalker)

Lilith: A Snake in the Grass (by Jack L. Chalker) is the first book in the Four Lords of the Diamond series. The series takes place in the future where a galactic Confederation has expanded to cover a third of the galaxy. The population is breed to be legally average, and only on the expanding frontier is random genetics and culture allowed to flourish. The reason that the frontier is allowed an element of chaos is to prevent the human race from ceasing to develop its advances. Interestingly enough, this does not completely eliminate crime; and given the fact that criminals are often the brightest of humanity, the Confederacy needs a secure place to imprison those criminals that might still make a brilliant advancement without having to worry about them escaping.

This secure place is the Warden Diamond, a solar system with four habitable planets and a rather nasty problem. Once you set foot on one of the planets in the Warden Diamond, you cannot ever leave the solar system, thanks to an organism that infects all matter in the Diamond system. But with the bad comes the good, for the organism allows for the development of special powers--the abilities dependent upon what planet you first set foot on.

Into this perfect prison system enters an unknown alien race with advanced technology, a definite danger to the Confederacy. To send an agent into the Warden Diamond is condemning them to a life sentence of imprisonment in the Diamond solar system. But the Confederacy has developed the ability to record the personality and experiences of a person, and imprint this set of memories into another's mind. Furthermore, it allows the Confederacy not only the ability to send an agent into the Diamond, the technology allows them to send the same master agent to all four Warden worlds inside four different bodies.

In Lilith: A Snake in the Grass, we are introduced to the first world of the Warden Diamond system, Lilith, and to the nameless agent that is imprinted onto four bodies condemned to be imprisoned in the Diamond system. Much of the book is about the agent overcoming the shock of being sent into the Diamond (in a new body), learning to control the Warden organism which on Lilith does not allow items that are not natural to survive unless a powerful mind overrides nature's model, and realizing that the new body changes the mind of the agent. In the end, the agent is shaken by the recorded experiences of his mind-cloned counterpart, and we are not given many clues about the alien menace (or so, we think at this point in the series).

I have read this book several times over the years. And it is a series that I have grown to admire more and more over the years as my skill as a writer and literary critic has grown. For instance, this reading I found myself admiring the first sentence of the novel: "The little man in the synthetic tweed jacket didn't look like a bomb." It is an accurate description of the first few paragraphs of the novel, and our first encounter with the technology of the alien menace. And honestly, I wish that I could come up with opening sentences for my own writing that was as good as this sentence.

I recommend this book to science fiction fans. Five out of five stars.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (Jenny Lawson)

I first discovered Jenny Lawson's writing though her blog--The Bloggess. I must admit that she occasionally writes the way I think. Which is probably not a good thing. I tend to blame my family for that...and the fact that I once fell off a roof and my father and his friends laughed for an hour (after making sure that I was all right--"Just walk it off!"). And given how Jenny writes about her family, I feel like we are kindred spirits.

I do find it fascinating that I am referring to her as Jenny. I normally refer to writers by their last names. But then again, I believe that if I wrote a book about my upbringing, she would refer to me by my first name because people who can look at one another and say, "You just can't make stuff up like this about your family" tend to treat one another on a first name basis.

And while some readers might be tempted to rack up some of these stories to an overactive imagination, I am less inclined to do so...because I have stories that are just as traumatic and weird. And so do my sisters.

One of the things that I found extremely humorous was the ongoing notes from "the editor." This is something I am sure was created out of thin air; but it was darn funny, so who cares. Again, it hits a little close to home (I once had a publisher ask me not to mention my cats in my brief bio...but they are my beta readers--as in I read to them and they nap though the reading).

Anyways, enough digression, I recommend Jenny Lawson's "Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)" to anyone who has a family that you have stories about that end with "And you can't make this stuff up."

(Five out of five stars.)

[I proudly brought this book at my local bookstore, The Tattered Cover, where I gushed that I read Jenny's blog all the time.]