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Posts from the ‘Books’ Category


Throwdown: Magic and Fantasy

One of the core elements of fantasy is that it contains the fantastical. What could be more fantastical than the inhuman powers of magic wielded by the denizens of the universe? Magic is often found in fantasy books, although its provenance varies widely. In some universes, magic is an innate ability of certain people; in others it is merely the ability to bend wild forces of the universe to one’s will. What cannot be disputed is that magic has a significant effect on the worlds in which it exists.

When authors write magic into their books, they have to make a choice about how much of a factor it will be. Whether this choice is made consciously or not, it must be made, and it can make a big difference in how well the universe holds together. Magic, poorly incorporated, can result in instances of the Superman Problem, and, in doing so, cheapen the quality of an otherwise good book. I’m not bashing magic here. I’m saying that the way an author treats magic makes a huge difference in how well the constructed world holds up.

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Epic Hunger Games Poster Revealed

Shortly after Jon’s review of Hunger Games went up two weeks ago, I picked up the series myself, and have hardly been able to put it down. I blazed through the first book in a little more than a day, staying up until 4:30am to finish it.  Besides making me largely useless at work that week, it has gotten me very excited for the upcoming film adaptation, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.  Yahoo Movies stoked that fire (pun intended) earlier today when they revealed the brand new “motion poster” for the movie.  It features Katniss Everdeen’s iconic Mockingjay pin wreathed in flame, and is really freaking awesome.

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The Insane Custom Bookplate of Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s seminal space opera, A Princess of Mars, had been on my to-read list for a long time.  But, when I found out Disney was turning it into a movie, it jumped to the top of that list.  A Princess of Mars, and the books that follow it in the Barsoom saga, have influenced celestially minded individuals for decades, including greats such as Carl Sagan and Ray Bradbury.  And, while I loved the book, I’m kind of getting the uh-ohs from the first trailer.  But that’s another story.

While perusing the Wikipedia page for Edgar Rice Burroughs, I saw a picture of the man’s custom bookplate.  It’s epic.  I only have one book with a bookplate.  And it’s not even a book, it’s the DODOcase for my Kindle.  Point, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Keep going for the bookplate, the letter explaining it, and the first trailer for Disney’s John Carter.

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Out Today: A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Here at last, a day I feared might never come. The long awaited fifth volume of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire finally hits the shelves today. ‘Finally’ is a good word too – by my count it has been over 2072 days since A Feast For Crows (vol. 4) was released, over five and a half years of waiting and wondering. Head on over to your local bookstore (because you should support local bookstores) and grab a copy of A Dance With Dragons. If you’re lazy, I’m sure Amazon’s got it.

A Dance With Dragons drops at an interesting time and poses some interesting questions. It clearly took a while to write and in the mean time, the excellent HBO series has stirred up massive interest in the books and story. George R. R. Martin is apparently planning to write seven books, but given how long it has taken for just this one, you would be forgiven for wondering if that will come to pass. I have some thoughts on that subject, and ideas on how A Dance With Dragons could give us some clues. Check them out


Fiction Shown to Improve Social Understanding

Score one for the Nerds!   It is pretty well known that the vast majority of literature and media enjoyed by nerds around the world is fiction.  Be it comics, fantasy, sci-fi, TV shows, movies, even video games (OK, this may be a stretch for the purposes of this article, but we’re going with it), nerds LOVE fiction.  We have been proclaiming that ‘Nerd’ is the new ‘Cool’ forever…  Now, there is a study with some psychology case evidence that reading fiction actually improves your social understanding.  All y’all haters say hi to thatRead moreRead more


Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy (no spoilers)

Kids killing kids.  Kids killing kids while being filmed.  Kids killing kids, being filmed, and being broadcast live across an entire nation, where every citizen is forced to watch on pain of death.  Welcome to the nation of Panem, which rose from the ashes of what was once North America and gives us the willies the same way George Orwell’s Oceania did in 1984.  In this fast paced and hip new trilogy, Suzanne Collins takes readers on a roller-coaster journey of love, pain, murder, betrayal, insanity, and revolution. Read moreRead more


Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy for $50 Off

Just in time for tonight’s final installment in the re-release of Peter Jackson’s (and JRR Tolkien’s) masterpiece, Amazon is running a great deal on the just-released extended edition of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  The whole set can be yours for only $69.99, a whopping $50 off the MSRP.  While Amazon usually doesn’t charge MSRP, this set has been hovering at around $90 for the last few weeks, so I certainly plan to snap this up.

Get it here.


Vincenzo Natali Talks Neuromancer

A recent episode of /Filmcast features Vincenzo Natali, director of the surreal horror classic Cube and of the recent genetic horror film Splice, talking about his work on the upcoming adaptation of William Gibson’s Neuromancer.  Because, apparently, that’s actually happening.

Published in 1984, Neuromancer is considered the seminal work of the cyperpunk genre.  Chris, before you start any trouble, Snow Crash is a close second, but it’s still second.  Noted for, among many other things, the popularization of the term “cyberspace” (which Gibson, himself, invented in an earlier short story) Neuromancer presaged the development of the internet itself and influenced the most popular science fiction stories of the last 30 years.  This includes The Matrix, Avatar, and even your precious Snow Crash.

My copy of the book was given to Wade, Chris, and Third, never to be seen (or read, apparently) again.  Do yourself a favor and read it.  Then listen to the podcast here.

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Shirt Loot: Those Nasssttty Adventurous Hobbittses

Having just seen the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on the big screen once again in anticipation of the BluRay release, I cannot help but get excited for The Hobbit. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings is the best book to movie adaptation I have ever seen; it conveys the epic tale with as much detail and power as it deserves.

And so, I’m now on a Tolkien kick, and what better to feed my fire than today’s shirt. I cannot wait to see Thorin and his band of treasure hunters march up to Bag End and whisk Bilbo off on an adventure on the big screen, but for now I think I’ll content myself to pretend I’m one of that merry band with this t-shirt.


Shirt Loot: You got your LotR in my Green Lantern

This is awesome.  Just in time for the Green Lantern to hit theaters (this Friday) and for the re-release of Lord of the Rings (starting tonight in theaters across the country – don’t forget!), shirt.woot brings us a shirt that combines all things ring related.  Be sure to read the text below the tee-graphic for some added fun.