Thursday, August 30, 2012

My new gig

So, I've recently been taken on as a contributor to the Insatiable Booksluts, a forum for all indie and literary booky things. And classics reviews. And literary playlists. And angry rants about literature. And, courtesy of yours-truly, bookish comics.

If you're not familiar with the Booksluts, go check them out! I only came across them myself a couple of months ago, but I'm pretty jazzed by the humor and intelligence to be found there. If you are familiar with the Booksluts, you can clap your hands for joy now that you have the opportunity to be subjected to my incredibly artistic comics in not one, but TWO places.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ever wanted to take a *FREE* class in sci-fi/fantasy literature ?

My sister is awesome, and pointed me to this online class through coursera that is:

1. Free
2. Conducted by a seriously talented professor at the University of Michigan
3. Totally awesome

The course is 10 weeks long, and started on the 23rd of July, which means you might have to do a little catch-up work...but I bet it would be totally worth it.

I've read some of the great stuff covered in the course, like Frankenstein, everything by Hawthorne and Poe, The Invisible ManHerland, and the Martian Chronicles, but that still leaves a lot I have yet to discover. I'm seriously intrigued.

I'd like to be a writer of fantasy or science fiction when I grow up, and the fact that I haven't read even half of the units in this course reminds me that I'm hardly the sci-fi/fantasy guru that people sometimes accuse me of being (being this type of guru is almost pejorative as far as my wife is concerned).

Below is the bio pic of the course instructor, the honorable Erik S. Rabkin. Now, isn't that the face of someone you'd want to have marking your homework with a red pen? FYI his office hours are TWTh 3:10-4:00, if you ever happen to be stopping through Ann Arbor.

On a more general note, is the idea of free online classes taught by experts in their field totally amazing and cool to anyone else? This had better still be happening when Addison starts school, because that's probably the next time I'll have enough free time for this sort of awesomeness.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004), Susanna Clarke. Paperback, 782 pages. 

Awards: Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, Locus Award for Best First Novel, The Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Galaxy National Book Award, Long List for Mann Booker Prize

Summary: Two magicians with very different methods vie for best way to bring magic back to England. For a more detailed summary, click here.

First Sentences: 
Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.


    It has been remarked (by a lady infinitely cleverer than the present author) how kindly disposed the world in general feels to young people who either die or marry. Imagine then the interest that surrounded Miss Wintertowne! No young lady ever had such advantages before: for she died upon the Tuesday, was raised to life in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and was married upon the Thursday; which some people thought too much excitement for one week.

     The desire to see her was quite universal. The full stretch of most people's information was that she had lost a finger in her passage from one world to the next and back again. This was most tantalizing; was she changed in any other way? No one knew.


Writing Quality: 8/10

Depth of Concept: 6/10

Rounded Characters: 6/10

Well-Developed World: 9/10

Page Turner: 6/10

Kept Me Thinking: 6/10

Overall Recommendation: 7/10

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Too many good books

We're at another reunion this week, so here's another short post. But just to give you a peek behind the curtains, I'm currently making my way through 1. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (I started it a long time ago, but got bogged down and moved on to quicker-paced fare) 2. Perdido Street Station 3. 2312

So, I've got some good stuff I'm working on for the next couple of weeks. See you on the other side...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dystopia and the post-apocalypse

We're roadtripping through Zion National Park today, and won't be back to California until the weekend, so this is just a quick post to let you know we're still alive. It's a great region of the country to imagine the apocalypse. For some schlocky post-apocalypse movie fun set in the no-man's land middle of the country, check out A Boy and His Dog or Idaho Transfer.

Also, in honor of dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature, and my finally getting through the last of the Hunger Games trilogy, here's a great infographic I came across that gives some interesting historical comparison points for the genre.