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foundationEvery year I come up with a list of books that I would like to read. This year is a little different as I have finally put pen to paper and organized which books are at the top of my list. The list is rather large, but I least I have all these books together and which format the books are in so they are easy to reference when it comes time to start reading a new book.

For example, I have been meaning to read the Foundation trilogy for a while now, and with the series/Movie looming on the horizon, this is the year to start. For those books on my list I have organized them in which order they should be read and in which format I have them – nook, Kindle, Hardback, Paperback, etc.

This list also helps me keep a list of not only which books are in a series and how that series should be read, but I know which books in said series I have already read. Sounds silly, I know, I mean everyone should know which books they have already read, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. Take my Jack McDevitt books for example. The first book of his that I read was Chindi even though The Engines of God and Deepsix came first in that series. But that was several years ago. The book Omega of his is next on my list to read. Also with McDevitt books, you have two character series that he writes in: The Priscilla Hutchins and the Alex Benedict series.it

This makes things easier for me as I find it difficult to keep track of what I would like to read next, since my house is filled with books making is distracting; but also, since Science Fiction and Fantasy books all seem to come in trilogies or larger, it’s easy to sometimes forget where I am in my reading.

What I am reading at the moment is The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, neither Science Fiction or Fantasy, but still a book that I have heard nothing but good things about and have been trying to find the time to read for years. Another reason for the list. Also on the list of things to at least try and read this year are A Clash of Kings by George R. R. MartinThe Shining and The Dead Zone by Stephen KingCaliban’s War by James S. A. Corey; and Write-A-Thon by Rochelle Melander.

duneThere will be more to that list as I also like reading history and true crime books as well, but for now that’s what I’ve been up to and/or ready.

I am also trying to make an effort to finish books that I have started reading. There have been more than a few books that I have started in the past few years – last year especially – that I have started and then not finished, and thus have to start again. The Sword of Shannara is one such book that springs to mine, which is a shame because it was a book I got about 150 pages into and really enjoyed, but then got side tracked with other life emergencies.

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Now that I have finished reading The Martian (coming to a theater near you in October), I have moved onto reading Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.

I have been on a “read ’em before the movie/television show comes out” kick lately, hence The Martian and now Childhood’s End which is being made into a show and premiering on the Syfy channel this December. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always had Childhood’s End in my library and have always wanted to read it, so the fact that it is being made into a television show isn’t the only reason why I’m reading it, but it has certainly lit a fire under my ass to get it read before the premier. Having said that, Foundation by Issac Asmiov is next on the list because that looks like it will be a T.V. show/series premiering sometime in the near future on HBO. After that will be Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, since that is another show premiering on the Syfy channel this December. After that my schedule is open, but at the rate I read these next books will take me probably to the end of the year.

Just as a side not, I have also been reading a history book on Mark Anthony and Cleopatra which is very interesting so far, even though I am only fifty pages or so into the book. And I am also reading a how-to book on writing and revising and editing, the title escapes me no, but it’s not as boring as I thought it would be and I am actually enjoying it and the suggestions it is giving me to be a better writer. So there you have it!

farsideI’ve been a fan of Ben Bova since I was in High School and have read many of his books including Mars and Jupiter, but it’s been a while since I have read any other of his works. I decided to jump back Bova‘s Grand Tour series after reading the description for the Farside novel. I’m three quarters of the way through the book of the story that follower a group of scientists trying to build a large telescope on the far side of the Moon in order to get the first images of a Earth-like planet discovered around a distant star and the challenges that are standing in the way of them accomplishing their goal. One thing that I love about Bova‘s works is that his stories are easy to read, as well as well written and thought out. Farside may not be as good as Mars was all those years ago, but I am enjoying what I have read so far. I am also looking forward to reading New Earth, Titan, Saturn, and Venus at some point in the future.

heir_to_the_empireWhat I would really like to do is get Jar Jar Abrams and the heads of Disney Corporation in a small room and tell them what worthless pieces of Bantha Fodder they are. Yeah, then I would like to tell them where they can shove their new movie. For real Star Wars fans, you know that the events that took place after Return of the Jedi and even before The Phantom Menace, and even everywhere in between, have all been scribbled out in details in numerous books, comics and even television series. But apparently the powers that be at Disney are considering that massive body of work null-and-void as they plan on re-writting the entire Star Wars universe. I took this to even mean Timothy Zahn‘s Heir to the Empire trilogy, which I have a special place for in my heart. So just so everybody knows there will now be two Star Wars universes – the real one that has been their since the beginning, and the new one that Jar Jar Adrams and his cronies wrote. But I’m not bitter.

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foundationThere hasn’t been much to get excited about in regards to Hollywood, but for all that disappointment, cable sure seems to be picking up the slack. For example, I have always been one that has been critical of Hollywood‘s choice to do the remake or the comic book story, ignoring the hundreds, if not thousands, of science fiction books that are just waiting to be made into movies. The biggest such one of these books is probably The Foundation series, by Isaac Asimov. The Foundation series has long been revered as possibly the greatest science fiction story ever told, and yet no movie has ever been made of it. Apparently that is all about to change. But don’t look for The Foundation movie in theaters, instead look for it on HBO. That’s right, the channel that brought us Game of Thrones is adapting the books for a series/miniseries/movies. All the details are still unclear, but if done right this could be something truly amazing. After all, HBO has previously brought stories long thought to be impossible to make and made them and found gold.

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AGoTIt took me most of the summer, but I was finally able to read and finish George R. R. Martin‘s A Game of Thrones. Ever since the show premiered on HBO now almost five years ago, I had wanted to read the books but was a little intimidated because each individual book was so massive and I was also afraid that I might like the writing style – nothing frustrates a reader more than committing to a book and getting a couple of hundred pages into it only to discover that you don’t find the plot engaging or can’t stand the writing style. To make a long story short on that front, not only was the book’s plot just as gripping as the shows, the writing was superb. I won’t rehash the plot here because the show does do – for the first book at least – it justice, but what I will say is that if you ever have the chance to read the book, I would, even if it is 800 plus pages long.

Rating: 5/5

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Me, holding my Kindle Paperwhite

Me, holding my Kindle Paperwhite

My first ereader which I purchased about three years ago was a nook. When I got it I wasn’t sold on the idea that the ereaders would amount to anything. It was hard for me to understand the appeal, especially in light that I could find almost any book that I wanted – old or new – at my local Goodwill. It might take some time, but the hunt is part of the fun. However, after a while my nook grew on me and I must say that when I went on vacation and was away from my vast personal library, having several dozen books in a thing that took up very little space in my suitcase was very convenient. I liked my nook so much, in fact, that when the nook HD+ came out I bought it right away. Like my first nook, I was immediately hooked on my HD+, but the problem was that neither were especially light to hold and read like you would a normal book. On a whim, I bought a refurbished Kindle Paperwhite and immediately fell in love with it. It’s light and, most importantly, readable in the sun. With summer coming, I’m enjoying the nights where I can sit out on my porch and read without my arm getting tired holding a heavy ereader. At the moment I’m reader A Game of Thrones.

There, that’s my two sense about my latest tech purchase.

Many of you may have tuned in last night for the Oscars. As for me, I watched The Walking Dead and then channel surfed for about an hour before I went to bed. The truth is that the Oscars and Hollywood award shows have about as much credit as Richard Nixon trying to give someone political advice. My biggest gripe with Hollywood surrounds The Postman, a movie that came out in 1998, which was based on the book by David Brin. Not only is The Postman one of the best example of a book being made it a movie, it is simply one of the best movies Hollywood has produced in the past twenty-five years. Period! But critics didn’t think so as The Postman won Razzie awards that year for worst picture, actor, director, screenplay, and original score. My response to that: Just more clueless reviews by know nothing film critics. I only bring this up because I’m hearing grumblings over the fact that American Hustle (a film I have not seen) walked away from the Oscars last night with zero awards. All I can say is, who cares? Only a really great movie has any chance of getting anything close to universal acknowledgment of being a decent film. So as far as the Oscars go, I slept right through the ceremony.

One thing that I find truly amusing is the fact that almost every film up for some major award in the Oscars I have not seen. 12 Years a Slave? Haven’t seen it! Gravity? Haven’t seen it! Dallas Buyers Club? Haven’t seen it! Blue Jasmine? Haven’t seen it! Her? Haven’t seen it! Frozen? Haven’t seen it! I haven’t even watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug or Catching Fire, yet, but those are two movies I would like to see. But I’ve watched The Postman at least twice in the last year. As far as this critic is concerned, Hollywood and the Razzies get two thumbs down from me.

Below is a re-posting of something similar I wrote a few years back.

Original

God, I promised myself I wouldn’t go off on any more rants about how Hollywood has lost its way, and I will restrain myself here, instead I will try to focus on what good movies Hollywood has offered in the past.

Despite its less than flattering ratings and cruel reception it received by movie-goers and critics alike, The Postman is a gem among the rock garden of movies that Hollywood has put out since my impressionable High School years. Want good acting? Want a great story? Want action? Want adventure? Want a message of hope and courage? Then watch The Postman.

Everybody has their lists of great movies – a top ten, if you will – and while I would be hard pressed to list my top ten or favorite science fiction or fantasy movies, I do know that The Postman would be on it. Yes, I have read the book and loved it, and sure I am biased because of that, but very rarely in the history of fiction and live action movies, has a single piece of art translated to both medias so well.

I am not going to give you a synapse here of The Postman, instead I offer a challenge: go out and watch the movie for yourself and tell me I am wrong; tell me it is not one of the best movies Hollywood has put forth in recent memory; tell me the critics were right to slam The Postman. My guess if that you can’t, because not only is The Postman inspiring, it is a movie beautifully put together and filmed, a true Hollywood gem that ranks right up there with Gone with the wind or The Wizard of Oz.

Rating (out of 5):

John_Scalzi_-_Zoe's_TaleI make no secret of the fact that I’m a huge John Scalzi fan. I mean, the guy is immensely talented. When I read Old Man’s War I was so hooked I immediately went out and bought the other two books in the series and read them in a matter of days. Still, I have to admit that when I picked up Zoe’s Tale I paused. I was skeptical how good the story would actually be, I mean we already had some of the details of the story from The Last Colony, and to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to reading a story from the point of view of a teenage girl. And while the story dealt with a girl and her teenage crush, the story had a lot to offer for even the most seasoned of science fiction fans. It has love, sorrow, action, adventure and the good old space battles that we have come to know and love from the Old Man’s War universe. In short, I started out almost forcing myself to read Zoe’s Tale but quickly found that I couldn’t put down.

Rating (Out of 5):

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no-plot-no-problemLike the title suggests, this book is about how to write even when you are not sure what it is you are writing about. Instead, the book suggests you focus on writing and reaching certain goals while writing, like word counts per day and even a total word count over the course of a month. Moreover, more than that simple premise, the book is inspirational and certainly got me motivated to think about my writing and what I should and should not be doing each and everyday when I sit down and write. For example, editing. No Plot? No Problem says that when you sit down to write, you should forget about editing – going back and spell checking, or fact checking – but instead focusing on writing each and everyday until you have reached a word count that is equivalent to that of a novel. In short, I loved this book and intend on reading it whenever I feel like I can’t reach my goals and/or word count per day.

Rating:

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