Tak Strategy Game in Lego!

[Update 4/21/16: Added download link to LDraw MPD file of the Lego 5×5 hybrid Tak board and pieces model.]

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick RothfussOne of the books I’m currently reading is The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, which is the second book in the fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicles. While reading this excellent book, there are a number of scenes that describe the main character learning a strategy game called Tak that uses a board and stones. It’s sounds like a mixture of the abstract strategy games of Go and Mancala with some special pieces such as the strategy game of Chess, and ways of placing the stones that gives them different powers as the game of Checkers.

Well, today Rothfuss announced that the game designer James Ernest had designed an actual game using the brief descriptions given in the book. What’s more they were running a Kickstarter campaign to polish and produce special versions of the game for its supporters. There is a video showing the game being played, and it really is a sweet piece of work. The basics of the game are a snap to learn, yet it has a ton of strategy, looks fun, and is kind of beautiful in the way it starts, builds and can shift from one area of the board to another. You can play it yourself online at PlayTak.com. Continue reading Tak Strategy Game in Lego!

‘The Martian’ Meets ‘Ready Player One’

A friend of mine pointed out a little bit of sci-fi geek trivia I hadn’t heard yet that features a neat little short story…

Andy Weir, author of the very popular novel “The Martian” wrote a short bit of fan fiction in the “universe” of Ernest Cline’s very popular “Ready Player One”. Apparently Cline heard of it, liked the story and it’s implications, and got approval to include it in a recent edition of Ready Player One, effectively adding the story to the RP1 “canon”. Continue reading ‘The Martian’ Meets ‘Ready Player One’

Review: Nemesis Games

Nemesis Games by James S. A. CoreyNemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
The Expanse series #5
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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars
First Published: June 2nd, 2015
Read from: Mar. 1 – 10, 2016

The Best Novel In the Series!

For me that headline is saying a lot. I have really liked this series as a whole. But I have never given any of the novels (and only one of the novellas) my, “I loved it,” rating of 5 out of 5 stars…. Until now. Read the Full Review

Review: Summer Knight

Summer Knight by Jim ButcherSummer Knight by Jim Butcher
Dresden Files series #4
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My Rating3.5 out of 5 Stars 3.5 out of 5 stars 
First Published: September 3, 2002
Read from: Feb. 18 –  Mar. 1, 2016

I really liked this book when it started, but began to lose interest and see the “man behind the curtain” too much for my liking near the end. Still a very enjoyable read… Read the Full Review

Review: Zoe’s Tale

Zoë's Tale by John ScalziZoë’s Tale by John Scalzi
Old Man’s War series #4
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My Rating3.5 out of 5 Stars 3.5 out of 5 stars 
First Published: Jan. 30, 2016
Read from: Feb. 18, 2016

Ok… to Good… to Really, Really Good!

When I started this I didn’t realize it was basically a retelling of the previous book in the The Old Man’s War series, “The Last Colony”, only from the perspective of Zoë, the teenage daughter of the protagonist of most of the books. So I started off disappointed with this book. I checked some other people’s reviews just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind and that, yes, I had indeed read this story before. There I discovered that besides the different perspective on the previous story there were some new things, and that much of it was… well, patching some of the parts of “The Last Colony” that had issues. So I took my time reading this, as I was not really “in” to it. I expected my disappointment would continue, and I considered giving the book the boot early on.

I’m REALLY glad I stuck with it. Read the Full Review

2 Reviews: Slaughterhouse-Five and Peace in Amber

A classic sci-fi-“ish” novel and the post 9/11 short story it inspired.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
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My Rating4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars 
First Published: 1969
Read from: Jan. 24 to Jan. 28, 2016

I read Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse-Five at least once a long time ago. I remember that I liked it, but that it effected me in a negative way and left me of two minds on the experience: I liked the book but hated what it described and made me feel. It not so much described, as allowed you to experience and feel some thing that by nature we resist discussing, describing and by all means feeling if we can avoid it.

I reread the book this time around as there was a short story, Peace in Amber: The World of Kurt Vonnegut by Hugh Howey, that I wanted to read that was basically Howey’s tribute to, commentary on, and his literary attempt at describing and moving past some of the same issues exposed in Slaughterhouse-Five. Knowing this I wanted Vonnegut’s work to be fresh in my ever-more-forgetful mind. I’m glad I did, as the novel and short-story compliment each other. And I discovered in the middle of Howey’s story, he described his experience with reading Slaughterhouse-Five and in doing so described far better than I could what Vonnegut’s book did to me. Read the Reviews

Review: The Republic of Thieves

Republic of Thieves by Scott LynchThe Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
Gentleman Bastard series #3
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My Rating5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars 
First Published: Oct 8th, 2013
Read from: Dec. 29, 2015 to Jan. 9, 2016

The Best Yet in a Series of Bests!

The Republic of Thieves is the 3rd book in Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastard” series. I loved the previous books in this series but did not review them properly. I gave the first, The Lies of Locke Lamora, a very late, and very basic review. The second, Red Seas Under Red Skies, I reviewed not at all.

The reason for this was there was simply so much I wanted to say about both books. And every attempt I made to say any of it did not do the books justice in my mind. But I tried to show just how much these books entertained and moved me. I rated them both 5 out 5 stars.

Now that I have read the third book, I wish I had rated the earlier ones less, or that I could some how rate this one MORE than 5 stars. If I could I think the The Republic of Thieves would be 8 out of 5 stars. If not more! If I could scale the books in order of great to awesome it would be “Red Seas”, “Lies”, and at the top of this very excellent pile would be “Republic”. Read the Full Review

My 2015 Year in Books

Jeff's 2015 Year in Books screenshotI’ve used GoodReads.com for a few years now to keep track of the books I want to read, am currently reading, and have read. Occasionally I’ll review books there and I usually post those reviews on this blog. For the most part I really like the site.

One of the things GoodReads does that I kind of like is a yearly “Reader Challenge”. Basically you record the number of books you think you’ll read for a year, and then as long as you are recording when you have finished a book, it shows you how far along you are to reaching your “goal”. Continue reading My 2015 Year in Books

Review: The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. DickThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
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My Rating4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars 
First Published: Jan 1, 1962
Read from: Nov. 14 to Nov. 24, 2015
Awards: 1963 Hugo Award for Best Novel

Intense, disturbing, and sad; yet full of beauty hidden behind ugliness.

Life in the 1960’s in a United States that lost World War II and has been split between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan

I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time. I watched the first episode of the Amazon series and decided it was past time for me to read this and compare the two. Like the show, this book is pretty dark and disturbing. Partly because you can SEE how easily the American society could adapt. I happened to be reading this during the ISIS attacks in Paris and the deep religious and racist backlash that occurred in the press and social media was all the more disturbing combined with reading this dark alternate history of a US that lost World War II.
Read the Full Review