Review: Eric

Eric by Terry PratchettEric by Terry Pratchett
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My Rating4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
First Published: January 1990
Read from: February 04 to 19, 2014

This parrot is NOT dead, but very much alive. And VERY funny.

The British TV series Monty Python’s Flying Circus had a famous sketch about a dead parrot that is very funny. This story, like much of Pratchett’s Discworld novels, reminds me a little of Monty Python. And Eric even has a parrot in it. While not dead, the parrot, and the book as a whole, is very funny.

Eric is a want-to-be demon-summoning “hacker”. In an attempt to summon a demon, he summons instead Rincewind the wizard who was trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions in a previous Discworld novel. The two of them, Eric’s parrot and Rincewind’s sentient Luggage commence to bumble into one adventure after another.

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Review: Elminster in Myth Drannor

Elminster In Myth Drannor by Ed GreenwoodElminster in Myth Drannor by Ed Greenwood
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My Rating3 out of 5 stars3 of 5 stars
First Published: January 1997
Read from: January 30 to February 01, 2014

Much better than I thought it would be. Had a few minor issues with it that I won’t bother to go into, mainly because what this book did well, it did very well indeed… Namely keep me entertained and wanting to find out what would happen next.

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A Sherlock Holmes Day & Review: Sherlock (Season 3)

By sheer luck, today has been Sherlock Holmes day for me…

First: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was born on this day in 1854.

Second: I watched the first two episodes of season three of the BBC series Sherlock.

While the new Sherlock episodes were fun and quite good, considering that there are only a total of three episodes in the entire season and I just watched two-thirds of them, where are the MYSTERIES? The mysteries should be the CENTER of any Sherlock Holmes tale. The ones that have appeared so far seem to be like appetizers to a meal that is never provided. I have an idea where they may go with the last episode, but really… So much wasted potential.

003:365:2014 Red Tail Hawk Collage

3:365:2014 Red Tail Hawk Collage

003:365:2014 Red Tail Hawk Collage

Gorgeous day out today. I still had not taken my 365 photo of the day when I went for a run after work at the local green belt. Don’t normally do this, but I decided to wear a backpack with my SLR in it — just in case.

I had almost completed my entire exercise without being inspired, (tired, but not inspired,) when far across a field I saw a big hawk in a tree. I got my camera out and made my way through the field trying to get some good shots. What followed was a hop scotch from tree to tree, with the hawk hunting some in between each. I took a bunch of shots, but picked only some near the end of my “hunt” which was the closest I got (which was still pretty far off). When I first saw him I was pretty sure he was a red tail which these photos have pretty much confirmed.

Finally I had considered taking a photo of my bird book & binoculars at some point if I couldn’t come up with an idea some day this year. Guess I just blew that by deciding to include it in this collage.

Horatius at the Bridge

History Lesson Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post Future History Lesson, a  passing quote in the science-fiction novel “Starship Troopers” by Robert Heinlein piqued my interest on two events in real history: ‘Horatius at the Bridge‘ and ‘The Death of the Bon Homme Richard‘. What I discovered in both cases I found so rich in story, that I had to explore them further. Below is what I discovered about Haratius. The surprising story of Bonhomme Richard can be found in Part 3 (coming soon).

Horatius at the Bridge

Publius Horatius Cocles and Two Companions Defend Tiber Bridge by Augustyn Mirys (mid 1700’s Polish painter)

When first digging I could not find a specific work with this title, but there was a lot of information to be found on the person and the event. I eventually discovered that “Horatius at the Bridge” was the title of some editions of the narrative poem Horatius by the Victorian Era historian Baron Thomas Abington Macaulay which was published in his book Lays of Ancient Rome in 1842. It was very popular in England at the time, memorized and recited avidly, and taught in schools. Even close to a hundred years later Winston Churchill recalled memorizing it. You can download a free public domain digital ebook of the entire Lays of Ancient Rome” via Project Gutenberg, available in multiple file formats. Continue reading Horatius at the Bridge

Future History Lesson

History Lesson Part 1:
Roman Soldiers & American Revolution Sailors as seen by Starship Troopers

 

Starship Troopers book cover
Starship Troopers book cover

I started readingStarship Troopers by Robert Heinlein today and it inspired me to investigate a little real history.

First, I’ve been a big fan of Heinlein for awhile, but strangely had never read this novel which many regard so highly. I had seen the crappy movie supposedly based on it, but let me say that movie really holds no similarities to the novel except for some characters’ and alien species’ names. Worse the movie turns some of the deeper but controversial aspects of the novel on their head, and turns the entire story into a farce. For example Heinlein’s novel portrays a democratic society in which suffrage is earned by a term of government service – in the case of the main characters this happened to be military service. The movie version portrays a fascist society where the only road to citizenship was through the military — kind of like non-citizen inhabitants of the early to mid Roman empire who could earn citizenship only after serving 25 years in the Roman legions.

I’m getting off the topic, which isn’t so much about the future the novel portrays, but about detailing some things I learned from a “future history lesson” today’s reading inspired me to take. Continue reading Future History Lesson

Review: Guards! Guards!

Guards! Guards! by Terry PratchettGuards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
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My Rating5 out of 5 Stars5 out of 5 stars
First Published: 1989
Read from: November 21 to December 04, 2013

Guards! Guards! This much fun must be illiegal.

Wonderful fun! Best of the Discworld series so far. Loved the characters, plot, humor and excellent prose. And underneath it all incredibly deep undercurrents with serious (but ironically funny) truths about life, love, civilization, patriotism, politics, evil and heroism. But all those serious thoughts are delivered in such a way that they only add to, instead of disturbing, the fun.

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Review: Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie PriestBoneshaker by Cherie Priest
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My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars
First Published: September 2009
Read from: October 03 to 25, 2013

Boneshaker – More of a “Mind-number”

Very unusual for me, but only read half of this book. Just couldn’t get into it and had a lot on my plate at the time so finally gave it up as a lost cause. Nothing technically wrong with the writing, but considering all the fantastic elements it had to work with (steampunk, zombies, extended civil war era post-apocalyptic wild west,) it seemed very unexciting and unimaginative. I have read others’ reviews saying that the book started slow, but I believe I was close to, if not past, the half-way point and while some things were finally happening, even the “run for your life” scenes seemed…

Well, to put it in one word: “meh…” Continue reading Review: Boneshaker

Review: The Curse of Chalion

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster BujoldThe Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
First Published: December 2000
Read from: August 04 to 10, 2013

Cursed by a ‘blah’ Cover & Title, Blessed with Great Writing

I had never read any Lois McMaster Bujold before, and would not have selected this book to read from its description or cover if it had not been for the Sword & Laser book club, which selected it as this month’s pick as a “sword” or fantasy selection. The whole reason I decided to try and follow this club was that I was stuck in a rut of the same old “classic” sci-fi & fantasy authors and there were so many genre authors out but so many seemed to be… well, trash. I wanted to find a club that would read a mix of old & new, sci-fi & fantasy, and that would feature mostly the “good stuff”.

Despite initially judging this book poorly by its cover and my lack of knowledge about the author, The Curse of Chalion would definitely classify as good stuff. The fantasy novel is grounded in a well constructed medieval-like fantasy setting with lots of political intrigue, some action, and a little magic as the Gods work through their followers to manipulate events. Continue reading Review: The Curse of Chalion