Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Arise... Netbookimus Prime.

A trifle melodramatic.. and a tad garbled in transmission.. but I'll be excitedly waiting for UPS to bring me my new Netbook sometime this week.

I've wanted one for a while now, to be able to go out but still be able to keep up to date on my RSS feeds and what have you.. and desperate not to look like a complete phony, I didn't want anything that began with an " I- ".. so its just an Acer. But it will work with my Sandisk MP3 player, and my pay as I go cell phone..

The other news is, the new Masterpiece Transformer figure which TakaraTomy is at this moment putting the finishing touches on is none other than Rodimus Prime.. but wait.. it is also Hot Rod. The toy actually changes and "Grows" from smallish Hot Rod.. into biggish Rodimus Prime.. I think its a pretty neat idea.. when they could have made both as separate toys.. If it is anything as good as Masterpiece Megatron, or my much coveted Masterpiece Grimlock (curse you Toys R' Us) He will be pretty nice.. Now if they will just go back and give us a new Masterpiece Optimus Prime incorporating more of these new engineering advances the other toys boast.. we will be all set.

I promise I will finish up the Leonard Carpenter Conan book on Hyborian Apocrypha soon too.. It's not that it is bad.. per say.. in the same way that the Steve Perry ones were.. But I'm nearly 150 pages into it and nothing has happened so far.. He's not even traveled long distances while nothing happens like the Steve Perry books.. I felt if I didn't take a break from it for a bit I'd start having moss grow on me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It never rains...

I've not mentioned it previously, but I'm in the early stages of trying to write my own book. I got tired of people saying, in response to some complaint I would make about another persons book, " Well if you think you can do better...." so since I do think I can do better, I'm trying my hand at it..

I never expect anything to come from it. I never even intend to submit it to any agents. I simply want to see if I can do it.

The odds aren't in my favor even if I were so inclined. That is something thats been intoned into my brain over and over and over again by countless blogs, and websites that all claim to be able to help you write a Query or Proposal. But I think they really are just anti-creativity landmines waiting patiently for some one to step on them and get their literary legs blown off.

Many of them pack the force of small nuclear yields when wielded against a persons creative impulses. You are left with an all pervasive sense of " Why even bother then? ". After several days of reading them, I've felt that same way. but have slowly been able to pull myself back from the brink of total despondency. And it frequently makes me wonder, with the odds so stacked against a person.. how does so much amazingly bad fiction make it into the corner book store?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jesus had Long Hair.... and

He'd so get suspended in Itasca, Texas.


This is the second time I've posted something regarding the length of some lad's locks. I wish I didn't have too. But I see no changes forth coming. The Previous time was a much younger child, but I see nothing wrong with either of these boys chosen hairstyles...to paraphrase Public Enemy, It's straight up sexist simple and plain.

It might seem a bit odd to post about young kids.. but to be honest I sympathize with him entirely.. growing up I wanted long hair really badly.. I grew up in a house hold surrounded by photographs of my parents and their friends in the 60s, long hair and long beards. I suffered all the same discrimination, and suffered the clearly encouraged attacks by school mates.

So here is to you Kenneth.

I'd give them the finger myself.. but I'm kind of holding the camera.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Robert Jordan and the Tor Conan series.

I'm not going to divest at length on this subject.. I really dunno the stories behind the constant swapping of publishers for the Conan pastiches back in the 80's...

But I had noticed, that in Barnes and Noble, you can get a Hardback collection of three of Robert Jordan's tales "The Further Chronicles of Conan". And if you go to Book-A-Million, you can get its precursor in hardcover "The Chronicles of Conan". I know that TOR had reprinted 6 of the 7 that Robert Jordan had written in both individual volumes and in Omnibus trade paperbacks.. But I didn't realize that they had re-printed the hardcover omnibus versions too.

I don't know if it was done to cash in on his death, or if its simply trying to get some extra cash for his wife by milking the publicity from the Brandon Sanderson completed Wheel of Time Series.. I really don't care either way. But the similarities of the names, Robert E. Howard and Robert Jordan, has in my experience already caused some confusion in the racks at the book store.. I could be surrounded by exceptionally dumb people.. true.. but I'm sure some people are no doubt genuinely confused..

I've not bought either hardcover, and don't plan too.. as it would interrupt my Conan Pastiche shelf which barring 3 of the tors, are all Mass Market Format. And I don't currently own any of the Robert E. Howard Originals in hardcover.. so it seems in bad taste to own pastiches in the format.

I wish I hadn't missed out on the book club ones when I had the chance.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why ....

do so many editors, slushpile readers and agents have blogs?

They seem to post endlessly about how everything they are sent is trash and how much they wish people would just stop sending them submissions.. so why even bother to be in the business?

They then proceed to lambaste people who don't take rejections well, but I can kind of understand the rejectee's point of view on that.. especially if the agent/editor/reader is as snarky in the rejection as they are on their blogs.. I won't even go into some of the truly bizarre rationals these individuals give for rejecting something. Course, I once had a teacher who didn't like how I shaped my T's and threw a temper tantrum in class over it.. Maybe her and literary agents are related some how.

I personally can't understand writing anything just for the heck of it.. you produce a product to sell it.. or at the least so other people will read it. Since if its good enough to go to all the trouble to actually write it.. then it would be logical that you would want others to read it.. so of course you are going to get angry when the gatekeeper tells you it can't be sold, and that you wasted your time and that you should just go back to working your night shift at 7/11..

So what is the purpose exactly? Is it some kind of valve with which to relieve stress? Is it to gloat and bring peoples misguided hopes to some sort of larger audience so that they can re-affirm you in your snark? With the way some of these people talk about themselves, I think its a small miracle we even have a publishing industry at all.. since everything apparently sucks and writers are all stupid.. but not as stupid as book stores, book scan.. or worst of all.. book buyers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Start towards Classification

After having been recently disappointed by a number of Newer fantasy volumes, I've decided to try and figure out exactly where I would place them on a theoretical table of classification.

I make no bones about it, they are definitely fantasy fiction. They have all the hallmarks of not only Sword and Sorcery, but also of Epic Fantasy due to their length. Yet they also tend to eschew "traditional" elements. They tend to inhabit worlds which don't boast a plethora of sapient life forms like so many of the Tolkienite Fantasies did.. Instead taking more of a page from E.R. Eddison.. Despite the names of the nations in his world.. they were all clearly one race of beings, not literally Witches and Demons and Goblins and Imps fighting one another.. This isn't a bad thing mind you, it is a nice change to see it rather than the inherit preposterous of every book having a team made of an Elf, A Man and A Dwarf.. sometimes with a halfling thrown in for good measure.. So thats one item.

1. Human only worlds, or extreme human majority worlds are interesting but neither are an obvious sticking point.

So that brings up the next thing.. since having only humans dosen't make me un happy about the books.. I'm still looking for something that does. Is it a lack of or over reliance on magic? Lots of books have magical characters, but not every book employs them in the same way.. Gandalf is never shown lobbing a fireball at anyone.. but it doesn't make him any less of a wizard. So I don't think it is that.. I rather like the Wheel of Time books.. and the battles in those can only be described as reminding me of all those videos of the first gulf war shown on CNN.. due to all the Magic being tossed around. So Magic system or lack there of is unimportant.

2. Magic system or lack there of is unimportant.

alright.. tropes, having your characters eat Stew while on the road is annoying.. since its logistically tricky.. but it also says a lot about people who thats all they can think of when they imagine "Rustic" food.. Stew.. It's not as bad as the stories which go to great length to show how alien their foods are either.. I'm looking squarely at World of Warcraft here.. with its merlock eye and buzzard beak fritters or what have you.. or in the Sword of Truth books where the characters happily partake in a little ritual cannibalism..

3. Food items and the manner in which they are described does some what bother me.. but so long as its done either earnestly or simply because its a "trope" its generally such a small thing I can ignore it if I want.. but as a person who is fairly open to trying new things, within reason, I'm pretty open to all manner of food as presented in books..

Setting, setting is very important.. one of my main gripes with the Conan stories.. is that so many of them take place in deserts or dust blown mountain ranges or fetid jungles... I don't mind those settings.. so long as they are not over used.. my least favorite chapters of Lord of the Rings are basically all of the Frodo and Sam chapters in Return of the King.. simply because of how horrifying Mordor is.. a dry, blasted land of ash and ruin. Jungles to me feel like if one was actually inside of a living being.. crawling around.. and if you stand still to long its natural defenses will attack and consume you. These types of settings in general horrify me.. but I also hate to go any further south than where I am right now.. outside of Atlanta which while hot and humid boasts spectacular numbers of Trees and lots of green.. but just a little further south when one leaves the Peidmont region and goes onto the Coastal plain.. I personally don't like the feeling of the place. This feeling of a location, of Geography, being alien tends to unnerve me the same way in literature. However, I don't like the idea that, just because a group is from a specific geographical location it means they are evil. But I don't mind them being presented as such if your narrator is from the place where the "Other" is attacking.

4. So we are now getting some where, Geography is obviously very important to me. I dislike low laying coastal areas, and prefer the land to be abutted to the sea via Cliffs, with only sporadic sandy or stone beaches. I don't particularly like dry, desolate places, or those which are so sun-baked the earth cracks. I don't like Jungles. Obviously, characters who are simply passing through these areas or are otherwise in them for a short period of time.. I don't mind as much.. maybe this is why I was never particularly fond of either the Barsoom or Tarzan books?

I'll continue in a future installment with a few more topics.. and then see if I can figure out what it actually means.. no promises though..

Monday, August 16, 2010

Camels, A Premium Blend.

So Since we are in the midst of a bit Kick here with Metal Precursors.. Thought I'd post a link from a Band called Dust.

They have Cover art on one of their albums from Frazzetta, which was used on Conan of Cimmeria the second volume in the old lancer/Ace series.. Its The Frost Giants.. Their second album has no Conan connection.. but the sleeve which you could buy both Albums in.. oh it does.. and not a pleasant one either..

It's got the aforementioned artwork from Frank.. but standing off.. almost as if Conan is protecting it.. there stands the disdainful dromedary.. haunting the brave Cimmerian.

The Band also had another odd connection, it's Drummer was one Mark Bell.. who went on to become Marky Ramone a few years later.

From Hyborean Apocrypha

More Albums, More Human.

Not long ago I read High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby. I've liked his books since I saw the John Cusack movie years ago. And my appreciation for his work increased when I got Netflix and they had the original film of Fevre Pitch with Colin Firth in it.. I didn't like the American remake with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. The film About a Boy was also one of the only movies I can stand Hugh Grant in. It's nothing against the man personally, I just think that any one who is dumb enough to cheat on Elizabeth Hurley with a skeevy prostitute dosen't really need any of my money. On to the meat of the subject as it were however.

I was struck in the book High Fidelity, and it is perhaps in the film as well. That the main character, who is to say the least, something of an obsess when it comes to music, and at one point makes an observation to the effect that if you don't own at least 500 albums then you aren't really human. It got me thinking about just how many songs that is, and how many Albums I do actually own. So many in fact I've never really wanted to count them.

The majority of my albums, probably in the neighborhood of about a thousand or so, came from my Grandfather. They were left to me in his will when he died. They are mostly extremely early Rock and Roll, people like Elvis and Jerry lee Lewis and Fats Domino are represented quite heavily. As time went on he moved more and more towards Country music.. so towards the end he has mainly stuff from that genre.. But even there he has quite a few from Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willy Nelson, and Hank Williams Sr. And a lot of Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline.

I've listened to some of these, where they cross over into areas I'm interested in, But my favorite period lines up more with my Mom and Dad's Record collection, which will inevitably become my record collection one day in the hopefully distant future. These are the albums which I grew up listening too, people like Cream and The Beatles, The Rolling stones and Led Zeppelin. My dad's interest veered towards the groups that would become Heavy metal.. Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.. while my moms drifted every so slightly into progressive Rock and eventually into the shallow end of Disco with a few BeeGees albums.. Between the two of them I probably have another thousand LP's..

I guess I've got about 200 or so CD's and LP's I've picked up myself since I was about 15 and had money to spend on that sort of thing.. I know the very first album I got was Led Zepplins "Greatest Hits" Early days and Later Days compilation.. with the band all wearing NASA EVA suits. It was the first and last best of album I ever bought on purpose.. but it cost 9.99$ on sale at the mall vs the 18.99 they wanted for the Brown Bomber..

So My eventual music collection will be pretty wide in its scope.. I have a Ton Loc CD that I picked up one year when I was on vacation in Florida but that's about as far into Hip Hop as I go.. Nothing against it I just don't care for it especially.

So I guess if you use Rob Flemming's criteria.. then I should qualify for being nearly 5 humans.. enough to fill out one of the characters notorious Top Five lists even.. so in that spirit I invite any of my readers who should want too, to leave their own top five, desert island, greatest hits list in the comments section.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Like.. No one Buys CD's Anymore.. man..

This was what I heard for what seems like the millionth time today when I went into another Big Box store looking for something well.. not crap.

I've gotten tired of it, MP3's are all well and good, I've got an MP3 Player.. but they aren't tangible. You don't get to play them on your hi-fi. Granted CD's aren't as good as vinyl, but I don't pay exorbitant sums for 30-40 year old albums.. if I find an LP at goodwill or a charity shop that is in good shape I'll buy it. But other wise I stick to CD's..

Seems that, back when CD stores were everywhere was still when the record companies thought 18.99 - 29.99 was a good price range for an Album.. so I never was able to buy many of them.. Highschool students aren't well known for their plentiful cash.. And when I started working was after the whole Napster thing, and I-Tunes started soon after and then every one seemed to just pull up the tent pegs and pack up in the realm of CD shops. But I finally got fed up with it.. and I looked it up and found out that there was a lone FYE inside of 50 miles.. and I went..

I wound up with a few goodies.

I got Uriah Heaps' Wizards and Demons, Judas Priests British Steel and Screaming for vengence.. which are really cool because they are the new Remasters.. and If I get all 12 of them, they apparently make a picture formed of the spines of the albums.. so now I've gotta buy more! Marketing at it's finest.. Emerson Lake and Palmer's "Tarkus", lastly a Blind Gaurdian Album I didn't have.. A Twist in the Myth.

I think I spent about 40$.. Which is phenomenal when you consider I got about 50 tracks.

It may not match up to some of my goodwill finds (once I got the entire discography of "The Cult" which was fantastic..) But I'm thrilled, But I also realize that soon that store too will close and I'll be stuck having to buy all my CD's on like.. Amazon.. Man..

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Blade Itself can go toss itself.

After reading endless glowing reviews of Mr. Abercrombies book series at numerous blogs and from several first hand encounters of his fans at the local super store.. I decided to take the plunge and bought the books. I started reading, and it started out ok.. until hundreds of pages in I found myself wishing a meteor would strike the world which he had created. none of his characters has a single redeeming quality, they torture, rape, murder. They are all scum, none of them are viewable as anything but a long series of antagonists.. I keep waiting for the hero to show up, but I've figured it out after 300 or so pages.. there is no hero..

This series is simply another lame "Grim n Gritty" where the protagonists are so crooked and foul they might as well just be villains.

It's the result of this that I've become less and less interested in any new fantasy books of late, it's always the same couple of writers who get brought up over and over and over again, Bakker, Morgan, Abercrombie, Meivelle. .. well so far of the ones I've sampled I've hated them all, it just goes to prove, just because something is popular dosen't mean it is good. I guess this must have been what it was like in the 60's when Sci-Fi got into its newwave funk and basically never recovered. Seems thats all we get these days, humourless grim purposefully outrage inducing sadomasochistic drek. Well, that or yet another rehash of the tired old "Bad girl kills assorted denizens of the night" stuff.

I don't even know what to review to be bluntly honest, and up to the point where I flung the book across the room with an exasperated grunt and an eye roll which I've not had reason to employ since high school.. by that point absolutely nothing had happened except a long string of tortures, a few near rapes, and a couple of child murders. The only honourable character in the whole book was the bloody cook pot, and he got abandoned in the woods fifty pages in.

You see, people these days tend to like to feel that real life is a series of shades of grey. No one is ever really right or wrong, and their are no moral certainties. But that's not how life really is. Some people are wrong, and some people are right, and fate willing, those who are right get to impose themselves on the rest of us before the people who are wrong do. But this is seldom the case, and I don't wish to be reminded of that, if I want to see the work room floor of the sausage shop, I'll watch the news.

I read Fantasy as a genre because the good guys are identifiable as such and generally do the right thing, even if it's only really out of self interest. the bad guys are bad, and no one expects me to care about their motivation. And everyone is happy when the bad guy's mountain fastness explodes at the end and the hero goes back to the tavern to spend his hard earned gold on booze and wenches or back to his village to start a pig farm, or the girl grows up to be Queen and reclaim her throne.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Maybe It's just me.

I was reading a thread on Multiverse.org which pertained to the Contents of the upcoming 6th volume of Del Rey's Reprints of Micheal Moorcock's Elric stories. Phew. And while it did clear up something which hadn't been particularly bothering me, namely the stories the volume would contain besides "Revenge of the rose" (I've got the Weird Tales issue with "Black Petals" in it.. and I've got "Swords and Dark Magic" with "Red Pearls" in it..) But what struck me as a bit odd.. though some how true to form for Mr. Moorcock.. is that he is going to be writing a new series of Elric Novellas... in French.

Now I know that the old saw goes "good business is where you find it", blah blah blah.. but doesn't it strike anyone else as odd for a non native speaker to write books in a foreign language and then only infer that they might be translated back into English by some one else other than the English Speaking author? Wouldn't it make more sense to write them in English and then have them translated into French?

Considering that from what I've seen, the Del Rey Volumes are pretty good sellers, that it might not be a bad Idea to write some new material for future volumes.

I like Elric, but I'm not going to learn a foreign language just to read Elric stories.. if I was going to do that I would have learned German in order to read the Wolfgang Hohlbein Indiana Jones novels...