Sunday, March 25, 2007

GTI Racer

As much as I like our new 2007 Volkswagen GTI, I was surprised and bemused to see that the GTI and VW brand have inspired a PC racing game GTI Racer. Too funny!


Taltos by Steven Brust

Taltos is the fourth volume in the Vlad Taltos series but is chronologically the earliest in sequence.

This is a simple novel that details a very young Vlad and his first encounters with many of the recurring characters in the series. The text alternates between vignettes that precede each chapter, the main narrative about Vlad's journey to the Paths of the Dead, and anecdotal stories about Vlad's first forays as an employee in the (criminal) "organization" arm of House Jhereg. The three narratives come together by the end of the text.

By this point in the series, you'll likely only find yourself reading (and enjoying) Taltos if you've read the other books in the series. If you are a fan of the Vlad books, you'll find this a light but enjoyable addition that nicely fills in many of the gaps in Vlad's backstory.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

Charles Stross's The Atrocity Archives collects his short novel The Atrocity Archive and the Hugo Award winning novella, The Concrete Jungle.

Both stories provide a fun blend of nerdboy tech and supernatural espionage. In addition to the Lovecraftian elements like mathematically brewed gates to other dimensions and transmutative security cameras fitted with gorgon-harnessed firmware, Stross also mixes in very funny asides, mostly in satire of federal and office bureaucracy.

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow

Eastern Standard Tribe is an entertaining but flawed near-future novel about online "tribes", the convergence of new technologies, and a corporate conspiracy. The book's strong points are its ideas and extrapolation, which come through despite a conventional and rushed plot.

The entire text of Eastern Standard Tribe was released under a Creative Commons license on Doctorow's website and is free to be read without the publisher's permission.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Calling All Homeowners!

As many of you know, my wife and are looking to purchase a house. In the interest of choosing wisely, I wanted to reach out to those of you who own a home and ask for your suggestions and tribal insight. We know the basics, but we were wondering about the lesser known truths, for example, anything you learned about your home or the purchasing process after you bought your home, but that you wished you knew beforehand.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ghost Rider

As comic book movie adaptations go, Ghost Rider was a middling effort, with good action sequences but a weak plot, uneven pacing, and forgettable villains.

The CGI was imaginative but not as good as it needed to be to really sell the flaming skull and bike scenes. I did think the penance stare was pretty cool.

The actors did the best they could with the material and the film fortunately didn't take itself seriously. It even featured a number of intentional camp humor bits where it seemed to be making fun of its own schlock.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Teckla by Steven Brust

Teckla is the third novel in the popular Vlad Taltos fantasy series, and much darker in mood and style than its predecessors, Jhereg and Yendi.

The novel begins as Vlad learns that his wife Cawti has joined a group of reformists, who are actively pushing for greater rights for the underclasses in Dragaera. Vlad struggles greatly with Cawti's new affiliation, as he does not share her political ideals, and the two argue bitterly and drift apart through the course of the narrative. Their dissolving relationship is paralleled against the rising reform movement that threatens to become an all-out insurgency.

Atypical themes (for fantasy) of personal dissolution and political unrest combine to make this a very memorable novel, with genuine emotion and verisimilitude not characteristically found in books of the genre.