Tag Archive for series

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

11 out of 13 nots
for Terminator fighting awesomeness

When I first heard about the new TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I was excited.  I love the Terminator movies, and I always wanted to know more about the points in between, particularly the gap from Terminator 2 to Terminator 3.  However, after watching the premier episode, I was left with a general “meh” attitude.  The show certainly didn’t suck.  It wasn’t garbage, but it also lacked a certain pizazz I was hoping for.

I’m glad I stuck with the show, because in my opinion it got much better… more after the break.

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Gods in Games

One element that seems to follow around many fantasy genre MMOs is the idea of putting the lore’s gods in the game as defeatable content.  Largely, when this happens, it leads to my arguments of why I feel raiding is stupid.  Its not that I think the act of raiding or the existence of raid content is stupid, I just feel that often times it is done poorly.  I always love beating up on EverQuest at times like these… so lets continue the trend.  In the Planes of Power expansion, they put in a long series of flags with a lore to back up the players storming the planes, the homes of the gods, and killing them.  You fight and kill pretty much all the gods on the EQ Pantheon, and at the end of the story ***Spoiler!*** one of the surviving gods makes time go backwards to before you went through the Plane of Time and killed off all the gods for good.  Actually, not too bad of a story, and if this were a fantasy novel, that’d be a fairly nifty end to a series.

The problem, of course, is that EverQuest didn’t end.  There have been more expansions and more mudflation, and now you can defeat the god of fire with a single group.  There are insignificant monsters in the new worlds that put the gods to shame.

Wait… what?

Exactly.  The biggest hurdle with putting gods into your game as defeatable content is that, unless it really is the end of your game, your gods will become trivial content in the future.

In my opinion, the gods, and the true homes of the gods, should never exist in the game world.  Your players should, at best, fight the creations of gods, avatars of the gods imbued with power, but distinct from the gods themselves.  If you feel that you must absolutely put the gods in your games, consider making them nigh unkillable.

Carpe Demon

The wife convinced me to read Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner. The story is basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if she got married, had kids and grew up.

It is a fun book, not horribly complex, but enough that I’ll read the other books in the series at some point (but not now, I tend to avoid reading series books back to back).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

No spoilers here, so don’t worry. All in all, a decent book and a fitting end. I was satisfied, and as long as Mrs. Rowling doesn’t write any more books in this world she has crafted, it is a very nice collection that feels complete.

However…

Since the Order of the Phoenix, I’ve seriously felt like she should just have been honest and titled one of her books Harry Potter and the Boring Chunks of Exposition. Up through Goblet of Fire, J.K. was pretty good about keeping the action, the story, moving, only stopping once in a while to fill in a gap here and there. It is something that tends to happen in any book that tries to keep secrets from the audience, since you have to omit certain things to retain the mystery, there will come a point where you have to show that it has been figured out. How uncomfortable or odd that telling is usually depends on the type of information hidden and how much. In the Potter books, entire characters are essentially hidden from the reader, and trying to get that much information back to the reader is hard. J.K. Rowling, by Order of the Phoenix, just started resorting to “the lecture”, which is to say you suddenly (or not so suddenly) get an entire chapter of one character explaining things to another character. In many other books this is usually avoided by having the unknown information spread out among a handful of characters who meet up and share, the back and forth of it and the fact that many characters are also finding out stuff too involves the reader much more deeply than when one character just dumps fifteen pages of backstory on another.

In that respect, Deathly Hallows was the worst book of the series. There probably nearly a dozen chapters of someone dumping information on Harry, only some of which he has figured out on his own and where he hardly participates in the conversation except to repeat back some of the information in the form of questions to prod the other person onward.

I also can honestly say that I wasn’t very surprised. The book consisted almost entirely of telegraphed punches, you can see every twist coming if you are paying attention. Of course, this is, after all, a children’s book, so don’t bring your CSI trained analytical mind with you and you’ll enjoy the book much more.

And just to make sure people don’t think I’m hating on the book, I really did enjoy it, and I gladly recommend this series to anyone. It is worth the read.

The Lost Colony

I finally got around to finishing off this addition to the Artemis Fowl series, and I must say The Lost Colony keeps up the tradition: a non-stop action story.

Seriously, Eoin Colfer knows how to drop you right into the action at sixty miles per hour and keeps the foot on the gas until the finish line is crossed. He does not waste any time on chapters of boring filler to catch you up to the latest doings of his characters. Instead he joins a subplot right in the middle and dishes out the details as they are needed. Of course, being books aimed at kids I suspect that is intentional since boring slow chapters would lose his audience.

Anyway… this story deals with the lost 8th race of the fairies, demons. Ten thousand years ago, after losing a war with humans when none of the other fairy races would support them, the demons’ warlocks cast a spell a ripped the entire demon island, Hybras, right out of time and sent it into Limbo where they would stay and maybe return when they could defeat the humans. Only, the spell didn’t work right for some reason, the warlocks all died, and Hybras got stuck out of time, but the spell is decaying and demons occasionally get dragged back through time, show up briefly and then vanish, some return, some lost forever. Artemis, who reverse hacked the fairies and found out some details on the time spell, has calculated that the spell is near failing completely which will send Hybras crashing into Now, which will expose the fairies to the world.

And we can’t have that… so the usual suspects are rounded up and head off to figure out how to stop it from failing, or maybe just make it fail in a controlled manner.

Like the other Artemis Fowl books, I enjoyed it. It was a fun quick read, funny and exciting. Good, I think, for kids, and not so bad for adults either.

Hellboy: The Dragon Pool

It should come as no surprise by now that if there is another Hellboy book out, I’m buying it. This time around, Christopher Golden returns to helm The Dragon Pool. Of all the authors to come to Hellboy, Christopher is my favorite, with Tim Lebbon coming a close second.

The Dragon Pool is about the legend of King Dragon, who has been depicted as a tyrant and all around bad guy. Eventually his reign was ended and his temple and city faded into history. But archaeologists have come to a mountain plateau and lake to excavate what they think was the King’s long lost city. The leader of the expedition (Anastasia Bransfield), however, believes that the legends obfuscate the truth, and that King Dragon wasn’t just a clever name, but he was, in fact, a dragon. When she turns out to be right, its bad news for everyone because their digging has reawakened the once defeated sleeping dragon and his followers, and she makes the call to bring in the BPRD.

Christopher actually has two tales here. The first is the dig, the dragon and all the mystery that surrounds it all. The second story is that of Hellboy and Anastasia’s history together. Once the closest of friends and lovers, they parted ways because their close association was affecting Anastasia’s credibility in professional circles. Now working together again, they can’t help but be conflicted by their feelings. One of the reasons why Mr. Golden stands out to me in the Hellboy series of books, is that he manages these two stories without them stepping on each other, they flow together well, compliment each other, and each is resolved.

All in all, The Dragon Pool is a fine addition to the Hellboy series, and like all the others I recommend it.

Storm Front

The Sci-Fi Channel series The Dresden Files piqued my interest, so I picked up the first couple of books in the series by Jim Butcher and read Storm Front, the first one.

I love the TV show. Its fun, sometimes funny, with a bit of magic and darkness. The book is about the same, though as always with works taken from page to screen (big or small), it is only “about” the same. There are differences, but not so much so that it hurts either.

If you don’t know what The Dresden Files is, its about a man named Harry Dresden and he is a wizard. This isn’t your Harry Potter type wizardry, it is definitely not aimed at kids. Dresden lives in a world where magic exists, but its sort of a secret. Not the magic itself, but the White Council that presides over it all and tries to keep people from using the darker magics. Harry comes from a powerful line of wizards, all of whom are dead. From the show we know that Harry’s dad was killed by his uncle, and that Harry ultimately killed his uncle (in self defence). None of that is in this first book, not clearly anyway. There are hints that his family line might not be the cleanest around, and there is a judgement for murder against him currently held in check. Harry even narrates that he killed a man with black magic and that is why he is reluctant to tread in those waters again.

As it stands, Harry consults for the police as a “psychic” on weird cases as well as doing his own brand of private eye work. The book almost drips with old noir style storytelling, and in part that is what makes it so good. There is evil in the world, and if good is going to win its only going to do so by the skin of its teeth and by the barest of threads, and never emerge unscathed.

With the first book down, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series, so I whole-heartedly recommend Storm Front. Of course, I don’t like to read series books back to back, so number two of The Dresden Files will have to wait until I’m done with the new Hellboy book.

Hell to Pay

Just finished up the latest in the Nightside series of books by Simon Green entitled Hell to Pay. Like the rest of the series, the story is about private investigator John Taylor who has a gift for finding things. In this tale, John is hired by Jeremiah Griffin, a man whose immortality is rumored to come from a deal with the devil, to find his missing granddaughter Melissa.

Of course, no tale in the Nightside is ever that simple… and yet, this book, so far, I’d call the weakest in the series. It is, for lack of a better term, a circle. One of those stories that ends where it begins, you meet the kidnapper within the first couple of chapters (to me it was painfully obvious who it was), and after taking a tour around the other suspects our hero returns to save the day in the nick of time.

It wasn’t a bad book… if you enjoy the Nightside books, this certainly keeps in line with the rest in its introduction of well-known places that everyone but you, the reader, has heard of, and characters half of which are interesting and the other half are forgettable. The mystery here is really no mystery at all, Green practically hits you over the head with most of the clues you need right at the beginning. But still, an enjoyable read… and despite it being on my “Currently Reading” box for so long, it really only took maybe a day to read if I’d done so in one sitting (doing it five minutes at a time can drag out any book). Pick it up to complete the set, but if you are looking for an introduction to the Nightside, start with the first book, not this one.

Night Stalker

Last TV season, I got hooked on Night Stalker, an update to the old Kolchak series. The new show had Stewart Townsend as the lead in the place of Darren McGavin, and went for a younger and hipper style. But despite that skew, it was still a dark, violent and brooding collection of stories about a reporter trying to understand why his wife was killed.

I was really pissed when they cancelled the show, because I felt it was just getting started… that and the fact that the last episode they aired was part one of a two part story. Man, I hate that.

Luckily, they put out the six episodes they aired plus four episodes they didn’t out on DVD.

Over the last couple days, I’ve watched all ten episodes and the commentaries, and I plan to read all the unfilmed scripts they included on the DVD-ROM section. All that brings me to one conclusion… damn, I wish they hadn’t cancelled this show. But then, hey, I’m used to stuff I love getting canned. So, if you like horror/thriller/mystery type stuff, pick this up when you can, it was worth the watching.

Recommend Me Some Books

I am always on the look out for stuff to read, but browsing the bookstores sometimes just isn’t enough. So, I want you (yeah, all like five of you that read my blog) to recommend a book to me. There are some requirements and limitations, so if you want, read on:

A) The book needs to stand alone. Don’t recommend me anything other than part one of a series, and don’t recommend a book that starts a series but doesn’t itself contain a full story.

2) I like Sci-Fi, but not real dry science Sci-Fi, not hard Sci-Fi. I like Fantasy, but not real crazy out there Fantasy, I like it at least partly based in reality in the sense that it has humans or human like people and not everyone is slinging magic all around to solve everything. I like Horror, I prefer my vampires un-gay (Anne Rice, I hate you). I don’t like “sex” books, if the plot revolves around people having sex and contains repeated descriptions of engorged members and the like, it is just not a turn on to me. And while I like superhero books, don’t suggest them unless its really cool because, as you can see on my library, I have a few of those in my future reading stack already. I also like funny, but not really politics-funny.

D) I’d prefer books that aren’t new releases, if only because I plan to look for them at used book stores or in paperback. I don’t want to spend a fortune.

So, with that in mind, if you feel like it, reply with a book and the reason you liked it (don’t spoil it, of course).