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Thread: What Are You Reading?

  1. #61
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    And the writers' past resume includes Cowboys and Aliens.
    Can't really judge a writer by a finished project with so much out of his or her control. I don't look much into the credits but when I do I see a lot of great writers writing greatness and then shit back to back.

    Still, I doubt this'll be a really great show. Probably just another show with some good elements here and there that lasts for a season or two. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

    Speaker for the Dead
    This one. Only other one I read.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 12-24-2013 at 03:07 AM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  2. #62

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    OK, what I've read since I've last posted here:

    Books

    Dresden Files: Changes, Ghost Story, Cold Days

    Um... wow. Remember what I said about Dresden getting too powerful? These books don't shake the status quo up so much as drag it out back and beat it into submission.

    Mammoth book of Mind-Blowing Science Fiction
    It's an anthology that I haven't finished, so I'm going to post about individual stories.

    -The Pevatron Rats: Story by Stephan Baxter. As can be expected, it plays with time travel. In this case, a supercollider not yet built creates replicating wormholes. A strain of rat adapts to these wormholes and gains the ability to jump half a second into the past when in danger, or even a few weeks shortly after birth.

    Those who said that the LHC might bring about the end of Earth never saw THIS coming.

    Mammoth book of Extreme Science Fiction

    -Hoop-Of-Benzene: OK, this was like candy to me. It's written by Robert Reed and takes place in his Marrowverse, to which belong some of my favorite books. Hoop-of-Benzene plays with alien psychology, adds political intrigue, and simmers.

    -The Pacific Mystery: In this one, Stephan Baxter only tangentially touches upon time travel, mostly because it takes place in an alternate history where the Nazis never invaded Britain, but subjugated Russia. Oh, and nobody has ever crossed the Pacific. Ever. But now a German expedition is setting out to cross the endless ocean once and for all.

    Say it with me: Atomic powered Nazi flying aircraft carrier/bomber.

    -The Long Game: It's the first treatment of artificial intelligence that can rewrite itself that I have come across. Are you an intelligent drone that mines the Kuiper belt? If you don't want to get bored, be sure to rewrite yourself so that you find the play of shadows across a micrometeor endlessly fascinating.

    -Flowers from Alice: Skipped this one with extreme prejudice. I can't stand Cory Doctorow.

    -And the Dish Ran Away With The Spoon: Um, what if the Geth weren't housed in androids to begin with? What if they were programs meant to run household appliances that could network and self-optimize?

    The Black Company, Volume One

    Last year, I did my brother a solid and got him some of Glen Cook's books for Christmas. Last month, he loaned them to me and... well, it's rare that we agree on what we like in our fiction, but we both loved the Black Company. I've said before that I have a hard time getting into Tolkeinesque fantasy anymore, so a fantasy world populated by humans, the odd sorcerers and necromancers, and a handful of eldritch abominations is right up my alley.

    Webcomics
    Hope you guys don't mind me padding out my list somewhat.

    The Order of the Stick
    If you're not reading this yet... you need to read this.
    The chapter on the Eastern Continent is winding to a close, and it kind of needs to. The past hundred comics (two years worth) have taken place in the span of a single day. The fandom has also Balkanized into martial factions. One segment hates Tarquin personally and wants to see him die a grisly death. Another faction is disappointed that Tarquin has been derailed from the suave mastermind he used to be.

    *shrugs*
    Personally, I love Tarquin as a character. He's always been a self-absorbed petty tyrant, we're just seeing him when he doesn't have the wit and charm to cover it.

    What I'm not sure I like is the author's insistence that Tarquin is his team's Elan, and he only succeeds because of other people who he never acknowledges. Inflated ego, I get. The fact that he only succeeds is because the universe runs on the narrative tropes he knows and uses, I get. Him pulling off the long con on an entire continent and controlling three empires is something I can't see anyone doing without knowledge of their own limits and the capabilities of their subordinates.

    But hey, what do I know?

    Spacetrawler By Christopher Baldwin

    When this came up in a conversation about Captain Planet (Seven humans taken from varying cultures to help free a race of weak telekinetic savants) I figured that the American would be the useless git who spouts casual racism and conspiracy theories. Fortunately, I was wrong. That would be the Australian.

    But yeah, it's good. The humor is black as coffee, the art is beautiful, and the ending is surprisingly heartwarming.

    Girl Genius
    "Mad Scientists rule the world... poorly" Yeah, that tagline is what drew me in, and I'm not sorry for it. I love the humor, the side characters (If I grow out my hair and trim my beard, I can cosplay as Moloch von Zinzler) and the setting. In fact, I'm counting down the days until side characters like Moloch and the Castle return.
    It does have its slow parts, of course. That one time where Agatha, Gil, and Tarmic all caught Hogfarb's Resplendent Immolation practically put the whole comic into suspended animation for a hundred pages.

    Also, I checked in to see the latest Girl Genius while writing this, and learned that the Foglios are taking time off... and CHRISTOPHER BALDWIN is doing filler comics.

    Diet Coke. All over the computer screen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Mass Effect: Teach Me! Professor Mordin!
    What the Hell is that and why does it sound like a shounen manga?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 19
    I was going to ask you about that, but then I realized that we didn't read the same book at all. Last week, I picked up "The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction" and "The Mammoth Book of Mind-blowing Science Fiction". Which are apparently different things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Halo

    In all honesty, I'll say this - Bungie Halo and 343i Halo are two different beasts. Quirel is probably right by saying that "start with x, y will be hard to get into" or vice versa. If you're plunging straight into the new and skipping the old, you're probably best off sampling everything post Halo 4 or at H4 itself. For better or worse, H4 ended one era and started a new one.
    For clarification, if you're going to start with "The New", I would look up Greg Bear's "Forerunner Trilogy" (Good) and Karen Traviss's "Kilo 5 Soon-to-be-a-trilogy". Halsey's Journal can be found on Ebay, and is pretty much required reading. After that... um... well, Evolutions is pretty much irrelevant nowadays despite being one of 343i's first publishings. You can read it or leave it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    The frell? Take that back ya son of a hazmot or I'll kick ya in the nivonks!"
    Wye, Aye diven't knae.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    -- Book one of the Seven Suns Saga is on sale at Audible. For 5$ its mighty tempting. I'll look into some reviews, and see HOW bad it is, as I've heard quite a bit its pretty mediocre.
    It's written by Kevin J. Anderson.
    Anderson's works may occasionally be good, on the same principle that a billion monkeys with a billion typewriters may eventually produce the collected works of Shakespeare. But the odds of a seven-volume series keeping up any semblance of quality is astronomically low.

    Also, from what I heard, he wrote it with an eye for it getting adapted into a comic book or a TV series (can't remember which) so the story just plods on and on and on and on.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    PS: I think we need a SCL book club
    I'm up for it.

  3. #63

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Going to respond by subject again.

    Reading List

    The Okay

    EverQuest: The Fall of Bastion

    EverQuest: The Enemy of My Enemy

    Kingkiller Chronicle: The Name of the Wind (currently reading, but so far it falls into the "okay" category)

    The Bad

    EverQuest: The Stars of Home

    The Black Company

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Last year, I did my brother a solid and got him some of Glen Cook's books for Christmas. Last month, he loaned them to me and... well, it's rare that we agree on what we like in our fiction, but we both loved the Black Company. I've said before that I have a hard time getting into Tolkeinesque fantasy anymore, so a fantasy world populated by humans, the odd sorcerers and necromancers, and a handful of eldritch abominations is right up my alley.
    Huh. If anything, I've found myself going more towards Tolkein-esque fantasy. After seeing Desolation of Smaug, it was the palette cleanser I needed after EverQuest and Kingkiller Chronicle (more on those later).

    Apart from that, one of the people in my writing group talked about the series once. "Never say never" and all that, but I don't see myself going to it.

    Enderverse

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist
    This one. Only other one I read.
    Ah.

    For what it's worth, as far as the Enderverse goes, I've found myself gravitating towards the events leading up to Ender's Game rather than those that come after it (with the possible exception of Fleet School). Still, only read two myself, so we're still tied in the numbers game I guess.

    EverQuest

    More novellas than novels, but whatever. Still counting them.

    So far, the series has been "okay" for me. I may be unfair here in that while EverQuest Next is meant to be a whole new setting (or at least parallel Norrath), I get the sense that those familiar with the previous MMOs would get far more out of them than me. But if EQN is indeed this whole new setting meant to get in new players, I'd have thought the novellas would do the same. Instead, I'm left to piece together what's what, who's who, and figure that there's no way I'm going to go back to the 1990s to the beginning, so I'm pretty much stuck with it.

    It's got pros though. I like how each novella fits a larger arc, how a minor character in one story is a major character in the next, or how the same events are covered in two different stories from two different POVs, and how that can change the story's overall feel. But at the end of the day, they're sword n' sorcery-type stories. Nothing inherantly wrong with that, but thanks to the writing group I'm part of I've kinda got more than I care for with that.

    (It doesn't help that most stories are from an elf's POV. Probably why my favourite is one where the character is a git, knows he's a git, and acts like a git in a non-elvish manner.)

    Halo

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    For clarification, if you're going to start with "The New", I would look up Greg Bear's "Forerunner Trilogy" (Good) and Karen Traviss's "Kilo 5 Soon-to-be-a-trilogy". Halsey's Journal can be found on Ebay, and is pretty much required reading. After that... um... well, Evolutions is pretty much irrelevant nowadays despite being one of 343i's first publishings. You can read it or leave it.
    Oh boy, here we go...ahem...blanket "IMO" statement because this is going to get contentious

    The Forerunner Saga: The first two books of this trilogy are, IMO, the two worst Halo books ever published and the third only manages to scrape into "okay" territory. I can't reccomend them as an introduction to Halo 4 because if that's your first game, there's no reason to be invested in the original Didact and raise an eyebrow as to why he joined the Doctor Doom school of super villains. From a larger franchise standpoint, it removes any sense of mystery the Forerunners had, and compounds it with dull writing, dull characters, needless character revivals (Guilty Spark), character splitting (two Didacts when as I've said many times, Faber could have easily taken the Didact's place in H4 and would have made the plot more sensical in doing so) and nerfing the Flood to buff the Precursors. It's relevant to H4 I guess, but...well, nuff said.

    The Kilo-Five Trilogy: I'd call this more relevant to H4 than its Greg Bear counterpart. Most of the Forerunner stuff in H4 one can take at face value - I can accept Prometheans exist, I can accept that the Didact's gone down the deep end, I can accept that humanity is an ancient race that got sent back to square 1 by the Forerunners, regardless of how sensical those plot points actually are. K5 feels more relevant in that it fills in the gaps that the game never explained, such as the reformed Covenant, the Spartan-IVs, and Halsey's fate. Still, I like it more - first book gets an "okay" rating, second an "excellent," and is probably my second favourite novel in the series only to The Fall of Reach. I will say though that it's very distinctly a Karen Traviss work, and there's a lot of baggage with that. Still, at least in book 2, I feel her writing style works for the scenario.

    Halsey's Journal: Not sure how this is required reading. If anything it feels more Bungie - after all, it was written in conjunction with Reach. I like it a lot, but not sure how it's relevant to the H4 era.

    Evolutions: Not really relevant. Generally "bleh" about this. Nothing really bad about it, but there wasn't much that stuck out for me from it either.

    Kingkiller Chronicle

    I noticed The Name of the Wind was on the Economist's list. Not trying to beat you to it or anything, but...um...ugh.

    I'm not sure what to make of this book. If I was asked what I felt of it within the first 100 pages I'd have put it in the "terrible" category. That's right, it takes about 100 pages to actually establish what type of story this actually is, and while the book is around 670 pages long, and I've only read up to page 175, but...okay, here goes.

    -The characters are boring. Kvote may be the protagonist, but I can't get invested in him because no matter what trials or tribulations he goes through, I know he ultimately comes out on top. I don't know if the whole book is him telling the story to Chronicler, but I'm left to ask, "why should I care?" At this point, I don't.

    -The worldbuilding is vague. I wouldn't mind normally as I can take a vague world provided the story itself is enough to sustain my interest. But as the story itself isn't interesting, I'm left with the world. Which, it seems to me, was far more interesting to Rothfuss as well as it feels like more effort went into it. And to be fair, there are some areas of interest, especially with the religious and supernatural elements. But...I dunno. Still, early days yet.

    -Stop with the songs/poems. Please. I know Kvote is meant to be some great lutist, but they just slow the story down. It was pointless in Lord of the Rings, and it's pointless here.

    I guess what might also put me off is that I'm not sure what the book wants to be in the same way other fantasy books I've read this year are. I know what Wheel of Time was (epic fantasy), what A Dance of Dragons was (hard fantasy with political and fantastical elements), what the Guild Wars and EverQuest books were (swords n' sorcery), what Ranger's Apprentice was (coming of age lite fantasy distinctly for children) and what Shadows of the Horde was (quasi-philisophical character introspection). But so far I can't really say what The Name of the Wind actually is. Hopefully I don't have to read another 100 pages to find out.

    Mass Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    What the Hell is that and why does it sound like a shounen manga?
    http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-new...-in-manga-form

    It was a semi-official manga designed to introduce Japanese players to the game. I consider it "good" in as much in that I feel it does its job well in that regard and I like the artwork.

    Saga of Seven Suns

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Also, from what I heard, he wrote it with an eye for it getting adapted into a comic book or a TV series (can't remember which) so the story just plods on and on and on and on.
    I know it recieved a prequel graphic novel, but haven't heard anything about such adaptations.

    Anyway, storywise, I don't have too much a problem (then again, that's only the first book, so how well the overall story is told across seven volumes remains to be seen). Just the characters and at times, writing.

    Spacetrawler

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    When this came up in a conversation about Captain Planet (Seven humans taken from varying cultures to help free a race of weak telekinetic savants) I figured that the American would be the useless git who spouts casual racism and conspiracy theories. Fortunately, I was wrong. That would be the Australian.
    You'd be inclined to be a jackass too if Gaia decided to neglect your part of the world when forming the Planeteers. And when you're forced to play as Ma-Ti in the kindergarten playground each time...

    Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Say it with me: Atomic powered Nazi flying aircraft carrier/bomber.
    It works better if you cut off the "bomber" part of that sentence IMO.

  4. #64
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    I finally got around to playing Halo 4. I don't know how far I am. Just got to the part where I assume the developers intended to make me understand what the Didact is after, and I do, but I really have no idea how we got to this. There's a few possible reasons for this.

    1) I didn't pay attention to the larger storyline as I was playing Halo. Very possible, when I actually played the Halo games, I didn't care much for stories of any kind and was mostly focused on typical teenager shit.

    2) It's simply been too long since I played any main series Halo game (~2007) that I've forgotten a lot about the storyline.

    3) The new developers made the storyline take a HUUUUUGE left turn out of no where. I understand they're setting up a new trilogy, but either they rushed the introduction to it, I need to read the books, or the new developers are on their way towards making some serious changes to the universe.

    Too early for me to judge and I'm not in a position to critique Halo lore, but up until Halo 4 I felt like I had a decent understanding of the storyline, even past the Covenant stuff in the forefront. But, at the moment, the whole human subservience cliche and the whole Master Chief the Reclaimer nonsense does no bode well. Although I literally just saw that cutscene 10 minutes ago so maybe I'm understanding wrong.

    Still a great game though. I enjoyed Halo 4 more than I've enjoyed Halo games in a while.

    ----

    As for Greg Bear, I'm surprised he doesn't do a really great job with Halo. He's written so very good science fiction in his own universes, and I'm gearing up now to read his book 'Hull Zero Three' which I hear is excellent. It's like a mixture between Aliens and Pandorum. A lot of his other books got good reviews and the blurbs pose some interesting ideas and scenarios.

    As for Kevin J. Anderson, I remembered that he was behind the monstrosity of 'Shadow of the Xel'Naga' and decided that I would never give that many anymore of my money, even if it is just 5$.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 12-31-2013 at 01:11 AM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  5. #65

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Huh. If anything, I've found myself going more towards Tolkein-esque fantasy. After seeing Desolation of Smaug, it was the palette cleanser I needed after EverQuest and Kingkiller Chronicle (more on those later).
    I quite enjoyed the Desolation of Smaug (Except for a few things in the last thirty minutes).
    That said, The Order of the Stick is probably my favorite TE fantasy (Being based upon D&D) but the elves, dwarves, and halflings are in the vast minority. Some of their cliches are played up for laughs, but they exist foremost as characters.

    And then there's the goblins/hobgoblins. They got the short end of the stick from day one, and they're subservient to a Lich that thinks it's funny to watch them die. They may be the enemy, but I can't help but love them.

    Maybe I ought to try writing a short story in a Tolkeinesque world. Seeing as how I've been challenged to write a story about a combat mech that wouldn't make me cringe, I might as well heap on the challenges.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Apart from that, one of the people in my writing group talked about the series once. "Never say never" and all that, but I don't see myself going to it.
    Another thing that strikes me about The Black Company is the really sparse prose. In places, it's almost like reading the bible, how battles and movement of armies can be covered in a few paragraphs. This kind of fades away as the books go on, but that could be because the latter two books I read weren't covering a war, just a few skirmishes.

    For what it's worth, as far as the Enderverse goes, I've found myself gravitating towards the events leading up to Ender's Game rather than those that come after it (with the possible exception of Fleet School). Still, only read two myself, so we're still tied in the numbers game I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    (It doesn't help that most stories are from an elf's POV. Probably why my favourite is one where the character is a git, knows he's a git, and acts like a git in a non-elvish manner.)
    Wait, most of the novellas are from the POV of an elf, or most of the writing group's submissions are from an elf's POV?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Oh boy, here we go...ahem...blanket "IMO" statement because this is going to get contentious
    And here we... go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    The Kilo-Five Trilogy: I'd call this more relevant to H4 than its Greg Bear counterpart. Most of the Forerunner stuff in H4 one can take at face value - I can accept Prometheans exist, I can accept that the Didact's gone down the deep end, I can accept that humanity is an ancient race that got sent back to square 1 by the Forerunners, regardless of how nonsensical those plot points actually are.
    Interestingly enough, I find myself happier to ignore the above. It's like... like... like something out of a Marvel comic.

    Anyhow, I think that the Forerunner trilogy goes a long way to answering the burning question of Halo 4, where players stare slackjawed at the screen and wonder "Why do I care about this?"
    As for the dryness, keep in mind that my favorite book is "The Faded Sun" omnibus by C.J. Cherryh. And that book is so dry, my shelf is littered with the desiccated remains of silverfish that wandered too close to that volume. I think I can put up with dry prose and dull characters if I can find something that fascinates me, and Cryptum/Primordium/Silentium gave that to me. Though the second one was a chore to get through in places.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    K5 feels more relevant in that it fills in the gaps that the game never explained, such as the reformed Covenant, the Spartan-IVs, and Halsey's fate. Still, I like it more - first book gets an "okay" rating, second an "excellent," and is probably my second favourite novel in the series only to The Fall of Reach. I will say though that it's very distinctly a Karen Traviss work, and there's a lot of baggage with that. Still, at least in book 2, I feel her writing style works for the scenario.
    True enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Halsey's Journal: Not sure how this is required reading. If anything it feels more Bungie - after all, it was written in conjunction with Reach. I like it a lot, but not sure how it's relevant to the H4 era.
    I feel that it's really relevant to the Kilo 5 Trilogy because it tells you why the Spartans were created even if the creator did have misgivings. It's one of the few pieces of media that I feel fits in equally well with Bungie's Halo and 343i's Halo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    -Stop with the songs/poems. Please. I know Kvote is meant to be some great lutist, but they just slow the story down. It was pointless in Lord of the Rings, and it's pointless here.
    Tangentially, I wonder what you think of the songs in the Hobbit movies.
    The theatrical version of the first movie only had three. The extended version had... more? Another one for the Dwarves, and they had the Goblin King sing "Down Down Down in Goblin Town". To be honest, they butchered the Goblin King's scenes, but w/e.

    I think the songs work because they make the Hobbit more lighthearted than the original trilogy, but I can definitely see why some were cut for time and pacing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-new...-in-manga-form

    It was a semi-official manga designed to introduce Japanese players to the game. I consider it "good" in as much in that I feel it does its job well in that regard and I like the artwork.
    I am equal parts amazed, fascinated, and repulsed.
    And I've seen it before, somewhere...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    It works better if you cut off the "bomber" part of that sentence IMO.
    True. In fact, I believe that the bombing capabilities of the *ahem* Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches Hermann Goering only came up twice. Everywhere else, people called it an aerial battleship.
    Last edited by Quirel; 12-31-2013 at 01:19 AM.

  6. #66

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    EverQuest

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Wait, most of the novellas are from the POV of an elf, or most of the writing group's submissions are from an elf's POV?
    The former. Of the five novellas, we've had one dwarf POV, one ogre, and two elves, one of which is used twice (haven't read that one, only glanced at it).

    Halo

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    Just got to the part where I assume the developers intended to make me understand what the Didact is after, and I do, but I really have no idea how we got to this.
    Complicated Answer: The Didact wants to imprison/compose/something-something to humanity because he sees them as a threat...or just hates them...the game doesn't make it clear.

    Short Answer: He's insane (that isn't really speculation, he was kinda established as such in Silentium)

    Best Answer: Lazy writing. I mean, I can deal with the "antagonist wants to destroy/conquer everything because he's EEEVIL" plot device, but somehow they even managed to screw that up because the game doesn't even make it clear what the Didact wants to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    As for Greg Bear, I'm surprised he doesn't do a really great job with Halo. He's written so very good science fiction in his own universes
    Well, bear in mind that I haven't read any of his other works, so it could be a matter of taste for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    I feel that it's really relevant to the Kilo 5 Trilogy because it tells you why the Spartans were created even if the creator did have misgivings. It's one of the few pieces of media that I feel fits in equally well with Bungie's Halo and 343i's Halo.
    Yeah, but Halsey's motivations and guilt had been covered beforehand. I know the journal is referenced in K5, but...well, there's a reason that Glasslands is called "Halsey bashing."

    Lord of the Rings

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    I quite enjoyed the Desolation of Smaug (Except for a few things in the last thirty minutes).
    Ditto.

    Actually still found the last 30 mins enjoyable, but I found it irksome how it kept cutting away from Smaug (who looked/sounded/acted incredible) to Gandalf/Legolas/Tauriel-Kili-useless love interest sub-plot. Piece of advice Mr Jackson, your movie is called Desolation of Smaug. I came to see Smaug. I would like to keep seeing Smaug without having to keep cutting away to superfluous elves (though to be fair, liked how Sauron/the Necromancer was portrayed).

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Maybe I ought to try writing a short story in a Tolkeinesque world. Seeing as how I've been challenged to write a story about a combat mech that wouldn't make me cringe, I might as well heap on the challenges.
    Word of advice, stagger them out. I take on challenges fairly reguarly, but always keep the main writing focus on my primary writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel

    Tangentially, I wonder what you think of the songs in the Hobbit movies.
    The theatrical version of the first movie only had three. The extended version had... more? Another one for the Dwarves, and they had the Goblin King sing "Down Down Down in Goblin Town". To be honest, they butchered the Goblin King's scenes, but w/e.

    I think the songs work because they make the Hobbit more lighthearted than the original trilogy, but I can definitely see why some were cut for time and pacing.
    I've only seen the standard edition, so some of the songs I can't really comment on (a quick YouTube visit got me the GK song, but I'd need to see it in the context of the movie to really comment on it.

    So, of the songs in the movies, I didn't care for them. The plates song felt like padding, and the song the dwarves sing in Bilbo's house about Smaug/Misty Mountains/forgotten gold feels redundant because it's describing what we saw happen at the start of the movie, not to mention that in hindsight, it felt like trailer fodder. In the book I felt these songs worked because the plates established the tone early on (whereas in the movie the tone had been established beforehand), and the Smaug song was a good form of exposition.

    That being said, I did enjoy Song of the Lonely Mountain and I See Fire (the credits songs).

    The Black Company

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Another thing that strikes me about The Black Company is the really sparse prose. In places, it's almost like reading the bible,
    Well that set off alarm bells in my head.
    Last edited by Hawki; 12-31-2013 at 08:32 PM.

  7. #67

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    3) The new developers made the storyline take a HUUUUUGE left turn out of no where. I understand they're setting up a new trilogy, but either they rushed the introduction to it, I need to read the books, or the new developers are on their way towards making some serious changes to the universe.
    While Halo 4 is definitely the introduction to a new trilogy saga*, it feels like a stand-alone title and doesn't leave any sequel hooks. Overall, it was definitely rushed as an introduction.

    *Because they realized that you could only sell three installments in a trilogy.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    As for Kevin J. Anderson, I remembered that he was behind the monstrosity of 'Shadow of the Xel'Naga' and decided that I would never give that many anymore of my money, even if it is just 5$.
    Don't forget, he's also half-responsible for the Dune prequel novels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Complicated Answer: The Didact wants to imprison/compose/something-something to humanity because he sees them as a threat...or just hates them...the game doesn't make it clear.

    Short Answer: He's insane (that isn't really speculation, he was kinda established as such in Silentium)

    Best Answer: Lazy writing. I mean, I can deal with the "antagonist wants to destroy/conquer everything because he's EEEVIL" plot device, but somehow they even managed to screw that up because the game doesn't even make it clear what the Didact wants to do.
    To quote the lead writer at the GDC panel "Some players were confused as to the Didact's motivation, which surprised us. We thought that his motivation was clear. He's a badass alien that wants to destroy Humanity."

    Wanting to destroy Humanity may be an objective, but it's definitely not a motivation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Yeah, but Halsey's motivations and guilt had been covered beforehand.
    In the books that Tychus isn't going to read, ja.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Ditto.

    Actually still found the last 30 mins enjoyable, but I found it irksome how it kept cutting away from Smaug (who looked/sounded/acted incredible)
    That he did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    to Gandalf/Legolas/Tauriel-Kili-useless love interest sub-plot. Piece of advice Mr Jackson, your movie is called Desolation of Smaug. I came to see Smaug. I would like to keep seeing Smaug without having to keep cutting away to superfluous elves (though to be fair, liked how Sauron/the Necromancer was portrayed).
    Meh. I disliked the Tauriel-Kili subplot too. Sure, it's nice to see Dwarves do something other than grouse and fight, but a love triangle between Kili, the Elf chick, and a pale Drizz't doesn't add anything worthwhile.

    However, what I was talking about was when the chase scene between Smaug and the Dwarves outstayed its welcome. Which was shortly after Thorin decided to wake the old machinery and smother the dragon in a river of gold. To me, that was more outlandish than the barrel ride.

    Also, as an engineer, I surmise that the Dwarves of Erebor developed a metal with an incredibly low thermal conductivity, which they then used to fabricate the wheelbarrow that Thorin rafted down the canal of molten gold.

    And since I both have a beard and suffer from mild pyromaniac tendencies*, I am obligated to point out that the Dwarves should have been a lot less hairy after their encounter with Smaug. Fwoosh!

    *Fun fact: The first thing that goes through your mind when you set your hand on fire is "Huh. It doesn't look like that in the movies." This is closely followed by "ohshitohshitohshitohshitohshitohshitohshitohshit! "

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    So, of the songs in the movies, I didn't care for them. The plates song felt like padding, and the song the dwarves sing in Bilbo's house about Smaug/Misty Mountains/forgotten gold feels redundant because it's describing what we saw happen at the start of the movie, not to mention that in hindsight, it felt like trailer fodder. In the book I felt these songs worked because the plates established the tone early on (whereas in the movie the tone had been established beforehand), and the Smaug song was a good form of exposition.
    You're right in that most of the songs (I.E: the cut ones) were padding.
    "What Bilbo Baggins Hates" was well integrated into the movie because the song started off slow and Balin lead into it with "Oh, d'ya hear that lads? We'll smash the plates!" In contrast, one of the cut songs was only heralded by Gandalf assuring Elrond that the Dwarves were actually fairly noble and thoughtful folk... cue barsong/foodfight/Kili dancing on the tables.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Well that set off alarm bells in my head.
    Lol!
    The Bible partly serves as a historical record, so there's sections where entire battles over cities are reduced to a "King X did Y with so many thousand men, and this many men were slain". The Black Company is the only other thing I've read with that much brevity.

    Now that I have ensured that you will never pick up the Black Company, it's time to head down to the bookstore and find something else to talk about.

    Happy new year!

  8. #68
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    I thought that his motivations were pretty clear. In the after the credits cinematic (at least on Heroic) he gives a long Mengsk style speech explaining his motivations. Of course, his motivation is basically, "Humanity will be a threat in 10,000 years, we need to enslave them all. Also, them stealing our technology after he raised them was pretty mean of them." I'm not sure whether this speech was made during the Forerunner hayday (given that he make references to his people judging his actions and human's future ascendancy, which seems to have already happened by Halo 4) or whether it was closer to Halo 4, I don't know. It's not complex. About what I'd expect from an FPS storyline.

    When I posted that I didn't understand, what I meant was that I just didn't know how we got here. I was curious to know whether the whole Human enslavement and then ascendency thing was just something that popped up in Halo 4 or whether it had been built up to in the books or even the games which I've probably forgotten a lot about. Basically, what I'm saying is that that whole story arch seems to come out of nowhere and seem a bit forced from the 'MC must save the Galaxy from the ancient machine-worlds that can wipe out the galaxy, and from the Covenant who are fanatical about causing it, and the Flood which be Zergin' shit up yo"

    The MC x Cortana thing was a bit unexpected (or it would've been if I hadn't about it in reviews years ago). Once again, it seems that I missed out on a main character in a series I play a lot falling in love with the semi-human female. I must fine tune my romance radar. I will say though that I found the prospect of a machine-like soldier with almost no human contact getting a bit lonely and falling "in love" with the closest thing to a woman he encounters (dat ass makes it easier too) than I can stomach Jim Raynor falling in love with a woman he never spent much time with who was quickly infested, and then remained faithful during one of the most abusive and one-sided relationships in the history of human "literature".

    I did love the rest of the game though. It had an epic sense of galactic scale that I found missing since the first one and Halo's finally started to get its own set pieces instead of open field/installation after open field/installation. The game play was great too.

    *Fun fact: The first thing that goes through your mind when you set your hand on fire is "Huh. It doesn't look like that in the movies." This is closely followed by "ohshitohshitohshitohshitohshitohshitohshitohs hit! "
    *Fun fact: You can actually set your hand on fire and it not hurt at all. With a little bit of alcohol and windy day, you can put on quite the Magic Fireball Hands of Power routine if you desired. I did this a couple of times in high school for the entertainment of local weed smokers and crackheads. The key is to keep your hands moving and let the alcohol and wind keep it from reaching your skin. You've got a good 30-60 seconds to show, if you do it right.

    How this got started I really have no idea. I must've been super high one day, even though I've never been the type to drink or smoke. Although a vaguely remember some dumbass showing me that it could be done on some non-descript hazey day that I can't remember. So I guess the real question is why the hell did he know about it? Hopefully just a Google search.

    Don't forget, he's also half-responsible for the Dune prequel novels.
    I hear those started awful and got progressively worse.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 01-01-2014 at 11:59 AM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  9. #69

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Halo

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    While Halo 4 is definitely the introduction to a new trilogy saga*, it feels like a stand-alone title and doesn't leave any sequel hooks. Overall, it was definitely rushed as an introduction.
    I think I've mentioned this before, but honestly, while Halo 4 has been touted as the start of a trilogy/saga, it feels more like a bridging chapter or book-end to the original trilogy. The story ends without any indication as to where things will go next (bar the Didact speech maybe), it ends with the death of Cortana (leaving John the only character from the previous games present in H4) and given how the fiction has progressed since then Spartan Ops, Escalation, etc., the universe feels more like John is of the old guard and it's time for a new generation for a new era (cue TNG music here). I know it won't be the case given the trailer for the Xbone, but in all honesty I'd be happy to retire John post-H4. It feels to me like his story is done, and...well, in theory I think Palmer could have a made a good protagonist in the "similar but different" vein, but...well, we all know how that went.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    I thought that his motivations were pretty clear. In the after the credits cinematic (at least on Heroic) he gives a long Mengsk style speech explaining his motivations. Of course, his motivation is basically, "Humanity will be a threat in 10,000 years, we need to enslave them all. Also, them stealing our technology after he raised them was pretty mean of them." I'm not sure whether this speech was made during the Forerunner hayday (given that he make references to his people judging his actions and human's future ascendancy, which seems to have already happened by Halo 4) or whether it was closer to Halo 4, I don't know. It's not complex. About what I'd expect from an FPS storyline.
    Ah yes...the speech.

    It's part of the "stuff that makes no sense" to me. At the least, let's say it applies to the context. One, no, the galaxy's roots have not grown deep, your Halo Array was nearly used to steralize it in the recent past. Two, the notion of humanity being the greatest threat is bogus. Oh, sure, it's true in a sense, that humanity somehow gained magical rebuilding powers between H3 and H4 (said powers not being extended to the Covenant), but I would like to remind you that only a few years ago it was humanity being threatened with extinction and it was the Covenant that was the cause of it, the same group that was also 'reclaiming' your artifacts and using them to unleash genocide. Three, humanity was "reclaiming" stuff before H4 and only now it's a problem? Oh, that's right, because only now does humanity get its time in the spotlight.

    Fan rage, I know. But it sums up the contrivance of "the UEG has rebuilt itself and is now stronger than ever" and the Didact's motivations. It's a motivation that stems from said contrivance, and if humanity is meant to be this great threat, I'm not sure flying straight to Earth is the best way to go about dealing with it. Wouldn't you want to kinda stagger out your plans of genocide? Build an army of Prometheans from lesser defended worlds first before flying a single ship into a human fleet? Wouldn't you want to consider that if it takes, say, a few hours to compose a single city, how long would it take to compose every other city on Earth? Hence my conclusion that the Didact lost his marbles to a greater extent than what I believe 343 intended.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    When I posted that I didn't understand, what I meant was that I just didn't know how we got here. I was curious to know whether the whole Human enslavement and then ascendency thing was just something that popped up in Halo 4 or whether it had been built up to in the books or even the games which I've probably forgotten a lot about.
    It's more or less a H4 thing. It's kinda touched in the Kilo-Five Trilogy, but not nearly to the same extent that it's portrayed in H4/SO. In fact, it's arguably a retcon since Reach ended with the implication that humanity was still rebuilding over three decades later, ending on an overall optimistic note.

    So much for that I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    The MC x Cortana thing was a bit unexpected (or it would've been if I hadn't about it in reviews years ago). Once again, it seems that I missed out on a main character in a series I play a lot falling in love with the semi-human female. I must fine tune my romance radar.
    Eh, I liked how that was handled actually. I felt H4 caught their relationship/characterization well - John's become more and more chatty with each installment, to the extent where in H4, not only is he talking outside cutscenes (finally!) and is willing to say "no sir" instead of "yes sir" (contrasting Del Rio with Hood here), and how Cortana progressively mellowed out over the same time period. It felt like a natural progression for both characters. Is it love? Maybe. But whether the relationship is platonic or not, I liked it all the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    I did love the rest of the game though. It had an epic sense of galactic scale that I found missing since the first one and Halo's finally started to get its own set pieces instead of open field/installation after open field/installation.
    Found it missing myself. I got no sense of granduer or scale on Requiem. And Installation 03 was just brushed aside. That's what the rings are now - set pieces.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    The game play was great too.
    Another thing I disagree on. The weapons were unbalanced (sole campaign tactic of just getting a Promethean weapon ASAP and you're set), often I felt I was being forced down corridors rather than going through open spaces, the Prometheans were uninteresting, and the Mantis and Broadsword sequences I just found tedious. In all honesty, the gameplay killed the enjoyment for me as much as, if not more so than the plot.

    Kingkiller Chronicle

    So, up to page 350 now. Things have mellowed out a bit, in that Kvote's at the University (think of it as the university equivalent of Hogwarts with more science and less magic) and I feel more development's gone into the characters here, whereas previously they were mechanisms for exposition. More time is being taken to focus on the story than the worldbuilding which I appreciate. Still not sure where the plot is actually going though, as Kvote's kinda meandering along - heck, they even bring this up in the interlude sections. Overall, still looking at an "okay" rating from me.

    Lord of the Rings

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    However, what I was talking about was when the chase scene between Smaug and the Dwarves outstayed its welcome. Which was shortly after Thorin decided to wake the old machinery and smother the dragon in a river of gold. To me, that was more outlandish than the barrel ride.

    Also, as an engineer, I surmise that the Dwarves of Erebor developed a metal with an incredibly low thermal conductivity, which they then used to fabricate the wheelbarrow that Thorin rafted down the canal of molten gold.
    Bearing in mind that this is a setting where dwarves can fashion mithril into armour (high density, little weight), not sure if I'd call it outlandish per se in the context's setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    In contrast, one of the cut songs was only heralded by Gandalf assuring Elrond that the Dwarves were actually fairly noble and thoughtful folk... cue barsong/foodfight/Kili dancing on the tables.
    Ah yes, I'd seen that scene via the 'net. I think that was well done, but not by virtue of being a song, but more through the actions that come with it. Adds some humour, and adds some worldbuilding (dichotomy between elves and dwarves). Which is something the book did earlier via the elf song in Rivendell. Different songs at different times, but same result.
    Last edited by Hawki; 01-01-2014 at 07:08 PM.

  10. #70
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    It wouldn't be a Hawki discussion if there weren't tons to disagree with.

    Found it missing myself. I got no sense of granduer or scale on Requiem.
    I wasn't talking about the environments, I was talking about the galactic scale of the plot and where that plot takes you. I found the locations in H4 to be much more interesting in terms of their concepts than open fields and random installations. Game play wise, it was a much more streamlined focus. There's none of the sweeping vistas of H1 and, in some instances, the environments are much smaller than H3 (IIRC) but there's something to be said about riding a big ass mammoth tank and Luke Skywalkering a large alien ship. Halo's never had the set pieces of its competitors, it's nice that it's starting to get those. But the game hasn't really, truly impresssed me since Halo 1. I just assumed everyone cared about it because of its MP

    I would like to remind you that only a few years ago it was humanity being threatened with extinction and it was the Covenant that was the cause of it
    Which is why game stories shouldn't be taken so seriously. These contrivances are necessary byproducts of the inherent stupdity of the idea of a single man being able to alter situations with so many variables and allow the player to actually influence such a large conflict. It cannot, should not, and will never be able to mesh well without something being taken from the other.

    if humanity is meant to be this great threat, I'm not sure flying straight to Earth is the best way to go about dealing with it.
    He made it clear that humanity was a future threat, not a current one. He mentions the ascendancy beginning, not having completed, or else I see little reason for H5+. Nothing but the sheer badassery of my thumbs instilling greatness into "John" saved humanity this time. Thank God for me.

    That's what the rings are now - set pieces.
    The rings are no longer interesting and have been done to death. Halo 2 and maybe 3 would've been the place for that. Not Halo 6.

    It felt like a natural progression for both characters
    It's never a natural progression for a person to care so much for a machine or to go through so much trouble to save a piece of code. Chief immediately offers to traverse the galaxy for no other reason than to backup up a sentimental object. Where was this conviction when he needed to ensure the aftermath of H3. It's like, "Oh fuck, I'm stuck out here, time to sleep, nothing else can be done about that huge conflict I've invested so many time to solve ... zzzzzzzzzz... Oh cool, a way back home? Cortana I will save you!!!!!" Humanit be damned, save dat holographic ass in my view screen!!!! Honestly, it's insulting and it goes a long way towards proving even further that people's emotions are stupid and a hindrance in almost all areas of life. Worse, this minuscule "problem" was still a concern of his as humanity is facing complete annihiliation. Master Chief is supposed to be an efficient militarized "psychopath". He's supposed to be hard enough to focus on the mission, nothing else. If he's gone soft, that should be shown in other areas, not just this irrational, sentimentality for the sake of an emotional anchor for the player.

    But when stories require emotional connections, all logic goes out the window. I mean, we're supposed to worry about saving the lives of real people, not AIs, and Chief is more upset with the "death" of an AI than the billions of human lives. The game was almost insulting in the way that it kept suggesting that I should give two fucks about a machine, how fucking stupid do they think I am? At least Kerrigan was living thing.

    How you can defend this I don't know. How you can say things like LW has bland characters but then tolerate this, I don't know. Probably that whole right brain processing that I seem to lack so thoroughly. To me, It makes no sense at all and is actually quite insulting to the intelligence of the player. But I'm not surprised so many people liked it or tolerated it. People are usually just looking for anything to tie their emotions to. It's doesn't matter what that thing is, as long as the game says, "Hey, FEEL SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!" the power of suggestion takes over. It's just like how people can feel something for bland characters like in Final Fantasy VII. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people tell me about how much they care for the characters. How so? They had no character development, were basically bland shells for some stereotype or plot role. The only rational explanation I can come up with is that they like them simply because they were there through the experience of the game and that game takes hour and hours to complete. The characters get all tied up with the enjoyment of the game and people forget to separate love for the game and love for the characters. It's no wonder mankind is so stupid when emotions are this easily manipulated. You don't even have to be particularly skilled about it. Subconsciences are so easily impressionable.

    sole campaign tactic of just getting a Promethean weapon ASAP and you're set
    Something tells me you played on Easy or Normal Regardless, that's a "problem" that has always been in Halo. An Assault Rifle was all you really needed to beat the games. Sure, there were Covenant weapons but they were wimpy and never lasted long, especially the Plasma Rifle (no wonder the Covenant lost), or they were specific use weapons that weren't all that necessary, especially sub-Heroic. Use them to be more efficient and tactical, noto becasuse you actually need them to progress. Heroic no death runs and Legendary attempts are where strategy gets involved and I saw no less in H4 than any other Halo.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 01-01-2014 at 08:31 PM.



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