amnesiack: (beardhead)
"It may not be obvious to everybody, but the art of the novel is a moving target; we stand on the shoulders of giants and more importantly today we're equipped with a toolbox of techniques and methods that we've inherited.

Go and read some random popular fiction from a century ago: the standard of writing is, overall, poorer than an equivalent sampling from fifty years ago, or today. And this isn't just a fashion judgement: we've learned a lot about the making of a solid work of fiction, and we're writing for an audience who have grown up with more sophisticated works of fiction as well.

Whereas the classics are classics because they were the first attempt.

Let me put it another way: compare two aircraft -- the Wright Flyer and an Airbus A380-800 super-jumbo. Separated by a century, the A380 is clearly a more sophisticated machine. Its fuselage alone is longer than the Wright Flyer's first powered hop; it can carry about a thousand times the payload for about a thousand times the distance at ten to fifteen times the speed. But that doesn't in any way invalidate the significance of the Wright Flyer of 1903, does it? Because the WF was the first no-shit heavier than air plane with controllable three-axis flight surfaces, wings designed with the aid of a wind tunnel, and an internal combustion power plant.

Folks who carp at the classics because they don't display the fully-developed characteristics of a good work of modern fiction are like someone who visits the Smithsonian, looks at the Wright Flyer, and decides it's no good because it didn't have a cabin trolley service."

-- Charlie Stross
amnesiack: (geek pride)
I recently linked to Charlie Stross's cool blog entry about Apple and the future of the computer industry. He's got another really great one up now about the eBook market that's also worth reading if you have any interest in the medium:

CMAP #9: Ebooks

At the beginning, he links to a couple of his past entries that contain pertinent material. Both are interesting, but I think you can get away with just reading Why The Commercial Ebook Market Is Broken (keeping in mind that it was writting in 2007, so some things have changed since it was written).

The part of that entry that particularly jumped out to me was this bit about the wait for dirt-cheap ebook readers:

First of all, if overlooks the point that publishers don't manufacture ebook readers; the consumer electronics industry does. And the consumer electronics industry will not cut off its own nose to spite its face by producing an ebook reader for $20, if it can produce one with extra bells and whistles that sells for $350. We've had the tech for a $20 (or $50, anyway) ebook reader for a decade; it would resemble a grey-scale palm pilot, albeit without even the PDA functionality.
I realize this should have been really obvious to me, but until he pointed it out, I just hadn't really thought about it. Publishers would embrace ebooks more if the platform was cheap enough to make easy market penetration. They would love that. But they're not the ones making and selling the devices. The people making and selling the devices aren't the people making profits from the ebooks, so in order to make it worth their while, they have to make the readers more expensive.

The exceptions to this are, of course, Amazon and Apple, who control both their own devices and their ebook distribution channels. I have a feeling that this will strongly play into these two companies heavily dominating the ebook reader market in the future, because they're currently the only ones who stand to benefit by making their devices cheaper. Which, of course, then ties right back into Charlie's previous article about the future of the computer industry.

More Books

May. 12th, 2009 10:01 am
amnesiack: (Lain Bear)
I've burned through three more library acquisitions in the last few days.

Too Cool To Be Forgotten by Alex Robinson

Solanin by Asano Inio

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
amnesiack: (Lain Bear)

Couch by Benjamin Parzybok

Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Losing My Faculties: A Teacher's Story by Brendan Haplin

Just A Geek by Wil Wheaton

The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
amnesiack: (grumpy)
Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday.

Note: Posted via email.
amnesiack: (Donnie Yen)
It's no secret that I've become increasingly enamored of (some might say "obsessed with", but they're wrong, and I will destroy them with my Wisdom of the Seven Gates kung fu) wuxia and other Chinese martial arts fantasy over the last couple of years, to the point where it equals my love of the dark and deadly shinobi. It has, in fact, reached the point where I am no longer content to sup upon the meager trickle of entertainment that comes my way through regional channels. Now, I drink directly from the source!

But above and beyond that, I have found a second wellspring from which I may draw. Arriving soon (I estimate today, but I cannot be entirely sure) from this font of delights, will be Shadowless Sword (technically, a Korean film, but it was filmed in China and is of the proper genre), Dragon Tiger Gate (a film set in the modern day but with many wuxia elements, made doubly awesome by the presence of the inestimable Donnie Yen), and Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (a live-action ninja movie based off the same novel that inspired the manga/anime series Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls).

I'm not sure where this was leading to, or if there was ever really a point to this at all beyond a momentary internet-based explosion of glee, so I guess I'm done. Cheers.
amnesiack: (Leaf Shakes the Wind)
Life continues and things occur. Most of them are boring are to read about.

Saturday night I wrangled together a significant portion of my local friends for a three week late birthday celebration. We had dinner at the Capitol Hill Tea Pot Vegetarian House, a vegan Chinese food restaurant that specializes in Buddhist-style fake meat cooking. Though the restaurant didn't seem quite as prepared for us as it should have been (considering I had made a reservation for 22 people a week and a half in advance, and we only actually had 19 people come), the food and company were fantastic, and I was glad I had done it. Thanks to everyone who came!

Earlier on Saturday, Lesley joined as the new player in our bi-weekly Exalted game, re-completing our circle after the loss of Jesse, whose new responsibilities as full-time bus driver and human spawn generator have forced him to cut down on his gaming activities. This is Lesley's first tabletop rpg; she's doing really well with it so far, though we have to work at times not to overshadow her character, simply because the rest of us are used to diving in, taking charge, and expecting everyone else to do likewise.

Neil Gaiman's new short story collection Fragile Things hit last week. I picked it up along with my copy of the new Compass of Celestial Directions Volume 1: The Blessed Isle at The Dreaming on Friday. I started the first story on the bus this morning; it combines Sherlock Holmes and the Lovecraft Mythos and promises to be irrevocably awesome (in addition to reminding me a great deal of our bi-weekly Adventure! game).

Saturday night my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard (one of the really old-school off-white models with no padding or special features) stopped working properly. I attempted to take it apart and fix it, which I think only exacerbated the problem. Of course, I've been using the keyboard for 8 years, so it's not a terribly surprising occurence. So, on Sunday, I bought a new Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, only this one does have padding and weird extra buttons (which I thought would be worthless, but I'm actually enjoying them). Of course, since I entered Best Buy, I had to also look at other things, and I ended up buying volume two of Basilisk, Iron Monkey, and Kung Fu Hustle. I'm such a sucker.
amnesiack: (blue sun)
Yesterday I turned 26.

The first thing I did after waking was immediately open the box my parents sent to me, which had been taunting me from its perch on top of my sumo for the past five days. From them I received the second season of Veronica Mars (to replace my ill-gotten divx copies) and the soundtrack to Haibane Renmei.

Between Greece and PAX, I didn't have enough vacation time to actually take the day off from work, but my manager was nice enough to let me leave a couple of hours early. We're also going out to lunch tomorrow with the rest of the reporting department (all five of us) for celebratory something-or-other. I'm supposed to pick the restaurant, but I have no idea where we'll be going. But back to yesterday...

I had lunch with [ profile] yurodivuie, Lesley, and Daniel at a Thai place down the street from work that I'd never eaten at before. It was good, though they were out of tofu for some bizarre reason, which cut their normally massive vegetarian menu down to about four items.

After work it was mostly Disgaea 2 and pizza and tv (new episodes of Bones, which I like despite myself, and Mythbusters) with [ profile] bookishelaine. So, nothing too fancy, but I'm thinking of planning a dinner outing to invite people to, possibly next Saturday. Though if that's going to happen, I should really get on the ball...

Today was when I decided to get some birthday gifts for myself, which consisted of the new dvd releases of the original versions of Star Wars episodes IV, V, and VI. I also drove out to visit [ profile] gaaneden to pick up the print copy of Qin: The Warring States that she so kindly picked up for me at GenCon. We also had a fun conversation about her current projects, rpgs, and writing, and I actually didn't even mind the drive to and from the East side, because I was listening to The Restoration of Chaos and Order, which is still, after more than a dozen listenings, really fabulous.

So, yeah, that's my boring birthday story. Cheers.
amnesiack: (kimpinegf)
Go me: I remembered to call the airlines I'm flying with next week to request vegetarian meals on the way to and from Athens.

When I travel, two halves of my psyche war with one another. One half wants as many things to entertain me on the flight and during downtime on the trip as possible, even though it knows I'll probably only use a fraction of what I take. The other half wants to pack as little as humanly possible, preferably to the point of being able to do carry-on only.

Thus far, I know for sure that I will be taking the following items:

* My PSP with my recently-purchased and as-yet-unplayed copy of Valkyrie Profile: Lennth and a second PSP battery borrowed from [ profile] yurodivuie
* My ipod
* The volumes of Journey to the West that I haven't finished yet.

Thus far, I've held fairly firm to those being my only entertainment items, but the pull to bring a big, heavy rpg book of some sort (most likely either the Manual of Exalted Power: Dragonblood or Weapons of the Gods) keeps growing stronger. We'll see what I can talk myself down to when the time comes. I've confirmed that there will be easily accessible laundry facilities in Athens, so I can probably get away with packing two pairs of pants and 3 or 4 shirts and other sundries.

Now, I just have to make sure I don't forget my passport on Monday.
amnesiack: (Default)
The new Mon Frere album Blood, Sweat, and Swords came out yesterday. I've only done one listen-through, but so far I think it's even better than their debut EP Real Vampires, which was their only release up until now.

I'm also reading Journey to the West, one of the great classics of Chinese literature. I'm enjoying it, but getting used to the writing style is tricky since the translation that I am reading is apparently the one that tries to stick as literally as possible to the original language and diction. I'm borrowing Jason's copy of volume 1, but I'm getting into it enough that I've ordered the full set for myself.
amnesiack: (Default)
I attended Neil Gaiman's reading/signing on Tuesday and enjoyed myself immensely. He's a witty, engaging speaker in addition to being an adept live reader. Jason and I were there a little later than we had wanted to be, but we had some good conversation as we waited for our group number to be called for the signing portion of things. There were upwards of 800 people in attendance, so I count us as being lucky to be in the 201-300 group.

I liked Anansi Boys a lot, by the way. I read it a couple of weeks ago, within the first few days of it coming out. It's a book that largely aims to be humerous but still manages to be dark and entrancing at the same time. Overall, on the Gaiman novel scale, I'd put it above American Gods, below Stardust, and on par with Neverwhere.

amnesiack: (Default)
It's been quite a while since I posted here, mostly because I can't access LJ from work anymore. However, I finally remembered to check the process for posting via email, and here I am. I'm assuming this whole post is going to be full of typing errors and broken html tags that I won't really notice until I get home and can actually look at how the post came out.

And what better way to mark my return than a boring list of the current media and consumer products that I am enjoying? No better way, says I.

Psychonauts: Available for the PS2, Xbox, and PC, this is one of the best games I have played in years. What is there not to like in a game about a summer camp for child psychics designed by Tim Schafer of Grim Fandango with a lead character voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz (aka Zim)? It is at least partially a platformer, but so far I've experienced none of the frustrations normally inherent in that genre. My co-worker Kurt told me that he already considers it to be his pick for game of the year. I'm having a hard time disagreeing.

Legend of the Five Rings RPG, 3rd Edition: Though I've never actually played a single session of L5R, I've been a fan of the game for a long time. It's basically feudal Japan with a fantasy twist; it is to the samurai era what 7th Sea is to swashbuckling Europe. The 3rd edition is a beautiful book. While many game companies aspire to put out full-color books, most don't have the art or designers necessary to make it look good (Are you listening, EDEN?). L5R 3ed, on the other hand, looks great from cover to cover. While some of the illustrations are better than others (as is inevitable), there is not a single piece of bad art anywhere in the book.

Fantastic Foods soup and noodle bowls: Fantastic Foods makes some of the finest instant vegetarian and vegan food in existence. These soups are incredible, particularly the Hot & Sour and Minestrone. Also of note are their vegetarian taco filling and falafel mix.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Vol. 7: I really couldn't be happier with the ending to this phenomenal series. I nearly cried during the Batou/Tachikoma scene.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: Jason first made me aware of this weird and delightful novel that apparently took 10 years to write. It's a comedic historical fantasy that falls somewhere in-between the styles of Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Charles Dickens, and Terry Pratchet, and the more I read, the better it gets.

Ok, back to work, me hearties.
amnesiack: (Default)
So, Jason did this book meme and tagged me as a person to carry it on, so... Here it is. )

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