The Magicians. A book trilogy and a series on SyFy

Discussions about Lev Grossmans The Magicians invariably lead to comparisons with the Harry Potter books. Both are urban fantasy series about people who wield awesome magical powers, living in the same world as us and the schools where they were taught to use them. The similarities end there however. Hogwarts is a highschool and Brakebills is a college. While the Potter novels each recount a single year of school, The Magicians covers an entire fours years of college in the first book and the next two are all about growing up and life as an adult. One of the things I enjoyed about J.K. Rowlings books was how the language and themes of the books matured as the readers did. Lev Grossman treats his readers as adults from page one. The themes he explores are deep and complex, mostly about how we view the world and our relationships in it. Where most unpleasant things in the Harry Potter books happen in bloodless, Disney like manners or completely “off camera”, in The Magicians books they are violent, bloody and in your face. So I wouldn’t recommend it to readers still in primary school, but if you’re ready to graduate…

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Free books! Free books!

Okay, so they are e-books, but they are from a real publisher by well established authors and they really are free. A while back(1999) writer Eric Flint and his publisher Jim Bean wanted to see if making books available free of charge would encourage or discourage the sale of physical books and as a result the Baen Free Library was created.  They made a large number of books by their most popular authors freely available for download in DRM free epub and .mobi formats.  Turns out that they accidentally stumbled on the same formula drug pushers have been using forever.  Give someone something they like for free, and they will happily pay for more.  Sure as hell worked with me.  

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For fans of Urban Fantasy, I recommend The Dresden Files

For those who have never heard of it before, but are wondering “what is Urban Fantasy?” it is a fiction genre that takes fantastical elements (magic, vampires, werewolves, demons, etc.) in a modern urban setting. Buffy, Supernatural, True Blood, Diana Tregarde are all examples of urban fantasy and The Dresden Files is the one I love best.

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read The Road by Cormac McCarthy

mccarthy-road-797341I loved this book, which is an odd thing for me to say, given that I usually don’t like stories without a plot, which this is.

The Road is a post apocalyptic tale about a man and his son as they travel to the coast in the midst of a deepening nuclear winter.  That’s it.  End of story.  I mean literally that’s the entirety of the novel.  They follow this unnamed road to the coast in the hopes that it will be easier to find food there and that they can follow it south, thinking it will lead them to a warmer climate. The story doesn’t even start with the cause of the disaster, you only get a little taste of it in a flashback, instead we begin following the man and his boy about ten years after the event that has killed the world.  Sorry if I spoiled it for you, but trust me, even knowing what it’s all about the book is worth reading.

Cormac McCarthy has a minimalist writing style that some people don’t like and to be honest, I found it mildly annoying in No Country for Old Men and sometimes confusing in Blood Meridian. In The Road however I felt it not only worked well, but fit perfectly with the subject and themes of the novel. The author doesn’t like quotation marks to denote dialog, and he uses commas as if they were more precious than Californium. It works here though. The world is dying, the sky is a constant grey cloud through which the sun cannot completely penetrate. The plants are all dead, there are no wild animals, few people and Cormacs sparse use of punctuation accentuates this bleakness.

What made the biggest impact on me was the way the characters of The Man and The Boy (the author never does name them) interact with each other and the few people they meet. In a world where resources are scarce, survival is the main priority and The Man does everything he can to keep himself and his son alive, but at the same time, he’s trying to raise his son to be a good person and instill in him the values he had been taught. That brings them into conflict often. He teaches his boy that we are the good guys, stealing is wrong… but when you’re starving? More importantly, when your CHILD is slowly dying of starvation? We help people… but when you have next to nothing yourself and you come upon an old blind man who has even less? Those are the moments that stick out for me, you can tell the boy is aching to do the “right thing” as he has been taught, but the man who taught him these things is willing to ignore morality to keep them alive. That’s what makes this book for me.  It’s not about a grand quest, it’s just about two people struggling to stay alive and stay “human”.

got a subscription to Marvel Unlimited

Netflix for comic books! Geek heaven!

I love comic books. I started collecting them when I was in grade 8, about a thousand years ago, but stopped when Marvel turned Illyana Rasputin back into a child, also the price of the books I was buying had more than doubled from when I started.

Several years ago Marvel comics started a subscription service where you could pay a monthly fee to have access to all the comics they had digitized. It was an interesting deal, but I don’t like reading books, even comic books, on a PC monitor. Continue reading “got a subscription to Marvel Unlimited”