Monday, September 30, 2013

Penny Arcade doesn't like Brandon Sanderson?

This was today's comic, thought it might be of interest:

(via Penny Arcade)
Thoughts? I know Sanderson is a polarizing figure with some people loving his work and others thinking he's a hack, but how accurate do you think this comic is? Now, I've never read one of his books - I have a used copy of Mistborn that's sitting in my reading queue, but I haven't gotten to it yet - so I can't voice an opinion. I do think his magic systems are interesting, though, so that's something.

Edit: On the other hand, someone on their forums pointed out that this might be more of a criticism of Sanderson's more rabid, die hard fans than Sanderson himself. Then again, Tycho is pretty explicit about not liking Sanderson in the first panel, so who knows.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Image inspiration: Tom Hiddleston looks awesome in armor

Found these on Tumblr.
I did some googling and found that these are from The Hollow Crown, four-part TV adaptions of Shakespeare's  Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, and Henry V. Tom Hiddleston played Henry V. I really dig the armor and cloak in those pictures.

In a fantasy or gaming world, I could see him being a noble. Maybe not a king or prince (well, not one high on the succession list), but definitely a noble - maybe a baron or earl. I could also see him being the leader of a band of mercenaries or a rebel army.

Pictures via paraph, h/t briecheek.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sif and Jane Foster get their own posters for Thor: The Dark World and they're pretty dang spiffy

Saw both of them on GeekTyrant today.

I like this one in particular. Sif's armor is decently realistic. Sure, her arms and legs are unarmored, but keep in mind that Sif is an Asgardian, so she's far more durable than the average human and heals faster too.

Also? Jaime Alexander is on my list of actresses who should play Wonder Woman.

I dig this one too because it has a fantasy feel to it. Love the shoulder armor (spauldrons? Pauldrons?) and vambraces.

In the post-apocalypse, everybody has nice clothes and perfect hair

Postapocalyptic chic.
(via Fanpop)
So I'm watching reruns of Revolution on Syfy and I'm reminded of one of the problems I had with the show. You might remember that I posted about Revolution back when it premiered last year, but for those who don't, Revolution is a post-apocalyptic series by Eric Kripke (creator of Supernatural) and produced by J. J. Abrams. The premise is that some sort of event causes electricity to stop working. Now, it's an interesting show for sure, but the things that sort of turned me off are the characters' clothes and hair. The former look like they came straight off the rack at a department store and the latter is so blatantly the work of stylists, it actually takes you out of the show's world.
Maybe the show is sponsored by L'Oreal.
(via Revolution Wiki)

Now, I can see people looting retail stores and hoarding clothing and footwear, because the machinery used to mass produce that stuff no longer works, but I just find it hard to suspend my belief enough that decades after the power went bye bye, that people are still walking around a post-apocalyptic environ in clothes that look clean and brand new. As for hairstyles on this show, it's just impossible for me to suspend my belief that shampoo and conditioner still exists in abundance.

To be fair, the show is pretty damn good and worth watching, provided you can get past those two things.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Power of the mind: imaging in the Imager series (spoilers)

Like I mentioned in my post about Imager, one of the really interesting aspects of the book was the imaging ability of the titular imagers. As I explained, imaging is the ability to create or even move objects from one place to another (I suppose teleporting would be the right word) by imagining it with their minds. An early example of the latter is shown in an scene where Rhenn, the main character, moves a raisin from his bowl to his spoon, which allows him to finally come up with a solution to a problem that his teacher had him working on for several days. An example of the former is when he images a comb as a personal test to see whether or not he had any significant imager power.

There is a counter-balance to imaging, much like magic in other books. Imaging can be taxing, depending on the object being imaged. Simple objects are inconsequential, but the bigger, more complex an object is, the more exhausting it can be and it can also lead to headaches. The composition of an object also plays a factor. There's another point in Imager where Rhenn is tasked with imaging aluminum rods and after four hours, he's left worn out and with a headache. Another constraint is that there has to be enough material nearby to in order to create an object. Rhenn images a bookend during another point in the book, one made out of stone and glass, and he remarks to himself that there should be enough stone and sand in a nearby courtyard to do it.

Make no mistake, though, imaging isn't just creating or moving objects; it can be a deadly weapon. Rhenn is trained throughout the book in how to disable or kill using his powers, mostly by imaging air or chemicals into a person's heart or brain. He's also trained in more non-lethal approaches, such as imaging oil on the ground to slip someone up or tar to slow them down. He also learns how to create invisible shields to protect himself, which come in very handy. The most basic type of shield is an anti-imager one that doubles as an alarm to alert him if another imager tries to hit him with something. Aside from that, Rhenn learns to create and shape shields to protect himself from bullets, knives, and anything else short of an artillery shell.

Imaging is actually a very fascinating power, but I'm not entirely certain if it qualifies as a magic system. Then again, given some of the rather far-out systems I've read about (I'm looking at you, Brandon Sanderson), it could very well be magic. The question is, could it be used in a RPG?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I just realized that I read a lot more fantasy than science fiction

I don't have a solid ratio, but it feels like I read maybe two fantasy books for every one scifi book. The former might be a bit higher, though. On one hand, I'm happy because fantasy fiction is awesome as shit. On the other hand, however, it kind of sucks because I love science fiction just as much as fantasy. Of course, my love of scifi might be more grounded in TV, movies, and video games. It's funny because like I've mentioned before, I was not a fantasy reader until two years ago when I finally read a Discworld novel that I had owned for years. After that, a flood gate was opened and I read as much as my brain box could take.

Still can't read The Hobbit or LOTR, though.

Finished Imager

Not much to say that I haven't already said, so I'll just jump to the rating: 8.9/10.

Friday, September 13, 2013

L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Imager

via L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Wiki.
I've been reading this for the past two weeks and really enjoying it. The premise is that a young journeyman artist named Rhennythyl discovers that he's a imager and goes to Imageisle to learn how to control and use his new found powers. An imager is sort of like a magic user, I suppose. It's actually kind of hard to categorize imagers. Their powers allow them to create or teleport objects with their brain boxes, though the object they're trying to "image" taxes them, depending on what it is. A small, simple thing is a non-issue, but the larger, more complex a thing is, will leave this exhausted to varying degrees and/or with a headache, especially if the object is made out of certain materials. Not all imagers are powerful. Some are only able to due minor "imaging", while others are much more powerful.

An interesting aspect of the story is that imagers all live separate from society at what are called Collegiums. This is because regardless of whether an imager is untrained or trained, they're dangerous to everyone, including themselves. Primarily, this is because they can unwittingly use their powers while asleep. The other reason is because imagers don't exactly have the confidence and adoration of the public. They're not hated like mutants from Marvel Comics, but people tend to give them a wide berth and walk on eggshells when one is around.

Story-wise, Imager is a good book, but a slow in the beginning. Modesitt spends the first part of the book (I forget how many pages) focusing on Rhenn's years as a journeyman learning to become a portraiturist. That's one of the interesting things about this book. Artists are divided into several specialty fields and they're only allowed to sell paintings in whatever their field is. So, a portraiturist, for example, can only paint portraits for a living. They can paint other things as a hobby, but they can never sell those paintings, less they suffer the consequences. To be honest, this part of the book, while interesting, drags on longer than it probably should. However, once the ball gets rolling, it rolls! I also like the focus on Rhenn's training as an imager, especially the discussions he has with his teacher, which tend to be philosophical and cover subjects such as jurisprudence, government, taxation, etc.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm close, so I feel like I can give a recommendation on whether to read Imager or not: It depends. Like I said, the book starts out slow, but it picks up after a while. There's action, but its spread out throughout the book, so if you're one of those folks who like a lot of action in their fantasy reading, this might not tickle your fancy. If you don't much care for the amount of action or the lack thereof, then it might be worth checking out.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Well, that was a bust...

I don't go to big bookstores often because there isn't one in my town and the nearest is eight miles away. Not a great distance, mind you, but I don't like wasting other people's gas to get there (me driving? Madness!), so when I do go to one, I do it with the intent of buying as many books as I can afford.

Except when I don't. I rolled a natural one the other day. I voyaged to a Books-A-Million with the intention to buy some science fiction, or failing that, fantasy. Currently, there's an imbalance between the two, with the latter having the superior numbers, so I was looking to fix that and sate my scifi cravings. Unfortunately, they didn't have any scifi that piqued my interest, so I moved on to fantasy and found much the same. I don't know if its just the two stores I've been to, but Books-A-Million flops when it comes to having a decent selection of scifi/fantasy. They'll have several books by an author that I might want to read, but never the first book in the series. Truthfully, I've found that Barnes & Noble tends to have a better selection of scifi/fantasy, while Books-A-Million has a better selection of graphic novels.

Then there's the physical quality of the books themselves. Look, I can tolerate a new book having some dings to it, because hey, that's the perils of shipping and handling, but I am sure as f#ck not going to buy a brand new book that has a piece of the spine missing or a bent up cover. Here's an example of what I'm talking about: I've been reading L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Imager and was going to buy my own copy (I'm reading the library's) along with the second book in the series. Then, I looked at the spine - specifically, the corner where the cover and spine meet - and it looked like someone had taken their nail and scrapped off a piece. There was other damage to the book too. Unfortunately, BAM doesn't keep any extra copies in their backroom, so my only recourse would have been to have them order a copy for me and I really didn't feel like going through with that. I mean, if this had been a thrift store or a yard sale, I would have bought the book without giving it a second thought, because then it would have been a used book, but I'm not going to pay for a brand new book that looks like it's been mishandled.

There were a couple other books I considered, but by that point, I was feeling a bit deflated, so I bought a book for my mom instead (she's recovering in a nursing home/rehab center from something called a T.I.A.), so it wasn't a total loss.

There's a small indie bookstore downtown that I've ordered books from before, so that might be my future mode of procurement, since I can't rely on a chain store.


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