Robot vs. Monsters – Dev Diary 1

So I’ve been talking for a little while now with Ash about creating a game, and talking with him about what he would do for making his own. The first many many ideas were basically the same game as him iPhone or Wii favorites, but usually with Lego or Star Wars tossed into the mix. (Angry Birds Star Wars, Lego Star Wars Wii Sports and so on) I encouraged him to come up with his own, new idea that hadn’t been done before, and the idea we settled on would be our own little masterpiece together – Robot vs. Monsters.

His basic idea was that you are a robot tasked to protect a city and the people in it from attacking monsters. He wanted 4 levels, and of course a big boss to fight at the end. The goal of each level would be to save all the humans on the level, and to defeat the monsters using your robot’s weapons.

A feature list we collaborated on:
- 4 Action Packed Levels (each with a different environment!)
- Epic boss battle!!
- Save tiny humans!!
- Use exotic robot weaponry! (Swords! Blasters! More!)
- Sound Effects!!
- Side scrolling, 2D, platforming adventure!!!
- Fun for the whole family!!!

Fairly simple right? Except for the fact that I haven’t programmed anything seriously since college over 10 years ago. Forgotten how to ride that bicycle, and what better time than now to learn all over again.

I decided to make it a Flash based game, so it would be easy to share with friends and family. A good part of the reasoning was as well that there would be plenty of documentation, tutorials and help out there on the web for me to use to help build this game.

I chose to use a Flash library called flixel which has been so far an extremely easy to use framework to get my little game started. There is also an incredible wealth of tutorials out there to work with.

I started with their EZPlatformer Tutorial as a base to get the general idea of how to build a platformer, and since then have been busy tinkering with it adding little bits and pieces to learn more.

I’ve added:
- Sound effects (coin pickup and jumping)
- A player “sprite” (my artwork is terrible I know!)
- Created a tile based level in an editor (DAME)
- Created my own coins to add to the level
- Managed to get it all, somewhat working, with a scrolling level!

Yes some of the level is broken below (inaccessible areas due to the little guy not being able to jump high enough), but it’s a start! Enjoy tinkering with the first little example of what we’re doing:

Click the window to play. Arrows to move. Space to jump!

The next update should include the following:
- New Robot character
- New, less generic map that’s bigger
- Humans to collect instead of coins

I figure those are easy enough goals to work towards, and creating small goals will make this all that much closer to completion.

Responsibilities for this project:
Ash – Lead Designer, Concept Art, Level Concepts, Game Director
Brian – Code monkey, Artist, Level Builder

I’m letting Ash guide the game as much as possible so that he feels like it’s his game, and in the meantime I’ll enjoy building a game and learning something new. Enjoy!

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Baseball – My Sport.

Baseball is back! We’re well into the season already and it’s a wonderful thing. I meant to post something about this earlier in the season, but I just didn’t get around to it. So here it goes. My one of maybe other baseball posts as the year goes on.

I love baseball. It’s a funny thing to me. It’s my real first sports love. Maybe I know the NFL and the goings on in Football more these days, but when it comes back to it all, it’s the feel, the sounds, and baseball that I would end up saying is my favorite sport. No contest.

Baseball started early for me. Probably the first thing my dad and I bonded over was baseball. He and I, now that we’re older, have more to talk about, but when I was a kid I was drawn to computers, videogames and books. But one thing we always loved was watching an Oakland A’s game together or playing catch or practicing for my little league games. This was my start with the game.

It’s a funny thing this baseball. It’s impossible to try and explain the rules to someone who doesn’t know. I remember seeing a minor league game with some friends of the family who were from England. It was as impossible to explain to them as cricket is to explain to us. The weird nuances, the terminology that just becomes second nature to you as a kid because you play it and are surrounded by it. This is baseball!

It’s the years I spent playing it as a kid in little league. You always had the kids who’s parents forced them to play, and the kids who were more gifted with athletic abilities. Me? I was in the middle. I loved to play, but was in no way gifted with natural athletic prowess. I played for many years, but it was entering those High School years that left me behind. I was okay at the game, but never great enough to play on the high school team. Other school sports called me.

It’s all the major league games I remember going to as a kid. The tailgates. The vendors calling out “Cold beer here! Peanuuuuutttssss!” The cheers of the crowd. The joy of rising out of your seat after the crack of a well hit ball, and the hope of it being a home run for your team! The hope, every time you go, of catching a foul ball. (only once in all my years of games have I gotten one and that may be it for my lifetime! I hope not.) The food. The hot summer days. The little fold down seats. It’s heaven.

But here’s in the end what I’m trying to get at. I love baseball. I love the feel of the game. I love the pace of the game. I love the sounds of the game. I love seeing all levels of the game being played. From the little league game to the Mariner’s (who seem to have an aversion to winning these days). I don’t mind the long games. The games where no one is scoring because the pitchers are really on fire. The games where the score is more like a football game. It’s all great.

It, to me, is the only major American sport that is suited to listening to on the radio if you can’t be there or watch it on the TV. Maybe it’s the years I’ve watched and played the game, but the pace of the game, and the simplicity of where the ball can go on any given play lends itself well to play by play, and I never mind hearing a game as I can always picture it in my head so easily.

So here’s to the Spring and Summer, when I get my baseball fix in. When I get to a Mariner’s or a Tacoma Rainier’s game as often as I can. Where even if I’m not sitting and watching the game, I love to hear it in the background in the evening while I make dinner, clean the house or play with my son. Here’s to the game itself. Even if my local team isn’t winning all the time. I’m still a fan. I’ll be there. I may throw my hand up in frustration in another loss, but I’ll be back the next day with the hope of a win, and if nothing else the good feelings of the game.


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Books in Review for 2009

So, in an experiment last year, I kept a written record of all the books I read and ended up writing each of them up on here. It was different to do so. It for one thing kept me writing a little bit, but it also provided a way to talk a bit more about the books I’ve read. It’s not that anyone else reads this site, but maybe others will come by some time and find something they didn’t expect and enjoy it as well. Or be warned off it.

So I went back and took a look and compiled a few stats of what I did last year. Maybe in years to come I’ll be able to compare them to each other. All the page counts came from Amazon, and I tried to find the copy of the book I read to get close to the right page count.

41 Total Books Read in 2009
17,160 Total Pages
3.4 Books a Month Average
1,430 Pages a Month Average
419 Pages Per Book Average

Sadly only 4 out of the 41 were non-fiction, which I’ll strive to improve this next year. I’ve been building up my “to read” shelf quick a bit in January and February, and along with books given to me by friends, I have my work cut out for me already in these first few months of the year.

I really enjoyed seeing what I’ve read listed out. Call it the nerd in me, or just the satisfying feeling of completion and love of reading, but this exercise had worth. I’m thinking of recording other areas of my life for a bit of reflection, but am not sure what other area lend themselves to this type of record. Any ideas?

Here’s a link to all the past entries for 2009:
January 2009
March 2009
April/May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009

Go 2010.

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Books – December 2009

Yes, I know I’m really really late at getting this going for the month of December. My bad.

Bauchelain and Korbal Broach Vol. 1 – Steven Erikson – A collection of three novellas that were previously only available from a small private print house, these stories are a great, well written, and humorous look into the pair of necromancers Erikson has created for his Malazan world. Here, with the freedom that comes from not writing a novel, Erikson pulls an incredible amount of wit and humor, but serious good writing to back it all up. I know I’ve read a lot of this series over the last year, but I’d put this as a highlight just for the sheer fun of the stories.

Invisible – Paul Auster – Ah, probably my favorite modern fiction writer has finally put out a book that doesn’t frustrate me completely. I wrote about his last book and wished he’d just stop writing for a while, because it felt like he was just phoning in a story and fulfilling a contract, and had no interest in producing something new, but instead rehashing his familiar themes over and over.

Invisible was different. It felt fresh from him. The story of students experiences in 1967, and the three different perspectives of that continuing story, and the encounters with a mysterious Frenchman and his girlfriend. Deeply compelling, I read it over the course of three nights, so I couldn’t put it down, it relied so much less on his typical themes, but at least did bring out his favorite of a writer writing about writing. The book leaves you with questions as to the truth of the different stories, and the what lies were told and what the motives the characters may have for lying. His best since Oracle Night for me personally.

I’m also planning a 2009 retrospective on all the books I read last year. Some nerdy stats, some breakdowns by type and the like. Can’t not do that! I love making lists and collecting things along that nature!

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Books – November 2009

So November with the holiday and birthday for Ash, I found myself either going to bed too late, or getting distracted with a game on the phone. Needless to say I only completed two books for the month.

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – So the sad reason of what pushed me to get this book was one of those cheesy Facebook quizzes that told me what “book” I was based on answering a couple of random questions. It’s one of those books that’s always on the Borders “recommended” reading tables, and you see it on lists of great novels. One trip to Half Price Books later and the book came to reside on my shelves.

It’s a fascinating novel concerned with the rise and fall of a family and the parallel and very joined story of the rise and fall of the town the patriarch founded. The family history has all the scandal, love, war and odd dynamics that can happen. There is a sense of the mystical, and superstition rules many members of the family, but others are war veterans trying to escape their past, or tireless carousers who meet early ends. It’s characters are what really keep this novel together. With many generations of the families drama played out, and all their names typically being a continuation of the family name, it never descends into a muddle of characters because of the strong personality that each of them displays.

One of the mothers of a generation had a meek personality, and at a portion of the book you even forget she exists, because of the forcefulness of her offspring and their wives, but as she outlives them and enters he own old age, you see her try and reassert herself by repairing and restoring the home, but eventually succumbing and failing. It’s a fascinating book and I couldn’t have asked for more in an unknown novel to me. Please read!

Angels & Visitations – Neil Gaiman – A random pickup from Goodwill one afternoon, I picked it up for the love of his comic work and a couple of his novels. Neil Gaiman, the wonderful comic book writer known for his Sandman series, is one of those wonderfully creative writers when it comes to wondrous stories. Very steeped in myths and legends, this collection of some of his short stories, introductions and poetry is a good quick look at some of what he’s about. From a hard boiled detective story about Humpty Dumpty or a modern telling of Billy Goat’s Gruff or a great tale about the Holy Grail, it’s a wonderful, fanciful ride through some great reading and well worth it.

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Books – October 2009

So really, October was Harry Potter month. I ended up getting hooked, and couldn’t stop reading them until I had finished with them, and the only reason I had another book in the middle of them all was I had it in my car for reading on my lunch breaks at work. We’ll start with the non-Potter book first and then a general Potter fest to complete the rest of the month out.

Moneyball – Michael Lewis – A very controversial book when it came out, Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane (General Manager of the Oakland A’s Baseball team) and his uncanny ability to put together a consistently winning team that had a budget much less than half of his major competition in Baseball (think of the Yankee’s payroll!). Great book that shows a front office that in an effort to save money looked to the stats of a player and what the players statistics told about their potential. It pits the “old guard” scouting core who looked more at the physical and mental make up of a ballplayer. They frequently would pass on players who didn’t look like a ballplayer physically, but Beane and his staff would find something about the player in his stats to like – Walk to Strikout ratio or their On Base Percentage – and discover diamonds in the rough. \Unfortunately others picked up parts of his ideas over these last few years, and it’s harder to find a good deal anymore for those lackluster A’s. Our own Mariners now have a GM in place who has similar principles in evaluating talent and has helped turn the M’s from a 2nd worst team in the majors to a winning record and significant growth in only a year. Great read, and I want to read his other book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which covers the story of the Left Tackle position in Football. Great writer.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
So I went to town in October when it came to Harry Potter, like I said above. I started down that path and ended up not being able to resist starting on the next book so I could find out what happened to Harry and his pals. What can I say. J.K. Rowling writes well enough of a story to keep me hooked until the end. I’m actually pretty glad I waited until now to read them when the series is complete, as I stare back at my bookshelves looking at a couple of series that are still in progress and the patient wait for the next novel can be maddening. Like I said in a previous post, I read these books on a Sony Reader, which was great for nighttime reading in bed. Lightweight, easy to pick up and down, but so much less satisfaction of finishing a book when you can’t really close it and pick up the next one and start at the beginning again.

I’ve not looked at lists of others favorite Harry Potters, but I found that I enjoyed Goblet of Fire probably the best out of the series, followed by either The Prisoner of Azkaban or Order of the Phoenix. Book 4 just had a great mix of action, new characters with the other schools joining in and giving you a bigger picture of the wizarding world at large. Plus Harry Potter vs. a Dragon. Excellent. Still book 5 and 6 continued well, but book 7 was almost a let down, saved by the excellent scenes at the end, the middle part just drug on and on as Harry and co. wandered through the wilderness for months seemingly doing not much other than arguing. Thanks guys. Let’s get back to saving the world please!

As a modern book series for children, I can’t believe how well Harry Potter succeeds. I’m also so pleased at how well it reads for an adult as well, and can see why so many people were gladly toting these things when each new one came out. As I’ve mentioned before, I love books that get people reading and how much these books helped many kids who wouldn’t normally read, actually sit down and do so is wonderful. Bonus points for them being actual good books! What’s also great is how this series also has flawed characters. Harry’s not perfect. He get’s angry, he looses his temper over silly things, but has a hard time apologizing sometimes. But, in the end he’s also got a great heart, and he’s got great loyal friends who all learn to stick with each other through thick and thin. He’s occasionally whiny and boorish, but then it helps make him all that more believable of a kid stuck in an impossible situation.

In the end, it’s a series I’d recommend to anyone. Looking for a relaxing book to enjoy on a rainy day? Potter. Looking for the beach book? Potter’d work. Looking for a fantastical take on England? Potter there sir. I’ll gladly have my son read these in a few years when he gets older and is looking for books to start reading. With his appetite for books already I’m sure he’ll love to read these when he get’s of age and I’d love to share them with him and read them again when that time comes.

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Books – September 2009

Ahh, September. Great month September is. The summer is closing down, but it’s still warm. Evenings start to get shorter and the start of the football season make it just wonderful. Plus? Great books!

Dust of Dreams – Steven Erikson So I had to import book nine from the UK because it’s not due out in the US until 2010, and I just couldn’t wait that long. The continuing story in the ten book series of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, we continue to watch and see how more things get completely shaken up and stirred up in this series. It’s hard to write generally about a series where most anyone who reads this will probably never get to, but as I’ve mentioned before about this “fantasy world”, it’s been an amazing journey along the way. With other long series I’ve read they loose steam mid-way through (see The Wheel of Time), but each of these books keeps pushing your understanding of the world it’s characters inhabit, and doesn’t pull punches or let people off easy. The history is rich, fulfilling and never complete, and always has different interpretations based on who’s viewing it. Highly reccomended series, you just have to get over the difficult first novel (Gardens of the Moon, which was written 10 years before he got the contract to do the final nine, and while good, he grew a lot as a writer by the time the second book came around), and you’ll be rewarded richly.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – Jack Weatherford – Driven to find out more from just a wonderment about the man, as well as some of the references to him in the book I read on the Crusades, I got a recommendation to this book and was very pleased. The amazing history of the Mongol empire, which was the largest in human history, and how a tribe of nomadic horse people managed to do it! Such things as novel military tactics, adopting the best and brightest of any nation the conquered, setting up systems of management and couriers to allow them to rule their vast empire, religious tolerance and freedom, and the free exchange of ideas. Truly an amazing amount of achievement was accomplished with their rule, and while the author does seem to overstate all of the influences of the Khans, it really does show how far behind Europe was until their own age of enlightenment and the re-discovery of so much knowledge that had been lost or deemed heretical. Easy to read, and not dry, I high recommendation for anyone with even a passing interest in the man behind the legends and myths and the amazing truths as well.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan – The second of my two book dare by a friend of mine, a book that was supposed to make me cry at the end, like so many of these style novels seem to do to friends of mine. Actually I was impressed by the book. Like so many high school students, I had to read The Joy Club for English class, and like probably most students, I didn’t enjoy it much. I was plenty worried when I stated the book and found the narrating author character to be annoying and uninteresting, but as soon as she got to translating the diary of her mother and grandmother’s life growing up in China, the story became fascinating, so much so that when the book returned to the modern day I didn’t mind so much anymore as it pulled everything together and closed itself off well. I’m sure I missed some of the mother/daughter symbolism that was in there, but even missing that I found the story to be well worth reading and quite enjoyable. I remain a skeptic no more, and it doesn’t mean I have to hand in my “man” card either. Oh yes, no tears either. Sorry.

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Books – August 2009

Somehow I missed doing the month of August, and with September already done it’s time to catch up.?

Magical Thinking – Augusten Burroughs – Ah, the memoir. Given to me to read by a friend with strong recommendations, I went in with low expectations. In a lot of ways Augusten Burroughs (who’s previous Running with Scissors was made into a movie) is similar to David Sedaris. Both are quite funny gay men who have had some wonderfully silly experiences in their lives, some sad, some heartfelt and all told with a large dash of self-deprecating humor. Great fun to read, and I read it fast because of it, but in the end I just am realizing here, two months after reading it that I’m hard pressed to remember a single vignette out of the book. Reccomended? Yes, for a fun light read, but it’s flavor washes away too quickly.

Crooked Little Vein – Warren Ellis – Here’s a comic book and screenplay writer turned novelist, who brings his patented brand of finding some of the weirdest and creepy things you’ll find about humanity to a book. The story of a down on his luck PI who’s tasked with finding the “real” constitution of the United States, he runs into some quirky and shocking things along the way to the ending. It’s again a quick read, entertaining, but ultimately forgettable as well. It just felt a bit forced and tried to hit all the notes that would shock you, but unlike Palahniuk, you don’t get the same payoff at the end. Ultimately, I love the guys comic work, and will stick to reading him that way. Check out his Freak Angles which is a free online comic which he writes and is updated every Friday with a few more pages.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone – J. K. Rowling – Yes, it’s Harry Potter, and yes, I’m a few years late here. I’m going to read the entire series here on a Sony Reader device. I’ve never used one before this book and while I won’t give up my dead trees and ink for this anytime soon, I’ve found it to be a wonderful device to read a book on. But we’ll get to that some other day. Here today is Harry Potter and his first year at Hogwarts. I’ve seen some of the movies, and such, but never actually read these books somehow. They are truly a lot of fun, and I think when Ash get’s older and starts to read this will be on my list of recommended books for him. I can see how these sold well. Easy, quick, accessible, but you don’t get the feeling you are reading a children’s novel either. I was looking forward to the rest of these.

Bleak Seasons – Glenn Cook – Took this one with me to Man Camp to read for fluff on the plane and for those down moments when I needed a break. Glenn Cook’s continued stories of the Black Company, a mercenary company who’s exploits have changed the world and always find themselves in over their head. Good fun, and I’ll continue the series after I finish off the three books that came before this one (which is what happens when you pick out a book from Half Price books without bothering to see where it fits in the overall story first). Thankfully the three before this come all bound in an omnibus edition for easy reading later this year.

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling – And onto year two at Hogwarts. I enjoyed this one more than the first. More details into life at the school and how they actually filled their time in between all these crazy classes, death threats, and more. Seriously, this school has issues! But of course Potter and the gang come out on top and survive for another day of classes and fun. Again this was read on the Sony Reader, which while it’s makes for easy reading, the joy of finishing a book is much less. You can’t see your progress as measured by a bookmark, or that thrill of realizing that you could finish the book tonight if you just stay up a little later and get through those last 20-30 pages. You miss out on some of the more physical parts of owning the book for sure. Especially the satisfaction of putting a completed book up on your bookshelf.

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Amazing Design Work by 9000

Originally uploaded by 9 0 0 0

An incredible collection of work by a designer known as 9000 has wowed me today. A huge body of work that he’s put up on Flickr has just floored me with it’s depth, it’s variety, and it’s subtle humor.

You just must go here and see just some of the great work he’s producing.

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Site Update – New Theme

So it’s about time I updated the stock theme that I had with one that’s a bit more me. Not that I’ve been all that great about updating but, I since August just finished I’m working on a Books of August 09 post filled with “fun” stuff. If anything’s broken let me know! Otherwise, it’s good to see the site with some actual color!

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-30

  • I miss my little guy a ton right now. #
  • NPR's new iPhone app is hands down one of the best things I've seen from the app store.@nprnews #
  • Time for a haircut. The fro has gotten out of control again and needs a shearing. #
  • So I'm watching/semi-adopting my cousins cat. My cat isn't thrilled about this idea at the moment. She'll come around. #
  • What does one do when it's sunny outside but 5 o'clock still seems so far away and Friday a distant seeming mirage? #
  • Going to go see District 9 this evening. Very excited indeed. #
  • Cups one and two of my slow to get started friday morning #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-23

  • Another Monday but at least it's a short week. Where is my coffee? #
  • Next year for man camp I'm not flying standby. This sucks! #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-16

  • The apple isn't a true fruit? Fruit lies –
    via @jkottke #
  • I've entered the realm of being connected all the time and you know what? I like it! #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-09

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Books – July 2009

Wow, July went fast. It was a whirlwind of good times and good reading as well. With it being light later, and warmer it’s harder to get to sleep, and so I read until much much later. I love actually hearing the sounds out my open window of the trains, the planes and the neighborhood cats enjoying the company of the neighborhood raccoons.

Choke – Chuck Palahniuk – Ah Chuck! Famed writer of the shocking Fight Club! Actually I enjoy his writing, once you get past his characters who end up in the dregs of society, he does have a lot of good insights and characterizations of people in this crazy world we live in. Borrowed from a fried who loves him, I enjoyed it, watched the movie and was sad that it was another book->movie conversion that lost something in the translation. All the pieces and plot points were there, just something was missing and I couldn’t figure out what! I also found it interesting that the “Choke” part of the book plays such a minor role, but was the part always talked about with the book blurbs I’d read in the past. Anyways, good book, read if you’re a Palahniuk fan, otherwise, I’d read another of his books first, like Survivor or the now way overhyped Fight Club.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams – Don’t Panic, 42, and did you remember to bring your towel? Hitchhikers has a ton of little jokes, and has been a nerd favorite for decades now, and rightfully so. It’s a funny book, filled with little jokes that are easy to miss, lots of humor, poking fun the world and it’s people, and in the end a delight to read. I’ve probably read it now 4-5 times over the years, and it never ceases to be enjoyable. It’s quick, fun, and it’s a sad thing we lost Douglas Adams from this world as a writer and humorist. Since I referenced the movie for Choke above, I’ll recommend the Hitchhiker’s movie. It pulls some of the book plot, but goes in it’s own direction and in the end still holds true to the spirit of the story. Plus, it’s got Zoey Deshanel! That’s worth at least an extra thumbs up.

Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams – Continuing on the Hitchhiker’s track, I picked up an omnimbus book that collected the first three novels of the trilogy (yes, I know…) so I was able to read them all fairly quickly. A good follow up that had a great strong beginning, that really petered off at the end for me. Still more great humor with Author Dent, Ford Prefect, Trillian and Marvin the Paranoid Android.

The Cleft – Doris Lessing – So I picked this up at Powells in Portland when I was down there for work. It has a “Nobel Prize Winning Author” medal on the cover and I thought well why not. I’m always on the lookout for a new author to read, but now I see why this was on the bargain table. The story of a group of women who live and reproduce all on their own, called The Clefts, who’s world is irrevocably changed when Monsters (aka men) are born into their midst. The Monsters are initially killed, then exiled and then they learn to live together with the Clefts and the world moves on, but oh the agony of this book. Filled to the brim with cliches of nurturing women and men who don’t understand why the women don’t want to play all day and worse. Please do not read this book. I really would like to give Lessing a chance, but I am going to give her a long break and really pick a book that she would have won the Nobel Prize for, and not this bargain table crap. If you know of what is good by her please let me know!

Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams – Last of the Adams books for the month. I enjoyed this one more than the previous one, great story lot’s of laughs. I really don’t have a lot to say about them, which is sad for how enjoyable they are. I want to add some great thoughts as to why these books work but I’m at a loss at how to express it. Good, but subtle, comedic writing is difficult. Only a few books have succeeded with me in presenting this, and Adams is one of them. The other? The Princess Bride novel takes all that you love about the movie, and expands upon it greatly but makes you laugh from page to page. Loved it as well.

Best Served Cold – Joe Abercrombie – Abercrombie’s latest book in which he continues to amaze me with his writing. I wrote somewhere else on why I like Abercrombie, and it boils down to this – I love world building books, where the author builds up his world with a fiction and history and culture all it’s own. I love Tolkien and Erikson so much because of this. Abercrombie has his world built in his mind, and you get tiny glimpses of it in his books, but for him the world doesn’t take center stage. His books, like Best Served Cold, are about the people who inhabit that world, and their fears, their aspirations, their motives for revenge or their ideals of redemption, and how their own past shapes them, and not the past of the world they live in. You get the flawed, gritty characters, who plunge forward of their own will sometimes, and at other times by the will of those they surround themselves with. It’s a ride, like the previous First Law trilogy by him, that takes you into familiar, almost cliche, characters and places, but yet moves beyond them to much more nuanced and deep understanding of how thin the line is between good and evil, and all of the huge wide swath that the gray ground covers. You’ll find understanding for murders, and pity for those who attain that which they most desired. He’ll be on my short list of books to recommend to others when they ask for sometime to come.

So July was a good month, and well read. Only one bad spot and it was quickly erased by the good that followed it.

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