Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Hawki

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Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Villains (3/5)

Another installment in the "Age of X - Y" comics, this time focusing on antagonists in the OT era. Specifically, Tarkin, Vader, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, and IG-88 (I guess Palpy was just unlucky).

Anyway, it's fine. Some of the stories are better than others. Surprisingly enough for me, I thought Fett's was the best, in part because it's more anti-hero stuff than outright villany, in part because it uses the medium to its advantage, with Fett only speaking at the very end, while others react to his presence/actions/morals. But apart from that, nothing much to write about.

The Magisterium: The Iron Trial (3/5)

The TL, DR version of this book is "Harry Potter Knockoff #66." Honestly, I could leave it like that, but for shits and giggles, here's the rundown:

-Callum "Call" Hunt is a 12 year old boy who goes to "the Magisterium" (an underground school located somewhere in the US) to learn magic.

-Gets a clique of friends.

-A secret society of mages operates, and when Callum was born, the "Second Mage War" ended against "the Enemy of Death" (a former student at the Magisterium), whose real name is revealed to be "Constantine Madden," and is believed to be out there somewhere.

-Cue revelations at the end, with the "real villain" being revealed, and certain horcrux...sorry, soul-implantation shannanigans with Call's true nature being revealed.

I could say more, but not only is this riffing off Harry Potter with the whole magic school, secret society of magic-users thing, it's riffing off the basic plot structure of the first book as well. And while I might have been able to forgive that if the book was actually good, it's just bog standard YA fare. I can barely remember the names of any of the characters, much less tell you anything about them, and while I could describe the magic system, it's nothing special (four classical elements, plus "Chaos magic," you can see where this is going).

On the other hand, is the book bad? No, not really - it's certainly not Keeper of the Lost Cities (and boy does that piece of shit deserve a roasting), and sure, if I was the intended age range, I might have had more of a kick out of it, but basically, even in a world without HP, this would still be bog-standard magic nonsense. If anything, it helps me appreciate HP even more.
 

Thaluikhain

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Across the Zodiac (1880)

Story about a guy in 1830 who builds a spaceship (called the Astronaut) to visit Mars, gets married a few times and has some swordfights.

First use of the word "Astronaut", and probably first planetary romance. Lots of talking about Martian society and technology and how his spaceship works. Some weird ideas about society and women's place in it.
 

Hawki

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The Magisterium: The Copper Gauntlet (3/5)

The second installment in the Magisterium series. Not "good," but still better than its predecessor, though the reasons aren't entirely objective as to why.

Basically, I liked this more for the most part in that I got more of a sense of familial dynamic between the core trio. It's a trio that arguably takes inspiration from Harry Potter (magic students, brainy girl, "the special,"), but it at least distinguishes itself a bit in that the main character is the friend of "the special" rather than being "the special" himself (sort of), so at least there, there's something to distinguish it from HP. Sort of. Maybe.

Aside from that, what we get is still HP-lite, with little to distinguish the setting as being its own thing. Furthermore, the ending sections are largely spent outside the magic school that partly repeat the first book, only without the mindscrew revelations. But, overall, it's slightly better, but nothing special, just bog standard YA magic school stuff.
 

Hawki

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Rage: After the Impact (3/5)

This is a three-part comic series that serves as a prequel to Rage. Y'know, that Id Software game that no-one cared about, all the more so now since Id's revived Doom. But be that as it may, I read it and it's...fine.

If you don't know the backstory of Rage, look it up, because I can't be bothered to spell it out. Basically, scientist wakes up from cryo decades after Apophis hit Earth, is recruited by military people, who are evil people who do evil things, cue scientist lady who has to escape from the Vault, sorry, underground base, and fight mutants who've been made mutants by the FEV, sorry, um...ferrocite? Nanotrites? Crap, I can't even remember.

Yeah, there's a lot of Fallout-esque stuff here, ranging from the sociopathic military faction, to the Vault-esque location, to the prevalance of mutants in the Wasteland. Granted, it's not like Fallout has a monopoly on these things, and I don't even particuarly care about Fallout, but this kind of feels like a 'dumber' version of it. But, overall, it's pulp fiction that more or less works, so there's that, I guess.
 

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The Magisterium: The Bronze Key (2/5)

At this point, I don't really care anymore. How many more of these books are there? Two? Fuck.

Look, shit happens, and I can't be bothered to tell you what kind of shit happens. You could read it yourself, I guess, but I wouldn't reccomend it, and you'd have to read the previous two books to 'get it.' But we're three books in, and while book 2 was a slight improvement over book 1, the books are still following the same formula (I'm not just talking about going to magic school, I mean the sequence of events and climax), the characters are still two-dimensional, etc. And again, the previous books had this problem as well, but we're three books in, and what's changed? Well, the hormones are starting to kick in, I guess, but nothing really changes on that front. Certainly nothing in regards to character dynamics.

Oh, and one of the main trio dies at the end. I was so bored that I realized it had happened, went back a few pages, couldn't find the death, and just kept reading. Because I didn't care. That's as arguably damning an inditement as any, but beyond that, it really strikes me just how little worldbuilding is in this series. I mean, consider Harry Potter (yes, I'm going there again) - even by the end of the first book, we'd visited stuff like Diagon Alley, Gringotts, the Forbidden Forest, been introduced to wizard football, got a sense of how this world works, etc. Not the most in-depth worldbuilding, but worldbuilding that was steadily added to over time. By the end of book 3, we've got nothing except that:

-Mages exist in secret (at least in Europe and the US, but one of the protagonists' families is Indian, so I assume there's mages in India, or did they just join the magic people?)

-Mages send their children to the Magisterium, and beyond that, the Collegium.

-Twelve years ago, evil mage guy tried to resurrect the dead, and a war occurred, or something.

I'm sort of underselling it, but again, there's just so little here that it's draining. FFS, even Keeper of the Lost Cities fleshed out Elfland (that's not what it's called, but I'm calling it that anyway) more than this.

But, anyway, yeah. Three down, two to go.

...fuck.
 

Drathnoxis

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I'm around 2/3 of the way through the manga of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and it's kind of losing me. I just can't agree with Nausicaä and her love of giant bugs, I just can't. They're gross, hostile to humans, spread disease, and immensely dangerous. I don't care if they are "purifying the earth" by planting toxic forests, they are actively making it a worse place to live. Beyond that, the plot has kind of stopped making sense. The Doroks have just unleashed a mutant fungus that grows explosively, and released extremely potent miasma, and also cannot be stopped, and Nausicaä is talking about how scared it is. A fungus. What? How does a fungus have capacity for thought and emotions? Then she goes and decides to die with the Ohmu for no reason at all, and everybody has to work extra hard to save her. Like, why? What is even going here? Whatever expectations I had of what the plot might have been after watching the movie have all been dispersed, and I just don't feel like I can sympathize with what the characters are going through or understand what they are trying to do.
 
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Hawki

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Doctor Who: Missy (3/5)

Well this was a letdown. :(

To elaborate, this is a comic series that focuses on Missy, who posing as the Doctor, goes back in time (well, her own personal timeline) to rescue the Master (the Delgado incarnation) from the Stormcage, to obtain a mcguffin. The intro promises a larger crossover also involving the Third and Twelfth Doctors. What we get, however, is something that doesn't really work.

I really like the idea behind this - Missy not only interacting with her past self, but that this Missy is in her "trying to be good" phase to impress Twelve. Throughout the story, pretending to be the Doctor, she continuousy has to subdue her murderous impulses and adjust her language. However, it just doesn't work. In part because Missy just won't stop talking, to the extent that it's no longer funny, but Delgado!Master is continuously overshadowed by her. Topping it off, Twelve and Three barely feature, and are nothing more than cameos for the most part. Sure, other Doctors (Eight, War, Thirteen) cameo as well, as do other Master incarnations (Harold Saxon and the most recent version), but the story's just so unfocused on plot, and focused on repeating the same type of joke over and over (Missy almost does/says something naughty, pulls back at the last moment, read this and laugh, you sheep) that it wears old fast. Also, the idea of the Master impersonating the Doctor was already done in 'Twelve Angels Weeping', and done much better, even factoring in the final plot twist and final conversation between Twelve and Missy (which is well done, actually). Even by the standards of DW tie-in fiction, the comic doesn't even really do Missy justice, at least when compared to something like 'The Missy Chronicles').

So, yeah. Not bad by any means but certainly disappointing.

Star Wars: The Ashes of Jedha (2/5)

Well this was a letdown. :(

The comic takes place not long after A New Hope, with Luke, Han, Leia, and co. on Jedha - the planet that was destroyed by the Death Star in Rogue One. Not destroyed in the same way as Alderaan, but destroyed to the extent that it's a hellscape that doesn't have long left. But in that time, the Empire's going to mine it for all its worth, or specifically, its kyber crystals. And what's left of the Partisans are going to make that difficult for them.

As setups go, this is pretty neat, but the comic just didn't come through on any front. Gripes within said comic include:

-I hate the art style. It's fine for the most part, but it pushes its human characters into uncanny valley territory, trying to be as realistic as possible, but it comes off as inserting photo-stills into a comic in some areas, and it just doesn't work.

-Luke's in a really weird place here. We're not long after A New Hope, and he's already at the point where he's a skilled lightsaber duelist and can deflect blaster bolts. I've given Rey flak for being a Mary Sue in TFA (and I stand by that), but Luke, by the same measure, is a borderline Gary Stu here. He actually comes off as being more competent here than in Empire, despite having had no training by this point bar some instruction from Obi-Wan.

-Most importantly, the story is just boring. It's not like the stakes aren't high, but I just didn't care about any of what was going on. Writing is bland, characters are bland, artwork is bleh, and so on and so forth. Really, at the end of the day, this was just a waste of time.
 

Bob_McMillan

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I've been trying to find the first Dune book second hand. Thanks to the movie, this has largely been impossible. Sigh.
 

Hawki

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I've been trying to find the first Dune book second hand. Thanks to the movie, this has largely been impossible. Sigh.
Is Kindle an option?

Ever since the movie came out, I can certainly attest that in the libraries I work at, Dune became a lot more popular, or at least the first book did.
 
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Bob_McMillan

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Is Kindle an option?

Ever since the movie came out, I can certainly attest that in the libraries I work at, Dune became a lot more popular, or at least the first book did.
Not really? To be honest I don't even know if Kindles are "officially" a thing in our country, but I already tried reading an ebook version and I could not for the life of me keep my eyes glued to the screen. I've read plenty of other books on the format but for Dune it just doesn't work out. I was hoping a physical copy would help me focus better.
 

Drathnoxis

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Finished Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. *Spoilers* It didn't really end very well, I feel like the plot kind of got lost around the time the mutant mold started growing. After that point the focus shifts toward nihilism and nothing that happened before really seems like it mattered. Most of the characters have very little impact apart from temporarily assisting Nausicaä and whatever arc or motivation they had just kind of fizzles out. Kushana betrays the Tourmekian Empire and vows revenge on her brothers and father, she gathers what remains of the elite forces loyal to her but never actually uses them for anything since one of her brothers dies to bugs and the others become musicians and her father dies protecting Nausicaä. Then she inexplicably denies the throne at the end "awaiting a new king." I have no idea what she's even talking about. Lord Yupa is looking for answers about the sea of corruption, but never really finds out much and eventually throws his life away preventing some minor conflict between remnants of Doroks and Tourmekians. Really felt like he wasted his life. Like dude, don't freaking hold onto a live grenade, just throw it away! It obviously had a minuscule blast radius since it should have definitely blown him to bits rather than just his forearm. The Vai Emperor wanted the Crypts secrets so badly that he waged war on Dorok for them, then once he finally gets in there he suddenly just changes his mind and decides that he wouldn't take that trash if they begged him, then he kills himself for Nausicaä. That really is one of the big flaws of the story every character loses themselves as soon as they come into contact with Nausicaä. They all immediately fall in love with her and start to think like her, and want to help and protect her no matter the cost. Like, everybody, all the time. Even giant death robots inexplicably mistake her for their mother for no reason at all. Like, Nausicaä is pretty cool and all, but I was kind of interested in other characters too, and the entire world doesn't need to revolve around her.

It doesn't help that Nausicaä's motivations spin wildly about. First she wants to protect the Valley, then she wants peace, then she wants to die with the Omhu, then she wants to seal the Crypt, then she wants to get into the Crypt, then she wants to destroy the Crypt. Everything she says is with the fullest conviction of her soul, but it's constantly changing.

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Gentle... I never realized it was possible to 'gently' nuke a city.
And I'm pretty sure she does more harm to humanity in the end than all the wars have.

But let's talk about the ancients now that we are edging up on the subject. So war and conflict were so out of control that they decided they needed a third party to resolve things so they develop gigantic bio-mechanical warriors to arbitrate conflicts... and then they give them the power of a hundred nuclear bombs... and make a thousand of them. Ok, how did they envision this going? Because when I think of methods of peaceful conflict resolution, nuclear bomb is pretty much last on the list. So the gentle arbitration warriors lay waste to the planet and cover it with poison. Now the survivors decide something needs to be done so they come up with the worst plan of reconstruction possible. First they modify humanity and other lifeforms to be able to live with the poison. Great, job done, just perfect that so that there aren't any negative side effects and things can carry on as normal... wait, no actually they also make a forest of giant fungus that will spread randomly and uncontrollably that will force the poison into the air and make it more dangerous so that the world can reach a state of 'purity' that is no longer hospitable to the life currently existing and will actually kill them instantly (if that's the case then why didn't Nausicaä and Asbel's lungs explode when they were in the 'purified' petrified forest?). Anyway, they also want to prepare society for a peaceful and pure world, so they make the purification take several thousand years, and they eke out the secrets of science one piece a year with absolutely no moral lessons or regard for what may be abused to cause a repetition of the previous conflict and violence. This is a pretty sucky plan, to be honest.

So Nausicaä was wrong the whole time. The giant bugs and the forests are a bad thing and are actively making the world a worse place for humans. Her revolutionary ideas about the forests 'purifying' the world were misguided and bugs are actually really gross and the world would be better off without them. Not only that but she destroys the last chance that humanity has to modify themselves to be able to live in a purified world because "We don't need your stinkin' science! We want to be free!"

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Or something. She also never goes back to the Valley of the Wind? Like what the heck? It's her kingdom! What is she even doing after the story ends?

Overall it's a story of great moments and ideas, but very awkwardly pieced together. One of the big drawbacks of serialization. You can see the author's ideas change as the story goes on. It could have used an editing pass to bring the entire work into cohesion with itself. The tone is very weird too, like most of the time it's very serious with everybody dying horribly and being sad, but then you get random bits with the disembodied heads of emperors cracking wise or random jesters showing up. Just odd.



Also, I'll never forgive Miyazaki for this.
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Frankly though, it should have happened ages ago with Nausicaä constantly bringing him into dangerous situations and toxic atmospheres with no protection but the fabric of her shirt. Very irresponsible.
 
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Hawki

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The Reckoners: Firefight (2/5)

God, why do I keep doing this to myself? Why, when I don't like the majority of Sanderson's works, and have liked them less and less over time, do I keep giving the guy second (tenth?) chances? I don't know, and I don't care, but for now, here's this drek.

So, Firefight is the third installment (second if you don't count Meiosis, but you should, since this book references it a fair bit) of the Reckoners series, and while it does a bit better than Meiosis in some regards, the bad news is that because it's much longer, the boring, grey sludge that is its writing is of a greater volume. I'm going to actually give the book some credit in what it does well, namely:

-Its setting of New York/Babylon Restored/Babilar is interesting in concept, even if it's never really fleshed out.
-The plot twist at the end is kind of neat, both with Calamity and the main antagonist (whose name I've already forgotten)
-Mizzi is kind of cute - she's one of the few characters that has something at least resembling a personality.
-It...knows how guns work? (if you're a gun nut, I suppose you might get some enjoyment from the descriptions of various firearms)

And, that's it. That's really it. I gave Steelheart a 3/5 because while the writing problem remains, its setting and concepts were interesting enough that it was somewhat buoyed by them, but by the third book, said setting and concepts are old hat, and the writing and characters are as bland as ever. So, to reiterate:

-The writing is bland.
-David Charleston is bland, boring, and borderline wish fulfillment. is he a Gary Stu? Maybe. Do I care? No, because he's just such an uninteresting character, period.
-All the other characters are similarly bland and uninteresting, and while you can point to some as being exceptions, they're still not interesting enough for me to get invested in.
-There's a lot of action, and the action is boring. I'm generally bored by action in books, period, and this is no excepton - guns, epics, ambushes, things go wrong, account for things going wrong, bang bang, snore snore.

Y'know, it's kind of funny that the covers for the Reckoners series (at least in Oz) are predominantly in grey and white, because grey is the colour that best describes this sludge. It's boring, it's uninteresting, and you just know that at some point I'm going to read Calamity because I hate myself. Even by Sanderson's own standards (e.g. Mistborn) this is low tier work. But I suppose there's a reason why so many people are clamouring for Cosmere-based movies and TV shows, while no-one gives a shit about Reckoners, and frankly, i can see why.

Gah!
 

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Keeper of the Lost Cities (2/5)

You might have noticed a few underhanded references if you've been reading my reviews (and by the looks of things, few people do 🙁) to this work, and my negative feelings towards it. Having since finished the book...well, it's not as bad as it was when I first started, but overall, I'm still giving this a 2/5 score, which among other things, puts it in the same realm of quality (or lack of it) as Firefight. But make no mistake, while this book is bad, it's at least bad in interesting ways. If Firefight is tasteless gruel, Keeper is coco pops that you chug down, feel ill, and then vomit in the realization that you haven't had anything of actual substance.

I'm actually going to give a thin summary of the plot to explain why this book is the way it is, so on that note:

-Sophie Foster is a child prodigy of 12years of age who lives in San Diego. She's a telepath and child genius who's on her way to university, but then is approached by elf boy (I know his name is Fitz or Dex, I honestly can't even remember at this point, and no, I don't care).

-Elf boy reveals that Sophie's an elf, and that elves live in the Lost Cities - think Atlantis, Shangri-La, etc., where they live in utopia away from those idiot humans. Basically, fantasy races (elves, dwarfs, gnomes, ogres, goblins, trolls) live in the Lost Cities, while human cities are called "the Forbidden Cities," that the elves don't really care about.

-Sophie is taken away to Elfland (sorry, Eternalia...fuck me) and is a telepathic prodigy, and is accepted into elf school. But to do that, her human family's memories of her (note that her human family is described as "chubby brunettes," while Sophie is an attactive blonde, and oh woe, her life is so terrible in being out of place) are erased to spare them emotional pain. The fact that Sophie is well known among the students of her human school at this point who'd notice her absence is never addressed.

-Sophie is adopted by elf mum and elf dad (adopters) who live in a mansion. Among other things, she's detoxed of human chemicals, so now she's even more pretty.

So already, I'm disliking this book. It's not just that the writing is bland, or that the author is high on herself (more on that later), but that it's got every tired cliche in the book. Literally. For instance, take the elves. There's the stereotype of elves being perfect, and while good stories will generally have more depth to that, whether it be in theme (Lord of the Rings), subversion (Discworld), or flaws that everyone knows are flaws (arrogance, low numbers, etc.), the elves here are just perfect in every damn way. Almost. I'll give the book some credit, it does sort of chip away at those impressions, but not in any real sense.

Also, Sophie. Sophie is just bland. Even if she wasn't so drop dead gorgeous that three boys have the hots for her by book's end, she'd still be bland. There's a sickly sweetness that runs throughout the work, and even the name, "Sophie," is part of that. When the character comments that Elfland looks like something out of Disney Land (World?), then you know what you're in for. But moving on.

-Sophie goes to elf school which is named Hogwards (sorry, Foxfire), which is run by magic teachers, who teach their students magic. Sophie meets Professor Snape (sorry, female teacher) who hates her, and sucks at potions (sorry, alchemy), but is good at wizard football (sorry, elf football) which is called quidditch (sorry, name I forget) that is boring and pointless to read.

Y'know, people have claimed that this book "fills the gap lefft by Harry Potter," and by God, I wish. I mentioned before that it's important to read bad books to understand what makes them bad, and it's striking how poorly Keeper does, well, everything, compared to HP. What I haven't seen people compare this to, but should, is Artemis Fowl. As in, "child prodigy discovers fairy world where fairies live hidden away from those nasty humans, and have super-advanced technology that seems like magic, but isn't, but also sort of is." Only the difference there is that Artemis Fowl was, y'know, GOOD! And no, that's not nostalgia talking, take any character from Artemis Fowl (the first book) and chances are, you can describe their personality. In Keeper? Good fucking luck.

Bar Keefe. You're alright Keefe. You're "elf bad boy that has hots for human/elf girl like other elf boys," but you've got at least SOME personality, so well done you git.

I'm going to turn my attention a bit to the author. In this edition, there's a lot of annotations by the author in the margins that explain certain things from a writing perspective. Some of them are actually useful, as in, sound writing advice that aspiring writers can and should use (e.g. the importance of revising and editing), but most of it is just self-indulgent tripe. As in, how much she loved writing certain scenes, or how much she loves certain characters, and bleh. Thing is, I get it. Really. I've been writing stuff on the 'net since I was 16, there's certain sections/characters that I'm proud of, certain characters that I've become attached to as I've written and developed them, but for the love of God, what I DIDN'T do is write all this crap in the margins about how "kewl" said characters are. I might be more forgiving if the characters actually earnt any of said love, but considering how bland everything is, the author notes are irritating at best, and pretentious at worst.

So in spite of all this, are there any upsides? Well, towards the end, there's a few bright sparks. There's some hints that maybe Elfland isn't quite the utopia it's portrayed as, but it's nothing groundbreaking. There's certain plot twists, I guess, but I was past caring at this point. And the climax just fizzles out, with Sophie getting abducted by Group A, rescued by Group B, wanders around Paris for a bit, then gets back to Elflahnd, relates what happened, and the story jsut ends. Since I've already compared this to HP, consider if in HP when the trio go after the stone, if they barely had any trials to overcome, and at the end, found the stone, delivered it to Dumbledore, and the Quirrel/Snape thing was left up in the air. That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about.

So, yeah. Keeper was barely worth my time. Even as JF fiction, I wouldn't reccomend it to people at all, unless you want an exercise in wish fulfillment. Coming off Magisterium, it at least has better worldbuilding (cliched worldbuilding, but worldbuilding all the same), but that's damning with faint praise. So how the hell did this book spawn at least nine sequels, and warrant an upcoming film adaptation? Why are little shits on the Internet declaring it the best book they've ever read, and even better than HP? To be clear, I'm not even the biggest fan of HP in the world, but reading this drek has made me appreciate it all the more.

Or, I dunno, maybe I'm one of those dumb humans who can't handle the magic/technology/whatever of Elfland (sorry, Eternalia). Yep. Sure that's it.

Also, another weird thing...I actually still liked it more than Firefight. It at least made me feel something. Irritation, sure, but irritation is still a stronger emotion than boredom, so there's that, I guess.
 

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The Matter of Everything: Twelve Experiments That Changed the World (3/5)

I really struggled with this book, but I don't think it's really the book's fault. It's heavy in the history of physics and whatnot, but a lot of it just went over my head.
 

Hawki

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A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Chapters (4/5)

"Short" is the operative word here, as it only took me a few hours to get through this.

Anyway, there's not too much to say here - basically traces the history of life on Earth, to its first appearance, to its inevitable extinction 1 billion years from now (don't worry, humans will be extinct in a mere few thousand to tens of thousands of years according to the author. I doubt there's much here that people on this forum aren't already aware of to at least some extent, so I won't waste your time there. But basically, breezy read, but a decent one.
 

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In the midst of re-reading The Lord of the Rings. The more I read and remember the more I realize that the movies weren’t as accurate an adaptation as I once believed.

It feels like every single book character is smarter, more mature and more assertive/proactive than their movie counterparts.
 
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Gordon_4

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In the midst of re-reading The Lord of the Rings. The more I read and remember the more I realize that the movies weren’t as accurate an adaptation as I once believed.

It feels like every single book character is smarter, more mature and more assertive/proactive than their movie counterparts.
That's certainly true of Gimli, but considering the sheer density of the material being adapted I feel most of the important characters get their essence across - though Denethor's death in the movie will never NOT be weapon's grade stupid. Also the Two Towers book is like a fuckin' exercise in extremes. Everything to do with Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Rohan; amazing - some of the best stuff in the novels. Everything with Frodo and Sam; a fucking trial for the reader.
 

twistedmic

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That's certainly true of Gimli, but considering the sheer density of the material being adapted I feel most of the important characters get their essence across - though Denethor's death in the movie will never NOT be weapon's grade stupid. Also the Two Towers book is like a fuckin' exercise in extremes. Everything to do with Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Rohan; amazing - some of the best stuff in the novels. Everything with Frodo and Sam; a fucking trial for the reader.
Right now I’m in the later part (I think) of The Two Towers, slightly after the battle of Helm’s Deep, and noticed that movie Treebeard needed more prompting to go ***** slap Sauroman into place and had to be tricked into discovering that Sauroman had razed a lot of the forest. Book Treebeard, and the other Ents, were pretty much ready for war and Merry and Pippin just gave them the tiniest of nudges to set things in motion.

Movie Theoden wanted to take his people and hide in Helm’s Deep, whereas book Theoden rode out almost immediately to meet orcs attacking/pillaging his country and only turned to Helm’s Deep on Gandalf’s counsel. Movie Theoden needed prompting to ride out and meet the Uruk-Hai when Helm Hammerhand was nearly overrun. Book Theoden was like “Fuck it, we’re gonna die anyway, let’s go out like badasses.” and chose to charge straight at them all on his own.

Even book Wormtongue was more assertive. Instead of getting tossed out of Rohan he, when given a choice of go to Sauroman or ride to war, spat at Theoden and actively chose to flee.

I also didn’t like how the movies turned pipe weed into marijuana instead of tobacco.