Monday, 23 March 2009

"A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Douglas Adams

I've read a lot by Poul Anderson lately, but this is the one I want to talk about. Not that he didn't write anything that utterly blew my mind...but it's nothing I'm ready to commit to words yet. Suffice it to say "Brain Wave" was the best.

Now, you have to respect this book for its sheer cultural impact. I laughed hysterically while reading this because he hit the nail on the head as far as weaving banality into matters of galactic and personal devastation. Beautiful, no?

- Johnny "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish"

Sunday, 15 March 2009

So, I've taken kind of a hiatus from reading as much. Or posting. Anyway, I can sum up the things worth mentioning in two words: Vernor Vinge. Whatever he writes, pick it up and read it. I have read every novel he's written, and every one of them is brilliant beyond words. But the best one? "A Fire Upon the Deep." A book so genius that it set the course of science fiction for nearly two decades since. It has literally staggered other sci-fi writers with its brilliance so much that they're not even sure where to take the genre from there. In other words, it's an innovation so intimidating that no one's sure yet how to proceed from there.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

- Johnny Vincero

Saturday, 28 February 2009

A whole list.

I painted. And watched movies. And tried sleeping.
Basically doing anything but reading. D;

I did read three books over the last two weeks, however.

1. Ghosts, by Hendrik Ibsen, author of A Doll's House.
I liked the idea behind it, but did not enjoy the actual reading itself.

2. Answered Prayers, by Danielle Steel. A real Steel-novel. Nothing less, nothing more.
This one got me thinking about how stuff's going in my life, and those closest to me.. So yeah. Personal.

3. A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, by James Joyce. And man, that Joyce is a genius x.x I liked reading it, a lot. Although honestly, it takes a while to figure out what the hell the guy is on about.
I'll make it a link, too, as soon as I get to write more about it.

The other two are links to a bit more of my own opinion about it all. I couldn't get myself to write about either more than once.

And right now I'm trying to read the first book of Vampire Earth series, as well as a chick lit and a drama. Anything but what I'm supposed to read for college, in other words. God help me. xD

The Gypsy.

Friday, 27 February 2009

"Tales of the Dying Earth," Jack Vance

Okay, so this isn't really a book so much as it's an omnibus. That is, it's four books collected under one titles. In this case, that's "The Dying Earth," "Eyes of the Overworld," "Cugel's Saga," and "Rhialto the Magnificent." While I'm not 100% finished with this book, I have to say I would recommend it. Yes, it pisses me off. Yes, the main character for the middle two books (so far) is an honorless dog of a man. That said, there's something left to be said about this guy. Take the segment "The Seventeen Virgins," for example: for a guy with absolutely nothing going for him but a glib tongue and uncanny cunning, his ability to, um, "charm" people deserves mention. Care to guess at how many of the seventeen are still virgins by the end of the story? That is the kind of slice you take from this omnibus. In a word, it's like an updated version of "The Arabian Nights."

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Family Values Again? Not Quite.

A review of Nick Horby's bestseller "How To Be Good".

Nick Hornby

Katie Carr is a London GP (general practitioner) who believes she is a good person because she helps people out of physical misery every day. On the other hand, her husband, David, is the angriest man in Holloway and his newspaper column is living proof. When DJ Goodnews moves in with the couple and their two kids, David is suddenly transformed into a do-gooder who goes to extremes to do good. It is when Katie starts criticizing and resenting David's "good" deeds that confusion takes hold of her and she starts to wonder whether she really is a good person or not.

This book did not seem to want to end when I realized there were only two pages to go. It wanted to say more. It seemed to have wanted to say that the kind of marital and familial arguments presented in this heartdrenching book is there to stay, to occur and reoccur. But then I read the last two pages.

If I try to reflect this book on my own personal experience, I would end up with this conclusion: we live for a long period of time obsessing over a confusion that haunts us or a problem so complicated that no solution seems to be viable. Then, one day, we go to sleep and wake up the next morning with a certain sparkle of positive energy which guides us throughout that day and then in a flick of a moment, that positive energy causes the simplest of solutions to manifest in the simplest of ways. And since this theory is most practical and true when it comes to marital confusions, this book hits the spot.

Hornby, like every other Brit, has no problem swearing when necessary, and although some bookworms insist that using the "f" word is not very "literary" of modern writers, I think that this book, like any other Hornby book, could not have been what it is without the ultimatspontaneity  with which Hornby writes. It highly contributes to the sincerity of emotions.

Would I recommend this book? I would mostly recommend this book to people who have families or who are at least in a relationship. However, if you are a Nick Horby fan or you really love down-to-earth books, then this is a must-read.

Friday, 20 February 2009

"Harvest of Stars," Poul Anderson

Isn't bad, but doesn't stand out. Oh Vernor Vinge, I wish you were an ever flowing font of writing that never stopped for ever and ever. One would think, "How many books could this guy write that are worth reading?" So far? The count's three for three. And, actually, his ex-wife Joan D. Vinge's works "The Snow Queen" and "The Summer Queen" are fantastic also.

I have Mr. Vinge's "Rainbow's End" on hold at the library, but whoever's reading it right now is taking their bloody sweet time with it. And while I can't blame them for savoring his work, they should be vivisected for this minor inconvenience.

- Johnny VINGEro <3

Monday, 16 February 2009

"Watership Down," Richard Adams

Now, I'm not sure a book about sentient bunnies is my cup o' tea, but I really kinda get into this one just a little. Maybe it's because I expected flowers and rainbows and unicorns and got predators and cynicism and mysticism. Seriously, not a bad formula. And I've figured out a way to double my reading speed, if you can believe that.

What this means to you, my loyal reader: more poasts.

- Johnny "yes, I said 'poasts.'"

Saturday, 14 February 2009

"Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom," Cory Doctorow

Don't. Just Don't. If you're interested in postcyberpunk as a genre, pick up "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson. It's in the same grating vein as this book, but one hundred times more powerful and intelligent.

But I will sum it up for you: in a world without problems or worries or pain, people make their own. This guy could be a fantastic writer, but using Disney World as a setting for the whole book? Good God no.

Too much Disney, too much drama, not enough plot.

- Johnny "nutshell"

Thursday, 12 February 2009

"Marooned in Realtime," Vernor Vinge

I have nothing to say about my last few books. That's not to say they weren't good, they were, but they weren't stellar. "Ribofunk" and "Oryx and Crake" are both biopunk chronicles. That is, they have all the visceral intrusion of cyberpunk, only the next logical procession. Instead of computer interface, it's proteins and poisons. If you want to know what I think about these, go back and read what I had to say on "Mirrorshades." I'm a total fan of the genre, but I didn't read anything I felt worth relating.

Like I said, I haven't read anything stellar lately. That is, I hadn't. Well, now I've stumbled upon one that is: "Marooned in Realtime" by Vernor Vinge. I say, "I'm going to read 25 pages," then I realize I've read 30. Then, "I'm going to read to page 38," and later I find I'm on page 44. Why?

Somewhere in the 21st century, mankind develops the technology to seal oneself (and occassionally others) off from the worl in an impenetrable bubble, as the name implies, from realtime. What then do you suppose they do upon finding craters where once cities thrived? What would they do when locked inside a bubble for millenia? Or, worse yet, what would the do locked inside a bubble and left to die in a world completely devoid of humans? I'll let you know when I'm done.

No I won't. Read it yourself.

UPDATE (0422.13.02.09): In case you couldn't figure it out, 0422 is the time. And I'm halfway through the book. It's that good.

- Johnny "Joy to the fishes and the deep blue to you and me!"

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

"A Long Way Down," by Nick Hornby.

Ever felt like you've "pissed your life away"? That life was just meaningless? Or so full of crap you couldn't deal with anymore? Ever thought "I'll just off myself, it's what I deserve," or "it's the easy way out"? Because Martin, thought that. He was thinking of just.. jumping of a tower block. Problem is, he doesn't end up there alone. Single mum, Maureen, eighteen year old Jess and has-been rock star JJ end up with the exact same idea in mind. All for different reasons.
And it's pretty tough jumping off a building with people behind you in queue, waiting for their turn to go.

It might all be easier to relate to if you're not too happy yourself, at the moment. Although if you appreciate some good, straightforward British humor, this is just the book for you.

Personally, I really liked it. I'm even less cringe-y about swear words at the moment, cause he uses them quite frequently. And I'm using more British terms right now, too. Bloke, mental.
But then, I'm a tosser, aren't I? xD

The Gypsy.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,"

Dumbledore remains up till this day one of my favourite characters. So loony and yet so wise.
I only read this first for tradition's sake, but I have to admit, it never gets boring. Rowling is a genius, pure and simple.
Are you fond of fantasy? Magic? Or just pure, British humor? Then this is definitely a book I would recommend. Not just this one, either, but the whole series, but I'll get to that whenever I decide rereading it all, again.
J.K. Rowling cleverly weaves a plot full of clues she leaves lying around, only most of the time, you don't even know they are clues until the very end. And even then, you're still left with questions. You still want to know more. You're still curious. You reread it, and find out that you hadn't noticed something, reread it again, and there you go discovering new bits and pieces, forgotten or just unnoticed. Clever woman, that Rowling. And I don't go around calling people a genius all that easily, too. I know I'm not eleven anymore, but I would have loved a Hogwarts letter. *le pouteth*

PS: This post's different slightly from the post in my bookspot, as will all my posts be. So don't go "Oh, I've read her opinion already". I might surprise you. ;D

The Gypsy.

Friday, 6 February 2009

"Slan," A. E. van Vogt

I feel I cannot shake the enthusiasm that comes from having read this book, something so far ahead of its time that only now does it seem that we're reaching the stages of this book's prophesy. That is to say, this book is grim and ruthless and fast, and it reasons so viciously, and yet you want to deny them with every fiber of your being. Something has to have been overlooked, something has to have been wrong, but no. All the clues are before you...and the sum will never be greater than its parts. This is the rallying cry of the first Fans, and their legacy to those who come after.

- Johnny "needs a little coke and sympathy"

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

"Dr. Bloodmoney," Philip K. Dick

Hydrogen bomb apocalypse, psychic mutants and one man above it all, the last cohesive force of the entire human race, orbiting the Earth. I'd rank this among the greatest works of PKD, along with "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and "Ubik." Now, it's a little hard to follow first, but just pay close attention to it in the beginning so you can understand the fireworks later on.

Naming a phocemelus "Hoppy?" That's just sick. He really has my sense of humor.

- Johnny "or How I Learned to Love the Bomb"

Monday, 2 February 2009

Oh It's A Beautiful Day in the Neeeeighborhood

Jessie is "actually good, or even brilliant and loyal," and admitted so February 2, 2009. Recorded here for perpetuity.

EDIT: Jessie would like to add that she really said "we." She'd like me to amend that, but it does not actually change that she admitted her own awesomeness. I rest my case. <3

EDIT: Jessie (7:14:53 PM): I are a worthy adversary *dances*

- Johnny "Don't you ever forget it."

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Webcomics @_@...

... are distracting me from books.
Not that I'm drowning in new books, mind. Or that I'm bothered. But still. xD

Quick skimming:

1. Sequential Art (-Philip Jackson) : I'm sorry, have to mention this first of all. Don't click it yet if you're planning to read through all the comics I'm going to post. It's the best there is. Really. Like. Fantabulous. -addicted-
Witty, full of well-thought out plot even if you don't catch on quickly :P
I read through 510 episodes in two days. Which is why now I'm having withdrawal symptoms *twitch twitch* for just reading one episode every two-three days.

2. Menage a trois (By Giz & Dave): It's funny. Title says it all, really. (It's not pg-13 either, for that matter xD)
Spent one evening/night going through its archives. One thing though: All the characters react like I /never/ would. Really.

3. DMFA (Dan & Mab's Furry Adventures) By Amber: Ah'kay. I wasn't impressed in the beginning (specifically after having just finished S.Art), but Amber has REALLY improved a lot since she started. And it shows, quite quickly. I took a break from reading that for personal reasons, all in all I finished the 966 episodes in 5 days. That lil' fantasy world really has grown on me.

4. DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary (By Erika Moen): I don't have much to say about this, other than that it amazes me there is "Secret" in the title. Hmm.
The girl has humor. ^^ It was nice spitting through her archive.

5. Least I could do (Note to self: Have to look up the author.): Spitted through archives dating from 2003. *cough* Have just one thing to say here: *rolls eyes* Men.

**- Jack (David Hopkins). Don't want to link you there because my conscience will never forgive me. People will probably have a hard time stomaching that. I haven't even spitted through all the archives yet. Won't, even. Untill I read more-fun comics first.

See? So I haven't been as unproductive as I thought I was.
True. Still got a loooooong list to go through, not to mention actual books I want to read.
But still. =)

The Gypsy.

Friday, 30 January 2009

"The Transmigration of Timothy Archer," Philip K. Dick

This is the conclusion to the trilogy. Well, that's what the publishers would have you believe anyway. If I have to read one more page of erudition on theology, I'm going melt and continue melting until I devolve into billions of semi-sentient amoebas.

I'll tell you what this book really was and why it was really significant: it was the last book ever written by Philip K. Dick, one of the greatest authors of our generation. His writings inspired cyberpunk, a novels of his were the basis for "Blade Runner," "The Minority Report," "A Scanner Darkly," and that's just the ones off the top of my head. He was a brilliant writer, to be sure, so it wouldn't be prudent his writing based on the books explaining his escalating fear of death. Read it if you want, but, like I said, he's done better.

- Johnny "Echoes. With the sound. Of salesmen. Of salesmen. Oooooof SALESMEN!"

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

"The Divine Invasion," Philip K. Dick

Now, I probably should've clarified this matter before, but since I didn't I'll do it now: "VALIS" was the beginning of a trilogy that comprises the last three books ever written by Philip K. Dick before his death. "The Divine Invasion," then, is the middle child of the series.

The erudition in this book isn't half as convoluted as its predecessor. I keep trying to come up with a metaphor comparing the former book and the latter to the difference between Plato and Plotinus, but the words aren't stringing together like I thought they would. Garble garble garble.

If you like Philip K. Dick, read this book. If you don't, read it anyway. "Ubik" made less sense and "VALIS" less still. The one's at the other end of the spectrum. If you've read anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., you should read at least this part of the VALIS trilogy. (It's like he's channeling him!)

P.S. I prefer referring to authors by their last name only. For obvious reasons, I cannot feel comfortable doing that until I'm done reading this author. It's quite the inconvenience.

- Johnny "Does this dress make me look fat?"

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

"VALIS," Philip K. Dick

Do you like big words? Do you like long-winded conversations on metaphysical matters? If you answer either of these questions with 'no,' then VALIS is not for you.

"Not for me?!" you say. "I'll show you!"

Well, fine. Be that way. But don't say I didn't warn you.

VALIS is an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System. I had to go look that up just now, and for anyone else that should be the blinking red light screaming, "Get out while you have the chance!" Not me, though. I do not presume to be smart, but I am dedicated to whatever I'm doing to a fault. The operative word in that sentence is 'FAULT.'

The book itself is indeed about whatever I just typed up there (I'm not doing it again, not gonna even look at it, no sir). It deals with depression, suicide, empathy, God, hippies, suffering, and some other stuff, most of it esoteric. If you like a good story I wouldn't steer you away from this book, but you have to be willing to pay attention to the details. And maybe have a rudimentary understanding of Greek and Latin and their mythologies and the religions of pretty much every culture on the planet.

But, then again, I did warn you earlier, didn't I?

- Johnny

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Jazz and the British.

So, I'm Jazz. Turning 21 on Feb 8th, according to Egypt I can start drinking and practicing my legal rights but being Lebanese (we can drink and are given legal rights at the age of 18), I'm not so very excited about turning 21. Don't get me wrong, I treasure my birthdays and people who don't wish me happy birthday and get me gifts get cursed. But on the other hand, getting older isn't a woman's favourite thing.

I'm married, have a boy, and I dropped out of university in the very first year. However, I do read and I do believe I can write a review! So, here I am co-blogging in this wonderful blog with wonderful people.

Now, I love the Brits. I love the way they speak, the wierd stuff they eat, the brilliant movies they make, and the best books and novels they write. So, I will probably be reviewing British books most often. However, Americans do tend to write good self-help crap and I like those too ;)

That's my introduction. I'm not much into webcomics or any comics at all. I hate manga stuff and I am not at all interested in fantasy unless it cracks me the hell up.


Go, Johnny, Go Go Go!

Johnny be good tonight. <3 I, too, am a fan of Philip "Jolly Jack" Jackson. I theorize that the characters are supposed to be British, but my feeble male mind can't process this revelation. But if it could, it'd probably make a loud "SQUEE!" and then esplode. In that order.

Jessie has invited me to blog about books with her, and as I am interested in reading a lot this year, I accept her invitation. And also 'cause it's Jessie! <3 So here's to reading stuff this year. Webcomics an' books an'... stuff. *shrug*


- Johnny


'Cause I luff Scarlet.

Anyways. Here's a blog for the books I (re)read. What I think of them. If I even do think anything of them.

Also, any webcomics I like. Anything I read and find hilarious, or highly interesting.

I am a bookworm. Have always been one, hopefully will always be one. So here's to a good book-full 2009 & future years. ;D

The Gypsy.