Archive for May, 2009

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Dean Koontz’ Frankenstein, Prodigal Son: A Review

May 28, 2009

Prodigal Son_R1Introduction & Overview: Having been thoroughly impressed by Dean Koontz’ celebrated Odd Thomas series, I thought that I would do myself a favor and try another series of his that had caught my attention while searching for something new on the shelves, namely, Koontz’ Frankenstein.  Now, here I should probably confess that outside of being a huge fan of Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder’s classic Young Frankenstein and being a child of the 80’s that enthusiastically swallowed up the campy Monster Squad flick and its gentle take on the Frankenstein monster that I’ve never really been all that keen on the myth.  I’ve always preferred reading about the howling creatures of the night, and maybe a few vampires and swamp things here and there to reading about Frankenstein or his creation.  I suppose that as ingenious a performance as it was, Boris Karloff’s theatrical version wasn’t enough to a yung-un weaned on Dr. Doom, The Joker and the Red Skull to ever really frighten and as a result I never really gave Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or his “monster” much of a chance (though, thankfully, the lesson of who the real “monster” of the two was wasn’t completely lost on me).

Enter Deucalion.

Over two hundred years has passed since that fateful night when Victor Frankenstein seemingly brought his creation to life, and having found the means wherewith to prolong his life Victor, now Helios, commands a vast biological empire in the heart of New Orleans, a front for a far reaching scheme to replace flawed and superstitious humanity with a “new race” of his own making who are physically superior in almost every way to the “old race” and completely subservient to his will and desires.  But things become complicated for Victor, and two homicide detectives when a string of ghastly murders breaks out in the city further threatening the safety of its citizens and bearing an unnerving connection to Helios and his plans.  To whom can the city, and a couple of perplexed detectives turn to when the natural becomes supernatural, and the enemy is unlike anything humanity has ever seen?

In these mountains of tibet, a fiery sunset conjured a mirage of molten gold from the glaciers and the snowfields. A serrated blade of Himalayan peaks, with Everest at its hilt, cut the sky.  Far from civilization, this vast panorama soothed Deucalion. For several years, he had preferred to avoid people, except for Buddhist monks in this windswept rooftop of the world.  Although he had not killed for a long time, he still harbored the capacity for homicidal fury. Here he strove always to suppress his darker urges, sought calm, and hoped to find true peace.

From an open stone balcony of the whitewashed monastery, as he gazed at the sun-splashed ice pack, he considered, not for the first time, that these two elements, fire and ice, defined his life.  At his side, an elderly monk, Nebo, asked, “Are you looking at the mountains—or beyond them, to what you left behind?”

Although Deucalion had learned to speak several Tibetan dialects during his lengthy sojourn here, he and the old monk often spoke English, for it afforded them privacy.  “I don’t miss much of that world. The sea. The sound of shore birds. A few friends. Cheez-Its.”

Shortly thereafter, in his seclusion, Deucalion is greeted by a messenger who while shocked at his appearance manages to deliver the post.  ‘It’s him, Victor Frankenstein is alive.’ And its up to his creation to do what he was unable to do more than two hundred years ago.  Stop Frankenstein.

Comments: This isn’t the Karloff monster.  Instead Deucalion (the son of Prometheus in Greek myth after whom he has named himself) is a haunted individual, long lived, with a tragic past who  has set foot on the road to redemption and self-sacrifice despite an inner struggle to suppress an inner rage that continually seeks release.  In Koontz’ Frankenstein we are presented with a heroic figure who has felt a divine presence in his life after some two hundred years of trying to grasp his place in the universe to the point he feels it his destiny to stop the unnatural perversions of his earthly creator.  As such, it was easy for me to cheer him on in the endeavor, particularly as we become more and more aware of the depths of Victor’s depraved mind and privy to what his new race is capable of with little to no remorse for who they hurt, kill and maim in the process.  Honestly, in the back of my mind I was constantly troubled by the ramifications of what an entire world populated by these cold killers would be like as I read and it was truly chilling to imagine.

The story is made all the richer by an interesting cast of characters including homicide detectives Carson O’ Conner and Michael Maddison who find themselves elbows deep in Victor’s plans desperately searching for answers as to what’s happening around them, as well as characters like Erica 4 and Randall 6 who despite being members of the “new race” prove that there’s a little more to his creations than even Victor can comprehend when they act contrary to his wishes, and with tendencies more akin to those he seeks to wipe out completely.  Koontz moves the story along at a breakneck pace, with short chapters that jump into the different characters perspectives and experience to piece together the narrative pinning down the underlying tapestry of the novel.  It’s a true page turner and an awful lot of fun in the process.  The first of a three part series there’s a lot to introduce and to discover in The Prodigal Son and its a fair criticism to say that the ending is a little abrupt, and surprisingly so, as it leads into the next installment but it does serve to prime the reader for the next chapter in City of  Night and I had little choice but to track that down and get started as quickly as I could.

Interestingly, the book was originally a script for a 2 hour pilot that Koontz had developed for an ongoing series on the USA Network, but as he explains in the foreword he pulled out of the project when extensive revisions to the script were made and disappointed in the direction it took, fully realized his story in the one we see here.  That’s good for us because it’s an exciting piece of work and one easily capable of completely capturing the imagination so I give it a very high recommendation to anyone even remotely interested in a good thriller, monster movie, or just a big ‘ol smile on your face.

Look for the 3rd installment of Dean Koontz’ Frankenstein, enttitled Dead or Alive on July 28th.

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On Audio Books…

May 26, 2009

MT_R1I don’t know where you stand on audio books, but up until recently I wasn’t really sure what to think of them.  I had some great experiences over the years with ‘books on tape’ where a few history, theology, and finance books were concerned but they were few and far between and I generally knew the authors, and their style of delivery, very well before purchasing the audio books.  I’m also more than a little “old school” in the sense that I enjoy sitting back in a recliner, flipping the front cover of a book open, and reading for a couple of uninterrupted hours (or more, obviously, depending on how engrossed I am).  I even love that old musty book smell and truthfully, I don’t imagine anything could take the place of these experiences, but I’ve got to say that I’m seeing things a little differently these days.

Several months ago I moved across the city (we actually call it a “town” in these here parts) and into my first home, and while I love the freedom that having a home affords, I now sport an hour commute both to and from work each day (no worries, it’s more than worth it and the gas-mileage-friendly car helps) so as to better keep my sanity on those lengthy drives I told myself that I needed to give this whole audio book thing a try to see if it might stave off some of the frustration that sitting in traffic and avoiding idiots on the road brings each day.  Well, long story short, I’ve been visiting my local library to check out their selections and have been really surprised at the treasures I’ve been able to find that I probably never would have tried otherwise.  A couple of hours in the car each day has proven to be just long enough to engross myself in a story before arriving at either destination and I’ve found that my outlook on the day changes for the better knowing that I’ve got an adventure ahead of me on the way home as opposed to 45-stress inducing minutes in traffic.  Not a bad deal at all and I hope to bring you that many more thoughts and reviews as a result.

Never thought I’d say it, but I look forward to today’s long drive home.

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Quote the Raven…

May 26, 2009

Raven_R1
“You can’t live on amusement. It is the froth on water – an inch deep and then the mud.”

– George MacDonald

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A Quick Arrival: Malazan, Black Company & Omega Squad

May 21, 2009

OmegaSquad

Well that was a nice surprise.  I arrived home last night, welcomed not only by a couple of Corgi’s happy out of their mind  (which is always nice) but also by 3 large packages from amazon.  I had expected them to arrive fairly soon, but not nearly as quick and not all at one time.  Thought y’all might be interested in the contents as it relates to the blog:

GardensoftheMoonreissueChronicles of the Black Company (Glen Cook)

The Books of the South: Tales of the Black Company (Glen Cook)

Ender’s Quartet (Orson Scott Card)

Gardens of the Moon, Malazan Book of the Fallen re-issue (Steven Erikson)

No Prisoners, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Karen Traviss)

Order 66, Star Wars: Republic Commando (Karen Traviss)

I’m really excited about reading each and every one of these, I’ve probably had Erkison’s Malazan series recommended more than any other this side of GRRM in recent memory and I love Traviss’ Republic Commando series and can’t wait to see what’s in store for Omega Squad as we near “Order 66.”  The depth she’s added to the clones themsevles is nothing short of amazing and I’m hoping we continue to see that level of care in how she approaches the infamous order that tragically wiped out (most of) the Jedi.  And as for Cook’s Black Company, I’m looking forward to some honest hand’s on fighting in the trenches and to seeing what surprises lay in store.

devil_summoner_2On an unrelated note, I also received the pre-order edition of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha versus King Abaddon (PS2), complete with Raiho (Jack Frost) plush, which I’m half tempted to keep sealed given the penchant Atlus titles (particular the SMT brand) have for shooting upwards in value due to the limited print runs.  Fortunately, the need to play it is much, much greater than any desire to sell it being that we are talking about a Shin Megami game.

Look for more discussion on the books themselves in future posts.

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“Another Song About Coraline…”

May 20, 2009

coraline r1

A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of reading Neil Gaiman’s Coraline in its entirety while waiting in the hospital lobby for my younger sister to give birth to a beautiful baby girl.  It was a fantastic way to whittle away the morning hours as we waited and I was captivated both by the novel, and the recent stop motion animated film of the same name.  Additionally, the score in the film is haunting (in a good way) and I don’t think a day had passed  before I had downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes.

Anyhow, I mention it because in a recent letter to Mr. Gaiman, a reader brings up Bruno Coulais’ soundtrack, as well as the possibility of a missing track:

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I can’t tell you how much I adored the movie Coraline, and the film’s score is no exception.

Bruno Coulais’ pieces were haunting and beautiful, and the TMBG’s “Other Father Song” was terrific, but sadly, the song which stood out to me the most I can’t find!

It’s the tune played when Coraline and her mother (real of course) are shopping. It was also featured in one of the TV commercials for the film. (See it here http://twurl.cc/p7j )

In all my searching all I’ve found is that I think it’s called “Nellie Jean”, by Kent Melton (who may also have been a sculptor for the movie as well).

I know it’s a long shot, but I was wondering if you had any information to pass along about the song. I downloaded the movie soundtrack from iTunes, and it’s not there. I guess at worst I’ll keep listening to it on YouTube, though I’d really like to download it!

Thank’s, and keep it up!

Jason B

I asked Henry Selick, who said,

It is not “Nellie Jean” by Kent Melton – that is the 5 to 7 seconds of ukulele played by the small character in front of the garden store where Dad is dropped off. I think we just called it “shopping music” and I’m surprised it’s not on the soundtrack CD. I’ve asked Bruno Coulais if he’d mind sending me an MP3 to share with Jason.

And then, because Henry is a remarkable man, he sent me an MP3 of the track in question, and the mighty webgoblin has put it up at http://www.neilgaiman.com/mediafiles/exclusive/Audio/in_the_store_2.mp3

(The high voice singing is actually Bruno himself.)

Enjoy Coraline’s “Shopping Music” and check out the soundtrack if you haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet.  Great stuff!

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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: A Review

May 19, 2009

endersgame_2Introductions: It’s been almost 15-years since a good friend of mine recommended Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.  These were “the good old days,” we were in high school, I was dating my high school sweetheart and likely we were at his house discussing comics, religion or somesuch when in the course of the conversation he told me about Ender’s Game and that knowing my tastes I was sure to enjoy it.  I can recall only a few slivers of why he thought it would appeal to me, but an epic space battle and a group of warriors fighting in it that resembled a couple existing heroes of mine were probably part of the deal.  To be honest though, I wasn’t sold right away.  I loved Star Wars in its many forms, but beyond that, Sci-Fi wasn’t really my thing at all.  Still, I filed it away in the recesses of my mind for future reference and some 15 years later, shamed that I hadn’t yet read what was considered to be one of the greatest science fiction books of all time and primed through years of reading so as to see the error of my ways…here we are.

Synopsis: Set in Earth’s future, mankind finds itself performing a dangerous balancing act and tensions are high.  On the one hand, nations distrust one another and alliances are held together by weakening threads (as has long since been the case) but on the other hand mankind as a whole has only just begun to recover from a full-scale invasion by the Formics, or “buggers,” a highly intelligent insectoid race that attempted to subjugate the earth and its inhabitants before ultimately being driven back to their home world by a legendary pilot and more than a few dedicated individuals.  The earth knows a measure of peace, but what if the buggers return?  And what of the alliances left strained after the Formic War?  Thus the stage is set and we’re introduced to Andrew “Ender” Wiggen, a 6-year old boy that the International Fleet has had their eye on for some time.  Hand picked for his unique profile, family situation, and “skills” he is enrolled in the IF’s Battle School, an elite training academy removed far from the Earth’s atmosphere where he will train to potentially become an officer/commander in mankind’s future conflicts against the Formics.  In Battle School Ender is tried and tested in unique null gravity environments, high stress situations, and complex command simulators to the brink of exhaustion, and beyond, in the hopes that he is truly mankind’s next great hope.

I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears,and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.  ‘That’s what you said about the brother.’ The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability. ‘Same with the sister. And there are doubts about him. He’s too malleable. Too willing to submerge himself in someone else’s will.’  Not if the other person is his enemy.  ‘So what do we do? Surround himself with enemies all the time?’  If we have to.  ‘I thought you said you liked this kid.’  If the buggers get him, they’ll make me look like the favorite uncle.  ‘All right. We’re saving the world, after all.  Take him.’

Comments: In many ways, Ender’s Game was chock full of the things that I had expected, even hoped, that it would be.  Ender is at once an interesting, if troubled, protagonist with infinite potential for good (and bad) in the unforgiving setting in which he finds himself.  I was immediately sympathetic to his increasingly complex situation and was often surprised when remembering that this was a very young adolescent who faced decisions that would make confident adults cower in fear.  A child that was shaped, and almost forced, to mold himself into a military savior for mankind.  I had expected a morality tale and one that would make me cheer for our hero.  Don’t get me wrong, we did get that in Ender, but we also got a very hard book that tackled some extremely raw themes and along the way we got a more multi-faceted hero than I would have at first imagined.  I was a little hasty in a previous column to state that Ender didn’t give up, that he moved forward in the toughest times recalling why he had joined the International Fleet in the first place.  But as I progressed in the novel I found that I was mistaken, there were times when he did give up, when it was all too much for him and he had to find a way to cope for awhile.  But it would be unjust for me to have expected him to never give up, to be a perfect soldier.  He wasn’t even 10-years old for 9/10ths of the book for heavens sake.  What would I have done at 10?  Or as the author himself aptly put it: “If, at times, they still seem immature, remember that they have adult intellects operating in children’s bodies with children’s emotional responses.” But Ender did persevere, he overcame grief, sickness and exhaustion to put one foot in front of the other and when he couldn’t find a reason to follow the orders his commanders gave, he substituted reasoning that would propel him forward to perform his duties for those back home.  He was asked to bear a burden that no one else could have shouldered — despite being lied to at every turn — and unbeknownst to him, he turned out to be the hero the earth needed and the hero we envisioned, if through the refiner’s fire.  Evidenced, I’d wager, in the role he takes up after learning the truth and embarking with his sister on their more ‘spiritual’  journey (don’t want to let those 29 year old spoilers out of the bag).  In the end I can say that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the descriptions of the ships, star fighters, or even the buggers as they could have been even more fascinating than they ended up being for me but they were all functional, certainly, and it was the only area that I noted a passing disappointment, outside of a general disdain for the idea that parents wouldn’t do all that they could to care for a child they had brought into the world, their apathy was more than a little disheartening but then again maybe there’s more to be explored there.  I loved the cast at the IF’s Battle School, Bean was a real hoot as were Alai, Dink and Petra who I hope to read about in the future Ender books.  Card’s pacing was franetic in the 324-page novel and there were plenty of times where I couldn’t put it down, which always drives home the fun I’m really having.  That joy of reading goes a long way with me and upon closing the book I can say not only that I had a really good time, but that Ender & Co. will likely stay with me for a long time to come…especially as I dive further into Card’s Enderverse with the arrival of the next 3 books later this week!

Rating: I’m still mulling over whether or not to give out numerical scores, and would love any feedback as to what you think, but I’d highly recommend the book and hope it doesn’t take you 15-years to sit down and read it when all is said and done.  It deserves a much quicker response time, like now.

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A Word of Thanks

May 18, 2009

Raven_R1Follow That Raven is only a week old today and I’ve already had the privilege of speaking with a number of fine individuals that have offered compliments, criticism, and encouragement about the site.  As a result, I wanted to take a few moments to thank each of you for taking the time to visit and to offer your insights and support as I get the site off the ground.  I’m really encouraged by the feedback and look forward to seeing how the place grows in the weeks, months, and hopefully years to come.  To the creators I’ve spoken to thus far, thanks for your time as well, and keep up the great work because I can’t wait to discuss the inner workings of your books here at the site in the hopes you may gain and even greater following as new readers discover them, and existing fans have an additional opportunity to discuss them.

And finally, to the visitors to the site so far, I hope you’ll bear with me as I go through the inevitable growing pains and that you’ll enjoy having the place to hang your hat when you stop by to visit.

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Lilith by George MacDonald: A Review

May 14, 2009

macdonaldWhen I made the rather hasty decision of starting a blog based on my love of books, and it came time to find a name for it, I racked my brain thinking of something that might be witty, clever, and memorable for visitors — but when that endeavor utterly failed — my mind focused back on the fantasy novel that has likely had the greatest, and most profound, impact on me over the years and that was George MacDonald’s 1895 masterpiece, Lilith.  Arguably his greatest work.   In it, there is a peculiar raven that helps kick off the tale and he serves to be a wonderful surprise in the book and I thought it an appropriate theme of ‘beckoning beyond’ for the blog here.

But more on that as we go, don’t want to get too ahead of myself.

As Lilith opens, readers are immediately introduced to one Mr. Vane, a recent graduate of Oxford University and the inheritor of his families English estate.  Additionally, we learn of a mysterious specter that may be haunting the vast library within which servants in the home have heard whisperings of for some time.  And thus the tale begins in earnest when having spotted the specter Mr. Vane rushes after him, following him anxiously into a series of twists and turns in his home that he had heretofore been unfamiliar with, and straight into a small chamber in a vast expanse of chambers.  There, his gaze falls from sunlight forcing its way into the room upon an old mirror within:

It had an ebony frame, on the top of which stood a black eagle, with outstretched wings, in his beak a golden chain, from whose end hung a black ball. I had been looking at rather than into the mirror, when suddenly I became aware that it reflected neither the chamber nor my own person. I have an impression of having seen the wall melt away, but what followed is enough to account for any uncertainty:–could I have mistaken for a mirror the glass that protected a wonderful picture? I saw before me a wild country, broken and heathy. Desolate hills of no great height, but somehow of strange appearance, occupied the middle distance; along the horizon stretched the tops of a far-off mountain range; nearest me lay a tract of moorland, flat and melancholy.

Being short-sighted, I stepped closer to examine the texture of a stone in the immediate foreground, and in the act espied, hopping toward me with solemnity, a large and ancient raven, whose purply black was here and there softened with gray. He seemed looking for worms as he came. Nowise astonished at the appearance of a live creature in a picture, I took another step forward to see him better, stumbled over something–doubtless the frame of the mirror–and stood nose to beak with the bird: I was in the open air, on a houseless heath!

The Raven then…speaks.  And he informs our hero in a coarse, bird-like, voice that the best way to find out where he has come is to first “do something,” and that it best involve making himself “at home” in his new surroundings.  MacDonald employs  these riddles, thoughtful insights, and a grand imagination to force us to ask questions and to bring to vivid life a world that will forever change Mr. Vane as he struggles towards self-discoveries that test notions about his ‘self’ and the perceptions of everything around him, and in many cases, alters them completely.  Along the way Vane will meet giant abominations that rise from the ground below in the hopes of devouring prey, dancing skeletons, ignorant giants, the innocent “little ones,” ghosts of the fallen, great giant cats, a protective moon, and of course, Lilith herself.  Prior knowledge of Lilith is relatively unnecessary to enjoy the story but in supplying a little background, according to some texts in Jewish folk tradition, Lilith was Adam’s first wife in the Garden of Eden and the two had a falling away from one another when after a fashion Adam implored Lilith to submit to his will.  Following her refusal she became a demon, with great power, plaguing the children of men thereafter.  MacDonald uses her as a character in the tale as a means of setting up theological, physiological and psychological conflict between herself and Mr. Vane but even more so as a means of exploring the issues of good and evil,  defiance, beauty, repentance, to ultimately even mercy as it applies to us all.

So much was ours ere ever the first sun rose upon our freedom: what must not the eternal day bring with it!

Comments:

I’ve meandered through Lilith on at least 3 different occasions now, and I use the word “meander” to intentionally denote that the experience is not one to be taken lightly, or at an accelerated pace, if indeed the reader wants to get as much out of it as possible.  Right off the bat it’s important to understand that this is a Christian work and that MacDonald requires an honest effort from the reader to work within himself to both ask and answer questions that the book presents in order to best move forward.  If a work of faith is not what you’re looking for then perhaps its best to look elsewhere, though I’d always recommend giving it a try first.  And like Mr. Vane, we won’t have all the answers right in front of us but little by little a small phrase here becomes deeper in its allegory, and a symbol there becomes a clue to the true nature of a character.  But make no mistake, this is a fun and entertaining book full of thought that’s worth reading as a fantasy “romance” but there are certainly levels to what one can take from it.  After 3 readings I’m more and more aware that I’ve not even scratched the surface of all there is to glean from its contents, but I come out of it even more fulfilled than the last time and maybe a little more honest with myself with each attempt.  It is not a pretentious work reeking in the idea of its own self-importance by any means, rather, it is an experience in reflection exposing some really nasty stuff, while offering a hopeful alternative if we’re willing to learn and grow as Mr. Vane ultimately chose to do.  At its heart, Lilith is a novel about finding one’s true self and where true happiness comes from and thus it becomes a deeply personal work.  Which is likely the point.

If you’ve never had the chance to read anything by George MacDonald and wonder what it was that inspired the likes of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll among the other giants of fantasy then please do yourself a favor and take some time to acquaint yourself with any number of his stories.  They’re all extremely enriching experiences.

And I give Lilith the highest recommendation.

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Ender’s Game: Some Observations (5/13)

May 13, 2009

I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.

Having reached page-214 in Ender’s Game a little after midnight last night, I decided that if I had any interest in functioning today that I had better put the book down and hit the hay.  As anyone that’s been wrapped up in a good book knows, it’s often a difficult if not impossible task to put that book down as weariness calls — and while common sense did win out this time and I closed my eyes for the night my brain would have none of it — and continued to flash scenes from the book, possibilities to come, moral quandaries etc.  and I don’t know how long it took before I actually fell asleep.  I woke up this morning more than a little groggy and given that this is the second time this week this has happened not only do I have an added appreciation for the weariness that Ender endured with less than 6 hours of sleep (sans the battle room as an excuse), but perhaps I should take a page from his advanced intellectual mind and…make more time during the daylight hours to read.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR ENDER’S GAME AHEAD:

With less than a 1/3rd of the book remaining everything is just starting to hit the fan and I think that I’ve begun to understand how the book managed to capture the imagination of young and old alike when it was first published in 1985.  But let me set this up for a second, it wasn’t all that long ago that I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to get all that  much out of the adventures of the younger set.  I’m 20-some odd years removed from my 10-year old self and reading about the dreams of adolescence, despite my having dreamed them myself, just didn’t appeal to me.  But somewhere along the way something reminded me how much fun I had had with those books in my youth and in returning to Narnia, for example, I found that as an adult I had fostered an even greater appreciation for the land of Aslan than I did as a yung-un.  George MacDonald repeatedly reminded readers that there was a difference between the childish and the child-like and despite advancing ages there is plenty for the adult to glean from the adventures, morals, and settings in the child-like story.

And as Orson Scott Card aptly put it in his introduction to Ender’s Game:

I think most of us , anyway, read these stories that we know are not ‘true’ but because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: The mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story.  Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself.  The story itself, the true story, is the that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hopes and fears.

The book, and Ender, have endured because we find pieces of ourselves in the character – regardless of age – and identify with his plight, probably wishing along the way that we were as intellectually and physically adept as he was but nonetheless satisfied that somewhere on the surface, or deep down, that we’re also capable of great things if we too have a child like heart, a measure of enthusiasm, and a reason to fight.  Ender was a third, an oddity, and at the ripe old age of 6 had everything taken away from him because he had some desire to protect humanity, to do something he was apparently able to do.  He left his family behind (his sister Valentine being the hardest to part with), lost all communication with them for ~ 4 years, had persistent bullies to deal with, faced a cruel regiment designed to break him if  indeed he could be broken and/or make him stronger if it didn’t kill him in the process.  He faced death threats, abuse, mental assaults, exhaustion and cruelty at the hands of adults for years all holding on to the idea that he wouldn’t lose himself, that mayhaps he could protect humanity one day if he could wake up and endure it again the next day.  Sure, he wanted to go home — but he didn’t.  There’s a perseverance and determination we can all learn from and thanks to Card’s brisk pacing, colorful characters, and a “game” that puts Quidditch to shame (all in good fun) he’s managed to do it in a very entertaining manner. I regret it took me as long to get there, but the lessons in the book certainly aren’t lost on me…and perhaps I’m even more capable of applying them now than I would have been way back then.  That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

Look for a full review of the book shortly.

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George R. R. Martin & Cyanide Announce ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ Video Game

May 12, 2009

Stark_1French game developer Cyanide announced today that it has landed exclusive rights to, and has begun development on a video game series based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series for the PC and next-gen consoles.

From the Press Release:

We are all huge fans of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, so it is a true honour for our teams to be entrusted with creating the first video games inspired by this masterpiece stated Patrick Pligersdorffer, Managing Director of Cyanide. The twists and turns of the plot will allow us to deliver an experience which can be enjoyed by both long-time fans as well as gamers new to the series.

Published most notably by Bantam Books in North America and Voyager Books in the United Kingdom, the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ novels have been translated into more than twenty languages (including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian) and have been nominated for numerous prizes. Set in a world where nothing is simply black and white, the rich web of characters makes it an ideal background for numerous genres of video games.

A Song of Ice and Fire’ has already been adapted into a card game and a board game. More recently, HBO acquired the rights with the intent of turning the novels into a television series.

Outside of the fact that Cyanide consists of several former Ubisoft employees that have worked on a variety of sports and entertainment games I’m afraid I know little about the company, but they’ve got a huge property on their hands and a heck of a lot of expectations to fill given the immense popularity of A Song of Ice and Fire, so I wish them the best of luck and look forward to seeing the pixelated results of their collaboration with Martin in the months to come.  Here’s hoping they’re up to the challenge.