Archive for February, 2010

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Alexey Pehov’s Shadow Prowler (Audio Version)

February 25, 2010

One of the fantasy titles I had been keeping my eye on in recent months was Alexey Pehov’s Shadow Prowler, which beyond the hype it has received, may owe something to the fact that earlier in the decade I had the rare opportunity of enjoying a 6-week stay  in Vladivostok, Russia and have yearned somewhat for samplings of what the country had to offer in terms of their literature (in all form of genre) ever since. Well, thanks to the translation efforts of Andrew Bromfield we now have the opportunity to read what appears to a great  fantasy epic by a celebrated Russian author and I’m grateful for the opportunity to enjoy it on this side of the pond.

Swapping in and out of rotation with Brando Sanderson’s Elantris, I’ll be listening to the audio version of Shadow Prowler as narrated by MacLeod Andrews (who appears a very capable narrator and a great fit for the book). In fact, as of this morning I’m 3-chapters into the story and have found myself rather hooked. Certainly Shadow Prowler wears the elements of traditional fantasy on its sleeve, and it does so proudly thus far in a manner that is wholly captivating (don’t assume the trappings). As the book opens, we’re immediately introduced (in the first person) to master thief Shadow Harold as he attempts to pocket a valuable item from a prominent Duke in the country, only to find himself entangled in something far bigger than he might have expected — as you may have guessed. I’ve already laughed out loud a couple of times so there’s plenty of humor to be had (something to the effect of having no need to make one’s grandmother ‘suck eggs’ quickly comes to mind), there’s also plenty of mystery afoot so I”m more than a little intrigued to find out what happens next. Which is exactly where I should be 2-3 chapters in.

I reckon this is going to be fun.

Here’s the synopsis for any that may have missed it:

An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one, black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.

Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows Shadow Harold, the legendary thief of Siala, on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the Kingdom of Siala. Harold will be accompanied on his quest by an elfin princess, Miralissa, her elfin escort and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world…and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems…or less).

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On Technology, a connection between Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Historian Paul Herrmann

February 22, 2010

I’m thoroughly enjoying my own dives into both The Spires of Denon (novella) and Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch as I juggle audio books between Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris and more than a few treatises on the Ancient Near East on my commute to work each day. With that in mind, I wanted to comment briefly on a connection I noticed late last week between Ms. Rusch’s work and some of the Near Eastern studies I’ve been enjoying. That connection resting with the characters of “Meklos” and “Boss” in each of the respective novels, wherein both characters subscribe to the idea that technology can be forgotten, and much more, that the ancients knew far more than we give them credit for:

“He couldn’t imagine that sort of painstaking work. He wasn’t even sure how the creators made it…The technology needed to do this seemed beyond the ancients. But the ancients had build and forgotten more technology than we would ever know…civilizations rose and fell, knowledge was lost, knowledge was gained, and wars were fought, then forgotten.” – Maklos, p. 10

Kristine Kathryn Rusch contextualizes the principle in the form of fictitious ancient civilization’s, sure, but it has a very real parallel with real world ancients as well and what some historians are coming to believe about their mental and technological capabilities. For example, just last week I was made aware of studies by Paul Herrmann in which one of the primary aim’s of his scholarship (found in the book Conquest by Man) is to “weaken the very widespread conviction that our progress in the technological aspects of civilization represents, in any real sense, a greater achievement than those of our forebears.” This being one of several treatments on the subject.

I find it refreshing that a modern science fiction author, in a couple of great books, was able to touch upon a similar notion, and one that plays such a central theme to the works themselves. I know that adds a layer of interest for me as I read and that as a result I’ll probably be tearing through them all the quicker. It’s not all sci-fi folks.

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Diving into the Wreck-verse

February 9, 2010

One of the sci-fi novels that I was anticipating most late last year was Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving into the Wreck, a novel about an “active historian” diving into the wreckage’s of space in search of the past, an honest living, and most recently, clues to a massive and mysterious ship that drifts abandoned in an area of space where it shouldn’t have been able to travel. What happens as she investigates further leads to, by most accounts, a page turner of a novel that moves at break neck speed, which is exactly the kind of thing that I’ve been looking for in a sci-fi book following a few…more methodical books as of late.

And I suppose the best news, for those that perhaps haven’t yet heard, is that fans of Diving into the Wreck are in for even more “diving” as the author has recently sold the rights to the sequel, entitled City of Ruins to Pyr books:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving into the Wreck is proving to be quite a hit. Portions of the novel had already garnered not one but two Asimov’s Readers Choice Awards before the book itself came out. And since Diving appeared, the novel is garnering numerous favorable comparisons to the best of sf film and television, in that it brings back a sense of action and adventure that Rusch herself feels is so often lacking in contemporary SF literature.

So I know quite a few of you will be as excited to learn as I am to announce that  we’ve just shaken hands on a sequel, City of Ruins, so that fans can follow the further adventures of Boss and her crew. The novel sees Boss dealing with the repercussions of events in Diving, and further expands the universe in which the novel takes place in all sorts of interesting ways.

So, while I wait for Diving into the Wreck to arrive at my door (only a few days now), I thought I’d download Rusch’s short story set in the same universe, entitled The Spires of Denon to hold me over. You can obtain the short story from Scribd as a .pdf download for $1.99 in the case you can’t track down the Asimov’s Science Fiction Anthology (#400) in which it originally appeared.

On my way to print it out as soon as I submit this, and looking forward to some happy reading in the days to come.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)

February 8, 2010

Pardon my diverging off-topic for a few moments but I just finished Uncharted 2: Among Thieves yesterday afternoon and wanted to take a few moments to “yack” about it. Like a great page turner Uncharted 2 just doesn’t let up  and it only gets better and better as the story progresses. In it, we follow explorer Nathan Drake, Elena Fisher, Victor “Sully” Sullivan and a few new faces as they attempt to ‘save the world’ from a madman bent on becoming the next Genghis Khan through the power of an ancient city — the doors of which that can only be unlocked by an artifact in Drake’s possession. The action is intense, the gun play is a blast, particularly with the ingenious level designs, and if that wasn’t enough then certainly the  fascinating characters and oddball dialogue serve as the added icing on the cake.

Honestly, it was so good that I’m going to have to fire it up all over again on one of the more difficult settings just to experience it all over again (something I rarely have the time and interest to do), especially the gun play and level designs. I’ll also have to hop online a little more now that I’ve finished the single player storyline as the online multi-player is awfully fun in its own right. The game really does remind me of some of the more entertaining times I’ve had when reading a good book and I thought I’d share that on the blog in case any of y’all haven’t played it yet and have the opportunity (and a PS3).

It’s funny, my wife was so cute as I was fighting the final boss. Not a big gamer by any means she couldn’t help but look up from what she was doing in the other room to yell “run, run!” “shoot him!” “ack! get out of there!” and finally, “yea!” Definitely pulled her in for a few moments there and I thought that served as a nice way of illustrating how immersive Uncharted 2 really is.

See you in Shambala!

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Quote the Raven

February 7, 2010

Just when we think we know it all…

All scholarship, like all science, is an ongoing, open-ended discussion in which all conclusions are tentative forever, the principal value and charm of the game being the discovery of the totally unexpected.