Tag Archives: Opinion

Dragon*Con — A Tardy Personal Perspective

Dragon*Con is an extravaganza of sci-fi fandom held annually over Labor Day Weekend in doParade Collagewntown Atlanta, Georgia.  As of 2008, it spans four hotels and boasts an attendance of more than 30,000 fans.  Rumor has it that when the numbers swell with day pass folks, the count can go as high as 50,000.  It can be a little overwhelming to attend a convention with 30-50,000 of your, er, um, closest friends.  This year, the addition of the Sheraton, and the completed Marriott renovation, made the long Labor Day weekend a much more pleasurable experience than in the recent past.

What To See…Beats Me!

With a cacophony of choices in a wide variety of fandoms, you can’t see everything.  Lines for many popular media based events are long, and give you no guarantee of entry even after you’ve waited for frakking ever.  For me, the choice is simple.  I don’t try.  That has it’s own pitfalls, though.  If I had tried to get into the Firefly panel with Nathan Fillion and supporting cast members, I would have been able to get in.  Instead I watched it on Dragon*Con TV .

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Book Reviews or Book Discussions?


So many books, so little time.

I need your opinions

After the posts by Donna and myself, I’ve decided that I should make books a larger part of the site. I’d like to do more posts about books and reading. What I’d like your opinion on is the structure of those posts.

  1. Should I review books I read?
  2. Or

  3. Should I open a discussion about a book?

I can see pros and cons for both of those. I’m just not sure what you’d rather see here. That’s why I’m asking you.

What’s the difference?

This is how I imagine these working. If you have other ideas please let me know.

    Book Review

  • I would choose a book, or let you vote on a book.
  • I’d read it and take a few notes.
  • I’d come back to the blog and write up a review. It’s pretty straight forward.

    Book Discussion

  • I would choose a book, or let you vote on a book. That’s the same.
  • I’d write a post on the blog to announce what the book is.
  • A reading deadline would be set. That way people know when the discussion will start, and will know when to finish the book.
  • People that want to join in would, I hope, read the book.
  • After the reading deadline I’d come back here and officially open the discussion. I would include some of my opinions and my questions about the book. It wouldn’t be a full review though.
  • I would update the post with some, or all, of the relevant comments from the discussion for a period of time. This would make the relevant comments about the book easier to find and make things easier on people taking part. A long list of comments can be hard to follow sometimes.

What do you think?

Does this sound like something you’d be interested in? Do you have any other ideas? I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. I’d really like to make this site something we could all enjoy together.

[tags]Fandoms, Books, Opinion, Blogging, Book Discussions, Book Reviews, Book Club, FanaticSpace[/tags]

A Bibliophile's View of the Library

What Makes An Author Worth Reading?

This is a guest article from Donna. Leave some comments and maybe we can get her to be a regular contributor.

 

Bibliophilia in Action

A Bibliophile’s View of the Library

I’ll be the first to admit to having a long-standing obsession with books. As a child, I read Nancy Drew and The Chronicles of Narnia obsessively. I have traveled with Bilbo and Frodo to the Lonely Mountain and Mordor once a year, every year (starting on their shared birthday) since I was a teenager.

In high school, I explored many of the “classics” – Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, Dostoevsky, James, Joyce, Thackeray, Tolstoy, Twain – I tore through anything and everything I could lay my hands on. Thomas Mann intrigued me so much that I took two classes about his novels while in college, and even considered learning German just so I could read his work in the “authentic” language.

Since then, my tastes have grown much more pedestrian. In my late twenties, mysteries held a great appeal for me. Agatha Christie was a minor fixation for a while, but soon Ngaio Marsh took over. It was at that point that I formed the habit of reading an author’s works repeatedly in chronological order – from “A Man Lay Dead” (1934) through “Light Thickens” (1982), I spent 3 years of my life memorizing every nuance of Marsh’s Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn.

 

The Boy Who Lived

The Boy Who Lived

My obsession with the Potter universe outstripped all my other prior obsessions by a significant amount…

 

And then we had The Boy Who Lived. My obsession with the Potter universe outstripped all my other prior obsessions by a significant amount, and affected my life more profoundly than I would have thought possible. Admittedly, Jo Rowling’s writing is less than perfect (“the treetops were gilded with gold” still drives me up the wall – what else would they be gilded with?), but her sense of humor and the integrity of her storytelling are truly memorable.

Now that it’s over though, what’s a Potter-obsessed girl to do? I can, and will, continue to re-read the series, talk about it with my friends, and look back on some of the developments (especially in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) with regret. Eventually however, there will come a time when I need something else to read.

I’ve started my search, and so far, have been sorely disappointed. Scott Westerfeld’s trilogy (“Uglies,” “Pretties,” and “Specials”) was nicely subversive and reasonably interesting, though I have to say I ended up feeling a bit disappointed with the ending. Good guys win, and bad guys really aren’t bad guys after all – not much subtlety there, and absolutely no re-read value.

 

Plum Bad

A friend recommended Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series as being entertaining. I’ve read a few, but to be honest, I have a hard time getting past her lazy writing and non-existent editing.

Pasta or Sandwich?

A character starts eating cold leftover pasta in one paragraph, yet a few sentences later, he’s finishing up his sandwich?

 

Though she gives credit to an editor, her writing shows all the signs of being slapped together with little thought for characterization, grammatical correctness, or even continuity. She frequently contradicts her own minor facts (A character starts eating cold leftover pasta in one paragraph, yet a few sentences later, he’s finishing up his sandwich?). Her characters are inconsistent, unbelievable, unintelligible caricatures (a tough-talking street punk with a ghetto vocabulary from the first book is a smooth, literate pillar of society later in the series). I find myself getting angry with her publishers for foisting this mess on the public. I am amazed that anyone can be getting paid to “edit” her work; I can only assume they’re afraid to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by correcting the egregious errors that crop up on almost every page she writes.

Worst of all, I cannot imagine anyone churning out this kind of sloppy, hackneyed garbage and not being heartily ashamed of herself. Is Ms. Evanovich so clueless that she actually thinks her writing is good? Yet she is apparently “working on” (I use the term loosely) the 16th book in the series, and if past sales are any indication, will make a tidy sum off of it.

 

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

This has got me wondering – what makes an author worth reading? And what does the author owe to the reading public?

Naturally, the story is of paramount importance. No matter how skillfully something is crafted or how carefully it’s edited, if the story fails to engage or move its intended audience, it’s not worth committing to paper.

Characters have to be believable. They have to be “real” enough to care about. That doesn’t mean, however, obviously fictional characters can’t be worthwhile. I’ve just finished reading Gregory Maquire’s “Wicked”, and his Elphaba is one of the most consistently sympathetic characters I’ve encountered. She’s just quirky enough to keep you guessing; it’s impossible not to get drawn into the story of her life.

It really boils down to integrity. If an author is focused on producing their best, if they concentrate on doing justice to their story, it will be worth reading. If, on the other hand, all they care about is churning out a product to make a quick buck, that will be obvious too. While I can’t presume to tell anyone else what to buy or not to buy, I can at least say that I intend to continue to patronize those authors who make an honest effort and shun those who are just in it for the money.
Fin. The End.

 

Biography: Donna Lafferty is an avid reader (well, duh). She is co-administrator of Knockturn Alley (www.knockturn.org), author and presenter of The Grand Unified Horcrux Theory (presented May 20, 2007 at Phoenix Rising). She owns a day spa in Bloomington, Indiana, plays the trombone, and spends way too much time on the computer.

[tags]Fandoms, Books, Opinion, Guest Post, Reading, Bibliophile, Bibliophilia, Authors, Austen, the Brontes, Bronte, Dickens, Dostoevsky, James, Joyce, Thackeray, Tolstoy, Twain, Thomas Mann, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, A Man Lay Dead, Light Thickens, J.K. Rowling, Rowling, Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows, Scott Westerfeld, Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum, Gregory Maquire, Wicked, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West [/tags]

Trailers are better than movies.

I really need to stop reading RevolutionSF. I’m sure it’s a contributing factor for geeks with high blood pressure. Ah, who am I kidding? That wouldn’t help. It’s not RevSF’s fault, mostly. They’re just reporting the screw ups made in Hollywood.

This is the trailer for the new Iron Man movie.

Abandon all hope, all ye who buy a movie ticket.

Once again the people behind the Iron Man movie have screwed up. You may remember my rant on comic book movie casting. I had very little hope for Iron Man turning out well. The only hope I had was that the scenes in the Iron Man armor would be abundant and awesome. Now I have even less hope.

Why would they make trailers and commercials with stuff that’s not in the movie? That makes no sense. Sure it’ll make people want to see a movie. What happens when they find out it’s a trick? A lot of people will just skip it. Hollywood shoots itself in the foot like this and then wonders why fewer people are going to the movies. To quote Kelly Bundy, “The mind wobbles”.

Here’s a tip for filmmakers.

If you film something for the trailer that turns out to be unbelievably cool, put it in the movie. It’s bad enough when people see a movie and find out all the best parts were in the trailer. When you see a movie and all the best parts are in the trailer, but not the movie that’s even worse. That is what people outside of the movie industry call a “lie”. You might want to look that word up. You probably know it better as “promotion” or “marketing”.