Monday, August 29, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price by J.K. Rowling

I really enjoy J.K. Rowlin's saga of good natured wizards and comicly sinister villians. After reading the first four over a week while soaking up beach-sun in Guantacaste, I was hooked. So of course when the Half-Blood Prince was annouced, the Professor preordered me a copy right away. Now, I'm a fan, but not the kind of person who was going to wait in line at midnight holding a broom or anything. So when Amazon fucked up and didn't deliver the book until a full week after it was availible in our local grocery store, I wasn't really all that distraught, especially 'cause I was still hip deep in Collapse. I'm still hip deep in Collapse, the newest Harry Potter book wasn't more than a 2 day blip on the radar.

Enough has been said about this book everywhere else, so just a few comments:
Thoughts on the Half Blood Prince
Fun. If you liked the others, you'll probably like this one, though not as much.
Rushed. She could have made this book 200 pages longer and tied up a number of loose ends.
Shoddy construction. She eschews the structure of the previous books; not self-contained.

I'm making this one short, because I want to dedicate a little more time to Margret Atwood's beautiful book The Blind Assassin, and to Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point, both of which I thought were fascinating, albiet in very different ways.

Also, as most who know me know, we're crunching to final the game right now, which means I've been putting in about 70-80 hours per week here at the pixel factory for the last month. The game, for those who care, is actually shaping up to be vastly better than I'd hoped. I've learned a few things, and had a small amount of fun working on it. It's a project I can be proud of, but one I won't be sad to see in the rearview mirror. I'm very much looking forward to getting a little time to actually explore this cool city we've moved to, and getting a little more time to read. Each night now, I get home and my eyes are bloodshot from staring at monitors for 12+ hours. The professor actually asked if I was stoned when I got home the other night, cause they were so red! All of this means that I've had little time to update the blog and less time for reading.

But soon it will all be at an end, and I hope to do lots of reading, relaxing, and exploring Vancouver in the coming months!


Thursday, August 25, 2005

I have never worked on a project where the an-evolved process worked so hard to choke out actual work on the game. The legal, compliance, & localization hoops that this team has had to jump through are well beyond anything I've ever seen. We've spent the majority of the last two weeks fighting fires that have nothing to do with shipping a high quality product and everything to do with being part of a too-large corporate entity; which is remarkable for a company less than 10% of the size of the last one I worked for.

Deeply frustrated right now.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Blind Assassin by Margret Atwood

Margret Atwood is a first class writer. And she's Canadian, which makes her eligible for the Booker Prize. See, it turns out that only Brits, or citizens of former British Colonies (which, for some reason doesn't include the US of A) are able to recieve this award. As all of you know, I was so completely blown away by the adventures of Saleem Sanai in Midnight's Children that I have vowed to read as many of the Booker Prize winners as I can get my hands on.

Particularly sleuthful readers of this blog will recall that this book has been mentioned before, when it arrived with an armful of books I got the Professor for Valentine's Day a few years ago.

So I took it with me on a whirlwind trip to Europe. The trip was 3 countries, 3 days, which is a pretty brutal schedule when you START over here on the other side of the world. I believe Mongolia is actually closer to where I sit currently than Munich. (Yep, Google Maps confirms.) I had a lot of reading time on planes and the surreality of serious jetlag, exhaustion and travel lent through circumstance an ever greater psychological impact of this book on me.

Language useage is first class. Among the finest novels I've read for wordplay & cleverness with structure on many levels. Atwood always has the right verb to bring her characters to life. She also interjects enough of her own authorial love of langage to her protaganist that the teller of the tale is usually in on the linguistic high-jinx.

Four separate frameworks make up the action and narrative. There's 'The Blind Assassin', a novel which features in the novel. There's a private journal, in which the narrator gives us excruciatingly personal day to day account of the aftermath of events. There is an autobiographical relating of the lives of the main chracters, leading up to the central event. And then there are newpaper clippings detailing the public percepion of all of the above.

These four threads play across the span of one woman's lifetime. They are beautiful, historical, troubling, titilating, lurid, poetic and powerful.

And there's a damn cool twisted sci-fi tale related post coitally throughout. Yep. Sex. Usually a little kinky. Followed by sci-fi. And the sci-fi is worthy of it's own mention, particularly for the style:

'The Blind Assassin' novel-within-a-novel is one part Amazing Stories, one part Conan the Barbarian and one part Gene Wolf. As a work of period piece sci-fi 'The Blind Assassin' is a loving look back at the golden days of American science fiction, with a raised eyebrow towards the psycho-analytical content and gender politics of the genre. Atwood knows old science fiction and can nicely play mimic while issuing subtle comment.

Too long. Too much Word. Move on.

One helluva a fine book, she definiely deserves a prize for this one.