All posts in Books

An Embarrassment of Riches

I may have mentioned this before, but there are too many things. And by “things” I mean books, video games, movies, TV shows, board games, songs, apps, and any other media one might experience. Right now, today, there are probably more things that I’d like to have a look at than I have time remaining in my life to do so. And tomorrow, someone will add even more.

I don’t like to leave things unfinished, no loose ends. But now I have this frayed blanket of partially read books, half-watched shows, unfinished video games, barely messed with apps, and board games still in shrink wrap. At one point these things were rare and hard won. As a child I created an impromptu garage sale to fund the purchase of the BattleTech board game, shutting the sale down the moment I could afford to buy. And then I played BattleTech for ages. Now everything is so easy to obtain, effortlessly plucked from the ether. But I feel like it takes a greater force of will to slow down and appreciate a single thing, knowing there are thousands more awaiting my attention. It is like touring the Louvre in a formula one race car.

I’ve decided I need to shift my perception of all this media, or at least to try. I’m trying to see it as another planetary ecosystem, something vast and ever present. In the same way that I do not need to play with every breed of dog on the planet, I do not need to play every game. If I see one I like, I will pet it and enjoy that moment. I’m really happy just knowing that all those things are out there and that sometimes my path will intersect with some of them.

Could He Be the One?

Recently I decided to try reading the the Dune books in chronological order, including the extended universe books by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. I made it about 100 or so pages into the Butlerian Jihad before I couldn’t stand it. The story seemed epic and could have been interesting, but the writing was just so juvenile I couldn’t justify spending more time in the series.

So I satisfied my Dune craving by rewatching the Dune Extended Edition with Nick and Amanda. Despite the horribly dated effects, it is still awesome.

The Neverending Story

I’m re-reading the Neverending Story, which is a bit of a misnomer because I apparently came to its end at some point in the past. I don’t know if all editions of the book are as meta as the one I own. The text alternates between maroon and green ink, just like the book in the story, indicating which parts are from the book Bastian is reading and which are Bastian’s outside world. And it also has these great full-page illustrations for the first letter of each chapter, which happen to go through the entire alphabet, A to Z, just like the “real” book. I haven’t tried yelling out “Moon Child” to see if I am swept off to a fantasy realm of luck dragons and rock biters.

I first read it some time after seeing the movie as a child. I was as engrossed in the tale as Bastian. Indeed, I even got hungry when Bastian did and felt what he felt. I was enraptured with the thought of magical books that were somehow aware of their readers and could change over time. I imagined how I could create such a book. I remember becoming interested in finding just the right sort of blank book with properly enchanted paper stock.

The movie is a fairly faithful adaptation of the first half of the book. What the movie doesn’t tell you is that after he saves Fantastica (or Fantasia, as it is called in the film) from the Nothing, Bastian becomes a mostly pompous dick. At least at the part I’m at now. He has the power to remake the world as he sees fit and he sets himself up as a total badass with ultimate authority over all he sees. I’m assuming this is all leading to a lesson in staying true to yourself.

In other news, I attended a writer’s meetup. Again, I’m getting out, meeting new people with whom I might have something in common. We met at a coffee house and read brief excerpts from three of the attendees. This was followed by a round of constructive criticism. I managed to stave off an entirely judgmental attitude and contributed suggestions that were well received. Perhaps I am growing as a person. 😉

The Lathe of Heaven

I guess this’ll teach me not to read “The Invisibles” and “The Lathe of Heaven” simultaneously while having an existential crisis.

The language is always going to be an issue. As I learned from The Invisibles, we’ve only been taught half the letters of the true alphabet. This entire experience is created in language and there are things I have no words for. Continue reading →


My project to slough off all the excess stuff in my life continues.

My music collection has been digital for years, save for a few collectibles and albums by friends. I’ve gotten my DVD collection down to about 17 boxes. Out of print films that you can’t get on Netflix. So I’m no longer buying movies of the common variety.

I don’t have very many video games either. When I finish a game or get bored with it, I sell it. I just signed up for GameFly, so I will never buy another video game unless it falls into the small, evergreen category where Rock Band resides.

Movies and games are both heading into an all-digital delivery system. There are many reasons for this, but a big one for the publishers is that the secondhand market will die. You can’t resell your digital copy of The Dark Knight to someone on Amazon. GameStop will eventually become a store for classic used games from the 2000s. One day it will seem ridiculous that digital information was bonded to physical platters and cartridges.

I’ve thinned down my book collection to two small book shelves. As I finish books, I’ll sell them to Half Price Books or give them away. Again, I’m only going to be purchasing hard to find items or books which make practical sense to own. I converted a majority of my Amazon book wish list over to a reading list for my brand new account at the Austin Public Library system. Holy shit, is this a slick operation! The online catalog system is robust. I can have books held and delivered to my local branch. I only stumped the system once or twice whilst searching for graphic novels. Their collection of every series I care about is comprehensive. They even had a copy of the out of print Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, which is basically steampunk porn. All for free. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Also, if there is a Kindle version of a book available, I’ll buy that over the dead tree version. The Kindle iPhone app is actually pretty great and I’ve been enjoying 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on it.

The board game collection remains pretty large. I’ll probably thin it down over the course of a few years, getting rid of the so-so games, keeping only the ones I truly love.

I’ve also been untethering my online life. I’ve moved more and more documents up into the cloud so I can access them from anywhere. I stopped using desktop clients for mail, scheduling, spreadsheets, and twittering. It’s all web-based now. I can do all of my communication from anywhere. It feels good to shut my computer down when I’m done working instead of having to check in on it for new messages.

My iPhone is proving more and more invaluable. Today I set up a wireless storage app so I can keep my writing and important documents backed up on a password protected micro web server. It’s like having a magic extradimensional 16GB pocket I can reach into at any time.

When I can afford it, I’ll probably replace my computer with a laptop. I like the idea of being able to grab a backpack and take off, bringing my entire world with me.

I feel lighter.

Too Many Socks

I just realized that the main reason I still have DVDs and books is so that other people can look at them and make a judgment about how awesome I am. They are decorative. This is the age of Netflix and Amazon. I don’t need all those things taking up space. Rare is the time when I absolutely must watch a particular film immediately. And being such a slow reader, I doubt I will be re-reading anything any time soon.

So I’m going to liquidate all my DVDs and books that aren’t rare or hard to get. I’m tired of dragging them around. If people need to know the movies and books I like, they can check any number of online sources.


Although the cover says the book was written by Neil Gaiman and Micheal Reaves, I will be filing this one under “R”.

1. Interworld

Free Books

For today’s activity, I established a small collection of books to give away/push off on friends who visit. These include some science fiction novels, graphic design books, graphic novels, books on writing and etcetera, etcetera.

So, if you come over, please peruse the books and take something.

Books I Read in 1997

( 2.3 Books/Month Average)
1. The Handmaid’s Tale
2. Something Wicked This Way Comes
3. Sandman: The Wake
4. Chaos & Cyberculture
5. Over Sea, Under Stone
6. The Ascent of Wonder
7. The Dark is Rising
8. Greenwitch
9. The Grey King
10. Love for a Lifetime
11. Silver on the Tree
12. The Book of Three
13. The Black Cauldron
14. The Castle of Llyr
15. Taran Wanderer
16. Books of Magic
17. The High King
18. Signal to Noise
19. The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain
20. Sandman Midnight Theatre
21. Death: The Time of Your Life
22. Black Orchid
23. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
24. On Cats and Dogs
25. Dandelion Wine
26. Neverwhere
27. Don’t Panic
28. Permutation City

Books I Read in 1996

( 4.7 Books/Month Average)
1. Understanding Comics
2. Dinotopia
3. The New Hugo Winners
4. Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes
5. Sandman: The Doll’s House
6. The Big Time
7. Sandman: Dream Country
8. Sandman: Season of Mists
9. Sandman: Fables & Reflections
10. Faust Part I
11. Sandman: A Game of You
12. Death: The High Cost of Living
13. Sandman: Brief Lives
14. One
15. Sandman: World’s End
16. Crazy in Alabama
17. The Book of Answers
18. The Last Unicorn
19. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy
20. Violent Cases
21. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
22. Vurt
23. The Once and Future King
24. The Book of Merlyn
25. Pollen
26. The Artificial Kid
27. Schismatrix
28. Crystal Express
29. Naked Lunch
30. Generation of Swine
31. Islands in the Net
32. Sandman: The Kindly Ones
33. Globalhead
34. Heavy Weather
35. The Difference Engine
36. Hamlet
37. Han Solo at Star’s End
38. The Great Shark Hunt
39. Han Solo’s Revenge
40. Han Solo and the Lost Legacy
41. Finding the Love of Your Life
42. A New Hope
43. The Empire Strikes Back
44. Songs of the Doomed
45. Couplehood
46. Shadows of the Empire
47. Automated Alice
48. Cinderella (Wegman)
49. Return of the Jedi
50. Holy Fire
51. The Hacker Crackdown
52. Idoru
53. The Master’s Gambit
54. The Working Woman’s Wedding Planner
55. Before the Invid Storm
56. How to Draw a Radish