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Review: China Miéville’s – The Scar…

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

So back on September 9th 2012 I received via twitter a recommendation by Myke Cole author of the Military/Fantasy series Shadow Ops (Fortress Frontier hits shelves on January 29th, go buy it) to read China Miéville’s novel The Scar. Having never read anything by Mr. Miéville I bought a copy. And as you can tell by the fact it is now January 14th, 2013 I’m a tad late with my review…apologies to Mr. Cole.

mykecolerequest

Now I’ll be honest, I had to go back and read the book a second time as the first time it did not fully grab my attention. But considering the issues that were occurring in my life at the time I think I can say with conviction that my mind was busy on other things. So to be fair to the author and the book in general I went back to it after things had settled down in the real world so I could immerse myself into Miéville’s world. ..Wonder if this would count as a clever transition …

So, as a late comer to the world of Bas-Lag I find myself in a Steam-punk world of ships, dirigibles and magic; populated by Human, Remade (people altered with mechanical and magical means usually criminals as punishment but not limited too) and non-human life forms.  Now each of the Bas-Lag novels is described as self-contained story not to be considered a series; but there is a small link to the first Bas-Lag novel Perdido Street Station via The Scar’s central character Bellis Coldwine. This link is the premise for her fleeing the authorities of New Crobuzon which has placed her onto the path of events that are about to unfold.

Stepping aboard the ship Terpsichoria as a translator bound for the new colonies of Nova Esperium; Bellis Coldwine hopes to evade capture and disappear till things settle down back home. Unfortunately for her and the other passengers their lives are about to take a drastic detour.  During the opening of the voyage we are introduced to 4 other characters that will be noteworthy for the rest of the story. Johannes Tearfly, a scientist who’s field of study is Botany. Tanner Sack a New Crobuzon criminal that has been remade as punishment for his crimes.  There is Shekel, a young cabin boy who is serving on the Terpsichoria. And upon visiting the Cray city of Salkrikaltor we are introduced to one Silas Fennec a New Crobuzon spy who takes over the ship on official business and immediately turns them back towards home.  On the return voyage they are attacked by pirates of a floating city that has been a rumor in the history books for hundreds of years: Armada.

I find Mr. Miéville is a very descriptive writer generating images in the reader’s mind of the world his characters live in. He can get a little overboard with his language every now and then but nothing too distracting (one word he used that kept bugging me was chymicals though). His description of the city of Armada, its leaders and inhabitants draws you further into the story and their possibilities.  Armada is lead buy a couple called The Lovers and keeping the inhabitants in-line is their bodyguard Uther Doul. Armada is on multiphase plan that only the leaders are fully aware. The Lovers and Doul drag the city along in a series of dangerous events in their quest for the possibility of ultimate power. Johannes Tearfly plays a vital part in one of The Lovers plots using his knowledge of sea life to their advantage, but once the task is completed he is cast aside and just keeps whining about it…

In the midst of all this intrigue we come back to Silas Fennec who brings not just one destructive force against Armada but two. Causing immense trauma to the city and people of Armada in the effort of getting back home and escaping a race called the Grindylow whom he has stolen vital information from. Silas has no qualms about using people to suit his needs and plays Bellis and through her actions Tanner for fools; scarring their trust in him and each other. Silas is also spreading rumors and inciting revolt on Armada in the end causing other characters to come to blows over the course of the story. Others in league with the Grindylow use their attack as the means of pushing Armada into a full-on civil war.

Now the books title The Scar is an actual destination in the novel; but in my humble opinion it actually refers more to the mental, physical and emotional scars of the characters. Be those scars self-inflicted or inflicted by others. The Lovers are at the forefront with their sadomasochistic/ritualistic mirrored scaring of their bodies during their lovemaking. There are the physical and emotional scars endured by Bellis during the events of the novel that she will carry for the rest of her life.  Even lesser characters like the remade woman Angevine the lover of Shekel shows how people can be marked by allowing others into their lives; this is shown by the mark left on her engine after Tanner Sack upgrades her boiler. Many are killed and many more are forever scarred by the events that transpire. Some of those marked grow stronger from their ordeals while others succumb. Bellis in some ways becomes less naive and stronger but in the process becomes the cold uncaring woman she pretends to be at the start of the novel. Others like Tanner, takes his punishment of being remade and embraces the change by fully transforming himself into an amphibian.  As Tanners chirurgeon (Miéville spelling not mine) states:

“You’ll be tender, Mr. Sack,” he had said. “And even when you’re well, I want to warn you: some of the cuts I’ve made, some of the wounds, they may heal hard. They might scar. In that case, I want you not to be downhearted or disappointed. Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.”

In the end my thoughts are: you can embrace the scars and be whole, or you can reject them and be forever broken .

I found The Scar to be a novel full of intrigue and strife, battles and magic all set in a truly interesting world. Being that I have not read anything of Miéville’s before an appendix or a world map might have been a little helpful, maybe even a small breakdown of his magic system, but that’s just me. The novel consists of stories within stories and a learning curve and growth for all the characters involved. Do The Lovers reach the Scar? Who lives and who dies? The normal questions one asks of a book, but I won’t tell because that would be cheating, you want to know?

Go read it yourself…or another review as they might have given more away…

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

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Return of the Journal of an unemployed bum at home…Day 2-3:

September 9, 2012 Leave a comment

So, as of the last time I was writing these things I really did not cover off the weekend events. So on that note…

Here is a picture of Saturdays sunset…

September 8th Sunset

Okay maybe a bit more about the weekend…

I picked up China Mielville‘s – The Scar this weekend. This will be my first time reading anything by this author; he came recommended to me by Myke Cole author of Shadow Ops: Control Point. Mr.Cole has requested my thoughts on the novel via Twitter:

Yes Sir!

So I will try another attempt of an average Joe book review after I have completed the book.

I truly appreciate Mr. Coles’ contact with his fan’s, I’m sure he has much better things to do (especially with Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier due out early next year!) than to respond to my tweets.

I also bought David Weber‘sHow Firm a Foundation I have been waiting for this one for a while as I do not have the room anymore to purchase Hard Cover novels and must wait for the trade paperbacks to come out. I should be buying the eBook versions but my ereader is having some issues as of late. Also there is also something comforting in having a real book in ones hands; though not really environmentally friendly.

Sept 9th Sunset

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

Day 23: Journal of an unemployed bum at home…

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Well my Day 23 (today) 2nd meeting has been changed again, now it will take place on Day 26. I am finding all these re-bookings a little odd but it’s not like I have anything else booked. I can definitely say that the local job market is very sparse. There are jobs out there if you want to work at minimum wage flipping burgers or making Double Doubles and only part-time. But the job listings for full time are pretty non-existent.

As always the daytime TV choices are making me pull what little hair I have out. I saw for the first time today the live action version of Thunderbird’s, alas it did not live up to the 1960’s original in my mind. I was also not aware that it was directed by Jonathan Frakes; Number One, you have failed me for the last time! I did a number of odd jobs around the house then hit the local grocery store to pick up some items for dinner. For the first time in my life I had a tuna casserole (confirmed via facecrack by my mother…LOL) it was made in an effort to appease the kids who rave about the same dish from their preschool. Do not trust the words of little ones for they know not of what they speak; as they refused to eat their dinner. We got a few bites into them but in the end it was a waste of time & effort, at least my DW and myself liked it and it was easy so it will be made again.

Since I have yet to sell anything via my Cafe Press website I think I will be shutting it down. I think I just need to admit to myself that I can’t draw well enough to be marketable. This seems to stem from my history of being a Jack of All Trades and Master of None. A.A.D.D. was not a term used back in the days when I grew up, but there are times I really think I should be checked out, as I tend to bounce around from project to project quite quickly.

At least I am not that way with work, I was discussing with the Operations Manager at the store today while shopping on how bad today’s kids are. There is no pride of a job done well anymore, nor is there any loyalty to a company. Sure you can bitch about how little the pay is, but for a first time employee you should be happy that you have a job in the first place. He had another 2 kids not show up for their FIRST day of work today and had to scramble to get others to fill in the shifts. I really wonder at times for the state of the future world with the kids we are bringing up today. I mean this sense of entitlement is not something recent, I knew kids back in the day that got whatever they wanted without doing a lick of work to get it. But it sure seems to be increasing over the years. I mean if you cannot even have the decency to contact an employer and let them know that they need to find someone else for the job because you changed your mind or found something else there is a problem. I mean they have gone through the time to review your resume, set time away to interview you, hire you and then you don’t even show up for your first day on the job, not even a phone call. That equals time & money lost for the company, which in turn means they have to up the prices to cover all the re-training. I had one store that I called on that the lead trainer went on stress leave due to the fact that the store on a MONTHLY basis had 100% turn over on their part-time staff. She just could not keep up with all the new people every month. Sure the company might not have such an issue if they gave more full time positions but in today’s market that seems to be very rare. On the flip side I had one store that had so many long term employees with 7 weeks off + A.T.O’s + stat holidays that when all the numbers are added up they worked a total of 27 weeks out of the year. How do you have enough people on staff to cover 7 days a week, 7am to 10pm with the majority of your staff working at such levels? Add in the fact that if they have to work overtime it all goes towards their A.T.O’s again meaning more time off.

Oh well, at the rate it is going I might wind up with a number of part time jobs just to make ends meet. I grew up being taught that you may not like your job, but as long as you are there and getting paid; you do that job, and you do it well. Unless I win millions and never have to work a day in my life I will never have the “perfect” job, but I will do what I am paid to do and more while there. I may bitch about it and wish I was somewhere else, but none of my ex-employers can say I shirked my duties. I had one job years ago where the owner pulled me to the side and asked me what the issue was since he felt I was pacing the floor like a caged animal. I simply told him that this was the first job I ever had that I was paid to sit and wait for a customer, and it was driving me up the wall. If I am getting paid I should be working, not sitting in an office twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone to come in. I might spend hours surfing the web at home, but I can’t do it when I am at a job getting paid.

Well I think I should end my digital diatribe for now, if you want me to spout off on any current events leave a suggestion in the comments, but there is no guarantee I will comply.

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

Book Review: Shadow Ops: Control Point – by Myke Cole

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I am not normally someone that would do a book review on my blog for many reasons, here are a few:

  • Because I am not a professional book reviewer
  • Because I am not that eloquent of a writer
  • Because I am just your average Joe book reader that no one knows
  • and too many others to list here…

But I feel the need to write something about Myke Coles’ Debut novel Shadow Ops: Control Point.

I came across Myke Cole on twitter through following author Peter V. Brett writer of The Demon Cycle Series (an amazing series in it-self so go buy it). So Mr.Cole can blame him for having me as a follower now. As of late I have been trying to go digital on my books purchases in an effort to stop having boxes upon boxes of books piling up in my home. But I have been having some issues with my tablet and the e-reader programs so have begun buying paperbacks again. If you follow my blog you are aware that I have recently been laid off work so my book buying has taken a back seat in an effort to save some cash. Stuck at home being an unemployed bum has given me far too much time to sit online. But this allowed me to be online when Peter V. Brett tweeted a link for a contest on his website; the prize was a copy of Shadow Ops: Control Point along with a signed book plate and challenge coin. Lucky me I was the first to answer the question correctly.

The prize pack arrived on Feb 14th containing the book, personalized signed book plate and a very nice challenge coin. I was surprised at the size and weight of the coin; I’m wondering if they will make a few of the SOC units as stand-alone challenge coins in the future for purchase. (Hint, hint)

In the first hour of reading I found myself 150 pages into the novel as I was pulled into the story and cast of characters but eventually had to put the book down and go to sleep. The evening of the 15th I was able to finish the novel with a desire to read more right away. I hope the publisher is looking to have this as a long running series versus a finite trilogy. I believe there is unlimited longevity for the series based upon the characters and the world created.

So if I haven’t bored you to death yet and you haven’t searched for something else to view on the web let’s get to the story…

The series centers on Lieutenant Oscar Britton living in a world that has suddenly awakened to find that Magic has returned. Every major world and/or military power has created their own Special Forces teams that use these new found magical powers. For Britton he is attached to the US military’s Supernatural Operations Corps – or SOC.

Those that have magical powers are considered Latent. If you do not report your powers to the government and make ill use of them you are a Selfer (only caring about your-self and endangering others) which will have you tracked down by the SOC and arrested or eliminated. As with anything the governments of the world have decided what “Good” magic is and what is “Bad”. Those whose latency is found on the negative side of the magical coin are classified as “Probes” short for Prohibited.

Magical classifications are as follow:

Legal Schools:                                  Prohibited Schools:

Pyromancy – Fire Magic                    Negramancy – Black Magic/Witching

Hydromancy – Water Magic              Necromancy – Death Magic

Terramancy – Earth Magic                Portamancy – Gate Magic

Aeromancy – Air Magic                      Sentient Elemental Conjuration

Physiomancy – Body Magic

Prohibited Practices:

Terramantic Animal Control (Whispering)

Offensive Physiomancy (Rending)

This new world’s morality is brought into question right from the beginning of the book with an operation to take down two “selfers” on a rampage at a local high school. Internal and external conflicts arise regarding the use of force and the actions of team leaders. Britton struggles with the results and questions the chain of command.

Britton later manifests a prohibited latency; not in control of his new powers he has a number of incidents that make him a target of the SOC and is classified as a selfer. Captured, he enters into a world conspiracy theorists can only dream about. Secret bases, secret SOC teams, and confronted by the abuse of power that surrounds him Britton must make numerous ethical choices. Britton is forced daily to deal with the consequentialism theory: Do the means justify the end? Driven by his morals to do what is right for those around him and to escape his future role as a classified weapon, Britton goes rouge.

His efforts to escape lead him to make some monumental decisions that have both good and tragic ramifications for himself and those around him. Death & destruction are common place. The old idiom: Absolute power corrupts absolutely is prevalent in this new world of magic. The characters Fitzy and Harlequin are prime examples of the corruption that can occur.

Myke Cole leads the reader through his newly created world and those who inhabit it via highly detailed and action packed storytelling that draws the reader in wondering what will happen next. Coles’ own military background allows for seamless integration of procedures and terminology that only adds to the flow of the story. Character interactions could almost be classified as bi-polar as philosophies change over the course of their internment at the training center and subsequent battle engagements they take part in. I could elaborate on the “secrets” mentioned before but I leave that to the reader to discover. Let’s just say there are numerous exciting twists both in plot and world creation that will come out of left field for the reader.  This book encompasses multiple writing genres smoothly integrated into a cohesive novel which should appeal to many different readers.

I await the next book in the series to see what becomes of Oscar Britton and those that were pulled along with him. Does he have the internal fortitude to live with his choices?

What are you waiting for?…go buy the book already!

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

Day 14 + 15 and a bit of 16: Journal of an unemployed bum at home…

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

So being that it was the weekend there is not much to report, not that there is much to report on any other given day so far.

I did have an impromptu interview on Friday and was told to try and keep Monday free, 10:30am and still no call back…I might be out of work, but I can’t sit by the phone all day.

I have come to the rapid conclusion that me at home and not working is very bad for the waistline (not that me at home is ever good for it). Sure the failure was buying the box of cookies in the first place; but then it just turned into the following over the course of 2 days. Walk into kitchen to wash dishes or some other task: “Oh, I’ll have a cookie…”. 10-20 minutes later back into the kitchen: “Oh, I’ll have a cookie…”. An hour later: “Oh, I’ll have a cookie…”

…THERE ARE NO MORE F@#%!#@ COOKIES!

So today being the start of Week 3 with no job seems a tad surreal. I am doing some more of the basic tasks around the house today in case the district manager decides to call about that job. I also went and bought a few books over the weekend to keep myself busy. Since I normally can read a paperback in a day when undisturbed I am reading very slowly as to make them last.

Being home and on the computer far too much has allowed me to win a copy of Myke Coles’ debut novel: Shadow Ops: Control Point , I am waiting for its arrival along with a Challenge Coin he has created for the book. From the reviews it sounds like I will be in for an exciting read. From what I gather from his site and online book reviews if this was a video game title it would be Dungeons & Dragons* – Modern Warfare 4*. (*titles copyright of their respective owners) The modern world wakes to find that old world magic has returned and that such power tends to corrupt.  So many of the world powers create their own military versions of Super­nat­ural Oper­a­tions Corps, and let the mayhem begin.  On a side note I wonder how his Meme is coming along… Check out Myke Cole on twitter or read his blog which you can find via the included link above.

Other than that my stint of being unemployed continues, hoping this will not drag on much longer, severance package or not…

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

It’s Friday…

November 19, 2010 1 comment

What a start to the day…

So started the day with an unplanned 3+Hour conference call for work, I had thought it was to be the normal 1 hour meeting and as such had made plans to meet up with some of my customers out-of-town. Needless to say I had to call them and let them know that I was going to be very late. Snow has been off and on and the roads have not been getting much attention from the road crews and as such were a tad slippery. Add in the fact that lots of people did not have their snow tires on and it made for a lot longer journey there and back. Unfortunately that ment that in the end I missed one of my store managers. One item that was good for the moment on the work side was that I will not be having the boss riding with me next week at this point and time, will possibly see him in a few more weeks at this rate.

Sick…

I have taken the last dose of antibiotics for my latest round of chest infection, still have a nagging cough at night though it is better. Mixing a number of drugs at night-time in an effort to get some rest and keep myself quite, last night was a bit odd for me as it seems two of my meds are not playing well together leaving me very dopey. Worst part was the fact that the back and arm are still hurting which leads me more and more to the conclusion that it is a pinched nerve rather than a pulled muscle as the drugs I am taking should take the pain away. I have once again tried the drug combo in a hope to pass out and rest, will see if this affects my writing as this progresses.

Weather…

As I said it appears that winter is finally here, with snow and the cold temps. Currently minus 14 + the wind chill. I think it is time that I stop taking the garbage out in shorts and sandals. Normally I find that as long as I have a jacket on to keep my core temp stable that I find that the extremities are not that effected. Alas it seem that these old bones are acting up more and more and I feel the chill. We will be joining the long line-up in the morning to see about getting my wifes winter tires on, she has also mentioned that the car seems to take a long time to warm-up so might have a heater issue for the dealership to look at. So far on the snow side we seem to be doing better than the towns around us for some reason, ran into much larger quantities out-of-town.

Sick Kids…

So one of the twins is back on antibiotics for another ear infection, how that came about with her out of daycare for so long is a bit odd, but it seems to be on the mend rather quickly and she is her normal self for the most part. Sister is on a new inhaler for her chest issues as well and it seems to be helping her get to sleep at night for longer times. Daycare itself has been shut down again due to operator illness. I miss summer time, when there was no daycare, kids were not sick, it was so nice.

Cartoon…

Well no comments on the idea of posting a cartoon on here based on the twins and life around them in general, the next question in regards to this idea if I was to do it is what would I call it…thoughts?

Happy Wife…

As the old saying goes, Happy Wife, Happy life…well my lovely wife is stuck doing report cards; one of her least enjoyed aspect of teaching. So before taking my drugs and being not able to drive I was able to complete a quick Ice cream run to help her through the drudgery of doing report cards, I don’t think I got enough…

Reading…

Have finished The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke from Orbit Books, new author for me once again, Orbit seems to have a number of newer authors that I have not come across before. Currently reading the next book in the series called Stormlord Rising. www.orbitbooks.net and www.glendalarke.com I will have to see about tracking down some of her other novels. After my current book I have book one and two lined up for the Brotherhood of the Griffon by Richard Lee Byers.

Gym…

Trips to the gym have been non-existent these last 2 weeks and until I can get this darn neck and back figured out I don’t know when I will get back at it. I can not even do time on the treadmill as each step sends jolts of pain as well so no clue what to do at this time.

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

Not much Happening…

October 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I have not posted in a few days so here are a few things that are rattling around in my old mind… 

Kids now a days…

We are currently trying to entice Little Miss A. into her big girl bed, alas so far it is no dice and luckily we have one of our travel cribs here as she will not sleep in her bed. She loves playing on the bed, but as to sleeping in it she has no desire. I think she is feeling a tad out in the open and prefers her crib walls to keep her in place as she rolls over now and then at night. But she best get use to it because the old crib is in pieces and at the storage locker, and her travel crib will have to go back to daycare.

Bringing the Pain…

I am still at the gym on a regular basis and all I can say at the moment is: Leg Workout + Treadmill = OUCH! Tad stiff after all that and my distance on the treadmill over the last two visits are down, not by much but still down.  Strength levels are still going up but as to the body shape and the hope of slimming down in appearance I am not seeing much if any change.

Old vs. New…

I found my old Palm Tungsten E and it still had my old workout program on there so I can record my gym visits and it is pretty easy to customize the program. For all of those out there too young to know what a Palm device is, it was the precursor in my opinion of your iPhones and other smart phones. All touch screen and icon driven too, and it even plays MP3’s. I was in the apple store the other day and was talking to one of the “geniuses” (term used very lightly) and was disappointed to hear that you can only use an SD card on an iPad for photos. not as extended memory. So if I was working on a text document I would have to email it somewhere to save it rather than just save it on the SD card. Really?, you mean my ancient Palm device has something up on the newest and greatest? I can store, music, pics, documents and even applications (which will be run from the SD card) but the new iPad and iTouch devices can’t (not that the iTouch even has an SD card for expansion). Ah well not a big thing, I think I will still be waiting on a number of things to buy mainly due to the fact that once you buy one they turn around and come out with something better. As an example they have a new version of the Kobo E-Reader that I was looking at earlier this year. But as I listened to the sales woman talking to a customer there was no point in buying the newest one either; as according to her there was a number of new items scheduled for release on the next version.

Imagekind…

I have had a number of views at the site, no purchases but that was to be expected. What I didn’t think would be such an issue in today’s technology driven world is the difficulty in finding a local shop that can scan my art into digital format. Taking a picture of a piece is okay but it is far from perfect. best I can find is a local drafting company that can scan a max size of 11X16 at high-resolution. Maybe any new art work or drawings will have to be that size…lol.

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

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