Discuss and rate the last thing you read

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Johnny Novgorod:

Hawki:
Star Wars: Phasma (3/5)

They made a book out of Captain "3 scenes 8 lines" Phasma? Where's my Nien Numb trilogy?

Is that surprising? Boba Fett, a character with even less personality than Phasma in the OT, was fleshed out extensively in the old EU, not to mention being brought back in AotC for some pointless reason.

Arguably, that's what the EU is for, to flesh out obscure characters.

Hawki:

Johnny Novgorod:

Hawki:
Star Wars: Phasma (3/5)

They made a book out of Captain "3 scenes 8 lines" Phasma? Where's my Nien Numb trilogy?

Is that surprising? Boba Fett, a character with even less personality than Phasma in the OT, was fleshed out extensively in the old EU, not to mention being brought back in AotC for some pointless reason.

Arguably, that's what the EU is for, to flesh out obscure characters.

From the movies all the personality I got from Phasma was that her armor was shiny. Fett had considerable presence and mystery, the movie singled him out by the way he was framed, his cool cowboy demeanor and the way the camera would occasionally cut to him as a silent reminder. Of course he was overused, overexposed and overxplained in I don't know how many cash in merch over time, but that's over time. I'm surprised they were this quick with Phasma: The Novel.

Johnny Novgorod:

From the movies all the personality I got from Phasma was that her armor was shiny. Fett had considerable presence and mystery, the movie singled him out by the way he was framed, his cool cowboy demeanor and the way the camera would occasionally cut to him as a silent reminder. Of course he was overused, overexposed and overxplained in I don't know how many cash in merch over time, but that's over time. I'm surprised they were this quick with Phasma: The Novel.

Okay - confining this to the OT and ST, let's say what we know about both of them and their personality:

BOBA FETT

-He's a male bounty hunter that works for Jabba the Hutt (or at least does some work for him)

-He flies a starship (never named in the OT - don't think so)

-He wears armour, has a blaster rifle, jetpack, and a grappling hook

-He seems to respect audacity (nods at Leia for her thermal detonator stunt)

PHASMA

-Is a female officer of the First Order

-Wears armour that can withstand blaster rifles

-Has a bullying personality with a vendetta against Finn, though this appears more due to him being a traitor rather than Finn being Finn

-Has a self-serving streak (turns off the shields, and if we include deleted scenes, kills her own men when Finn blabs about her prior actions)

-Is proficient in staff-based combat

So, um, yeah. Neither of these characters are particuarly deep, but Boba Fett rarely does anything (and fails spectacuarly in Return), and has even less personality than Phasma. I get that the EU apparently made Fett a badass, but going just by the films, I've never understood why he's such a popular character. He stands there, looks intimidating, but never does anything, and barely says anything. Phasma at least has an adversarial relationship with Finn, so seeing him overcome her in both films at least complements him as a character. Fett, on the other hand, has no relationship with any character. You could replace him with any other character in Return, and you'd only have to change one line of dialogue (Han exclaiming "Boba Fett? Where?")

Amazing Spider-Man #656 - Resolve

4/5

It's inevitable that Spidey ends up a bleeding heart, but as much as I enjoy his messiah complex and pacifism, he does come off as a tad naive here. One of the many reasons comic book super villains get to hurt people is because they end up escaping. That's the cold hard truth of comics. Applying the same mercy to comic book criminals as we would towards murderers in real life can be problematic, given what we know about supervillains.

And besides, murderers are given the death sentence in many states of America anyway. It's not exactly unheard of. Of course, I don't approve of Jonah publicly executing Massacre - there still needs to be due process. But the death sentence? That's something that I feel is necessary for certain dangerous criminals. What Spidey says, that he'll stop them if they ever break out of prison, is not only naive, it's irresponsible.

That being said, I do enjoy the part of the issue where Peter chastises his co-workers for enjoying themselves while death is all around. I could definitely relate when the Parkland shooting happened just a little over two months ago. It's frustrating that we can't do anything about those deaths, but we have to accept that life goes on as usual for many people.

Even Jonah Jameson here, once a newsman himself, have to accept that the death of his loved one is yesterday's news. The world has already moved on, and so must he.

Last book in the Fitz and Fool stuff by Robin Hobb. Not so much of a fan of the most recent trilogy, and felt there was some serious shoehorning and revisionism to make it possible to write it. Decent, but not as good as the previous trilogies.

Anime Supremacy
4/5

This was a good one!
The novel follows three women who work with anime--one producer, one director and one animator. Though I say "novel," it's more like three novellas, one for each protagonist, plus a short epilogue.

All the characters were interesting and colorful without becoming one-dimensional, and I liked how several characters from one woman's story turned up in another woman's. This is a novel that deserves way more attention that it's received here in the west. My one issue with the writing is that the author is way too fond of replacing "said" with some other word that expressed nothing that wasn't already made clear by the spoken line. But that's my one problem with an otherwise very good novel!

Tom Clancy's Power and Empire by Marc Cameron

2/5

My girlfriend's son got it for me for Christmas. He knows how much I like "Tom Clancy's" Splinter Cell games and I gave him my copy of "Tom Clancy's" The Division on Xbox One a while back, so I guess when he saw the name "Tom Clancy" on an audio book, he figured it'd be something I'd like. Kudos for focusing his ADHD-addled brain long enough to make that reasonably logical connection considering he'd likely forget his own name if his mother and I weren't screaming it at him dozens of times a day, but man, NOT a good book.

You know the plot: political unrest in China leads some of those in positions of power to try and clandestinely incite a war between China and the USA because of reasons, and President Jack Ryan's son, Jack Ryan, Jr., and his merry band of perfect federal agents spend the rest of the book dodging bullets and invariably having the right tools on hand for every highly unlikely situations in their attempt to untangle the web of intrigue and unmask the culprits at the center of it all.

I'm not big on a lot of modern writing, particularly the "geo-political disaster staved off by overly clever, resourceful, devilishly handsome/beautiful and charming middle-aged white spies/agents/rogues" stuff that seems better suited to the screen than genuinely engrossing reading/listening. It seems to me that writing like this is more an exercise in the writer wanting a pat on the back for all the research he/she did to make the tale sound authentic and less about fleshing out believable, likeable characters and interesting situations, i.e.: I don't care that Jack Ryan's weapon of choice is the SIG sauer p226; I couldn't identify one if it was pointed directly at me, so you don't need to spend a page of text describing it let alone comparing it to/describing other pistols he might have chosen if doing so adds nothing save for "words" to the story; call it a fucking "gun" and move the hell on! Oh, but you WERE so clever doing the research; here's a hand job...

I also dislike that every protagonist in this book is exceptional and never caught with their pants down, literally not a flaw between the handful of them. Found themselves in Japan? Of course one of them speaks enough conversational Japanese to get around because who doesn't, right? Someone tries to drown one of them unexpectedly? Of course he just happens to be an ex-Navy seal and takes to water like a fish where we're told he can hold his breath for over a minute even while struggling. I'm sorry, good guys who're always one step ahead of the bad guys aren't interesting to me much less make for a relatable read. There was never a point in the book where it felt like there was ever any real danger or risk; I've experienced more danger reaching for my toothbrush in the morning!

I enjoy the next Jason Bourne, John Wick, James Bond, Ethan Hunt, et al as much as the next guy, but I WATCH them, preferably with a $12 tub of popcorn and $9 slushy; you won't catch me reading them. This book was little more than a screenplay, and were it ever adapted to screen, it might actually work as a reasonably entertaining-if-eye-rolling 2 hour distraction, but listening to it for 15 hours was 13 hours too much. I'd have been pissed if I actually READ it.

Wow, the spambots normally filled up a page or two on the thread listings. Now, it's 2 pages within a single thread.

Anyhoo, dealing with things that I've read, I just finished a couple of good non-fiction works.

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief [2008] by James McPherson.

One of the only works to deal specifically with the presidency of Lincoln as a military commander, it is very well written (as usual, McPherson is a very skilled and compelling writer). However, I can't help but notice that the material, while given a fairly tight focus and a new perspective, is still material that McPherson and others have already studied and delved into in other works. Certainly, I have no regrets in purchasing the work, but I can't call it a vital necessity for the historian's library.

Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West [1991] by William Cronon

Cronon looks at the linkages between urban and rural America, using Chicago as the case study. Cronon's thesis posits that the urban/rural divide that seems so prevalent in politics, popular culture, and general perception is a myth and that the ties that bind the two together are far stronger, though less researched, than they seem. Essentially, that one cannot exist without the other economically. I found it to be a wonderful study of the ever-changing dynamics of the 1800s through the interplay of the natural landscape, the alterations made to the landscape by humanity and the development of transportation technology all on the development of the American West and Chicago's place in that story. I highly recommend it.

Bunnerong (3/5)

Yeah, it's a book I got in a hotel I stayed in in Hobart, but shadup, it counts.

So, it's fine, it's nice, it's actually kinda interesting to see how many animals come into the sanctuary but can't be released into the wild due to not being native to Tasmania.

Anyway, reading Mercy Kill now and...yeah. I'll have a lot more to say on that.

Foundation and Earth, by Isaac Asimov (6/10).

Foundation is one of my favourite series, but I didn't find this one-- which is the last book chronologically-- nearly as satisfying as earlier instalments.

It has some interesting sci-fi sociology, and provokes some pretty intriguing moral questions. Yet by the end, the trio of protagonists had become repetitive with the arguments they would have, resulting in some of the dialogue feeling like a chore.

The central storyline is also quite contrived, and took a direction I wasn't terribly happy with either (and which did not seem in keeping with the spirit of the original Foundation Trilogy).

Points for connecting together the Foundation series with the Robot series, though (Asimov's two most well-realised series).

Next, I'm going to be reading Chocky, by John Wyndham, and finishing Uzumaki, by Junji Ito.

I actually read a video game book for the first time in a long time.

Dark Souls: Beyond the Grave(Vol 1) by Damien Mecheri and Sylvain Romieu

As someone who likes the souls series, I was intrigued by this. It had some interesting background info about DeS, DS and DS2 but it felt like kind of a letdown in the end. I don't know if it's because I'm already thoroughly familiar with the games from playing them and watching the Vaati videos, or something else but it wasn't what I was expecting.

Then there was some of the weird pet theories that the authors have glommed onto and kept mentioning. One was the one that goes "Sure, that looks like Gwyn at the end of Dark Souls, but it could be another chosen undead who was suckered into this before you, because Gwyn should be much taller then the dude you fight". Ignoring the fact it literally says "Gwyn, Lord of Cinder"" during his boss fight.

Another one during the DS2 section posits that Vendrick was the chosen undead from Dark Souls, and follows it up with essentially "There's no evidence for it but there's no evidence against it either". Which is different then wild speculation how?

Xprimentyl:
Tom Clancy?s Power and Empire by Marc Cameron

2/5

My girlfriend?s son got it for me for Christmas. He knows how much I like ?Tom Clancy?s? Splinter Cell games and I gave him my copy of ?Tom Clancy?s? The Division on Xbox One a while back, so I guess when he saw the name ?Tom Clancy? on an audio book, he figured it?d be something I?d like. Kudos for focusing his ADHD-addled brain long enough to make that reasonably logical connection considering he?d likely forget his own name if his mother and I weren?t screaming it at him dozens of times a day, but man, NOT a good book.

You know the plot: political unrest in China leads some of those in positions of power to try and clandestinely incite a war between China and the USA because of reasons, and President Jack Ryan?s son, Jack Ryan, Jr., and his merry band of perfect federal agents spend the rest of the book dodging bullets and invariably having the right tools on hand for every highly unlikely situations in their attempt to untangle the web of intrigue and unmask the culprits at the center of it all.

I used to read Tom Clancy all the time and that sounds like the man's work to a tee. Which is one of the reasons I stopped reading his stuff. It became very clear that Team USA always wins in these, no matter how far fetched or contrived it seems.

I think the final straw was "The Bear and the Dragon" when near the end, the Chinese launch a nuke at the US and there's no way to stop it. Except, of all the possible targets it could be heading towards(because they don't know where the missile was headed), there just happened to be an anti-ballistic missile AEGIS cruiser waiting to launch an interceptor missile and blow up the nuke. Because of course there was.

At that point, I'd had enough and stopped reading him after that.

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