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Posted by Sam Kressin in Book Reviews
I just finished reading (listening to) Ready Player One: A Novel This was an interesting book.
Here’s the basic premise of the book. The story takes place in the future and it’s pretty dismal. A guy named Halliday created a virtual world that sounds like something similar to “2nd Life” called the Oasis. This virtual world works by putting on a pair of special classes that project the images directly onto your retina and this world is suppose to be so amazing the real world looks like a fog compared to it. Everyone on planet Earth is addicted to this thing. After Halliday (the creator of the Oasis) died he left a message to the world about a final easter egg he has hidden inside this virtual world. Whoever discovers this egg is the heir to Halliday’s entire estate. Halliday, a scholar of 1980s pop culture, has left several clues leading to the final easter egg all these clues pertain to Video Games, RPGS, Comic Books, Television Shows and Movies from the 1980s.
The book shines in it’s meticulously researched references to so many obscure facets of 1980s culture. The book even mentions the RPG Game Champion’s, The made for T.V. Special Ewoks and The Battle For Endor, D&D’s creators Gygax & Arneson, Atari’s Joust and a large amount of late 1970s and 1980s trivia I never even knew about. As far as the story goes the book starts out really slow and it was a struggle to get through the first quarter of it after that the story takes off and I couldn’t put it down till I got to the end of it.
Now here’s some of the stuff in the book I didn’t like or I felt just didn’t make much sense.
Overall it was a good book and while I couldn’t put it down I will admit by the end I was ready for it to be over. I had heard more obscure 1980s trivia than I ever wanted to know.
This is the best Star Wars book I have ever read. I give it a 5 out of 5 stars. Darth Bane is now my favorite Sith Lord. If you don’t know about Darth Bane I’ll give you a basic rundown. He lived 1,000 years before the Battle of Yavin (when the rebel alliance blew up the first Death Star). During the years of Bane’s Training into the Sith Order. The Sith numbered in legions and preached a doctrine of equality amongst the Sith Lords. Darth Bane a student of the ancient and archival Sith Texts believed the ways of the Sith to have strayed in the wrong direction. Bane then reinstated the Rule of Two wiping out most of the Sith Legions.
In theory the Rule of two would insure that each subsequent Sith Master is more powerful than the predecessor. The only way to become the master is to kill the master. It is also more congruent with Sith doctrines however it does have an inherent flaw (not mentioned in this book). And that is with only two Sith there would be a shortage of people to practice lightsaber sparring with. Meanwhile the Jedi have hundreds of sparring partners. Darth Bane himself had legions of Sith to spar with on a daily basis while his predecessor and the one often considered the book end of the Darth Bane Linage Darth Sidious would have only had his master Darth Plagueis to spar with. Therefore I’d have a really hard time believing Sidious would ever be able to beat Bane in lightsaber combat despite the fact that other writers have tried to make the claim that each Sith Master since the time of Darth Bane became more powerful than the next culminating with Darth Sidious as the ultimate manifestation of the Dark Side of the force.
Here are some of my favorite Quotes from the book;
Working to make everybody equal didn’t leave much chance for anyone to achieve greatness.
Equality is a lie. A myth to appease the masses. There are those with power, those with the strength and will to lead. And there are those meant to follow—those incapable of anything but servitude and a meager, worthless existence. Equality is a perversion of the natural order!
I will learn from your wisdom. I will discover your secrets, unlocking them one by one until everything you know—all your knowledge and all your power—is mine. And once you are no longer of use to me, I will destroy you.
Honor is a fool’s prize. Glory is of no use to the dead.
The dark side is about survival. It’s about unleashing your inner power. It glorifies the strength of the individual.
Take what makes you weak and turn it into something that makes you strong.
Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody the power, the other to cravit it.
Peace is a lie. There is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Code of the Sith
I recently completed listening to the entire audio book version of Star Wars The Force Awakens. My opinion of the film which I have seen twice didn’t really change much with the listening of this audio book. There are several details in the book that fill in some of the information missing in the film but nothing really changing the fact this first film can’t stand on it’s own as a complete story. For example the book explains why Han Solo had been collecting Rathtars. Basically there’s some wealthy collectors that want them. There’s an entire scene not in the film explaining how Po survived the Tie fighter crash and got off Jakku. There is also some longer dialogues between Kylo Ren and Snoke. One in which Snoke makes the claim he has been around long enough to see the rise and fall of the Empire. There’s a much longer discussion about the thermal oscillator on Starkiller Base which still makes little to any sense at all. As a hardcore nerd I enjoy getting these extra tidbits of information however none of it was enough to really change my opinion of the film or the story. Which if you want to know that you can watch my video about it here.
Making his first appearance in a 1942 MGM Tom and Jerry cartoon titled “Dog Trouble” Spike the Bulldog has traveled across multiple business and marketing platforms throughout the years. This all begins with a simple how to draw book published in the 1940s.
Spike’s most famous pose comes from a book titled, “Animation: Learn How to Draw Animated Cartoons” The picture below is from the second edition of the book. Blair did not create the character but he used Spike and several other Characters he had animated while working at MGM and Disney Studios to explain the finer points of animation.
After publication of the first edition of Preston Blair’s book, “Animation” the rights to use some of these characters were revoked and Blair was forced to go back and change his illustrations to make the characters “generic” and legal to use. Pictured is below are the original, “Spike the Bull Dog” drawings included in the first edition of Blair’s book .
Just yesterday I made this post about Mr. Monster a comic book I discovered in the late 1980s and read for a number of years. Eventually I was able to acquire an original Michael T. Gilbert Mr. Monster Page from his comic book and it remains in my collection to this day. Years later I would learn that musician Glenn Danzig also read Mr. Monster comic books and in this video he talks about them at .54 of the video.
Recently finished reading Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary actually I listened to the unabridged audio version of the book as I rarely ever read books anymore. If you are unfamiliar with Al Capp (1909-1979) he was a Cartoonist most famous for his news paper strip Li’l Abner a strip he worked on for forty years. Al Capp also wrote two additional comic strips Abbie an/ Slats and Long Sam. Capp used a number of assistants throughout the years to help him with his work including the great Frank Frazetta who worked on Li’l Abner from 1954 to 1961. Later on Capp toured college campuses as a conservative speaker and was accused of sexually assaulting a number of female college students. In 1968 at the University of Alabama police escorted him off campus for sexually assaulting a woman. In Wisconsin he was charged with sodomy the charge was later changed to propositioning a married woman to which he pled guilty to in a plea agreement. Later on Goldie Han while beginning her career as an actress reported Al Capp had propositioned her for sex during what he told her would be an audition to play one of the female characters in a film adaptation of his comic strip Li’l Abner. Although the book only dedicates one chapter to all of the sexual allegations made against Al Capp the evidence does sit in his favor and leads me to believe he was an absolute and complete piece of shit as a person. Over all this biography is a fascinating read covering not just the history and story of Al Capps rise to fame and fortune as a cartoonist but also a large part of news paper comic strip history as a whole. I highly recommend the book.
I just finished listening to the unabridged audio edition of Grant Morrison’s book; Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human.
Because I am a slow reader and like to listen to books while I am drawing I prefere to listen to books I get on Audible instead of reading them.
Supergods is a 480pg book about the history of comic books the development of the comic book industry and a biography of the author Grant Morrison’s live as a comic book creator, including his philosophy approach and process to writing.
If you don’t know who Grant Morrison is check out Batman Arkham Asylum, Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery, Animal Man and one of my all time favorites All Star Superman. Morrison is one of the great comic book writers of the modern era.
Some of my favorite parts in the book are Morrison’s breakdowns of Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” and Alan Moore’s “Watchmen.” Both are books I’ve read several times over and Morrison sheds light on a number of incites I had never thought of or picked up on before. I also like how Grant Morrison describes his approach to comic book writing as more of an observer or visitor who watches things unfold as they happen and records them. Grant Morrison’s description of a quest for the shamanic experiences as he formulates new stories ideas is another really interesting concept. Over all I really enjoyed the book.