Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"I Am Number Four" by 'Pittacus Lore' [Book]

Going into this one, I'll have known that this was a manufactured creation by James Frey (the guy who lied to Oprah about drugs!) Since then, he's gone from squandering his own talents to exploiting other people's. See, he runs Full Fathom Five, a book "incubator" which can take author submitted works, strip away their name, and publish them however they see fit, for no further compensation. [citation required, citation FOUND]

Egregious.

Was I able to overlook this fact while reading this book? No. The whole time, I'll have been thinking, "I am part of the problem". By giving my money to buy this book, I have supported this flawed system.

And how many rubber-necker / gawkers-at-the-horror like me do you think there are buying this book? Enough to line "Mr." Frey's pockets a few times over, probably.

My guilty feelings will be all-too-painful when, upon completion of the book, I'll realize that I'm curious about what happens NEXT! I'll be in quite the moral conundrum, when the second book in the series is released, I can tell you.

Of course, once the movie comes out, and these books become the next Harry Potter Twilight, I'll be able to say, "I read those BEFORE they were popular." Which won't make me any more popular. Especially amongst the 15-year-olds who are the target audience for these Young Adult novels. So: CREEPY!

FINAL PREVIEW SCORE (A to F): C+




BUY IT: I Am Number Four at Amazon

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TRON: LEGACY (2010) [Jeff's PRE-view Review]

It'll look cool. It'll sound cool. I'll WANT it to have been cool... but, alas, it is too much the progeny of its parent.

I think we can all be honest with each other - this is a safe space - once you remove your child-hood nostalgia, the original TRON was bo-o-o-o-o-oring!

Sure, it looked cool. And it sounded cool. And you'll WANT it to have been cool... but as you watch it today, you will find yourself falling asleep.

Even worse, you'll be watching it, for the first time since the 80s, with a friend of yours who has never seen it. And you'll have been going ON and ON about how awesome the film is and how you just can't believe they've never seen it, because it's SO AWESOME. Then TRON will  make a liar out of you.

Looking way into the future: In 2040, TRON: LEGACY will make liars out of a another generation of nostalgic movie watchers.

FINAL PREVIEW SCORE (A to F): C-


READ T's PREview 


BUY IT: Tron Legacy at Amazon

Monday, February 7, 2011

"The Age of Spiritual Machines" by Ray Kurzweil [1999]

Looking back, I should have realized what I was getting in to. After all, Kurzweil is a man who - if I remember correctly - is doing everything in his power to extend his lifespan so he can see technology evolve to a point where he'll be able to download his consciousness into a machine. And, thusly, live forever.

Wow.

So, it should not have been a surprise that some of his theories struck me as a bit... off. Even though he uses persuasive logic, and even though he arrives at his conclusions about the future in an unbroken chain of assumptions and deductions, I still found myself reacting, more often than not, with a derisive snort and a muttered "Yeah, OK!"

Of course, that's not to say the entire book should be discounted. He does make some interesting points and even if they are baseless assumptions about the end of humanity and the rise of machines, he'll still have made me think. Even as I discount his wild assumptions, out-of-hand, I'll come away with some questions about the future that I'd not thought to ask before. And I'll find myself mulling these over, long after I've put the book down.

Really, the best thing a book like this can be is disagreeable. Why bother reading a work such as this one that is preaching to your choir? Sure, you get to say, "TOO RIGHT!" a lot, and nod your head while you're digesting the oh-so-agreeable facts (to the outside observer, making you look like a bobble head and/or crazy person) but you only increase your stockpile of facts about a subject. No, a disagreeable book makes you challenge yourself to put - into clear thoughts - your own disputation of the author's theories. And to generate your own theories; to make up your own what-ifs. Make Uatu proud!

This book'll have made me do a lot of that. (Making up my own theories, that is, not making Uatu proud.)

Or, at the very least, it'll have given me some ideas for some short sci-fi stories. Either way: Win!

FINAL PREVIEW SCORE (A to F): B+


BUY IT: The Age of Spiritual Machines at Amazon

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dead Space 2 [Xbox 360 game 2011]

This sequel will turn out to be "more of the same".

Which, in this game's case, will mean, "It's cool. And kinda creepy. And it's really fun to shoot limbs off of these thi-WOW!DIDYOUSEETHAT?! WHAT WAS THAT?!?! I'm freaking scared!!!" Follow that with a couple days in which I'm too busy to play it at all.

Those days then stretch into months.

And when I remember I've not finished it, I'll load it up only to realize I've forgotten the controls ... and what my missions were - and, really, the whole point of why these undead/mutant/weirdos are even crawling all over the ship. So, I'll wander around the spaceship, all the while complaining, "Was the camera so jittery last time? Was everything so dark? I can't see a THING!" And then I get a bit nauseous and stop playing after 15 minutes and put the game aside.

Probably forever.

FINAL PREVIEW SCORE (A to F): C+


BUY IT: Dead Space 2 at Amazon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Meltdown" by Ben Elton

Oh, Ben Elton. You are nothing if not consistent. Churning out book after book of enjoyable, heavy-handed morality tales! I do so love them.

Let's see ... he's already skewered the  "big issues" of: The environment, healthcare, drugs, pregancy, TV reality shows ... (and more!) ... so what will "Meltdown" be about?

From that cover, I'm saying this one is a comedic/satirical romp through a world-gone-mad of out-of-control economics. He'll show those Wall Street fat-cats a thing or two. SKEWERED!

"Meltdown" will have all the laughs and over-the-top poignancy of a Ben Elton book. i.e., by the end of it, there will be no disputing where  Mr. Elton stands on the issue. (As it will have been beaten into my head at every possible instance.)

But in an enjoyable way.

It won't even feel like his stock-standard approach to these books/subjects is wearing thin. Maybe by the next one.

FINAL PREVIEW SCORE (A to F): A




BUY IT: Meltdown at Amazon

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Harmony" a Novel by Project Itoh [2010]

As I pull this book up on my Kindle, I'll wonder, "How did I ever even hear about this book?" And, with that, I will be on such uneven ground that it'll cause all kinds of problems for me, while reading this story.

I'll be going into this one 100% blind. I honestly won't remember why I added this book to my wishlist, in the first place.

Did I hear about it on a blog? As a "people who bought X also bought Y" list of recommendations, having bought and enjoyed whatever X was?

And yet, I won't read the back-cover copy, either. I'll think of it as "An Adventure!" I'll applaud myself for taking a risk! (Never realizing that this is the lamest kind of risk-taking anyone can ever partake in. ("Oh!", says Mr Knievel, "So, the risk you're taking is that you don't like a book? That beats MY canyon-jumping hands-down, that does!") Shut up, Evel! Let me live my own, non-be-motorcycled life!)

As a reward from my novelistic dare-deviltry, I'll spend way to long trying to understand - and come to grips with - exactly what kind of book this is ... too long "finding the tone". Then, just when I think I have it nailed down, the book will do something which will make me reevaluate what it's trying to tell me. So I'll spend a lot of time understanding my own thoughts about this novel.

Still - if I may judge a book by its cover (and why would you begrudge me that? After all, you are allowing me to judge a book on nothing but speculation, already!) - it looks like it's going to be dystopian novel. I tend to like those, so I'll probably like a lot of this one. Plus, it seems to have been written by a Japanese fellow. Now, one of my favorite books, "Battle Royale", is dystopia + Japanese, so that bodes well.

In the end, I'll realize I liked it ok, but would have liked to have known a little bit about it going into it.

FINAL PREVIEW SCORE (A to F): B




BUY IT: Harmony at Amazon