Christopher Barzak

27 12 2008

Memorable Quote:

“I think one of the best sorts of reviews are those that somehow present the feeling of the book to a reader without telling the whole story, and that provides a window of some kind of context for how to view the book (or film, album, etc).”

Books Read: 2008

21 12 2008

Books Read 2008 (PDF)

It’s hard to believe that I have read over 40 books in 2008 – see the PDF list.

Ian M. Banks – Rather than reading his latest novel, Matter, I picked up his first 2 and have the third (unread) in my archives. Not earth shattering books, but I liked the second book better. Intend posting a review after reading “Use of Weapons” his third SciFi novel. He also writes general fiction as Ian Banks (no “M.”)

Ray Bradburysee earlier post

Robert Buettner – the Jason Wander series started with an (almost) clone of Robert Heinlien’s “Starship Troopers” and now wanders down a similar path to David Feintuch’s “Seafort Saga” (Hope Series). Book 4 has been released, and book 5 not far away – definitely worth reading this series.

Lois McMaster Bujold – compiled yet another Miles Vorkosigan omnibus while we wait for something new… long wait while she writes a few fantasy novels. The first fantasy series was OK, but I have “gone off” her fantasy.

C.J Cherryh – So I have read all 3 Foreigner trilogies, and it looks like there is another one in the pipeline.

James Doohan (Dec’d) & S.M. Stirling – Have written a great series called “The Flight Engineer”. This year I re-read the series for the 3rd or 4th time – highly recommended.

Jim Baen’s Universe – a collection of the best stories published in Baen Press’s online magazine, “Jim Baen’s Universe”

David Gemmell – this year I read his excellent “Lion of Macedon” duology. The only thing of His I have not read yet is the “Troy Trilogy” – maybe in 2009.

Fiona McIntoshsee earlier post

Karen Millersee earlier post

L.E Modesitt Jr. – is one of my favourite authors. I particularly love the Recluce series.

Elizabeth Moon – always a good read. This year I read the final (5th) book of the “Vatta’s War series”. Not quite up to the standard of here earlier stuff, but a good read any way. Earlier stuff is highly recommended.

Andre Norton – always a good read

John Ringo – Wow stuff this “Ghost” series, LOVE IT!! But, it is really over the top with sex and violence. If  you liked “Californication” or Tara Moss’s crime series, you might like this too. Dare I say more action than James Bond, and… just read them.

Brandon Sanderson – his first novel “Elantris” is a great read. Supposed to be a one off, there are rumours of a sequel. Brandon has also been chosen to write the final (12th)  “Wheel of Time” novel, following Robert Jordan’s death. Current expectations are for a late 2009 release.

John Scalzisee earlier post

Joel Shepherd – I read so much fantasy, that I had to re-read “Sasha” before reading book 2.

David Weber – Another favourite author, mainly for the Honor Harrington series. “In Fury Born” is an expanded version of an earlier novel, “In the Path of the Fury”. “Worlds of Weber” is a collection of  previously published short stories, but I hadn’t read most of them anyway – recommended addition to your collection. The subtitle is “Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington and Other Stories”, and there are some Bolos stories in the mix too.

Brent Weekssee earlier post

Wil Wheatonsee earlier post

Brandon Sanderson – Firstborn

20 12 2008

I have just finished reading Brandon’s excellent short story at TOR.COM

Nice to see well written Science Fiction, and hope to see a novel, from him, in that genre one day. Read it at..

Metamerism vs. Metameric Failure

14 12 2008

Metamerism is a complex phenomenon involving physics, biology, and perception. Most confuse metamerism with metameric failure (or have never heard of either term). Here are a few helpful terms:

Apparent colors that match under different light sources

The matching of apparent colors between objects with different spectral distributions

Metameric Failure:
Colors will match under one light source but not another

Geometric Metameric Failure:
Colors match when viewed from one angle but not another

Field-Size Metameric Failure:
The same colors appear different when viewed as small and large areas

Observer Metameric Failure:
Two spectrally dissimilar lights or surfaces produce a color match for one observer but not a second observer, due to differences in the observers’ physiology.

See Photoshop User Magazine – Dec 2008 or the authors blog

The Photoshop Mag article was titled “The Fine Art of Printing” – Understanding Gloss Differential, Bronzing, and Metamerism. When evaluating both print and printer quality, there are three things to watch for: gloss differential, bronzing and metamerism. they all make a subtle but appreciable difference in print quality. the article explains what they are, how you identify them, and what you can do about them…

If you know of any additional (free) links that help with explanations, leave a comment.

CD Compilation PickMe#16

13 12 2008

The 16th compilation in my PickMe series is called “Xmas 2008

01 When the Quail Come Back to San Quentin (Artie Shaw)
02 Daryl of the Bells (Captain & Tennille)
03 Saudade, Pt.1 and 2 (Chris Rea)
04 Pure Joy (DAB)
05 Sonatina [Andante II] (Dave Grusin & Lee Ritenour)
06 This Could be the Start of Something (The Five Corners Quintet)
PickMe16 CD Cover07 Inka Dinka Doo (Jimmy Durante)
08 Katia (Kinema)
09 A Lira – Solidao No Oceano [Afterlife mix] (Madredeus)
10 Jupiter Dub (Max Melvin)
11 Flyin’ Away (Mo’ Horizons)
12 Invisible (M-Seven)
13 Tears/Rivers Eyes (Original TV Score – Firefly)
14 Gipsy Story (Rue Du Soleil)
15 The Lonely Shepherd (Zamfir)
16 Oiche Chiuin (Enya)

A basically chillout/lounge compilation with a bit of fun chucked in.

The Way of Shadows

13 12 2008

brent-weeks-night-angel-1by Brent Weeks
Bk 1 of the Night Angel Trilogy
ISBN 978-1841497402 (Orbit)

I have the entire series as each book has been released monthly to Dec 2008. The other books will be read over the Xmas break, but next I’ll be reading something very different – see the next review.

The Way of Shadows
I picked this book up on Wed, and finished it on Sat. A great, easy and hard-to-put-down read.

Azoth, urchin/thief from the slums of Cenaria becomes apprentice to the best assassin in the city. Part of his education involves mixing with the aristocracy. He makes friends with the crown prince and local lord, Logan Gyre. As part of a coup attempt, Logan is accused of the crown princes death and Azoth (now Kylar Stern) marked for arrest.

This is only the beginning of the end for Cenaria as foreign powers with the aid of mages over-run the city. Kylar’s master aids in the downfall, and near the end there is a duel between them. Kylar can only survive if he is able to unlock/obtain the full powers of a Night Angel.

The perfect killer has no friends, only targets – Kylar and his master are not perfect in that regard, so many complications compromise their efficiency and ability to survive the destruction of Cenaria. But, its those friendships that ultimately prevent them from just giving up.

A great tale – I can’t wait to read the other 2 books. I haven’t read ahead.

This book has been nominated for “The David Gemmell Legend Award
Check out the site and vote for your favourite when the shortlist is released later this month. Voting opens on Dec 26th, 2008.

Orbit has signed on Mr. Brent Weeks, for three more novels. All set in a totally different fantasy world . . . they’ll start publishing his whole new series in Fall/Winter 2010 (Spring/Summer for Aus).

Summer Morning, Summer Night

10 12 2008

Bradburyby Ray Bradbury
ISBN 978-1596062023 (Subterranean Press)

This book returns Bradbury readers to Green Town, Illinois – the setting for classic Bradbury novels such as Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Farewell Summer.

It is a new collection of 27 stories (17 new). Not all the stories hit the sweet spot, but enough to make the purchase worthwhile. Here’s just a sample of his imagery…

“The rain came as a cool surprise. It smelled of soda water and limes and oranges and the cleanest freshest river in the world, made of snow-water, falling from the high, parched sky.”

In the best stories, you can just feeeel the lazzzy summer atmosphere. As it should be… a good read!

Sleep to be Sexy Smart and Slim

7 12 2008

Sleep to be Sexy Smart and Slimby Ellen Michaud and Julie Bain
ISBN 978-0762109319 (Reader’s Digest)

This book is a good way to “discover sleep solutions just right for you”. The book covers: family stressors; stress and worry; depression; work schedules; hormones and biological changes; before and after baby; sleep eating; dealing with illness; coping with loss; sleep disorders; nightmares; jet lag.

The book is heavily slanted towards the female reader, but most of the issues can apply to us all. Recommended reading.

For myself, I was reading to see what makes a good nights sleep and how best to go about it… so a number of the above topics were just skimmed over.

Going to bed @ 2-3am and waking @ 6-7am can’t be a good thing. I need to learn to synchronise my body’s biological clock.

  • wake at the same time every day
  • hit the sheets only when sleepy
  • get up if you can’t sleep – part of your mind will associate bed with wakefulness, so go read (or other relaxing activity) until you are sleepy.
  • give yourself an hour to wind down before sleep – no household chores, homework, computer, email, internet..
  • don’t sleep-in to make up for late nights, it’s enough to upset the biological clock.

Adults require seven or eight hours of sleep daily. Even older adults, who often seem to rise early and have erratic sleep schedules, still need seven or eight hours each night.

I think I’ll try for a regular 6 first.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Like eating well and being physically active, getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your well-being. Here are more tips to help you:

  • Exercise, especially the aerobic variety, is a valuable sleep aid, but make certain it’s done well before bedtime. Exercise with a balanced diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is important for good sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine. The stimulating effects of caffeine in coffee, colas, teas, and chocolate can take as long as 8 hours to wear off fully. Nicotine is also a stimulant.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. A “nightcap” might help you get to sleep, but alcohol keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep. You also tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the sedating effects have worn off.
  • Pay attention to what you do, eat and drink in the evening hours. Light snacks are fine, but avoid eating meals within two hours of bedtime. Some people find that spicy or fatty foods (chips and salsa, buttered popcorn, ice cream, potato chips!) hamper restful sleep. Winding down with a good book, soothing music or a warm bath (or all three!) in the evening can help your body relax. Soft lighting is sleep-inducing, while bright lights give your body the wrong message at night. Even bright television and computer screens late in the evening can confuse your internal clock. And we all know that drinking lots of fluid before bedtime may force you to make unscheduled bathroom trips during prime sleep time.
  • Don’t take naps after 3 p.m. Naps can boost your brain power, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Also, keep naps to under an hour.
  • Relax before bed. Take time to unwind. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of your bedtime ritual.

Recommended Links:
Sleep Disorders 
Life & Health Basics: How Much Sleep Do We Need—And How Do We Get It?
A Guide to Healthy Sleep (PDF)

Hormones released during sleep also affect how the body uses energy. Studies find that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese, to develop diabetes, and to prefer eating foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates.

Sweet Poison: David Gillespie

7 12 2008

sweetpoisonSubtitle: Why Sugar makes us fat
ISBN: 978-0670072477 (Penguin)

David’s key premise is that we ingest Fructose from many sources, and that the body changes it straight to fat. So by taking up a low to no fructose diet, the pounds/kilos will melt away.

A recipe for Cold Turkey
1) Don’t drink sugar – Eat the fruit rather than fruit juice. Cut out sugar laden soft drinks.
2) Don’t snack on sugar
3) Party foods are for parties
4) Be careful at breakfast – watch the sugar content of your favourite cereal.
5) There is no such thing as good sugar – “if I was dying of thirst and given a choice between a soft drink and any juice, I would have to choose the soft drink, because it probably has 10 to 20 percent less fructose than the juice”

The book details (well) the research he did to come to his conclusions about the danger of fructose in the diet. He has also included a history of the growth of the sugar industry and sugar-replacement products & industries. Very interesting reading.

Blog: (recommended reading)

David’s book is all about the evils of fructose.
Not to be confused with his book is Dr J.S.Hull’s message on the side effects of aspartame – which is also worth a read, as I recently received one of those “please read this” chain emails that quoted “SWEET POISON, A MUST READ”  referring to her book (confused me at first as I thought it referred to David’s book) – see