Fiction Books I Want to Read This Year 2021

The new year has arrived! I don’t think I’ll do a “Year’s Best” post for 2020. I did not see enough movies nor read enough books, and the ones I did really weren’t that great. Maybe 2021 will be a better year for new movies, but I’m not sure there’s much of interest on the horizon. I just hope some 3D movies will return to the big screen before the year’s end; the pandemic seems to have annihilated them completely.

I only read 5 books in 2020. To be more precise, I only completed 5 books. (I read a lot of miscellaneous chapters from various nonfiction books, but I’m not counting those.) These books include:

  1. Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement by Rich Karlgaard. A forgettable book in my opinion. “Some people achieve their greatest potential later in life.” That’s it. That’s the book.
  2. A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe. A fun little sci-fi / fantasy mystery, my favorite read of the year (not that there’s much competition.) I believe a sequel has recently been published posthumously which I’d like to get my hands on at some point.
  3. Farlander by Col Buchanan. An aging assassin takes on an unlikely apprentice while pursuing a dangerous vendetta. The writing is nice and the story has some interesting surprises. Fun read.
  4. Dune by Frank Herbert. Basically it’s The Lion King, but on a sandy planet with prophecies, mystical powers, powerful spice, giant worms, and weird names. And it’s dull, dull, unbearably dull. I hated it.
  5. Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg. A collection of short stories all taking place on the same weird planet. Some stories feature some interesting ideas, but most of them fluff out with stupid overly-convenient or uneventful endings. I think Silverberg does horror or dark fantasy the best; when he tries to have things end more nicely for the characters it just feels less satisfying to me for some reason.

Those are all the books I actually finished in 2020; in August I began reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and I’m still only about half-way through it. It’s a long book, and these characters are growing a bit dull on me, so I haven’t been reading it daily. (I suppose technically it’s a book series, as it was originally published serially.) Hopefully it will not take me another five months to finish the second half.

Here’s my current (non-exhaustive) to-read list for 2021, at least fiction-wise:

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Finishing the 2nd half.
  2. Stands a Shadow by Col Buchanan. This is the sequel to the aforementioned Farlander. I’m actually already about 80 pages into it as I didn’t want to lug around War and Peace one day.
  3. Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson. One of my favorite authors, and I really enjoyed Reamde, so I’m looking forward to this one as well. A long book, but his prose generally flows pretty nicely.
  4. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. This is the 3rd book in his Stormlight Chronicles series. The 4th book just came out in 2020, so I’m behind. I really enjoyed the 1st book, but the 2nd book was a bit “meh” for me.
  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Been wanting to read Mr. D for a while.
  6. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.
  7. The Drawing of Three and The Waste Lands by Stephen King. Books 2 and 3 of his Dark Tower series.
  8. The Vindication of Man by John C. Wright. The 5th book in his Count to the Eschaton Sequence. Another of my favorite authors. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far; it’s at times very thought-provoking, at times complete bonkers crazy, and sometimes both. Super fun sci-fi.
  9. The Kingdom of the Gods by In-Wan Youn. This is the graphic novel which inspired the recent Netflix series Kingdom, of which I enjoyed a couple episodes, although I think the book and show are quite different plot-wise. Looks like fun though.

Some of those books are a bit long, and I’m a slow reader, so there’s no telling if I can actually finish all those in a single year. And there’s of course plenty more I’d love to read, so I might change my mind about some of those in favor of others. That’s also not counting any non-fiction books, of which I have bookmarks in at least a dozen. We’ll see how it goes.

Happy New Year to all!

War and Peace vs Dune, and stuff


I finished reading Dune last week. I didn’t much like it. I thought it was boring. So if the soon-to-be-released new film adaptation isn’t great, a big reason is probably that the source material isn’t that great. I recently started reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and in doing so I realized one big reason I found Dune so boring: there’s no humor. Or at least there’s very little humor that I noticed. The book, and the characters in it, took themselves too seriously. Too me, lack of humor makes stories feel too fake. Not enough emotional contrast I guess.

War and Peace, on the other hand, has a good amount of humor sprinkled in, sometimes from characters, sometimes in just the way Tolstoy describes things. I’m only on page 250 of 1000+, but the reading itself is not very daunting. Tolstoy’s prose (at least the translated prose; I’m reading the Maude translation) is very dry. This happened, then this, and this. Straight to the point. No long flowery ambiguous descriptions. No Dickensian run-on sentences. (Though Dickens at least wasn’t too flowery either, for the most part. At least, as far as I remember; I haven’t read Dickens since high school, which was sixteen years ago.) So it’s very approachable, despite its age. It’s just really long. It feels very analagous to a modern TV show; it jumps around between a lot of different characters. It began as a serial back in the day, so I guess that makes sense.

One archaic phrase in this translation that annoys me though is when people “screw up their eyes.” I guess that means something like squinting or furrowing one’s brow? Definitely not something people say (or write) nowadays.

I’d like to finish the book by the end of the month, but I’m probably too slow of a reader.


Still working on TuneSage! I would definitely love to release the first version of it before the end of the year, even as soon as the end of September if I can. A lot of that will depend what “features” I include in the first version. It probably won’t be much at first, because I just want to get it out there. Anyway, I’m finally returning to work on the front end. There’s still a lot of stuff to do on the back end, but working on the front end will probably help me decide what features I want or don’t want for the initial release as I try to design a possible “workflow” for users.

Whatever else

I’ve uploaded more “thrift store finds” videos on my second YouTube channel; eBay flipping has been a fun side-hussle, easy and addicting. Just keep a social distance and wash your hands constantly. (And wear your mask, even though they fog up your glasses and then you have to take your glasses off and you can’t see anything.)

Used bookstore plunder

Another episode of “used bookstore plunder”! I didn’t actually spend a load of money, most of it was bought with trade credit. Anyway, here’s what I found (click picture for full resolution):

Lots of fiction, mostly Andre Norton and Michael Moorcock (who I usually have trouble finding in used bookstores). We’ve got:

  • Poul Anderson — Three Hearts and Three Lions (been keeping my eyes out for this one, glad to finally find it)
  • Orson Scott Card — Songmaster (another I’ve been keeping an eye out for)
  • L. Sprague de Camp — Land of Unreason
  • Erin Hoffman — Lance of Earth and Sky (still haven’t read the first book of this series)
  • Michael Moorcock — (I have yet to read anything by him, so I hope he’s not too bad; I hear his name a lot so I want to eventually familiarize myself with his work) The Skrayling Tree, Blood, Sword of the Dawn, The Vanishing Tower, Count Brass, The Secret of the Runestaff, The Knight of the Swords, The Eternal Champion, The Sword and the Stallion, The Swords Trilogy (they put these trilogy sets out after I had already bought two of the books included in it), The Chronicles of Corum, The Champion of Carathorm, The Queen of Swords, Stormbringer
  • Andre Norton — Songsmith, The Gate of the Cat, Moon Called, The Jargoon Pard, Elvenblood, Mirror of Destiny, Merlin’s Mirror, Shadow Hawk
  • Fred Saberhagen — Merlin’s Bones
  • Robert Silverberg  (I haven’t read any of his books, but I’ve enjoyed some of his short stories before) The Book of Skulls
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn — August 1914, The Gulag Archipelago Vol. 1 (because Jordan Peterson)
  • Jack Vance — (Vance is another one I don’t often see in used bookstores, so I was happy to find a good number of them) The Dragon Masters, The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph, Son of the Tree / The Houses of Iszm, The Gray Prince, The Pnume, Slaves of the Klau, Lyonesse, Ecce and Old Earth
  • John Varley — Millennium
  • Gene Wolfe — Soldier of the Mist

Nonfiction books include:

  • The Beethoven Compendium and Musical Structure and Design
  • Master the Basics of Russian along with some old play in Russian to practice translating (I want to learn Russian, all I know so far is: Здравствуйте! да и нет, и спасибо! I don’t think that’s enough.1)
  • Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction and The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World (They were both 75 cents)
  • Chase, Chance, and Creativity (It’s about the role of chance in creativity; I’ve been fascinated by the psychological phenomenon of creativity lately, an on-and-off interest, especially in its relation to artificial intelligence)
  • Everything that Linguists have Always Wanted to Know about Logic (I’m not a linguist, but I like how this book combines and linguistics with logic; again interested in this for artificial intelligence purposes as well. If you think about it, human language is like a programming language of thought.)
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche and For Self-Examination / Judge for Yourself by Kierkegaard (philosophy for some light weekend reading)
  • Alan Turing: The Enigma (hopefully this biography of Turing will be more interesting than the film based on it, which I thought was terrible)

Lastly, I bought two 3D blu-rays, Jurassic Park and Pacific Rim. I can’t watch them in 3D yet until I get a PSVR, but as it seems they don’t really sell them anymore (perhaps they’ve quit making them altogether?), I’m eager to get them while I can. It’s a shame they weren’t more popular, but their prices were pretty ridiculous.

So that’s my used bookstore plunder!

I haven’t finished reading any books at all this year; instead I’ve been reading a lot of fragments from non-fiction books.

Bookstore plunder

I had a bit of time over the weekend to browse a used bookstore. Not as much time as I would’ve liked (I can browse a used bookstore for many hours if allowed), but I did find some interesting stuff.


Didn’t have time to browse the film soundtracks, but I did snatch up some symphonic metal from the Italian band Rhapsody of Fire. Their album The Frozen Tears of Angels features narration from the late great Christopher Lee; his deep cinematic British voice compliments the fantastical metal very well. It’s a concept album that’s part of a larger saga of albums, none of which I have… yet.


Also music related is the blu-ray of the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables. I think it came on PBS or something once, but I missed it. But now I can watch it over and over!


Picked up a movie companion to one of my favorite films. Looking through it, it looked awfully familiar, but I double-checked my bookshelves and I don’t have it. I could swear I’ve browsed a copy of it somewhere else before though. Maybe there’s another copy somewhere else in the house? I have no idea…


I haven’t read Brandon Sanderson in a while, but I picked up Elantris for someday.


I’ve been reading Peter Straub’s Shadowland recently and have been enjoying it very much, so I picked up pretty much all the Peter Straub I could find, which amounted to nine books. They’ll take me forever to read, but they all look interesting… I’ll probably dive into one after I finish Shadowland


Picked up some books on Mozart and classical music because I’m such a classy guy.


Finally, I happened upon a biography of one of the great classical composers who most music scholars, in their snooty snobbery, ignore completely.

Used bookstore plunder

We don’t have really any good used bookstores very close to us. They tend to have very small selections or high prices. But on Tuesday I was able to make it to a larger used bookstore about an hour away. Their selection wasn’t amazing, but wasn’t horrible either, and their prices were pretty nice. I unfortunately didn’t have as much time to peruse as I would’ve liked, but I spent quite enough money anyway, so the time limit was probably a good thing. I could browse books for many countless hours; it’s a great source of intellectual stimulation and inspiration. As to how long it will actually take me to get around to reading the books, I’m sure I’ll have them all read by *cough* *cough* [inaudible] *cough*.

So because I don’t have much else to blog about (besides [insert the latest controversial issue here], but enough’s been said about that already), I will tell you what books I got, complete with beautiful photographs filtered through Instagram’s X-Pro II because I’m so cool.


Became interested in the works of Jung through Joseph Campbell, though he’s usually so abstract that he’s tough to read. I can’t help but think that trying to interpret dreams very much risks searching for meaning where there actually is none, at least not as much as one may think. But I’m interested in the subject regardless, and certainly open to having my mind changed if I can manage to understand what Jung writes. And even if I don’t agree, I’ll be interested in his thoughts.


Speaking of Joseph Campbell, found a couple of his books there as well. Goddesses in particular looked interesting, because I had never heard of it before (granted, I think it was published posthumously and is actually a collection of his essays on the subject rather than something he actually put together himself), and because one of the stories I’m currently plotting involves a “goddess” archetype, so I’ll be interested in what insights Mr. Myth himself can share on the subject.


I’ve eyed this at the bookstore a few times, so nice to get a big discount on it at a used bookstore, eh? And it’s in almost new condition too. Just curious about the subject, though I know very little about it.


I really have little clue what exactly this book is about. Browsing through it, parts looked interesting enough, and it was cheap. Guess we’ll see!


On to fiction, picked up the fourth book in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, though I’ve yet to read the 2nd and 3rd. I read the first book, Wizard’s First Rule some years ago and enjoyed it. Goodkind’s writing is very bland, but that’s at least better than being clunky and cluttered, and the story itself definitely held my attention throughout. I’ve heard the series gets repetitive later on, though.


I have yet to read any of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, though I hope to at some point, especially now that it’s actually complete, so I picked up the second, third, and fourth books in that series. (Already have the first.)


Similarly, I have yet to read anything by Vernor Vinge, but I’ve good things about him from readers I trust and his books definitely look interesting.


I’ve read Neal Stephenson’s Anathem and Reamde, both of which I gave five stars, so I’m interested in anything by Stephenson. (Already have his Baroque Cycle and Cryptomicon, though I haven’t read them yet; they’re definitely doorstoppers.) I hope to start reading his latest book, Seveneves, as soon as I finish the last eighty pages of Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, which I’ve been reading for the last two months.


From the mind of Ray Bradbury, I’ve only read Something Wicked This Way Comes and Zen in the Art of Writing, both of which are fantastic. So I’ll definitely be interested to read some more of his work. I also like the look of these classy 70’s paperback editions. Can’t find ’em like this anymore. In a new bookstore, that is.

Peter Pan

Always interested in some classic children’s fantasy, as old-fashioned as the old stuff tends to be, and this isn’t one you see too often.

Sweeney Todd

And just because it was cheap. One of my favorite movies.


Finally, also got some CDs, mostly soundtracks. Good stuff.

And there you have it. Go out and peruse your closest used bookstore today, and support authors not getting any money… oh no, wait…

Stardown Bullets review

I finally finished reading the massive 957-page sci-fi book Stardown Bullets by new writer Joseph Black (who is only a few months older than me, making my lack of success at novel writing all the more bitter — OK, not really).

Overall, I think this may very well be the best science fiction book I’ve ever read.

The book takes place in the far future in which, through a few pages of expository techno-babble, a good chunk of humanity has left Earth and colonized two planets in some other solar system, one planet more naturally habitable than the other. The planets are occasionally temporarily connected through what the characters call a “star bridge” which is this gigantic weird energetic bendy tube which can phase in and out of existence depending on the location of the planets in their orbits. Again, there was some techno-babble about how this was possible — I won’t even try to sum it up — if you’re of a more scientific mind, you might be able to understand it. I just thought “yeah, whatever” and went on with the story. Anyway, due to the planets’ orbits, the star bridge can only exist for 12 days every two Earth-years. (On a side note, how the book deals with time on these alien planets is completely confusing. They use Earth years and Earth hours, but just about everything else — days, weeks, months — are different and have a bunch of confusing names, making you wish the book had an appendix or something.) Whenever the star bridge forms, people can quickly travel between the planets and send cargo back and forth. Quick as in almost-the-speed-of-light-quick. Without the bridge, travel between the planets takes several years.

The fading in and out of the star bridge has been going on for seventy-some years when the story starts with little trouble, but mysterious holes begin to open up, and cargo and travelers are sucked out into space. A team of researchers from each planet is sent to investigate, and until they can figure out what’s going on, the star bridge is closed, causing many economic and political problems for both planets.

The story mainly follows Todd Ackerman, one of the researchers. He thinks that the holes are created by humans in some kind of elaborate conspiracy which he decides to unveil. But as he digs deeper and deeper into the many layers of the organizations that run the star bridge, he discovers that things are not so simple as evil vs non-evil. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that most of the clues and discoveries regarding the holes seem really sinister in the first half of the book, then do a complete 180 by the end in rather surprising fashion.

What really makes the story work for me, though, is not the complicated spy-adventure, though that itself is very enjoyable. No, it’s the characterization of Todd; the author makes him surprisingly sympathetic. Even when I didn’t agree with what he was doing, I could completely understand why he was doing it, and was always hoping he would succeed. And, actually, most of the time he did exactly what I would’ve. Also, the author makes it quite clear that when Todd is in danger, even though you know he’s not going to die, there are things worse than death, and they can and do happen. So every time it felt like danger was lurking, I was truly on the edge of my seat, hoping the author wouldn’t be too mean to any members of the cast. A lot of times in movies and such you get characters who you can tell are just there to die. In this book, anyone (well, except for Todd) is under the knife. That said, no death feels random. You know what characters are risking death, and when, so it’s just a matter of reading on and finding out.

The book changes pace a lot too. Sometimes I flew through a hundred pages at break-neck speed because danger was lurking, things were being discovered, and I just had to know what would happen next. Other times, there are long info-dumps which are sometimes interesting, sometimes too techno-babbly for me. The descriptions of the fantastical sci-fi cities and how they were built to deal with the strange alien planets’ conditions I found to be very captivating and imaginative; the author definitely put a lot of thought and care into making them staggeringly different than what we see here on Earth, yet completely plausible.

By the end of it, you see that there’s a wonderful theme flowing through the story about loving your enemies, loving yourself, and not caring what anyone thinks of you. Well, it sounds cheesy written out like that, but played out in the story it works really well. And it’s pretty subtle; I expect some readers may miss it in the heat of the action sequences, and the author never lets even Todd have any extended inner-dialogues. But the themes are still there in the collection choices that Todd and the other characters make.

Again, overall, it was a fantastic read. Unfortunately it’s not part of a series or anything, but I’ll definitely be looking out for Joseph Black’s next novel. I think he’ll be one of most popular sci-fi writers in the coming decades.

Some philosophy of power in The Wise Man’s Fear…

I’m continuing to read Patrick Rothfuss’s huge novel The Wise Man’s Fear. (I’ve been an extremely slow reader this year… I usually finish one or two books a month. But this year I’ve only finished reading one in the last eight months. Terrible! But the wordcount for The Wise Man’s Fear is about a bazillion magillion frillion, so my slowness is somewhat justified.) Anyway, if you plan on reading the book and don’t want anything about it revealed to you, read no further.

There’s an interesting conversation between two characters about the nature of power on pages 380 to 382. (Chapter Fifty-six is entitled Power.) As a character says:

“There are two types of power: inherent and granted. Inherent power you possess as a part of yourself. Granted power is lent or given by other people.”

After talking a bit about them, he asks:

“Which do you think is the greater type of power?”

And he argues that granted power is greater.

Of course, it made me think: how would I answer the question? How would I talk to this man?

First, I have a problem with the premises, that there really are two types of power. I would argue that inherent and granted powers are just two sides of the same coin. Everything action you take requires both inherent and granted power. If I want to post this blog post, I must have an inherent power to know how to write, to know how communicate in a certain language. But I also must be granted the power of electricity and Internet access by other humans who chose to make such things available to me.

I suppose the question of “which is greater” is asking: “through which power can you accomplish more of you might wish to accomplish?” (Really “greater” could mean several different things, but this is, I think, the most obvious interpretation, yes?) But they depend on each other; neither is truly greater. You can’t work through a granted power without also relying on inherent power; likewise, you require granted power to exercise your inherent power.

In the book, the character makes a point that being part of nobility is a granted power, even though many people think it is inherent, as if one’s social status were in one’s blood. (A celebrity’s child? Queen of England, anyone?) But, the character argues, nobility is actually a power granted by those who agree to do what they say, probably in exchange for some sort of granted power they can use (to a lesser degree) themselves (like money or a higher social rank).

What the character does not seem to realize (or disagrees with) is that inherent power is required to use such granted power to any “great” degree. Therefore, I can not fully agree with his conclusion.

I guess I would agree with the character if he argued that granted power was the more “show-offy” power; our inherent power (or potential inherent power, at least) is much more similar to each other’s. But our granted power can vary immensely. Which leads some obsess over gaining granted power (social status, fame, fortune). But I still wouldn’t say that it’s “greater.”

Or, to get religious on you, as Jesus says in Matthew 16:26:

What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world [granted power] and forfeit his life? [inherent power]

(Though I guess if I wanted to get really religious, I could argue that all inherent power is granted by God in the first place!)

Anyway, I hope the points of the conversation will end up playing into the plot; philosophy is always more interesting (to me) when it affects character decisions. We shall see…

Some comments on The Wise Man’s Fear…

I’m reading The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, only on page 150 of about 1000, so this will take a while. Unfortunately it’s due back at the library soon, so I might just have to buy it because I doubt I’d be willing to stop reading once it’s due. It’s an addicting book.

Anyway, I just want to make some comments about a couple passages… I’m only on page 150, so I doubt there’ll be any drastic spoilers, but if you’re planning on reading the novel yourself and don’t want anything at all revealed to you, go away now.

So there’s this crazy professor teacher in the novel named Elodin, and as class starts he makes his students tell him an interesting fact. If he already knows it or finds it boring, they have to keep going until they come up with something interesting, or admit defeat. This sounds like a pretty fun game, but only really if you’re the teacher and get to be the “interesting decider.” If I ever had a teacher that really did that, I wouldn’t like it… I’d feel used and abused! And I’m somewhat wary of these romanticized student-teacher relationships that crop up so much in fiction.

Anyway, here’s one of the students’ facts, from page 132:

“You can divide infinity an infinite number of times, and the resulting pieces will still be infinitely large,” Uresh said in his odd Lenatti accent. “But if you divide a non-infinite number an infinite number of times, the resulting pieces are non-infinitely small. Since they are non-infinitely small, but there are an infinite number of them, if you add them back together, their sum is infinite. This implies any number is, in fact, infinite.”

“Wow,” Elodin said after a long pause.

Um… what? Elodin shouldn’t be impressed by such foolish logic! It sounds like a middle-schooler who just discovered the concept of infinity. Infinity is not a number, you cannot do math with it. There’s no such thing as “an infinite number.” Fool! Elodin should reprimand him!

Later on, some characters are trying to explain to another character how the novel’s magic system works (a certain magic called “sympathy”), on page 148:

“Heat, light, and motion are all just energy,” I said. “We can’t create energy or make it disappear. But sympathy lets us move it around or change if from one type into another.”

Is motion really energy? Doesn’t he mean acceleration? I guess you could still say something in motion has kinetic energy, but that implies that it was accelerated at some point. Perhaps, since we live in a frictionful gravity world, motion and acceleration can be thought to be same, since if you’re not constantly accelerating, friction due to gravity will bring you to a stop. Anyway, this magic system seems to obey the first law of thermodynamics; good enough for me.

But then…

“I can see how heat and light are related,” [Denna] said thoughtfully. “The sun is bright and warm. Same with a candle.” She frowned. “But motion doesn’t fit into it. A fire can’t push something.”

“Think about friction,” Sim chimed in. “When you rub something it gets hot.”

[Kvothe talking:] “It’s a good example. The hub of a wagon wheel will be warm to the touch. That heat comes from the motion of the wheel. A sympathist can make the energe go the other way, from heat into motion.”

So a sympathist can basically break the second law of thermodynamics? That’s fine, I don’t quite believe in it anyway. But… why explain the relationship between heat and motion with friction? The heat from friction isn’t really directly caused by motion, it’s caused by countless atomic collisions from opposing electromagnetic forces. (You’re not going to get much heat from static friction, are you?) I would explain heat and motion more thermodynamically: heat is motion, the non-uniform motion of countless particles. Of course the heat from a fire can push something, it’s just hard (if not thermodynamically impossible) to get enough energy directed at something specific to make that possible, so we tend to use it’s energy more indirectly, like using it to create steam, or taking advantage of the potential difference in density between the heated material and the surroundings (like the heated air in hot air balloons).

Then again, I’m not a scientist… and on page 149 a character says:

“There’s a special kind of thinking called Alar,” Wilem said. “You believe something so strongly that it becomes so.”

So I can’t be too picky. All is fair in fiction.

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card


Finally finished reading a book, woohoo!  It was on hold at the library, so I had to hurry up.  ‘Twas The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card, one of my favourite writers.  ‘Twas a fun read.  Not quite Ender’s Game, but hard to put down nonetheless.  Makes you want to be a gatemage.  Makes you look forward to Portal 2, coming out soon!  Now I look forward to the sequels, for this seems to be the first book of a trilogy or something.

There are two quotes I liked.  First, from page 106:

Besides, it just felt . . . wrong.  Inelegant, perhaps, as Auntie Tweng used to say of kludgy solutions to math or programming problems.  “Yes, it works,” she would say, “but it’s not elegant.  Truth is simple and elegant.  That’s how you know it when you see it.”

Those last two sentences.  “Truth is simple and elegant.  That’s how you know it when you see it.”  Almost Occam’s razor-ish.  I’m not sure if it’s true (for it can’t explain the truth of itself), but I like the idea.

Also, in the afterword, on page 382:

I tell my students in my writing classes that suspense comes, not from knowing almost nothing, but from knowing almost everything and caring very much about the small part still unknown.

Great little writing tidbit.  Mystery can still come from not knowing much, but it’s not suspenseful (or nearly as interesting) until the focus is on that one last answer, that one final piece to the puzzle.  Search your feelings, you know it to be true.  (Plus, it’s simple and elegant.)

Oh, it’s also a fun book if you know your mythology.  Which I don’t, but I’m just assuming.

No “e”

Is it difficult to not push a particular button that sits in front of you? You know, a button you tap whilst typing day in and day out, whilst writing thousands… no… millions of words upon your digital contraption? Can you abstain from such an act? Actually, it’s not that amazing, but it can truly kick a brain into thinking constantly prior to coming up with and spitting out words for any occasion (normally communication, obviously). With a bit of toiling and playing around, you could possibly roll into a habit of constantly passing this button. Now and again, try it, astound your own brain with what you didn’t know you could accomplish! Woohoo! If you want to whip out a full-blown book without using this button, all I can say is: “Wow!” and “A man was victorious in such a mission many moons ago.” An old story known as Gadsby won this honor, so you cannot attain it first! Sorry! Too bad! But you can still savor this bit of fun that springs up from just writing a paragraph without this symbol. And that’s all I want to say! Carry on!

(I admit, this act might finally slip into monotony, but it’s worth trying for an instant or two.)