The Girl in the Moon

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This review will be heavy in the spoilers, you have been warned.

I had high hopes for this book, I really did, but it fell flat.  The main Character Angela is wooden and unrealistic.  Some may argue that that’s the point, she is wooden because she can’t feel anything unless she is torturing and killing other killers.  But who can relate to that?   It’s so far away from the way normal people feel and function we cannot make a connection to Angela.

The writing is poor, I expected more from Terry Goodkind. He takes every opportunity to remind the reader what Angela means in Italian, and forces down our throat at every corner how Angela’s power works.  It’s as if he doesn’t trust his readers to be lead along by his story telling so he leaves large loafs of bread on the trail and not bread crumbs.  The whole novel feels more like it random fight/rape/murder scenes that were written with a vague idea what the overall story might be, then stitched together in to this Frankenstein’s monster.

Character development ends in the first few chapters.  Angela’s reaction to being raped and almost killed left little to no psychological scars.  I would expect her to have some lasting effects from a quad or men raping and hanging her to die, but no she just wants revenge.  Can she feel emotion or not? Come on Terry this is just muddling the character design.  I feel everyone could understand the numbness of depression and the toll it takes on the psyche, but Terry Goodkind doesn’t even explore why she “can’t feel”.  At every twist and turn he stomps all over the “can’t feel” bit and writes her with anger and a need for revenge even some empathy.  I don’t know what was more annoying, the premise that she can’t feel emotions, or the fact that she is constantly out of character feeling emotions all over the place.

As a fan of Terry Goodkind, I was very disappointed.

 

(EDIT: Fixed some grammar issues and spelling.  I was angry writing when I originally wrote this and it showed.)

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Off To Be The Wizard and Faction Games

Off To Be The Wizard and Faction Games
imagesOff to Be The Wizard
by Scott Meyer
2013
Book one of Magic 2.0
Audio version was narrated by Luke Daniels.

What can I say about this book. I loved it so much, I’ve read it twice and listened to it on audio with my 12 year old son. On the surface it is a comedy about computer hackers that find a file that lets them change their real world parameters.  Do to poor choices, in its use the main character Martin flees to medieval times to be a wizard.  Hilarity ensues.

At its core the book is much deeper than a funny story. It is a commentary on theft of intellectual property, It also takes a look at digital characters and the moral ramifications of misusing them.

The later is something I have a hard time with while gaming. For me, I can’t just go off and kill whatever I want, I feel a need to stick to a moral guide to play the good guy or as close as I can get. The Fable games comes to mind. I played through all three games several times and never once could I bring myself to become evil. When I tried it was not a rewarding experience for me and I abandoned that play through.

If you enjoy playing the bad guy that’s fine by me, it just isn’t for me. I dont know if these Good/Evil choice games have a name so to coin a term, Faction Games. I feel that these kind of faction games are wonderful and the choice to be good, evil, and everything between makes for intriguing game play. There should be more games like this.  It is also why I dislike strict alignment games so much. You must be a good or bad guy you have to leave your personal morals at the door. I want the choice to be the hero, not forced to be the hero.  A game that forces me to be one or the other takes away the emersion.  GTA wouldn’t be much fun driving around in a car you legal bought, obeying all the traffic signals and rules, but that is how I would try to play it.

Off To Be The Wizard explores the moral consequences or the lack thereof when your whole world ends up being algorithms and code.  If you and your fellow man are nothing more than bytes in a computer program is it moral to kill knowing that you and your whole world is computer generated?

Reading the book was great, I love reading I recommend it to everyone, but the audio performance of Luke Daniels is probably one of the best I have even heard.  And it has time travel!

List of Faction Games that I have played:

Beyond Good and Evil
Mass Effect
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2
Bioshock 1 and 2 (maybe Bioshock Infinite)
Fable 1, 2, and 3
Skyrim
Fallout 3 and 4
Many more but I can’t think of them right now.

Outlander, Time-Traveling Romance.

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Maybe you’ve seen Outlander on Stars. I watched the first few episodes during one of the free Stars weekends, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Several years ago I attempted to read the first book written by Diana Gabaldon, and I did not stick with it. Not because I didn’t like it but because it was a large book and the first in a series. At the time I wasn’t prepared to make the commitment to a series this large.

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It wasn’t until last year that I picked it up again, but this time it was an audio book. I must say it is one of the best audio book productions I have ever listened. I am secretly in love with Davina Porter’s voice.

The series currently contains eight hefty books and several short stories and could provide a reader with several months of material, especially if you read the spinoff series Lord John that take place between, or during events of the main series.

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The main series follows a nurse form 1945 England named Claire Randall through a not-so-technical-event (read magical) finds herself in 1740’s Scotland. She meets and falls in love with a highlander Jamie Frazer. The books is full of adventure and romance, but not enough of either to be singly classified as an Adventure or a Romance book. It is a good mix of the two, and its fantasy/sci-fi roots are so subtle you hardly feel that it’s a sub theme that could be considered out of place.

I have always had a soft spot for a good romance. I feel the best stories all include a great romance. The love story between Claire and Jaime is wonderful and throughout the series we get to see them age and grow old together. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, but don’t feel like you have to wait until the last book in the series is written. The last book does leaving you wanting more and somewhat sad that there isn’t another one to read.

The time travel in this book is magical and not technical, and it doesn’t rely on complicated explanations, the time travel just is. As the character learn more about the phenomenon so does the reader. Never once did I feel like the author was purposely talking over my head to gloss over the glaring problems with time travel.

I recommend this series for fans of romance, adventure and fantasy. It truly is the perfect blend for opening minds up to other genres.

Replay

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Time loops like in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ and the more recent ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ are an obsession of mine. ‘Groundhog Day’ is the first thing I had ever seen that had a time loop, but my all-time favorite is a 1986 novel by Ken Grimwood called ‘Replay’.

‘Replay’ follows the life of a Jeff Winston. Jeff dies of a heart attack in 1988 and wakes up in 1963 when he was 18, with all the knowledge of the last 25 years. He quickly makes a fortune betting on major sporting events and works hard and does his best to maintain his cardiac health, but at the same time on the same day he dies from a heart attack.

He wakes up once again in his 18-year-old-self, but several hours later than the last time he experienced a replay. He discovers that he cannot prevent his death and his replays are getting shorter and shorter.

There was talk some years ago that this would be made into a movie with Ben Affleck as the lead, but the author died of a heart attack himself and there hasn’t been much interest since the mid 2000’s. It’s a shame, I think this would translate very well to the big screen.

I don’t wasn’t to give full spoilers on this book, because I believe everyone should read it. There are some deep philosophical issues that are dealt with over the course of this book. It has changed my outlook on life, and inspired me to do the things I want to do and not be complacent waiting for them to happen to me.

The book is a quick read and is well written. The characters are likeable and you really feel for their loves and losses.

If you get the chance, I recommend this as a must read.

Erased

Let’s talk about ‘Erased’. This is an Anime that involves time travel, within one’s own life time. Fair warning this will have spoilers. If you haven’t seen this show yet, I highly recommend watching it before reading this blog.  Go watch it… Go on, I’ll wait.

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Twenty-nine year old Satoru, the protagonist of this series possesses a gift he calls ‘revival’. This ability throws him back in time. Usually it is between 1 and 5 minutes and he then has a chance to prevent a catastrophe. In the first episode he saves a boy form a runaway truck whose driver died of a heart attack.

Later in the series his mother is murdered (I am leaving out parts of the story because I know someone just kept on reading and didn’t go watch the anime). This traumatic experience triggers a revival and sends him back in time to 1988 when he was 11 years old. Now his 29 year old mind is in an 11 year old body. He must find out what happened when he was 11 years old that gets his mother murdered when he is 29 years old.

What interest me in this is the time loop that is triggered. He proceeds with his life and tries to change the events but somehow things still end up happening the same as the first time around. That is until he decides to save the life of a girl who was kidnapped and murdered. He changes the past, but the event still occurs, and his mother was still murdered in the present.   He failed his revival. Now back in the present he is wanted by the police for the murder. He runs but is eventually captured, and he forces one last revival. I won’t ruin the ending of the series so I will stop here with the review

I am unclear if he can trigger this Revival at will, or if it only happens when he experiences a time of high stress. The anime also doesn’t touch on whether he lived out the whole time till he is back at the present or if he jumped back into the present when things went awry.  I have a feeling that he had to relive the entire time over based on the last revival and the ending of the anime. Over all the anime was well done, and I really connected with the characters within the first episode or two. I have watched other shows where I don’t even care about the characters ever and end up not finishing the show. A+ rating from me.

If I could go back in time like this and solve a mystery I doubt I could do better in my 11 year old body. Being more self-assured and less awkward with people in general may be a big advantage, but adults may be unsettled by a child with the intellect of a 30-something man. I would probably still fail math class though.

If my own personal revival occurred and I had to relive the entire time back to my thirties I would put that time to use. I wouldn’t just relive my same life. I would learn everything I could that could give me an advantage, but would I know I would get a second chance at the revival? Probably not, so I would focus on attempting to fix what I could and stop the murder in the present, either by force or by cunning. At this point I would have almost 70 years of life experience, and I feel that in and of itself may be the greatest advantage.

On the other hand knowing (or suspecting) that I may get a second chance at a revival, I would devote my attention to studding the events so I would know (hopefully solve) more about the murders. All this is assuming that I relive the entire time back to present. If I don’t and once I failed in the past and I jump back to the present there may not be much more I could do than Satoru.

Hindsight is 20/20, but it is even better paired with time travel.

-Ayle