Review: Dust

Dust by Hugh Howey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this dystopian, post-apocalyptic tale, but with hope!

It threaded the different POVs well. The pacing, considering the subject matter, was well done.

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Review: iD by Madeline Ashby

iD by Madeline Ashby
iD by Madeline Ashby
Like it's previous iteration (vN) this is a thought provoking book. Lots of references to explorations of AI from the past, Blade Runner in particular. Some choice quotes:


Review: MaddAddam

MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy, #3)MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Atwood does a good job of world building a plausible next step evolution for humanity, that may not include humans as we know them. Sexual competition as a source of distress and calamity with homo sapiens (unlike Crakers) is a pretty constant refrain.
It is a distinctly Atwood novel. The writing style, dancing between internal dialog, remembrance and journal writing. You are never quite sure where you are, which is consistent with a "post Flood" society that marks the passage of time by festivals, births and deaths.

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Review: Avengers Arena

Rating: 2 of 5

In this weeks +Geek & Sundry vlog (below), +Amy Dallen asked for our thoughts on the title Avengers Arena

Ok, I've got opinions. I did not enjoy this title. Granted, I did not read Avengers Academy, so many of these characters were unfamiliar to me. The death sport aspect was derivative and cheap. Gert's death hit me because it wasn't a common occurrence. She was the character one could easily see themselves in. In this title, threat of death is common. But we also are left with the distinct impression that the kids are in a simulation of some sort. Those that die in the game are likely being removed from the Marvel continuity, but...

Truth is anyone who is born one day dies. Part of the appeal of superhero comics, along with religious mythologies, transhumanism and just plain wishful thinking, is the fantasy that death isn't the end. That the story just keeps going. We are supposed to get the impression that this title is going to address this, but it hasn't, and I'm afraid it won't.


Review: Young Avengers - Volume 1: Style > Substance

Young Avengers - Volume 1: Style > Substance
Young Avengers - Volume 1: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Surprising. I'm really kind of digging on this. The art style is great, the writing is fairly gripping. It's a bit like watching a CW series, but one of the good ones. Yes, I count Arrow and Supernatural among them, so use that to weigh my opinion).

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Review: All-Star Superman, Vol. 1

All-Star Superman, Vol. 1
All-Star Superman, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well done. A few of the sub plots were a bit jumbled, but all in all, a very emotional, compelling Superman story.

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Review: Superman: Red Son

Superman: Red Son
Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great what if story. And the twist at the end, f'n stellar. Read it.

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Review: Necessary Evil

Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enjoyed the conclusion, though I'd anticipated some of it since the first novel. Did NOT like the treatment of Gretel.

Thought I would elaborate on this a bit. If were it not for the way they handled the Gretel character, I would have given this another star. Even understanding what she did, what was accomplished, the way she was treated was deplorable.

I get that the series is all about the repercussions of acts projected forward, but it just made Marsh a thoroughly unlikable character.

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Review: Superman: Birthright

Superman: Birthright
Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What the Man of Steel should have been. Not in the sense that it needed Lex (he does fight other villans), but in the feel of it. It was a good series, and you can certainly feel Mark Waid's reverence for the material.

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Review: Abaddon's Gate

Abaddon's Gate
Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found myself halfway into the book around 2am and decided I wouldn't be satisfied unless I just kept reading to finish it.
Granted, I did guess at the ending (more or less) as soon as they passed through Abaddon's Gate, but it was a fun ride getting there. I liked the character of Anna, and Holden was delightfully, blissfully self-assured as usual.
If you liked the first two, this one closes out the trilogy in a satisfactory fashion.

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Music as an evolution to facilitate social behavior...

Music may have been a way for early man to communicate without common language. Both these vids are worth a watching.

Iron Man 3

Went and saw Iron Man 3 today with my son. Better than 2, about on par with the first, and enjoyable.

JARVIS and the suit saw more screen time fighting bad guys than Tony Stark in the Iron Man suit. I think JARVIS was the true superhero in this film. Tony was just a hot mess at the center of it.


I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Wizard (5th Level)

The results were SOOO not a shock...

I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Wizard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:

Chaotic Good A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment when it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)


Review: The Best of All Possible Worlds

The Best of All Possible Worlds
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wanted to like it better than I did. The exploration of the various communities reminded me of Hari Seldons exploration of Trantor in Prelude to Foundation. I did like the way they played out the romance aspect of the story. It was appropriate.

A dear friend of mine is dealing with the impending loss of a favoured family member. In light of my inability to console, comfort or compensate, I feel I should revise my rating of this book. The timing, and the fact that if I'm honest with myself I have far too much in common with Dllenahkh, and in familiarizing myself with the origin of the title of the book.

So in that sense, that it was able to come back on me, within 72hrs of finishing it - somewhat grudgingly, suffering through syrupy romance with a cringe to get through the final third of it - and punch me in the feels places. I'll award it a nod and another star.

Oh, and I just finished Bioshock Infinite - which could almost be considered a gamification of the Leibniz Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil

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Review: Pleasure Unbound

Pleasure Unbound
Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Far more enjoyable than I expected it to be, but Felicia wasn't kidding. Pretty heavy on the sexy times. If you aren't put off by the second chapter though, continue on. The "story" (a detective mystery) was fairly obvious, and I won't drop spoilers, but had the nature of it figured out pretty quickly. But realistically, it was just an excuse for the setup and character development, and oh yeah, the sex, anyway.
I might read more in the series, and would recommend it to someone that wanted a quick read that didn't involve much critical thinking.

Oh, one thing. 600 years? Really? Talk about Hell on Earth. I can't handle being in the same space as someone else for more than 72hrs, I can't imagine what torture 600 years would be, no matter how exciting the sex and dreamy the partner...

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My history with XBMC

My first build out of a media server, some awful early version of ISS on Windows NT. I was trying to convince some guys that if they wanted to do a music streaming system, they should ignore RealPlayer and check out mp3 streaming. And then I started playing with NetShow and this activeX plugin called FutureSplash.

That stuff was crap. Be glad we've evolved. Early version of Windows Media Center was unsatisfying, so tried out this thing called XBMC. Then XBMC on Linux, then XBox as Media Extender, then we tried Boxee, I liked the syncing of watch activity. Then GoogleTV, but we had to use Plex to get local media.
So now I'm back to XBMC, on Raspberry Pi, with the storage server also doing the central database. Always back to XBMC, especially if I want to explore new ideas.

So now I'm popping activity to trait.tv and Google+ Activity automatically, the YouTube addon is broken in Frodo, and wasn't, at last check, updating activity on the YouTube account (I want it to). I was operating with GetGlue as backend metadata provider, but I got a bit irritated with them. Now that they've been purchased, I understand why they weren't enthusiastic about suggestions. Good luck to them, but I don't think you start off insisting people not only report activity, but broadcast it. The default assumption should always be "man and machine" first. 

Once I'm rendered digitally, THEN we can discuss how I might be selectively time shared and replicated and distributed.

It is interesting, to someone like me, to watch companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft evolve. Did the founders vision imprint itself? What do they value? What is their eventual goal? Where do we see them, as entities, not five years out, but 100?

So yeah, 10yr anniversary XBMC. And to all those that have managed to cling on to their optimistic visions of humanity's future, toast!

When I've been digitally replicated, it will be important that my filters have been curated such that my forward projection is... True? Would I be comfortable with my replica after (what is the appropriate gender pronoun here, none are adequate) functional and distinct ten minutes out?


The Funk

So I'm watching Weed Country on Discovery Channel and I keep thinking of a comic book idea.

If S.H.I.E.L.D. kept Bruce in a room with a well supplied vaporizer, they'd have no problems at all.


Review: The Last Colony

The Last Colony
The Last Colony by John Scalzi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enjoyed the read. It's quick and fairly painless, but I'd mapped out the entire storyline by the end of the first couple chapters, at least in broad strokes.

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Review: vN

vN by Madeline Ashby

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one deserves a rating with more flexibility. For concept I give it 4 of 5, for execution a 3 (and in parts a 2), and for the interview at the end, a 5.

It does an admirable job of pursuing the idea that an emergent intelligence may not operate by the same rules humans do. I'll likely add the next one to my list. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in AI or identity, but wouldn't recommend it universally.

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