Happy New Year!

fireworks-2248223_1280.jpg

So how were everyone’s festivities? Mine was the usual stuff-fest of mince pies, cakes, chocolates, nuts, misc. nibbles and what-not. I started off in Yule, where I celebrated the shortest day of the year by eating homemade vegan pizza, a rather crappy sugar-fest of a brownie pudding from Tesco, and watching a Ghost in the Shell marathon courtesy of some DVD’s I’d purchased a while ago so I could get free P&P on Amazon. It was the original anime version of the movie in a double set with Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Having rewatched the original anime, I realise how much better it is than the dumbed-down Hollywood version. And yes, I’m still enamoured of Batou!

I managed to burn some of the excess calories off on my cross-trainer before Xmas rocked up, which brought more food, nibbles, and something I haven’t eaten in a while (despite being vegan), namely nut roast. It was another Tesco’s offering, but unlike their travesty of a pudding, it was a lot better, although I was in danger of breaking a tooth on its overly hard nuts.

Then, shortly before the New Year, my mate and I headed off to the cinema to watch Jumanji. We also wanted to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi at some point, but figured as it was the holidays, as the film had only recently come out, and as it was Meerkat Wednesdays (2 for 1 on tickets), it would be rammed. Boy, were we wrong!

We were greeted by the desk clerk telling us that the only free seats in Jumanji were right at the front, and the next showing wasn’t for another couple of hours. Given that it had been a 45-minute drive to get to the cinema, we couldn’t exactly pop home and wait it out. It was then my mate asked about Star Wars. We were told that it too was fairly full, but there was still good seats available, so that’s what we went and saw. Turns out, the theatre was probably a little over half full by the time it started. I still can’t get my head around the fact that Jumanji was busier than Star Wars, I mean c’mon! It’s Star Wars!

I also can’t get my head around all the hate that’s been going on over the film. I thought it was great, and I liked the difference in the storyline and direction. Yes, it was quite a bit different to The Force Awakens, but let’s face it, that was just a rehash of A New Hope, complete with exploding Death Star. Also, watching the film was a little bitter-sweet, as shortly before reaching the cinema, the news reminded us it was the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death. I’ll be honest, I got a little teary-eyed at times when she came on screen. Personally, I’m glad it’s done well at the box office, despite the concerted effort of a bunch of nay-saying fanboys to make it bomb. Seriously, the f*ck is wrong with some people?

I saw the New Year in with yet more nibbles, a dickie tummy (apparently, rolls in the freezer can go off), and my yearly alcoholic drink (thank you Aspall Cyder).

So here’s to 2018, and to hoping the orange one doesn’t cause the extinction of the Human race!

And who knows, maybe I’ll actually get a paid job this year (I know, I know, pigs have got a better chance at flying!)

Advertisements

Monthly Reads – July 2017

So, I kept up my 1+ chapter a day reading (usually just before going to bed) and I’ve finished reading Snow Crash. In addition, I’ve played catch up with my X-Men reading, and have finished off the third volume of Death Note (a series that’s still keeping me gripped).

I need to get into better practice at writing book reviews so, with that in mind, I shall review Snow Crash….

July reads

Hiro Protagonist; hacker, pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, and soon to be the saviour of the US … or what’s left of it. Brace yourself for Sumerian and Samari swords!

I won’t go too much into the story. If you want a summary, you can read the book blurb, or check it out Wikipedia. Basically, there’s a virus that can affect hackers by rewriting their brains, it’s about to be let loose on the US’ general populous, and only our ‘Protagonist’ can stop it.

I suppose you could say that Snow Crash occurs in an alternative reality. The America of the 21st century in Snow Crash is a hell of a lot different than what we actually see, with much of America having been taken over by sovereign territories and franchises. Yet some of the ‘futuristic’ tech seen in the narrative can be seen around us today (or is in development). Take the Metaverse. It speaks of a mashup between Second Life and virtual reality; an immersive virtual world entered via customisable avatars. The wheels on Y.T.’s skateboard? They sound very similar to the idea shown in this video.

So, despite the landscape being very different, the tech aspects of the story are actually quite believable.

Snow Crash was, as I’ve mentioned previously, my first foray into cyberpunk, and overall, I found it to be quite an enjoyable read, however, I do have a couple of gripes.

Firstly, the story rests on the idea of an ancient virus being transmitted either visually (in the case of hackers), physically (via drugs), or verbally. Ignoring whether this would actually be possible (it is fiction after all), the hows and why of the ‘virus’ lead to some rather intensive, theology-driven chapters, incorporating Sumerian history, myths and legends, and at times, I felt I was reading a religious education textbook, as opposed to cyberpunk. I’m guessing Hiro had a background in R.E., because I was completely lost at times.

My other grumble is with the developing backstory of Hiro and Y.T., or rather, the lack of it. The two characters become a team, hunting for information to sell to the CIC, yet this part of their narrative wasn’t covered very much. I guess quite a bit of time passed with them working together, yet what they did seemed, for the most part, not worth covering, so this meant their closeness as friends came across as quite forced.

It also took me a while to get to grips with the tech-derived lingo, and settle into the narrative, but once things got going I enjoyed the story. Would I recommend it to other readers? Hacker-infused theology reading aside, as a first delve into cyberpunk, it was entertaining, so I’d say, “give it a go!”

Next up … Social Engineer (Brody Taylor Thrillers, #1)

Monthly Reads – June 2017

I’ve decided to put my re-read of Harry Potter on hiatus (I’m half way through the Goblet of Fire) and try something. What with seeing Ghost in the Shell a while back, and studying Information Computer Technology with the Open University, I had a hankering to try a Cyberpunk novel.

I’ve never read Cyberpunk before, so didn’t know where to start. Cue a lot of Googling of recommendations and reviews, after which, I decided that Post-Cyberpunk sounded like my kind of trope.

“Whereas cyberpunk is/was a Darker and Edgier riposte to older Science Fiction, intended to portray what might happen if we don’t all destroy ourselves, Post-Cyberpunk is intended to present a less pessimistic and more realistic vision.” tvtropes.org

Actually, Ghost in the Shell is considered Post-Cyberpunk(ish), so that helped affirm my choice. The TVTropes page also had a helpful list of media in this genre, and amongst the books was a title I’d seen elsewhere: Snow Crash.

snow-crash-cyberpunk-320x482

“The only relief from the sea of logos is within the well-guarded borders of the Burbclaves. Is it any wonder that most sane folks have forsaken the real world and chosen to live in the computer-generated universe of virtual reality? In a major city, the size of a dozen Manhattans, is a domain of pleasures limited only by the imagination. But now a strange new computer virus called Snow Crash is striking down hackers everywhere, leaving an unlikely young man as humankind’s last best hope.” Amazon

So this is what I’m reading this month. The main character’s name is Hiro Protagonist, which is as daft as you can get, but I’m trying to look past that. I’ve only managed to get a few chapters in so far, but I’m holding myself to reading a chapter a night before bed. It’s been quite entertaining in places so far, so I’m hoping for a good read. I’ll keep you posted as to what I thought of it.

Anyone out there read Snow Crash? If so, what did you think?