Under the Influence: The Black Stallion

When I was young, there were quite a few things that interested me, but aside from reading, I had two personal passions: volcanoes… and horses. I loved horses. I had multiple horse models. I imitated horses. And I read about horses, read stories about horses, fictional horses and real horses, racehorses and wild horses, little prehistoric Eohippus all the way to the many modern breeds that ranged from tiny miniature ponies to the gigantic Shire workhorses. One of the only live shows of any kind that I insisted on attending when I was young [ Continue reading... ]

Why I Write the Way I Do

  All authors develop a style of writing – something that makes their stories theirs. Some of the "signature" is in the way they use language – particular turns of phrase and patterns of prose – while other parts of the signature will show up in the themes they like to revisit, the types of characters they like – or don't like – the things they'll show or hide, and of course the plots they choose to do, or not do. Now that I've been doing this for well over a decade (which seems so strange to me – it doesn't seem that long, unless I [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Dragon Age: Inquisition

As my prior reviews of Dragon Age and Dragon Age II made clear, those were impressively good games with excellent characterization, good gameplay, and a deep and engaging plot. A third game had an incredibly high standard to live up to. Instead, the first and second games now have a problem of living up to the third. The game starts with a column of warriors – presumably Templars – marching on one side, a column of mages on the other, heading for a massive keep in the distance. Starting the game… causes the tower to explode. You begin [ Continue reading... ]

False Dichotomies of Publishing

I've touched on this subject in some of my prior posts, but after having yet another discussion on this general topic, I thought it might be worthwhile to visit this particular issue in a separate post. Often, both those published in the traditional fashion and those who are self-published present their approaches as though they were equal choices which need simply be chosen between (and naturally extol the virtues of their chosen approach while pointing out all the deficiencies of the other method). But this is, put simply, wrong. The [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: One Piece — the Fourth Piece!

  I continue my review of the immense and intricate shonen anime One Piece, following the sometimes "Idiot Hero" Monkey D. Luffy and his peculiar crew – swordsman Rorona Zoro, navigator Nami, combat cook Sanji, medic Chopper, sharpshooter Usopp, archaeologist Nico Robin, and musician Brook – in their united yet individual quests across the hazardous sea called the Grand Line. To recap important points about our heroes and the world of One Piece: Some years back, the so-called Pirate King, Gol D. Roger (usually called Gold Roger) was [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves (well, Phone): Pokémon Go

I was never a big Pokémon fan. I never played any of the games, and I'd seen just enough episodes of the anime (plus the first movie) to be familiar with the basic concept and main characters. So when Pokémon Go was rolled out, at first I didn't have much interest… … except there were so many people on my list playing it. I figured I might as well give it a try, the way I had MMORPGs like WoW, just so that I'd know what it was. To my astonishment, I rather like the game. Collecting various strange (virtual) animals, trying to level them [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: No Man’s Sky, First Impressions

No Man's Sky is a highly ambitious and unique game, whose particular claim to fame is a titanically huge universe – quintillions of planets to explore, generated procedurally in a manner that ensures that every planet will be different and that individual players will be discovering things unique to their own personal interaction with the game. I have something of an advantage in approaching the game for review: I heard very little other than this about the game, and so I had relatively little preconception about it. My expectations were [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: James Bond

Bond. James Bond. Agent of MI6, British spy, with the number of 007 – the 00 prefix meaning that he has a literal License to Kill. The secret agent who set the standard against which all others – even those written better, even those more accurately researched – will be compared. Described in the books as handsome but with a cruel edge, something like Hoagy Carmichael (a well-known songwriter and actor of the 1930s-40s), Bond has of course been played in film by multiple actors ranging from the inimitable Sean Connery to Roger Moore, Timothy [ Continue reading... ]

The Author and Criticism

One consequence of putting your writing up for sale and public view is that, naturally, people will express opinions about that writing. For most authors, their stories are pretty near and dear to their hearts, and so they always hope that people will say nice things about their writing. This is, of course, not always the case. More generally, this is always not the case for stories in general. There isn't a novel published that doesn't have someone expressing negative opinions about it. Even a book received with great enthusiasm will still [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: A Fire Upon the Deep

On the edge of the Galaxy, an archaeological expedition finds a cache of ancient wonders. But in delving into the secrets of a civilization so advanced they can barely comprehend it, they unleash… something. A Something that bides its time, hidden until it is prepared, and then acts to consume them all, flower into malevolent power. Only a desperate sacrifice by two researchers – themselves also nigh to reaching a superhuman state – allows any of them to escape at all. At the same time, far towards the center of the Galaxy, a race of strange [ Continue reading... ]