Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Sunday Review

Reckless Traveler
Reckless Traveler by Walter Rhein.

Walter Rhein contacted me about two months ago after reading my review of Turn Right at Machu Picchu and asked if I could read his book about living in Peru. I was a bit reluctant: I was afraid with my current Hugo obsession I wouldn't want to take time out to read a non-fiction book. However, I agreed, and I started to read it chapter by chapter in between other readings. This is the perfect book for casual reading - almost every chapter stands alone well, and Rhein sprinkles in enough information within chapters to get the reader quickly back up to speed if it's been awhile between readings. Toward the end of the book I found I was reluctant to stop reading to get to other stuff, so I finished off the last third in a day... although it took me weeks of doling out chapters to get that far. There are 42 chapters, and each one is short and fun.

Ok, Spoilers ahead (use rot13 to read). V sbhaq gur svefg puncgre gb or n avpr vagebqhpgvba gb gur obbx nf n jubyr - gur nhgube vf ba n ohf fgbccrq ol zra jvgu NX-47f. Gur fvghngvba vfa'g erfbyirq hagvy gur svany puncgre naq jbexf irel avpryl nf n obbxraq gb gur frevrf. Vg jnf nyfb pbzcryyvat, znxvat zr jnag gb pbzr onpx naq frr jung unq tbggra uvz gb gung cbvag, juvpu vf n arng gevpx.

V jba'g tb puncgre ol puncgre, ohg fbzr bs gur zbzragf gung ernyyl fgbbq bhg sbe zr jrer gur puncgre ba orq ohtf naq gur arkg puncgre gung gnyxf nobhg gur nhgube'f lbhgu jvgu pbhfvaf jub jrer n ovg jvyq. Gur jubyr xvqarl fgbarf nqiragher jnf nznmvat gb ernq nobhg. V jnf nzhfrq ol gur sbyx xabjyrqtr gung ur rkcrevraprq va phevat vg. Va snpg, whfg nobhg rirel zrqvpny gnyr jnf unve-envfvat naq lrg nzhfvat. V pna fnl vg'f nzhfvat orpnhfr V qvqa'g unir gb yvir vg.

V ybirq gur gnyr bs Fcnavfu zvfgnxrf naq jung rirelbar gubhtug ur nfxrq gur jnvgre sbe. Gung jnf cevpryrff. Nf jnf gur gevc gb Znpuh Cvppuh jvgu uvf sevraq Tenql. Va snpg, gur ragver frpgvba jvgu Tenql jnf ernyyl sha gb ernq... evtug hc hagvy gur svany cnentencu bs puncgre 23, ng juvpu cbvag V chg gur obbx qbja naq nyzbfg pevrq sbe n zna V'q arire zrg.

Sbeghangryl, gur arkg puncgre jnf na nqiragher va uhzbe naq Xnsxnrfdhr ohernhpenpl. Gurer ner n pbhcyr zber ivfvgf gb gbhevfg fcbgf, zbfgyl gbyq va n jnl gung znxrf lbh ernyyl jnag gb tb purpx gurz bhg. Gurer ner nyfb fgbevrf nobhg grnpuvat gung znqr zr teva. Grnpuvat Gur Pnyy bs gur Jvyq gb n ohapu bs puvyqera jub unq ab pyhr jung fabj vf jnf ybiryl. V nyfb ybirq ubj ur uvq uvf xabjyrqtr bs Fcnavfu sebz gur angvir grnpuref. V'ir urneq bs crbcyr qbvat gung fbeg bs guvat orsber, whfg abg nf ybat nf gur nhgube fnvq ur pneevrq vg ba. V nyfb ybir uvf ivrj bs rqhpngvba naq jul cresrpgvba fubhyq abg or gur tbny. Irel avpr fghss gurer.

V jnf nyfb nzhfrq ol gur vapvqragf juvyr ur jnf n wbheanyvfg jvgu n cerff cnff. Lrf, gur guvatf ner zntvpny. V ybir zvar, nygubhtu V eneryl unir gb hfr vg. V gubhtug uvf rkcrevrapr jvgu gur Cerfvqrag jnf cerggl shaal. Ur qvqa'g qb nalguvat jebat, rvgure. Gur gevpx vf gung lbh ner gurer gb trg fbzr xvaq bs fgbel. Gung'f nyy ur arrqrq gb qb, naq urpx, ur qvq vg! V qba'g xabj vs ur jebgr nobhg vg sbe gur jrofvgr, ohg ur tbg vg sbe gur obbx, fb gung jbexf. Ur fubhyq unir oebhtug n cra naq abgrcnq jvgu uvz, nf jryy, ohg V'z vzcerffrq ur tbg nf sne nf ur qvq. Nzhfvatyl, ol yrnivat n yvggyr rneyl, ur znqr uvzfrys ybbx n yvggyr zber cebsrffvbany. Ur tnir gur vzcerffvba ur jnf bss gb svyr uvf fgbel. V ybir vg!

In conclusion, if you are any kind of traveler or, like me, wish you could be a traveler, this is a great book to read. I also heartily recommend it to younger readers, high school age. In fact, I wouldn't hesitate to give it to just about any teenager. The worst activities he gets up to, that he describes, involve drinking. And even those result in some lessons learned. But high school or college kids would get a lot out of the stories in this book - from the willingness to take risks to the understanding that sometimes bad things happen. I may have been reluctant to start this book, but I'm very glad I read it.

Television shows:
  • Gotham: "Damned If You Do..." - An episode that sets up the new status quo, showing Penguin consolidating his power while Jim is demoted to street duty. There's a point in this episode where Bruce shows his twisted reasoning that will eventually lead him to take up the mantle of Batman - and shares that reasoning with Jim, who takes it to heart. And that's really the entire point of the show. Bad choices are made that result in horrible things with the goal towards creating a greater good. What are the consequences of those bad choices going to be on the people who made them? We also see Nygma falling further into mental breakdown with an interesting scene at a mirror. The Riddler has been both villain and anti-hero in the comics, this show may try to give him all the levels he's had in the comics.

  • Doctor Who: "The Witch's Familiar" - Missy is truly an amazing character. I definitely see the roots of the original Master in her portrayal, along with the gathered insanity of the others. Her tricks in this one were lovely from a story standpoint. However, the absolute best moment of all came in the beginning, (spoilers) jura Zvffl vf gryyvat Pynen gur fgbel nobhg gur Qbpgbe naq Pynen fnlf gur Qbpgbe tbg njnl. Zvffl'f erfcbafr (naq gur ivqrb bs gur Qbpgbe nybat jvgu vg) znqr zr cnhfr gur fubj fb V pbhyq snyy bhg bs zl punve ynhtuvat: "Ab, ur'f gur Qbpgbe. Ur sryy vagb n arfg bs inzcver zbaxrlf. Ohg gung'f nabgure fgbel!" V'z abj tbvat gb fcraq fbzr gvzr guvaxvat nobhg inzcver zbaxrlf, V guvax. Gur bgure gryyvat zbzrag jnf jura Zvffl gevrq gb trg gur Qbpgbe gb xvyy gur qnyrx juvpu unq xvyyrq Pynen. Irel zhpu ure guvat. Was it a great episode? Yes and no. It had some moments, but it dragged a little in the middle.

Novella review:
  • What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu is one of the more interesting stories I've read this entire year. Originally I was a bit put off by it because I thought the writer was getting basic stuff wrong... then it hit me what was happening. At that point I started to really enjoy it. While it probably could have been a tad shorter, it was still quite excellent. I'm not sure about the ending, but the whole thing was so good that by the end I was enjoying it enough it almost didn't matter. In short, definitely a contender for my Hugo nomination ballot.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Aug 12th
  • Justice League United #12 - So the team works after all? I wonder very much about Mera on the hunt for Aquaman all on her own, but at least Animal Man keeps his word. As for the rest, the team probably ought to listen to Etrigan on this one.
  • Earth 2 Society #3 - Ok, I liked the bits with Lois' story, but I'm not really sure what to make of the rest. I'm not sure I get where this story is going.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #1 - Ok, I'm in. The total subversion of the Batman origin was lovely. This is fun from start to finish, with a pleasant kind of art that amuses me. The stories are promising so far as well. I know Mera shows up soon, so I'm just going to really enjoy this book, I think.
  • Arrow: Season 2.5 #11 - Well, that's kind of an anti-climax for the final scene, since we know he survives. In fact, all of season three is already over, so there's no question at all. This book was a neat enough idea, but it just falls down in places.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern #2 - For whatever reason, it took me forever to want to read this book. I literally would read the first page, say, "eh" and move on to a different book. Once I got past the first page, it wasn't bad, but honestly, I'm just not that interested in it. Which is strange, because usually I love cross-universe stories like this. I will just note that whoever is writing the book got the spectrum lanterns all wrong, as well. Oops.
  • Empire Uprising #4 - Wow. Everyone in this book is pretty evil, but this guy takes the cake, I think. I also wonder about Lohkyn - I remember him from the original series. A good character, even though his fate was unpleasant. I'm not sure about that final splash, though. Going to have to keep reading.
  • Rebels #5 - Honestly, this series feels like it's been going a lot longer than five issues, and I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I feel like I need to go back and reread the first four issues, though. There's stuff I feel like I'm missing.
  • Secret Wars 2099 #4 - I really hate Miguel in this book. Roberta, on the other hand, is very cool. And seeing Hercules and Sub-Mariner trying to drink each other under the table was great.
  • SpongeBob Comics #47 - I love the fishstick. I don't know why, but it really amused the heck out of me. The rest is more of the usual - fun if you like the humor in SpongeBob.
  • Doctor Who 10th #14 - Oooo Pyramids of Mars references! Awesome. I wanna read more of this one, especially after that cliffhanger.
  • Doctor Who 11th #15 - Well, 15 issues in we finally get the finish to the story that started in depression with a rainbow dog. Good stuff, and I'm glad we've sorted out Jones and ARC. I'm curious where the story will head next.
  • Doctor Who 2015: Four Doctors #1 - Clara goes to stop a paradox but apparently causes the very paradox she went to prevent? Is that what I'm reading here? Good job Clara!
NOTE: This was a huge week, so my brain is a little fried... but people who want to read comics for Hugo purposes could do worse than to look at DC Comics Bombshells and/or Empire Uprising. I probably wouldn't bother with the Trek/Lantern crossover, but then again, it might get really good at the end. Bombshells is an interesting alternate take on the DCU in WWII, while Empire Uprising is all about the world when the bad guy has won and is trying to keep control of his empire.