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October 15 2017

September 14 2017

September 11 2017

August 26 2017

August 06 2017

August 03 2017

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden Jeff is currently reading The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

July 27 2017

July 26 2017

Bridging Infinity by Jonathan Strahan Jeff is currently reading Bridging Infinity by Jonathan Strahan
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
"I really wanted to love this book, but the fun nostalgia trip gets a bit thick at times, as does the dialogue and endless oneupmanship over who knows more useless trivia. Love the idea of the story, love the Rush references. Could have done without the awkward chivalry. "
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
"This is a nasty, nasty piece of work.

"They set a slam-hound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the colour of his hair."

I've put that up there to establish my credentials. Not only can I quote, from memory, the opening line of *second* in The Sprawl trilogy as well as the first, but I spent my teens GM-ing roleplaying games; I have, in my attic room at my Mum's, my fully painted Ultramarine 40k army, my Eldar, Imperial Guard, and Orc Epic armies, my Necromunda and my Gorkamorka gangs, with, of course, assorted sceneries. I spent part of my twenties being one of the 3 Elders for Ultima Online's hardcore collection of hundreds of roleplayers, The Community Of Yew. I have a bookcase covering Batman's entire career, from Year One to Batman Incorporated, arranged in chronological order of Bruce's life. I can program a ZX Spectrum. I am target f*cking audience. To forestall any argument - I "get it".

And this book disgusted me, in its depiction of geeks and nerds as completely pathetic examples of humanity.

Had this been a Hollywood film, we would be descending upon it waves to eviscerate it for how it portrays us.

The premise is simple and intriguing enough: it's the mid 21st Century, the world has gone dystopian in ways not explained very well, and humanity spends its time logged into the OASIS, an online world that originated as an MMORPG. Its creator, Anorak, dies, and leaves his immense fortune to whoever can find an Easter Egg hidden inside the OASIS. He was obsessed with the 80s, comic books, video games, and general geek culture. So far, so cute.

Anorak's Invitation:

"Three hidden keys open three secret gates
Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits
And those with the skill to survive these straits
Will reach The End where the prize awaits"

If a character passes these tests, they inherit an amount of money and power sufficient to change the world. Not exaggerating.

And here comes the problem: To even find the keys, let alone the gates, requires the characters to exhibit that obsessiveness erroneously associated with geeks and nerds, and that vicious superiority stemming from obscure knowledge that one sometimes finds on messageboards and forums - the mainstream view of our culture, circa about five years ago.

And the worthy traits? Given that they will lead to a prize of so much money that the winner will be capable of fixing the very world?

1st gate: play Joust (80s arcade game) against an AI and win.
2nd gate: recite, word for word, the script to Wargames
3rd gate: beat a high score on Tempest (again, 80s arcade game), and recite the script to Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Nothing about, say, improving the human condition. Nope. These skills are the traits that make a person worthy in the author's mind.

Cute. Funny. Vaguely cool. But, not, by any stretch of the imagination, worthy traits. Except if you're the type of nerd/geek that believes that being able to quote Wargames and complete video games makes you a *better person* than any one else. Tragically, this type of geek exists.

And that's what makes this book so problematic. It's billed and lauded as a celebration of nerd/geek culture, and in some ways, it might be.

But too much of it is a celebration of, and an excuse for, *dork* culture - that nasty, smug, superior, bitter, militantly anti-social end of the geek spectrum that gives us such a bad name amongst the mainstream.

And that is nothing to be celebrated. We can't even use the "reclamation" argument anymore, when the prejudices against us are disappearing more and more each year.

(I flirted with the thought that the author was some dickhead writing a nasty sneering cynical parody of nerds, based on an immature misunderstanding of how we actually act, for a while. I googled him, and found an image of him in a car - possibly a Delorean - with Grrrr Martin. So, I guess not. A shame, I'd have been happier if he wasn't so clearly a geek himself, betraying us like this)

There are other, deeper problems: the fetishising of geek girls is miserably sexist and stereotypical. There is a monstrously racist and homophobic reveal towards the end, which is made worse by the author's attempt to portray it as genuine diversity. Spoiler: it's not. Lampshading racism and homophobia does not excuse it.

This book glorifies and excuses the worst aspects of my culture. I have no understanding of why it is rated so highly."

July 25 2017

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Jeff finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

July 19 2017

July 18 2017

Strange Dogs by James S.A. Corey Jeff is currently reading Strange Dogs by James S.A. Corey

July 13 2017

Dark Universe by Milton J. Davis Jeff is currently reading Dark Universe by Milton J. Davis
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson Jeff is currently reading The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross Jeff finished reading The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross

July 11 2017

The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross Jeff is currently reading The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer Jeff gave 5 stars to Borne (Kindle Edition) by Jeff VanderMeer

July 08 2017

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