Autumnlands – a good read

Crossposting from my rpg blog – Autumnlands is a comic that I wasn’t sure about, but quickly liked. The story starts simply and gets more fantastic and magical as it progresses. After reading the first collection there is certainly more going on in the backstory that will be revealed than the initial story gives you – and I’ve several guesses that I’m keeping to myself for now. The wider story arc called “Tooth and Claw” plays out in issues I’ve not yet read but am looking forward to. Weird magic (floating cities, rituals of summoning, muto corpus / animal based hybrids in Ars Magica, lightning spells), beasties, rapid melee with swords and spears – what’s not to like?

Autumnlands by Image Comics

Kings Landing rendered in Minecraft

Holy insane dedication batman! 100 people, 4 months. Stunning Full image gallery (re-posting from other blog because its awesome).


Incredible. These folks win at Game of Throne Minecraft. You might need to understand what Minecraft is to appreciate the effort, or be a GoT fan to not think it is a little extreme use of time – I’m both. Impressed. Thanks to Ant for the link.

Pizzainacup on Reddit – It took me and about 100 other builders a little over 4 months to build the whole thing. We estimate theres around 3000 unique buildings, all hand made and all fully decorated on the interior.

The insanity level might be moderate, until I found out that they rendered the interior spaces as well.

And because insanity needs a project, they’re also doing all of Westeros.


A beautiful day for distractions

The weather has been cold, not unusual for Melbourne in July and certainly not new for me. It is however a little more present in my reality due to the early starts and late finishes that work has required recently. I am jealous to read all the blogs about summer frolicking in the northern hemisphere. You lucky crazy sods – you at least should be busy and outside, but are instead inside with Warcraft.

In wow I’ve been quiet due to a range of factors not really related to the cold at all. The main cause is legitimate distractions of work, house renovations, and broken cars.

Work has been busy as we started a new contract about two months ago, and although I think it will get better in the long term, in the short term that means no raiding – as fatigue makes good raiding really difficult. A 7-11ish raid plus the peripheral discussions till midnight are not viable when you get up just after 5am each day. Hell the contract is only for four years, so I guess I’ll be ready for Firelands raids by then. Grumble.

We’re also renovating our unit, at the moment that means adding a new fireplace and we’re mid way through the prep and painting of the mantlepiece. Again wow suffers, as I want the darn fire finished and it frustrates me to not have it completed. I could perhaps rush it and sacrifice the quality of the finish, but I’ll have to look at that fireplace for years to come and any blemishes that were avoidable will bug me.

To offset the missing games I’ve started reading a bit more. I can read in much smaller time segments that I can play warcraft, and it is as much a satisfying escape from reality as online games are. Two books that I’ve borrowed are the last Harry Potter and the Game of Thrones first novel. As of a few days ago I’ve just put down the last Harry Potter book. I saw the film and felt that the book would not add anything new. That is a little snarky, but thus far the book has been a very fair match to the films, and therefore I’m not going to gain any deeper insight by finishing the book. I might come back in a few years and read it, once the images of the films have been forgotten and it seems a little more fresh.

Game of Thrones also follows the TV series very closely, but the book is adding a lot of depth to my understanding. I’m staggered just of close to the original the TV series was, and also that there can be suck side stories in the novel that tweak my interest. I understand now some of the small embellishments or slight changes in timing between the presentation of the two – as it makes a more TV friendly presentation.

I wonder too how the Warcraft film will follow the lore. To make a viable and profitable film the target audience needs to be far wider than just the current subscriber base – and that means making the material digestible in a single film. This adds a complexity of picking a section of the lore which is a discrete story, and also has enough gravitas with the community to be worth seeing.

They have a hard script to write, and I hope they throw a darn good team at it.

Anyway that is enough of a rumble on my distractions. May your novels always be enticing, your wine glass full, and your hearth warm.

Judas Unchained by Peter E. Hamilton (quick review)

Judas Unchained is the second book in a highly detailed and immertsive story started in Pandora’s Star. Hamilton has completed the story in a magnificent manner, and these two books are wonderful.

Any fan of sci-fi should read these two 1200+ page books.

In short: Brilliant, the best of his work.

The essential style is matched to the first novel, which I reviewed earlier, and if you know any sci-fi books, you’ll know that characterisation, plausible technology, and a holistic story with grainy details are key requirements; and this book delivers.

The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori by Lian Hearn (quick review)

The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the book that I have looked forward to since finishing the first three books in the series. Reading them back to back would have been wonderful, but waiting for this release did not allow me to to recall and enjoy the detail in the first story.

In the three book build-up we learn the outcomes of Takeo’s fate. His family life brewing turmoil, his country at the brink of war, and his secrets returning to affect all those he loves – Takeo resolve is truly tested in this story.

This book takes a really long time to get to a good ending. I’m not being critical, the story is paced so that you really understand what issues the characters are feeling. The in between time is spend exploring what the peripheral characters are doing, which allows the reader to try and guess the ending.

For: The author has an outstanding skill of weaving a cohesive story.
Against: Its book 4 of 4, so don’t grab it alone. You need to read the other books to get some of the references.
Score: 8.5/10, but the series is almost perfect.

If you like strong female characters (such as in Daughter of the Empire) then this will be an excellent find.

Amazon Link
Tales of the Otori Website

The Revenge of Gaia (quick review)

James Lovelock’s book on the steady decimation of the Earth, and the simultaneous ending of human culture is highly engaging; and shocking. Lovelock tells presents the background and societal drivers for the changes in our climate, and never hides the fact that he thinks we are already too late to save most of our civilisation.

This is a thought provoking discussion, and will disappoint readers who are looking for a casual and light style. It is also not a novel – you will need to be ready to read about scientific concepts to engage with this book.

For: A great reality check for issues around global environments, and while its not a neutral perspective (no apologies); it is passionate and direct. What if he’s right?
Against: Lovelock’s opinion of our situation is dire, and this is depressing. Not for those who don’t like science-ish books.
Overall: 9/10

Anyone who would like to know more about the effect of global warming and our apathy around the issue should read this book.
Continue reading

Misspent Youth by Peter F. Hamilton (quick review)

A book for fans of Peter’s sci-fi work, or younger readers. The style or writing is very easy to read, and the story flows well. There are no complex plots which intersect or twist, which is a real change for one of Hamilton’s books, which is why I would not rate it as highly.

In short: good, but not grand.

Hamilton is a brilliant author, who has structured this book to be accessible rather than complex.

After reading a few of his other books, which are all large scale epic stories, it is a total change of pace. You’re almost better off not thinking this is a Hamilton book, and then read it with an open mind.

But I don’t fully understand the ending. The main character states openly that even though he’s in trouble at the end, he’d do it all again the same anyway. But then goes on to expose and damage the people who helped him have that experience.

Then again perhaps that is supposed to be part of the human element, a reflection of that character’s contradictions.

Chart Throb by Ben Elton (quick review)

Ben Elton’s latest novel starts well, suggesting that his sharp and sarcastic wit will be applied to reality TV singing contests (ala Australian Idol). But it does not deliver.

Quick Summary: Promising, but gets repetitive very quickly, and dull by the end. Avoid it.

Most disapointing was the way the characters repeated the same phrases over and over, which while it may reflect the true nature of reality TV, is totally frustrating to read.

The plot was very very simple, and characterisation was not overly good; which is highly unusual for Ben Elton.

The twist at the end (which most of Elton’s books have) is not predictable, but also highly suspect.

Pandora’s Star by Peter E. Hamilton (quick review)

Pandora’s Star is a sci-fi novel by the established author Peter E. Hamilton.

In short: Excellent.
If you enjoy sci-fi or liked any of his other books (Reality Dysfunction, Neutronium Alchemist, Naked God to name a few), then this is worth the purchase.

The story is concluded (or so I’m told) in Judas Unchained.

The book begins humbly and opens into a full space opera style story. I grabbed the book while on holiday, and have consumed all 1200 pages very quickly.

Characterisation is very good, and the links to our own time are scattered throughout so we keep a frame of reference. A highlight for me was the reference and obvious knowledge of historic space exploration, as many of their problems are adapted to a futuristic context, and applied effectively.

This is also a book for the technology buffs, as all the super-science devices are well thought out, and their impact and application on the society are mixed within the story.

Be warned that this is definitely a book one of two, as nothing is really resolved in the first book, rather the book ends leaving a few good cliff hangers, and some excellent questions to ponder.