The Leviathan Trilogy
by Scott Westerfeld
A stylish, vivid steampunk romp that improves as the series moves on.
The Leviathan Trilogy
by Scott Westerfeld
This is an incredibly stylish book, from the lucious hardback cover design to the invented vocabulary to the interesting take on alternative history. Unfortunately, form suffers a bit in the pursuit of that style.
Much of the fault lies in the characterization of the two lead characters. They’re pretty one-dimensional and therefore, their actions are predictable. Of course Dylan will make the rash adventuresome decision! Of course Alek will take the bullheaded-yet-morally-right path! There are no major surprises here or major character leaps forward.
Luckily the mythology of the book is engaging all by itself. It’s The Clankers (mecha-centric Germans) versus The Darwinists (DNA-manipulating, monster-fabricating English) set against the start of World War I! I’ll certainly be sticking with this series, just to see how that plays out.
The second in this series improved upon the first. It kept the good parts – imaginative mythology and inventive alternate history scenarios – and improved upon the weaker aspects – simplistic characterizations. The plot became more complicated, which allowed for Dylan and Alek’s decisions to grown in complexity too. Lots more people know both their secrets, avenues are being closed to them at the same time possibilities are opening up… In general, the stakes just feel higher.
“I have great faith, tempered by vast annoyance.”
The words of Wildcount Vogle also sum up my feelings upon starting the last in the Leviathan trilogy. The first two were so good, but also so big that they seemed to leave little room for a satisfying ending. First, there’s Alek’s destiny as the emperor of Austria. Then, there’s Deryn’s future in the Royal Air Force. Also, the romance between them. Oh, and I guess the whole “world war” thing too. There was a lot to cover in just one book.
I have to say, I’m impressed. Everything did work out and not in predictable Hollywood Happy Ending fashion either. Westerfeld continued to surprise and excite me. I mean, we got a bear-battling Tesla. Which was awesome.
I can definitely see more books, continuing Deryn and Alek’s adventures. And I would happily read them.
April Fools 2013 Roundup!
Favorites from around the web
Think Geek brings it with Star Wars Trench Toss, Batman Family Stickers, Eye of Sauron Lamp, and more!
Tuskie and The Knight of M and
the Dread Banana-Serpent!!!
Friday amusement by Joe.
And so, the Noble White Knight of M grabbed his magical Ink-Spear…
jumped on his mighty steed…
and then did battle with the dread Banana-Serpent!!!
And then the banana serpent breathes fire at the knight…
knocking his spear from his hand…
but trusty Tuskie uses his ancient elephant magic to messily mystically devour the insides of the dread creature…
and the heroes stand victorious!
Story – Joe P.
Photos – Joe P.
Special Paper Effects – Joe P.
Assistant to Mr. Tuskie – Everyone Everywhere.
Buy These Giant Star Wars
Figures for Charity!
Be the coolest kid on the block!
This week I will be donating over 60 Star Wars figures to a local children’s shelter. Help keep the love going by making an offer on these two beauties.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
The Gentleman Bastard
Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Series: The Gentleman Bastard
Author: Scott Lynch
Published: June 2006, Bantam
I love good fantasy. Good fantasy is exciting and magical and emotional and true. And, be assured, The Lies of Locke Lamora is goooood fantasy.
Lamora is also unusual fantasy because it’s essentially a caper yarn. It has more in common with Ocean’s 11 than Lord of the Rings. Magic, fantastical creatures and fights for Good and Evil exist in the world Scott Lynch created, but those things are secondary to important questions like “How do we get the money?” and “How do we get revenge?”
I recommend to anyone suffering with Good Fantasy Angst waiting for the next in the Song of Ice and Fire series or The Kingkiller Chronicles.
- Bryce W
While “The Lies of Locke Lamora” certainly takes place in a fantasy setting, complete with magic and alchemy, this is not fantasy for the sake of fantasy. This is not the tale of a hero’s quest, although there is some heroism to be found. This is the story of a master con artist, how he came to be so, and what happens when things start going sideways.
Scott Lynch treats us to a bit of the “present” and a bit of the “past” as chapters alternate between the latest scheme The Gentleman Bastards are attempting and the story of how the boys came to be the men in this tale. Both stories are linear, and the chapters are engaging enough that it doesn’t distract from the story, often lending insight into future scenes.
Bryce originally recommended this knowing my fondness for The Kingkiller Chronicles. The story jumps into the action a bit more quickly. It’s a compelling read, but for me the hook definitely came a bit later on in the story when things start getting a little more interesting for the Gentleman Bastards. It’s a fun, easy read with likable, believable characters. I would also recommend this series to any one who is a fan of the Lupin III franchise, while not quite as light-hearted, you may find the story similarly compelling.
Coin in Hand Currency Changers
Dipping my pen in the ink of the Kingkiller Chronicle
On December 27 Patrick Rothfuss revealed a project I have been working on with him one and off since the middle of 2012. It started with an email I sent in May with an idea for a currency conversion tool for his best selling series “The Kingkiller Chronicle” and questions about the exchange between currencies. It turned out to be one of my most enjoyable design experiences. Pat liked my design concept and we seemed to be on the same wavelength through out the process.
In the series silver talent pipes are awarded at the Eolian, a tavern renowned for the quality of musicians that perform there. The pipes are a well recognized mark of distinction for a musician. As a thank you for my efforts, Pat sent me a set of special gold talent pipes, awarded to people because they are awesome.
If you haven’t read the series, get to it! It is among my favorites. To have been able to have a hand in shaping that world, even if it’s just a few trivial details, has got to be one of my favorite achievements to date.
Link: Coin in Hand Currency Exchange
Post on Pat’s blog: Secrets: Currencies in the Four Corners World
Project Darkfish: My
Finest Game Ever Played
Beware the Feline Uprising!
This week I completed what will now be known as My Finest Game Ever Played, culminating in this video.
A couple months ago I saw “How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you” and immediately purchased it as an obvious belated birthday gift for Emily. Amazon included my note of “Happy Birthday” but somehow inadvertently labeled it as “from Emily.” Emily posted on her Facebook page that this must be from Future Emily.
I immediately started scratching notes onto an envelope for Project Darkfish. First I sought the aid of Wil Wheaton in announcing that a game was going to be afoot. I then enlisted the help of several brave agents from around the country to send her identically folded letters from Future Emily detailing the Feline Uprising, the impetus for sending the book. Super Storm Sandy tossed a wrench in my plans, but I think things worked out perfectly in the end.
I gave my agents simple instructions and minimal direction and they just knocked it out of the park with their performances. Emily’s roommates managed to trick her into recording a brief scene which was also quite effective!
Finally I lured her over with the promise of a nice dinner and holiday cheer. While I was getting things ready I fired up the video (the full version starts with a couple more songs so as to make it seem innocuous). Her reaction made every effort worth it.
Thank you everyone who helped make this happen and kept it a secret despite Emily’s thorough investigations.
Cop gives Homeless Man
Boots, Missouri Secret Santa
gives $100 bills in NY/NJ
'Tis the season
From NYPD: Jennifer Foster of Florence, AZ was visiting Times Square with her husband Nov. 14 when they saw a shoeless man asking for change. She writes, “Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said, ‘I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you.’ The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching*. I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life. I did not get the officer’s name. It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost on myself or any of the Arizona law enforcement officials with whom this story has been shared.”
Our thanks to the Fosters for their attention and appreciation, and especially to this officer,
who remains anonymous. Larry DePrimo.
Click for video
‘Secret Santa’ delivers $100 bills to hurricane victims in N.J., N.Y. “A wealthy Missouri man posing as “Secret Santa” stunned New Yorkers and New Jerseyans today, handing $100 bills to many residents who had lost everything to Hurricane Sandy.
The Kansas City businessman is giving away $100,000 this holiday season, and spent the day in New Jersey and New York giving away thousands. But he says money is not the issue.”
Click for video
Special Voting Rules in New
York & New Jersey
Make your voice heard
Many districts are providing transportation to voters, you may still be able to vote in person. If you were affected by Sandy and will find it difficult or impossible to vote in your assigned polling locations, States have set up temporary measures to allow your voice to be heard.
If you live in New Jersey and were displaced by Sandy you may:
- vote using a provisional ballot at any polling location in the state
- vote by mail
- – you may be considered as “over seas” allowing you to vote by email and fax per those provisions
- – vote by mail applications will be accepted through 5pm November 6
- – vote by mail deadline has been extended to November 19
Please see http://nj.gov/state/elections/election-directives.html for more information.
Vote by mail application is available here.
If you live in New York: “Section 8-302 of the Election Law is temporarily suspended and otherwise altered and modified so that a voter seeking to vote by affidavit ballot need not affirm that such voter is duly registered in the election district in which such voter seeks to cast an affidavit ballot if such voter is registered to vote within one of the federally declared counties or New York City.”
Please visit http://www.governor.ny.gov/executiveorder/62 for more details.
If you have any further questions regarding your rights and where you can vote, please ask your local municipality or county for more information.
Anybody who wants more information regarding the election can search for “vote” on Google and enter the address where you are registered to vote. The site also provides information about what candidates and issues are up for vote, along with links to their various social media.
Felix Baumgartner Smashes Records
Perhaps it’s fate that delays pushed the jump to the same day that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier 65 years ago in the experimental X1. After spending over two and a half hours climbing to 128,097 feet, Baumbartner reached 706mph in around half a minute, racing from the heavens to the ground in just over 9 minutes. I am no longer impressed with your quarter mile times.
Former Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger was the previous record holder for the highest jump, fastest free fall, and remains the record holder for longest free fall. At Baumgartner’s request, Kittinger sat in mission control as his sole conduit of communication. Kittinger, 84, must have had some mixed feelings. You could see he was absolutely thrilled with everything that went on today, although in a private place me must feel some small bit of satisfaction that at least one of his records, the longest free fall, was not broken.
The ascent went on with little drama until Baumgartner announced “I have a real problem.” The heater in his helmet seemed to be malfunctioning. Although the suit would protect him from the outside elements, the heater is essential in ensuring he can see out of his visor. During the final checklist Kittinger let slip that they had already tried cranking the heat up to maximum and after a brief audio dump asked Baumgartner to adjust the heat to full as per protocol.
The last big of excitment came as Baumgartner was preparing to exit the capsule. The radio conked out and he seemed to just be going through the motions and gave the thumbs up as the tension reached a perfect climax after two and a half hours of climbing. The radio came back just in time for him to give a little speech (I hope we get a transcript of that since it was a bit hard to understand). Finally jumping off seemed the issue of least concern as he stepped off with an ease I don’t find when I get out of bed in the morning.
Baumgartner jumped to the earth from the edge of space, broke the sound barrier along with a grand slam of records, and lived to tell about it. It was a hell of a thing to watch.
Altitude: 128,097 ft
Duration of freefall: 4:19
Total jump time: 9:03
Speed: 1137 kmh (706.5 mph)
(expected was 690mph, jumping from 120,000 ft)
[conflicting reports indicate 833.9 mph / 1,342.8 km/h (Mach 1.24)]
[indicating Mach 1 would have been 672.5mph / 1,083km/h]
The speed of sound varies by medium and conditions, especially temperature and pressure.
Read more at wikipedia
Highest Balloon Flight
First Human to Break the Sound Barrier
Unfortunately Baumgartner missed the record for longest free fall. My guess is because his visor was fogging up do to a helmet heating failure and he was playing it safe, deploying the parachute before visibility became too severe an issue.
If you missed it, the actual jump is at about 3:55 here http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.995118
I’m sure better sources for the video will be available soon, but this looks like the first one to pop up.
There will be a 2 hour documentary in November.
Red Bull Stratos http://redbullstratos.com
on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redbullstratos
Various news outlets mostly posted the same article. Washington Post has a nice play by play http://sdmblg.us/RYpc69