Under the Dome, by Stephen King

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With a writer as prolific as Stephen King (or Anne Rice, John Updike, etc), there reaches a point where it’s hard to judge each successive work on its own merits — the impulse becomes to judge it against the rest of the writer’s oevre. Is Pandora better than Tale of the Body Thief, but pales in comparison to Interview with a Vampire? Is this book perhaps good in its own right, but rehashing themes that the author’s already done? Is To the End of Time the actualfax worst book that Updike has ever written? Is Under the Dome on par with King’s early classics, or just one of his potboilers?

Well friends, I have no idea, because I don’t actually read Stephen King! The only other book of his I’ve read was The Dead Zone (oh right, and The Gunslinger, ages ago, but I’ve been told that’s quite different from King’s usual style), so my experience with Under the Dome was largely uncolored by his previous books. And in a nutshell, my experience was:

Stephen King does Battle Royale, and does it fuckin’ aces.

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Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch

…is grate!!

So this is his third in the series that began with Lies of Locke Lamora, a book that made quite a splash some years back for being extremely clever and just so damn fun. (Think Robin Hood crossed with Ocean’s 11, with banter and camaraderie that Joss Whedon would envy.)

Unfortunately, when the next book came out, Red Seas Under Red Skies, it was… disappointing. It’s been years since I read it, so I don’t remember it well enough to analyze why it failed, but it didn’t have anywhere near the same verve as the first one. I, and a lot of other readers, concluded that whatever perfect storm had produced LoLL, Lynch didn’t know how to make it strike twice. Repeated delays on the release of Republic of Thieves seemed to confirm those fears, cuz books don’t get delayed when the author is on their game and writing like a house on fire.

…Or maybe they do, because Republic of Thieves is a gem and a joy that lives up to all expectations set by Lies of Locke Lamora. The dregs of RSURS‘s tortured plot get flushed away in short order, and our bold heroes Locke and Jean are back in the game. The game this time is to steal an election — and across the table, their opponent is Sabetha.

Oh yeah, you heard me. She’s finally in it. And because analyzing failure is more instructive than analyzing success, I’m going to spend the rest of this post turning a magnifying glass on the fly in Locke Lamora‘s ointment: Lynch’s weaknesses with women.

That most strange and terrible of beasts, The Female Character

Gremble conlangs for Dragon Age

So this morning I wrote a program to generate elvish names for Dragon Age, because apparently I have no idea how to prioritize. There was already a name-gen for this out there, but the results it threw were overwhelmingly unusable, and often in blatant violation of the phonological rules that had been established (what? WHAT. COME AT ME BRO, THERE IS NO ‘C’ IN THIS LANGUAGE) so I made my own. It’s pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Discussion about reverse-engineering a conlang under the cut

On the Other Hand, Death, by Richard Stevenson (42/107)

(Hey harpijka, I finally read it!! :D)

So a friend of mine has been agitating for years that I should read the Donald Strachey series, seeing as how they’re “mystery with a gay” rather than “gay with a mystery,” of the torsos-on-the-cover variety, but they’re quite old (first one was published in 1979) and I’d been having trouble getting my hands on them.

Then I moved to California, and suddenly I’m in the same town as the Lavender Library, repository of all books gay, and holy cats, I thought I knew a thing or two about gay fiction but I’ve got nothing on them. And lo and behold, they’ve got the Strachey series — which is good, because I own books 2 and 4, but not books 1 and 3. ::le sigh::

Talkin’ bout books 1-3, no spoilers

Stigma, by Erving Goffman

So there I am in my favorite gay dive bar, and I turn around and there is this fantastically hot guy standing there. Who’s seen Leverage, show of hands? This guy looked like Eliot when Eliot is doing his geek-chic disguise, with the glasses and his hair back in a ponytail. Commence gnawing on table.

Guy-who-looked-like-Eliot had been chatting animatedly with an obviously-straight girl, then at one point reached over to stub out a cigarette in the ashtray next to me. He glances up, our eyes catch, and I say,

“Hi.” :)

Which is apparently as good a pickup line as any, because he stayed and we got to talking. Got to talking about ~books!~, I don’t even know how, first about Fantasy That Doesn’t Suck, and then he said he tended to read more nonfiction, and I asked about his most recent reading and he said,

“Oh! Ah — yeah, it’s called, uhm, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”

Sir, can I marry you? Like, right now?

Cuz usually I’m the one busting out shit like “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” in bar chat, and then watching the other person’s eyes glaze over, sometimes accompanied with a vague, “Wow, so you must be really smart, huh? o_o” To which I’m so tempted to say, I KNOW I AM, BUT WHAT ARE YOU?

…Which is why I rarely get laid. And I am okay with this.

“Oh oh oh!” I said. “If you’re interested in that sort of thing, then you should read Stigma, by Erving Goffman — it’s about how stigmatized minorities control perceptions of their identity. It’s a bit dated in its language, but still extremely insightful.”

Which is how I got his number, and a date a couple days later.

So let's talk about 'Stigma: Notes on a Spoiled Identity'