Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finished The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Baker

The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Baker is the first of the Prince of Nothing Trilogy. If you enjoyed the depth of Steven Erickson's Tale of Malazan series you will likely enjoy this series. The first book develops some interesting characters but overreaches when it comes to world building. The back-history and geopolitical layout is crammed in awkwardly. It might be needed later but the over-imaginative spelling and fun with umlauts is unnecessary.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ray Bradbury’s e-books were the price of new contracts | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Ray Bradbury’s e-books were the price of new contracts | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics: Mike Masnick at Techdirt has more details and commentary on why Ray Bradbury’s novels are are becoming available as e-books. Bradbury is noted for his dislike of new technologies, such as video games and the Internet, and indeed has said that Fahrenheit 451 is not actually about censorship but about new technologies such as television that distract people from reading books.

But at this point, Bradbury didn’t have much choice—his contracts were coming due
I can understand the disdain for TV but not the internet or ebooks. I found the end of Fahrenheit 451 somewhat dehumanizing in itself. People memorizing a book were essentially becoming the object itself.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NEWS | New Thursday Next Book by Jasper Fforde in 2012 ~ Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review

NEWS | New Thursday Next Book by Jasper Fforde in 2012 ~ Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review: It looks like everyone's favorite Literary Detective Thursday Next will be back come next summer. Jasper Fforde's Dark Reading Matter will be the seventh - but probably not final - book in the Thursday Next series.

The "first among equals" pun suggests that the written Thursday Next and her faithful companion/butler Sprocket will return for another adventure.

Jasper Fforde's One of our Thursdays is Missing: Glad I returned to the series

Finished Jasper Fforde's One of our Thursdays is Missing and I am glad I returned to the series. I thought the plot had become overly complex with the multiple Thursdays, time travel and alternate universes. A story revolving around the "written" Thursday was ingeneous in that Fforde created essentially a blank slate to start over while remaining in canon.

What remains is clever wordplay involving the more famous books and their characters combined with an amazing grasp of the history and structure of written language.

Miss Havisham was now elderly whether she liked it or not, and Sherlock Holmes wore a deerstalker and smoked a ridiculously large pipe. The problem wasn’t just confined to the classics. Harry Potter was seriously pissed off that he’d have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe.

...dropped out of the litotes market, which...

“Epizeuxis,” murmured Sprockett, “a rhetorical device that repeats the same word in the same sentence for increased dramatic effect. This book was almost certainly destroyed by a rhetorical worm.”

The trip back downriver was uneventful and over in only twelve words.

Its this kind of smart stuff that made this a pleasure to read. In large doses it would be annoying no matter how clever and subtle. Recommend reading a book between each novel if you plan on reading the series in one go.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Azardi 7 free Epub reader is released | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Azardi 7 free Epub reader is released | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics:
AZARDI has been designed for education, training and instructional content which requires large scale interactivity. The AZARDI Interactive Engine introduces advanced Question and Answer tools, Story line and Events modules to reduce production costs and time to market.

A pretty good desktop reader. It is much better at rendering than Calibre, FBreader and CoolReader, but it has very little in the way of features and polish. EPUBReader Addon for Firefox is still my preferred reading app on the desktop.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finished How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu is not your typical time travel science fiction novel. It uses time travel/multiverse and science fiction tropes as a way of discussing family, mental health, and understanding oneself.

The format of the book, the writing style, and the pictures included give credence to the self-referential nature of the book. Its poorly written because the protagonist wrote the book and he is not particularly talented.

I’m Returning my Nook Tablet – Here’s Why - The Digital Reader

I’m Returning my Nook Tablet – Here’s Why - The Digital Reader:
The Walls Are Too High
The Garden Is Too Small

Comic Crits

Comic Crits:
I draw comics about the books I read.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Finished The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance Trilogy, book 3) by N K Jemisin

The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance Trilogy, book 3) by N K Jemisin: As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom -- which even gods fear -- is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens?

A good ending to the trilogy. I thought that it would be awkward to "go bigger" than the first two books had already gone, but Jemisin managed the task very well. The main character, Sieh, was handled masterfully. It could have been awkward having an immortal godling as the first-person protagonist but it came off quite natural.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011 | Tor.com

Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011 | Tor.com:
McCaffrey is the first woman to win a Hugo Award, as well as the first woman to win a Nebula Award, and the first author to hit the New York Times Bestseller List with an SFF title (The White Dragon).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Finished Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Finished Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. It is the fourth and final volume of the Inheritance series. It makes the entire series worth reading. The first book was great and the second and third were Ok, but dragged a bit. Short, action-packed chapters move the story effectively. All conflicts set up in the first three books are addressed satisfactorily without making it a happily-ever-after simple resolution.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finished The Night Eternal: Book 3 of the Strain Trilogy

Finished The Night Eternal, the last book of the Strain trilogy. The vampires that Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan come up with are unique, even among the biblically based vampire/monster stories. The thriller action/adventure aspect of the book is excellent and the conclusion is satisfying. If you like your vampire stories less glitter and teen angst based and more gritty and thoughtful then this is a great series to read.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Finished Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey

Aloha from Hell: A Sandman Slim Novel Finished Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey. The third book of the Sandman Slim series and a great conclusion for a trilogy. Really hope to see more Sandman Slim books down the road.

LA noir in heaven and in hell.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finished REAMDE by Neal Stephenson

A great thriller set just a little bit in the future.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

HijiNKS ENSUE – A Geek Webcomic - The Black Shakes

HijiNKS ENSUE – A Geek Webcomic - The Black Shakes
You're in a dark place when Johnny Mnemonic is the movie of the night.

xkcd: Alternative Literature

xkcd: Alternative Literature

A homeopathic approach to reading.

In Russia, Book Casts Movie Version For You � Nerdist

In Russia, Book Casts Movie Version For You � Nerdist:
“Sometimes Russian book covers are not just bad, sometimes they inexplicably have popular actors and characters on them. This is their story.”

Hands On: India’s $35 Aakash Android tablet lands in America (exclusive) | VentureBeat

Hands On: India’s $35 Aakash Android tablet lands in America (exclusive) | VentureBeat:
The Indian government thinks the $35 Aakash Android tablet has the power to change the world. After testing one out, we’d tend to agree.

$99 Nook Touch Incoming, Plus Firmware Update to Add Multi-touch and other Features | The eBook Reader Blog - eReader and Tablet Reviews and News

$99 Nook Touch Incoming, Plus Firmware Update to Add Multi-touch and other Features | The eBook Reader Blog - eReader and Tablet Reviews and News:
That’s $40 less than the Nook Touch sells for now, and unlike the $99 Kindle Touch, the Nook Touch doesn’t have advertisements

Best deal for a mainstream reader.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Banned Science Fiction & Fantasy Books | Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Book Lists | WWEnd

Banned Science Fiction & Fantasy Books | Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Book Lists | WWEnd:
This list is a work in progress, so if you know of any SF/F books that have been banned anywhere in the world, please drop us a line at info@worldswithoutend.com.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards To Be Adapted Into Film | Tor.com

George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards To Be Adapted Into Film | Tor.com:
George R. R. Martin’s popular superhero anthology series Wild Cards is to be made into a movie by SyFy Films and Universal Pictures.

Regular Tor.com readers will reconginze Wild Cards as a shared universe of superpowered people featuring stories written by some of the top names in the SF field.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finished reading Kill The Dead by Richard Kadrey

Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel (Sandman Slim Novels)Finally got around to finishing this book. The weird thing is that it took months to read it because I was savouring it. The noir-style urban fantasy with nuggets of wry humor is one of my favourite styles of fantastic fiction. That's why I enjoy Butcher's Dresden Files, Green's Nightside, and even Pratchett's Vimes/Night Watch. A great book that continues from Sandman Slim and expands the Heaven/Hell story in interesting ways. I enjoyed it so much that I would only read a chapter or two at a time, particularly after finishing a mildly disappointing book. I'm looking forward to Aloha from Hell.

Finished The Passage by Justin Cronin

Finished reading The Passage by Justin Cronin. Well written with interesting characters and a unique take on the whole Zombie/Vampire/Outbreak thing. The story line of the little girl in the first half of the book was masterful. I found the ending weak. There was no dramatic or clever conclusion. My first thought as I got to the end was that I would now have to wait for the sequel. I also felt that there were some awkwardly structured passages in the last part of the book. Well worth the read but I would have waited for the second book before starting in on the first.
At least the last book of del Toro's Strain trilogy is out now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Wertzone: The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding

The Wertzone: The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding:
The crew of the Ketty Jay, fresh from defeating an incursion of the nefarious Manes, have been hailed as heroes and have become minor celebrities across the lands of Vardia. Avoiding notoriety and seeking their next job, Captain Frey and his crew have relocated to Samarla to undertake a train heist.

Also on the pile.

November Releases - top of the pile

Fiction Affliction: November Releases in Fantasy | Tor.com:
Two that I'm putting on the top of my reading pile:

Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini (Nov. 8, Knopf)

Not so very long ago, Eragon Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider, was nothing more than a poor farmboy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders. Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances. Fourth and final book in the Inheritance series. [Young Adult]

The Alloy of Law, by Brandon Sanderson (Nov. 8, Tor)

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds. Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history — or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice. One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs. Fourth in the Mistborn series.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New App Turns a Tablet into a Braille Keyboard - Maybe new i-face for the rest of us

New App Turns a Tablet into a Braille Keyboard - The Digital Reader:
What the team ended up doing was developing an app that adapted to the user rather than have the user adapt to the app. The app is designed to duplicate a Braille keyboard, which has only 8 keys. But instead of having the user find the keys, the app finds the user’s fingers.

Two things:
1. I like this as an example of a device that some thought of as a commercial electronic device that was a gadget without a valid use turned into a something really cool.
2. Its fine that there is now a cheap braille keyboard, but what about me? It would be cool if this kind of technology could be bootstrapped to a new more efficient keyboarding method. My typing speed/accuracy is horrible on my resistive 7-inch tablet. Maybe this will lead to something new and interesting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finished Reading Snuff, Night Circus, Clockwork

The Night CircusThe Clockwork Rocket (Orthogonal) Finished reading Snuff by Terry Pratchett and enjoyed it so much it inspired me to finish The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Reading a good book gives you such a high sometimes that you immediately go out looking for that high again. Night Circus did that, but Clockwork missed the mark.

|Terry Pratchett |Snuff I knew even before I was halfway through the first chapter that I was going to enjoy the new Discworld novel more than any of the books I've read in the last few months. Pratchett applies his sense of humour at two levels: the slapstick and poop-joke, "low brow" humour that catches you by surprise you can't help laughing out loud at and the subtle and clever look at culture and personal relationships.

Commander Vimes takes the wife and kid to the country for a two week vacation and stumbles upon a case that he cannot ignore. The three three threads that run through the book are Vimes's conflict with his inner darkness, Vimes's relationship with his family and position in society, and the position of Goblins in Discworld culture.

Its a Vimes-centric story with wifename, son-name and Willikins the butler/gentlemans gentleman visiting the Country house and estate. Vimes meets up with the local "color" in the form of the local inkeeper, smith, and sherrif.

The bad guys in the story resonate with current events as they are the wealthy/powerful who think they can make up the law as they need it to serve their own purposes. Vimes represents the law as serving everyone, not just the rich.
You are more important than girls in service. You are more important than anybody else in the Watch. You are mistaking value for worth, I think.’
Pratchett is not all silliness and fantasy adventure. Snuff tries to share a flavour of what middle ages village life was like. Learning about a word like gongfermor is always a treat.
Gong farmer (also known as a gongfermor, gongfermour, gong-fayer, gong-fower or gong scourer), was a term that entered use in Tudor England to describe someone who dug out and removed human excrement from privies and cesspits; the word "gong" was used for both a privy and its contents.

‘What sort of thing were you thinking of writing, Jane?’ The girl looked embarrassed. ‘Well, commander, at the moment I’m working on what might be considered a novel about the complexities of personal relationships, with all their hopes and dreams and misunderstandings.’ She coughed nervously, as if apologizing.
Pratchett takes a poke at Jane Eyre (Sense and Sensibility) I wonder if he read Sense and Sensibility and Zombies.
It’s not all in your head, commander: no matter what you hear, I sometimes hear it too. Oh dear, you of all people must recognize a substition when you’re possessed by it? It’s the opposite of a superstition: it’s real even if you don’t believe in it.
Even if its not a real word its a cool idea.
...feared that moment was coming closer. Possibly only the presence of Feeney was holding the darkness at bay, the dreadful urge to do the hangman out of his entitlement of a dollar for the drop, thruppence for the rope and sixpence for his beer. How easy it is to kill, yes, but not when a smart young copper who thinks you are a good guy is looking to you. At home, the Watch and his family surrounded Vimes like a wall. Here the good guy was the good guy because he didn’t want anyone to see him being bad. He did not want to be ashamed. He did not want to be the darkness.
The theme of darkness important moreso than adding goblins. Most important, of course, is the funny:
‘You know, I’ve got lots of poo,’ said Young Sam proudly. ‘I keep it in jam jars and I’ve got a lab o ra tory in the lava tory. Have you got any ele phant poo? It goes – and here he paused for ef fect – ‘dung!’

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dennis Ritchie, 1941-2011: Computer scientist, Unix co-creator, C programming language co-inventor – Boing Boing

Dennis Ritchie, 1941-2011: Computer scientist, Unix co-creator, C programming language co-inventor – Boing Boing:
He was the co-inventor of the C programming language, and a central figure in the development of Unix. He spent much of his career at Bell Labs. He was awarded the Turing Award in 1983, and the National Medal of Technology in 1999.

"Ritchie's influence rivals Jobs's; it's just less visible," James Grimmelman observed on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Wertzone: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (3rd Edition) goes live

The Wertzone: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (3rd Edition) goes live:
A quick look through the encyclopedia suggests this is a monumental, massive addition to the canon of SF reference works, likely to supplant its predecessor as the definitive guide to the genre and possibly likely to supplant TVTropes as the website you go to check out one article and end up spending an afternoon there :-)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Your favorite author, brought to you by a wealthy patron - Art in Crisis - Salon.com

Your favorite author, brought to you by a wealthy patron - Art in Crisis - Salon.com:
To judge by what works on Kickstarter, however, democracy won’t offer any improvement. Those flashy garnishes are exactly what the public cares about. The most successful book projects have an already-established audience, an attractive creator, a high-concept premise and/or an affiliation with someone famous.

Neil Gaiman interviews Sir Terry Pratchett – Boing Boing

An interview with Sir Terry Pratchett – Boing Boing:
it is amazing how all those little things you read in all those second-hand books suddenly turn up and hand you a plot. As a matter of fact I did a lot of interesting work for Monstrous Regiment in lesbian book shops.

Neil Gaiman interviews Terry Pratchett for Boing Boing. Well worth the read as the two of them have a shared history so the usual interview questions get a bit of a different spin.

While at Boing Boing also check out Cory Doctorows's review of Snuff. I finished reading it in the wee hours this morning so I may need a nap before I try a draft at my own review. Needless to say it is a must read for Pratchett fans.

If you're not a Pratchett fan... Whats wrong with you?

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Terry Pratchett Novel is out - Snuff

Everything is put on hold while the latest Discworld Novel is consumed. This one is a Commander Vimes/Night Watch novel. A lot of poo jokes, but tastefully done of course.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians to Become a Television Series | Tor.com

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians to Become a Television Series | Tor.com:
Lev Grossman’s The Magicians has been optioned and Fox is planning on turning it into a series.

Don't know if its gonna be a regular series, mini-series, or movie(s). Since its Fox my expectations are not too high.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Final Repairman Jack Novel coming out this month

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing October Releases in Urban Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance | Tor.com:

The Dark at the End, by F. Paul Wilson (Oct. 11, Tor)

Bound by his promise to Glaeken, Jack has refrained from making any direct moves against Rasalom. But things have changed so there’s nothing holding Jack in check any longer. Other changes are occurring as well. Jack is healing at an accelerated rate — much like Glaeken did when he was immortal. This can only mean that Glaeken’s time is almost up and when he dies, Jack takes his place. Rasalom continues to plot against the Lady. Twice she has died and returned; a third time and she will be gone, leaving a clear path for the Otherness to infiltrate this reality. But Ernst Drexler forms an uneasy alliance with Jack, while Dawn Pickering is searching for her supposedly dead baby. Now the stage is set for Jack’s massive assault on Rasalom. The final Repairman Jack novel.

I'm always a bit leery about starting a series. When the gap between new novels is more than a year it is hard to get back in to the series. I rarely re-read a book and reading the summary of previous books often doesn't do the job for me.

Now that the Repairman Jack series is concluded I'm gonna start with the first book (Legacies) and work my way through the 15 books in the series.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review - The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You Know (Felix Castor)
"I guess I am the anally retentive Ghostbuster, after all"

Pretty accurate. Stiff and slow action with an attention to details that was uninteresting. Worldbuilding is a bit too easy. We have ghosts and other supernatural creatures but there is no impact on the landscape of London and the secondary characters.

Felix is not a particularly likeable character. The noir style quips and humor that make the Dresden Files a fun read is not present or poorly rendered. He seems to do his job without passion.

The writing style doesn't cross the ocean quite as well as other British authors. I can enjoy learning a bit more about British culture and history if it adds color to the story and British slang can be picked up jest as easily as frack'n made-up slang. Theat being said, when stuff like Rorke's drift is referenced theres an awkward pomposity introduced that makes the book a bit stiff.

After a moment or so, inspiration came.
“I’ve got this trench coat,” I told her. “One careful owner.”

Fast paced ending and decent hook at the end saves what was sometimes a tedious plot. Big magic is possible but lightly used. Felix is a bit of a lightweight but he puts himself at risk to save the day.

The twist at the end is a strong enough tease to get me to read the next book. I'm reminded of the unevenness of first bunch of books of the Nightside (Simon Green) series. Like the Nightside, I hope the Felix Castor series finds a unique identity and tone while steadily improving quality of writing.

How Ebook Buyers Discover Books - The Digital Reader

How Ebook Buyers Discover Books - The Digital Reader:
As of this writing, 206 people answered the survey. Click the image to enlarge it.

Key findings, plus my observations

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kindle Library Ebooks & the Law of Unintended Consequences - The Digital Reader

Kindle Library Ebooks & the Law of Unintended Consequences - The Digital Reader:
A library can only lend a Kindle ebook if Amazon already sell it.

Put yourself in the place of a librarian who is looking to buy more ebooks. If you had to choose between 2 titles, and only one was available for the Kindle, which would you choose? I would think for economic reasons alone that a librarian would chose the title that could be read on the Kindle over one that could not. It’s a better value for the library to support as many readers as possible.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking - The Digital Reader

Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking - The Digital Reader:
Kindle without ads: $109.00.

Kindle Touch without ads: $139.00.

That’s a $30 difference.

Stop to think about that for a minute.

If Amazon is giving you a $30 break like that, how much more are they making over that $30?

You’re no longer a reader.

You’re a product they’re selling to others!

And Amazon’s X-ray feature? That’s not to enhance your reading experience. That’s to figure out where the future ads can go!

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding is the second book in the Tales on the Ketty Jay. It is a tale delivers on the promise of the first book and guarantees that future books in the series (two have already been announced) are going to be worth getting.

In the first book, Retribution Falls, we are introduced to the captain and crew of the Ketty Jay. They are a sorry mess of misfits settling for a life of petty crime and brigandage. They all leave lives irretrievably damaged by character flaws that they are still . Their character flaws are played up: alcoholism, drug abuse, cowardice, whoremongering, even murderer. The captain and crew manage to stumble and connive their way to win in the end despite their shortcomings. They survive but not much more than that.

The second book continues few months later. The resolution of the fragile nature of the group is set against the personal demons that each crew member struggles with. I enjoyed Black Lung more than Retribution Falls because while the worldbuilding and plot were just as effective the character development was much more satisfying. The characters did not become a kinder, gentler crew thus engendering sympathy. Wooding drives deeper into character development giving everyone a unique personality instead of a cookie-cutter stereotypes.

The plot is fine, leading to some solid worldbuilding and secondary character development. It's not surprising that its not called a trilogy. There's certainly room for a long series with a caper alongside the ongoing themes of the supernatural, religious and political wthough finding out what blacklung was all about was both icky and disappointing. The benefit of having stronger characters in the second book was that the humourous elements were quite good. Wooding may have taken a page from Pratchett when decided to play up the crazy cat scenarios.

Captain Darian Frey's Kirkian flirtation with pretty women and addiction to gambling took a smart turn with the continuation of the bride left at the altar story. This subplot along with the crew as family theme provides a weight to the story missing from the first book. Fleshing out the knights as characters also guarantees more interesting stories.

Overall the quality of Black Lung Captain makes reading the first book well worth it. Kinda the opposite of Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by Jemisin where the first book was great and complete in and of itself. But the second book, while entertaining, felt a bit like gilding the lily.

The Wertzone:
Readers of that book will feel immediately at home here, as Wooding continues his Firefly-meets-steampunk story of a clapped out aircraft and its crew struggling to make ends meet in a hostile world of shady deals and, at the fringes of civilisation, hostile savages.

Speculative Horizons:
Verdict: Perhaps predictably, The Black Lung Captain doesn't match the brilliance of its predecessor. The characters are as strong as before, but the sense of excitement just isn't quite there. Perhaps this is merely because of expectations heightened by Retribution Falls, but it's equally likely to be due to the plot, which doesn't allow for the surprises that the first novel managed to fling the reader's way. That said, aside from the good characterisation, the events are supplemented by some interesting revelations about certain people and other aspects of the world, while the humour - again, as before - is well observed, with plenty of amusing moments to lighten the tone (which is perhaps a little darker this time around). In all, an enjoyable read - it just lacks the panache that made Retribution Falls exceptional.

This one was a joy to write, lovely and smooth, as by now the crew of the Ketty Jay were beginning to feel like old friends. But instead of me telling you about it, I’m just gonna quote this rather wonderful review in the Guardian:
“This is a steampunk romance full of battling aerium-fulled aircraft, villainous buccaneers and hordes of ravaging ghouls, held together by an expertly orchestrated plot which uses every trick in the book to keep the reader hooked… Marvellous.”
A third and fourth instalment are coming soon. Oh yeah.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DVD Review: Going Postal – Grasping for the Wind

DVD Review: Going Postal – Grasping for the Wind:
Actors: Richard Coyle, Charles Dance
Writers: Terry Pratchett
Format: Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Acorn Media
DVD Release Date: September 20, 2011
Run Time: 252 minutes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A List of eBook Readers and Their Font Choices | The eBook Reader Blog - eReader and Tablet Reviews and News

A List of eBook Readers and Their Font Choices | The eBook Reader Blog - eReader and Tablet Reviews and News:
Everyone has their own tastes when it comes to fonts, so having choices is definitely a good thing. Plus having more font options can be a real benefit for those with poor eyesight, in which case a nice bold font can work wonders.

I'm a DejaVu Serif fan myself.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Search inside ebooks: why readers look & what they’re finding, by Peter Meyers

Search inside ebooks: why readers look & what they’re finding, by Peter Meyers | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics
Reader software still has a way to go. In many cases the same mistakes are made over and over again. Its frustrating when the search feature on my old Ebookwise 1150 is way better than all the reader apps on my new Android tablet.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding - A made for TV novel?

Finished Retribution Falls last night. It's a Steampunk-ish novel set in a world where lighter than air craft rule the skies. Its not really Steampunk because it's set on a different world, but there's alot of brass fittings and goggles all over the place.

Basically it's a story of a pirate crew getting set up as the fall guys for a political assassination and their journey to get out of trouble. The story moves along pretty well and the world-building and character development keeps it interesting. The main character, Captain Frey, comes off as a mix of Captain Kirk and Bret Maverick, but the ensemble of characters make the story worth reading.

The mad-for-TV vibe is probably due to the relatively mild language used to describe the scenes of sex and violence. A little more grit would go a long way to making the books more enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bluefire Reader now Available in the Android Market - Wait for the next version

Bluefire Reader now Available in the Android Market - The Digital Reader:
Bluefire Reader is a wildly popular iOS app that supports Epub and PDF. Unlike Stanze, Bluefire reader supports Adobe DE DRM. It works with any number of ebookstores and it even supports library ebooks. It has long since replaced Stanza as the touchstone reading app for iOS, and I would say that Bluefire Reader might give Aldiko, the leading Android reading app, a run for its money.

Bluefire has some way to go before it will be as good as Alkido, CoolReader or Moon+. First off when it installs it takes over the ePub file type as the default without asking the user so minus one point for the arrogance factor.

The "A"-factor would be moot if the app was appreciably better than the competitors. Its slower than Aldiko, which makes it the slowest of the top reading apps. After changing font size then leaving the app and jumping back the word wrap got ruined so that the text ran off the screen and some fiddling was needed to force a manual reformat.

The only way to load books besides "buying" them from the 3 stores is to copy the files to the Bluefire/Import folder. It would have been smart to make this redirectable by the user to point to the common pool of eBooks shared by other apps.

The last big problem I had with Bluefire was not being able to point it to my Calibre library on my desktop.

The note-taking/bookmarking is Bluefires strongest suit, with the text selection being the easiest to use among the top readers. Unfortunately its a bit too easy--you invariably begin selecting a region if you are too casual when tapping to change pages. Note taking is also exclusively internal, unlike the other readers that tap into Evernote and blogging or note taking apps.

Overall I think its a robust reader but I'd wait for the next version for a speed increase, better library management and more features. I am not too optimistic about an iOS-centric app getting much development time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mike Shatzkin thinks all authors should support agency pricing | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Mike Shatzkin thinks all authors should support agency pricing | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics:
But instead, publishers seem to be desperately putting the cart before the horse. “Because our e-books cost this much, then this is how much e-books are supposed to cost. See? We wouldn’t be pricing them like that if they weren’t supposed to be that expensive! Now pay up and be happy.” They’re not pricing to maximize profit, they’re pricing to try to keep their ailing business model alive. Meanwhile, more progressive publishers like Baen have been happily selling e-books at $6 each, and even bundling Internet-sharable CD-ROMs full of them into printed books, for years without apparent detriment to their business.

The longer e-book pricing subsidizes the luxury-print-book industry the longer authours and readers will be mired in a limbo of overpriced/underpriced books.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sigil Epub editor updated - The Digital Reader

Sigil Epub editor updated - The Digital Reader:
This is just a maintenance update, so there aren’t any major new features. But the update does add a few dozen bug fixes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books : NPR

Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books : NPR
A pretty good list. I'm about 83/100, missing out on many of the old classics.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards:
Renovation, the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the 2011 Hugo Award winners

I started Blackout a month or so ago and have finished a half dozen better novels in the meantime.

I agree with Wertzone, there are many more books deserving the award over this flawed work,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pandaemonium - Brookmyre

Pandaemonium - Christopher Brookmyre. You should check out this book. I read it on my Android tablet using Cool Reader and Moon+ Reader.
Great mix of serious exploration of religion vs. Science and a teen-horror-slash comedy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Microsoft to retire MS Reader, their ebook format - The Digital Reader

Microsoft to retire MS Reader, their ebook format - The Digital Reader:
"MSReader was one of the early Big 3 ebook formats, along with Mobipocket and Palm. The first apps were released in 2000, and at that time it was the most typography rich ebook format. It stayed the rich-format ebook format up until Epub was released.

To be honest, I suspect that the only thing keeping the format going all these years was that the DRM had been broken way back when. Seriously, hard-core ebook users used to buy this format because we knew we could convert it from LIT to whatever format we preferred. That’s certainly why I bought MSReader format, and in fact that’s the only reason I ever heard discussed as a reason to buy it."

While this is good news I doubt that we not suffer a proliferation of ebook formats and dilution of the ebook market, notwithstanding the standardization on ePub we see today.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is there hope for books? - Imprint - Salon.com

Is there hope for books? - Imprint - Salon.com:
"What was the last codex book you read? The last e-book?

The last codex book was Edmund Morris' biography of Beethoven. The last e-books were 'New Culture of Learning' by John Seely Brown and Doug Thomas and Gary Shteyngart's 'Super Sad True Love Story.'"

I still prefer "dead tree" to refer to printed and bound books.
Interesting article that takes shots at traditional publishing and some of the new "vook" style formats. Greater social interaction tightly tied to multiple-source content seems to be the prediction.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Neth Space: Mini-Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Neth Space: Mini-Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne:
"These books are simply fun – don’t think too hard about them and the world that Hearne creates, just sit back and enjoy the ride. The takes on various pantheons of gods are fun, the action satisfying and it’s all woven together with a geek humor that refuses to take itself seriously."


The Good, the Bad, and the Sexy: Our Espresso Book Machine Experience � The Scholarly Kitchen

The Good, the Bad, and the Sexy: Our Espresso Book Machine Experience � The Scholarly Kitchen: "The Good, the Bad, and the Sexy: Our Espresso Book Machine Experience"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“Sigil VS Calibre” by Meredith Greene -- is really Sigil AND Calibre

“Sigil VS Calibre” by Meredith Greene | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics:
"The pros of this program are immediately apparent: the interface is rather DIY friendly, the icon design seemed crisp and best of all the creation of the TOS (Table of Contents) couldn’t be simpler. One merely highlights the chapter heading as an h1 or h2 (or any ‘h’, really) for each chapter, then hit a button and “voila!” the beautifully-linked chapters appear in a list on the right hand side, glowing in their success and all ready to be tested. This contrasts to the more involved, coded approach that users of Calibre have struggled with, sometimes abandoning their TOS altogether."

I find the TOC feature a bit annoying when I try to tweak a published book that doesn't use this standard. There is still way too much non-standard and simply stupid implementation of HTMl and CSS to create an ebook so an application that assumes some type of sanity in an ePub is limited in what it can do.

Overall the Calibre ePub creation is very good for converting existing content into ePub. Where Calibre stands out is the WYSIWYG editor intelligently coupled with the nuts and bolts ePub components creation and publishing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Omnivoracious: Jonathan Wood's Smoking-Hot Debut Novel "No Hero"

Omnivoracious: Jonathan Wood's Smoking-Hot Debut Novel "No Hero":
"Sometimes sheer bravado and break-neck pacing can lift up a potential cliche into something more. In the case of Jonathan Wood’s first novel, No Hero, the author has created a riff on supernatural noir that’s rollicking good fun and acknowledges its debts with good humor. It also one-ups its influences with some excellent action scenes. What’s the set up? The main character, a cop, asks himself one question a lot: 'What would Kurt Russell do?' It’s not a question he’s had to answer a lot—until a secret government agency recruits him to fight the Progeny, be-tentacled horrors from another dimension. Omni checked in with Wood to find out more…"

Fantasy Book Critic: "The Clockwork Rocket" by Greg Egan (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Fantasy Book Critic: "The Clockwork Rocket" by Greg Egan (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu):
"So when I read about his planned new series that takes place in a 'Riemannian universe', one where the metric - the math concept that encodes the basic physics of the universe - is positive definite and symmetric in space and time as opposed to the indefinite antisymmetric metric in the Einsteinian universe we seemingly inhabit, I was truly intrigued and indeed The Clockwork Rocket was what I expected and more and so far it is my all around top novel of the year for the combination of sense of wonder, great world building, characters and general 'human interest' - the shape-shifting, weird biology aliens of The Clockwork Rocket are both strange and familiar and the story of the main character Yalda is as emotional as any I've read this year..."

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: Embassytown

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: Embassytown:
"Well, this one was a chore, no question about it. Had I not been reading this during my trip through the Southern Balkans and had access to my collection, I would never have finished reading this novel. It's been a while since I've been this underwhelmed by the work of a quality author."

A decent review (I mostly agree) but more disappointed than I was.

I thought this was more of a return to Perdido Street Station and Scar. I think there may be some disappointment after Kraken, which I thought was a great book. I thought this was much more interesting then The City and the City.

Another list of books.

Another list of books.:
"Our main criteria selection were books that were strong in: Worldbuilding, Characterization, and Language. (As those are areas where Pratchett excels).

We tried with somewhat less success to bring up titles that focused on other things we liked about Prattchett’s writing: the inclusion of humor, careful handling of ethical issues, and a “feel-good” quality to the books themselves. This was somewhat less successful, as these are more ephemeral things, and harder to point at in a book.

What to read after you’ve read all available Pratchett books:"

No Robert Asprin? Tom Holt? Robert Rankin?

Fantasy Book Critic: “Prince of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Fantasy Book Critic: “Prince of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence (Reviewed by Robert Thompson):
"PLOT SUMMARY: When he was nine years old, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath saw his mother and younger brother murdered before his eyes. By thirteen, he commanded a band of bloodthirsty mercenaries. By the time he is fifteen, he intends to be king."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Judge and jury - Writers and Writing - Salon.com

Judge and jury - Writers and Writing - Salon.com:
"But Grossman, the chief book reviewer for Time, has softened over the years, and he admits that has something to do with his own success as a novelist. 'The Magicians,' his dark fantasy novel set in a universe part J.K. Rowling and part C.S. Lewis, became a 2009 best seller. A second installment, 'The Magician King,' arrives next week. And suddenly Grossman is thinking about hanging up his literary judge's robe."

Sigil has a new caretaker - The Digital Reader

Sigil has a new caretaker - The Digital Reader:
"As of today, the official maintainer for both Sigil and FlightCrew is John Schember (“user_none” on MobileRead). He’s a very bright and competent guy. He’s got what it takes, trust me. As a community, please give him the same consideration and respect you gave me. It will take him many weeks (if not a few months) to get fully up to speed with the codebase, so patience and a warm welcome from the community will make sure things go smoothly."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why ebooks are riddled with typos | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Why ebooks are riddled with typos | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics:
"The short (somewhat obvious) answer, aside from errors introduced by OCR: because publishers cut corners by laying off proofreaders and copy editors, then rush the manuscripts out too quickly for their skeleton crews to catch gaffes. At least that’s what one editor confessed to Virginia Heffernan at the New York Times. Another editor, however, says in the era of word processors authors have gotten lazier and stupider: “It is amazing how little review seems to have occurred before the text is sent to the editor. Seriously, you have no idea how sloppy some of these things are.”"

Lazier and stupider authors? What a steaming pile of crap. The (huge) majority of the errors I've found in ebooks has been OCR related. Awkward grammar and (word-processor generated or original) misspellings are much more rare.

Unfortunately I think that the mess that is the current state of ebook publishing is lowering the standards of writing. It it not surprising that writers are cashing in on the lowered standards. We can only hope that the craft of writing benefits those who pursue quality over quantity. Frankly only time will tell. Talented writers will always be able to get their message out there and discerning readers will always be able to find talent.

We can only hope that the (rvolving) infrastructure rewards talent.

In Search of the Semicolon - The Digital Reader

In Search of the Semicolon - The Digital Reader:
"I recently edited a book in which I made consistent use of the semicolon — only to receive instruction from the client to replace the semicolons with commas. When I asked why, the response was that neither the particular inhouse editor nor the author approves of semicolons and thus they wanted use of semicolons minimized."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kobo Touch Firmware 1.9.6 released - use dictionary with ANY ebook

Kobo Touch Firmware 1.9.6 released | Good E-Reader Blog - ebook Reader and Tablet PC News:
"First of all one of the new changes allows users to access the dictionary with books that you have loaded in yourself (sideloaded.)"

These days you can't try to force users to buy from your store. Fixing this feature has made the Kobo Touch (and the Kobo line of readers) more attractive.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finished reading Once a Hero by Michael Stackpole

A good fantasy novel. There is really nothing new here. Men and elves and other species are at war with each other. The coming back 500 years later after being in suspended animation is the only twist and this is a twist that has been used before.

Stackpole is an experienced writer so the writing is clean and effective whether he is dealing with the action adventure or the emotional laundry that needs airing out.

A pat ending, but satisfying.

Kobo Now Accepts Paypal - eBookNewser

Kobo Now Accepts Paypal - eBookNewser:
"Kobo has just added another payment option to its ebookstore. Along with Visa, Mastercard, your immortal soul, or Gift Cards, Kobo now accepts Paypal, the payment processor of last resort."

A good reason to have Paypal as an option is that it makes the reader more accessible to teens who don't have a credit card (yet).

Ebook vending machines now showing up in Japan | The Digital Reader

Ebook vending machines now showing up in Japan | The Digital Reader:
"The system is geared towards smartphones, which makes sense. There aren’t any ebook readers that can support downloading 3rd party DRMed ebooks in this manner."

I could see this catching on. I don't see why this sales method can't extend to a "vendor" app on a tablet where independent authors can make a sale at a convention, public reading, or a street corner.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Top 5 Best eReader apps - there can only be one... not yet

The Top 5 Best eReader apps for Android Tablets | Good E-Reader Blog - ebook Reader and Tablet PC News:
"It is no secret that Tablet computers have been rising in popularity and so has peoples desire to use them for reading books. There are many ebook reading apps out there for Android, but where do you start?"
Read the pros and cons for each reader at goodereader.com. I've found so far that no single app gets the job done. Aldiko renders the CSS part of an ePub the best but Cool Reader and Moon+ both have some nice features (scrolling options and access to a locally installed dictionary/thesaurus to name two)

FBREADER continues to be one of the most popular e-reading programs for the Android operating system and performs well for larger screen tablets. 7/10
Aldiko continues to lead the current generation of Android Reading Apps for Tablets and does not disappoint on many levels. It reads fewer ebook types then rival applications but does the job effectively with EPUB and PDF books. You can even import books you have purchased from other stores which is very solid. 9.5/10
Moon+ Reader for Android is another application with a lush book shelf interface that greets you when you load up the application. There is also a handy automatic drive scanning utility that will look at your SD card and main memory and import books into the shelf. I liked the fact it scanned both and imported everything without any prompts, complete with cover art. 8/10
The Cool Reader application for Google Android allows you a wide variety of book formats that it can read. Currently the program has the ability to read fb2, doc, txt, rtf, html, chm, tcr, pdb, epub, prc and mobi formats. 7/10
(Mantano Reader) This application does not read many formats at all, mainly PDF and EPUB. Good thing most books on the internet are in these two formats, it does involve you converting books manually if they aren’t. 8/10

Illuminating texts - Boston.com

Illuminating texts - Boston.com:
"This essay is the first in a three-part series about the past, present, and future of reading. Part two will focus on readers in transition between the page and the screen. Part three will look at the future of reading."

As the screen overtakes the solid page, and the ground floors of libraries have begun to look like the decks of starships, and the page has become its own lamp, as millions of books become available at the click of a key, and a simple search will turn up almost anything one needs to recall, surely the memory of what is read is dissolving all that much faster.

Byte Magazine is back | The Digital Reader

Byte Magazine is back | The Digital Reader:
"The most important name (for me, at least) is Jerry Pournelle, who will be reprising his column from the print edition."

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Wertzone: Blackout by Connie Willis

The Wertzone: Blackout by Connie Willis:
"At almost 1,300 pages (between the two volumes), it's instead a massive, bloated and swollen book so packed with filler and minutiae that it's hard to plough on through the novel. The author has spent weeks and months researching the Second World War in extreme detail and by God, every single last bit of that research is going in the novel whether you like it or not."

I read the first couple of chapters last week and have not been able to pick it up again. After finishing a couple of books since then I am still not particularly motivated to pick it up again. The Wertzone review is on the mark with exactly what bothered me with the book.
I may take my medicine and plow through the book sometime later. I'm in no rush.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Google For Freedom

Google For Freedom:
"Everything is encrypted in https, preventing your communications from being (easily) intercepted.
You can conceal who is in your Circles, and who has you in their Circles.
Unlike Facebook, you don't have to use your real name.
Google Takeout will let you export all your data. So if a journalist has to take down their account, they can take that contact information elsewhere."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kobo WiFi eReader Touch Edition - best in its class, available in Canada

Kobo Touch Review and Comparisons - Kobo WiFi eReader Touch Edition:
Kobo Touch"The Kobo Touch is the latest addition to Kobo's line of ebook readers. It replaces the Kobo WiFi but maintains many of the same features while adding some software and hardware upgrades.

The Kobo Touch comes in four color varieties: Lilac, Blue, Silver, and Black. Staying true to Kobo's low-priced approach, it sells for $139 in Canada and a competitive $129 in the United States, $10 less than the Kindle 3 WiFi and new Nook Touch."

If I were going to get an e-ink reader for friend or family I would probably go for the Kobo Touch. Firmware needs to be upgraded a time or two to get the wrinkles out. Some minor, but essential functions are missing, and I don't like how the dictionary only works with Kobo books, but otherwise it looks simple enough for anyone to use but powerful and flexible enough for rooting and fiddling.

Its competitor, the Nook Touch, is not available in Canada (yet) and Kindle doesn't have anything comparable in this price range.

A Hard Day's Knight by Simon Green - Book Review

Finished reading A Hard Day's Knight by Simon Green. It is the eleventh book in the Nightside series.
Heres the blurb from Simon Green's website:
John Taylor is a P.I. with a special talent for finding lost things in the dark and secret centre of London known as the Nightside. He’s also the reluctant owner of a very special—and dangerous—weapon. Excalibur, the legendary sword. To find out why he was chosen to wield it, John must consult the Last Defenders of Camelot, a group of knights who dwell in a place that some find more frightening than the Nightside.

London Proper. It’s been years since John’s been back—and there are good reasons for that.

Obviously, if you haven't read the first ten books you won't get much out of this book. As far as a Nightside book goes it is pretty good. Unlike some of the earlier books not every paragraph ends with the tag "in the Nightside". The strangeness in the Nightside is really not an issue in this book but we might see it in the next book. The lack of the tag is probably why the book is so short. It felt more like a side-plot pulled out of a bigger novel than a book in its own right. I know this is a concern for all series of any length, but this book's modest word count seemed to stand out in this collection of slim novels.

A straightforward plot with an easy resolution, but a pleasant read nevertheless.The soap opera cliffhanger ending isn't much of a surprise if you know that the name of the next book is The Bride Wore Black Leather.

Monday, June 27, 2011

FBReader for Android adds TTS and bunch of new features

FBReader for Android adds TTS | The Digital Reader:
"The app still supports Epub and FB2. It has all the formatting options it did before, plus it picked up a couple new ones. It now has enough font, layout, and margin options to satisfy the pickiest reader. It also now has dictionary lookup (the dictionary has to be installed first), and you can now copy a clipping to the clipboard or email it to someone. There’s also bookmarks."

Aldiko is still the best out there as far as I am concerned, but that is only compared to Coolreader, Moon+reader, and KoboReader. I'll look at FBReader to see if it supports clean stylesheet formatting, effective navigation, and decent library management.

RIP: editor and anthologist Martin Greenberg - Boing Boing

RIP: editor and anthologist Martin Greenberg - Boing Boing: "Julia says, 'Tor.com reports that Martin Greenberg, well known sci-fi/fantasy writer and editor has passed away.'"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Harry Potter Ebooks Online - No DRM | eBookanoid.com

Harry Potter Ebooks Online - No DRM | eBookanoid.com:
"But the main thing that came out of this press conference that is of interest to us is that the Potter ebooks will be sold without DRM protection, but instead each sold copy will have a unique “water mark” built into it, so that should that particular copy be sold on line, it will be easy for them to know which customer it was who sold the copy illegally."

Stripping a watermark is supposed to be harder than stripping DRM?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WETA Debuts InReads, New Online Reading Community

WETA Debuts InReads, New Online Reading Community:
"The InRead site allows its users to post their favorite books as well as their reading history. The site offers a series of blogs devoted to books, culture and technology and inRead members can, of course, comment and post to wide variety of social media outlets. Members can “dogear” blog posts to save and circulate and the site offers a variety of original content from published authors. InReads is funded by WETA with additional funding support from the Park Foundation."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy Books? You Tell Us : NPR

The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy Books? You Tell Us : NPR:
"And so, to help you chart any fantastic voyages you might like to take this vacation season, NPR Books is focusing our annual summer readers' poll on science fiction and fantasy (SF/F to insiders). During the coming weeks, your votes will decide the titles that make our top-100 list of the best SF/F novels ever written."

5 titles per post. Many authors/series excluded (no young adult or horror). Could be a good list.

Monday, June 20, 2011

BBC News - British Library makes Google search deal

BBC News - British Library makes Google search deal:
"The British Library has reached a deal with search engine Google about 250,000 texts dating back to the 18th Century.

It will allow readers to view, search and copy the out-of-copyright works at no charge on both the library and Google books websites."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fuzzy Nation - The Barnes & Noble Review

Fuzzy Nation - The Barnes & Noble Review:
"And yet, I find myself unable to like Fuzzy Nation as much as I like Little Fuzzy. Little Fuzzy, it seems to me, is the Saturday Evening Post, and Fuzzy Nation is DreamWorks. One is gold and one is bronze. That reaction certainly says more about me than about the book. But let me catalogue the differences between the two books that illuminate what has been abandoned. (It's all down to the shifts in culture since 1962, of course.)"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sir Terry Pratchett begins process that could lead to assisted suicide - Telegraph

Sir Terry Pratchett begins process that could lead to assisted suicide - Telegraph:
"But he stressed that he was as yet still undecided whether he would eventually take his own life.

He said he changed his mind “every two minutes” but added that if he did choose to die would prefer to do so in England and in the sunshine."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pleasures of Reading in Bed With an Ereader | eBookanoid.com

Pleasures of Reading in Bed With an Ereader | eBookanoid.com:
"Funnily enough, in those days before ereaders, all of the above problems obviously existed, but didn’t worry me too much, I didn’t even really think about them, just accepted that the world was thus, and got on with reading. But that has changed now, we have been shown how good and relaxing reading can really be, and I find it hard to return to that relatively primitive form of reading now. Sad isn’t it?"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Swimming Lessons for House Slaves: The Buddy System�|�Stormwolf.com

Swimming Lessons for House Slaves: The Buddy System�|�Stormwolf.com:
"Tradpub advocates point out that not all authors involved in digital self-publishing agree on everything, therefore none of them can be trusted talking about anything. In this way they are like Creationists who claim that just because different scientists have different theories of how evolution took place, that the very fact of evolution can’t be trusted. It’s idiocy and malignant. It’s deliberately deceptive argumentation designed to frighten and confuse."

Swimming Lessons for House Slaves: The Holistic Approach�|�Stormwolf.com

Swimming Lessons for House Slaves: The Holistic Approach|Stormwolf.com:
"I use this story to illustrate the lack of understanding of what’s going on with ebooks and ebook production. The question about widow control and hyphenation, as ridiculous as it seemed above, is made even more so ridiculous when you realize—as I did about 3 minutes later—that it’s completely immaterial. Widow control is something used to keep little sentence fragments of 1-4 words off their own line. Hyphenation is necessary when you want to produce nice, fully justified type in a book."

Publishers want desperately to make publishing ebooks as difficult as possible. they so worried that the new technologies are making them redundant.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Top 10 Misused English Words

Top 10 Misused English Words:
"Many people who’ve had to proof read documents start to develop a kind of compulsive “tutting” at misused words. Here’s my top ten words that are misused by either professional writers or public speakers who, let’s be honest, should really know better"

Monday, June 6, 2011

4oh4 - words not found: Maybe the Dumbest Generation Came Before Us

4oh4 - words not found: Maybe the Dumbest Generation Came Before Us:
"From the first few pages, The Dumbest Generation smacks of the worst kind of get-off-my-lawn resistance to change, and Bauerlein often bashes “pro-technology” commentators, as if the printed book reading that he exalts somehow wasn't a technology itself."

A well-researched book that quotes a bunch of studies but fails to understand the nature of cultural change.
This is a book review worth reading.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Wertzone: RIP Joel Rosenberg

The Wertzone: RIP Joel Rosenberg:
"Rosenberg is best-known as the author of the popular ten-volume Guardians of the Flame series, about a group of role-players who are transported into the fantasy world they are playing in."

Very much enjoyed the series when I was younger.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

40 Fascinating Lectures for Linguistics Geeks | Online Universities

40 Fascinating Lectures for Linguistics Geeks | Online Universities:
"The following lectures, by no means the only ones available online, represent a lovely little slice of how language permeates all things, for better and for worse."

Fantasy Book Critic: PRESS RELEASE: The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now Prize Winners Announced!

Fantasy Book Critic: PRESS RELEASE: The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now Prize Winners Announced!:
"The six judges—including Sir Terry Pratchett and Tony Robinson—met yesterday at Waterstone’s flagship store in London’s Piccadilly to thrash out a winner. After hours of debate the conclusion was reached that it was impossible to select a single victor! The entries were so diverse that it was unanimously decided to split the prize and award it to David Logan for his book Half Sick of Shadows and to Michael Logan (no relation!) for Apocalypse Cow. Both writers will receive a publishing contract from Transworld."

PCMag calls Nook Touch the new king of ereaders

PCMag calls Nook Touch the new king of ereaders:
"Pierce writes that the Nook Touch beats the Kindle in all three of those categories. Its home screen is more intuitive and more attractive than the Kindle’s, and its touchscreen interface generally offers a much better way to interact with books, from turning a single page to quickly scrubbing through multiple pages at once. The Nook Touch is also smaller and lighter than the Kindle 3—imagine the Kindle 3 sans keyboard—making it even more pocketable."

Five Sites To Help You Build A Reading List - eBookNewser

Five Sites To Help You Build A Reading List - eBookNewser:
"If you’ve already read everything on your bookshelf and don’t want to rely on Amazon recommendations, there are a few great websites that can help you discover new books."

Monday, May 30, 2011

First $50 eReader Hits the Market | Bookbee Ebooks

First $50 eReader Hits the Market | Bookbee Ebooks:
"Buy.com has the original Aluratek Libre on sale right now for $50,after a $20 mail-in rebate."

The real watershed moment will be when the standard retail price is $50.

Lousy quality control in ebooks - another reason to get the pirate version

Lousy quality control in ebooks | eBookanoid.com:
"The short version, publishers, is this—somebody at your company is running a PDF or Word file or whatever through some kind of meatgrinder converter, and then failing to give it a final proof before slapping a full, non-discountable retail price on it. And what’s arriving in customer’s hot little e-hands are shoddy books with basic errors that are just appalling. As a customer, it is completely unacceptable to me to pay full sticker price and get an inferior product. And I don’t just mean inferior in the ‘I can’t re-sell it like I can with paper and it’s crippled by DRM’ sense. I mean ‘inferior’ as in my teenaged brother could spend twenty minutes reading it and run out of fingers on which to count the really obvious mistakes."

When are publishers gonna get with the program? Used to be you bought a pirated tape or DVD and you expected shoddy quality. These days when you get pirated ebooks you are usually getting a better version than retail.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Will Paperback Books Come in Shrink-wrap Soon?

Should Paperback Books Come with a Free eBook?:
"When you look at the movie industry you always get the digital version for free when you buy the hard copy. When you buy a Blu-ray Disk it normally comes with a free digital edition for your computer, ditto with DVD Disks. Considering that eBooks are so popular, why is it that the leather bound tomes we have come to love are not accompanied by the digital version?"

The sales pitch for ebooks/readers that annoys me the most these days is the one that glorifies the ability to buy a book when you are on a plane or the beach. How big is the plane/beach market? My belief is that most people who buy ebooks would like to plan a little ahead of time and try to shop for bargains. The impulse buy and the immediate purchase when their favourite authors come out with a new book is only part of the equation.

I suppose the mechanics of providing the electronic copy of the book could be problematic. Music and DVDs have the advantage of packaging and shrink-wrap protecting either a memory stick or a code for a free download. Books are sold as-is: I don't think that shrink-wrap, or even a sticker of some sort would be particularly effective in a brick-and-mortar book store.

I'd like to see some innovation in the marketing of e-books. Michael Koz has some good ideas in his article. One idea I would like to see explored is the use of cover art to up-sell or add value to an e-book purchase (making piracy less desirable). High quality color prints of book covers could be sold as artwork, trading cards, or stocked at bookstores with QR codes printed on the back.

Its a brand new publishing world out there and I'm sure that we'll see everything under the sun tried sooner or later.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Amazon waved a magic wand and doubled the Kindle’s battery life | The Digital Reader

Amazon waved a magic wand and doubled the Kindle’s battery life | The Digital Reader:
"A single charge lasts up to two months with wireless off based upon a half-hour of daily reading time. If you read for one hour a day, you will get battery life of up to one month."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aldiko Signs With BooksOnBoard - funding to keep the best e-reader going

Aldiko Signs With BooksOnBoard | Bookbee Ebooks:
"Aldiko, makers of the Aldiko reading app (for Android), has just signed a deal to add BooksOnBoard, an independent eBookstore, to its reading app. Aldiko users will now be able to choose from any of hundreds of thousands of titles sold in epub by BooksOnBoard, and then buy them and read them without leaving the app."

Aldiko is still the best Android reading app out there. Features aside, it has the truest rendering of CSS of the bunch. I'd like to think that the eBookstore deal will help keep Aldiko free and maintained into the future.

If you like indented paragraphs, non-indented chapter first lines, small caps, and all the other small formatting flourishes we expect from printed books then Aldiko is the most likely app to render an e-book the way it was intended.

the new Nook - simple one button reader for a complicated world

I was right about the new Nook | The Digital Reader:
"It is based on a 6″ Pearl E-ink screen and it does have a Neonode touch screen. It has only the one power button, Wifi, 2GB storage, a card slot (upper right edge), and 2 months battery life. Price is $139 and it ships in early June. Ooh, it has an onscreen keyboard, 6 fonts and 7 font sizes, and in general a better user interface."

A bit pricey for what you get (thought the Nook Wifi has now been discounted to $99). It looks a bit too square to be easily held in one hand. While there is talk of hacking the Android innards, this is probably a reader better left alone. People who have never heard of rooting and don't care if they can play Sudoku on their reader will be happy with this device.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Annoyances of eBooks - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic

The Annoyances of eBooks - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic:
"But I doubt that many of the kids starting school now will build up the same kind of personal reference system around print books, any more than most children of the 1920s bothered to learn how to hitch up a team properly. To them, print books will seem ponderous and slow--what we find serene and undistracting, they will find as annoying as making your own Jello out of calve's feet and eggshells. They will have their own mental information maps that revolve around search and keywords, not physical proximity. It won't be better for all things. But it doesn't have to be. It just has to be able to outrun the competition where it counts. If they are--and I think they are--it will eventually become un-economic for most firms to retain print divisions."

2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners | Bookbee Ebooks

2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners | Bookbee Ebooks

2011 Nebula Award Winners! | tor.com | Science fiction and fantasy | Blog posts

2011 Nebula Award Winners! | tor.com | Science fiction and fantasy | Blog posts:

WINNER Blackout / All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's new? Alerting readers to ebook revisions - O'Reilly Radar

What's new? Alerting readers to ebook revisions - O'Reilly Radar:
"Ebooks, in theory, should be easy to change. After all, a huge print book drawback — stale text sitting on a shelf — no longer constrains digital editions of textbooks, fast-moving tech topics, or a biography of Charlie Sheen.

But between theory and reality stand two big challenges:

Getting the changes to readers who've already downloaded an ebook file
Spotlighting what's changed, so folks don't have to hunt for the meaningful fresh bits"

Amazon Now Sells More Kindle Books Than Hardcover and Paperback Combined - Techland - TIME.com

Amazon Now Sells More Kindle Books Than Hardcover and Paperback Combined - Techland - TIME.com:
"In a press release sent out this morning, online mega-seller Amazon announced that Kindle books are now outselling both print and hardcover books combined. It took a little over two years since the Kindle launched in 2007 to have its e-books outpace hardcovers, but it happened in July of 2010 before overtaking paperbacks six months later as well."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kobo for Android Updated | more upsell, little qualty

Kobo for Android Updated | Bookbee Ebooks:
"Kobo released a new version of its Android app yesterday. The new app brings a number of tweaks and bug fixes as well as Reading Life™, Kobo’s social media platform."

All this work keeping track of what I read when they still can't present the page as it has been formatted by the author/editor. Implement full stylesheet formatting (like Aldiko) and better customization of the reading experience.
Obviously they are more concerned with gathering marketing data and selling the next book than they are providing the highest quality document.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Back to blogging

After an exhausting move I'm ready to get back to blogging again. Now that I've got a tablet my interest in reader and tablet hardware is waning. My focus may shift to (free) Android apps and ebook publishing.
I'm catching up on my reading so I should have some book reviews coming soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

40 free tools for authors, by Piotr Kowalczyk | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

40 free tools for authors, by Piotr Kowalczyk | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics:
"This post is designed to give you a concise, yet comprehensive preview of most important free tools you can pick up to publish and promote your e-books. I hope it will help you discover the ones, which in a best possible way fit your author profile and personal needs."

Good list.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Apps from Amazon routinely phone home and other interesting details - tip of the iceberg

Apps from Amazon routinely phone home and other interesting details | The Digital Reader

Read this. Besides the insidious methods Amazon uses with its Android app store there are two more problems I have had.
1. Amazon requires a credit card number even though you just want to download free apps.
2. Amazon app store is only legally available in the U.s. - there may be workarounds but this should not be an issue considering that they are fronting for the same apps that are internationally available through the Google Market.
3. Amazon wants your credit card number.

Its plain to me that Amazon wants to replicate the walled garden approach that Apple is famous for. Unfortunately Amazon has the money to make this work. I went for the limited-time-only free ezPDF reader but balked when it became obvious that "free" had strings attached.

From what I've read about the srongarm tactics Amazon is using on developers to price their apps under strict guidelines I think I will pass on Amazon until (and if) they change their Big Brother policy.