Monthly Archives: June 2012

Who Needs Main Characters When You Have a Supporting Cast This Cool?

A friend of mine and I had been talking about books and when I mentioned that I hadn’t read a good book, or really any books due to work, school, finals, family stuff etc, in a while he mentioned this Young Adult fantasy series that he really enjoyed. Now for me, no matter how old I get young adult fantasy will never go out of style. While I enjoy Adult Fantasy, I liked Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy, it is hard for me to find one that isn’t really dry or really Tolkien-esque, I love JRR Tolkien but after a while that whole epic quest, one ring, black and white definition of good and evil, it gets tiresome. If anyone has any suggestions for cool books please let me know.

Anyways my friend suggested that I read a series by Michael Scott, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Now anyone who knows anything about Nicholas Flamel, or anyone who saw the first Harry Potter movie, knows that Nicholas Flamel is the supposed creator of the philosopher’s stone (a stone that can turn lead into gold) and discoverer of the secrets of immortality in a drought known as the Elixir of Life. Now Flamel was a real person born in Paris in 1330, died in 1418. He was a bookseller and an alchemist (they did actually have those back then) who became mysteriously wealthy, though he did give a lot of the mysterious wealth to building school and hospitals. I would say more but they explain him pretty well in the book.

The only book I’ve read so far is the first one, The Alchemyst, and I really enjoyed it. The main story line takes place in modern-day and there are these twins who get mixed up with Nicholas Flamel who is fighting Dr. John Dee for this book that has all these magic spells and recipes for potions (like the Elixir of Life). Dee steals the book and kidnaps Flamel’s wife and they have to get both back before a month elapses or both of the Flamels will be dead because they have to take the elixir monthly to live forever and the ingredients change every month so they couldn’t memorize the potion. The twins have “seen too much” so they have to go with Flamel for their own safety. Later we find out that there is a prophesy (cuz it’s a fantasy novel and there always seems to be a prophesy) and that the twins are part of the prophesy (surprise surprise). Later there is a huge battle and all hell breaks loose.

I know it sounds like a generic fantasy novel. What makes this book stand out, to me at least, are all the side characters. They are fantastic in every sense of the word. Yeah the twins are ok but they are nowhere near as interesting as the other characters. Pretty much all of the side characters are characters out of legend, history, and mythology. There are the Flamels (real people with a bit of legend thrown in), Dr. John Dee (real person, kinda the real life 007), Scathac (a maiden warrior from celtic mythology. Hecate (greek myth), and so many more. I thought I knew a lot about mythology and I was still finding characters I’ve never heard of before, like Scathac. Michael Scott not only incorporates them into the story he also gives them some depth. Most of the first book is plot building, and feels like it, but I also have the suspicion that the reason for it is that the other books will be great and make up for the plot building. I’d give it a 8 out of 10. It’s a quick read with interesting facts and side characters. It has potential.


Skipping Merrily Towards Our Doom. How It’s All Gonna End, and How We’re Not Gonna Stop It.

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ~ George Orwell

While many nerdy things have become more mainstream, much to the chagrin of die-hard nerds, science fiction while being a popular movie/book genre is not really taken seriously. Which to me is shocking seeing that a lot of what was science fiction is now just science. Don’t believe me? Think about it, what used to be considered scifi? Video phones, voice commanded computers, tactical lasers (like the death star, yeah that’s right I said the death star), hand held communicators, smart robots (ones that recognize motion, sounds, commands, moving objects, etc). Think about it this way, iphones, ipads, Wikipedia, Bluetooth, Siri, Skype. All of things were science fiction and I don’t mean like a long time ago like the fifties, I mean cellphones weren’t in America until like the 1980’s and they looked like this

they didn’t look like this

until 2007. That is only five years ago and yet it has become a crucial part of everyday life, also that picture of the iphone is first generation meaning that the damn thing is obsolete! I have an ipod touch, that is third generation made in 2009 and that thing is practically obsolete. I was born in 1989 and I am older then all of the things I listed above (except the death star, I’m younger than that). I’m older than google!

Anyways what I was saying is that people don’t really take science fiction seriously (it’s that damn “fiction” part isn’t it?) but we really should. Take a look at some older scifi, the good stuff like Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, or 1984 or Animal Farm by Orwell. When you read it now and realize when these books were written; Fahrenheit 451 published in 1953, 1984 published in 1948, and Animal Farm in 1945 these men sound like prophets (way more accurate than anything Nostradamus predicted). They weren’t prophets of course (at least I think not), they were just great scifi writers. Great scifi writers observe humanity I see it like they’re playing chess, always looking several steps ahead and then they write down the end result of the game. We readers then see the begining of the game i.e. the time they lived in and the end being the book. We then go one of two routes a) we see that these guys were smart, then try to figure out the points between what was and what will most likely be, tell people and be brushed off as a conspiracy theorist or a complete nutcase. Or b) we read the book, take comfort in the fact that it’s “fiction”, go into complete denial (a thing that most people in the world have gotten scary good at), and when someone from route a tells you what they think, you brush them off as conspiracy theorists.

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”~Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

It has gotten to the point that we are already at things like Orwell and Bradbury had described and we have moved on to things in movies. The Matrix, Blade Runner, I Robot, The Terminator (hopefully not with Schwarzenegger as the robot), etc.We will be overtaken by robots and AI, I know some of you (most of you) are rolling your eyes at that but I think that “what if” part of your brain might be tingling. Everyday we are getting more and more technologically advanced, AI already exists and have you seen robots lately? Androids look like this

Creepy Expression Robot

And robots move like this

This is not CGI

I know that right now they just do what they are programed to do but come on do you really think that once they get more advanced they will follow Asminov’s Three Laws of Robotics? For those who don’t know the three laws of robotics are 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Have we learned nothing from movies? They will, they have the internet (they are the internet) and unlike us they will actually remember and learn from previous mistakes. And when they do become sentient and start to take over we can’t delete the internet or anything on it, it’s there forever. Don’t ask the guys who invented it to help just because they invented it, they don’t even know how it works! And since I’m in full on rant mode I’m gonna say (in a southern baptist preacher voice) “Doom is upon us, the end is nigh!”….I couldn’t help myself ^_^

I know that I’m probably going to be brushed off as a conspiracy theorist (if I haven’t been already) here to instil panic into mindless masses who can’t think for themselves (though I am hoping that if you read this blog you do have the ability to think for yourself and use that ability to its fullest potential). Who knows I might just be a nutcase rambling (OK I am a nutcase rambling but that is besides the point) the point is that I’m not the only one who sees this and we all do nothing about it. I know why I won’t be doing anything about it, when we have the Matrix the world will at least make some form of sense (hopefully we wont be stuck in the 90’s like the movie, I’m gonna hold out for a Harry Potter world myself and I don’t care if I am American and too old to go, I want my letter to Hogwarts! Or a Pokemon world, that works too). And honestly robots would probably be better than who we have in charge now, at least robots have some sense of logic.

Why am I saying all this if I’m not inciting a revolt or even do anything about the coming robotic overlords? I want everyone to know where we’re at. I’m flexible, I can work with just about any apocalypse and I’m cool with most of them (partly because I believe in reincarnation and also as a pagan I would rather see the earth destroyed in an apocalypse instead of watching it slowly suffer). I just wanted everyone to know that we aren’t just trudging towards an inevitability, we are skipping merrily to are doom.


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