Sunday, July 26, 2009

2010: Odyssey Two

I was disenchanted when I started reading 2010: Odyssey Two as it read as a sequel not the the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey but to the film of the same title. While I've seen the film, 2010, the novel wasn't too spoiled for me. Obviously, the detail is fuller.

Nine years after the mishap aboard Discovery, Soviet and American explorers return the abandoned space ship to recover any information that might be used to conclude just what happened to the Hal 9000 unit, and what became of the spaceman, David Bowman. Most of all, to figure out the origins of the huge monolith.

Upon their race to Jupiter, a Chinese space ship launches toward their destination, intending to get their before their Soviet and American counterparts. Upon Europa, where the Chinese ship lands upon, an awesome discovery is made - there is life upon the cold, frozen moon of Jupiter. The dangers that lie for the ship and its crew is made apparent.

Aboard the of the Soviet ship, Alexei Leonov, the crew makes all efforts of uncovering the truth about the monolith and Discovery; meanwhile, the entity that was once David Bowman is headed toward Earth on a mission.

Like the novel before it, 2010, is cleverly written and author Arthur C. Clarke has once again proven he is the master of his genre. Creating well rounded characters and a worlds that surpass imagination. The novel never fails to keep you glued to pages, anticipating the next step toward the discovery of our origins.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When Reading Becomes Writing

I completed the final revision "The Poet Story," which is now called "Digging Graves." Just because I'm done with the revision, doesn't meant that heavy editing is also finished. Every word must serve a purpose and if something stalls the flow of the story, it must be cut.

I'm not sure how much paper and ink I wasted printing several copies of the revised version for editing process - while I can type a story on a computer, I cannot for the life of me revise and edit one while I'm staring at a screen. The first version I printed out was the second revision. I worked on a third and that was printed out as well. When the fourth came, I was happy with the story. I just need to smooth out the kinks and then edit the document and print again. This time, hopefully, I catch all my mistakes.

After seeing the third version of the story marked in red ink, my mother asked if all those books I've read about writing were the cause of it. I told it was the cause of reading most of my life. If I didn't read so much, I would still be romanticizing how easy writing is.

Just for the record, blog posts rarely get a rough draft. Rarely.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Too Many Books

Is there really such a thing as too many books? I didn't think so. It started with me looking through for a copy of The New New Journalism, which I found for only $0.75 plus shipping, so it came to be a little over $4.

I continued my search the rest of Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey series, but no luck at Hastings or anywhere else for that matter. I even attempted Barnes & Noble, but nada - though they had another copy of a book by him - as did Hastings - however, not the books I am looking for. Today, I purchased them for $8 for both of them, used.

Clarke's writing has been able to do something most science fiction author's have failed - keep me interested. I don't want to stick my literary nose up in the sky, but let's face it: College killed the genre for me. The only other writer was Heinlein, though I've only been able to read his Stranger in a Strange Land.

Also purchased, but not hunted for, was Chuch Palahniuk's novel, Choke. Hastings had several of his novels on their used shelves, though I picked this one for unknown reasons. It was one part influence by Tumblr and one part influence by Esmer, a friend of mine and Jyg's. I fear that the book will not be a hit with me because of the author's teenage fan base, though I've been wrong before.

Another hunt also ended yesterday. I finally laid my hands upon a copy of Tim O'Brien's war classic, The Things They Carried. Hastings had it listed at value price, paying only $10 rather than the $15. Not a big deal, I know, but it was cheaper and I got to keep the five for another hunt - I can't believe how unbelievably cheap that makes me sound.

So what's the next hunt? I'm searching for a used copy/value priced edition of Belly Off! Diet.

In other news: I purchased the Watchmen: Director's Cut DVD. While several comic nerds and impatient nonthinkers were displeased with the movie, I enjoyed it. I'll be first to admit that I was nearly pissing my pants to watch the Director's Cut because I anticipated so much from the movie. Did I care it was going to exceed three hours - crap no! However, I was disappointed when I tore off the plastic wrapping, popped open the DVD case to see an ad for The Watchmen Ultimate Collector's Edition due in December of this year. The set contains five discs, The Director's Cut with Tales of the Black Freighter woven in, new commentary by Dave Gibbons and director Zack Synder, over two hours bonus content, which includes Hollis Mason's Tell All, Under the Hood and the complete Watchmen Motion Comics! I know, it's a huge fuck you, courtesy of Warner and Paramount.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kindle burns out

I must have told this story several times. It was 2005 and I was in the office of my creative writing professor when he asks me what I think about the book. Not a specific book, but all books. Has the printed word now become a thing of the past? With the birth of e-books, has the old fashion shelf fillers met their match? My answer was quick, "No."

Books cannot die as long as there are true English majors. The ones who write on the margins, the ones who litter the pages with sticky notes with thoughts and allusions. Those who love the scent of an old book and lust for the scent of a new one. Those who go as far as dumpster diving to get their hands on a discarded first edition. As long as those people exist, the printed word - as books are concerned, sorry journalists - will never cease to exist.

Not too long after, Kindle was announced and a certain dread that I had been wrong crept up my spine. Books were not being fed through to a machine that was light weight and portable. And not just one book, but several books. So I sat and waited for the end to come near.

Yesterday, Monica sent me a link telling me the new found woes of Kindle users. Books they had paid for and thought were theirs had mysteriously vanished. The cause of this? Amazon bend backwards once again to fulfill the needs of certain publishers. It wasn't just the books that vanished, but one 17-year-old also lost the annotations he had made for the George Orwell classic, 1984.

Thankfully, Amazon has proven that the book's end is not as near as we thought. As long as their are greedy publishers in the world, books are here to stay. (Unless Amazon decides to invade our hopes and steal copies of books we bought. That would just be crazy.)

2009: A Space Odyssey reading

Last week, I went hunting for 2001: A Space Odyssey, a book that inspired the Stanley Kubrick classic. I just picked up its sequel and started reading. This novel also spawned the Peter Hyams' film sequel, which starred Roy Scheider and John Lithgow.

I've never been one to compare novels to their film adaptations because I believe each should be able to stand alone. I do, however, dislike it when a film deviates greatly from its novel successor (e.g. Michael Crichton's The Lost World was written because Hollywood pressured him to write a sequel. The film of the same title, however, had little resemblance to the novel as the plot, characters and theme were changed greatly, leaving in question why they just didn't make a sequel on their own, rather than forcing him into writing on for them).

But in the case of 2001, the film did motivate me to read the novel. I'm also glad that I did. While the film adaptation isn't hard to follow - unless you're one who is bored of monotony, as the film contains several scenes of the man just floating around to classical music, a rather simple description - reading the novel has helped shed a light upon the scenes that lost me. Arthur C. Clarke is probably one of the greatest writers that the Science Fiction genre has to offer. He created a dark, yet insightful, tale of man's journey into the unknown, on a never ending question of our origin.

Whether your a creationist, or an evolution-conspiracy theorist, you can understand the problems that might arise in our question to seek out the truth of our "creation." How did man go from a simple ape-man or a grain of sand to the explorers of other worlds? Who first motivated us to pick up that stone and use it as a tool in order to survive? Perhaps some questions should never be answered until we are ready. Or perhaps, we'll never be ready and the monolith only enables us to take in the cosmic intelligence, our origin - the origins of several species.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Graphic Novel Search

I've been watching the Spider-Man trilogy; mostly because I learned there are rumors of a fourth, but especially because I'm a nerd. Watching superhero movies and reading 2001: A Space Odyssey, have made me long for a graphic novel. I'm not sure what, or if I want to read something sci fi/superhero, or something more realistic and down to earth.

I have a few here at the house, but I've read them before. Batman and Watchmen, Sand Man and indie press graphic novels. I'm looking for something new, something I've never bothered with in the past. The nerd in me craves the mixture of literature and art.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sci-Fi and War Novel Hunt

Hunt: In search for The Things They Carried, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Two and 3001: The Final Odyssey.
Partner: Mother
Location: Hastings, 4500 N. 10th St McAllen, TX
Success: 1/2
Cost: $19.99

Even though I mentioned going to Hastings to purchase 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Two and 3001: The Final Odyssey, I thought that I should at least look for The Things They Carried because they normally have it in stock, which they did but not used. A few months back, I put off buying a used copy of the war fiction because I didn't know if I wanted to read it. Recently, however, the novel has been everywhere, mentioned in a few blogs that I read. I blew my chance with that used copy and today the books were down to only two copies left. If worse comes to worse, I'll purchase the book at a college bookstore, hopefully finding a cheap used copy there as well.

As for the three copies of the Space Odyssey series, only two were left - 2001 & 2010. Both were used softcover - 2001 cost $6.99 and 2010 cost $7.49. I suppose I'll look for 2061 and 3001 at Books 'n' Things or online.

Because I originally thought my success rate was going to be 3/4 - I already knew that finding a used copy of The Things They Carried wouldn't be in stock - I was let down when 3001 was swiped. However, as we ventured toward check out I saw a large box with several copies of different books. One of which was a softcover of William Gibson's Spook Country for only $3.99. Just the other week, I saw a hardcover at Barnes & Noble for $6.99 (online for only $3.99!), new. I love value books - I love used books, too, but not as much as value books which are new.

Along with the novels, I also picked up a lemonade, some pin-back buttons for my messenger bag and some for Izzy, whose birthday is in two weeks. I'm also thinking of looking for a book she was interested in. 12-year-olds are so different today than they were when I was one. The grand total for everything purchased was $29.38. Three books for under 30 bucks (really, under 20 - as noted above). What an awesome day!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Hunt Starts Monday [Updated]

I haven't been able to hunt for any books because I've been working as a parking lot Nazi for a local baseball stadium. However, this starting Monday and ending on Thursday I'll be hunting for two books that I must read - The New New Journalism: Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft and The Things They Carried. Of course, I'll be searching for the lowest price books, digging through value bins and used sections. If all else fails, it's Internet shopping for me!

The reason I want The New New Journalism is because I'm attempting to implement myself into the new age of media. Because I've never once taken a journalism course in my life, it's not an easy thing to do. I can write fiction - I was an English major with a strong focus on American Literature and creative writing - but journalism isn't my cup of tea. I go on too much - if you couldn't tell.

As for The Things They Carried, I was told it was a great book. And I'm sure it is. It's one of those books I should've read in college or high school, but never got around to doing it because my teachers/professors sucked.

I'll keep you all posted.

Update: I've been turning this over in my head. At Hastings bookstore, I can probably still pick up three of the four Space Odyssey books: 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Two and 3001: The Final Odyssey . That just leaves me with the search for book three, 2061: Odyssey Three, which can possibly be found at Books 'n' Things in McAllen. I might wind up spending about $21 for the three that I can possibly get at Hastings, if they're still there. We'll see.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thoughts on the Sexual Revolution

"Born in 1969, I missed the sixties and, for the most part, the seventies," begins David Allyn in his book, Make Love, Not War - The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History. "But I have always been fascinated by stories of the days of sexual liberation."

Like David, I have always been in awe from what I heard about sixties and seventies, knowing that I missed out on the most important part of history in the 20th century - possibly the most radical times this country - world - will ever see.

While I'm still reading the book - which I purchased back in 2006 in order to cite passages from it in a research paper entitled "After Kinsey" for my Beat Generation class - I noted somethings I found rather irksome. Just to name one, the American Civil Liberties Union.

In the book, Allyn reports that:
Although the American Civil Liberties Union was founded to protect freedom of speech, ACLU officials in the fifties shied away from attacking the censorship of sexual materials. The group's executive director assure critics that the ACLU had never intervened in federal efforts to stop the mailing of "smutty post cards," strip-tease pictures," or "nudes." As far as he was concerned, the federal government had every right to suppress such literature. As another ACLU official stated, "Nor do we believe that the obscenity laws are interfering with freedom of the press in any way."
I know organization alter their beliefs and practices over the years, and the ACLU is no different, but what irks me most is how they were not willing to stand up for actual freedom of speech during that point in American history, yet are so willing to aid teens who create what has been dubbed child pornography (as you can see, this is social commentary - of sorts - on the present day ACLU).

Perhaps the ACLU doesn't see its own stupidity of past and present. Or perhaps they have lost touch with what really matters. I don't know. I seriously hope, however, that they crumble or reform into something that makes sense.