Little Brother by Cory Doctorow -
"Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.
But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.
When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself."
Doctorow is one of the co-editors of the BoingBoing groupblog, which I obsessively read. "Little Brother," while ostensibly a "young adult" book, it's one just about every adult in America should read. Mixing together politics, technology, relationships and ideas, it wast vastly entertaining. It's the only book I've read recently that was able to make me viscerally angry, as it's probably the best written example of how far in the wrong direction the U.S. has gone since 9/11. [That's the antagonists in the book, not the book itself.] And it gave me some hope for the equalizing power of technology to help return life and government to a more positive, open, healthy, and less "fear-mongering" sort. Great book. Recommended highly.
The New Destroyer: Dead Reckoning by Warren Murphy, James Mullaney - Remo and Chiun take on more terrorists! Slam bang [semi-]mindless adventure yarn. Funny. Diverting. A light read and enjoyable.
Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy -
Never been much of a fan of fantasy type novels, even though my precious comic books are tinged with a lot of the same concepts. Never really got into the Narnia stuff [though I do remember, I think, seeing a "Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" cartoon when I was a kid] and even less interested in it when I'd grasped the goofy Jesus/Aslan metaphor. Thanks, I got enough propaganda from the church itself, already. And I saw the LOTR movies, and they were "okay" but not exactly my "cuppa." My one attempt to actually read the LOTR stuff didn't see me last very long. The language seemed almost intentionally dense and it seemed more interested in world building than telling a good story. But what do I know?
Anyways, that's all prologue to having read this fantasy trilogy by Pullman. I had read it described as the anti-Narnia where the bad guy is "god" and where, as he's said in an interview, almost tongue in cheek, that "My books are about killing God." So I figured anything that subversive was worth checking out. So I ordered it up and hammered through the 900 pages or so.
I enjoyed it quite a bit. At times I thought it ran a little long - but that's probably because it's three books I read in one go - but there were bits and pieces of sheer brilliance in there. Well worth a read.
And of course, the xtian nuts who were up in arms over the movie adaptation of his 1st book last year, remain clueless. The subtext of the book isn't really about "killing god" but about killing the ideas of the autocratic and authoritarian god and his self appointed representatives on earth. I personally found the tale to be quite spiritual with a touch of the profound. But I've zero faith in any religious dogma, or dogmatists, so... like preaching to the choir, to further confuse the situation with a religious metaphor.
Plus, there were armored polar bears who fucked people up. Armored Polar Bears!
"In the epic trilogy His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to worlds parallel to our own. Dæmons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes--if it isn't destroyed first."
Great article released with the movie adaption last year about the book and film here - How Hollywood Saved God
Get Your Strongest Body in 16 Weeks with the Ultimate Weight Training Program! by Eric Cressey and Matt Fitzgerald -
Great book. Requires a lot of equipment that I don't have access to, but if you do, there's probably not a better modern day book out there about improving your strength and health with weights. The joint mobility and warm up section of the book, which I do plan on implementing, is worth the price of the book alone. Author's blog is here - http://ericcressey.blogspot.com/
How to Pick Up Japanese Chicks and Doom Your Immortal Soul by Josh Muggins -
Not an actual "how to" - [I'm married people] but a memoir... the title alone grabbed my attention and I thought it particularly funny. The humor in the book might be an acquired taste, but I dug it. And I like expat-in-Japan stories. Go figure. It veers off into some pathos and twists towards the end, and I don't know that I particularly enjoyed that, but it's a psuedo-memoir, so what can you do? I enjoyed it overall. Author's website is here - http://joshmuggins.com/index.html
Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman -
Controversial for it's supposed misogyny, but still considered a cult classic, I was curious to check it out. Mostly harmless adventure. Reminded me of the old school pulp John Carter of Mars type stuff, in serials and movies. Not bad, but the writing style didn't really do anything for me. I didn't find it particularly misogynistic, just standard chest thumpin' "Me Tarzan, you Jane" "He-Man Woman Hater's Club" fantasy type stuff. Apparently, according to the Internets, it gets worse later, but it didn't grab me enough to want to check out future volumes.
Holmes by Omaha Perez -
Sherlock Holmes as Hunter S. Thompson. I found it pretty funny. Manic writing and art. Lotsa laughs. Clever.
"...This version of the Sherlock Holmes mythos expands on Dr. Watson's revelation that Holmes was a narcotics addict. The World's Greatest Detective is a maniac completely out of his head on drugs at all times and Dr. Watson, his own personal "Dr. Feelgood," isn't much better off! Appearance meets reality as the duo must cope with their handicaps while recovering composer Joseph Haydn's missing skull."
The Invincible Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov -
I make no bones about digging Ellis' quintessentially British and sarcastic writing style. Add into the mix a protagonist who's a futurist and technologist - Iron Man's Tony Stark - and the combo is pretty much outstanding science fiction. I enjoyed this volume a hell of a lot.
Rex Mundi Volume 3: The Lost Kings by Arvid Nelson, Eric Johnson, Jeremy Cox, Jim DiBartolo, Juan Ferreyra -
Volume 3 in the continuing saga. Still enjoyable, interesting, fascinating, etc, etc. Still onboard for two more volumes to finish out the series.
"...this series continues its epic story of an alternate history Europe in which the Reformation never occurred and the Catholic Church is the most powerful institution in the world. Dr. Julien Sauniere, the hero of the series, is deep into a mystery that involves the "true" nature of the Holy Grail and the lineage of Jesus Christ. At the crux of this alternate history thriller is an almost excruciatingly detailed religious theory involving French royalty, Mary Magdalene and the creation of modern Christianity. Its depth is rare for what is ostensibly a murder mystery comic book, and writer Nelson has clearly done his research."
Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion by Various -
I've read a lot of the Disinfo anthologies, and enjoyed most all. But like any anthology, there are hits and misses in the volumes. This one wasn't... well, it didn't feel particularly strong, to me. Make no mistake, there were some good essays, just overall, it didn't really fire me up. And I'm always ready for some good blasphemy.
"...Among the dozens of other articles and essays, you'll find: a sweeping look at classical composers and Great American Songbook writers who were unbelievers, such as Irving Berlin, creator of "God Bless America"; the definitive explanation of why America is not a Christian nation; the bizarre, Catholic-fundamentalist books by Mel Gibson's father; eye-popping photos of bizarre religious objects and ceremonies, including snake-handlers and pot-smoking children; the thinly veiled anti-Semitism in the Left Behind novels; an extract from the rare, suppressed book The Sex Life of Brigham Young; and rarely seen anti-religious writings from Mark Twain and H.G. Wells.
Further topics include exorcisms, religious curses, Wicca, the Church of John Coltrane, crimes by clergy, death without God, Christian sex manuals, the "ex-gay" movement, failed prophecies, bizarre theology, religious bowling, atheist rock and roll, "how to be a good Christian," an entertaining look at the best (and worst) books on religion, and much more."
And I reread The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum
and Dinosaur Training by Brooks Kubik.
In my ongoing quest to get back into shape, maintaining motivation is sometimes a bitch, and these are two of the best and most inspirational books on training that I've got. Old school wisdom and no-nonsense advice and ideas. Just the kick in the ass I need sometimes.