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Messages - thedoctor

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Self Publishing Discussion / Re: Blurb Help
« on: August 21, 2013, 01:23:43 AM »
I agree, thedoctor. After reviewing your suggestion, this is what I've come up with:

Centuries pass and the Dark Lord's Empire spreads across the land, its unconquerable armies forcing kingdom after kingdom to bend the knee. At the fore of these armies are the minions, skeletal warriors raised from the dead with dark magic to serve on the frontlines of battle. They are the perfect soldiers – made to be unthinking, unfeeling, and expendable. After all, there is no killing what is already dead.

So when one of them makes the unlikely choice to spare the Dark Lord’s greatest enemy, a powerful young witch named Kora who has awoken feelings in him long dead, he sets off a chain of events that threaten to change the course of the Empire forever.

How's that?

Much better, but I would still recommend some changes, because I found all the pronouns a little confusing. You start with "one of them" but the minions were only referenced a few sentences back so it is not that clear who you are referring to. You then use "he" and "him" but you haven't named him yet.

How about: "When one minion, Protagonist's Name, makes the unlikely choice to spare the witch Kora, the Dark Lord's greatest enemy, he sets off a chain of events that threatens to change the Empire forever."

Obviously all just my opinion, etc, so feel free to disregard.

Self Publishing Discussion / Re: Blurb Help
« on: August 13, 2013, 02:48:51 AM »
Big improvement! I think the second one sounds much more professional.

The first one is not well written, with the sentences beginning and ending in odd places. Also, starting with "this is the tale of" makes it sound like you are going to tell a story around a campfire.

The second one is really impressive, but I would change how it ends. The first paragraph is great but the second paragraph feels like a change of tone. I would use this paragraph to introduce your protagonist and Kora.

It's a standalone :)

Oh good. I'm in the middle of enough trilogies as it is! :-)

I think I will give this one a go as well. I'm curious though--is this going to be part of a trilogy or series of books? I don't want to go on the Wiki page for fear of spoilers, but I would like to know whether this is just the beginning of a series or a one off book.

The opening scene was a lot of fun to watch, but won't stand up well to repeat viewings. I think the scene was just an excuse for lots of nice special effects. It seems a bit contradictory to think that they can hide a ship underwater, but can't get the bomb into the volcano without sending someone in to do it.

Probably best not to think about these things too much.

I thought it was quite enjoyable generally, but I was a bit disappointed that it just sort of rehashed those bits of Wrath of Khan - I would have preferred a more original story.
I loved the vision of future London though, with the old buildings among the skyscrapers.

I thought the ending stepped beyond mere homage and into just outright copying. I guess it was kind of cool, but I did feel a little cheated by the ending.

I do feel like this film may represent a missed opportunity with Kahn. We got to see him kicking arse, but never saw the military genius side of him. In the end he was taken down by a Vulcan and an engineer with a stun gun. I suppose WOK had the TV show to build on, whereas this is supposedly a new series and therefore is starting from scratch. In an ideal world, these movies would be operating alongside a TV show based on the original TV series. Practically though that seems a little unlikely.

I know this is a sci-fi film and not fantasy, but there is a sci-fi book club, so I reckon a fair few of us will have watched this film.

What did you all think? I saw some reviews that said it was full of plot holes and inconsistencies, but I'm not sure I agree. The action scenes were great and so were the performances. I also loved all the subtle (and some not so subtle) references to Star Trek history.

There are certainly worse films as far as plot holes go, but they did slip up by saying that Kahn was frozen 300 years ago (which would have been 1958!).

I was also quite impressed with the 3D, especially in the opening scenes. Arrows being shot out of the screen is the sort of thing 3D was made for.

I think seeds for the third film were planted in this one. The Klingons disappeared as quickly as they arrived, but presumably they are not pleased with events and a war looks inevitable for the third film.

Reading Neuromancer by William Gibson was probably the most painful reading experience I have ever had. I had always wanted to read it, so when it came up in the book club here I jumped on in. Unfortunately I found it truly awful and ever page was a real chore to read.

I was also really disappointed with Phillip Pullman's Golden Compass books. Perhaps not painful as such, but I remember being incredibly disappointed with them because of how hyped up they are.

General Discussion / Re: UK Travel suggestions?
« on: May 10, 2013, 04:50:13 PM »
Oh and I forgot to mention that Salisbury Cathedral has one of only four surviving copies of the original Magna Carta dating back to 1215. It's the one in best condition as well.

What's most amazing I think is that it is so low key and there is no security. You wander round the cathedral, go outside and see a sign for a small out building. You walk into that building and see some wonderful biblical carvings and a small glass screen with the Magna Carta behind it. It's phenomenal how low key it is.

There is a later copy from about 1296 in Washington DC and that is always out for repair. It is also insured for more than the GDP of most countries. I have also been told that it will survive a nuclear blast. The one in Salisbury is an even better original version and it is just tucked away in a small building. It really is incredible.

General Discussion / Re: UK Travel suggestions?
« on: May 10, 2013, 03:35:17 AM »
My girlfriend is from California so I have some experience of doing touristy things with Americans  :)

I strongly recommend a day in Winchester. You may be able to stop there on your way to Bath, depending on your method of travel. Winchester Cathedral is gorgeous and very old. Parts of it date back to about 650 AD.  Winchester also has Arthur's Round Table, which is probably a replica from around 1290AD, but still impressive nonetheless. The city as a whole is also beautiful. It's quaint and has a great atmosphere.

Salisbury is also impressive (another nice cathedral and Stonehenge).

Obviously there is a lot to do in London. The Tower of London is pretty expensive and very busy. I would certainly recommend getting there early. You should also check out the British Museum. Loads of Egyptian stuff, Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, etc. Again, I recommend getting there early.

I much prefer the British Museum, and British tourist attractions in general, when compared to the counterpart in the US. In the US you often have to go through x-ray machines, have your bags scanned, etc, and it can all feel a little invasive. With the British Museum you just walk straight in, pay a voluntary donation and go for it. The artifacts are also out in the open and usually not behind glass. Whenever I go to US museums, there is often so much glass around things that I actually have a better view by looking at online pictures. Spoils it a bit for me.

Anyway, enjoy!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: E-Readers... What you using?
« on: May 06, 2013, 05:44:36 PM »
I'm a complete convert now. At first I didn't like the idea of reading on a Kindle. Then I bought one and loved it. But then I said I would never read on a tablet. Then I got a Nexus 7 for Christmas and found it a joy to read on. Since getting the Nexus, I have found less use for the dedicated e-reader, although the battery life is still unbeatable if you have a long flight or something.

I love having all my reading synched up. If I forget my Kindle I can continue reading my book on my phone. Sure, that would not be good for long periods, but it's fine for a short burst of reading. I can also read on iPads (the ones with retina screens anyway), but still find computers a little difficult.

I do still read physical books occasionally, but I find them awkward and uncomfortable to hold now.

I usually have three on the go. One fantasy or sci-fi book which will almost certainly be in e-book format (for reading on the bus or on long journeys). One audiobook (for walking or at the gym) which is also usually fantasy as well. The final book is usually something different, history or other non-fiction for example, and probably in physical format. I prefer to buy physical copies of history books, because I like the pictures, but I also pick up second-hand fantasy books as well.

In addition, it's quite possible that I will also have a graphic novel on the go as well, so perhaps the total goes up to four sometimes.

I don't think I am having any problems with mixing books up when I read more than one at once, but I am noticing that I don't absorb audiobooks in the same way as when I read a book. I've made the decision to only listen to something on audiobook if I am already familiar with the characters or the world in some way. That also solves the problem of not having the map available to read.

[FEB 2013] Fahrenheit 451 / Re: Fahrenheit 451 Week 3: Finished!
« on: April 01, 2013, 02:26:11 AM »
Bit late with this one, but I picked up an old second hand copy of this a few weeks ago and have just finished reading it.  I didn't really like it.  Here're my reasons (rant):

First, I didn't like Montag and couldn't imagine him as a real person at all. He meets some odd girl one day and suddenly decides "oh maybe I shouldn't be burning people's houses down." He then basically acts like a dick for the entire book. I don't mind an anti-hero protagonist, but that isn't what we have here. This is just a guy who doesn't act like anyone I know or can imagine.

Second, there is not enough world building. Beatty finally gives us the reason why books are banned, but it is a real stretch and happens too late in the book I think.  The war is mentioned a lot, but I thought that was always going to take place somewhere else. I had no clue that it could impact the city they lived in.

Third, Millie. Awful, whiny, annoying. Just no.

Fourth, the ending. If you can just walk for 30 minutes and avoid the effects of the bomb, you would have thought more people might have managed that.

Fifth, robotic dog.

Sixth, the writing. I know this might count as good prose if you know about that kind of stuff, but I just found it jarring and hard to follow. I made the book a chore to read.

I could go on to be honest, but I will stop there.  There's a temptation to praise the book as being good for its time and that kind of thing, but I don't buy that. I think this was written at the same time as Foundation, which is a FAR better book than this.  Not for me at all.

At least it was short :-)

[JAN 2013] Altered Carbon / Re: Altered Carbon Week 4: Finished!
« on: January 30, 2013, 01:37:05 AM »
Excellent book club read! This one, as far as I am concerned, is all WIN!  ;D

Yeah I am really glad I read it.  I remember pausing for a while before reviewing the book, because a lot of my negative feelings about the book were just frustration that it wasn't better.  When I had thought about it a bit longer I realised that I still really enjoyed the book.  Even when I was reading bits that confused me, I still struggled to put the book down and I always felt totally immersed in the world.  That has to be a good sign?!

I kind of wish Morgan had gone back and done a "Director's Cut" or a re-release or something though.  Just to clear up a few of the plot points.

[JAN 2013] Altered Carbon / Re: Altered Carbon Week 4: Finished!
« on: January 25, 2013, 09:15:53 PM »
My thoughts are really similar.  I loved Kovacs as a character and I found him incredibly believable.  I often don't like people who are a little too super-human (unless we are talking comic books of course) but he was great. 

I also think that Morgan did a great job at world building.  That sounds like a strange thing to say at first, because most of the book takes place in San Francisco, but I was really into the whole Harlan's World thing as well, even though we never saw any of it.  There is a really cool universe out there and I would like to read more of it.

Unfortunately the book did get messy and confusing in the second half.  What's most annoying about that is that I didn't really think it was necessary.  A good editor could have sorted it out without too many changes. 

I reviewed this a few weeks back on my blog and I think I ended up giving it an 8.  That may seem a little generous given the flaws, but it was a debut novel and I was in a good mood!  I do want to read more Kovacs books though and the next one in the series has positioned itself relatively near the top of my to-read list.  I guess that means I enjoyed it.

[JAN 2013] Altered Carbon / Re: Altered Carbon Week 3: Chapters 1 - 30
« on: January 18, 2013, 01:18:18 AM »
Alright, I'm still enjoying this. Kovacs amuses me, however, I feel like I’m not following the whole mystery solving part of this book as closely or as clearly as I should be. I think the fact that I am mainly listening to it on audiobook is part of it. I think I missed something when they were talking about Resolution 653 (which the Catholics pushed to prevent dead witnesses from being able to be called back off stack to testify) and Head in the Clouds and how that ties in with everything else going on. It's probably obvious, but I just probably missed something while driving :)

I have gathered he has Irene Elliot out to help him load the virus that will manage to explain Bancroft's suicide, get Sarah and then try to get out with her. I still feel like I'm still missing part of the plan  :-\

Well I'm reading the e-book and but I'm also confused!  I thought Resolution 653 was opposed by the Catholics because of the revival possibilities.  Have I got that the wrong way around?  I'm also a little confused by Head in the Clouds.  And there are now a lot of references to previous minor characters that I have forgotten, but now seem to be important.

I didn't enjoy this quarter of the book quite as much as I did the first half.  When Kawahara was introduced I started getting really confused.  Was she in the book earlier?  I felt like we were supposed to know her, but I didn't. 

This may sound a bit weird, but I also didn't like the threat towards Sarah.  It didn't really sit right with me because she suddenly became really important to Kovacs, but at no point earlier in the book did he dwell on her "death."  Since the beginning of the book I have been wondering whether we will get an explanation of what happened in the prologue.  Kovacs never mentions it and he couldn't care less about Sarah it seems.  That always felt odd.  Then suddenly she is the love of his life or something.  Didn't feel right to me.

All that aside, I am still enjoying the book, and I feel like towards the end of this section it picked up again and seems to keep going strong (I'm about 90% done now).  I just think it all got a bit confused around the 50%-65% point (sorry for all the percentage references--hazard of reading on a kindle!).  Still a great story, but could have done with tighter editing!

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