Snow Crash Book Review

Book Review of Neal Stephenson’s Cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash

A book review on Neal Stephenson’s Cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash. This is a general review for the entire book with minimal spoilers (no worse than reading the book’s cover).

Snow Crash was nominated for both the British Science Fiction Award in 1993, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1994.

End Credit Music:
How It Begins Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Books I Read in 2013

The Books I Read in 2013The one piece of writing advice you hear universally is, “if you intend to write, you must read.”

This seems pretty obvious. Thankfully, I love to read, so it rarely feels like work. When I enjoy a book, I like to talk it up over on my YouTube channel.

This year I had a bit of a reading slump. I only finished twelve books. In previous years, my average is usually double that number.

So without further ado, here are the books I read in 2013 in order of when I finished reading.

  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
  • Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
  • You by Austin Grossman
  • All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  • Yukikaze by Chohei Kambayashi

So of the twelve books, nine belong to series. Of those nine, five were book one in the series, one was book two, and three were book three (and the final in the series).

I have three reading goals for 2014;

  1. Read more books.
  2. Specifically, read more science fiction.
  3. Read fewer series and focus on one off books.

What was my favourite? Well, it’s unfair to ask in a year where Neil Gaiman publishes a book. I didn’t even bother to do a video for it because I knew I’d just be gushing the whole time.

Aside from that, All You Need Is Kill really entertained me and inspired me to search out more Japanese authors who have had their work translated.

So what did you read in 2013? Which entertained you the most? Which made the biggest impression on you (if different from the one that entertained)?

 

Classic Books that You (I) Should Read

One of the wonderful people I follow on Twitter is Madeleine Rex. She’s 15, has completed first drafts of two novels and is an accomplished book reviewer. Yeah, she makes me humble.

Anyway, she posted this on her website, Wordbird, and challenged others to take a stab at it. So here’s my go. She got this list from Bookish in a Box. I’ll use the same format that she did:

Books I’ve read once are in BOLD

I’ve never read any of these twice, so I’ll leave her formatting for that out.

Books I’ve started but not finished will be in ITALICS

Books I own will have a * next to them.

So here goes….

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien*
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling*
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible*
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell*
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman*
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare*
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien*
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll*
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis*
34. Emma -Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis*
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden*
40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne*
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown*
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel*
52. Dune – Frank Herbert*
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon*
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold*
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker*
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce*
76. The Inferno – Dante*
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguri
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom*
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle*
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery*
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl*
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo*

So I’ve read 16/100 (Ugh, not so good)

I started, but never finished 7/100

I own 25/100

Wow, I have some work to do 🙁

Thanks to Madeleine for passing along the list. I’ll throw out the same challenge she did; How many have you read?

Burning Books Is Never A Good Thing

When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be writing anything that might be seen as a political diatribe. Yet, here I am.

So the story, as I’m sure you’re aware, is that a small Christian parish in Florida intended to burn copies of the Q’uran in order to mark the anniversary of September 11. Thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed and the event has been canceled. But it got me thinking about the idea of burning books.

To me, burning a book is not an act of protest, it is an act of fascism.

Wow, a pretty bold statement.

Simply put, books are not merely symbols, they are ideas. Burning a book isn’t just about saying you don’t like the content or you disagree with policies or actions that a particular group takes, burning a book is about destroying ideas and knowledge.

It doesn’t matter if that book is the Q’uran, the Bible or Harry Potter. This to me is a form of control. By destroying ideas, you deny people the ability to expand their knowledge.  By gaining knowledge, we make informed decisions. When we lack knowledge, we all too often have another person’s message pushed in. Anyone remember what the Nazis did? Oh yeah, they burned books.

This is from Wikipedia;

Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism

Reject individualism? Singular collective identity? How could such a world exist if books were allowed? OK, one book would be allowed, the book that supported the ideas of the fascists. But numerous books? Books that contained contrary ideas? Books that encouraged free thinking and individual spirit? Such things would have to be destroyed.

Books are precious. They give us insight, understanding, and sometimes even entertain. To burn such a thing seems a horrible act, religious text or not.

Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)

Reading is the greatest teacher

I started reading a book two weeks ago, Justin Cronin’s The Passage.  It’s the first book I’ve read in several months. Unusual for me, as I’ve usually managed to read a book every two weeks for the past couple years.  Truth is, I’ve been too focused on my own words to allow someone else to take up my free time.  I realise now that has been a considerable mistake.

You see the advice everywhere; If you want to be a writer, you need to read.  I’ve taken this to heart in the past, but I don’t think the truth of it has impacted me until this past week.

First off, let me say The Passage is quickly becoming one of my favourite books.  I’m about 200 pages from the end, and the first 500+ pages have been incredible.  It’s been inspiring reading this book, following its twists and turns, watching how relationships have been built and how shifting point of view helps to build the tension and add substance to the world.

Which is exactly what I needed, because The Veil had become stagnant.  I’ve had that little work in progress at a standstill for several weeks; partly due to family things, mainly because I just didn’t feel excited about it.  I wondered how I would fill the pages.  Now I’ve had a number of ideas.  The structure is making more sense to me.  I’ve seen how I can use and develop other characters in a manner that will not only deepen the world I’ve created, but also the story in general.  All because I decided to take a break and read something else.

Learning by doing is often my preferred manner of doing things.  But in this case, learning by having an example is doing wonders.

So if you’re like me, writing but feeling like you’re getting nowhere, watching as pages fill, but being overwhelmed by how many more remain, take a break.  Stop. Read a good book.