“Storm Front” by Jim Butcher.

Writing a review of Storm Front 6 months after I finished the book is probably less than ideal. But this year I’m making an earnest effort to finish some of the 35+ post drafts I’ve got lying around. A half-finished review Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy novel is one of them.

The word “stormfront” isn’t something Joe Sixpack would normally associate with a book. When the word was used on the news last year, it was either because of really bad weather on the horizon, or when neo-Nazis plowed their cars through crowds of anti-fascists. But fantasy fans thankfully think of something a whole lot nicer when they hear the word. Storm Front is the name of the first book in the The Dresden Files, a series of urban fantasy/detective noir novels.

Storm Front is set in modern-day Chicago. The story’s protagonist, Harry Dresden, is a professional wizard who specialize in missing items, paranormal investigation, and consulting. But he doesn’t do love potions, or children’s parties. You have to draw the line somewhere, right? There are not many real wizards like Harry around. Still, business is slow, and he lives paycheck to paycheck.

Then a damsel in distress steps into his humble office. Monica Sells hires Harry to find her husband, and the scene is set for a fast paced adventure full of magic, spells, demons, faeries, drugs, vampires, love, and sex1.

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“Ringworld” by Larry Niven.

Larry Niven’s Ringworld is a piece of classic science fiction that everyone interested in the genre should read. Here’s my review.

The year is 2850 AD. Louis Wu is celebrating his 200th birthday. To make the day last as long as possible, Louis moves west2 through transfer booths, when one of them suddenly malfunctions. He finds himself in a hotel room with a Pierson’s puppeteer, a peculiar-looking, two-headed alien. The puppeteer has an offer for Louis, and it’s an offer he can’t refuse.

The puppeteer propose that Louis joins him, and two additional, unnamed, crew members on a journey to an undisclosed location. Louis reward, should ha accept the mission, will be access to a space ship with quantum II hyperspace shunt engines. These engines, developed by the puppeteers, will cut travel time through space to a fraction of what it currently is. Any race with access to the engines would find themselves in a superior position compared to races that only have access to conventional, hyperspace shunt engines.

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“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.

The year is 2044. The world has gone to shit. Unemployment. Civil unrest. Famine. Pollution. Overpopulation. War. People’s only escape is OASIS, a digital utopia where you can forget all about the real world.

OASIS is a digital virtual reality simulation, accessible to players by using a visor, and haptic technology. The few rules that apply inside the simulation were defined by its creators James Halliday and Ogden Morrow1. Concerned people were using OASIS to escape the real world, Morrow leaves its parent company, Gregarious Simulation Systems. Halliday remains the sole owner of GSS and OASIS.

Upon his death, Halliday announces a competition: Whoever manages to find an Easter egg his has hidden inside OASIS will inherit GSS, OASIS, and Halliday’s entire fortune. To find the it, the egg hunters, quickly nicknamed gunters, first have to locate three keys that open three different gates. Soon, everyone and their grandmother are searching for the egg. It become apparent that Halliday’s affection with the 1970s and 80s of his childhood is the right path to find the egg. With enough knowledge of 70s and 80s pop culture and nerd trivia, and the ability to connect the dots, a player should be able to find the keys, the gates, and thus the Easter egg, and Halliday’s big pile of dough.

But the first key proves to be hard to find, and years go by without any progress, until suddenly, one day, a name appears on the top of the Scoreboard: Parzival.

Parzival is the avatar of young Wade Watts. An orphan living with his doper aunt in the stacks surrounding Oklahoma City, Watts uses the OASIS to attend high school. It’s also his escape from the real world. For Wade, and most people of his generation, OASIS is in many ways more real than reality itself. His mother used OASIS to raise him, and OASIS is where he spends most of his time. And for Watts, Halliday’s Easter egg becomes an all-consuming obsession.

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“Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

The animals of Manor Farm are tired of living under the tyranny of the farm’s owner, Mr. Jones. One evening, the boar Old Major summons the animals of the farm to a meeting. He tells them the story of a wonderful world where farms are run by the animals themselves. Old Major also teaches them a revolutionary song called “Beasts of England“. With hope for a better life for all the animals, they revolt, and drive Mr. Jones away from the farm. From that day onward, the farm is known as “Animal Farm”. It will be run by the animals, which will all be considered equal.

George Orwell wrote Animal Farm during World War II. Being a not-so-subtle satire about the Russian revolution, the Soviet Union, and Stalin’s expulsion of Trotsky, Orwell had a hard time getting it published. Since the Soviet Union sided with the Allied powers during the war, the manuscript was initially rejected by a number of British and American publishers. It was not until 1945, only weeks before the war was officially over, that the book was published. It then became a commercial success, partly to changing international relations, and the Cold War.

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The Book Report.

It’s been almost a year now since I started my A Book A Month project, where I aimed to read at least one book every month. How did that turn out? It’s time for the book report.

I used to read quite a lot back in the days, but not so much lately. “Lately”, as in “over the last five years or so”. It’s not terribly hard to pick up a book and read a bit, though. Books are, for instance, great for killing time when moving around using public transportation. Most pocket books are conveniently small, and not much hassle to carry around. A digital option, like a Kindle, is even better – given that you’ve remembered to charge it. And if yet another device to drag along doesn’t suit you, the Kindle app runs on pretty much every smartphone. So if you want to read a book, there’s very little stopping you from doing it. You just have to make time for it, or take some time that would have been wasted and make good use of it.

But the A Book A Month-project was still ambitious, at least by my standards. For some reason, I rarely manage to follow through on my personal projects. So to make it even more ambitious, I decided to write a review of every book I read, too. Everything started out quite well. When January was over, I’d plowed my way through “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip K. Dick, “Abusing the Internet of Things” by Nitesh Dhanjani, and “The Running Man” by Stephen King. I’d also managed to review the two first books, and I’ve got the notes for The Running Man laying around here somewhere.

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