Category: Nerdiness


After being so frustrated with this book as I covered in my “Vocabulary” post, this book actually turned out to be a good read. In my review, I will simply write about the main character as either “the main character” or “the protagonist” due to the story being about discovering the identity of the character.

My main issues with this book are the ungodly long beginning, and the over-zealous use of ridiculous vocabulary.

I understand that it takes time to set up the background of a book well enough to start the plot rolling, but it should not take 120 pages to do so. I do not jest, or exaggerate. There is 120 pages of plotless background. Except for the fact that there isn’t much background, because the main character is a mutilated mute who has amnesia in a foreign environment. The main character has no backstory to tell, simply because their identity is unknown. There are no bonds with other people to explore, because the protagonist does not know anybody in the castle. Also lacking are the forming of bonds with other characters, because of the protagonist’s scarred face and inability to communicate. There are minor skirmishes, where the protagonist falls out of favor with one of the tower’s lords and gets a whipping for it, but nothing that overall affects the plot. The character does some minor exploring of the unfamiliar surroundings, but not anything that is worth mention or noting. Again, this part of the story has almost no effect on the plot. By my check, the first point where things begin to move is page 114, but nothing actually happens until page 125. If you can suffer through this insanely long, drawn-out beginning, the book is well worth the read. The plot flows quickly and smoothly, always entertaining.

My other point of contention is the vocabulary. Usually I find more advanced vocabulary refreshing and adding to the story, but in this book it was too complex, and over-used. Rather than recognizing the medieval word for a very specific type of pot used in a kitchen for making porridge, and losing myself in the scenery, I had to look up the word, discover it was a pot, and go back to reading, wondering why it wasn’t simply labelled as a pot or saucepan. There were also some very specific plants (commonly used in the middle ages; not commonly known nowadays) that left me wondering. She used about a dozen different words for ‘food’ that I was unfamiliar with, and could have sufficed with one or two rather than using a different word every time. There were the technical names for medieval/renaissance-age garments, from the proper name for the inner and outer petticoats, to what the pont on their hoods (taltries) are called. There were even words I could not find the definition for online. I tried google, wikipedia, dictionary.com, and many other search engines and could not find anything about the word at all but a suggestion that maybe I had spelled another word wrong. All in all, I love the use of more advanced vocabulary when it lends to a book, but there is a point where it hinders the writing rather than helps it. This book jumped well over that point, with both feet, and kept sprinting.

I loved finding out more about the protagonist as the story wore on. It’s a very unique idea, having to discover the identity of the character, rather than knowing the character from the beginning. I very much enjoyed this book, and will recommend it to you to read, given that you are patient and stubborn (and maybe have another short book to read before you reach page 120), and don’t mind checking the dictionary every 15 pages.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I expected way more romance, mindless female-worshipping, sickly obsessions, (not so) dreamy male antagonists, and a brainless flirt of of a woman for a protagonist. Oh, and not to mention I’m aware that most ‘romance’ novels are like porn in book form for women. Instead, this is an awesome story about a woman named Natiya who is incubating a dragon egg to try to get revenge on the evil emperor, Dag Racho, since he killed her entire family. With that being said, it still sounds like a really mediocre book. But the back cover really intrigued me. It reads:

One Protector

When dragon power flows through your veins, when dragon thoughts burn in your mind, you can accomplish anything. Natiya knows, for she carries one of the last egs in the land disguised as a jewel in her navel. Day by day the Unhatched grows, and when at last it births they will be joined in a sacred and eternal bond. Gone will be the barmaid forced to dance for pennies; born will be Dag Natiya, revered Queen. Taker her body or her soul; nothing will stop them.

One Slayer

When dragon power flows through your veins, when dragon emotions trample your soul, you become a monster. So knows Kiril, for one destroyed his cousin. No matter how kind or joyful, all beings must succumb to the power of the wyrm. That is why Kiril vowed to destroy dragonkind – and he has almost succeeded. Only one egg remains. But there is an obstacle he did not foresee: love.

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So, as this states, Natiya and Kiril fall in love. The only obstacle is she is incubating a dragon egg, and he is the emperor’s prized dragon killer. Rather than the both of them being lovesick fools who fall into each other’s arms the entire time and do nothing but shag and the plot magically unfolds itself, there is a race with time before the egg hatches, and before they are caught by Dag Racho and killed.

I found the plot to be highly captivating, and the characters to be well fleshed out and interactions between them were well thought out and in sync with their emotions, back stories, and personalities. The only part I am mildly annoyed with is the overt lust and the (few) sex scenes in the book. I enjoyed that the focus was not on the romance, but I’m still not sure I like any romance in my books at all. I mean, sure the plot twist of them falling in love is great and all, but does Kiril really have to be fondling her every chance he gets? Natiya is portrayed as an intelligent but hard up woman, who has a stash of books underneath her bed, and spurns every man who tries to flirt with her. Now here comes Kiril and she’s squirming up against him. In my honest opinion, this was a great book until the lust and sex came into it. I skimmed through those parts. I think it would have been better as a love story, not a smut story in other words.

Still, the book was good. One of my favorite parts was the interaction between the dragon and the person incubating it, and the time and effort that went into creating and describing the bond that they share. The bond the dragonborn share is my absolute favorite part of the book.

I am both slightly appalled that I enjoyed a romance, and proud of myself for giving it a chance. I’m not sure it’s a whole new genre I want to jump into, but hey, it was a good read (and it only took me 2 days to finish!)

I actually bought this book accidentally when looking for The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. After realizing my mistake, I was keen on returning it for the book I wanted. However, having a new book in my hands, I had to read it. And you know what? I’m glad I did.

Being on the opposite side of the spectrum of the book I was looking for, The God Theory by Bernard Haisch is a legitimate scientific theory on the existence of a ‘God’, or as he terms it, ‘an infinite conscious intelligence’. However, this book is not a bible-thumping, age-old argument spouting, narrow-minded piece of work spouted by an evangelist. This book was written by an astrophysicist, who does not believe in mass religion, and one who took the time to write a theory on how  ‘God’ could exist without breaking any scientific evidence.

With that being said, I want to remind you that this is a legitimate scientific theory. This is not a book for light reading, or a novel to take you away on the wings of creativity. This is a scientific essay. The arguments provided are well-founded, and based in research. A lot of these went well over my head, even after doing hours of research to gain the back knowledge needed to read this book. All in all, I spent more time researching previous work, theories, research, events, and scientific laws that are referenced in the book than I did reading the book. If you are not scientifically-minded, interested in non-fiction, or willing to research scientific achievements and references for hours on end, this book is not for you.  On the flip side, if you are convinced there is not a god, and would like to read (probably the first) a logical argument as to why god may exist, or are unsure, or even if you believe in god but not mass religion; if you enjoy learning new things, and enjoy finding out random tidbits of scientific theories and works that us lay-men have never heard of, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

With that being said, let’s move on. This book contains both a preface and an introduction, which, if you’re in the habit of skipping (I know I skip them when it’s simply another writer praising the book or reading sub-conscious “meanings” in a novel) I suggest you think again. They outline the entirety of the book, and set the premises for the arguments. As should be, considering this is a scientific essay. Oh, and in case you didn’t catch that, this book is a scientific essay. There are a couple extremely basic arguments covered in preface and introduction that are not repeated later on, most likely because they are basic and do not require repeating or going more in-depth. Even in the preface, I had to look up and research such things as ‘quantum fluctuations’, ‘quantum laws’, ‘string theory’ (which I think everyone knows a little about, but nothing like what you can read about it when you actually look into it), ‘inflation fields’ and find the definitions for things such as ‘neuro-physiological epiphenomenon’, or ‘philosophical centrists’. This is not even ten pages into the book.

The chapters are titled, and then further broken up into segments. The first chapter is titled “Personal Journey”, and details his professional life. This lends credence to his arguments, giving him both a background in religion and science. The sub-chapters (I’m not sure what else to call them) are titled “From Archabbey to Astrophysics”, “Launching a Career’, “Age of discovery”, and “Return of the Astronomer-Priest”. Please be aware (unlike my dolt of a friend I tried to convince to read this – unsuccessfully) that Bernard Haisch is an Astrophysicist. Meaning he studies the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe (and yes, I looked that up. 😛 ). He is not one of those new-age hippies who calls himself an astronomer and makes predictions based on the angle of Venus to Jupiter. That is just for clarity (I get annoyed with idiots very fast). Anyways, this first chapter details his religious background, his change into the scientific world, his professional achievements, research, and theories, and finally, the merging of his concept of ‘God’ and science.

The second chapter is “Asking Fundamental Questions”, which includes “The God Theory and Creation”, “The God Theory, Karma, and the Golden Rule”, “The God Theory and Reductionism”. Chapter three is titled “Explaining Creation”. The sub-chapters are “Creation by Subtraction”, which actually holds the strongest piece of imagery/argument (for me) in the entire book. The others in the chapter are “Polarity” and “The God Theory and Consciousness.” Chapter four is “Reductionism and a Spiritual Worldview”, detailing “Superstrings and the Supernatural”, “A Spiritual Worldview”, and “No Need for Intelligent Design”. Now that you have an idea of the types of chapters and sub-chapters in the book, I’d like to share that there are a total of eleven chapters, not including the Preface, Introduction, or Bibliography.

A lot of those probably sounded extremely detailed and way too complex to grasp. This is why I said that there will be a lot of research that goes into reading the book. At the same time, however, many of the arguments and sections that are brought up are well-explained, and require little to no background study to understand them. Such as the following excerpt from the Preface:

“Science today is based on the premises of materialism, reductionism, and randomness. Materialism is the belief that reality consists solely of matter and energy, the things that can be measured in a laboratory or observed by a telescope. Everything else is illusion of imagination. Reductionism is the belief that complex things can be explained by examining the constituent pieces, such as the illusion of consciousness arising from elementary chemical processes in the brain. Randomness is the conviction that natural processes follow the laws of chance within their allowed range of behavior.”

This information is provided in a clear, straight-forward manner, which is not difficult at all to comprehend. I suppose with the correct background in scientific study, the entire book would be clear and concise, but I’m afraid to those of us who read textbooks in our spare time (Wait, you mean you don’t? :O ) rather than having a formal eduction, a lot of this is very complex. Even looking into theories mentioned in passing, you have to read about the theory, then read more information on the theories that the initial theory was based on, and so on and so forth until you finally reach information you can comprehend, and then work backwards. It’s a lovely challenge; I loved spending time trying to reason things out and teach myself cutting-edge scientific theories.

My favorite section, and the one that stuck with me the best, is the “Creation by Subtraction”. The section is too long for me to type out, but I will sum it up the best I can. Think about a computer screen, or a projector. When it is on, there will be a plain, white light. By laying filters over this light, you can create images; since white light contains all of the colors, in order to create images, you simply have to filter out the undesired colors in the proper places. To create a photo of a family on vacation is not done by chance, it is done by intelligent subtraction. Further, to create a motion picture, a two-dimensional replica of our world, you simply have to show frames of movement at the right speed, using the filters to create each frame. Thus the white light does not change, the filters do, and the sum becomes more than the individual pieces. In this way, ‘God’ is the infinite, and to create our world, a filter was placed over, to give the desired result. So rather than an infinite number or realities with an infinite number of possibilities over the infinite number of realities, there is one reality, with an infinite number of possibilities depending on the filter used. Please note that this is all paraphrasing, and I am in no way taking credit for this, and in fact, I may have misinterpreted what the author was trying to say (although how I have interpreted it makes perfect sense to me 😛 ).

In conclusion (I feel I’ve been rambling for a while), this book is definitely worth the read. I have always been strictly a non-believer, but if there were to be a ‘God’, and they could prove its existence, then this is how I believe that ‘God’ would exist. However, I still don’t believe in mass religions, or go to church, anything of the sort. I would still consider myself atheist, and I will until the scientific community walks up to me and slaps me in the face with some proof. However, this book was a real eye-opener, refreshing to read due to its professionalism, and fascinating in every aspect. I highly recommend this.

Portal 2

Dwayne and I have just finished the multiplayer mode on Portal 2 for the PS3. I had played with my brother and my sister back before I moved, and I hadn’t realized we hadn’t completed the game. I’ve already played through single player mode, and I plan on playing through again. It’s a great game; it makes you feel more intelligent just for playing it. For simply being a puzzle game, the plot is very in-depth, and it’s highly fascinating as well.

I love how there are the two game modes – single player and multiplayer. It’s not just going through the single player mode with another person tagging along; since it’s a series of puzzles, that would have defeated the purpose. In multiplayer mode, you have to work together because it’s not possible to complete the puzzles with only one person (unless you were cheating and using two controllers, and maybe not even then because a lot of them require timing). I also love how it isn’t just the levels are re-done, but the plot stays the same; it’s like two completely separate games. It’s extremely well done, and I’m definitely not the first person to say I hope to god they make a Portal 3.

With that being said, has anyone else seen the (ages old) Portal Engagement Level Video? It’s very sweet. Here’s a video for those of you who don’t know:

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Anyways, what’s your favorite video game? I may play another soon, but for now, this one is my favorite.

Dungeons and Dragons

Now I know this is the epitome of nerd-dom, and be that as it may, I can’t help but love a good campaign. I’m pretty sure the guys here would enjoy it if we could get a campaign started. Doing the typical good-guys versus evil-maniacs campaign would be fun, but so would an evil-genius versus good-sheople (sheep+people=sheople) campaign. I’ve played both before, and I’ve always found an evil campaign a great way to (peacefully) vent anger. It’s also a lot more fun getting into character, if the DM (Dungeon Master, for all you out there who don’t play) makes you play that way. Let’s face it, is it more fun to be a hero who has to save the peasant from tripping over her own skirts, or an evil genius who throws out maniacal laughter because the peasant tripped over her own skirts? So, I’m obviously biased, but being able to play as evil (especially considering almost all current games are good, or neutral at best) is refreshing and fun as hell. I’m not sure whether the guys would play an evil campaign over a good campaign, but we would have to figure out how to set one up anyways.

Unfortunately, my brother was the one who would DM for us, and I don’t have the books or know-how to do it myself.   I’ve found a site called http://www.newbieDM.com that has tips and information on how to DM, and I understand the concept, but the biggest pitfall so far is the books. Technically the lack of the books. I’m always shocked whenever I’m reminded how much more books and board games cost here in Australia than they do in the states. With the price of a set of beginner’s D&D books (Dungeon Master’s Guide, Player’s Handbook 1&2, plus a Monster Manual or two) being what it is in the states, I’m pretty sure it’s well out of my range here. Besides, I never wanted to DM. I would much prefer being in on the action than watching it from above and narrating and/or being there as a rule check. The way I think about it is: would you rather play the video game or code it? But at the same time, there are some points where the DM can annoy me to hell.

My biggest beef with DMs is what power they have and do not have, especially concerning storyline and actions taken by the player. There was one time we were playing an evil campaign and we had guards coming after us outside a merchant town a mile or two into the forest. Naturally, I wanted to burn the forest down, guards and city along with it, and make a break for the edge of the forest. What can I say, I was feeling particularly evil that day. My brother, our DM, strictly forbade me from taking that action because it wouldn’t fit in with the storyline he had in mind. That’s where I got pissed off. I understand the DM is there to reign in and keep players to the rules, but a DM isn’t a god. You can’t forbid me from doing something because it makes you unhappy. What’s next? You tell me I can’t slap a peasant because she’s important later on and you’ll have to change the storyline to accommodate her (angry) feelings towards us? Anyways, I think in a situation like this, he should have allowed me to try, even if he didn’t think we could run to the edge of the forest before the fire consumed us. So, roll the dice, try, and if we make it, then adjust the storyline. If we don’t, we go back to before I burned the forest down and we died along with it. No big deal, and it would have resulted in a lot less anger and hurt feelings. So where do you draw the line when it comes to what a DM is allowed to do or not?

Anyhow, with all that being said, I would love to have a set of books and dice, and some graph paper and pencils (I never got into buying the pre-printed dungeons; it’s cheaper and more fun to make your own as you go along). I could stumble my way through being DM, at least until I found someone else in the group willing to do it! I’ve considered trying to find a tabletop games shop and see if they have any campaigns running that I (we; I would most likely drag at least Dwayne along) could join. Or if I could befriend their DM and take him hostage to set up a beginner’s campaign for us!

What do you think? Have any of you ever played D&D before? Anyone in the Melbourne area want to DM for us? If you have played, what’s your favorite character (race, class, abilities, etc.) or your favorite event from a past campaign (did you attack that old grizzly drunkard who annoyed you only to find out that he’s a mage of uncompromised power?)