Vampires, Spooks and Crypts

OK, so I have been totally slack on putting anything up in this space… I can only claim that no one reads it anyway, so it isn’t a big deal.  But that is a complete cop-out.  As is, I started a post about the PASS Conference that I have saved to my other laptop and will finish soon.  Suffice it to say that I had a good time and that the conference was great… More to come later.

Onwards to the premise of this post: Books. 

Since last post I have finished up the southern vampire series – Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, Alltogether Dead and From Dead to Worse.  Normally, over the last few years, that is a good amount of reading for me in such a short period of time (only a few months).  But, as I have previously stated these novels are quick reads.  Much more light-hearted than most of the genres I usually get in to.  But hey, they were fun.  There was one or two of them towards the end that kind of bogged down but the last few were good.  There were many, many storylines interwoven throughout the novels but too many to get in to, as well as the fact that I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone part way through the series by wrapping them all together. 

I did have a somewhat interesting conversation with my wife about these novels, while trying to explain to her Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (One of my favorites).  I didn’t want to spoil anything for her as I think that American Gods
should be read with no pre-conceived notions going in, but I did want
to relay a little bit about the flavor of the novel, as I wasn’t
positive that it was something she would like.  She said that enough
people had now recommended it that she would give it a try.  So, I stated that American Gods was the story of how we, as americans, are beginning to worship technology and how that affects all of the things which we have, or are still worshiping, from the past.  This was a story of how we interpret signs and actions, symbols and ideas in all things around us.  I mentioned that this was kind of like how Charlaine Harris was exploring the themese of racism, ostracism, etc and how we as a society would react to "monsters" appearing in the world.  Her reaction was kind of humorous to me in that she said that she just took them at face value.  Indeed, I can easily see this as they are a very light read and are meant to be an escape from reality.  I wonder how much people actually explore what happens within the novels that we read in relation with how it should make us think and what deeper meanings we should be drawing.  Furthermore, and probably more importantly, I wonder how much authors are putting into their works anymore.  Are we, as a society, reducing things to just interesting tales? Or are some authors still burying thoughts and ideas somewhere deep within the stories of their works which we may not even be aware of but which might possibly be influencing us?  Food for thought…

After finishing those novels, I read a psuedo-tech novel that I got at the PASS Convention.  Something to the effect of "How to become an exceptional DBA" or some such.  I read it in an evening while I had little else to do at the conference.  It was alright, but not great.  It did give me a few insights into whether or not I should go about getting any certifications, what I should do to try to advance the ole career, etc.  All things that if you sit down and take the time to think you would come up with yourself… the only thing is, when do you really do that?  I have decided to go after at least two of the certifications this year, but I’m not certain when I’ll get the chance to do so.

After the conference was over but while I was still in the northwest I began to read the Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.  Now, my post on another of Stephenson’s books is the only one which has elicited any reader comments and the sole comment was that if I were a fan of Snow Crash or Diamond Age that I would need to read the cryptonomicon.  Well, I agree entirely.  This book was really good and has vaulted Stephenson up into one of my favored authors status (regardless of his fairly week endings on previous books).  He now shares that space with such others as Gene Wolf, Glen Cook, Goerge R. R. Martin and Neil Gaiman.  There is another tier right below these which includes such other favorites as Terry Brooks, Raymond E. Feist, H.P. Lovecraft, etc… but then, I’m blathering.  If you are interested in my favorites or other reading habits go to http://www.goodreads.com and add me as a friend.

Back to the Cryptonomicon.  This book was something set in the early part of the 2000’s as well as during WWII.  There were multiple sets of storylines going on with a few characters spanning multiple storylines.  It was part spy story, part action, part techno-thriller and alternate (?) history.  It was most certainly written to appeal to tech-heads and sci-fi fans, although it itself was not sci-fi.  A friend of mine saw that I had just picked this book up a year or two ago and told me good luck, that he had only made it about 100 pages in.  Now, I have to question his judgement.  Perhaps some of it went over his head?  Anywho this is definately going to be recommended to quite a few of my friends, although I can see it not being everyone’s cup of tea.

As I just finished Cryptonomicon, I had made sure to grab Quicksilver of the bookshelf (bag?) before leaving the apartment.  I will be starting it either this evening or tommorrow.

Finally, as I write this I am in the middle of Spook Country by William Gibson.  This is an interesting one for me, not so much for the book (which is decent at best) but because I am listening to it on audio during my commute back and forth from Gainesville to Tallahassee on the weekends.  I have, in the past listened to quite a few podcasts during this commute (And many football games on sunday night) but have just now remembered that I can listen to books.  I don’t know what is wrong with me that I had not previously thought of this… I mean, heck, I have even read for some audio books before (please, look into http://www.librivox.org … you will thank me for it).  Well, suffice it to say that I plan on continuing this trend in the future.  I will probably write more on William Gibson’s Spook Country sometime later.

As a side note, I actually got the Spook Country Audio Book at Powells City of Books – My favorite bookstore by
far… too bad it is located in Portland, OR and I’m only able to get up
there every few years.

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