Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fantasy Art Now - Ed. Martin Mckenna

Fantasy Art Now
Editor: Martin Mckenna
Ilex Press Limited
Copyright: 2007

This is a glorious book if you like fantasy themed art. It's all quite contemporary, including a few book covers I recognize as titles on sale in bookstores right now. Many of the pieces were intended for collectible card games or are from the artists' portfolios.

The art is divided up into themes such as landscapes or mythical creatures, and there are many different interpretations to enjoy. The images are all on glossy pages and most of them are either full page images or close to, so they are certainly large enough to appreciate.

Given that this is a hardcover book with a stitched binding, the price is quite low, at $31.99.

Although most of the images are done digitally, not all of them have been. There are a few done in acrylics or watercolour etc. However, the majority were done in Photoshop or similar programs.

Fantasy Art Now is inspiring for people who would perhaps like to do this kind of art, or simply as an art book to admire.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Terrier - Tamora Pierce

Beka Cooper: Terrier
Tamora Pierce
Random House Children's Books
Copyright: 2007

Terrier is the first of two books I know about for certain that cover part of Tortall's past. The second, Bloodhound, has yet to be released. Current estimates are sometime next spring, although the excerpt in the back of Terrier says, I think, this December.

Anyway, unlike the other books set in Tortall, the Beka Cooper books are done in the form of journals. The prologue to the book, journals of Eleni Cooper (from the Lioness Quartet) and Beka Cooper's mother (I think, again) are done in different fonts to represent the different hands, and even creative misspellings. There are also the occasional pages in the book where an inkblot has been represented (with a page in the excerpt where there are paw prints from the cat stepping across the page). All of these serve to suggest that this is the actual diary, and not an edited copy put to the printers at some later point.

The slang is a bit heavy in these books, but it makes sense as rather than being of noble birth as Kel or Alanna are, Beka is from the poorest parts of the city, and is working in those regions as well.

Through the course of Terrier, Beka Cooper, one of the ancestors of George Cooper, the Rogue/King of Thieves, is undergoing her training as a member of the Provost's Guard, usually termed 'Dog'. It's not just a training period as she ends up working two very difficult cases, for which, thanks to her gifts of magic, she is uniquely suited.

Tamora Pierce has woven in some unique twists that kept me up late reading the book (and this was on a re-read). After you get used to the slang (and there is a glossary in the back of the book to help where the meaning isn't immediately obvious), you'll find the book hard to put down.

Last time I read the book, I refused to read the excerpt from the next book. This time I wasn't so smart and now I can't wait for Bloodhound to come out.

Edited on April 19th: Bloodhound is out, and it's as good as Terrier.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gravity Dreams - L. E. Modesitt

Gravity Dreams
L. E. Modesitt
Tor Books
Copyright: 2000

The product description:
In Earth's distant future, Tyndel is both teacher and mentor, a staunch devotee to his conservative and rigidly structured religious culture. Then a rogue infection of nanotechnology transforms him into a "demon", something more than human, and he is forced into exile, fleeing to the more technologically advanced space-faring civilization that lies to the north, one that his own righteous people consider evil. Although shaken by his transformation, he has the rare talent required to become a space pilot. What no one, least of all Tyndel, expects, is his deep-space encounter with a vastly superior being--perhaps with God.
One of L. E. Modesitt's earlier books now, Gravity Dreams is a favourite of mine. It's written from the perspective of a character, Tyndel, who has grown up in a society at about a tech level of our current world, or perhaps a little above, who is forced into a world with a much higher level of technology and very different attitudes. Through the book we are watching Tyndel as he struggles to make his place in the new society.

In the process, Modesitt has laid out a book that, at least in my case, makes me think about ideas around personal responsibility. That's typical of all of this author's science fiction novels, that they center on a theme. Adiamante for example shares the theme of personal responsibility but also connects it with stewardship of the environment. I like this as it makes his books into something a bit different from the typical sci-fi novel.

Where this book is somewhat different from the others is that the main character is an outsider, and we learn about the world as he does, which was definitely not by taking the 'easy way'.

The author uses some interesting language, with Tyndel from the beginning referring to the high tech society as one of 'demons'. While that makes sense given the culture he is from, where it gets interesting is when those of the high tech society also refer to themselves as 'demons', and it seems to be their typical term for themselves. What does that say when a society generally seems to use a negative term for themselves, but without any obvious negative effects?

There seems to be a tendency to take these societies to somewhat of an extreme, which makes for a good read. However, I know that I wouldn't want to live in either society as described in Gravity Dreams. I like my illusions too much, and yet we should at least think about the consequences of the way we live.

One thing, the chapter headings are there for a reason. Modesitt seems to like to jump around, be it from character to character as in Archform: Beauty or backwards and forwards in time as in this book.

I do recommend reading this book if you can find it. The local library might be a good bet in this case. I know it's only available used through and I'd bet its the same through Amazon.

Updated with the cover image and blurb in 2013. The content of the review itself is unchanged.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Blog Changes

I've been playing with the structure of All Booked Up and I've added some new features to the navigation bar on the right, including a list of other blogs about books.

I've also gone back and tagged each of the reviews with their author as well as the categories I was already using. I partially did this for my own convenience, as I've found myself searching for reviews I've posted in the past.


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