Current Distractions, August 2014 Edition

I say this every month and I should probably quit it, but August flew by. It flew by in a good way, though, and I feel about 100% better about life, the universe, and everything than I did at this time a year ago. Anyway, I’m currently drowsy and not feeling like writing much, so let’s just jump into my distractions.



You guys, Enterprise is so terrible. No one should ever watch it. Particularly egregious is its treatment of its female characters. Coming off of the triumph of Star Trek Voyager’s female captain (I don’t think that Janeway is completely above reproach, mind you, and VOY definitely isn’t), it’s painful to watch Hoshi have absolutely nothing to do and T’Pol constantly taking her clothes off. Vomit. Never watch this show.


In contrast, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is awesome and I will watch him in anything, and this latest starring vehicle of his was a lot of fun. I’d kind of still really like to see a serious adaptation of the Heracles myths where he’s cross-dressing and murdering his family, and there are catamites involved and also the Argonauts, but probably some other actor would have to appear in that movie. Now that I think about it, though, how has there not been a new adaptation of Jason and the Argonauts?! You could put every single beautiful actor in Hollywood in that movie! Every single one!


Master and Commander

I’d been hearing good things about the Aubrey-Maturin series for a long time and finally decided to pick up the first book, and it was really excellent! Give this a try if you like historical fiction and bromance, and if you can let naval terminology in one eye and out the other without getting too distracted.

The Orenda

If you like your historical fiction rather more brutal, modern, and maybe magically realistic (I still haven’t figured this out yet), then you can try The Orenda instead. When I say “modern” I’m talking about the style of the novel, because this book is set in like the 17th century. I quite liked it besides the confusing ambiguity as to magical powers possessed by Canada’s various First Nations. Another one of those books that makes me wish I knew more about vast swathes of history.


I have a big engineering test to write at the end of October and I’ve started studying as of two months before the date of the test. At this stage I’m reading the textbooks at a rate that will allow me to finish them literally the day of the test, but I’ll very likely be adding some different study tactics next month. Lucky for me and my complete lack of retained knowledge from my degree, it isn’t a technical test.

R33. The Dark Tower (series): The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Year Published: 1982
Pages: 300

First Sentence: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

I'm planning to read one of the Dark Tower books per month this year*, but in the interest of not turning this into I Love Stephen King: The Blog, I'm only going to review the first and last books in the series, plus a little round up of the whole thing at the end.

So let's begin.

Longer term readers may remember me mentioning this series in my posts about series that I haven't finished reading yet. The Gunslinger is actually a reread, that I picked up for the first time about a decade ago, in its unrevised form (Roland shot first). The edition that I own now (because I Love Stephen King) is a revised edition, but my memory wasn't clear enough to pick out the differences that, according to King's introduction, are pretty minor.

And now with all that out of the way… The Gunslinger is the beginning of the story of Roland Deschain, or at least our introduction to his story. He's the last of a proud tradition of gunslingers from an Old West-flavoured Camelot in a world that has "moved on." He is, for the bulk of the book, chasing a mysterious man in black across an immense desert.

King's strength is, as usual, in characters and atmosphere. He likes men being manly a little bit too much, but his characters are just wonderful basically. The world that Roland comes from and the one he travels through are puzzling and well-realized (if still rather faintly sketched at this point), full of magical creatures and rusty machines.

The Gunslinger doesn't have much in the way of plot, I have to admit. It's more of a long introduction to what will come after, except that I don't think King had any idea at all what that might be at the time of writing.

I'll have more to say way down the road when I finish the seventh book, hopefully in July sometime**. In the meantime, I can say that this is a series worth starting.

* Um, 2013 that is.

** Um, December 2013 that is.

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"Yet suppose further. Suppose that all worlds, all universes, met in a single nexus, a single pylon, a Tower. And within in, a stairway, perhaps rising to the Godhead itself. Would you dare climb to the top, gunslinger? Could it be that somewhere above all of endless reality, there exists a Room?…
   "You dare not."
   And in the gunslinger's mind, those worlds echoed: You dare not.


"Someone has dared," the gunslinger said.
   "Who would that be?"
   "God," the gunslinger said softly. His eyes gleamed. "God has dared… or the king you spoke of… or… is the room empty, seer?"
   "I don't know." Fear passed over the man in black's bland face, as soft and dark as a buzzard's wing. "And, furthermore, I don't ask. It might be unwise."
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