Hobbit sized editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Yesterday I received in the mail my pocket sized copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings pictured here:

IMG_1969.JPG
Also here:

IMG_1970.JPG
The outside feels like this faux leather that bends easily like rubber but seems like it could take a lot of abuse.

IMG_1978.JPG
Since they are pocket sized of course the writing is small but the type is equal to any hardcover or paperback edition. In fact, it looks almost exactly the same like they were originally larger and went through a shrink ray.

IMG_1977.JPG

In fact, I was surprised to find The Return of the King still included the appendices and the index.

IMG_1980.JPG

IMG_1982.JPG

As far as fitting into my pocket is concerned, it fits about as well as an iPhone 6+. They’re definitely not meant for small pockets or tight jeans but fit nicely in the pockets of my coats, sports coats and blazers.

IMG_1975.JPG

IMG_1976.JPG

They’re a nice edition to my collection and I plan on annotating them to death. If you’re buying these books for the first time though I don’t suggest them.

Advertisements

My Perfect Writing Room.

I don’t know what the future really holds for me, with any career or a career in writing but if I own a home, a rather large apartment or am a success in anyway I have an image in my head for my writing room.

I’m terrible with dimensions but it would be fairly large, maybe the size of a master bedroom. Against a wall, really almost two walls would be a large L shaped desk. The corner would be where my desktop would go with a fairly large monitor on the second shelf and a custom PC built only for holding all things writing. Beneath it on the desk itself would be a standard mouse but a Das Keyboard brand mechanical keyboard. Directly to the right of it on the desk would be my laptop, the monitor would have a setting to switch from my desktop to my USB cord plugged in laptop. Above the laptop on the second shelf would be a scanner used for scanning documents such as my handwritten notes and research. In the small part of the L would be where I keep my notebooks on the second shelf and on the desk would be a cup full of my fountain pens. It basically be my handwritten writing section away from my computer.

The rest of the large desk would have open thesauruses, books on writing and generally research that I could turn to when I needed it. On the very end though would be a placemat stained with ink. This would be where I kept my inkwells and disposable gloves for refilling the ink in my fountain pens.

This part of the room would have a wooden floor beneath it for my chair to roll around on without hindrance. The chair would be the most costly part of the room, as it must be, in my perfect writing room, the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat on. It would have a high back and a thick cushion and when my back was sore and tired the chair would heat up like a heating pad to soothe my aches and pains.

There would be a brown leather couch for reading and napping. Next to it would be a nightstand piled high with books, knowing me, as well as a bluetooth speaker connected to a device that has my music. It would have to not be my phone otherwise I would be distracted real easily. Next to the bluetooth speaker would be a pair of headphones with a long cord and big cushions for my ear, it would be soundproof.

In the corner on the other side would be a coffee pot, a coffee grinder and a water cooler and a set of coasters, mugs and cups for me to use. Underneath would be a draw full of bags of coffee either ground or beans.

There’d be an air conditioner of course, because I hate the heat. Whether it was in a window or not I honestly don’t care as long as it keeps the room cold.

Underneath the refreshment table would be a mat for easy vacuuming because the rest of the room would have a soft carpet for laying on to think. I imagine there’d be a drawing table, especially if I’m doing fantasy for sketching out concepts, maps and rooms. I want to say I would have one of those hand vacs just in case but I know I use cleaning to sometimes procrastinate writing so that would be right out.

A bookcase of course, full of books on writing, history, and anything I would use for research besides thesauruses and notebooks which I would keep on the desk.

Would I need a file cabinet? Would I want to keep the business end of writing separate from the writing process itself? It might be a good idea, it might not.

If we’re getting ridiculous there would also be a punching bag with a set of gloves hanging off of it. Sometimes exercises jogs inspiration, or at least get the brain stimulated for thinking about a problem with writing and punching a bag has always been something I enjoyed as far as exercise goes.

The door would have a lock both on the inside and the outsidee and only I and maybe my spouse would have access to the room. There’d be a large overhead light, the kind that simulated sunlights for keeping me awake but there would also be a yellow lamp on the desk and near the couch for generating a certain mood when writing.

Next to the light switch would be a switch for one of those red lightbulbs outside of the room letting people know I was hard at work and not to be disturbed. Maybe my spouse and I would have walkie talkies for if she needed me for dinner or to help with something but otherwise there’d be no access to call me to talk to me.

That would be my perfect writing room but this is like putting the horse before the water. That’s the expression right? More important than having a perfect writing room is to write. So off to write I go.

Here’s hoping “Civil War” is better in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Reported yesterday, Robert Downey Jr. About To Join Captain America 3 And It May Be Civil War. If you don’t know, the basic premise of the Civil War storyline was a rift between Captain America and Iron Man over how superheroes should be handled. After a very public tragedy Tony Stark joins the government in establishing a superhuman registration act where every superhero must register their secret identity with the government and work as a kind of police force rather than vigilantes. Steve Rogers believe this is a violation of every superheroes civil liberties. Be warned after this there will be spoilers.

Last chance before spoilers.

Last chance before spoilers.

Forget the movies for right now. Let’s just talk about the comic for a minute. When it came out Civil War was a big deal for Marvel and selling very well. In the early 2000’s the Avengers had disassembled, gotten back together and reformed with new members so after all these years of building them back up Civil War had a high potential for exciting drama by breaking them apart again. Here’s the problem, it was so poorly executed.

In the main series Mark Millar claims he was trying to show both side of the argument, you know with Iron Man and Maria Hill acting like fascists, cloning their dead friends whose clone kills another one of their friends, imprisoning their friends in another dimension and generally attacking anyone who is anti-registration. We’re not talking about arresting his friends after a trial, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man planned on imprisoning them indefinitely essentially taking away their civil liberties. Then, at the end, we’re supposed to believe Iron Man is in the right because a bunch of emergency personnel stopping  Captain America from taking Tony out to prevent more bloodshed? It’s such a sloppy ending, trying to put all the blame on Cap like Iron Man isn’t responsible at all for the collateral damage going on. I mean, by the end Iron Man needs to control villain with nanites in order to have people to fight against Captain America and we’re supposed to believe he is in the right?

All the other writers working on their respective titles didn’t help either. While Millar was trying to avoid any one side becoming the underdog in the main title, which I believe he failed miserably,  it was more black and white within the other books. Thinking of it now, if in his mind both sides had a fair point it paints a clear picture of Millar’s politics. Iron Man was clearly the villain and Cap and his team were the underdogs. In the aftermath, Cap ends up being assassinated making him a martyr and Tony is left being the most hated character in the Marvel Universe. It Takes Matt Fraction to make Tony Stark completely braindead and forget all about the Civil War when his brain is rebooted in order to return Iron Man to a more favorable light.

Okay, now onto the movies. Presumably Tony will create Ultron in Avengers 2 as a force for a good to protect the world which will fail. Feeling guilt ridden over this he’ll appear in Captain America 3 to begin the rift between Steve and himself. I’m not sure how they will execute it but this is supposed to lead into a Civil War storyline in Avengers 4.

The problem so far is that out of all the superheroes that exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now, only Daredevil, which has not even been released by Netflix yet, has a secret identity. Tony Stark outed himself in the first Iron Man, Steve Rogers is a legendary WWII veteran, Thor has no secret identity, Black Widow outed herself, Sam Wilson and probably Clint Barton in bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury is in Europe, Coulson is underground rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Hulk has caused enough destruction at this point that Bruce Banner is probably known.

There’s definitely potential for their to be enough superheroes for a Civil War by the time Avengers 4 comes out. So far we know we’ll have Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, The Vision, Quiksilver, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. So if there are three years between Avengers sequels and Avengers 4 comes out around 2021…

Oh god, 2021? Could they really have long term plans for that long? Will I even care about these Marvel movies?

Anyway, it might be a better idea to have Tony and Steve’s fallout center not around a government legislation as Tony has already proven to not trust the government with his tech but maybe centered around something else, like say, the creation of a killer robot? Maybe that creation of the killer robot is what causes Tony to not trust himself while Steve, due to the S.H.I.E.L.D. fallout from Winter Soldier doesn’t trust the government thanks to Hydra infiltration. Then again, if Tony already doesn’t trust the government I can’t see him trusting it anymore after he learns everything about the Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. scandal.

So there’s potential to have a whole slew of super heroes running around by the time Avengers 4 comes out. For me though, the heroes versus heroes storyline is kind of boring. It may be a trope but I’d much prefer if by the end of Civil War a much larger threat reunites Cap. and Iron Man to take on said threat. That’s just me though.

Mythology is not a lie…

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.” – Joseph Campbell

Killing Off Wolverine is the Right Decision by Marvel.

The Death of Wolverine is an event comic currently running at Marvel by Charles Soule and Steven McNiven and I could not be happier the 5’3 Canadian is being killed off. He has become the most oversaturated and uninteresting comic character without any clear or consistent motivation for years now.

He is an Avenger. He is an X-Men. He is part of a black-ops team. He founded and teaches at a new school for mutants. He was possesed by a demon. He discovered his past. He lost his healing factor. He does what has to be done e.g. murder, cut, and dismember people including his own son but doesn’t want young mutants to be on the frontlines when the X-Men are needed. This is just the last ten years of stories for Wolverine so obviously death might be one of the few storylines left to explore with this character. The problem is, with a timeline that basically perpetually frozen so their characters don’t age all of this jumbling of progress and motivation has made Logan impossible for me to care about.

The other problem is that he’s in every book. In one book he’s lecturing Scott Summers about how teenagers aren’t soldiers, in another he’s telling Captain America that sometimes killing is the only solution, in another he’s drinking beers with Spider-Man playing the gruff stoic friend to Peter Park and then in another he’s killing people with his teenage clone X-23 with the rest of his black ops team. The character needs consistency and if they need to kill him off to do that then I am all for it.

There is no change in comics, just the illusion of change. Wolverine coming back from the dead isn’t an eventuality but an inevitability. Hopefully he is in a limited capacity, like say, in one solo ongoing and one team book. If he’s going to be in the Avengers, don’t put him in X-Force or the X-Men. If he’s in one ongoing where he’s trying to fight moon mutant don’t have another one where he’s underneath the Earth’s soil marrying a mole woman. When you put him in all these different books so close together acting differently than he does in all the other books he appears in you’re telling me that Wolverine doesn’t matter, the storyline doesn’t matter, and making me well aware of the illusion of change.

For people who don’t read comics it is much easier to like Wolverine. He is like the definition of power fantasy. He has sharp blades coming out of his hand, he heals from almost anything, has a clear purpose in life (finding out his past) while doing and saying whatever he wants because he’s not to be messed with. Imagine what it’s like to be around that guy all the time but everytime you hang out he contradicts himself. That is what it’s like to read Wolverine in comics.

So go ahead Marvel, kill him. Make X-23 the new Wolverine for a couple of years, explore what motivates her and then when you bring Wolverine back give him a motivation I can get behind instead of plopping him into a story to raise sales of an issue. It makes sense to me. One of the most interesting storylines to happen to Batman in the last couple of years was for Bruce to get lost in time while Dick Grayson took on the mantle. While you’re at it, kill off Deadpool too.

Paper People.

“It’s not real. And beyond that, when you’re dealing with characters, they exist on paper. They’re real in that context. I always say they’re much more real than we are because they have much longer lives and more people know about them. But we get people reading superhero comics and going, ‘How does that power work? And why does Scott Summers shoot those beams? And what’s the size of that?’ It’s not real! There is no science. The science is the science of ‘Anything can happen in fiction and paper’ and we can do anything.
“We’ve already got the real world. Why would you want fiction to be like the real world? Fiction can do anything, so why do people always want to say, ‘Let’s ground this’ or ‘Let’s make this realistic.’ You can’t make it realistic because it’s not. So basically Batman is 75 years old, and Robin is 74 years old. They don’t grow old because they’re different from us. They’re paper people.” – Grant Morrison

I Wish I had Chrono Trigger as a kid.

Chrono Trigger is one of my favorite SNES games, but also one I never actually played on Super Nintendo. To my great shame I didn’t discover it until they remade it for the Nintendo DS.

When I did finally play all I kept thinking was I wish I had this game as a kid. It would of been up there with Super Mario World, Kirby Superstar, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Donkey Kong Country as one of those games I would replay again and again. Now as an adult I don’t have the same kind of free time as I did as a child.

So many elements of this game would of hit my sweet spots when O was young. Great music (which I now realize Super Mario RPG borrowed heavily from), an epic story, time travel, science fiction, robots, talking animals, legendary swords, multiple endings, silly humor, and a straight forward turn based RPG system.

Ob well, I’ll just have to find the time.

IMG_1704.JPG

Late to the Party: Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself.

As far as book go, it isn’t often that I have the forethought or the word on the street to get in on the ground floor of an author or series of novels. Joe Abercrombie is no exception.

I bought the first book in his The First Law trilogy after pre-ordering his new book Half A King. Once I start reading The Blade Itself my first thought was that I have should have read this years ago. Eight years later I’ve finished the first book and I want to read the second book right away. This is highly irregular for me.

I don’t know what it is but I can’t read the second book of a series immediately after reading the first. I get distracted, I get bored, I lose focus, my eyes start to trail off and by the end I can’t remember what really happened. I’m going to be clear: this is a not a slight of the quality of the novels but a flaw that I have. Just look at this list of second books I’ve tried to read immediately after the first and either didn’t enjoy it as much or since discovering this flaw about myself, stopped reading to pick up another time.

  • A Clash of King by George R.R. Martin
  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Red Seas under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
  • The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
  • Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

I can recall my experiences with all these books. You know when you read the words but don’t really take in what they’re saying? That happened to me with A Clash of Kings and The Restaurant at the End of the Universes? One, I missed hints to major plot points that would come in future books and the other I was too bored to enjoy Adam’s delightful sense of humor.

I think with The Wise Man’s Fear I got the furthest before putting it down, maybe a hundred pages? This was around the time that I was discovering this flaw about myself and I loved The Name of the Wind so much that I didn’t want the experience of the second book to suffer. With Kill the Dead, the second book in Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series I read the first page, could feel my restlessness settle in and immediately put it down.

Now, Red Seas under Red Skies I remember putting down for maybe a month or two before I had to pick it up again in order to keep up with a friend who was reading, a much faster read than I am. Same thing happened with The Well of Ascension the year before and my opinion of the Mistborn series as a whole suffered for it. That book was torture for me to read through, I found it slow, I found the main character Vin to be a whiny idiot who made the worst decisions and by the end I didn’t care about anything that was happening. I just wanted to finish and when I did I didn’t bother picking up the third book even though my friend had already gotten halfway through it. That was December of 2012 into January 2013 and only now have I even started the third Mistborn book, The Hero of Ages. Guess what? I actually am enjoying despite the sour taste the second book left in my mouth. 

There are of course exceptions. If I read The Lord of the Rings I can read all three front to back with no qualms. Sometimes I’ll just read one only because I have read them so many times and want to read something new but the point is I can read all of them front to back without getting that restless feeling. Same thing happened with most of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. It wasn’t until the fourth book that I got restless and even then I only read one book in between before reading book five, six and seven.

The point of all this is that I want to read Before They Are Hanged, the second The First Law book right now. I need to know what happens to the characters now rather than later. I want to know more about the world, about it’s past and what is going to happen next. If an author can get me to do that then the books must be damn good.

 

What is Tom Bombadil’s significance? The answer from J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

“Tom Bombadil is not an important person – to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a ‘comment’. I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an invention (who first appeared in the Oxford Magazine about 1933), and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely. I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function. I might put it this way. The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control. but if you have, as it were taken ‘a vow of poverty’, renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing, then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless. It is a natural pacifist view, which always arises in the mind when there is a war. But the view of Rivendell seems to be that it is an excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in fact things with which it cannot cope; and upon which its existence nonetheless depends. Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien; Letter #144