Sunday, May 20, 2012

Warmachine: Nerd Room Achievement Unlocked

Yep, it's done. Well it ever completely done?  I need to build some buildings for cover, and maybe a mountain or two. I want all the pieces to movable so we can can change up the terrain each time we play. This also a similar set up you might see at a tournament.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer

     What would it be like if Neanderthals had become the dominant race of humans on the planet? Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer explores that very idea. This book follows a brilliant Neanderthal physicist named Ponter Boddet. Ponter and his partner, while working on experimental quantum computers, accidently open a bridge between universes. The bridge leads to the world we (Homo sapiens sapiens) currently reside in. Ponter fell into our world accidently and has now become stranded here. Robert J. Sawyer is a master at taking an interesting thought experiment and turning it into a full-length novel. What would a Neanderthal world be like? What would a modern Neanderthal do if he were dropped into our world? It’s fascinating to think about. Sawyer answers those questions in a thoughtful, heavily researched, and entertaining manner.

     Ponter Boddit is one of the most dynamic and interesting characters I have ever read. He is thoughtful, intelligent, and quick-witted. He is the key to making Hominids an amazing work of fiction, and is a big part of the reason it won a Hugo Award. As with many of Sawyer’s books, Hominids has a bit of a mystery novel woven into the overall story. Since Ponter totally vanished from his own world, his partner Adikore has been accused of his murder. Adikore has been left trying to prove his innocence. The problem is that is he trying to explain a hiccup in advanced quantum computing to laymen who believe he’s murdered his best friend. Adikore’s part of the novel is a riveting legal fight taking place in the Neanderthal world while Ponter is trying to adjust to his surroundings in the other universe. There is not a single wasted word in this entire novel. I listened to this on Brilliance Audio CD, narrated by Jonathan Davis. Davis is smooth as butter, and provides so much life to the characters he reads. I highly recommend getting the audio version of Hominids if you can. —Justin Blazier for

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

The main character of Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City is a former freelance journalist named Zinzi December. Zinzi is cool, intelligent and carries some big mental baggage. Despite her flaws, you will love her almost immediately. Zinzi lives in Zoo City, which is essentially a slum in Johannesburg for people who have been burdened with animals. In the world of Zoo City, people are magically attached to animals after they’ve done something particularly awful. People with animals are the outcasts of society, and the more conspicuous the animal the harder it is to lead a normal life. Zinzi carries a sloth, which isn’t the easiest critter to conceal.

Since Zinzi is not able to work a real job due to her fuzzy companion, she makes ends meet by using her natural ability to find lost things for people. On one of this lost item cases she stumbles onto a murder, which starts a chain of events that will change her life forever.

The South African setting is unique, and I was completely immersed in the world. Beukes paints a hip and gritty view of Johannesburg that is totally captivating. Her writing is sharp with detail, but never overburdened with description. I was able to get a feel for the environment everywhere Zinzi went.

The characters in Zoo City are clearly defined and interesting to read about. Everyone has a dark past that lurks in the background. You are constantly left wondering what they did to get their animal. This can be frustrating at times since those back stories are only lightly touched upon, even those of the main characters. In later works, I hope Beukes continues some of the stories she started in Zoo City.

My experience with Zoo City was one to be remembered. The story takes many unexpected turns. Things that seem important at the time often turn out to be not much at all. At times this left me scratching my head wondering what just happened, but it usually worked out in a surprising way. I recommend keeping an open mind to the flow of the story when reading Zoo City and trust that the end will justify the means.

Beukes is a gifted writer. Her abilities with description and dialog alone put her in a special category. Zoo City is a clever and unique piece of fiction, and a fantastic addition to the Angry Robot library. I listened to Zoo City on CD from Brilliance Audio. The narration is done by Justine Eyre. Justine does a wonderful job giving life to the characters, and I highly recommend the audio version of this book. —Justin Blazier for