Tag Archives: humor

John Dies at the End

For the last few days, I’ve been reading a book online. As it happens, it’s available offline, almost.[1] But not quite. Which is somewhat of a pity, because I would have bought it already if I could have, instead of reading the whole thing online. However, I still figure I’m going to do the pre-order thing, early next month. Because I’d kind of like to have a copy available for loans as needed, and because I want to see more out of the guy.

John Dies at the End is the story of David Wong and his friend John, who accidentally discover the terrible secret that underlies reality and then spend their lives fighting against it and trying to stay sane and generally having a hell of a time.[2] It’s equal parts Lovecraft done as well as I’ve seen anybody do it and dry humor, with a ton of blood thrown in for good measure. And with characters whose well-being I cared about a good bit more than average. So, y’know, that sounds like a book, basically. And on top of that, I’m forced to admit that the plotting is a little loose towards the beginning and that some of the schtick is more dumb than funny. Still, though, that caring about the characters thing really did stick out more than I’m used to. There are several moments in a row, near the end, when my heart fell at the tragedy and then the sheer horror of the situation they were in. I guess what I’m saying is, the guy has real talent (albeit slightly unpolished), and I want to see him succeed and write more books and get better at it, because I’m pretty much going to love them. I mean, unless this was a fluke.

That would suck.

[1] You know. As a book. With pages and things.
[2] I should point out that the title of the book could be considered a spoiler by some people. Those people are pretty dumb, though. I should point that out, too.

Mort

41Q2E9H3D0LI have purchased more than half of the Discworld books by now, but I haven’t read any in a long while, because of a continued failure to find the actual next one. Then, last month, I finally did, which means books and books stretch before me before I need to have found the next missing link. Which is nice. I like it when little stresses disappear. I mean, it shouldn’t be a stressor at all, except that I wanted to read the books. So, then.

Also good is the book itself, Mort. For one thing, it is unquestionably funnier than its predecessors, relying a lot more heavily on situational humor rather than bits of random oddness. The random oddness is there, as it should be; it just isn’t the centerpiece. Also and perhaps due to the same root cause, the story is a bit deeper than at least the first two, if not necessarily Equal Rites. In Mort, our titular hero takes a most unusual apprenticeship and learns that even the least common of jobs can have their ups and downs.

Okay, that was trite even for cover-copy, much less a review. It’s like this. Death (the anthropomorphic personification, thin fellow, carries a scythe) opts to take on an apprentice, pass on the trade as it were. Mort learns the importance of the job that might one day be his, Death learns the importance of a vacation, and the reader learns, at excruciating repetition, the way that light and dark work on the Disc. But really, other than that (which I’m sensitive to after the last Anita Blake book), this was a fun, breezy book. The breeziest examination of causality and predestination I’ve ever read, in fact.

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror

The Stupidest Angel41sZwL1CraL is another entry in the set of books that can be read over the course of a mostly lazy midafternoon, or a one timezone flight, say. On top of which, it’s reliably funny almost throughout. It’s recommendable on those bases alone, but it even has a few other things going for it, such as quirky characters who, due to the length of the book, cannot possibly have time to wear out their welcome, plus a plot twist tailor-made for my personal enjoyment.

By and large, though, the plot isn’t the point; the point is just the laughing along the way. In sum, it’s a week in the life of a forested NoCal village on final approach toward Christmas as the characters deal with murder and the romantic problems it can bring to couples, the violent and bloody loss of a child’s seasonal innocence, a dysfunctional nod to O. Henry, and of course an angel with perhaps the worst plan ever to fix things. If you have an empty hour or three, check it out. Sometime later, I’m going to glance at the author’s (Christopher Moore) other books, I think.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

I am jumbled, and I wonder if I oughtn’t wait until another viewing. But screw it, first impressions are important, on top of which it’s one of my few first shot times, so I’ll take it. And then cheat by first talking atmosphere. I know I go on about the Alamo Drafthouse mystique, but it was in fine enough fettle tonight to run down. Someone went to the effort of editing up the Cartoon Network Clone Wars endeavour down to its essential “here’s the bits that are related to the movie” bones, and then showed it, interspersed with all kinds of Star Wars filmed coolness and uncoolness, from Troops to Anakin Dynamite to a Muppet Show appearance to the Turkish Star Wars rip-off to the much maligned (and rightly so!) 1978 Christmas special. A very pleasant way to pass a couple of hours while waiting for the last big event movie of quite a while, and I commend them once more.

Then, there’s the movie itself. The scroll cleared the screen just in time to drop into an unrelenting action spectacle with all the right touches of humor and explosions alike. And then… well, things got a little wooden. Never bad, but never quite great. Motivations that were a hair off, decisions that very nearly made sense, enemies that were inches south of believable. Nothing enough to make me stop enjoying myself, but so much that came close to working perfectly that I had to be disappointed when it didn’t. The real irony I think is that it was the longest Star Wars movie, yet really needed another ten or twenty minutes of scenes expanded in just the right ways to achieve the brilliance it was in sight of.

That said, there’s a moment that I choose not to ruin[1] in the main portion of this review past which everything comes together again. It’s still never quite as perfect as that opening sequence, but the complaints from that moment on are nits to be picked, not faults to regret. It’s a hell of a thing, to know essentially everything that’s going to happen (not due to spoilers but to the logical consequence of having already seen the galaxy twenty years down the road from that moment) and still be kept on the edge of my seat, wondering what will happen next, if there’s a way out of it, how it came to this. For that, I’ll offer Lucas my thanks and my kudos. When he got to the important part, he made it work.

If you watched the other two movies, like or dislike, go ahead and see this one, at least the once. Even with the mis-steps, it’s worth it.
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Equal Rites

61qUrH54OmLAnother week, another Pratchett. Although I expect that ratio to drop off a bit now. This time, Equal Rites, the story of a young girl trying to make her way in the world as a wizard. Which should be no problem, except for how only men can be wizards. (And suddenly, the title makes all kinds of sense.)

Here’s the thing. I know these are funny. I’ve read at least three of them, even before this latest spate. And the common knowledge is that ER is substantially better than even The Light Fantastic, but I found that they were mostly equivalent. Well, for the humor value, at least. ER had the better story, but it was a little too obvious for me, I guess.

Except, that’s not it either, exactly. It was more travelogue than battle of the sexes. So I guess part of my complaint is that it failed to meet expectations, and then once they got to the part I was expecting, it seemed rushed and simple. After a fairly contrived ‘nobody else could have accomplished this!’ moment that seemed to have nothing to do with gender, suddenly girls are allowed. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

Disclaimer: Still very enjoyable light reading. I think it suffered from inflated expectations more than any other single problem. I’m ready for the series to be as funny as I remember, though, and am starting to fear it’s the age difference. (That part probably shouldn’t have been in the disclaimer, but I’ve been trying to get this written for almost a day, and I’d rather be done than clear or concise.)

The Light Fantastic

5123VpObYZLJust as I predicted, The Light Fantastic removes most of the complaints I had about The Colour of Magic. Despite being published three years apart, it’s clear that these are one book split in half. Which is nice for me; I’d intended to read something else in between, but there was an unfortunate circumstance whereby I got called away on my weekend suddenly and forgot to grab a new book to read. Luckily, tLF was still in my trunk from when I borrowed it, though.

So, over the past five days, I’ve gone through that at a pretty quick pace. (Quick for me, anyway.) In addition to making up for the abruptness of the previous book, it’s also much more internally coherent and rather a lot more funny as well. Pratchett certainly improved between the two books. Not only that, but the lead characters became less inscrutable (Twoflower) and more likeable (Rincewind). On the whole, then, this was the perfect fluff book to read while hanging about in hospital rooms. I look forward to more of them.

The Colour of Magic

516nJNmb2xLWeird. I’ve read a few Discworld books, mostly in high school, and I’m quite sure that one of them included Rincewind and the Luggage. But it wasn’t this book, and it doesn’t seem to be the next one either. So I’m a little puzzled on that score, but it’s okay. For one thing, this is brand new, completely uninfluenced by my memory, so that’s good, I guess.

Unfortunately, I can’t really add anything that’s not already been said on the topic. It was amusing, but not nearly as funny as I remember Pratchett being. Rincewind is a barely sympathetic character, the Luggage is more menace than lark, and Twoflower is okay, but he’s written as too mysterious to really get into him.

The plot was fine, but great sweeping swathes of it were missing for no clear reason and it ended with essentially no resolution. The Light Fantastic appears to be a direct sequel, and perhaps he already knew he was writing it when The Colour of Magic came out, but it was a bit jarring of my expectations since I know that these are traditionally stand-alone.

Mostly I’ve complained, so I will say that I got the occasional laugh and never regretted the time I was spending reading it. Plus! Now I understand the Tourist from nethack, so that was worth the price of admission.