Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's almost candy time!

Somehow it has completely escaped my mind that Halloween will soon be upon us. I used to love Halloween as a kid. And as a young adult. It wasn't the candy that I loved the most, at least not once I got past the kid phase. It was a cool bonus, but the thing I love most about it was dressing up in a fun costume. For years I was determined that I was going to be an actor when I grew up, so that kind of makes sense.

Sadly I don't get much enjoyment out of Halloween anymore.

Honestly if I had the means to pull off any of the costume ideas bouncing around in my head right now, I would still love it. Even though I can't imagine anything ever trumping the reactions I got years ago when I wore my Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform/costume to my college classes. Priceless.
Still, I BIG part of me wishes I could put together a good Luke Skywalker-training-on-Dagobah costume, and then get this for my baby boy:

Personally, I think that would be both adorable and awesome.

On a completely separate note, but still hearkening back to my college days, an old college friend went to Chicago a couple of weeks ago to attend Chicon 7 and the Hugo Awards Ceremony.  Imagine my surprise when she posted a picture on Facebook of someone I actually knew: Nancy Fulda.  What are the odds?

OK, three people that share a religion, going to the same college at the same time, that share a mutual interest in writing...I guess the odds aren't that bad.

But the point is that I wasn't aware they knew each other, until very recently.  So just pretend to be surprised along with me.

It turns out that Nancy was one of the Hugo Nominees for the Short Story category.  Wow!

This discovery led to two very profound revelations for me.

First off, I may have to turn in my geek-card for a while, as I have paid almost no attention to the Hugo Awards until now.  All I can say for myself is that I now have a long list of Hugo-nominated books and stories to read.

Second, I decided to poke around and see what Nancy had written.  The story for which she was nominated, Movement, is quite good.  And then I saw a collection of five Halloween-themed short stories she had written available on Amazon, titled Hexes and Haunts.

Since I'm pretty much always looking for something fun to read, I picked it up.  So far I quite enjoy it.  The first story, "Hexes and Tooth Decay" puts an interesting and amusing (if somewhat macabre) spin on a very common concept.  I love it when authors do that.

You should really check out what she's written.  It's well worth your time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Legion, by Brandon Sanderson

Stephen Leeds (AKA "Legion"), has an unusual array of friends and house guests.  For starters, there is J.C. and Tobias.  J.C. is a former marine that has no qualms with using his bedroom for target practice.  Tobias is an elderly gentleman with an affinity for history and who hears the voice of 'Stan', supposedly an astronaut in orbit that feeds him weather updates from satellites he has access to.  There's also Ivy (Stephen's psycologist), Audrey (who can analyze and compare handwriting samples), and Armando (a photography expert that also believes he is the rightful Emperor of Mexico).  Along with a host of others.

The problem is that all of them are essentially figments of Stephen Leeds' mind.  Stephen would like to be normal but, thanks to the skills and abilities of his various hallucinatory friends which he can make use of, has settled for being rich enough to live in a largely empty mansion.  At least that way each of his hallucinations can have their own space.

But there's always someone who hopes to make a name for himself at Stephen's expense.  That's pretty much where this novella starts.  It's a really interesting concept that is executed quite well.  It is an incredibly quick read, at only 18,000 words.  I found myself really wishing it was longer once it is over.

The primary mystery introduced at the beginning of the story (someone hires Stephen to help track down a former employee that has stolen some sensitive equipment) is resolved quite well.  We also learn small details about how his 'abilities' work, and pick up hints along the way that Stephen's mind was not always as coherent and sane as it is now.  Which is saying something.

Due to how the events of the story unfold, combined with Stephen's own past, it's clear that should Brandon Sanderson care to continue Legion's story there is plenty of story left to be told.

I really hope Brandon circles back around to poor Mr. Leeds sooner rather than later.